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Virginia Tech is competing for as much as $100 million in federal funding to support economic development through a regional transportation and logistics cluster that will accelerate the adoption of electric and automated vehicles and revitalize the economy of Southern and Southwest Virginia.

A coalition led by the university was selected as one of 60 finalists for the $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. The challenge, which received 529 applications from across the country, aims to accelerate the economic recovery from the pandemic. It is the largest economic development initiative from the Commerce Department in decades.

The proposal was developed by Virginia Tech’s Center for Economic and Community Engagement, part of Outreach and International Affairs, and the Office of the Vice President for Strategic Alliances. Faculty and staff from across the university — including the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, and the College of Engineering — will be instrumental in moving the project forward.

“This award opens the door to transformative economic opportunities for Southwest and Southern Virginia in the transportation and logistics sector, and the coalition led by Virginia Tech offers a remarkable hub of resources to support the growth of this industry,” U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine said.

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner said, “This project speaks to the kind of impact Virginia Tech has as a regional catalyst, bringing together partners from so many different sectors and positioning Virginia for global leadership in automated electric delivery.”

“This project has the potential to bring transformational change to Southwest and Southern Virginia and to shrink the economic divide between our rural and urban communities,” Virginia Tech President Tim Sands said. “It will tap into Virginia Tech’s world-recognized expertise and our ability to convene diverse partners to tackle some of humanity’s most pressing problems.” 

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