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Funds OKed for new state-of-the-art center in Riverstone

A total of $1,052,000 in tobacco commission funding is headed to Halifax County for the Center for Coatings Applied Research and Education (C-CARE) after members of the Southside Economic Development Committee approved a grant request from the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) Tuesday in Richmond. According to IDA officials, tobacco commission members gave their stamp of approval to establish the state-of-the-art center in Riverstone Technology Park.

Once established, C-CARE will identify and help commercialize solutions in the surface engineering field as well as provide a high-quality workforce in related areas.

“Surface engineering” is concerned with how wood, metal, composite and other surfaces can be coated, treated or otherwise finished to provide specific performance, appearance and/or sustainability characteristics, IDA officials explained following the tobacco commission meeting Tuesday.

The project will occupy the “Hi-Bay” area of the Riverstone Centre and plans to:

• establish a “one-stop-shop” of surface engineering expertise for research, development and workforce development, with equipment and facilities that will attract world-class engineering solutions providers as well as companies seeking research and development services;

• leverage existing assets in the region and state, particularly the modeling/simulation center at Riverstone  Energy Center and the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (C-CAM) in Prince George County (C-CAM research will be extended through a dedicated lab in Riverstone); and

•  provide a location for activity around which companies will choose to locate, resulting in new, high-wage jobs for Southside residents.

County supervisors approved a resolution during its January meeting supporting the IDA’s grant request for funding to establish the C-CARE project at Riverstone.

Supervisors also agreed to provide a 10 percent match contingent on tobacco commission approval of the grant request.

“We are excited that the tobacco commission and the board of supervisors are supporting this project. It is another step forward in advancing the workforce throughout the tobacco region and will be led by the Industrial Development Authority of Halifax County, in partnership with the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center and the University of Virginia,” said Halifax County IDA Executive Director Mike Sexton.

“Congratulations and a sincere thanks to all the IDA staff who worked so hard over Christmas and the holidays and last week, Ed Owens for his tremendous leadership work, influence and persistence with the Tobacco Commission, Dr. Betty Adams for her great letter of support and leadership, David Kenealy who put us on track from the beginning and kept us there, and the board of supervisors for its members’ leadership and unbelievably important full support on such short notice,” said Ted Bennett, IDA board member and committee chair for the project.