RICHLANDS, VA – DECEMBER 3, 2021 – Physical fitness is and always has been an ongoing demand and Chad Cole said that was one of the reasons tipping the scales in his decision to move forward in opening Elite Fitness, a new gym in the Town of Richlands.

Elite Fitness was a recent recipient of a $6,500 Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) seed capital grant.

“Entrepreneurship is alive and well in VCEDA’s e-Region,” said VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher. “Assisting businesses in getting started, creating jobs and improving the quality of life in our communities are all goals and outcomes of the seed capital matching grant program offered by VCEDA. Elite Fitness projects two full-time employees within three years.”

Located at the Ratliff Town Center on 2010 Second Street in Richlands, Elite Fitness offers a broad range of fitness options, including cardio, free weights, treadmills, recumbent bikes, stair climbers and more. Tanning is also available at the facility.

The new gym’s credo is found on its Facebook page and reminds patrons, “Each day is a new opportunity to improve yourself. Take it. And make the most of it.”

The gym offers memberships and provides its members with 24/7 access to use the equipment in the facility. It also sells multiple fitness-related products through Europa Sports Products, including protein bars/powder, energy drinks, pre-workout drinks/powders and water.

Elite Fitness is located in the Ratliff Town Center in Richlands.

Memberships are available for daily use at $5 per day and $20 for a week-long pass. Memberships are also offered for single to four-person families. Membership fees range from $42 per month for a single to $85 per month for a four-person household. A one-time $5 key fob charge applies when members join, however there are no cancellation or equipment update fees. The gym is open around the clock and is staffed Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. A 10 percent discount is offered to members of the military, first responders and state employees.

Cole noted opening the gym has been the realization of his long-held dream.

“It has been a dream of mine to do this and it’s something I’ve wanted to do,” Cole said. “This allowed me to bite the bullet and do it.”

Cole noted he had used the VCEDA grant for working capital, rent and inventory.

“The grant has helped tremendously and takes a weight off a new business owner,” Cole said of the VCEDA seed capital funding. “Having the grant frees up other revenue to take care of other operating costs or to buy and update equipment.”

Information about the Elite Fitness may be found on the gym’s Facebook page at Elite Fitness Richlands, or may be obtained by calling the gym during business hours at 276-971-3617.

Cole worked with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Southwest Virginia Community College (SWCC) in the development of his application to VCEDA and received a letter of support from the Tazewell County Industrial Development Authority.

“The SBDC was glad to assist Chad in obtaining the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund grant for his fitness center in the town of Richlands,” said Margie Douglass, SBDC program manager at SWCC. “Helping entrepreneurs identify relevant resources for starting a business and realizing the economic impact for our communities is something the Small Business Development Center at Southwest Virginia Community College thrives on.”

She continued, “By working with the SBDC (a requirement for any applicant of the Seed Capital Matching Fund), small business owners are better prepared to apply for funding and better equipped to make their business a success. When a small business owner works with the SBDC they receive guidance from experienced advisors and learn how to utilize available tools to evaluate their business and develop a formal plan of action.”

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

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.