LEBANON, VA – MARCH 4, 2024 – Fifteen new projects and two expansions resulting in a projected 424 jobs and more than $25 million in planned private investment were announced in the region during 2023, according to details highlighted in the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) 2023 Annual Report filed last Friday with Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin and the Virginia General Assembly.

Combined, the projects are projected to create 373 full-time and 51 part-time jobs.

VCEDA was formed by the Virginia General Assembly in 1988 to enhance and diversify the economy of the seven-county, one-city coalfield region of Southwest Virginia, which includes the counties of Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell and Wise and the City of Norton.

“As always, the successes of 2023 were possible because of the region’s team approach as VCEDA and its economic development allies work towards a common goal for the betterment of the region,” said VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher. “It is this team approach that will continue to be critical as the region perseveres in its challenge to enhance and diversify the economy of the coalfields of Virginia.”

New project announcements made in 2023 included one of the largest manufacturing announcements in the region in years — the location of Tate Access Floors to St. Paul, Va., projecting 170 new jobs. Other significant announcements included the expansion of the Virginia company headquarters of CNX Resources in Tazewell County, the Heart Stone Lodge in Buchanan County and the location of Ronald Blue Trust to Wise County. Funding from VCEDA’s Seed Capital Matching grant program assisted 10 new business start-ups with 58 full-time and part-time jobs projected.

The 15 new projects announced in the region in 2023 are projected to create 297 full-time and 50 part-time jobs and to generate $25,051,013 in private investment.

The announcement of two expansion projects in the region are projected to retain 67 full-time jobs, create nine new full-time and one part-time jobs and to generate $900,000 in private investment.

In 2023, VCEDA approved 41 loans and grants for $13,250,633 in new VCEDA funding. Funding was approved for projects in all eight localities in the VCEDA region and are projected to help create or retain 516 full-time and 110 part-time jobs and to generate $27,665,152 in private investment.

Loan and grant funds were announced by VCEDA for a variety of important projects throughout the year including for industrial site development, shell building construction, broadband, workforce development and training and tourism development, including several grants for the Breaks Interstate Park.

Ten new business start-ups in the region supported by grants from VCEDA’s Seed Capital Matching Fund program, project a total of 31 full-time and 27 part-time jobs. Since the seed capital program was created in 2017, a total of 184 businesses have been approved for funding, creating 656 full and part-time jobs to date. Jobs projected to be created within five years total 1,355. Total investment by these businesses in a five-year period is projected to be nearly $10.7 million.

A February 2021 study of the Seed Capital Matching Fund completed by Virginia Tech’s Center for Economic & Community Engagement found that the VCEDA seed capital program had a very high return on VCEDA’s investment of approximately 34:1. The study also found VCEDA has played a critical role in the development of small businesses and in support of entrepreneurship.

VCEDA continued to promote Southwest Virginia’s e-Region through marketing and business development in 2023. VCEDA participated in 33 outreach marketing events to promote the region throughout the year. In 2023 VCEDA had 43 prospect visits and handled 212 inquiries about Southwest Virginia’s e-Region.

VCEDA began a new Foreign Direct Investment initiative in 2023 to encourage European companies to invest in and create jobs in the region. The program will reach out to companies in several foreign countries through a digital media marketing campaign to promote Southwest Virginia’s e-Region internationally and through specific one-on-one meetings with companies identified in the course of the program.

Another milestone achieved during the year was the opening of the first 2.57 miles of the Coalfields Expressway in Virginia, completed as a four-lane thanks to federal funding obtained with the assistance of the region’s federal legislators and the Virginia Coalfields Expressway Authority, for which VCEDA provides staff support. The Virginia Coalfields Expressway is deemed a crucial component in the economic development future of Southwest Virginia.

“VCEDA is committed to its mission and crucial role in helping to diversify the region’s economy,” said VCEDA 2023 Chairman Larry Mosley. “We look forward to continuing  to help our region continue to diversify and grow.”

Members of the VCEDA Board in 2023 included Mosley as chairman; J.P Richardson, vice chairman; Andy Hrovatic, secretary; Esther Bolling, treasurer; and Carroll Branham; Barbara Altizer; Becky Coleman; Troy Nichols; Kathy Still; Maggie Asbury; Brian Hess; Scotty Wampler; Sonny Ciampanella; Rhonda Sluss; Duane Miller; and Tim Stuller.  J.P. Richardson was elected chairman for 2024 at VCEDA’s December 2023 board meeting, with Larry Mosley as vice chairman.

A copy of the full annual report may be found at https://www.vceda.us/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/VCEDA-Annual-Report-2023-Compressed-File-Size.pdf.

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.