Monday, April 30, 2012

Tech Conference To Address Green Building Practices

Construction professionals and representatives from public, private, and nonprofit groups throughout Virginia are gathering in Roanoke to build relationships and exchange ideas for green building innovations.

Harnessing Innovation for Energy Efficient Construction, May 17 and 18, is centered on a theme of bridging industry and education. Held at The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center, the event is a collaboration between a green jobs training program known as CREATES (Construction, Retrofitting, and Energy-Efficiency Assessment Training and Employment Systems) and Virginia Tech.

The industry-focused conference features panels, workshops, and presentations on green building and energy efficiency by leading firms, researchers, and educators. Brent Darnell, one of Engineering News Record’s top 25 newsmakers of 2011, is leading a pre-conference workshop on creating and maintaining professional relationships.

Other speakers include Peter Yost, who has more than 25 years’ experience in building, researching, teaching, writing, and consulting on high-performance homes in his dual roles as director of residential services for BuildingGreen, and as technical director for Taunton Press’

Keynote speaker Jay Murdoch serves as executive director of Efficiency First, an organization that unites home- and building-performance companies, product manufacturers, real estate professionals, and related businesses and organizations to advance the energy efficient construction industry.

On day two of the conference, participants may choose from three tracks of panels and workshops.
  • The Industry + Education track features ongoing discussions addressing the disconnect between industry needs and educational outputs
  • The Industry 2 Industry segment showcases recent developments and innovations in high-performance building and promotes dialogue between industry sectors
  • Policy & Advocacy highlights public and private policies and initiatives impacting the green-construction industry
Sponsors of the event include the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy; New River Center for Energy Research and Training; Appalachian Power Company; the Roanoke Regional Homebuilders Association; and the Department of Building Construction in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech.

Visit the conference website for registration and more information.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bill Rakes Wins First Lawyer Education Award

Bill Rakes
William R. Rakes, a partner of Roanoke-based Gentry Locke Rakes & Moore has won the initial Leadership in Education Award named in his honor and established by The Virginia State Bar Section on the Education of Lawyers in Virginia, in partnership with Gentry Locke.

The award was created to recognize those in the legal community who make significant contributions to the improvement of legal education in Virginia. Mr. Rakes will receive the honor at the 20th anniversary of the Conclave on the Education of Lawyers held in Charlottesville April 22.

Mr. Rakes, former president of the Virginia State Bar and past-president of the American Bar Association Board of Governors has championed the cause of excellence in legal education throughout his career and will receive the award almost 20 years to the day of the inaugural Conclave on the Education of Lawyers he spearheaded in 1992. Mr. Rakes is a 1963 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law.

G. Michael Pace, Jr., Managing Partner at Gentry Locke said, “Bill has long been an advocate for excellence in legal education, the accreditation of law schools, upholding the principles of professionalism of all lawyers and enhancing relations among lawyers, judges, the legal academy and the public.”

“Throughout his career, Bill has set an example of excellence,” continued Pace.  “He believes passionately that excellence in legal education creates lawyers and judges who will also embody the highest ideals of our profession.”

Partnership Launches Promotion Campaign

Roanoke Regional Partnership looking for matching funds (Dan Smith photo).
The Roanoke Regional Partnership today launched a $3 million private sector campaign to further promote the region’s economic development initiatives. Partners In Prosperity, The Next Step is a five-year initiative in which a private sector goal of $3 million will be matched by the public sector in Alleghany, Botetourt, Franklin and Roanoke counties; Roanoke and Salem cities; and the town of Vinton to fund a $6 million program of work.

At the kick-off event held at the Vinton War Memorial, campaign co-chairs Nancy Agee, CEO of Carilion Clinic and John Williamson, III, chairman of RCG Resources, says that the private sector campaign already has raised $2,205,750, or 74 percent of the private sector goal, from 43 businesses.

Through a program of work that includes business attraction, asset development and image building supported by these funds, the Partnership’s goals include creating 3,245 higher wage jobs and bringing in $200 million in capital investment to the area. “The next five years will be critical for the future of the Roanoke region,” says Agee. “We have an opportunity to capitalize on the region’s growth, promote new business alliances, and share the story of the exceptional quality of life that we enjoy here.”

Williamson says that as the economy emerges from a major recession, the region must redouble its efforts to capitalize on upward momentum by attracting high paying jobs in target industries, including food and beverage, transportation equipment, mechatronics, outdoor recreation, and life sciences.

“Economic development is a process, not a project,” Williamson says. “It takes patience, it takes perseverance, it takes funding, and most importantly it takes proactive and thoughtful leadership. But our region is fortunate to have academic research institutions, a productive workforce, central location, advantageous cost structure, and abundant natural amenities that will carry it forward in the coming decades.”

Although founded in 1983, the Partnership is launching only its second organized campaign to stimulate private investment for promoting the region. In 2007, a similar effort funded a strategy that resulted in 24 business locations and expansions in the region, resulting in $88 million in new investment and 1,508 new jobs and a total economic impact of $642,710,597 (IMPLAN).

 In addition to business development, Partnership efforts began branding the region as an outdoor mecca by creating events such as the Blue Ridge Marathon and initiatives such as

Beth Doughty, executive director of the Roanoke Regional Partnership, notes that population growth was one of the goals of the 2007 campaign. Since 2007, the region has seen steady positive growth in the numbers of young adults ages 24-34, reversing earlier trends. The annual compounded population growth rate has improved from 2001 through 2010.

“Through public and private investment, the Partnership makes a difference that is felt though out this region,” says Doughty. “We have had success during the past five years despite a negative economy. Now is the time to build on this success and recommit to significant growth by 2017.”

Friday, April 20, 2012

Women Open New Roanoke Architectural Firm

Gwyn Gilliam (left) and Lora Katz have a new architectural firm.

Lora Katz and Gwyn Gilliam have opened Gilliam-Katz Architecture + Design in Roanoke after “first considering a different type of business, but really, this is all we know and love. We couldn't really commit to anything else,” says Lora.

She has been among the higher-profile architects in the Roanoke Valley for some years with several firms, most notably as the director of the local office of Clark Nexsen. Gwyn was recently part of a significant layoff at AECOM and had had her own architectural firm for 15 years in before that.

“I was ready for a change,” says Lora. “It all comes back to what makes you happy. Personally, I have had a tough year, but now have a new sense of calm and purpose. Gwyn had her own firm in Charlottesville for 15 years before moving to the star city. It just seemed like a good fit."

Their new office is in Gwyn’s basement and they have a part-time architectural intern./Lora has been at the point on some signature Roanoke Valley projects recently, most recently with IDG. She was involved in the dining renovation for the Wells Fargo Operations Center, renovations and additions to the Smith Central Activities Building at the 4H Center at SML and the gymnasium / classroom addition at Preston Park Elementary School. Clark Nexsen was previous with projects for HomeTown Bank, Gentry Locke Rakes & Moore, the Culinary School at Patrick Henry High School and the Gymnasium addition at Grandin Court Elementary School. Like Gwyn, she worked for AECOM, as well.

Lora points out that “we are the only female owned architecture firm in the Roanoke Valley, but the main thing is that we do it all. Most often the project manager or principal goes to meet with the client, then they go back to the office and tell their staff what to do to accomplish the goals of the client. Something usually gets lost in translation and the client wonders why something they said was not addressed.”

The women have a goal of “making residential design affordable, so that more folks will use architects.” She says that “I have an interior design degree and background and this will help us to not just complete the building, but to create the whole environment.” GKAD is working on commercial projects at the moment, as well.

--Story and Photo by Dan Smith

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Business in Pictures: Chamber Business Expo

Bart Wilner of Entre pins a flashing star on the Chamber's Kristi Sutherland.

Mardi Belfour of Friendship Retirement Community talks eldercare.

Photographer Jim Markey takes a group shot of U.S. Cellular exhibit.

Realtor Dana Patrick and Dina Bennett of Mountain Shepherd Survival School chat.

The Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce's Business Expo drew a substantial crowd today at the Roanoke Civic Center's exhibit hall on a beautiful spring day. Here is some of what was going on and will continue until 7 p.m.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Bacova To Re-Open Roanoke Factory Outlet

The Bacova Factory Outlet Store, which had a run in downtown Roanoke a few years ago, will return to the Roanoke Valley with a grand opening on Tuesday, May 1.

Located at 3505 Franklin Road (next to Curves), the 2,600 square foot store will be the area’s only exclusive outlet retailer of Bacova Guild, Ltd. printed accent rugs (accent, kitchen and hearth in a variety of fabrics, including cotton, sisal, nylon, and polypropylene); printed floor mats (indoor and outdoor); bathroom ensembles (toothbrush holders, wastebaskets, soap dishes, tumblers, tissue cubes, lotion dispensers, shower curtain hooks, shower curtains, and hand and bath towels), and bath rugs (nylon and cotton) at discounted pricing.

Founded in 1965 in Bath County, Bacova Guild Ltd. is a leading design-focused manufacturer and importer of innovative and distinctive d├ęcor products. The company is headquartered in Low Moor, Virginia and maintains a showroom in New York City.

Bacova Factory Outlet Store hours will be Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Bacova Factory Outlet Store is independently owned and managed by Jonathon Delumyea, who brings his experience in the home fashion industry to the new outlet. Delumyea served as a Territory Manager with Gulistan Carpet, a manufacturer of fine residential carpets. Both Bacova Guild, Ltd. and Gulistan Carpet are subsidiaries of Rocky Mount-based Ronile Inc., a supplier of custom space-dyed accent yarns.

RBTC Hires New Executive Director

The Roanoke - Blacksburg Technology Council (“RBTC”) announced today that it has named Mr. Derick Maggard (right) as its new executive director, replacing Cory Donovan, who will leave the area because his veterinarian wife is taking advantage of a significant career opportunity.

Maggard will be responsible for the management of RBTC and the implementation of its initiatives, concentrating on serving, promoting, and growing the technology industry in the Roanoke - Blacksburg region of Virginia.

“We are very pleased to have Derick join the RBTC and take a key leadership role in the Roanoke – Blacksburg region," says Marty Muscatello, president of the RBTC and CEO of CCS-Inc. "Derick brings an energy and perspective to the execution of RBTC’s mission that will benefit not only the technology community, but also the region as a whole.”

Muscatello says, “Maggard has a breadth of experience that will be valuable to the local technology community and help contribute to our region’s future.”

Maggard holds a B.A. in political science and business management from Southern Virginia University and is enrolled in the Master of Public Administration program at Virginia Tech. Maggard will be welcomed by the RBTC membership and officially take the helm as the ED at the organization’s TechNite Awards banquet on May 10 at the Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

LewisGale Gets on the Fast Track

Patients with minor emergencies can now get quicker access to care through Fast Track, a dedicated area within the emergency department at LewisGale Hospital Montgomery designed to get patients treated and out the door within 60 minutes of arrival.

Upon arriving at the emergency department, patients who are found to have minor medical conditions are routed to Fast Track. This area is staffed separately by a nurse and physician assistant or nurse practitioner and is equipped with two patient care bays and a waiting area for results.

“With Fast Track we’ve improved the overall efficiency of our emergency department and that has reduced the wait times for all our patients,” said Lisa Edwards, Emergency Department Director.

Construction is also underway for a new registration/triage area to further improve patient flow in the emergency department. This renovation will make it possible for patients to be screened by a nurse and to undergo their initial registration as soon as they arrive. The new registration/triage area is expected to be completed within the next seven weeks.

Battery Breakthrough for Blacksburg Company; Expands Facility

Power Hub Systems, a start-up in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center in Blacksburg , is providing a new version of battery electric storage in one of the nation’s largest municipal solar projects.In February the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) installed the first bi-directional storage battery system developed by PowerHub.

Meanwhile, PowerHub is expanding its headquarters in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center to 2,800 square-feet in Research Building VII.

These bi-directional battery storage units add significant value and viability to large-scale solar electricity systems. The power storage systems, referred to as Community Energy Storage (CES), can store either solar or other grid-generated electricity until it is required either in the local neighborhood or by the grid.

“The ‘always-on or always-available’ nature of electric power is fundamental to its success over the last century. Homeowners simply expect the power to be ready when they hit the switch. But solar power is dependent on the sun, which is not always available. Our new energy storage system make solar more viable for large-scale utility use,” says Glenn Skutt, president of Power Hub.

This concept, either storing power or providing power, is essential to the implementation of “Smart Grid” technology, which allows the integration of renewable energy into the nation’s power grid and greater operating flexibility to utilities in their delivery of electrical power.

“Our competitive advantage is that we have developed a system from the ground up with unique control technology that allows the units to supply power to the neighborhood circuit without disturbing the power quality and makes them quickly responsive to utility commands,” saysJack Lesko, PowerHub VP for engineering and business development.

This bidirectional battery storage system, PowerHub’s most significant technology project to date, came about in 2009 when the company teamed with GridPoint, an established leader in smart energy solutions, to develop the storage units and integrate the CES appliances into GridPoint’s energy management console for grid monitoring and control.

Monday, April 9, 2012

J.M. Turner Merges, Forms New Construction Company

Jay Turner: Alliance "will allow us to expand the market area."

Blueprint Construction Services Inc. and J.M. Turner & Company of Roanoke have formed what they are calling a "strategic alliance" to become Turner Long Construction, Inc.

J.M. Turner & Company, a second generation general contractor specializing in healthcare, office buildings, educational, industrial, and hospitality sectors has been in business for more than 72 years. J. M. Turner is a second generation privately held company led by CEO James (Jay) M. Turner, Jr. and President Michael H. Fariss. The company has been involved in a number of high profile projects in the region for many years.

Blueprint Construction Services, based in Sterling, is a large general contractor and construction management firm, specializing in new construction and renovation projects for healthcare, data centers, commercial and government clients throughout the Washington D.C., Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia region led by President Boyd W. Long Jr.

Long says, J.M. Turner Construction will "bring a wealth of resources led by a seasoned senior level management team with experienced administration and field personal. The industry has changed in the past five years due to the economic climate and both parties realized a need to change business models to compete in today’s market. The companies have an array of talented people and a wealth of resources that together will allow us to reach farther than we could as separate entities."

Turner says, "This strategic alliance will allow us to expand the market area for Turner Long by combining the strength and experience of both companies. We are pleased to find a partner that shares the same goals of customer satisfaction and construction excellence. The synergies created by this combination will allow us to take advantage of the pent up construction demand as we come out of this recession that has so adversely impacted the construction market."

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

BFF Style/Etiquette Conference Begins at Hotel Roanoke

Valley Business FRONT Publisher kicks off BFF Conference.

The room was nearly full for the first BFF Conference.

Valley Business FRONT's first Best Foot Forward style/etiquette conference kicked off at the Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center this afternoon with a nearly full house. The conference features five speakers, a fashion show and a business dinner where learning will be as important as the food. It continues until 8 o'clock tonight.