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Award boosts South Boston business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business in Charlottesville is launching its third annual Tayloe Murphy Resilience Awards competition. Darden is accepting applications and recommendations from qualifying Virginia businesses at www.resilienceawards.org through July 2.

South Boston-based Lindstrand USA, one of five winners last year, says the significant boost in exposure helped hiring at their business. The company encourages businesses in South Boston and Southside Virginia to apply.

 “We received a lot of attention and accolades after winning last year, and it was a lift for our business,” said Angela Lewis, Lindstrand general manager, whose company makes lighter-than-air technology used by the U.S. government and commercially abroad for such things as floating aerostats and hot air balloons. 

“We’ve grown 450 percent in the past five years, and it has helped us attract the best employees possible. It also doesn’t hurt when we are looking for new clients to be able to point to this prestigious accomplishment.”

The Tayloe Murphy Resilience Award honors and supports Virginia entrepreneurial businesses that demonstrate sustained vitality and commitment in areas characterized by high unemployment, high poverty and low entrepreneurial activity.

Through ongoing media coverage, opportunities to engage key business and government leaders and enrollment in a week-long course at Darden’s highly-rated Executive Education program — valued at $8,000-$12,000 — five Resilience Award winners each year receive the recognition and resources to help their company and community continue to grow and succeed.

To assist businesses and communities nationwide, this year’s competition emphasizes how Virginia’s most resilient businesses adapted to—and are helping their communities recover from—the impact of the economic collapse of 2008.

“We are at a critical point in the economic recovery for Virginia and the nation as a whole,” said Darden Professor Greg Fairchild, a nationally-known expert on entrepreneurship. “By analyzing how the most resilient businesses achieved success in spite of the economic climate, we can bring that knowledge to other businesses as their communities seek to build momentum and add jobs.”

Fairchild will continue to study years of data from Virginia businesses entering the competition to determine how the applicants weathered the recession. The data will inform research that identifies strategies and lessons that can apply to other enterprises, regardless of industry or location.

2011 Resilience Award winners from the towns of Melfa, Wise, Woodbridge, Franklin and South Boston have grown profits an average of 42 percent and employment by 20 percent annually over the past five years. These businesses have survived natural disasters, big-box competition and the crippling recession.

Their innovations include lighter-than-air cell technology and award-winning wines coaxed from coal-mined soil. They have bridged cultural divides, supported local charities and brought hope to places where industries have disappeared. Above all, they demonstrated resilience.