Working with millennials p. 16
Deschutes Brewery picks Roanoke p. 34
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opportunity runs through it City leaders and others say the Roanoke River is ripe for development
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CONTENTS SERVING THE ROANOKE/BLACKSBURG/ NEW RIVER VALLEY REGION
F E AT U R E S COVER STORY
An opportunity runs through it
City leaders say the Roanoke River is an urban attraction, ripe for development. by Beth JoJack
Culture clash? Millennial lawyers don’t fit their generation’s stereotypes.
by Dan Radmacher
HIGHER EDUCATION New River Community College
Expansion at the NRV Mall means more rooms, more classes and 3-D printing. by Shawna Morrison
ENTREPRENEURIAL MILLENIALS Going their own way
For some millennials, success means creating a job they love.
by Beth JoJack
INTERVIEW: Bill Aden, founder; and
Michael Lawless, principal; Draper Aden Associates Building on relationships
BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT: DESCHUTES BREWERY West Coast brewery picks Roanoke for new site by Veronica Garabelli
COMMUNITY PROFILE: PULASKI Finding the right mix
For Draper Aden Associates, relationships include people, technology and the EPA. by Michael Abraham
Pulaski County has manufacturing, minor league baseball and regional cooperation. by Gene Marrano
PREVIEW NEWS FROM THE CHAMBER
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FROM THE EDITOR
Down on the river by Tim Thornton
y uncle had a fishing boat. It wasn’t one of those bass-chasing lake boats with a 300 horsepower outboard engine, recirculating built-in cooler, integrated drink holders and GPS. It was the kind of homemade boat that used to be commonplace along rivers around here. Shaped sort of like a johnboat -- but more like a box without a lid -- it was made of whatever was handy and was built to last until it got waterlogged or leaked so much the time spent bailing exceeded the time spent paddling or fishing. It wasn’t much of a boat, but it was good enough for the Roanoke River. The only thing I remember my uncle catching from that craft was a great carp that seemed all muscle and tail and mouth. It was a pale thing that lived in the muck at the bottom of the river, a swimming symbol of what a mess the river was – or what a mess we understood it to be. That was a long time ago, but a lot of people still think of the river that way. And there still are problems. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality’s list of impaired waters catalogs different things at different points along the Roanoke – excessive sediment, excessive water temperature, excessive nutrients, excessive runoff. There’s even a 10-mile section from Mason Creek to Tinker Creek where the DEQ found mercury in some fish. All that sounds bad – and it certainly could be better – but it’s not something that should keep people out of the water altogether. The Roanoke, or much of it, is officially impaired. The sad fact is 71 percent of the Virginia river miles assessed by the DEQ have some kind of impairment. That could mean the water’s too warm for trout – a problem in much of the Roanoke – or it could mean there’s more e coli in the water than there ought to be. Generally speaking, big stretches of the Roanoke could be made better for aquatic life – and they should be – but they seem to be fine for kayakers and canoeists. That’s one reason a lot of people think the river has a lot of potential to enhance both quality of life and economic climate. Maybe they’re right. Driving toward Roanoke recently, I saw what I thought was a trick of the early morning sun, a reflection that caught a bird’s silhouette in a peculiar way. It wasn’t. A bald eagle perched near the top of a tree that towered at the edge of the river. It was a literal stone’s throw from where my uncle hauled in that giant carp so many years ago. Maybe it didn’t mean anything, but I took it as a good sign.
SERVING THE ROANOKE/BLACKSBURG/ NEW RIVER VALLEY REGION
President & Publisher Roanoke Business Editor Contributing Editor Contributing Writers
Art Director Contributing Photographers
Production Manager Circulation Manager Accounting Manager Vice President of Advertising Account Representative
Bernard A. Niemeier Tim Thornton Paula C. Squires Michael Abraham Veronica Garabelli Beth JoJack Gene Marrano Shawna Morrison Dan Radmacher Adrienne R. Watson Christina O’Connor Don Petersen Natalee Waters Kevin L. Dick Karen Chenault Ashley Henry Hunter Bendall Lynn Williams
CONTACT: EDITORIAL: (540) 520-2399 ADVERTISING: (540) 597-2499 210 S. Jefferson St., Roanoke, VA 24011-1702 Website: www.roanoke-business.com We welcome your feedback. Email Letters to the Editor to Tim Thornton at email@example.com VIRGINIA BUSINESS PUBLICATIONS LLC A portfolio company of Virginia Capital Partners LLC Frederick L. Russell Jr., chairman
on the cover Kayaks on the Roanoke River Roanoke Photo by Don Petersen
Out About &
1 1. The Paula Deen Home furniture collection is now available at all Grand Home Furnishings store locations. The new Paula Deen Home spring line will appear in Grand Home Furnishings’ showrooms this month. Pictured are: George Cartledge, III, president of Grand Home Furnishings; Paula Deen; Robert Bennett, vice president of Grand Home Furnishings.
2. The Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech hosted an Analytics Hackathon in April that focused on developing apps for mobile devices to improve health and wellness. Pictured is the team that ended up with the first prize making their pitch to judges during the second round. Judges pictured are Dr. Matthew Schumaecker, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine; Dr. Theresa Mayer, Virginia Tech; Dr. Richard Truxillo, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine; Dr. Stephen Morgan, Carilion Clinic; Darlene Tovado and Adam Brown, IBM; Dr. Marcus Speaker and Michael Parish, Carilion Clinic.
3. First place Analytics Hackathon winners: Students Brian Elliott, Jonathan Briganti, and Madeline Yaskowski with Dr. Stephen Morgan, Carilion Clinic. 4. Business and community leaders broke ground on a downtown Roanoke kayak launch. The site is halfway between Wasena Park and Piedmont Park. Bill Hardin, UBS; Bud Grey, Carilion; Aaron Ewert, The Bridges; Ab Boxley, Boxley Materials; Marc Nelson, city of Roanoke; Dwayne D’Ardenne, city of Roanoke; Mark Pace, Pace Construction; Pete Eshelman, Roanoke Regional Partnership; Ben Crew, Balzer and Associates; and Bob Yost, MB Contractors.
Share photos of your company’s special events with Roanoke Business. E-mail your candid photos and identifications to Adrienne R. Watson, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Items on the calendar are just a sample of Roanoke/New River Valley business events this month. To submit an event for consideration, email Tim Thornton at tthornton@ roanoke-business.com at least one month before the event.
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American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell Roanoke The Taubman Museum of Art presents American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell, more than 100 of Norman Rockwell’s most significant works, exploring his role as an iconmaker and storyteller throughout his prolific 65-year career.
TaubmanMuseum.org May 3
Cyber Security Forum: Vulnerability Management: Effective, Efficient or Execrable? Rackspace, Blacksburg The Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council hosts a forum about the challenges and best practices for timely patching of security vulnerabilities.
Rob Mangus, Nancy Hack, Candace Benson
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Community School’s Strawberry Festival Elmwood Park, Roanoke The Strawberry Festival, presented by Hometown Bank, is a free admission, two-day family event with homemade strawberry shortcakes, strawberry sundaes, chocolate dipped strawberries, strawberry smoothies and more. Live music, kid’s games, arts and crafts and food vendors.
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Roanoke Regional Chamber Business Summit Virginia Western Community College Learn about the state of the region, how to cultivate community partnerships and how to build your brand. 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. $49 for members; $69 for non-members.
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An opportunity runs through it City leaders say the Roanoke River is an urban attraction, ripe for development
by Beth JoJack
ity residents typically cheer when a popular project goes up. Yet residents of Columbus, Ohio, celebrated when a project came down. It took $35.5 million to remove a dam in their city, restoring the Scioto River’s natural channel through downtown. The project improved water quality of the sediment-laden river while opening up acres of parkland on the river’s edge and creating the possibility of kayak parks in the river.
The impetus for the Scioto Greenways project boiled down to two words: economic development. “It’s real important to the vitality of our community that we have a strong economy,” explains Guy Worley, CEO of the Columbus Downtown Development Corp. “In order to have a strong economy, you need to have strong employers. In order to have strong employers, you need strong employees. In order to have those
employees, you need to have a set of amenities that enables them to choose to live in your community.” Visionaries in Columbus aren’t the only ones hoping to use the lure of water and recreation to attract tourists, young professionals and businesses. “There are numerous cities that are frankly doing just what we’re doing,” observes Worley. And Roanoke wants to be one of them. In Pittsburgh, San Antonio
Photo by Don Petersen
and Chattanooga, Tenn., investments in the riverfront have been credited with contributing to a boom in development. “When you think of great cities around the world, there’s often a river that goes through them,” says Roanoke City Manager Chris Morrill. The Star City has the Roanoke River, which, in decades past, has suffered from an image problem. “When I was a child, we joked about it all the time,” says Aaron Ewert, the 44-year-old project
manager for The Bridges, a mixeduse project that’s going up on Roanoke’s South Jefferson Street along the banks of the river. “We’d say, ‘No way, I’m going swimming in that.’ You just kind of made fun of the river.” That attitude is changing. Private and public interests in the Star City are working on projects to turn the Roanoke River into an urban attraction. Construction crews broke ground in March on a kayak launch at The Bridges. De-
velopers there have loftier goals of one day using a public-private partnership to build a river walk. The Roanoke Regional Partnership and the Roanoke Outside Foundation just funded a study to find the best locations on the Roanoke River for a kayak park, which would create white water for recreation. Ewert believes that the evolution in thought about the Roanoke River began in 2005 after The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers launched the Roanoke River flood ROANOKE BUSINESS
cover story Aaron Ewert, project manager for the Bridges development, recalls that when he was growing up, people were afraid to swim in the river because of pollution.
control project. It cost more than $60 million and involved widening the channel in sections of the river and developing the greenway. “The perception in Roanoke of the river started to change right then,” Ewert says. “All of a sudden this river that was hidden from us was exposed,” notes Morrill, “and I think because of that it had a lot of positive impacts.” While no one is expecting the Roanoke River to compete with San Antonio for the title of America’s Venice anytime soon, government officials and nonprofit and business leaders are working on ways to coax more folks down to the water. Connecting downtown to the river The Bridges, the region’s largest-ever mixed-use project, 10
wouldn’t exist if Ewert and his father, Bern Ewert, a developer and former city manager, hadn’t bet that people would want to live, work and play on a river where the Norfolk & Western Railway had dumped industrial waste until 1965. Although the development is named after the historic Walnut Avenue and Jefferson Street bridges that cross the property, its 22 acres run alongside the river. “You hear all the time,” Aaron Ewert says. “There’s no better place to have real estate than on the water.” The initial phase of the The Bridges, as it develops over a decade, is expected to cost between $100 million and $150 million. The project already includes the bustling South 16 apartment building, which, according to Ewert, has
an occupancy rate of 98 percent. There’s also a historic building that houses a Starbucks and a Moe’s Southwest Grill and Dr Pepper Park, which opened its second season of concerts and events April 9. Developers have a second apartment building in the works for the site, with a price tag of about $14 million. It will offer 127 new units and is slated to open in fall 2017. This project comes on the heels of the announcement of plans to double the size of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, a development expected to bring more people and more jobs to the valley. Roanoke City Council rezoned The Bridges property as a downtown district in 2012, officially extending the city’s downtown toward Carilion Roanoke Memorial Photos by Don Petersen
cover story Hospital. “With The Bridges development we are connecting the river to the downtown,” Morrill says. “I think that development is an important piece and it continues to grow.” Being next to the Roanoke River was part of what sold Sponsor Hounds president Waynette Anderson on building an outdoor event venue at The Bridges. “It adds so much to the magical atmosphere during festivals, concerts and events,” she explains. “Our guests enjoy being near the water.” When Bern Ewert approached Roanoke City Council in 2011 about what would become The Bridges, he touted a kayak launch and a public river walk on the Roanoke River as pieces of the project’s pie. Construction began in March on a kayak launch at The Bridges, halfway between Wasena and Piedmont parks. The Roanoke Outside Foundation led a crowd funding drive to raise $77,000 in cash and in-kind services needed to build the launch, which will include a viewing platform, steps down to the river, a boat storage rack and an informational kiosk. “So hopefully by summertime that access will be up and running,” says Pete Eshelman, director of outdoor branding for the Roanoke Regional Partnership and Roanoke Outside Foundation. The city’s Department of Parks and Recreation and Storm Water
Division will manage the facility. The public can use the launch free. Ewert, who largely spearheaded the drive for the project, remembers being frustrated as a kid because there was nowhere along the river’s urban core to get in the water. “I kept looking around and thinking, ‘Why isn’t there a place to put our boat in or take it out on this river?’” When he began working on The Bridges, Ewert envisioned a place to launch kayaks. “Outdoors is going to be very important to Roanoke,” he explains. “We need something here that’s going to attract people to get on
the river.” Ewert is especially excited that the launch might spur more activity on the river by Dr Pepper Park. “So when there are shows going on, it’s going to be cool because we’re going to have people kayaking and tubing,” he says. Making a public river walk a reality at The Bridges, though, will take much longer. “That’s going to be one of the last things we’re able to do, for sure,” Ewert says. “The whole river walk would have to be, in a way, its own project. We’re probably going to have to work with the city and get some tax
money or a grant or some type of public-private partnership in order to do that.” Ewert envisions that the river walk might start at Dr Pepper Park and go toward Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. Small sections could be built first, he says, and expanded when it proves to be popular. Five years, Ewert says, may be a reasonable estimate of when a plan might come together to begin work toward that goal. “It’s a grand idea we’d like to see eventually, and we think will be beneficial to our project,” Ewert says. “It took me nine years to get this
A kayak launch at The Bridges should be ready for paddlers before this summer ends.
James Revercomb’s Roanoke Mountain Adventures rents kayaks and paddleboards for people to use in the Roanoke River, and bicycles for them to ride beside it.
kayak launch built. You won’t see any construction on [the river walk] for eight to 10 years unless the city decides they really want to push it forward.” Making the river more attractive for recreation An in-river kayak park would be another way to upgrade the 12
Roanoke River. Eshelman has been quietly working to bring at least one of these parks to the Roanoke Valley. “The idea with these in-river kayak parks is it takes your existing river and it makes it more of an attraction,” he says. “It’s a park but instead of building it on the land, we’re building it in the river.” Such parks, Eshelman explains,
are popular out west. The nearest one built on an existing river is in Ohio, according to Eshelman. (The $38 million U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte is an artificial river.) So if one is built in the Roanoke Valley, it will be the first in the state. Kayak parks typically cost between $500,000 and a million dollars, he says. They’re built by making modifications, such as additions of rock structures, to make play waves and whitewater for tubers, standup paddle boarders and kayakers. “We’re taking a river that really doesn’t have any white water, and we’re adding these rapids to it,” Eshelman explains. Anglers often like the parks, he adds, because they oxygenate the water and improve the habitat for fish. Scott Shipley, an Olympic kayaker and a mechanical engineer for S2O Design, which creates whitewater recreation facilities, conducted a study on the Roanoke River in July 2015. Eshelman declined to give the cost of this study, which he said was paid for by the Roanoke Regional Partnership and the foundation. But he did say Shipley identified spots along the Roanoke River in Roanoke, Roanoke County and Salem suitable for kayak parks. According to Eshelman, kayak parks have created millions of dollars in annual economic impact. He points to the success of the Clear Creek Whitewater Park in Golden, Colo., which, according to one study, generates between $1.4 million and $2 million in economic impact each year. “They are also community differentiators; making a community more vibrant and attractive to young professionals and people who value high quality of life,” he wrote in an email. Two spots on the section of the river that runs through Roanoke’s Wasena Park were deemed suitable for a kayak park. With Roanoke County in the process of finishing Photos by Don Petersen
cover story a master plan that will guide the next two decades of development at Explore Park, Eshelman and Roanoke County’s Parks Recreation and Tourism Director Doug Blount agree that a section of the river that runs through Explore Park may be the most likely site for a kayak park to become a reality. After Roanoke County Supervisors approve the master plan, Blount says, the county will approach interested businesses about building the park. Explore Park developments will come in phases, but Blount believes the kayak park would likely be part of an early stage. “This isn’t an either or proposition, i.e. only one gets built,” Eshelman said. “In a perfect world, all three would be built and each could serve independently as an attraction or they can be linked together to provide a full-day experience as a person floats down the river from park to park.” Too tough a sell? James Revercomb, 28, spent his Roanoke childhood outdoors: camping, hunting and fishing. He developed a passion for the water on the Cowpasture, Jackson and James Rivers, but even he can’t remember a time when he ever put a foot in the Roanoke River. Today, he’s co-owner of Roanoke Mountain Adventures, an outfitter that rents bikes along with stand-up paddleboards, kayaks and tubes. His headquarters at Wasena’s River House looks out on the Roanoke River. “You see this totally shifting mindset of using it as a resource, as opposed to as a dirty river that runs through our town and before that an industrial drainage ditch,” Revercomb says. Even so, Revercomb still has customers who return from a float down the Roanoke River with questions. They tell him that a passerby on the banks said he didn’t know it was safe to get in the water.
The Roanoke River has long been an underappreciated resource. That’s changing.
How clean is the Roanoke River? Shane Sawyer, a regional planner for the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission, is a straight shooter who doesn’t sugarcoat answers. “As identified by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality based on the provisions in the Clean Water Act, the river is impaired,” he says.
That’s a designation the Roanoke shares with the New River Gorge National River, part of the National Park system and one of the busiest sections of whitewater east of the Mississippi. “It’s not that it’s dirty in the sense that you’re going to catch something by swimming in it,” Sawyer says. “That’s not really the case.” The Roanoke River Blueway is a 45-mile stretch of the river that runs from Montgomery County to Bedford County.
cover story The DEQ is working on a plan for improving the Roanoke’s water quality soon.
But it is polluted. The two biggest problems for the Roanoke River, according to Sawyer, are e coli and sediment. Because so much of our modern
world consists of pavement, he explains, there’s less ground soaking up storm runoff. “The water washes off very quickly from the land and goes to the stream and then
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scours the stream bank because there’s so much water in it,” Sawyer says. “That’s where the sediment is coming from.” Too much sediment is bad because it keeps macroinvertebrates – bottom-dwelling animals without a backbone – from reproducing. “Those are necessary for the health of the stream,” Sawyer says. Revercomb points out that Roanoke is pretty close to the confluence of the river’s North and South forks in Lafayette, just across the Montgomery County line. “I’m not going to go drink it,” he says, though the river is the principal drinking water source – after treatment – for Salem and the Western Virginia Water Authority. “To swim in, I think it’s totally fine. When you compare it to some of our big rivers, the New and the James, [those go through] more agricultural area and have more agricultural runoff.” The Virginia DEQ is expected to release an implementation plan for addressing the Roanoke River’s pollution this spring. “That will be the blueprint that will outline how to address the impairments on the river,” Sawyer says. “Basically it just outlines best management practices.” The Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission, the regional planning agency that addresses issues critical to economic growth, undertook the role of marketer in 2013 of what it dubs the Roanoke River Blueway, a 45-mile stretch of the Roanoke River that runs from East Montgomery County Park to Hardy Road in Bedford County. Sawyer points out that the Roanoke River is one of the few rivers in this part of the state to run through an urban area. That offers benefits such as allowing paddlers to get a beer after their run or use the bus system to return for their cars after getting off the water. While a trip to the James or the New River will take most of a Saturday for someone who lives in Roanoke, Sawyer adds, a paddle down the Roanoke River works Photos by Don Petersen
great for someone who only has the afternoon free. “There’s basically an access point every few miles,” Sawyer says. “If you get on the river and you’re just not feeling it, you can get off very quickly.” While the water of the Roanoke River Blueway is too low for kayaking during some times of the year, paddlers will almost always find deep enough water among the lake-like stretches near Explore Park. When water got too low for kayaking last summer, Revercomb says, tubing the stretch of the Roanoke River that runs through the city was popular. “When it’s hot, a lot of people just want to get on the water for the afternoon,” he says. Revercomb launched Roanoke Mountain Adventures with his father, Jim, a year ago, after returning home to the Star City following several years spent as a whitewater, fishing and snowmobiling guide in Wyoming. “Our goal was to make the outdoors more accessible to
Shane Sawyer, a regional planner for the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission, says the Roanoke River is one of a few rivers in Virginia that runs through an urban area.
residents and visitors alike,” he says. So far, he says, tourists make up about 40 percent of his clientele. The more people get to know the river, Sawyer believes, the more
people will work to make it more pristine. “The first step,” he says, “is exposure, to let them know this is a resource that should be preserved and protected.”
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“I’m always skeptical of stereotypes,” Mike Pace says. “Young lawyers are interested in a better work/life balance, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t driven to succeed.”
Millennial lawyers don’t fit their generation’s stereotypes by Dan Radmacher
he stereotypes of lawyers and millennials could hardly be more different. Stereotypical lawyers burn the midnight oil. Slaves to the billable hour, they sacrifice family and friends on the altar of their careers. Stereotypical millennials are not into long hours. They want a work/life balance that doesn’t include putting in night and weekend hours. Stereotypical lawyers work hard for years, paying the dues that gain respect and lead to a partner-track position. Stereotypical millennials, raised by helicopter parents handing out participation trophies, look at respect and prestige as something that is their due, not something they should have to earn. Stereotypical lawyers are stuffy and status-conscious, sticklers for formality. Stereotypical millennials are members of the text generation, unable to understand when ROFL (rolling on the floor laughing) may be an inappropriate form of communication. If these stereotypes were realistic, it would be the setup for a monumental culture clash as new, young lawyers come into established law firms. In 2015, millenials – the generation born between 1981 and 1997 – became the largest generation in the workforce. Yet in talking to real attorneys, both younger and older, it becomes apparent that stereotypes on both sides are overblown. “I’m always skeptical of stereotypes,” says Mike Pace, general counsel at Roanoke College and a former partner at Gentry Locke. “Young lawyers are interested in a better work/life balance, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t driven to succeed.”
Photos by Natalee Waters
Success does require long hours, Pace acknowledges. “It requires a lot of time — a lot of wellspent time, and that’s not going to change. But I don’t think this generation is any more or less prone to back off on the throttle. They may just do it differently.” “Jodi has a tremendous work ethic,” John Lichtenstein of Roanoke’s Lichtenstein Law Group says of Jodi Meyer, a 30-year-old attorney at his firm. “She came here with it.” For Meyer, working hard is easy, because it’s the right work for her. “I love every minute of every piece of work I do,” she says. “Everybody here loves the people that we help and the work we do for them. There is nothing better than that in life. If you’re doing the type of work that doesn’t invigorate and call you to do those kinds of hours, you’re going to be unhappy.” Linda Frith and Katherine Londos of Frith Anderson & Peake
in Roanoke say the millennials in their office are willing to work hard, long hours, but they do want flexibility. “Our younger people have kids, and it’s not just the moms that run out to do things with their children,” says Londos. “That’s the great thing about practicing in Roanoke. You can run over to most of the schools and be back relatively quickly.” The flexibility isn’t just for millennials. “On a pretty spring day or fall day, you’ll see bicycles on top of cars, and you’ll know they’re planning on leaving early to go bike,” Frith says. “We encourage that. It makes for a happy lawyer, and that makes a more productive lawyer.” Millennials helped prompt that kind of flexibility, Londos says, but it wasn’t entirely a generational thing. “Having more women in the workplace has helped move it along,” Londos said. “There are multiple reasons for the change, but that’s been a major one.”
Millennial attorney Jodi Meyer says, “I love every minute of every piece of work I do.”
Katherine Londos says millennials and women have helped bring more flexibility to lawyersâ€™ work schedules.
Of course, flexibility has its limits. â€œWork/life balance is real, but the work is paramount,â€? Londos says. â€œYou canâ€™t not be there when a brief has to be filed.â€?
Cliff Jarrett, assistant dean for the Office of Career Strategy at Washington & Lee University School of Law, hasnâ€™t seen a lack of work ethic in the students and
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graduates he deals with. â€œIâ€™ve been working with young lawyers for about nine years, and I donâ€™t think I agree with some of the most popular stereotypes about the millennial generation,â€? says Jarrett. â€œItâ€™s very individualized, but the recent graduates I know are as motivated, as hard-working and as mannerly â€” all those traits you hear millennials donâ€™t have â€” as my older colleagues.â€? Having said that, Jarrett does see some areas of potential generational conflict, not the least of which is an area in which many agree millennials have a distinct advantage: technology. â€œThereâ€™s a definite difference between those who are tech natives and those who come to it as a second language,â€? Jarrett says. â€œBut this familiarity can cause younger lawyers problems in how they communicate with the lawyers they report to.â€? The hierarchy of the best method to communicate differs from generation to generation. â€œFor my generation and those above, face-to-face is better than email, and email is better than a text,â€? Jarrett says. â€œBut the substance of the communication needs to dictate which you use, and you have to really think about how the tone may be received a different way in a text or an email.â€? Ease with technology can give young lawyers an edge, but Pace believes they shouldnâ€™t use the time technology might save to check out early. â€œThe way younger lawyers work now and use technology ought to free up time for relationship-building earlier in their careers,â€? Pace says. Thereâ€™s also a risk in embracing technology in a way that crowds out personal interaction, adds Pace. â€œPracticing law is becoming less personal in some ways, but at its heart it remains a people business. Thatâ€™s where young lawyers need to focus: learning to interact with clients, the ability to find a good mentor. Learning the skill of listening.â€? Photos by Natalee Waters
Technology can be a dualedged sword. So says James Moliterno, the Vincent Bradford Professor of Law at W&L Law School. “Cell phones, email and other instant communication devices have served to make lawyers more available and on-call than in the past,” says Moliterno. “So while many lawyers in the past could ‘checkout’ when they needed a break, today it is almost impossible for a law firm lawyer to go ‘off the grid.’” Michael Darmante, a W&L law student who will be joining OPN Law in Roanoke when he graduates in May, says that young lawyers need to realize that technological proficiency isn’t everything. “Any advantage garnered by comfort
John Lichtenstein sees a “tremendous work ethic” in millennials.
with technology is counterbalanced by a lack of experience in all other aspects of the legal world,”
Darmante says. “One of the partners at my firm has been practicing longer than I’ve been alive. He knows everything without having to look it up. That is going to totally counteract my ability to create a PowerPoint.” But Darmante says younger lawyers can use their tech savvy to build trust and connections. “You can trade your knowledge,” Darmante says. “If you can help a more experienced lawyer with putting together a PowerPoint or even forwarding an email, it’s a way of showing your worth and building your relationship with that person so you can tap into what they can offer in the way of experience and knowledge that you don’t have yet.”
Law firms in the Roanoke and New River valleys Law firm
Anderson, Desimone & Green
Coleman & Massey
Frith & Ellerman Law Firm
Frith, Anderson & Peake
Glenn Feldmann Darby & Goodlatte
Johnson, Rosen & O'Keeffe
Lichtenstein Law Group
Martin, Hopkins & Lemon
Spilman Thomas & Battle
Strelka Law Office
The Creekmore Law Firm
Weaver Law Firm
www.weaverlawfirm.com (site under construction)
Whitlow & Youell
Witeford, Taylor & Preston
Source: Roanoke Business
New River Community College Expansion at the NRV Mall means more rooms, more classes and 3-D printing by Shawna Morrison
NRCC students such as Jacob Sawyers use the college’s 3D printing facilities in their studies. Local businesses use those facilities to produce prototypes and test designs.
t the beginning of the year, New River Community College added new rooms to its campus in the New River Valley Mall in Christiansburg, expanding the number of courses there, especially those that offer workforce training. The school also added several 3-D printers that are available at times for public use. Jeanne Symanoskie, coordina-
Photo courtesy of New River Community College
tor of Montgomery County workforce training for New River Community College’s Workforce Development division, says the mall expansion was sorely needed. “The presence here at the mall was filled to capacity.” The expansion, completed just in time for spring semester, which begain in January, included eight new rooms and the modification of
a room into a graphics lab. The addition brings the total number of rooms available for classes on site to 23. There is also an office and board room. Two of the classrooms are dedicated to workforce development classes, allowing Symanoskie to more easily set up classes requested by businesses for their employees. Though New River Community ROANOKE BUSINESS
Jeanne Symanoskie, NRCC coordinator of Montgomery County workforce training, says the college can provide customized training for area businesses.
College has offered some classes at the mall for years, these are the first rooms dedicated to workforce development classes, Symanoskie says. The other rooms are used for academic programs, classes taken by New River Community College students to earn credits. Through articulation agreements, students are able to take New River Community College classes on the Dublin campus or at the mall site that they can later transfer to Radford University or Virginia Tech. “We’ve never had this space over here,” Symanoskie says. That often made it difficult to readily offer classes requested by businesses, she says, because she had to work around times that the rooms were used for academic programs. Or, she couldn’t offer those programs at the mall, though it is a more convenient location for many businesses. Often, Symanoskie says, businesses contact New River Community College to organize training classes, such as Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint classes; building contractor courses; customer ser22
vice training; CDL licensure training; or ServSafe food safety courses for restaurants. “With our expanded space in Christiansburg at the New River Valley Mall, our workforce devel-
opment staff is able to serve even more businesses and organizations,” says Mark Rowh, New River Community College’s vice president for workforce development and external relations. “We’re ready to customize programs for their unique training needs.” The mall is a 10-minute drive from Community Housing Partners (CHP) in Christiansburg, compared with a 30-minute drive to the New River Community College campus in Dublin. CHP provides housing opportunities and related services to low-income individuals and offers education and training in energy and conservation practices, weatherization, and green building. The location is helpful because “people can just zip over there,” says Laura Croft, director of learning and development for Community Housing Partners. Croft says Microsoft classes taken by CHP employees have been very helpful. “The classes are small enough that [Symanoskie] can give enough extra one-on-one if needed,” she says. Symanoskie says the college
strives to offer what a business needs. “We will find the trainer; we will find the place.” If a business needs a certain class offered for its employees but doesn’t have enough people to fill the class, Symanoskie can set up an open enrollment class, meaning anyone can enroll without having to be accepted as a New River Community College student. Many open enrollment classes take place during one or two days, much shorter than a traditional college class, and don’t lead to credits earned. A PowerPoint class, for example, takes six hours. A contractor class is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on a single day. At the end of the day, students who pass their test are awarded a contractor’s license. “It’s been a tremendous help” having the added space at the mall, Symanoskie says. “This is a very popular location. When I do schedule the open enrollment classes, because we can get [students] from Giles and Blacksburg and Christiansburg, it does have a larger draw, typically.” New River Community College’s New River Mall site is a STEM facility, focusing on programs such as computer-aided drafting and design, physics, engineering, and game technology.
Photos courtesy of New River Community College
New River Community College Got its start in 1958 when members of Radford’s school board and city council met to discuss the idea of a vocational school. Originally received funding from Pulaski and Montgomery counties and Radford. The New River Vocational-Technical School opened in September 1959 in the old Belle Heth Elementary School in Radford. Curriculum included drafting, electronics and machine shop but soon was expanded to include industrial electricity, instrumentation, practical nursing, and supervisory personnel training. In 1966, the college came under the jurisdiction of the newly formed Virginia Community College System. Dublin was chosen in 1968 as the site of the new community college. The name New River Community College was chosen in 1969. SOURCE: nr.edu
On average, Symanoskie says, students who enroll in workforce development classes are older than traditional college students, who generally are under 26. For example, many people who take an iPad course – helping them learn to better use an iPad – are about 50. “It’s just a two- or three-hour class, but it really makes a big impact for them,” she says. People enrolling in an intermediate Word course are more likely to be about 40 years old, she says. “I get several area businesses that send three or four people at a time to expand on their knowledge” of how to use various programs, Symanoskie says. “They use the program every day, but they use it the same way every day. So they just want to expand their knowledge and be more efficient and more productive. I try to offer a lot of tips and tricks on how to do things quicker and more efficiently.” Most of the rooms that aren’t set aside for workforce development classes at the mall site are used daily by the academic programs department. The mall site operates as a STEM – science, technology, engineering and math
– center and focuses on programs such as computer-aided drafting and design, physics, engineering, and game technology. There also is a lab that houses 18 3-D printers. Some are older, lower-end models; others are newer, higher-end ones. Between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, this lab opens to the public. The price of each item printed is based on how much material is used. “The really cool thing,” Symanoskie says, “is that once you load a file in, it tells you how big the file is going to be, and then we can tell you the price of it.” New River Community College has another 3-D printing lab in Martin Hall on the Dublin campus that opened within the last year. But the central location of the mall’s lab has made it popular among businesses that want to use it for rapid prototyping. “There are some manufacturing businesses around the area that are like, well, I just want to make a part and see if it will work,” she says. The school now offers an introduction to 3-D printing class. “It has been drawing a lot of interest,” Symanoskie says, “and we expect that to grow.” ROANOKE BUSINESS
SPECIAL REPORT: ENTREPRENEURIAL MILLENIALS
Going their own way For some millennials, success means creating a job they love
Shay Beckner (left), founder of Pixie Dust Princess Headquarters, and JordanElizabeth Keith, one of the company’s princesses.
by Beth JoJack
he oldest members of the millennial generation were just coming of age in the wake of the Enron scandal. They saw news reports of workers and investors losing their retirement savings when the energy giant went bust. Members born in the late 1980s graduated from college during the Great Recession, meaning they competed with other college graduates for the chance to ring up sweaters at Old Navy.
Even as the economy has improved, some members of this generation – generally identified as individuals born from 1981 to 1997 — continue to struggle. Unemployment rates for those ages 16 to 24 in early 2014 were 14.2 percent, or about twice the rate of overall unemployment, according to Mark Carter, senior research analyst for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. One in five young adults lived in poverty in 2014, compared with
one in seven in 1980, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, when the national unemployment rate was 5.1 percent in March, the rate for those 20 to 24 was 8.4 percent and 6.2 percent for people ages 25 to 29. At the other end of the millennial spectrum are entrepreneurial success stories such as Mark Zuckerberg, the visionary who dropped out of Harvard as an undergrad to launch Facebook and now, accordPhoto by Natalee Waters
ing to Forbes, has a net worth of $49.6 billion. So it should come as no surprise if members of this generation gravitate toward entrepreneurship. More than half of the 872 millennials phoned in 2011 for a survey funded by the Kauffman Foundation, a nonprofit that studies business creation, aspired to start their own business. Eight percent of those surveyed had their own businesses at the time, while 11 percent planned to start businesses within the next year. A 2015 state of entrepreneurship report by the foundation suggests millennials may struggle, though, to turn those aspirations into reality. Massive amounts of student debt, coupled with fewer financial resources than earlier generations, can hold people back. Despite those challenges, millennial entrepreneurs are not difficult to find in the Roanoke and New River valleys. Alexander Obenauer, Mindsense As CEO of Mindsense, one of the New River Valley’s most successful startups, Alexander Obenauer has a lot on his plate. So much, in fact, he had to pause for a moment to recall a mundane detail like whether he’d yet turned 26. “I’m 25,” he finally decided. The last few years have been a whirlwind for Obenauer. In 2011, while still a student at Virginia Tech, he and his friend Joshua Milas would shake their heads about all the unread emails in their inboxes. The pair felt certain there had to be a better way to organize messages. In January 2012, the pair made a pitch on Kickstarter. They wanted to create a better, task-oriented approach to email. In a few weeks, they’d raised over $54,000. Obenauer and Milas dubbed their company Mindsense. By the next fall, they’d introduced a web application version of “email reimagined” called Mail Pilot. The following April, Mindsense released a Photo courtesy Virginia Tech
Mail Pilot app for iPhone and iPad. Apple featured it on the front page of the App Store as a Best New App in more than 130 countries. As of October 2015, Mail Pilot had more than 80,000 users, according to Obenauer. Despite the company’s success, Obenauer felt strongly Mindsense needed to continue growing. “If we wanted to be a business and not a one-off product, we had to accept that we had to keep innovating,” he says. In early 2015, the Mindsense team switched their efforts to creating Throttle, an Internet browser extension that automatically creates new email addresses whenever a site, often a shopping site, requires a user’s email. Any future marketing emails from that site will go to Throttle, which collects all of those marketing emails into a daily digest email — which means a less cloggedup inbox for users. “It solved such a tough problem that we all face in such an elegant way,” Obenauer says of the tool. Throttle is free, but users who want to do things like use it for multiple email addresses or customize the email addresses generated for
Alexander Obenauer’s app building company got its initial funding through Kickstarter.
websites can purchase a pro version for $3.99 monthly. Released in early 2016, Throttle had more than 12,000 users in March, both free and paid, according to Obenauer. It’s a very millennial thing to give technology away, he admits. No one’s paying to use Facebook or Instagram, after all. “With a volume play, the idea is if only 5 percent of our users pay us, that 5 percent would be more than the total number of customers we would have had if it wasn’t free because far less people would be using,” Obenauer says. He thinks the company’s new venture will be a success. “We’re heavily attacking growth,” he says. Today, Obenauer employs one other full-time and one part-time employee, along with two paid interns and two consultants. (Milas moved to the West Coast for family reasons and is no longer involved with Mindsense, but the pair remains friends.) Mindsense ended 2015 with a profit, according to Obenauer. Being an entrepreneur means his personal income fluctuates wildly, something he’s able to tolerate only because his wife has a steady paycheck as a marketing communications specialist for another company. “It’s entirely thanks to Sarah that we’ve been able to make it okay” he says. Shay Beckner, Pixie Dust Princess Headquarters Shay Beckner, 22, launched Pixie Dust Princess Headquarters (PDPH) in 2014. Click on the website and you can arrange for a troupe of tiara-clad princesses to entertain at your 4-year-old’s birthday party. Packages start at $128 with a coronation ceremony, and pony rides are available as add-ons. For Beckner, it was important to have a job she’s passionate about. That’s pretty typical for millennials. A 2014 study by the Intelligence Group, a consumer insights firm, found that 64 percent of those interviewed would rather make ROANOKE BUSINESS
J.D. Sutphin left a solid job to start Big Lick Entertainment.
$40,000 a year at a job they love than $100,000 at a job they consider boring. As a young girl, Beckner adored everything Disney, particularly the movies “Princess of Thieves” and the Rodgers & Hammerstein version of “Cinderella.” “Life wasn’t always the greatest when I was younger,” says Beckner, who was raised by a single father. Those magical, Disney-spun worlds served as “a life vest” for her, she explains. Beckner never outgrew her love for crowns, elegant dresses or performing. In early 2014, Beckner posted an Internet video of herself singing “Almost There” from Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog.” After watching Beckner’s video, a commenter suggested she consider inspiring other girls by dressing up like a princess. Beckner, who had struggled with bulimia into her late teens, loved the 26
idea of entertaining children while “redefining what princess means” – showing young women that princesses come in all races, shapes and sizes. Outgoing Beckner had no trouble tracking down friends who wanted to dress up, too. “Who doesn’t want to be a princess?” she asks. After graduating from Patrick Henry High School in 2011, Beckner started a small photography business. She sold photo shoots to raise about $500 for start-up costs. That went mostly for costumes and the glitter she put into tubes to serve as pixie dust. With four princesses in tow, Beckner attended Festival in the Park that year. Kids had a great time that day posing for pictures and talking to royalty, but Beckner wasn’t sure she was getting out the word that the princesses were for hire. “We had no business cards. We had no banner, no sign,” she says. “I knew absolutely nothing about
businesses. Pixie dust occurred to me – business cards not at all.” At another charity event a few weeks later, PDPH gave away a free appearance to the parent of a 6-year-old, who agreed to have them come to a party. Seeing how special that little girl felt to have princesses at her party gave Beckner confidence in her business plan. “When we left, we were like ‘Holy crap, we can do this.’” Beckner wrote a business plan in the fall of 2014 before appearing at Roanoke Star Tank, which is modeled after the television show where startups pitch their business idea to potential investors. Beckner didn’t win any investors, but she was given business advice and made connections with other business leaders. PDPH spends between $50 and $100 every two months for advertising on social media sites. The princesses – Beckner now has 10 part-time employees – march in local parades and attend festivals where they pass out business cards. (They’re pink, naturally). Still, news of the business mostly spreads through the mom network. In 2015, PDPH played 14 birthday parties and created four major events for Roanoke children, including a Princess Pajama Party held at the Patrick Henry. As of March, Beckner had 28 parties scheduled for this year. She’s also booking play dates and singing telegrams from the princesses and has a summer day camp scheduled for June. The business is not losing money, Beckner says, although the new mom also says she couldn’t support her family without her husband’s income as a security guard for the Department of Defense. PDPH, Beckner feels confident, will continue to grow. She has dreams of opening an actual headquarters, which would include a center for birthday parties along with a hair and nail salon. Already, Beckner says, she’s living her happily-ever-after. “I get to wake up, and I get to talk about Photos by Natalee Waters
princesses all day,” she says. “I don’t have to follow anybody else’s rules … I like being in control of what’s happening.” J.D. Sutphin, Big Lick Entertainment J.D. Sutphin didn’t suffer stereotypical millennial occupational woes. He worked as an assistant program director, music director and promotions director for iHeartMedia and was a favorite disc jockey on WROV-FM. “I liked my job,” the 33-year-old says. Everything changed for Sutphin after 27-year-old cousin Anthony Hall was killed in a stabbing outside a bar in 2012. “I got so depressed about his death that I could not be on the radio, so I stepped down from that,” he says. “I was doing behind-the-scenes stuff.” At the prodding of a friend, Sutphin attended the CityWorks (X)po in October 2013. “I’d been thinking about needing to do something different and also wanted to do something that was really positive in the community because that’s the kind of person my cousin was,” he says. Millennials, as a group, have been vocal about their strong sense of social responsibility. Sutphin experienced his epiphany for how to create more meaning in his work while watching an (X)po presentation by Wirt Confroy, director of partnerships and outreach for the Virginia Tourism Corp. “I could do events,” Sutphin remembers thinking as Confroy talked about what drives a person to visit another town. “I could do something that brings a lot of people from all different walks of life together.” Sutphin immediately planned a New Year’s Eve celebration for that December. The Big Lick Downtown Countdown sold out that year and every year since. By the next April, Sutphin told his wife he wanted to quit his day job. “She was incredibly freaked out,” he remembers.
Phillip Martin launched his coffee company with tip money from his barista job.
Since founding Big Lick Entertainment in late 2013, Sutphin now produces a whole roster of events including an Oktoberfest, a cocktail festival and the Flat Pickin’ Fridays music series at the Daleville Town Center. Portions of the proceeds from every event go to a different area nonprofit. The company is able to do this through sponsors who help Big Lick shoulder the cost of staging the festivities. This year’s NYE event raised $17,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network, according to Sutphin.
Sutphin now has two-full time employees and a rotating stable of part-timers he uses, depending on the size of the event. His business is in the black. “We’re doing OK,” he says. “I’ve never valued a dollar more in my entire life because I know when I get my pay check what I had to bust in order to get it.” Phillip Martin, The Chipped Mug Coffee Co. Phillip Martin of Elliston has carefully tried to avoid risking his and his wife’s financial security to ROANOKE BUSINESS
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start a new business. After graduating from Glenvar High School in 2007 and taking a few semesters at Radford University, Martin traded school for a series of customer service jobs, including a few stints at coffee shops. All the while, he kept thinking about how he could start his own business. Martin likes to cook, but he ruled out starting any kind of restaurant business because it required too much upfront investment. Coffee was another passion. “I look at it the kind of way a wine connoisseur might go to a wine tasting,” Martin says. “I enjoyed the process of tasting different cups of coffee, flavor tones and the different characteristics of what made it what it was.” In spring 2014, Martin used $200 in saved up tip money from working as a barista to buy equipment and raw materials so he could begin roasting his own coffee beans. The Chipped Mug Coffee Co was born. By that summer, he was selling his whole bean coffee on the Salem Farmer’s Market. Since that time, Martin estimates, he’s put another $1,000 into the business. “It’s not a ton of money we’ve put into it, and that’s been very intentional,” Martin says of his wife and himself. Working about 25 hours a week at a coffee shop allows Martin to pay his bills. During farmers market season, he puts in another 40 hours a week on The Chipped Mug. Martin estimates he makes between $1,000 and $1,500 a month selling bags of coffee, brewed coffee and baked goods at the farmers markets in Salem and Roanoke. “I still have not cut a paycheck to myself from The Chipped Mug Coffee Co.,” he says. “At some point I will, and it will be great, but for right now everything coming into the business has been used to grow the business a little bit more.”
We Have It Made
In Pulaski Calfee Park – 9th oldest baseball stadium in the US
Pulaski Yankees – 2016 season State Parks – Claytor Lake and New River Trail Historic Train Depot Ratcliff Memorial Transportation Museum Historic Theater- Crooked Road Venue Wilderness Road Regional Museum The River Course Commerce Park The MARKETPLACE Restored Jackson Park Inn
www.pulaskicounty.org firstname.lastname@example.org www.pulaskitown.org email@example.com
INTERVIEW: Bill Aden, founder; and Michael Lawless, principal; Draper Aden Associates
Building on relationships
For Draper Aden Associates, relationships include people, technology and the EPA by Michael Abraham
raper Aden Associates has more than 220 employees in seven offices in Virginia and North Carolina, performing engineering, surveying and environmental services for communities and developers. The Blacksburg-based company, founded by a pair of Virginia Tech graduates, has parlayed relationships into business opportunities that have helped boost the development and re-development of communities throughout the region. John White, Pulaski’s economic development officer, is well aware of the contributions Draper Aden made to his town’s life after manufacturing became more history than economic engine. According to White, Pulaski was a boomtown, following much the same pattern as Roanoke. After the railroad arrived, Pulaski was a foundry town, with four operational foundries. About 1920, economies of scale in iron and steel production took their toll, and most of that industry collapsed. Pulaski transitioned into a mill town, producing textiles and furniture.
As those industries made their exodus, the town languished. “Draper Aden has come in to help us study our soil and water and make determinations as to our lev-
els of contamination,” White says. “They have facilitated a number of EPA assessment grants. For developers, knowing exactly what they are up against helps to lower their anxi-
ety level when they take on a particular property or building. This helps people become more interested and motivated in buying and developing properties. Draper Aden has good environmental studies people.” Draper Aden employs geologists, engineers, chemists, surveyors and environmental scientists who provide a wide range of site-selection and preparation services dealing with groundwater, pollution control and remediation, and monitoring. “We used to say that we were a foundry town, and then we said we were a mill town,” White says. “We cannot say those things any more. Those things are not coming back. In phase three, we are attempting to figure out what our raison d’être is.”
Bill Aden says one of the company’s first big projects was the Elliston-Layfette water treatment plant.
Photos by Christina O’Connor
Draper Aden was founded in 1972. At that time, the firm helped local developers prepare land to hold apartment complexes and residential neighborhoods during a period of rapid expansion in Blacksburg. Draper Aden co-founder Bill Aden and Michael Lawless – principal, vice president, and environmental division manager – sat down to talk about how relationships helped build the company and how technology is shaping its future. Roanoke Business: How did you get your start? Bill Aden: Co-founder Joe [Draper] had a relationship with Pete Snyder, who was one of the early developers of the large apartment complex communities that we now have in Blacksburg. The legislature and [Virginia Tech] President T. Marshall Hahn decided that Virginia Tech should grow dramatically. But they were not going to make a commitment to build the new dormitories necessary to house all these incoming students. So developers began showing up. Pete formed a company that in those days was Snyder Hunt, which today is HHHunt, and they developed Hethwood. Pete was a wonderful guy, but unfortunately he was killed in an airplane crash in 1976. Joe was a surveyor. The workload was so great that Joe had to bring on several new people to help him, and at that point I joined in. My degree is in civil engineering, and my master’s degree is in environmen-
Michael Lawless says technology is displacing workers in the field, but it’s also creating new opportunities.
tal engineering. In those days, it was called sanitary engineering, and we were the poop scoopers. I am originally from Pulaski, and I always had it as a goal to live and work in Southwest Virginia. The EPA had been formed, and it was coming out with grants to help communities build sewage treatment plants. We got involved when we got hired by the Montgomery County Public Service Authority to build the EllistonLafayette water treatment system. RB: What were your primary areas of ex-
pertise in those days? Aden: It was probably 5050 between land development and municipal development, including water, sewage, streets and storm water. When a community needs to have something done, they go out for requests for proposals from various vendors. They have an interview process where the vendors can assess the needs. If you already know them well, you have a better chance of getting the work. It is all about relationships. During that period, Joe continued to do land development work, lots of it right here in Blacksburg.
interview RB: And then you diversified from there, correct? Aden: That’s right. We hired a man with expertise in solid waste. Landfills. We were one of the first engineering firms that got into landfills big time. We pretty much had this work to ourselves because nobody wanted to work with dumps. Before EPA regulations, landfills were more like holes in the ground where trash was buried. When the EPA came out with all these rules, we were about the only people with the background and expertise to manage them. All the engineering going into modernizing landfill design and capturing the gas came forward in the early 1990s. RB: What is your background, Michael? Michael Lawless: I have been here at Draper Aden for 20 years. My education is in geology and hydrogeology. I am originally from the Boston area. I got my bachelor’s degree at Bates College in Maine and my master’s degree at Old Dominion University. I do a lot of the landfill work that Bill has been talking about and also environmental regulatory compliance for various industries. Brownfield assessments and redevelopment. General assessment and cleanup of contaminated propera factory or water plant with extensive ties. amounts of pipes. A laser scan can give accurate dimensional measurements RB: How has technology including sizes and lengths. With the changed the company? Aden: When I first started, we used old survey measurement techniques, mechanical rotary calculators. In the 99 percent of the time you would mid-1970s we got the first digital cal- have to send somebody back out to culators. What all this new technology re-measure portions of it. has done has made people like me RB: Is the technology replacobsolete. Lawless: The technology has evolved ing workers or is it augmenting so much that it is now driving the di- workers? rection of the company. On the sur- Lawless: It is displacing workers but veying side, we are now using laser it is also creating new opportunities. scanning to complete site surveys. A la- On balance, it may zero itself out. In ser scan can give us literally millions of many cases, the new tools can allow point measurements in minutes. This is one person to do what a two- or particularly useful for projects involv- three-person crew used to do before. ing something that has already been The opportunities that the new techbuilt. For example, consider a room at nologies are creating are actually lead32
ing to new hires. Soon we will be employing drones to complete aerial topographic mapping. Traditionally, we used aerial photography in fixed-wing airplanes. The drone technology will enable us to complete mapping in a few hours that formerly may have taken weeks. RB: Please talk about the work you are doing in Pulaski. Lawless: Pulaski has presented for us one of the most exciting opportunities that we have had in the last eight to 10 years. The EPA has spearheaded efforts to revitalize unutilized and underutilized properties. Typically what we have thought of as brownfields are former industrial sites that have now become eyesores and blights on the community. Photo by Christina O’Connor
who moved away and then comes back. It takes a lot of persistence. Generally, these changes do not happen overnight. You need a long-term view and a willingness to work through some of the negative influences. Aden: I put it in one word: leadership. I am still concerned about Pulaski. Many of those people there are old and will not be active much longer. But there are also some younger people who are moving in and renovating some of the old spaces.
But that definition has been expanded in recent years to include any underutilized property. The EPA set up a grant program to provide communities with funding to assess and clean up those properties and to prepare them for future development. It has really been exciting in a place like Pulaski where we have been able to bring these grants to them to provide the money to assess and clean up the old properties and revitalize the community. Fortunately, many of these properties look a whole lot worse than they are. Nobody wants to invest in a contaminated property. These grants have provided data to show that the properties are not as bad as they look, and this has provided the impetus for the revitalization of the entire down-
RB: There seems to be an undercurrent in some circles that embraces the vilification of the EPA. Do you share that? Lawless: It is important to recognize that the brownfields branch of EPA is different from the enforcement branch that you hear about in the news. Oftentimes someone will own a piece of property and whether it is generating any revenue or not, they are fearful of opening it up to EPA scrutiny. The feeling is that if their property is tested and the reports and the results are sent to the EPA, they will come in with The company now a heavy hand, and it will cost the landuses laser scanning to complete site surveys. owner a lot of money.That misperception can be a stumbling block to redevelopment.The branch of the EPA that deals with brownfields has much more town community. of an economic development focus and wants to see these old, dilapidatRB: When we talk about the ed, underutilized properties put back communities throughout the into productive use and cost-effective area that were on a decline 20 solutions that will get these properties years ago and that are now see- back on the tax rolls. ing some resurgence, what do Aden: The EPA is really what got our you find to be common about company started. I went to college on them? an EPA grant. From our perspective Lawless: They usually have a per- and for what we do, the EPA has been son like John White who has the en- good for us and good for our employergy and vision to spur that growth. ees. Pulaskiâ€™s Peak Creek was a disaster Some of those communities, as they in the early 1970s before the EPA. have shrunk, have lost the imagina- Lawless: Delaware did a study where tive and energetic people. If thereâ€™s they found that for every dollar investnobody around to push things, then ed in brownfields, property values innot a lot happens. Sometimes it takes creased by about $17. There is no betsomebody moving in and seeing things ter use of our tax dollars. It is good for through fresh eyes. Sometimes, like the landowner, good for the commuwith John White, it takes somebody nity, and good for Draper Aden. ROANOKE BUSINESS
Photo courtesy Deschutes Brewery
West Coast brewery picks Roanoke for new site by Veronica Garabelli
D Deschutes Brewery President Michael LaLonde was very pleased about the decision to put Brew 4, the company’s first East Coast facility, in Roanoke.
eschutes Brewery, a major craft brewer, has tapped Roanoke for its eastern U.S. brewery and tasting room, which are slated to open in three years. The Bend, Ore.-based company expects to invest $85 million in the project and create 108 jobs. Deschutes made hundreds of site visits during the past two years before picking Roanoke. Other states in the running for the project included North Carolina and South Carolina. Deschutes is the eighth-largest craft brewer in the U.S. by sales volume, according to the latest available data from the Brewers Association. Deschutes President Michael LaLonde said the company was impressed by its reception in Roanoke, where it was greeted with a grass-roots so-
cial-media campaign. “We have absolutely been blown away with how the community rallied around bringing us here and has given us such a warm welcome,” he said in a statement at the time of the announcement. Deschutes, founded in 1988, is a family- and employee-owned brewery. Its beers include Fresh Squeezed IPA, Black Butte Porter and Mirror Pond Pale Ale. Last year, Deschutes shipped 343,689 barrels of beer from its Bend facility to 28 states. Its beer is currently available in Northern Virginia. Distribution should reach Roanoke in August and the rest of the state by the end of the year. State incentives for the Deschutes project included a $3 million grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity
Fund. The company also will be eligible to receive a grant of up to $250,000 from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund, depending on its use of Virginia-grown products. In addition, Deschutes is eligible for $7.9 million in incentives from Roanoke, many of which are performancebased. The city will provide land valued at $2.75 million for the brewery site at the Roanoke Centre for Industry and Technology (RCIT) and make $3.4 million in infrastructure improvements. Beth Doughty, head of the Roanoke Regional Partnership, says the brewery project is expected to have more than a $200 million annual impact on the regional economy, indirectly creating 305 jobs.
COMMUNITY PROFILE: PULASKI
Finding the right mix
Pulaski County has manufacturing, minor league baseball and regional cooperation by Gene Marrano
argely rural Pulaski County has come up with a winning approach to economic development: manufacturing, minor league baseball and regional initiatives. When it comes to infrastructure like industrial parks and airports, leaders realize that working with others in the region is the way to go, but they like to move at their own pace and take a cautious approach in using incentives. Andy McCready, chairman of the county’s board of supervisors, says sweeteners such as tax abatements are appropriate – under the right circumstances. Companies getting these breaks from Pulaski County must sign performance agreements that include timetables for job creation before the county
Photo by Christina O’Connor
will consider incentives, McCready says. If those companies don’t fulfill their commitments, they may have to pay the county back, “depending on how the deal is structured.” “We are strong believers in being frugal with the taxpayers’ dollars,” McCready says. McCready recalls competing with Tennessee for a plant several years ago. That state promised to give graded land to a prospect with no strings attached. “We can’t do that,” McCready says. “We need to know how many jobs you are bringing ... and your timeline for construction. Sometimes that will hurt us. We’re looking for the right fit.” Michael Solomon, the county’s director of economic development, says he was intrigued by several
community profile “diverse” business announcements when he was recruited from Kansas less than two years ago. Textile and furniture plants that had “kind of gone away,” were being replaced by companies such as Phoenix Packaging, which makes plastic containers for food products, and Korona Candles, which has its only North American manufacturing plant in Pulaski. “Our biggest strength is the manufacturing [legacy] that we have,” says Solomon. “We’ve been building things here for a long time.” Solomon is impressed by programs at New River Community College that can train workers for skilled manufacturing jobs and by STEM Academy classes at Pulaski County High School where students can learn welding, carpentry and automotive repair before heading to NRVCC. An instrumentation track at the college teaches skills needed to program automated equipment in local factories. “An aging population of tradesmen,” makes these opportunities for younger adults
Michael Solomon, the county’s economic director, is working to diversify the economy.
County Administrator Pete Huber says regional cooperation is critical.
vital Solomon adds, “and is definitely a selling point for us.” Like Solomon, Board of Supervisors Chairman Andy McCready says New River Community College — not nearby four-year schools like Radford University and Virginia Tech — “is the biggest job helper for us. It continues to be a major asset for the county.” The county has other, more tangible, assets, too. The 54,000-square-foot New River Valley Business Center, a regional initiative in Fairlawn, is a small business incubator that houses about two dozen tenants. Having the right sized building stock for prospects is a challenge for Pulaski County, according to Solomon — as it is for other competing localities looking to land new businesses. McCready, a small business owner himself, says looking for a major big-box company is not the county’s focus. If that happens, McCready says, it’s great, but the county is focused on “continuing to diversify the [strong] manufacturing base that we have here.” The Red Sun Farms operation that grows tomatoes and then packages Photos by Christina O’Connor
them for distribution to grocers is one source of that diversity, notes McCready. He wants to see more local foods processed and marketed as being from Pulaski County. Red Sun, the first tenant in the New River Commerce Park, raises organic and hydroponic tomatoes on about 18 acres under greenhouse glass. Identifying vacant land and empty buildings for prospects — and perhaps landing an intermodal freight train/truck site in the county — are at the top of his wish list. Trade agreements have changed the dynamic during the past 20 years, with many manufacturing plants going offshore, so finding a different mix of jobs in larger array of industries is key. Volvo Trucks, which employs about 2,200 people at its Dublin plant, and smaller companies in Pulaski County that supply Volvo remain key players. Volvo laid off about 600 workers earlier this year, part of a cyclical pattern to truck making, buying and selling. Steve Tam, vice president of the commercial vehicle sector of ACT Research Co., a data analytics company that forecasts demand for new commercial vehicles in North America and China, told Roanoke Business then Andy McCready, chairman of the board of supervisors, says the county is frugal with taxpayers’ dollars when it comes to handing out incentives.
that the industry generally moves in 10-year cycles, and this lay off is nothing out of the ordinary. County Administrator Pete Huber says bringing “net revenue into the county” is his bottom line. “You call that basic employment. It’s the Volvo Trucks that get shipped out of here [and] products that we export.” A mix of highertech manufacturing jobs and foodrelated industries like Red Sun is a good formula for Pulaski County says Huber, a 30-year veteran of local government. Regional cooperation also is a must says Huber, who points to the 900-plus acre New River Valley Commerce Park — developed with the assistance of 11 localities under the Radford-based Virginia’s First Industrial Facility Authority banner — as a prime example. The park in Dublin lies near I-81, two rail lines, and the New River Valley Airport with its Virginia TradePort, which includes a free trade zone. “It’s a key factor … with the resources we have,” says Huber of cooperative efforts, also pointing to a landfill created under the New River Resource Authority banner and the New River Regional Jail. A broadband project is, he says, “still in its infancy.”
Blair Hoke is general manager of the Pulaski Yankees — one of five female GMs in minor league baseball.
Pulaski County is a member of the New River Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization that includes Radford, Christiansburg and Blacksburg, as well as urbanized portions of Montgomery and
Pulaski counties. Developing a long-range transportation plan looking to the year 2040 is a major goal. One local business that helps put Pulaski County on the map is the Pulaski Yankees of the Appalachian League, a short-season, rookie league on the lowest rung in affiliated minor-league baseball. Last season was the first year of an agreement with the New York Yankees, and attendance at a renovated historic Calfee Park more than doubled to more than 60,000. “People either like them or they don’t, but they are intrigued by the [New York Yankees],” says Blair Hoke, who, at 28, is in her first year as the team’s general manager. The team’s new owners, Shelor Automotive Motor Group, also renovated a nearby hotel used by the Pulaski Yankees during their season and by other visitors all year. “We pull [in fans] from all over,” Hoke says. “People are really excited to have this as part of a destination in Pulaski County.” says Hoke.
Pulaski County Founded: 1839 Area: 330 square miles Population: 34,322 (2014 estimate) Government: County administrator appointed by a five-member board of supervisors Largest Employers: Volvo (Trucks) Group North America, Phoenix Packaging Systems, Pulaski County Schools, New River Community College, Wal-Mart, HCA Health System, Pulaski County government. Several other large area employers , including Radford University and Kollmorgen , are located in the city of Radford. Fast facts: Pulaski County was created from portions of neighboring Montgomery and Wythe counties in 1839. It was named in honor of an exiled Polish nobleman – Casimir Pulaski – who joined the Revolutionary Army in 1777 and was mortally wounded two years later. In 1898 Pulaski County citizen Hoge Tyler became the governor of Virginia, and during his term the commonwealth’s constitution was rewritten. Farming and manufacturing were important economic engines for Pulaski beginning in the late 1800s. Claytor Lake State Park and the Motor Mile Speedway are two attractions that draw people from other localities. Sources: Pulaskicounty.org and Virginia Employment Commission (2015 statistics)
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Preview of next month’s Roanoke Business
The first ten years Carilion, the Roanoke region’s largest hospital system, became Carilion Clinic a decade ago. Roanoke Business takes a look at how the first ten years have gone and what to expect in the future. Also in the June issue: •
Education Profile: VCOM
The economic impact of 611 railroad excursions
Photo courtesy Carilion Clinic
SPONSORED CONTENT | Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce MEMBER NEWS & RECOGNITIONS Advance Auto Parts, a leading automotive aftermarket parts provider in North America, is the sponsor of the Ricky Benton Racing Team in the 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. The series features 21 tracks and holds 23 events in the U.S. and Canada. Ricky Benton Racing Enterprises is owned by Black’s Tire and Auto Service, one of Advance’s strongest commercial customers.
Chamber champions are members who support the Roanoke Regional Chamber through year-round sponsorships in exchange for year-round recognition.
2016 CHAMBER CHAMPIONS BNC Bank
Pepsi Bottling Group
The Roanoke Times
Gentry Locke Attorneys
LifeWorks REHAB (Medical Facilities of America)
Spilman Thomas & Battle PLLC
Woods Rogers Attorneys at Law
Thursday Overtime – March 3
The following new members joined the Roanoke Regional Chamber between Feb. 8 and March 10.
The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center Women of the Chamber Luncheon – Feb. 16 Hosted by The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center
Ardagh Metal Packaging USA Inc. Barter Theatre Dash 2 Events LLC
“Is the State Buying What You’re Selling?” Seminar – March 23
HAWK Advisers Inc.
Roanoke Regional Chamber – Global Business Owners Committee
Kelly Services Inc.
Roanoke Spanish Poarch Law
Lindsey McCarty Photography P3 TekSolutions LLC
Puppy Love Inc.
Roanoke Economic Department
Real Estate Investors of Virginia Inc.
2016 Legislative Wrapup – March 29 Appalachian Power Lanford Brothers Co. Member One Federal Credit Union
Signarama Skin Harmony Medical Spa Towers Shopping Center Vinton War Memorial
The Central and Western Virginia Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association has hired Kathryn Sims Cross as director of development. Cross has an extensive background in nonprofit development.
Sheryl Etzler Crawford became a financial adviser with the Roanoke practice of The Myrias Group, a private wealth advisory practice of AmeriCrawford prise Financial Services. Crawford will hold the title of financial advisor/marketing director. She has been with the group since 2012. American National University has announced that Michael Millstone has been named dean of academics for the University of Fairfax. He will overMillstone see faculty services management, course and faculty scheduling, assessment of process management, student support, and program development and improvement. Brian Mason, regional president and partner of Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group, was recently inducted into the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society’s Hall of Fame for Funding the Mission. The National MS Society established the Volunteer Hall of Fame in 1997 to recognize the outstanding commitment of individuals to creating a world free of MS. B2C Enterprises, an award-winning advertising, marketing and business development firm in Roanoke, has been named the agency of record for Mountaineer Insurance Services, an independent insurance agency headquartered in Beverly, W.Va. Bank of Botetourt is now offering customers access to their new, full-service home mortgage division, Virginia Mountain Mortgage. The division was launched in
January 2016. Virginia Mountain Mortgage offers a wide array of products and services, such as multiple mortgage options for purchases, various refinancing options, construction loans and investment property loans. The new division is directed by Duaine Fitzgerald, senior vice president and chief financial services officer at Bank of Botetourt. Patrick Bartorillo, president of Branch Highways, has announced that Jason Hoyle as been named director of procurement. Hoyle joins Branch Hoyle Highways with more than 20 years of experience in heavy and highway construction in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina markets. Rick Chocklett has been named vice president, personal lines with Chas. Lunsford Sons & Chocklett Rosen Associates. The firm also announced that Court Rosen has been named vice president, client executive. The Cox Charities Grant Program has awarded three Roanoke-area nonprofits grants totaling $30,000 to support youth education initiatives. The 2015-2016 Cox Charities grant recipients in Roanoke are: Apple Ridge Farm, $10,000 grant for the continuation of the Teaching Kids to Program project; Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Virginia, $10,000 grant for a STEM Lab project for youth who live in underserved areas; and Family Service of Roanoke Valley, $10,000 grant for Positive Action and TOP programs that promote healthy decision-making so youth are equipped to succeed in school, graduate and lead healthier lives.
borhood; an innovative loan program that enables students to afford training that leads to a tractor trailer CDL licensure; and a number of nationally recognized financial education programs, including “Responsible Rides,” an award-winning program that helps working families have access to affordable auto loans, as well as provides financial education and vehicle care and maintenance classes. The report may be found on www.freedomfirst.com/community-impact.
Glenn Feldmann Darby & Goodlatte has announced that eight of its attorneys have been selected to the 2016 Virginia Super Lawyers list. The firm’s attorneys selected include: Paul G. Beers, criminal defense; Jeremy E. Carroll, state/local/municipalities; Harwell M. Darby Jr., business/corporate; Mark E. Feldmann, business litigation; Maryellen F. Goodlatte, real estate; David I. Tenzer, business/corporate; Charles E. Troland Jr., estate and probate; and Robert A. Ziogas, civil litigation – defense. Attorneys Beers, Feldmann, Goodlatte and Ziogas were also selected among Virginia’s Top 100 Lawyers. Goodlatte received a Top 50 Women Lawyers in Virginia selection.
As part of a master partnership agreement, DePaul Community Resources received a $25,000 gift from Carilion Clinic – the largest single donation made to the organization in its 38-year history. In addition to supporting DePaul’s mission of hope and belonging for individuals with unique challenges, the gift will be used to underwrite expenses for DePaul events in 2016.
HomeTown Bank has expanded its banking services with the introduction of the HomeTown Private Wealth division. The new division offers cusHack tomers highly skilled one-onone banking services and financial expertise through a dedicated private wealth manager. Heading up the HomeTown Private Wealth group is Nancy Hack, who comes to HomeTown Bank with vast industry experience.
Freedom First Credit Union has released its new Community Impact Report that highlights the credit union’s accomplishments, innovative programs and awards for 2014 and 2015. A few of the programs included in the report are: The revitalization of Roanoke’s urban West End neigh-
The Jefferson Center has hired Jessica Taylor as programming coordinator. Taylor worked as the general manager of Across-the-Way Productions, overseeing, planning and directing three annual fes-
tivals, including FloydFest, Vintage Virginia and the Virginia Wine Festival. Jefferson College of Health Sciences has earned national recognition from the Collegiate Advertising Awards for the second consecutive year. For 2015-16, Jefferson College received a gold award for the School of Graduate & Professional Studies brochure and a bronze award for the college’s magazine, the Jefferson Chronicle. Both pieces were designed by Mark Lambert, the college’s senior consultant for communications and college relations. OpX Solutions, based in Roanoke County and an affiliated partner of Leadership Management International (LMI), has announced that LMI received two leadership excellence awards for 2016 at the LEAD2016 event in Nashville, Tenn. LMI was the recipient of the best global/international program and the innovation in development of leadership programs award. OpX Solutions has hired two new associates. They are Todd L. Dodson, retired U.S. Army Green Beret coloWills Dodson nel and member of the Botetourt County Board of Supervisors, and Christie Wills, an organizational development facilitator and coach certified in Public Facilitation and Appreciative Inquiry. Parker Design Group has moved its Roanoke office to the Crystal Spring area. The new location will provide more room for expansion as well as an opportunity to work closer to many of the agency’s clients. The telephone number (540.387.1153) remains the same and the new address is 2122 Carolina Ave., SW, Roanoke. For more information, visit www.parkerdg. com. Roanoke City Manager Chris Morrill has named Deputy Chief Tim Jones acting Roanoke police chief. Jones stepped into the role March 1 upon the retirement of Police Jones Chief Chris Perkins. Jones has served on the city’s police force since 1981. A national search will be conducted for Chief Perkins’ permanent replacement. The Roanoke Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau (RVCVB) won a national outstanding achievement award from the Interactive Media Awards in the travel/ ROANOKE BUSINESS
SPONSORED CONTENT | Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce tourism category for website design and development. The Interactive Media Council is an organization of leading webrelated professionals who recognize the highest standards of excellence in website development and design. The RVCVB relaunched the official travel and tourism destination website for Virginia’s Blue Ridge (www.visitvablueridge.com) in April 2015 with a new responsive design. Dan Lyons, former superintendent for Lexington City Public Schools, has been selected as the interim principal at Northside High School for the reLyons mainder of the school year. Lyons served as the superintendent in Lexington from 2002 until his retirement in 2015. He was the principal at Lylburn Downing Middle School in Lexington from 1997 to 2002. ENX Magazine has announced that Virginia Business Systems (VBS), an office technology, solutions and services provider, has been named one of the country’s Elite Dealers for 2015. The award is presented annually by the online publication to the top office equipment dealers in the U.S. Virginia Tech is advancing its portfolio of high-performance computing services and strengthening its commitment to bring the advantages of high-performance computing and visualization to more fields of academic endeavor. In cooperation with the National Science Foundation’s Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment, Advanced Research Computing is working to increase Virginia Tech’s research computing capacity, educational opportunities and interconnectedness with other top-tier high-performance computing universities. Assistant Director of Development Alana Romanella hopes to take up to eight Virginia Tech students to the national organization’s conference in July. Virginia Transformer Corp. has announced a management reorganization to further incorporate leadership responsibilities at its four facilities, including its Roanoke headquarters. The reorganizational changes include: Matt Gregg has been promoted to vice president of operations; Rakesh Rathi has been promoted to vice president of engineering and materials; John K. John has been named engineering director; Ben Grant has been promoted to PPU market manager; Vikash Gupta has been promoted to assistant sales manager; Puneet Jaiswal has been promoted to as4 44
sistant sales manager; and Victor Kariker was named logistic contracts and sourcing manager.
dioxide into methane, thus reducing air pollutants and providing a means to recycle carbon-based fuels.
Rajesh Bagchi, associate professor of marketing in the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech, received the Early Career Award of the SoBagchi ciety for Consumer Psychology at its annual meeting. The award recognizes research productivity in and distinguished scientific contribution to consumer psychology by a researcher within eight years of receiving their Ph.D.
Virginia Tech’s Walter O’Brien, the J. Bernard Jones Professor of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering, was recently selected as a fellow of the O’Brien American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the world’s largest aerospace professional society. He is one of only 24 members worldwide who were named fellows this year.
Martin Chapman of the Virginia Tech Department of Geosciences, part of the College of Science, is the recipient of the 2015 Jesuit Seismological AsChapman sociation Award for Contributions to Observational Seismology. Chapman is the director of the Virginia Tech Seismological Observatory. The award reflects the legacy of early 20thcentury Jesuit seismologists who were responsible for operating many seismological observatories around the world, performing much pioneering research into earthquakes. Natalie Hart has joined Virginia Tech’s Advancement Division as a principal gifts officer. She will manage a portfolio of principal-gift prospects Hart while planning and implementing initiatives that identify, cultivate, solicit and steward prospects and donors. She has been a part of the Virginia Tech community since 2002. Tim Kring, a faculty member at the University of Arkansas, has been named head of the Department of Entomology in the Virginia Tech College of Kring Agriculture and Life Sciences. He has spent the last 31 years working on biological control of insect pests and weeds using their natural enemies. Amanda Morris, an assistant professor of chemistry with the Virginia Tech College of Science, has been selected as a 2016 Alfred P. Sloan ReMorris search Fellow in chemistry. The award comes with a $55,000 prize that Morris will use to further research in several areas, including creating new methods to transform carbon
Ranga Pitchumani, the George R. Goodson Professor in Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech, has become the first member of the graduating Pitchumani class of 1986 to be recognized as a distinguished alumnus from his alma mater. He is a graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, one of the world’s leading engineering universities. Brian Plum has joined the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences as assistant director of development for leadership gifts. Melanie Prusakowski has been named assistant dean for admissions at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. She holds a number of Prusakowski positions with the school and with Carilion Clinic, including serving as director of pediatric emergency education for Carilion Clinic. G. Don Taylor, the Charles O. Gordon Professor and head of the Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech, has Taylor been named interim dean of the College of Engineering. He will become a member of the leadership transition team and will serve as interim dean when Dean Richard Benson departs for his new position as president of the University of Texas at Dallas. Woods Rogers PLC has named Autumn R. Visser a principal in the firm. She is a member of the Business and Corporate Law group where Visser she concentrates on contract drafting and negotiation, general corporate governance, and mergers and acquisitions.
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