RD109 - Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority 2020 Annual Report

Executive Summary:

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which brought many challenges to the region, state, nation, and world, 2020 was a productive year for the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) and the seven-county, one-city region that VCEDA promotes as Southwest Virginia’s e-Region.

There were 32 new project announcements and 7 expansion/retention announcements in the region during the year, including announcements related to funding provided to retain jobs and businesses in the region which had been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The 32 new projects are projected to create 505 full-time and 97 part-time jobs and more than $235 million in private investment. The 7 expansion/retention projects are projected to create and/or retain 754 full-time and 130 part-time jobs and an additional $1.55 million in private investment, including more than 600 full-time and part-time jobs retained through COVID-19 relief funding provided by VCEDA to help employers remain open in the region. Altogether, 1,259 full-time and 227 part-time jobs are projected to be created and retained, and over $237 million in private investment.

Examples of projects announced during the year include Pure Salmon in Tazewell and Russell counties with 203 jobs and $228 million in private investment projected, Clinch River Hemp Company in Russell County with 58 full-time and 4 part-time jobs projected, and expansions by West River Conveyors and Machinery Company in Buchanan County, TDEC and AT&T Wireless in Russell County, and Clinch River Forest Products in Tazewell County. Funding was approved by VCEDA for several pending new projects that are expected to be announced in 2021.

During the year, VCEDA approved 16 loans totaling $6.8 million and 37 grants totaling $3.76 million, for a combined total of 53 loans and grants and more than $10.5 million in new funding approved. Projects were approved for funding in every county and city served by VCEDA. In terms of business development during 2020, VCEDA handled 165 inquiries, and participated in 28 visits with business prospects for the region and 15 marketing events (including in-person and virtual).

Included in funding approved were Seed Capital grants for 27 new small business startups in the region that project the creation of nearly 170 full-time and part-time jobs and more than $1.4 million in private investment. The VCEDA Board also allocated $1 million from Coalfield Employment Enhancement Tax Credit funds for an innovative Renewable Energy Fund designed to attract renewable energy jobs and investment to the region. VCEDA additionally is now providing staff support for the new Virginia Coalfields Expressway Authority and helped that new authority become operational in 2020.

In conclusion, despite a very challenging year due to the pandemic, VCEDA and the region were able to make positive progress and are optimistic that 2021 will bring more successes for the region.