BACO Enterprises LLC, a new business opening a Barberitos franchise in Norton, receives a ceremonial $10,000 check from the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund. From left, Tim Blankenbecler director of the Small Business Development Center, Mountain Empire Community College; Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel; David Cox and Chris Bartee, owners of BACO Enterprises LLC; and Fred Ramey, Norton city manager.

NORTON, VA – December 31, 2018 – Two Wise Countians who have been friends for years from the ballfields where their children played are bringing a new dining option to the area, partners in a business that is a recent recipient of a seed capital matching grant from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA).

David Cox of East Stone Gap and Chris Bartee of Big Stone Gap formed BACO Enterprises LLC to operate a franchise of Barberitos, LLC that is locating in the Norton Commons shopping center, right next door to Walmart. Renovations of the space are under way and the pair hopes to open the new business in January.

Barberitos is described as a fast casual southwestern cuisine restaurant.

“We are going to make everything from scratch daily and there will be several healthy options on the menu, vegetables, ground turkey, beef, steak, even tofu. Where else can you get tofu in a taco?” says Cox, 46, a CPA, the former chief financial officer for Wise County who operates an accounting firm in Wise.

Both Cox and Bartee, 42, a nurse practitioner, spent 19 days in Athens, Ga. in training sessions, learning the Barberitos system for their new restaurant. “The closest Barberitos in our area is in the Tri-Cities,” says Bartee, “and we discussed several business ideas and did research and we liked the idea of bringing the fresh food concept to Wise County.”

The business partners worked with Tim Blankenbecler, director of the Small Business Development Center at Mountain Empire Community College, to prepare their application to VCEDA for the seed capital matching grant program which is designed to assist VCEDA region for-profit businesses one year and under with less than 10 full-time employees.

“We’re very thankful for the seed capital grant,” says Cox. “It’s very helpful in our plan to bring another dining option to Wise County and to employ local people. We want to help promote Wise County as a destination and support Wise County at the same time.”

Bartee said the new business will be a family affair for both families. Bartee has three sons, Calep, 25, Camden, 16, and Caiden 14. Cox’s family includes wife Melissa, and sons Adam, 17, and Seth, 14.

The BACO Enterprises business plan projects one full-time and 15 part-time employees.

“Adding amenities such as a new dining business helps to not only improve the quality of life offerings in our region, a very important advantage that helps market our area, but this also is adding jobs. BACO Enterprises was a good fit for the seed capital matching grant program,” said Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel.

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About Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and 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.vaceda.org or www.e-Region.org.

About the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority Seed Capital Matching Grant Fund: VCEDA region for-profit businesses 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.