Thursday, March 29, 2012

More Than Business at Business After Hours

Nick Campagnoli of IDA (Interactive Digital Arts) shows off his Blues Brothers-style outfit at the chamber Business After Hours. He picked it up in Tampa.

Nick's tie is eaten alive with cool.

The free food table had its supporters.

Shireen Buckley gets a 'do' from a Zee's Salon stylist.

Ariel Bowman takes a runway shot of a just-finished hairstyle by Zee's.

Stan Robinson records Zee's Sol doing a hairstyle.

The Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce's Business After Hours event tonight at the Sheraton was a whole lot more than business people wandering around talking. Among other things, Zee's Salon was in styling mode and worked on a number of men and women.

The business crowd threw down fancy food, chatted and ... well, did business. The crowd nearly filled the room shortly after starting.

Cynthia Willis To Retire, Close Twist & Turns

Cynthia Willis (right), furniture designer and owner of Twist & Turns, e will retire and close her retail location after 20 years in business. Willis intends to dedicate some of her time marketing her manufacturing facility as well as continue her work as a design consultant.

Willis will continue to operate her manufacturing facility on Campbell Avenue; designing and manufacturing her unique, one-of-a-kind products. Twist & Turns at Valley View Mall in the District will close on April 30th, 2012; a clearance sale starts this Friday.

"I want to thank our many customers for their support these last 20 years and we hope to see you in the final days of our sale," she says. "In the future, please visit us at our manufacturing facility, downtown Roanoke.”


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pamplin's Sorensen To Retire in 2013

Virginia Tech's Pamplin College of Business Dean Richard Sorensen (right) will retire in July 2013 after serving the college for 31 years.

Before being appointed dean and professor of management science (now business information technology) at Virginia Tech in July 1982, Sorensen led Appalachian State University’s business school for nine years; thus, he will have been a dean for 40 years.

Under his leadership, the Pamplin College expanded student enrollments and academic programs; developed new international, leadership, ethics, and diversity programs; created new advising and career services for students and outreach services for businesses; and completed two major fundraising campaigns that exceeded their goals.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

WDBJ7 Dominates Nielsen Ratings Locally Again

(Kimberly McBroom, right in photo, conducts inverview on her top-rated "Mornin'" show) >

WDBJ7 (CBS) in Roanoke, which for many years has had the top-rated local news at 6 p.m., but had slipped in recent months, has again showed an impressive gain. The station achieved a 7.9 Nielsen rating in the 25-54 demographic in February 2012 compared to a 4.1 rating a year earlier.

The newscast has had significant turnover recently with its longtime anchor Keith Humphry retiring and almost the entire sports staff rotating. Most of WDBJ7s newscasts not only trended upward, but several broadcasts doubled and tripled ratings when compared to the February 2011 ratings period.

WDBJ7 President and General Manager Jeffrey Marks says he is particularly gratified that expanded editorial and production resources for WDBJ7 "Mornin’," which airs Monday-Friday from 5 to 7 a.m., resulted in a tripling of audience in one year. It went from a 2.3 rating a year ago to a 5.9. The news at 6 p.m. is anchored by Jean Jadhon and newcomer Chris Hurst with weather from the popular Robin Reed and sports with Travis Wells. The newscast at 6 p.m. has nearly as many viewers as its two competitors combined.

WDBJ7 at noon, anchored by Kimberly McBroom, enjoys a huge lead over the competition with a 9.0 household rating, compared to 3.8 and 0.6 ratings from its competitors. At 5:00 p.m. WDBJ7 again has more viewers than its two competitors combined. At 11:00 p.m. WDBJ7, anchored by Hollani Davis and Chris Hurst, leads the competition in household ratings. With the only weekend morning news in the market, WDBJ7’s Saturday and Sunday morning newscasts had a fourfold growth from February 2011 to February 2012.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Foundation Gives 'Food Bank' Another $50,000

Katherine Walker of the Foundation announces donation of $50,000.

Foundation's Kandy Elliott addresses press conference.

The Roanoke Women's Foundation today awarded $50,000 to Feeding America Southwest Virginia to help keep the food coming. The foundation is a component of The Foundation of the Roanoke Valley. It is the latest large donation in a series from the foundation.

The former Food Bank has been a source of emergency food in the past, but with the uncertain economy that food has been required on a daily basis for many. More than 360,000 people in this region have been termed "food insecure." "We recognize food is medicine and the need to distribute nutritional food to the hungry is imperative," says Pam Irvine, president and CEO of Feeding America SW Virginia.

The Roanoke Women's Foundation Food Purchase Program offers affordable access to most of the items on the "needed" list. Past gifts from the Women's Foundation have provided 413,725 meals, valued at $292,008.

"The last three decades of service to this region has taught us that we cannot do our work without the support of community leaders like the Roanoke Women's Foundation and The Foundation for Roanoke," says Irvine.

(Dan Smith photos)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Ten Finalists Announced for Entrepreneur Challenge

VT KnowledgeWorks in Blacksburg has announced the finalists in the Student and Open Business Concept Competitions to be held on April 11 at the Fourth Annual Entrepreneurship Challenge at The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center, Blacksburg, Virginia.

The 10 finalist teams will present their business concepts before a panel of angel investors and business leaders as well as those attending the challenge. Participants in the student competition represent Virginia Tech and participants of the Open Competition represent the New River and Roanoke Valleys.

The winning team in the Open Competition receives $5,000 in start-up services from VT KnowledgeWorks plus workspace in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center for one year.

The winning team in the Virginia Tech Competition receives $10,000 in scholarships plus workspace in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center for summer 2012.

The winning Student team also qualifies to compete in the 2012 VT KnowledgeWorks Global Student Challenge for which the team will receive a week-long, expense-paid celebration of student entrepreneurship and may win the $25,000 grand prize.

The finalist student teams from Virginia Tech include AcMo Technologies, ECLIPSE, GreenStar, HALO, and YouFolio.

Finalists of the Open Competition include Cloud Conservatory, Dive Into Research, Feel. Think. Choose., Out of the Box-Informed Choice:College Snapshot, and Universities Inc.

The competition encourages students and entrepreneurs to develop their entrepreneurial ideas, enhances their understanding of the requirements for a successful business venture, and showcases the creativity of students at Virginia Tech and entrepreneurs of the New River and Roanoke Valleys.

Fees for this all-day event including competitions, luncheon, and awards presentation are $30 for students and $50 for non-students. Contact Christine Spalding for details at 540-443-9100 or via email at

Register online at

Descriptions of the student finalist teams include:
  • AcMo technology is developing a breakthrough in touchscreen ergonomics which allows women to fluidly interact with their touchscreen devices.
  • Using simple software solutions, ECLIPSE promises to help institutions and individuals in the geological community to better manage their collections and materials.
  • GreenStar is a solution to energy management and home automation.
  • Opaque and Transparent Impact/Kinetic Energy Attenuating Systems.
  • YouFolio changes the paradigm of the resume with its Web 2.0 content management system that allows members to upload their works and make a portfolio of their abilities that they can share with the world.
Descriptions of the open finalist teams include:
  • Cloud Conservatory provides on-demand university level music education through the use of recorded music lectures and private webcam lessons.
  • Dive Into Research helps researchers raise research resources from public and industry; presents researchers’ work in popular science language to public in real time.
  • Feel. Think. Choose is an algorithm-based, customizable, "white label" enterprise software, available to users in both web and mobile versions, offered to organizations and corporations who serve populations with behavioral health management needs.
  • Out of the Box-Informed Choice is a web presence database of virtual classroom sample (segments/class) linked by program profile and potentially to work/business connections and eventually to plug in analysis.
  • Universities Inc. is powering the new business model of education through technology driven relationships.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

An Overview of FRONT's Style and Etiquette Conference

Natalie Faunce (right) interviews Carolyn Kiser and Tom Field about BFF.

Here is a great overview of the Best Foot Forward conference that Valley Business FRONT is putting on April 4 at the Hotel Roanoke & Conference.

In this segment of Daytime Blue Ridge with Natalie Faunce (which is 4.5 minutes long), Publisher Tom Field and HomeTown Bank marketing director Carolyn Kiser talk about what the conference means, what it will include and how you can register.

Here's the link.

IA Executives Win State Award from SBA

< Photo: Interactive Achievement's John Hagmaier with Chamber's Joyce Waugh at Chamber awards.

Roanoke-based Interactive Achievement, which builds software used in Virginia school systems to assess students’ Standards of Learning progress, has been honored by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Richmond District Office. It has chosen four executives at the company as Small Business Persons of the Year for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

“SBA’s Small Business Week awards are among the most prestigious awards in the nation recognizing small business success,” says Jayne Armstrong, District Director for the SBA. “The SBA is honored to recognize a small business like Interactive Achievement for its many contributions to Virginia’s economy.” (FRONT editor Dan Smith was named Small Business Journalist of the Year by the SBA in 2005.)

Jonathan L. Hagmaier, C.E.O.; Mary V. Hagmaier, Director of Corporate Relations; Matthew Muller, Solutions Architect, and Jacob E. Gibson, VP of Business Development will be among the nine people receiving awards May 18. As the winner of the state award, Interactive Achievement will represent Virginia in the 2012 National Small Business Person of the Year competition.

“This is truly an honor for Interactive Achievement,” said Jonathan Hagmaier. “We had a vision that teachers should be able to access data immediately so they could make adjustments to improve the learning experience for their students. Here we are six years later and thousands of teachers are using our solution to help students. This award validates the tireless efforts of our entire team.”

This award follows quickly on the heels of regional recognition by the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce and Roanoke Regional Small Business Development Center, which named Interactive Achievement the 2011 Small Business of the Year.

Style Conference Generating Buzz in Market

Kathy Lamanca (right) with Natalie Faunce.

Stuart Mease (left) on "Daytime Blue Ridge."

Best Foot Forward World Class Conference, the gathering at the Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center April 4, 3-8 p.m., is generating a lot of buzz, some of it on television.

Here are three recent appearances by conference staff members (Tom Field, the director, Kathy Lamanca and Stuart Mease) on Roanoke television stations WSLS and WDBJ7. The conference deals with style, etiquette and manners--some of it international--as they apply to your daily business dealings.

Take a look:



And here.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cool Cities Coalition Presents Environmental Awards

Cool Cities Coalition Award Winners (above). Below is FRONT editor Dan Smith (left, and a former Media honoree), presenting the media award to Gene Marrano, who contributes to FRONT.

The Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission (RVARC) was named the coolest organization in the Roanoke region at today’s All Affiliate Conference of the Roanoke Valley Cool Cities Coalition.

Wayne Strickland, RVARC’s Executive Director, accepted the award on behalf of the Commission while Richard Flora, Chairman of the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors, and Court Rosen of Roanoke City Council presented the award.

RVARC garnered the Special Achievement Cool Citizen award for its leadership in regional sustainability efforts. Other winners are:
  • RIDE Solutions - Creative strategies to encourage bicycling, carpooling and other alternative transportation
  • Volunteers for Energy - free energy audits and recommendations for local organizations
  • Partnership for a Livable Roanoke Valley - planning to promote economic vitality, environmental quality, and equal opportunity in the Roanoke region
The award honors individuals and organizations that have done the most to reduce harmful emissions during the past year. Other winners included:
  • Brandon Oaks and Bench Mark Builders, Business
  • Roger Holnback (Western Virginia Land Trust) and Mark Jackson (New River Center for Energy Research and Training), Nonprofit
  • Journalist Gene Marrano, Media. (Marrano is a FRONT contributor and the magazine’s second winner of this award. Editor Dan Smith won two years ago)
  • Janet Scheid, Mary and Doug McCallum, Individual
The conference also featured a stirring presentation by Dr. Melissa Booth titled “Changing Climate, Changing Oceans: What Does It Mean for Citizens of Virginia?” Booth is a marine biologist who recently managed a University of Georgia research station on Sapelo Island.

Marrano is an award-winning freelance print, radio and cable television journalist who has reported on environmental issues and interviewed "green" newsmakers for more than 15 years in the Roanoke Valley.

Brandon Oaks has positioned itself as the green retirement community of choice in the region with its advertising campaigns and, more importantly, Cool Green Biz certification through the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce and the construction of the newest addition, The Pines.

Suzi Fortenberry (and her husband Brent) of Bench Mark Builders have developed and built the Preserve at Two Ford, where every single home is Earth Craft certified. She is a longtime member of the Roanoke County Community Environmental Action Roundtable.

Jackson of the New River Center for Energy Research and Training, part of Community Housing Partners, provides training in state-of-the-art residential energy conservation techniques, home performance testing, and heating and cooling equipment diagnostics, repair and replacement.

Holnback of the Western Virginia Land Trust has led the Land Trust to preeminent status in Southwest Virginia, finding new donors, enlarging the holdings and protecting land from unchecked development. He recently retired.

Mary and Doug McCallum earned a permit to erect the first small wind turbine in Roanoke County on their property. They have educated others on the benefits of clean, renewable energy by speaking out in public meetings and as presenters at the 2011 Green Living and Energy Expo.

Janet Scheid supports energy conservation and greenhouse gas reduction in Roanoke County and the region through her service on the Roanoke County Community Environmental Action Roundtable and the Greenway Commission. She spoke out publically in support of Roanoke County's ICLEI membership.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Best Foot Forward on WDBJ7 Sunday Morning

Publisher Tom Field and Kathy Lamanca appeared this morning on WDBJ7 with Susan Bahorich to talk about Valley Business FRONT's modestly titled Best Foot Forward World Class Etiquette Conference April 4 at the Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center.

Here is a link to the show.

The BFF, as we tend to call it, will feature a fashion show, dinner and classes from some of the most knowledgeable people in this region regarding business dress, etiquette and even looking for a job. It is a must-attend for HR people, those looking for work, those wanting to rise through the ranks or just for those wanting to put their best feet forward. The cost is a deal: $85.

You can find out more information on the conference at

Friday, March 2, 2012

Arts Council Awards Regional Art Grants

The Arts Council of the Blue Ridge has awarded five $1,000 grants to regional artists for their professional development during the second round of funding of the Grants for Artists Program (GAP).

This year the guidelines were adapted to allow collaborative projects along with individual proposals which were awarded in two funding cycles. The first round of grants funded 14 artists in individual and collaborative projects with $5,500 bringing the total amount of awards this year to $10,500.

This cycle’s Grants for Artists Program recipients are :
  • Jennifer Anderson working in printmaking and paper cutting;
  • Alison Hall and Clover Archer Lyle in a collaborative project to “engage with viewers, demonstrate the extent to which the arts contribute to the vitality of the community and strengthen educational relationships;”
  • Robert Sulkin, a photographer working with ”the constructed image”;
  • Annie Waldrop’s project, Sowing Seeds, which will coincide with the Taubman’s Sidewalk Art Show and engage viewers with art that uses technology and choreography to stimulate an ever-evolving creative narrative;
  • Bill White developing a new body of work in painting based on the urban landscape from varied perspectives.
All 2011-2012 Grants for Artists Recipients will be recognized at this year’s Perry F. Kendig Awards on Tuesday, May 1, held at the Taubman Museum of Art.