LEBANON, VA – JUNE 17, 2021 — Loans and grants to assist in new projects and expansions of existing business in six far Southwest Virginia counties were approved by the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) during a meeting of the board Thursday in Lebanon. The number of projects approved at the meeting represented the highest number of projects approved in a single meeting in VCEDA’s history.
Included in those approvals were grant awards to 24 new start-ups through the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching grant program.
The meeting began with a report from VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher, during which Belcher reported activity remains strong in 2021 with the authority currently working on 59 active projects, with hundreds of companies having been contacted in the preceding year to encourage them to locate facilities and jobs in the region. Belcher noted two important industry expansions had been announced since the April board meeting, including the SunCoke Energy announcement in Buchanan County and Lawrence Brothers Inc. in Tazewell County.
The board approved the VCEDA/Southwest Virginia’s e-Region business development and marketing plan for Fiscal Year 2022. Belcher also noted during his report the authority is participating extensively with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the state’s economic development agency, in marketing the region.
In other business, the board approved an up to $500,000 loan for the Russell County Industrial Development Authority be used to finance the purchase of real estate, site development, building rehabilitation and improvements and other improvements to assist with the acquisition and development of a building in Lebanon for a pending project.
An up to $100,000 grant from coal tax credit funds to be used for workforce development and training to assist with an expansion of Tempur Sealy in Scott County was approved for the Scott County Economic Development Authority and follows an announcement last month by the governor’s office that Tempur Sealy International, Inc. will invest $16.7 million to expand its manufacturing operation in Scott County to increase production to meet growing demand for its proprietary foam mattress and pillow products.
Virginia successfully competed with New Mexico for the project, which will create 25 new jobs.
An up to $100,000 grant was approved for the Mountain Empire Community College Foundation to be used for workforce development and training, scholarships, tuition, training instructional costs, retraining costs, customized workforce training for area businesses and the administration of National Career Readiness Certificate testing for residents of the VCEDA region. The grant, which was also approved from coal tax credit funds, will assist MECC with workforce training needs of eHealth Technologies, which located in Scott County several months ago. A similar up to $100,000 grant for the Southwest Virginia Community College Educational Foundation was approved earlier this year.
An up to $170,000 grant was approved for the Tazewell County Industrial Development Authority to be used to finance a medical manufacturing feasibility study and the build-out of a medical incubator. The funds approved for the project, which has not yet been made public, will be used for the build-out and furnishing of the incubator to be able to make medical kits for a pilot study project, the production of the medical kits themselves and funding to deploy the medical kits in the region in association with health partners.
An up to $500,000 grant was approved for the Appalachian Council for Innovation from the newly created VCEDA Education and Telehealth Access Fund to be used to finance the provision of unserved and/or underserved children in the VCEDA region with low earth orbit space-based broadband, including costs and expenses of hardware, wiring and two-year subscriptions for each household served to expand education and telehealth access in the VCEDA region.
The board also approved seed capital matching grant funds for 24 small businesses, in the amount of up to $6,500 each. A study by Virginia Tech of VCEDA’s seed capital matching grant program which was released in April found 300 jobs had been created and retained in Southwest Virginia, achieving a total economic impact in the e-Region of $34.2 million. The study found the impact of the program on the region represents the realization of a return on investment of 33:1.
Seed capital recipients in this round of funding included:
Buchanan: Scott Davis d/b/a Competitive Performance; Country Roads Cabin Rental LLC; and Deskins HomeTown Pharmacy, Inc.;
Dickenson County: Bass and Brass LLC; Levisa Adventures, LLC; Lilly’s Pad, LLC; and Porter’s Lawncare, LLC;
Russell County: Trendy Belle Salon LLC; Simona Corporation d/b/a Stone Cellar Brunch & Clutter; and Fitness Authority LLC;
Scott County: Henrys Produce & Market LLC; and Highland Monument Conservation LLC;
Tazewell County: ClearSight Eye Care, Amber Hurley, OD, PLLC; Connie Allen d/b/a Pinkway; Craft Connection, LLC; Elite Fitness @ Richlands, LLC; Nancy Grant d/b/a Nancy’s Downtown Boutique; and Southwest Virginia Energy Consultants, Inc.; and
Wise County: Big Stone Gap Pottery Shop LLC; Black Bear BBQ LLC; Hughes Enterprises LLC d/b/a Wise Guys Pools; OH Rentals, LLC; Ruby Bea’s Boutique, LLC; and Breads by Marla, LLC.
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.