April 2020

Roanoke's Earth Fare to Reopen with New Owners
Former Ivy View space to reopen in coming months.
Shoppers line up for original Earth Fare opening in Roanoke on November 8, 2017.
A group that includes executives and a founder of the bankrupt natural foods chain Earth Fare is buying back its name and a handful of its stores.

A group identified in court papers as DJ3 Delaware was the winning bidder for stores in Asheville and Boone, N.C., Athens, Ga., and Roanoke, Va . That group also acquired intellectual property of the company, including its brand names.

Bethany Turon, who most recently was Earth Fare’s SVP of Human Resources, will serve as CEO of the new Earth Fare group. The investor group was headed by Dennis Hulsing, a health club owner, and includes the founder of Earth Fare, Roger Derrough, and Randy Talley, a former Earth Fare executive who went on to found a chain of Asheville health food restaurants called Green Sage Cafe.

Turon is a former human resources executive for Swissport, Books-A-Million and Walmart, where she spent nearly 13 years in various HR roles, according to LinkedIn. She joined Earth Fare less than a year ago. Turon told the Asheville Citizen-Times newspaper that the group was interested in drawing additional investors to reopen the acquired units and potentially acquire additional sites. While she described the acquired stores as among Earth Fare’s  most profitable, she also said the group's motivation is to recapture “the original intentions of Earth Fare.” 

Derrough founded Earth Fare in 1975 as Dinner for the Earth. The chain was subsequently sold to private equity group Monitor Capital and then to Oak Hill Capital Partners.

Other winning bidders include Southeastern Grocers’ Winn-Dixie chain, which is acquiring four leased stores in Florida (Viera, Jacksonville, Lakewood Ranch and Boynton Beach); Aldi, which is buying Earth Fare’s location in Tallahassee, FL; and Whole Foods Markets, acquiring sites in Chattanooga, TN, and South Asheville, NC.

The combined sales—which were executed without an auction as demand and competing bids were few—will net the Earth Fare estate about $6 million and leaves dozens of sites still unclaimed. The company separately has entered into lease termination agreements with property owners of its stores in Gainesville, Ocala and Palm Beach Gardens, FL; Williamsburg, VA; Charlotte, NC; and Carmel, IN.

The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in early February citing an inability to sell the chain as an ongoing concern. It struggled due to competition, high debts and substandard real estate, officials said.

The newly constituted Earth Fare plans to open the Roanoke location in the coming months. Store Manager Randy Wade will return as well.

Content for this article was published by Winsight, a leading B2B information services company focused on the food and beverage industry, providing insight and market intelligence to business leaders in every channel consumers buy food and beverage – convenience stores, grocery retailing, restaurants and noncommercial foodservice – through media, events, data products, advisory services, and trade shows. It was authored by Jon Springer on Monday, March 30, 2020.
According to a recent press release, one of the traditions Owners John and Faye Cooper established following the re-opening of the Original Mast Store in Valle Crucis, NC was giving back to the community. Over the years, that tradition has grown to include organizations and causes in three major categories – human needs, arts and education, and conservation across all our home communities. That tradition is continuing, but this year, they are asking for the help of their patrons. That's where Gift Cards for Good comes in.

Agencies that help with putting food on the table – the local food security partners – will need help now more than ever. To this end, Mast General Store is launching the Gift Cards for Good program. Starting March 26, 20% of a Mast General Store gift card purchase will be donated to our food bank partners. You can designate your favorite partner, or Mast General Store will divide the amount equally among them.

Here's a list of the food security partners in each Mast General Store community:

Hunger & Health Coalition – Valle Crucis and Boone
MANNA FoodBank – Waynesville, Hendersonville, and Asheville
Loaves & Fishes – Greenville
Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee – Knoxville
Harvest Hope – Columbia
Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina - Winston-Salem
Feeding Southwest Virginia – Roanoke

While Mast General Store hasn't yet to open in Roanoke, – that eagerly anticipated date originally set for early April has been delayed - the company feels it's important to support our new community as well. When ordering, please note which food bank you wish to support in the Order Notes field at checkout.

The Mast Store is thankful for your support and patronage over the years. Your choice to shop with the Mast General Store enables the company to support many groups and causes in their local communities. In these extraordinary times, they are choosing to direct funds to food security partners where they can make the most impact.

Gift cards purchased as a part of this program can be used almost immediately for online orders that will be shipped directly to your home or to stores for curbside pickup (where available). They can also be given as gifts or saved for use in the future. Your purchase of shelter-in-place items - puzzles, toys, books, food, etc. - can go further by buying an electronic gift card (which will donate to a food bank) and then using the gift card to purchase your items. It's win-win!

The Mast General Store family is grateful for your help to continue a tradition of giving. To quote Dolly Parton, “You’ll never do a whole lot unless you’re brave enough to try.” Right now, everyone is doing a whole lot, and we may be asked to do even more to keep each other safe and healthy. Together, we’ll emerge stronger and more compassionate at this event’s end.

Thank you for your support of Gift Cards for Good. Click here for more information.
Virginia Western Educational Foundation presents
2020 Distinguished Alumni Award to
Roanoke President & CEO Tony Pearman
The Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation recognizes Tony Pearman (’10), President and CEO of Access Advertising and Public Relations , with its 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award.   Pearman first attended Virginia Western in 1998, later returning for additional coursework in 2008 and 2010. 

Virginia Western’s Distinguished Alumni Award was established in 2006 by the Virginia Western Alumni Association and recognizes Virginia Western Community College alumni and former students who have attained extraordinary distinction in their professional field or life. The award serves to honor all the men and women whose attendance at Virginia Western helped them achieve their educational and professional goals, allowing them to better serve their communities.

Pearman and colleague Todd Marcum formed Access Advertising & Public Relations in 1996. Since its founding, the agency has grown to serve clients throughout the Eastern United States and around the globe, and boasts more than 450 design and public relations awards for excellence. Headquartered in Roanoke, VA, with an office in Richmond, Access specializes in regional and national industry relationships that include focused work in healthcare, higher education and business-to-business. Among its clients are HCA Virginia, Virginia Tech, Marshall University, TMEIC, Optical Cable Corp., American General Life & Accident Insurance Co. and Medeco High Security Locks.

Access has been recognized with national Healthcare Advertising Awards, Cannonballs from The Richmond Show, Telly Awards, hundreds of local, regional and national ADDY Awards, CASE awards for work in higher education and Summit Awards from the Public Relations Society of America.

As a leading industry advocate for creative idea generation and impact, Pearman has served as chair of the National ADDY Committee, is a member of the national AAF Board of Directors, and is the recipient of the AAF Silver Medal for lifetime contributions to the advertising industry. Pearman has received both the Advertising Person of the Year award and the American Advertising Federation Silver Medal.

“Tony’s story illustrates the best outcomes of community college opportunity. His accomplishments and service have impacted so many lives – and his dedication to the success of our students is tremendous. We are honored and proud to recognize him as a Distinguished Alumni,” said Dr. Robert H. Sandel, president of Virginia Western Community College.

Through philanthropic and pro bono work that supports the community it serves, Access has been recognized for its impact in child abuse prevention with the Roanoke City Police Department, the YMCA of Virginia’s Blue Ridge, the Roanoke Valley Preservation Foundation, Habitat for Humanity and others. In 2006, Access became the first advertising and PR firm to be recognized with a Perry F. Kendig Award for its support of the arts.
“Virginia Western has been a trusted source of learning for myself, and for many members of my firm, for more than 20 years by not only providing ongoing continuing education but also producing some of Access’ and this region’s most talented marketers,” said Pearman. “As one of our strongest client relationships, Access has been proud to give back to Virginia Western by working to support the vital resources they provide for our community.”

Pearman continues to support Virginia Western student success and achievement through the Pearman Annual Scholarship, which provides assistance for tuition, books and other related expenses to second-year students enrolled in the College’s Visual Design Program on a full- or part-time basis. Heavy emphasis in the award process is placed on the merit of the student’s portfolio, which receives evaluation by Virginia Western faculty. Pearman has also dedicated focus and energy to higher education as an advertising and design adjunct faculty member at Virginia Tech.

Prior Distinguished Alumni honorees: 
2019 – Deborah L. Petrine (’76)
2018 – Elizabeth Testerman (’06)
2017 – Dr. Carol Swain (’78)
2016 – Dr. Mary Loritsch (’74) and Chief Michael Crawley
2015 – Debbie Yancey (’97)
2014 - Chief Craig S. Harris (’00) and J. David Wine (’73)
2013 - Cheryl Cunningham (’86)
2012 - Anne Hogan (’76)
2011 - Carolyn Webster (’81)
2010 - Russell H. Ellis (’80)
2009 - Shirl D. Lamanca (’75) and Dennis R. Cronk (’72)
2008 - Donna L. Mitchell (’81)
2007 - Dr. Kent A. Murphy and Charlotte C. Tyson (’84)
2006 - John B. Williamson III (’75)

For more information on the Virginia Western Alumni Association, visit virginiawestern.edu/alumni or contact Philanthropy Director Amanda Mansfield at amansfield@virginiawestern.edu or (540) 857-6962.
You've most likely been asked to complete a variety of surveys during this unsettling time. This survey is the only one designed specifically for all companies in the Roanoke Region and implemented only from the Alleghany Highlands to Roanoke Valley to Franklin County. Please take just a few minutes to complete because the information collected will help design and implement assistance for our region.
Restaurant Lovers Takeout Week
March 30 - April 5
Support Virginia’s Blue Ridge local restaurants, wineries and breweries during Virginia is for Lovers Takeout Week

COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on Virginia's restaurant industry, with dining rooms across the Commonwealth forced to close in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.
In order to support restaurants offering takeout, curbside pick-up, and no-contact delivery in communities across the Commonwealth, Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) declared this week as Virginia is for Restaurant Lovers Takeout Week.

Local restaurants in Virginia’s Blue Ridge are asking for your help! Join us for Virginia is for Restaurant Lovers Takeout Week and enjoy a tasty meal to help our local restaurant communities. #VirginiaEatsLocal
New Fralin Biomedical Research Institute faculty member studies how junk food induces dopamine release in the brain

Why is eating unhealthy food such a hard habit to break? Alexandra DiFeliceantonio, a new faculty member at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, studies how modern high-fat, high-carb foods might be tricking the brain into intensifying reward and pleasure signals.
Sugary doughnuts, ice cream, potato chips – what makes these junk foods so satisfying?

Foodies might respond by describing a snack’s flavorful ingredients and texture while marketers might nod to the effects of deliberate packaging and punchy ad campaigns.

But for neuroscientists such as Alexandra DiFeliceantonio, the reason why people choose junk food may go beyond their eyes, ears, and taste buds altogether.

DiFeliceantonio, a new assistant professor in the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC’s Center for Transformative Research on Health Behaviors, studies how the brain integrates peripheral signals to guide food selection and eating behaviors.

Using multimodal brain imaging and metabolic measures, her laboratory in Roanoke is studying food motivation to ask new questions about substance abuse.

“Commonly abused drugs all increase dopamine release in the striatum, a brain region that we’re learning is also activated when people ingest high-fat, high-carb foods,” said DiFeliceantonio, who is also a faculty member in Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in the department of human nutrition, foods, and exercise.

Her previous studies show that people value foods that combine high levels of fats and carbs more than high-fat-only or high-carb-only foods on their own.

“Fat and sugar are rarely available together in all-natural foods, like fruits, grains, and vegetables. But modern, processed foods that combine high fat and sugar are causing a supra-additive effect by activating two different signaling pathways.”

Brain scan studies back up this assumption. Her  research shows  that when people ingest high-fat, high-carb foods, dopamine is released in their brain’s striatum twice: once while it’s being eaten, and again 30 minutes later as it’s digested.

“We want to know more about these post-ingestive physiological signals and how they might be influencing food associations to make that food seem even more appealing next time.”

While completing a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Sweet Briar College, she became interested in reward learning and motivation. This led her to pursue a master’s degree and doctorate in biopsychology from the University of Michigan, where she studied how opioids alter motivation. During her postdoctoral training at Yale University and the Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research in Germany, she examined the role of post-ingestive dopamine signaling in eating behavior and food choices.

“Suboptimal diets are a leading cause of preventable death in the U.S.,” said DiFeliceantonio.

“If we can understand the physiology underlying food motivation, we can build on food industry regulations and hopefully improve human health.”

Her laboratory at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute in Roanoke, Virginia is anticipated to begin recruiting research participants from the community later this spring.

COVID-19: Virginia's Blue Ridge Tourism Impact Survey
As the COVID-19 crisis continues to evolve on an hour-by-hour pace, the Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge team is focused on curating and sharing resources to help industry partners navigate the challenges brought about by the pandemic. We will continue to pass along guidance and information from trusted sources as we discover it.

In an effort to gauge and support our regional tourism industry, Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge needs to better understand how COVID-19 is impacting your business or service. We have developed a survey in order to track the impact and may adjust a follow-up survey for additional data. 

Please complete the survey here:
TRAVEL ADVISORY: Roanoke Blacksburg Regional Airport STATEMENT REGARDING operations impacted by

Since late January, the Roanoke Regional Airport Commission (RRAC) has intensely monitored the Coronavirus outbreak around the world, classified as a pandemic, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

This situation remains fluid, and the RRAC has a communication network established with our important federal, state and local partners including Roanoke City Health Department, Virginia Department of Health, Center for Disease Control (CDC), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA), and other related organizations.

Due to the significant decrease in passenger traffic, the airlines serving the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport (ROA) have dramatically reduced the current air service. Our legacy carriers, American, Delta and United, are often cancelling flights the day before or day of departure. If you must travel, please contact your carrier directly before heading to the airport. We appreciate your understanding during this unique time in history.

If you must fly know that the Airport Commission has been vigilant and proactive in our approach to maintain a healthy environment for all travelers, stakeholders, and staff. Our primary goal is to prevent transmission through disinfection of facilities, raising awareness of public health measures, and reducing person-to-person transmission.

With schools and public events being cancelled, colleges and universities warning students about spring break travel, and general public concern, we anticipate air travel to be significantly affected throughout the next several months.
At this time, the Roanoke Regional Airport Commission and Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport (ROA) will remain operational.

We will continue to closely monitor the situation and provide additional information when it becomes available.

The Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport is the primary airport for Virginia’s Blue Ridge and the New River Valley. ROA serves over 710,000 passengers per year via 4 airlines (American Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, and Allegiant Air) with nonstop service to 6 hub cities (Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, New York LaGuardia, Philadelphia, and Washington Dulles) as well as weekly flights to Orlando Sanford International Airport and St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport.

To learn more, please visit www.flyroa.com .  

COVID-19 Resources for Businesses and Employees

COVID-19 means it isn’t business as usual in the Roanoke Region. The Featured BizLink above can connect you with the resources available to businesses and employees. Never has it been more important to coordinate the efforts of our local governments and other key agencies to assist our businesses, owners, and citizens.

Please use this resource to learn more about the availability of Business Resources (national resources and programs), Regional Resources and Employee Resources.

Working as a Team - Remotely

In 2020, remote working (telework, telecommute, flexible work and other catchy terms) is a highly-demanded benefit and often an expectation as newer generations enter the workforce. According to a study by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics, there has been a 44 percent growth in remote work over the last five years. With the current awareness for health and safety due to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) spread, many more workers have found themselves with the opportunity to work from their home.

But …how do you work together as a team – remotely? Here’s how our team is navigating these new (temporary) waters.

Our team occupies the seventh floor of the Roanoke Higher Education Center (we call ourselves Team Roanoke). We work together on a daily basis - having had the ability to get to know each other in person – and are in tune with what gifts we offer our co-workers and Virginia Tech. Beginning in mid-March, we were allowed to work from home for the COVID-19 duration as part of Virginia Tech’s effort to reduce the potential spread of the pandemic.

Team Roanoke had our usual Monday meeting in person at 12:30 on March 16 (a weekly event we fondly refer to as Lunch Bunch) and approached this work-from-home nuance the same way we approach each opportunity: with a plan. The guidelines were given, we discussed what each team member would be focusing on, we set a daily check-in Zoom meeting, expectations were outlined and inventory was taken for all equipment to be used at home.

We wrapped up our meeting with a realization that this opportunity - although not ideal in circumstance - is a gift of time. Time we spent preparing to come to work, commuting, in meetings and more, is now available for us to use on research, professional development, catch-up and the creation of new ideas. Our team felt inspired and empowered – and still very much a team.

On our first full day of remote working, we came together for our Zoom meeting and it was just like Lunch Bunch – with the addition of one puppy, a few cats and some background noise provided by children. We handled business, gave updates, addressed a few minor concerns and carried on with business as usual - well, as “usual” as possible, anyway.

Our time as Remote Team Roanoke has just begun, but we’re traversing this new territory with clearly defined expectations, solid leadership, open (and frequent!) communication, an air of independence and comfy clothes – from our homes.

As our country moves through this health emergency into recovery, we are able to uncover a new strength of our team – the ability to work together, separately.

Business Bits is brought to you by Leigh Anne Stover ( lstover@vt.edu ), Virginia Tech Marketing & Program Coordinator, Virginia Tech Roanoke Center - (540) 767-6101
Don't forget...BizRoanoke is on RVTV Channel 3!

 BizRoanoke is a monthly television program highlighting economic activity and programs within the City of Roanoke.

Tune into RVTV Channel 3 to learn more, access it on our website at 
www.BizRoanoke.com  or follow this link to our most recent show: 

The City of Roanoke Department of Economic Development is on Facebook and Instagram ! Please "like" or "follow" us today!
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City Owned Available Property
The City of Roanoke has a variety of properties available for acquisition, including existing buildings (as available) and buildable sites. Proposals for these properties must be approved by Council and must be submitted to the City of Roanoke Department of Economic Development. 

For more information on available properties and the proposal process, please visit the links below: