NORTON, Va. (WJHL) — A $2.5 million grant will go toward turning a former coal loadout into a grain processing, storage, and distribution terminal in Norton.
Local officials, including Rep. Morgan Griffith, gathered on Wednesday to celebrate the grant to the Lonesome Pine Regional Industrial Facilities Authority from the Virginia Department of Energy’s Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization grant program.
Under “Project Thoroughbred,” the former coal facility will be transformed into a new facility where locally grown grains will be stored before being sent to the craft beverage market.
“It’s great to see how our agricultural sector in Southwest Virginia will benefit from the redevelopment of an abandoned coal loadout facility,” Rep. Griffith said. “The funds awarded to Project Thoroughbred will allow for the development of a Southwest grain terminal, positively impacting the agriculture base and craft beverage industry in the region.”
Grains grown in Southwest Virginia are sold and marketed by Appalachian Grains.
“This regional grain terminal is essential to Southwest Virginia’s plan to capitalize on the craft beverage industry’s need for locally sourced specialty grains,” said Appalachian Grains founder Will Payne. “Aggregating the region’s grain at this facility will not only give our farmers confidence that there is a market but allow us to scale production to meet growing industry demands.”
Project Thoroughbred also involves a workforce training program at Mountain Empire Community College that allows students to participate in internships and earn a grains certification.