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Speaker: Despite economy, tourism growing in Virginia

"Travel is a lifestyle," and despite a flat economy, tourism is one market that continues to grow year after year.

So learned more than 50 people attending the Tourism Summit hosted by the Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association at the Berry Hill Mansion and Resort Tuesday afternoon.

The summit made its way to Southside Virginia facilitating discussion among industry experts, policy makers, the General Assembly tourism caucus and members of the tourism business community about the importance of tourism in Southern Virginia.

During the two-hour long meeting, Halifax County Tourism Director Linda Shepperd welcomed everyone and introduced elected officials and community leaders in attendance including Halifax County Industrial Development Authority Executive Director Matt Leonard, Halifax Town Manager Carl Espy, Halifax County ED-6 Supervisor Larry Giordano among others.

tourism-berry-hill

Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association President Eric Terry offered a research presentation on the hotel market in Virginia, and Esra Calvert of the Virginia Tourism Corporation followed with a presentation about the economy in Virginia and its impact on travel and tourism.

"Travel is a lifestyle," Calvert told the crowd. She explained tourism continues to grow year after year despite the economy.

Thad Smith offered a presentation on the branding efforts and marketing campaign of the Virginia Tourism Corporation.

According to Smith, the corporation's challenge is that their brand — "Virginia Is For Lovers" — is so well known they need to reconnect back to people and make sure they know it's about travel.

The summit also included a 45-minute panel discussion.

Those on the panel included Diana Ramsey of MacCallum More Museum and Gardens, Mecklenburg County Tourism Director Justin Kerns, Nichol Cooper of Coopers Landing Inn and Travelers Tavern, Steven Schopen of Molasses Grill, and Kristian Harvard of the Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association served as moderator.

from the Gazette-Virginian

New Brick Historic Lofts wins special achievement award

new-brick-awardRehab Development in partnership with Destination Downtown South Boston has won the 2014 Virginia Main Street Special Achievement Award and the 2014 Virginia Downtown Development Association Award of Excellence for the New Brick Historic Lofts project.

Rehab Development is a Winston-Salem, North Carolina, based developer specializing in downtown Main Street revitalization, historic preservation and successful public/private partnership formation, and

Destination Downtown South Boston is a 501(c)(3) non-profit volunteer-based Virginia Main Street Organization dedicated to the economic and cultural revitalization of downtown South Boston.

"We are so excited that this project received statewide recognition," said Tamyra Vest, executive director of Destination Downtown South Boston. "Finding a developer like Rehab Development was a dream come true as they shared our desire to preserve a piece of heritage unique and authentic to South Boston. We got to preserve the building plus get market rate apartments in downtown. This project is a shining example of how our small community is restructuring its downtown economy for the 21st century".

New Brick Historic Lofts' heavy timbers, vaulted ceilings, abundant skylights and hardwood floors are brilliantly contrasted with modern design to provide high-end living spaces for its residents. Located at 701 Jefferson Avenue, in the heart of downtown South Boston, the historic tobacco warehouse features 27 apartments for lease, including both one and two bedroom loft units.

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Registration begins for Welding training at SVHEC

0625weldingRegistration is now open for welding training at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center. Within 18 months, students will learn MIG, TIG, Stick and Pipe welding in the center’s new state-of-the-art welding lab.

Classes will meet weekly on Tuesday and Thursday, and students will have the option of attending a daytime (10 a.m.-2:30 p.m.) or evening (5-9 p.m.) cohort. Welding classes will begin on Aug. 12, with a deadline for registration on July 15.

"This is an excellent opportunity for individuals to increase their knowledge and skills in a high demand occupation,” said Vashon Canty, Southern Virginia Higher Education Center workforce support specialist. “Area employers requested this training and are supportive of our curriculum which leads to industry-recognized credentials,” she continued.

Welding@SVHEC is a non-credit program accredited by the National Center for Construction Education and Research. Individuals who successfully complete the program will receive National Center for Construction Education and Research welding certification. This portable, third party validated industry credential is recognized by employers across the nation.

Welding@SVHEC is made possible through a collaboration between the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center and Virginia Technical Institute in Altavista.

For more information, contact Vashon Canty at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 434-572-5488; toll free in Virginia call 800-283-0098, ext. 5488.

Dream It Do It camp exposing students to advanced manufacturing

Working with Southside Virginia Community College and the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, the Dream It Do It camp offers students a chance to learn about advanced manufacturing and the career opportunities available to them. Eleven students from several counties in the region are getting valuable hands-on exposure to advanced manufacturing.

Going strong at 30: RTP will double workforce

RTP celebrated its 30th anniversary yesterday with good news: president Hugh Miller said the thermoplastic products company will double its local workforce by the end of the year or early 2015.

Miller, a third-generation owner of the Minnesota-based industry, said that while RTP has been busy this year, "you're going to get a lot busier, " turning to plant manager Tom Ginther.

Miller offered the upbeat assessment as employees, suppliers, community leaders and customers gathered for a luncheon celebration at the Sinai industrial park facility.

The company has purchased two new machines that will lead to a doubling of the current 12-member staff. One of the machines, Miller said, is currently producing all the company's specialized products in Germany, but that will change by year's end after the new machine is installed at the Sinai plant.

"We make the pellets from which nearly everything you touch contains some of our material," Miller said. One of the company's major customers is the Dupont company which he described as being "our bread and butter and what has kept up going through the economic slowdown."

In addition to celebrating 30 years in town, Miller also pointed to the company's safety record of 3,966 days without a reportable accident.

Miller, who flew in from his Winona, Minn., home, praised the work ethic of his local employees. "They're good people," he said, "who work very hard."

The company has 12 manufacturing plants in the United States, Europe and Asia plus sales representatives throughout the world. RTP Company engineers develop thermoplastic compounds in over 60 different engineering resin systems for applications requiring color, conductive, elastomeric, flame retardant, high temperature, structural and wear resistant properties.

from SoVaNow.com

Siemens donating $2B in software to 7 Virginia colleges

Siemens donation to 7 in Virginia aims to promote manufacturing careers

These seven universities or colleges will receive computer software from Siemens Corp. with the value of the in-kind software donations.

Southern Virginia Higher Education Center: $33 million, in addition to a $94 million in-kind software grant last fall, to expand the center's use of Siemens software to support digital manufacturing.

Thomas Nelson Community College: $954.7 million to develop a center of excellence specifically for marine engineering to address workforce development issues and concerns for area employers.

New River Community College: $64.3 million for Siemens software to be used in the school's new advanced automation fabrication lab.

Old Dominion University: $746 million for further expansion of ODU and the Virginia Community College System's workforce training programs to benefit the maritime industry, especially Huntington Ingalls Industries and the U.S. Department of Defense,

Virginia Commonwealth University: $230.9 million for programs in manufacturing and logistics through the school of engineering in partnership with the school of business.

Virginia State University: $105.6 million to support six programs — manufacturing engineering, computer engineering, computer science, electronics engineering technology, logistics technology and mechanical engineering technology.

ECPI University's Virginia Beach campus: $130.3 million for its engineering technology department to bolster existing workforce skills development through the Virginia Industry Foundation and the Virginia Community College System.

siemensOne of the world's largest engineering and electronics companies is donating more than $2 billion worth of its computer software to seven Virginia universities and community colleges to help train students for high-tech, manufacturing-related careers.

Siemens Corp. is expected to announce the donation today during a meeting of business and government officials in Prince George County. That event will focus on the future of advanced manufacturing in Virginia.

The company is donating its own product lifecycle management — or PLM — software, which Siemens and the company's clients use to design, develop and manufacture products in industries including automotive, aerospace, consumer products, medical devices, electronics, shipbuilding and apparel.

Siemens, based in Germany but with operations all over the world, has made similar donations of its software to other colleges, universities and vocational high schools around the world. In April, it announced a donation of more than $600 million in software to colleges and high schools in Massachusetts.

"The purpose of our global academic program is to make sure that there is a pipeline of students that are educated in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math)," said Bill Boswell, senior director of partner strategy at Siemens PLM Software.

"We have an aging workforce in the world today," he said. "The baby boomers are hitting retirement age. If you look at what companies need to do just to keep up with retiring workers ... there is a huge need for people with these advanced skills."

Siemens said about 77,000 of its customers globally use the software. The companies in Virginia that use it include Newport News Shipbuilding, Rolls-Royce, Northrop Grumman, and NASA Langley.

In the classroom, students can use the software in assignments and research related to computer-aided design, engineering simulation, industrial design, digital manufacturing and manufacturing management.

The recipients of the software include Virginia Commonwealth University, which plans to start using the tools this fall in nuclear and mechanical engineering classes. The software also will be useful in biomedical, electrical and computer engineering, and as the school focuses on developing its pharmaceutical engineering program, said Franklin Bost, the engineering school's executive associate dean.

"It is going to give us more advantages in a hands-on approach to engineering," said Charles Cartin, an assistant professor of engineering at VCU. "It will give the students a more realistic approach to what engineering is all about. When they finish here, they will be better prepared for jobs."

Siemens calculated the value of the in-kind donations based on the commercial value of the software, Boswell said.

from the Richmond Times-Dispatch

South Boston taps Bedford official as next town manager

South Boston Town Council has selected Timothy L. Wilson as South Boston's next Town Manager. He will begin his new position on June 16 with an annual salary of $108,000.

He succeeds current Town Manager Ted Daniel, who is retiring at the end of June.

Originally from Newport News, Wilson is currently the Director of Community Development for Bedford County. He has served in this position since January 2011. Wilson has served in a variety of local government management positions, including Director of Planning and Development, Nags Head, N.C.; Director of Planning and Community Development, Middlesex County, Va.; Director of Planning for Brunswick County, Va., and as an Economic Development Planner with the Southside Planning District Commission in South Hill.

Wilson holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from Christopher Newport University, and has numerous urban and public planning certificates which include: Legal and Legislative Foundations of Planning from Virginia Commonwealth University, the Virginia Certified Board of Zoning Appeals Program and the Virginia Certified Planning Commissioners Program.

"With over 25 years of public service experience, Tim will complement our exceptional team of Town employees," said South Boston Mayor Ed Owens. "My fellow elected officials on Town Council and I look forward to Tim's leadership and professional guidance as he works with us, town departments, other local and state governmental organizations, and the community at-large to continue to make South Boston an evolving place where great things are happening."

Wilson was chosen after an extensive search that yielded 56 applicants, a field that was narrowed to three finalists. Following a second interview on May 12, Mayor Owens subsequently offered Wilson the position on behalf of a unanimous Town Council.

MBC Deploys Cyan SDN for Backhaul Rollout

Mid Atlantic Broadband Communities Corp., a wholesale open-access network transport provider, is using Cyan technology to provision backhaul connections to a greater number of mobile cell sites at a reduced cost compared with its previous solution.

MBC is a non-profit operation launched with government funds in 2004, with the mission of bringing rural Virginia online. It does this by leasing fiber to communications service providers that, in turn, provide connectivity to attract businesses and foster economic growth in under-served communities.

"What we find is that the Cyan platform allows us to lower the capex, reach more cell sites and tower sites, and get more business customers online," says Tad Deriso, MBC President and CEO.

MBC decided to use Cyan Inc. 's Blue Planet SDN Software, along with the vendor's Z-Series Packet-Optical Platform. MBC had a SONET/TDM transport network, which it needed to scale to provide mobile backhaul, easy network operation, and configure third-party devices.

MBC also wanted to prepare the network for next-generation carrier Ethernet: Cyan helps achieve that goal through its compliance with the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) Carrier Ethernet 2.0 (MEF CE 2.0) initiative.

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