Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel, left, presents a ceremonial seed capital matching grant check to J.D. Range, Beartown Barbell Club LLC co-owner, center. Also pictured is Ernie McFaddin, chairman of the Russell County Industrial Development Authority. Not pictured is Beartown Barbell Club LLC co-owner Andrew Salyer.

LEBANON, VA – MARCH 20, 2020James (J.D.) Range and his business partner, Andrew Salyer, of Lebanon, Va., decided when they opened Beartown Barbell Club LLC that the new fitness facility would go beyond a normal gym facility and focus more on the strengthening and conditioning aspects of fitness. Beartown Barbell Club LLC was a recent recipient of a $10,000 Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) Seed Capital Matching Grant.

The new facility, located at 383 Technology Park Drive in Lebanon, Va., offers 24/7 access to its members through an app on their smart phones. Staff is on site Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In addition to providing equipment for strengthening and conditioning, the business also has plans to offer youth camps, to host fitness and powerlifting competitions, to present lectures from coaches and trainers from around the country and to offer both personal training/coaching and online training/coaching as well as nutritional guidance. On July 25, the Beartown Beatdown event, hosted by the U.S. Powerlifting Association East and Beartown Athletics, will be held.

A variety of equipment types are available at the Beartown Barbell Club and suggested workouts are posted. Personal training options are also available for those members who want added guidance.

“VCEDA was pleased to be able to assist Beartown Barbell Club with a seed capital matching grant to grow its idea of creating a space focused on the strengthening and conditioning aspects of fitness,” said Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel. “The new business projects two full-time employees and one part-time employee within three years.”

Range noted the funds from VCEDA have been used primarily for the build-out of the 2,500-square-foot space which is designed for the sports performance side of fitness and geared toward athletes, some of whom participate in power lifting competitions.

“The VCEDA grant has enabled us to keep our overhead low which makes us more sustainable as a business,” Range said. “It has made it possible to do some other things we would not have been able to do, in terms of added equipment, since we had funds to use on the build-out. It enabled us to start out debt-free and for a small business, debt-free is huge.”

Memberships to Beartown Barbell are sold and at present, Range said, the gym has about 100 members. Memberships are $34 per month with a discount for first responders, veterans and students, who may join for $25 per month.

Range worked with Margie Douglass, of the Small Business Development Center at Southwest Virginia Community College, on his business plan and application to VCEDA. The Russell County Industrial Development Authority provided a letter of support for the project.

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.  or

About the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority Seed Capital Matching Grant Fund: VCEDA region for-profit businesses one year and under with less than 10 full-time employees are eligible to apply for dollar-for-dollar matching grants up to $10,000 from the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund. Applicants work with the Small Business Development Centers at Mountain Empire and Southwest Virginia community colleges to prepare the applications to VCEDA that include detailed business and financial plans. Businesses must be located in or plan to operate in the VCEDA region in southwestern Virginia that includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton.