Friday, October 28, 2011

Skill Capped Wins Expand Contest, $35,000

Skill Capped, a group of three Virginia Tech students, won the $35,000 top prize (cash and services) in the Roanoke Regional Entrepreneur Center’s Expand contest. The students will be given advertising and business coaching as part of their prize.

The contest drew a surprisingly large field and was pared to 20, then five before the selection was made at a final Super Synergy conference in Roanoke. The winning team members are Jeff Brabant, Jordan Garcia and Cel Arrington, all Roanokers who put together an online site that gives “World of Warcraft” players tips via video. They have 100,000 subscribers who pay a monthly fee.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

CityWorks (X)po Kicks Off in Roanoke

CityWorks (X)po, the brainchild of self-described urban social engineer Ed Walker (above), who also develops a little property, was off and running this afternoon.

The three-day brainstorm at Roanoke City Market building's new meeting facility on the third floor was full to brimming with an array of creative types who were looking to make a mark in the Small Cities Movement nationally.

Walker has brought in a number of speakers and planned quite a few events around the (X)po and you can get a schedule here.

Falwell Makes a Pitch for the Liberty Way

Jerry Falwell Jr. addresses bankers and lawyers at the Bankers' Forum today.

Photo and Story by DAN SMITH

Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr., a guy who was named Business Executive of the Year a while back by the now defunct Blue Ridge Business Journal made an impressive sales pitch for his vision of higher education today at the periodic Bankers' Forum at the Shenandoah Club in Roanoke. His audience was lawyers and bankers, many of they who share his conservative philosophy, but some who didn't. All seemed impressed.

Falwell, like his father, the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, was full of warmth and humor of statistics and insider information in building his case for private education. Falwell has taken what started as Liberty Bible College and turned it into a national force in 20 years. The college has a total enrollment (on campus and online) of 64,000 students in its most recent census and is heading toward 80,000 shortly.

Its almost overwhelming debt of 1988 ($83 million) has been nearly paid off and it recently received a AA/positive rating from Standard & Poor's when it wanted to issue bonds. The university is accredited by the tough and demanding Southern Association of Colleges and Universities (something other online universities simply don't have) and the cost of four years of education at the school is $38,664, compared to $124,000 at private universities.

Falwell said that early on, the goal was to be in the bottom 25 percent of universities in student cost and that has been achieved. The university is also has a student loan default rate that is half the national average--taking some of the bite out of the nearly half a billion in student loans its students had in 2010. That's up over $500,000 this year, Falwell says.

The student body, which is but 42 percent white, is one of the most diverse in the country and the university has set out on an ambitious construction period, beginning with the building of a state-of-the-art library to be named after the senior Falwell.

Liberty recently received $12 million in matching money from the federal tobacco fund, which it will use to build a medical school to serve rural Southside Virginia. Falwell says it is the first significant government money the school has ever received. "The government has generally been in the way," he said, smiling.

Falwell says a number of universities have consulted with Liberty about its distance learning program and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell asked him to be on a panel to talk about how it is done. "It is very expensive and difficult to start," he said, "but it is well worth the effort. We believe that is the way education is going in the future. We are going slow in our residential growth until we fully understand what all this means."

The success, he says, partly comes down "to the fact that we were so poor for so long that we had to learn to be frugal."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Going Greener With Save a Ton Campaign

Citizens and governments in the Roanoke and New River Valleys have launched Save a Ton, a new campaign to help people save money on energy use. The multi-media campaign encourages people to visit, learn about energy savings and share their ideas and results on social media.

“With bigger electric bills, stubborn gas prices and higher home heating costs – and with winter around the corner – we’re here to help residents in our region and beyond save hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year in energy costs by doing just a little,” says Nell Boyle (right), chairwoman of RC CLEAR, a Roanoke County citizen committee, and director of the local chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council.

“Through our new website and a public service and advertising campaign, we’re sharing share easy ways for people to save money on everyday activities, and encourage everyone to share successes with each other.”

There are dozens of ways to save in energy costs. For example, using compact fluorescent bulbs can save you $65 per year, or $360 over the life of the bulbs compared to incandescent 60-watt bulbs. Keeping your car tires properly inflated can reduce gas use by 3 percent. And did you know that 8 percent of your electric bill is for devices that are plugged in when not in use?

The website offers tips, links and resources in five categories – lighting, vehicle efficiency, energy conservation, weatherization and water conservation.

“From the Roanoke Valley to the New River Valley, this is one issue we can agree on – saving money!” says Jeremy Holmes, program director of Ride Solutions, the sustainable transportation program operated by the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission. “In the weeks ahead we hope that other municipalities and groups in our region join our effort to help people save money and conserve energy. This is more than simply searching for energy saving tips on the Internet. On you can get factual, helpful information all in one place while choosing the savings that best fit your lifestyle.”

“The information on is not just about saving money,” adds Charlotte Moore, Vice Chair of the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors. “Roanoke Valley local governments are committed to preserving the natural resources that enhance our quality of life.”

During the next decade, Roanoke County and the City of Roanoke have committed to a 3 and 2-percent reduction, respectively, in community-wide carbon dioxide emissions. These reductions add up to 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year.

“This seems like a big number – but consider this,” Moore says. “There are approximately 100,000 households in the Roanoke Valley, so the targets can be achieved if each household saved just one ton of carbon dioxide emissions each year.”

The Save a Ton campaign is supported by partners Clean Valley Council, Roanoke Valley Cool Cities Coalition, Community Alliance for Energy Efficiency, Ride Solutions, RC CLEAR, Roanoke County, Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission, City of Roanoke and Town of Blacksburg.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ray Smoot To Retire from Tech Foundation

Long-time university business executive Raymond J. Smoot Jr. (left) will relinquish leadership at the Virginia Tech Foundation next year, announced Horacio Valeiras, Virginia Tech Foundation chairman. Smoot, a 1969 Virginia Tech graduate, intends to retire from full-time leadership of the Virginia Tech Foundation in July 2012.

“Ray has proved to be a valuable leader, administrator, and business executive in many roles across his four decade association with the university and its foundation. He has been at the center of many university successes,” said Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger.

The foundation begins its transition with another long-time Virginia Tech administrator. John Dooley, vice president for outreach and international affairs, will become the foundation’s chief operating officer April 1, 2012, and then chief executive officer upon Smoot’s retirement in July.

“We have a seasoned administrator in John with strong command of the higher education landscape, community relations, and understanding of the foundation’s role in advancing the university,” said Steger.

While Smoot may be stepping down from full-time leadership of the Virginia Tech Foundation, he will remain for two years on a part-time non-management basis to assist the university and foundation.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Global Metalfinishing Finally Opens After 2 Years

Tamea Woodward at Global Metalfinishing's new tanks.

Tanks full and ready to anodize.

More treatment tanks.

Storage of necessary chemistry.

The ventilation chiller and rectifier behind the facility.

Story, Photos by DAN SMITH

After nearly two years of fussing and fighting with various regulatory agencies and government bodies, Global Metalfinishing owner Tamea Woodward has finally opened the new shop in Roanoke--without inviting Roanoke officials to the celebration.

Woodward invested between $1.2 million and $1.3 million in the building and equipment and has added a number of employees. She started the project--which is an offshoot of her other business, East West DyeCom--with seven employees and now had 18. She hopes to have 26 in the next 24 months.

Global will concentrate on general anodizing of metals, where East West DyeCom was more specific in its purpose, anodizing for the art community. Woodward says the facility will allow her to "improve quality and increase capacity."

Goodlatte Assures NY Flights To Continue

Direct air service between Roanoke and New York will continue, according to 6th District Congressman Bob Goodlatte, who has been working with the airlines who talked of dropping the service.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) had announced its approval of a “slot-swap” agreement that includes US Air and Delta. This agreement allows carriers to exchange slots they control at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) and New York LaGuardia Airport (LGA), which affects flight service from Roanoke Regional Airport (ROA) to New York.

U.S. Airways provides non-stop service between Roanoke and New York. New direct jet service by Delta Air Lines is contingent upon the completion of the Department of Justice’s investigation of the “slot-swap” agreement between Delta Air Lines and US Airways.

“I am extremely pleased that Delta has told me that [it] intends to provide direct jet service between Roanoke and New York,” says Goodlatte.

“Access to the preeminent financial center of the country has proven vital to the employment base of the Roanoke Valley, the business community and economic development efforts. Delta’s intention to maintain a direct flight between Roanoke and New York will ensure that this beneficial relationship continues.”

Goodlatte has met with representatives of Delta Airlines several times over the last year and he, along with other members of the Virginia Congressional Delegation, has written to Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood about the “slot-swap” agreement and its potential affect on smaller communities like Roanoke.

ITT Creates New Defense Company in Roanoke

ITT Night Vision in Roanoke County from above.

ITT Corporation, a major Roanoke employer, has announced that its Defense and Information Solutions business will become an independent company on October 31.

Soon-to-be ITT Exelis employs approximately 1,400 people in Roanoke and has been in the Roanoke Valley for 50 years.

“I am excited to announce that ITT Defense is becoming its own independent company,” says Nick Bobay, ITT Corporation Vice President and General Manager of Night Vision and Imaging. “Though you will be seeing new signs outside our places of operation, we will be conducting business as usual with an even greater focus on meeting our customers’ needs. We look forward to introducing our new brand and continuing our relationship with the Roanoke community as ITT Exelis.”

ITT Exelis will be headquartered in McLean. The company will continue to employ over 22,000 people and is expected to generate $5.8 billion in pro forma 2011 revenue. ITT Exelis will debut on the New York Stock Exchange on November 1, with the ticker symbol XLS.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

ACC, Tech To Compete in Clean Energy

The University of Maryland and its Atlantic Coast Conference partners, including Virginia Tech's College of Engineering, will lead a new, conference-hosted Clean Energy Business Challenge launching in the fall of 2011, encouraging students throughout the conference and the entire southeast United States to develop successful business plans and to create a new generation of American clean energy companies.

Funded by $2 million from the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), the ACC Clean Energy Challenge is one of six regional winners selected by the DOE to be part of its inaugural nationwide network of student-focused clean energy business creation competitions over the next three years. The first national grand prize competition will be held during the summer of 2012 in Washington, D.C.

"By promoting innovation at our nation's universities and cultivating America's next generation scientific and technical leaders, we will ensure our nation's competiveness in the clean energy economy of tomorrow," says DOE Secretary Steven Chu. "The awards announced support the [Obama] administration's continued effort to ensure that America has the workforce we need to secure our energy future, create jobs here at home, and win the future."

The ACC Clean Energy Business Challenge combines the technology, business, and student strengths of all the ACC schools in the Southeast region, including Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami, North Carolina, North Carolina State, University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest.

Together, these schools conduct more than $4 billion in cutting-edge research each year, with clean energy a clear focus. ACC schools are also home to hundreds of student researchers in the energy field and numerous student energy clubs.

"At Virginia Tech, we have an international reputation in the hybrid electric vehicle development, winning the international competition, EcoCAR, in 2011. We are also world leaders in clean coal technology and among the top ten departments in environmental engineering that focuses on many clean energy efforts," says Richard C. Benson, dean of Virginia Tech's College of Engineering and who holds the Torgersen Chaired Professorship. "I believe our ACC partnership in clean energy will prove to be beneficial to the economic competitiveness of our nation."

"This effort will help Virginia Tech build on assets like its corporate research center, VT KnowledgeWorks, and current successful startups in the region by Hokie alumni, i.e. TORC, VPT Inc., and PowerHub Systems, to develop programs and academic focus that will prepare the next generation of technology leaders and entrepreneurs," says Jack Lesko, associate dean for research and graduate studies at Virginia Tech's College of Engineering.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Crowning Touch Senior Moving Wins National Award

Linda Ballentine of Crowning Touch (center) receives her award.

Crowning Touch Senior Moving Services of Roanoke is the winner of the inaugural Enterprise Award, presented by the American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA) to an outstanding smaller, independent mover.

The Enterprise Award reflects AMSA's and the industry’s commitment to recognizing outstanding performance among small, independent movers, which can be demonstrated in a variety of ways; including community service, employee relations, innovative operations and/or exceptional customer service practices. It honors AMSA mover members with less than $3 million in annual gross revenues and fewer than 25 employees. The recipient is selected by a panel of industry experts.

Crowning Touch offers innovative services developed for the senior community while maintaining exemplary relationships with clients and employees. Starting in 1996, Crowning Touch began catering to the specific needs of the high-growth senior citizen market. The company offers both local and interstate moving.

Jefferson Center Gets $35,000 Energy Grant

Jefferson Center will get an energy upfit.

With the assistance of a $35,000 grant awarded by The American Electric Power (AEP) Foundation, Jefferson Center in Roanoke will soon launch an energy monitoring and conservation project in an effort to renew an historic building with today's technology.

Ninteen years have passed since the first phase of renovation to the old Jefferson High School began and within the last two decades environmental concerns, energy conservation and building systems technology have changed dramatically.

"We are coming to the end of the natural life of many elements of the building's renovation and have begun planning for Jefferson Center's renewal as a more efficient structure," says Cyrus Pace, Jefferson Center executive director.

AEP Foundation awarded its support to a four-phased implementation of energy auditing, monitoring and of practices and equipment to reduce Jefferson Center's consumption of electricity, natural gas and water. Appalachian Power is the local operating subsidiary of AEP.

The proposed conservation measures will not just focus on updating physical technologies. Jefferson Center's energy conservation project will provide an example of the wisdom of creative reuse of historic buildings, showing that an historic property can be made relevant to contemporary standards and technology.

"A sense of stewardship demands that we operate efficiently and with an updated concern for environmental impacts," says Pace. "That's why in the summer of 2010 we asked Breakell Inc., a Roanoke general contractor with certified specialists advising on environmental issues, to perform an energy audit and estimate the cost of retrofits focused on conservation."

Breakell donated its expertise and after an extensive energy audit proposed a four-phase plan that predicted savings of $42,500 a year by lowering utility costs after completion of the plan.

The first phase of the project includes extensive education of those working in Jefferson Center, as well as its non-profit tenants to the wisdom of significant changes in energy usage.

Additionally, the plan calls for retrofitting all incandescent, fluorescent and exit lights with more efficient bulbs and installing occupancy and motion detectors in seldom-used spaces such as storage areas and restrooms.

Subsequent phases include continuing upgrades in monitoring equipment, adding timers to control hot water recirculation and replacement of the 10 oldest heat pumps with more efficient models.


Tech To Study Children's Football Helmets

Virginia Tech released today results from the first study ever to instrument child football helmets. Youth football helmets are currently designed to the same standards as adult helmets, even though little is known about how child football players impact their heads. This is the first study to investigate the head impact characteristics in youth football, and will greatly enhance the development of improved helmets specifically designed for children.

The Auburn Eagles, a local youth team consisting of 6- to 8-year-old boys, has participated in the study since August. The helmets of the child football players are instrumented with custom 12 accelerometer arrays that measure how a child’s head responds to impact. Each time a player impacts his head, data is recorded and wirelessly downloaded to a computer on the sideline.

The technology is similar to what Virginia Tech has used since 2003 to instrument its collegiate football team. “The research conducted with the Virginia Tech football team has led to a better understanding of head impacts in football and how they relate to concussions,” says Stefan Duma, the Virginia Tech professor of biomedical engineering and department head of the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering Sciences that directs this project., which contains the first safety rating system ever available for adult football helmets (STAR Evaluation System). Similar developments for youth football are anticipated from the current study with the Auburn Eagles.

“Based on eight years of studying head impacts experienced by Virginia Tech football players, we were able to quantify exposure for adult football players relative to impact location, severity, and frequency,” Duma says. “Unfortunately, we cannot translate the adult exposure to the youth helmets because the impact conditions of youth football are completely unknown. To solve this problem, we are applying the same approach that we have used with the Virginia Tech football team to a youth football team,” Duma says.

The instrumentation wasn’t compatible with the older helmets that were initially provided for the youth team, so Virginia Tech purchased new helmets for the entire team. “The kids are very excited about wearing the same technology in their helmets that the Virginia Tech football team has worn over the last eight years,” says Ray Daniel, the graduate student whose master’s thesis will be focused on the study.

Monday, October 17, 2011

At Virginia Tech, Locking Down Smartphones

Jules White demonstrates how, using a laptop, he can put smart phones under lockdown with new software that "puts physical boundaries around information in cyberspace."

In a breakthrough that could aid spies, keepers of medical records, and parents who want to prevent their kids from "sexting," a team of Virginia Tech researchers has created software to remotely put smart phones under lockdown. The phones are given permission to access sensitive data while in a particular room, but when the devices leave the room, the data is completely wiped.

“This level of complexity and security, nobody else has,” says Jules White, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “There are commercial products that do limited versions of these things, but nothing that allows for automating wiping and complete control of settings and apps on smart phones and tablets.”

A general, for example, could access secret intelligence while visiting a secure government facility without fear that his or her smart phone or tablet computer might later be lost or stolen, White said. “This system provides something that has never been available before. It puts physical boundaries around information in cyberspace.”

Medical caregivers could review patient information during a doctor visit, but – safeguarding patient privacy – doctors or nurses couldn’t walk out of the examination room with the patient’s records.

The software also enables central control of phone features such as preventing a smart phone’s camera or email from working.

“For instance, you could keep certain apps from working in the operating room so surgeons wouldn’t get distracted, or you could prevent nurses from taking patient photos and putting them on the Internet,” White said. "In that same way, parents could restrict when and where children could send text messages to prevent distraction at school. Parents could also limit to whom messages with images could be sent in order to prevent 'sexting.'"

White and his team, in research underwritten by Virginia Tech Applied Research Corporation, modified Google’s Android operating system to create the security features.

The team recently demonstrated the software for an inside-the-beltway group, Virginia Tech Intelligence and Defense Executive Alumni, or VT IDEA, composed of Virginia Tech alums who are interested in research that may benefit intelligence and military agencies.

“It was exciting to connect the VT IDEA group with Jules White and his team,” said John Provo, director of the Virginia Tech Office of Economic Development. “Technology like this may be ripe not only for commercialization, but it could also improve our nation’s defense and security.”

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dominion's New Electric Line Helps Meet Goals

Andy Kaplan with his police cruiser.

Snack cart would be great at festivals.

A mini dump truck.

This one carries a lot of passengers.

Story, Photos By DAN SMITH

The rain was heavy at times this morning as Dominion Electric Vehicles in Salem held its grand opening for its new lines of electric work vehicles, but I didn't see any lessening of enthusiasm those working it. Bob and Andy Kaplan believe they have found the solution to selling these little gems that cost about two cents a mile to drive, even if you can't drive most of them to work. You drive them once you get there.

For the past two and a half years, Dominion has sold GEM (Global Electric Motorcars) electric cars, which are both street legal and too high in cost for most of us at about $7,000 or so. The new lines--Club Car and XtremeGreen--have a different purpose, a slower speed and a lower price, but are no less valuable for what they will do.

The uses are widely varied and include security on college campuses, dumptrucks for construction sites, gurneys to take injured football players from the football field and a variety of other work-related purposes. The new lines will also start at about $5,750. They carry decent loads, go 30-40 miles on a charge and run up to about 25 miles per hour.

Says Andy, “A few years ago, we learned from our customers--particularly those doing business with the government--that they needed zero and low emissions alternatives to meet lower carbon footprint requirements. Our electric vehicles are their alternative. The bonus? Their operating costs are reduced as well.”

Kaplan says Dominion Electric Vehicles is the first business in Virginia specializing in electric vehicles.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 To Create 200 Montgomery County Jobs, the largest online specialty retailer of premium outdoor gear, will invest more than $20 million to establish a fulfillment center in Christiansburg.

The Utah-based company's east-coast presence, which will be located in Falling Branch Corporate Park, will create more than 200 new jobs in Montgomery County.

"The state of Virginia, Montgomery County and Christiansburg proved to us that this is where we should do business," says Jill Layfield, CEO of "Their support of and commitment to has been remarkable, and that is only a sign of their larger commitment to the people of the area."

Says Montgomery County Board of Supervisors Chair Jim Politis, "This is a prime location for a distribution hub for the East Coast, and the company will be creating hundreds of jobs. also fits in very well with our region's abundant outdoor recreation opportunities." marks the third major business annoucement in Montgomery County this year. Just last week, Federal-Mogal Corp. announced its plans to invest $10 million and add 50 new employees to its existing facility in Blacksburg. In March, local startup Modea announced its plans to construct a new $10 million corporate headquarters in downtown Blacksburg and hire 200 employees.

Children's Mobile ICU To Be on Display

Carilion Clinic Children’s Hospital’s new Mobile ICU will be turning heads in the region when it hits the road this fall. The vehicle, which could be described as a rolling, two-patient hospital intensive care unit, is unlike anything seen in this area before.

The vehicle’s size and on-board technology will benefit patients and caregivers. The exterior features a tribute to CCCH and the Roanoke Valley, created by a local artist. The new mobile ICU will be located in front of Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. this Thursday so hospital staff can tour and familiarize themselves with the unit.

A Positive View at Novozymes

In the upcoming November edition of Valley Business FRONT Publisher Tom Field shares his conversation with Steen Riisgaard (right), the president and CEO of Novozymes, who addressed the Roanoke County division at the Salem Civic Center yesterday. He lives in Denmark.

Riisgaard has a positive view of the future—one where industry responds to societal challenges with earth-friendly solutions. He says the technology challenge for Novozymes is to turn to nature before chemistry.

The interview reveals the CEO’s vision: he has been called the global champion of “bio-economics” and Novozymes has been cited as “the world leader in enzymes and bio-innovation.”

Roanoke plant president Patrick Patterson echoes the company’s support of practical environmentalism by contributing to the local greenways movement in the Roanoke Valley. Catch the full story in November’s FRONT.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Roanoke Native To Head Science Museum

The Science Museum of Western Virginia has named Jim Rollings (right) executive director. Rollings was most recently with Heifer Village in Arkansas.

A Roanoke native, Rollings has experience in museum leadership, including positions with the Yorktown Victory Center, NASA Langley Visitor Center and the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News. He served 10 years as the director of the South Florida Science Museum and two years with the Gulfcoast Wonder and Imagination Zone before moving to Arkansas.

He has a master’s degree in nonprofit administration from Regis University in Denver, and a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Christopher Newport University.

Rollings is married and has three children. “I am delighted to be back in Roanoke because I was born here," he said, "and it’s exciting to be part of the Reinvention of the Science Museum. I have been impressed with the commitment of the Board of
Trustees and the direction for the museum and look forward to being part of the future of the Science Museum.”

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Interactive Achievement Is Chamber's Small Business of Year

Interactive Achievement's Jonathan Hagmaier (left) talks to Ken Ferris. At right are bicycle shop owners Michelle and Aaron Dykstra. Below, former Advocate of the Year Lynda Foster with new winner Brian Duvall. Bottom is John Garland of Spectrum, the construction guy of the year.

The Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce and Roanoke Regional Small Business Development Center have named Interactive Achievement the 2011 Small Business of the Year before a sold out ballroom at the Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center.

The company that creates and distributes educational software used for testing, reporting and analyzing students was recognized at the Chamber's's 25th Annual Small Business Awards dinner.

The annual awards program showcases the accomplishments of the small business sector which is composed of 99 percent of the area’s business community.

Founded in 2006 by Jonathan Hagmaier, a middle-school teacher and principal, Mary Hagmaier, a realtor, and Matthew Muller, a software programmer, Interactive Achievement has experienced phenomenal growth in product sales, revenue and number of employees. The company’s major product is assessment software used by school districts in Virginia and South Carolina.

“As in years past, the selection committee was faced with a very difficult decision because of the number of outstanding companies represented in the competition,” said Joyce Waugh, president of the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Waugh continued, “The Small Business Awards selection committee was impressed with how Interactive Achievement has increased sales and its number of employees, as well as its innovative product line.” A committee of local business people evaluates nominees in terms of increased sales, employee growth, staying power, innovation, and contributions to the community.

Award winners by category are:
  • Small Business Advocate: Brian Duvall, CEO, Duvall Media
  • Small Business Veteran of the Year: Ray Puckett, At Home Caregivers Inc.
  • Construction/Real Estate: Spectrum Design architectural/engineering design firm
  • Manufacturing: Virginia Transformer Corporation a processor of electric power transformers in North America
  • Micro-Business: Nevaeh Salon Services
  • Technology: Interactive Achievement
  • Business-to-Business Services: Virginia Business Systems which provides technology and software to help businesses manage documents
  • Business-to-Consumer Services: Varsity Landscaping & Grounds
  • Wholesale/Retail: East Coasters Bike Shop
  • Legacy Award: AmRhein’s, the Roanoke Valley’s oldest jeweler (90 years) and now also a winery.
  • Not-for-Profit Arts & Culture: The Roanoke Regional Partnership
  • Not-for-Profit Health & Human Services: Goodwill Industries of the Valleys

Carilion names Kay Strickland Development Director

Carilion Clinic has named Katherine F. (Kay) Strickland (right) to serve as chief development offficer. She is the former executive director of the Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation and External Relations and was instrumental in establishing the Community College Access Program (CCAP) providing free tuition for high school graduates to attend Virginia Western.

She established an annual giving program for the college; a planned giving program; launched a campaign to raise $7m to support CCAP; and supervised all marketing initiatives for the college.

Ms. Strickland served as Senior Associate Director, Major Gifts and Planned Giving for Hollins University before working for Virginia Western and served as the Executive Director of the Virginia Museum of Transportation before that for 12 years. During her tenure at the Museum Ms. Strickland tripled the size of the museum and raised $2.5 million for capital improvements.

She has served on numerous national, state and local boards including the Council for Resource Development, Virginia Association of Museums, the Commonwealth Council, the Committee to Advance the TransDominion Express, the Roanoke Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Oliver White Hill Foundation. Ms. Strickland received her B.A. in English and Psychology from Hollins University.

Vote for Your Favorite Valley Business FRONT Cover

We're coming down to the deadline for voting on your favorite cover for the past publishing year (October to September) for Valley Business FRONT and we'd love to have your vote. We're going to make it easy for you:

Simply look over these covers, pick the one you like best and e-mail your selection to Simple as that. We'll record your vote and come up with the winner in our November FRONTList issue, the one where we select the best of business each year.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Woods Rogers Forms 'Guidance' Firm

Woods Rogers PLC and Gregory W. Feldmann (right) have announced the formation of Skyline Capital Strategies, LLC, a business advisory firm offering strategic guidance to financial institutions and middle-market companies.

Skyline Capital Strategies will be led by Feldmann, former president and CEO of StellarOne Bank. He has more than 30 years of experience in corporate finance, board and executive leadership positions.

Skyline will provide advisory services in such areas as corporate finance, business strategy and mergers and acquisitions to assist management teams, boards and business owners make strategic decisions about how to grow their companies and how to finance that growth.

The new venture also will serve as an independent advisor on matters related to shareholder value management, ownership changes, reorganizations and re-capitailizations.

“We recognized a need in the marketplace for an experienced business advisor backed by a full-service law firm that can provide companies with the combined expertise and resources to confront the many challenges in today’s economy,” says Nicholas C. Conte, Chairman of the Board of Woods Rogers.

“Our ultimate goal is to support business decision-makers by providing independent, data-driven advice to help them make critical strategic decsions about growing, strengthening and perpetuating their companies,” Feldmann says. “In consolidating industries like commercial banking, for example, it has become more important than ever for executive management teams and boards to routinely assess strategic options in order to determine the best long-term strategy for increasing shareholder value. It is more important than ever for boards and executive management teams to be vigilant about strategic growth alternatives and performance.”

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

She Chooses Makes Startup Competition Cut

She Chooses, a startup business in Blacksburg, has been chosen as one of 55 contestants by Distilled Intelligence 1.0 for its startup business competition, Fifty-five startups have been selected to compete for a chance to win cash and prizes totaling $25,000.

She Chooses, a social application for women, is a product of Virginia-based Wasabi Enterprises, co-owned by Anne Giles Clelland (who writes a column for FRONT), Henry Bass, Gail Billingsly and Laureen Fleming of Blacksburg and Carnegie Mellon student Alex Edelman.

The event hosts and sponsors seek to pair startups with investors with the goal that they will obtain funding as a result of attending this event.

The presenters represent a strong cross-section of technology, including big data, cyber security, clean / green tech, critical infrastructure, disruptive technology, analytics, design, enterprise software, medical IT, mobile commerce, SaaS providers, and social platforms.

Distilled Intelligence 1.0 will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011 in Herndon. The selected companies will present in the first round. Twenty-two will advance to the second round and 11 will compete for the cash and prizes.