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IALR breaks ground on $25.5M Center for Manufacturing Advancement

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The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) has broken ground to build a 51,250-square-foot Center for Manufacturing Advancement (CMA) on the IALR campus. The innovative CMA will offer a platform for leading-edge business success specifically targeted at manufacturing companies establishing or expanding their presence in Southern Virginia. The $25.5 million project, funded by the Commonwealth and the Danville Regional Foundation, is being built in cooperation with Virginia’s Division of Engineering and Buildings.

“Southern Virginia is a top location for advanced manufacturers from across the globe, and the Center for Manufacturing Advancement will undoubtedly help attract more of them to the region,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “This state-of-the-art facility will play an important role in driving economic development and innovation in Virginia, while also helping the existing Danville-Pittsylvania business community grow and thrive.”

“Southern Virginia has a rich legacy workforce development program in place to support the hiring needs of top advanced manufacturers across the region and state,” said Mark Gignac, Executive Director of IALR. “The new Center for Manufacturing Advancement is a natural next step in positioning our area as a leader in this sector, and as an expert resource for those companies wishing to establish a location here locally.”

“As technology exponentially advances, it is critical we stay at the forefront of integrating these innovations into training and manufacturing processes,” said Troy Simpson, Director of Advanced Manufacturing at IALR. “Our new Center for Manufacturing Advancement will do just that – allow companies to interface with one another, technology providers and students to leverage space, collaboration and equipment opportunities for their own growth and advancement.”

The CMA, projected to open in 2022, will be built adjacent to the recently completed Kyocera SGS Tech Hub facility. It will feature two floors, offices, meeting rooms, areas to house support services and the following amenities for manufacturer tenants:

  • rapid-launch facilities that will enable new businesses to begin limited operations off-site during what is traditionally the initial downtime as new businesses wait for their factory to be constructed and equipped to support full operations;
  • an ISO-certified inspection lab that will provide integrated inspection capabilities required to validate product quality. This service will reduce the start-up phase for a new company by 4 to 6 months, the time required to certify an inspection lab;
  • process improvement labs that will enable new and existing businesses to improve their processes in a more expeditious manner, thereby ensuring global competitiveness;
  • an industry 4.0 integration and training lab that will support next-generation manufacturing requirements
  • a platform for collaborative innovation that allows manufacturing companies, technology companies and engineering students to work together to discover, integrate and showcase emerging technology;
  • and concierge service that provides the wrap-around support needed by companies new to the U.S. during their critical start-up phase.

In addition to the Commonwealth, partners for the building project include architect Dewberry; builder Blair Construction; engineers Master Engineers & Designers and Dunlap & Partners Engineers;
and landscape architect Site Collaborative. Many stakeholders also supported the effort.

“The new Center for Manufacturing Advancement (CMA) will provide opportunities for business and industry to have the latest technologies available, as they work to keep pace with the industry advancements that steadily come forward,” said Delegate Danny Marshall. “This will be a solid resource to help our region attract and retain companies that hire our workers.”

“Once again, IALR leads the way in providing a firm foundation for bringing high-tech manufacturing companies to our region with the Center for Manufacturing Advancement (CMA),” said Sen. Bill Stanley (R-20). “The key element for our long-term economic vitality is the creation of a solid workforce pipeline that will not only attract advanced manufacturing companies here, but will also train our citizens for careers in the cutting edge and high paying jobs that these companies will bring with them. The CMA will do just that.”

“The vision for this center is bold, and it will have an enormous impact on our region’s future by providing the resources and environment for innovators and manufacturers to come together and create new products,” said City of Danville Mayor Alonzo Jones. “I look forward to seeing what products and innovations come out of this center in the years to come and the new opportunities that will be available for our citizens.”

“The Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors has targeted advanced manufacturing as a crucial component of all our economic development efforts,” said Bob Warren, Chairman of the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors. “We know that this new facility will improve manufacturing processes and capabilities in our region and create an easier startup process for companies locating here, strengthening Pittsylvania County’s status as a great place to do business.”

“We are excited to announce Phillips’ commitment to locate our next manufacturing solutions innovation center at IALR’s new CMA building in 2022,” said Alan Phillips, President/CEO of Phillips Corporation. “This commitment is a natural and continuing extension of our long-standing training and manufacturing technology collaborations with ILAR. We believe there are substantial and immediate needs to develop additive and subtractive manufacturing technologies to support expansion of the USA’s manufacturing competitiveness as well as to strengthen the capacity and capabilities of our Defense Industrial Base. We are very pleased to continue our partnerships with IALR, the Danville community, and the Southern Virginia academic and business community, with a common mission to develop outstanding training and manufacturing technology resources.”

With few other regions currently offering a similar complement of services, the CMA is expected to serve as an important economic development tool and provide Virginia with a competitive edge in 21st century manufacturing. Its location on the campus of IALR will allow it to leverage resources by drawing its governance, leadership and administrative support from IALR.

The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research serves Virginia as a regional catalyst for economic transformation with applied research, advanced learning, advanced manufacturing, conference center services and economic development efforts. IALR’s major footprint focuses within Southern Virginia, including the counties of Patrick, Henry, Franklin, Pittsylvania, Halifax and Mecklenburg along with the cities of Martinsville and Danville. For more information, visit

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