Southwest Virginia counties unite


RICHMOND — Southwest Virginia counties united for their first ever cohesive legislative event in Richmond this past week.

Seven counties including Tazewell, Buchanan, Russell, Dickenson, Lee, Scott and Wise, and the city of Norton, sent representatives to meet with state legislators and agencies in the Omni Richmond Hotel.

This event helps us get acquainted with people that we normally only work with through e-mail, said Assistant County Administrator Kathie Noe.

With more than 300 people from Southwest Virginia attending, the opportunity for professional camaraderie is a strong one.

The biggest thing we get out of this is networking with all seven coalfield counties, said Joe Fuller, a board member of the Scott County Economic Development Authority. We also visit as many legislators as we can and do some lobbying.

The director of SCEDA, John Kilgore, listed more benefits of the event.

Its good to come and meet and work with agencies like the Economic Development Partnership and the Virginia Tobacco Commission, Kilgore said.

The ballroom was lined with information tables displaying everything from Virginias Heritage Music Trail to Grundy regional airport designs, indicating the regions growth.

Were making great strides in Southwest Virginia with economic and tourism development, Fuller said. However, despite his optimism, he says there is still work to be done.

We are somewhat economically stressed and we find it advantageous to come here, Fuller said. It keeps us in touch.

Not only does this event keep Southwest Virginia in touch with Richmond, it demands Richmonds attention. That fact became apparent when Gov. Tim Kaine entered the reception.

Although the governor was in attendance, the night was not all politics and lobbying.

Its nice to be able to come up here and visit with some folks you know, Fuller said. And meeting new people is always helpful too.