High-powered marketing initiative InvestSWVA launches in coal country

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Coalfield Strategies LLC's Will Payne spoke during the InvestSWVA
launch event in September. Courtesy InvestSWVA

InvestSWVA, a public-private Southwest Virginia marketing initiative launched in September, is about more than marketing — because sometimes it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

“This is absolutely leveraging relationships,” says Will Payne, project leader for InvestSWVA and managing partner of Coalfield Strategies LLC, an economic development consulting firm he formed in April. “This is the value of Hunton, the value of members of our team who have relationships, and we’re going to leverage those relationships to get in meetings with decision makers. It’s rolling up your sleeves and attacking our goals.”

“Hunton” is Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP, Virginia’s second-largest law firm. InvestSWVA team member Todd Haymore heads the firm’s global economic development, commerce and government relations group, after having served two state administrations as secretary of commerce and trade, and agriculture and forestry. Del. Terry Kilgore, R-Scott, and Del. Israel O’Quinn, R-Washington, are on the team, and Payne was recently chief deputy of the state Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy.

With a timeline of two years, InvestSWVA has $800,000 in funding from various sources, including the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission and Georgia-based internet service provider Point Broadband.

Working with local, regional and state economic development organizations, InvestSWVA is working to make the most of GO Virginia, the statewide business-led initiative that encourages private-sector growth and new jobs via state incentives. The team also aims to market the region as a “hotbed of energy innovation, and particularly renewable energy innovation,” Payne says.

Already, InvestSWVA has partnered with the Northern Virginia Technology Council to promote remote employment with the NVTC’s 1,000 member companies and organizations.

“It would be really nice to think there would be so many successes and victories in a two-year period that you could wrap it up in two years and say ‘mission accomplished’ and move on,” Haymore says, but he expects this project to be longer term.

“I believe that the things that we will generate … will grant enough momentum, and this will be something that will last beyond the two years that are being discussed now, because the things that you do today on behalf of a locality or a region sometimes don’t come to fruition in these nice prescriptive timeframes that you try to live your life by and conduct your business by.”

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