Destination Downtown receives grant for COVID-19 small business recovery

Small businesses in downtown South Boston will get a boost to help them recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to $25,000 in grant funding recently awarded to Destination Downtown South Boston.

Gov. Ralph Northam’s office on Tuesday afternoon announced the award of $278,000 in Virginia Main Street Downtown Investment Grants to 18 communities throughout the Commonwealth, including South Boston.

Tamyra Vest, executive director of Destination Downtown South Boston explained that the grant funding would provide “vital economic support to our small businesses to help them overcome the temporary loss of revenue they have experienced.”

“The small businesses in downtown South Boston are vital economic engines in our community who have been severely impacted by COVID-19,” Vest said. “Destination Downtown South Boston wants to assist our small businesses with training and help them navigate through a recovery plan.”

Vest added funding would be available to downtown businesses attending training sessions and meetings.

The Department of Housing and Community Development administers Virginia Main Street grants, which can be used toward “implementing innovative strategies, plans and programs, capacity building, or design projects that help stimulate increased private investment,” according to a news release on Northam’s announcement of the grants.

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Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative leader tapped to represent Va. on national board

jlJohn C. Lee Jr., president and CEO of Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative in Chase City, and EMPOWER Broadband Inc. in Bracey, has been chosen by his peers to represent Virginia on the board of directors of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

Lee was elected by representatives from each electric cooperative in the commonwealth to serve as the Virginia Director on the NRECA board at the July meeting of the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives. He replaces Greg White, who recently retired from the NRECA Board and as president and CEO of Northern Neck Electric Cooperative in Warsaw.

NRECA is the Arlington-based trade association that represents the interests of more than 900 cooperatives and 42 million members across the country, as well as public power districts, and public utility districts. The board is composed of one representative from each of the 48 states served by electric cooperatives.

“I am honored that my colleagues here in the commonwealth trust in me to represent their best interests on the NRECA Board, and to champion matters that bring value to the distribution cooperatives and/or ODEC, and take a strong stand on issues that don’t,” Lee said. “I will do my utmost to validate their support by ensuring that our national organization does the right thing by those we serve, and dutifully represents our membership during these very challenging times in the electricity and technology arenas.

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Creating space for startups to bring products to fruition

tdSouth Boston’s town manager, Tom Raab, was elated when Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corp. announced in early summer its plan for a Southern Virginia Tech Hub adjacent to its Southern Virginia Innovation Hub.

“That’s big for South Boston and Halifax County,” Raab says. “The locations will have the fastest free Wi-Fi in Southern Virginia.”

The Tech Hub, which will provide makerspace for startups and tech ventures, is the vision of Mid-Atlantic Broadband President and CEO Tad Deriso. After MBC obtains enough equity from investors, the planned $3 million, 13,200-square-foot Tech Hub will be built next to the Innovation Hub, which is scheduled to open in December.

A prime downtown location, the building will be built in a federal Opportunity Zone and State Enterprise Zone, offering federal, state and local tax breaks for investors and various enterprise zone grants and rebates for companies leasing space in the Tech Hub.

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County receives $10,000 tourism marketing grant

Halifax County Tourism has received $10,000 from the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) DMO WanderLove Recovery Grant Program, a new grant made available to Virginia’s Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) across the Commonwealth that have been heavily impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic to fund recovery marketing initiatives.

A total of $866,504 in marketing grant funds were awarded to 90 Destination Marketing Organizations as part of the DMO WanderLove Recovery Grant program.

Halifax County Tourism plans to use the VTC WanderLove grant funds to promote Halifax County as an inviting road-trip destination with print, social and digital media campaigns, according to LaTonya Hamilton, director of tourism.

She explained the campaigns would leverage Halifax County’s myriad road trip adventures to attract visitors here for three seasons. These road trip itineraries provide travel inspiration for outdoor recreation, hidden gems, small towns and Virginia’s signature LOVEworks program.

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10 hrs ago

VIRGINIA OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH (VOSH) PROGRAM VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND INDUSTRY (DOLI) Emergency Temporary Standard, Infectious Disease Prevention: SARS-CoV-2 Virus That Causes COVID-19, §16VAC25-220, As Adopted by the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board on July 15, 2020 This Emergency Temporary Standard will take immediate effect upon publication in a newspaper of general circulation, published in the City of Richmond, Virginia. 16VAC25-220-10. Purpose, scope, and applicability. A. This emergency temporary standard is designed to establish requirements for employers to control, prevent, and mitigate the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) to and among employees and employers. B. This standard shall not be extended or amended without public participation in accordance with the Virginia Administrative Process Act (§ 2.2-4000 et seq. of the Code of Virginia) and 16VAC25-60-170. C. This standard is adopted in accordance with subdivision 6 a of § 40.1-22 of the Code of Virginia and shall apply to every employer, employee, and place of employment in the Commonwealth of Virginia within the jurisdiction of the VOSH program as described in 16VAC25-60-20 and 16VAC25-60-30. D. This standard is designed to supplement and enhance existing VOSH laws, rules, regulations, and standards applicable directly or indirectly to SARS-CoV-2 virus or COVID-19 disease-related hazards such as, but not limited to, those dealing with personal protective equipment, respiratory protective equipment, sanitation, access to employee exposure and medical records, occupational exposure to hazardous chemicals in laboratories, hazard communication, § 40.1-51.1 A of the Code of Virginia, etc. Should this standard conflict with an existing VOSH rule, regulation, or standard, the more stringent requirement from an occupational safety and health hazard prevention standpoint shall apply. E. Application of this standard to a place of employment will be based on the exposure risk level presented by SARS-CoV-2 virus-related and COVID-19 disease-related hazards present or job tasks undertaken by employees at the place of employment as defined in this standard (i.e., very high, high, medium, and lower risk levels). 1. It is recognized that various hazards or job tasks at the same place of employment can be designated as very high, high, medium, or lower exposure risk for purposes of application of the requirements of this standard. It is further recognized that various required job tasks prohibit an employee from being able to observe physical distancing from other persons. 2. Factors that shall be considered in determining exposure risk level include, but are not limited to: a. The job tasks being undertaken, the work environment (e.g. indoors or outdoors), the known or suspected presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the presence of a person known or suspected to be infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the number of employees and other persons in relation to the size of the work area, the working distance between employees and other employees or persons, and the duration and frequency of employee exposure through contact inside of six feet with

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Governor Northam Announces Major Hemp Processing Facility Locating in Halifax County

Commonwealth of Virginia

Office of Governor Ralph S. Northam


Office of the Governor

Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Blue Ribbon Extraction

Governor Northam Announces Major Hemp Processing Facility Locating in Halifax County

~ Blue Ribbon Extraction to create 22 new jobs, purchase more than $70 million of Virginia-grown industrial hemp for CBD extraction ~

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that BRD Extraction, LLC, doing business as Blue Ribbon Extraction, will invest $3.26 million to establish Virginia’s first large-scale industrial hemp processing and cannabidiol (CBD) oil extraction facility in the Town of South Boston. The project will create 22 new jobs and the company has committed to sourcing over 90 percent of hemp purchases from Virginia growers, resulting in more than $70 million in payments to Virginia farmers over the next three years. Using state-of-the-art equipment, the company expects to be able to process up to 5,000 pounds of industrial hemp per day, primarily grown by local farmers, most of whom are current or former tobacco farmers.

“Encouraging the development of new markets for Virginia farmers is one of our top priorities for growing the Commonwealth’s agricultural economy,” said Governor Northam. “I am pleased to see that industrial hemp continues to create opportunity and economic vibrancy in rural Virginia, and I congratulate Halifax County, Blue Ribbon Extraction, and all other partners involved in bringing this important new processing capacity to our Commonwealth.”

“There has been tremendous growth in Virginia’s industrial hemp industry, creating new opportunities for rural communities to thrive,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “By locating this large processing facility in an emerging geographic center of industrial hemp production, Blue Ribbon Extraction will create a local market for the crop, addressing one of the biggest challenges currently facing the industrial hemp industry in Virginia.”

“We are proud to welcome Blue Ribbon Extraction to Halifax County and the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “The hemp industry represents exciting opportunities for Virginia farmers, and I am confident Southern Virginia will provide a topnotch workforce for the hemp industry to grow and succeed.”

This project was made possible by a strong partnership of private sector leadership and public sector support involving a broad coalition of economic development allies. The company’s founders and primary investors, Richmond residents Rick Gregory and Sterling Edmunds, are both natives of Halifax County and are committed to bringing new jobs and economic opportunity to their home county.

“We look forward to partnering with farmers to establish a local market for a new agricultural crop right here at home in Halifax County,” said Co-Chief Executive Officers, Sterling Edmunds, Jr. and Rick Gregory. “We currently have 1.2 million pounds of hemp under contract with farmers for the 2020 growing season. With the support of our partners in Halifax County and the Town of South Boston, Blue Ribbon is off to a great start and, at full capacity, has the ability to process 6 million pounds of hemp annually. Approximately $10 million will be invested in bringing this project to reality for Southern Virginia.”

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) and Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) worked with Halifax County, the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority (IDA), the Town of South Boston, the South Boston IDA, and the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance to secure this project for the Commonwealth. Governor Northam approved a $200,000 grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund, which is being matched by the Halifax IDA to assist with the project. The Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission’s Agribusiness Committee also committed $250,000 to the project. Blue Ribbon Extraction qualifies for state benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Funding and services to support the company’s job creation will be provided through VEDP’s Virginia Jobs Investment Program.

“This is a great day for Halifax County, and the growth of the hemp industry in our region is just beginning,” said Hubert Pannell, Chairman of the Halifax County Board of Supervisors. “The county’s early participation to help implement and sponsor the Industrial Hemp Summit has paid off with the location of Blue Ribbon Extraction. We are very excited to have these community partners in Halifax and look forward to their many successes in the industry. I also want to take this opportunity to thank the Halifax County IDA for their never ending efforts to secure this project.”

“I’m very pleased to see this project get underway so that Southern Virginia is prepared to take advantage of all the opportunities this emerging industry will create,” said Ed Owens, Mayor of South Boston and a member of the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission. “The industrial hemp industry has the potential to create many jobs and increased income for our farmers in the coming years and I look forward to seeing this facility up and running.”

“It is exciting to see the hard work of all parties come together on this project, which will be an asset for the region,” said Senator Frank Ruff. “Everyone has worked hard to make hemp a viable crop for the farmers of the region. This is a major step forward.”

“I am pleased that Blue Ribbon Extraction has chosen Halifax to set up shop for hemp processing,” said Delegate James Edmunds II. “I know that the owners want to see Southside Virginia flourish and offering hemp producers a location to sell their raw product is one way to help keep farmers on their land and make a profit. My sincere thanks go out to them for investing in the future of Southside Virginia.”

Full Release


Halifax County Chamber bestows top honors online

chamber bean thumbIn place of its annual dinner meeting and awards ceremony, the Halifax County Chamber of Commerce recognized local business leaders with an online program Thursday to name the Business of the Year, Business Person of the Year and Young Professional of the Year.

The 2020 Business of the Year award went to The Busy Bean and owner Anne Eakes.

Of the award, Eakes said it “is quite humbling, and it knocked the breath out of me because that is such an honor to receive.”

“As a business owner I have learned from some of the best. When I opened the doors local businesses, one by one, opened their arms to me and gave me some of the best advice,” said Eakes, whose coffee shop and eatery has quickly become a downtown favorite.

“I have always believed in giving. I built this business on giving back to the community that I was born and raised in. I’m so proud of The Busy Bean’s staff. The future is bright and I can hardly wait to see where it takes us,” she said.

chamber AB thumbThe Business Person of the Year award was presented to Ankur “AB” Brahmbhatt, owner of the Quality Inn of South Boston, co-owner of Papa John’s and other ventures. Brahmbhatt was lauded for investing in local businesses and helping Halifax County to prosper.

Having lived in Halifax County for the past seven years, Brahmbatt said, “The people here are friendly and helpful, that’s something unique about this community.” Small town connections, he added, have helped him accomplish his goals.

The Young Professional Award went to Jeremy Holt, Realtor with Long and Foster of South Boston.

“This made my day, my week, and my whole month. Thank you all for believing in me, the underdog, as a young business professional,” said Holt in a social media post thanking the Chamber for the honor.

chamber holt thumbFrom The News and Record

Shedding interim status, Brian Zwoyer named leader of Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital

bzDr. Brian Zwoyer, DNP, RN, NE-BC has been named president of Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital.

He has served as the interim president of Sentara Halifax since December 2019 and will begin to fill his new role immediately. Prior to assuming this new role, Zwoyer served as vice president of patient care services and chief nurse executive for Halifax.

In his interim role, Zwoyer led the team through their transition to their new electronic medical record, EPIC. Most recently, he’s been a steady force and voice for the team at Sentara Halifax, as well as for the entire community, as the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded.

“After a thorough and comprehensive recruitment effort, it was decided that Brian was the best fit to successfully lead our hospital into the future,” said Carol Thomas, chair of the Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital board of directors. “We are thankful for his unwavering leadership and his ability to take the helm and lead Halifax during one of the most tumultuous times we’ve seen in healthcare.”

During this period of transition, Nicole Spence, director of patient care services, and Sherri Bee, director of nursing quality, will provide nursing leadership support until the role of chief nurse executive can be filled. A full recruitment search for the position will be conducted, and the hope is to have someone in that position as soon as possible.

Zwoyer was appointed as the new chief nurse executive at Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital in July of 2019.

“Our team of caregivers and support staff at Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital is our greatest asset, and I’m particularly proud of the hard work everyone has done, and continues to do, on a daily basis to meet the challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Zwoyer. “I am proud to serve with them in this role, and I’m confident that we are well-positioned to head into the future.”

From The Gazette Virginian