BUENA VISTA, Va. (WDBJ) – A ribbon cutting in Buena Vista was a milestone for a new business there and a preview of future attractions for the business incubator where it started.
Buena Vista’s Mundet-Hermetite factory printed paper products for the tobacco industry. It closed in 2015 after more than 50 years in business. The Advancement Foundation purchased the building in September, and now it has a new mission as the Virginia Innovation Collective.
It was fitting that the first official ribbon cutting at the Repurposed Factory was for EarthMagic Recycling.
The inspiration Kathy Wirtanen found in a YouTube video is now a business, diverting glass bottles from the landfill and turning them into colorful sand.
“The glass recycling rate in the United States is 35% or lower, and in Virginia it’s 15%,” Wirtanen said in an interview. “So I really hope this will be a step to help us increase our glass recycling rates.”
Natural Bridge State Park manager Jim Jones is one of its first customers, with plans to use the product for a new disc golf course now under development.
“As a conservation agency, that’s exactly what we want to be,” Jones told WDBJ7. “And so this material, sand, glass, keeping it out of the landfill and being able to use it in disc golf course mats is going to be really special.”
EarthMagic Recycling is just one of several tenants in the Virginia Innovation Collective, and several more are on the way.
The planned renovations promise a multi-use building that will be a resource for entrepreneurs and the greater community.
Annette Patterson is President of the Advancement Foundation.
“We really want it to be a living, breathing campus and be able to showcase these products that are coming out of here,” she said. “And the talent we’re finding in every corner of this region is incredible.”
With other businesses built around drones, mushrooms and egg incubators, Patterson is confident the Virginia Innovation Collective will have many more ribbon cuttings to come.
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