Dan River Plants, which uses tissue culture technology to replicate high-value horticulture and grass plants for conversion into bio-energy, will become the first official commercial venture by the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville, Virginia
. The firm will invest more than $1.3 million to expand in Pittsylvania County, Virginia’s Ringgold East Industrial Park facility, creating at least 27 jobs.
Gov. Bob McDonnell said, "Dan River Plants' project highlights the high-level of cooperation in the Commonwealth between our research universities, the private sector, and our local and regional economic development allies. It also underscores the economic transformation taking place in Southern Virginia as the region leverages its agricultural and manufacturing heritage to create employment opportunities using modern technology. “
The micropropagation technology employed by DRP stems from the collaboration between the Institute for Sustainable and Renewable Resources at IALR and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech. The technology allows for the production of a large number of identical plants from a single plant, by removing small portions of the plant material and using special growing media and techniques to grow each portion into an identical plant. This technology allows for the mass production of high-value, specialized plant varieties that do not reproduce identically or quickly under other production systems.
"The expansion of Dan River Plants proves that the technology developed at the Institute translates into economic impact for Southern Virginia. Danville will be recognized as a leader in modern, innovative ag-based business," said Jerry Gwaltney, IALR's Acting Executive Director.
"We are pleased that a site in Ringgold East Industrial Park, developed with assistance from the Tobacco Commission, could be part of the incentive package that helped make this project a reality. We welcome the new jobs and investment in our community and look forward to their long term success." said Marshall Ecker, Chairman of the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors. "This project shows how well the County and its partners can work together to further the interests of the region."
The Governor’s Office said Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services worked with Pittsylvania County and IALR to help make the project a reality. Governor McDonnell approved a $150,000 matching grant from the Governor's AFID Fund to assist Pittsylvania with the project. The project is receiving additional assistance through the State's Enterprise Zone Program and through its Virginia Jobs Investment Program; the Virginia Department of Business Assistance will provide funding and services to support the company's recruitment, training and retraining activities.