Southwest Virginia companies in the transportation equipment-manufacturing sector may be eligible for grant money – but Virginia Tech needs to hear from those companies by Feb. 8.

The money is flowing into Southwest Virginia under a $1.67 million project from the U.S. Department of Commerce. Companies involved in transportation equipment manufacturing and their suppliers may be available for grants totaling about $1 million.

Projects will focus on product development, process improvement, and green technologies. Virginia Tech faculty members, most from the College of Engineering, provide technical assistance. About 20 projects will be funded in the 14-county corridor from Bristol and beyond Roanoke, extending almost to Natural Bridge.

For more information about the initiative and eligibility requirements, contact Robert Taylor, director, Center for High Performance Manufacturing at Virginia Tech, (540) 231-6201, or e-mail the center.

“What companies should consider applying for the grants?” asks John Provo, interim director of the Virginia Tech Office of Economic Development. “Companies that could benefit from the application of Virginia Tech’s research and technical expertise to problems or opportunities in their businesses. In many instances, these projects will require human assets or equipment not readily available to the company.”

Job creation is the goal of the project, aimed to bolster an industry that – despite jobs moving out of the country – still employs 8,000 workers in Southwest Virginia.

The project – called the Western Virginia Transportation Equipment Manufacturing Competitiveness Initiative – involves partners such as the New River Valley Planning District Commission, the Mount Rogers Planning District Commission, and the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission. Also involved is Volvo Trucks North America, New River Valley Plant.

A series of informational meetings are scheduled starting Monday so companies can learn more about the initiative and how to get involved:

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