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Extra! Extra! We love it when our PACE Placements get in the news for doing GOOD works in their communities.

in the news

Extra! Extra! We love it when our Pace Placements get in the news for doing GOOD works in their communities.

U.S. Virgin Islands Economic Development Organization Receives Prestigious National Award from the International Economic Development Council

Peter Chapman EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR UNIVERSITY OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS RTP ST. CROIX, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDSWASHINGTONOct. 26, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — The U.S. Virgin Islands Research and Technology Park Corporation (RTPark) – an independent affiliate of the University of the Virgin Islands—this week received the International Economic Development Council‘s Economic Development Organization (EDO) of the Year award.  The honor was presented at an awards ceremony during the IEDC Annual Conference, which gathers over 1,400 economic development professionals from around the country.

“We’re honored and humbled to receive such significant recognition from IEDC. Being selected as EDO of the Year is a resounding validation of the RTPark’s evolution over these past two years into a truly comprehensive tech-focused economic development organization that is having a measurable impact on the Virgin Islands economy. This award is also a testament to the dynamic and talented team of professionals we’ve attracted to the RTPark since 2018,” said Peter H. Chapman, Executive Director and CEO of the RTPark.

IEDC’s Excellence in Economic Development Awards recognize the world’s best economic development programs and partnerships, marketing materials, and the year’s most influential leaders. Thirty-five award categories honor organizations and individuals for their efforts in creating positive change in urban, suburban, and rural communities. Awards are judged by a diverse panel of economic and community developers from around the world, following a nomination process held earlier this year. IEDC received over 500 submissions from four countries. The RTPark was the Gold Award recipient for EDO of the Year with a population size of 25,000 – 200,000.

Considering the RTPark’s progressive strategy for innovative programming, Chapman thanked RTPark Board of Directors Chairman, Edward Thomas, for giving the team the latitude to pursue bold initiatives that are directly in line with the visionary Title 17 enabling legislation enacted by the Virgin Islands legislature.

The RTPark is an innovative economic development organization established in 2002 to help diversify and expand the U.S. Virgin Islands’ economy through efforts to promote the attraction, retention, and growth of technology, knowledge-based and sustainable agriculture-related firms within the Territory. The RTPark also works to broaden the capabilities of the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) by providing the university with financial support and training opportunities for UVI students.

“The RTPark Board of Directors has witnessed first-hand the growth of the RTPark’s team, programming, as well as its impact on the technology ecosystem in the Territory and the diversification of our local economy. In such a short time, the organization’s ability to build capacity and launch new programs, including Accelerate VI, VI STEM Kids and VISTA+, fall in line with economic development best practices all over the world.  IEDC’s celebration of their hard work is very fitting and we are grateful for the recognition,” said Chairman Thomas

The RTPark has recently increased its team size and quality to support improved business development outcomes and the successful expansion of key programmatic elements of the organization. Newly launched programs include the USVI’s first accelerator for tech startups, Accelerate VI, which has supported 14 startups thus far, and VI STEM Kids—a coding program for youth from low-moderate income homes. The RTPark also launched an online database and network that connects tech talent within the Virgin Islands diaspora with opportunities to work in the Territory called VISTA+.

Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), Albert Bryan Jr., said he looks forward to seeing more great work from the RTPark and acknowledged the team’s dedication to progressive economic development initiatives.

“The UVI RTPark has remained focused on its goal to diversify our economy through the launch and expansion of innovative programs and community development initiatives.  Director Peter Chapman and his team have shown over the course of just two years how personally committed they are to helping develop our community, and it certainly shows. The IEDC’s Excellence in Economic Development Gold Award for EDO of the Year is well-deserved,” Bryan said.

Public officials from across the Virgin Islands, including USVI Delegate to Congress Stacey E. Plaskett, offered their congratulations and recognition of the RTPark’s impactful work throughout the Territory which led to their selection as EDO of the Year.

“I am tremendously pleased to hear that the RTPark has been selected as an IEDC Gold Award Recipient for the EDO of the Year program. For over sixteen years, the RTPark has educated young scholars and made significant strides toward growing the technology-intensive sector within the Virgin Islands,” said Congresswoman Plaskett. ‘My team and I have been working to assist RTPark operations in Congress, including by supporting increased funding to expand broadband opportunities in rural areas and through various economic development initiatives, so this distinction is a win for all of us. Congratulations to Executive Director Peter Chapman and his excellent team!”

Senate President of Legislature of the Virgin Islands, Senator Novelle E. Francis, Jr., and Senate Chairman of the Committee on Economic Development and Agriculture, Senator Allison DeGazon, both applauded the RTPark on their hard work and commitment to building a stronger local economy.

“This is an exciting time for our Territory as we continue to make significant strides and investments in the development of an innovative and vibrant economic ecosystem,” said Senate President Francis. “The Research and Technology Park continues to lead the effort in diversifying and assisting in the implementation of economic and community development programs that will foster and strengthen the Territory’s economy. Kudos to Executive Director Peter Chapman and the entire leadership team for a job well done!”

“There is a stark difference between what the RTPark used to be and what it is now. With the renewed vision, locally and nationally connected staff, and a focus on making the right connections, national recognition like this is expected,” said Senator DeGazon. “The award is well deserved as the RTPark continues to build a bridge to connect economic development, agriculture, and STEM in the Virgin Islands. I am proud to be a partner and supporter of the RTPark, and look forward to applauding more accolades bestowed on this entity.”

Moreover, by continuing to involve the local community and local entrepreneurs in its programs/projects and developing talent that cares about local economic development, the RTPark has positioned itself as a model for economic development programs in the Caribbean and beyond.

Virgin Islander and Vice President of Global Markets at IBM, Rashida Hodge, recently partnered with the RTPark on the organization’s newly launched youth engagement program, VI STEM Kids.

“This recognition is a true test mark of the profound work the RTPark team is driving to ensure technology is a cornerstone of the Virgin Islands community,” said Hodge.  “It has been an honor to partner with them on establishing sustainable efforts for the benefit of students in our community to gain access and see the rich potential of STEM opportunities.”

Partnerships with industry-recognized influencers, like Virgin Islander and Global Product Lead at Google, Andrea G. Russell, and Vice President of Programming at H20, Tom Ferguson, have also contributed to valuable work accomplished within the RTPark’s entrepreneurship initiatives.  The mentorship they provided to cohort members of Accelerate VI—the RTPark’s globally-recognized program for helping promising early-stage firms—mostly from the Virgin Islands—supported the growth and scale of participating startups’ operations.

I’m really proud of the work that RTPark is doing and happy to support them as a mentor,” said Russell. “Technology can sometimes feel foreign or exclusive and the RTPark is working with the community to demonstrate that Virgin Islanders have a unique viewpoint and can be a part of innovating for the future.”

“In a very short space of time, the RTPark has established itself as a highly professional organization, providing insightful, additive support to increasingly strong groups of entrepreneurs. The team really has done a remarkable job, and I can’t wait to see what’s next,” said Ferguson.

The RTPark has also been collaborating with several nationally recognized organizations whose partnerships have contributed to several RTPark programs’ substantial growth.

“We congratulate Peter, the UVI RT Park Board and staff on their receipt of the International for Economic Development Council’s 2020 Gold Award for Economic Development Organization of the Year. The award is a testament to their visionary entrepreneurial spirit and unequivocally strong commitment to strengthen USVI economy and make the Islands an even better places to live, work, invest and pursue educations,” said Robert K. Jenkins Jr., Senior Manager at Renaissance Equity Partners, an advisory firm with a focus on investments in emerging domestic communities.

“NDC is proud to work with one of the most significant economic development initiatives in the Caribbean,” said Daniel Marsh, President of National Development Council. “Technology and knowledge-based job creation doesn’t just happen by itself. It requires a visionary organization like the RTPark. Assisting with programming and access to capital, NDC is proud to be part of the team. Congratulations to RTPark for this significant award.” 

“The winners of IEDC’s Excellence in Economic Development awards represent the very best of economic development and exemplify the ingenuity, integrity, and leadership that our profession strives for each and every day,” said 2020 IEDC Board Chair and One Columbus CEO Kenny McDonald. “We’re honored to recognize the more than 100 communities whose marketing campaigns, projects, and partnerships have measurably improved regional quality of life.”

Chapman added the RTPark’s recent success recruiting dozens of new businesses to the Territory via their tax benefit program along with growth of early-stage firms through the entrepreneurial support of their Accelerate VI program has helped the organization hit their stride.

“This momentum will serve us well as we continue to drive progress on an ambitious and critically important scope of new talent development and economic revitalization initiatives that will positively impact this community for many years to come,” Chapman said.

About the International Economic Development Council

The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) is a non-profit, non-partisan membership organization serving economic developers. With more than 5,000 members, IEDC is the largest organization of its kind. Economic developers promote economic well-being and quality of life for their communities, by creating, retaining and expanding jobs that facilitate growth, enhance wealth and provide a stable tax base. From public to private, rural to urban and local to international, IEDC’s members are engaged in the full range of economic development experience. Given the breadth of economic development work, our members are employed in a wide variety of settings including local, state, provincial and federal governments, public-private partnerships, chambers of commerce, universities and a variety of other institutions. When we succeed, our members create high-quality jobs, develop vibrant communities, and improve the quality of life in their regions. Learn more at

About the RTPark: 

The RTPark is an innovative economic development organization established in 2002, but which became fully operational in 2006, to help diversify and expand the economy of the USVI through efforts to promote the attraction, retention and growth of technology, knowledge-based and sustainable agriculture-related firms within the Territory. The RTPark also works to broaden the capabilities of the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI)—a Historically Black College and University (HBCU)—by providing the university with financial support and training opportunities for UVI students.

For all media inquiries, please feel free to contact Sydney Paul, RTPark Senior Manager of Business Intelligence and Marketing.

Follow the USVI Research and Technology Park on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.                                               

Contact: Sydney Paul, Senior Manager of Business Intelligence and Marketing
(340) 474-0922 |


Original Story

Brazos Valley Wins Coveted CEDA From TEDC

Matt Prochaska PRESIDENT & CEO BRAZOS VALLEY EDC, BRYAN/COLLEGE STATION, TEXASThe Brazos Valley Economic Development Corporation (BVEDC) has been awarded a 2020 Community Economic Development Award (CEDA) from the Texas Economic Development Council (TEDC). The award honors excellence and exceptional contributions of Texas communities in economic development.

Each year, the CEDAs are awarded in five different categories based on population. The Brazos Valley is part of the 250,000+ population category, meaning it competes each year against the largest metropolitan areas in the state. Entries are judged on innovativeness, transferability, community commitment and leverage, measurable objectives, and secondary benefits to the community.

For the award, the BVEDC submitted FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies’ expansion project for a 65,000 sq. ft. gene therapy facility on the College Station side of the region’s Biocorridor. FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies’ $120 million capital investment will boost the company’s Brazos Valley operations and create up to 300 new jobs.

“A strong team effort is required to receive a prestigious Community Economic Development Award, and the Brazos Valley takes teamwork to the next level,” said Matt Prochaska, president/CEO, Brazos Valley Economic Development Corporation. “FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies has been an incredible partner in our community, and the company’s work speaks for itself. Our cities, county, higher education entities and companies like FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies come together each day to increase the strength and competitiveness of the Brazos Valley. We thank the Texas Economic Development Council for this recognition.”

The expansion project spotlights the region’s commitment to creating an interconnected, master-planned bioscience research and development community, which includes the partnership between FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies and the Texas A&M University System’s Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing (CIADM). The resulting partnership provides research collaborations and workforce advantages to the Brazos Valley.

Since the expansion announcement, a $265 million order supporting Operation Warp Speed was announced, reserving production capacity at FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies’ Texas facility for a COVID-19 vaccine candidate in a contract between the federal government and CIADM.

“We are honored to be part of the thriving Brazos Valley community and creating skilled jobs for the local workforce,” said Dr. Gerry Farrell, chief operating officer, FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies, Texas. “With the opportunity to mass produce a COVID-19 vaccine right here in Brazos Valley, the Biocorridor will become one of the biggest hubs for biotech innovation.”

The BVEDC will receive the CEDA on behalf of the community Wednesday, October 7, as part of the TEDC’s annual conference.

The Brazos Valley previously won CEDAs in 2000 and 1998. The awards were established in 1995.


John Sharp, Texas A&M University System Chancellor
“In 2012, when the Texas A&M University System became the only university designated by the federal government to build a world-class vaccine production facility, we were pleased later to attract FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies to join us as a partner. Together we hope soon to provide the world with the answer to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Michael K. Young, Texas A&M University President
“This award is yet another validation of the extraordinary community collaboration in Bryan-College Station among the Texas A&M University System, Texas A&M University, elected leaders and advocates like the Brazos Valley Economic Development Corporation who will receive the award on behalf of all.”

Karl Mooney, City of College Station Mayor
“The City of College Station is thrilled and honored to be in a partnership with the City of Bryan and Brazos County that together with the Brazos Valley Economic Development Corporation has enabled FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies to locate and expand in our community. The company has already established itself as a significant supporter of community efforts and organizations. As it grows, its presence will undoubtedly increase its value to the charitable needs and causes for its neighbors. As the host city for FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies’ location in the Brazos Valley, the College Station city staff and residents of our community stand ready to welcome the growing number of employees that will be required for the company’s dedicated efforts to produce life-saving vaccines to the world. It is our intent to not only demonstrate and share with them the quality of life we enjoy, but to have them be surrounded by Texas hospitality. Most importantly, we will all strive to make them feel at home.”

Duane Peters, Brazos County Judge
“Our community is proud to have FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies grow here and winning the 2020 Community Economic Development Award is a great honor for the Brazos Valley. This award is a testament to the unity and support of our residents, local governments, and institutions of higher education, and would not be possible without the hard work of the Brazos Valley Economic Development Corporation.”

Andrew Nelson, City of Bryan Mayor
“Receiving a Community Economic Development Award is a huge honor for the Bryan-College Station community. We are extremely proud of the work the BVEDC has done to put a spotlight on the great opportunities in the Brazos Valley. The investment that FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies has made in the Biocorridor continues to benefit everyone in the region by providing high-quality jobs for our residents and spurring additional growth in Bryan-College Station.”

The Brazos Valley Economic Development Corporation is a public-private partnership serving the citizens of Brazos County, Texas. The BVEDC pursues economic growth without regard to jurisdiction through its programs, services and initiatives to help launch, grow and locate companies in the Brazos Valley. For more, visit

FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies is an industry-leading Biologics Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization (CDMO) with locations in Teesside, UK, RTP, North Carolina, College Station, Texas and Hillerød, Denmark. FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies has over thirty years of experience in the development and manufacturing of recombinant proteins, vaccines, monoclonal antibodies, among other large molecules, viral products and medical countermeasures expressed in a wide array of microbial, mammalian, and host/virus systems. The company offers a comprehensive list of services from cell line development using its proprietary pAVEway™ microbial and Apollo™X cell line systems to process development, analytical development, clinical and FDA-approved commercial manufacturing. FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies is a partnership between FUJIFILM Corporation and Mitsubishi Corporation. For more information, go to:

FUJIFILM Holdings Corporation, Tokyo, Japan, brings cutting edge solutions to a broad range of global industries by leveraging its depth of knowledge and fundamental technologies developed in its relentless pursuit of innovation. Its proprietary core technologies contribute to the various fields including healthcare, graphic systems, highly functional materials, optical devices, digital imaging and document products. These products and services are based on its extensive portfolio of chemical, mechanical, optical, electronic and imaging technologies. For the year ended March 31, 2020, the company had global revenues of $21 billion, at an exchange rate of 109 yen to the dollar. Fujifilm is committed to responsible environmental stewardship and good corporate citizenship. For more information, please visit:

Original Story

Good soul Martha Allen goes the extra mile

Martha Allen EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR EXTRA TABLE HATTIESBURG, MISSISSIPPIExtra Table feeds the hungry across Mississippi by stocking food pantries and soup kitchens with wholesome, nutritious food. The charitable non-profit was founded in 2009 by restaurateur and culinary writer Robert St. John. Today it is exceeding his highest expectations, something he attributes to Extra Table executive director Martha Allen.

Extra Table got off to a good start, said St. John, but then ran into problems. So, in 2018 he went searching for a new director and found Martha Allen. “She is a true good soul of strong character and an engaging force of nature with intelligence and foresight,” he said. “Since Martha took over, growth and fundraising have skyrocketed.” Extra Table now serves pantries and kitchens in 50 counties, giving St. John hope that his goal to provide nutritious food in all 82 Mississippi counties can be attained.

His view of Allen is shared across the state. The Pine Belt News wrote, “she has proven herself willing to roll up her sleeves and put in the elbow grease necessary to inspire her volunteers and impress her board of directors.”

“She illuminates every space with sincere warmth, has unlimited compassion, and is the most giving person I know,” said Liz Cleveland, retired Mississippi Development Authority official in Jackson. “Her commitment to Mississippians is indefatigable no matter the need, race, gender, religion or personal preferences. She is literally administering multi tons of food to our hungriest neighbors seven days a week.” Lois McMurchy, retired Delta State administrator in Clarksdale,” said, “I completely agree with Liz. Martha is a joy to be around!”

She, like two of my earlier subjects, Dr. Bill Scaggs and Doodle Pate, fulfills the good soul mission the late Robert K. Greenleaf ascribed to “servant leaders.”

So, how did Martha Allen come to be such a good soul and servant leader?

“My parents taught servanthood from an early age,” she told Lois. “My parents paid my sister and me to pick up pecans so we would have money to buy gifts for a child mom taught, whose family would not be able to afford Christmas gifts. We were reminded to be thankful and never to take what we had for granted.”

“My dad is a retired youth court judge and my mom is still teaching elementary school today,” said Martha, “so service and caring for others was their whole career. In my eyes, my parents walked the walk and talked the talk. Giving brought them undeniable joy. I wanted that life as well!”

She also cites her faith. “I know it is my duty as a professing Christian to show love and respect to everyone.”

Martha told Network for Good she has found her calling feeding people. “No one should be hungry. Many days their world is so dark and bleak, but the food that we provide gives them hope. It shows them that someone noticed them and that they’re important. I like being able to make that kind of imprint. In the nonprofit world you spend your time going the extra mile. Because that’s what makes a difference.”

We need more servant leaders like Martha Allen.

“Blessed is he who is generous to the poor” – Proverbs 14:21.

» BILL CRAWFORD is a syndicated columnist from Jackson.

Original Story