Sep 12


Posted on September 12, 2023 at 1:20 PM by Adam Mullins

DICKENSON COUNTY, Va. – The Dickenson County Industrial Development Authority (IDA), in partnership with the Town of Haysi, is working toward a master plan for the former Haysi High School site in Haysi, Virginia.  An initial conceptual study was completed in March of 2023 by Structr Advisors that examined various concept models for both the former Haysi High School site, as well as the “green lot” on Main Street of Clintwood.   The study identified potential site layouts, site capacity, and design strategies.

In June of 2023, the IDA engaged MWSmith Architect and Hurt & Proffitt, INC. to complete a more in-depth study as an addendum to the original concept study.  The current study will examine, in detail, the feasibility and viability of development of the former high school site by examining civil items such as existing site characteristics, site access and utilities.   Additionally, the study will provide 2 concept layouts based on potential building footprints identified by the architect with input from various stakeholders in the community.  

The feasibility study should provide valuable data and other useful information that will help determine the best use of the former Haysi High School site,” said the Town of Haysi Mayor and Chairman of the Dickenson County IDA, Larry Yates.  “Since the property is one of the better sites that can be used for Economic Development in our Haysi community, we need to be able to make informed decisions to ensure the property serves community needs.”

A 2-day design workshop was held in July with both the architect and engineer in attendance on site.   The final report will provide more detailed data to be used by the IDA and potential developers in planning for site development.  In June, the IDA submitted an application to Virginia Energy for consideration in the Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization Program (AMLER).  If selected, funding will be utilized to prepare the site for future development.

“Our hope is that our efforts can line up with the completion of the Army Corps of Engineers 202 floodproofing project currently underway in the Haysi area of the county,” said Dana Cronkhite, Dickenson County Director of Economic Development.   “There are many variables outside of the IDA and county’s control, but our goal is to be able to create a site that is ready for development in order to maintain key anchor businesses and attractions in the community, provide an opportunity for adjustment to the impacts of the 202 Program, and to foster community cohesion.”

The next step in the process will be to have a traffic study completed in order to examine the current entrances to the site based on commercial and/or residential traffic capacity and needs.  This study will be funded from a grant from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) awarded for site development of the former Haysi High School site.  The Structr study and the MWSmith are being funded by a $50,000 grant awarded from Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) in 2022 to conduct feasibility for two sites in the county.  The announcement regarding the status of the AMLER application is expected later this year. 

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Pictured: Larry Yates, Mayor of Haysi, VA and Chairman of the Dickenson County Industrial Development Authority and Dana Cronkhite, Dickenson County Director of Economic Development  
Photo by Anna Mullins Photography


Sep 12


Posted on September 12, 2023 at 1:04 PM by Adam Mullins

DICKENSON COUNTY, Va. – The Dickenson County Department of Economic Development has been paired with two Master of Public Policy Tadler Fellows from the University of Virginia’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, located in Charlottesville, VA.  Dana Cronkhite, Dickenson County’s Director of Economic Development, will be working with the students over the course of the next two semesters on projects vital to the continued growth of Dickenson County.

In August, twelve students from the program traveled to Southwest Virginia and met with Cronkhite, and other local leaders, to learn about the culture, the strengths, and the challenges faced in rural Appalachia.  During these meetings, Cronkhite was introduced to Raegan Larussa and Katharine Barbour, who have been tasked with examining and exploring public policy in Dickenson County as it pertains to housing, tourism, and increasing revenues within the county’s border.

Raegan Larussa is a 2nd year Master of Public Policy Candidate at the University of Virginia. She is originally from Texas and graduated magna cum laude from the University of North Texas with a B.A. in Political Science. Her professional background includes a year as an AmeriCorps service fellow at a charter school in New Jersey. She later completed a fellowship at a workforce development agency in New York City. Larussa will be focused on the ever-growing housing crisis in Dickenson County.  She will be examining how the county can better position itself to be attractive to investors and developers.

"Visiting Southwest Virginia was an awesome experience,” said Larussa.  “I learned so much about the history of the area and was in awe of the beautiful mountains, especially since I come from a pretty flat part of Texas! I'm very excited to work on housing initiatives within the County over the course of the next 8 months and look forward to learning more about Dickenson County." 

Katharine Barbour is from Northampton County on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, a narrow peninsula east of the Chesapeake Bay. She is currently a second-year Master of Public Policy candidate at the University of Virginia and holds a B.A. in Foreign Affairs from UVA. She primarily focuses on rural policy, with a particular interest in educational access and outcomes in rural areas as well as innovative economic development strategies. Barbour will be focused on increasing revenue and tourism in the county by improving the online footprint for current and aspiring entrepreneurs/small businesses and how that relates to the tourism industry and local revenues.


"I’m looking forward to working alongside community leaders to harness Dickenson County’s already robust natural and cultural assets into a path toward further economic development,” said Barbour.   “Growing up in a small, rural community on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, I have firsthand experience with many of the policy challenges facing Southwest Virginia. That being said, Dickenson County is a unique place with unique needs. I am incredibly excited about this opportunity to apply what I am learning about Southwest Virginia to a county-specific economic development strategy."


“We are honored to be able to take part in these students’ education and participation in The Tadler Graduate Fellowship,” said Dana Cronkhite, Dickenson County Director of Economic Development.  “The challenges that we are facing in Dickenson County are vast and although we are making headway in many areas, we still have a long way to go.   It is refreshing and motivating to be able to walk alongside such bright and talented students, and we look forward to learning their perspective and ideas in the coming months.”



Raegan Larussa Headshot

Photo: Reagan Larussa

Barbour headshotPhoto: Katharine Barbour

uva wise pic 1 2023 Tadler Fellows (left to right): Savannah Hundley, Raegan Larussa, Sam Roche, (UVA-Wise Vice President Shannon Blevins is in green jacket), Ryan Strand, Sydnee Pottebaum, Christian Oliver-Smith, Donna Reynolds, Sophie McGinley, Garreth Hayden, Conor O'Donnell, Katharine Barbour, Christin Choi

Jul 21


Posted on July 21, 2023 at 9:30 AM by Adam Mullins

DICKENSON COUNTY, VA- Dickenson County Director of Economic Development, Dana Cronkhite, was invited to present alongside Virginia Housing at the American Planning Association Virginia Chapter, annual conference In Roanoke, VA on July 17, 2023. 

The 2023 conference focus was "5 Points to Build a Sustainable Community for All", which included components from Economic Development, The Great Outdoors, Infrastructure, and Housing. 

Chris McNamara and Suzanne Armstrong from Virginia Housing, along with Cronkhite, presented “It Takes MORE Than A Village” to conference attendees.  The presentation showcased the collaborative response to opioid addiction, workforce development, and affordable housing at the Wildwood Recovery Center project in Dickenson County.  Cronkhite’s portion of the presentation focused on the many organizations partnering to lay the framework for how they will play a part in transforming the state's healthcare and economic future.  

Another topic of conversation and theme across many presentations Monday was housing.  Lack of housing across the spectrum and all price points is an identified issue across Southwest Virginia and the Commonwealth.  

“Dickenson County is not unlike most counties in Virginia with regard to the housing issue, but we do face added barriers being in rural Appalachia.  Many of the reasons that we love calling Dickenson County home also make it difficult to find affordable and attainable solutions. Dickenson County and the Dickenson County IDA are committed to continuing to work with state partners to create creative solutions to this problem,” said Cronkhite. “We appreciate Virginia Housing and their support of the Wildwood Recovery Center project, and for allowing Dickenson County to have a voice at a large venue such as this. We look forward to partnering with Virginia Housing on future phases of the project and as we move forward with a strategic plan to tackle the housing shortage in Dickenson County.”


Pictured- Suzanne Armstrong- Strategic Housing Officer, Virginia Housing, Dana Cronkhite- Dickenson County Director of Economic Development, and Chris McNamara- Strategic Housing Officer- Economic Development, Virginia Housing PLANNING ASSOCIATION VIRGINIA CHAPTER ANNUAL CONFERENCE