The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) closed on an up to $90,000 grant to be used to help finance the renovation, rehabilitation and improvement of the former Mutual Pharmacy property in Big Stone Gap. On hand for the ceremonial check presentation were, from left, Susan Cradic, executive director, Big Stone Gap Redevelopment and Housing Authority (BSGRHA); Jonathan Belcher, executive director/general counsel, VCEDA; George Polly, chairman, BSGRHA; and Steve Lawson, town manager, Big Stone Gap.

BIG STONE GAP, VA – October 10, 2018 An up to $90,000.00 grant from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) Tourism Capital Improvement Matching Fund was closed Wednesday to be used to help finance the renovation, rehabilitation and improvement of the former Mutual Pharmacy property in Big Stone Gap.

The Mutual Pharmacy property is a two-story masonry structure in the town’s central business district and the Town of Big Stone Gap and the Big Stone Gap Redevelopment and Housing Authority have plans to renovate the building to include dining and commercial space on the first floor and short-stay lodging to support local and regional tourism and community development efforts on the second floor.

“VCEDA is pleased to be able to assist the Town of Big Stone Gap and the Big Stone Gap Redevelopment and Housing Authority in making improvements to the Mutual Pharmacy building which will benefit the town and its efforts to capitalize on the increased tourism it has seen since the release of the movie, ‘Big Stone Gap,’” said VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher.

“The Big Stone Gap Redevelopment and Housing Authority is excited to be involved in this revitalization project with the Town of Big Stone Gap,” said Big Stone Gap Redevelopment and Housing Authority Executive Director Susan M. Cradic. “The entire town is working hard to create new opportunities for both local residents and tourists. The $90,000 VCEDA grant funds will help us make this project a reality.”

According to the funding application, the Mutual Pharmacy, “with its iconic cafeteria, served as an anchor of Big Stone Gap’s downtown from the 1950s until its closing in 2013, mere months before the movie ‘Big Stone Gap’ was filmed in the town. The movie, based on the bestselling novels by Big Stone Gap native Adriana Trigiani, utilized the recreated Mutual interior as a significant setting.  The Town finds itself in position to take advantage of increased tourist visitation following the movie’s 2015 release.”

A tenant has been secured to operate a restaurant on the first floor and to operate the short-term rentals on the second floor. Plans call for the restaurant to be able to seat approximately 200. The second floor will be renovated to include seven loft style rooms available to be rented from one night to six months at a time.

Six full-time and 25-30 part-time employees are projected within one year. Ten full-time and 30-45 part-time employees are projected within five years.

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 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.