Franklin County, Virginia, will be part of a new program of the Virginia Tobacco Revitalization Commission which will help pay off student loan debt for recent college graduates who reside in Franklin County (or another tobacco region community) and fill in-demand jobs.
The Talent Attraction Program will award up to $48,000 per graduate over four years when recipients live and work in the tobacco region at specific jobs in education, health care, engineering, and computer technology. Award recipients also are required to become civically engaged in the community by volunteering with local non-profits or government activities.
While anyone from around the U.S. can apply, preference will be given to those raised in the tobacco region. Recipients will receive $12,000 per year upon proof of employment and residency for the initial two-year period. They are eligible to apply for an additional two years and receive another $24,000.
Franklin County is part of the Roanoke, Virginia, metropolitan area – the largest metro in Western Virginia. In the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, it is home to Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia’s largest lake and thousands of residents who enjoy the lake lifestyle.
Franklin County is well-known for its outdoors culture offering mountain bike trails and blueways for residents who also enjoy the county’s breweries and distilleries. Ferrum College, a four-year private school, and the Harvester, an intimate concert venue attracting national acts, are outlets for education and entertainment. The public schools are designed to meet the needs of all students with innovative programs from the arts to technology.
The tobacco commission will start accepting grant applications this summer.