Tazewell, Va., issued BDO Zone ‘A’ rating for woody biomass
September 29, 2023
By BDO Zone Initiative
The ATIP Foundation, Ecostrat, Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission and the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority are pleased to announce the issue of a new Bioeconomy Development Opportunity (BDO) Zone rating for woody biomass.
Funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture through a Rural Business Development Grant (RBDG), the “Advancing the Bioeconomy in Virginia” Initiative’s primary focus is on business development and job creation through the conversion of waste wood to jet fuel. These efforts are led by the ATIP Foundation, in partnership with Ecostrat, Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission (CPPDC), The Center for Risk Management of Engineering Systems at the University of Virginia (UVA), Commonwealth Center for Advanced Logistics Systems (CCALS), and Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA).
Wes Jurey, president and CEO of ATIP Foundation emphasized, “Advancing the bioeconomy in Virginia is a comprehensive approach to establishing the bioeconomy in a 12 County Region in western Virginia. Similar to city bond ratings, this BDO Zone ‘A’ rating should encourage investment opportunities within the bioeconomy cluster in Virginia.”
The Tazewell, VA BDO Zone is rated ‘A’, reflecting “high quality”, attributed to the region’s abundance of small-diameter roundwood and forest residues. Currently, there is minimal competition for biomass within the area along with significant biomass resources at favourable prices, forming a robust foundation for substantial biomass-based initiatives. The well-established terminal infrastructure and the 180-acre development site contribute to this advantage, along with versatile zoning, convenient access to natural gas, and close proximity to the interstate highway system. Extending across a 75-mile drive radius from Tazewell, the BDO Zone generates an impressive 625,000 green tons of woody biomass annually.
Jonathan S. Belcher, executive director/general counsel, Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority stated, “Wood products and energy are two very important and significant industry sectors in this region, and the BDO Zone is a great interconnection between those two important sectors. We look forward to the jobs and economic opportunities which this designation positions the region to attract, and for the hard work of all those involved in this innovative project for the area.”
Scotty Wampler, executive director, Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission (CPPDC) added, “The BDO Zone designation for Tazewell County provides a valuable marketing tool in the region’s efforts to promote effective economic diversification. We have every confidence this innovative approach to economic development in the coalfields will serve the region well in the coming years.”
The Tazewell BDO Zone marks a significant milestone as the first-ever BDO Zone rating for forest residues, pulpwood, and sawmill residues within the state of Virginia. This achievement underscores the dedication and innovation that have driven this partnership to establish a pioneering model.
Jordan Solomon, chairman of the BDO Zone Initiative, added, “This achievement is a direct outcome of the seamless collaboration among a diverse team of organizations, all united in their mission to propel the bioeconomy within the vibrant 12 County Region of western Virginia. Government backing through the USDA’s RBDG program has been instrumental in recognizing the significance of projects centred on biomass. This significant milestone not only underscores the region’s dedication to innovation and sustainable economic growth but also paves the way for groundbreaking bio-based investment prospects within the region.”
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