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A $27 million package of proposals to expand modeling and simulation activity in Hampton Roads will be in the state budget that Gov. Mark R. Warner presents to the Virginia General Assembly next week.

The governor made the announcement Friday, Dec. 9, at Old Dominion University's Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC) in Suffolk. He presented a slate of economic-development programs and said, "I believe today will be seen as a red-letter day as we as a region and a commonwealth work to make Hampton Roads a national hub for companies that design video games, companies exploring the latest health technologies, our homeland security industry and perhaps industries we can't even imagine today."

ODU President Roseann Runte, who also spoke at the announcement ceremony, noted afterward that VMASC is a catalyst for $500 million per year in regional economic activity. "We welcome these budget proposals of the governor that will boost VMASC and the rest of our modeling, simulation and visualization network in Hampton Roads," she said.

Warner did not offer specifics, but he said the $27 million would be used, among other things, to:
· Expand the research capability and graduate programs at VMASC.
· Expand the medical modeling and simulation partnership between Eastern Virginia Medical School and VMASC.
· Continue efforts to establish the new Emergency Management Training, Analysis and Simulation Center (EMTASC), which is headquartered currently at the VMASC facility. The governor created EMTASC last summer to focus on homeland security and emergency preparedness planning.

"When I launched VIMSIM, the Virginia Modeling and Simulation Initiative, last spring, I said I believed that modeling and simulation had the potential to dramatically transform this region's economy by attracting more high-tech, high-wage jobs," Warner said. "These announcements today help build momentum as we move together toward that goal."

The governor and Runte also announced a contract with Verizon to extend the National LambdaRail advanced computer network into Hampton Roads. (See separate story.)

The governor's final announcement was the signing of a memorandum of agreement by the city of Suffolk, the State Board for Community Colleges and the commonwealth of Virginia under which 519 acres on the Portsmouth campus of Tidewater Community College will ultimately be transferred to a real estate foundation that could bring about high-technology economic development on the site.

Warner said the city of Suffolk has agreed to purchase an initial segment of 57 acres and dedicate it for use in modeling and simulation and other important economic development projects, including defense and research activities.

On Dec. 6, Warner announced a major investment that could amount to more than $550 million for research and development at Virginia colleges and universities. The $27 million for modeling and simulation in Hampton Roads would be part of those funds. The money is included in the governor's final two-year state budget that he will propose to the legislature's money committees on Dec. 16. Warner leaves office Jan. 14, and it will fall to lawmakers to push the proposal through the General Assembly during its 60-day session that begins Jan. 11.

This article was posted on: December 9, 2005

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