Halifax County IDA - Brighter, Bolder, Business

The Halifax County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) looks back on 2013 as a year of positive change with exciting new projects. The IDA looks forward to 2014 as a year of opportunity. "Our Brighter, Bolder, Business tagline is not just some clever little bit of alliteration," says Matt Leonard,the IDA's Executive Director. "It is how we operate now." Leonard explains that the IDA has restructured its operations, reworked its staff, deployed new and targeted marketing initiatives and reinvigorated its relationships with its critical mission partners. These are natural extensions of Halifax's long history of working to set itself apart from and above other communities when it comes to business and industry. What we have done in 2013 bodes well for 2014.

As the County looks back over 2013 it can be proud of its resilience through these difficult economic times. Halifax continues to retain many of our strongest and longest lasting employers, while new ones emerge. These include ABB, Presto, Aquatic, Annin, CCI, TMI and Dollar General. New industries opened in 2013, including the Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative's South Boston Energy biomass plant, a $150M capital investment with 26 new full time jobs, and positive economic ripples through our legacy wood products industry. Also, Halifax Regional Health System merged with Sentara, making its 1,300 employees part of a 24,000 member organization, and promising $115M in capital investments over the next ten years. "Their continued commitment to Halifax is a testament to our long-term viability," adds Leonard.

The Halifax IDA administers a state Enterprise Zone program that incentivizes current and prospect industries to create new jobs and add capital investments. "The IDA managed County awards of over $130,000 in EZ incentives in 2013," says Marissa Jackson, the IDA's Operations Manager. Marissa will take lead on the EZ program beginning in 2014. "We anticipate awards of nearly $140,000 in 2014," she says. "That means growth."

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Halifax County, VA Hosts Virginia Economic Development Partnership

The Halifax County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) hosted 11 staff members of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP), including a number of its senior leadership. The full day event took place on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 and included an itinerary of IDA presentations, tours of IDA and community assets, and strategic planning discussions. The IDA was represented by its staff and Board members throughout the day. IDA Board members Chris Lumsden (Chairman of the Prospects & Properties Committee) and John Cannon (Board Chairman) attended most of the day's events.

"VEDP is a critical partner to the IDA's mission of increased employment and economic growth," says Matt Leonard, the IDA's Executive Director. "We are fortunate to already have a strong relationship with VEDP's senior leadership, including Chris Lumsden who is the current Vice Chairman of the VEDP Board, and instrumental in helping to facilitate the session on January 8th."

The goal of the January 8th session was to display the IDA's significant staffing, and operational changes, and receive input from the VEDP regarding the IDA's current marketing strategies and tactics. It also allowed both to continue to coordinate these efforts to become more effective and efficient.

"As a member of the VEDP's Board of Directors and the IDA Board," said Lumsden "knowing the changes in leadership and strategies in both organizations over the last year, I thought it was important to get the two groups together. Especially in light of the challenging economy we all face together. I am pleased with how it all came together and turned out."

Among those from the VEDP in attendance was Liz Povar, Vice President of Business Expansion. She had this to say about Halifax, Virginia: "Our discussion with Halifax leadership was a way to more fully understand the assets of the County and its strategic goals. The VEDP team appreciated the opportunity to carry out this "deep dive" and we were impressed with its focus on weaving education, applied research and real estate into a solid framework to build on existing industry as well as business formation and recruitment."

The final session of the day was attended by representatives from other local mission critical partners. These included, Doug Bowman, Finance Committee Chairman of the Halifax County Board of Supervisors, Mark Estes, Executive Director of the Halifax County Service Authority, Dr. Betty Adams, Executive Director of the SVHEC, Ed Owens, Mayor of South Boston and the immediate past Chairman of the Tobacco Commission's Southside Economic development Committee, Mattie Cowan, IDA Board Member, and Ted Bennett, IDA Board Member and HEF Board Member.

Dollar General gives $40k literacy gift to Sinai Elementary

Sinai Elementary School principal Kevin Neal reacts after opening an early Christmas gift from the local Dollar General distribution facility. Dollar General made a $40,000 donation Wednesday to the school to be used to purchase reading materials and help promote literacy. (David Conner II photo)Santa Claus arrived early Wednesday morning at Sinai Elementary School as Dollar General managers Hank Bruining and Matt Hunt handed a yellow and black box containing a big surprise to Principal Kevin Neal.

Neal opened the box as students and school officials looked on, finding a check for $40,000 made out to the school.

"I couldn't believe it," said the flabbergasted Neal.

"It was just amazing. I was told by a company representative last week that we would be receiving a surprise, but I had no idea it would be of this magnitude."

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Merle Herndon, on hand for the presentation, shared the thought: "It just brought tears to my eyes," said Herndon. "I had been told that it was an important gift, but I had no idea of its magnitude."

Bruining, Senior Manager for Human Resources at the South Boston distribution center, explained that the gift to Sinai Elementary continues a long standing relationship between Dollar General and the school.

"We have supported their literacy program through their 'Reading Is Fundamental' [initiative] for the past ten years, providing books for the students to take home and with other supplies," said Bruining, "but when Dollar General announced this new program, 'Reading Revolution' this year, we thought of Sinai Elementary."

Dollar General's new Reading Revolution program aims to provide schools with extra resources to purchase books, computers and other educational supplies to enhance reading and literacy programs. This is the first year of the program; Bruining said some 12 schools around the nation located near company headquarters or distribution centers have been chosen to receive the awards.

"By supporting Sinai Elementary School with this gift, we hope to help students become better readers, more successful students and lifelong learners," said Denine Torr, Dollar General's director of community initiatives.

Herndon praised the company for making such a large investment in the community.

"It's also a great investment in the future of our children and one we greatly appreciate."

Neal said he and school staffers will sit down after the Christmas holidays to look at needs at Sinai and make long-range plans for using the money. "We want to be very careful to spend it so as to get the most bang for our bucks." He expressed his thanks to Dollar General for the generous gift.

from The News & Record


Using 3-D printing technology, students create new hand for young girl

Abby Lammerts practices picking up a ball with her new hand, created by students at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center in South Boston.Gripping a handle, picking up a ball, holding a hair brush — these are movements most people do a thousand times a day without even thinking about it. But for 12-year-old Abby Lammerts, these simple tasks have been virtually impossible.

Until now.

Abby was born with a spinal condition called "syringomyelia," as well as defects in her hands and face. The fingers on her left hand were completely fused together, while the bones in her right were present but didn't connect properly.

Abby underwent seven surgeries before her fourth birthday, most of which were reconstructive procedures. Still, her mother, Amy Hudson Lammerts Cole, said Abby never let her physical differences hold her back.

"She's had her challenges. But we always told her she's no different than anyone else, so that's what she grew up believing," Cole said. "She never let it get her down. If anything, she used it as motivation to push even harder."

But the deformities in her hands still made it difficult for Abby to do certain tasks, such as playing the trombone, riding a bike and brushing her hair. It was a part of life that she, and her parents, simply accepted as reality.

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14 Organizations Attend C-CARE Pre-Proposal Meeting

CCARE operator RFP meetingHalifax County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) hosted a mandatory Pre-Proposal Meeting for the National Center for Coatings Application Research and Education (C-CARE) December 6, 2013 at Riverstone Centre. 14 different coatings industry businesses, professional associations, and workforce training and education organizations attended the meeting. C-CARE is part of Halifax's economic development tool-kit which aims to provide assets and programs to support and attract industries that require advanced manufacturing technology and skill sets. The IDA has issued the C-CARE Request for Proposal (RFP) to attract an operator, or team of operators, for C-CARE who can meet critical economic development goals. "C-CARE is a world-class facility in Halifax, Virginia," said Matt Leonard, the IDA's Executive Director. "We need world-class operators to make the most of it. This RFP process is our way of finding them."

The mission of C-CARE is to assist manufacturers with their process engineering, research and development, and work-force training needs in the application of coatings to their final products. The C-CARE lab in Riverstone Technology Park has been recognized by industry as a one-of-a-kind facility and rounds out Halifax's capability in aiding manufacturer's in all cycles of product development, including modeling and simulation, design, engineering, and prototyping. "We were well pleased with the turnout of various industries and stakeholders along the coatings and advanced manufacturing spectrum," commented Dr. Doug Corrigan, Executive Director of the IDA's Riverstone Energy Center. "The quality and reputation of these organizations underscores our ongoing vision of creating a world-class and one-of-a-kind program for an unmet need in the industry."

Attendees were given an overview of the RFP and then toured Riverstone Energy Center, C-CARE, and the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center's Innovation Center. Responses to the C-CARE RFP are due February 21, 2014.

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Patsy Vaughan Retires After 30 Years of Service

Patsy VaughanPatsy Vaughan retired from the Halifax IDA on December 31, 2013 after 30 years of service.

"Patsy has served the IDA and the community long and well," said IDA Executive Director, Matt Leonard. "She has earned her retirement. We wish her well."

Ted Bennett, the current Chairman of the IDA's Operations and Personnel Committee has worked with Vaughan for nearly all of her time at the IDA, and describes her contributions this way, "Patsy has been at the center of the successes enjoyed by the county's industrial development efforts since before and after the creation of the Industrial Development Authority. Her contributions to the amazing economic progress and job growth in the county during those years are immeasurable. They stand as proof of her legacy to the thousands of people who secured their jobs and financial security because of her quiet but enduring efforts on their behalf over three decades. We will miss her but never forget her dedication to the economic welfare of the county and its citizens."

Vaughan first came to the IDA as a part-time employee in 1981, moving to full time in 1983. Over her three decades she has worn many hats including Interim Executive Director on four occasions. In the last 10 years she has been the IDA's Development Director, managing project grants, construction activites, and administering the Enterprize Zone and other incentive programs. "Patsy has worked with me over the last year to update and streamline how we handle these important functions," Leonard said.

During her tenure, Vaughan helped locate the following industries into the county: O'Sullivan Industries, FlexTec, NPS, RW, Power Partners, BHK of America, Annin & Company, J. M. Huber Corporation, Clover Power Station, Daystrom Furniture, d-Scan (now Tvilum), Dollar General Corporation, The Software Factory, Gloster Furniture, Penske, Estes Express Lines, Adesta, Cherokee Tobacco Company, LASCO Bathware (now Aquatic), Marriott Fairfield Inn & Suites, Mid-Atlantic Broadband, VIR, Lindstrand USA, TMI AutoTech, NOVI Energy, Pacific Headwear, RTP Company, Sunshine Mills, VEC and DMV Call Centers, Faneuil, and the National Tire Research Center.

"I have been blessed to have been an employee of the IDA, and a part of the ever changing world of economic development," Vaughan stated, adding that she has "been privileged to have worked with visionaries to make Halifax County a better place to live. It has been a challenging and rewarding experience." She believes she "has made a difference."

At various times during her career Vaughan has also been active in the International Economic Development Council, Virginia Economic Developers Association (VEDA), Halifax County Tourism Board, Southern Economic Development Council, Rural Planning Caucus of Virginia, Council for Business, Industry and Government, Halifax County Chamber of Commerce, Longwood Small Business Development Center Advisory Board, American Business Women's Association.

Ribbon cutting for NOVEC Energy Production, Halifax County Biomass plant

Ribbon cutting & plant tour at NOVEC Energy Production, Halifax County Biomass plantSecretary of Commerce and Trade Jim Cheng, Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative and its development partner NOVI Energy and more than 150 Virginia state and local officials and guests celebrated the "grand opening" of the NOVEC Energy Production, Halifax County Biomass plant Thursday with a luncheon at The Prizery followed by a ribbon cutting and plant tour.

"It's great to be back in Virginia for this event. I am honored to be here to represent the governor and the lieutenant governor in this

remarkable grand opening of the power plant in Halifax County," said Cheng.

"It's been a long time coming, since 2009. But, you know, in terms of energy production, that's really an amazingly short time frame. It shows great teamwork between localities, the state, the federal government and of course, NOVEC."

Among the speakers were Stan Feuerburg, president and CEO of NOVEC, Thomas West, chairman of the Halifax County Board of Supervisors, South Boston Mayor Ed Owens, John Paldalino, the administrator of Rural Utilities Service, Sheldon Petersen, the CEO of Cooperative Finance Corporation, Tom Halverson, the chief banking officer of CoBank, Anand Gangadharan, president of NOVI Energy, and Wade House, chairman of NOVEC Board of Directors.

Each speaker expressed appreciation for the new state-of-the-art renewable energy power plant, located on Plywood Trail in South Boston.

This plant will be capable of generating 49.9 megawatts of electricity for the cooperatives' customer-owners by burning wood chips. The wood waste is burned as fuel to create power in a "carbon-neutral" process creating steam. The steam then spins a turbine that produces energy. "Reclaimed water" from the local water authority will be used to cool the plant.

The plant will provide enough electricity to power 16,000 homes.

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