New Center Showcasing Advanced Tire Testing Machine

Halifax Co., VA - This week has been one of major economic and technological advancement for Halifax County.

Monday, there was a ribbon cutting on a new research and education center, and Wednesday, the National Tire Research Center was unveiled in Alton.

The center came about thanks to the efforts of Virginia Tech, VIR, General Motors and the Tobacco Commission.

An tire testing machine of more than $11 million will bring vehicle and tire manufacturers from all over the world to Halifax County. It will bring jobs as well.

Located in the Virginia Motorsports Technology Park right across from VIR is some of the most advanced technology in tire testing and research.

Virginia Tech Transportation Institute Director Tom Dingus says the "Flat-Trac" testing machine will provide twice the capabilities of today's tire testing machines.

Funding from the Tobacco Commission and close proximity to the VIR made Halifax County an ideal location.

"We can do tire testing and then vehicle dynamic testing in the laboratory, and then put those tires and shocks on real cars and put them on the VIR," said Dingus.

This is good news for the Southside economy. The nonprofit research center will generate $15 million within the first five years of operation and more than 150 new jobs by the year 2020.

"It'll bring administrative jobs, it'll bring technician jobs, it'll bring research jobs, it'll bring testing jobs," said Dingus.

Congressman Robert Hurt, who spoke at the ribbon cutting ceremony, says he looks forward to the many opportunities that the new center will bring.

"The value of that research is so important so, it's an exciting day. It really is and it's a lot of people that should be proud of this accomplishment," he said.

The facility opens in January 2013, which means many of those 150 jobs will be up for grabs soon. Dingus says they are currently advertising the available positions and they plan to begin interviewing soon.

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