SPTC Innovative Stars Banquet Presents seven Regional Awards to Technology Innovators

The Southern Piedmont Technology Council (SPTC) held the Innovative Stars Awards Banquet on Wednesday, April 10, at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR). The SPTC announced winners of the Innovative Stars Awards and featured keynote speaker Courtney Dozier, Chief Deputy of the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development and Governor Northam’s Deputy Broadband Advisor. Robby Demeria, Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade for Technology delivered a message from Governor Northam’s Cabinet on the importance of technology councils and recognition of technology achievements across various sectors. Prior to his appointment, Robby Demeria served as Executive Director of the Richmond Technology Council. The banquet attendees celebrated Southern Piedmont’s technology community and honored the contributions of individuals and organizations that promote the importance of technology. STPC’s service region and award nominations encompass Patrick, Henry, Franklin, Pittsylvania, Halifax and Mecklenburg counties and Danville and Martinsville cities. Awards were presented in seven categories. Dr. Karl Stauber, the first President/CEO of the Danville Regional Foundation (DRF), received the Chairman’s Award for his visionary leadership of many funded projects promoting technology, including Danville Community College’s (DCC) Health Science Building, Danville Science Center’s Digital Dome Building, Averett University’s Nursing Program, the creation of the Launch Place, Pittsylvania County STEM Academy, a research building for IALR and the IALR-DCC partnership for the Integrated Machining Technology (IMT) capstone program. TMI AutoTech, Inc., located in Halifax County, earned the Innovation in Technology Small Business Award. The manufacturer holds the exclusive North American license from Ariel Motor for the Ariel Atom Supercar and Ariel Nomad Urban Assault Vehicle, high-tech motorsports vehicles. Their machinery department creates proprietary components to support other local businesses. Cars are shipped around the world with the Halifax, Va., logo visibly showing the technology and craftsman that make the region special. BGF Industries, Inc., won the Innovation in Technology Large Business Award. Located in South Hill, Altavista and Danville, the manufacturer of innovative technical fibers uses space on IALR’s campus while they build their own facility, which will become the new U.S. east coast headquarters and R&D operation. Their fiber-based products deliver high strength, high temperature, lightweight solutions that provide structural integrity, thermal, environmental and ballistic protection, or decorative appeal in countless everyday products. They have successfully transitioned from a textile company that specialized in textile materials to a company that deals with some of the most sophisticated fibers in the world. Averett University received the Innovation in Education and Community Outreach Award for their hightech Aerospace Management Program, an FAA-certified flight school well-regarded throughout the region and beyond. They have well-qualified faculty instructors, planes and hangars at the Danville Regional Airport and manage a program that provides concentrations for those interested in aviation business or flight operations. Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation (MBC), an open-access fiber network provider in Southern Virginia, earned the Innovation in Community Award. The not-for-profit organization reinvests revenues in economic and community development initiatives. MBC establishes relationships with technology companies and works to bring jobs and investment to the region through the Invest Southern Virginia marketing initiative. MBC has invested over $435,000 to high school FIRST Robotics Competition teams and also provides funding to local community colleges to benefit students studying in STEM-fields. Jeremiah Williams of DCC won the Rising Star Award for his work as Director of IMT at the Gene Haas Center for Integrated Machining, a program housed and funded by IALR. A graduate of DCC’s Precision Machining Technology program, Williams worked at Rolls-Royce Crosspointe before joining DCC to help develop the master-level IMT program. In 2018, Williams was elected to the national Haas Technical Education Center (HTEC) Council and is one of 15 HTEC Council members serving from around the nation. DCC student Brionna Ashworth earned the Student Innovator Award. Ashworth was the first female student in the precision machining program at the Pittsylvania County Career and Technical Center. A graduate of both DCC’s Precision Machining Technology and IMT programs, Ashworth was recognized as one of the nation’s top five CNC turning awardees at last summer’s Skills USA competition. “I am extremely proud of the significant accomplishments of our region’s innovative stars award recipients and thrilled that every year we’re able to shine the spotlight on them,” said Kelly Fitzgerald, SPTC President. “At SPTC we are committed to connecting, uniting, developing and promoting our community’s technology-based innovations and developments,” said Fitzgerald. For additional information, contact Rachel Reynolds at rachel.reynolds@ialr.org or 434-766-6771. The Southern Piedmont Technology Council (SPTC) is a member-based organization consisting of technology companies and technology advocates from Southern Virginia. The SPTC mission is to further the economic vitality of the Southern Piedmont region by developing and promoting the region’s technology resources. To learn more, visit www.sptc-va.org






Pictured left to right:  Front row–Jean Marc Senecot of BGF Industries, Inc.; Brionna Ashworth, a Danville Community College student; Jennifer Freeze of Averett University; Kelly Fitzgerald, president of the Southern Piedmont Technology Council; Courtney Dozier, Chief Deputy of the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development and Governor Northam’s Deputy Broadband Advisor; and Dr. Tiffany Franks of Averett University. Back row:  Robby Demeria, Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade for Technology; Jerry Barbour of BGF Industries, Inc.; Tad Deriso of Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation; Mark Swain of TMI AutoTech, Inc.; Dr. Karl Stauber of Danville Regional Foundation; Travis Williams of Averett University; Hampton Wilkins of Averett University’s board of trustees; and Chris Walton of Averett University.




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