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Major grant awarded for Appalachian Voices’ jobs, economic project in Southwest Virginia

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The GO Virginia State Board approved a Per Capita application for Appalachian Voices on Tuesday, March 16, 2021. The Appalachian Voices Energy Storage and Electrification Manufacturing Jobs project, approved at $486,366 will create jobs in GO Virginia Region One in the energy storage and electrification manufacturing field while attracting investments and expanding the local tax base.


Kalen Hunter, Program Director
GO Virginia Region One
276-870-7731, [email protected]

Adam Wells, Regional Director of Community and Economic Development
Appalachian Voices
276-679-1691, [email protected]

In 2019, Appalachian Voices received a GO Virginia Enhanced Capacity Building grant to support the Solar Playbook project that examined how solar-related manufacturing and utility-scale solar development could contribute to job creation in Region One. This project is a direct continuation of that effort.

This project will catalyze a vibrant energy storage and electrification economy in Region One through an accelerated project approach that provides data-based, targeted technical assistance to existing manufacturers in the region who have already taken steps to diversify their businesses into energy storage and electrification markets. Notably, each of the four targeted companies has a strong history of serving the coal industry and are now seeking to expand into next generation energy markets. Concurrently, the project seeks to attract new national and global companies to Southwest Virginia and expand tax base, capital investment, and sustainable job creation.

“This project connects directly to the ongoing efforts of The Solar Workgroup of Southwest Virginia’s to support solar-related jobs in the region,” said project lead Adam Wells, Regional Director of Community and Economic Development at Appalachian Voices. “Since the workgroup was established, we have had the goal to support manufacturing jobs connected to renewable energy sectors. Thanks to broad support and engagement from stakeholders across the region, we have identified the strategies outlined in this project as the best way to leverage our regions assets and gain a share of the rapidly expanding electrification market.”

In addition to the technical assistance provided to the four companies, the project will also consider the business support ecosystems of the two counties in which the businesses are located, and will provide recommendations for how leaders can support business diversification, growth and development from a local government angle.

Appalachian Voices will serve the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) footprint consisting of seven counties and one city in the LENOWISCO and Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commissions (CPPDC). VCEDA, Ascent Virginia, and Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission are actively participating in the project and have committed resources to local companies. The four engaged companies receiving direct services from the project are located within the CPPDC; these companies include AMR PEMCO, Lawrence Brothers Inc., West River Conveyors & Machinery Co., and Simmons Equipment Company.

“We strongly support efforts such as this to encourage existing companies to expand and diversify their businesses and to create opportunities for new business development in this industry sector,” commented Jim Baldwin, Executive Director of the Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission and GO Virginia Region One Council Member.

“VCEDA is very excited to be a part of this project,” said VCEDA Executive Director, Jonathan Belcher. “This initiative is designed to position Southwest Virginia’s e-Region as a leader in advanced battery manufacturing and related components, and includes not only a strategy for attracting companies in this industry sector to the region, but also an organized plan to help interested companies already in our region to diversify their offerings to products and services in this field. The end result is calculated to not only help diversify the region’s economy, but also to add jobs.”

Appalachian Voices has also engaged support from the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy and Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission. There is also support from financiers including Virginia Community Capital and The Pearl Fund, as well as an international battery company, Blue Solutions.

GO Virginia funds are matched by $245,000 of private and philanthropic dollars. The Thompson Charitable Foundation is contributing $160,000 in cash match, while the four companies will be responsible for a cost share of the technical assistance provided by the project.

“Our team at the Economic Growth Institute is proud to be working with Appalachian Voices and its local partners to diversify Region One into a resilient economy. Through an objective and unbiased assessment of local companies and community assets and opportunities, EGI will identify core strengthening and diversification opportunities to create new jobs in the region and take these companies and communities into the future with a solid foundation and strategy,” said Steve Wilson, Director of the Economic Growth Institute.

“The project team has spent the last two years in a due diligence process to develop this concept,” said Vivek Shinde Patil, PhD, co-founder of Ascent Virginia and project co-lead. “That process has included discussions with global energy storage, utility and battery company executives, which yielded valuable insights into the possibility of creating an energy storage and electrification production cluster in Southwest Virginia.”

“AMR PEMCO is extremely excited to participate in Appalachian Voices’ recently approved Energy Storage Project. Our company has worked diligently over the past several years to diversify the markets we serve, including the Energy Storage Industry. However, we are eager to receive the additional assistance this meaningful grant will provide to further enhance our company’s marketing and manufacturing efforts in this exciting and rapidly growing industry. Through these endeavors, we hope to not only retain our current employees and improve their wages, but to also provide new jobs in the future, all of which helps our shared community in Southwestern Virginia” said David Graf, President & CEO of AMR PEMCO and GO Virginia Region One Council Member.

This project was funded in part by GO Virginia, a state-funded initiative that strengthens and diversifies Virginia’s economy and fosters the creation of higher wage jobs in strategic industries.


The Virginia Initiative for Growth and Opportunity (GO Virginia) is a bipartisan, business-led economic development initiative that is changing the way Virginia’s diverse regions collaborate on economic and workforce development activities. The GO Virginia initiative is to promote the creation of high wage careers, private-sector job growth, and diversification across the Commonwealth through incentivized regional collaboration.

GO Virginia Region One represents thirteen counties and three cities in Southwest Virginia; including 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.

For more information about GO Virginia Region One, visit
Appalachian Voices works at the nexus of the ongoing shift from fossil fuels to clean, 21st-century energy sources. Working to advance energy efficiency, solar and wind power, and other economic resolutions that create community wealth and sustain Appalachia’s mountains, forests, and waters, Appalachian Voices envisions an Appalachia with healthy ecosystems and resilient local economies that allow communities to thrive.

Appalachian Voices works at the nexus of the ongoing shift from fossil fuels to clean, 21st-century energy sources. Working to advance energy efficiency, solar and wind power, and other economic resolutions that create community wealth and sustain Appalachia’s mountains, forests, and waters, Appalachian Voices envisions an Appalachia with healthy ecosystems and resilient local economies that allow communities to thrive. Appalachian Voices has offices in Boone, N.C., Charlottesville and Wise County, VA, and Knoxville, TN.

For more information about Appalachian Voices, visit

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