Local Business and Economic Development
Airlines serving Roanoke are making changes to schedules in ways not usually seen. It comes in response to the changes in passenger numbers brought about by COVID-19. More from WFIR’s Evan Jones.
From airport Spokesperson Brad Boettcher: Given business traffic is still grounded (for the most part) .. we are seeing a pure leisure demand travel pattern (heavy on Thursday, Friday, Sunday, Monday, lighter on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday) .. Traffic volumes are so variable right now, yesterday (Wednesday) we carried 29% of a typical day this time of year in 2019, today (Thursday) we are carrying 60% of 2019’s traffic. As this type of pattern has held up the carriers are adjusting the schedules accordingly ..
3 of our 4 airlines have their October schedules set, the one exception is United and when I spoke to them last Friday, they said it would load this coming weekend. I have never seen schedules set so close to the actual day of operation.
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $5,354,487 in federal funding to provide economic relief to the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport and the Virginia Tech Montgomery Executive Airport. The funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) was authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). A portion of this funding comes from the CARES ACT. “We are glad to announce that these federal funds will go towards helping ensure that both the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport and the Virginia Tech Montgomery Executive Airport are able to continue to serve Virginians and other folks traveling into the region,” said the Senators.
The funding will be distributed as follows: Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport will receive $4,065,070 to reconstruct the existing Runway 6/24 lighting system, the Runway 16/34 lighting system, and the entire existing taxiway lighting system, all of which require reconstruction to meet FAA standards. This funding will also go towards reconstructing all the existing airfield guidance signs.
Virginia Tech Montgomery Executive Airport will receive $1,289,417 to extend Runway 12/30 to 5,500 feet to meet the operational needs of the airport.
Earlier this week we brought you a story about how the Roanoke Region’s outdoor amenities are being promoted to lure more people and businesses here. Its been an ongoing effort, especially over the past decade or so. WFIR’s Gene Marrano has more on this “In Depth” report:
Botetourt County’s COVID-related grants now available to farms demonstrates that there are few businesses that have not been impacted one way or another by the pandemic. Botetourt farmers have until the end of the month to apply for the $5,000 grants. WFIR’s Evan Jones has more:
NEWS RELEASE: Daleville, VA – At the August 25, 2020, regular meeting, the Botetourt County Board of Supervisors approved the “Botetourt County COVID-19 Farm Operation Grant Program” to assist the County’s farm operations with COVID-19 pandemic-related losses. Grants will be available up to $5,000 per farm operation based primarily in Botetourt County.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly every part of our society, and our local farms have felt that impact, too,” said Board of Supervisors Member Dr. Richard Bailey. “As a County with a strong agricultural heritage, I am proud that the Board is able to support our farmers in this time of need.”
“With an agricultural background, I support the efforts of providing some relief to the farming community who provides backbone services to the world,” said Botetourt County Administrator Gary Larrowe.
The County is allowed to use funds from the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to provide grants to small businesses “affected by decreased customer demand as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency,” according to the U.S. Treasury’s guidance memo to the County.
In his report to the Board, Director of Economic Development Ken McFadyen said, “Botetourt County’s farm operations are also small businesses and have experienced the effects of decreased customer demand as a result of the pandemic.”
Many Botetourt County-based farm operations have sought federal assistance through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA). The local office of the FSA has processed approximately 150 Botetourt County grant applications for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).
“We are also encouraging any farm operation that has not applied for the Farm Service Agency’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program to apply by the application deadline of September 11th. We want to assist our farmers who are in need of these programs during this difficult time,” said Jean Hazlegrove, County Executive Director for the Botetourt/Craig/Roanoke FSA County Office.
The Botetourt County COVID-19 Farm Operation Grant Program will assist the County’s farm operations with losses not covered by the FSA’s grant program. To fund the program, the Board of Supervisors has appropriated $200,000 of the County’s CARES Act relief funds for this grant program. This appropriation is similar to that for the County’s existing small business grant program put in place earlier this summer.
The Farm Operation Grant applications will be accepted online only during the month of September 2020. Applicants can access the online grant application at www.bocoecondev.info.
Botetourt County-based farm operations qualify for the County’s grant program by first qualifying for the FSA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). Applicants will be asked to submit a copy of their FSA grant “deposit confirmation” or, secondly, a copy of their approved FSA grant application. The dollar amount of the deposit confirmation does not need to be shared with the County.
The County grant is intended to cover farm losses through September 2020 that are not covered by the FSA grant or other COVID-19-related grants. Farm operations must be in compliance with any and all applicable County ordinances.
Applications from Botetourt farm operations will be accepted during the month of September, and once the County determines the number of qualifying farm operations, the amount of the individual grants will be determined.
The Botetourt County Economic Development Authority (EDA) is tasked with administering the grant program. Farms that receive the grant will need to complete a grant agreement with the EDA.
Questions regarding the Botetourt County COVID-19 Farm Operation Grant Program should be directed to the Department of Economic Development by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (540) 928-2140.
Driven by “Deep Confidence in the Economy,” as the summary report puts it, The Institute for Policy and Opinion Research at Roanoke College has found that there is optimism despite the impacts of COVID-19 this year. WFIR’s Gene Marrano has that story:
Like many small businesses, farm operations have been hit hard because of the COVID-19 pandemic. To help relieve some of the burden, the Botetourt County Board of Supervisors has started a new grant program for farmers. WFIR’s Rachel Meell has the story:
For more information on the grant program and how to apply, click here.
About three years into the project, Chris’s Coffee & Custard off 9th Street in Southeast Roanoke is getting ready to open by October. Beth Woodrum will employ mostly young adults with special needs – like her son and store namesake, Chris. Woodrum has also started a non-profit called “LovAble” that trains young adults with challenges for the workplace. Chris’s Coffee & Custard will feature a limited food menu as well and a large outdoor seating area when it opens.
Officials at Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport say there is some relatively welcome news within the July passenger numbers, even if they are down by about two-thirds from the year before. Airport Spokesperson Brad Boettcher says as sharp as that decline is, the July numbers are up more than 50% from June, and Roanoke’s year-to-year passenger counts have held up better than national averages. Boettcher says airlines take notice, and in Roanoke’s case, they have already acted accordingly; American, for instance, had slashed Charlotte flights from eight a day to three, but that number has rebounded to five. WFIR’s Evan Jones has the story: