Study on Agricultural Economic Development Opportunities Presented at Regional Ag Summit

Enhancing agricultural development and marketing, promoting agricultural financial education, helping producers diversify and differentiate, expanding meat processing, developing and supporting cooperatives and reimagining reclaimed mined land for agricultural endeavors are among some of the strategies outlined in a Virginia Tech study on economic development opportunities in agriculture in the coalfield region released at a regional Agriculture Summit Oct. 25 at Southwest Virginia Community College (SWCC), hosted by SWCC and VCEDA. The study was commissioned by VCEDA from the Virginia Tech Office of Economic Development to help identify opportunities and a regional strategic plan for economic development within agriculture, added by VCEDA last year as a target industry.

The year-long study involved more than 200 stakeholders in the region through interviews, producer meetings and surveys and a 30+ member advisory committee. 

Dr. Basil Gooden, Virginia’s Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, was the keynote speaker at the summit. He said agriculture and forestry represent a $91 billion impact on the Commonwealth, “and the future of agriculture belongs to those who can embrace technology.”

The VCEDA Agricultural Strategic Plan is now available to view and download on the VCEDA website.

Veritas Nurturing Center Approved for Seed Capital Grant

VCEDA presents a ceremonial check to Veritas Nurturing Center for a Seed Capital Matching Grant approved for the new small business in Russell County. In photo, from left, are Phillip and Jeanette Puckett, members of The Veritas Campus board; Jodi Campbell, director of the Veritas Nurturing Center; and Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel.

Veritas Nurturing Center, a new child care facility in Russell County, for children six weeks to five years old, has been approved by the VCEDA board for up to a $7,000 Seed Capital Matching Grant. Opened in September 2017 by the non-profit group, The Veritas Campus, the new daycare center located in Gracewood Community Church in Lebanon is open Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The business worked with Margie Douglass of the Small Business Development Center at Southwest Virginia Community College to prepare the application to VCEDA for the seed capital matching grant. The dollar-for-dollar matching grants are designed for businesses three years and under with less than 10 full-time employees, and applicants work with the Small Business Development Centers at Southwest Virginia and Mountain Empire community colleges to prepare the applications to VCEDA.

“Having available daycare is important for employers and is a good quality of life amenity for communities. Helping young, small businesses like the Veritas Nurturing Center with a seed capital matching grant also helps VCEDA to continue to market our region as an excellent location for employees to live.”

Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel

To read more about Veritas Nurturing Center.

New Russell County Manufacturer Holds Ribbon Cutting

VCEDA attended the Nov. 3 ribbon cutting and open house for JM Conveyors, a member of the JENNMAR family of companies, at its facility in the Russell County Industrial Park. VCEDA approved a $1.5 million loan to the Russell County IDA to help with upfitting of the manufacturing facility. The company projects 40 new jobs in three years and 50 jobs in five years in this $5 million project. JM Conveyors is manufacturing conveyor systems primarily for the mining industry, as well as the transportation, automotive, construction, electronics and aviation industries. 

To read more about JM Conveyors