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VCEDA awards nearly $800K to small businesses, development projects

Staff report • Apr 21, 2019 at 10:30 PM

LEBANON — The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority has approved up to $774,000 in grants to 18 startup and existing new businesses and economic development projects across far Southwest Virginia.

The VCEDA board on Thursday approved the awards from the authority’s Seed Capital Matching Grant fund for businesses in Wise, Scott, Lee, Dickenson, Russell and Tazewell counties and Norton.

Each grant, for up to $10,000, matches dollar for dollar funding from the businesses. Grant recipients have worked with Small Business Development Centers at Mountain Empire and Southwest Virginia Community Colleges to develop business plans and grant applications.

These 18 new businesses are projected to create a combined total of $769,819 in private investment and 135 full-time and part-time jobs.

The VCEDA board also approved a $106,762 maximum grant to the Breaks Interstate Park Commission for additional park improvements and upgrades. The University of Virginia’s College at Wise Foundation, Inc. also received up to $470,000 for the development of the Clinch River Ecological Education Center at the Oxbow Center in St. Paul.

Thursday’s round of seed grants include:

— Lincoln Road Virginia, LLC, City of Norton, a new full-service coffee lounge

— Winze Company LLC, City of Norton, a startup business providing local businesses with media and creative services

— Fat Cat Farm, LLC, Scott County, a new greenhouse business which will feature a variety of culinary herbs, flowers, produce plants and strawberries

— JAG Service, LLC, Scott County, service for medium and heavy duty equipment, trucks and agricultural equipment

— The Big Stone Gap General Store & Café, LLC, Wise County, a general store mercantile which will also feature a coal-fired pizza oven; beverage selections, including craft beers and wines; and a space for musicians and local artisans to showcase their work and sell their goods and services

— Curklin’s LLC, Wise County, a 200-seat restaurant and bar on the first floor and short-stay lodging on the second floor to support local and regional tourism and community development efforts

— NRC Escape Room, LLC, Wise County, an entertainment venue with plans to expand its game experience of “60 minutes locked in a room with only one way out and the clock is ticking”

— The Scripted Gate Sign Co., LLC, Wise County, a full-service DIY design workshop, helping participants turn scrap wood into custom-made signs and other home décor items

— Thomas’ Black Bird Farm LLC, Wise County, a business that will feature a corn maze, pumpkin patch and other decorative crops and various vegetables

— Better Living Home Care LLC, Lee County, a new elderly care business

Three businesses each from Russell and Tazewell counties and two Dickenson County businesses received matching grants.

“VCEDA’s Seed Capital Matching Grant program has been a very successful program since it was started in 2017,” said VCEDA Executive Director and General Counsel Jonathan Belcher. “The program has successfully resulted in investment by small businesses in our local communities and has also created jobs benefitting residents in VCEDA’s seven county, one-city area. In addition to VCEDA’s other programs and initiatives which are more targeted to traditional industrial development, we believe that supporting entrepreneurship and small business growth is another very important component of enhancing the economy of the region.”

Thursday’s announcement marks a total of 53 businesses approved for $563,500 in seed grants since the program began. The economic impact of these 53 small businesses is projected at $3.13 million in private investment and 542 full-time and part-time jobs within five years.