The Legislation passed in the 2015 General Assembly session under Code of Virginia sections 3.2-3100 et seq., requires several enhancements and changes to the Tobacco Commission’s grant processes and other organizational aspects, effective July 1, 2015, including the following:
changes the name of the Commission to the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission (TRRC);
reduces the membership of the Commission from 31 to 28, by eliminating one Southwest VA tobacco producer seat and two non-legislative citizens appointed by the Governor. Also allows “active farmers” to be named to the five seats formerly held exclusively by active tobacco producers;
requires dollar-for-dollar matching funds from non-Commission sources for all grants, unless a two-thirds majority of the Commission approves lesser match. No more than 25% of the required matching funds may come from in-kind sources.
requires adoption of TROF program policy (approved May 21, 2015);
requires a written report and recommendation from a “financial viability manager” on the financial viability, feasibility and propriety of any grant or loan;
requires adoption of a strategic plan biennially;
requires the Commission to post an online database of all awards, including key summary information;
limits annual invasion of the Commission’s endowment to 6% on a majority vote, 10% on a two-thirds vote, and 15% on a three-fourths vote;
requires an “accountability matrix” for each project describing outcomes and return on investment;
requires all applicants to provide data regarding explicit quantified outcomes;
creates a revolving loan fund for local government projects with an “identifiable revenue stream.” The Commission shall determine the recipients of loans, which will be administered by the Virginia Resources Authority.
What does this mean for applicants and grantees moving forward?
Several steps have already been taken in recent years to adopt TROF policy and to gather more detailed data on outcomes, and you will see further additions to grant applications to meet the new requirements, beginning with applications submitted in July 2015. The dollar-for-dollar match requirement is one of the most significant new requirements, and Staff has updated our document “Funding Policies for Grant Awards: Information for Applicants and Grantees” to discuss match requirements and standards for in-kind. Also, steps are underway to identify a financial viability manager and the scope of that role in the grant review process.
The strategic planning process concluded in 2016, and will included opportunities for input from stakeholders and partner agencies/organizations. The Revolving Loan Fund was implemented in 2016 and further information can be found below and here. As the Commission rolls-out its new online application and reporting system, the online database of grants awarded to date will be added later.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why did the Commission’s name change?
The Commission’s name changed from the Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission to the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission to reflect the fact that the portion of the Commission’s mission to indemnify tobacco farmers has been completed and, moving forward, the Commission will focus all of its efforts on building up the workforce and economy of the Tobacco Region.
Does the Commission still support Southside and Southwest Virginia?
Absolutely. You can see the map of the two regions the Commission serves here
How often does the Commission meet?
The full Commission meets three times annually, generally once in January, once in May, and once in September. Various committees meet more frequently, as needed, at the discretion of each committee’s chair. Often these committee meetings are co-located with full commission meetings and occur in the days or hours prior to the full Commission’s meeting.
What does this legislation change about what the Commission funds?
This legislation doesn’t change any category of projects or scholarships that the Commission supports. Rather, for certain projects, it imposes more stringent requirements regarding information and matching funds.
Do I need matching funds if I am a student applying for a scholarship?
No. The matching funds requirement only applies to economic development projects, not the students the Commission supports.
Why was the Commission’s membership reduced?
The General Assembly wanted to streamline the Commission while ensuring that there were enough commissioners to bring diverse backgrounds and experience, as well as serve on our committees.
Who are the current Commissioners?
You can find the list of current commissioners here:
Where can I find details about the Tobacco Region Opportunity Fund (TROF)?
You can find a link to the current TROF policies here: If you have any additional questions, reach out to Deputy Director Chris Piper at firstname.lastname@example.org
Do applicants and localities need additional matching funds when applying for TROF?
No. Because of the nature of the TROF funding formula, it wouldn’t be possible to receive TROF funds without already bringing adequate matching funds to the project. No new or additional matching funds are required.
Where can I find the database of previously funded projects?
Commission staff is currently transitioning to new database software that will support this legislative requirement. We anticipate that database will be available soon, but currently do not have a specific date on which it will be available.
Where can I find the new strategic plan?
The Commission’s new Strategic Plan was approved at the May 2016 meeting and can be found here
What kind of projects will the revolving loan fund support?
The Commission approved the revolving loan fund at its January 2016 meeting. Loans will be recommended for projects that have identifiable revenue streams, such as broadband, water, sewer, etc. Information about the loan program can be found here
For further information please contact Commission Staff.