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ARC Announces 2008 Jerry W. Davis Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence

November 2008


WASHINGTON, November 17, 2008—The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has announced the winner of the 2008 Jerry W. Davis Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence. The Blue Ridge Crossroads Economic Development Authority (BRCEDA) in Galax, Virginia, and its four principals—Oliver McBride, Neal Satterwhite, Dallas Garrett, and Gary Larrowe—were recognized for innovative, creative, and visionary approaches to entrepreneurial development in the Appalachian Region. The authority also received a cash award of $10,000.

The BRCEDA was established in 2006 through a cooperative agreement between the Carroll County Board of Supervisors and the Carroll County Industrial Development Authority. It was championed by Gary Larrowe, Carroll County administrator, as a solution to the devastating job losses experienced in the region during the previous decade. In its first 12 months, it had assisted 112 companies, providing 19 of those companies with over $4 million in capital investment, and helped create 95 new jobs in the community.

The key to the success of the authority has been the unique teamwork it established among community leaders, which has drawn over 25 different funding partners together, including the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Mt. Rogers Planning District Commission, the development bank Virginia Community Capital, and the nonprofit People Incorporated of Southwest Virginia.

Each of the four recognized principals in the award has a distinguished record in business development and community service.

Neal Satterwhite, BRCEDA director, has over 25 years of experience as the owner of a high-tech business in addition to 10 years of experience in banking and several years in teaching. He has been actively involved in community development in Grayson County, Virginia, and is a member of Independence, Virginia's architectural review board.

Oliver McBride, executive director of the Crossroads Institute and Southwest Regional Enterprise Center, joined its economic development team after 18 years as superintendent of schools in Carroll County, Virginia. He is currently the chairman of the board of directors for the Council for Rural Virginia as well as a member of the board of trustees for the Center for Rural Virginia. He has been involved in the Crossroads Institute since its inception and served on its board of directors before becoming its executive director.

Gary Larrowe is the county administrator of Carroll County, Virginia, and serves as its chief economic development officer. Previously he was with Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for 18 years as a faculty member and held the positions of agricultural extension agent and extension specialist in community initiatives. He is a Kellogg Fellow in international community development and has worked in more than 15 Latin American countries on community development projects.

Dallas Garrett, director of the Crossroads Small Business Development Center, has over 40 years of business development experience in a diverse range of communities. He has been a department head, dean, and vice president in charge of business development programs in community colleges in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Florida, and North Carolina. He also has substantial private-sector background, having owned and operated several private businesses.

ARC Federal Co-Chair Anne B. Pope praised Davis' legacy and the selection of the BRCEDA. "Jerry Davis was an inspiration and role model for budding entrepreneurs in Alabama and Appalachia, and throughout the nation," she said. "This award recognizes Jerry's leadership and unique contributions to the economic development of the Appalachian Region and encourages others to follow his example. The Blue Ridge Crossroads Economic Development Authority has a track record of promoting the entrepreneurial values that Jerry championed. It is an excellent choice for this award, and we are pleased to support its continuing work in promoting emergent businesses and the jobs that go with them."

The University of North Alabama and the Jerry W. Davis Award Committee, in partnership with ARC, developed the award to recognize outstanding accomplishment in entrepreneurial development. Davis led the development of the Shoals Entrepreneurial Center (SEC), a mixed-used business incubator located in Florence, Alabama, from one facility to five facilities on four campuses. The SEC has fostered the creation of over 100 businesses and 1,200 jobs. Approximately 91 percent of the companies started at the SEC since it opened in 1992 are still in business.

Davis also developed and promoted youth entrepreneurial education programs, started a successful culinary incubation center, and actively participated in many other entrepreneurial development activities in the Shoals area. He served as mentor to other incubator managers, was a founding member of the Alabama Business Incubation Network, participated in the Tennessee Valley Authority Incubator Managers Association, and was active in ARC entrepreneurial development initiatives.

Information about applying for the Jerry W. Davis Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence is available on the University of North Alabama Web site at