CLINTWOOD, VA – December 10, 2018 – Showcasing the beauty and landscapes of Southwest Virginia was a motivating factor for Dickenson County native Brad Deel to establish a new business in the region that is one of the latest recipients of a seed capital matching grant from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA).
Created in June, Brad Deel Drone Photography and Videography, LLC is one of three new drone-related businesses starting up in the region that recently received a $10,000 seed capital matching grant from VCEDA. He worked with Tim Blankenbecler, director of the Small Business Development Center at Mountain Empire Community College, to prepare his business plan and 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.
By day in his full-time job he monitors and calibrates instrumentation for hundreds of gas wells in Southwest Virginia. Almost all of his other time, Brad Deel is spending it with his family and showcasing the beauty of his home region through his new business.
Many have seen his drone photography and videos on social media outlets and locally on WCYB TV. His work has been featured on the social media sites of The Weather Channel, Southern Living and Blue Ridge Outdoors magazines and in the regional news media. His Southwest Virginia landscape photos are showing up on the walls of many businesses throughout the area and in his popular calendars featuring various outdoor scenes throughout the region. His videos are being utilized to promote tourism in the region and to show properties and amenities for businesses to locate in Southwest Virginia.
“I really didn’t have any plans past showing the sheer beauty of our area in my drone photos,” said Deel, a graduate of Ervinton High School, and a graduate of the first class in the drone technology program offered at Mountain Empire Community College. Deel was honored in June when he was the recipient of the Southwestern Virginia Technology Council’s High Tech Award for small business.
The FAA-certified drone pilot became interested at the age of 10 when his grandmother bought him a radio controlled plane. “I’ve been interested in drone photography for five years, and it’s good family time for me and my family to spend together,” said Deel. Family includes wife Carrie, son Cameron, 12, and daughter Isabella, 10.
The business idea grew from requests for his services to showcase tourism and economic development and the desire by friends and customers to own some of his photography. The business specializes in photography and videos utilized for landscape art, commercial development and tourism in Southwest Virginia.
Deel says he has more than 7,400 followers on his Facebook page for Brad Deel Drone Photography. “Lots of local people for sure, but there are many who comment from Maryland, Michigan, California, Florida, many who say my photos remind them of home.”
“Unmanned aerial systems is a target industry for VCEDA, and Brad Deel Drone Photography & Videography is a perfect fit, not only for this growing industry in our region, but for the seed capital matching grant program that supports small business and entrepreneurs,” said Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel.
Deel said within three years he hopes to employ at least two full-time and one part-time employees, including a bookkeeper and a photo/video editing person.
“If my videos can play even the smallest of roles to get a company to locate here, I’ll be happy,” said Deel.
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.