Economic Development: WILLIAM H. ‘WILL’ PAYNE II
DIRECTOR, INVESTSWVA; MANAGING PARTNER, COALFIELD STRATEGIES LLC, BRISTOL
Under Payne’s leadership, InvestSWVA helped land Atlanta-headquartered EarthLink, which is set to create 285 jobs in Norton, part of a larger plan to market former coal-mining land for other uses. A graduate of the University of Virginia Darden School of Business’ Global Executive MBA program, Payne holds several significant roles in Southwest Virginia.
In addition to leading marketing projects InvestSWVA and Coalfield Strategies, he oversees three other initiatives: Appalachian Grains, Energy DELTA Lab and Southwest Virginia Energy Research and Development Authority, all focused on reinventing the region’s economy and attracting young people to the area, which has lost population over the decades.
A former vice rector and alumnus of William & Mary, Payne is a graduate of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership. A Richmond native and ’80s music fan, Payne keeps an Excel spreadsheet logging the more than 160 concerts he’s attended over the past 20 years.
HOBBY/PASSION: Teaming up with a good friend on owning and operating a 68-acre farm in Washington County. We began with growing pumpkins last year, have added “Sugar Baby” watermelons this summer and will be planting 2,000 heirloom apple trees in December.