On behalf of VCEDA, Harry Childress, VCEDA board member, accepted the Appalachian Council for Innovation’s Excellence award recognizing VCEDA for its response to assist localities and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

LEBANON, VA – OCTOBER 16, 2020The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) was presented with the “Excellence in Government Response: COVID19” award Thursday at the Appalachian Council for Innovation’s annual awards banquet. The council was formerly known as the Southwestern Virginia Technology Council and unveiled its new name at the event. Other regional businesses also received recognition during the awards banquet for their efforts and impact in the region in a variety of categories.

VCEDA Board Member Harry Childress accepted the award on behalf of VCEDA. The award recognized VCEDA’s early response in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In April, VCEDA approved loan funding of up to $740,000 to help offset the negative economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on local businesses in the coalfield region and at the Breaks Interstate Park. Up to $590,000 of the funding was approved for the eight county and city industrial and economic development authorities in the VCEDA region for distribution to local businesses impacted by COVID-19 in their respective communities. Also approved was up to a $150,000 loan to the Breaks Interstate Park, whose operations were also negatively impacted by COVID-19.

Local businesses impacted applied for funds through their local industrial development authorities, who administered and oversaw the funding and application process.

“VCEDA was approached by all the county/city industrial and economic development authorities in the VCEDA region seeking loan funds from each of their respective county/city VCEDA accounts to be able to re-loan those funds to local businesses which were negatively impacted and/or forced to close because of the COVID-19 pandemic in their respective localities,” said Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel. “It was expressed to VCEDA at that time that the situation was very dire and that if something was not done to assist those local businesses, many of them might go under and never re-open.

“The VCEDA board, without hesitation, agreed to meet on short notice to approve the funding to support the IDAs allowing them to support the businesses which are integral parts of their respective communities,” Belcher added. “We very much appreciate the recognition of our efforts by the Appalachian Council for Innovation and we extend our congratulations to the other award winners named Thursday.”

In addition to these loans to the industrial and economic development authorities to assist affected small businesses in the region, VCEDA also agreed to defer payments for a six month period for a number of businesses and employers throughout the region with existing loans from VCEDA, in an effort to help these businesses during the pandemic and to preserve jobs.

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.