Economic Development: JONATHAN BELCHER
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND GENERAL COUNSEL, VIRGINIA COALFIELD ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY; EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, VIRGINIA COALFIELDS EXPRESSWAY AUTHORITY, LEBANON
Belcher leads the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, which was created in 1988 to grow and diversify the region’s economy and help create jobs. Last year, the authority announced 46 new economic development projects plus 14 company expansions and retentions, creating a total of more than 1,000 jobs.
Belcher knows Southwest Virginia. He grew up in a rural area 20 miles from Grundy. In 2020, he became executive director of the Virginia Coalfields Expressway Authority. He is a vocal advocate for state funding and support for Virginia’s 57-mile portion of the proposed 115-mile federal highway to improve connectivity between Southwest Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky. About seven miles of Virginia’s portion have been constructed so far, and studies estimate that the road could have $12.8 billion in regional economic impact.
Belcher also serves as an advisory committee member of the Virginia Department of Energy Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization Program.