Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel, center, presents a ceremonial seed capital matching grant check to Marcus and Amelia Johnson, left, owners of Small Town Fitness LLC. Also pictured are Carl Snodgrass, Wise County Industrial Development Authority, second from right; and Tim Blankenbecler, of the Small Business Development Center at Mountain Empire Community College, right.

ST. PAUL, VA – May 11, 2020 Keeping the family fit is the primary goal of Small Town Fitness LLC in St. Paul, Va., a recent Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) $10,000 seed capital matching grant recipient.

When Marcus and Amelia Johnson first set out to open a gym and fitness center in the St. Paul area, they envisioned creating a family-oriented gym which allows for 24-hour access to fit the schedules of a variety of patrons from all walks of life. They opened last August and saw membership quickly grow to about 110.

“VCEDA was pleased to assist Small Town Fitness LLC as it sought to grow its new business in the St. Paul area,” said VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher. “VCEDA’s seed capital matching grant program is designed to give small businesses in our region a leg up in getting their new ventures off the ground and to helping them become established in their communities, thereby growing communities and jobs at the same time.”

Like other gyms across the state, Small Town Fitness, located at 16609 Russell Street in St. Paul, has been shut down for the past two months as a result of COVID-19 concerns and the statewide order shutting down gyms. Amelia Johnson noted recently they are more than ready to reopen just as soon as the green light is given by the state. Patrons will be limited to 10 at a time and social distancing will be maintained in accordance with the governor’s orders related to the reopening of gyms.

While the pandemic has been ongoing, Johnson said Small Town Fitness has adapted, offering work-out tips and things people can do at home to keep physically fit while gyms across the state are closed.

“We are really looking forward to reopening,” Johnson said.

The gym features a separate enclosed play area for small children which provides parents with the ability to visit the gym when they otherwise might not be able to do so. Johnson noted the gym offers three-month, six-month and annual memberships and features a variety of exercise equipment options from treadmills and ellipticals to free weights, bench press, shoulder press, leg machines, squat racks, cable crossover machines and more.

“We offer a full body workout at Small Town Fitness,” Johnson said. “We used the VCEDA funds in part to purchase some of our exercise equipment. It really helped us out.”

An arrangement Small Town Fitness has with the Western Front Hotel in St. Paul allows guests staying at the hotel the opportunity to also use the gym at no additional cost. Working with various insurance companies, gym memberships are also available through Silver Sneakers, Renew Active, Silver & Fit and Active & Fit programs.

The Johnsons worked with Tim Blankenbecler and Margie Douglass, through the Small Business Development Centers at Mountain Empire Community College and Southwest Virginia Community College on the development of their business plan and application to VCEDA. The Wise County Industrial Development Authority also provided a letter of support for the project.

For information about Small Town Fitness gym memberships, interested persons may contact Small Town Fitness through its Facebook Page, or by calling 276-210-4299.

About Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and Southwest 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.