Donation to VTC research institute aims to bring economic growth to Roanoke Valley

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) -- On Thursday, Virginia Tech Carilion received a record $50 million donation to its research institute.

"Together we can do this. So let's get started," donor, Heywood Fralin said as the crowd applauded.

It was standing room only outside Virginia Tech Carilion during Thursday's event. Inside the tent, Virginia Tech's president and vice president, the Roanoke mayor, representatives of VTC, and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam spoke about the impact the donation could have on the school, in the field of medicine, and in the Roanoke Valley.

The center will be named the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute after its donors Heywood and Cynthia Fralin, and the Horace G. Fralin Charitable Trust.

"Cynthia and I individually and the charitable trust have bought into the vision that this growing academic health center, fueled by world class research, is the future of this region," Fralin said.

Northam said Roanoke's success is part of the Commonwealth's success.

"We want Virginia to be the No. 1 state in this great country of ours in which to do business," he said.

He added that it starts with the people who live and work here.

"Talent attracts other talent," Northam said.

In next few years, the number of VTC campus employees will increase from just under 2,000 to 5,000, which Fralin said is vital to the economic growth of the Roanoke Valley.

"I can't think of another operation or project that would benefit all the citizens of the Roanoke Valley more so than this," Fralin said. "In fact I don't think the community realizes just how much of an impact it's going to have."

Some of the impact includes significant population growth, income increases, and infrastructure improvement, including a larger airport.

The Fralin Biomedical Research Institute is scheduled to be finished in the spring of 2020.