Industrial park gets first resident

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By John Barnhart

The New London Business and Technology Center, located on U. S. 460, is getting its first resident.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held last week for the Innovative Wireless Technologies new facility. The $5.6 million project is expected to create 50 new high tech jobs in the area over the next several years. According to Deputy Secretary of Trade David Smith, the high tech company could have gone to North Carolina or Pennsylvania.

Bedford County got a $150,000 incentive award from the state for attracting the company here. Innovative Technologies, in turn, received $100,000 from the Tobacco Commission, for creating jobs.

Eric Hansen, one of the company's two co-founders, said the company will build two 20,000 square foot buildings in the first phase of construction and two more in the second phase. The 50 new jobs he expects to create here will be for electronic and software engineers. This will be a research and development facility with a college campus setting.

Hansen and another engineer were working for Ericcson in Lynchburg when they started Innovative Wireless 10 years ago. The men started it in their garages and took out second mortgages on their houses to get it going. Now, along with an office in Forest, they have offices in Reading, Pa., the Washington D. C. area and Boston, Mass. The company makes wireless sensor networks and has contracts with the United States Department of Defense, Homeland Security and large power companies.

?IWT is pleased to announce our continued expansion and success in Virginia,? said Hansen. ?Our new high-tech campus will support our growth needs for the future. I want to thank our local, state and federal supporters for their assistance as we look forward to a bright future in the Commonwealth.?

Hanson said the company looked at a number of places but chose Bedford County. He said the county has worked well with officials and the New London location will provide an atmosphere that will be attractive to the creative technical people that the company wants to hire.

The Bedford area is attractive to these people.

"We pay about a fourth in taxes than we paid in New York," commented Cara Stephens, an electrical engineer with a master's degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, who moved here, along with her husband, 18 months ago.

Another reason that she and her husband were attracted to this area is the quality of life here.

"It's a good place to raise children," she said. "I'm not going back."

Innovative Wireless is exactly the type of company that Sue Montgomery, the county's economic development hoped to attract with the New London Center. It was designed to have a park-like layout, with lots of trees and high-speed broadband Internet access.

The company expects to move into its new facility next year.

The Virginia Department of Business Assistance will provide training and training assistance through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.

?We are very happy that IWT is doing so well and is expanding so rapidly,? said Chuck Neudorfer, chairman of the Bedford County Board of Supervisors. ?We are especially pleased that the company recognized Bedford?s favorable business climate and chose to be the first corporate tenant of our New London Business and Technology Center. IWT is the kind of company that every locality is delighted to welcome.?