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Jun 06

VCEDA Grant Will Help Continue to Expand Internet Access in Dickenson County

Posted on June 6, 2023 at 8:22 AM by Adam Mullins

VCEDA Grant Will Help Continue to Expand Internet Access in Dickenson County

Starlink Grant for Dickenson County

CLINTWOOD, VA – MAY 30, 2023 – High speed Internet access gained another boost in Dickenson County as an up to $169,152 grant from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) was awarded to the Dickenson County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) to be used to finance the provision of low earth orbit space-based broadband to unserved and/or underserved children in Dickenson County.

A portion of the funding, $124,800 comes from the VCEDA Education and Telehealth Access Fund and the remaining amount, $44,352 comes from the VCEDA Dickenson County account. The county also plans to use $22,848 in ARPA funds to extend access to high-speed Internet which will serve an additional 48 households, including 74 school-aged children.

“The grant will be used to take care of the expenses of hardware, wiring and two-year subscriptions for each household served according to the Dickenson County Industrial Development Authority application,” said VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher. “In the end, the grant serves to enhance educational opportunities for students, expand health treatment options and to enhance workforce education and remote worker opportunities.”

VCEDA was appropriated $500,000 in the Virginia state budget for FY2023 and $500,000 in FY2024 “for initiatives intended to expand education and telehealth access.”  VCEDA also received $500,000 for that purpose in FY 2022.   

The VCEDA board adopted formal policies for the administration of the funds being received from the state in 2021 when it formed the VCEDA Education and Telehealth Access Fund.  In FY2022, an application from the Appalachian Council for Innovation (ACI) was approved by the VCEDA Board for a project to provide low earth orbit Starlink satellite Internet service to unserved and/or underserved children in the VCEDA footprint.  That project was done by ACI in association with various local school districts, resulting in a grand total of 724 children being provided access to Starlink, including connections made possible by leveraged funding from the participating localities of Dickenson, Russell, Tazewell and Wise Counties, according to a report from ACI.

Discussions concerning the funding being received by VCEDA in FY2023 resulted in several of the county industrial development authorities expressing a desire to apply for the funds for Starlink projects in their respective jurisdictions. At the September 15, 2022 VCEDA board meeting, the VCEDA Board approved an application from the Wise County IDA for up to $232,500 in FY2023 Education and Telehealth Access funds, in order to provide Starlink service to an additional 94 residences in Wise County.

The Dickenson County IDA submitted an application, which was also approved at the time it was submitted, for up to $144,000 in FY2023 Education and Telehealth Access funds to provide Starlink service to an additional 60 households in Dickenson County with 97 school-aged children.

The most recent request approved builds upon prior successes by providing the service to another 48 households with 74 children. Previously, the county noted in its applications there were a total of 290 households and 323 students that either did not have Internet access, or that did not have Internet access capable of supporting streaming for online learning.

"Over the course of the past several months, Dickenson County has been able to provide a total of 156 households access to high-speed Internet through the partnership with VCEDA and the Space-Based Broadband Grant program,” said Dana Cronkhite, Dickenson County economic development director.  “We are thankful for this continued collaboration and commitment to our community, as access to high-speed Internet is one of the components for our future success and economic development.”

“I am thrilled to have worked with my fellow board members and VCEDA on this significant project that will provide dozens of new high speed internet connections to Dickenson County families,” said Dickenson County Board of Supervisors Chairman Josh Evans. “Our staff and board have worked tirelessly to expand access to high speed Internet.  We are grateful to the VCEDA board and Mr. Belcher for working with us so closely.”

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. or


PHOTO CAPTION: A ceremonial check representing funding in the amount of $169,152 to the Dickenson County IDA to be used to finance the provision of low earth orbit space-based broadband to unserved and/or underserved children in Dickenson County was presented to the IDA recently. On hand for the presentation were, from left, Dickenson County Administrator Larry Barton; VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher; Dickenson County IDA Chairman Larry Yates; Dickenson County Board of Supervisors Chairman Josh Evans; and Dickenson County IDA Executive Director Dana Cronkhite.

May 03

Board of Supervisors Appoint New Economic Development Director

Posted on May 3, 2023 at 9:47 AM by Adam Mullins

Blog 1CLINTWOOD, Virginia--- During a special called meeting on August 4, 2022, Dickenson County Board of Supervisors (BOS) voted in a 5-0 vote to name Dickenson County native, Dana Cronkhite, as the new Director of Economic Development.  This appointment comes 4 months after the BOS and the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) voted to adopt the county's new Strategic Economic Development Plan.


The Strategic Economic Development Plan was developed in collaboration with former Virginia Delegate Clarence E. “Bud” Phillips. Mr. Phillips has been working with the county's BOS, IDA and county administrator, Larry Barton, since this past January to develop a plan and strategy to increase available jobs, training and resources for the citizens of Dickenson County.  The plan focuses on the tremendous strengths and assets of the county and outlines clear and measurable short and long term goals that were designed to best prepare the county for future development and for achieving the goal of a better quality of life for its citizens.


“I am truly honored to have the opportunity to represent Dickenson County in this position.  We have a big job ahead of us in the county and economic development takes time, but I am confident with hard work, perseverance and patience, we have a plan and vision that will bring Dickenson County to the next level,” said Dana Cronkhite.


Cronkhite, a 1998 graduate of Clintwood High School, holds a BA in Criminal Justice and a Bachelors of Social Work (BSW) from the University of North Carolina- Wilmington (UNCW) and a Masters of Social Work (MSW) from the University of New England.  She and her husband relocated to Dickenson County with their daughter in 2021 following his retirement from the United States Marine Corps.  


Cronkhite will join the team in Dickenson County from Universal Health Services, where she currently works in Business Development representing eight behavioral health facilities in Virginia.  She was the recipient of the NC-NASW Toby Brown award, the Sylvia Polgar Service Award, the Presidential Volunteer Service Award and the American Express Partnership for exceptional performance and client relations.  She is experienced in business operations, business development, client relations and marketing, advocacy, and relationship management.  


“I am looking forward to working with Mrs. Cronkhite” said County Administrator Larry Barton, “Her education and experience will be an asset to our Economic Development Team, and I am eager to see what can be accomplished with everyone working together.”

May 03


Posted on May 3, 2023 at 9:44 AM by Adam Mullins


 Blog 6

Dickenson County Director of Economic Development, Dana Cronkhite, recently attended the Virginia Economic Development Association (VEDA) spring conference in Newport News, Virginia.  During the two-day conference, Economic Developers gathered from both the local and state level from across the state to attend training sessions, panel discussions, and to receive policy updates from the state and Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP).  


VEDA, which was established in 1982 ,  “is the voice in Virginia for shaping economic development public policy and a primary source of strong and effective education and networking for economic development professionals.”  VEDA offers its members monthly and annual training opportunities for professional development, access to a multitude of resources, and works to positively promote Virginia in the Economic Development field.   


While at the conference, Cronkhite was able to meet and learn from Economic Developer’s and professionals from across the Commonwealth.  Abigail Wescott, Director of Partner Relations, External Affairs for VEDP said, “From my first conversation with Dana, I could see and soon share her excitement and pride for Dickenson County. No matter the room’s size or the meeting’s location, Dana has ensured that Dickenson is a name and place that people think twice of and want to know more about. It has been wonderful to see Dickenson County represented by Dana, who is not only excited about the extraordinary work happening in the county and in Southwest Virginia, but someone who tells a story and builds a connection leaving her audience wanting to visit. I personally am looking forward to my tour.”