A ceremonial groundbreaking for the CNX Resources Virginia Headquarters office was held recently at the Richlands Professional Building in downtown Richlands, Va. Shovels and sledge hammers in hand, the ceremony marked the start of the building renovation project. Virginia Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade James Campos (fourth from right) was the guest speaker at the event. He was joined by VCEDA, county, town and CNX officials in addition to Del. Will Morefield and Sen. Travis Hackworth.

CNX Resources Celebrates Groundbreaking for New Virginia Headquarters Office

CNX Resources, Tazewell County, Town of Richlands and Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority officials were joined in early October by Virginia Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade James Campos to celebrate the groundbreaking for the Virginia Headquarters office of CNX Resources in Richlands.

Sixty-seven retained and eight new full-time jobs, for a total of 75 jobs will be coming to Richlands, Va., as the $900,000 loan from VCEDA to the Tazewell County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) is used to assist CNX Resources in the relocation and expansion of the gas company’s Virginia headquarters to the Richlands Professional building location on Front Street. Previously, the company has been leasing space in Claypool Hill, which it is outgrowing. The move is expected to be complete in the first quarter of 2024.

CNX, a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is the largest producer of natural gas in Virginia, with operations primarily in Buchanan, Tazewell and Russell counties. The company is a premier, low carbon intensive natural gas development, production, midstream and technology company. Its corporate headquarters are located near Pittsburgh, Pa.

As part of the agreement, Tazewell County IDA has purchased some 121 acres of land in Tazewell from the company, giving the IDA property it can use for future economic development.

Funds from the proceeds of the loan were used to finance the IDA’s purchase of the Tazewell real estate from CNX and will also be used for building renovations and improvements related to CNX’s new location at the Richlands building. The company looked at locations in Virginia and West Virginia prior to the decision being made to move to the Richlands location.

Read more about the CNX Resources Groundbreaking.

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VCEDA Project Review Committee Chairman J.P. Richardson, left, reports on a variety of committee recommendations for funding during the October meeting of the VCEDA board as VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher, right, listens.



VCEDA Approves $2.5 Million Grant for Buchanan Industrial Site

Funding Also Approved to Expand Starlink Broadband Services in Dickenson, Wise 

An up to $2.5 million grant to finance the development of a 20-acre industrial site at Southern Gap in Buchanan County was approved during a meeting of the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) Board in Lebanon, Va., October 19.

Additional funding to expand Starlink broadband services in Dickenson and Wise counties was also approved by the board.

VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher gave a brief overview of activity since the board’s last meeting, noting activity has predominantly focused on attending marketing outreach events, processing of loan and grant applications for the October meeting and following-up on some large business development projects which have not yet been announced.

Belcher noted staff members are currently working around 25 active projects with the highest levels of those being in the manufacturing sector.

“It’s as hot right now as we have seen in quite some time. It bodes well for the region in the future.”

Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel

Read more about the VCEDA Meeting.

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VCEDA Marketing Ambassadors Charlotte Mullins, second from right and Diane Thomas, right, had the opportunity to meet with and hear from a number of Virginia officials at the Governor’s Summit on Rural Prosperity. They are pictured here with Caren Merrick, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade, second from left; and Virginia Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade James Campos, left.

Governor’s Summit on Rural Prosperity Held

VCEDA Marketing Ambassadors Charlotte Mullins and Diane Thomas represented VCEDA at the Governor’s Summit on Rural Prosperity, hosted by the Virginia Rural Center, October 10-11 in Blackstone, VA. VCEDA was also a sponsor of the event and had an exhibit at the conference. The event brings together local, state and private sector representatives from across Virginia to discuss innovative initiatives occurring in rural communities.

While there, Mullins and Thomas had the opportunity to meet with and to hear from a number of Virginia legislators and cabinet officials including Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick and Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade James Campos; Senator Frank Ruff, chair and founding member, Center for Rural VA; and Delegate Thomas C. Wright, Jr., 61st District. A variety of speakers were on tap at the event including Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears; and Kim Smith, director of the Heart of Appalachia Tourism Authority, who also participated in the Rural Va Policy and Leadership Program; and Virginia Economic Development Partnership President and CEO Jason El Koubi.

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Ribbon Cut for Ronald Blue Trust Location In Wise County

VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher delivered brief remarks recently during the ribbon cutting celebrating the grand opening of Ronald Blue Trust’s newest office location in Wise, Va.

The company, which has more than $14.5 billion of assets under advisement and a nationwide network of 18 offices, offers comprehensive financial services and objective advice to 10,500 clients across the wealth spectrum in all 50 states. The company projects up to 22 new jobs in Wise within five years.

VCEDA assisted the Wise County IDA with the purchase of the office property in the form of a $1.2 million loan in 2022.

“We commend and congratulate the IDA and Ronald Blue Trust on this wonderful project which is not only a great fit for the building but will also add good jobs in the area.” 

Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel

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RMA Associates Expands to Tazewell County

VCEDA was pleased to attend and to be among those invited to deliver brief remarks at the RMA Associates ribbon cutting in Bluefield. 

VCEDA congratulated them on the decision to expand to Tazewell County, bringing an investment of $13.5 million and the creation of at least 29 new jobs to the county. In choosing Tazewell County, the company cited the mechanical talent of Tazewell County as a perfect match for the infrastructure fabrics and technical textiles Ronald Mark produces.

“We look forward to working with the company as it grows right here in Southwest Virginia’s e-Region.”

Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel

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R&R Automation 

Opens Machine,

Fabrication Shop

In Tazewell County

VCEDA attended the October 20 ribbon cutting celebrating the new location of R&R Automation in Tazewell County on Baptist Valley Road.

The company, a machine and fabrication shop which manufactures fabricated crane parts, projects 27 employees within five years. Mitch Lackey, president of R&R Automation, noted the company opened about 10 years ago in Martinsville, VA, and he added Southwest Virginia has always been an integral part of the company.

“There’s nowhere in the world I would rather do business than here,” Lackey told those gathered at the ribbon cutting.

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VCEDA Marketing Coordinator Susan Copeland, left,  and VCEDA Marketing Ambassador Cathy St. Clair manned a booth at the SWVA Veterans Expo.

VCEDA Exhibits At SWVA Veterans Expo

VCEDA was pleased to take part in the Southwest Virginia Veterans Expo and Breakfast October 13 at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon, Va.

The overall event, hosted by Virginia Sen. Todd Pillion, was designed to provide area veterans with information about the various resources available to them in the region. The expo featured a variety of health screenings offered by Ballad Health, oral health services provided by the Appalachian Highlands Community Dental Center, vision and hearing tests and more than 50 federal, state and community service providers offering resources to veterans and their families, including veterans benefits. VCEDA provided information on the authority’s seed capital matching grant program.

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VCEDA representatives at the VEDA conference, from left, were Marketing Ambassadors Diane Thomas and Charlotte Mullins and Marketing Coordinator Susan Copeland.

VCEDA Sponsors VEDA Conference in Portsmouth

VCEDA was a sponsor and attended the fall conference of the Virginia Economic Developers Association (VEDA) Sept. 20-22 in Portsmouth, VA. One highlight of the conference was a tour of the Port of Virginia and an Amazon center, hypothetically following the path of a package from arrival at the port through the Amazon Center. Topics discussed during the two-day conference included economic development disruptors, information on the Virginia Spaceport Authority, policy updates and updates on the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) from Jason El Koubi, VEDP president and CEO. 

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George Mason University Support of SBDCs Highlighted

VCEDA Funds Administrator Jean Jordan represented VCEDA as elected officials, economic developers and small business owners operating in Scott, Lee and Wise counties gathered September 20 in Scott County to highlight the importance of George Mason University’s support of small business innovators through its Small Business Development Centers.

Jordan spoke about ongoing efforts to incentivize small business development in the region and the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Grant fund. Other featured speakers included Renee Huffman Morris of Henry’s Produce and sisters Melissa Hubbard and Jan Brown, owners of Whistle Pig Country Store. Both businesses are previous recipients of VCEDA Seed Capital grants. VCEDA’s seed capital matching grant program works hand-in-hand with the small business development centers who work directly with applicants to develop their applications for funding by the seed capital program.

The Virginia SBDC network is a partnership among the U.S. Small Business Administration, George Mason University and premier local host organizations throughout Virginia, with continued investment from the Virginia General Assembly. Del. Terry Kilgore, House Majority Leader, was also in attendance. 

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Belcher Named To Virginia Business Power 500 List

Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher has been named to the Virginia Business Power 500 listing for the second year in a row.

The list recognizes what the magazine defines as Virginia’s most powerful leaders across 19 sectors ranging from real estate and manufacturing to higher education and federal contracting.

Southwest Virginia honorees in addition to Belcher in this year’s edition included Howard Broadfoot, Donna Henry, Del. Terry Kilgore, Elizabeth McClanahan, Jim McGlothlin, Will Payne, Steve Smith, Travis Staton and Clyde Stacy. 

The complete Power 500 listing in Virginia Business Magazine may be found at https://content.yudu.com/web/1sfs5/0A1shn6/Virginia5002023/html/index.html?origin=reader.

Read more about Jonathan Belcher Named to Virginia Business Power 500 List.

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VCEDA Marketing Ambassadors Diane Thomas, left and Charlotte Mullins, right, with Tazewell County Economic Development Director Tim Danielson, center, attended the 2023 PACK Expo.

VCEDA Attends PACK Expo in Nevada

VCEDA was in attendance at the 2023 PACK Expo in Nevada in mid-September. The show, which draws in companies from around the country, takes a look at cutting edge packaging technology, processing equipment and supply chain resources designed to boost sustainability, scale up production, save energy, reduce waste, streamline supply chain logistics, optimize space, make better use of labor, maximize brand impact, provide ease of use and increase flexibility.

While at the show, VCEDA had the opportunity to visit with various companies to help them learn a little more about doing business in VCEDA’s low cost for business Southwest Virginia e-Region. 

. . .

First CreatorCon Event Held

VCEDA was a sponsor of and exhibited at CreatorCon in Norton in late August. VCEDA Marketing Ambassadors Charlotte Mullins and Diane Thomas represented VCEDA at the event which included a business pitch battle.

Ryan Jones, founder of Do Good Brands, CreatorCon and Lincoln Road Coffee and Blake Salyer, ecosystem and innovation manager at UVA Wise, shared opening remarks. Speakers throughout the two-day conference also included Ryan Hall, Lauren Glass, Josh Mancuso, David Nelson, Torrence “Chef T” Gregoire and Payton May.



. . .

Bioeconomy Development Opportunity Zone Ratings Issued 

A significant portion of Southwest Virginia’s e-Region is now part of a new Bioeconomy Development Opportunity (BDO) Zone related to the concentration of woody biomass within a 75-mile drive radius from Tazewell. The BDO designation includes that county, as well as Buchanan, Russell and portions of Dickenson, Wise and Scott counties in the e-Region. It also includes portions of Washington and Wythe counties in Virginia. Tazewell has been assigned an “A” rating in that zone as a result of a recent study.

The ATIP Foundation, in partnership with Ecostrat, Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission (CPPDC), the Center for Risk Management of Engineering Systems at the University of Virginia (UVA), Commonwealth Center for Advanced Logistics Systems (CCALS) and VCEDA worked together on the BDO Zone project funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture through a Rural Business Development Grant. Its primary focus is on business development and job creation through the conversion of waste wood to jet fuel.

The “A” rating reflects “high quality” and is attributed to the region’s abundance of small-diameter roundwood and forest residues coupled with versatile zoning, convenient access to natural gas and close proximity to the interstate highway system. Extending across a 75-mile drive radius from Tazewell, the BDO Zone generates 625,000 green tons of woody biomass annually.

“The BDO Zone is a great interconnection between wood products and energy. We look forward to the jobs and economic opportunities which this designation positions the region to attract and for the hard work of all those involved in this innovative project for the area.”

Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel

Read more about the BDO Zone rating for Tazewell.

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VCEDA Sponsors, Exhibits at SVAM

VCEDA was both an exhibitor and a sponsor at the August 31 Southwest Virginia Alliance for Manufacturing (SVAM) Expo. Marketing Ambassadors Charlotte Mullins and Diane Thomas manned the VCEDA booth at the expo and also had an opportunity to visit with e-Region manufacturers including West River Conveyors and Lawrence Brothers, both of whom were also at the expo.

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Just Adventure Productions LLC Owner Justin Falin opened his new business to assist other small businesses with their digital production and marketing needs. Just Adventure Productions LLC is a recent recipient of a VCEDA seed capital matching grant.

Just Adventure Productions LLC Approved For Seed Capital Grant

Assisting other small businesses with their digital production and marketing needs is the primary goal of Just Adventure Productions LLC, a recent recipient of a $10,000 Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) Seed Capital Matching Grant.

Justin Falin officially opened the business which provides full-service videography, drone videography, and social media marketing in December 2022. Expansion plans for the future include web design, mobile apps and social media training services.

Currently, the business employs one full-time and one part-time employee and has worked with several small businesses in Wise County and the Town of Big Stone Gap.

“VCEDA was pleased to assist Just Adventure Productions, LLC with a seed capital grant. The business projects up to four full-time and two part-time employees within five years.”

Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel

Read more about Just Adventure Productions LLC.

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Vonda and Kelsey Pilkenton will be opening Vonda’s Hometown Restaurant in early winter in Pound, Va. The new business is owned by Kelsey and her father, Mark Pilkenton (not pictured). Its location on Main Street in Pound is currently undergoing renovations. Vonda’s Hometown Restaurant, LLC was a recent recipient of a VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Grant.

Seed Capital Grant Approved for Vonda’s Hometown Restaurant, LLC

The desire to give back to their community and to create a homestyle dining option in Pound was the primary reason Mark Pilkenton and his daughter, Kelsey, began planning to open Vonda’s Hometown Restaurant, named after Mark’s wife and Kelsey’s mother, Vonda.

Vonda’s Hometown Restaurant, LLC was a recent recipient of a $10,000 Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) Seed Capital Matching Grant.

The Pilkentons, life-long residents of Pound, began to explore ways to give back and to grow their community and in doing so, began to focus on creating a community restaurant in Pound to feature homestyle cooking, utilizing local produce and local meats. Additionally, the restaurant will offer retail space for local artisans and crafters to sell their products.

“Vonda’s Hometown Restaurant, LLC will provide a dining experience in Pound not currently available. This will provide a new homestyle dine-in restaurant in Pound. Their plan to utilize locally sourced meats and produce will serve to further assist local farmers. The business projects up to four full-time and four part-time employees within five years.”

Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel

Read more about Vonda’s Hometown Restaurant, LLC.

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