GRUNDY, VA – OCTOBER 5, 2021 – When Raymond and Melissa Webb bought 30 acres of property on Hoot Owl Mountain in Buchanan County, Va., they did so with the intent to develop a cabin rental business and camping location — Country Road Cabin Rentals LLC — to augment lodging opportunities related to the Spearhead Trails’ Coal Canyon Trail. With ride-out access to the trail and to the town of Grundy, Raymond Webb said recently, they are already seeing a return on their investment as rentals are picking up and the property is becoming known.
Country Road Cabin Rentals LLC was a recent recipient of a $6,500 Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) seed capital matching grant.
“As tourism has become an increasingly viable economic sector in Southwest Virginia, businesses like Country Road Cabin Rentals LLC have been able to take advantage of existing assets to provide a service and create jobs at the same time,” said VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher. “Country Road Cabin Rentals LLC projects creating up to two full-time jobs within two years.”
Raymond Webb noted that when the business first applied for the seed capital grant, the intent originally was to grade out the land for a second cabin or camping spot and while that has occurred, Webb said the couple used the grant toward the purchase of a camper to turn into an additional lodging unit available for rent.
“The grant took a little of the burden off of our development plans,” Webb said. “It has helped us to get things going and without it, we would not be as far along as we are now.”
The Webbs have been using Airbnb to rent the property and have been finding success with that.
“The biggest thing people seem to like is the privacy,” Webb said. “It’s out of the way, but close to town and has ride-out access to the trails.”
Webb worked with the Small Business Development Center at Southwest Virginia Community College (SWCC) in the development of his application to VCEDA and received a letter of support from the Buchanan County Industrial Development Authority.
“Tourism has been a significant focus of economic development in southwestern Virginia for several years,” said SWCC SBDC Program Manager Margie Douglass. “The Small Business Development Center was pleased to work with Raymond Webb to secure a VCEDA Seed Capital Matching fund grant to enhance lodging opportunities near the Spearhead Trails in Buchanan County.”
Douglass noted the Seed Capital Matching Fund program not only provides funds for startup businesses in the VCEDA region, but also provides access to vital business resources. By working with the SBDC (a requirement for any applicant), business owners receive guidance from experienced advisors and learn how to utilize available tools to evaluate their business and develop a formal plan of action. As a result, applicants are better prepared to apply for funding and better equipped to make their business a success, she added.
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.