APPALACHIA, VA – MARCH 15, 2023 —  An up to $30,000 grant to the Industrial Development Authority of Wise County (IDA) to assist the Town of Appalachia with the development of the Appalachia Visitor Center in the town was approved recently by the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA). The grant was approved last month and was closed recently.

“The Town of Appalachia is in the process of developing a visitor center which would serve not only tourists and locals alike, but which will also become the new home of the Lonesome Pine Model Railroad Club which has an impressive model railroad exhibit which will serve as an added attraction for the visitor center,” said VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher. “Helping to promote tourism is an important piece of the economic development puzzle in the e-Region and VCEDA is pleased to be able to assist with this project.”

The new visitor center will be located in the downtown Main Street area on property owned by the Town of Appalachia.  The town has already acquired a preowned 28’ x 70’ manufactured building to serve as the visitor center.  Funding from the grant will be used for site development, building improvements, construction, renovation and other improvements related to the project. The project, according to the IDA’s application, is the focal point of the town’s downtown revitalization efforts and the goal is to provide a central point of information for visitors who may be visiting the area and local attractions including the Powell River Trail and motorsports initiatives such as the “Dragon Slayer” Highway 160 route. 

According to the application for funding, the town will own and operate the facility as part of its Parks & Recreation Department, with ongoing expenses of the facility shared between the town and the Lonesome Pine Model Railroad Club. Staff for the facility will be a joint effort between the Parks & Recreation Department, the model railroad club and various other community volunteer groups to ensure the facility is able to maintain regular, routine operating hours. 

The Town of Appalachia has committed to expenses of at least $37,000 for the project. An HVAC system installation, interior renovations, porch and handicap ramp construction are among the projects toward which the town plans to use the VCEDA grant.

“The visitor center will be a very nice addition to the progress already being made on Main Street in Appalachia,” said Fred Luntsford, Appalachia town manager. “It will also serve as a distribution point for the many tourist attractions beyond Appalachia and into Wise County and even Kentucky. The Town of Appalachia is very appreciative that VCEDA had confidence enough in the leadership of Appalachia to invest in this very important part of our plans for progress. We will certainly keep everyone apprised of the progress of the project and will have a grand opening at the appropriate time.”

“The Appalachia Visitor Center project will be a great benefit to the Town of Appalachia in its efforts to revitalize the downtown business district,” said Wise County IDA Executive Director Brian Falin. “Tourism and visitor services continue to provide significant economic impacts through support for small businesses and increased revenue for the locality and this project will certainly provide an added asset to the downtown area. The Wise County IDA was proud to assist in this application and appreciates VCEDA’s support through the Tourism Capital Improvement Matching Grant program.”

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. or