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County Celebrates Business Appreciation Week by Recognizing Four "Albemarle Entrepreneurs to Watch"

Albemarle County will celebrate Business Appreciation Week 2012, designated for June 4 – 8 by Governor Bob McDonnell,  by recognizing four “Albemarle Entrepreneurs to Watch” at 9:00 am at the Board of Supervisors Meeting on June 6.

“Albemarle County businesses play a pivotal role in strengthening our County by embracing job creation, innovative technologies, and employing a diverse workforce to preserve the economic well-being of all our citizens,” said Board Chair Ann Mallek in discussing Business Appreciation Week. “We applaud the success of the many local businesses exemplified by these four companies that provide economic opportunity while supporting the County’s goals and values of resource protection and an attractive, vibrant, and livable community.”

The theme for this year’s Business Appreciation Week is “The Year of the Entrepreneur”, which is particularly appropriate for Albemarle County, where  in 2011 the Virginia Employment Commission registered 145 new start-up firms, the highest total since 2008 when 153 start-ups were registered.
The following four firms are on the County’s “entrepreneurs to watch” list representing job growth, commitment to the local community and innovation in their particular industry clusters.

Mikro Systems – “Leveraging Intellectual Capital to keep industry local”
From its founding in Albemarle County in 2001 with just a few employees, Mikro Systems has been in a high growth mode, growing from 15 in 2009 to 40 employees in 2012, but the Company has maintained its steadfast focus on keeping investment and jobs here in Albemarle County. Through the development of cutting edge and highly desirable manufacturing processes that can be adapted to a myriad of products and applications, Mikro has gained the attention of leading industry corporations and successfully persuaded an international manufacturing partner to locate their operation here in the County instead of moving from our community.  In addition to the founders’ proven commitment to our region, their story is also a success story for government partnerships. Initially started with angel investors funding, Mikro went on to successfully win over $8 million in Federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants.

Lewis & Clark Pharmaceuticals – “Commitment to the Local Biotech community”
Robert Thompson’s pharmaceutical R&D team has been together for over 10 years in various capacities and ventures. This group has stayed committed to our community’s biotech industry through several reincarnations, most recently as a locally-based, newly formed venture called Lewis & Clark Pharmaceuticals, which focuses on early stage pharmaceutical development for addressing the areas of arthritis, diabetes, glaucoma, and atherosclerosis. In January 2012, L&C entered into a 5-yr research agreement with UVA to conduct pharmacological studies. Our entrepreneurial ecosystem is greatly enriched when highly desirable and skilled talent like the Lewis & Clark Pharmaceuticals team stays an active and contributing part of our knowledge economy.

The Farm at Red Hill – “Giving Back to the Community”
Using just 4.5 acres in North Garden, this farm has maximized their output and value-added food with the use of green houses and on-site processing of hummus and salsas. According to a “Locallectual” writer, the growth in Farm at Red Hill’s market share has been rapid; “In my realm of cognizance, the farm went from being present only at my University’s meetings to being sold in practically every grocery store in town to speaking at food-related events in Charlottesville.” The Farm at Red Hill sells as far north in New Jersey. Using profits from their business sales in Whole Foods and elsewhere, the Farm at Red Hill is able to provide their salsas and hummus in our local schools, at cost, bringing fresh, healthy food to our community’s children.

Cellular Materials International – “Building on UVA Partnership to meet global challenges”
Cellular Materials International, Inc. (CMI) is a small, entrepreneurial R&D company that has been engaged in developing novel solutions for infrastructure protection using seed technology developed by the engineering department at the University of Virginia.  Currently, CMI is partnering with UVA’s School of Architecture on a program to address and tackle a different and far-reaching problem – home destruction caused by natural disaster.  To advance UVA’s goal of creating low-cost modular housing capable of being deployed quickly, CMI has invented an especially sturdy yet lightweight roofing product that accompanies a UVA-designed modular home for addressing natural disaster remediation.  CMI is looking to take their product to the commercial market and fulfill its long-term aspiration of becoming an Albemarle-county based manufacturer.

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