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

* * *

Four companies from Southwest graduate from export program

Governor Glenn Youngkin has announced that 11 companies across Virginia have graduated from the Virginia Economic Development Partnership’s Virginia Leaders in Export Trade program. VALET, which now has more than 350 graduated companies, assists Virginia exporters that have firmly established domestic operations and are committed to international exporting as a growth strategy.

Among those are:

  • Aeroprobe Corp. (Montgomery County)
  • Federal Pacific (Bristol)
  • TMEIC Corp. Americas (Roanoke County)
  • Phoenix Integration (Montgomery County)

VALET is a two-year international business acceleration program that provides participating companies with international sales plan development services, assistance from a team of experienced international service providers, international business meetings with potential partners, educational events, and customized market research. There are currently 50 companies participating in the VALET program and 404 Virginia companies have been accepted to participate in the program since its inception in 2002.

Virginia exports over $35 billion in goods and services annually. 

* * *

Smith Mountain Lake Center names more board members

The Smith Mountain Lake Center has added six new members to its board of directors. The group aims to create a community center in the Westlake section of Franklin County. Here’s the list, with descriptions provided by the center.

Marty Bowers, whose background in accounting and business management has served many lake-area non-profits, brings a wealth of knowledge and to the board. She and husband Bert retired to SML in 1995 from Northern Virginia where her postings included the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon and the Mitre Corporation, where she worked on the federal telephone system 2000. After retiring, Bowers became involved in Bedford County’s overlay planning effort, the SML Charity Home Tour, Bethlehem United Methodist Church, SML Newcomers, Smith Mountain Arts Council, Friends of the SML/Moneta Library and the SML Center.

John Emery currently serves as CEO of Alpine-X, the leading developer of year-round snow sports resorts. He is an experienced international consumer-sector executive and the Managing Member of Stone Circle Holdings, a privately held company focused primarily on lifestyle real estate-related investment opportunities. Emery previously served as CEO of Great Wolf Resorts Inc., a family entertainment resort company, where he led the company’s expansion to a nationally recognized brand and IPO. He has also served as president of Interstate Hotels & Resorts Inc., a global independent hotel management company with more than 400 hotels.

Emery is a graduate of Virginia Tech and frequent guest lecturer at several universities. He has owned a home at Smith Mountain Lake since 1993 and is an active investor in lake commercial and residential real estate.  

Tim Gardner owns Inspecx Inspection Services LLC and is a licensed contractor. His career in forensic engineering brought him and his wife, Vicki, along with two young daughters, to SML in 1986. Gardner served in the Navy’s Military Sealift Command, is a degreed Marine nuclear engineer and earned an MBA while living in Houston. Gardner invested his free time to the community as a softball coach and with the Antique and Classic Boat Society. He was also known as the unofficial “Chamber-in-Law” to the SML Regional Chamber of Commerce during the 17 years his wife served as executive director of that organization. He chaired the SML Wine Festival for many years. Gardner brings his years of engineering and business experience to the SML Center Inc.

Troy Keaton is the founding pastor of EastLake Community Church at Smith Mountain Lake. He and his wife, Janel, and their family moved to SML in 2005. EastLake is a rapidly growing, diverse ministry committed to investing in the community. EastLake also includes Smith Mountain Lake Christian Academy, which is a pre-K through 12th grade school with more than 500 students. Since joining the lake family, Keaton has been an active part of the community. He served a three-year term on the board of directors for the SML Regional Chamber of Commerce, including the role of president in 2015. It was this relationship that motivated his involvement in the SML Center project, and he has served as a board member since its founding.

Laura Moritz became membership director at the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce in 2016 and, subsequently, the chamber’s community relations and marketing director. Moritz previously held leadership positions that included director of operations for an upscale retail chain, training and development consultant for national clients such as Party City and Hudson Group, and owner and founder of a conference planning business that caters to state associations of nurse anesthesiologists. Moritz is currently the director of development at Mariners Landing Country Club.

For more information on the Smith Mountain Lake Center, visit Here’s the list of previous board appointees.

* * *

Roanoke mayor to deliver State of City address

Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea Sr. will present the annual State of the City Address to business community members at The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center on Aug. 25.

Registration is now available through the Roanoke Regional Chamber.

* * *

Black lung program in Lee County gets federal grant

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded $1,140,488 to the St. Charles Health Council for the Black Lung Clinic Program, according to a release from Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem.

* * *