The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) was founded in Danville, Va., in 2000 as a political subdivision of the Commonwealth. It was funded by federal, state and local sources, as well as the tobacco settlement funds disbursed by the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission. Established to diversify, transform and grow the economy of Southern Virginia, IALR engages the resources of Virginia Tech, Danville Community College, Averett University and other partners.
IALR’s current campus, located in the Cyber Park owned by the Danville-Pittsylvania County Regional Industrial Facility Authority, began with the 2002 groundbreaking of the 90,000-square-foot main building. The building opened in 2004 and became fully operational in 2005. The Charles R. Hawkins Building opened in 2008, and the Sustainable Energy and Technology Center (SENTEC) opened in 2012—both located adjacent to the main building.
Since its inception, IALR has served as a site for the development of the technology, partnerships and trained workforce necessary for new economic enterprises to flourish. The Advanced Learning division and workforce development program of IALR have helped generate a skilled workforce through the use of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education initiatives and collaborations with such groups as the Gene Haas Center for Integrated Machining, Dan River Region Collaborative and others.
IALR has served as a resource and hub for network-related enterprises at all levels of education and in activities through its partnership with the Southern Piedmont Technology Council and CodeVA. New business site selections and existing company expansions have been supported by IALR’s Economic Development division in partnership with the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance and regional economic developers.
As a regional economic and community development effort, IALR’s Applied Research division has housed and encouraged scientific research to aid transformative product development and commercialization opportunities.
The Institute Conference Center has hosted thousands of guests annually for a vast array of events and meetings supported by state-of-the-art technology, meeting spaces, staff and on-site catering.
In May 2018, IALR’s Board of Trustees voted to add a new, fifth division to its structure for the first time since its origination. The Advanced Manufacturing division began operating July 1, 2018, and demonstrates the region’s recognition of the transformative influence of the industrial sector. It is housed in the Charles R. Hawkins Building where IALR’s renowned Gene Haas Center for Integrated Machining resides. IALR’s new focus on advanced manufacturing is evident with the advent of two new buildings to complete its campus in the future, the Hawkins Expansion (for near-term, temporary space needs of manufacturers) and the Center for Manufacturing Advancement.