LEBANON, VA – JUNE 16, 2023 A new foreign direct marketing initiative, funding for the seed capital program and a business development plan to guide the marketing activities of the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) in the coming fiscal year were approved Thursday during a meeting of the VCEDA board in Lebanon, Va.

VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher gave a report to the board on activity since the last board meeting, noting it has focused on attendance at marketing outreach events, processing of loan and grant applications for the June board meeting, closing of loans and grants approved at the April meeting and assisting the Coalfields Expressway Authority. He noted there have been 120 inquiries and 19 prospect visits year-to-date.

“Staff are currently working around 34 active projects, with the highest levels currently in the manufacturing and small business sectors,” Belcher noted. “Several projects are pending announcement and are in various stages of that process.”

One of the larger, most recent projects announced, Belcher said, was the CNX Resources expansion to Richlands, Va., which is projected to create and retain 75 full-time jobs. That project was announced May 26 with the closing of a $900,000 loan from VCEDA to the Tazewell County Industrial Development Authority to assist with the project.

Belcher briefed board members on the goal of the new Foreign Direct Investment initiative, noting it will be to 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.

The VCEDA/Southwest Virginia’s e-Region Business Development Plan for Fiscal Year 2024 was also approved at Thursday’s meeting. The plan helps to identify target audiences, target business sectors and general and specific action items, for the promotion of the area on a regional basis. 

“By working together as a team with a unified message and approach, the region will be positioned as a great place to do business with numerous opportunities and advantages for prospective business,” Belcher said.

The board also approved $300,000 in funding for the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Grant program for FY2024. Application deadlines were established for a fall and spring round to be October 16, 2023 and April 19, 2024. Four seed capital grants for $10,000 each were also approved Thursday and will go to:

  • Air Repair, Inc., Buchanan County;
  • Stoney Ridge Farm and Retreat, LLC, Tazewell County;
  • Just Adventure Productions LLC, Wise County; and
  • Vonda’s Hometown Restaurant, LLC, Wise County.

In other business, the board approved an up to $1.53 million loan to the Buchanan County Industrial Development Authority to be used for site development and construction of a 20,000-30,000-square foot shell building at Southern Gap.

Also approved was an up to $25,000 grant from the VCEDA Russell County account to be used to finance a study to help determine the feasibility of developing a road to Laurel Bed Lake between Lebanon and Rosedale in Russell County to increase tourism in that area.

The board also agreed to carry over $250,000 appropriated in FY2023 for the VCEDA Coalfield Jobs Investment Project (CJIP) for an additional fiscal year into FY2024.

The VCEDA Coalfield Jobs Investment Project (CJIP) provides a grant to eligible for-profit businesses located or locating in the VCEDA region which create at least one new full-time job in the region within VCEDA’s targeted industry sectors of information technology, manufacturing, energy, or creative tourism. 

In other business, the board:

  • approved a request from the Lee County Economic Development Authority to convert to a grant the outstanding balance of $39,198 of a 1999 loan for $150,000 from VCEDA to the EDA related to the Dryden Industrial Building;
  • approved a request from the Economic Development Authority of Scott County to write off and convert into a grant the outstanding principal balance of $751,281 owed by the EDA to VCEDA concerning the Mountain Top Timber Products project and to waive any accrued interest and penalty on said loan; and
  • approved a request from the Breaks Interstate Park to forgive and convert into a grant the outstanding balance of $149,953.23 on the loan approved by VCEDA to the Breaks Interstate Park Commission on April 16, 2020 to assist the park during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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.