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Most advanced training center of its kind opens

The Halifax County Industrial Development Authority unveiled the region's newest asset for economic development - the National Center for Coatings Application, Research and Education (C-CARE) Monday morning.

The Honorable Mary Rea Carter, deputy secretary of commerce and trade, represented Governor Bob McDonnell at the ribbon cutting held at Riverstone Centre. 

Also speaking were Matt Leonard, executive director of the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority, John Cannon, authority chairman and member of the Virginia Tobacco Commission, David Lohr, president and executive director of the Commonwealth Center of Advanced Manufacturing (C-CAM), Dr. Douglas Corrigan, executive director of the Riverstone Energy Center, and Philip Stevenson, founder and president of AWFI.

C-CARE has been more than two years in the making and is a collaboration between the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority, the Riverstone Energy Center and the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center. 

C-CARE has been made possible by funding from the Virginia Tobacco Commission, the Halifax County Board of Supervisors and in-kind contributions of equipment from a network of industrial partners. 

Staffed by AWFI, a leading expert in coatings technology training and process engineering, the coatings center represents a unique public/private partnership that is designed to stimulate economic development and job creation throughout the region.

"With the opening of this facility, Southern Virginia takes another step forward ensuring that our workforce remains the best trained and most productive in the country. The IDA and their partners are to be commended for their foresight," said Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade Carter.

Housed in 12,000 square feet of environmentally controlled space, the center is home to Superfici Flatline and Hangline equipment, Kawasaki Robotics, Robatech Surface Preparation technology and liquid and powder spray booths.

"We can't thank Halifax County and the Higher Education Center enough for all of their support and helping to make C-CARE a reality," said AWFI President Stevenson.

"We are thrilled that the industries in Halifax County and the region will have this asset for training, research and development and limited manufacturing. It will help them with the competitive edge," said Authority Executive Director Leonard.

"The investments that have been made by the county and the tobacco commission are paying huge dividends and receiving international attention. That is why a prestigious publication like lndustryWeek is here this week and why we were able to attract speakers to the symposium with such renowned. These investments and the development of such public/private partnerships are helping to position Southern Virginia to be more competitive in the world market," said Riverstone Energy Center Executive Director Corrigan.

Authority Chairman Cannon pointed to the assets being showcased during this week’s symposium praising the tobacco commission for their funding to the tune of $20 million.

“Monies spent for a common focus between the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center’s Innovation Center and Riverstone Center show the tobacco commission’s leadership to revitalize the economy of Southern Virginia,” Cannon said.

“All of these assets have the same mindset: To provide us with a true ‘one-stop’ concept for advanced manufacturing and education of the workforce for the 21st century,” he added. “These two facilities that you will be visiting are joined together at the hip to provide that synergy.”

Comparing the Riverstone Energy Center and the Research and Development Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Energy Efficiency at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center to the Research Triangle Park in Raleigh, N.C., Cannon said, “We too are realizing the fruits of our vision.”

He explained these assets allow an idea to be taken from the design conceptualization in the research and development center to engineering with modeling and simulation assets to provide validation of that process. Then it’s on to the advanced manufacturing using the most modern CAD/CAM equipment with the most up-to-date software available.

“We also have in place the most important asset, which is the strong, human capital on the applied side, all the way through to the highly entrepreneurial employees of the C-CARE side in the coatings center, which is the final touch for all manufacturing.

“The bottom line here is job creation,” according to Cannon.

Monday morning’s ribbon cutting kicked-off a week long event that includes "The U.S. Renaissance in Advanced Manufacturing" Symposium, Women in Business luncheon, and the IndustryWeek magazine "Excellence in Action" plant tours of ABB and Huber. 

Speakers for the event include Leland Melvin, NASA associate administrator for education and two time space-shuttle astronaut, Will Powers, executive vice president - chief financial officer, Rolls-Royce North

America lnc., Patricia Panchak, editor-in-chief of IndustryWeek magazine, and Petter Fiskerud, vice president and general manager of ABB South Boston. 

Over 20 different courses and workshops are being offered throughout the week in CAD/CAM software technologies, additive manufacturing, robotics, coatings technology and quality control, among other topics.

For more information on or to register for these events, visit