Dan River Plants, which uses tissue culture technology to replicate high-value horticulture and grass plants for conversion into bio-energy, kicked-off the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research’s first commercial venture in Pittsylvania County, Virginia
’s Ringgold East Industrial Park.
The firm will make over $1.3 million in new investments and create at least 27 new jobs, as part of its move and expansion from the Charles Hawkins Research Center at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research.
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 is very useful for the mass production of high-value, specialized plant varieties that do not reproduce identically or quickly under other production systems.
Gov. Bob McDonnell said, "Seeing the Dan River Plants project take shape provides a tremendous model for how Southern Virginia can take its long agricultural and manufacturing heritage and combine it with cutting edge technology developed in collaboration with our research universities to create modern job opportunities. I'm also pleased that the Governor's Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund was able to support Dan River Plants collaborative work with IALR, Pittsylvania County, and others. Creating and funding the AFID is a key component in our effort to partner with the private sector to create more jobs and opportunities for our citizens."
"Today's groundbreaking for Dan River Plants marks another example of the successes achieved by the governor's decision to incorporate fully agriculture and forestry into his overall economic development and jobs creation agenda," said Todd Haymore, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry. "That strategic decision is yielding solid returns, from record levels of agricultural and forestry exports into the global marketplace to new investments that are increasing production opportunities thus far in our dairy, tomato, vegetable, and timber industries. And, the AFID, which the governor created last year to strengthen Virginia's commitment to growing two of its largest industries, is proving to be a valuable asset to our ongoing efforts at maintaining its premier status as the best state for business in the country."
The 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.