Incoming Norfolk Southern chairman Alan Shaw with outgoing chairman James Squires. Courtesy of Norfolk Southern.

Here’s a round-up of business (and sometimes other) news from around Southwest and Southside. Send items for possible inclusion to

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New Norfolk Southern leadership has Southwest ties

Norfolk Southern chairman and CEO James Squires has announced he’s retiring May 1, 2022. He will be succeeded as CEO Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Alan Shaw, who has now been named president. Succeeding Shaw as executive vice president and chief marketing officer will be Ed Elkins, vice president of industrial products.

Both men have ties to Southwest Virginia. Shaw earned a BS in Aerospace Engineering and an MBA from Virginia Tech, and completed the General Management Program at Harvard Business School.  Elkins, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, graduated from the University of Virginia’s College at Wise and earned an MBA from Old Dominion University. He completed the General Management Program at Harvard Business School. Elkins joined Norfolk Southern in 1988 as a locomotive engineer. He served as group vice president for chemicals and group vice president for international intermodal before assuming his current role in 2018.

The company, based in Norfolk, is in the process of moving its headquarters to Atlanta.

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“Red & Blue,” a digital work by Jeremy Grant, a sophomore majoring in civil engineering, is featured in the Student Arts Spotlight at the Moss Arts Center. Courtesy of Virginia Tech.

Moss Arts Center exhibition features student works of art from across disciplines

More than 100 selected works of art created by over 100 Virginia Tech undergraduate and graduate students are currently on display at the Moss Arts Center at Virginia Tech.

From collages, sketches, photography, and paintings to digital works, sculpture, and film, the exhibition features a range of work selected from 228 submissions representing over 70 academic disciplines and each Virginia Tech college.

Some of the student work can also be viewed on the Moss Arts Center website and social media channels. 

The center’s galleries are open on Wednesday-Friday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. The exhibitions will be on view through Saturday, Dec. 18.

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Chad Cole of Elite Fitness in Richlands.

VCEDA approves seed capital grant for gym in Richlands

The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority has approved a $6,500 seed capital grant for Elite Fitness, a new gym in the Town of Richlands in Tazewell County.

Elite Fitness projects two full-time employees within three years, VCEDA said. The business is owned by Chad Cole. He used the grant for working capital, rent and inventory. “The grant has helped tremendously and takes a weight off a new business owner,” Cole said of the VCEDA seed capital funding. “Having the grant frees up other revenue to take care of other operating costs or to buy and update equipment.”

Cole worked with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Southwest Virginia Community College (SWCC) in the development of his application to VCEDA and received a letter of support from the Tazewell County Industrial Development Authority.

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.

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Roanoke County tree lighting is tonight

Roanoke County will hold its ceremonial Christmas Tree lighting tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the South County Library.

Christmas carols will led by song-leader Rebecca Ventola of the Library staff.

Holiday crafts and activities for children and teens will be available including candy cane art, 3D-printed ornaments and paper bag luminaries. There will also be marshmallow roasting, a cake walk and light holiday refreshments.

Santa will arrive by fire truck and perform sing-a-long songs with his Figgy Pudding Band.

This free event is presented by Roanoke County’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism in collaboration with South County Library. The South County Library is located at 6303 Merriman Rd. For more information, call (540) 387-6078 ext. 0 or visit