VIR's Connie Nyholm Featured on


Connie Nyholm

Steering a racing resort

An opportunity to come home put Connie Nyholm in the driver’s seat

Connie Nyholm was running her own real estate company in New York City in 1998 when she met Harvey Siegel, a shopping center developer with an odd project in mind. Siegel, a sports car enthusiast, wanted to buy a road racing track near Danville that had been closed for decades. Nyholm, a William & Mary graduate, is from Martinsville, and she had been looking for a real estate project that would bring her closer to her home. But she had never been to a racetrack before she and Siegel surveyed the overgrown expanse of Virginia International Raceway, a track that had operated from 1957 to 1974.

Siegel and Nyholm reopened the track in 2000. Today, Nyholm is managing partner of VIR, a racing resort that attracts professional and amateur drivers from around the world. The 1,200-acre property includes a motorsports country club, two hotels, 12 residential villas, an industrial park and a full-service restaurant, the Oak Tree Tavern. The track can be configured in a number of ways that allow two events to be running at the same time.

Nyholm began racing herself in a variety of cars about seven years ago. She took the past two years off but plans to return to the track this year.

Virginia Business interviewed Nyholm in Richmond where she was attending a meeting of the board of the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission. She was appointed to the board by Gov. Mark R. Warner and reappointed by his successor, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine.  A full transcript of the interview is available at

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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

MBC Announces Grant Awards for Last-Mile Broadband Projects

The Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative (MBC), a successful open-access fiber optic backbone provider in rural markets, is pleased to announce that $1,514,143 was awarded to MBC Members as part of a last-mile matching grant program, funded by the Virginia Tobacco Commission. These awards will enable deployment of broadband services for residential and business customers in unserved communities in Southern Virginia.

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Ariel Atom, $65,000, Is Rolling Rocket With No Roof, Windshield

Ariel Atom

Oct. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Exposed, exhilarated and vaguely terrified. That’s the best way to describe the cocktail of emotions as I roll onto the Lightning racetrack at New Jersey Motorsports Park in a stupidly fast car that has no roof, doors or windshield.

The Ariel Atom accelerates faster than a Ferrari, yet my upper half is sticking out above the hood. Talk about letting it all hang out.

The Atom is a U.K.-designed racer now also produced in small numbers in Virginia. Costing $65,000 and up, it is meant for amateur motoring on the racetrack.

Racetrack culture used to have two very separate camps: Professional teams running million-dollar cars and blue-collar guys who wrenched in their garages and banged bumpers on weekends.

In recent years the allure has expanded to urban professionals who’d prefer to spend Saturday on the track rather than the golf course, testing the limit of their personal sports cars. Few actually race one another. Car clubs and private- membership racetracks have opened around the country.

Click to read the rest of the story and view photos at

Art And The Creative Economy Conference

Design and the Innovative Economy

Nearly everyone realizes: The Arts aren’t a frivolous extra; the Arts are an economic spark plug that can lift your community out of its doldrums, attract industry and stimulate commerce.

Learn how to harness the potential of the Creative Class, buoy your quality of life and be ready to thrive as the global economy roars back to life.

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