LEBANON, VA – APRIL 15, 2021 — Several project requests and the creation of a new Education and Telehealth Access Fund were approved by the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) board as it met in Lebanon, Thursday afternoon.

The board approved a motion to amend the VCEDA Consolidated Project Policies to add policies for the VCEDA Education and Telehealth Access Fund.

This year’s Virginia state budget included a budget amendment which provides $500,000 to VCEDA during FY2022 “for initiatives intended to expand education and telehealth access.”

In order to lay the framework for the use of the funds, which may be available as soon as July 1, 2021, VCEDA wanted to adopt policies for the fund which have been shared with the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (VDHCD), as the budget amendment falls under VDHCD within the state budget. 

VDCHD indicated to VCEDA that VCEDA is the lead on managing grants and determining the award process. The policies adopted Thursday establish the necessary framework to establish the program once it receives the funding.

In other business, the VCEDA board approved an up to $700,000 forgivable loan to the Buchanan County Industrial Development Authority (IDA)  to be used to finance building construction and costs associated with the development of an assisted living facility at Southern Gap in Buchanan County.

The Buchanan County IDA previously identified a need for an assisted living facility to serve Buchanan County and adjacent counties, noting an assisted living facility is part of the senior living/long term care industry and bridges the gap between care at-home and nursing homes. 

The project is expected to create 17 full-time and 23 part-time jobs within five years. Overall direct, indirect, and induced economic impact is expected to be $1.1 to $1.7 million in new payroll, and $2.5 to $5.3 million total contribution to GDP.

The board also approved an up to $100,000 grant from the VCEDA Coalfield Workforce Development and Training fund to the Southwest Virginia Community College Educational Foundation, Inc. to be used for workforce development and training — specifically, to create emerging workforce scholarships at the college, customized workforce training for area businesses and to be used for costs of administering National Career Readiness Certificate and other workforce testing for residents and/or workers in the VCEDA region.

The emerging workforce training that the SWCC Educational Foundation requested scholarship funding to support include fields such as information technology, unmanned aerial systems, agriculture/aquaculture, advanced manufacturing/industrial applications, renewable energy/energy efficiency, transportation and logistics, adventure tourism and outdoor recreation, medical and other workforce programs to support VCEDA region businesses and industries not fully funded by other programs.

The board also:

  • Approved a motion to defer the $1.25 million in loan payments due March 31, 2021 from the Buchanan County IDA to VCEDA related to the $6 million loan made by VCEDA to the IDA in 2016 to assist the Appalachian School of Law;
  • Gave its consent to a request from the Historic Crab Orchard Museum and Pioneer Park, Inc., to allow the transfer of the Pisgah Store building to Fisher & Company Restaurant, with the understanding that Fisher & Company may not sell the building for a three-year period without the prior written consent of VCEDA. Previously VCEDA funds had been used to make improvements to the Pisgah store building; and
  • Agreed to give its consent for the Buchanan County IDA to lease a portion of the Council Manufacturing Facility in Buchanan County to Maine Five Distributors LLC which has announced its intent to locate a sewing factory in the building, projecting up to 100 new jobs within five years and plans to start with 12 jobs.

Additionally, the board heard a presentation on a recently completed economic impact study of the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Grant Program. VCEDA commissioned the study from Virginia Tech.  More information on this study and its results will be released in the coming days.

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.