How Virginia’s e-Region is Going Global

The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) set out to grow and diversify the economy of Virginia’s e-Region after being created by the General Assembly in 1988. At that time, coal served as the backbone of their seven counties—Lee, Wise, Scott, Buchanan, Russell, Tazewell and Dickenson—and the City of Norton. But in recent years, the coal mining and energy industries have struggled in southwestern Virginia, spurring a need for companies to find alternate ways to develop their revenue streams.

To assist existing coal and energy technology businesses in the e-Region, VCEDA and VEDP partnered with the Governor’s office to create the Go Global with Coal & Energy Technology (GGCET) program, an initiative resulting from Governor McAuliffe’s 2014 Energy Plan. Modeled after VEDP’s award-winning Virginia Leaders in Export Trade (VALET) program, GGCET will provide a versatile combination of capital resources from expert, private-sector partners to help local companies expand their international exports and sales.

“We were a coal-mining region for a number of years, and we’re still a coal-mining region, and we are going through some major transitions right now,” said Susan Copeland, VCEDA’s marketing coordinator. “GGCET is an attempt to help these support industries of the coal and energy sectors develop new markets and expand and increase their international sales. I think it’s a really important effort to try to help these companies.”

During the two-year pilot program launch, participating businesses will receive numerous benefits: up to $15,000 for export-related expenses; access to new markets; mining-related export seminars; an exhibit at two international mining trade shows, including the Virginia Conference on World Trade; strategic international business planning and professional resources through VEDP’s International Trade program partners. Resources range from accounting and advertising to assistance with freight-forwarding and financial and legal services. Companies are guaranteed at least four in-person meetings with their GGCET program and research managers.

In order to be accepted into GGCET, each company must:

- Be located in the VCEDA region
- Complete an application and market research
- Have been in operation for a minimum of three years
- Have a minimum of 20 employees
- Commit to travel to target markets with VEDP

GGCET accepted six companies in its first year of the program, which was launched in July 2015: Ceramic Technology Inc.; Consolidated Steel Inc.; MineQuest Inc.; PBE USA; PEMCO Corporation; and Simmons Equipment Company.

“The GGCET program has immensely benefitted The PBE Group by providing opportunities to increase international sales,” said PBE Vice President of Sales Steve Petrosky. “Through the program's help, PBE has been able to advertise, attend trade shows and use translation services to advance its global reach. The program has also provided PBE with good market research, which presented multiple potential market opportunities and helped PBE introduce new products when entering new markets."