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State official takes tour of industrial parks, Prizery

Halifax County Industrial Development Authority Board members hosted a luncheon and reception for Virginia Economic Development Partnership President and CEO Martin Briley on Friday at Molasses Grill in Halifax.

Briley, who was hired as the new Virginia Economic Development Partnership President and CEO in October, visited the area prior to the luncheon taking a curbside tour of the county’s industrial park, Riverstone Technology Park and The Prizery.

Earlier, Briley had toured the new Innovation Center at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center.

The reception and lunch followed the authority’s regular monthly meeting held at Riverstone Friday morning.

Board members said they hosted the reception for the new Virginia Economic Development Partnership President and CEO in an effort to continue to develop a relationship between the county and partnership leaders and for him to learn more about what Halifax County has to offer in the areas of energy and advanced manufacturing.

Prior to Briley’s arrival at Riverstone Friday morning, authority board members briefly reviewed a draft copy of the proposed 2012-13 budget that includes a $192,000 deficit based on several one-time expenditures.

Because the budget has not been adopted, board members declined to provide members of the press with copies of the draft budget.

They also delayed taking action on the budget until the next meeting in order to give the finance committee an opportunity to further review it.

Finance Committee Chairman Marcus Hargrave was absent from Friday’s meeting.

With the assistance of staff, Halifax County Industrial Development Authority Executive Director Matt Leonard prepared the budget after assuming his duties earlier this summer.

“I’ll work closely with the finance committee over the next month so we can vote on it at the next meeting,” Leonard said. 

The new executive director told board members he did not like operating the authority without a budget.

“It’s not something I’m comfortable with,” he added.

As director, he said he will “make sure we manage and not spend more than is budgeted and realign assets to use our assets better.”

In other business Friday morning, the board heard updates and reports about the Riverstone Energy Center from Energy Center Director Doug Corrigan.

Corrigan introduced information about the Southern Virginia Modeling, Advanced Manufacturing and Coatings Coalition that is comprised of public and private partnerships as well as educational partners in Halifax County.

The purpose of the coalition is to provide state-of-the-art laboratories, technical resources and inventive human talent to support the product development process; from initial design, all the way to final surface coating.

Included in the coalition are the Modeling and Simulation Center at Riverstone, the R & D Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Energy Efficiency at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center and the National Center for Coatings, Application, Research and Education located at Riverstone.

Corrigan pointed out the national resource for technology access, work force training and research and development now has a new logo and has been renamed as the National Center for Coatings, Application, Research and Education since “we are the only center like this in America,” Corrigan said.

In his report on the modeling and simulation center, Corrigan said three Halifax County High School students in Longwood University’s Digispired program have interned this summer at the center.

Corrigan said he has renamed the incubation center branding it as the “Advanced Technology Commercialization Center” for broader appeal to the companies incubating here.

He also has formed relationships with major research institutions and universities forming relationships with UVA, Virginia Tech, NASA and Oak Ridge National Lab and the Department of Defense.

Corrigan said he has talked with new Halifax County School Superintendent Dr. Merle Herndon about how to bring the resources of the energy center to bear to inspire young minds to pursue careers in technology and science.

Following Corrigan’s updates for board members, Leonard reported on parking lot improvements being made at Riverstone on the additional 82 space lot to be complete by Oct. 1 at a cost of $278,589.50 paid for using money left over from the Faneuil upfit at Riverstone.

The parking lot is expected to be complete before the Oct. 22-26 symposium on the U. S. Renaissance in Advanced Manufacturing to be held at Riverstone when a ribbon cutting will be held for the National Center for Coatings Application Research and Education. 

Leonard also offered an update on permanent and emergency power exploration and upgrades to the the Riverstone Technology Centre and Park to prevent further power outages; upgrades to the phone and computer systems, and reception and office upgrades at Riverstone One.

The authority will receive four new computers and screens and pursue upgrades to phone systems that should decrease monthly usage costs.

The authority also is finalizing plans and determining costs for possible installation of a reception desk in the lobby, and the authority and Glerin Inc. continue to upgrade the authority’s website, Leonard said

He also reviewed a business retention and expansion plan that calls for the executive director to visit current businesses on an ongoing basis, feature an existing business monthly on the authorities new website and in local newspapers, invite an existing business to speak to authority board members every other month during their regularly scheduled board meetings and sponsor a business appreciation event in conjunction with the Governor’s Business Appreciation Week.

In other new business, the authority adopted a resolution to establish a standard design build procedure that can be used for any future projects to minimize the project risk for the authority and to reduce the delivery schedule by overlapping the design phase and construction phase of a project.

According to Leonard, the newly adopted design/build procedures will allow authority board members to look for the best price and best qualifications for highly technical projects to be bid out.

Board members went behind closed doors at the conclusion of the open session to discuss a prospective business or industry, real estate matters, personnel matters and the award of a public contract involving the expenditure of public funds. No action was taken when directors emerged.