NORFOLK — Gov. Ralph Northam recently announced $1.5 million in funding for six business winners of the inaugural RISE Coastal Community Resilience Challenge.
The winners will each receive between $160,000 and $310,000 to build innovative products, services and workforce development programs to help coastal communities adapt to climate change, officials wrote in a news release.
Those approaches will be demonstrated in the Hampton Roads region, with the goal they can be built into economically viable businesses, officials said.
The winners are: Building Resilience Solutions, Constructis Energy, GROW Oyster Reefs, InfraSGA, Landscape Resilience Partnership and Resilient Enterprise Solutions.
“As we continue to look at innovative and creative ways to address the growing challenge of extreme weather events and sea level rise, these businesses will be leading the charge to develop, test and demonstrate these products and approaches to tackle this ever-growing risk to Virginians, especially those in our Hampton Roads region,” Northam said.
In 2017, Virginia was awarded $120.5 million through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s National Disaster Resilience Competition for innovative solutions to sea level rise in the Hampton Roads region.
Of the award, HUD allocated $5.25 million to support the development of the resilience innovation hub called RISE, a nonprofit organization that provides businesses the resources to develop and grow resilience-building solutions for coastal communities.
“Massive infrastructure projects take years and billions of dollars. By developing the Hampton Roads region as a hub of resilience innovation for entrepreneurs, we can accelerate investment in affordable and scalable solutions and establish Hampton Roads as ground zero for the resilience economy,” said Paul Robinson, RISE executive director.
“Building strong entrepreneurial ecosystems is a key part of economic plan, and this competition is yet another way we are encouraging growth and success for our small businesses,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “In addition to the groundbreaking work these six winners will be doing, we are excited that two of the winning companies will be relocating from out of state to Hampton Roads for this innovative work.”
Last November, Northam issued Executive Order 24 to bolster Virginia’s resilience to sea level rise and natural hazards.
Executive Order 24 lays out a series of actions the state will undertake to limit the impact of flooding, extreme weather events and wildfires.
The order is among the most comprehensive actions undertaken by any state to improve resilience and protect people and property from natural catastrophes, officials said.
Most significantly, the executive order directs the development of a “Coastal Resilience Master Plan” to protect our coastline from sea level rise and extreme weather.
“As Virginia plans to be resilient with rising seas, recurrent flooding and more intense and extreme storms, we need an all hands on deck approach to protecting the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Natural Resources and Chief Resilience Officer of Virginia Matthew Strickler. “I am pleased to see private industry working together with state and federal government to tackle this existential threat to Virginia.”
The 2018 RISE Coastal Community Resilience Challenge topics were identified by more than 60 municipal, national, and international stakeholders and resilience experts during a Challenge Design Workshop organized by RISE and MIT Solve with support of the city of Norfolk Resilience Office and sponsorship from Old Dominion University.
“Robust economic development opportunities related to coastal adaptation needs provide a critical path forward as we develop our Coastal Resilience Master Plan to protect and adapt Virginia’s Coast,” said Adm. Ann Phillips, Special Assistant to the Governor for Coastal Adaptation and Protection. “Thanks to the hard work and success of RISE, these six entrepreneurs bring creative solutions across a range of today’s needs for our coastal communities, which will help make us more resilient as we prepare for our climate-changed future.”
For more information on the winners and the next competition cycle, visit www.riseresilience.org.