Tobacco Region Opportunity Fund (TROF)
The purpose of the TROF program is to provide performance-based monetary grants and loans to localities in Virginia’s tobacco producing region (as defined by the Commission) to assist in the creation of new jobs and investments, whether through new business attraction or existing business expansion. Grants and loans, awarded at the Commission’s discretion, are evaluated in a manner consistent with the goals of the Commission and amounts are awarded commensurate with the project’s impact on the community and/or region in which the project is locating. Evaluation of award amount is consistent throughout the region and is based on the following criteria: local unemployment rates, prevailing wage rates, number of new jobs, capital investment levels, industry type and the possibility of related economic multiplier effect.
- TROF is the only Tobacco Commission grant program that may be paid at the beginning of the project to help tobacco region localities be competitive in attracting new investment and jobs resulting in increased tax revenue and opportunity for quality employment in the tobacco region.
- Since these are performance-based grants, the Commission monitors performance and requires repayment of full or pro-rated grant amount if performance agreement is not met.
Additionally, TROF recipients may elect to receive funds in the form of a loan rather than a grant. In this case, loans may be offered to match the calculated award amount.
The TROF program is designed to support the goal of the Commission to “develop a diverse economy in Southern and Southwest Virginia.” This goal is measured by job creation, workforce participation rate, wealth, diversity of economy, and taxable assets. All measurements listed are increased when a new or expanding business in the tobacco region creates new jobs that pay more than prevailing wage and adds taxable assets to the local tax rolls.
Tobacco Commission Business and Community Lending Program
Moving forward, the Commission’s largest budget line will be directed toward community and business lending. This approach will solve a significant issue related to access to capital in the region while also contributing to the Commission’s financial sustainability. This increased lending activity will, in many cases, result in awards consisting solely of loans whereas past guidelines may have resulted in a grant award.
The Commission will expand lending activity beyond its current stakeholders to include business lending, when that business or its principals have sufficient assets to guarantee a loan or the business’s locality or IDA/EDA will guarantee the loan.
- This program will allow businesses to obtain up-front capital, a need which has been expressed to the Commission over the years, while allowing the Commission to increase the competitiveness of the region’s business climate.
- When offering loans, preference will be given to shorter-term loans, and in all instances loan rates will be fixed at the outset so financial projections can be done in a stable fashion. The rate will be set by Commission staff, in consultation with partners at VRA, but will aim to be lower than commercial lenders while still ensuring a return for the Commission that exceeds inflation.
Check back soon for more information on how to apply for a loan!