REGIONAL VIEW southern virginia

Danville institute continues mission with new executive director by Veronica Garabelli


ongtime businessman Mark Gignac has had ties to the Institute

for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) in Danville since its beginning more than a decade ago. Now he is the organization’s new execu- tive director. “I actually was on

we’re gaining this recognition, as an advanced-machining tal- ent pool,” Gignac says.

The institute also is a hub

Mark Gignac has owned and operated several companies during a three-decade business career.

the original site selection committee,” Gignac says of the institute, which opened in 2004. From the start, its goal has been to stimulate economic development in Southern Virginia following the loss of thousands of jobs in the textile and tobacco industries. Gignac became the leader of the institute Nov. 1 after serving as its interim executive director since the retirement of Jerry Gwaltney on July 31. IALR serves the cities of Mar- tinsville and Danville and the counties of Patrick, Franklin, Henry, Pittsylvania, Halifax and Mecklenburg. Before becoming interim

executive director, Gignac was IALR’s research director


Ballad Brewing in Danville is launching a new service for its customers: home delivery of its craft beers. “We’re very excited about it,” Tim Meyers, the brew- ery’s business operations man- ager, said. “We’ll be delivering bottles and Crowlers.” Crowlers are 32-ounce cans filled when the order comes in and then sealed. Deliveries will be made to addresses within 3 miles of the brewery, which is located in the River District. (Danville Register & Bee)

Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative (MEC) is moving forward with a $2.7 million tobacco fund request to build a fiber-optic network for speeding up the internet in rural areas in the cooperative’s service

Photo by Steven Mantilla

for a year. During his three-decade

business career, Gignac founded, owned and oper- ated several companies in the region, including Engineering Design & Sales Inc., Chartwell Homes LLC and Dan River Plants LLC. He also is a for- mer member of Danville City Council. “My desire is [to] con-

tinue to serve the community, and IALR is the perfect venue for that to happen,” he says. “I just want this organiza-

tion to grow and be stronger to accomplish that task of economic development.” To accomplish its mis-

region. The cooperative wants to provide fiber-to-the-home connectivity — which can oper- ate at gigabit speeds, much faster than currently available retail options — initially to some 3,100 homes and businesses in a nine-county Virginia area including Mecklenburg. The ultimate goal is to provide broadband service to all 31,000 customers in the 14-county MEC service area of Virginia and North Carolina. (Mecklen- burg Sun)

Students began moving from the main campus to the new Manufacturing and Engineering Technology Complex at Patrick Henry Community College in late October. The approximately 53,000-square-foot building is PHCC’s renovated former motorsports technology educa-

sion, IALR partially funds and houses the offices of the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance, which seeks to retain and attract businesses to the region. IALR also has work- force development programs, such as the Gene Haas Center for Integrated Machining, where Danville Community College students train for modern machining careers. Gignac says that, since

July 2016, three international manufacturing companies either have located in the area or have announced plans to do so because they want access to its trained workforce. “Dan- ville wants to be known, and

tion building in the Patriot Centre industrial park. The col- lege will base highly technical vocational programs — such as electronics, mechatronics (a combination of mechanical engineering and electronics), computer-assisted design, instrumentation, industrial main- tenance and motor control — there alongside the motorsports program. (Martinsville Bulletin)

Something different is h eading to Danville’s River District: a temporary ice skating rink will be set up between the Com- munity Market and the digital dome theater during December. The River District Association is renting a 30-foot-by-40-foot, synthetic ice rink — which sets up outdoors and can be skated on whether December weather is on the warm or chilly side,

for research, currently focusing on the areas of plant sciences, analytical chemistry, precision agriculture and advanced materials. IALR has 36 full- time employees, including 10 on the research staff. The institute plans to

expand its research arm early next year with the addition of the Phytobiome Research Center. The center would study the use of beneficial bacteria that could be used to increase crop yields and fight disease in plants. IALR also is looking into adding a Center for Manu- facturing Advancement, a space for companies to test and improve processes and showcase emerging technolo- gies and new products. “It’s just in an exploratory stage now, but that is another initiative that we’re putting quite a bit of time into,” he says.

without requiring refrigeration units. (Danville Register & Bee)

A downturn in demand for hardwood flooring contributed to a decision by Shaw Indus- tries to close its plant in Stuart. The decision, announced in early November, means 160 employees will be out of work. They will be given offers to work in the company's other facilities. The Stuart plant will continue to operate through December or early January. (Martinsville Bulletin)

Virginia Tobacco Commis- sion funds have provided more than $195 million in funding for economic development, college scholarships and other projects in the Dan River region since it began in 1999. The latest round of funds includes nearly $1

million approved since January for education and job training in Danville and Pittsylvania County. Those total funding figures do not include the indemnification funding to farm- ers over the years, designed to help them adjust their crops to reflect the lessening demand for tobacco. (Danville Register & Bee)


Nora McFaddin has joined the Danville-Pittsylvania Cancer Association as executive director. She was a marketing director for a physician. She earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Radford University in 2015. (Danville Register & Bee)


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86  |  Page 87  |  Page 88  |  Page 89  |  Page 90  |  Page 91  |  Page 92  |  Page 93  |  Page 94  |  Page 95  |  Page 96
Produced with Yudu -