Grundy, VA (May 16, 2018) – Ground was officially broken today on the new Southern Gap Transportation and Logistics Center in Buchanan County, Virginia, as state, regional, local and community college officials gathered on site to announce the project which will provide transportation and logistics workforce development and training through a cooperative partnership between the Buchanan County Industrial Development Authority, Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, and Southwest Virginia Community College.
Those on hand for the announcement included Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball and members of his staff; Stephen Moret, president & CEO of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) and several others from VEDP, as well as representatives from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA), the Buchanan County Industrial Development Authority (IDA), the Buchanan County Board of Supervisors and Southwest Virginia Community College (SWCC).
“Partnerships, such as the one between the college, the Buchanan County IDA, and VCEDA, are a major component in creating a foundation for a successful economy,” said Dr. Tommy Wright, president of SWCC. “Together, we are creating additional opportunities for our citizens to train for high-wage, high-demand jobs, which in turn create economic progress that will move the region forward.”
“The Southern Gap Transportation and Logistics Center will be an incredible asset for Buchanan County and Southwest Virginia, and I commend the Buchanan County IDA, the Buchanan County Board of Supervisors, Southwest Virginia Community College, and VCEDA for working together to bring this important project to fruition,” said Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “The Center will provide tremendous training opportunities and a skilled pipeline of talent to fill in-demand jobs, keeping citizens in the area and positively benefiting the regional economy for years to come.”
The project is being funded through up to $5.729 million in grants approved by the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority at its April 19, 2018 board meeting.
“VCEDA is pleased to be able to assist on this project which will help prepare the workforce for jobs in fields related to transportation and logistics such as diesel repair, CDL and certified logistics associate or technician,” said VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher. “Now our region’s citizens will have a closer location to receive this type of training to prepare them for job openings in these fields.”
According to recent information, a national shortfall of around 50,000 truck drivers is being caused by retirements in the current workforce and an increase in demand for delivery services partly due to Internet retail. This shortage in drivers is projected to increase in the coming years. The average salary for an experienced truck driver or diesel mechanic is more than $40,000 per year.
The VCEDA funds will be used by the IDA to finance the costs and expenses of constructing, developing and implementing the new center, to include costs associated with site development and building construction, as well as workforce development and training. SWCC will provide the training and operate the facility.
“The development of the Southern Gap Transportation and Logistics Center will provide specialized training for our citizens, as well as increase opportunities for employment,” said Buchanan County IDA Chairman Jay Rife. “The Buchanan County Industrial Development Authority is thrilled to see this worthwhile project move forward.”
“Education projects have proven to be a very successful means of economic development in Buchanan County,” said Buchanan County Board of Supervisors Chairman Carroll Branham. “As the Appalachian School of Law and the Appalachian College of Pharmacy have done for the county, the Transportation and Logistics Center at Southern Gap represents the type of development project that opens up a wealth of new possibilities for us.”
Project development meetings were held between Buchanan County, VCEDA, and SWCC to fine tune the plan and the proposed training program. The new center will offer a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and Diesel Repair program, as well as additional credentialing programs – among them, SNAP-ON credentialing through the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3). Heavy Duty Diesel Scanner Diagnostics, Multimeter, and Battery Starting and Charging are among those credentialing programs. The Diesel Repair program will also serve the CDL program by repairing and maintaining the trucks used. Additionally, the center will offer a Certified Logistics Associate/Certified Logistics Technician program aimed at providing students with the foundational broad knowledge they will need to understand the world of supply chain and related core competencies.
Additional certifications to be offered through the center will include the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence certification. The center will also offer a WorkREDI component of study designed to teach the soft skills needed to be successful in obtaining and holding a job.
Construction of an approximately 35,100-square-foot building to include training bays (garage areas) as well as office, lab and classroom space and the construction of an approximately two and one-half acre paved truck driving range for the CDL program are planned. Various equipment will be purchased to provide the programs, including 18-wheeler trucks with trailers, diagnostic equipment and other items.
The facility will be located in the Buchanan County IDA’s Southern Gap business park, a 3,000-acre economic development park located on a reclaimed surface mine site near U.S. Route 460 in Buchanan County. Other businesses located in the park include Sykes Enterprises, a major business process outsourcing firm; Southern Gap Outdoor Adventures, an outdoor adventure tourism business; and the trailhead of the Southwest Regional Recreation Authority’s “Coal Canyon” ATV trail.
About Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and 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 Virginia’s e-Region and its focus on electronic information technology, energy, education and emerging technologies. 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.