U.S. Sen. George Allen and Fifth District Rep. Virgil Goode today jointly announced $1,592,000 in funding for research at the Advanced and Applied Polymer Processing Institute (AAPPI), one of the research centers of the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) in Danville. IALR will receive the funds via the Small Business Administration under the terms of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2004.

In making the announcement, Allen stressed the importance of finding new ways to stimulate the region's economy and praised IALR and its partners for their work in harnessing the power of advanced polymer and other research for the benefit of Southside Virginia. Goode reflected on the power of collaborative efforts in effecting change, noting that federal funds can only strengthen the partnership.

"This federal allocation will accelerate our collaborative efforts to stimulate the growing polymer industry in Southside with new technologies, ultimately creating new jobs and prosperity," said Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger in thanking the two congressmen for their ongoing support for IALR. "This is an experiment in distributed research as a basis of economic development for the benefit of society, one in which everybody wins."

IALR Executive Director Tim Franklin said that polymer research scientist Ron Moffitt, director of AAPPI and associate professor of engineering at Virginia Tech "has been cultivating business and research contacts and now he will have funding for personnel and equipment to commence the research operation, given all the groundwork he has done. We are delighted that this AAPPI funding will enable us to launch one of the research centers in the very near future. It is exciting to inaugurate this effort targeting small and medium-sized businesses that will drive job growth in the Southside economy."

Virginia Tech faculty are developing six research initiatives, one of them AAPPI, to assist with and stimulate economic expansion. Building upon an existing cluster of polymer industries in Southside, AAPPI will develop new polymer processing technologies to license for local commercial development. The goal is to stimulate the economic revitalization of Southside Virginia through the development of entrepreneurial, new polymer-related businesses; to strengthen established polymer-based corporations in the region to create jobs; and to offer advanced educational opportunities within the industry. Virginia Tech has already announced that it would relocate polymer research equipment and intellectual property at AAPPI.

Other research efforts will focus on robotics, motor sports, biodefense, horticulture and forestry, and bioinformatics.

Danville Community College President Carlyle Ramsey stressed the college's ongoing commitment to support Virginia Tech's Southside polymer research through rapid prototyping and curriculum development at IALR. Other speakers were Ron Moffitt and Ben Davenport, chairman of the Future of the Piedmont Foundation.

IALR's mission is to develop and attract technology and talent critical to Southside Virginia's economic transformation through advanced learning, strategic research and technology transfer, IALR Conference Center activities, IALR outreach programs, and technology infrastructure development. The IALR will leverage the resources of Virginia Tech in partnership with Danville Community College, Averett University and regional public and private organizations.

IALR is part of a comprehensive strategy for Southside Virginia supported by Outreach and International Affairs at Virginia Tech. The institute will move into its new quarters at 150 Slayton Avenue, Danville, in January 2004.

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