Opportunity Appalachia and and its lead partner in Virginia, the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, have announced the selection of 34 projects to participate in a program to bring jobs, business support and investment to Central Appalachia.

Opportunity Appalachia is led by an eight-member consortium of regional and national organizations with expertise in financing and marketing that will support local projects to develop investment packets geared toward prospective investors.   The partners include:  Appalachian Community Capital, OhioSE, Opportunity Southwest Virginia / UVA – Wise, Mountain BizWorks, West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center, University of Tennessee Knoxville, Main Street America, and Coastal Enterprises

Opportunity Appalachia received 75 applications from across Southeast Ohio, East Tennessee, Western North Carolina, Southwest Virginia, and West Virginia. Four the 34 selected projects are in Southwest Virginia:

  • Blue Mountain Therapy, Blue Mountain Expansion, Abingdon– This locally-owned regional healthcare facility, which served over 2,700 patients last year, will remodel 42,000 sq. ft. of its 77,000 sq. ft. building to better serve those with physical and or mental disabilities, including clients on the autism spectrum. The remodeled space will include a pool for aquatic therapy, equine assisted therapy riding arena, sensory rooms, provision of life skills and job training, and a commercial kitchen to enable supportive employment in the culinary fields. Estimated total costs are $1 MM and with anticipated job creation of 35 jobs. 
  • Mountain Empire Community College (MECC) Foundation, MECC Outdoor Amphitheater, Big Stone Gap – Construction of a 25,000 sq. ft., 1,000-seat amphitheater to support cultural heritage programming in the region. The space will provide permanent infrastructure to meet the demand for event space and improve educational opportunities for students and the community. Estimated total costs are $3 MM and with anticipated permanent job creation of 1 FTE and 3 part-time jobs plus indirect seasonal/event staff labor. 
  • Paul’s Fan Company, Paul’s Fan Company Daycare Center, Grundy – Creation of a 7,000 sq. ft. licensed daycare facility serving 50 children at the Southern Gap Industrial Park. The facility will provide childcare services to the locally-owned Paul’s Fan Company which has 50 employees, as well as others working within the region, expanding the available workforce in the region. Estimated total costs are $700,000 and with anticipated job creation of 5 jobs. 
  • Whistle Pig Country Store, Whistle Pig Farmers Market and Country Store, Ewing, – This women-led development will transform a 5,400 sq. ft. building into a local country general store with deli, coffee shop and farmers’ market. Developed by local residents and farmers, the market will provide the community with fresh food options as well as heritage workshops and a community gathering place in a rural community that is near a veterinary school, a national park with popular hiking trails, and a public elementary and high school. Estimated costs total $1.2 MM with anticipated creation of 20 jobs.

    Opportunity Appalachia will now provide technical assistance to selected projects to support the development of investment prospectus, structuring of project financing, market research, operations planning, architectural design and investor outreach. The total budget for the Virginia projects is $200,000, with a maximum amount of $75,000 for any one project. Once project technical assistance is completed, an investor event will be held in early 2023 that will target both local and pre-vetted national investors, as well as federal and state funders.

    The program is supported by the Appalachian Regional Commission, the U.S. Department of Treasury Community Development Financial Institution Fund, Truist, Goldman Sachs, and the Dogwood Health Trust.

    More information on Opportunity Appalachia is available at appalachiancommunitycapitalcdfi.org/oa-program/opportunity-appalachia-2022-202