LEBANON, VA – FEBRUARY 18, 2021 — Outgoing Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) board member Harry Childress was recognized for his service to the VCEDA board and Southwest Virginia during  Thursday’s meeting of the board.

Childress, whose most recent service on the VCEDA board spanned from 2016-2020 as a representative of the Virginia Coal and Energy Alliance, was presented with a framed certificate of appreciation, recognizing him for “his outstanding service and genuine concern for the people of Southwest Virginia and the Coalfield Region.”

In addition to his most recent service on the board, Childress also served from 2008 to 2011 as the representative on the VCEDA board for one of the top three coal producers in the region at that time. He was president of the coal and energy alliance from 2014 to 2020 and in 2021 became president of the new Metallurgical Coal Producers Association (MCPA). He is retiring next month from the coal association post. Barbara Altizer, MCPA executive director of education and outreach, succeeds Childress on the VCEDA board.

During his career, Childress served as chief of the Virginia Division of Mines for 12 years where he managed and directed mine safety programs for the Commonwealth of Virginia and was involved in interpreting laws, regulations, policies and procedures. In addition to his service on the VCEDA board, he has also served the people of Southwest Virginia on the Virginia Coal and Energy Commission, the Virginia Coal Mine Safety Board, the Virginia Board of Coal Mining Examiners and the Coalfield Water Development Fund Board. He has also served on several National Mining Association committees; on various committees for the MCPA and the VCEA; and on the Lonesome Pine Chapter of Holmes Safety Association.

Following the presentation to Childress, the board approved a variety of other project requests and actions.

A resolution supporting the completion of the Coalfields Expressway, similar to a resolution adopted in December by the Virginia Coalfields Expressway Authority, for which VCEDA provides staff support, was adopted by the board. Since the Virginia Coalfields Expressway Authority’s adoption of the resolution in December, a number of coalfield counties and organizations have adopted similar resolutions expressing the importance of the completion of the Coalfields Expressway.

The board also approved a semi-annual application deadline for VCEDA’s new Renewable Energy Fund. The first round of applications will be due no later than August 10. The renewable energy fund program is designed to encourage new jobs and investment in the region from the renewable energy sector.

Also during Thursday’s meeting, the VCEDA board approved projects in Dickenson County, Scott County and Tazewell County; and okayed several loan and grant extensions.

Among the projects approved by the board were as follows:

  • A $400,000 loan was approved for a pending industrial announcement in Tazewell County.
  • A $325,000 increase in a grant to the Dickenson County Industrial Development Authority was approved for the development of Haysi and Clintwood sites from their former status as school sites to economic development sites. The increase was necessitated by unforeseen additional costs encountered on the project.
  • A $1.175 million loan was approved for the Dickenson County Industrial Development Authority for a new industrial site which will be announced soon. Funds will also be used for engineering costs related to the site.
  • The VCEDA Board approved a request from the Scott County Economic Development Authority (EDA) for consent to lease property to eHealth Technologies. In 2003, the VCEDA board approved a loan of up to $830,000 from regional coal tax credit funds to the Scott County EDA to be used for site development and other improvements for the e-Corridor Regional Park/Southwest expansion at Duffield. The business park was later renamed the Scott County Regional Business and Technology Park. The Crooked Road Tech Center building was constructed by the EDA at the location. Under the terms of the agreement Scott County EDA has with VCEDA securing the VCEDA loan, the property could not be sold or leased without VCEDA’s prior written consent. VCEDA’s consent action Thursday paves the way for 9,700 square feet of finished space in the building to be leased to eHealth Technologies which projects bringing 160 new jobs to Scott County.
  • The VCEDA Board also approved the extension of an up to $2.8 million loan approved to the Scott County EDA in 2015 for the Ttech project at Weber City; and the extension of an up to $505,000 loan approved to the Wise County Industrial Development Authority in 2010 for the Appalachia America Energy Research Center, which has since been renamed the Graphene Research Center. Both of these loans had reached their maturity dates and the VCEDA Board approved time extensions on both.
  • The board approved extensions of disbursement deadlines on a variety of loans and grants previously approved to the Town of Haysi, Dickenson County IDA, Lee County EDA, Scott County EDA, and Tazewell Cinema & Entertainment, 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.