Gov. Ralph Northam announced Friday that Danville has been named a certified Work Ready Community — a nationally recognized designation by the state government and the American College Testing.
In short, that means the city will attract new businesses and jobs because the city’s high school students have job-ready skills.
“We’re here today to talk about Danville’s world-class workforce,” Northam said during a gathering at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research.
Danville is the fifth Virginia community to receive the designation. Pittsylvania County was named a Work Ready Community in June 2016 by Gov. Terry McAuliffe. Henry and Halifax County, as well as the city of Martinsville have also earned this designation. Patrick County is 92 percent of the way to being named another one.
“Danville’s recognition as a certified work ready community serves as evidence that we have continued to make investments that result in our community becoming more competitive and closing the skills gap that paralyzed the economy in this region for many years,” Danville Public Schools Superintendent Stanley Jones said.
Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital was recently named one of the Top 100 Rural and Community Hospitals in the United States by iVantage Health Analytics and The Chartis Center for Rural Health.
“This achievement is very gratifying and validates our daily commitment to providing the highest level of quality health care possible to our community, while maintaining an efficiently operated facility,” said Chris Lumsden, President and Administrator of Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital.
Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital scored in the top 100 of rural and community hospitals on iVantage Health Analytics’ Hospital Strength INDEX®. The INDEX is the industry’s most comprehensive rating of rural providers. It provides the data foundation for the annual Rural Relevance Study and its results are the basis for many of rural healthcare’s most prominent awards, advocacy efforts and legislative initiatives. The Top 100 Rural and Community Hospitals play a key role in providing a safety net to communities across America – and the INDEX measures them across eight pillars of hospital strength: Inpatient Market Share, Outpatient Market Share, Cost, Charge, Quality, Outcomes, Patient Perspectives, and Financial Stability.
Leland Melvin is the only person to have caught a football on the NFL field and in space. On Wednesday, he spent the day with Dan River region students at the 2018 Southern Virginia STEM-H summit at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville.
“This community is doing an amazing job inspiring a new generation of explorers,” Melvin said to the gathering. “I think the tech community here is bringing the students up to be the next blue-suited Virginians walking on the moon. I give all of you a round of applause.”
The Lynchburg native gave the keynote speech at a luncheon for students and at the Southern Piedmont Technology Council’s Innovation Stars Awards banquet that evening.
“We have to make sure that as we go on this journey that all of our kids can see themselves in this role,” Melvin said. “For the kids in here, you may be on one path and see some things that don’t look right, but know that that might be part of your journey.”
A cancer science center honoring the memory of Henrietta Lacks, an African-American woman who lived in Clover before her cells were used to create the first immortal human cell line, is on the way to become a reality in Halifax County, and on Wednesday Lacks’ legacy was honored from the floors of the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate.
The Henrietta Lacks Life Science Center currently is conceived to be a $50 million, 200,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art medical research and treatment facility, to be built in the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority’s Southern Virginia Technology Park (SVTP), a short drive from Henrietta Lacks’ Clover home and final resting place.
At the same time Wednesday, members of the Henrietta Lacks family and Henrietta Lacks Legacy Group were recognized by 20th District Senator William “Bill” Stanley and 60th District Delegate James Edmunds as part of efforts to bring to fruition the Henrietta Lacks Commission and Henrietta Lacks Life Science Center Project.
From the House floor, Edmunds described Lacks as “a Virginia hero, an African-American woman whose unique world-changing legacy has touched all of us, without most of us realizing it.”
Project Manager Dodie Hudson and Senior Architect Larry Hasson and River District Tower's Dr. Mark Hermann discuss the transformation of the Dan River Research Building, now known as the River District Tower.
Dodie Hudson: Dr. Hermann, the executive director of River District Tower and he's also a practicing physician with Spectrum Medical, he knew exactly what he wanted coming into this space.
In eighth grade, Robert Mills, Jr., told his parents his dream was to become a farmer. His parents said that’d be a tough road to walk. The family had no land, capital or equipment and lived in a suburb.
On Oct. 17, the first-generation Virginia farmer held the 2017 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award in his hand and proclaimed the FFA creed to the more than 600 people attending the opening-day luncheon at the 40th anniversary Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Ga.
That FFA creed “was the first words I heard when I entered my eight-grade agricultural class, coming from a suburb outside of Danville, Va., who had never had experience in agriculture. Those words inspired me to become an American farmer,” he said, “one of the proudest occupations you could ever have.”
With the FFA creed in his heart and a newfound fire in his belly, Mills took to fighting the long odds and slowly and steadily inched toward his dream. He started turning FFA projects into bigger ventures, and at 15 bought a used Ford tractor with a line of credit from the bank his mother worked at.
Last year, SGS Tool Company, a round solid carbide cutting tool manufacturer based in Munroe Falls, Ohio, was acquired by the Kyocera Corporation of Kyoto, Japan which employs around seventy thousand people across 231 group companies. The deal massively expanded the reach of the decades-old firm which is now called Kyocera SGS Precision Tools (KSPT).
“The Kyocera acquisition has given us many advantages. It seems like we went from being a pretty well-known privately held company with about three hundred employees to being a publically traded global power player overnight,” says Marketing Coordinator Tim Stephens.
Munroe Falls also houses a KSPT distribution center, a tool coating facility and Global Innovation Center for research and development and training and education. The company operates a sprawling network of additional facilities dedicated to the cutting tools which remove material from workpieces when making parts for manufacturing. These facilities were established long before the Kyocera purchase and include manufacturing operations in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.
A Pittsylvania County elementary school is one of just seven in Virginia to be recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School for 2017. Union Hall Elementary School in Callands was recognized by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in an announcement Thursday. County superintendent Mark Jones said the school had improved immensely in student success in recent years. “That’s a national award for schools that really have just a tremendous academic record,” Jones said. Five other public schools and one private school in Virginia received the award. The awards are based on either performance on state achievement tests and graduation rates, or performance in closing the achievement gap between a school’s subgroups and all students.
Danville has received an award from fDI (Foreign Direct Investment) Magazine, which ranked the city among the top micro cities for economic potential in its 2017-2018 American Cities of the Future study.
Danville ranked eighth in the list.
The magazine, which is a publication of the Financial Times, studies the most promising investment locations in North and South America, and then every two years releases the rankings as part of an analysis of various sized cities.
Micro cities are those with a population less than 100,000.
“It’s very humbling to receive this recognition from fDI and the Financial Times,” said Telly Tucker, director of the Danville Office of Economic Development. “When the international community recognizes the hard work and accomplishments by the City of Danville, it is gratifying on so many levels.”