Southwest Virginia is home to some of the highest quality coal in the country, but competition from other energy sources and falling demand has led to furloughs in the coal industry.
"This is going to ripple across all sectors of the economy in southwest Virginia, as these coal mines shut down and these minors are laid off," says Dave Nutter, an economic specialist at Virginia Tech.
Whitney Bonham, also an economic specialist at Virginia Tech, worked with Nutter on an analysis of the potential impact of coal job loss in southwest Virginia. She says some 60-related companies could see a ripple effect because coal is the dominant industry in the region.
"In some respects, that's good that you have suppliers and supporting servicers located in close proximity," she says. "But then again, the downside to that when you do have a decline in one, you feel a decline in a greater impact across the region."
For example, the railroad industry, which ships a lot of coal from southwest Virginia is already beginning to feel the impact.
Bonham and Nutter say the region could see a loss anywhere from $50 million to $150,000 million.