DUFFIELD, VA – MAY 4, 2021 — Area residents and those traveling to the area to enjoy the great outdoors have a new option for water fun as Clinch River Life, LLC in Scott County offers inner tubes and kayaks to float the Clinch River in the spring and summer months. Camping is also available. Clinch River Life, LLC is a recent recipient of a Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) $9,000 seed capital matching grant.
“Outdoor recreation is a business sector in our area that has seen significant growth in recent years,” said VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher. “As more businesses have opened drawing tourists to the natural beauty found in our region, additional opportunities have been created for entrepreneurs to capitalize on that and start businesses of their own. Clinch River Life, LLC is a perfect example of that. The business has one full time and four part-time employees and projects an additional six part-time employees within two years.”
The new business, which began active operations in June 2020 is owned by Robert and Elise Bloomer, of Big Stone Gap. Within the first four weeks of its opening, nearly 1,000 tubes were rented, exceeding initial goals of 200 tubes per week during the months of June, July and August – primary vacation times. Long term goals for the business include expanding its kayaking offerings.
While the primary business of Clinch River Life, LLC is focused on the river, the new business recently added camp site rentals to its list of services. Robert Bloomer noted the business had received permit approval to develop five to 10 primitive camping sites downstream of where the office rents the tubes from at 15264 US-23 North in Duffield. The sites, available now to rent, are parallel to the river bank, adding to the river experience for those choosing to camp in addition to spending time on the river.
“The seed capital grant makes a huge difference for us,” Bloomer said. “It will enable us to purchase more tubes and kayaks and to set up the camping spots with picnic tables, outdoor grills and fire pits. We wouldn’t be able to do any of that without the grant.”
Additionally, Bloomer said the future business plan calls for the construction of a multi-purpose building on site to offer restroom facilities for all activities; a bathhouse; equipment storage; and to serve as a camp store.
Clinch River Life, LLC is open Friday through Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Special groups can be accommodated outside of normal operating hours when arrangements are made in advance. The business is on Facebook and may be reached at 276-690-9199.
The Bloomers worked with the Small Business Development Center at Southwest Virginia Community College on the development of Clinch River Life, LLC’s business plan and application to VCEDA. The Scott County Economic Development Authority wrote a letter of support for the project.
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.
About the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority Seed Capital Matching Grant Fund: VCEDA region for-profit businesses one year and under with less than 10 full-time employees are eligible to apply for dollar-for-dollar matching grants up to $10,000 from the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund. Applicants work with the Small Business Development Centers at Mountain Empire and Southwest Virginia community colleges to prepare the applications to VCEDA that include detailed business and financial plans. Businesses must be located in or plan to operate in the VCEDA region in southwestern Virginia that includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton.