WARDELL, VA – MAY 27, 2021 —  An up to $100,000 grant from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) to the Southwest Virginia Community College (SWCC) Educational Foundation to be used for emerging workforce development and training was announced Thursday at the college.

Funding for the grant came from the VCEDA Coalfield Workforce Development and Training Fund which is funded by coal tax credit monies previously allocated to VCEDA. The funds will be used by SWCC to provide scholarships in emerging workforce programs to coalfield area residents and/or those who work in the VCEDA region. The funds will also be used for training instructional costs, customized workforce training for area businesses, costs of assessments and costs of administering National Career Readiness Certificates and other workforce testing.

The funding is targeted toward individuals who may only have a high school diploma and little to no work experience, but who could become eligible for a good paying job in a high demand sector by securing an industry-recognized credential through the college’s fast-track workforce training program. The emerging workforce training funding will support students choosing to enter the fields of information technology, unmanned aerial systems, agriculture/aquaculture, advanced manufacturing/industrial applications, renewable energy/energy efficiency, transportation and logistics, adventure tourism and outdoor recreation, medical and other workforce programs to support VCEDA region businesses and industries.

“Southwest Virginia Community College identified a gap in available financial resources to support the workforce development and training of the emerging workforce in the VCEDA region and as a result, that’s where this request for funding came in,” said VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher. “VCEDA is pleased to assist SWCC with this funding enabling them to provide new opportunities to assist in employee development in certain high-demand fields, while at the same time providing assistance to businesses in our region looking for employees with certain skill sets.”

In addition to scholarships to assist with gap funding of the emerging workforce, the SWCC Educational Foundation will utilize the funding to continue administering National Career Readiness Certificate testing. 

The nationally recognized certificate can be administered to students in career and technical schools in local high schools to ensure that students complete high school with not only a diploma, but a nationally recognized workforce credential, simultaneously, SWCC officials noted.

Customized workforce training for area employers, including training for non-state residents who are employed at businesses within the region is another facet of the new SWCC program.

“This funding will directly support workforce training for eligible VCEDA region businesses and residents in emerging industry sectors such manufacturing, information technology and various other growth sectors,” said SWCC Dean of Workforce and Continuing Education Randall Rose. “The support is especially important as we emerge from the pandemic. Many residents are now looking to upskill for higher paying careers and most employers in the region are ramping up hiring as they optimistically look toward economic growth in our region.”

Susan Lowe, SWCC vice president of institutional advancement, expressed her appreciation on behalf of the SWCC Foundation for the VCEDA grant funding.

“The SWCC Educational Foundation is so grateful for the partnership with VCEDA and their support of Southwest students as they pursue education and training that will bolster the local workforce and further aid in economic development for the region,” Lowe said.

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.