Companies get $112,446 in IDA ‘grant backs’

Eight local businesses have received a total of $112,446 from the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority as a reward for making capital investments over the past year.

The “grant-backs” by the IDA were made to businesses and industries that operate in the Halifax County Enterprise Zone, a key tool for attracting and retaining local employers.

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

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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.

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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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:





Halifax IDA R&D Grant Request Moves Forward



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.

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