Danville Community College Prepares Virginia's Advanced Manufacturing Workforce

With the U.S. seeing a resurgence of manufacturing jobs, Danville Community College (DCC) has launched a new initiative, the Southern Virginia Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing (SVCAM), to ensure Virginia, and especially the Dan River region, is well-positioned to capitalize on this trend.

One of the goals of SVCAM is to expand DCC’s advanced manufacturing training programs. The manufacturing jobs that have been reshored tend to be higher tech jobs that require a strong STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) background.

DCC has already increased the size of its popular Precision Machining Technology program. Graduates are in high demand from businesses in the region, and DCC has doubled enrollment capacity and added two new machining instructors.

With additional funding from the Virginia General Assembly and other industry partners, DCC plans to renovate its Charles Hawkins Engineering and Industrial Technology building and expand machining lab and classroom space from 6,500 to more than 20,000 square feet. SVCAM funding will also be used to expand DCC’s welding, robotics, industrial maintenance, electronics, polymer manufacturing, engineering technology, additive manufacturing and nanotechnology programs.

Another benefit of the SVCAM program is increased outreach to younger students. DCC has partnered with area high schools to establish a 33-hour dual enrollment program that allows juniors and seniors to earn credit towards an Advanced Manufacturing Certificate and gain valuable skills in one of four areas:  precision machining technology, electronics, industrial maintenance or welding.

The benefits of the SVCAM program are already paying off. North American Mold Technology recently announced plans to establish a new operation in Danville and create 120 new jobs. DCC’s ability to supply and train a high-tech manufacturing workforce was cited by the company as a key factor in their location decision and helped Virginia successfully compete against Ohio for the project.

from YesVirginia.org Business Blog

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Governor McDonnell Announces 120 New Jobs in City of Danville

North American Mold Technology to invest $4.35 million to establish manufacturing operation

Governor Bob McDonnell today announced that North American Mold Technology (NAMT) will invest $4.35 million to establish a manufacturing operation in the City of Danville. The company will produce and refurbish the molds used in the manufacture of tires, creating 120 new jobs. Its customer base will include almost all major tire manufacturers in the U.S. Virginia successfully competed against Ohio for the project.

Speaking about today's announcement, Governor McDonnell said, "North American Mold Technology's new manufacturing operation is tremendous news for the City of Danville and Southern Virginia as the region recovers from an economic downturn. Danville offered many advantages that put Virginia ahead of the competition, including an available facility that can be quickly retrofitted, and workforce training resources available through Danville Community College's precision machining program. I am confident that the skilled, plentiful labor pool and access to the company's primary customer base throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest will ensure success for this new operation."

"Gaining a new corporate citizen and 120 jobs is significant for the City of Danville," said Jim Cheng, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade. "As North American Mold Technology serves major tire manufacturers across the U.S., the company will have key access to a trained and ready workforce, and the advantage of Virginia's business environment that is second to none. We thank NAMT for its investment in the Commonwealth and look forward to future growth in Danville."

North American Mold Technology is a new company that will assemble and repair tire molds and provide other tire mold support services to the tire manufacturers in the United States and several other countries. The company's state-of-the-art equipment to service the tire industry will enable conventional servicing, as well as re-cuts, lettering and sidewall manufacturing. NAMT will be establishing its operation in a 260,000-square-foot facility.

"Senior management at North American Mold Technology has been servicing the tire industry for over 40 years," said William Gentry, President, North American Mold Technology. "With technology changes of late, we decided to make a commitment to start a new stand-alone company specifically to service the tire industry needs all over North America, and to provide high-tech solutions to the problems facing the industry. As we explored potential locations, we realized Danville was where we wanted to be since it is more centrally located to the industry we will serve. The local and state economic development teams, as well as the Tobacco Commission and the Governor's Office have been diligent in working with us to make this happen and bring this new industry to Danville, Virginia. We are excited to be part of the Danville community and look forward to growing quickly in support of our tire industry clients.

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the City of Danville and the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance to secure the project for Virginia. Governor McDonnell approved a $250,000 grant from the Governor's Opportunity Fund to assist Danville with the project. The Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission approved $520,000 in Tobacco Region Opportunity Funds. The company is eligible to receive state benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Through its Virginia Jobs Investment Program, the Virginia Department of Business Assistance will provide funding and services to support the company's recruitment and training activities.

"This project shows a great partnership between state and local organizations, and we are thrilled to welcome this company to Danville," said Joe King, Danville City Manager. "North American Mold Technology will be a great asset to our existing employers and businesses."

"Thanks to William Gentry with NAMT for choosing Danville over Ohio," said Delegate Danny Marshall, a member of the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission. "The Tobacco Commission was pleased to help with funding. The Virginia General Assembly approved $3.7 million for the Advanced Machining Program at Danville Community College (DCC) to provide capacities that can double the student graduation rate for the machining program. And, the Tobacco Commission approved $700,000 for a machining program in Pittsylvania County Schools. NAMT will hire more than 120 machinists, so the men and women who go through the DCC and Pittsylvania County programs will be able to find good jobs in our area."

from Virginia.org official news releases

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Southern Virginia Higher Education Center named Dream It. Do It. Virginia Partner of the Year

RICHMOND, VA — The Dream It. Do It. Virginia (DIDIVA) network is pleased to recognize the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) as its 2013 Partner of the Year. This honor is the first of its kind and was awarded during the 2nd Annual DIDIVA Symposium held in Charlottesville on October 17. The award was accepted on behalf of SVHEC by Dr. Nettie Simon-Owens, SVHEC Director of Workforce Services.

"Receiving the Partner of the Year Award was quite a nice surprise," said Dr. Simon-Owens. "We have worked collaboratively with VMA for several years on various initiatives focused on meeting some of the workforce needs of manufacturers. Our relationship and efforts are forward thinking and allow us to maximize the strengths of both organizations to identify innovative and appropriate opportunities to offer employers and other workforce stakeholders."

Katherine DeRosear, Director of Workforce Development for the Virginia Manufacturers Association (VMA) described the partnership, "The Southern Virginia Higher Education Center has been an innovative partner with the Dream It. Do It. Virginia Network and its efforts towards achieving the workforce development goals of the Virginia Manufacturers Association. Dr. Betty Adams [SVHEC Executive Director] and her team quickly move from talk to action when responding to the needs of the region and its manufacturers."

"The SVHEC team is doing remarkable work by bringing together innovative industry-recognized, competency-based and stackable middle skills credentials, like the Manufacturing Skills Institute's Manufacturing Technician Level 1 and Manufacturing Specialist (MT1/MS) certifications, to build a world-class manufacturing workforce in the Southern Virginia region," said Brett Vassey, President & CEO of the Virginia Manufacturers Association.

For more about SVHEC, visit http://www.svhed.org/.

Click here for the complete release. (PDF will open in a new browser window.)

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New partnership looks to market region

The Institute for Advanced Learning & Research (IALR)The Southern Virginia Regional Alliance and the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research are forming a partnership to market Southside.

The organizations will share an economic development director, a position which will be filled by the alliances' executive director, Leigh Cockram.

"This opportunity has come at a perfect time, for the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance needs to stretch funding long term in order to be sustainable and Institute needs someone who understands our regional assets and can market Institute's facilities for regional economic development purposes," Cockram said in a release.

The two-year-old alliance has been a one-person shop funded by the Tobacco Commission, with Cockram marketing the region through a virtual office and contracting support services as needed.

The new partnership will give the alliance a better presence through an office at the Institute and access to Institute staff and resources. It will also provide sustained funding for the alliance — the Tobacco Commission's commitment ends in the 2014 fiscal year. Localities will contribute to the partnership and have their monies matched by the Institute, enlarging the alliances' budget.

The alliance markets a region that includes Patrick, Henry, Pittsylvania and Halifax counties. Cockram will be working with site consultants to draw attention to the whole region, then direct consultants to local economic development directors as they have interest. The position will have hefty travel requirements.

Jerry Gwaltney, interim director of the Institute, said the partnership helps the Institute, which was always intended to serve the region, to better branch out. He admits the Institute has not met that regional mission, and wants to do better.

"It cannot be a building sitting on a hill for Danville and Pittsylvania County," he said. "It was envisioned and set up for the whole region."

Danville's economic development director, Jeremy Stratton, said the move was a long time coming.

"We were the only area that didn't have this regional effort," he said.

from The News & Advance

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High-tech “Fab Lab” Comes to Virginia’s Patrick Henry Community College

A view of the Patrick Henry Community College Fab Lab in Martinsville, VaPatrick Henry Community College (PHCC) began offering tours of its Fab Lab this summer. The Fab Lab is short for digital fabrication laboratory, which gives students and local businesses access to 3D design and prototyping equipment to create new products and inventions.

The Fab Lab concept originated at MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms. In November 2011, PHCC, the New College Institute and Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation sponsored a two-week visit from the Mobile Fab Lab of the Carolinas. During that time the lab received more than 300 visits from interested students and community members.

Working with the same partners, PHCC was able to obtain funding from the Virginia Community College System to purchase equipment and establish its own Fab Lab.

Located at the The Artisan Center in Martinsville, the 1600-square-foot Fab Lab houses a Roland MDX 20 mini mill, Roland CAMM-1 Servo GX-24 vinyl cutter, Stratasys uPrint SE Plus FDM 3D printer, Morgan Industries Morgan Press G-100T Injection Molder, Formech 686 Vacuum Former, Universal Laser 4.60, Routermate 4’ x 4’ CNC router and Torchmate 2’ x 4’ CNC plasma cutter.

The 10 Dell workstations in the lab offer open source software, which allows entrepreneurs and students to seamlessly continue their work at home or in other locations.

The Fab Lab has generated a lot of interest among students and business partners in the community. Lab Coordinator Matthew Wade estimates the lab has seen more than 100 visitors since its soft launch in April.

The lab will host a grand-opening event this fall to coincide with its first class, a basic manufacturing class that will teach students and entrepreneurs how to use the equipment in the lab to bring their ideas to life.

“Inventors can create designs with our software, use the vinyl cutter and CNC mill to fabricate and carve out a circuit board, and then utilize our 3D printer to produce a working model of their new product idea,” said PHCC Lab Coordinator Matthew Wade.

The PHCC Fab Lab is another example of the cutting-edge technology available at Virginia’s colleges and universities, helping prepare a strong pipeline of technically-skilled workers. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s recent Enterprising States study, Virginia is the No. 1 state in STEM job concentration and has the No. 1 share of high-tech businesses.

from YesVirginia.org Business Blog

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Institute of Advanced Learning and Research Launches First Company - Dan River Plants

The Institute of Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) recently announced its first commercial spin-off, Dan River Plants, LLC.

Dan River Plants uses micropropagation technology to create, clone and grow plants at a rapid rate. The technology was developed through collaboration between IALR’s Institute for Sustainable and Renewable Resources and Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. 

Micropropagation utilizes plant tissue cultures to grow identical plants by an order of magnitude, yielding rapid and reliable results. The company is producing both decorative plants, such as lilies, roses and azaleas, as well as biofuel crops.

Dan River Plants plans to invest $1.3 million and create 27 new jobs to establish a facility at Ringgold East Industrial Park in Pittsylvania County, Va.

IALR was established in 2000 through partnerships among Virginia Tech, Averett University, Danville Community College, Pittsylvania County, City of Danville, Future of the Piedmont Foundation, Tobacco Indemnification Commission and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The center uniquely operates as a research and development facility, education leader, business incubator and conference center.

IALR has strategically positioned itself to capitalize on the expertise found in Southern Virginia. The center focuses on four main areas of research, including sustainable and renewable resources, analytical chemistry, polymers and composites, and vehicle research.

YesVirginia.org's Business Blog has previously blogged on some of IALR’s programs, including its STEM Mobile Learning Lab and the Virginia Polymer Coalition.

IALR is yet another example of the innovative research and collaboration with universities that supports Virginia businesses, from start-up to late stage.

from YesVirginia Business Blog

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Danville Community College plays vital role in recruiting industry

A display of custom wheels that will soon be made in Danville by Macerata Wheels. All they had was 10 minutes. Danville Community College President Carlyle Ramsey and Danville Public Schools Superintendent Sue Davis got into an SUV with a couple of business prospects in town seeing if they could bring some of their business to the Dan River Region.

Ramsey and Davis only had face time with the prospects in the car ride to the site where the business could potentially be located. In a 10-minute time frame Ramsey and Davis had to discuss local education and how they were working together on workforce training.

"We hit them with everything we had," said Ramsey, who declined to say which business it was.

After 20 years at the helm of DCC, pitching what the school does and how it can benefit industry has become a crucial part of the job as the market in the region has changed over the years.

Workforce development and training have been words thrown around by politicians and regional leaders in every facet of the community. In order to bring industry and develop the economy of an area, there must be workers and programs in place to serve their needs — the two go hand in hand.

While community college systems will usually play some sort of role in industry, DCC has tried to do more than just be another factor.

"With a prospect you've got to dazzle them with what they see," said Ramsey. "We get them to the lab immediately. You have to walk in that lab and have them say 'wow.' That is what happened with Macerata."

On March 18, Macerata Wheels announced its intention to hire 101 local workers over the next three years to manufacture custom wheel rims for cars and motorcycles, with plans to expand into other accessories in the future.

DCC was not the only factor in this development, but it played enough of a role that the announcement was made on the school's campus.

Ramsey said Macerata made two trips to DCC, both confidential at the time. The first was a trip to view the machining facility on DCC's main campus. Ramsey was out of town, but Vice President of Academic and Student Services Chris Ezell helped host the hour-long visit, where Macerata CEO Mike Farless was given a tour of the machining lab and the drafting and design lab next door where students study for certifications in machining, assembling and designing — exactly what the wheel-manufacturing company was looking for.

"We were really impressed," Farless told the Register & Bee on March 18, who added that anyone who completes the two-year program at DCC will be considered for a job at Macerata earning about $40,000 a year.

"If they want a unique wheel, we can build it, construct it and design it," said Ramsey. This is something that can take design firms weeks, but DCC can do in-house in a faster time frame.

The quickness with which a community college can produce programs and make class changes is something that sets them apart for four-year universities.

"The DCC president has to work fast," said Ramsey. "That is the difference between us and the universities."

People in business and economic development, he said, cannot wait years for changes and hesitation. And since community colleges churn out students with certificates and degrees in typically two years or less that makes for a constantly evolving student population and easier to add and change programs in place. The school also gives more degrees in manufacturing and technical fields, which transition faster to many company needs than the four year liberal arts degrees.

Adding extra incentive to recruiting Macerata — and the approximately 40 other companies in the country employing DCC's machining students — is the $3.7 million expansion of the program, which didn't happen overnight.

Included in part of Gov. Bob McDonnell's budget, local delegates Danny Marshall, R-Danville, and Don Merricks, R-Pittsylvania County and state Sen. Frank Ruff, R-Clarksville, lobbied hard to secure the funds. Ramsey and his staff passed out materials to legislators, and the money made it through the General Assembly.

"It's a great program they have there," said Merricks. "When you look at DCC, Carlyle has been one of the best cheerleaders this area has had ... It's one of several spokes when you look at industries that have come."

"I believe in the next three years, beginning now, this is going to enable economic development to use a much more robust training strategy," said Ramsey.

While the future looks bright, Ramsey still remembers the end of the 1990s when the region was being hammered with manufacturing losses and the school had to recalibrate the direction they were taking with the rest of the region. Then the chambers of commerce merged, broadband was delivered, the Regional Center for Advanced Technology and Training and the Institute were built near the Danville Expressway. A new plan was taking shape. In 1992, about 45 percent of local jobs were in manufacturing — now that number is less than 25 percent.

Five months after Ramsey joined DCC he provided some of the school's information to a local community leader actively trying to recruit a business, whom Ramsey preferred not to identify for this story. When he asked the person if there was anything DCC could do to help them, they told him they took the prospect on a "windshield drive-by" of the school — something that has always stuck with him.

The next day Ramsey met with several administrators on his staff and said if people are just driving by their school then they are not being taken seriously in economic development and the school needs to change its image in this area. Since then one of the goals of the school is to be an indispensable factor for recruiting business.

"It's about all of these people," said Ramsey, looking at a map of Danville, Pittsylvania County and Halifax County, the three areas where most DCC students hail from.

"This is your world," Ramsey tells people applying to work as DCC faculty. "These people are depending on you."

From GoDanRiver.com - by Tiffany Holland for the Danville Register & Bee. Denice Thibodeau contributed to this story.

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Business of Art & Design Program Launches Student to Job at National Tire Research Center

Skills acquired in SVHEC's Business of Art & Design program lead to Jeffrey Owen being hired by National Tire Research Center.Jeffrey Owen came to the Business of Art & Design program at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) because he wanted to learn how to design webpages. He soon found that the program, with tracks in Digital Art & Design and Product Design & Development, offered him so much more. Two years later, Owen holds two certificates, has completed an internship in the R&D Center for Advanced Manufacturing & Energy Efficiency, and has been hired at the new National Tire Research Center.

Owen entered the Business of Art & Design program as a Digital Art & Design (DA&D) student in 2009. He took courses in computer graphics, design, and multimedia, and went on to earn a Career Studies Certificate. Because students in the DA&D program work closely with students in the Product Design & Development (PD&D) program, Owen was exposed to the PD&D curriculum that teaches students how to develop a product from a concept to a beautifully designed, manufactured piece. After experiencing some initial success, and discovering a hidden talent for design, he decided to try the other side of the Business of Art & Design, "While I was in the DA&D program I realized that I could design and that I had a mind for it so I decided to try PD&D next," Owen stated.

As he expected, the Product Design & Development program gave Owen the ability to create the products he was imagining. What he didn't expect was the strong foundation in problem-solving and teamwork that he gained. "I would run into a problem and the program taught me not to give up but to work through it. I also learned how to work on teams and that teamwork equals success," Owen stated.

The skills he gained in the Product Design & Development program not only helped him earn another certificate, but also led to him working as an intern in the SVHEC's R&D Center for Advanced Manufacturing & Energy Efficiency (R&D CAMEE). "Working in the R&D Center was a positive experience. I worked on a lot of great projects, and the experience really helped build up the skills I'd learned. My problem-solving abilities went through the roof when I became an intern," Owen said.

As an intern, Owen got hands-on experience operating sophisticated advanced manufacturing equipment and was introduced to several computer-aided design (CAD) software programs. His experiences in the Business of Art & Design and R&D CAMEE prepared him for his current position as a shop technician at the National Tire Research Center. "At the National Tire Research Center I use the skills I gained in teamwork, problem solving, materials and sciences. I'm able to work with metal and rubber, and when a tire has unique movement I can understand it and what it's doing. I'm also able to use my Digital Art & Design skills to make updates to our website," Owen said.

"The NTRC was in full launch mode when Jeffrey came onboard.  Jeffrey became a contributor to our success day one. He has a wide variety of skills that can be applied in many areas of our business. He takes on projects and take true ownership until completion.  I believe that reflects well on the program we recruited him from," said Frank Della Pia, Executive Director of the National Tire Research Center.

Owen's is capable and confident, and has a bright future ahead. He attributes much of his success to his experiences at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center. "Going through the BA&D program and the internship at the R&D Center had a great impact on where I am today. From understanding problems and situations I might not have learned to giving me a mind of understanding that if there's a problem you don't have to freak out," he said. "The BA&D program gave me a great deal because I could see myself doing graphic design and video, but I also found that I'm a hands on guy and I like to work with my hands. I'd recommend the program to someone who's not sure of what they want to do in life or to anyone who wants to be hands-on."

The Business of Art & Design program is offered in partnership with Danville Community College. Enrollment in Digital Art & Design and Product Design & Development is now open. Grants are available to assist with tuition, and qualified individuals may receive 100% tuition assistance. For more information visit www.svhec.org, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or call 434-572-5441 and toll free 1-800-283-0098 ext 5441.

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Distribution Center to Open in Gretna

Malouf Fine Linens is bringing a bedding and linen distribution center to Pittsylvania County. The company plans to move to the old TECHMA USA property in Gretna by mid-February.

The bedding manufacturer makes luxury bedsheets, Sleep Tite mattresses and pillow protectors.

MPI Group, LLC, which will lease the property at 202 E. Gretna Road to Malouf, bought the 80,000-square-foot former TECHMA building and the 37 acres of land it sits on for $322,000.

The Gretna facility will serve as a distribution center for customers in the South, Northeast and the Great Lakes region, Erickson said.

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Martinsville-Henry County Approve New Shell Building

Henry County and Martinsville will help finance construction of a 75,000-square-foot shell building — which could be doubled in size — in the Patriot Centre at Beaver Creek industrial park.

New shell building will be completed by the end of 2013

The shell be located on Lot 8; a 17 acre site with an 11.4 acre graded pad. The building will be a concrete tilt up similar to the last two shell buildings Martinsville-Henry County has built and sold in recent years.

The timeline calls for the EDC to select an architectural/engineering firm in January; develop plans/bid documents in February and March; meet with local banks in February; and bid the project and select a contractor in April. Construction is to be under way around April or May, and it is to be completed around the end of 2013.

“Martinsville-Henry County’s shell building track record is positive,”  said, Mark Heath, President and CEO of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation, mentioning Owens Corning, Mehler Inc., Masterbrand Cabinets, RTI International Metals and Commonwealth Laminating as companies that have moved into local shell buildings in the past.

Henry County and Martinsville have constructed two shell buildings under the revenue sharing system that involves the IDA and EDC, according to Henry County Administrator Tim Hall. One building was sold to RTI International Metals before construction was completed, and the last one was on the market for three years before it was sold to Commonwealth Laminating.

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