An up to $77,000 grant requested to be used to conduct a feasibility study for a proposed regional education and events center was closed by VCEDA Tuesday at the SWCC. On hand for the ceremonial check presentation were, from left, (seated) Susan Lowe, SWCC vice president of institutional development; and Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel; and (standing) David Leonard, former Russell County Industrial Development Authority chairman; David Eaton, Russell County supervisor; Travis Hackworth, Tazewell County supervisor; Dr. Tommy Wright, SWCC president; and Ernest McFaddin, Russell County Industrial Development Authority chairman.

WARDELL, VA – APRIL 3, 2019 — An up to $77,000 grant requested by the Southwest Virginia Community College Educational Foundation from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) to be used to conduct a feasibility study for a proposed regional education and events center to be located in Tazewell and Russell counties near Southwest Virginia Community College (SWCC) was closed Tuesday at the community college.

SWCC, Tazewell County and Russell County have agreed to work together to explore the concept of developing a regional education and events center near SWCC. 

“VCEDA is pleased to assist with the feasibility study which will help in making a determination as to whether an events center such as the one proposed is a good fit for that area in terms of viability, cost and other factors,” said VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher. “We look forward to seeing the study results.”

SWCC President, Dr. Tommy Wright, noted the college is proud to partner with the counties and with VCEDA in exploring the project possibilities.

“This opens lots of doors for our students and the region and I am excited to see where it will take us,” Wright said of the feasibility study. “If we get a good report, then we will begin exploring the best options going forward.”

Ernest McFaddin, Russell County Industrial Development Authority chairman, noted Russell County is excited to be working with SWCC on the project.

“Dr. Wright and his staff are constantly looking for ways to expand the programs at the college and the possibility of adding an event center in our community would create unlimited possibilities,” McFaddin said.

Tazewell County Supervisor Travis Hackworth noted the study would not have been possible without the cooperation of the SWCC Educational Foundation and both Tazewell and Russell counties.

“We’ll see what this feasibility study says and if it comes to life, this will be a big economic boom to Southwest Virginia,” Hackworth said. “We have a lot of great things planned.”

Russell County Supervisor David Eaton echoed those sentiments, adding, “this project will enhance the region going forward.”

As proposed, the center would be modeled somewhat after a similar center at Walters State Community College in Morristown, Tenn., which SWCC and Tazewell and Russell county representatives have previously visited.

As part of the feasibility study, a market analysis, program planning study, conceptual layout planning, cost estimate study and economic/fiscal impact study are planned. All of these will help to determine the viability and potential impact of the proposed project, before construction funds are requested. 

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.