IDA Receives New Grant: SVAMC improvements and Natural Gas reach extended

The Halifax County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) has been awarded a grant by the United States Community Advancement and Improvement Program (USCAIP) for use on Phase III of the IDA's Southern Virginia Advanced Manufacturing Center (SVAMC) on Greens Folly Road. The $427,500 grant will used to improve and expand on-site utilities and infrastructure.

The IDA worked with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP), which helped identify this grant opportunity for Halifax. "Investment by this USCAIP partner organization is significant for the development of the Southern Virginia Advanced Manufacturing Center," says Liz Povar, Vice-President of Business Expansion for VEDP. "The investment aligns with state, regional and local strategies and will add to the strength of Halifax County's business attraction and retention opportunities."

"The USCAIP grant provides benefits beyond its dollar value," says Matt Leonard, The IDA's Executive Director. "It will act as the required local match for the recently awarded $1,114,535 from the Tobacco Commission, relieving the County from having to make this match. It will also extend natural gas onto the site through an easement under the railroad, making natural gas available to the south and east side of the tracks for the first time." This includes South Boston, and some of the largest assets of the public school system, as well as many large private companies and residences.

Columbia Gas of Virginia Representative Jon Slaunwhite describes the collaboration with the IDA and importance of this extension, saying "We are committed to supporting the Halifax IDA in growing Virginia's economy. This project is an example of this collaboration and will allow Columbia Gas to expand our facilities and allow clean, reliable and domestic natural gas to support jobs and growth in the region."

Much of the grant monies previously received and spent to date have been used to replace the SVAMC's roofing and update the fire protection facilities. "We understand that work so far, while critical to stopping the facility's decline, is not highly visible work" says Leonard. "Over the next year and a half, Halifax citizens will see the building and grounds begin to transform, and our prospect industries will find a more ready site for them to consider."

Sniper aiming for jobs

TMI Autotech will build new car, SniperHalifax County and TMI Auto Tech, the maker of the Ariel Atom performance racing vehicle, are teaming up to create a new manufacturing niche for the area: the production of lightweight, high-strength woven carbon composites.

It's just the material needed for a new racing vehicle that TMI Auto Tech has on the drawing board — the TMI Sniper.

The Sniper, unlike the Atom, is a closed-body racer, said Matt Leonard, executive director of the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority, which has put in an $838,786 R&D grant request to the Virginia Tobacco Commission to launch the project. The market for the Sniper is a familiar one for the company: club racers, promotional vehicle purchasers, school car programs. The company is aiming to build 100 of the vehicles for international distribution over the next five years.

Starting price point: $135,000.

TMI Auto Tech is projecting it will almost double its current workforce by hiring 19 new workers to build the Sniper at its facility at the Virginia Motorsports Technology Park, part of Virginia International Raceway. Yet the IDA has aspirations of the Sniper project becoming a springboard for even more jobs.

"If [research] finds that right formula to create carbon fiber-based materials in a cost effective way, it could be broadened [for use] in more products and more jobs here," said Leonard. "We think this could be the start of us making these high performance materials."

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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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Molasses Grill named one of "The 30 places to eat in Virginia before you die"

Molasses Grill, Chef SteveIn 16 weeks the Virginia-Pilot newspaper reviewed 200 restaurants throughout the state to name "The 30 places to eat in Virginia before you die," and local restaurant Molasses Grill was named to the list. Their review follows:

"In the vast expanse of central Virginia, towns are like islands surrounded by rolling farmland. It's impossible to guess where gourmets gather. That's the case in Halifax. Across from the pillared courthouse, circa 1777, the Molasses Grill has been pleasing refined palates since 2005. That's when chef Steven Schopen, an English chap with worldly roots, and his wife, Karen, opened this restaurant. Inside, brick walls and burnished pine lend a sense of calm, but opening the menu causes palpitations. Schopen pairs Southern staples with locally sourced ingredients and turns out house-made sausages, breads and dishes such as grilled pork tenderloin with a shellac of bourbon and molasses. Or how about fried chicken and some pimento mac and cheese? Worth the 5-mile or so detour from the straightaway."

Read the full list here.

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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IDA Completes Rebranding Designs

The Halifax County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) has completed its new branding designs for its properties and programs. "Halifax County has worked hard to build out the critical assets that business and industries look for when deciding to expand. What we haven't done is present them in a way that shows how they go together," says Matt Leonard, the IDA's Executive Director. "We have been working for the last year to build a brand that tells a fuller story to those inside and outside of our region."

The IDA will build off of the more recognizable "Southern Virginia" identity already used by its critical mission partners such as the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Tobacco Indemnification and Communities Revitalization Commission, Southern Virginia Regional Alliance and Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation. The IDA used the new logo and tag line it unveiled at the end of 2012 to complete its rebranding. The chart shows the changes being made.

"When we market Halifax Virginia to prospect industries, they need to quickly recognize the advantageous positioning and collaborative nature of our community and our assets," says Kristy Johnson, the IDA's Manager of Marketing & Business Development. "These immediately paint a picture, which we can then readily guide our prospects through to show them how Halifax County in Southern Virginia brings it all together in a way that meets their needs – from its placement logistically to its workforce training to its R&D, business and product support assets."

The IDA has already reworked its website and marketing materials using these new brands. Over the next few months the IDA will be changing its property signage to complete the rebranding.

Halifax County IDA rebranding