Development of a workforce development and training space for the new Clinch River Ecological Education Center (CREEC) will be made possible in part by an up to $486,994 grant closed recently by the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) for the University of Virginia’s College at Wise Foundation.

The funds will be used by the college foundation to develop the Clinch River Ecological Education Center at the Oxbow Center in St. Paul, Virginia. Previously, the 19,228-square-foot Oxbow Center building was donated by another entity to the college foundation as a gift.

“Assisting our education partners in Southwest Virginia’s e-Region to grow and develop today’s programs to meet the needs of a changing workforce are critically important to our success in attracting economic development projects to the region,” said VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher. “We are pleased to assist The University of Virginia’s College at Wise Foundation with this grant.”

According to UVa-Wise Foundation’s application, the Clinch River Ecological Education Center will serve as a field station for workforce development and environmental education serving students from higher education institutions throughout Central Appalachia and the Mid-Atlantic region, K-12 students, as well as employers and entrepreneurs in the outdoor recreation/adventure industry sector. The center also will provide a field station for regional community colleges to use for hands-on experiential training.

“We are so pleased that VCEDA chose to fund such a worthy project,” said The University of Virginia’s College at Wise Chancellor Donna P. Henry. “The VCEDA grant will make a tremendous difference in the region’s economy.”

UVa-Wise plans to develop strong partnerships with eight to 10 regional colleges and universities based on unique opportunities for student research, experiential education, and service learning through the CREEC.

About Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and Southwest 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 Southwest 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.

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PHOTO CAPTION: An up to $486,994 grant was closed recently by the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) for the University of Virginia’s College at Wise Foundation. The grant will be used to develop the Clinch River Ecological Education Center at the Oxbow Center in St. Paul, Virginia. Pictured are UVA-Wise Chancellor Donna Henry; UVA-Wise Foundation President Don Green; and VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher.