Delegate Rob Bloxom has been selected as the first ever recipient of the Economic Development Authority of Accomack County’s Economic Development Award.

“It is my honor to present my fellow Board Member, Rob Bloxom, with the EDA’s first Champion of Economic Development Award”, EDA Board Chairwoman, Stella Rohde announced this week.“When the EDA Board became aware of the enormous contributions Rob has made to every region of the Eastern Shore, specially communities in Accomack County, the Board of Directors felt compelled to establish this award.”

As a member of the EDA Board of Director’s, Rob’s work in support of our major industries and to new job creation is unprecedented and too extensive to detail here but every one of us has benefited from his efforts. Some examples include:

  • $27 million for the Eastern Shore Community College to build a workforce center to train residents with skills they need to fill current and future Eastern Shore jobs.
  • $1.5 million needed to complete the new Eastern Shore Public Library
  • $600,000 for Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital to expand and upgrade services for women and infants.
  • A new $300,000 seawall on Tangier Island will protect one of the Eastern Shores most valuable seafood producers.

Funding to study sand and current movement in the Chincoteague Inlet will provide policy makers with information needed to make decisions on how best to protect the southern third of Chincoteague Island when U.S. Fish and Wildlife moves the public beach north. With 1.2 million visitors a year, Chincoteague and the Assateague National Seashore are major economic drivers of tourism for this entire region.

Rob’s main focus has been on strategic investment of public funds. What investments give us the Biggest Bang for the Buck? Here are some prime examples:

To grow and expand our aquaculture community, an investment of $17 million to build the first industry-driven aquaculture research center at VIMS in Wachapreague. People working in aquaculture will tell scientists exactly what they need to know to grow and expand their businesses.

To keep our Town Harbors, open for tourism and commerce, an investment of $1.5 million annually to establish Virginia’s first fund for dredging Eastern Shore waterways. This investment greatly reduces the Eastern Shore’s total dependency on the Army Corps of Engineers.

The work Rob has done at Wallops Island will probably have the greatest impact on future job growth. His work to leverage $9 billion in Federal assets on Wallops Island by investing in infrastructure for Virginia Space and the Mid-Atlantic Spaceport has seen immediate results.

In the last 3 years, the Eastern Shore has become a regional hub for commercial space and the testing and development of unmanned systems. Northrup Grumman/Orbital ATK has made Wallops home to their Antares rocket which will resupply the International Space Station through 2025. New arrival, Rocket Lab, plans 12 mid-sized rocket launches every year from Wallops and is a new anchor tenant in the County-owned Wallops Research Park. Our local tourism industry has greatly benefited from the arrival of rocket launches from Wallops Island expanding our once seasonal tourism economy.

The construction of an 8,000 ft runway dedicated to testing unmanned aircraft paid off almost immediately. The runway is fully booked by paying customers well into 2021.

Recent commitments to create a deep-water port near the UAS runway will make Wallops one of the few locations in the nation that can provide UAS testing in all 3 domains: air, land and underwater unmanned systems.

“Rob would never blow his own horn,” said Ms. Rohde. “So the EDA decided to do it for him”.

The Economic Development Authority was created by the Commonwealth of Virginia to focus on economic development and job creation for Accomack County. It’s 9-member Board of Directors is appointed by the Accomack County Board of Supervisors.

Delegate Bloxom will kick off his campaign tonight with an event on the back deck at Bizottos in Onancock at 6:30 pm. The event is free and the public is invited. Bloxom is being challenged by Democrat Phil Hernandez, a former employee of the Obama Administration.  This will be the first time in many years that a candidate from Norfolk will seek a seat that has traditionally been considered an Eastern Shore seat in the House of Delegates.