When critics question how effectively the Virginia Tobacco Commission is using hundreds of millions of dollars the state received from the National Tobacco Settlement there's one project that always seems to come up.
It started five years ago as a $25-million grant to establish a medical school in Bristol. Since then the only two things that have been consistent about the plan are the absence of any apparent progress and the Tobacco Commission's continuing support.
Many Virginians at or below the poverty level are struggling with utility bills and looking for any possible way to cut costs.
As Virginia Public Radio's Tommie McNeil report, one way to save could be the free Weatherization Assistance Program administered by the state's Department of Housing and Community Development.
Weatherization can cut energy bills by up to 35-percent, and the program seeks to assist low-income residents in this way. Deputy Housing Director Chris Thompson says the program is not limited to a specific region.
While state and economic development officials often focus on attracting new companies to create jobs and spur the economy, some business experts say another novel approach may be even more effective in achieving those goals. The Small Business Commission composed of lawmakers and business leaders learned the details about “Economic Gardening” during its Richmond meeting on Monday. The entrepreneurial strategy targets small businesses that are on the verge of becoming high-growth companies.