J.P. Richardson, second from right, who was elected chairman of the VCEDA Board for 2024, delivers a project review committee report during the December 14 VCEDA board meeting. Also pictured are, from left, Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel; Larry Mosley, the current chairman and vice chairman for 2024; Richardson; and Andy Hrovatic, who was elected secretary of the board for 2024. Not pictured is Esther Bolling, who was in attendance at the meeting by Zoom, who was elected  treasurer.

VCEDA Board Approves New Funding

An up to $800,000 loan to assist in developing a meat processing facility in Tazewell County was approved by the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority Thursday during the December 14 meeting of the board in Lebanon, Va.

The Tazewell project was one of several new loans and grants approved for projects in Tazewell, Dickenson, Russell and Wise counties at the meeting.

The new plant is expected to significantly aid local farmers in the region. A VCEDA-commissioned Agricultural Strategic Plan for the region which was published in October 2017 and completed by the Virginia Tech Office of Economic Development, identified the need for a USDA-certified meat processing facility in the region.

VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher noted VCEDA staff members are currently working around 25 active projects with the highest levels of those continuing to be in the manufacturing sector.

Read more about the VCEDA meeting.

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Six small businesses which have previously received VCEDA seed capital grants were recently recognized as the largest job creators in the program by calendar year since the program began in 2017. From left are Larry Mosley, VCEDA chairman; Becki O’Quinn-Purdie, Mountain Empire Community College Small Business Development Center (SBDC) director; Chris Williams, Black Bear BBQ LLC; Allison Sparks, Valley Animal Clinic, PLLC; Sharon Thomas, Bargain Mart, LLC; Kaylyn Laws, Far Fetched Grooming LLC; Debbie Ratliff, Foxtail Orchards Cabins and Campgrounds, LLC; Margie Douglass, SBDC program manager at Southwest Virginia Community College; and Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel. Not pictured is Curklin’s LLC, who was present at the luncheon, but left prior to the photo being taken.

Small Businesses Recognized at Seed Capital Grant Luncheon

Six small businesses which have previously received Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) seed capital grants were recognized December 14 for their job creation activities during a luncheon celebrating the success of the overall seed capital program held at the VCEDA office in Lebanon, Va.

The six businesses recognized Thursday were the largest job creators by calendar year class of the seed capital program and included Foxtail Orchards Cabins and Campgrounds, LLC, Tazewell County, 2017; Bargain Mart, LLC, Tazewell County, 2018; Curklin’s LLC, Wise County, 2019; Valley Animal Clinic, PLLC, Tazewell County, 2020; Black Bear BBQ LLC, Wise County, 2021; and Far Fetched Grooming LLC, Wise County, 2022. Combined, those businesses – all of which continue to be in business today — have created 98 jobs to date– 44 full-time and 54 part-time jobs – through their first and second years of reporting.

“We congratulate all 178 new small businesses — including the six largest job creators we are recognizing today — which have been assisted through the seed capital grant program. We offer our thanks to the Small Business Development Centers, the county industrial development authorities and the VCEDA board for making this program possible.”

Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel

Read more about the Seed Capital Grant Luncheon.

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Carroll Branham Recognized

Long-time VCEDA Board Member Carroll Branham, center, was recognized during the December meeting of the VCEDA board for his service to the board representing Buchanan County. Branham, who has been a member of the board since 2007 is stepping down from that post. He is pictured with VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher, left; and VCEDA Board Chairman Larry Mosley, right.

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Douglass, Blankenbecler Honored

Margie Douglass, Small Business Development Center program manager at Southwest Virginia Community College, was recognized for her outstanding service and efforts to help advance economic development by fostering small business success and growth in the coalfield region. Douglass is retiring at the end of the year. She is pictured with Larry Mosley, VCEDA chairman, left; and Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel, right. Also recognized, but not pictured, was Tim Blankenbecler, former Mountain Empire Community College SBDC director, who retired in 2021.

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Virginia CFX Authority Board members James Keen, left and Jay Rife, right, along with Janice Rife, discuss maps showing possible northern and southern alternative alignments identified in a pre-engineering study for the 16-mile stretch of the expressway from Grundy to the West Virginia state line. The routes were unveiled by the Virginia Department of Transportation December 11 during the CFX Authority meeting and in a VDOT public meeting which followed the CFX meeting.

Virginia CFX Authority Gets First Look at Grundy to West Virginia Road Alignment Options

Virginia Coalfields Expressway Authority staff members continue to communicate regularly with both state and federal legislative offices about the expressway project, Virginia CFX Authority Executive Director Jonathan Belcher, told authority members December 11 during a meeting of the authority board at Southern Gap.

Belcher also serves as executive director and general counsel of the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) which provides staff support to the CFX Authority.

“The Coalfields Expressway continues to be the only solution to the economic plight of many areas of the coalfields.”

Jonathan Belcher, Virginia CFX Authority Executive Director

Read More about the CFX meeting.

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Tate to Invest $14.9 Million in Russell County Facility, Creating 170 New Jobs

Governor Glenn Youngkin announced that Tate, a global provider focused on the research, development, and manufacturing of next-generation raised access floors, airflow management, and infrastructure solutions for commercial and data center applications, will invest $14.9 million to establish a new manufacturing facility in Russell County. This new production plant will focus primarily on data center component manufacturing and containment products to serve customers in Virginia and other data center sites. Virginia successfully competed with numerous states for the project, which will create 170 new jobs.

“The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) was pleased to support the Russell County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) and Tate on this project. This is in the form of the $2.5 million financing provided to the IDA in 2020 that enabled the IDA to acquire the building in St. Paul, Virginia that will be occupied by the company for this project, as well as up to $250,000 in workforce development and training funds approved by VCEDA to the company. This is one of the most significant manufacturing projects to locate in the VCEDA region in many years, and it will greatly enhance and diversify the economy of St. Paul and of the region as a whole.”

Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel

Read more about the Tate Announcement.

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Two grants totaling $171,000 were closed recently by VCEDA with the Dickenson County IDA to provide funding to be used to finance the provision of Starlink low earth orbit space-based broadband service, to further expand education and telehealth access in Dickenson County. On hand for the ceremonial check presentation were, from left, Donald Purdie, Appalachian Broadband Innovators; Jeff Gilliam, Cumberland Plateau Health District (CPHD); Dana Cronkhite, Dickenson County economic development director; Reisa Sloce, CPHD/LENOWISCO health district director; and Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel.

Grants Totaling $171,000 to Boost Dickenson Telehealth Access

Two grants totaling $171,000 were closed recently by the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) with the Dickenson County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) to provide funding to be used to finance the provision of Starlink low earth orbit space-based broadband service, to further expand education and telehealth access in Dickenson County.

“VCEDA was appropriated a total of $1.5 million over three years in the Virginia state budget for FY2022, FY2023 and FY2024 for initiatives specifically intended to expand education and telehealth access. The VCEDA Board subsequently has approved several applications for funding from the program resulting in hundreds of unserved and/or underserved school children in the VCEDA region being provided with Starlink satellite Internet. The IDA would like to expand this to include unserved and/or underserved telemedicine healthcare patients in Dickenson County. Additionally, there will also be educational and/or telework benefits according to the IDA’s application.”

Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel

Read More about the Dickenson Starlink project.

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A ceremonial check for a $1.53 million loan from VCEDA to the Buchanan County IDA to be used for the construction of a shell building at Southern Gap was recently presented by Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel, left; to Matt Fields, Buchanan County IDA executive director.

 

VCEDA, Buchanan IDA Close on $1.53 Million Loan for Shell Building

A $1.53 million loan to be used to construct a new 20,000-30,000-square-foot shell building at Southern Gap was closed recently between the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) and the Buchanan County Industrial Development Authority (IDA).

The Buchanan County IDA is currently without a single industrial type building to market. The last industrial building constructed by the IDA was an 80,000-square-foot shell building built in 2019 as part of Phase II of the IDA’s Southern Gap industrial park. It was immediately taken by a local manufacturer, Paul’s Fan Company.

“As leads for new projects and expansions are developed, having available and ready industrial property to market is very important. The current lack of marketable industrial buildings is causing Buchanan County to lose out on many opportunities and requests for proposals from prospective businesses. We are pleased to see the IDA take this step forward to build a new marketable building.”

Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel

Read More about the Buchanan Shell Building.

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Bates Family Farm Expands in Russell County

VCEDA congratulates Bates Family Farm, LLC for securing an AFID grant for its Russell County project announced recently by Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin. Earlier this year, VCEDA closed on a $250,000 loan to the Russell County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) to be used to finance additional renovations and improvements at the former Acme building and site soon to be occupied by Bates Family Farm, LLC. In June of 2021, the VCEDA board approved an up to $500,000 loan request from the IDA to assist with the purchase and renovation of the former Acme building and in February 2022, the VCEDA board approved an additional up to $200,000 loan to be used to finance additional renovations and improvements. In total, VCEDA loans made to the IDA for the project total $950,000.

Read More about the Bates Family Farm.

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VCEDA Board members and staff had the opportunity in late December to meet with Virginia House Speaker-Designee Don Scott. Pictured are Scotty Wampler, executive director of the Cumberland Plateau Planning District and VCEDA board; Sen. Travis Hackworth; Del. Will Morefield; Scott; Barbara Altizer, MCPA and VCEDA board; and Cathy St. Clair, VCEDA marketing ambassador.

Speaker-Designee Don Scott Visits e-Region

VCEDA was pleased to be in attendance in Tazewell, December 21 for a reception honoring Virginia Speaker-Designee Don Scott, who was visiting the area. The event was held at the Back of the Dragon in Tazewell and was hosted by Sen. Travis Hackworth, Del. Will Morefield and Visit Tazewell County. The reception and Scott’s trip to Southwest Virginia were designed to give him insight into Southwest Virginia as well as an opportunity to meet with local leaders prior to the start of the Virginia General Assembly in January.

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PLMA Trade Show Held in Chicago

VCEDA attended the Private Label Manufacturing Association (PLMA) trade show in Chicago, Ill., November 12-14 along with members of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership. VCEDA Marketing Coordinator Susan Copeland, center, attended along with Deirdre O’Rourke, left , and Chris Burger, of VEDP. While there, they met with several companies in the food and beverage sector and heard from speakers on a variety of topics including economics, global retailing and opportunities for private label growth.

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VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher, right, presents a ceremonial check for $200,000 to Matthew Rose, MECC dean of industrial technology, representing VCEDA funds to be utilized for workforce development and training at the college.

 

 

$200,000 Grant for Workforce Development Approved for MECC

A $200,000 grant from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) Coalfield Workforce Development and Training Fund to be used for workforce development and training at Mountain Empire Community College (MECC) was closed recently between VCEDA and the college’s foundation.

The funds will be used for scholarships, tuition, training instructional costs, retraining costs and customized workforce training for area businesses as well as for assessment costs of administering National Career Readiness Certificate testing for residents of the VCEDA region.

“Employers in the region who have benefited from this supported training include Sykes/Frontier, England Furniture, Scott County Telephone Cooperative, VFP, Komatsu, Ballad Health and many more. These employers have created hundreds of jobs in the Southwest Virginia region, building long-term, sustainable employment that will help renew the economy of the coalfield region. The funding being approved now will continue to support future training and certification needs to meet the ongoing demand for skilled, trained workers in high-need industries such as manufacturing, technology and health care sectors.”

Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel

Read More about the MECC Grant.

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Cybersecurity Summit Held

VCEDA exhibited at the 2023 Classroom to Career Cybersecurity Summit, November 9.  Radford University and the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center collaborated in developing the summit which was designed to strengthen coordination among regional businesses, K12, local governments and workforce development agencies. The goal was to improve outcomes for rural students and build regional capacity for economic development by creating career pathways aligned to high-skill, high-wage or in-demand jobs. VCEDA Marketing Ambassador Diane Thomas represented VCEDA at the event.  

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$694,645 Grant Approved for Breaks Park Pool, Improvements

An up to a $694,645 grant from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) to the Breaks Interstate Park was recently closed.

The funds, some of which have been reallocated from other projects which came in under budget at the park, will be used to develop infrastructure and improvements at the park, specifically an expansion of the waterpark including swimming pool construction; swinging bridge construction; and site improvements.

“VCEDA is pleased to work with the Breaks Interstate Park on this most recent round of improvements planned at the park. The park is truly one of Southwest Virginia’s greatest recreational/tourism assets and we appreciate their continuous commitment to growing and expanding the amenities offered there. It not only improves the experience for locals and tourists, but it also helps to grow the economy and to create jobs.”

Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel

Read more about the Breaks Park.

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The ribbon was cut in early November marking the ceremonial opening of 8.7 miles of the U.S. Rt. 460/U.S. Rt. 121 Corridor Q road project from the Breaks Park Road area to Southern Gap in Buchanan County, Va. Included in that mileage was the completion of the first 2.57 miles of the Coalfields Expressway (U.S. Rt. 121).

 

Ribbon Cut Marking First Miles of Coalfields Expressway in Virginia

The completion of the first 2.57 miles of the Coalfields Expressway (CFX – U.S. Rt. 121) in Buchanan County was celebrated in early November as a ribbon was cut marking the ceremonial opening of 8.7 miles of the U.S. Rt. 460/U.S. Rt. 121 Corridor Q road project from the Breaks Park Road area to Southern Gap.

The ceremony, hosted by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), was held at the Southern Gap Visitor Center in Buchanan County, Va.

The long-awaited road was officially opened to travel by the general public in mid-November. The Coalfields Expressway mileage in the project is the first mileage to be completed and opened to traffic in the overall CFX project which ultimately will link Buchanan, Dickenson and Wise counties with Interstates 81 and 77. Additional areas of the roadway are still in the design phase.  

“The ribbon cutting marks a significant milestone in the Coalfields Expressway project as it is the first mileage in the road to be completed and opened to travel by the public. The CFX Authority has been working closely with VDOT and our state and federal legislators to acquire funding for the project and thanks to federal appropriations, was able to see a section of the road initially planned as two lanes extended to four. An additional $7 million federal appropriation has been proposed and is pending in the FY24 federal budget process which will allow additional four-laning to further advance the expressway project.”

Jonathan Belcher, Virginia CFX Authority Executive Director

Read more about the CFX Ribbon Cutting.

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DataCenter Dynamics Conference Held

VCEDA was in attendance at the DatacenterDynamics (DCD) Virginia conference in Leesburg, November 6 and 7. VCEDA Marketing Ambassador Diane Thomas represented VCEDA at the event. Also attending was Wise County IDA Executive Director Brian Falin. DCD brings together top professionals in the data center industry to hear from more than 100 industry experts discussing the future of digital infrastructure, new technologies and services which impact the data center industry supply chain. Energy and sustainability, data center cooling, mission critical power, management and operations, data center construction, edge computing, cloud and hybrid, telecoms and connectivity, investment and markets and storage were among the topics of discussion during the two-day event.

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Russell Theater Opens

VCEDA was honored to take part in the recent ribbon cutting marking the opening of the Russell Theater in Lebanon, VA. VCEDA approved an up to $150,000 grant in 2019 to be used to assist in financing the renovation and rehabilitation of the historic theater. The total cost of the project was $1.381 million. Additional funders included the Town of Lebanon, the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development through a Community Development Block Grant, Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission, Virginia Tobacco Commission and the Appalachian Regional Commission. The theater projects two full-time employees and three part-time employees.

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Heart Stone Lodge Site Dedication Held

VCEDA was pleased to be in attendance for the site dedication for Heart Stone Lodge, a planned assisted living facility to be located at Southern Gap in Buchanan County. VCEDA previously approved an up to a $700,000 forgivable loan to the Buchanan County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) to be used to finance building construction in the development of the project.

The Heart Stone Lodge project is being spearheaded by the Coalfields Health Foundation (CHF). As planned, Heart Stone Lodge will be built as a 53-suite/61-bed assisted living facility. The project is expected to create 17 full-time and 23 part-time jobs within five years of its opening. Its overall direct, indirect and induced economic impact is projected to infuse $1.1 to $1.7 million in new payroll and $2.5 to $5.3 million in total contribution to GDP, according to CHF officials.

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Bill Regert, EH&S Manager, VFP, accpts the SVAM Excellence in Safety Award on behalf of the company.

 Two SWVA e-Region Companies Recognized with SVAM Awards

VFP in Duffield received the Excellence in Safety Award at the recent SVAM Awards Banquet. VFP reported that one of the critical successes of VFP safety are the multiple avenues in place to report safety concerns. The company said these efforts have resulted in unprecedented success and currently, more than 365 calendar days without an OSHA recordable incident.

Alfred Fleming, manufacturing manager at Komatsu in Duffield, was among the nominees for the Manufacturing Employee of the Year award. Austin Phillips, senior EHS specialist, at Komatsu, had this to say about Fleming: “Al’s commitment to Komatsu is exemplary. He is committed to ensuring that every employee is respected, developed, and heard. Al is eager to go the extra mile to support the team.”

VCEDA Marketing Coordinator Susan Copeland and Marketing Ambassador Charlotte Mullins represented VCEDA at the event and set up an exhibit table. VCEDA is an associate member of SVAM.

Alfred Fleming, manufacturing manager at Komatsu, second from left, was a nominee for SVAM’s Manufacturing Employee of the Year award. In photo, from left, Austin Phillips, Fleming, Regan Keller and Eric Mullins, all Komatsu employees.

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