DANVILLE, VA. (Aug. 21, 2:05 p.m. ET) — An interest in building a stronger plastics cluster in southern Virginia has led to the formation of the Virginia Polymer Coalition.
“It's actually cooperation between three organizations. They wanted to bring economic development and manufacturing together,” said Chris Horne, director of communications for the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, in a telephone interview.
The coalition plans to meet quarterly. The first networking meeting attracted 38 people to the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville, Va., and another is planned for November.
Horne said some of the attendees already are talking about ways to help each other.
The group is a collaborative effort between the Institute, the Southside Business Technology Center and Virginia Tech's Office of Economic Development.
A recent Southside Business Technology Center survey found that area polymer firms wanted a way to collaborate and control energy and material costs. Other shared concerns included finding a skilled workforce, better methods for product testing, materials analysis and waste recycling.
There are 33 plastic-related companies within the six local counties, and 149 within a 120-mile range.
The institute's goal is to enable economic and community transformation. Horne said by getting various groups and companies together, it can foster a growth of ideas and share information about services that the sponsoring organizations offer, such as a new analytical chemist at the institute.
Horne said Virginia Tech and some of the nearby companies also are exploring the development of non-oil based materials that can be used in polymers.