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Institute for Advanced Learning touts regionalism, extends hand to Halifax

SoVaNow.com / February 24, 2014


Jerry Gwaltney, executive director of Danville’s Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR), appeared before members of the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority on Friday morning to tout the Institute’s renewed vision on regionalism.

“Bringing people together is a benefit for everyone,” said Gwaltney, who prior to joining the Institute worked as city manager of Danville.

Looking back at that time, Gwaltney said he realizes that he may have seen things a bit differently then.

Now, however, he believes territorial thinking is one of the major weaknesses of the area: “It’s a new day, new leadership and we’re determined to make it work.”

IALR is partnering with the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance, headed by Steve Bridgers, to work on economic development across the region. The development team also includes Dr. Julie Brown, IALR’s Director of Advanced Education.

With a staff of 44 people researching what industries are doing and what their needs are, Gwaltney said he feels confident that IALR can draw industry representatives to the area, who, he said, will be surprised by what they find here.

“I feel good about this redirection, and with educational attainment and economic development we hope to be able to raise the $29,000 average income for workers in this area,” he said.

With research ongoing at Virginia Tech, the New College of Martinsville and IALR, there is a strong commitment to education, he noted. He also pointed to the machinery and tool classes taught at Danville Community College as being “the best offered in the country.

To Halifax IDA board members, Gwaltney said: “We’re ready to work with you. Trust us, give us an opportunity and call us.”

Gwaltney said he soon hopes to have a member of his board of directors who hails from Halifax County. (Appointments are made by the governor, typically acting on recommendations from IALR).

In other business Friday morning, Marissa Jackson, IDA operations manager, reported that the expansion of the county’s Enterprise Zone has been completed and includes the area from Sinai up U.S. 501, taking in the GreenView (Daystrom) site as well as Sunshine Mills and Huber Engineering.

IDA directors were advised that bids for firms interested in providing design or construction services for Phase III of the improvements to the Southern Virginia Advanced Manufacturing Center — formerly known as GreenView — have been extended with a new deadline of Friday, Feb. 28.

Directors also were reminded that there will be an informational meeting today at 5 p.m. in the conference room on the first floor of the Rierstone Centre Building to discuss the routing of a second permanent power source to the Riverstone Technology Park.

Persons living near the Centre may want to come and express their concerns or thoughts about the route that should be taken to secure the added power, IDA Executive Director Matt Leonard said.

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