Friday, October 30, 2009

NTELOS 'Smartphone' Available

NTELOS, a wireless communication services company based in Waynesboro, plans to launch its first Android-powered smartphone, the new HTC Hero.

The company is among the first U.S. wireless carriers to announce the availability of the Android-powered device with Google mobile services. Says Chief Operating Officer Jim Hyde, "The HTC Hero is a handset for people who want to express themselves and stay connected in a truly unique and revolutionary way.”

Android-powered devices represent one of the fastest growing device segments in the wireless industry with worldwide sales expected to soon eclipse the most popular smartphones on the market today, according to a March 2009 report by Informa Telecoms and Media. Android features open source mobile platform and applications and an advanced web browser. The pinch zoom controls allow you to look closer, read easier and surf with ease.

The HTC Hero will allow consumers access to thousands of the latest wireless applications. The HTC Hero also has built-in Google mobile services with synchronization, including Google Search, Google Maps, Gmail, Google Talk and YouTube.

With Android Market, users can download thousands of applications, games and widgets on their phones. Twitter, Pac Man,, Pandora, Craigslist, Checker and Facebook are among the applications available. My Location allows a subscriber to push a button and see where he is on a map, then search and find the closest area businesses. Or select Google Maps, which provides turn-by-turn directions and traffic updates.

(From NTELOS press release.)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

County Opens New Service Center

Cutting the ribbon are: Roanoke Co. Supervisor Charlotte Moore, Roanoke Co. Administrator Clay Goodman, Roanoke Co. General Services Director Anne Marie Green, Roanoke Co. Supervisor Richard Flora, Roanoke Co. Board of Supervisors Chairman Mike Altizer, Director of WVWA Field Operations Phil Martin, Executive Director of WVWA Wastewater Services Michael McEvoy, Roanoke Co. Supervisor Butch Church, and Roanoke Co. Fleet Manager David Anderson.

Roanoke County dedicated a new Fleet Service Center today as part of a cooperative agreement with the Western Virginia Water Authority. The 23,600-square foot facility on Hollins Road sits on a nine-acre site and features eight heavy equipment truck bays, six bays for cars and light-duty trucks, a parts room, tire storage, bulk fluids, administrative offices, and customer waiting area.

Roanoke County and the authority have more than 800 vehicles. The new center replaces the existing four-bay garage. The facility cost $7.7 million and is Roanoke County’s first LEED-certified building. It features extensive natural lighting, computerized light and HVAC control, water efficient landscaping, a white roof for reduced heat island effect, and recycled content building materials.

All of the vehicle waste oil will be recycled on site for use in heating the building, reducing utility costs. The project is being funded through a combination of capital contributions from Roanoke County and the Water Authority; bonds will be repaid through fees charged to user departments.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Carilion To Offer Medicare Health Plan

The new Carilion Clinic Medicare Health Plan (CCMHP) will begin enrolling members when Medicare opens its 2009 Annual Election Period (AEP) Nov. 15.

Sponsored by Carilion Clinic, the plan offers a variety of options that provide a wide range of choices to those who are eligible for Medicare. Prescription Drug coverage is included in all plan options and members may choose plans that offer either zero monthly premiums or zero co-pays for visits to primary care physicians.

According to Carilion Clinic President and CEO Edward G. Murphy, CCMHP will play an important role in providing patient-centered care to Medicare-eligible residents throughout the area. “This new plan expands Carilion’s commitment to quality, wellness and affordable health coverage,” Murphy said. “Our physicians, range of services and new electronic medical record will allow us to provide unprecedented continuity of care to our patients.”

Members will have access to a provider network that includes seven Carilion Clinic hospitals and more than 500 physicians along with other area physicians and ancillary facilities.

CCMHP is a Medicare Advantage plan that provides all of the benefits of original Medicare and many additional services--at a lower cost than most Medicare Supplement plans. The plan is available to those who are enrolled in or qualified for Medicare and live in the plan’s service area which includes the cities of Bedford, Lexington, Radford, Roanoke and Salem, and the counties of Bedford, Botetourt, Craig, Floyd, Franklin, Giles, Montgomery and Roanoke. Enrollment restrictions may apply.

(From Carilion press release.)

Ed Walker Buys Patrick Henry Hotel; Plans To Develop Apartments, Offices

Roanoke's Patrick Henry Hotel: Another Ed Walker Project^


Roanoke real estate re-developer Ed Walker, who has made a personal mission of bringing to life some of Roanoke’s best old buildings in recent years, has another target and another mission: the rehabilitation of the decaying Patrick Henry Hotel on Jefferson Street.

Saying, "It's time for us to take responsibility for our own community," Walker says that today he purchased the building from lien-holder Potomac Realty Capital for $1.3 million and intends to return the old hotel to its former majesty, with an additional investment of "$14 million-plus."

He says the goal is to have the hotel stabilized by February ("it's a mess; there's water coming in the roof now") and finish the project in 19 months.

He plans to build apartments on floors 3-10 (about 100 of them, ranging in price from $500 to $1,000, says Walker) and open Class A office spaces on the other floors. He also hopes to have a restaurant and bar.

"The goal is to take a building that has become a community weakness and turn it into a community strength," says Walker, who will use the same team of contractors for this project as he has for his others in Roanoke: George Stanley and CityScape of Richmond with Nathan Vaught as site superintendent. Stanley also has several Roanoke developments of his own. Walker has not yet hired an architect.

Walker has re-developed three significant buildings downtown, including Colonial Arms, which houses HomeTown Bank and upscale condos (where he lives); the elegant Hancock, which has a spectacular fa├žade that was hidden for years under a 1960s renovation; and the Cotton Mill, which opened in this past summer and quickly leased most of its rental units.

Walker says he was recently in Boston to visit friends and decided to give the owner of the Patrick Henry a call “just to see what we could work out. The Patrick Henry has been sitting there decaying for years and it was time somebody did something about it.” As usual, “somebody” turns out to be Walker.

He found a receptive owner, willing to deal and they worked it out. Walker had been represented at an auction of the Patrick Henry in August, but the $2 million price bid by Potomac, the only bidder, was too high, he says. The former owner of the hotel was Affirmative Equities of New York, which is in bankruptcy (Chapter 11, then 7), filed nearly two years ago.

Walker admits he would "frankly rather not be compelled to do this, but I am not aware of the likelihood it would be done otherwise." He says ownership outside the Roanoke Valley has not benefited the hotel or the community for the past 19 years.

The 125-room structure was built in 1925 and was most recently valued at $3.7 million. The needed renovation is extensive.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Empire Foods Lands in Rocky Mount

Empire Foods TSG has broken ground for its new 45,000 square foot, $3 million food and baked goods production center in Rocky Mount. The facility will open in 2010 and will employee 84.

The facility will be constructed on a greenfield site within the Franklin County/Rocky Mount Industrial Park. Price Construction of Rocky Mount) is the lead building contractor.

“Franklin County and Rocky Mount offer a great community for our company and we look forward to opening our new state of the art food production facility next summer. The new Franklin County/Rocky Mount facility will provide TSG-Empire Foods with the opportunity to grow our successful cake and bakery business into new markets and new product offerings,” Len Marek, president and CEO, TSG-Empire Foods says.

Charles Wagner, Chair Franklin County Board of Supervisors, said, “We are pleased to welcome TSG-Empire to our community. Our intent with economic development is to provide a broad diversity of industries that offer good wages for employees within our community. We are also pleased that TSG Empire selected a local builder, Price Construction, for the project. It’s always great to see dirt moving and construction equipment in one of our business parks.”

Conversion of Fire Station No. 3 Complete

Fire Station No. 3 this morning^

Fire Station No. 3 in 1909 (note the small tree at left, which became a big tree in top photo)^

Interactive Design Group, a small Web design firm in Roanoke, plans to open in its new quarters, the re-designed Firehouse No. 3 on Sixth Street Thursday. The firehouse, one of the prettiest in Roanoke, surrounded by old, colorful trees, dates to 1909 and was actually the second Fire Station No. 3. This one has that look of an old blacksmith shop where the village smithy would be standing under the oak, banging out a horse shoe.

Interactive Design Group (not to be confused with Blacksburg's Interactive Design & Development) was the primary contractor in designing an interactive Web site for Arlington National Cemetary. The 2005 project was announced as being worth between $10 million and $15 million at the time and, according to a Roanoke Times story, "involves moving hundreds of thousands of paper records into a modern database; documenting every plot, headstone, building, pipe and streetlight; building a system to allow easier scheduling of resources; and linking it all to outside databases such as those of the Social Security and Veterans administrations."

The grand opening is Thursday, Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. at Interactive Design Group.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Draper Aden Makes Changes at the Top

Draper Aden Associates of Blacksburg has named Jeffrey N. Lighthiser (below) CEO and president, effective Jan. 1, 2010. Bill Aden (left), current president/CEO, will continue to serve as chairman of the board and work full time for the firm. The change is part of a long planned transition.

Lighthiser is executive VP and director of marketing and growth. He has 33 years of engineering and management experience. He helped establish the Richmond office and served as office manager for 22 years. He holds the position of site planning and engineering division director and is a member of the board of directors.

“Jeff’s strong track record in engineering, management and business development will give the firm the depth of leadership it needs in order to continue our current success and what it will need to move our company to the next level,” says Bill Aden. “The Board has put the firm in good hands for the future.”

Aden, co-founder of Draper Aden Associates, will remain active with the firm in business development efforts and will take on special strategic projects for firm growth opportunities. He will continue his role in project work and mentoring.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tech Chemist Gets Huge Grant for Research

A Virginia Tech chemist has been awarded a $2.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct research that will aid in the development of new heart disease and cancer medicines that have fewer side effects.

Theresa Reineke, associate professor of chemistry in the College of Science, was awarded an NIH New Innovator grant, which is designed to fund research that is in its earliest stages and holds potential for exceptionally high impact. Reineke’s research group is creating carbohydrate-based polymers for the delivery of genetic drugs to combat both cancer and heart disease.

The newly developed molecules can travel into cells, deliver genetic drugs, and carry a tracking ability so that scientists can follow its movements in living systems. Her research was featured in Oct. 6, 2009, edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“This grant will allow us to gain a better understanding of the cellular mechanisms involved in the delivery of polymeric drug carriers for both illnesses,” Reineke says. “These studies will ultimately lead to the development of medicines that are more specific to their disease targets and therefore are less toxic to other parts of the human system.”

Synthetic polymers that are compatible with biological systems are playing important roles in the diagnosis and treatment of many diseases, Reineke said. “Understanding how biomaterials interact with and affect living systems is one of the most important and fundamental problems in biomedical research,” she says.

NIH New Innovator Awards are designed to stimulate highly innovative research and support promising new investigators. According to the NIH, many new investigators have exceptionally innovative research ideas, but not the preliminary data required to fare well in the traditional NIH peer review system.

Reineke joined the chemistry faculty in 2008 and is a member of the university’s Macromolecules and Interfaces Institute . Her grant is one of only 55 to be awarded a total of $131 million in New Innovator Awards. Among some of the other institutions receiving funding were Duke, Stanford, Harvard, Cornell, and the Cleveland Clinic. New Innovator Awards are among three sets of NIH grants that address promising emerging research and are part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

(Virginia Tech press release.)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Virginia Tech 'Star Wars' Fan Among Science's Young Elite

Tech's Dennis Hong among the select few under 40 scientists on list^

Dennis Hong, an associate professor with the Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering, has been named to Popular Science’s 8th annual Brilliant 10. The annual listing honors top scientists younger than 40 years of age from across the United States. Honorees are chosen from among hundreds of nominees each year.

“From solar cells to cancer cells, tracking viruses, and preventing disasters, the Brilliant 10 are dreaming up solutions for some of the planet’s most vexing challenges,” read a new release issued by Popular Science.

The award is the latest in a stellar year for Hong. During the past several months, he was promoted to associate professor of mechanical engineering, awarded the SAE International’s Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award, and named as a 2009 Forward Under 40 honoree by the University of Wisconsin–Madison Alumni Association. Additionally, Hong’s work to help build a car that the blind and low-vision population can drive garnered national media coverage from The Washington Post and CBS, among dozens of other news outlets.

The Popular Science article details Hong’s work in robotics engineering. Director of the award-winning Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory (RoMeLa), Hong’s research focuses on robot locomotion and manipulation, autonomous vehicles and humanoid robots.

“From the time he laid eyes on R2-D2 and C-3PO as a six-year old watching ‘Star Wars,’ Hong says he knew he wanted to build robots. Today, he is the creator of real-life robotic wonders including a hand that’s dexterous enough to handle an egg, a pole-climbing snake ‘bot for construction inspections and a three-legged robot whose design mimics the momentum of the human gait,” the article reads.

Hong’s fellow 2009 Brilliant 10 nominees hail from such research institutions as Carnegie Mellon University, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Michigan, and Yale University. Founded in 1872, Popular Science is the world's largest science and technology magazine, with a circulation of 1.3 million and 7.1 million readers.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Bioinformatics Institute Gets Huge Award

Virginia Tech's Bioinformatics Institute will receive an award of approximately $27 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The five-year, $27,670,448 contract from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the NIH, is the largest, one-time federal award in the history of Virginia Tech.

The funding will be used by the CyberInfrastructure Group (CIG) to support infectious disease research across the globe, namely to integrate vital information on pathogens, provide key resources and tools to scientists, and help researchers to analyze genomic, proteomic and other data arising from infectious disease research.

"Virginia Tech is a leader in bioinformatics related to infectious diseases, and the work the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute performs is extremely valuable not only for Virginia Tech but for the nation,” said 9th District Congressman Rick Boucher. “I am extremely pleased that the National Institutes of Health have recognized the excellence of Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, and I would like to congratulate the Institute on its outstanding work that merited this federal award.”

"This is not the first time the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute has been recognized by the federal government,” added Boucher. "Since its inception, the institute has received more than $90 million in federal funding, more than $15 million of which was obtained through federal appropriations approved by Congress at my request.”

“The new award from the NIH will allow us to continue our work to support infectious disease research and the development of vaccine, diagnostic or therapeutic targets for countermeasures,” said Bruno Sobral professor and director of the CyberInfrastructure Group and principal investigator of the project.

(Virginia Tech press release.)

Tech Researcher Wins Nobel Prize

The first woman to win a Nobel Prize in economics is a researcher for a Virginia Tech-managed international program. Elinor Ostrom has won a share of the 2009 prize based on her work on how community institutions can prevent conflict.

The 40th Nobel Prize goes to Ostrom, a researcher for the Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Management Collaborative Research Support Program (SANREM CRSP), managed by Virginia Tech’s Office of International Research, Education and Development. Ostrom shares the $1.4 million prize with Oliver Williamson, a professor in the graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley.

In announcing the award today, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences cited Ostrom “for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons.” Ostrom is the principal investigator for SANREM CRSP on how government policy reforms do not automatically translate into new property rights for forest users or show clear benefits to the environment.

“SANREM CRSP has been fortunate to have her on its research team,” said Program Director Theo Dillaha. “Her work in Uganda, Kenya, Mexico and Bolivia on how government policy reforms such as decentralization affect forest sustainability and forest users has been groundbreaking.”

A professor of political science at Indiana University and founding director of the Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity at Arizona State University, the 76-year-old Ostrom is part of a team that works on one of SANREM CRSP’s five long-term research projects.

Ostrom’s research centers on how communities manage their common lands and natural resources including pastures, lakes and forests. Although in recent decades the approach has been to regulate or limit the use of such resources or privatize them, Ostrom’s studies found that common property often is well managed by the people who use it.

"Bureaucrats sometimes do not have the correct information, while citizens and users of resources do," Ostrom said by phone at the press conference announcing her award.

SANREM CRSP is a $27 million, 10-year initiative led by Virginia Tech and funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. The program conducts applied research to develop knowledge and tools that promote environmentally sustainable agriculture and natural resource management. This research drives decision making by natural resource managers and trains future agricultural leaders in developing countries.

SANREM CRSP also supports partnerships among scientists in the United States and in developing countries focused on increasing food security and managing natural resources, reducing poverty, and empowering women and other underrepresented groups. Indiana University is one of 17 U.S. universities with which SANREM has partnerships.

(Virginia Tech press release.)

Volvo To Lay Off Another 50

The Volvo truck plant in Dublin has announced it will lay off 50 more employees in mid-December because of declining market conditions, according to a plant spokesman. The plant has 1,200 employees.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

NS Jobs Moving From Roanoke

Norfolk Southern Corporation is stressing that the 30 jobs it has announced it’s moving from Roanoke to Atlanta do not constitute a layoff.

The jobs are in safety and environment and published reports quote an NS spokesman as saying the jobs are being moved in order to expedite teamwork and communication.

The departments affected are transportation, mechanical, engineering and customer service and the move is effective in mid-November. Workers holding the jobs now will be offered the same jobs in Atlanta, the spokesman said.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Healthcare Solutions Summit Scheduled Tuesday

The Healthcare Solutions Summit: The Cure for Your Bottom Line is scheduled Tuesday, Oct. 20 at the Sheraton Roanoke Hotel & Conference Center in Roanoke. It is one of two such conferences in October in Virginia.

The other is at the Westin Richmond Oct. 21.

The conference runs 8-10 a.m. and is free, but space is limited. You may register here.

The Summit brochure says, "The success of consumer-driven healthcare solutions is no longer just theory and speculation." At the Summit "learn about this innovation in health insurance benefits. Roy Ramthum, president of HSA Consulting Services and a former White House health policy advisor and Greg Scandlen, founder of Consumers for Health Care Choices and senior fellow at the Heartland Institute, will speak about how consumer-driven health plans are transforming the health care benefits marketplace."

Technology Summit Tuesday at VWCC

Last year more than 230 high school juniors and seniors visited the Virginia Western Community College campus for the annual Technology Summit. This event offers students the opportunity to explore high growth, high pay career fields that may potentially lead to internships or employment upon graduation.

This year's event will offer many of the same great opportunities as last year including some exciting new twists--“green” energy technology along with health and environmental sciences and a preview of Virginia Western’s and Old Dominion University’s Baja competition vehicles.

On Tuesday, Oct. 13, Virginia Western will bring in over 25 technology-based organizations in the Roanoke area to showcase the array of opportunities that await students with an education in technology and engineering. The Technology Summit will run from 9:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

“There remains a high demand for these jobs in the Roanoke Valley,” says Associate Professor of Engineering Rick Clark. “Not only is this an opportunity for students to find a calling, but it is also an opportunity for employers to find potential employees. The goal of this summit is to make sure the community is aware of the importance and need for qualified individuals to consider high growth, high wage majors and careers."

In addition to the employer displays and opportunities to interact with Virginia Western students, the 2009 Technology Summit and Career Exploration event will provide hands-on exposure at each of the technology stations located in the Advanced Technology Center.

Activities include a look at an off-road vehicle built and raced earlier this year by Virginia Western students, a robotics demonstration, a GIS demonstration to show the importance and benefits of Global Positioning Systems (GPS devices), and a look at Computer Aided Design (CAD), which allows designers the opportunity to develop virtual designs of products and test them before having to buy expensive raw materials.

The Technology Summit and Career Exploration Fair is an opportunity for business, industry and community partners to educate high school and community college students on the skills and knowledge they will need to be successful when they complete their education, especially in the area of technology and advanced technology.

For more information on the Technology Summit and Career Exploration Fair, contact Leah Coffman by phone or e-mail at 540.857.6678,

(Source: VWCC press release.)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Because of Flu, Carilion Limits Visitation

Roanoke-based Carilion Clinic hospitals are taking additional steps to lessen the spread of flu-like illness, including the H1N1 and seasonal flu virus.

“As the number of patients with flu-like illness continues to increase, we feel that additional precautions are necessary,” says Thomas Kerkering, medical director of Carilion Clinic’s Infectious Disease Department. “We are trying to protect our patients, their families and our hospital staff, while reducing opportunities for flu to spread in the community.”

New visitation policies that have been temporarily implemented at Carilion Clinic hospitals include:
  • Visitors under the age of 18 will not be allowed to visit the hospital. -Patients with flu-like illness are limited to one visitor.
  • Visitors to any patients who are isolated with flu-like illness will be required to wear masks, gloves and gowns as requested by hospital staff. -People with flu-like symptoms and colds should not visit the hospital.
  • People with flu-like symptoms do not need to go to a hospital emergency department unless they are having difficulty breathing or are dehydrated.
Visitors are discouraged from visiting patients with flu-like illnesses. If visitation is necessary, patients with flu-like symptoms may only have one visitor at a time. Other measures being taken include employee flu shot clinics for the seasonal flu beginning Monday, Oct. 12. The H1N1 vaccine should be available for employees within the next week.

Additionally, everyone should take the following steps to protect their health:
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of the tissue in the trash after each use.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick when possible.
(Carilion press release.)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Roanoke College Management Institute Accepting Applications

The Management Institute, sponsored by Roanoke College’s Business Administration and Economics Department, is accepting nominations for the 2010 Management Program. The application deadline is Friday, Nov. 13.

The program will be held during the spring semester, beginning with the President’s Reception on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010. To become a participant, an individual employee must be nominated by an executive sponsor. Organizations may nominate more than one employee. A maximum of 22 candidates will be admitted to the program. The cost per person is $1,250.

The mission of The Management Institute, in operation for 20 years, is to provide the Roanoke Valley business community with a viable management education program that is timely, competitive and informative, thereby assisting in the continued educational development of middle-and upper-level managers. The Management Institute was developed by Roanoke College to meet training needs specific to the Roanoke Valley as identified by local business leaders.

The 2010 Management Program will give its participants a fresh look at analyzing, planning and implementing innovative programs, opportunites to interact with their professional peers and an ongoing network comprised of institute faculty and participants, who offer support and encouragement regarding how to lead and manage organizations during the 21sC century.

The curriculum is reviewed and revised annually by the steering committee. The program will consist of 12 weeks of formal instruction. Sessions will be held on Thursday evenings at Roanoke College from 6:30-9 p.m.

Topics to be covered include: Introduction to Organizational Leadership, Organizational Behavior Theory In Leadership and Management Of Your Business, The Learning Organization: Adapting and Coping With Change, Creative Problem Solving and Technology Innovation, Social Computing: Costs & Benefits, Operations Leadership: Success Through Innovative Thinking, The Role of Teamwork, Teams and Leadership from Within, Managing Your Human Capital and Developing Your Workforce, The Leader as Facilitator, Mediator & Negotiator, Corporate Ethics: Your Personal Responsibility, and Leadership in Corporate America Today and Tomorrow.

The steering committee includes Samuel L. Lionberger, Jr., Lionberger Construction Co., Chair; Dr. Larry Lynch, Roanoke College; Melinda J. Cox, Roanoke County; Larry Curfiss; Donal Robb, Robertson Marketing Group; Jim Harrison, The Branch Group; Danielle Yarber, xpedx; Clinton Morse, LeClair Ryan and Ken Lanford, Lanford Brothers Company, Inc.

For further information, please call TMI Director, Larry A. Lynch, (540) 375-2413.

Named State's Top Nursing Assistant

A Friendship Retirement Community employee has been named outstanding certified nursing assistant of the year by the Virginia Health Care Association. Deborah Johnson, a 23-year veteran, was cited for her demonstrated respect for residents and co-workers, personal ethics, leadership skills, mentoring, professionalism, flexibility and attendance.

"Her dedication to her facility is unsurpassed and she always represents her facility in a professional and loving manner and lifts the spirits of those around her," the association wrote in announcing the award. "To make sure everyone has the best life experience possible, she recently became one of Virginia's few CNAs to be palliative-care certified. She is a 'go to' leader when dealing with difficult situations, and can always be counted on."

Monday, October 5, 2009

Downtown Roanoke Inc. Hires New Head

Sean Luther, new DRI head^

Sean C. Luther, a 27-year-old economic development specialist for the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership in Pennsylvania, has been named director and CEO of Downtown Roanoke Inc.

He will begin his new duties Oct. 26. Luther will be responsible for leading DRI in several projects including renewal and improvements to the Market Square and the Historic Roanoke City Market.

"Sean possesses a depth of experience in downtown revitalization that exceeds his standing as a young professional," says DRI Board Chairman Ben Motley. "We're excited to have someone with his talent, vision, and energy coming on board to work with downtown stakeholders at this critically important time to help guide the future of downtown."

Luther earned his bachelor's in political science and his master's in real estate development from Clemson University, and he earned his Economic Development Finance Specialist certification from the National Development Council. Luther has been engaged in a reactivation of Market Square in downtown Pittsburgh, a $1 million streetscape grant program.

He has coordinated government, civic, design and business organizations in the redevelopment of major public spaces and implemented a multi-district retail attraction and recruitment initiative. As a developer and consultant, Luther has been involved with historic residential renovation projects and performed research and market analysis reports for public and private organizations.

"Downtown Roanoke has significant potential to build on its world class amenities," says Luther. "I can't think of a more exciting place to be at this time in DRI's history or in my career. This is a momentous opportunity for me. I can't wait to hit the ground in Roanoke."

Downtown Roanoke Inc. is a tax-exempt member organization first chartered in 1960 to provide services and support to downtown property owners, businesses and residents.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

BRBJ Editor Dismissed; Paper To Be Folded Into Roanoke Times



The Blue Ridge Business Journal has laid off editor Elizabeth Parsons and office manager Susan Cousins. The general manager has been reassigned in a complete "restructuring." The publication is to be folded into The Roanoke Times, says memo. See a full report here.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Child Care Center May Move to Jeff Center

A story in The Roanoke Times this a.m. says that because of building deficiencies, the Downtown Learning Center plans to move to the Jefferson Center, though the announcement precedes the agreement, according to Jefferson Center officials.

Two different Jefferson Center officials said today that nothing has been signed. In a note to tenants (Valley Business FRONT is a tenant), revealed that "as is often the case with The Roanoke Times, the media dediced to run this story today before the lease is actually signed. We have not agreed on a rent rate, though I'm assuming what we proposed will now be accepted, since their parents, as well as their current landlord are expecting a move."

The DLC, which has been in the former Ewald Clark building on Second Street has been temporarily housed at Greene Memorial Church next door recently because of pipe problems at the DLC building.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Home Instead, Lynda Foster Big Winners

Small Business Advocate winner Lynda McNutt Foster (center) reacts to her win^

Betsy and Chris Head (center left) with employees of Home Instead lining up for photo after being declared the Small Business of the Year^

Chris and Betsy Head, who started Home Instead Senior Care just eight years ago, walked away with the majority of the hardware at tonight's Roanoke Regional Small Business Awards ceremony before more than 500 people at the Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center.

In addition to winning the overall award, Home Instead also won the Business-to Consumer Services category, one of the largest of the 12 categories (there were more than 100 nominated individuals and companies in all categories). The company has moved its Roanoke headquarters and expanded into Lynchburg during the past year, says Chris Head, presenting challenges--that it has met with considerable success.

The prestigious Small Business Advocate Award was presented to a stunned Lynda McNutt Foster, who had spent much of the early evening taping nominees for Webcast YouTube (here). Foster, who works for Wheeler Broadcasting, is a tireless educator and promoter of small business people. Her series of seminars almost always draw packed houses. (Among those taped for broadcast were Valley Business FRONT publisher Tom Field and editor Dan Smith, who were nominated for the Advocate Award, Smith for the fifth time. He has been called "the Susan Lucci of business advocacy.")

Other winners were:
  • Small Business Veteran: Charles R. Allen Jr.
  • Construction/Real Estate: Hughes Associates Architects.
  • Micro-Business: Anstey Hodge Advertising Group.
  • Wholesale-Retail: Burris Computer Forms.
  • Manufacturing: M&W Fire Apparatus.
  • Technology: Interactive Achievement Inc.
  • Legacy: Blue Ridge Beverage Company.
  • Not-for-Profit/Arts & Culture: Taubman Museum of Art.
  • Not-for-Profit/Health & Human Services: Rescue Mission Ministries.

Free Coffee for Your Office This Month

This month, Roanoke’s Quality Coffee Company is among the first companies in the United States to introduce a groundbreaking new eco-friendly single cup coffee system for offices and you can have coffee free for your office through October.

The system features Reunion Island coffee in biodegradable pod format. “More and more employers have realized that offering a gourmet office coffee program is an inexpensive perk that goes a long way with employees,” says QCC president David Booth. He says that the typical office coffee set-up has slowly evolved from glass pot systems to innovative single cup coffeemakers that offer variety and convenience.

For October, Quality Coffee Company is offering businesses with 30 or more employees the opportunity to try the Reunion Island program in their offices with no cost or obligation. For more information, call Mike Dowdy at (540) 982-0941 or email here.

The most popular single cup systems are not without drawbacks, though. “Most single cup coffee systems use expensive individual portions that are not biodegradable or recyclable,” Booth explains. “Corporations today are looking for ways to reduce their environmental footprint and save money at the same time—pods are the logical solution.”

Booth also notes that Reunion Island also leads the coffee industry with environmental initiatives including using 100 percent clean electricity from wind and other sources to power their plant. While responsible corporations are choosing the pods to reduce waste, employees are reaping the benefits with the menu of over two dozen coffees and teas, including Fair Trade and organic and flavored coffees.