RAMP launched its first cohort in 2017 in the former Gill Memorial Hospital building in downtown Roanoke. Photo by Megan Schnabel.

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

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RAMP welcomes 5 startups into spring 2023 cohort

Roanoke’s RAMP business accelerator announced the five startups that are part of its spring 2023 cohort.

  • Cairina Inc., located in Salem, provides technologies that noninvasively measure biologic fluid flow using clinically standard imaging protocols for personalized medicine applications.
  • Code One Training Solutions of Roanoke offers a tech-driven innovation for American Heart Association CPR certification.
  • MOVA Technologies of Pulaski specializes in air capture technology, applying sustainable, circular principles to capture and harvest air contaminants as byproducts that can be sold and reused.
  • SchedulerHUB, based in Roanoke, is a scheduling and analytics platform for manufacturers to manage complex production projects. 
  • Trova Commercial Vehicles Inc., located in Pulaski, develops battery electric spotter tractors (designed to move trailers and cargo containers around ports, truck terminals and distribution centers) as well as class 8 diesel-to-electric conversion kits.

RAMP, or the Regional Accelerator and Mentoring Program, was founded in 2017 and has accelerated 38 companies to date that collectively employ more than 600 people.

Startups receive $20,000 in nonequity funding, as well as mentoring and free office space in downtown Roanoke. RAMP alumni receive memberships in organizations including the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council and Virginia BIO, as well as three years of ongoing support through Exit RAMP, a suite of coaching and support services.

The community is invited to a “Meet the Cohort” event April 13 at the Shenandoah Club in Roanoke. At the completion of RAMP’s 12-week cohort, the entrepreneurs will present to the community at “Demo Day,” tentatively scheduled for June 8.

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VCEDA approves funds for Breaks Interstate Park projects

A grant of up to $33,809 from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority will help fund seven projects, including the construction of a wildlife viewing tower, at the Breaks Interstate Park this spring, according to a news release from VCEDA.

The wildlife viewing tower, which is projected to be approximately 10 feet tall, will be able to accommodate up to 20 people at a time and will be installed in the park’s elk habitat area near the campground. 

According to the application, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources will also provide approximately $17,000 for the construction of the tower, in addition to approximately $40,000 it has already contributed to create elk habitat within the park.

Other planned infrastructure improvements include the repainting of five Laurel Lake cabins and the visitor center, and the purchase and installation of new picnic tables, gravel for the campground, mulch for playgrounds and new signage to be installed along the park’s roadways.

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Roanoke College to host national leader in reparations movement for public talk, panel discussion

A national leader in repairing historical damages from racism will lead a conference at Roanoke College about how faith communities can work together to address the issue.

The conference will host two events on March 24-25.

The keynote speaker, the Rev. Dr. Michael C.R. Nabors, helped establish an interfaith reparations community fund in Evanston, Illinois, and also serves on a steering committee for the first municipal reparations program in the United States.

“We’re excited to bring someone with Dr. Nabors’ expertise to Roanoke,” said the Rev. Dr. David Jones, a leader in the Roanoke Reparations Group. “We want local faith communities to benefit from the years of experience it has taken Evanston to establish the trusting relationships that have allowed Black and white groups to reach a point where reparations can be addressed.”

“Building a Beloved Community” will be the title of Nabors’ address at 7 p.m. March 24 in the Wortmann Ballroom of the Colket Center at Roanoke College. The following morning from 10 a.m. to noon, Nabors will take part in a panel discussion in the same venue with local faith and civic leaders and college faculty. Both events are free and open to the public.

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Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen to speak at Moss Arts Center in Blacksburg

Viet Thanh Nguyen, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Sympathizer,” will dig into how stories about Vietnam are told in America when he speaks in Blacksburg next week.

An Evening with Viet Thanh Nguyen” will be held at 7:30 p.m. March 16 at the Moss Arts Center. Nguyen will hold a book signing in the Grand Lobby following the talk, and his books will be available for purchase.

Nguyen and his family came to the United States as refugees during the Vietnam War in 1975. As he grew up in America, he began to notice that most movies and books about the war focused on Americans, while the Vietnamese were silenced and erased. He was inspired by this lack of representation to write about the war from a Vietnamese perspective, globally reimagining what people thought they knew about the conflict. 

A New York Times best seller, “The Sympathizer” is currently being adapted into an HBO miniseries. “The Committed,” Nguyen’s follow-up novel to “The Sympathizer,” was published in 2021.

Tickets for the performance are $25 for general admission and $10 for students and youth 18 and under. Tickets can be purchased online; at the Moss Arts Center’s box office, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; or by calling 540-231-5300 during box office hours.

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Planning for America’s 250th anniversary commemoration kicks off this weekend in Williamsburg

The Virginia American Revolution 250 Commission and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation this weekend will host the nation’s first event to launch multistate planning efforts for commemorating America’s 250th anniversary in 2026.

The event, which will take place in Colonial Williamsburg, will convene nearly 300 representatives from 34 U.S. states and 50 Virginia localities to begin collaborating on anniversary events across the country, according to a news release. Representatives will discuss plans in progress and explore ideas for national conversations to connect local events throughout the United States, including opportunities for teachers and students.

Del. Terry Austin, R-Botetourt County, is the chairman of the commission.

The timing of the event reflects a historic moment that occurred 250 years ago in Williamsburg. On March 12, 1773, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry and other Virginia lawmakers resolved to create intercolonial Committees of Correspondence, a network of communication among the colonies. Within 14 months, all 13 colonies were exchanging information and mobilizing support through their respective committees.

To commemorate the 1773 resolution, a resolution of mutual support, collaboration and partnership will be affirmed on the steps of the reconstructed Raleigh Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area at 1:45 p.m. Sunday. The commemoration, which will feature a Colonial Williamsburg Fifes & Drums procession and an appearance by Thomas Jefferson, is open to the public.

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