TAZEWELL, VA – February 13, 2023 – Making it easier for those who need to take a test to earn a particular certification without having to travel far from home to do it is the primary reason Renee Perkins opened the Tazewell Tester Center to provide proctoring services for a variety of professions and employers requiring pre-employment exams or certifications.

Tazewell Test Center was a recent recipient of a $10,000 Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) Seed Capital Matching Grant.

“The Tazewell Test Center offers a unique service in our area by facilitating testing for a variety of professions and certifications which oftentimes residents need in order to secure employment,” said Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel. “The business projects one full-time and one part-time job within two years.”

“Many years ago, I had a sister-in-law who had to go to Johnson City to take a test for the postal service and that got me to thinking,” Perkins said. “When people have to go out of the county to test, it takes money out of the county and that’s revenue we can keep right here.”

Exams available to be proctored include academic, those for certification/professional associations, federal agencies, government/state licensing agencies and IT certifications to name a few. In its first six months of operation, the test center proctored exams for Virginia Waterworks and Wastewater, CompTIA, Evaluation Systems, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Microsoft, FBI, IRS, American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Board, Department Of Professional and Occupational Regulations Board and others.

The test center, located at 165 Chamber Drive — inside the chamber building in Tazewell — officially opened last October and proctors exams routinely for PSI, Pearson Vue, Kryterion and Meazure Learning. Hours of operation are Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., however appointments for testing outside those hours are available by calling 276-970-4141 or by emailing tazewelltestcenter@redroofhome.org to schedule a time.

“The mission of the Tazewell Test Center is to provide reliable test monitoring service, adhering to a strict code of ethics regarding all test materials,” Perkins said. “We facilitate and proctor exam sessions to clients in a controlled environment that cultivates integrity.”

Perkins noted the VCEDA grant had made it possible for her to pursue her business plan.

“Without the VCEDA grant, I could not be at this point,” Perkins said.

She said she has plans to use the VCEDA  funds to make renovations to the testing space, which she said further serve to make the testing experience better for her clients. A better ventilation system, comfortable seating and the addition of another testing cubicle, she said are among those improvements.

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

“The SBDC at Southwest Virginia Community College staff was happy to work with Ms. Perkins to help develop a business plan and financial projections necessary for the seed capital grant application,” said Margie Douglass, SBDC program manager at SWCC. “The Tazewell Test Center provides a unique but necessary service to help grow the area’s employment opportunities.”

For additional information about the test center, interested persons may also visit the test center website at tazewelltestcenter.org.

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, within qualifying business categories, 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.