DUNGANNON, VA – MAY 9, 2023 – As tourism continues to grow in far Southwest Virginia, Jennifer and David White decided it was time to take advantage of the land they owned at 323 Greens Chapel Lane in Dungannon, Va., near the Devils Bathtub in Scott County, to build a campground to allow tourists coming to hike in the area a place to stay and enjoy the surrounding area. As a result, the couple began working on building out Devils Fork Campground, expected to open this summer.
Devils Fork Campground LLC was a recent recipient of a $10,000 Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) Seed Capital Matching Grant.
“Devils Fork Campground LLC is another example of a local business developing to meet the tourism needs of Southwest Virginia’s e-Region,” said Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel. “With the Whites’ plans to build the campground, they will be providing additional lodging options in the area which will benefit not only those traveling to the region to visit the Devils Bathtub area, but also the local economy through spin-off business benefits as overnight tourists frequent additional businesses for food, gasoline and other needs. Devils Fork Campground LLC projects two full-time and four part-time employees within five years.”
Jennifer White grew up on the land where the couple’s new campground is located. In addition to initially creating 10 primitive campsites, plans are to build a one-bedroom cabin and to offer yurt camping. As the campground continues to grow, a bathhouse will be constructed on the property as well.
The campground location is less than a mile from the entrance to the Devils Bathtub. The Devils Bathtub, she noted, has gained national popularity and continues to gain new tourists each year. Last year, within a one-week period, she said Scott County Tourism’s site had 75,000 views of the Devils Bathtub.
“Foot traffic during peak hiking months is estimated to be an average of 300 per day on the weekends,” White said. “The campground will add to the experience of those travelling who want to experience the region at its fullest.”
“We are mainly using the VCEDA grant for the digging of a well as a water source for the campground and toward the construction of the bathhouse,” White said. “The VCEDA grant has been huge for us. We have already spent a lot of our own money on the project and had reached the point of thinking what now. The $10,000 from VCEDA gave us a huge sense of relief as we move forward on the project.”
The Whites worked with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Mountain Empire Community College (MECC) in developing their application to VCEDA and received a letter of support from the Scott County Economic Development Authority.
“Mountain Empire Community College’s SBDC appreciates the opportunity to work with Jennifer and David White as they develop Devils Fork Campground,” Becki O’Quinn-Purdie, SBDC program director at MECC. “With the heavy traffic traveling through to hike to the Devil’s Bathtub, the Devils Fork Campground will give tourists a choice to stay for additional time and enjoy more of the great sites and trails in the area. The Whites feel their love for their family property will reflect in their care and services to their customers. The VCEDA Seed Capital Fund will give Devils Fork Campground the means to continue to develop the property.
Devils Fork Campground may be reached by calling 276 -220-7233 and may also be found on Facebook.
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.
About the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority Seed Capital Matching Grant Fund: VCEDA region for-profit businesses, within qualifying business categories, one year and under with less than 10 full-time employees are eligible to apply for dollar-for-dollar matching grants up to $10,000 from the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund. Applicants work with the Small Business Development Centers at Mountain Empire and Southwest Virginia community colleges to prepare the applications to VCEDA that include detailed business and financial plans. Businesses must be located in or plan to operate in the VCEDA region in southwestern Virginia that includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton.