State officials talk key issues with local leaders

Secretary of Commerce visits Southern VAThe Southern Virginia Regional Alliance and the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) of Halifax County hosted Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball, Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) President and CEO Stephen Moret, members of their staff and others for a round table event held late last month.

The round table session, held at Southern Virginia Technology Park, included manufacturing and business representatives as well as Sen. Frank Ruff; Legislative Assistant to Del. James Edmunds Shelia Bradley; and representatives from GO Virginia, Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation (MBC), ChemQuest Technology Institute (CTI), Southern Virginia Higher Education Center and the Halifax IDA.

The discussion focused on the vision for rural economic development. Topics addressed included broadband technology, inclusive of MBC’s work in the region; CTI’s research for companies worldwide; the Henrietta Lacks Life Science Center plans for the region; and relevant pending legislation.

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Higher Ed Solutions for Rural Students

More states should consider creating rural higher education centers, writes Anne Kim, and colleges should embrace such centers as a way to help more students succeed.

After graduating from her rural Pennsylvania high school in 2005, Tesla Rae Moore did what most American high school seniors today expect to do: she left home for college with her sights on a four-year degree. But when she was a sophomore in nursing school at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, the unexpected intervened: she became pregnant with her son.

“It was a high-risk pregnancy, and I decided to stop the program,” she said. Moore returned to her hometown of Kane, a community of about 3,500 in northwestern Pennsylvania. At first intending just to take a break, she ended up dropping out. “I was going to go back, and then it was just one of those things,” she said. “Life happened.”

Moore didn’t lose her desire to return to college; she just couldn’t figure out how to make it work. As a single mom, she couldn’t quit her job. Moreover, getting to Pitt-Bradford, the nearest four-year institution, required a ninety-minute round-trip commute. The closest two-year college, in Butler County, was a two-hour drive each way. Online-only classes might have been a solution, but Moore felt she needed more structure to succeed. “Especially for somebody that’s been out of school, it takes a lot of discipline,” she said.

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IDA donates to help Cometbots

Halifax County High School’s Robotics Team, the Cometbots, has been invited to compete in the World Championships in Detroit, Michigan, this month, but they need help getting there.

On Friday morning, members of the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority offered $2,500 in much-needed financial aid during their regular monthly meeting held at the Southern Virginia Technology Park in South Boston.

In order to pay for SUV rentals, gas, hotel rooms, event registration, meals and the safe transport of the Cometbots’ robot, the Cometbots started a GoFundMe page in an effort to raise $5,000 of their estimated $15,199 budget.

IDA member Nancy Pool offered the motion that the IDA contribute a $2,500 grant to the HCHS Robotics Team for their trip to the World Championships in Detroit.

“We’re very proud of our students and the school system for the robotics program,” Pool said as her motion was unanimously approved.

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Foreign trade zone is latest effort of Halifax County IDA

Progress continues on Halifax County Industrial Development Authority’s efforts to boost economic development in the county by establishing a foreign trade zone in the county, and progress also is being made in the EPA Brownfield Program.

Those two items were topics of updates at the joint meeting between Halifax County Board of Supervisors and the town councils of South Boston and Halifax on Monday.

Applying to become part of a foreign trade zone is the county IDA’s latest effort to boost economic development in the county by adding another incentive for current businesses and industries as well as for potential prospects eyeing the county.

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Henrietta Lacks Honored by Virginia's Legislature

Henrietta Lacks was honoured today from the floors of the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate. At the same time, Members of the Henrietta Lacks Family, and Henrietta Lacks Legacy Group were recognized by Senator William Stanley (Virginia Senatorial District 20), and Delegate James Edmunds (Virginia House District 60), as part of efforts to bring to fruition the Henrietta Lacks Commission and Henrietta Lacks Life Science Center (LSC) Project. The following comments were made by Delegate Edmunds from the House floor today:

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IDA gets $590K to revive idle buildings

The Halifax County Industrial Development Authority was notified Wednesday the United States Environmental Protection Agency has made a $590,000 award for the Halifax Coalition Brownfield’s Assessment Grant Program.

It was one of 172 communities across the country to receive funding for brownfield site revitalization.

The award, announced Wednesday, is the largest of five grants given by the EPA to Virginia localities including Bedford, Norfolk, Pulaski and Roanoke, which received amounts of either $300,000 or $200,000.

This program allows funding for communities acting collaboratively to identify and assess vacant and unused properties for potential revitalization and reuse.

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Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital Selected As One of Top 100 Rural and Community Hospitals in the US

Sentara logoSentara Halifax Regional Hospital was recently named one of the Top 100 Rural and Community Hospitals in the United States by iVantage Health Analytics and The Chartis Center for Rural Health.

“This achievement is very gratifying and validates our daily commitment to providing the highest level of quality health care possible to our community, while maintaining an efficiently operated facility,” said Chris Lumsden, President and Administrator of Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital.

Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital scored in the top 100 of rural and community hospitals on iVantage Health Analytics’ Hospital Strength INDEX®. The INDEX is the industry’s most comprehensive rating of rural providers. It provides the data foundation for the annual Rural Relevance Study and its results are the basis for many of rural healthcare’s most prominent awards, advocacy efforts and legislative initiatives. The Top 100 Rural and Community Hospitals play a key role in providing a safety net to communities across America – and the INDEX measures them across eight pillars of hospital strength: Inpatient Market Share, Outpatient Market Share, Cost, Charge, Quality, Outcomes, Patient Perspectives, and Financial Stability.

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Grand Springs expansion to add 20 positions

Grand Springs President and CEO, Robert SmithGrand Springs is expanding its bottled water facility in Alton to accommodate the packing requirements of a new customer, one it will begin packaging for in January.

According to Grand Springs President and CEO Robert A. Smith, the Alkaline Water Company Inc. DBA Alkaline 88 and Grand Springs have entered into a co-packing agreement to expand Alkaline 88’s footprint across the North Eastern United States in the coming year.

Richard A. Wright COO of The Alkaline Water-Company, said, “This agreement creates a great opportunity for us to utilize an SQF certified facility and increase our manufacturing capacity on the east coast. We are very fortunate to have Grand Springs as a co-packer. Their commitment to quality and customer service will allow us to aggressively expand into major retailers in the northeast."

Smith said, “We are very excited to be in business with one of the fastest growing beverage companies in the country, and we are proud to be associated with a group that shares our commitment to producing the highest quality drinking water.”

Grand Springs has grown as a company slowly and methodically since Smith arrived in Halifax County in 2003. With this commitment from Alkaline 88, Grand Springs has expanded its facility from 47,200 to 60,200 square feet.

Also, this expansion will allow Grand Springs to add an additional 20 employees.

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