The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) was selected as the host site for the Governor’s First Agriculture & Industrial Biotechnology Conference due to its research focused on agricultural biotechnology, conference center capabilities, and a wide range of technology solutions for conference attendees and presenters. IALR positively impacts the local and regional economy through its programs and conference center capabilities. Almost 200 people attended the full-day conference on September 9, 2015. This included attendees from Illinois, Connecticut, North Carolina, Maryland, and throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. Collectively, attendees traveled over 15,000 miles (one-way) to attend the conference. According to research conducted by the Virginia Tourism Corporation (TNS TravelsAmerica, FY 2014), 60% of individuals traveling to Virginia for business purposes (more than 50 miles) spend up to $500 during their business trips. The majority of in-state traveler spending is spent on lodging, gasoline, and food/beverage/dining. Approximately 120 conference attendees traveled more than 50 miles to Danville, VA.

Two-hundred plated meals, continental breakfast, and break service resulted in the regional purchase of 120 pounds of chicken and more than 400 pounds of produce. Twenty-one staff (IALR and Sodexo) contributed more than 140 hours to the planning and setup for the conference. IALR partners with Sodexo to suit a wide audience of needs.

“Sodexo’s leading innovations, resources, and talent creates a powerful combination in our ability to make a meaningful economic impact in our region,” said Leslie Dobbins, IALR Conference Center Manager.

Technology provided by IALR included a complete livestream of the conference, live tweeting on multiple large interactive screens, and the use of multiple video walls. 

IALR’s Conference Center is an instrumental part of IALR’s mission to drive economic development to Southern Virginia.