written by and featured in Virginia Business, April 2020
As downtown Bristol is reinventing itself for a new era, the same thing is happening at the former Virginia Intermont College. The four-year private college lost its accreditation in 2013 and closed in 2014. Its former campus was bought in 2016 by Chinese businessman Zhiting Zhang and his company, the U.S. Magis International Education Center, which soon began the process of establishing a new college. The newly rechristened private Virginia Business College has received provisional approval by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and hopes to begin classes in August 2020.
VBC President Gene Couch says the college will offer bachelor’s degrees in business with seven concentrations: accounting, business analytics, entrepreneurship, human resources management, management/leadership and marketing. It will market itself as a four-year residential college, targeting students who live within a 90-minute drive of Bristol.
“One of the things we’re selling, especially to prospective students in the coalfields, is Bristol itself,” Couch says. “Bristol is unique: on city in two states. In addition, you’ve got South Holston Lake, motorsports with NASCAR here, and then the downtown area of breweries and art scene and theater and entertainment. We see students coming here to experience Bristol while they’re learning.”