Federal funding could help Martinsville-based state agency grow Southside's economy

GENEDGE just received more than $1.7 million

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – A Southside-based state agency helping businesses across the commonwealth grow is getting some help itself.

Applied Felts in Henry County and Intertape Polymer Group in Pittsylvania County are just two of more than 100 manufacturing, engineering and technology companies GENEDGE works with.

The agency provides a variety of services to help companies grow.

"Some of the services we provide are ISO 9000, which is a quality standard. Many companies have to have that in order to deliver products overseas or in the United States," GENEDGE Operations Vice President Cindy Glisson said.

The more than $1.7 million GENEDGE has received will help cover the cost of providing the services.

That's important for Southside, where manufacturing is a big part of the economy.

"(The federal funding) helps to offer our services at a more reasonable rate so that the small and medium manufacturers in the state, many of whom can't afford the type of consulting that we do, can afford it," Glisson explained.

Intertape Polymer Group has 11 locations in the U.S. and has 2,000 employees worldwide.

Applied Felts has four locations worldwide, with the Henry County being the only location in the U.S.

On Monday, Virginia U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced the funding for GENEDGE.

"Virginia has had a great track record of ensuring that our job market adapts to the needs of the country. We are thrilled to announce this smart investment to help small and medium businesses grow and meet the changing needs in manufacturing," the senators said in a news release.

Glisson said the agency has dozens of clients in Southside.

"We want to do more in the southern part of Virginia, but...many (manufacturing) companies have boarded up and closed," Glisson pointed out.

One current project is to expand the wood industry.

"We've met with people from the wood industry, basically from every county in the region, trying to understand what we can do to grow that," Glisson said.

She added that that will create other opportunities for growing the economy the agency hopes to be involved with.