Winning the $1.3M Virginia Tobacco Commission Grant
On August 26, 2009 The Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission (VTICRC) announced a $1.3M grant to the Scott County Economic Development Authority in partnership with OnePartner for the purpose of proposing an unprecedented, turn-key solution that could provide state-of-the-art electronic medical records capabilities to 37 Virginia Department of Health locations in Southwest Virginia and Southside Virginia.
This announcement was the culmination of efforts which I began in the fall of 2008. Creating a winning grant request is similar to the development of a new product or service for the marketplace.
Identify an unmet market need/understand the objectives of the grant
Developer bias is one reason so many businesses or new service launches fail. The same pitfall collects most grant applications. A great concept or altruistic vision won’t fly unless it can be aligned with the grant’s judging criteria. In this case, the grant is focused on creation of jobs to replace those lost in the tobacco farming industry. I saw a lot of other grant requests written by people who didn’t understand this basic concept and they never left the ground.
A great idea that no one knows about isn’t going far. I met with a lot of influential folks, shared the merits of the project and answered their questions. People who have built influence are careful about spending it. Whether for the community benefit, financial gain or an investment in greater influence – or a combination of all three – no one wants to risk a project which could generate a negative result. The rounds of Q&A drive out areas of risk like quail from a bush; any sign of potential risk will cause the influencer to withhold support.
People who’ve never been through the process sometimes think winning a grant is easy. It isn’t At all. During the process, I refined the grant application at least a half dozen times. It’s like running an obstacle course over and over to improve your time and never being entirely certain how your times stack up against the competitor. You’re competing blind against other applications. By the end of the process you feel you’ve earned the grant money.
The $1.3M we received was the largest grant approved for an application outside of rural broadband investments.
Left to right: Tom Deaderick, Senator William C. Wampler, Dr. Jerry Miller, Delegate Terry Kilgore and Dr. David Redwine
Left to right: Delegate Terry Kilgore, Senator William C. Wampler and Tom Deaderick