James City County, Virginia is requesting proposals from qualified, interested parties to conduct research and develop a comprehensive strategy for rural economic development which builds upon and complements the traditional economic development initiatives currently supported by the County.
The purpose of issuing this Request for Proposal (“RFP”) is to:
a) Identify the firm or team of firms most suited to assisting the County in advancing its rural economic development objectives;
b) Develop the goals/mission statement/comprehensive strategy for a diversified, sustainable rural economy within James City County;
c) Identify a range of best practices in rural economic development and establish criteria to be used in measuring their relative compatibility in the County and their ability to advance the goals established in a) above;
d) Create a prioritized list of rural economic development strategies with respect to importance or potential positive impact and timeframe or resources needed for implementation ;
e) Develop the framework for a rural economic development vision that will garner widespread support from property owners, policy makers, business leaders, and other affected parties ; and
f) Identify the necessary pre-requisites (regulatory, financial, cultural and other) to successful rural economic development of the uses identified.
James City County has a long tradition of agricultural and timbering enterprises, and believes there is tremendous opportunity to support and further expand and diversify agriculture- and forestry-based businesses, thereby increasing the rural sector of our local economy. We envision this to include agriculture; timbering; aquaculture; local food production, distribution, and value-added opportunities; agri-tourism and eco-tourism; specialized animal husbandry; specialty crops; expanded winery enterprises and new farm brewery/farm distillery operations, as well as other sustainable rural economic uses.
Several local initiatives have surfaced, indicating general local support for the larger concept of enhancing agricultural assets. However, no strategy has been developed to tie the various segments together into a unified, comprehensive approach for rural economic development, together with a coordinated and organized work plan, established metrics for monitoring success and a realistic funding needs assessment. Without such a strategy, myriad ideas are generated without guidance for allocating resources and building foundations for future successes.
Growing our economy and preserving our productive farmland and timberland are not mutually exclusive goals. James City County seeks assistance identifying and evaluating the creative exploration of a range of rural economic development uses and opportunities appropriate to our climate and geography, our historical/natural context and local political landscape. It is important to note that this process is not intended to be an economic development strategic plan in the traditional sense, but rather an informed investigation of specific uses or activities relative to the rural sector of the local economy. The proposed final document will identify the appropriate use of rural lands as contributors to the local economy while maintaining their scenic, rural characteristics consistent with a developed rural economy; the final document is anticipated to become one section of a future overall economic development strategic plan for the County.
Desired components of this effort include the following:
• Identification of possible opportunities, based on national best practices, for the County and private landowners to expand the local rural economy;
• Identification of defined and discrete projects from the identified opportunities, determination of the general feasibility of each discrete project if pursued in James City County, and identification of key steps or resources required for each;
• Evaluation of potential return on investment, prioritization of projects, and specific recommendations for implementation;
• Identification of potential sources of funding for each recommended project;
• Identification of metrics for tracking implementation and progress of the recommendations;
• Summary and basic analysis of the following information (using data provided by the County and other local partners and sources of information): existing rural economic development assets; financial contribution that agriculture plays in the County’s economy; efforts currently underway and parties involved; current barriers to rural economic development in the County, strategies for how they can be overcome and ways to better facilitate agricultural and forestry uses outside the PSA; and
• Facilitation of the REDC discussion that develops the goal or vision statement for rural economic development.
Aside from working with the REDC to develop the comprehensive strategy, there may be additional public meetings or public input needed as part of the process. Additionally, the successful firm will need to interface with the County’s Economic Development Authority (EDA), Planning Commission (PC) and Board of Supervisors (BOS) and potentially be available to present the resulting strategy at work sessions and/or public hearings.