LEBANON, VA – DECEMBER 1, 2020 An up to $50,000 loan approved by the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority for the Southwestern Virginia Technology Council, which recently rebranded itself as the Appalachian Council for Innovation, was closed recently.

The loan funds will be used to develop phase one of “IN Appalachia,” an online regional business database for Southwest Virginia which will include the seven coalfield counties of Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell, Tazewell, Lee, Scott and Wise and the City of Norton which comprise the VCEDA region. Later the database will be expanded to include other Southwestern Virginia counties, including Bland, Wythe, Smyth, Grayson, Washington and Carroll and the Cities of Galax and Bristol.

“The VCEDA board was pleased to assist the Appalachian Council for Innovation in this new online database project which will help to compile information about each Southwest Virginia locality, its business make-up and the resources available in each community,” said Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel. “The new database, once operational, will be valuable to both those outside the region looking for information about the existing business climate and quality of life options and those already in the region looking for specific resource information.”

The Appalachian Council for Innovation is a non-profit Virginia corporation and is a membership organization that leads Southwestern Virginians in addressing technology and innovation issues for business, education, and government, with the purpose of enhancing the vitality and social well-being of Southwestern Virginia. 

The IN Appalachia project is designed to increase awareness of and to connect businesses and others located in the region.  As envisioned by its organizers, IN Appalachia will be a multi-faceted Internet platform which will facilitate connections between people, businesses, resources, entrepreneurs, workforce, educational institutions, funding sources, healthcare providers and recreational entities across the geographically diverse Southwestern Virginia region.

Connections between businesses and all other organizations will be made via a combination of easy to use interactive geographical tools and intuitive menus and buttons on the new IN Appalachia website.  Phase one includes the collection, evaluation, development and verification of coalfield region business data.

“The Appalachian Council for Innovation (ACI) is very appreciative of VCEDA for the loan which will allow Phase 1 of the IN Appalachia project to move forward,” said Donald Purdie, ACI president. “VCEDA continues to be a tremendous resource for businesses and organizations in our region.”

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.