Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Betsy Parkins: PRSA's Illuminator

Betsy Parkins
Betsy Parkins, director of social media at Neathawk Dubuque & Packett, has received the Illuminator Award from the Blue Ridge Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.
The award is given annually to a member who “is a bright spot in the group, who lights up the organization with positive attitude and many contributions.

Parkins has served as professional development chair for a chapter of more than 80 public relations and marketing professionals in western Virginia.

“We’re immensely proud of Betsy and her recognition for what many of our clients already know – Betsy has many bright ideas that are making a difference, whether for a professional organization or a marketing challenge,” said Roger Neathawk, CEO. “This award, symbolized by a giant light bulb, is the perfect icon for Betsy’s many contributions.”

Monday, December 17, 2012

Expansion Set at Homestead Creamery; 20 New Jobs

Homestead Creamery's Farm Market Store
Franklin County-based Homestead Creamery, known for its home delivery, plans to expand its facilities and introduce a line of cheeses as part of a $1.1 million expansion supported by a new state grant designed to support Virginia’s agricultural industry.

The expansion is expected to create 20 new full-time jobs over three years at the dairy’s Franklin County production facility.

Announcing the expansion at Homestead, Viginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said, “Awarding the first-ever Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund (AFID) grant to a company like Homestead Creamery ...  is the perfect way to launch this new program from my administration’s economic development and jobs creation agenda.

"Homestead is just the type of company for which this program was built, one that can take the high-quality agricultural products Virginia has to offer and turn them into value-added products consumers are seeking. I’m certain the AFID will provide further growth opportunities for Virginia’s diverse agricultural economy, the Commonwealth’s largest industry.”

Homestead will receive a $60,000 grant through the fund, established this year by the General Assembly as a new economic development tool to help incentivize the creation or expansion of businesses that use Virginia agricultural and forestry products, particularly in rural areas.

The expansion also is made possible by a $45,000 grant through the Tobacco Region Opportunity Fund from the Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission and a Franklin County grant of $30,000. The company will also receive training assistance from the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.


Women's Foundation Presents Record Award Amounts

Pictured recipients (from left): Mark Powell and Duane D’Ardenne, Roanoke Community Garden Association; Kathy Chittum and Mary Jean Levin, Grandin Theatre Foundation; Jenny Neel and Denise Yopp, Bethany Hall; Tonia Drewery and Ana Smith Goller, Legal Aid Society of Roanoke Valley

The Roanoke Women’s Foundation (RWF), a component fund of Foundation for Roanoke Valley, has announced four recipients of its grant awards, at $262,000 the largest total given to date.

The latest grants presented in December, bring to $1,506,000 the total in grants funded since the organization’s inception in 2004.

“In our eighth year, with 131 members, The Roanoke Women’s Foundation has now exceeded over $1.5 million in total giving; a significant achievement this year in a down economy” says Kandy Elliott, co-founder of the RWF.  Elliott and co-founder Ginny Jarrett established the RWF as a way for women in the Roanoke and New River Valleys to pool their philanthropic goals and resources in order to make significant gifts to the community.

“The growth of The Roanoke Women’s Foundation over the years has been exceptional, and these latest awards continue the tradition that RWF has built of making high-impact, transformative grants,” added Alan Ronk, executive director of Foundation for Roanoke Valley.

Now in its eighth year, RWF has funded 30 organizations and programs.  This year, 48 organizations applied for funding from the RWF.  Through a rigorous grant making process, that number was narrowed to a group that was presented to the membership for their vote.  Based on those results, the following grants were awarded in the 2012 grant cycle: 

Bethany Hall, Inc. - $60,000 to support its “Kitchen Renovation” project for the women in their residential and day treatment substance abuse program.  Their kitchen is at the heart of this healing community; last year it produced 10,863 meals and provided an empowering opportunity to create baked goods and treats used in the women’s fundraising efforts.  Existing appliances and cabinetry are woefully inadequate.  This funding will include upgrading appliances to commercial quality, new cabinets, and a moveable work table.  Bethany Hall is only one of two single-gender, long term programs in Virginia that allow children and newborns to remain with their mothers in treatment. 

Grandin Theatre Foundation, Inc. - $95,000 to upgrade their 35 mm projection equipment to digital equipment.  While 35 mm film was the movie industry standard for over 100 years, in the near future it will no longer be a viable technology.  This grant will enable the Grandin to remain competitive and viable in order to show newly released films.  The Roanoke Women’s Foundation grant will help to offset the total project cost of $275,000. The Grandin will launch a public campaign to raise additional funding needed to complete the conversion. 

Roanoke Community Garden Association - $70,000 to provide funds to design, build and start the Association’s fourth garden, The Mountain View Garden.  The garden will be built on the adjacent vacant lot by the Mountain View Community Center.  The new garden will serve the Mountain View, Grandin Road, Old Southwest and downtown neighborhoods.  The gardens increase locally grown organic food or hundreds of underprivileged and handicapped citizens as well as refugees and immigrants.  Residents who register to use a plot are asked to pay $20 and volunteer an hour a week to help maintain their bed and help others.  This location provides a flat plot and plenty of space for aspiring gardeners. 

Legal Aid Society of Roanoke Valley - $37,000 to partially fund a staff attorney designated as the domestic violence specialist. The balance of funds needed will be provided through another grant and general funds.  Domestic violence is a persistent problem in our communities.  Reported cases have risen dramatically (45.9% in 2010).  Intervention can save a victim’s life, save her or his home and the home of any children involved, and has an impact beyond those immediately involved.  Legal Aid is the only organization in the valley that provides a full range of legal representation to victims of domestic violence. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Seven Montgomery Winners Among Gap 50

The Center for Innovative Technologies (CIT) announced the winners of the Gap 50 Entrepreneur Awards today in Herndon.  Part of Governor Bob McDonnell’s “Year of the Entrepreneur” initiative, the statewide program is intended to identify and celebrate Virginia’s next generation of entrepreneurs who are creating high-growth companies.  Winners from Montgomery County include: 

Hussein Ahmed, Founder and CEO of, Blacksburg. 

Coming from Egypt to Virginia, Hussein got his PhD in Computer Science from Virginia Tech. Staying in Blacksburg, he joined VTLS Inc. as a Software Engineer making his way up to Engineering Manager in two years. Hussein started a number of businesses with thousands of users and several press coverages. He was named this year by Roankoe Times as "Coders Rockstar" and his last startup was selected from among 174 as a finalist in Evernote's 2012 Devcup competing next for the Grand Prize in San Fancisco. 

Doug Juanarena, Vice President of RackSpace Hosting, Blacksburg. 

Doug Juanarena has been a serial entrepreneur for the past 35 years as a founder & CEO of three sensor and instrumentation startups. In 2005, he founded GenTek Ventures to mentor startup founders and help raise private equity. He is a board member for the Va Tech/ Carilion NewVa venture capital fund. Over the past 25 years, he has been a board member and director of a number of technology advocacy groups and University advisory boards. 

Nathan Latka, Co-founder and CEO of Heyo, Blacksburg. 

Learning from Warren Buffet, and desiring larger profit margins and visibility, Nathan taught himself FBML. This followed the launch of Fan Page Factory which dominated as the major provider of customized Fan Pages for small business.He headed sales, social marketing, and community engagement. Eventually, he couldn’t personally handle all of the work the Fan Page Factory brand was creating. He then partnered with Brian Putt and Joshua Gunter to launch Lujure. The Lujure platform is a DIY drag and drop fan page customization tool. Nathan heads sales, marketing, and product development under his CEO title. 

Peter Lazar, CEO of eBroselow, Blacksburg. 

Peter Lazar is co-founder of eBroselow, LLC. With partners Dr. Jim Broselow (the inventor of the Broselow Tape) and Dr. Bob Luten, Lazar developed a web and mobile-based clinical support system for hospitals and EMS. Launched in 2010 and now licensed to over 150 hospitals and over 7000 medical professionals, Lazar hopes it will save many lives by preventing medical errors. Formerly, Peter Lazar founded an award-winning mobile video technology and successful web development company.

Jack Lesko, Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg.  

Jack serves as the Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Studies in VT’s College of Engineering and is co-founder and principle of PowerHub Systems, a 2008 startup headquartered in the VT Corporate Research Center. Through this startup experience with PowerHub, Jack is working with the university community and the local startup ecosystem to support students and faculty developing new technology based ventures through structured and practical entrepreneurial training opportunities. 

Caroline Pugh, COO of VirtualU, Blacksburg. 

Caroline is the COO and Co-Founder of VirtualU, a company based on integrating 3D human modeling technology into the e-commerce industry. Caroline is the former President of the Virginia Tech Entrepreneur Club where she raised a record amount of over $11,000 for the club, organized the annual student team competition (VT $5K), helped to introduce the first entrepreneurship classes with in the College of Science and host weekly week networking and speaking events. Currently working with university officials and entrepreneurs to help build an Entrepreneurship Center at Virginia Tech that would help fund innovative technologies and help commercialize them. To build entrepreneurship on a more national and global level, Caroline serves as the President for the DC region and Director of Partnerships for Kairos Society, one of the largest and most prominent, student run entrepreneurship organizations.

Bob Summers, Chief Geek of Friendeo, Blacksburg. 

Bob Summers has developed and marketed commercial software applications for consumers and enterprises since 1994. He is currently Chief Geek @ Friendeo, his fifth startup. Mr. Summers has a BS in computer engineering from Virginia Tech and MBA from MIT Sloan. He is founder of 460 Angels and TechPad.
CIT President and CEO Pete Jobse was quoted in a press release as saying:  “We are honored to recognize these entrepreneurs today as part of the Year of the Entrepreneur and the CIT GAP 50 Entrepreneur Awards.  They represent Virginia’s thriving community of innovative entrepreneurs who are laying the foundation for a bright economic future.”

Winners from Roanoke include:     Eddie Amos, senior vice president and CTO, Meridium; Kevin Bloomfield, president and CEO, NetVentures; and Sam English, president and CEO, Attention Point, Roanoke. 

Over 800 entrepreneurs from across Virginia were nominated for the CIT Gap 50 Entrepreneur Awards.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Sarah Beth Jones Cited as FRONT's Top Contributor for 2012

Contributor of the year Sarah Beth Jones.
Top columnist Mike Miller with Publisher Tom Field.
Editor's Awatd winner Randolph Walker.
Valley Business FRONT presented its writer awards todayat Hunting Hills Country Club for 2012 and Sarah Beth Jones took the top prize as Contributor of the Year.
Laura Purcell

Sarah was cited for the overall excellence of her work, including two cover stories that were finalists for Story of the Year.

That award went to Laura Purcell for her story "Unions!" Sarah Beth's story, "Tattoos," was the runnerup.

Mike Miller, the FRONT's technology columnist, was named Columnist of the Year and Randolph Walker won the Editor's Award.