RD128 - Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority 2013 Annual Report

Executive Summary:
In the 1988 session of the Virginia General Assembly, Delegate Ford Quillen of Gate City introduced legislation calling for the creation of a new regional economic development authority covering the counties of Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise, and the City of Norton, to be called the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA). The goal was to help this region, which had become overly dependent on natural resource industries, to diversify and achieve some degree of economic stability. The organization was to be funded by a portion of local taxes paid by the coal and natural gas industries. From the outset, the concept was unique, creative, challenging, and exceptional, all at the same time.

In 2013, VCEDA celebrated its 25th anniversary and 25 years of success. Delegate Quillen, now retired, was presented with an award in his honor for his role in the founding of the organization. During these 25 years, VCEDA has gone from a fledgling organization confronted with the challenge of building a regional economic development program across an eight jurisdiction area, to one that now can point to a track record of great success with the prospect of many more important, successful years.

2013 was a momentous year for other reasons as well. During the year, VCEDA approved and earmarked over $23 million in new loans and grants, reported five new projects and four expansions involving over 1,000 new projected jobs and more than $25 million in projected investment, while at the same time maintaining an aggressive business development and marketing program to promote the region as a great place to do business and create jobs.

As VCEDA closes the chapter on its first 25 years, the organization looks boldly and positively towards the next 25 years. Although some of the challenges facing the region today are different than 25 years ago, many of the challenges are still the same. Although much progress has been made since VCEDA was created, much work remains to be done. As other regions and states look to the unique model of VCEDA, the need for VCEDA in the coalfield region of Virginia may be more important now than it was when Delegate Quillen first introduced it 25 years ago. In summary, the mission has been a success, but continues.

Jonathan Belcher
Executive Director/General Counsel