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Posted: October 20, 2007

Virginia town plans 5 studies on nanotechnology

(Nanowerk News) In the next 11 months, the town of Pulaski plans to spend $564,500 in grant and local matching funds on five studies aimed at helping the community develop planning and bid documents for a nanotechnology park.
John White, the town's economic development director, said work on the studies will be divided among local and outside sources and is "at various stages of beginning."
The first, a $60,000 nano cluster study, will examine how feasible it would be to develop a nanotechnology park in Pulaski. Among the things to be reviewed are: the number of nanotechnology firms in the New River Valley, other existing parks and the resources needed to support the proposed project.
The second study, to be conducted by Draper Aden Associates and budgeted at $39,500, will provide a pre-treatment analysis of the potential sewer impacts of manufacturing nanoparticles.
The third, called the Pulaski Area Economic Adjustment Strategy, is expected to cost $115,000 and will provide an analysis of the town, county and regional resources available to help with the area's transition away from traditional manufacturing.
"We've been through ... a tremendous economic upheaval," White said in a nod to the loss of several high-employment furniture and textile plants. "This economic adjustment strategy is going to take a look at where we are and the future."
A fourth study will focus on the engineering and design of a nano manufacturing cluster facility.
White said he hoped this particular study would offer suggestions about possible park locations, include environmental reviews and produce specs and bid documents needed for construction of the park. He estimated the cost of the study at $290,000.
The last study will look at the organizational structure needed to support a nanotechnology park.
Almost half of the money being used to pay for the studies comes from a pair of federal grants the town received last month.
Together worth $272,500, the grants from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Appalachian Regional Commission are "the necessary first step in the attraction of additional nanotechnology enterprises to Southwest Virginia," U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Abingdon, said in an announcement about the funding.
In addition, White said the town and Pulaski County each put up $128,750 in matching funds, the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development provided a $25,000 grant and USDA Rural Development and NanoChemonics each chipped in $5,000. NanoChemonics is a Pulaski-based company that produces nanoparticle iron oxide.
"It is a lot of money," White said of the cost of the studies. "But the plan is absolutely critical to success -- if you don't have the plan, it isn't going to unfold."
Efforts to develop a nanotechnology park in Pulaski go back to 2005, when NanoChemonics President Tim Hopkins first approached White with the idea.
"He envisioned this as a way to enrich the work force ... as a way of transforming the local economy," White explained.
Believing the idea was a good one, town officials said they began researching what they would need to do to make the park a reality.
"I really think the bottom line is, we don't have all the answers," said Pulaski Mayor Charlie Wade. "We have a lot of questions. And that's why there will be almost a year of study."
White said that because of the deadlines given by the various granting agencies, all five studies must be completed within the next nine to 11 months.
And by that time, White said, "I think the product is we're going to walk away with a document, but one of my hoped-for things is that the end product is not just a document, it has to be a plan, so it's got to be implemented, it's got to be followed, it's got to be worked on together."
Source: The Roanoke Times
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