VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher presents a ceremonial check for up to a $150,000 grant to Heart of Appalachia Tourism Authority’s Executive Director Kitty Barker. The tourism authority plans to use the funding to implement an aggressive marketing campaign to increase visitation to the region.

LEBANON, Va. – January 11, 2018 – The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) closed Jan. 11 on up to a $150,000 grant to the Heart of Appalachia Tourism Authority (HOA) to assist with the marketing of tourism related capital improvements located within the coalfield region’s seven counties and one city.

The VCEDA board approved the grant from the VCEDA Tourism Capital Improvement Matching Fund at its Dec. 21 meeting.

“Tourism is an important industry target in the coalfield region, and VCEDA has been supportive of that over the years, approving funding for numerous projects throughout the coalfield region, including Spearhead Trails, the Ralph Stanley Museum, the Historic Crab Orchard Museum, the Raven Theater and Coal Museum, the Southern Gap Visitors Center and others,” said Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel.

“We are now pleased to approve these marketing dollars to help the Heart of Appalachia Tourism Authority to increase the marketing of the tourism assets in our region and assisting tourism entrepreneurs and tourism industry businesses to increase the number of visitors traveling to the region and spending money at lodging, restaurants, retail and attractions.”

Heart of Appalachia plans to use the funding to implement an aggressive marketing campaign to increase visitation, said Kitty Barker, HOA executive director.

“The proposed marketing campaign will center on powersports, outdoor recreation, music and arts, the creation of new collateral material, and an increase in search engine optimization and social media. A primary focus of the marketing campaign will be off-road trail users and motorcycle and sports car users,” said Barker.

The marketing campaign will be in support of tourism destinations such as the Spearhead Trails (ATVs) and the Appalachian Backroads initiative (motorcycles/sports cars) with a goal of increasing the number of permits, room nights, meals, and tickets sold in the area, she added

About Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and 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 Virginia’s e-Region and its focus on electronic information technology, energy, education, entrepreneurs and emerging technologies. 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. or