Appalachian Power this week awarded more than $150,000 in grant funds to assist communities with business recruitment and retention in the company’s West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee service territory.


Eight localities and nonprofits will each receive $20,000 through the company’s Economic Development Growth Enhancement (EDGE) program administered by John Smolak, director of the company’s economic and business development office. The funds must be used to support marketing and promotion, business retention and expansion, or programs to support site and business development. “We received some outstanding submissions from our economic development allies in all three states we serve,” Smolak said. “There are a number of ideas and programs with enormous potential to assist with new business development in the communities we serve. Appalachian Power is proud to be a partner in their success through our EDGE grant program.”

Awards winners include:

  • In Tennessee, the Kingsport Office of Small Business Development and Entrepreneurship (KOSBE), in conjunction with the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, for website development and to enhance and continue the “GrowthWheel Workshop Series,” for small business and entrepreneurs.
  • In West Virginia, the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority for marketing and website enhancement.
  • In Virginia, the City of Roanoke Economic Development Office for development of a new website; the New River Valley Economic Development Alliance to enhance direct marketing efforts and activities; the Region 2000 Alliance for marketing and website development; The City of Lynchburg’s Economic Development Office for website development and direct marketing; the Botetourt County Economic Development Department for website development and marketing.
  • The Blue Ridge Crossroads Economic Development Authority for implementation of a new marketing strategy and website development for the Wildwood Commerce Park.

The chief communications officer for the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority in West Virginia says the EDGE grant will provide multiple benefits. “The grant will enable us to provide local businesses the tools and resources they need to thrive,” said Lillian Graning. “Development agencies, like ours, couldn’t make the difference we do without the support of companies, like Appalachian Power, fighting for business.”


Megan Lucas, CEO of the Lynchburg-based Region 2000 Alliance, applauded Appalachian Power for its continued commitment to the business community. “We are fortunate to work with a company that understands regional economic development,” Lucas said. “The Alliance will be utilizing the grant for a new regional economic development website designed to generate awareness and capital investment in our region.”


Appalachian Power provides electricity to approximately 1 million customers in Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee (as AEP Appalachian Power). It is a unit of American Electric Power, one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, with more than 5 million customers in 11 states. AEP ranks among the nation’s largest generators of electricity, owning nearly 36,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the U.S. AEP also owns the nation’s largest electricity transmission system, a nearly 39,000-mile network that includes more 765 kilovolt extra-high voltage transmission lines than all other U.S. transmission systems combined.

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