Citizens, leaders, and officials from throughout Southside and administrators from Virginia Tech gathered in Danville to officially open the research laboratories within the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research. The labs in the Virginia Tech Research Center are now open for operation on IALR’s inauguration anniversary.

Opportunities abound for IALR research to affect different sectors of the population, said Congressman Virgil Goode, R–5th District. “With this addition to the Institute, Southside Virginia will have an even larger role in the agriculture of the commonwealth,” Goode said. “The innovations that can result from this should offer expanded opportunities for farmers and producers.”

“Southside Virginia continues to look toward the future,” said Sen. Charles Hawkins, R–19th District. “The IALR boasts world-class research centers that build on Virginia Tech’s research strengths to bring innovation, new companies, and new jobs to our region. The economic transformation has begun.”

Virginia Tech is leading efforts to bring research to Southside. According to Charles W. Steger, president of Virginia Tech, “Both the university and the region benefit from the distributed research model being employed in Southside. Virginia Tech research expertise, when combined with physical assets like IALR and Virginia International Raceway, is helping to give a new identity to the region."

Southside’s capacity to innovate through research is the result of the hard work of many IALR supporters, said Timothy V. Franklin, executive director for IALR. “The Institute is grateful to Senators Warner and Allen, Congressman Goode, Governor Warner and the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Tobacco Commission, and private donors who have made these research facilities possible,” Franklin said. “Companies will be attracted to Southside, new firms will develop, and existing companies will grow stronger through the IALR’s research centers.”

Del. Robert Hurt, R–16th District, sees the IALR as a driving force behind the creation of new prosperity and jobs. “When it comes to competing for 21st-century jobs in a global economy,” he said, “there is no substitute for the ideas and innovation that will be stimulated by the research taking place at this facility."

The 15,000-square-foot Research Wing houses lab space for IALR’s research initiatives: Advanced and Applied Polymer Processing Institute (AAPPI), Institute for Sustainable and Renewable Resources (ISRR), Joint Unmanned Systems Test, Experimentation, and Research (JOUSTER) center, and the Virginia Institute for Performance Engineering and Research (VIPER). Included are analytical, rheological, and wet-chemistry polymer labs, a biotechnology lab focused on tissue culture of high-value horticulture and forestry species, a robotics lab, and a vehicle dynamics lab. The wing also contains seminar and office space for entrepreneurial research faculty and personnel. Additionally, IALR has off-site research facilities: AAPPI has testing facilities at the Dan River Business Development Center in Pittsylvania County while VIPER and JOUSTER are constructing research and testing facilities at Virginia International Raceway in neighboring Halifax County.

IALR research centers are supported by various federal agencies, the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission, Virginia Tech, and the Future of the Piedmont Foundation.

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