RD145 - Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority 2018 Annual Report

Executive Summary:

2018 was a historic year for the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) in many different ways. It marked the 30th anniversary of the organization’s establishment in 1988. It was the most active year in the history of VCEDA in terms of new projects and expansions, prospect visits, and the number of loans and grants approved and closed. It also saw the region’s unemployment rate drop to the lowest level in more than 11 years to less than 5% as of December 2018.

There were 41 new projects and expansions in 2018, the most in VCEDA’s history. The 1,014 full-time and part-time jobs projected to be created and/or retained by these 41 projects is among the three best years since 2007. More than $9.5 million in private investment is projected by these projects. Projects were announced in every county and city in the VCEDA region during 2018.

Some of the projects announced include the Southern Gap Transportation and Logistics Center in Buchanan County, SAIC in Dickenson County, England Furniture in Lee County, TDEC in Russell County, AMR Pemco in Tazewell County, the Mutual Building project in Wise County, and Sugar Hill Cidery in the City of Norton.

In 2018, VCEDA approved 10 loans and 35 grants, and closed 8 loans and 38 grants, the highest numbers in VCEDA’s history. The 45 loans and grants approved in 2018 total more than $15 million. Funding was approved for projects in every county and city in the region. Projects in Buchanan County were approved for the largest share of this funding, at more than $6.7 million total.

VCEDA’s Seed Capital matching grant program, implemented in 2017, continued to see great success in 2018. Twenty-four new small businesses were approved for seed capital grants, bringing the total to 35 that have been assisted since 2017. These 35 new small businesses project more than 400 full-time and part-time jobs and more than $2.3 million in private investment.

Marketing and business development efforts also were significant in 2018, with 65 prospect visits during the year, and the completion of 25 outreach marketing events to places including Boston, Chicago, Denver, and the Washington, DC area.

Finally, VCEDA was pleased to receive the results of an economic impact study completed by Chmura Economics & Analytics showing the total annual economic impact of VCEDA is estimated to be $6.9 billion in 2018 supporting 37,311 jobs in Southwest Virginia. The study also illustrates efforts by VCEDA “have greatly accelerated diversification in the region," and that without the jobs attracted to the region by VCEDA, the region’s unemployment rate would be more than three times higher.