Region VII Students Had Highest Average in State in SOL Pass Rates in Math, Science and Reading

Students in Region VII schools in Virginia, which includes the VCEDA region counties, had the highest average Standards of Learning (SOL) test pass rates in the state in math, science and reading, according to data compiled by the Comprehensive Instructional Program (CIP) Consortium from the most recent round of state SOL testing.

Region VII students, as a whole, outscored seven other school regions in math, science and reading, ranking at the top in a percentage pass rate comparison between the school regions and exceeding the state average pass rates in four of five subject areas, including math, science, reading and history. The Region VII pass rate in writing was less than one percent below the state level average pass rate.

Fifteen counties and four city school divisions located in the Southwestern part of Virginia comprise Region VII, which includes the VCEDA counties of Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell, Tazewell, Lee, Scott, Wise and the city of Norton. Additional school divisions which comprise Region VII include those in Grayson, Carroll, Bland, Giles, Smyth, Wythe, Washington, Pulaski, Bristol City, Galax City and Radford City.

Virginia’s public schools are divided into eight separate regions. A map detailing the county and city make-up of each region in the state may be found on the Virginia Department of Education website at

School quality is one of the factors which demonstrate a region’s commitment to future economic prosperity and by the performance of students in Region VII, it is evident that the region’s commitment to providing a quality education to students is important. These results demonstrate the region’s commitment to helping students succeed and to developing a future workforce to help meet the needs of employers looking at the region, including the VCEDA counties, as a place to locate or expand their business or industry.”

Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel

Read more about Region VII Student Test Scores.

 VCEDA Participates in Ribbon Cutting for Ultra Health Center in Grundy 

VCEDA took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the Grundy Town Center Sept. 10 marking the grand opening of Ultra Health Center. VCEDA originally provided a loan of $271,800 for the diabetes treatment center which projects the creation of 10 full-time jobs. The ribbon cutting was organized by the Buchanan County Chamber of Commerce.

In attendance were, in photo, from left (front) Robin Marcus, Ultra Health nurse practitioner; Ginger Robertson; Kayla Cline, Ultra; Becky Stevenson; Becky Shortridge-Elkins; James Keen, Grundy town manager; Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel; Toby Taber, Ultra; John Chmara, Ultra; Katie Deel, Ultra Health nurse practitioner; and (back) Cindy Sparks; Chris Shortridge; Mark Sykes; and Tim Potter, Town of Grundy IDA property manager.

VCEDA Awards Seed Capital Grant to Adria Auto & Truck Repair in Tazewell

With a nationwide shortage of mechanics in the news these days, the Tazewell County area will soon have another option for car and truck repairs available as Barry Reese and his son, Lee, open Adria Auto & Truck Repair in North Tazewell in October.

The first order of business, according to Barry Reese, was the construction and equipping of a 5,000-square-foot building, made possible in part by a $10,000 VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Grant the business applied for and received. The building is nearing completion now and an October 15 opening date is projected.

The new full-service facility, when open, will offer repair and service for vehicles to include state inspection, alignments, tire changes and tire repair, engine repairs, tune-ups, transmission service, oil changes and diagnostic work.

“The seed capital grant will allow us to open up debt free,” Barry says, noting he has made a significant capital investment from his own funds to get the business ready to go. “The VCEDA grant allowed me to get the equipment I wanted.”

“Adria Auto and Truck Repair was an ideal candidate for a VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Grant given both the identified need for auto mechanics and the business plan Barry established which at the end of three years is projected to create four full-time jobs.” 

Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel

Read more about Adria Auto and Truck Repair.

Photo: VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher, left, presents a ceremonial check to Barry Reese, of Adria Auto & Truck Repair, representing the VCEDA seed capital matching grant the North Tazewell business recently received. Also pictured are Pam Warden, Tazewell County Economic Development Manager; and Maggie Asbury, right, Chairperson of the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors and member of the VCEDA board.

VCEDA Closes Loan on Conaway Broadband Service Expansion in Buchanan County

An up to $112,000 Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) loan to the Buchanan County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) to expand high speed broadband service to the Conaway section of Buchanan County was closed Aug. 24.

The VCEDA board approved the loan request at its meeting Aug. 16.

“VCEDA is pleased to provide the matching funding for this project which will help to expand broadband service in Buchanan County,” said VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher. “The presence of high-speed broadband is becoming increasingly important to economic development, and this project will assist with that.”

The project will be a public-private partnership between the Buchanan County IDA and Charter Communications which committed matching funds of $112,000 to build the estimated $224,000 project. The project has also been endorsed by the Buchanan County Board of Supervisors by resolution adopted June 4, 2018.

The project will involve the construction of approximately 9.5 miles of new broadband infrastructure stretching from approximately one mile west of Big Rock to the vicinity of the Virginia/Kentucky state line and from U.S. Route 460 to the head of Conaway, Route 610.

Photo: Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher, second from left, presents a ceremonial check to the Buchanan County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) representing a VCEDA loan of up to $112,000 to be used to expand high speed broadband service to the Conaway area of Buchanan County. Pictured from left are Carroll Branham, chairman of the Buchanan County Board of Supervisors, who is also a member of the VCEDA board; Belcher; Buchanan County IDA Chairman Jay Rife; and Brenda Ward, secretary/treasurer of the Buchanan County IDA.

VCEDA Markets to Manufacturers at Premier Manufacturing Technology Event in North America

VCEDA representatives Susan Copeland, marketing coordinator, right, and Charlotte Mullins, VCEDA marketing ambassador, met with companies and marketed Southwest Virginia’s e-Region at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago Sept. 10-13. Held at the McCormick Place in Chicago, the show covered 1.3 million square feet with displays of more than 2,500 manufacturers of products ranging from robots, software, digital planning for the factory of tomorrow, robotic conveyor belts and emerging technologies. Also attending from the region was John Kilgore, executive director of the Scott County Economic Development Authority.