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Energy center ‘tip of spear’ for region

County and state officials joined the Halifax County Board of Supervisors, the Board of Directors of the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) and energy center personnel in cutting the ribbon Wednesday morning to officially open the Riverstone Energy Center.

IDA Executive Director Mike Sexton welcomed dignitaries and invited guests and introduced speakers that included 60th District Delegate James Edmunds, State Senator Frank Ruff, Halifax County Administrator George Nester, IDA Board Member and Chairman of the Riverstone Energy Subcommittee W.W. “Ted” Bennett and Director of the Energy Center Dr. Douglas P. Corrigan.

“The reason we are here, in my opinion, is that energy R and D (research and development) projects and commercialization can mean jobs, good-paying jobs and sustainable jobs for our region,” Sexton said. “That is the focus of why we think the energy center is the tip of the spear for our region.”

“It’s great that this community had the foresight to move forward on this project,” said Senator Frank Ruff. “This is the type of thing that you’re going to see more of the tobacco commission doing, working regionally, things that will attract not only national companies but international companies to come and bring their resources, their opportunities and their jobs.” 

“This investment by the board of supervisors and the tobacco commission will pay big dividends through economic development,” Delegate James Edmunds said. “Many of the prospects who have looked at Halifax County most recently are in the energy sector, and we all know the emphasis placed on clean green energy.

“This center will act as a catalyst to help companies get online more quickly and efficiently, and I believe it will give Southside an edge in industrial recruitment for good-paying jobs that will hopefully give our kids a reason to come back home to live, work and raise their families,” Edmunds added. “We are poised for growth here at Riverstone.”

County Administrator George Nester said, “To be standing at the precipice of being able to identify and work with this new technology is something that everybody is going to be very proud of.”

“I think all of us appreciate and understand how vital the tobacco commission’s commitment to these ambitious projects are, not only to give us a launch to serve as a catalyst, but to help us remain viable,” said Chairman of the Energy Subcommittee Ted Bennett, who also recognized the efforts of the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center which partnered with the IDA in the development of the energy center.

Dr. Douglas Corrigan thanked the tobacco commission “for having the bold vision and taking the necessary steps to establish six energy centers and blanket the tobacco footprint.”

Corrigan said the closest energy center to the new Riverstone Energy Center is the Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Energy Efficiency in the innovation building in downtown South Boston. The Southern Virginia Higher Education Center manages that center, he said.

“We’re closely partnered with them on projects already,” he said, “and we look forward to the future partnership and collaboration we’re going to have moving forward.”

Following the opening remarks in the Riverstone Technology Building lobby, the group moved to the energy center where Corrigan and others cut the ceremonial ribbon officially opening the center.

Guests then took guided tours of the energy center with staff providing explanations of the state-of-the-art equipment and technology in the center.

The energy center’s mission is to accelerate the creation of new high-tech jobs in the clean energy sector within Halifax County and Southside Virginia by providing services to start-up and already existing businesses that are either expanding or relocating.

Those services include state-of-the-art resources, incubatory business development programs, research and development activities, capital acquisition through funding mechanisms, human capital and partnerships and networking to movers and shakers.