GRUNDY, VA – MARCH 27, 2024 – Ninth District Congressman Morgan Griffith was a special guest March 26, 2024 at the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) quarterly local economic developers meeting.

The meeting was held at the Southern Gap Transportation and Logistics Center, Grundy.

Also in attendance in addition to the local developers and VCEDA staff were Virginia Delegate Israel O’Quinn and his legislative aide Thatcher Stanley; Josh Hess, legislative aide to Griffith; and Shane Clem, Sen. Mark Warner’s legislative aide.

Local economic developers from VCEDA’s seven-county, one-city region presented updates on the ongoing economic development projects in their localities and heard updates from VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher.  Jessi Fritz, with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, also gave updates; and Randy Rose provided an introduction on his new role as the Associate Vice Chancellor for Community & Economic Development at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise.

Ninth District Congressman Morgan Griffith, right, makes a point during Tuesday’s VCEDA local economic developers meeting as Virginia Del. Israel O’Quinn, left, listens.

Griffith noted he was pleased to attend the meeting and told local developers his office is always open to help. He spoke briefly about federal funding programs including the Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization (AMLER) program, as well as about the Coalfields Expressway.

 “Economic development is not Republican or Democrat,” Griffith said. “It’s about getting jobs for people.”

Later that afternoon, VCEDA joined Griffith at AMLER announcement events on the Breaks Interstate Park swimming pool project and the U.S. 460 corridor cellular wireless project, both of which have been approved for funding from VCEDA as well. 

O’Quinn also spoke briefly at the VCEDA meeting, noting the recently ended General Assembly session had some high points for economic development including reducing Business Ready Site program readiness parameters from 100 acres to 50 acres.

“Economic development is a full contact sport,” O’Quinn said, adding, “but it’s also a team sport. We all pitch in together to support projects, even those that are outside of our legislative districts.”

Clem noted Warner will be in the district soon and he said he was pleased to see the momentum the Coalfields Expressway Authority had started on moving the expressway project along. Clem also attended both AMLER announcement events later that afternoon.

In other business, Belcher noted the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Grant program spring round deadline is approaching and is set for April 19. He also noted that work is beginning on the FY 2025 business development plan for VCEDA.

The current marketing calendar was also discussed. Remaining events scheduled for FY 2024 include the Site Selectors Guild Annual Conference in Nashville, TN; Data Center World in Washington, D.C.; AUVSI XPonential in San Diego, CA; the Metallurgical Coal Producers Association’s 44th Annual Conference and Expo in Roanoke, WV; the Southwest Virginia Economic Forum in Wise, VA; the 2024 Spring Consultants Forum in Virginia Beach, VA; and the SelectUSA Investment Summit in National Harbor, MD.

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