Thursday, December 22, 2011

Carilion, Eye Clinics To Collaborate

Carilion Clinic, Vistar Eye Center, Eye Care & Surgery and Blue Ridge Eye Center will collaborate to provide emergency and in-patient eye care to patients at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital.

The agreement includes the provision of 24/7 on-call service for Carilion’s Level-1 trauma program, along with general and retinal ophthalmologic care for emergency/urgent care and hospitalized patients.

The three physician groups will continue as independent practices, but will collaborate with Carilion’s trauma and emergency programs to further advance the level and quality of eye care in the region.

The physicians participating in the collaboration include:
  • Eugene H. Eng, M.D., Carey W. Robinson, M.D., and William M. Thompson, M.D., with Eye Care & Surgery;
  • Chad Albright, M.D., Jon Brisley, M.D., Timothy Byrnes, M.D., Frank Cotter, M.D., John Facciani, M.D., Kurt Guelzow, M.D., Craig Hartranft, M.D., John Hines, M.D., David Kinsler, M.D., Scott Strelow, M.D., Kenneth Tuck, M.D., and John R. Wood, M.D. with Vistar Eye Center;
  • Joseph S. Weisman, M.D. with Blue Ridge Eye Center.


Wireless Medcare Has Joint Venture

Wireless MedCARE, LLC today announced a customer and joint venture agreement with Senior Homestyle Living, LLC of Arlington, Texas in which Wireless MedCARE will provide its FDA-cleared VivaTRAK sensor assisted care system to two Senior Homestyle Living (SHL) facilities currently under construction in Texas.

The VivaTRAK platform technology aggregates sensor and device information for healthcare applications in long-term care facilities and in homes. Benefits include higher quality care and operational efficiencies. In addition to the 32-bed installation, the two companies have agreed to form VivaSense Solutions, a joint venture that will be owned equally by the two companies.

VivaSense will focus on further product development, marketing and sales of technology products with applications in the independent living, assisted living and home healthcare market segments. Wireless MedCARE staff will provide product development and an advanced technology roadmap to meet the product needs at SHL installations.

Senior Homestyle Living will provide beta testing for new products designs and market feedback for new product enhancements and features. "SHL is committed to delivering the highest quality care at an affordable price," says Ron Cheney, CEO of Senior Homestyle Living, LLC. "By jointly working with Wireless MedCARE, we are confident we can deliver on our commitment to improve both the quality and efficient delivery of care while advancing information technology tools for the care of our aging population. Our ultimate goal is to provide the highest quality of life to our residents."

"Since its founding through the Carilion Biomedical Institute, Wireless MedCARE has focused on opportunities to use its technology to deliver patient informatics to doctors, nurses, technicians as well as electronic medical record systems. VivaTRAK™ improves the effectiveness and efficiency of care in skilled nursing and other healthcare facilities," says Dan Wrappe, the company's CEO. "We are pleased to partner with SHL to forge a path into the assisted living, independent living, and home healthcare markets.”

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Roanoke Co-Op Helps Charities, Keeps Bags from Landfill

The Roanoke Natural Foods Co-op has released figures from a year-old program that allows shoppers who use their own grocery bags to fund local charities while preventing thousands of disposable paper and plastic bags from landing in local landfills.

Just a year after launching the program, the Co-op estimates the program has kept nearly 60,000 bags out of the trash, while nearly $5,0000 has been contributed to local charities.

Co-op Director Bruce Phlegar says the program is straightforward. “If shoppers opt to use their own, re-usable shopping bag it saves the Co-op money that would have been spent on traditional paper or plastic grocery bags. We wanted to help the environment and local charities, by channeling our savings to agencies that need and deserve extra income.”

Phlegar explained that customers receive a poker chip every time they use their own bag instead of one provided by the store. Customers drop their chips into bins near the exit. Each bin is labeled with the name of a local not-for-profit organization. At the end of the month, the Co-op pays the charity a nickel for every chip.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

G&H Gets School Contract from Roanoke County

The Roanoke County School Board has awarded a $1,884,000 contract to G&H Contracting to construct an expansion to Burlington Elementary School to house preschool and kindergarten classrooms.

“This is a needed expansion at Burlington,” says Roanoke County School Board member Jerry Canada. “This helps get classes out of the basement at the school and into a new space,” Canada said.

Construction is expected to begin within the next few weeks with the intention to have the new classrooms ready for the start of the 2012-2013 school year.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Manufacturers Receive Second Round of Grants

Salem Vent (above), Dex and Dynax are among the recipients.

Nine projects totaling more than $700,000 have been approved for Southwest Virginia’s transportation equipment manufacturing industry. The grants provide funding to make industrial plants more efficient, fuel new product creation, or beef up company research-and-development efforts, New River Valley Planning District Commission announced.

This announcement comes at the beginning of a second round of funding as part of three rounds.

The largest grant recipient for the second round is Dex Truck Parts, headquartered in Floyd. Five other companies successfully competed for the grants:Volvo Trucks North America in Dublin, Salem Vent in Salem, Dynax America in Roanoke, Graham-White in Salem, and TRW Automotive in Atkins.

The grants are issued under a U.S. Economic Development Administration project focused on the transportation equipment manufacturing sector of Southwest Virginia. The money is designated to provide the kind of technical assistance that allows companies to grow and create jobs. In some cases Virginia Tech College of Engineering faculty or experts from the GENEDGE Alliance (formerly the Virginia Philpott Manufacturing Extension Partnership) will offer research guidance.

“All of these projects are delivering innovations to the shop floor. For example, at Salem Vent International, the father-daughter team of Tim and Cary Kelly owns a plant employing 40 people making vent systems for truck cabs. A Virginia Tech engineering faculty member is working with the Kellys, moving ahead on a new product that will reduce truck idle times – making green by going green. I am very excited in the second round that we are able to extend this opportunity for collaboration to additional companies, and I look forward to helping build jobs in this industry in this region” says John Provo, director of the Virginia Tech Office of Economic Development.

The projects include green facility upgrades (Dex Truck Parts, Salem Vent International), new product development (Graham-White, Salem Vent International), and process improvements (Volvo Trucks North America, Dex Truck Parts, Dynax America, Salem Vent International, and TRW Automotive).

The grant will underwrite more than $525,000 of the work, along with approximately $180,000 in contributions from the companies, resulting in more than $700,000 in total investment for the transportation equipment manufacturing industry in Southwest Virginia.

Over the two rounds of funding to date, more than $1.2 million has been invested in the region’s transportation equipment manufacturing sector. “The leadership team sees a lot of promise in these projects creating new jobs in the region. This program is also helping companies retain jobs and solidify their presence in the region for the future” says Kevin Byrd, director of the New River Valley Planning District Commission.

A third and final round of grant funding will commence with company letters of intent due by January 23 2012.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Social Media Meetup: Christmas Lunch

Raquel Rothe and Patsy Stewart deep in conversation.

Janeson Keeley (left) and Raquel Rothe chat.

The table kept having to be expanded as guests arrived.

Patsy Stewart thanks those gathered for coming.

Social media's Roanoke area meetup group held its annual Christmas lunch today at Shakers at Valley View Mall and a full complement showed up to chat and compare notes. Here's some of what it looked like.

Luna Plans To Redefine Its Mission

Luna Innovations in Roanoke has announced a new corporate strategy to grow revenue that focuses on serving high-growth industries with new technology solutions to measure, monitor, protect and improve critical processes in the medical, defense and composites industries.

The strategy, recently approved by the company’s Board of Directors, focuses on three key objectives:
  • Become the leading provider of sensing systems and standard test methods for composite materials by offering disruptive technology that revolutionizes the industry.
  • Continue to pioneer the way and be the leading supplier of fiber-optic shape sensing technology for robotic and minimally invasive surgical systems.
  • Be the leading choice for ensuring the integrity of integrated circuits used in defense systems.
“Over the past few months, our leadership team and board members have worked together to conduct a comprehensive analysis of our products, strengths, market position and market needs,” says My Chung, CEO of Luna Innovations. “We believe that our technologies, our people and our research and development, along with our partnerships in numerous industries, provide us with some very attractive opportunities.”

“Now, following a successful reorganization, we want to provide investors and other stakeholders with a road map to the future that emphasizes the compelling value proposition for markets we serve,” Chung says.

One example of a product implementing our strategy is the ODiSI (Optical Distributed Sensor Interrogator), Luna’s new sensing platform. It provides fully distributed strain or temperature measurements and delivers an unprecedented amount of data by using an optical fiber as a continuous sensor over up to 50 meters of surface. Compared to traditional sensing methods, such as strain gages, Luna's technology provides greater insight into the performance, tolerances and failure mechanisms of structures and vehicles. The company believes the technology will provide value to the fast-growing composites manufacturing market, particularly in aerospace and green energy applications.

Another growth opportunity is in the medical market. Luna maintains product development relationships with two leading players in robotic medical technology – Intuitive Surgical and Hansen Medical and is working with both companies to support the development of high-speed shape sensing and localization of minimally invasive surgical devices using fiber-optic technology. The technology is helping to improve healthcare with advances in medical robotics and minimally invasive surgery.

“These are just a few examples of technology and markets where we’ve identified opportunities to increase revenues and market share,” Chung said. “Together with our continued emphasis on research and development and new focus on cultivating a high-performance team with the energy of a start-up company, we have mapped out a future direction that takes advantage of technology trends and high-growth industries to position Luna for what we expect will be a strong and promising future.”

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dresser-Rand Acquires Synchrony for $50M

Dresser-Rand Group Inc., a global supplier of rotating equipment and aftermarket parts and services, has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Synchrony, Inc., of Roanoke County. The transaction is expected to close in January 2012.

Synchrony, whose president, Victor Ianello (right) was FRONT's executive of the year in 2009 and is a former chairman of the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce Board, is a technology development company of technologies and products including active magnetic bearings (AMB), high speed motors and generators, and power electronics for clean, efficient, and reliable rotating machinery.

Under the agreement, Dresser-Rand will acquire Synchrony, Inc. for approximately $50 million net of cash acquired. The agreement includes the potential for additional consideration of up to a maximum of $10 million tied to technical milestones and to business performance. It should be noted that the operating costs for this acquisition are already included in the Company's guidance for 2012 previously provided.

Founded in 1993, Synchrony manufactures, and tests its products in an ISO 9001-certified facility which includes a best-in-class model shop for rapid prototype fabrication and assembly.

Iannello says, "We are truly excited about becoming part of Dresser-Rand as we believe its global presence and resources will accelerate our growth. I am confident that the combination of Dresser-Rand and Synchrony provides for new opportunities and unparalleled value for our business partners."

According to Christopher Rossi, Dresser-Rand's Vice President of Technology and Business Development, "Several years ago we identified the strategic importance of being able to offer oil-free solutions in high speed rotating equipment applications.

"The overall value proposition for eliminating auxiliary oil systems centers around three principles: a) reduced footprint and weight in platform and FPSO applications which generates overall CAPEX savings in the construction phase, b) oil-lubricated bearings in subsea applications are neither practical nor reliable, and c) lubrication oil in compressor and steam turbine applications in general needs to be reconditioned and ultimately discarded as it is mixed with process gas or steam, thus making it environmentally unfriendly.

"As we believe that this technology will need to develop on an ongoing basis along with the normal evolution of the other components of our compressor and turbine offerings, we made the decision that we either needed to invest in our own internal R&D effort or acquire excellent design capacity in the marketplace.

"After an extensive technology assessment process we concluded that we have found, what we believe to be, the best technology that exists today in the form of Synchrony.

"We believe that the seamless integration of this capability into our product development process will provide us with the ability to continuously improve our overall equipment designs, and is the fastest and least expensive way to build this capability internally.

"Synchrony has already realized this value in the defense, HVAC, wastewater, and renewable energy markets, and will continue to supply its products and technology to leading rotating equipment manufacturers in these respective markets."

Executive Coaching Tips Workshop Set

Allan Tsang of 88 owls inb Blacksburg is presenting a workshop on the techniques, methodology, system and secrets that he uses to advise and coach executives and consultants Jan. 16 and 27. It is a four-hour, intensive, interactive workshop is for both new and veteran leaders.

It is scheduled 8 a.m.-noon at the Hilton Garden Inn in Blacksburg and costs $97. That includes breakfast, book, handouts, advance work, and 30 minutes of phone coaching.

You can register here. Register early enough and the tuition is cut in half.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tech-Wake Research Rewarded with Projects

Of four new research projects announced today by Toyota’s Collaborative Safety Research Center, two include the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences.

Just a few days ago, the Brain Trauma Foundation honored the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University biomedical program with its 2011 Brain Trauma Foundation Award. Toyota funded some of the research that led to this award.

“We are confident our research advancements will help reduce the risk of traumatic brain injuries in both automobile impacts as well as on the football field,” said Stefan Duma, professor and head of the biomedical engineering program for Virginia Tech and Wake Forest University. “We are grateful to Toyota for its support of this important, lifesaving research and to the Brain Trauma Foundation for its recognition.”

Toyota launched its research safety center in January 2011 with an initial investment of $50 million. This center pursues automotive safety research through a collaborative model that prioritizes sharing Toyota’s talent and technology with a broad range of institutions, and Virginia Tech’s biomedical program continues to receive significant support.

At Virginia Tech, one of the new Toyota projects will focus on abdominal injuries. Duma said this study will look at the relationship between age and abdominal injuries caused by automobile crashes in the United States, to determine if a specific population, such as senior drivers, is more vulnerable to abdominal injuries during these events.

The second project involving Virginia Tech is a partnership with George Washington University. Duma explained the project will upgrade a frontal impact test dummy, initially developed by the National Highway Safety Transportation Safety Administration, that allows automotive manufacturers an advanced tool to assess the injury risk of drivers and passengers in vehicles using crash tests. The dummy, named THOR, may lead to new technologies for the design of vehicles and their restraint systems.

Virginia Tech’s biomedical program has a history of work in crash mechanics. Over the past three years, the U.S. Army awarded Duma and his colleagues Warren Hardy and Clay Gabler, also biomedical engineering faculty members, over $10 million in research awards to study the biomechanics of head, neck, and chest injury.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Michael Miller Wins Top FRONT Award

Contributor of the Year Michael Miller (left) with Editor Dan Smith.
Speaker Andrea Brunais makes a point.
Smith and Publisher Tom Field introduce the contributors.
Technology writer Michael Miller, whose technological insight, outstanding photography and general reporting and feature writing have been outstanding during the past year, is the 2011 Valley Business FRONT Contributor of the Year.

Alison Weaver
Michael, whose day job is at Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties, received the award at the FRONT's annual Writers Luncheon at Hunting Hills Country Club, where Virginia Tech's Andrea Brunais gave the address. Andrea is an award-winning writer and editor, who has also been involved in public relations and freelance writing.

Janeson Keeley
Editor Dan Smith said of Michael, "He's good at everything he wants to be good at and we're fortunate he wants to be good at writing and photography. And we're very fortunate he's with us."

Other writers winning one of the four top awards included:
  • Alison Weaver, Story of the Year, for her cover story "Alternative Medicine." Alison has won one either Story of the Year or Contributor of the Year each of the four years of VBFRONT's existence. Runners-up in this category included Rob Johnson for his cover story on homebrew and small beer breweries; Laura Purcell for cover stories on labor and veterinarians; and Susan Ayers for a cover piece on angel investing.
  • Janeson Keeley, who wrote the FRONT's NetFRONT column (about the internet) for more than a year, was the winner of the Columnist of the Year because, says Smith, "she put so much into her work. She would often quote as many people as you'd see in other publications' cover stories--everybody in the room, sometimes. She got around and she put great effort into the column. You could tell it." She gave up the column this past fall when her own business became more demanding.
  • Laura Purcell was named the Editor's Choice award winner, selected by Dan Smith. He said, "This one is for whatever I want it to be at a given time and this year it is for Laura's outstanding reporting and bulldog approach to her cover stories. I'm afraid I might have underestimated her at one time. I won't again. She's a dandy."
    Laura Purcell

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A History Lesson from the Ex-Governor

Chamber President Joyce Waugh and Ex-Gov. Gerald Baliles.
Baliles addresses the membership.
Former Virginia Governor Gerald Baliles addressed the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce's annual dinner last night and it was nearly a full house on hand to see the popular Democrat.

Baliles in a 40-minute talk gave an interesting rundown on the history of financial crises in the United States and talked a good big about dysfunctional government. He left the crowd with some promising thoughts about the future.

It was announced that the chamber's membership was increased 20 percent during the past few days because of an initiative spearheaded by popular Chamber President Joyce Waugh.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Preservation Foundation Presents Awards

Preservation Foundation President George Kegley announces awards.
Catawba's jubilant Christy Gabbard accepts award.
Big Lick Junction designer Lucas Thornton gets award.
Lisa Soltis of Roanoke City and Kay Dunkley of VT chat
Some of the usual suspects and a few newcomers are among the winners of the Roanoke Valley Preservation Foundation's Preservation Award winners. On the flip side, Carilion Clinic was cited with a Golden Bulldozer Award for the destruction of the 10-story, 60-year-old Carlton Terrace Building in downtown Roanoke.

The Carlton Terrace was built in 1949-1950 for $2.5 million and was most recently occupied by the Jefferson College of Health Sciences. Carilion moved that school into its Community Hospital.

The winners included:
  • Big Lick Junction/Community School
  • Meridium
  • Catawba Sustainable Communithy
  • Patrick Henry Hotel
  • City Market Building
  • Salem Historical Society Museum
  • Gazebo at Lake Spring Park in Salem
  • A Book on the Deyerle family builders by Michael Pulice
The Patrick Henry, Catawba Community and Carlton Terrace-Reed Building had been listed previously as endangered sites by the Preservation Foundation.

Big Lick Junction was built in 1925 as a three-story dry goods distribution warehouse downtown. Community School--employing Lucas Thornton, son of founder Linda Thornton, as its builder--renovated the building for its use recently.

President George Kegley presents Golden Bulldozer Award
Meridium renovated a nearby building for use as its world headquarters. The software company is in a building that has often been at the center of attention because of the bizarre color it was painted in the past.

The Catawba Sustainability Center (part of Virginia Tech) is using 400 acres for environmental practices research. A community group helped secure the land and buildings for preservation and for use.

Ed Walker's renovation of the Patrick Henry Hotel is just the latest in a string of downtown renovations that have brought considerable acclaim to him and those who have worked closely with him. This is his second straight preservation award.

Roanoke's City Market Building renovation--though controversial from the standpoint of the city using an out of town architectural firm--is the latest effort to preserve the building, built in 1921 after the original building burned.

Salem's museum is a former home in downtown Salem, built in 1845 and the new renovation has been hailed for its green features. Lake Spring Park's gazebo, near the museum, was damaged by a truck last year, but renovated and restored to its 1909 beauty.

Michael Pulice wrote Nineteenth Century Brick Architecture in the Roanoke Valley and Beyond: Discovering the True Legacy of the Deyerle Builders.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Western Va. Land Trust Ranks 5th Nationally

The first census of land trusts in five years found 10 million new acres conserved nationwide since 2005, including 1.1 million acres in Virginia, according to a press release from the Western Virginia Land Trust. Virginia ranked fifth nationally in acres conserved and first overall in the southeast.

The National Land Trust Census, released by the Land Trust Alliance, shows that voluntarily protected land increased 27 percent between 2005 and 2010. In the same time period, local land trusts and state agencies added 1,129,787 acres—a 77 percent increase since 2005—despite a recession that has seen a decrease in non-profit giving and state budget cuts. The census is online at

A total of 47 million acres—an area over twice the size of all the national parks in the contiguous United States—are now protected by land trusts. A greater percentage of the new acreage comes through local and state land trusts like the Western Virginia Land Trust (WVLT). 

“Virginia residents value their land, and we are conserving it at the community level,” said Roger Holnback, executive director of WVLT. “Here in Virginia, we are investing in our future with land trusts that ensure clean water, local food and places to play for our children and for generations to come.”

Since 2005, WVLT has permanently protected more than 13,300 acres in its 10-county service area surrounding Roanoke. This includes 11,400 acres in Carvins Cove Natural Reserve—the largest city-owned park east of the Rockies—as well as nearly all of Mill Mountain and properties in Roanoke, Franklin, Craig, Bedford, Floyd, and Botetourt counties. WVLT earned national accreditation by the Land Trust Alliance in 2011, providing assurance of quality and permanence of land conservation, and publicly recognizing WVLT’s ability to protect important natural places and working lands forever.

City Hires EconDev Projects Coordinator

Marc Nelson
The City of Roanoke Department of Economic Development today announced Marc Nelson has joined the staff as Special Projects Coordinator. Nelson previously served as development services liaison with the City of Savannah, Georgia, Development Services Department. City Manager Chris Morrow came to Roanoke from Savannah.

The redevelopment of existing properties and new highly visible development initiatives will be led by Nelson.  He will also be charged with the development and implementation of programs for new, existing and emerging businesses in technology and innovation-oriented sectors. 

With more than 7 years of experience in local and state government, Nelson most recently coordinated development efforts for four City of Savannah capital projects totaling over $50 million, including installation of a $4.5 million in public utilities for Sustainable Fellwood, a mixed-income, mixed use development replacing the City’s oldest public housing community.

WDBJ7 Adds Morning News Anchor

Seth Kovar
WDBJ7 in Roanoke has announced Seth Kovar has joined its morning news team.  He will co-anchor, along with Kimberly McBroom, of “News7 Mornin’,” making it  the only co-anchored morning newscast in the Roanoke-Lynchburg television market.   

Kovar will first appear on News7 Mornin’ on Monday, Nov. 28. Kovar has been the morning co-anchor at KXXV-TV in Waco, Texas, and will also assume responsibilities as executive producer of the morning news broadcast, which airs Monday-Friday from 5 a.m. until 7 a.m.

Monday, November 21, 2011

LewisGale Joins Carilion Medicare Plan

LewisGale Regional Health System has reached a new provider agreement with Carilion Clinic to be a participating provider in its Medicare Advantage plans. The agreement gives enrollees full access to all LewisGale facilities and physicians, effective Jan. 1, 2012.

Says Victor Giovanetti, president of LewisGale Regional Health System, “As our presence in the marketplace has grown and our health system has been recognized locally and nationally for providing exceptional care, an increasing number of people want an insurance plan that allows them access to our physicians and hospitals.”

The new provider agreement covers inpatient, outpatient, and primary care services at all four hospitals—LewisGale Medical Center, LewisGale Hospital Montgomery, LewisGale Hospital Pulaski, and LewisGale Hospital Alleghany as well as eight outpatient centers and 135 employed physicians.

The new agreements with Carilion and recently-announced Humana plan, along with four other Medicare Advantage companies that LewisGale is participating in, gives 90 percent of the population enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans access to the health system’s facilities and physicians.

While LewisGale employed physicians are part of the new agreements with Carilion Clinic and Humana, the health system’s 500 independent physicians, making up the majority of LewisGale Hospitals’ medical staffs, will also be invited to participate in the new agreements, according to Humana and Carilion.

“This is a ‘win-win-win’ for everyone – the insurance companies and healthcare providers, but, most importantly, it’s providing the best option for our community,” says Giovanetti.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Virginia Tech Exceeds $1 Billion Fundraising Goal

Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger Saturday night announced the university had exceeded the $1 billion goal of The Campaign for Virginia Tech: Invent the Future, an eight-year fundraising initiative that was supported by nearly 170,000 contributors.

The most ambitious campaign in university history -- which began July 1, 2003, and ran through June 30, 2011 -- raised $1.11 billion in outright gifts, pledge payments, or commitments of future support.

To put this historic achievement for Virginia Tech in context, the university's last comparable campaign, Making a Difference, which concluded in 1998, raised $337.42 million, approximately $470 million in today’s dollars.

The amount raised in the more recent campaign was announced at a closing ceremony attended by approximately 1,000 of the university's most generous supporters.

It was the last of dozens of events held on campus, coming hours after Virginia Tech for the first time in memory held a university-wide open house, during which members of the public toured numerous facilities and attended special presentations by faculty, staff, and students.

Prior to the event, Steger said the extent of generosity displayed by participants in the campaign demonstrated “a degree of love and loyalty that is exceedingly uncommon in our modern age, and a philanthropic instinct that has the capacity to make a profound impact not only on our present, but on our future.”

Twenty-seven percent of campaign commitments were designated for endowed purposes and will provide predictable income to support various causes at the university for years to come.
The university's endowment, managed by the Virginia Tech Foundation, grew by 81 percent during the campaign, thanks to gifts and investments. The endowment stood at $600.65 million as of the end of the campaign.

After spending four years in a quiet phase, during which more than $550 million was committed, the campaign was announced publicly on Oct. 20, 2007. Nearly 900 volunteers served on campaign committees, including regional committees based in nine different states and the District of Columbia.

Gene Fife, a former chairman of Goldman Sachs International who earned his bachelor’s of business administration in 1962 from what is now the Pamplin College of Business, chaired the Quiet Phase Campaign Steering Committee. The public phase’s National Campaign Steering Committee co-chairs were David Calhoun, another graduate of the business college, who earned his bachelor’s of accounting in 1979, and John Lawson, who earned his bachelor’s of geophysics in 1975 from what is now the College of Science.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

VTK, Tech Business Center Merge Purposes

VTKnowledgeWorks in Blacksburg.

VT KnowledgeWorks and the Virginia Tech Business Technology Center have joined forces under the VT KnowledgeWorks umbrella to create a comprehensive entrepreneurship program serving the entire Commonwealth of Virginia.

VT KnowledgeWorks encourages and enables creative entrepreneurship world-wide, through innovative curriculum, local business resource centers, and a global network of cooperating regions, all focused on three essential contributors to success: clear understanding of fundamental business principles; access to timely, relevant information; and meaningful personal and corporate relationships.

It is a subsidiary of the Virginia Tech Foundation, funded through the continuing confidence and enthusiasm of its clients, sponsors and friends, both corporate and individual. Its world headquarters is in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA.

VT KnowledgeWorks, headed by Executive Director, Jim Flowers, recently extended its service offerings throughout the Commonwealth via the VT KnowledgeWorks Entrepreneurship Alliance, a network of regional partner centers, sharing best practices, entrepreneurship events, curriculum, and public outreach.

Soon it will initiate a powerful in-reach program for Virginia Tech inventors to accelerate the process of preparing innovative discoveries for commercial markets.

Dick Daugherty, long-time director of the Virginia Tech Business Technology Center, in his new role as Director of Strategic Services for VT KnowledgeWorks, will spearhead the in-reach program and other active mentorship initiatives.

Details on the new program will be released early in December. In addition, Dick will continue to provide market research and business plan development services statewide.

$500,000 for New River Valley Jobs

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Matt S. Erskine announced $500,000 in federal money over five years awarded to Virginia Tech’s Office of Economic Development during a New River Valley plant tour Nov. 9. The money launches the Virginia Rural Competitiveness Project, a job-creation effort. Here Erskine takes a cell phone photo of a new truck at Volvo in Dublin.

(Photo Andrea Brunais.)

Cox Links to Valley View Businesses

Cox VP Kim Stanley (right center) and dignitaries cut the ribbon at Valley View.

Cox Communications today announced a partnership with Valley View Mall to provide services to tenants and the surrounding properties for business customers.

Kim Stanley, VP of operations in Roanoke, says, “This investment will allow Cox Business to serve business customers who have been unable to get our services. There are businesses who want Cox services and through this newest effort we are pleased to share that we will soon be able to provide our services to them.”

Cox is building the infrastructure for a Technology Park, located on the west side of Roanoke County. The location is off of Route 460 near Salem. Construction will take approximately five to six months to complete.

Taking a Look at Tech's Fast Football Field

There’s more than meets the eye when it comes to a field of grass, particularly turf at Virginia Tech. Researchers from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will explain the science behind Virginia Tech’s athletic fields during the University Open House Saturday, Nov. 12.

Mike Goatley, professor and Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension turf specialist, will provide insight into the GreenTech ITM modular system on Worsham Field in Lane Stadium. The system on the playing field, one of only two such modular fields in the country, is composed of 4,224 46-inch by 46-inch trays of sod positioned above asphalt. In conjunction with a portable vacuum pump, the playing surface stays dry even during heavy rain.

The college’s turfgrass specialists work closely with the Virginia Tech Department of Athletics to develop turf management strategies to help ensure the best athletic surfaces possible. Goatley will be at the stadium from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. during the open house to show how the turf system works and to talk about the surfaces on other university sports surfaces.

According to Goatley, the sod system, coupled with specialized bermudagrass, and a fertilizer regimen, tolerates Blacksburg’s cold temperatures and a mowing height of 3/4 inch, making for a fast playing surface.

Faculty members and students conduct research at the university’sTurfgrass Research Center, and on the athletic fields, which provides for invaluable research data used to develop such specialized surfaces.

This experience is very important to our hands-on training for the next generation of sports field managers,” said Goatley. “Our graduates have gone on to work with some major athletic programs, including Virginia Tech, the University of Missouri, and Texas A&M.”

Currently, turf specialists from the Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences are monitoring the volume of stormwater passing through Worsham Field’s drainage system and analyzing the potential for using a rechargeable filter to capture nutrients in the material leeched from the field. The project is a collaboration with Brian Benham, associate professor of biological systems engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Stephen Schoenholtz, professor of forest hydrology and soils in the College of Natural Resources and Environment; and athletic turf staff members.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Roanoke in Top 20 Digital Cities in U.S.

The Center for Digital Government has has ranked the City of Roanoke as a leading digital city for the 11th straight year. Roanoke was ranked 8th among the cities in the 75,000 to 124,999 population category.

Conducted by the Center for Digital Government and Government Technology, the survey spotlights municipalities that best show how information and communication technology are used to enhance public service. Cities are selected in four different population categories, and picked from hundreds of municipalities taking part in the survey.

In the past, the Digital Cities Survey has recognized Roanoke in this population category as follows: 2000-2003, first place; 2004, fifth place; 2005, first place; 2006, tied for first place with Ogden City, Utah; 2007, second place; 2008, first place; 2009, third place; and 2010, eighth place.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Roanoke Co-Op Withdraws Countryside Offer

Citing respect for the wishes of nearby residents The Roanoke Natural Foods Co-op today withdrew its proposal to create an urban farm on a 12 acre parcel located in NW Roanoke City and adjacent to what was once the Countryside Golf Course.

In a statement before Roanoke City Council, Co-op General Manager Bruce Phlegar officially withdrew his group’s interest. “We are very interested in creating a cooperatively owned urban farm in the city of Roanoke. But we are not interested in creating an entity that is a significant point of conflict with the surrounding neighborhood. Out of respect for those who oppose this project, and in the hope that the city will continue to work with our group, we respectfully withdrew our proposal.”

The Co-op had initially submitted its request on July 8th after City planners said they wanted the parcel to be used for commercial urban agriculture in its master plan for the Countryside property and several parcels adjoining it.

The Co-op plan called for 8 green houses know as “high tunnel hoop houses,” garden style row crops and an orchard. The group planned to have as many as 400 free-range chickens to produce eggs and fertilizer for the plants. Since the group utilizes sustainable farming techniques, it will not use harmful commercial fertilizers or pesticides. Plans also called for a small retail shop where locally grown produce would be sold to members of the surrounding community. The building would also have included classroom space.

“We still believe in the value and viability of a sustainable urban farm within Roanoke City limits,” said Phlegar. “It offers our community hyper-locally grown produce, and many educational opportunities. Our farm will strengthen the local, sustainable food movement in the Roanoke Valley.” Phlegar said the group would continue to seek property within the city that would meet their needs and have the general support of the surrounding neighbors.

Tech Adds Degrees in Nuclear Engineering

At its quarterly meeting held on campus today, the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors approved resolutions on new master’s and doctoral degree programs in nuclear engineering.

If approved by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, the new degrees will be offered beginning spring term of 2013. A complete story on the College of Engineering's nuclear engineering program and the new degrees will appear Thursday in Virginia Tech News.

In other business, the board continued its conversation on strategic planning issues. On Sunday, board members received a report on progress made on the University Strategic Plan 2006-2012 and a report on the ongoing development of the Long Range Plan<. Among the topics included in the long term plan discussion were university governance, admissions considerations for both undergraduate and graduate students, instructional space needs and costs, and capital projects.

Also on Sunday, the board received a report on compliance and finances in the Athletic Department which has an overall annual operating budget of $38.6 million. It also received an update on Grow by Degrees, an initiative started by the Virginia Business Higher Education Council in 2009 to build broad-based, bipartisan support for Virginia’s colleges and universities.

Following the full-board information session on Sunday, the Research Committee met and received an extensive report on the many energy-related research initiatives occurring at Virginia Tech. Currently, university researchers are engaged in projects involving coal, nuclear, bioenergy, and solar energy, as well as others related to building energy efficiency and energy use in transportation.

On Monday, the Finance and Audit Committee received an annual report on the university’s student financial aid program. Though state support for higher education as steadily declined over the past decade, Virginia Tech continues to increase the total amount of aid available to students. In the past two years, financial aid for students has grown from $342.2 million in Fiscal Year 2008-2009 to $390 million in Fiscal Year 2010-2011. The amount of aid coming from grants, scholarships, and waivers has grown from $134.2 million to $174.2 million over the same period of time.

Finance and Audit also received a report on overall administrative costs of the university which indicated Virginia Tech’s costs are below average as compared to peer institutions, other Virginia schools, or national research universities. A full story on this report will appear Wednesday in Virginia Tech News.