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

Natural fibers developer to invest $17.5 million in Mecklenburg headquarters, production facility

A company that develops technology to process raw materials including hemp into natural fibers will invest $17.5 million to establish its U.S. headquarters in Mecklenburg County, the governor’s office announced Wednesday.

FyberX Holdings will occupy the former Kinderton Distribution Center building, where it will process hemp and other agricultural products to produce fibers for the textile industry. It will create 45 jobs.

“This industry is an emerging market in the United States, and I welcome the opening of the headquarters of FyberX which will unlock its growth potential in the Commonwealth,” Gov. Glenn Youngkin said in a news release. “This industry provides a sustainable alternative for industrial and consumer products that will also bring economic benefits to Virginia communities and farmers, and we look forward to a successful partnership with FyberX.”

FyberX was founded in 2019. The company, which is currently based in Williamsburg, said it will use its technology to process hemp for use in sustainable replacements for the textile, packaging and construction industries. FyberX plans to work with industrial hemp and other domestic non-tree sources of fiber and establish centralized large-scale processing centers throughout the U.S.

Youngkin approved a $150,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to assist Mecklenburg County with the project. FyberX is eligible to receive state benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program, and funding and services to support the employee training will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.

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Virginia Tech named part of $60 million agroforestry project

The College of Natural Resources and Environment at Virginia Tech is part of a $60 million, five-year grant led by The Nature Conservancy for a project that aims to advance agroforestry across the eastern United States and Hawaii.

The project, “Expanding Agroforestry Production and Markets for Producer Profitability and Climate Stabilization,” is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry Partnership Initiative. 

Virginia Tech will receive $2.25 million to lead regional efforts to help mid-Atlantic and Appalachian farmers increase the use of agroforestry and reap the economic, social and environmental benefits, according to a news release from the university.

Agroforestry is a form of agriculture that integrates trees, shrubs, crops and livestock into a single farming system. Through more widespread use of agroforestry, farmers can significantly draw down carbon from the atmosphere while profitably growing foods that can help support local communities and regional food systems.

A multidisciplinary team of Virginia Tech researchers will directly assist producers in instituting or expanding agroforestry practices that complement their farming operations.

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Harvester adds Cash Unchained, Lucero for January

Harvester Performance Center has added two new acts to its January lineup. 

Cash Unchained: The Ultimate Johnny Cash Experience takes the audience on a journey back in time to the life and music of “The Man in Black.” The band, featuring 24-year-old frontman James Tamelcoff, will perform at the Harvester at 8 p.m. Jan. 27. Tickets start at $27. 

Memphis-bred Lucero, who embraces everything from Southern rock to Stax-inspired Memphis soul, will take the stage at 8 p.m. Jan. 31. Tickets start at $47. 

Tickets for both shows go on sale Friday at

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Firefli launches grant program

Firefli, a Roanoke digital agency, has accepted two organizations into the inaugural cohort of Firefli Gives, a grant-based program for nonprofits in Southwest Virginia.

Firefli will work with Roanoke-based Council of Community Services and Franklin County-based Disability Rights and Resource Center to produce digital assets that connect the organizations to the communities they serve, according to a news release from the agency. Recipients will be able to complete a project in web development, content marketing, advertising campaigns, video production or branding.

Council of Community Services is a nonprofit established to promote the welfare of the Roanoke Valley community. Its mission is to improve health, end homelessness and increase access to resources through programs including the Drop-In Center and and 211 Virginia programs. 

The Disability Rights and Resources Center advocates for equal access to disability services by providing information and referrals to local assistance service providers. It also provides peer counseling, independent living skills training and transition services.

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Hollins’ Distinguished Speaker Series welcomes Beth Macy

New York Times bestselling author Beth Macy will speak at 7 p.m. Nov. 15 at the Hollins University Theatre as part of the school’s Distinguished Speaker Series.

Macy, a 1993 graduate of Hollins’ Master of Arts program in English and creative writing, is a longtime reporter whose books include “Factory Man,” “Truevine” and “Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America.” Her latest book is 2022’s “Raising Lazarus: The Search for Hope and Justice, and the Future of America’s Overdose Crisis.”

As part of her lecture, two Hollins student journalists will engage in conversation with Macy about her work, her writing craft and Hollins.

Admission is free, but masks are required for all attendees. The lecture will also be livestreamed. For access, go to or contact Rachel Fletcher at

A reception will be held after the presentation in the Wyndham Robertson Library’s Lewis Reading Room. “Raising Lazarus” will be on sale, and Macy will sign copies.

Preregistration and proof of vaccination are required to attend the reception in person at for those who are not current Hollins students, faculty or staff.

Disclosure: Macy is a member of Cardinal’s journalism advisory committee but committee members have no say in news decisions; see our policy.