Destination Downtown, Town of South Boston receive awards for revitalization efforts

Destination Downtown wins awardsDestination Downtown South Boston and the Town of South Boston were presented with Virginia Main Street Milestone Achievement Awards for the dedication of over 20,000 volunteer hours to the revitalization of the downtown's historic commercial district and for creating an investment environment in the downtown that has fostered over 250 private investments.

The awards were presented Wednesday, March 19.

The organization also was awarded a Special Achievement Award for its leadership in partnering with the town and Rehab Development, Inc. in the conversion of the town's last standing tobacco warehouse into 27 new, market-rate apartments in the Main Street district. The awards were presented at Richmond's historic Hippodrome Theater.

At the ceremony that focused on the results of Main Street efforts, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones spoke to the audience of nearly 90 downtown revitalization volunteers and professionals from around the state about the visible results of their hard work.

"This year, you have been thinking outside of the box and using entrepreneurship as a keystone to successful downtown revitalization," said Secretary Jones. "With entrepreneur development strategies like business boot camps and even an Ideaspace, you are bringing new ventures and amazing growth to your downtowns."

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Prizery taps new managing director

The Prizery has hired Pat Anderson-Flowers as its new managing director.

For the past 27 years, Anderson-Flowers has worked at Birmingham Southern College where she started as a faculty member in the Theatre Arts department and ended as an assistant vice president of Institutional Advancement for the college.

Her professional experience also includes time as the Artistic and Educational Outreach director of the Birmingham Children's Theatre.

"We are very lucky to have found Pat," said Matt Leonard, vice president of The Prizery, who led the search. "It took a year and national reach to make sure we had the right person.

"Pat brings the critical mix of organizational management, fund raising and development and the experience we need to build on the hard work and progress of our already dedicated staff and volunteers."

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New Brick Historic Lofts to cut the ribbon March 20

New Brick Historic LoftsRehab Development, a Winston-Salem, N.C.-based developer specializing in downtown Main Street revitalization, historic preservation and successful public/private partnership formation, has completed construction on New Brick Historic Lofts in South Boston, a project that included both state and federal historic tax credits.

Rehab Development is inviting the public to a ribbon cutting and open house celebration, which will include tours of the lofts, on Thursday, March 20, 2014 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. To attend individuals must RSVP to

Located at 701 Jefferson Avenue, New Brick Historic Lofts afford premier residential spaces in the heart of downtown South Boston. During construction, state of the art green building techniques were incorporated to provide a desirable environment for residents. The building features twenty seven apartments for lease, fourteen of which are spacious two bedrooms, two bath townhouse lofts. The remaining thirteen units are beautiful one bedroom, one to one and a half bath flats.

"This project was a lot of fun. We believe the effort of the entire project team, at every level, shines through when you walk through this building," said Patrick Reilly, Principal at Rehab Development. "The original constructors of this building should be commended for their fine work all those years ago, as well as the Town of South Boston's leadership for their vision and support. We look forward to continuing to work on buildings in the area and helping preserve more of the incredible architectural history of Halifax County."

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Riddle set to rejoin Chamber

The Halifax County Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce that Mitzi Riddle will be joining the Chamber as vice president of Business and Program Development effective Tuesday, Jan. 21.

Riddle worked for the Chamber from 2000 to 2011. Most recently, she worked for Averett University as director of special events.

She holds a bachelor's and master's degree in business administration from Averett University. She is a 2005 graduate of the US Chamber's four-year Institute for Organization Management program through which she earned the chamber industry's IOM designation.

"I am very excited to return to the Chamber," Riddle stated. "I am passionate about what the Chamber does for businesses and the community. I look forward to working with the Chamber's board and volunteers to grow the organization and serve the membership," she continued. Riddle's major responsibilities will include marketing, membership, and programming.

"The Chamber is very fortunate to attract someone with Mitzi's credentials and experience. Having worked at the Chamber for eleven years, she brings a strong background in organization and volunteer management. Add to that her education and experience at Averett, the Chamber is going to benefit tremendously. She's coming back at a good time because March is the end of our fiscal year. Planning for 2014-15 is beginning.' stated Chamber President, Nancy Pool.

Prizery raises curtain – and bar – with professional summer musical theatre

The Prizery arts center is betting everything that the arts do, indeed, transform communities.

And in this post-textile, post-tobacco reality, why not?

Never one to languish or stagnate, The Prizery’s latest endeavor will explode onto the scene in June: professional Summer Musical Theatre. Known as “summer stock” and common to resort areas, June, July and August will bring in about two dozen professional actors, dancers, singers, a choreographer and designers to produce three crowd-thrilling musicals: “Dames at Sea,” “Annie” and “The All Night Strut.”

The young entertainers will live and play in Halifax County for the summer, and Prizery Executive Chris Jones, who will double as the musicals’ director, was pleasantly surprised to find that he had no trouble luring them here.

With toe-tapping tunes and upbeat, family-friendly themes, the musicals are sure to win ovations from the local crowds, but Summer Theatre has myriad additional aspirations: being yet another factor putting Halifax County on the map, nurturing talent (local and otherwise), buoying the quality of life, stimulating the economy and enhancing tourism.

With multiple shows, matinees galore and affordable tickets, Summer Theatre will be reliant on an influx of theatre-lovers from outside the immediate area in addition to enthusiastic local support. Toward this end, The Prizery will try new and creative marketing that will spill over into its regular season of visiting performers, which begins in the fall.

Best known for hosting in its Chastain Theatre touring professionals (from bluegrass icon Dr. Ralph Stanley to pop-folk star Suzanne Vega to the Vienna Boys Choir, Shakespearean theatre, the Richmond Symphony and Chinese acrobats), The Prizery is also famous for its often excellent Halifax County Little Theatre productions, the art shows and exhibits of Parsons-Bruce Art Association, Halifax County Historical Society’s permanent Crossing of the Dan installation, and classes in classical ballet, pottery and painting for all ages.

Five mornings a week during the school year, The Prizery operates its acclaimed Pre-K Arts Academy, with art, music and dance for public-school four-year-olds, most of whom are deemed at-risk.

Founded by a small army of arts- and civic-minded folks who realized that their organizations and interests deserved a physical and spiritual home, The Prizery serves as an umbrella for a half-dozen lively “User Groups” who enjoy a symbiotic, reciprocal relationship with The Prizery and, increasingly, with one another.

And while The Prizery’s Summer Musical Theatre may be one piece of the solution to transform Southern Virginia, it might just transform the careers of the fresh-faced young actors. Meet them this summer in person while you can; one day they may be on Broadway, television or a movie screen.

Tickets are on sale now; prices start at $4 for youth and $12 for adults. To reserve seats, call (434) 572-8339 or visit The Summer Theatre season runs June 24-August 7.

Halifax Education Foundation

The Halifax Educational Foundation, Inc. (HEF) was established in 1997 as a non-profit organization dedicated to the goal of affordable and accessible educational opportunities for the citizens of Southern Virginia. The foundation initiated a successful capital campaign for the renovation of the 70,000 square foot historic former Export Leaf Tobacco Warehouse located in downtown South Boston, Virginia, which was donated to the Foundation in December 1997. In 2001, the foundation renovated and furnished the Export Leaf Tobacco Warehouse, and in August of that year, a ribbon-cutting was held for the state-of-the-art Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) facility, with high-performance technology as a priority and theme throughout the building. From that humble beginning in 1997 to today, the SVHEC serves as a beacon of this community’s commitment to education to anyone crossing the Dan River into the Town of South Boston.

Since then, the HEF has been successful in responding to the needs for expansion of the SVHEC due to the rapidly increasing enrollment of students at the facility. In 2004, additional unfinished space in the building was renovated for an Advanced Technology Lab for workforce development. Furnished and equipped through partnerships and grants, this lab utilizes high-performance manufacturing equipment to instruct students and train them for employment. In 2005, through grants and contributions, the number of parking spots at the SVHEC was more than doubled. The following year, the renovation of additional unfinished space in the West Wing of the SVHEC provided additional classrooms and office space. In 2008, the HEF renovated even more previously unfinished space in the current SVHEC building to create a high-tech cutting edge nursing training center, the Center for Nursing Excellence (CNE). 2009 brought the renovation of more previously unfinished space to create the Business of Art & Design Lab, providing space for Advanced Manufacturing training. In support of the educational opportunities available at the SVHEC and as a commitment to the education of citizens of Southern Virginia, the HEF also sponsors a scholarship program for students at the SVHEC.

Currently, a student at the SVHEC can earn a degree from a GED to a PhD without leaving the South Boston town limits. Southern Virginia was particularly hard-hit with job losses even before the current national recession began. New industries being recruited to this area find a willing supply of available workers who need retraining and additional education is required for reentry into the workforce. Due once again to ever increasing enrollment numbers, the HEF is currently responding to the need for expansion of the SVHEC by renovating the American Tobacco Warehouse (ATW) Building, which is just down the street from the current SVHEC building and the Prizery (South Boston’s cultural and arts center). The former ATW Building, built in the 19th century and now being called the Innovation Center, was donated to the HEF by Eva Harris and her son, Mike. This center will be operated by the SVHEC to provide programs in Product Design & Development and Digital Art & Design, with advanced technology and digital design laboratories. Also included in the Innovation Center is an R & D Center for Advanced Manufacturing & Energy Efficiencies. When the renovation is completed in late 2010, this facility will provide space for the critical education and workforce training programs needed for high-tech and highly skilled 21st-century jobs for the citizens of Southern Virginia.

This trio of historic buildings in downtown South Boston, the SVHEC, the Prizery and the ATW Building, form a campus of high-performance, technology driven facilities available for cultural, educational, job training and workforce development opportunities for the citizens of Southern Virginia. Those citizens are responding in record numbers to this invitation by their utilization of these programs. The clear message is that the Halifax Educational Foundation has the vision needed to continue to revitalize this community and to re-energize and retrain its workforce through the SVHEC in response to ever-changing educational and business needs.

This is an artist’s rendering of how the Innovation Center will appear when the historic
American Tobacco Warehouse renovation is completed in late 2010.

“Go #31—Get this clock for your Mama!”

DrBrowne_clock“Go #31—Get this clock for your Mama,” Dr. Roger Browne says, encouraging his son-in-law, NASCAR driver Jeff Burton, to bring home the grandfather trophy clock designed and built by students in the Product Design & Development Program at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center. One of the most coveted prizes on the NASCAR circuit, the clock will go to the winner of the Martinsville Speedway Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 race on March 28. Built by high school and community college students in the Product Design & Development program, the clock is an original work of art that showcases the students’ abilities in design, engineering, and advanced manufacturing.

Built with 100+ year-old hard pine repurposed from the American Tobacco Warehouse, the clock includes antique glasswork and a scaled replica of the Martinsville Speedway track on the clock’s back panel. Dr. Browne thinks nothing would be better than to have South Boston’s hometown racer bring this coveted prize back home.

Product Design & Development is one of the SVHEC’s two signature Business of Art & Design programs offered in partnership with Danville Community College. The Southern Virginia Higher Education Center is advancing the region by providing educational opportunities and connections. For more information about the SVHEC, visit or contact Communications Manager Hope Harris-Gayles at or 434-572-5446.

MBC Wins Big in the Race for Broadband Stimulus Funding

Award proves the viability of open access wholesale transport networks that enable private sector telecom providers to reach unerved and underserved communities.

The Mid‐Atlantic Broadband Cooperative (MBC), a successful open access fiber optic backbone provider, is pleased to announce the award of a $16 million Federal Broadband Stimulus Program grant from the US Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Informtion Administration (NTIA). This grant will enable the expansion of MBC’s existing middle mile infrastructure to provide fiber optic connectivity to 121 K12 schools in Southern Virginia that do not have access to a fiber optic network. Over 464 miles of new fiber routes will be built, bringing an estimated 75 new jobs to the region as a direct result of this broadband stimulus investment.

The Virginia Tobacco Commission (VTC), which provided $4 million in matching funds, continues to provide strategic support to expand MBC’s robust fiber optic infrastructure in the region.  Delegate Terry G. Kilgore (R‐Gate City), Chairman of the VTC stated, “I am excited about the award and what it will mean to Southside Virginia. This is a great example of what we at the Tobacco Commission can do to help our communities compete for these federal dollars.

“This is indeed great news,” said State Senator Frank Ruff (R‐Clarksville), Vice Chairman of the VTC. “I commend all who have worked hard to provide the needed information for NTIA to understand the needs of our region.  We are all committed to use this funding in the most prudent way to provide high speed broadband to a part of Virginia that hs been struggling economically.”

In addition to strategic connections for educational institutions, this grant provides additional access points within the unserved and underserved region for MBC Members, who are private sector telecom providers, to provide affordable retail telecom services to the school systems and to extend last mile services to residential and busines customers.

“This grant award will enable critical investment in Southern Virginia’s K‐12 school system and its students,” said Tad Deriso, MBC’s President & CEO. “We will ensure that we manage this important project and the dollars invested from the Recovery Act in a fiscally responsible mnner, to ensure the greatest return on investment for the American Taxpayer.”

The roots of MBC’s success lie within the Cooperative movement. Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC) was instrumental in supporting the need for fiber optic networks in rural Virginia for purposes of attracting jobs and investmnt to the region. ODEC provided the critical funding to help create MBC and its initial business plan. MBC’s mission today remains the same – the goal of bringing jobs and investment to Southern Virginia.

MBC has created a unique ecosystem of private sector telecommunications providers, key points of interconnection with carriers and an efficient staffing model that is returning jobs and capital investments to ural Virginia. Using the latest generation of Optical Transport Networks has enabled MBC to provide carrier‐class transport services to telecom providers and has leveled the playing field for broadband connectivity and pricing in ruralVirginia.

MBC was featured as an example of a successful middle mile system in the President’s National Economic Council’s report released in December 2009. MBC’s public/private partnership business model has gained national and international recognition, leading to invitations for MBC to speak at a number of worldwide conferences on solving the rural challenge of telecommunicatins infrastructure for economic development.


About MBC
The Mid‐Atlantic Broadband Cooperative (MBC) owns and operates an advanced open‐access fiber optic backbone network that provides wholesale optical transport services, collocation, dark fiber, and tower construction/leasing. Over 55 private sector telecom providers are members of MBC. They use MBC’s open access network to expand their network reach, reduce their transport costs, enable new services and applications and drive advanced broadband services in Southern Virginia. MBC’s mission is economic development, job creation and private sector investment in Southern Virginia. For more information about MBC, visit www.mbc‐

About the Virginia Tobacco Commission
The Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission (Virginia Tobacco Commission) is a 31‐member body created by the 1999 Virginia General Assembly. Its mission is the promotion of economic growth and development in tobacco‐dependent communities, using proceeds of the national tobacco settlement.  For more information on the Commission, visit their website at