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Economic development efforts bolstered

By Larry Hincker

Spectrum Volume 19 Issue 08 - October 17, 1996

University President Paul Torgersen has announced three changes to bolster the economic-development efforts of Virginia Tech. The university has created an external Economic Development Advisory Committee, an internal Economic Development Council, and a full-time economic-development associate to coordinate cross-campus initiatives.

"Universities are academic enterprises and are structured to provide education or stimulate scholarship. Students interested in Virginia Tech have one point of access. Research sponsors have a single point of entry. This reorganization now creates a `front door' for businesses or governments needing our help. We need to make a shift like this to be more accessible to the business community," Torgersen said.

These new groups seek to raise the profile internally and externally of the importance of assisting businesses, industries, and communities in using the expertise of Virginia Tech faculty members, students, and programs. The external committee, composed of business leaders throughout Virginia, and the internal committee will review current initiatives supporting economic development, recommend programs that enhance public and private-sector economic development, and advise the president on ways in which Virginia Tech can be more responsive to economic development needs. The president will chair both groups.

"Universities like Virginia Tech were created to help small businesses and farmers who, at the time, comprised the economic backbone of American society. We see these new actions as an extension of our original mission of taking the knowledge off the campus and putting it to work for communities. The range of topics and expertise is now much broader and supports many industries in addition to agriculture.

"Many aspects of the Virginia Tech enterprise currently affect and stimulate commerce. Our research centers work closely with their business counterparts. We have a long history of providing assistance to users of natural resources. The university, in its very basic essence, seeks to develop human capital. We will expand and make easier for public entry, but not fundamentally change, our efforts," Torgersen said.

A search is under way to fill the economic-development associate position. It will report to the vice provost for outreach. Committee membership is as follows:

Dan R. Bannister, president and CEO DynCorp, Reston; Jill B. Barr, economic development coordinator, City of Radford; Charles E. Broadwater Jr., senior vice president, NationsBank, Richmond; Marni E. Byrum, Fite, O'Brien, & Byrum, Arlington; David G. Dickson, acting director, Virginia Department of Business Assistance, Richmond; R.C. Dorey Jr., retired president, Dorey Electric, Norfolk; Gene A. James, president and CEO Southern States Cooperative, Inc., Richmond; Douglas B. Juanarena, president, Pressure Systems, Hampton; Hugh D. Keogh, president, Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Richmond; Mark D. Kilduff, deputy director, Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Richmond; Raymond G. Pelletier, executive director Northern Virginia Technology Council, Herndon; Clarence B. Robertson III, CBR Associates, L.C., Richmond; Donald G. Smith, president, treasurer and CEO, Roanoke Electric Steel Corporation, Roanoke; William M. Stafford, economic-development manager, Virginia Power Company, Richmond; Robert G. Templin Jr., president Virginia Center for Innovative Technology, Herndon; L. Preston Wade, chairman and CEO, Wiley & Wilson, Inc., Lynchburg; Gerard W. Ward, executive director, A.L. Philpott Manufacturing Center, Martinsville; Karen F. Washabau, executive director, Virginia Business Higher Education Council, Richmond; Charles S. Yates, executive director, Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, Lebanon.