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Stafford County Economic Development Authority Awarded Second GO Virginia Grant, Contributing $215,000 to Establish a Regional Internet of Things Accelerator Program for Entrepreneurship in the Region

STAFFORD, VIRGINIA – Governor Ralph Northam announced plans to allocate more than $11.1 million in Growth and Opportunity of Virginia (GO Virginia) grants to stimulate the economy in Virginia. Among those grants is a $215,000 grant to the Stafford County Economic Development Authority for “Establishing a Regional Internet of Things Accelerator Program in the Rappahannock Region.”

John Holden, Economic Development and Tourism Director for Stafford County, explained that the grant will help continue and expand programs that were started last year with RIoT, a non-profit economic development organization expanding its programs to Stafford, Fredericksburg, King George and the entire Go Virginia Region 6. The funded project will include the development of RIoT’s entrepreneur “accelerator” program housed in the newly established Virginia Smart Community Testbed.

Tom Snyder, RIoT’s Executive Director, added that “the ‘data economy’ and technology cuts across all business sectors. Our mission is to work with communities, business leaders, and entrepreneurs to help them expand their enterprises and create jobs.”

Holden added that housing RIoT in the Testbed made sense. Stafford has partnered with the Virginia Center for Innovative Technology for the establishment of the Testbed to serve as a “living test laboratory” for new “smart technology” in the Commonwealth.

In his announcement, the Governor said, “GO Virginia provides critical [funds] to ensuring communities across our Commonwealth are well positioned to succeed in a post-pandemic economy.” “These projects demonstrate how regional collaboration can drive innovation and deliver positive economic results, including diversifying our workforce, supporting entrepreneurs, and upgrading our infrastructure.”

Holden added that the expanded entrepreneur programs and new accelerator program sprang from significant work that took place during the Pandemic. “We all worked together, from King George, the City of Fredericksburg, and Stafford to engage entrepreneurs and assess their needs and work to address them.”

The Project will begin later this summer and fall with the intent is to have the first Virginia RIoT Accelerator Program launched by the end of the year. Prior to that, other programs and events are being planned and the first RIoT “Lunch and Learn” in the Testbed will be held on July 15. For more information or to sign up for the upcoming Lunch and Learn, click here.