Virginia Governor Mark Warner praised the collaborative effort that created the new Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) in Danville, calling the effort an inspired new direction in building a new economy for Southside, which has been particularly hard hit by plant closings and the decline of the tobacco industry. The governor's remarks came during a Partners' Pre-opening Preview for the institute.

"The region's research partnership with Tech is a critical part of my plans to increase research and development in Virginia $600 million or $1 billion annually by decade's end," Gov. Warner said.

During the event, Ben J. Davenport Jr., vice chairman of the Future of the Piedmont Foundation, announced that $1.7 million has been raised in private contributions for furniture and fixtures for IALR. Virginia Tech Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Minnis E. Ridenour reiterated Virginia Tech's commitment to its partnership in economic development for Southside, and announced that the university will be moving its DuPont Composites Wet Lay and Pultrusion Laboratories used in polymer research to the IALR facility. The value of this equipment and intellectual property exceeds one million dollars.

Kelvin Perry, president of First State Bank in Danville, announced the formation of a new organization, called SCALE-UP (Southside Community Advocates for Learning Excellence-United for Progress). SCALE-UP will serve as an advocacy group to link the IALR's agenda for change to the African-American community. The organization will send ambassadors into the community to advocate participation in lifelong education and IALR's program opportunities.

In addition to these announcements, representatives of project partners, including the City of Danville, Pittsylvania County, the Future of the Piedmont Foundation, Virginia Tech, Averett University, and Danville Community College, reiterated their commitment to the economic development strategy that will provide post-high school to post-graduate level-technical training for teachers and other individuals, who will be able to remain in the region for the training at the institute.

The IALR will also include research labs for advanced research in polymers, biotechnology, bioinformatics, and other fields, with discoveries to be licensed to existing or new businesses as a stimulus for economic development. Additionally, the facility housing the training and research will include a conference center designed to bring people and ideas together in Southside.

The program also included comments by state Senator Charles R. Hawkins, who reviewed the Tobacco Commission's financial support and the federal grants received for IALR. Danville Mayor John C. Hamlin and Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors Chairman Michael Irby stressed the tremendous difference IALR can make in the region's future.

E. Linwood Wright, chairman of the board of IALR served as master of ceremonies. IALR Executive Director Tim Franklin and Technology and Community Development Director Nancy Franklin thanked the partners and private contributors who made the creation of IALR a reality.

Local and state officials and representatives of project partners, including the City of Danville, Pittsylvania County, the Future of the Piedmont Foundation, Virginia Tech, Averett University and Danville Community College attended.

An agenda for the Oct. 23 follow below.

Partners' Pre-Opening Preview

Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, Danville, Va.

Oct. 23, 2003

Greetings, IntroductionsE. Linwood Wright, Chairman of the Board, Institute for Advanced Learning and Research
Welcome from City and CountyJohn C. Hamlin, Mayor, City of Danville; Michael Irby, Chairman, Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors
Institute Update, Partner Recognition, Research PlansTimothy V. Franklin, Ph.D., Executive Director, Institute for Advanced Learning and Research
Virginia Tech Research Video 
The Tobacco Commission CommitmentThe Honorable Charles R. Hawkins, Senate of Virginia, 19th District
Introduction of Governor WarnerWhittington W. Clement, Secretary of Transportation, Commonwealth of Virginia
Building a 21st Century Economy in SouthsideThe Honorable Mark Warner, Governor of Virginia
Private Fundraising AnnouncementsBen J. Davenport, Jr., Vice Chairman, Future of the Piedmont Foundation
The Virginia Tech CommitmentMinnis E. Ridenour, Virginia Tech Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
Technology and Community PartnershipsNancy E. Franklin, Senior Director, Technology and Community Development
SCALE-UP AnnouncementKelvin Perry, Chairman, SCALE-UP Advocacy Group
Introduction of Academic Partner InitiativesE. Linwood Wright
Academic Partner InitiativesSusan Dunton, Director, Advanced Learning & Research, Institute for Advanced Learning & Research
Closing ToursSteven V. Hase, Director, Business Development and Conferences, Institute for Advanced Learning & Research