Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Center in the Square Nears $9 Million Goal

Architect's drawing of Center in the Square's renovation.^

Center in the Square has announced that it has raised $8,802,776 towards its $9 million fundraising goal that will help finance the total renovation of the cultural organization’s 200,000 square foot facility on the Market Square in downtown Roanoke.

Says George B. Cartledge, Jr., CEO of Grand Home Furnishings and Chairman of Center’s Board of Directors, “We are getting very close to our goal and are confident people in this community will help us go over it by a wide margin.”

Center in the Square announced the public phase of the capital campaign in late August after it received a $500,000 pledge from the Steel Dynamics Foundation and a $750,000 challenge grant from the Kresge Foundation. At that time, almost $8 million had been raised.

“The campaign is going very well and exceeding expectations,” says Bob Lawson, campaign co-chairman. “When we do exceed our goal, any additional amounts raised will go into our endowment to be used for sustaining the new building’s operation in the future. So whether a contribution goes for bricks and mortar or sustaining future operations, you may be assured it will go toward the new building.”

The total estimated building cost for the redesign and renewal of Center in the Square is $27 million. State, Federal, and New Market tax credits have been sold providing $18 million in funding.

The “Igniting Dreams, Energizing Promises” capital campaign will provide the final $9 million. Center in the Square is the home of the Science Museum of Western Virginia, Mill Mountain Theatre, Roanoke Ballet Theatre, Opera Roanoke, the History Museum and Historical Society of Western Virginia, and the Arts Council of the Blue Ridge. Center will be the new home of the Harrison Museum of African American Culture when renovations are completed.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tech Helps Devise Cancer Treatment

Virginia Tech engineering researchers and a colleague from India have unveiled a new method to target and destroy cancerous cells using hyperthermia. The method was reported at the 63rd annual meeting of the American Physical Society held today in Long Beach, Calif.

The cancer treatment uses hyperthermia to elevate the temperature of tumor cells, while keeping the surrounding healthy tissue at a lower degree of body heat. The investigators used both in vitro and in vivo experiments to confirm their findings.

The collaborators are Monrudee Liangruksa, a Virginia Tech graduate student in engineering science and mechanics, and her thesis adviser, Ishwar Puri (pictured), professor and head of the department, along with Ranjan Ganguly of the department of power engineering at Iadavpur Univesity, Kolkata, India.

In an interview prior to the presentation, Puri explained to further perfect the technique they used ferrofluids to induce the hyperthermia. A ferrofluid is a liquid that becomes strongly magnetized in the presence of a magnetic field. The magnetic nanoparticles are suspended in the non-polar state.

“These fluids can then be magnetically targeted to cancerous tissues after intravenous application,” Puri said. “The magnetic nanoparticles, each billionths of a meter in size, seep into the tissue of the tumor cell due to the high permeability of these vessels.”

Afterwards, the magnetic nanoparticles are heated by exposing the tumor to a high frequency alternating magnetic field, causing the tissue’s death by heating. This process is called magnetic fluid hyperthermia and they have nicknamed it thermotherapy. Temperatures in the range of 41 to 45 degrees Celsius are enough to slow or halt the growth of cancerous tissue.

However, without the process of magnetic fluid hyperthermia, these temperatures also destroy healthy cells. “The ideal hyperthermia treatment sufficiently increases the temperature of the tumor cells for about 30 minutes while maintaining the healthy tissue temperature below 41 degrees Celsius,” Puri said.

Monday, November 22, 2010

LewisGale plans Geriatric Psych Unit

LewisGale's Victor Giovanetti: Unit "will focus on meeting the needs of some of our most vulnerable citizens"

LewisGale Regional Health System will soon add a Geriatric Psychiatry Unit at LewisGale Hospital at Alleghany to meet the growing demand for inpatient mental health services specifically designed to meet the unique psychiatric needs of seniors.

“We strategically chose Alleghany as the site for our Geriatric Psychiatry Unit because of its rapidly growing senior population,” said Victor E. Giovanetti, President, LewisGale Regional Health System. “This specialized unit will focus on meeting the needs of some of our most vulnerable citizens and ensure they have the best health outcomes.”

Giovanetti anticipates patients will come from all over Southwest Virginia to receive this specialized care. The 15-bed unit will focus on treating patients 65 and older who are dealing with a mental health challenge that requires immediate intensive therapy to help them return to their previous level of functioning. The average length of stay will be 11 days.

“Our goal is to stabilize the patient and help them get back home or to their original care setting such as a nursing home or assisted living facility,” said Paula Mitchell, Vice President, Behavioral Health Services. “Seniors often have more complicated health problems that require a team approach to deal with both their psychological issues and medical conditions at the same time, and that’s what this new unit will provide.”

The new service will also bring new jobs to the area. The hospital plans to hire an additional 25 to 30 full-time employees once the unit is fully operational. “We are excited to bring this new service to Alleghany to meet an important community need while at the same time benefitting our local economy through the creation of new jobs,” said Greg Madsen, CEO, LewisGale Hospital at Alleghany.

Construction will soon begin to renovate the fifth floor of the hospital, the new home for Geriatric Psychiatry Unit. The project will cost more than $1.43 million dollars. The Geriatric Psychiatry Unit is scheduled to open in September, 2011.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Roanoke College Gets Huge Gift

Roanoke College received a $2.5 million bequest from the estate of the late Mary Ellen Hardin Smith, of Roanoke. The gift is the second largest by an individual in College history and will endow the Shields Johnson Scholarship, to provide financial assistance for students from the Roanoke Valley.

The scholarship is established in honor of Smith’s first husband, the late Shields Johnson, a 1931 graduate of Roanoke College and a former reporter, business manager, and vice president and general manager with Times-World Corp.

“This scholarship, born in the mind of Mary Ellen Hardin Smith decades ago, will now make education more affordable to students from the Roanoke Valley for years into the future,” Roanoke College President Michael Maxey says. “Her commitment to the Roanoke Valley and to the education of students was exemplary and Roanoke College is honored to establish this scholarship according to her wishes.”

Brenda Poggendorf, vice president of enrollment, says the gift “will impact students in significant ways as these scholarships will help top students from the area realize their dream of a Roanoke education.”

Smith, the former Mary Ellen Hardin, met Johnson when they were both students at Roanoke College. Smith was a charter member of Roanoke College’s Society of 1842, the leadership group for those who leave a gift to the college in their will. The group was established in 1982 and today includes 840 members.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Carilion Picked for Care Connection for Children

Carilion Clinic has been selected as one of six regional networks in Virginia to facilitate efforts to ensure that local children with special health care needs have access to optimally effective, community-based medical and support services. Called Care Connection for Children, special services include increased access to medical specialty care as well as assistance with obtaining health insurance, accessing area resources and determining eligibility for outside funds.

According to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), children with special health care needs are children “who have or are at risk of a chronic physical condition that requires health care of a type and amount not usually required by children of the same age.”

“We are so excited that we were selected to help administer this important program in our area,” says Alice Ackerman, M.D., chief pediatric officer and chair of Carilion Clinic Children’s Hospital. “We are passionate about children’s health care needs and Care Connection for Children is a natural fit for us. We look forward to making a difference in our community.”

To be eligible for the service, children must be Virginia residents, under 21 years of age, have special needs (as defined by VDH).

Since 1936, the Virginia Department of Health has been an advocate for children with special health care needs. In 1998, a comprehensive assessment was completed and through a federal block grant, VDH expanded its responsibility and became a “change agent to improve systems that care for these children.”

Laura Rawlings Resigns as Arts Council ED

Laura Rawlings takes Roanoke College position.^


Laura Rawlings has resigned as executive director of the Arts Council of the Blue Ridge, taking a job as director of The Roanoke Fund at Roanoke College. Rawlings had been the director of the council for three years through some turbulent times since the resignation of Susan Jennings, who heads Roanoke’s Public Arts Department.

With state funding drying up and the economy at its worst in decades, the council had to be inventive to raise operating funds. Under her direction, the Arts Council instituted its 40/40 fall show, featuring 40 days of arts and culture and just recently it kicked off its first ArtView—the brainchild of Rhonda Hale of the council—and it has been pronounced a success, though turnout was relatively low. It was the first such event featuring artists from Roanoke’s sister cities and interest among artists, especially, was high.

In a story that was scheduled to run in December’s FRONT, writer David Perry quoted Rawlings as saying, “One of the challenges we have as a service organization is that we don't have a way to earn income. We can't do what the symphony does and sell tickets.”

According to Perry’s story, another challenge is persistent rumors of imminent demise, which Rawling says inhibits fundraising. Finances are stable, she says, and the future shows promise. Ralwings insists the council is solvent: “Our budget has remained stagnant for about 20 years. I guess the good news is that we've been able to maintain what we do and have developed some new programs for our members.”

“Ms. Rawlings was employed by The Arts Council of the Blue Ridge three years ago to increase awareness of the Arts and Cultural venues and activities in the Greater Roanoke Region,” said Phil Sparks, President of The Arts Council of the Blue Ridge. “During that period she was very successful in that effort by developing and coordinating various programs that promoted all of the arts in the region. On behalf of the Board of Directors, member organizations and artists, I want to wish her the very best in her new endeavors as she now turns her attention, enthusiasm, and energy towards Roanoke College.”

The Arts Council's total annual budget is about $250,000, 16 percent of which is in-kind services, including those provided by the arts council's landlord, Center in the Square. Other sources of revenue include program underwriting (41 percent), contributions (24 percent), fundraising (9 percent), member dues (9 percent), and services and fees (3 percent).

“We're not one of those organizations that gets a lump sum in any one area,” says Rawlings. “We get little pots of money from many sources.” A sizable chunk—about 35 to 40 percent—goes toward staff, two full-time (Rawlings and Hale), two part-time. The Arts Council has kept a strong member base of visual artists and has even reached out to writers as members.

Says Rawlings, “For the most part we have maintained our memberships. That to us is a stamp of approval that we still are relevant and are helping them.”

(Editor Dan Smith is an Arts Council board member. Photo by David Perry.)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sports Medicine Group Opens for VCOM

The Via College of Ostaeopathic Medicine (VCOM) in Blacksburg has opened a new Academic Sports and Osteopathic Medicine. It is a community based practice and teaching site for VCOM students and family medicine residents at Montgomery Regional Hospital.

In center, cutting the ribbon, are Dr. Joy Palmer and Dr. Mark Rogers, physicians at ASOM. To Rogers’s left is Dr. Dixie Tooke-Rawlins, Dean of VCOM. To Palmer’s right is Dr. Jan Willcox, vice dean of VCOM.

The new Academic Sports and Osteopathic Medicine (ASOM) practice currently has six exam rooms and a welcoming and inviting medical space for patients. While APCA will continue to see primary care patients, those seeking physician services at ASOM will primarily seek treatment for sports and other musculoskeletal issues. Physicians at APCA and ASOM will continue to work in conjunction with each other and VCOM students will train in both sites.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Walkabout Opens Second Roanoke Store

Walkabout Outfitter will open its new Roanoke location at the District at Valley View Mall Wednesday, Nov. 17, at 1 a.m. with a ribbon-cutting.

This is the third retailer to open at Valley View in the second half of 2010. The 3,890 square foot store is next door to Twist & Turns, which opened September 15 and adjacent to Cheddar’s Casual CafĂ©, which opened on October 18.

Walkabout Outfitter, based out of Lexington, offers one retail store there and another on the Roanoke City Historic Market (where Twist & Turns was until recently). Husband/wife owner team, Kirk and Tina Miller of Natural Bridge wanted a presence at Valley View in order to take advantage of foot traffic generated by adjacent stores to include Barnes & Noble and Panera Bread. With space available, they felt the timing was right.

The Valley View store will add 2 full-time and 5 part-time employees and will carry North Face, Patagonia, Mountain Hardware, Keen, Merrell, Life is Good, Montrail and much more.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Taubman Museum Outlines Program

Officials at Roanoke's Taubman Museum of Art, facing a serious revenue challenge and proposals to change the way it operates, met with community members tonight to present some ideas.

The official Taubman line, edited here, follows:

"Over the next year, the Taubman will continue to ensure the arts play a leading role in Roanoke by embracing a new art center model that emphasizes accessibility, community and diversity.

"Executive Director David Mickenberg and members of the museum’s board of trustees outlined the model tonight. An art center encompasses the functions of an art museum but is broader in scope and more of a hybrid non-profit, permanent cultural institution.

"The collections form one of many equivalent cores around which exhibitions and educational programs are organized. There is however, equanimity between exhibitions, collections, lectures, performance, film and video, seminars, symposia, conversations, and other forms of presentation.

"The art center serves as a focal point of social and cultural engagement, a sort of town hall for the arts. It is the ideas and experiences, educational initiatives and learning environments, and community engagement and collaboration that form the core of the art center and make it distinct from an art gallery or museum. The art center model emphasizes making art and the museum more accessible.

“'Accessibility is a key concern for us,' explains Mickenberg. 'It is our desire to remove the impediments to participation, open the museum to multiple forms of social, aesthetic, and learning experiences, and for visitors of all ages to feel that the Taubman is their museum.'

"'This is a museum that wants and needs to be owned by the community. In order to achieve that goal, our activities must appeal to as many people and as diverse an audience as possible,” he says.

"The Taubman will be announcing a number of new programs and collaborations in the coming year, including:
  • Exceptional exhibitions organized by the museum in collaboration with some of the leading museums nationally;
  • Expanded community-based programs such as Spectacular Saturdays, Red, White & Art and Conversations;
  • New collaborations with local artists, community organizations and universities;
  • Enhanced educational opportunities in collaboration with city and county public schools;
  • and New family events that provide personal and rewarding experiences with art for parents and children.
"Beginning later this month, and continuing through the end of the year a series of community dinners, neighborhood meetings and focus groups are being planned, during which museum representatives will actively solicit ideas. “There is expertise and knowledge in this community that belongs in this museum,' emphasizes Mickenberg. 'Our new mission absolutely includes harnessing that knowledge to make our exhibitions and programs a much richer experience for everyone,' he adds."

Lanford Brothers Named to Transportation Hall of Fame

Jack (left) and Stan Lanford: Hall of Famers.^

Brothers Jack and Stan Lanford, founders of family-run highway and bridge contractor Lanford Brothers, have been inducted into nation’s highest place of honor in the transportation design and construction industry.

The Lanfords, who began the employee-owned company 50 years ago in Roanoke, have joined the American Road & Transportation Builders Association Transportation Development Foundation Hall of Fame, which honors individuals or families from the public and private sectors who have made extraordinary contributions to U.S. transportation development during their careers.

The committee of judges included nine construction industry journalists who reviewed the nominees and selected the hall of fame’s inaugural class, which included the Lanfords. “The transportation design and construction industry is full of visionaries and game changers like the Lanford brothers who have demonstrated exceptional leadership over their lifetime and played an important role in helping shape development of America’s transportation network,” says ARTBA-TDF Chairman Leo Vecellio, chairman and chief executive officer of Vecellio Group Inc., in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Stan and Jack Lanford, after starting Lanford Brothers Co. and working together for more than 25 years, were successful, long-time chief executives at their respective firms, Lanford Brothers Company and Adams Construction.

Both were elected to serve as ARTBA chairman (Jack in 1991 and Stan in 1999), and as president of ARTBA’s state chapter affiliate, known today as the Virginia Transportation Construction Alliance. During their careers, both testified before the U.S. Congress on transportation investment and policy issues.

The Lanford family’s biggest—and most enduring—legacy on the industry, however, is their creation and endowment of the Highway Worker Memorial Scholarship fund in 1999. This first-of-its-kind program, which has become a national model replicated by other groups, provides post-high school financial assistance to the children of highway workers killed or permanently disabled on the job.

Today, it is supported by contributions from industry firms, state transportation departments and labor unions.

Impressive New Equipment Moving to VTC

Michael Friedlander: "Large scale worldwide analysis of the development of human brain function and decision-making."^

Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute has been receiving new research equipment tied to human brain function for weeks. A magnetic resonance imaging machine (MRI) will be delivered Nov. 17 and is noteworthy in that it weighs 30,000 pounds and is a critical tool for important new programs, including the Roanoke Brain Study.

"The research will include a large scale worldwide analysis of the development of human brain function and decision-making," says Michael J. Friedlander, executive director of the research institute.

A second MRI will be delivered in December. They will be part of the new Human Neuroimaging Laboratory and Computational Psychiatry Unit to be directed by Read Montague, developer of the process known as hyperscanning. Read joined the institute as a professor Nov. 15, and also is a professor of physics at Virginia Tech.

The Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute investigators will functionally interconnect the two Roanoke MRIs with one that was installed in October at the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center in Blacksburg. "These interconnections allow investigators to carry out interactive functional brain imaging studies between multiple individuals at different sites simultaneously, providing unparalleled access to monitor the brain’s activity during social interactions where pairs of groups of individuals communicate with each other through computer interfaces," says Friedlander. "We will be able to study how such human behavior known as social cognition functions in health and after it is affected in certain disorders that can affect the brain during childhood and throughout the lifespan, such as autism spectrum disorders, dementia including Alzheimer’s disease, and depression, and even in conditions such as substance abuse."

The safe, non-invasive technology – using no radiation – will allow Virginia Tech Carilion researchers to study how various thoughts, behaviors, and sensations affect the activity within the billions of nerve cells within the brain. This occurs while studying normal healthy volunteers or persons who may have experienced a change in brain function due to such conditions as stroke, head injury, or various brain disorders that may occur throughout the lifetime.

The Virginia Tech Carilion research team has also developed a worldwide interactive functional brain imaging research network that provides the capacity to interconnect MRIs from multiple sites across the United States and throughout the world.

Agreements are underway with sites in Asia and Europe, says Friedlander. Such functional brain imaging experiments generate large amounts of data that must be stored and analyzed in a protected environment. The research institute manages this with a large adjacent data center that houses multiple racks of computer clusters that collect, store, and process the images and brain responses.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Technology Staffer Locating Downtown Roanoke

Aerotek, a global staffing provider, is opening an office in downtown Roanoke to support employment in the Roanoke Region with technical, professional and industrial recruiting and staffing services.

“We see an increasing need to recruit and place qualified professionals in positions in the Roanoke area, and our new office will help to serve the region’s staffing needs,” says Sara Owens, Aerotek’s Roanoke office manager.

“Aerotek’s confidence in the Roanoke market is further evidence that the economy is emerging from the recession,” says Beth Doughty, executive director of the Roanoke Regional Partnership.

Aerotek’s new regional office is located at 210 S. Jefferson St. Maryland-based Aerotek will employ up to five people internally within the next year and will recruit and place individuals in positions throughout the region. The company has locations throughout the United States and Europe.

HomeTown Bank Returns to Profitability

HomeTown Bankshares Corporation, the parent company of HomeTown Bank, reported a net income of $310 thousand for the 3rd quarter of 2010. This compared to a net income of $155 thousand for the third quarter of 2009.

A net loss of $2.1 million was realized for the nine month period ended September 30, 2010 vs. net income of $300 thousand during the same period last year. After accumulated dividends on preferred stock of $150 thousand in the third quarter, the company had net income available to common shareholders of $.05 per share for the quarter ended September 30, 2010, compared with $.04 per share for the same period in 2009.

“We are pleased to have returned to profitability in the third quarter,” says Susan K. Still, president and CEO. “And for the fifth consecutive quarter we have grown the level of our core earnings.”

Core earnings represent a non-GAAP measure determined by taking income before income taxes and adding back any loan loss or OREO provision and backing out any securities gains or losses. Core earnings demonstrate that the basic or core engine of the bank is functioning well and producing revenue.

Earnings performance in the third quarter was enhanced by a 33 percentincrease in net interest income to $2.8 million, a substantial increase over last years $2.1 million. This increase is largely due to the increased size of our loan and investment portfolios.

The company’s net interest margin for the third quarter increased to 3.31 percentup from 2.97 percentfor the same period in 2009, primarily due to the re-pricing of deposit liabilities. Non-interest income increased 21 percentto $235 thousand for the quarter mainly due to increased mortgage loan brokerage fee income.

'Pipeline Originality' Helps Tech Rank High

Virginia Tech robot Charli.^

Virginia Tech ranks 10th among universities globally in the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Spectrum Patent Power Scorecards, which analyzed the strength of patent portfolios for calendar year 2009.

"Pipeline originality is what earned us the high ranking," says Mark Coburn, president of Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties Inc . According to IEEE, "Pipeline originality measures the variety of technologies upon which an organization's patents build, based on the concept that inventions created by combining ideas from several different technologies tend to be more original than those that make incremental improvements upon the same technology."

Patents that refer only to earlier patents of the same technology will have a low originality score, while a patent that refers to numerous kinds of technologies is more original.

A 2009 Virginia Tech patent that illustrates pipeline originality is for a ceramic-metal composite material that dampens vibrations, making it useful in useful in vehicles, marine propellers and building materials. The patent for "Ferroelastic Ceramic-Reinforced Metal Matrix Composites" references patents from several different areas, including different materials, bonding methods, systems, and actuators, said Coburn.

"Incorporating ferroelastic ceramic particles in a metal matrix also strengthens the composite," he said. "Virginia Tech makes a point to support research that crosses disciplines to solve problems. Our inventions are often the creative integration of technologies, resulting in robust products," says Virginia Tech Vice President for Research Robert Walters.

During fiscal year 2010, 37 U.S. patents and seven foreign patents were awarded to Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties, and 44 license and option agreements were signed.

(Virginia Tech photo.)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dominion Gives Pamplin $40K for Student Career Searches

The Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech has received a $40,000 gift from the Dominion Foundation to help Pamplin students with their career search.

The gift will be used to create a Web application to match students with their ideal employer and employers with their ideal recruits. “This system will generate leads and provide a user-friendly experience where both students and employers can be identified based on specific preferences,” said Stuart Mease, director of undergraduate career services.

Pamplin students continue to be popular among employers, with five of the college’s majors routinely among the 10 majors most sought after by recruiters visiting campus, according to the university’s career services office. The college’s Business Horizons career fair, organized annually by Pamplin undergraduates, attracted more than 130 employers this fall.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Paychecks Plus Rises from the Ashes

Paychecks Plus has scheduled its grand-reopening Nov. 11, following reconstruction from a fire in January. The fire occurred during a critical time: the first month of a new year when a great deal of work was scheduled.

Paychecks Plus is payroll, tax processing and business services firm. The company suffered major structural damage to offices on Colonial Avenue in Roanoke County. Paychecks Plus is in the business of handling business services, including payroll processing along with tax planning for small businesses, individuals and corporations and fire has the potential to be harmful to both the business and its customers.

This was the busiest time of the year for Paychecks Plus, and the worst type of disaster that could have happened. Working closely with their Erie Insurance Agent, Forest Wagner and Consolidated Construction Services, Paychecks Plus didn't miss a deadline. Within four days of the fire, Paychecks Plus was operational in temporary office trailers with the help of Consolidated Construction Services.

Consolidated, a Roanoke based insurance restoration and remodeling company. worked closed with the owners of Paychecks Pus to identify the most critical files and information necessary to continue operation. Consolidated secured, cleaned and returned these files to Paychecks Plus by the time it was in operation in its temporary office space.

Local Biotech-Pharma Companies Get Cash Infusion

OcuCure Therapeutics in Roanoke, Synthonics in Blacksburg, and Revivicor in Blacksburg are among companies granted federal funds through the Qualifying Therapeutic Discovery Project (QTDP). The money is intended to accelerate and support the development of novel drugs and therapies.

These grant awards are made through the QTDP, a tax credit program which is part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. The goals of the QTDP Program are to spur small biotech and pharmaceutical companies to develop novel drugs and therapeutics, create high-paying U.S. jobs, and advance U.S. competitiveness in life, biomedical and medical sciences.

“This program makes a difference for a small firm like ours. It creates good jobs in the region and helps to develop our novel product and get it to market” says Sunder Malkani, CEO of OcuCure Therapeutics.OcuCure is developing a therapeutic eye drop for treatment of age-related macular degeneration and proliferative diabetic retinopathy, the leading causes of blindness in the developed world.

The Therapeutic Discovery Project Program is a $1 billion fund established to provide tax credits to companies with 250 employees or fewer. It covers up to 50 percent of qualified investments in projects aimed at creating new therapies, reducing long-term health care costs, or significantly advancing the goal of curing cancer within the next 30 years. To provide an immediate boost to U.S. biomedical research, the credit is available for qualified investments made or to be made in 2009 and 2010.

Companies may elect to receive the tax credit as a grant. "As a small biotech company with limited resources, in this economic climate, programs like QTDP are essential to move technology forward at a competitive pace." says David Ayares, CEO of Revivicor. Revivicor is a regenerative medicine company focused on providing human-compatible, alternative tissue sources for treatment of human degenerative disease.

“The economic environment over the last two years has been difficult for most everyone and Synthonics has felt this pressure, as well. Fortunately, we have been able to continue advancing our technology during these lean years. The tax credit program will provide the boost that Synthonics needs to accelerate our programs substantially.” says Tom Piccariello, President and CSO of Synthonics. Synthonics is developing novel chemistry technologies that are designed to improve the delivery and performance of pharmaceuticals.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

VWCC One of the Best Digitally

Virginia Western Community College has been recognized by e.Republic’s Center for Digital Education and Converge Online as a top-rated community college in the sixth annual Digital Community Colleges Survey receiving a grade of A. Virginia Western joins 18 other community colleges described by the Center for Digital Education as “national leaders in utilizing technology to provide exceptional services to students, educators and administrators.”

The survey examined community colleges’ use of technology to enhance the student experience and increase educator effectiveness. The survey also looked at the technological tools schools had in place to increase convenience and provide alternative learning options. Specifically, the survey noted schools’ use of online registration, distance learning, tutoring and advisory services. Technology training for students and faculty and Web 2.0 social and collaborative capabilities were also key indicators of success.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Food To Fork Kicks Off in Roanoke

Roanoke County's Doug Chittum talks with Carawba Sustainability Center's Christy Gabbard.^

Susan Short of Virginia Tech's Outreach Program Development and Ms. Gabbard chat.^

Vendor set up with local goodies to sample.^

Culinary Institute students deliver freshly-cooked local food.^

Food producers set up their display.^

Producers and retailers talk during the show.^

The local foods movement in the Roanoke Valley continues to expand and today there is a symposium at the Claude Moore Complex and Dumas Center that puts producers, retailers and consumers at the same table.

Field to Fork opened at 3 p.m. and finishes this evening with dinner that is being prepared at the Culinary Institute at Virginia Western in the Moore Complex. That dinner will feature local foods.

Doug Chittum of the Roanoke County Department of Economic Development and one of the planners of the event says,“The purchase and consumption of locally grown foods contributes to the environmental, economic, and health of our region. By providing a space where local growers and buyers can meet and network, organizers hope to help cultivate relationships that will ultimately ignite and sustain a local foods movement in the greater Roanoke Valley.”

Among those sponsoring the event are VT EarthWorks, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Jamisons’ Orchard,, Roanoke Natural Foods Cooperative, various economic development offices Virginia Tech and local businesses.