Regional Economic Development Marketing Initiative Launches in Southwest Virginia

Announces Strategic Partnership with Northern Virginia Technology Council


ABINGDON, VA – The Southwest Virginia Regional Marketing Initiative, officially known as “InvestSWVA,” launched this afternoon during an event at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center. InvestSWVA is a public-private partnership focused on supporting local economic development and marketing efforts spanning the entire GO Virginia Region One footprint.

“InvestSWVA is a first-of-its-kind operation in the region and is committed to advancing big ideas,” said Will Payne, project lead for InvestSWVA and managing partner of Coalfield Strategies, LLC. “We are using a public-private model that harnesses the support of state and local leaders, economic development agencies and key corporate stakeholders to market the region, attract new business investment, and bring the jobs of the future to Southwest Virginia.”

InvestSWVA is a strategic economic development marketing operation driven by Coalfield Strategies, LLC and in partnership with members of the General Assembly from the region. It is complementary to efforts of state and regional economic development interests, and will work in tandem with Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP), GO Virginia Region One Council, Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA), Virginia’s Industrial Advancement Alliance (VIAA), the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission (TRRC), and the local economic development offices in the region.

The seed funding for the initiative is coming from TRRC, with a private match from Point Broadband, LLC. Point Broadband is a leader in fiber broadband technology and is committed to improving the economic vitality of the region. The funding is for two years, making the initiative aggressive, focused, and dependent on results.

InvestSWVA will focus on energy innovation and the “future of work” in Southwest Virginia – attracting and retaining young talent by focusing on high-tech and high-wage jobs, a key GO Virginia Region One priority. InvestSWVA will target four industry clusters featured in the GO Virginia Region One’s "Growth and Diversification Plan,” including: advanced manufacturing; agriculture and forestry, and food and beverage manufacturing; information and emerging technologies; and, energy and minerals.

A key component of the initiative includes a strategic partnership with the Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC), the trade association for the technology community in Northern Virginia which serves about 1,000 companies and organizations. The InvestSWVA team will partner with NVTC to market remote employment opportunities in Southwest Virginia to NVTC member companies. Additionally, the InvestSWVA team will work in collaboration with the Southwestern Virginia Technology Council (SWVTC), GO Virginia, the University of Virginia’s College at Wise (UVA-Wise), the Virginia Community College System and the region’s private higher education institutions to ensure a coordinated workforce development strategy.

The initiative is being led by: Senator Ben Chafin (R - Russell); Delegates Terry Kilgore (R - Scott), Israel O’Quinn (R - Bristol), and Todd Pillion (R - Abingdon); Evan Feinman, executive director of the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission; Joseph Puckett, general manager of Virginia and Tennessee markets for Point Broadband, LLC; and regional planning district commissions including: Duane Miller (executive director of LENOWISCO Planning District Commission), Jim Baldwin (executive director of Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission), and Aaron Sizemore (executive director of Mount Rogers Planning District Commission).

The InvestSWVA team includes: Mr. Payne; former Senator William Wampler serving as a senior advisor; Will Clear, who leads the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy’s economic development team, is serving as regional advisor; and, members of Hunton Andrews Kurth’s Global Economic Development, Commerce and Government Relations group including Todd Haymore, who served as both secretary of commerce and trade and secretary of agriculture and forestry.

The GO Virginia Region One footprint includes the counties of Bland, Buchanan, Carroll, Dickenson, Grayson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington, Wise, and Wythe; and the cities of Bristol, Galax and Norton.

“We selected Coalfield Strategies because of the team’s expertise in the technology and energy sectors, as well as their strategic approach and unique relationships in the region,” said Kilgore. “Together we will leverage business and state and local government relationships to develop viable business prospects to advance economic development in Southwest Virginia.”

“This is a region-wide initiative that has the opportunity to be a game-changer for Southwest Virginia,” said Pillion. “We are excited about the innovative approach that will be deployed through InvestSWVA, and the economic development opportunities possible through this initiative.”

“There are limitless opportunities for business development in Southwest Virginia, and InvestSWVA’s focused and strategic approach has the potential to make those opportunities a reality,” said O’Quinn. “Together we will be able to connect renewable energy, broadband, technology and agriculture opportunities while launching marketing strategies tailored to Southwest Virginia and these industries.”

“We have assembled a strong team to bring unique and transformative economic development opportunities to Southwest Virginia,” said Chafin. “This team includes legislators from the region, state economic development agencies, local economic development offices, private industry including Point Broadband, and economic development leaders including Todd Haymore. It’s the opportunity for all of us to work together in a strategic, creative and bold way that will make this initiative a success.”

“The strategic partnership between InvestSWVA and NVTC will open up a great deal of unique growth opportunities for our member companies, said Troy Murphy, director of policy for NVTC. “Through our collaboration, we hope to help bring high-tech employers to Southwest Virginia while attracting the next generation workforce to the region.”

Contact: Taylor Keeney
Phone: (804) 788-8242