IN THE BUSINESS OF HELPING BUSINESSES:
THE ROANOKE REGIONAL SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CENTER LENDS EXPERTISE TO ENTREPRENEURS
Give Davis College of Business and Economics Dean Joy Bhadury, Ph.D., 10 minutes, and he will give you an hour’s worth of information about why having the Roanoke Regional Small Business Development Center (SBDC) on campus is a boon for the economic development of the New River Valley, as well as an asset for Radford University.
It is not that he is a fast talker, but instead brimming with excitement and enthusiasm that the SBDC is in the NRV thanks to the collaboration of several local economic development agencies. And, it is on Radford’s campus, in the Davis College, just down the hallway from his office, in Room 300.
The SBDC’s location is important to Bhadury, and the SBDC’s campus hub in the Davis College has several advantages to the businesses it serves in the region and to the University and its students. Bhadury gleefully talks about them all. He begins with students, because that is “what we do here,” according to Bhadury. ”We provide a world-class business education.”
The SBDC is a champion resource for advising, training and counseling individuals, who operate startups and small businesses. Its mission is to support and strengthen its clientele of small businesses in the New River Valley.
“Many of those clients have ongoing projects that could benefit significantly from the expertise of our faculty and students,” Bhadury says. “And, in turn, our students could gain real-world experience by working with small- or medium-sized businesses in their nascent phase. They can learn how to grow a business from those experiences.”
It is a win-win situation for both the University, its students and the SBDC.
“Our students learn within the laboratory of a small business and see it from the inside,” Bhadury continues. “The SBDC meets its core mission of helping small businesses; we meet our mission of providing a preeminent business education.”
Offering assistance, too, is the highly regarded Davis College faculty, who possess a wide range of business knowledge and know-how.
Regional small business development centers make up a statewide network. The Roanoke Regional SBDC serves the New River and Roanoke valleys, as well as the Alleghany Highlands. By placing the NRV office on Radford University’s campus, the center is better equipped to provide its signature pro bono business assistance throughout the region by helping existing businesses thrive and start up businesses navigate a road to success.
In 2018, the Roanoke Regional SBDC served more than 300 clients and provided more than 1,100 hours of counseling. More than 60 percent of its clients were existing businesses, and nearly 40 percent were startups. SBDC engagement resulted in more than $3.2 million in capital investment in client businesses.
The University announced the SBDC’s campus location in June 2019. In doing so, President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., reflected on the University’s strategic plan, which pinpoints community partnerships and economic development as key tenets.
“By fostering relationships and a culture of service within and beyond our community, Radford University significantly contributes to strengthening the economic landscape and workforce needs of the region,” Hemphill said.
The strategic plan calls for the University to identify ways in which it can “contribute to economic development and strengthen community partnerships by identifying ways in which the campus can use its physical and intellectual resources to enrich its mission, define its brand, enhance the region and support job creation and growth.”
“That is exactly what the University is doing through this partnership,” Bhadury says. “We, through providing a location and the expertise of our faculty and students, are helping the SBDC serve the community, which in turn sparks economic growth, which benefits everyone,” he continues. “We are providing opportunities and a world-class education to our students, and we are providing a home to an important economic development office.”
The SBDC campus home brings another benefit that might not be easily seen at first, Bhadury points out, but is an important building block for the University: Visibility.
When the SBDC hosts an event, for example, such as a training seminar for would-be entrepreneurs, it brings to campus some of the top business professionals from the NRV and beyond.
“Wouldn’t it be great if they went back to their homes, their communities, and told everyone what a great place Radford University is for helping businesses and helping communities grow?” Bhadury asks rhetorically. “And, wouldn’t it be great if they talked about our bright students and their eagerness to learn and help?
“It reinforces in their minds that, located right here in their backyard, Radford University is, an institution willing to serve and build upon the community and the state it calls home.”
A STATE-OF-THE-ART HOME FOR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY:
Renovations provide a high-tech focus for the Artis College
The dust is settling, and a new era is being ushered in for the Artis College of Science and Technology.
Following in the footsteps of the Center of the Sciences, Radford University’s Reed and Curie Halls, the long-time home to the majority of the departments that comprise the Artis College, have been renovated with a keen focus on the needs of the students, while keeping an eye on developing technologies.
The exciting renovations to the two buildings reinforce Radford University’s commitment to experiential education, while supplying ultramodern facilities for students, faculty and staff alike.
“We are incredibly excited to move into our renovated home,” said Artis College of Science and Technology Dean Orion Rogers, Ph.D. “This is an ultramodern building designed with intricate detail to meet the needs of both our students and faculty. The learning spaces housed inside these walls will facilitate even more advanced research.”
When classes resume in the new decade, students will be greeted by the familiar foyer of Reed Hall, which includes the classic wood paneling. Beyond that, however, everything is entirely new.
The main floor includes a new collaboration space off the main entrance, found one floor above where the old planetarium used to be.
One of the high-tech additions to Reed and Curie Halls is the Geohazards and Unmanned Systems Research Center, allowing for up-close viewing of drones by passersby and a lab for drone research. Drones are in glass displays and easily viewable from the hallways for anyone to see.
“It is important to show that technology is accessible to everyone,” Rogers said. “By having the drones on display, we are hoping to increase the visibility of our drone research and collaborations across departments.”
Just beyond the renovated buildings is a familiar sight: the greenhouse. Inside, however, are updates that are not limited to plants and other specimens. The greenhouse itself has been renovated, complete with a modern and updated look.
One of the driving reasons for the renovations to Reed and Curie Halls, though, was the significant attention to cybersecurity, a growing national security issue.
The Capture the Flag event, a competition for high school and community college students that challenges participants in topic areas, such as anatomy of a cyberattack, an introduction to networking, cryptography, forensics, web security and operating system security, now has its own space for events and simulations.
Just last year, the final round of the popular event was livestreamed on Amazon’s Twitch.tv, a leading livestreaming platform for gamers. The event brought thousands of online views to campus. With the renovation of Reed and Curie Halls, the event will be hosted in its own space, complete with the ability to livestream future iterations of the popular event.
“Having a modern, beautiful space, combined with unparalleled functionality, will allow us to hopefully expand upon these community-based events,” Rogers said. “Our goal is to fully realize the capabilities of our renovated home for both current and future generations of Highlanders.”
On the ground floor of Curie Hall is a space dedicated to geospatial science, with a GIS and Remote Sensing Lab and a GIS Center, complete with a Virtual Reality Lab.
If you walk up the stairwell, you will reach the second floor of Reed Hall, where the office spaces for geology and geospatial science are located, as well as faculty and student research spaces, giving students even more opportunities to work in close collaboration with faculty members.
Nearby lounge spaces further increase these collaborations with faculty members, keeping with Radford University’s dedication to student success.
Housed nearby are three geology teaching labs, two for the general geology courses and one for advanced research opportunities.
Also, in the renovated buildings are biochemistry labs, one for teaching and one for research. Between the two labs are a stockroom and a tissue and cell culture space.
The modern and enhanced research facilities allow for students to engage in advanced undergraduate research, said Rogers.
“It gives students the opportunity to learn by doing and to ask original questions, while exploring research projects and possibilities they may have never before considered,” Rogers said. “The new academic learning spaces and applied labs allow students hands-on experience, which not only boosts their undergraduate research opportunities, while enrolled at Radford University, but also gives valuable career experience and unique advantages as undergraduates that are valued in corporate settings and graduate programs. The equipment that we have in Reed and Curie Halls is representative of what is used in the field, and our students could begin their scientific careers using equipment they had used previously to learn science in their laboratory courses here at Radford.”
Each of the specialized academic learning spaces fosters student growth and exploration, which are pinnacles of the Radford University student experience.
SERVING THOSE WHO SERVE:
M.S.W. program offers sought-after internships at Veterans Affairs hospital in Salem
In a long-term partnership between Radford University and the Salem Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) students have a valuable opportunity to assist veterans with a wide range of issues, as well as enrich their education for their future careers.
The M.S.W. internships available at the Salem VA Medical Center are dedicated strictly to Radford University students, and competition for the paid positions is fierce. Only eight slots per academic year are available, and it is not uncommon for as many as 20 students to apply.
“The partnership with the VA is one of the best clinical placements we have, because of the range of work they get to do,” said Philip Mongan, Ph.D., LCSW and M.S.W. coordinator. “Students, who participate in the internship, are often hired by the VA.”
Interns experience many aspects of providing care to veterans. Assignments can range from post-traumatic stress disorder treatment, inpatient psychological care, traumatic brain injury and dementia care, long-term care patients, case management, community outreach and therapy to administration.
Interns are required to work 300 hours each semester, or approximately 22 hours per week.
Prior to assuming an internship, students go through a class to educate themselves about the needs of military populations. Learning the culture of veterans prepares them to work with veterans. “Why does the military do what it does?” and “What is combat like?” are some of the areas covered in the class, according to Mongan.
The program also benefits the 79 social workers currently employed at the Salem VA Medical Center.
“We need to help develop our profession of social work by teaching those who will later be our peers in the profession,” said Malinda Shelor-Rogers, Transition and Care Management Program coordinator at the Salem VA Medical Center. “Even if they do not end up working for the VA, they will still serve the community and have an awareness of veterans, their needs and how the VA system works.”
Working with and caring for veterans reinforces the Highlander core value of fostering relationships and a culture of service within and beyond the University community.
Radford University students reunited with their families September 20-22, 2019 for a gorgeous, fun-filled Family Weekend. With a packed schedule of events that ranged from live music and library golf to a variety of shows — fashion, planetarium and dog — families still made time to pose for photos by the campus fountain.
A DAY DEDICATED TO HIGHLANDER HERITAGE
Radford University welcomed a proud tradition back to campus on October 12 when the Radford Highlanders Festival returned after five years in Bisset Park. Moffett and Heth lawns provided a perfect setting for popular festival features — Highland cattle, sheepherding, clan exhibits, rugby, arts and crafts and various vendors — as well as the headline attractions: music and the Highland Games.
“It’s a really cool event! And, it’s right here on campus,” said Daniel Meany, a sophomore from Christiansburg, Virginia. “There’s a lot to see here. There are so many booths here, and everything is so unique.”
The Celtic soundtrack of the day was provided by the Virginia Highlands, Radford University Highlanders and Appalachian Highlanders Pipes and Drums. Featured on the Highlander Stage were the acclaimed Washington, D.C. folk-rock band Scythian and the Michigan-based CrossBow.
Crowds on the perfect fall day were entranced by the kilt-clad competitors in the Tom Raisbeck Memorial Games, featuring games of ancient origin that included the caber toss, sheaf toss, stone (similar to shot put) and waiver bar.
The Radford Highlanders Festival is an ongoing partnership between Radford University and the City of Radford. People from within the University and the broader community work diligently to organize the annual event. Their efforts yield unique experiences and special memories for families, students and community members.
THE ROCK OF THE RADFORD FAMILY:
FAMILY and service define Board of Visitors Rector Robert a. Archer
Robert A. Archer, CEO of Blue Ridge Beverage Company, Inc., and rector of Radford University’s Board of Visitors, is a stalwart in the region, known for his service, family-owned business and guidance to Radford.
Archer’s father purchased Blue Ridge Beverage in 1959 with other partners and later bought out the partners, truly turning the company into a family owned and operated business. From a humble beginning with 10 employees at one location, the company has grown significantly under the family’s guidance with 475 employees at four locations throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Throughout Archer’s extensive history with Blue Ridge Beverage, he has had five brothers or sisters involved with the company, and his mother — who is 94 — still comes into the office.
“It’s given me the opportunity to do a lot of things that I don’t think I would have had the opportunity to do otherwise,” Archer said. “My sister, Jackie, is the COO and runs the company day-to-day. We’ve been blessed to have great people, who have supported us and worked with us here at Blue Ridge Beverage to help make it a success. My mother brings us the mail each day, and she enjoys doing that. We’re just blessed that she’s able to do that.”
Archer’s service to the family business, the community and Radford began with his experience in the Corps of Cadets at Virginia Tech. Following his graduation, Archer was commissioned in the Army, where he served in Vietnam for a year and a half with the 82nd Airborne Division.
After his service to the United States, Archer returned home to serve his family, as he had a feeling that his father needed some help. Not long after his return to Virginia, his father passed away at 51, six months after Archer returned home from the Army.
“In December 1972, here’s my mother in an industry that had very few women owners. That was a very trying time for us,” Archer said. “We survived and fortunately grew.”
Archer maintained his service to the country, even after returning home through the Army Reserves, where he completed his military career with 30 years of service and retired as a colonel.
As Archer continued his service to the country, he also was committed to serving the community.
“There’s so much need out there, and we strive to give back,” Archer said. “Businesses should give back to the extent to which they are able. For us, we’re local. We know the charities, and we know the people here. We’ve gotten to know them over time. We grew up here, and we went to school here. We know what the area’s needs are.”
Some of the ties to the region came from his family. Archer’s oldest daughter earned her master’s degree in speech-language pathology from Radford University, while his youngest daughter attended Radford University on a scholarship for tennis.
“Jill ’00, my youngest daughter, earned her degree in interior design, and it really set her up for success later in life,” Archer said. “After working for an international architectural and design firm, Jill joined the family business.”
Having two daughters attend Radford was where Archer thought his involvement would end — being the parent of two alumnae. Later, an unexpected call came inquiring if Archer would be interested in serving on the Radford University Board of Visitors. He was.
“The more I knew about Radford, the more I was interested,” Archer said.
As a member of the Board, and now as rector, Archer wants to support President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., the students and the faculty. Being involved with students firsthand is a privilege for Archer.
“If everybody could experience that, it will give you a lot of hope for the future,” Archer said. “The time the Board spends with students is uplifting. It makes you realize why we are really here. We can talk about any aspect of the University, but it has to be about the students and faculty. The University needs to be innovative, creative and provide a level of education that sets students up for success.”
Archer wants the legacy of the current Board to be that of ensuring Radford’s success for years to come. One such example of that is Radford University’s merger with Jefferson College of Health Sciences, which is having a profound impact on healthcare and health education in the region through the creation of Radford University Carilion (RUC).
“These are the types of things that we need to be doing to ensure that a Radford degree has a lasting meaning, and that the school will continue to be successful in the future.”
Through Archer’s dedication to his family, the family business, Radford, the community and to himself, he is having a lasting impact on the region he has long called home.