White signs reading “End Violence Against Asians” and “Stop Asian Hate” illuminated against candle flames outside the Richmond Korean Presbyterian Church.
More than 60 people gathered recently in Southside Richmond for the candlelight vigil to commemorate the Atlanta shooting victims and to call attention to recent anti-Asian violence.
“We did not want to be here, but we are here because of the hate,” said Mahmud Chowdhury, chairman of the Asian American Society of Central Virginia. “Because of madness in some people’s hearts and because of racism.”
The vigil was one of the numerous events across Virginia this past March as communities, advocates and lawmakers came together in response to the murder of eight people in Atlanta. Six of the eight victims were Asian women. Police charged 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long, who is white, with eight counts of murder.
A “Stop the Hate” rally was held in Richmond’s West End three days after the vigil. Community leaders and dignitaries, such as Attorney General Mark Herring and State Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, spoke at the rally.
May Nivar, who is Asian American and chair of Gov. Ralph Northam’s Asian Advisory Board, said she attended the vigil to show support for her community.
“It’s important that we all stand together and stand not only together amongst our own community but also with other marginalized communities,” Nivar said.
Nivar also is a founding member and chair of the Asian & Latino Solidarity Alliance of Central Virginia and a member of the Richmond chapter of Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities. She said fundamental local and federal legislative changes are needed to address anti-Asian discrimination.
“These vigils, they help bring the community together when we’re hurting,” Nivar said. “However, the real change has to come at the root cause. And that’s racism.”
These changes, Nivar said, include anti-racist policies in government and education, such as teaching the history of minorities. She said white supremacy plays a part in the absence of teaching the history of marginalized communities in schools, such as African American and Asian American history.
Nivar said the Asian American and Pacific Islander community also needs to internally reflect on its part in addressing systemic racism and striving for substantial changes.
“We need to work with ourselves,” Nivar said. “There’s a lot of anti-Blackness in our community. There’s a lot of colorism in our community. There’s a lot of layers to unpack.”
State legislators recently formed a caucus to advocate legislation for Asian American and Pacific Islanders in Virginia, which the founding members said was partly a response to recent anti-Asian hate crimes.
Del. Kathy K.L. Tran, D-Springfield, said the movement to combat Asian hate is part of a larger racial and economic justice movement.
The caucus plans to work alongside the Virginia Legislative Black and Virginia Latino caucuses to push out legislation to “achieve our common goals of a more equitable future for Virginians.”
Tran was overcome with emotions as she reflected on the surge of violence against Asian Americans in the past months.
“It’s as if we have been so othered, that we’re at the point that we’re dehumanized,” Tran said, “and that you could be cruel against us. You can be a bully against us because nobody’s going to stand up to help us.”
Days after Tran’s remarks, a Filipina American woman was brutally attacked in New York City during the day. No one intervened.
Tran’s family came to the United States as refugees from Vietnam. Her family dealt with discrimination and microaggressions when they moved to the U.S, she said.
“I’m thinking about my own experience and unpacking that,” Tran said. “That’s hard. It’s just a lot of trauma.”
Del. Kelly K. Convirs-Fowler, D-Virginia Beach, said the Asian American community has a long history of enduring xenophobia and racism. Convirs-Fowler, who is of Filipino descent, added the Asian American and Pacific Islander community will not be a scapegoat. She rejected the notion that the group is a model minority, a stereotype that paints Asian Americans as hardworking and economically successful compared to other ethnic minorities. She said the caucus formation “symbolizes a shift” in Virginia’s Asian American community.
The caucus members do not have a firm list of policy agendas, but they will have a virtual listening tour in April to gauge issues and concerns in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. They will virtually meet with the public in Northern and Central Virginia and Hampton Roads.
Del. Suhas Subramanyam, D-Ashburn, said the caucus will incorporate the feedback into its policy agenda, which it plans to release in May, coinciding with Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The caucus will pursue specific legislation during the 2022 General Assembly session.
Del. Mark L. Keam, D-Fairfax, said he wants to improve language access at government services for Asian Americans and others who do not speak English. He said non-English speakers are not getting vital information about COVID-19 vaccine distribution or unemployment insurance claims due to the lack of language assistance.
While Atlanta law enforcement has not declared the killings a hate crime, many Asian Americans believe the shootings are another example of the spike in anti-Asian violence since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Advocates and lawmakers have linked the hate crimes to rhetoric blaming the Asian community for COVID-19. Many attribute the origin to former President Donald Trump’s usage of the terms “Chinese virus” or “Kung flu” to describe COVID-19.
“The past administration in the White House frequently sought to demean and dehumanize,” the Asian American and Pacific Islander community and didn’t respond to growing attacks, said Sen. Ghazala Hashmi, D-Chesterfield.
Hashmi introduced a bill this legislative session to expand the definition of hate crimes to include attacks based on the perception of a person’s identity. The bill failed to advance.
Tran said anti-Asian hate crimes may go unreported because most people are afraid to come forward.
“They might not have the language abilities, the trust of law enforcement, and they just don’t know how to report,” Tran said.
Subramanyam said he received calls and emails from Asian Americans, especially South Asian Americans, reporting hate incidents to his office because they feel uncomfortable reporting to law enforcement.
There were 215 reported victims of anti-Asian hate crimes in 2019, according to an FBI hate crime statistics report. Anti-Asian hate crimes increased nearly 150% from 2019 to 2020 in 16 major U.S. cities, according to a Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism report.
Almost 50 hate incidents against Asian Americans occurred in Virginia since March 2020, according to a report by STOP AAPI Hate, a group that tracks hate incidents against Asian Americans.
The organization uses the term hate incident to account for incidents motivated by bias that might not be legally defined as a crime, such as racist slurs.
Nearly 3,800 hate incidents nationwide were reported to the organization since the pandemic. Virginia was one of the top 18 states with the most reported incidents, joining Maryland and the District of Columbia.
Reported hate incidents in Virginia were much lower than incidents reported in California, New York, and Washington, which accounted for a majority of incidents. The group received almost 1,700 hate incident reports in California.
The majority of individuals reported verbal harassment, followed by shunning and physical assault. Chinese is the largest ethnicity group to report hate, followed by Koreans, Vietnamese and Filipinos. Women reported more than twice as much anti-Asian discrimination than men, according to the report.
There is a long legacy of anti-Asian racism in the U.S. that is often intertwined with misogyny, experts said. One of the earliest acts of anti-Asian sentiment was the 1871 Chinese massacre in Los Angeles that killed 19 Chinese immigrants, said Sylvia Chong, associate professor of American studies at the University of Virginia.
The Page Act of 1875 denied Chinese women entry into the U.S. due to “lewd and immoral purposes” because “they were seen as a sort of a threat to immigration, but also, they were characterized as not being virtuous,” said Shilpa Davé, associate dean and assistant professor of media studies at UVA.
Anti-Asian discrimination seeped into laws, such as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 that prohibited all immigration of Chinese laborers. It was the first federal law to bar a specific ethnic group from coming into the country.
Chong and Davé said the U.S. military presence and imperialism in Asia during the 20th century escalated the sexualization of Asian women. Chong said there was “persistent encouragement and use” of the local population to satisfy the military’s sexual needs.
“This introduces to American troops … the notion that Asian women, in particular, are in the position of sexual servitude,” Chong said. “So this follows people home.”
This narrative carried over and persisted in American popular culture, in numerous films and musicals, such as “Miss Saigon” portraying Asian women as sex objects, Davé said. It created the stereotype of Asian women being “sexually promiscuous or self-sacrificing” which became ingrained in American society.
The Atlanta shootings and recent violence underscore the intersectionality of gender, class, and immigration status in anti-Asian racism, Chong said. While there is no indication the Atlanta shooting victims engaged in sex work, she said, Asian massage parlor workers are vulnerable to sexual exploitation. Low-wage laborers, such as massage spa workers, are often exploited and demonized, she said. There is also a narrative that they need to be “saved from their lives,” which is harmful, according to Chong.
“They need to be given the protection to live their lives as others do,” Chong said. “Free from coercion, law enforcement coercion, as well as the random violence, societal violence. This is what any person in society wants.”
By David Tran
Capital News Service
Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.
AG Herring and Virginia NAACP launch effort to reform handling of officer-involved shootings
Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring and the Virginia NAACP are launching a collaborative effort to identify and help implement reforms to the way the Commonwealth of Virginia and its law enforcement agencies handle investigations into officer-involved shooting deaths. The goal of the effort is to ensure the most possible transparency, impartiality, and public confidence in investigations into officer-involved shooting deaths.
“Investigations into officer-involved shootings should be handled by independent, unaffiliated agencies in order to avoid conflicts of interest, and to maximize the public’s confidence that justice will be served and the matter will be handled in the most honest, objective, and transparent way possible,” said Attorney General Herring. “Self-investigation of such a serious matter can understandably lead to doubt or skepticism about the outcome, which can, in turn, lead to mistrust and damaged relationships between agencies and the communities they serve. In recent years, different states have pursued unique and innovative strategies for handling these matters, and I intend to engage my colleagues around the county and the Commonwealth to build a consensus around a stronger process that promotes transparency, impartiality, and public trust.”
“I thank President Barnette and the Virginia NAACP for their leadership on this issue and their unwavering commitment to ensuring justice, safety, equality, and opportunity for all Virginians.”
Attorney General Herring has worked to promote safe, fair, and just policing as part of his broader efforts to reform Virginia’s criminal justice system. He launched the OAG’s largest-ever training initiative on 21st policing skills like implicit bias awareness, de-escalation, and cultural competency. He has also advocated for higher training standards for officers, as well as stronger accountability mechanisms to decertify officers who do not meet the Commonwealth’s standards. He has advocated for independent investigations of officer-involved shootings as a standard practice and worked with legislators to secure authority for the Attorney General to conduct “pattern or practice” investigations that can identify and stop illegal or unconstitutional policing, making Virginia one of the few states to enact this important accountability measure.
Governor Northam announces over $6.3 million in GO Virginia grants to drive economic growth
Governor Ralph Northam announced on April 9, 2021, an allocation of more than $6.3 million in Growth and Opportunity for Virginia (GO Virginia) grants to help the Commonwealth continue addressing the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding will support a total of 15 projects, including eight regional GO Virginia projects and seven projects through GO Virginia’s Economic Resilience and Recovery Program.
“This funding will go a long way towards supporting a broad-based economic recovery across our Commonwealth,” said Governor Northam. “As we celebrate these projects, we must also recognize the leadership and many contributions of the late GO Virginia Board Chairman Tom Farrell, whose business acumen helped advance the GO Virginia mission of fostering lasting regional collaboration, and was instrumental in mounting a robust effort to spur Virginia’s economic recovery amid the pandemic. His legacy will live on through innovative, impactful programs like this one.”
The projects receiving funds will provide additional capacity to expand workforce development and talent pipelines in key industries, support the growth of startup businesses and entrepreneurial ecosystems, grow Virginia’s portfolio of business-ready sites, and assist regions with mitigating the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The awards will leverage an additional $5.6 million in local and other non-state resources to assist with ongoing economic diversification and growth efforts throughout Virginia.
“From energy and life sciences to manufacturing and tourism, GO Virginia continues to spur innovative ideas and strategies to support businesses throughout the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “As Chair, Tom Farrell gave so much of his time to the betterment of Virginia communities, and he will be dearly missed.”
“The recent efforts of the GO Virginia program demonstrate the importance of strategic thinking in regions, and how addressing near-term economic needs can create long-term economic growth opportunities,” said GO Virginia Board Member and House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn. “This round of grants represents a combination of ingenuity, collaboration, and resiliency during a time of unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and I look forward to seeing the positive impact they have on communities around the Commonwealth.”
Since the program’s inception in 2017, GO Virginia has funded 163 projects and awarded approximately $56.9 million to support regional economic development efforts. To learn more about GO Virginia, visit dhcd.virginia.gov/gova.
2021 ROUND ONE REGIONAL GRANT AWARDS
Energy Storage and Electrification Manufacturing Jobs | $486,366
Region 1: Counties of Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell, and Tazewell
Together with multiple partners, Appalachian Voices will execute a strategy to build a new, high-wage industry cluster around energy storage electrification. The project will also provide technical assistance to existing manufacturers as they diversify and expand sales into these new markets.
Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center | $99,360
Region 2: Montgomery County and the city of Roanoke
The Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center (VTCRC) will develop a market study, conceptual design, and associated operational plan to support the life science ecosystem in Blacksburg and Roanoke with flexible laboratory space. This space will ultimately support commercial entities and startup companies in the life sciences sector while providing a focal point to keep locally grown talent in the region.
SOVA Innovation Hub and Longwood University Office of Community and Economic Development Entrepreneurship and Innovation Implementation Project | $449,000
Region 3: Counties of Amelia, Buckingham, Cumberland, Halifax, Patrick, and Prince Edward
The SOVA Innovation Hub, in partnership with the Longwood University Office of Community and Economic Development, will launch a series of entrepreneurship training, youth entrepreneurship, and capital access programming. Funding will support the creation of new jobs by building entrepreneurship capacity and a stronger, more equitable region-wide network of resources for startups and early-stage companies.
Federation of Advanced Manufacturing Education | $613,000
Region 4: Counties of Charles City, Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Greensville, Prince George, Surry, and Sussex and the cities of Colonial Heights, Hopewell, and Petersburg
The Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing, in partnership with Richard Bland College, will establish a Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (FAME) chapter in Virginia and launch an Advanced Manufacturing Technician program. Funding will support the development of new hands-on learning space for advanced manufacturing and new training capacity for jobs that are in high demand by area manufacturers.
757 Collab Bridge | $32,000
Region 5: Cities of Hampton, Newport News, and Norfolk
757 Collab, a new venture of 757 Accelerate and 757 Angels, will provide rent-free space and essential programming for 25-30 startup companies each year. This grant will support the ongoing activities of 757 Accelerate and 757 Startup Studios as they develop the new 757 Collab organization.
Richmond County Commerce Center Expansion | $1,223,974
Region 6: Counties of Richmond and Westmoreland, and the town of Warsaw
Richmond County, in partnership with Westmoreland County, will expand the Richmond County Commerce Center to develop two business-ready sites, totaling 45 acres. The partnership of these localities will contribute to the joint promotion and marketing of the area and provide space for new and expanding businesses.
Northern Virginia Smart Region Initiative | $1,287,580
Region 7: Counties of Arlington and Fairfax, and the city of Fairfax
Smart City Works will help establish Northern Virginia as a center of excellence for urban technology innovation and a top destination for digital technology companies to build and grow their businesses. Funding will support the growth of high-tech startup companies through the introduction of capital investment opportunities, the expansion of business acceleration programs, and the creation of pathways to successfully deliver new products to the marketplace.
Shenandoah Valley Sites Enhancement Program | $821,000
Region 8: Counties of Augusta, Frederick, Rockingham, Shenandoah, and Warren
The Shenandoah Valley Partnership will lead an effort to advance six regionally significant sites, totaling 1,112 acres, for potential new or expanding businesses in the region’s targeted industries.
ECONOMIC RESILIENCE AND RECOVERY GRANTS
Virginia Restaurant and Hotel Workforce COVID Recovery and Upskilling Program | $132,500
Region 4: Counties of Chesterfield, Hanover, and Henrico, and the city of Richmond
The Virginia Restaurant, Lodging, and Travel Association will support the restaurant and hospitality industry by offering COVID-related skills training to unemployed and underemployed restaurant and hotel workers. This initiative will also further develop an industry-specific job board to support ongoing industry recovery efforts.
Engineering Interns + Manufacturers = Success Squared (S2) | $39,200
Region 4: County of Prince George and the city of Hopewell
The College of Engineering and Technology at Virginia State University will create an internship program to support regional manufacturing companies impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the course of a semester, interns will develop projects focused on a company’s specific needs related to economic distress brought on by the pandemic, while also getting the hands-on experience needed to round out their degrees.
Startup Stability Program | $197,000
Region 5: Cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth
The Portsmouth Development Foundation will support small businesses adversely impacted by the pandemic through subsidized co-working space and mentoring services.
Marine Trades Training Program Expansion | $99,137
Region 5: Cities of Portsmouth and Norfolk
Tidewater Community College’s Marine Trades Training Program will expand its welding and marine coatings programs at the Skilled Trades Academy in Portsmouth. The welding program will be expanded by 33 percent to accommodate an additional 40 students per year, and the marine coating program will be relocated and expanded to support an additional 84 students per year.
Virginia Cyber Skills Academy | $699,995
Region 7: Counties of Arlington and Loudoun and the city of Alexandria
The Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu and the Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC) will train individuals whose employment was impacted by the pandemic for high-demand cybersecurity roles. All courses and certifications will be provided online at no cost to students, and this project will assist graduates with obtaining employment with area technology companies.
Local Ordering, Communication, and Agricultural Logistics Initiative | $60,602
Region 8: County of Page and cities of Harrisonburg and Roanoke
Common Grain Alliance (CGA) will provide support and build cooperative relationships between farmers, local producers, and distributors impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The project will leverage existing web-based applications with an online marketplace to increase sales and enhance the resiliency of the industry through the creation of an online platform to facilitate supply chain logistics and new technology to streamline food sales, storage access, and distribution.
Central Virginia Small Business Development Center Resiliency | $131,220
Region 9: Counties of Albemarle, Culpeper, Fluvanna, Louisa, Madison, Orange, and Rappahannock, and the city of Charlottesville
The Central Virginia Small Business Development Center (SBDC) will address growth challenges and improve economic resiliency among area businesses by enhancing firms’ digital presence and e-commerce capabilities. Additionally, this funding will help increase SBDC’s capacity to serve the region’s business development needs, emphasizing services to rural and under-resourced communities.
Amendment to new law protects stimulus payments from garnishment/seizure by creditors and debt collectors
An amendment to a new law from Attorney General Mark R. Herring and Delegate Hala Ayala will ensure that the entirety of the most recent round of stimulus payments help Virginians support themselves and their families during the COVID crisis rather than getting swept up by debt collectors and creditors. The initial bill was passed during last year’s special legislative session after it was discovered that the initial round of support payments issued by Congress as part of the CARES Act was left vulnerable to seizure or garnishment.
“These federal stimulus payments are meant to go towards helping Virginia families put food on the table, keep the lights on, purchase medical supplies, and other necessities,” said Attorney General Herring. “Virginians have dealt with so much over the past year, and they should not have to add worrying about debt collectors or creditors coming after their much-needed stimulus money to that list. As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, putting Virginians first must always be our top priority and I want to thank Delegate Ayala for her partnership on this important legislation.”
“Families across the Commonwealth are still struggling to make ends meet during this uncertain economic time and it’s so important that any federal stimulus payments go towards food, utilities, rent, and other necessities,” said Delegate Ayala. “Attorney General Herring and I recognized early on that garnishment of these payments could be a serious problem and I’m so glad we were able to come up with this solution. These unprecedented times have forced us to come up with new and innovative ways to help and protect Virginians and I want to thank Attorney General Herring for his help in getting this legislation passed.”
When it was discovered that CARES Act relief payments were not explicitly protected from garnishment, Attorney General Herring urged then U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to take steps to ensure the payments would benefit struggling Americans rather than creditors and debt collectors. When the Trump Administration failed to act, Attorney General Herring pursued a state-level solution to ensure these payments benefit Virginians who need help.
During the 2020 COVID and Criminal Justice Reform Special Session, the General Assembly passed HB5068 from Attorney General Herring and Delegate Hala Ayala with bipartisan support. The bill exempts up to $1,200 state and federal emergency relief payments from garnishment, attachment, and other legal creditor process seizures. It included an emergency clause ensuring it went into effect immediately upon Governor Northam’s signature. The amendment to HB5068 ensures that Virginians are able to keep the entirety of their federal stimulus payments, protecting that money from debt collectors and creditors.
If any Virginian believes that their economic relief payment has been unlawfully garnished or seized, they should assert their rights under § 34-28.3. Emergency relief payments exempt directly from the relevant collections agency or financial institution.
The bill was part of Attorney General Herring’s 2020 COVID legislative package that included garnishment/seizure protection for relief payments, new laws to protect Virginians and Virginia hospitals and businesses from price gouging on PPE and other necessities, measures to help Virginians stay in their homes and keep utilities connected, and measures to ensure safe voting.
Governor Northam announces $46.6 million in federal funding for Virginia private schools
On April 8, 2021, Governor Ralph Northam invited eligible Virginia private schools to apply for funding from the federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act approved by Congress in December 2020.
The CRRSA Act includes $2.75 billion in Governor’s Emergency Education Relief funding for the Emergency Assistance for Non-Public Schools (EANS) program and Virginia received an allocation of $46.6 million. Non-public schools do not receive direct awards or allocations under the EANS program. Rather, state education departments use EANS funds to procure services and assistance requested by eligible schools in their applications.
In total, Virginia will receive approximately $993 million in funding for PreK-12 education from the CRRSA Act, with $946 million benefitting Virginia’s PreK-12 public schools. $845 million of those funds are currently available to Virginia’s 132 public school divisions, with $101 million set aside for statewide education initiatives such as enhancing student literacy, providing extended year learning opportunities, and increasing digital instruction tools for educators.
“All of our students and educators have endured tremendous educational disruptions over the past year,” said Governor Northam. “These funds will help our private schools address pandemic-related operating costs and ensure they can continue to meet the individual needs of their students during this challenging time and as we move forward.”
The American Rescue Plan Act, which was signed into law by President Joseph R. Biden in March, includes $122 billion to support the recovery efforts of K-12 schools nationwide. Ninety percent of the funding will go directly to local school districts based on the formula for distributing federal Title I funds. Ten percent of the funding will support state-level efforts to help schools recover from the pandemic. Virginia will receive $2.1 billion, with $1.9 billion going directly to school divisions, and approximately $200 million reserved to support state-level K-12 recovery initiatives.
“This EANS program funding will support Virginia’s private K-12 schools as they support educators and continue to provide high-quality instruction to their students,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “The federal CRRSA Act has delivered critical resources to Virginia’s education system, and these funds specifically dedicated to K-12 private schools will go far to lift schools up as they work to address learning loss.”
According to the Virginia Council on Private Education (VCPE), there are 488 accredited K-12 private schools in the commonwealth serving approximately 112,000 students. In Virginia, eligible non-public schools are K-12 private schools with state-recognized accreditation through the VCPE and private schools that certify compliance with the state laws that apply to schools accredited through VCPE. The CRRSA Act requires state education departments to prioritize applications based on enrollment of low-income students and the severity of the impact of the pandemic on the school.
“Virginia’s private schools sincerely thank Governor Northam for recognizing the impact COVID-19 has had on all school-aged children, including the approximately 11 percent of Virginia’s students who attend private schools, by applying for this federal funding,” said VCPE Executive Director Grace Turner Creasey. “The EANS program funding mechanism sends necessary assistance to private schools as they continue to ensure the health, safety and wellness of students during this global pandemic.”
Approved services and assistance for non-public schools under the CRRSA Act include, but are not limited to:
• Supplies to sanitize, disinfect, and clean school facilities;
• Personal protective equipment;
• Improving ventilation systems, including windows or portable air purification systems;
• Training and professional development for staff on sanitization, the use of personal protective equipment, and minimizing the spread of infectious diseases;
• Physical barriers to facilitate social distancing;
• Other materials, supplies, or equipment recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for reopening and operation of school facilities to effectively maintain health and safety; and
• Educational technology to assist students, educators, and other staff with remote or hybrid learning.
“I want to thank Governor Northam for applying for Virginia’s EANS allocation, which will allow the Virginia Department of Education to assist the Commonwealth’s non-public schools by securing services, supplies, and assistance,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. James Lane. “These resources will help keep their students and teachers healthy and safe, and help private schools recover from the impacts of the pandemic.”
Eligible private schools must submit a completed application to the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) by April 26. The application form and additional information on the EANS program are available here.
Virginia among 15 East Coast states participating in annual “I-95 Drive to Save Lives”
Virginia will be among 15 states, from Maine to Florida, participating in a two-day “Drive to Save Lives” traffic safety initiative along Interstate 95. On Friday and Saturday, April 9-10, 2021, Virginia State Police will be dedicating additional patrol resources to Interstate 95 traffic safety enforcement. Motorists can expect to see an increased presence of troopers along Virginia’s entire 178 miles of I-95, from the border of North Carolina to Maryland. This year the initiative coincides with Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
“With April being Distracted Driving Awareness Month and Virginia’s new hands-free law, this enhanced enforcement initiative along the East Coast couldn’t come at a better time,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Superintendent of the Virginia State Police. “This time of year people are on the road for Spring Break, vacations and outdoor adventuring. Keeping your eyes on the road, buckling up, complying with posted speed limits and never driving intoxicated, will help ensure your spring travels are safe, especially along the I-95 corridor.”
In 2020, Virginia recorded 37 traffic crash fatalities on I-95, six of which involved distracted driving. Additionally, five of those crashes involved drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In all, 625 people lost their lives in crashes along the entire 1,920 miles of I-95 last year.
In addition to complying with traffic laws, drivers are reminded that as of January 1, 2021, it is illegal to hold a handheld personal communications device while driving a moving motor vehicle on Virginia highways. For more information on the new law, visit www.phonedown.org.
With increased patrols, State Police also remind drivers of Virginia’s “Move Over” law, which requires motorists to move over when approaching an emergency vehicle stopped alongside the road. If unable to move over, then drivers are required to cautiously pass the emergency vehicle. The law also applies to workers in vehicles equipped with amber lights.
Governor Northam announces international telecommunications company to expand, create up to 200 new jobs in Prince William County
On April 7, 2021, Governor Ralph Northam announced that SES, a Luxembourg-based telecommunications company, will invest $17 million to merge its satellite and network operations at a new facility in Prince William County. The company will consolidate operations, technology, engineering, and support functions at 8050 Piney Branch Lane, establishing a hub for the company’s technology and operations activities across the United States. Virginia successfully competed with Maryland and Washington, D.C. for the project, which will create up to 200 net new jobs by 2026.
“The growing presence of SES in Prince William County is an indication that the region and the Commonwealth have the infrastructure, workforce, and strategic access to help technology businesses thrive,” said Governor Northam. “Northern Virginia is renowned for its world-class technology talent pipeline, which will pay significant dividends for SES as the company continues to grow and execute its business plan.”
SES is a leader in global content connectivity solutions, supplying video and data connectivity services to broadcasters, content and internet service providers, mobile and fixed network operators, and governments around the world. SES operates the only multi-orbit constellation of satellites with the unique combination of global coverage and high performance, including the commercially proven, low-latency Medium Earth Orbit O3b constellation. By leveraging a vast and intelligent, cloud-enabled network, SES delivers high-quality connectivity solutions on land, at sea, or in the air. SES’s video network carries over 8,200 channels and has an unparalleled reach of over 360 million households, delivering managed media services for linear and non-linear content.
“SES’s new technology and operations hub is a tremendous win for Prince William County that will influence worldwide connectivity and strengthen the Commonwealth’s position as a tech leader,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “Corporate partners like SES are helping to accelerate Virginia’s economic recovery, and we thank the company for creating up to 200 high-quality jobs.”
“In consolidating our local SES satellite and network operations and selecting a U.S. hub to house them all, we needed to consider our employees’ commutes, the locale of our existing satellite infrastructure investments, and access to a broader engineering talent pool,” said Steve Collar, CEO of SES. “We are pleased that we have landed on the ideal location of Prince William County, as this new hub provides SES with the space to continue providing seamless services and aligns with our goal to deliver future-proof and innovative solutions for customers while adapting how we will work in a post-pandemic world. With more people demanding more connectivity and data services, we will also be looking at engaging top talent across Virginia to grow our technology and global services teams in the coming months and would welcome candidates’ applications from the area.”
Tom Birnbach, President and Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors, and Samuel Heiber, Principal at Cresa, the commercial real estate firm representing SES, through a strategic assessment determined Prince William County met all of SES’s goals and objectives for the future growth of its U.S. technology and operations hub.
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Prince William County to secure the project for Virginia. Governor Northam approved a $500,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to assist Prince William County with the project. SES is eligible to receive benefits from the Major Business Facility Job Tax Credit for new, full-time jobs created. Funding and services to support SES employee recruitment and training activities will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.
“We are thrilled to see an international company like SES establish their U.S. technology and operations hub in Prince William County,” said Ann B. Wheeler, Chair of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors. “This expansion will create up to 200 new high-tech jobs over five years for our educated workforce and further support the implementation of technologies and infrastructure that will allow for uninterrupted connectivity in our community and beyond.”
“Virginia continues to attract new and innovative businesses, and I am proud to welcome SES to the 13th Senate District,” said Senator John Bell. “Prince William County will gain up to 200 new telecommunication jobs through this investment and will continue to draw upon the specialized talents and skillsets of our workforce. Bringing new jobs to Prince William County will continue to bolster our economy and strengthen our communities.”