LEBANON, VA – February 17, 2023 –  Loans and grants totaling more than $1.31 million were approved for five projects in Russell, Tazewell and Wise counties, the Breaks Interstate Park and one regional project during a meeting of the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority Board February 16, 2023 in Lebanon. The projects are expected to help create up to 44 full-time jobs and 20 part-time jobs and to retain 67 existing jobs, according to the project applications.

VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher provided a brief overview of calendar year 2022 activities, as well as an update on current project activity.

In calendar year 2022, he noted, there were 43 new projects announced in the region expected to create 365 full-time and 141 part-time jobs and $35.8 million in private investment. There were also seven expansion projects announced during the year which were projected to create 344 full-time jobs and 50 part-time jobs and private investment of $184.47 million.

In total, Belcher said, there were 50 projects announced in the region in calendar year 2022 projected to create 709 full-time and 191 part-time jobs and $220.35 million in private investment.

Additionally, Belcher noted 2022 saw VCEDA participate in 25 outreach marketing events; award 37 seed capital grants to entrepreneurs in the e-Region; field 218 inquiries; and participate in 67 prospect visits.

Good news came early in 2023, he said, noting an additional $7 million was obtained for the Coalfields Expressway as part of the federal budget approved in late December. VCEDA provides staff support for the Virginia Coalfields Expressway Authority and continues to work with local, state and federal officials on support for the Coalfields Expressway.

“Overall, activity since the last board meeting has focused on closing of loans and grants, attendance at marketing outreach events and assisting the Coalfields Expressway Authority,” Belcher told board members. “After a typically slower period from late November through January – which is not unusual — project activity has begun to increase. Staff are currently working around 45 active projects.”

He noted the highest level of activity continues to be in the manufacturing, energy and small business sectors.

At Thursday’s meeting, several loans and grants were approved as follows:

  • An up to $900,000 loan was approved for the Tazewell County Industrial Development Authority to be used to finance the purchase of real estate, building renovations and improvements to assist with the retention and expansion of an as yet unnamed business in Tazewell County. The project is expected to result in 67 retained jobs plus eight new jobs, for a total of 75 new and retained jobs.
  • An up to $250,000 loan was approved for the Russell County Industrial Development Authority to be used to finance additional renovations and improvements at the former Acme building and site located at 1309 and 1315 East Main Street in Lebanon for an agricultural-related manufacturing and processing facility. The project is expected to create up to 35 full-time jobs in five years.
  • An up to $50,000 grant was approved from the VCEDA Coalfield Workforce Development and Training Fund to be used for workforce development and training to assist with the continued development and implementation of an online interactive course in entrepreneurial skills for high school students in the VCEDA region offered through the Napoleon Hill Foundation.
  • An up to $30,000 grant was approved for the Wise County Industrial Development Authority from the VCEDA Tourism Capital Improvement Matching Fund, using funds which the IDA requested to be transferred from the VCEDA Wise County Account, to finance site development, building improvements, construction and renovation and other improvements to assist the Town of Appalachia on as yet unannounced project.
  • An $88,809 grant from the VCEDA Civil Penalties Fund was approved for the Breaks Interstate Park to be used to develop infrastructure and improvements at the park.

In other action, the board approved a collateral access agreement with the Dickenson County Industrial Development Authority and the Virginia Small Business Financing Authority (VSBFA) on a previously announced substance abuse rehabilitation facility to be located in Dickenson County for which VCEDA previously approved an up to $4 million loan. The collateral access agreement was approved to help facilitate the closing of a $2 million loan approved by VSBFA, recently announced by Governor Glenn Youngkin, for the project.

The board also agreed to allow $20,000 in undisbursed funds from the up to $535,000 approved for the Economic Development Authority of Lee County used to assist in the location of England, Inc. to the area to remain available for an additional year until March 8, 2024; agreed to allow $163,310.20 in undisbursed funds from the up to $300,000 approved for the Scott County Economic Development Authority for the Riverside development site in Weber City, Va., to remain available for an additional year until March 26, 2024; and agreed to amend and modify the loan agreement between VCEDA and the Southwestern Virginia Technology Council (now the Appalachian Council for Innovation) which is being used to implement the IN Appalachia project, an innovative online database of businesses in the region. The funds disbursement deadline for that project was extended to November 16, 2023.

The board also agreed to transfer $150,000 from the VCEDA Regional Account to the VCEDA Tourism Capital Improvement Matching Fund to be made available during the remainder of the fiscal year, with a maximum grant award per applicant of $50,000.

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.