The Halifax Industrial Development Authority (IDA) has a seat at the table for Governor McAuliffe's Bioscience Initiative. "We are honored and excited to have representation on this panel," says Matt Leonard, IDA Executive Director. "We have been proactively marketing Halifax, Virginia as well positioned for Bioscience, and Dr. Doug Corrigan's selection as one of only about 40 panel members reinforces our efforts."
Governor Terry McAuliffe's Bioscience Initiative seeks to develop a robust economic development strategy that focuses on strengthening and growing the bioscience sector within the Commonwealth. Governor McAuliffe's initiative will be a collaborative, multi-year effort involving several secretariats, state agencies, higher education institutions, private sector research enterprises and businesses across Virginia.
Dr. Douglas Corrigan, Executive Director of the IDA's Southern Virginia Product Advancement Center (SVPAC), attended a kick-off meeting in December, which included a public and private sector roundtable discussion at the State Capital. University representatives, bio industry leaders, and renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor, Dr. Robert S. Langer, were present at this initial meeting.
Through its close work with Virginia's Secretary of Technology, Karen Jackson, Halifax, Virginia was well represented during a visit to NASA's Langley Research Center in December 2014. Dr. Douglas Corrigan, Executive Director of the Halifax Industrial Development Authority's (IDA) Southern Virginia Product Advancement Center (SVPAC), Mark Swain, Co-founder of TMI Autotech, and Kevin Christie from the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC), participated in a day-long tour and meeting at Langley.
The purpose of the visit was to get a better understanding of the research and development assets at NASA Langley, and begin to form partnerships for mutually beneficial projects leading to economic development in Halifax and Southern Virginia. "Partnerships are something the Halifax Industrial Development Authority (IDA) does very well. We form and maintain productive relationships with our current business clients and mission partners," explains IDA Executive Director, Matt Leonard. "Research projects require collaboration to move to commercialization. That's what the IDA's SVPAC and Dr. Corrigan focus on."
"As a technology based incubator that works with hi-tech companies that are in the midst of product development, we are always looking for new partnerships and opportunities that can be of direct benefit to the businesses we work with," adds Dr. Corrigan.
The Halifax Industrial Development Authority (IDA) is proud of its internship program through its Southern Virginia Product Advancement Center (SVPAC). "Attracting and growing the best talent is just as important as attracting and growing the best companies," says Kristy Johnson, IDA Manager of Marketing and Business Development. "You have to have both."
Two of SVPAC's interns, Duncan Simon and Zack Raney, returned to their home-roots in Halifax County this winter break to continue working on projects at SVPAC's Modeling and Simulation Center. Both Duncan and Zack graduated from Halifax County High School, and are currently enrolled as computer science majors at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond.
Zack and Duncan began their internships in 2012 after they participated in Longwood University's Digispired program, which cultivated the programming and virtual-reality skills of students throughout the Southern Virginia region through gaming. Specifically, over the last couple of years, the IDA's internship program has sought to reapply off-the-shelf gaming technology for something that it was not originally intended: fully interactive computer aided design and virtual prototyping.
The Halifax Industrial Development Authority's Southern Virginia Product Advancement Center (SVPAC), was invited to present the December installment of Virginia Economic Development Partnership's (VEDP's) monthly webinar series. The program was entitled: Southern Virginia Product Advancement Center: From the Lab to the Marketplace.
In collaboration with the Virginia Economic Developers Association (VEDA), the VEDP conducts a series of monthly webinars entitled Third Wednesday Webinars, hosted by Brent Sheffler, VEDP's Managing Director for Knowledge Transfer and Strategic Outreach. These webinars are designed to keep businesses, economic developers, and policy makers informed and up-to date on economic development topics across the Commonwealth.
"We were asked to present SVPAC to the larger economic development community because Halifax is rare in its approach through R&D to economic development," says Matt Leonard, the IDA's Executive Director. "We don't know of any other communities that are doing exactly what we are doing, or have talent like Dr. Doug Corrigan in house."
SVPAC Executive Director, Dr. Douglas Corrigan facilitated the hour-long presentation that focused on the mission of SVPAC to attract, incubate, and grow hi-tech projects that lead to full-scale commercialization in the region. The webinar included segments about SVPAC's mission, history, research and development assets, business incubation program, and specific examples of past and current projects.
For those who were not able to participate live, the recorded-webinar can be accessed by visiting the following link: http://vaallies.org/webinars.html
Halifax County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) received word on Tuesday, January 13, 2015 that its second application through the Tobacco Indemnification and Communities Revitalization Commission's (TIRC) Research & Development (R&D) Committee had been moved forward to the vetting stage. "This is a significant milestone," explains Matt Leonard, the IDA's Executive Director. "As with all Tobacco Commission programs, the R&D award process is stringent and outcome driven. The outcome is jobs. The process is multi-staged, and includes independent, outside, expert vetting."
Eligible organizations, like the IDA, can apply through the TIRC's R&D program for funds between $250,000 and $2,000,000 to support the final stages of new product research and development leading to commercialization. The IDA's grant request totals $1,695,314 in support of Autonomous Marine Systems (AMS), a company formed nearly seven years ago by two Princeton educated engineers and businessmen. If awarded, the grant would be matched dollar-for-dollar by the company.
The TIRC R&D program includes the following stepwise approach: TIRC R&D proposals are reviewed by TIRC staff, which makes recommendations to the R&D Committee as to whether they have merit to move to vetting. In this round, the IDA's proposal is ranked third out of thirteen. The R&D Committee then reviews staff recommendations and makes its recommendations to the full Commission. The full Commission votes on which proposals to move to vetting. Vetting takes a few months and results in scoring based on technical merit, commercialization potential and business planning. These scores are reported back to the R&D Committee, who then make recommendation for grant awards to the full Commission. It is anticipated that the full Commission will make R&D program awards in May of this year.
The Halifax County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) looks back on 2014 as a year of continued improvement and advancement. The IDA looks forward to 2015 as a year with much promise. "We took our new way of operating - Brighter, Bolder, Business – and infused it throughout our organization and operations," says Matt Leonard, the IDA's Executive Director. "It is important to the success of our mission that we operate as much like a 21st century business as possible. We do this through what I refer to as our A.M.M.O. We continuously evaluate and improve our Assets, Message, Mission and Organization." The IDA has completed an organizational restructuring, comprehensive Strategic Plan, and refined its targeted Marketing Plan. "Success starts with effective planning. We've done that, and begun implementing those plans. Success requires a new proactive and collaborative approach."
The IDA rebranded its best assets for attracting new industries. "We aligned our asset logos and names, and gave them an instant sense of place in a very competitive worldwide marketplace," says Kristy Johnson, IDA Manager of Marketing & Business Development. "This provides real recognition for our prospects when it comes to both location and opportunities. They know quickly where we are, and what we can do for them." The IDA chose to use the Southern Virginia trademark on as many assets as possible. As examples, Riverstone Technology Park became Southern Virginia Technology Park (SVTP), Riverstone Energy Center became Southern Virginia Product Advancement Center (SVPAC), and Green View became Southern Virginia Advanced Manufacturing Center (SVAMC).
"We find the community particularly excited about SVAMC," Leonard says. "Many remember it when it was Daystrom Furniture and are happy to see it being readied for the future." SVAMC includes three buildings on 34 acres, the largest of which is over 330,000 square feet. "We're integrating our assets' focuses toward success. SVAMC, SVTP and SVPAC have deliberate links."
September 2014, Jason Bullock and Richard "Sterlin" Newton became proud completers of the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center's Work Ready Foundations Program© (WRF). The seven-week work readiness training program prepared Bullock and Newton with the skills, knowledge, and credentials needed for entry-level employment in an advanced manufacturing environment.Bullock and Newton interviewed with Brent Gates, Vice President of Operations at TMI Auto Tech, Inc. in Alton, Virginia at the WRF end of program mini-job fair. It didn't take long for them to showcase their potential, and make an impression on their future employer.
"During the mini job fair Jason and Sterlin seemed enthusiastic about working for TMI. Seeing that they took the initiative to participate in the Work Ready Foundations program and showed up for eight weeks of training that proved that they were serious about wanting a job," Gates stated. Within weeks of completing the WRF program, Gates offered both gentlemen positions as assembly technicians--the most difficult position within the TMI organization.
On October 29th, the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) hosted 400 sixth grade students from Halifax County Middle School for the "You Are the Engineer of Your Career" Workshop. Students were introduced to engineering careers through participation in eight engineering focused activities including 3D printing, reverse engineering, and extracting DNA from strawberries (click here to read descriptions of all workshop activities). Staff members from NASA-Langley were onsite and led several student activities."We wanted to give students a day to come and have a hands-on, interactive learning experience focused on science, technology, engineering, and math, and having NASA folks here interacting with students was an opportunity we couldn't pass up," said Amy Cole, SVHEC Director of Student Services & Partner Relations.
Warrick Scott, Founder and CEO of the Wendell Scott Foundation, served as the event's keynote speaker. He pointed out the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) that surrounds students' daily lives including Red Box DVD rentals, smartphones, and apps. "STEM education is a necessity," he stated. Scott also talked about his grandfather, the late NASCAR driver Wendell Scott.
Wendell Scott, a native of Danville, VA, was the first African-American driver to win a race in what is now the Sprint Cup Series. "My grandfather was an engineer without the training," Scott stated. He shared how his grandfather never had sponsors, but using ingenuity, innovation, and knowledge of STEM, was able to successfully compete against many well-funded drivers. "Dedication and education will take you anywhere you want to go," Scott said.