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Regional Agribusiness Opportunity

OVERVIEW:   Mountaire Farms in partnership with Virginia’s Agriculture and Forestry Secretariat, Halifax Virginia Industrial Development Authority, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Farm Bureau, Farm Credit, and Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is pursuing a regional agribusiness opportunity requiring dedicated annual production of 4,000,000 bushels of corn within approximately 100 miles of a planned new granary facility near South Boston, Virginia. This corn would be purchased by Mountaire directly from a network of regional growers.



Enterprise Zone Payments Made; Other Programs Expanded

March 4, 2016

For Immediate Release

Halifax IDA: Enterprise Zone Payments Made; Other Programs Expanded

The Halifax County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) has distributed $112,446 in Halifax County Enterprise Zone grants to nine different business and industries for their capital investments made.

Enterprise Zones are allowed in select communities by the Commonwealth of Virginia. They allow localities to offer grant-backs of a portion of the increased tax revenue a County receives when businesses and industries invest more in the community. The IDA administers the program for the County because of its strong ties to the County’s industries.

“We’re pleased with this year’s results,” says Matt Leonard, the IDA’s Executive Director. “Through our work to expand the zone in 2014, we have been able to extend Enterprise Zone benefits to some who were not previously eligible, Huber, for example.”

The Enterprise Zone (EZ) is not the only program offered to businesses in Halifax County. The IDA also manages The Halifax Opportunity Program (HOP), offered to companies who do not operate inside the EZ. Halifax IDA worked with the Board of Supervisors last year to expand the HOP program to include Agriculture and Forestry companies and to align it with the Commonwealth’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund. Halifax County also instituted a new Agriculture Opportunity Program for local framers making smaller, investments.

“Based on the initial information the IDA gathered from County industries regarding near-term plans, awards totaling up to $145,000 are possible in 2016 cycle,” says Marissa Jackson, the IDA’s Finance Manager and EZ Administrator.

“All of this indicates some level of stability and growth,” says Leonard. “We’re proud of the resiliency of our existing industries, and with the entrepreneurship we see in small start-up companies setting up in Halifax County. They, in turn, appreciate the County’s support illustrated in part by the EZ and other business support programs available to them. It’s a partnership that works for everyone.”


The Halifax County Industrial Development Authority (Halifax IDA) and its Southern Virginia Product Advancement Center (SVPAC) brought together representatives from the Commonwealth of Virginia, NASA Langley Research Center, GENEDGE, the Institute of Advanced Learning and Research (IALR), and six emerging companies focusing on advancedtechnologies and products that are ripe for commercialization in Halifax County.

"This meeting is just one example of how the Halifax IDA proactively creates effective partnerships to attract and grow business and industry in Halifax County," says Matt Leonard, Executive Director of the Halifax IDA.

This meeting is a continuation of a dialogue between Halifax County, the Commonwealth's Secretary of Technology, Karen Jackson, and representatives from NASA Langley, which began last year with the vision of developing a lasting partnership that can leverage the cuttingedge R&D resources at NASA Langley and the IDA's SVPAC, to successfully anchor and grow new ventures in Halifax County. The purposes of the meeting was to introduce the companies incubating with SVPAC to the greater research and development resources and capabilities at NASA Langley and to develop solutions to each company's pressing problems as they move towards commercialization of their new products.

The companies that attended the meeting included companies developing novel products across several advanced technology sectors with applications in tissue engineering, high performance vehicles, coatings, oceanographic data collection and analysis, electron microscopy, and regenerative bone healing.

"All of these have real-world applications, growing markets and the potential for high paying jobs," says Kristy Johnson, the IDA's Manager of Marketing and Business Development. ""Bringing jobs to Halifax County is our mission," she adds "we're exploring every real pathway to make that happen."

"We were able to identify one-of-a-kind resources within NASA Langley to help us develop our next generation High Performance Vehicle," says Mark Swain, VP of Marketing for TMI, AutoTech – a Halifax based industry that successfully established their business in HalifaxmCounty eight years ago, and attended the event. TMI AutoTech partnered with the Halifax IDA and SVPAC to recently win a Tobacco Commission R&D Grant to develop, test, and manufacturer a new High Performance Vehicle in Halifax County.

"Our goal is to combine the already-existing R&D capacity in Halifax County with the capabilities of NASA to help companies launch new products in ways that weren't possible before," says Dr. Doug Corrigan, Executive Director of SVPAC. Doug adds, "We really appreciate the vision and openness of NASA Langley to work with us and our incubating companies so that we can create a product development and commercialization ecosystem for emerging companies that is second to none. NASA brings thousands of great technologies and programs that were initially created for the exploration of space, but are now ready to be readapted to move into the commercial sector. Those technologies can help our emerging companies to leap-frog their development efforts and create better products."

"As a remote drone company, our oceanographic data-collection platform requires the most innovative and low-powered sensors in order to remain competitive. NASA Langley has developed next generation sensors that we are beginning to explore as an option as we move forward in the development of our next generation Datamaran," says T.J. Edwards, Chief Executive Officer of Autonomous Marine Systems.

"NASA Langley is invested in the success of our region and we're looking for opportunities to leverage our capabilities -- technology, facilities, processes, and expertise -- to help businesses solve their technology challenges. We do this to enable their growth, which improves our economy. Regional Economic Development is the right thing do to and we are committed," says Christina Moats-Xavier, who serves as the Lead for the Office for Development at NASA Langley.

"We cannot overstate the importance of Secretary of Technology Jackson, Secretary of Commerce Maurice Jones, and the honorable Mary Rae Carter, Governor McAuliffe's Special Advisor for Rural Partnerships," says Leonard. "Their awareness of our capabilities, belief in the potential of rural Virginia and exhaustive efforts are a direct outgrowth of the Governor's work to improve the lives of all Virginians through new opportunities for increased employment and economic growth."

For questions regarding this partnership, please contact. Dr. Douglas Corrigan at


 The Halifax County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) has been awarded a Technical Assistance Grant by the United States Community Advancement and Improvement Program (USCAIP. The $100,000 grant will used to develop an Interactive Municipal Infrastructure Map (IMIM).

 The IDA worked with the Halifax County Service Authority (HCSA) to apply for the grant, and will work closely with them on the IMIM. "The IMIM will be a great help to our mission," says Matt Leonard, IDA Executive Director. "It will allow us to provide up-to-date information to our prospects and current clients regarding water and sewer system characteristics and capacities." The IMIM is planned to include "point-and-click" capabilities making it fast and easy to use. "We are proud to be partnering with the HCSA on this project," adds Leonard. 

"The IMIM will help the HCSA better maintain system health, evaluate operational improvements and plan for strategic infrastructure expansions," says Mark Estes, HCSA Executive Director. "We've already initiated an assessment program to evaluate our critical system components based on Likelihood of Failure (LoF) and Consequence of Failure (CoF) inputs. This IMIM will allow us to effectively map and assimilate the assessment results."

"Once the IMIM is complete, we'll use it in two ways," says Kristy Johnson, Halifax IDA Manager of Marketing and Business Development. "First we'll use it to provide real-time information to our prospects when they request water and sewer capacities. Then we'll include the data into the properties optimization initiative the IDA has already started to improve its product portfolio." 

The IMIM program will include procuring professional engineering services to collect historical system data, and field measurements. These data sets will be compiled and configured with software to create the IMIM. It is expected to take approximately one-year to complete.

Halifax IDA: Involved in Governor's Bioscience Initiative

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.


Halifax, Virginia Visits NASA's Langley Research Center

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.


Halifax IDA's Internship Program

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.


SVPAC Presented During VEDP's Webinar Series

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: