5/22/24 Tobacco Commission Meets in Lee/Wise Counties.

Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission Logo



Ewing, VA – The Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission held its second of three scheduled meetings for the year on Wednesday, May 22nd, in Ewing with Committee meetings held the day prior in Wise. The Commission was hosted by Lincoln Memorial University at their DeBusk Veterinary Teaching Center. This is the first time in the Commission’s history that meetings have been held in Lee County.

The Commission approved 19 funding requests in support of a variety of organizations and initiatives across Southwest and Southern Virginia as well as 11 Workforce Financial Aid requests to increase access to educational opportunities and job readiness across the footprint.

Funding was approved for projects in agribusiness, site development, tourism and business development. These awards are part of the Commission’s 25 years of work helping to rebuild the economies of Southern and Southwest Virginia.

For a full list of projects approved at this meeting please CLICK HERE. For more information, the meeting packet on our website contains detailed project descriptions, staff comments, grant requirements and other business, including project extensions and modifications to previous awards.
The Commission elected The Honorable Frank Ruff to serve as Chairman and Delegate Will Morefield to serve as Vice-Chair. Both have been elected to 2 year terms.

Tobacco Commission Chairman, The Honorable Frank Ruff said, “It was a pleasure to hold our meetings in Southwest Virginia and in beautiful Lee County for the very first time in the Commission’s history. I want to thank my fellow Commissioners for entrusting me to serve as Chairman of the Commission. The Tobacco Commission has made strategic investments over the last 25 years that have created jobs, opportunities and helped grow the economies of Southwest and Southern Virginia while continuing to adapt with new programs and offerings to meet the needs of the communities we serve. As Chairman, I look forward to working with my fellow Commissioners, staff and our partners across the TRRC footprint to expand on the success the Commission has had with an eye toward the future and harnessing the immense potential Southwest and Southern Virginia have to offer.”

Tobacco Commission Executive Director, James Campos said, “Thank you to everyone who joined us for our meetings in Wise and Lee Counties. It’s important to me that the Commission has a presence in every one of our footprint localities and these meetings were a great opportunity to interact with many of our local partners.

The projects approved at this meeting are representative of the diverse range of projects the Commission can help move forward to improve the lives of those in Southern and Southwest Virginia. I look forward to working to create additional opportunities for the communities we serve in the energy and agriculture sectors along with additional lending opportunities, including our lending program in partnership with VSBFA, and other innovative tools to meet the evolving needs of Southern and Southwest Virginia.

In particular, I believe that energy innovation and development hold great promise for Southern and Southwest Virginia and our recently created Energy Ingenuity Fund looks to tap into that sector to bring jobs and investment to the footprint. We have also heard loud and clear the need for workforce housing in many of our localities so I am excited to further develop and implement our workforce housing pilot program.”

TRRC/VSBFA Loan Program Update

The Commission has created a $10 million loan fund for economic development loans to be administered in partnership with the Virginia Small Business Financing Authority (VSBFA). The program launched recently and has provided its first loan to Grayson Natural Farms. The loan will provide working capital to help Grayson Natural Farms meet demand.

The program has been well received and several additional loans are under consideration.

Economic Development Workforce Housing Incentive Program

The Commission authorized staff to develop a workforce housing incentive program.

The Commission has heard from many of our communities that a lack of workforce housing is either a current issue they are facing or will become an issue should a large prospect consider moving into their locality. The program seeks to deploy modest Commission funding alongside the energy brought about by a major economic development project to bring together the locality, the employer, and the state’s housing community to develop and implement an innovative workforce housing solution that incentivizes the company’s commitment to the Commonwealth. The program’s goal is to make the Commission’s footprint more attractive for economic development by directly addressing a major concern of footprint localities and major employers: insufficient housing for their workforce.