LEBANON, VA – DECEMBER 17, 2020 While 2020 has had many challenges, the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) noted this week that despite those obstacles, through new projects and expansions in Southwest Virginia’s e-Region announced during the calendar year, 1,205 full-time jobs and 205 part-time jobs will be created or retained in the seven-county one-city area which comprises Southwest Virginia’s e-Region.

The new projects and expansions will generate a combined $237 million in private investment.

The snapshot of 2020 was presented by VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher Thursday at a meeting of the VCEDA board.

Belcher noted the 31 new projects announced during 2020 are projected to create some 504 full-time jobs and 95 part-time jobs generating more than $235.5 million in private investment. Additionally, seven expansions of existing projects in the area will lead to the creation and/or retention of 701 full-time jobs and 110 part-time jobs and will generate another $1.55 million in private investment in the region.  This includes more than 500 jobs being retained through COVID-19 relief assistance provided by VCEDA.

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Belcher also told board members that VCEDA staff had fielded 162 inquiries and took part in 28 prospect visits to the region, including those conducted in-person and in a virtual setting. Throughout the year, he added, the authority approved 16 loans and 37 grants for a total of $10.5 million in new VCEDA funding.  Funding was approved in 2020 for projects in each of the localities served by VCEDA.

In other business, the board elected officers for 2021. Larry Mosley was selected as the new chairman; Josh Ball, vice chairman; Esther Bolling, treasurer; and Jim Baldwin, secretary. J.P. Richardson will become immediate past chairman and remains chairman of the VCEDA executive committee.

The board also considered several requests for loans and grants during its final meeting of 2020.

The award of $144,000 in seed capital program funds was approved in the amount of a $9,000 grant to each of 16 small businesses which project the creation of 48 full-time jobs and 52 part-time jobs.

Businesses named to receive grants through the program include: Copper Creek Metal Works LLC in Castlewood; Nxtgen Mobile Welding Services, LLC in Honaker; The Play Hut, PLLC in Lebanon; Whitt Insurance Agency, LLC in Honaker; Clinch River Life in Duffield; The Marion Kitchen LLC in Big Stone Gap; Moccasin Junction Inc. in Gate City; Nash Creamery in Nickelsville; Caney Kennels in Clintwood; Country-fied Café in Clintwood; O’Quinn Rentals, LLC in Haysi; Propel Counseling Group LLC in Clintwood; Charly’s in Pennington Gap; Tazewell Dance Center LLC in Cedar Bluff; Valley Animal Clinic, PLLC in Cedar Bluff; and Blankenship’s Hunting Supply, Taxidermy & Deer Processing LLC in Hurley.

The board also agreed unanimously to convert to grants the outstanding balances of the  loans awarded earlier in the year to VCEDA-member industrial and economic development authorities in the form of COVID-19 small business relief funding.

Last April, the VCEDA board approved a total of $590,000 in loans to the eight county/city industrial and economic development authorities in the region, to be used to re-loan to local businesses which had been negatively impacted during the COVID-19 crisis in their respective localities. All of the loans were subsequently closed, except for the loan approved to the Economic Development Authority of Lee County, which decided not to utilize the loan. It is estimated the loans helped save more than 500 full-time and part-time jobs in the region. All of the IDAs/EDAs originally accepting the loans submitted letters requesting the forgiveness of the outstanding balance on their loan and further agreed to pass on the grant conversion to the businesses in each locality awarded funding in the local relief programs.   

Lastly, at Thursday’s meeting, the board also:

  • approved an up to $50,000 grant to the Wise County Industrial Development Authority to be used to help finance internships and costs related to the Wise County and City of Norton Land Records Modernization and Workforce Development and Training project; and
  • approved an up to $900,000 loan to the Russell County Industrial Development Authority to be used to purchase and renovate an industrial property in Lebanon in hopes of attracting additional new industry.

About Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and Southwest Virginia’s e-Region: The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1988 to enhance and diversify the region’s economy and help create jobs, markets Southwest Virginia’s e-Region and its focus on electronic information technology, energy, education, emerging technologies, and entrepreneurship. VCEDA is a unique economic development organization that manages funds for economic development projects from a percentage of the coal and natural gas severance taxes paid by coal and natural gas companies that operate in the region. Located in southwestern Virginia, the region includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton. www.vceda.us or www.e-Region.org.