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.

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