WISE, VA – MAY 4, 2023 — An up to a $100,000 grant from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) Coalfield Workforce Development and Training Fund to be used for workforce development and training to further assist with the location of EarthLink, LLC to the Wise/Norton area of the VCEDA region was awarded recently.
EarthLink is a leading high-speed Internet service provider. In the fall of 2021, then Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced EarthLink would invest $5.4 million to establish a major customer support center in Norton.
“EarthLink has indicated to us they will use the workforce training grant to train local talent in sales, customer service, and advanced technical support skills,” said Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel. “The funds may also be used to develop state-of-the-art training facilities. The company projects creating 288 full-time jobs within five years.”
The workforce training grant approved by VCEDA will also be utilized to develop materials optimized for adult learning, software and hardware training in the latest telecommunications products and training in consumer and small business customer handling and advanced sales techniques.
Initially, the company temporarily located its operations in a portion of the old Sykes call center building in the Lonesome Pine Regional Business and Technology Park in Wise. The building was initially financed partly by VCEDA and VCEDA holds a deed of trust on the facility. A request from the Wise County IDA for VCEDA’s consent to lease part of that building to EarthLink was also previously approved by the VCEDA board.
For the customer support center’s permanent location, an approximately 30,000-square-foot facility will be built at the “Project Intersection” development in Norton at the intersection of US 23 and US 58A.
“We appreciate the support of VCEDA that allows EarthLink to create opportunities for employment and growth,” said EarthLink CEO Glenn Goad, a native of Wise County. “It gives me great pride to utilize these grant funds to help enhance and diversify the economic base of the VCEDA region as we continue our partnership with the community. These funds are allowing us to build bright futures for hundreds of families within the region.”
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.