The Radford University Carilion nursing program. Photo courtesy of Radford University.

Here’s a round-up of business news from around Southwest and Southside. Send items for possible inclusion to

Radford nursing program ranks best in the state

The Radford University Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs have been ranked as the best BSN programs in the state of Virginia by, according to a release from the school.

According to, the organization gathered a list of all nursing schools offering BSN programs in every state and then ranked them based on the following three factors:

  • Average NCLEX-RN first-time pass rates of recent five years (40% of overall score).
  • Academic quality – enrollment, graduation and retention rates (30% of overall score).
  • editorial staff ratings and nursing school reputation (30% of overall score).

The data required for the rankings was gathered from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, state board of nursing websites, U.S. News & World Report, Niche, Grad Reports, Rate My Professors and the official school websites.

The ranking information on‘s website highlights that U.S. News & World Report cited Radford’s BSN programs as some of the best in the country.

The full list of the 2021 BSN programs in every state is available on the website.

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Julia Montgomery. Courtesy of Virginia Tech.

Virginia Tech biochemistry student named National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow

Julia Montgomery, a doctoral student in the Virginia Tech Department of Biochemistry, has been selected for the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) prestigious Graduate Research Fellowship Program in 2021.

The fellowship program is the country’s oldest in support of doctoral and master’s students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. It aims to recognize and empower the next generation of knowledge experts who can contribute in meaningful ways to research, teaching, and innovations in science and engineering.

“The NSF [Graduate Research Fellowship Program] is a prestigious fellowship that means a lot to a first-generation college and graduate student like me,” Montgomery said. “It is validation that the work that I am doing is important and that my experiences give me a unique and important perspective as a researcher.”

Her work will involve research that could lead to the development of drugs that treat asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – a subject she knows all too well.  

Montgomery initially became interested in health and science because of her grandmother, who was diagnosed with COPD before Montgomery was born and who she cared for during her childhood. She was originally on track to go to veterinary school, but Montgomery found herself becoming interested in the biochemical context behind why her furry patients were sick and sought out research opportunities to further explore this interest.

Montgomery will focus her fellowship work on studying the dynamics of membranes and the molecules that interact with them. Her project specifically focuses on the beta-2 adrenergic receptor, a membrane receptor that is typically targeted by drugs that treat asthma and COPD. Montgomery hopes to understand this receptor from a new perspective to formulate new rationales in drug development for receptors in the same family. 

She is from Manorsville, New York.

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Hilary and Tony Deskins of HomeTown Pharmacy. Photo courtesy of VCEDA.

VCEDA awards seed capital grant for pharmacy in Raven

The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority has awarded a $6,500 seed capital grant to Hilary and Tony Deskins who have opened HomeTown Pharmacy in Raven in Buchanan County.

Hilary Deskins has a degree from the Appalachian School of Pharmacy in nearby Oakwood.

“VCEDA’s Seed Capital Matching Grant program was established to give entrepreneurs in the e-Region a leg up when it comes to getting established and creating jobs,” said VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher in a statement. “The program has successfully created hundreds of new jobs and in the case of HomeTown Pharmacy, five full-time and three part-time jobs are projected within three years.”

Hilary Deskins noted the new pharmacy’s location on Rt. 460, next to Eddie’s Exxon, offers residents in the area an option to meet their pharmacy needs without having to travel 12 miles further toward Vansant or 13 miles to Richlands.

The Deskins’ worked with the Small Business Development Center at Southwest Virginia Community College (SWCC) in the development of her application to VCEDA and received a letter of support from the Buchanan County Industrial Development Authority.

About the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority Seed Capital Matching Grant Fund: VCEDA region for-profit businesses one year and under with less than 10 full-time employees are eligible to apply for dollar-for-dollar matching grants up to $10,000 from the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund. Applicants work with the Small Business Development Centers at Mountain Empire and Southwest Virginia community colleges to prepare the applications to VCEDA that include detailed business and financial plans. Businesses must be located in or plan to operate in the VCEDA region in southwestern Virginia that includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton.

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Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation accepting grant applications

The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) is now accepting applications for rail, transit, and commuter assistance grants for the 2023 Fiscal Year. The annual grant application period runs through February 1, 2022.

Rail, transit, and commuter assistance funds are available through multiple state and federal sources to support public transit service, human service transportation, senior transportation, TDM, and rail programs in Virginia. Current Application Guidance for all DRPT administered grants, including eligible project categories, is available online at Please note that all applications must ALSO be submitted online.

Once the application period closes, DRPT will evaluate all submissions and submit recommended project funding to the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) for the Draft FY23 Six-Year Improvement Program (SYIP).  A series of statewide public hearings will then be held before the CTB considers the final adoption of the FY23 SYIP next June.

For general questions about rail applications, please contact Emily Stock, Chief of Rail Transportation 

For general questions about transit applications, please contact Neil Sherman, Director of Statewide Transit Programs, or Todd Horsley, Director of Northern Virginia Transit Programs.

For general questions about commuter assistance applications, please contact Chris Arabia, Manager of Statewide Commuter Programs.