Virginia Wins Another Defense Company's Corporate Headquarters

Tuesday, 1 May 2012 15:02 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Yesterday, DRS Technologies announced it would relocate its corporate headquarters from New Jersey to Arlington County, Va. The company will expand its Virginia presence to more than 100 employees, bringing a capital investment in excess of $10 million to the region...

Yesterday, DRS Technologies announced it would relocate its corporate headquarters from New Jersey to Arlington County, Va. The company will expand its Virginia presence to more than 100 employees, bringing a capital investment in excess of $10 million to the region.

The defense technology leader is a subsidiary of Italian conglomerate Finmeccanica S.p.A., a top ten global defense and aerospace leader. DRS Technologies develops a wide range of mission-critical systems for homeland security and military needs.

The Governor met with company officials at the Farnborough International Air Show in summer 2010.

Virginia was chosen for the company’s new headquarters location due to its proximity to key customers in the D.C. area, as well as the company’s positive experience with Virginia’s pro-business regulatory environment and tech-savvy workforce. Virginia has the highest concentration of high-tech workers according to Cyberstates 2011.

To learn why major defense companies such as DRS Technologies, Northrop Grumman, ITT Exelis and ATK have all recently selected the Commonwealth for their headquarters location, click here.

Engility Corp. Establishes Global Headquarters in Virginia

Friday, 27 April 2012 15:30 by Info@YesVirginia.org
L-3 Communications spin-off Engility Corp. announced yesterday that it would establish its new corporate headquarters in Fairfax County, Va. The project, a positive result of the Governor’s recent marketing mission to New York and Canada, will bring 50 new jobs and a $6.5 million investment to Northern Virginia...

L-3 Communications spin-off Engility Corp. announced yesterday that it would establish its new corporate headquarters in Fairfax County, Va. The project, a positive result of the Governor’s recent marketing mission to New York and Canada, will bring 50 new jobs and a $6.5 million investment to Northern Virginia.

With more than $2 billion in sales and 9,200 employees worldwide, Engility Corp. is a leading professional services firm providing systems engineering and technical assistance support services to numerous government agencies, including the Department of Defense. Virginia’s proximity to the company’s key markets and customers was a deciding factor for this headquarters location.

L-3 Communications’ existing presence in the Commonwealth and positive experience with Virginia’s highly-skilled workforce and pro-business tax structure led Engility to choose Virginia over its competition in Maryland.

As part of the professional services industry, Engility’s new headquarters location builds upon the success Virginia has shown in the sector. Professional services was the Commonwealth’s top sector for job creation in 2011, announcing 12,769 new jobs. With human capital as the major input, the sector’s 108 percent growth over the last year illustrates the driving force of Virginia’s world-class workforce.

To learn more why companies continue to select the Commonwealth for their headquarters locations, click here.

Bristol, Virginia’s NextGen Broadband Network Recognized in National Study

Wednesday, 25 April 2012 16:10 by Info@YesVirginia.org
New industry study Broadband at the Speed of Light details how three communities, including Bristol, Va., took matters into their own hands to develop some of the top broadband networks in the country...

New industry study Broadband at the Speed of Light details how three communities, including Bristol, Va., took matters into their own hands to develop some of the top broadband networks in the country.

Published by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) and the Benton Foundation, the study details a growing trend — rather than relying on the slower pace of private sector telecommunications expansion, community leaders are successfully designing and implementing their own public broadband networks.

Bristol is touted as one of the first municipalities in the nation to build a citywide Fiber-To-The-Home (FTTH) network that offers telephone, cable television and Internet broadband access. The local power utility, Bristol Virginia Utilities, launched its fiber optic network in 2003 under the name OptiNet.

Study author Christopher Mitchell noted that Bristol’s residents have “faster and lower cost access to the Internet than anyone in San Francisco, Seattle or any other major city.”

With a take rate above 70 percent, OptiNet has since expanded outside of Bristol to nearby businesses and industrial parks, helping to create hundreds of jobs for Virginians. Named the 2009 Community Broadband Fiber Network of the Year by the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisers, the network has also been praised in The Economist and in the FCC’s National Broadband Plan for America.

OptiNet is not the only technology investment Southern Virginia has seen. Several years ago the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative established an 800 mile open-access, fiber-optic broadband network, attracting Gigaparks and technology companies to the former tobacco region.

High-speed broadband infrastructure has become an increasingly important component to business expansion decisions, allowing Virginia to remain competitive on a global level. The expansions of companies such as Microsoft, Northrop Grumman, CGI and Alpha Natural Resources in the region are due in part to the availability of a high-speed network.

To learn more about Virginia’s strength as a technology leader and why companies continue to locate in the Top State for Business, click here.

Healthcare Leader McKesson Corp. Expands Footprint in the Commonwealth

Friday, 20 April 2012 16:40 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Earlier this week, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling joined McKesson officials to celebrate the grand opening of the company’s new medical distribution center in Caroline County. Initially announced in August 2010, the new, state-of-the-art distribution center will allow McKesson to better serve its domestic and international customers, bringing 150 new jobs and a $50 million investment to Virginia.

Ranked 15th on the Fortune 500, McKesson is the largest pharmaceutical wholesaler in North America, distributing one-third of all medicines used each day. McKesson’s selection of Virginia over Maryland and Pennsylvania confirms the Commonwealth’s strong advantages for companies vested in global logistics.

The new distribution center will enhance McKesson’s total supply chain efficiency as well as extend the company’s footprint in Virginia. Building off the McKesson Medical Surgical corporate office in Richmond, this new distribution center will bring the company’s employee base in Virginia to more than 600.

Virginia offers several advantages for distribution centers, including easy rail access, six major highways, one of the largest container ports on the East Coast, and the third largest state-maintained transportation network in the country.

To learn more about why the nation’s leading distributors are locating in Virginia, click here.

American Legislative Exchange Council Gives Virginia a Top 3 Ranking For Economic Outlook

Friday, 13 April 2012 13:23 by Info@YesVirginia.org
In its fifth edition of Rich States, Poor States the American Legislative Exchange Council rated Virginia in the top three for its 2012 Economic Outlook Ranking...

In its fifth edition of Rich States, Poor States the American Legislative Exchange Council rated Virginia in the top three for its 2012 Economic Outlook Ranking. This forward-looking ranking comprises 15 equally weighted state policy variables, including personal and corporate tax rates, as well as worker’s compensation costs, right-to-work status and even the quality of the state legislature.

As the highest ranked state in the region, Virginia definitively outshined its competition. With a corporate tax rate of six percent that remains unchanged since 1972, a right-to-work regulatory environment, and an unemployment tax burden that is 32 percent lower than the national average, it is easy to see why this is the second consecutive year the Commonwealth has made the top three in this study.

Virginia’s pro-growth economic policies offer companies long-term incentives to invest in the Commonwealth. For example, Virginia was able to successfully compete against nearby Maryland on a number of recent headquarters relocation announcements, including Northrop Grumman, ITT Exelis, Bechtel Corp. (divisional headquarters), Acentia and Alpha Natural Resources.

To learn why Virginia is consistently ranked America’s Top State for Business click here.

31 Virginia Professors Make The Princeton Review’s Best 300 Professors List

Thursday, 5 April 2012 14:40 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia professors represented more than 10% of The Princeton’s Reviews inaugural Best 300 Professors list. Teaming up with RateMyProfessors.com, the organizations reviewed data on more than 42,000 professors to create their first ranking of America’s top undergraduate professors...

Virginia professors represented more than 10% of The Princeton Review's inaugural Best 300 Professors list. Teaming up with RateMyProfessors.com, the organizations reviewed data on more than 42,000 professors to create their first ranking of America’s top undergraduate professors.

The Best 300 Professors list includes professors from five Virginia schools:  University of Mary Washington, James Madison University, Sweet Briar College, University of Richmond and the College of William & Mary. A broad range of departments was represented, including computer science, mathematics, economics, chemistry, biology, accounting, political science, english and psychology, among others.

The ranking was based on survey data from college students, using both quantitative and qualitative statistics to evaluate factors such as the student’s overall experience in the classroom, the professor’s teaching ability and the professor’s accessibility.

Virginia’s strong performance on The Best 300 Professors list is yet another validation of the Commonwealth’s excellent higher education system. Virginia’s colleges and universities have achieved national recognition on a number of the prestigious U.S. News and World Report college rankings.

Last year, Virginia’s colleges and universities awarded 133,603 degrees ranging from associate through doctorate levels. With more than 500,000 students currently enrolled in more than 100 in-state institutions, Virginia’s strong pipeline of skilled workers is ready to meet the needs of businesses expanding across the Commonwealth. 

To learn more about Virginia’s outstanding education system and workforce training programs, click here.

Richmond, Virginia Receives a Top 3 Ranking on Gallup’s Job Creation Index

Tuesday, 3 April 2012 13:26 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Richmond, Va., was recently ranked No. 3 on Gallup’s Job Creation Index. Comparing the 50 largest metro areas across the U.S., the index looks at net job creation — contrasting percentage of companies hiring against companies letting employees go...

Richmond, Va., was recently ranked No. 3 on Gallup’s Job Creation Index. Comparing the 50 largest metro areas across the U.S., the index looks at net job creation — contrasting percentage of companies hiring against companies letting employees go.

What makes this ranking unique is that it reflects the perception of the local workforce regarding job creation in their city. Gallup performed a survey over calendar year 2011, interviewing employees in each metro area about whether their employers were expanding or downsizing.

Thirty-six percent of Richmond’s workforce stated that their employer was expanding while only 14 percent said their company was decreasing its workforce, yielding a net job creation index score of 22.

Richmond’s No. 3 ranking illustrates the positive job creation momentum in Virginia, and the workforce survey correlates with actual results. Governor McDonnell recently announced that January’s seasonally adjusted unemployment in Virginia fell to 5.8 percent, a three-year low.

Coming shortly after Virginia was named the 2012 Best State to Make a Living by MoneyRates.com, Gallup’s Job Creation ranking illustrates the high quality of life and career opportunities employees find in Virginia, as well as why the Commonwealth is able to attract a world-class workforce. New and established companies alike continually praise the skill and productivity of Virginia’s workforce.

To learn more about Virginia’s stellar employee base and why the Commonwealth is continually ranked America’s Top State for Business, click here.

4G Wireless Comes to Southwestern Virginia

Monday, 26 March 2012 17:06 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Businesses and residents in Southwestern Virginia will soon enjoy faster, more consistent wireless network access. Over the next three years, The Virginia Coalfield Coalition will partner with Verizon Wireless to install the network that will reach 95,000 households and 2,600 businesses in seven counties.

Businesses and residents in Southwestern Virginia will soon enjoy faster, more consistent wireless network access. Over the next three years, The Virginia Coalfield Coalition will partner with Verizon Wireless to install the network that will reach 95,000 households and 2,600 businesses in seven counties.

The Virginia Tobacco Commission committed $7.5 million in grants to implement the Fourth Generation Long Term Evolution (4G LTE) wireless network. The 4G LTE network is the most advanced technology currently available and is up to 10 times faster than 3G service, according to Verizon. The project will be completed in three phases, upgrading many existing towers and building at least 11 new towers in 2013-2014. Officials expect the first towers to be operational as soon as October 2012. 

This investment will improve cellular phone service and also bring high-speed internet access to new areas, making Southwestern Virginia an even more appealing location for all businesses, particularly the high-tech industry. Global leaders such as Northrop Grumman, CGI and AT&T have all chosen to locate operations in the region. Southwestern Virginia also offers tech businesses access to high-speed broadband networks, a skilled workforce with tech-tailored training programs and low operational costs.

These easily accessible resources mirror a statewide trend, making Virginia an even more attractive place to do business. With the highest concentration of high-tech workers according to Cyberstates 2011, the Commonwealth has the workforce to support its expanding tech industry.

To learn why leading technology companies have invested more than $9 billion over the last ten years to grow their operations in Virginia, click here.

MWV Launches Center for Packaging Innovation Pilot Plant

Tuesday, 20 March 2012 12:57 by Info@YesVirginia.org
MeadWestvaco Corporation (MWV) recently opened its state-of-the-art pilot plant in Henrico County, Va., last week. The plant is part of MWV’s Center for Packaging Innovation, which the company moved to its corporate headquarters in Richmond, Va., from Raleigh, N.C. in 2010...

MeadWestvaco Corporation (MWV) recently opened its state-of-the-art pilot plant in Henrico County, Va., last week. The plant is part of MWV’s Center for Packaging Innovation, which the company moved to its corporate headquarters in Richmond, Va., from Raleigh, N.C. in 2010.

MWV’s Center for Packaging Innovation develops and tests new products and technologies as part of the company’s effort to find creative packaging solutions for customers across the globe. The 48,000-square-foot plant will allow the company to increase its pre-commercialization product testing. 

With five new labs MWV’s capabilities include wood fiber development, polymer compounding, metallurgy and corrosion analysis, coatings and materials testing, form/fill/seal machines, die-cutting, distribution and supply chain testing, equipment prototyping, injection molding and multi-layer extrusion and lamination, to name just a few.

The pilot plant is the latest in a series of investments this Fortune 500 company has made in the Commonwealth. MWV invested $80 million to move its corporate headquarters from Connecticut to Richmond, Va., in 2006, creating 400 new jobs. The company also announced an investment of $285 million in June 2011 to construct a new, state-of-the-art biomass boiler at its Covington Mill in Alleghany County, Va.  MWV has been a Covington employer since 1899.

These investments illustrate MWV’s confidence in Virginia’s talent and infrastructure to support innovative projects across the Commonwealth. According to MWV Chairman and CEO John A. Luke, Jr., “Virginia is not only our corporate home; it is a major base of operations and gateway for our business around the world.”

To learn why companies continue to invest in the Commonwealth and locate their headquarters in Virginia’s pro-business environment, click here.

Site Selection Magazine’s Governor’s Cup Awards Virginia a Top 5 Ranking

Thursday, 15 March 2012 11:07 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Site Selection Magazine awarded Virginia a Top 5 ranking with its annual Governor’s Cup for new and expanded facilities. Virginia’s 273 new projects and expansions showed an increase of 44 percent over 2010, allowing the Commonwealth to climb from 10th place last year to 5th place this year...

Site Selection Magazine awarded Virginia a Top 5 ranking with its annual Governor’s Cup for new and expanded facilities. Virginia’s 273 new projects and expansions showed an increase of 44 percent over 2010, allowing the Commonwealth to climb from 10th place last year to 5th place this year.

To be included in the rankings, new facilities and expansions had to meet at least one of the following criteria: a minimum investment of $1 million, creation of at least 50 jobs and the addition of at least 20,000 square feet of new floor space.

Northern Virginia’s Arlington/Alexandria area received a No. 8 ranking for Top Metros with populations over one million. For metro areas with a population less than 200,000 three Virginia regions made the top 10 list. The Blacksburg/Christiansburg/Radford region was rated No. 4 and Charlottesville and Danville were both rated No. 8.

Staunton/Waynesboro, Va., received a 13th place ranking in the Top Micropolitan category. Micropolitans are defined as rural areas with a population of less than 50,000.

Staunton has been in the press recently when Forbes.com picked up the publication “How to Radically Revitalize America: A Micropolitan Manifesto.” Written and photographed by Staunton business owners, the publication describes how entrepreneurs are choosing to locate their businesses in Staunton, Va., for the rich quality of life the area offers.

Virginia’s pro-business operating environment, highly skilled workforce, leading R&D centers, premier logistics network and strong quality of life are just some of the reasons Virginia continues to lead with top accolades from CNBC, Forbes.com, Pollina Corporate Real Estate and Site Selection Magazine.

To learn why Virginia is the best state for business and offers the right mix of resources to support your business, click here.

Volvo Trucks’ New River Valley Plant First to Achieve Two Energy Certifications

Tuesday, 13 March 2012 15:12 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Volvo Trucks’ New River Valley plant in Dublin, Va., is the first U.S. facility certified to the ISO 50001 standards and the first Superior Energy Performance (SEP)-certified facility to use the ISO 50001 as its energy management standard...

Volvo Trucks’ New River Valley plant in Dublin, Va., is the first U.S. facility certified to the ISO 50001 standards and the first Superior Energy Performance (SEP)-certified facility to use the ISO 50001 as its energy management standard.

The New River Valley plant achieved both certifications by participating in pilot programs supported by the U.S. Department of Defense and offered through the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB). The Virginia plant was SEP certified at the highest level, platinum, due to its 15 percent improvement in energy performance over a three-year period.

These energy efficiency certifications not only take the Virginia plant closer to becoming carbon neutral, they also allow the company to be more competitive at a global level.

Company management credits its skilled Virginia workforce for coming up with many of the energy-saving ideas. “These certifications required a high degree of cooperation — a total plant effort. Employees at all levels have been actively engaged throughout our entire energy reduction journey,” said Lars Blomberg, Volvo Trucks vice president.

The 1.6 million-square-foot plant at New River Valley is a marquee establishment in Southwestern Virginia, employing more than 2,000 Virginians. The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with New River Economic Development Alliance and Pulaski County in 1999 on the company’s $148 million expansion of the plant, which created 1,277 new jobs. 

Virginia is home to 170 automotive companies and Volvo Trucks’ New River Valley plant is a prime example of the innovation Virginia companies are bringing to the industry. With a pro-business operating environment, skilled workforce and R&D partnerships with universities, such as the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and the National Tire Research Center, the Commonwealth has the infrastructure to support the future growth of this industry.

To learn more about what Virginia can offer automotive companies click here.

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Virginia Economic Development Partnership is the Best State for Business

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP), a state authority created by the Virginia General Assembly to better serve those seeking a prime business location and increased trade opportunities, provides confidential site selection and international trade services. VEDP's mission: To enhance the quality of life and raise the standard of living for all Virginians, in collaboration with Virginia communities, through aggressive business recruitment, expansion assistance, and trade development, thereby expanding the tax base and creating higher-income employment opportunities.

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MAAP Unmanned Aerial Test Site at Virginia Tech Declared Fully Operational by FAA

Monday, 18 August 2014 15:57 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Last week, a group of government, academic and business leaders gathered at Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute to celebrate the FAA declaring the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems test site program fully operational...

Last week, a group of government, academic and business leaders gathered at Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute to celebrate the FAA declaring the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems test site program fully operational.

In December 2013, the FAA announced that Virginia Tech was selected as one of six test sites across the country to conduct research as part of an initiative to establish safety standards for integrating UAS, such as drones, with commercial aircrafts.

Virginia Tech led the submission of a joint proposal for Virginia, New Jersey and Maryland, along with Rutgers University and the University of Maryland, called the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership. MAAP is headquartered at Virginia Tech’s Institute of Critical Technology and Applied Sciences, with test sites located across Virginia, New Jersey and Maryland.

The ceremony included a simulation flight involving an unmanned, multi-rotor helicopter called the Smart Road Flyer. It was modified for transportation research by Dr. Kevin Kochersberger, a professor with the College of Engineering and the Virginia Center for Autonomous Systems, and engineering students from the Unmanned Systems Laboratory at Virginia Tech. The simulation gathered information from a mock accident scene on an interstate highway.

This scenario illustrates the wide-ranging future capabilities of UAS. Potential uses of this technology include disaster response, search and rescue missions, utility and pipeline inspections, agricultural monitoring, wildlife management, cargo delivery and weather observation.

This is another win for Virginia’s burgeoning aerospace industry. With flights to the International Space Station taking off from MARS/NASA Wallops Flight Facility and UAS launched from MAAP at Virginia Tech, the Commonwealth has the assets to stake its claim as a national aerospace leader. 

To learn why more than 250 aerospace companies have chosen to call Virginia home, click here.

Dr. Kevin Kochersberger (right) describes a UAS simulation flight at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute during the MAAP First Flight Ceremony. University President Timothy Sands, Virginia Delegate Joseph Yost, Governor Terry McAuliffe, and MAAP Executive Director Rose Mooney (left to right) discuss the future of unmanned and autonomous aviation at the event. Photo Courtesy of Virginia Tech.

Get to Know VEDP’s NEW COO Dan Gundersen

Wednesday, 13 August 2014 13:21 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Dan Gundersen joined VEDP as Chief Operating Officer this May, where his focus is on running the day-to-day operations of VEDP. Dan’s full profile is available in the summer issue of Commerce Quarterly. To help you get to know Dan, here’s an interview we recently did to see how his first few months are going...

Dan Gundersen joined VEDP as Chief Operating Officer this May, where his focus is on running the day-to-day operations of VEDP. Dan’s full profile is available in the summer issue of Commerce Quarterly

To help you get to know Dan, here’s an interview we recently did to see how his first few months are going.

Q:  What has your first 75 days been like?

A:  It’s been focused entirely on the internal operations of VEDP. For many years now, VEDP has operated as a flat organization with the different department heads reporting directly to the CEO. With the recent reorganization and refocusing of VEDP’s initiatives, it became clear that there was a need for a coordinating role to help bring the operations into better alignment and to provide a more targeted and strategic focus for our efforts. And that’s really what my job is all about.

Q:  What specifically have you focused on?

A:  Performance metrics for the economic development profession has been something that I’ve focused on for years now. I’ve served on the board of the International Economic Development Council for a long time and have championed this cause. Recently I co-chaired the first ever performance metric analysis for the economic development profession with the IEDC called Making It Count:  Metrics for High Performing EDOs. The goal there was to be able to identify those metrics that can help us better tell the story of what we do and why we do it. Today it’s not just about jobs created and leveraging public sector dollars. The IEDC report provides more than 200 new measures that economic development groups can use. We’re taking a couple pages out of that book to help VEDP better describe the impact of its work. At the September VEDP board meeting we will introduce several new metrics to be able to assess our progress.

Q:  What does VEDP do really well?

A: In one word — deals. Martin Briley has an incredible ability to focus on the deal pipeline and knows the nuances of every single deal inside and out. He’s living and breathing our Salesforce database, and I think that has helped drive productivity to a very high level. 

Of course, exceeding goals is possible only if you have really good talent among staff, terrific esprit de corps, effective partnerships, and an incredible devotion to what I would call a “cause.” VEDP staff represents one of the most committed organizations that I’ve ever had the privilege of working for. In a way, that makes my job so much easier.

Q:  What challenges do you see ahead?

A:  The world of economic development is changing so quickly and we’re expected to be so many things to so many people. One of our biggest challenges is going to be keeping our focus on those things that we do well, while also being a thought leader and an advocate for the business community, a catalyst for launching new ideas, and even at times a broker of resources for others so that together we can bring about greater economic gain for the state. That’s why it’s important that VEDP develop its own strategic operating plan that builds on regional assets and that aligns seamlessly with the overall economic strategy that the Administration will be producing later this year. Right now, that’s probably my top priority.

Q:  Where are you focusing your efforts for FY15?

A:  The new strategic operating plan will highlight a few areas where we believe we can focus more of our attention and resources. One of those will be with identifying and assisting high growth firms. Research shows that high growth firms in any regional economy account for upwards of 70-80 percent of the net new jobs, and yet, these firms account for less than one percent of all business establishments. You’re going to see VEDP develop a very sophisticated strategy for making sure we are meeting the needs of these businesses better than any other state.

Another area will be an intense focus targeting foreign direct investment and assisting firms that wish to conduct trade in emerging markets around the world.

Finally, VEDP is going to be aggressively positioning itself with brand development and targeted marketing to be able to identify firms that could and should be in Virginia. It’s all about sustained and profitable growth and Virginia has all of those fundamentals to make it happen.

Keep an eye out — this fall we’ll be distributing a live podcast that Dan did for the Atlanta and St. Louis Federal Reserve Banks on the future of economic development.

Virginia Schools Rank High on the Forbes and Money Top Colleges Lists

Tuesday, 12 August 2014 09:46 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia’s higher education institutions once again ranked high on the Forbes America’s Top Colleges 2014 list. Forbes partnered with the Center for College Affordability and Productivity on its seventh annual ranking.

Virginia’s higher education institutions once again ranked high on the Forbes America’s Top Colleges 2014 list. Forbes partnered with the Center for College Affordability and Productivity on its seventh annual ranking.

Three Virginia schools made the Top 25 in the Best Public Colleges category:  University of Virginia was No. 5, College of William and Mary was No. 6, and Virginia Tech was No. 23.

In the Overall category, eight Virginia colleges made the Top 200 list: Washington and Lee University (No. 33), UVA (No. 40), College of William and Mary (No. 41), University of Richmond (No. 96), Virginia Tech (No. 117), Virginia Military Institute (No. 129), Hampden-Sydney College (No. 171), and James Madison University (No. 188).

Washington and Lee University was also ranked No. 15 on the Best Liberal Arts Colleges list.

Forbes is a unique ranking because instead of focusing on the metrics of how competitive an institution is to get in to, it focuses on what students get out of college in terms of ROI. The five factors that determine the ranking include student satisfaction, post-graduate success, graduation rates, academic success and student debt.

Money also gave Virginia high marks on its Best Colleges for Your Money 2014 ranking. The Commonwealth scored well in the Best Public Colleges category with UVA at No. 3, VMI at No. 4, Virginia Tech at No. 12, JMU at No. 17 and the College of William and Mary at No. 20.

In the Overall category, 10 Virginia institutions made the Top 200:  UVA (No. 16), VMI (No. 18), Washington and Lee University (No. 39), Virginia Tech (No. 42), JMU (No. 53), College of William and Mary (No. 60), George Mason University (No. 101), University of Mary Washington (No. 107), University of Richmond (No. 120), and Hampden-Sydney College (No. 156).

Money only included schools with an above-average six-year graduation rate, and then based the ranking on a number of factors in three main categories — quality of education, affordability and outcomes.

Virginia’s substantial higher education system includes more than 100 in-state institutions that are preparing 450,000 students to enter the workforce. From large universities, to small private colleges, to the 23-member Virginia Community College System, the Commonwealth’s world-class education system stands ready to support industry demand with a strong pipeline of highly skilled workers.

To learn more about Virginia’s premier education system, click here.

A view of the Rotunda at the University of Virginia. UVA was ranked No. 3 on Money’s Best Public Colleges list. Photo courtesy of Virginia Tourism Corp.

Dream It, Do It – Virginia Hosts Seven Manufacturing Technology Camps This Summer

Thursday, 31 July 2014 14:33 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Dream It, Do It – Virginia hosted seven Manufacturing Technology Camps across the Commonwealth this summer. The camps are designed to reach out to high school students who are considering a career in manufacturing...

Dream It, Do It – Virginia hosted seven Manufacturing Technology Camps across the Commonwealth this summer. The camps are designed to reach out to high school students who are considering a career in manufacturing.       

The three-and-a-half-day camps allow students to experience all levels of production, from raw materials to finished goods. Students also participate in tours, lectures and manufacturing demonstrations where they get to see the latest in automation and robotics from Virginia’s leading manufacturers.

Students in the Manufacturing Technology Camps also participate in a competition where they work with a team to complete an assignment that involves designing, building and running a manufacturing system. During the competition, students receive training and mentoring from industry experts. Students on the winning team receive scholarships to pursue STEM education tracks.

This summer, two camps were offered at Southside Virginia Community College in Keysville, two at Lake Country Advanced Knowledge Center in South Hill, and one each at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center in South Boston, at STIHL Inc. in Virginia Beach, and at ITAC in Chester. Halifax County posted a video from their Manufacturing Technology Camp here.

Dream It, Do It – Virginia is part of a national organization that provides access to on-the-job training and certifications to keep the existing manufacturing workforce up-to-date on the latest technology, as well as build awareness among youth about the many options and rewards a manufacturing career can offer.

The manufacturing jobs of today are very different from what manufacturing jobs in the past may have entailed. Virginia’s advanced manufacturing takes place in a clean, safe environment and requires high skill and high levels of education. Manual labor has largely been replaced with automation. An advanced manufacturing career today often involves managing the technical process to improve efficiencies and product throughput. The work is interesting and employees are rewarded with a competitive salary.

The Dream It, Do It – Virginia website provides a number of valuable tools for investigating a career in the Commonwealth’s advanced manufacturing industry. It allows students to assess their interests and skills to determine an area of focus, as well as view the educational requirements and career track for that specialty. You can also watch the recent Dream It, Do It – Virginia Third Wednesday Webinar by clicking here.

Businesses in the Commonwealth praise the experience and dedication of their Virginia workforce as one of their prime factors for success. Dream It, Do It – Virginia is one example of the many educational groups across the Commonwealth ensuring that Virginia’s workforce has the skills and training to match industry demand. To learn more, click here.

Students get hands on experience at one of the Manufacturing Technology Camps at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center in Halifax County, Va. Photo courtesy of Halifax County Industrial Development Authority.

VSU Small Farm Outreach Program Helps Sabra Grow First Crop of Chickpeas in Virginia

Wednesday, 30 July 2014 09:05 by Info@YesVirginia.org
It’s harvest time and good news for Sabra Dipping Co. Virginia State University’s College of Agriculture is about to gather one of Virginia’s first ever crop of chickpeas...

It’s harvest time and good news for Sabra Dipping Co. Virginia State University’s College of Agriculture is about to gather one of Virginia’s first crop of chickpeas.

Sabra has partnered with VSU to research the possibility of sourcing chickpeas, the main ingredient in its top-selling hummus, closer to the company’s 49-acre campus in Chesterfield County. Sabra is the No. 1 brand of hummus in the U.S. and has established both a manufacturing operation and R&D Center of Excellence on its campus at Ruffin Mill Industrial Park in Chesterfield County.

Sabra first announced plans to establish a facility in Virginia in November 2008. Part of the company’s decision to locate in Chesterfield County was the proximity to VSU’s College of Agriculture. “During the company’s decision-making process, we arranged several meetings with the College of Agriculture to explore opportunities to grow chickpeas in Virginia and enhance the profitability of the company,” said Renee Chapline, president and CEO at Virginia Gateway Region.

Over the last two years, Sabra and VSU have implemented Dr. Harbans Bhardwaj’s chickpea research through the university’s Small Farms Outreach Program. Cliff Somerville, a VSU Small Farm Outreach agent, has worked with a number of farms across Virginia to test the growth of different varieties of chickpeas.

According to Somerville, while last year’s crops were largely a washout due to weather conditions (excessive rain) and a problem with worms, VSU and Sabra discovered that one type of chickpea seed worked well in Virginia — the “Billy Bean” variety.

This year, VSU only planted the “Billy Bean” variety and Somerville supervised one of those test sites – three acres on a farm in Halifax County.

“The plants got up to around 30 inches and it’s a good population with about 32-34 pods per stalk,” said Somerville. “It’s a successful crop. We’ve done a test run with the combine to check moisture levels, and we’re getting ready to do a full harvest in the next week or so. This will be one of the first crops of chickpeas grown in Virginia.”

The success of Virginia’s first group of chickpea crops has the potential to be a win-win for both Sabra and Virginia farmers. It would allow Sabra to shorten its supply chain and reduce risk by sourcing one of its main ingredients closer to the company’s manufacturing facility. It also would provide diversification for Virginia farmers, particularly those in the tobacco region.

To learn about Virginia’s plentiful resources, and how the Commonwealth’s higher education institutions partner with businesses to innovate, click here.

VSU Small  Farm Outreach agents Cliff Somerville and Derrick Cladd, program director William Crutchfield and cooperating farmer Mr. James Brown (left to right) examine plants in Halifax County, part of Virginia’s first successful group of chickpea crops. Photo courtesy of Virginia State University.

Richmond, Hampton Roads and Charlottesville are Top Happiest Metro Areas in the U.S.

Friday, 25 July 2014 15:53 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Richmond/Petersburg was ranked No. 1 and Hampton Roads (Norfolk/Virginia Beach/Newport News) was ranked No. 2 on the National Bureau of Economic Research list of Top 10 Happiest Metropolitan Areas with a Population Greater Than One Million. Charlottesville was ranked No. 1 as the U.S. Metropolitan Area with the Highest Reported Happiness...

Richmond/Petersburg was ranked No. 1 and Hampton Roads (Norfolk/Virginia Beach/Newport News) was ranked No. 2 on the National Bureau of Economic Research list of Top 10 Happiest Metropolitan Areas with a Population Greater Than One Million. Charlottesville was ranked No. 1 as the U.S. Metropolitan Area with the Highest Reported Happiness.

Economists at Harvard University and the University of British Columbia published a working paper called “Unhappy Cities” through the National Bureau of Economic Research. NBER is the nation’s leading nonprofit economic research organization, with more than 1,300 economics and business professors teaching across North America.

The authors of the study, Edward Glaeser, Joshua Gottlieb and Oren Ziv, used the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a self-reported study on happiness conducted by the CDC, as their primary data source. Because the BRFSS data reports the county where a respondent lives, the authors were able to link responses with location.

They then performed a series of regression analyses to control for individual factors, such as education, income and race, to come up with an adjusted life satisfaction estimate for each MSA.

The authors discovered there is indeed a correlation between happiness and location. They also found that self-reported unhappiness is highest in declining cities, areas linked with lower levels of population and income growth.

It comes as no surprise that multiple regions in Virginia received top marks in this study. With more than 400 years of rich history, the Commonwealth offers employers and citizens an affordable cost of living, access to parks and natural resources ranging from the mountains to the ocean, and recreational opportunities from historical sites to modern sports, entertainment and cultural venues. To learn why reports like this give Virginia a top ranking on quality of life, click here.

A map of the U.S. which shows each metropolitan and rural areas' adjusted life satisfaction. Photo courtesy of the University of British Columbia.

Pollina Awards Virginia Another Top Pro-Business State Ranking

Tuesday, 15 July 2014 10:40 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Once again, Virginia received a leading ranking on Pollina Corporate Real Estate’s Top 10 Pro-Business States 2014 report. The Commonwealth was ranked fourth, taking the same slot as last year. Virginia has consistently received top marks in this report, taking one of the top two spots from 2005-2012...

Once again, Virginia received a leading ranking on Pollina Corporate Real Estate’s Top 10 Pro-Business States 2014 report.

The Commonwealth was ranked fourth, taking the same slot as last year. Virginia has consistently received top marks in this report, taking one of the top three spots from 2005-2012.

“Clearly a national leader in the 11 years of this study, no other state comes close to Virginia when it comes to being a consistent pro-business state,” said Brent Pollina, vice president of Pollina Corporate Real Estate, Inc. and co-author of the study.

Virginia was the top ranked state on the East Coast this year and has received an overall grade of “A” in each of the last five years.

“Virginia has consistently remained at the top of the list because Virginia’s state and local leaders are innovative and aggressive in attracting and retaining jobs and investment. Key to Virginia’s success is its ability to balance low taxes, a good labor force and a strong economic development program. With a Stage I rank of No. 6 and a Stage II rank of No. 3, Virginia has one of the most well-rounded business climates in the nation,” added Pollina.

The ranking is based on 32 factors controlled at the state level, including taxes, human resources, right-to-work legislation, energy costs, infrastructure spending, workers' compensation legislation, jobs gained, financial incentives and state economic development evaluations. The report was co-published with the American Economic Development Institute.

The ranking also reflected positively at the agency level of economic development. Virginia received an “A” in both incentives and marketing/website/response to new and existing employers.

As the report alluded to — consistency is key. Corporations making large investment and employment decisions want to feel confident that the location they select will maintain its positive attributes years down the line. The Commonwealth’s solid track record and stellar resources make it easy for companies to say “Yes” to Virginia. To learn more, click here.

Photo courtesy of the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Orbital Sciences Completes Second Launch to the International Space Station

Monday, 14 July 2014 15:33 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Yesterday at 12:52 p.m., Orbital Sciences completed its second launch to the International Space Station from Pad-OA of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore...

Yesterday at 12:52 p.m., Orbital Sciences completed its second launch to the International Space Station from Pad-OA of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

The Orb-2 mission is Orbital Sciences’ second of eight resupply missions to the ISS, part of Orbital Sciences’ $1.9 billion Commercial Resupply Service contract with NASA. Orbital Sciences will deliver more than 40,000 pounds of cargo to the ISS through 2016.

The Antares rocket launched the Cygnus spacecraft, carrying more than 3,600 pounds of research materials, hardware, science experiments and provisions for the crew of Expedition 40 aboard the ISS. The experiments include nanosatellites to take images of earth, satellites to allow 3-D mapping and robotic navigation inside the space station, and student projects from the Student Spaceflight Experiment Program.

Cygnus is expected to reach ISS Wednesday morning. Over the next two days Cygnus will complete a series of thruster burns to bring it close to the ISS, at which point the crew will use the ISS robotic arm to grapple and rendezvous with the spacecraft.

Cygnus will remain berthed with ISS for approximately 30 days so that the Expedition 40 crew can unload the cargo and reload it with trash. Upon completion of the mission, Cygnus will be burned up during reentry to Earth’s atmosphere.

Yesterday’s successful second launch to the ISS illustrates Virginia’s continued leadership in the aerospace industry. Through MARS, Virginia is one of only a few sites across the U.S. authorized for orbital space launches. To learn why more than 250 aerospace companies call Virginia home, click here.

Orbital Sciences’ Antares rocket takes off from Pad-OA of MARS at NASA Wallops Flight Facility on its second mission to the International Space Station. Photo courtesy of NASA/Bill Ingalls.

VEDP’s “Business Legacies Begin in Virginia” Video Wins Telly Award

Tuesday, 8 July 2014 14:20 by Info@YesVirginia.org
VEDP’s “Business Legacies Begin in Virginia” video recently won a Bronze Telly Award in the category of Recruitment, part of the larger Film/Video category...

VEDP’s “Business Legacies Begin in Virginia” video recently won a Bronze Telly Award in the category of Recruitment, part of the larger Film/Video category.

Since its founding in 1979, the Telly Awards has been honoring outstanding TV commercials and programs, video and film productions, and online commercials, videos and films.

This year’s 35th Annual Telly Awards has been one of the most competitive, with more than 12,000 entries received from all 50 states, as well as other countries.

The award was presented to VEDP and BES Studios, an agency that helped VEDP produce the video. VEDP also worked with 3 Creative on the project. 

Digital storytelling has become an increasingly important component of the marketing mix in economic development as companies and site selection consultants perform more upfront research online.

“The Business Legacies Begin in Virginia video is an important tool we’ve added to our digital marketing strategy,” said Vince Barnett, VEDP Vice President of Communications & Promotions. “We’re grateful to all our partners across the Commonwealth who helped us by providing video footage and access to film some great shots, and we’re honored to receive this award.”

A list of the corporate, regional and local partners who helped VEDP obtain video footage is displayed in the closing credits.

To view the video, visit VEDP’s website or YouTube channel.

VEDP Welcomes VJIP to the Team

Thursday, 3 July 2014 09:50 by Info@YesVirginia.org
It’s official — at the beginning of our fiscal year, July 1, the Virginia Jobs Investment Program became part of the VEDP team. House bill 932 passed by the Virginia General Assembly in in the spring 2014 special session moved the administration of VJIP to VEDP to further align Virginia’s job incentive programs...

It’s official — at the beginning of our fiscal year, July 1, the Virginia Jobs Investment Program became part of the VEDP team. House bill 932 passed by the Virginia General Assembly in in the spring 2014 special session moved the administration of VJIP to VEDP to further align Virginia’s job incentive programs.

In fiscal year 2014, VJIP was involved in 96 percent of the projects that VEDP completed.

VJIP is the second oldest incentive in the Commonwealth and was established in 1965. According to VJIP interim director Frank Strickler, “This is a homecoming for us. VEDP’s predecessor organization and ours were originally joined under the Department of Economic Development until 1996 when VEDP was formed and we were moved to the Department of Business Assistance. We have worked closely with VEDP’s business expansion and business attraction managers for years, so it’s great to be under one roof again.”

VJIP is charged with marketing and managing a state-funded grant that helps companies train their employees. Companies can qualify for the incentive in any of three categories: new and existing business expansions that create jobs, small businesses that create new jobs, and workforce retraining to upgrade the skills of existing employees.

Due to the flexibility of the three categories, a wide range of companies can qualify for the incentive. VJIP serves both large and small businesses in a variety of industries. VJIP project managers also provide free consulting services to client companies, helping them find solutions for their recruiting and training issues.

The VJIP grant is a performance-driven incentive distributed on a pay-as-you-go basis after each employee has been on the job for more than 90 days. VJIP managers work with the company to develop a training outline and budget, so that the client has skin in the game. Companies can receive up to 50 percent reimbursement for qualified recruiting and training costs. Due to the multiplier effect, the incentive usually nets a 100 percent ROI (return on investment) in six months.

VJIP is one of the longstanding examples of incentives that attract companies to Virginia’s pro-business environment. To learn more about VJIP, click here.

Members of the VJIP team include (back row) Frank Strickler, Tre Akins, (front row) Lea Lofty, Brenda Young and Debbie Melvin. 

Virginia a Top State for Private Equity Investment

Monday, 30 June 2014 15:44 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia was ranked No. 7 for private equity investment in 2013, according to the Private Equity Growth Capital Council’s fourth annual investment report...

Virginia was ranked No. 7 for private equity investment in 2013, according to the Private Equity Growth Capital Council’s fourth annual investment report.

Last year, 66 companies across the Commonwealth received $14.7 billion in private equity investment. Virginia moved up in the rankings from 16th place last year.

This signals that investors see value in Virginia’s entrepreneurs and growing companies. Private equity is typically used as growth capital to fuel expansion, as well as to assist companies in strategic turnaround situations.

“Private equity investment is long-term capital at work,” said Steve Judge, president and CEO of the Private Equity Growth Capital Council. “The companies in states across the country that receive private equity investment are able to expand their businesses, develop new innovations and hire workers, and this report highlights the important contributions of private equity in the U.S. economy.”

Virginia also saw two congressional districts break the top 20 in private equity investment. Virginia’s 4th Congressional District received $4.7 billion and Virginia’s 11th Congressional District received $4.5 billion. China-based W.H. Group’s acquisition of Smithfield Foods Inc. represents a majority of District 4's investment.

According to the PEGCC report, private equity firms have invested $129.1 billion in Virginia-based companies from 2004-2013. The report further states that there are 568 private equity-backed companies headquartered in the Commonwealth, which support more than 309,570 jobs at facilities both in and out of state.

The ability of Virginia companies to attract this amount of private equity investment is another testament to the level of innovation and success that entrepreneurs find when they locate their businesses in the Commonwealth. To learn why Virginia is a top state for business and investment, click here.

Photo courtesy of Private Equity Growth Capital Council

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Virginia Economic Development Partnership is the Best State for Business

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP), a state authority created by the Virginia General Assembly to better serve those seeking a prime business location and increased trade opportunities, provides confidential site selection and international trade services. VEDP's mission: To enhance the quality of life and raise the standard of living for all Virginians, in collaboration with Virginia communities, through aggressive business recruitment, expansion assistance, and trade development, thereby expanding the tax base and creating higher-income employment opportunities.

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Specialty’s Our Name — Expanding a Family Business Through the Generations

Friday, 29 May 2015 09:19 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Butch Harrison founded Specialty’s Our Name in 1990, a precision sheet metal fabrication and machine shop based in Ashland, Va. His three sons, Brandon, Utley and Kevin, worked in the shop since high school and each found their niche, whether it was handling the finances, managing customer relationships or processing orders...

Butch Harrison founded Specialty’s Our Name in 1990, a precision sheet metal fabrication and machine shop based in Ashland, Va.

His three sons, Brandon, Utley and Kevin, worked in the shop since high school and each found their niche, whether it was handling the finances, managing customer relationships or processing orders. When their dad passed away in 2009, the brothers took ownership and proudly carried on the family name and reputation for a superior product and customer service at S.O.N. Inc.

“We do the work other people don’t want to do,” said Brandon Harrison. “Our high-end, custom sheet metal work is in the White House Visitor Center, the American Civil War Museum at Tredegar and the Virginia Historical Society, and our customers include Homeland Security, Architectural Graphics Inc., Dometic Corporation and Showbest Fixtures.”

The company has successfully grown from two people in a 2,500 square foot building to more than 30 people in a 32,000 square foot facility. The company delivers custom products and can offer consulting, drafting, welding, deburring, powder coating and precision parts, all from one location.

The Harrison brothers not only weathered the recent economic downturn, but were able to continue growing their company. “We did feel some of the effects, but we manage our finances well and purchase equipment as we need it, so we don’t carry a lot of debt.” said Harrison. “We also have a broad customer range, from the marine industry to railroads to store fixtures. Being diverse helped us stay strong and grow our company through the tough times.”

The brothers also took a calculated risk and started a sister company in 2008, Pro Powder & Paint Inc. “About 90 percent of our customers want a finish on their steel or aluminum products. We provide that and do our own powder coating and wet paint at a facility just down the street,” said Harrison.

The company just had one of its best years and has a solid plan to grow both businesses and eventually combine them into one larger building.

“We are lucky,” said Harrison. “The three of us are all equally responsible and we get to expand on what our father built. We really try to keep the family atmosphere throughout the company as we grow. We have several cousins and family members working in the shop, and we treat all of our employees like we are one big family. Without every piece of the puzzle coming together, this wouldn’t be possible.”

As we celebrate Virginia Business Appreciation Month, Specialty’s Our Name serves as another great example of the ingenuity and dedication of Virginia entrepreneurs. To learn why the Commonwealth is a great location to grow a business, click here.

Specialty’s Our Name owners Brandon, Utley and Kevin Harrison at their company headquarters in Ashland, Va.

Marstel-Day — Growing a Green Business in Virginia

Thursday, 28 May 2015 09:33 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Rebecca Rubin started Marstel-Day in 2002 with a passion to help large institutions conduct business in a way that is both effective and preserves the natural resource base...

Rebecca Rubin started Marstel-Day in 2002 with a passion to help large institutions conduct business in a way that is both effective and preserves the natural resource base.

Based out of Fredericksburg, Va., the company has grown from a one-woman desk to 160 employees nationwide. With clients ranging from government agencies to academic institutions, Marstel-Day helps organizations develop an overall strategy to be more eco-friendly.

“Our customers may have the interest and funding, but we help them with their strategies and policies,” said President and CEO Rebecca Rubin. “Whether they want to be carbon neutral or make better use of their ecosystem services or reduce water consumption or be ready for climate change, we help them get there. We look at such things as their vulnerability to drought, temperature change, responsiveness and resilience of the IT structure to climate events — and help them answer the big picture questions.”

The company’s success speaks for itself. Marstel-Day experienced 8-10 percent growth every year, including during the economic downturn. Its impressive client roster includes the Department of Defense, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, Department of Homeland Security, Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration and National Laboratories. 

Marstel-Day has also received numerous accolades, including being named to both the Inc. 5000 list and Zweigwhite’s Hot Firm list for six consecutive years, the Alliance for Workplace Excellence Eco-Leadership Award three years in a row, the Virginia Fantastic 50 list for the third time, and the UVA Darden School’s Tayloe Murphy Award for Resilience.

Rubin chose to headquarter the business in Fredericksburg for two reasons:  proximity to a rail line and access to a great park system. “We were deliberately trying to get our employees off the roads and onto public transportation,” said Rubin. “Our other Virginia offices in Richmond and Alexandria are also within a quarter of a mile of a main train line. If you translate that into hours saved, it has an enormous impact on employee morale and health.”

“Because of its battlefield history, Fredericksburg has preserved green spaces and they have a new trail system. Having a park system where our employees can jog or bike during their lunch hour or after work is tremendously important to us.”

“There’s a reason why we’re here. Historically, Virginia has done a good job of understanding and appreciating the significance of nature and ecotourism. We find Virginia’s and the Governor’s commitment to green important to us as a company.”

As we celebrate Virginia Business Appreciation Month, Marstel-Day is another great example of how entrepreneurs find a successful environment for innovation in the Commonwealth. To learn why Virginia is a great place to grow a business, click here.

Marstel-Day President and CEO Rebecca Rubin at the company’s headquarters in Fredericksburg, Va. Photo courtesy of Marstel-Day LLC.

Performance Signs — From a Dorm Room to the Highway

Thursday, 21 May 2015 10:30 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Founder Robbie Morris was an engineering student at Virginia Tech when he started making decals for his brother’s stock car racing team. Robbie actually ran the decal machine out of his dorm room in the fall of 1995...

Founder Robbie Morris was an engineering student at Virginia Tech when he started making decals for his brother’s stock car racing team. Robbie actually ran the decal machine out of his dorm room in the fall of 1995.

While out on an engineering co-op, Robbie realized he enjoyed the creativity of the sign work much more than the structure of his engineering internship and decided to pursue the sign business full-time.

Today, Performance Signs makes a variety of signs, banners, vehicle lettering, vehicle wraps, window lettering and real estate signs for commercial businesses, public safety vehicles and highways.

Self-awareness is an important trait for entrepreneurs, and surrounding oneself with the right people and skillsets is critical. Robbie found the perfect business partner in his wife Katherine. She came on board full-time in 2004 and made improvements with her ability to manage, schedule and handle the day-to-day business, allowing Robbie to focus on the creative side.

Robbie and Katherine focused on building relationships with their customers and that paid off. “We were doing work for a sign company that supported a police department in Southwest Virginia,” said Performance Signs Founder Robbie Morris. “Those decals were an exact match for the Albemarle police department near us. We were able to approach them and found that there was a need for somebody to serve the public safety vehicles in our area. There’s a tightknit community among the police, fire department and rescue squad, and our relationship with that core group has helped us grow.”

When the recession hit, Robbie and Katherine looked at everything they did in order to be more efficient, from the number of phone lines they needed to the amount of equipment. They also took a calculated risk when a property became available. 

“All indications were that it would be crazy to buy something right now, but it completely came together for us,” said Robbie. “We really felt like God was moving in our lives and the timing was right. We did an SBA 504 loan. It was a lot of work, but through that process it helped us see our business in a new way.”

Robbie and Katherine closed on their building in the fall of 2009, and continuing their quest for efficiency, installed a solar-paneled roof on the 8,000-square-foot facility. Depending upon the time of year, the solar panels generate anywhere from 55-100 percent of the building’s electricity. 

Robbie and Katherine’s tenacity allowed them to successfully bounce back from the recession. The company has doubled sales since 2010 and grown from four to 12 people.

Performance Signs was also just selected to participate in the inaugural class of Ones to Watch, a business mentoring initiative run by the U.S. Senate Productivity and Quality Award Program for Virginia.

As we celebrate Virginia Business Appreciation Month, Performance Signs stands as another great example of the innovation and creativity of Virginia entrepreneurs. To learn why Virginia is a great place to grow a business, click here.

Performance Signs CEO Katherine Morris and Founder Robert Morris outside their company headquarters in Ruckersville, Va.

Release Reels — An Entrepreneur’s Journey from Biking to Fishing

Thursday, 14 May 2015 09:50 by Info@YesVirginia.org
After a hectic career traveling all over the U.S. and Europe as a professional cyclist, all Wes Seigler wanted to do after retiring as an athlete was to relax at his parent’s home in Reedville, Va., and fish every day like he did as a kid...

After a hectic career traveling all over the U.S. and Europe as a professional cyclist,  all Wes Seigler wanted to do after retiring as an athlete was to relax at his parent’s home in Reedville, Va., and fish every day like he did as a kid.

While fishing on the Chesapeake Bay and offshore Virginia, Seigler and his friends soon encountered problems with the performance of the reels they were using. Drawing upon his experience perfecting his own bike gearing and after encouragement from contacts in the cycling industry, Seigler decided to design his own product.

Release Reels was established in 2009. Seigler quickly found himself in the world of POs, RFQs and SKUs and learning what it all meant on the go. He initially started manufacturing in China, but found his intellectual property was leaking into competitors’ products and decided to bring back the manufacturing stateside.

Release Reels makes premium saltwater fishing reels, and the tolerances are very high. The product has to perform perfectly and look sharp. In order to make sure the machining was spot on, he decided to manufacture it himself. Upon being told he couldn’t compete with Asia, Seigler responded, “We can, we just gotta be willing to work.”

The company now operates nine CNC machines and has 10 full-time employees. 100% of the assembly and machining is done in Virginia and 100% of the component parts are made in the U.S. Seigler sources specialty bearings from Florida, gears and springs from Wisconsin and screws from San Diego, all to ensure the product is made in the USA.

“We have to win all categories — that’s the mentality of our company,” said Seigler. Release Reels products outperform in every class — they are smaller and more powerful, while weighing less.

The company also maintains a lifetime warranty on all its products, which no one else in the industry does. “If you purchase a product, I believe you should be able to call somebody and talk to them,” remarked Seigler. “We can fix it inexpensively, since we do all the machining in-house. Customers love the interaction and that carries into their next purchase.”

Release Reels also works with Rappahannock Community College and hires interns with an interest in machining as a career. “Giving a chance to somebody that might not be university bound has been pretty cool. Manufacturing is not what it used to be, it’s technology driven. We run a clean shop and it’s a great environment where people can learn a lot,” said Seigler.

The company’s high standards and customer service have paid off. After beginning with production of 100 reels per month, the company is now selling almost 600 reels per month and building the infrastructure to grow beyond that. They have also expanded into international markets from Europe to Southeast Asia.  

“The international market is huge for us,” noted Seigler. “People love an American-made product. Japan has a large fishing industry with some of the top shops in the world there. Being accepted by those customers is a strong statement for the quality of our products.”

As we celebrate Virginia Business Appreciation Month, Release Reels is a great example of the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit alive in the Commonwealth. To learn more why Virginia is a great place to grow a business, click here.

Release Reels Founder and President Wes Seigler demonstrates the company’s premium saltwater fishing reels for a future customer. Photo courtesy of Release Reels.

NCS Technologies — A Case Study of Innovation During Sequestration

Thursday, 7 May 2015 10:33 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Founded in Northern Virginia in 1996, NCS Technologies made a name for itself as a nimble and responsive small business computer manufacturer and supplier to state and federal agencies, the military, the intelligence community and commercial markets. The company operates out of a modern campus in Gainesville...

Founded in Northern Virginia in 1996, NCS Technologies made a name for itself as a nimble and responsive small business computer manufacturer and supplier to state and federal agencies, the military, the intelligence community and commercial markets. The company operates out of a modern campus in Gainesville.

The company’s products include commercial-off-the-shelf laptops and desktops for offices and schools, high-performance servers for corporate networks, and rugged tablet computers and servers for the military. Over the years, much of the company’s business depended on government.

Like many companies that found a niche serving federal agencies, the impact of sequestration created significant challenges. However, as with all great companies, NCS was able to turn those challenges into opportunities and come out successfully on the other side.

NCS has bounced back to its full pre-sequestration workforce and used the opportunity to diversify its customer base. The company realized that its experience delivering advanced computing products and services to highly demanding government customers could be translated into innovative new products for other growing markets, including healthcare, advanced manufacturing, banking and financial services.

The company kept innovating during the economic downturn and developed the industry’s only zero client laptop. Zero client computers have no operating system or data stored locally. Everything is virtually saved in the cloud, making the data more secure in the event the computer is hacked, lost or stolen.

While global competitors have developed zero client desktops, NCS Technologies is the only company able to master the engineering challenges to fit those capabilities, including patented Wi-Fi capability, into a mobile laptop product.

“Our employees are our greatest investment in innovation,” said John Callahan, vice president of marketing. “They are truly knowledge workers, including electrical engineers, sales representatives, program managers, financial analysts, highly trained assembly-line associates, technical support and customer service employees. Prince William County and surrounding Northern Virginia offers us that range of workforce that helps us excel in a complex, ultra-competitive environment.”

As part of Virginia Business Appreciation Month, NCS Technologies represents the high-growth industry and technological innovation that is alive and well in the Commonwealth. To learn why companies have found success in Virginia for more than 400 years, click here.

The Cirrus LT from NCS Technologies is the world’s first mobile zero client laptop computer. Photo courtesy of NCS Technologies.

 

 

Highground Services — A Successful Graduate of the Franklin Business Incubator

Friday, 1 May 2015 09:34 by Info@YesVirginia.org
John Warren and James Strozier, two former International Paper employees, put their experience together and became entrepreneurs when they created Highground Services in 2006. They co-founded the company with their wives, allowing it to qualify as a veteran-owned, SWAM (small, women-owned and minority) business...

John Warren and James Strozier, two former International Paper employees, put their experience together and became entrepreneurs when they created Highground Services in 2006. They co-founded the company with their wives, allowing it to qualify as a veteran-owned, SWAM (small, women-owned and minority) business.

The company provides high quality engineering services for process control, system automation and instrumentation projects.

The company was off to a fast start — they landed their first contract with International Paper in May 2007 and became a part of the Franklin Business Incubator that December.

When International Paper announced the closing of its Franklin Mill in 2009, this represented a substantial part of Highground Services’ sales.

Rather than be discouraged by the economic downturn and loss of their largest customer, Warren and Strozier seized the opportunity to hire displaced International Paper workers and expand their customer base. They also diversified their business by providing new services, including electrical construction and plant maintenance.

“We made a conscious decision to locate in a historically underutilized business zone and we really value being a part of this community,” said CEO James Strozier. “Our employees are tremendous and they worked tirelessly to help us not only survive, but thrive in what could have been a very challenging time.”

The company’s efforts have paid off in multiple ways. They received the Virginia Business Incubation Association's Donna Noble Incubator Client Award in 2009, UVA’s Darden School of Business Tayloe Murphy Resilience Awards in 2011 and the Franklin/Southampton Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year Award in 2010.

Highground Services has surpassed the $5 million revenue mark for the third straight year, and grown from four founders to 65 employees. The company is also poised to graduate from the Franklin Business Incubator and is in the process of purchasing a building across the street in downtown Franklin.

The entrepreneurial spirit and resiliency of Highground Services is a great reminder of the innovation that exists here in the Commonwealth as we celebrate Virginia Business Appreciation Month. To learn why Virginia offers the resources for entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses, click here.

Co-founders Jim and Lisa Strozier (center) are joined by local officials in front of their new property in downtown Franklin, Va.

Shenandoah Valley Partnership Launches inDEMAND Jobs Site

Tuesday, 21 April 2015 10:28 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Shenandoah Valley Partnership is partnering with WHSV-TV3 news to launch an educational campaign called “inDEMAND Local Career Opportunities...

The Shenandoah Valley Partnership is partnering with WHSV-TV3 news to launch an educational campaign called “inDEMAND Local Career Opportunities.”

The purpose of inDemand is to increase awareness about high-paying career opportunities in high-growth industries where there is a substantial demand for a qualified workforce. With the cost of higher education a concern for many families, this campaign will highlight rewarding jobs that require some additional training, but not a full four-year degree. 

Through linkage with Dream It, Do It — Virginia, the campaign will help both students and current employees match their career aspirations with programs and certifications offered through the Virginia Community College System, Career and Technical Education Centers, and four-year colleges and universities.

WHSV-TV3 is currently filming a series of three minute videos featuring 26 different careers that will be posted on their site at http://www.whsv.com/indemand. Governor McAuliffe kicked off the campaign earlier this month and his interview is included on the site.

The first video focused on high demand in the welding industry. Training to become a welder takes about six months and companies in the Shenandoah Valley are projected to hire 180 welders over the next 10 years.

Upcoming videos will discuss local demand for employees in the software development, mechatronics, accounting and trucking industries, to name just a few.

The Shenandoah Valley’s inDemand campaign highlights the premier workforce training programs that exist across the Commonwealth. To learn how Virginia is keeping its workforce up-to-date on the latest technology through its 15 public universities, 45 private institutions and 23 community colleges, click here.

Virginia Makes a Strong Showing on Kiplinger’s 2015 Best College Values List

Friday, 17 April 2015 16:00 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia universities made a strong showing on Kiplinger’s annual Best Colleges list, all the more important in the current environment where finding a quality education at an affordable price has become increasingly challenging...

Virginia universities made a strong showing on Kiplinger’s annual Best Colleges list, all the more important in the current environment where finding a quality education at an affordable price has become increasingly challenging.

In the public categories list, University of Virginia was ranked No. 2, The College of William and Mary No. 5, James Madison University No. 29, Virginia Tech No. 35, Christopher Newport University No. 83, and University of Mary Washington was No. 84.

For the liberal arts category, Washington and Lee University received a No. 2 ranking, University of Richmond No. 10, and Christendom College was No. 57.

To calculate the rankings, the editors at Kiplinger looked at a number of metrics used to determine both quality and value. The list was drawn from more than 1,200 four-year higher education institutions across the U.S.

Quality was measured through admission rates, test scores of incoming freshman, freshman retention, students per faculty and four-year graduation rates.

Value was calculated by looking at the overall cost of education, the amount of need-based and non-need-based aid, the percentage of need met and student debt at graduation.

Virginia’s strong rankings in both the public and liberal arts categories show the breadth of the Commonwealth’s premier education offerings. Virginia has more than 575,000 students enrolled in 230 campuses across the state ensuring the workforce of tomorrow is prepared to meet industry needs. To learn more click here.

A view of the Rotunda at the University of Virginia. Photo courtesy of UVA and Cassidy Girvin.

VEDP and CCAM Receive Achievement in Innovation Award from Business Facilities Magazine

Tuesday, 14 April 2015 17:07 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Business Facilities magazine recently announced its 2015 Economic Development Awards and VEDP was a recipient of one of five Achievement in Innovation Awards for the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing...

Business Facilities magazine recently announced its 2015 Economic Development Awards and VEDP was a recipient of one of five Achievement in Innovation Awards for the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing.

The Business Facilities article mentioned how difficult it was to narrow down candidates this year because best practices are being implemented across the country, making CCAM’s recognition all the more meaningful.                                                          

According to the Business Facilities’ editorial staff, “The states that are ahead of the curve have developed innovation hubs for targeted growth sectors and created an environment that makes their locations fertile ground for emerging businesses. This year, we’re focusing our spotlight on five programs that have exhibited consistent excellence in the development of innovation hubs and three successful initiatives targeting entrepreneurs.”

CCAM is an applied research center that brings together Virginia’s leading manufacturing companies and educational institutions to turn research into real-world technologies and solutions. It operates out of a 62,000-square-foot facility located adjacent to the 1,000-acre Rolls-Royce Crosspointe Campus in Prince George County, Va.

CCAM is focused on advancing and commercializing manufacturing technologies in six key areas — surface engineering, manufacturing systems, machining technologies, welding, additive manufacturing and composite materials.

Operating as a public-private partnership, its roster is made up of five university members and 33 corporate and industry members, including globally recognized leaders Aerojet Rocketdyne, Airbus, Alcoa, Canon, Chromalloy, NASA, Newport News Shipbuilding, Oerlikon Metco, Rolls-Royce, Sandvik Coromant and Siemens.

This award highlights what the more than 5,600 manufacturing companies located in Virginia already know — that the Commonwealth is a hub of advanced manufacturing and offers companies the innovative environment to grow. To learn more click here.

A view of CCAM, adjacent to Rolls-Royce’s Crosspointe Campus, in Prince George County, Va.

VEDP’s Advertising Agency Wins Best in Show for Stone Brewing Kit

Monday, 13 April 2015 15:27 by Info@YesVirginia.org
We at VEDP are proud to congratulate our advertising agency, Elevation, for winning Best in Show in the Promotional Design & Advertising category at the Richmond Ad Club’s annual awards show...

We at VEDP are proud to congratulate our advertising agency, Elevation, for winning Best in Show in the Promotional Design & Advertising category at the Richmond Ad Club’s annual awards show.

Elevation helped us develop a unique presentation for the executive team at Stone Brewing Co. as part of our marketing process to win their East Coast location for Virginia.

During a meeting among Stone Brewing Co., the Governor, his administration, and other key members of the Virginia marketing team, VEDP organized a surprise visit from a character actor portraying Thomas Jefferson.

Agriculture was one of Jefferson’s greatest passions, and at Monticello he grew the ingredients to make his own ale, continuing Virginia’s more than 400-year brewing legacy.

Elevation developed a script for Jefferson to describe Virginia’s plentiful natural resources that would make an excellent home for Stone Brewing’s East Coast location. They also developed a kit filled with Virginia brewing ingredients for Jefferson to present to the Stone executive team — pure Virginia water, wheat, hops and molasses.

As everyone knows, the pitch was successful and Stone Brewing announced their plans to invest $74 million to construct a brewery, packaging hall, restaurant, gardens, retail store and offices in Richmond this past fall.

Virginia successfully competed against more than 20 states, and winning this competitive project from the country’s 10th largest craft brewing company has furthered the Commonwealth’s position as a serious player in the craft beer industry.

Food and beverage companies continue to find Virginia has the recipe for success. To learn why food processing companies have invested more than $2.1 billion in Virginia since 2004, click here.

An actor portraying Thomas Jefferson holds the Stone Brewing kit for a marketing presentation that won Best in Show at the Richmond Ad Club awards.

Magnets USA Celebrates 25 Years and a New Facility in Virginia

Friday, 27 March 2015 16:57 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Magnets USA recently celebrated 25 years in the Roanoke Valley region of Virginia. The company also hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new building in Vinton, Va...

Magnets USA recently celebrated 25 years in the Roanoke Valley region of Virginia. The company also hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new building in Vinton, Va.

Magnets USA moved from nearby Roanoke City into the former Grumman Fire Truck Corp. location, a newly-renovated, climate-controlled, 45,000-square-foot building. The grand opening event featured fire trucks previously manufactured at the Grumman building to commemorate its history.

The new facility will provide 70 percent more production space and allow the company to add 25 new jobs to its current workforce of 60. VEDP’s Virginia Jobs Investment Program is assisting the company with training funds for the new jobs.

Founded in 1990, the company began selling adhesive materials that magnetized business cards. Today, Magnets USA produces more than 20 million magnetized marketing products each year, including calendars, sports and event schedules, banners and business cards. 

Virginia’s premier business environment has allowed the company to successfully expand its customer base to include the real estate market, Chicago Bears, Salem Red Sox, Kid Rock Enterprises, Burning Man, Floyd Fest, the American Quilter’s Society and local schools.

Magnets USA has also worked with VEDP’s international trade team to increase global sales. The company currently exports to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The company’s history and success in Virginia is another example of the pro-business environment and resources the Commonwealth provides for growing companies. To learn more, click here.

The Magnets USA team prepares to cut the ribbon at the company’s grand opening ceremony for its renovated facility in Vinton, Va. Photo courtesy of Magnets USA.

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Virginia Economic Development Partnership is the Best State for Business

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP), a state authority created by the Virginia General Assembly to better serve those seeking a prime business location and increased trade opportunities, provides confidential site selection and international trade services. VEDP's mission: To enhance the quality of life and raise the standard of living for all Virginians, in collaboration with Virginia communities, through aggressive business recruitment, expansion assistance, and trade development, thereby expanding the tax base and creating higher-income employment opportunities.

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YesVirginia Business Blog | A place for news, opinions, and information regarding the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.

Plastics on the Rise — Insights from the Plastics News Forum 2014

Friday, 7 March 2014 14:15 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Last week, VEDP attended the Plastics News Executive Forum in Tampa, Florida. We had the opportunity to hear from Bill Wood, Founder of Mountaintop Economics & Research, and learn why he thinks the North American plastics industry is on the rise...

Last week, VEDP attended the Plastics News Executive Forum in Tampa, Florida. We had the opportunity to hear from Bill Wood, Founder of Mountaintop Economics & Research, and learn why he thinks the North American plastics industry is on the rise.

First, the Institute for Supply Management’s Purchasing Managers' Index has been growing for the past few years. The PMI is an economic indicator derived from monthly surveys of private sector companies. Since the PMI has been on the rise for several years, Bill predicts it should continue to increase for years to come, which is good news for Virginia’s already thriving plastics industry.

Second, U.S. durable goods orders are on the upward trend with five percent growth in 2014. Durable goods are items from toasters to aircraft meant to last three years or more. This increase shows hopeful signs for factory activity which have slowed in recent years.

Finally, U.S. plastic parts production has increased six percent in the past year. Low U.S. natural gas prices have helped increase domestic plastic production after a decline from the 2008 recession.

These three factors are strong indicators that the U.S. plastics industry will continue to grow in 2014. Since 2003, Virginia plastics firms have invested more than $1 billion and created more than 4,900 jobs. To learn more about Virginia’s plastics industry, click here.

Bill Wood, Founder of Mountaintop Economics & Research, presents at the Plastics News Executive Forum 2014.

Virginia’s Focus on Cybersecurity Remains Strong

Thursday, 6 March 2014 14:22 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Governor McAuliffe recently announced the launch of Cyber Virginia, a plan to establish the Virginia Cybersecurity Commission and augment Virginia’s leadership in cybersecurity...

Governor McAuliffe recently announced the launch of Cyber Virginia, a plan to establish the Virginia Cybersecurity Commission and augment Virginia’s leadership in cybersecurity.

The Commonwealth has a strong legacy in cybersecurity, and is well-positioned with the infrastructure to grow this sector. Virginia has the highest concentration of high-tech workers, according to Cyberstates 2013, and up to 70 percent of the world’s Internet traffic flows through Northern Virginia every day. Growth in the Commonwealth’s data center industry remains robust — investment topped $1 billion in 2012 — positioning Virginia as the place to be for companies moving towards cloud computing.

Virginia’s close proximity to the federal government’s cybersecurity operations also played a role in establishing its leadership position. The Commonwealth is home to the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity and Communication Integration Center, and DARPA.

Virginia’s premier institutions of higher education are poised to maintain the Commonwealth’s leadership in technology through a healthy pipeline of skilled technology workers. Twenty-two of Virginia’s 23 community colleges offer training programs in cybersecurity.

In addition, the NSA and U.S. Department of Homeland Security named five Virginia schools as National Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education: George Mason University, Hampton University, James Madison University, Marymount University, and Norfolk State University. Virginia Tech was named a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Research.

To highlight a couple of these programs, Virginia Tech offers the Hume Center for National Security and Technology, which researches intelligence applications of cyberattacks and defense. The university also provides students with real world experience through its IT Security Lab. In partnership with the Naval Postgraduate School and L-3 Communications, Virginia Tech hosts the Cybersecurity Innovations Laboratory at its Arlington campus.

In one of our recent blogs, we mentioned George Mason University’s expertise as the author of the VEDP Cybersecurity Export Market Report. GMU is home to the International Cyber Center and founded the Center for Secure Information Systems in 1990, which was the first academic center in security in the U.S. and one of the NSA’s original Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education.

To learn more about Virginia’s leadership in cybersecurity and the overall technology industry, click here.

A view of the Virginia Tech Research Center — Arlington, which houses the Northern Virginia location of the Hume Center for National Security and Technology.

Richmond’s Legend Brewing Co. Celebrates 20 Years

Thursday, 27 February 2014 14:23 by Info@YesVirginia.org
With the craft brewery movement quickly gaining speed over the last two years, Legend Brewing Co.’s 20-year history makes it Virginia’s oldest craft brewery still in operation. It is also the largest independently-owned craft brewing company in the Commonwealth...

With the craft brewery movement quickly gaining speed over the last two years, Legend Brewing Co.’s 20-year history makes it Virginia’s oldest craft brewery still in operation. It is also the largest independently-owned craft brewing company in the Commonwealth.

In January 1994, founder Tom Martin opened a small tasting room and pub off West 7th Street, then a gravel road in Richmond’s historic Old Manchester district. He started with four beers — the quickly popular Brown Ale, Lager, Pilsner and Porter.

What began as a 10-barrel brewhouse with four fermenters and four finishing tanks has grown into a 30-barrel brewhouse with 37 fermenters and 10 finishing tanks. In addition, the small tasting room has blossomed into a full restaurant with seating for 180 inside and 200 on the deck. Its location right on the James River with unobstructed views of the city skyline quickly made this a Richmond hot spot.

The rise of the farm-to-table and locally-grown movements have made the experience of visiting a craft brewery increasingly popular. Legend beers are unpasteurized and made with simple, natural ingredients — barley malt, hops, water and yeast. In addition, beer-lovers can enjoy a tour of the brewery followed by a tasting and meal, all enjoyed within an historic setting.

Legend has become a mainstay in Virginia’s ever-growing food and beverage industry because of its focus on delivering high-quality, fresh products. It is also one of the few craft breweries that produce both lagers and ales, which require a different process and ingredients.

Virginia’s beer industry has grown by leaps and bounds over the last few years. According to the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, there were 46 breweries in 2011. That number increased to 63 in 2012 and 75 in 2013, with most of the growth coming from the craft brewery niche. Part of that growth is attributable to Senate Bill 604, signed in May 2012, which allows beer manufacturers to sell and sample beer on their premises without obtaining a second restaurant license.

With the Brewer’s Association reporting 70 more breweries in the planning stages in Virginia, the Commonwealth’s craft brewery industry is poised to continue its positive momentum. Virginia has proven to be a successful location for entrepreneurs and food and beverage companies alike, making it an ideal choice for the craft brewery market. To learn more, click here.

Virginia Ranked Top 3 in LEED Green Building Certifications

Monday, 24 February 2014 17:05 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The U.S. Green Building Council recently named Virginia No. 3 for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certifications as part of its annual ranking...

The U.S. Green Building Council recently named Virginia No. 3 for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certifications as part of its annual ranking.

LEED is one of the most well-recognized and respected green building certification programs in the world, incorporating design, construction, maintenance and operational aspects into its environmentally-friendly analysis.

More than 57,000 commercial and institutional projects currently participate in LEED, comprised of 10.5 billion square feet of construction space in 147 countries. Each day more than 1.5 million square feet of space is LEED-certified.

In 2013, Virginia had 160 projects LEED-certified, which encompassed 16.8 million square feet of space and 2.11 square feet per capita. The ranking is based on per capita numbers to allow for a fair comparison among different population levels.

The office and retail space at 1776 Wilson Boulevard in Arlington, Va., received recognition as a notable project. It is the first commercial building in Arlington to earn LEED Platinum certification.

“As the economy recovers, green buildings continue to provide for jobs at every professional level and skill set from carpenters to architects,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair, USGBC.

Investment in green-building infrastructure creates real economic value in the form of lower energy costs up front, and the reduction in greenhouse gases ensures a sustainable future for the environment and future generations.

Virginia’s leadership in this area is yet another example of the innovative environment the Commonwealth offers to business owners. To learn more about Virginia’s unique resources that have allowed companies to prosper here for more than 400 years, click here.

VEDP Publishes Cybersecurity Export Market Report

Friday, 21 February 2014 14:17 by Info@YesVirginia.org
This week, VEDP announced the release of its Cybersecurity Export Market Report. The report was prepared by George Mason University as part of VEDP’s Going Global Defense Initiative to help Virginia defense companies mitigate the impact of sequestration by growing their sales internationally...

This week, VEDP announced the release of its Cybersecurity Export Market Report. The report was prepared by George Mason University as part of VEDP’s Going Global Defense Initiative to help Virginia defense companies mitigate the impact of sequestration by growing their sales internationally.

The Cybersecurity Export Market Report identifies the top 10 foreign markets that provide the best opportunities for exporting cybersecurity technologies. In-depth analysis of each market includes information on political and legal issues, market size and growth, market entry strategies, competition, trade agreements, and government programs and policies.

The top 10 markets for U.S. Cybersecurity exports are:

  1. Saudi Arabia
  2. United Arab Emirates
  3. Qatar
  4. Kuwait
  5. South Korea
  6. Brazil
  7. Japan
  8. United Kingdom
  9. Australia
  10. Indonesia

George Mason University is renowned for its expertise in information systems security. GMU founded the Center for Secure Information Systems in 1990, which was the first academic center in security in the U.S. and one of the NSA’s original Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education. GMU is also home to the International Cyber Center.

With the highest concentration of high-tech workers in the nation, Virginia is a leader in technology and its companies are at the forefront of developments in cybersecurity, including cryptography, forensics, intrusion detection and firewall devices.

In addition to an established industry base, Virginia is home to a number of federal agencies that focus on cybersecurity, including the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity and Communication Integration Center, and DARPA.

To download the Cybersecurity Export Market Report click here, and to learn more about Virginia’s leadership in technology, click here.

Broadband Access is Key to Economic Growth in Healthcare IT

Tuesday, 11 February 2014 15:01 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Access to broadband and faster internet speeds has increasingly become a catalyst for economic growth. This is especially important in high-tech sectors, such as Healthcare IT, as we move further into the knowledge economy...

Access to broadband and faster internet speeds has increasingly become a catalyst for economic growth. This is especially important in high-tech sectors, such as Healthcare IT, as we move further into the knowledge economy.

The Virginia Center for Innovative Technology recently released its annual 2013 Healthcare IT Assessment, which again points to Virginia’s position as a technology leader.

First, access to broadband has increased. Since 2010, the percentage of the Virginia population with access to broadband has grown from 33 percent to 97 percent.

Second, Virginia is a national leader in broadband speed. In 2013, the Commonwealth was able to increase its average download speed by 33 percent to 11.1 Mbps (megabits per second), moving Virginia up to a No. 3 national ranking. Virginia remains well ahead of the national average, which is 8.7 Mbps.

Third, Virginia also improved its average peak connection speed. In 2013, the Commonwealth increased its peak connection speed to 44 Mbps, vs. the national average of 36.3 Mbps. This puts the Commonwealth at a No. 6 ranking and reflects a year-over-year improvement of 29 percent.

These increases in broadband access and speed are helping to grow sectors, such as Healthcare IT, that require the transmission of large amounts of data. In 2013, Virginia ranked No. 3 in hospital-based adoption of Electronic Medical Records. Over the last four years, Virginia hospitals have consistently shown greater than 90 percent adoption rate of EMR. Other medical providers across the Commonwealth are also closing the gap in early adoption of EMR, with 86.5 percent of Virginia physicians participating in 2013.

To continue improving care and offer a higher quality of service to patients, the next step for healthcare providers is participation in initiatives, such as Healthcare Information Exchanges and Telehealth Services. According to the study, 50 percent of Virginia hospitals participated in HIE and 58.6 percent offered Telehealth Services in 2013.

The CIT study illustrates how Virginia’s leadership in building a robust broadband network has laid the groundwork for growth in high-tech sectors like Healthcare IT. To learn more about Virginia’s innovative, technology-driven environment and how the Commonwealth can help your business, click here.

Virginia Values Veterans — Helping Employers Reenergize their Labor Pool

Monday, 27 January 2014 14:15 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia Values Veterans, also known as V3, is an initiative to help Virginia companies better reach out to veterans as part of their talent acquisition strategy and make Virginia the most veteran-friendly state in the country...

Virginia Values Veterans, also known as V3, is an initiative to help Virginia companies better reach out to veterans as part of their talent acquisition strategy and make Virginia the most veteran-friendly state in the country.

More than 18,000 people exit Virginia military bases each year and enter the civilian workforce. While most programs are geared towards helping veterans navigate this change, V3 is unique because it trains the employers on how to attract and retain these valuable workers.

V3 is managed by the Virginia Department of Veterans Services. Since the program was first announced in June 2012, 161 certified organizations have pledged 5,218 jobs to veterans and made 3,099 hires to date.

The program offers employers access to training, coaching and networks for best-practices sharing on how to build their veteran-employment pipeline. V3 is targeting companies with less than 1,000 employees because this group represents the majority of total hiring decisions.

Interested employers begin by taking a free online assessment test to determine their current level of vet friendliness and readiness for the V3 Certification Process. By completing milestones at each stage, employers earn V3 Certification from Bronze to Gold level.

The program is expected to be a win-win, reducing veteran unemployment and helping companies gain access to a skilled pipeline of workers they might otherwise miss out on.

V3 is hosting its 2014 Kick-Off Conference in Richmond on February 11. To sign up and learn more, visit http://virginiavaluesvets.com/.

The Launch Place Brings Entrepreneurs to Virginia’s Dan River Region

Tuesday, 14 January 2014 16:22 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Launch Place is bringing businesses to Southern Virginia. As the leading entity to recruit and support entrepreneurs in the Dan River Region, the organization announced its first seed fund investment in KSI Data Sciences...

The Launch Place is bringing businesses to Southern Virginia. As the leading entity to recruit and support entrepreneurs in the Dan River Region, the organization announced its first seed fund investment in KSI Data Sciences.

KSI will receive an initial investment of $150,000, and another $100,000 after successfully testing its prototype for video and data management solutions used in remote sensing platforms on unmanned aircrafts, vehicles and mobile devices. The KSI team plans to relocate to the Dan River District later this month.

Formerly called the Southside Business Technology Center, the Launch Place has assisted start-ups and early stage companies since 2005. After receiving a $10 million grant from the Danville Region Foundation in 2012, the organization was able to add seed funding to its capabilities as a business incubator and rebranded itself as the Launch Place.

What makes the Launch Place unique is its strategy of recruiting entrepreneurs, and then providing the support to allow their businesses to organically grow in the Dan River Region. Through a partnership with VT KnowledgeWorks, entrepreneurs in the program receive free mentoring through the planning, launch and growth stages of starting a business. The Launch Place team also provides a variety of business consulting services, including business plan development, market research, financial modeling and competitor analysis.

The Launch Place helps entrepreneurs reduce start-up costs by offering residential housing and office space subsidies to entrepreneurs that commit to stay in Danville for three years. The Dan River District provides a great place to live, work and play through its historic downtown area, riverfront walking and biking trails, plentiful water sports, concerts, festivals and other recreational activities.

The Launch Place is another example of the innovative support that Virginia offers to entrepreneurs and small business owners. To learn more, click here

A view of the Launch Place headquarters in the historic downtown area of the Dan River District.

Orbital Sciences Launches First Cargo Resupply Mission to the International Space Station

Thursday, 9 January 2014 16:33 by Info@YesVirginia.org
At 1:07 p.m. today, Orbital Sciences successfully launched its first resupply mission to the International Space Station from Pad-OA of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore...

At 1:07 p.m. today, Orbital Sciences successfully launched its first resupply mission to the International Space Station from Pad-OA of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

Orbital Sciences’ Antares rocket launched the Cygnus spacecraft into Earth’s orbit, where it is currently traveling towards the ISS at approximately 17,500 mph. The spacecraft is expected to rendezvous with the ISS early Sunday morning.

Cygnus is carrying 2,780 pounds of supplies to the Expedition 38 crew, including science experiments, provisions for the crew, spare parts and experiment hardware. The payload includes 23 science experiments that will involve more than 8,600 students across the U.S. and Canada.

Known as the Orb-1 Mission, this is the first actual resupply mission to the ISS following a successful demonstration mission to the ISS in September.

As part of its $1.9 billion Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA, the Orb-1 Mission is the first of eight resupply missions to the ISS, expected to deliver approximately 20,000 kilograms of cargo through 2016.

The Orb-1 Mission comes right on the heels of a positive announcement from the Obama Administration — the president approved an extension of the ISS through 2024, allowing for the possibility of more resupply missions past 2016.

The success of today’s launch is another illustration of Virginia’s leadership in the space industry. Through MARS, Virginia offers one of only four commercial sites authorized for orbital space launches.

To learn more about Virginia’s thriving aerospace industry, click here.

A view of the Antares rocket ready for launch from Pad-OA of MARS at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Photo courtesy of NASA/Bill Ingalls.

YesVirginia Business Blog | A place for news, opinions, and information regarding the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.

Forbes.com Names Virginia A Best State for Business

onsdag, 12 november 2014 17:41 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia has done it again, receiving another top ranking on the Forbes.com annual Best States for Business study. Virginia ranked No. 4 this year and had previously held the No. 1 or 2 spot since the inception of the study in 2006. While we are accustomed to a higher billing, Virginia is honored to receive the continued recognition from Forbes as a best state for business...

Virginia has done it again, receiving another top ranking on the Forbes.com annual Best States for Business study. Virginia ranked No. 4 this year and had previously held the No. 1 or 2 spot since the inception of the study in 2006. While we are accustomed to a higher billing, Virginia is honored to receive the continued recognition from Forbes as a best state for business.

The Forbes.com ranking is based on six categories pulled from 36 points of data — costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life.

Highlights for the Commonwealth of Virginia include the No. 1 ranking for its regulatory environment. Forbes.com touted Virginia’s strong incentive offerings and business-friendly government policies.

Virginia ranked No. 2 for labor supply and was the top state on the East Coast. The Commonwealth’s skilled and well-educated workforce has long been esteemed by Virginia companies as a key component in their success. In addition, Virginia has the highest concentration of high-tech workers according to the TechAmerica Foundation’s Cyberstates 2013.

Virginia received a No. 5 ranking for quality of life. The Commonwealth’s favorable cost of living combined with access to natural resources, from the ocean to the mountains, and its historical, cultural and sports and entertainment offerings make Virginia a great place to live and work.

Concern over the effects of sequestration led to a lower score in the growth prospects category, ultimately affecting Virginia’s overall ranking this year. The growth prospects category includes a five-year forecast from Moody’s Analytics.

VEDP and the Virginia economic development community have long realized the potential impact of sequestration to our economy, and today’s No. 4 ranking further illustrates the new economic challenge facing Virginia.    

The Commonwealth is committed to attracting new jobs and capital investment, and cultivating new economic growth through a proactive and aggressive economic development program. Initiatives like VEDP’s Going Global Defense Initiative, which helps Virginia defense companies mitigate the impact of federal spending cuts by launching an international strategy and growing revenue in markets overseas, will play an important role as we build a new Virginia economy.

In the meantime, Virginia takes pride in our strong showing in the 2014 Forbes.com Best States for Business report. We continue to be ranked a best state because Virginia offers a business-friendly environment, favorable operating costs, a top workforce and premier East Coast location and transportation network. To learn why companies have prospered in the Commonwealth for more than 400 years, click here.

Photo courtesy of Virginia Tourism Corp.

Global Center for Automotive Performance Simulation Established in Halifax County

fredag, 7 november 2014 16:14 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Global Center for Automotive Performance Simulation was recently established in Halifax County, Va., through the merging of the National Tire Research Center and SoVa Motion...

The Global Center for Automotive Performance Simulation was recently established in Halifax County, Va., through the merging of the National Tire Research Center and SoVa Motion.

The facility will remain at the Virginia Motorsports Technology Park, adjacent to the Virginia International Raceway, which is the longest motorsports road course in the U.S. with 4.2 miles of tarmac.

The National Tire Research Center was established in 2010 through a public-private partnership among the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, General Motors, the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, and the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission.

The tire center houses the Flat Trac LTRe, an $11.3 million, high-performance tire testing machine that allows speeds of 200 mph on car, truck and motorsports vehicles. Due to strong customer demand, the center has grown from 13 to 26 employees, and expects to expand beyond 30 employees over the next year.

NTRC has previously partnered with SoVa Motion (Southern Virginia Vehicle Motion Lab), which is operated by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. SoVa Motion has an eight-post shaker rig and driving simulator which can replicate various road conditions and many of the world’s racing tracks to test driver performance, shock and suspension reaction, on-vehicle sensing, as well as virtually prototype vehicle components.

While the facilities have served major U.S. customers, such as General Motors, Goodyear Racing and NASCAR, rebranding as GCAPS reflects the increasing global scope of their customer base.

GCAPS will also build upon the success of its math modeling and simulation capabilities by adding a virtual design and integration laboratory. The facility will provide full performance testing of highway and racetrack vehicles in both physical and virtual environments.

GCAPS is a key part of Virginia’s Motorsports Alley and augments the Commonwealth’s strengths in the automotive industry. To learn why more than 150 automotive companies call Virginia home, click here.

Executive Director Frank Della Pia appears next to a tire testing machine at the newly-branded Global Center for Automotive Performance Simulation in Halifax County, Va. Photo courtesy of the Global Center for Automotive Performance Simulation.

VEDP Releases Two New Marketing Tools for Mobile Devices

fredag, 31 oktober 2014 15:26 by Info@YesVirginia.org
VEDP recently released two new marketing tools for use on mobile devices. First, the YesVA App version 2.0 was released to the Apple App Store. For those who have already downloaded the original app to your iPad or iPhone, you can obtain the new version in the Updates section of the App Store...

VEDP recently released two new marketing tools for use on mobile devices.

First, the YesVA App version 2.0 was released to the Apple App Store. For those who have already downloaded the original app to your iPad or iPhone, you can obtain the new version in the Updates section of the App Store.

New features for the YesVA App version 2.0 include:

  • Overall redesign to iOS 7 standards for design and user interface
  • The ability to filter properties by region
  • Better property grouping and functionality in map view
  • Better search functionality which matches the search function of the VirginiaScan desktop version

There were no changes made to the Android version. For those who have never downloaded the app, links to both the Apple and Android versions are available at http://www.YesVirginia.org/aboutus/app.

Second, we have also released the VEDP iBook. This interactive sales tool allows economic development professionals to present to clients on the road using only an iPad. The VEDP iBook links directly to VirginiaScan for property searches and the Compare Virginia tool for side-by-side comparisons between Virginia and other states and MSAs on key economic metrics.

Content also includes video testimonials from C-level industry peers and interactive graphical presentations of Virginia’s premier assets, including our workforce, infrastructure and transportation network.

These interactive tools are another demonstration of the innovation that is alive and well in the Commonwealth. We hope these will assist our economic development partners in marketing Virginia as the best state for business to companies across the globe. To learn more, click here.

A view of the VEDP iBook homepage.

Williamsburg-James City County School System Hosts Second Annual Manufacturing Day

onsdag, 29 oktober 2014 15:30 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Earlier this month, schools and companies partnered to host 17 events across Virginia as part of the second annual national Manufacturing Day campaign...

Earlier this month, schools and companies partnered to host 17 events across Virginia as part of the second annual national Manufacturing Day campaign.

One such event included students from Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools for the second year. Students, teachers and guidance counselors were given tours of the manufacturing plants at six local companies, including Anheuser-Busch, Ball Corp., Coresix Precision Glass, Owens-Illinois, Printpack Inc. and Walmart Distribution Center.

Students learned about the diversity of careers in manufacturing, as well the high-tech skills needed to pursue a career in advanced manufacturing.

The students also learned about the various paths available to prepare for this type of career. Representatives from Thomas Nelson Community College were on hand to discuss coursework they offer to prepare students to directly enter the manufacturing workforce or continue on to a four-year degree.

The event was sponsored by WJCC Public Schools, the Association for Manufacturing Excellence and James City County.

A WJCC guidance counselor also attended another Manufacturing Day event nearby at Newport News Shipbuilding. The program allowed 13 area high school guidance counselors to tour the Welding School and The Apprentice School to view hands-on demonstrations of trades training.

Manufacturing Day is a national program that encourages manufacturing companies across the U.S. to open their doors and provide tours for high school students in their communities. The purpose is to dispel misperceptions about the industry and inspire students to pursue careers in manufacturing after seeing the high-tech, rewarding career paths available to them.

The Manufacturing Day events in Virginia illustrate the Commonwealth’s leadership in preparing students for advanced manufacturing careers and developing a workforce with the skills to meet industry needs. To learn more, click here.

Virginia students tour the Anheuser-Busch control room and learn about the high-tech nature of today’s advanced manufacturing careers. Photo courtesy of the Association for Manufacturing Excellence.

VEDP Named a “Best in Class” Economic Development Group at IEDC Conference

mandag, 20 oktober 2014 13:22 by Info@YesVirginia.org
VEDP was named a “Best in Class” economic development organization today at the International Economic Development Council’s Annual Conference...

VEDP was named a “Best in Class” economic development organization today at the International Economic Development Council’s Annual Conference.

The results were tabulated by Development Counsellors International as part of its 2014 “Winning Strategies in Economic Development Marketing” report. DCI conducts a survey among U.S. corporate executives and site selection consultants every three years.

“The leading economic development organizations identified in this year’s survey set the standard across the country for being ‘Best in Class’ on so many levels and clearly stand out to site selectors across the country,” said DCI President Andrew T. Levine. “As states look at how to build and strengthen relationships with site selectors and influence corporate executives’ decisions on where to locate, invest and create jobs, ‘Winning Strategies’ provides a glimpse into the minds of this important audience.”

VEDP tied for sixth place with 15 percent of the responding executives and location advisors identifying us as a top economic development organization.

During FY2014, VEDP assisted on 183 projects that resulted in announcements of 15,029 new jobs and $5.19 billion in invested capital. These 183 projects will generate an estimated $280 million of new state tax revenue for Virginia after five years and approximately $620 million after 10 years. These projects will also generate an estimated $276 million of local tax revenue after five years and approximately $612 million after 10 years.

VEDP’s recognition as a “Best in Class” organization from one of our key markets — executives and location advisors — makes this award all the more meaningful and illustrates that we are on track to fulfill our mission:

"To enhance the quality of life and raise the standard of living for all Virginians, in collaboration with Virginia communities, through aggressive business recruitment, expansion assistance, and trade development, thereby expanding the tax base and creating higher-income employment opportunities."

To learn more about how VEDP can assist your business, click here.

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership will attend the German American Trade Association’s U.S. Entry Meeting in Stuttgart, Germany on March 29.

The German American Trade Association is a nonprofit organization that offers seminars and advice on site selection, funding, customs affairs, and finding agents and distributors for companies looking to do business with the U.S.

Ryland Potter, a member of VEDP’s Business Investment division, will serve as a foreign direct investment expert and speak on subsidies and grants available to German companies looking to expand into the U.S. market.

Virginia is a leading gateway to successful business in North America, with more than 550 internationally-owned companies choosing to call the Commonwealth home.

"Companies thinking about establishing a subsidiary in the U.S. attend GATA meetings to get the most up-to-date information in order to assess their potential,” said Luisa Blumfeld, GATA’s Marketing Director.

VEDP values its partnership with the German American Trade Association and the opportunity to meet with companies directly to showcase Virginia as a location to do business.

International companies have invested more than $8.3 billion over the past 10 years. To learn why so many companies choose to invest in Virginia, click here.

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Virginia Rises to Second in Atlantic Region in Annual Workforce Development Rankings

Wednesday, 1 February 2017 14:25 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Virginia rose from fourth to second in the Atlantic region in a recent analysis of state workforce development activities conducted by Site Selection Magazine.

Site Selection’s third annual state workforce development rankings provide a general sense of which states, in a given region, are devoting sufficient or superior resources to preparing their workforces for current and future employment. The analysis looked at states’ commitment to skills development as measured by their spending on workforce development, K-12 preparation and the number of working-age adults deemed “career-ready.”

Among the eight ranked states, Virginia scored ahead of highly competitive states like Florida, North Carolina, Maryland, and Delaware, and tied with South Carolina.

“Virginia’s improved ranking is further evidence that we’re making significant progress toward building a 21st century workforce,” said Governor McAuliffe. “We know that workforce is the number one factor companies evaluate when making a decision to locate a new facility or expand their existing business.  We’re pleased to see our position improve relative to our regional competitors and will continue our efforts to assure our position as a leader in workforce development and education.”

Virginia offers customized recruiting and training services through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program (VJIP). To learn more about this economic development incentive, click here.

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Virginia Economic Developers Recognized in National Ranking

Wednesday, 25 January 2017 14:20 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Five of Virginia’s top economic developers were recognized on Consultant Connect’s 2017 list of North America’s Top 50 Economic Developers last week.

Consultant Connect, an agency designed to bridge the gap between economic developers and site consultants, announced its annual list of leaders in the industry. The recognized economic development professionals were nominated by their colleagues in both the economic development industry and the site consultant community for excellent practices and innovation and success in building the communities they serve.

Virginia tied for the second most appearances of any state on the list of top economic developers. We are thrilled to congratulate:

    - Pandy Brazeau, Virginia Economic Development Partnership

·         - Carrie Chenery, Shenandoah Valley Partnership

·         - Beth Doughty, Roanoke Regional Partnership

·         - Megan Lucas, Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance

·         - Buddy Rizer, Loudoun County Department of Economic Development

This recognition is a testament to Virginia’s dedicated economic development team at the state, regional and local levels. VEDP is proud to work with such a committed team, and we are thrilled to have so many colleagues recognized on this list.

 

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Staying Focused on What Really Matters

Friday, 16 December 2016 14:39 by Info@YesVirginia.org

As 2016 comes to a close, we want to recognize the economic development profession throughout Virginia that works tirelessly for the common good, and in particular, to the dedicated employees of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership Authority (VEDP).

As leaders of the Board of Directors of VEDP—which by anyone’s measure, just experienced its most difficult year of operation since its formation in 1995—we are wrestling with deep problems facing VEDP, the economy and some systemic ones woven into the very fabric of how our Commonwealth approaches economic development. We are, however, optimistic because we know that economic development partners across the state are taking actions necessary to fortify Virginia’s future.

For our part, the VEDP Board is engaged. In 2014, Don Seale, then Chairman of the VEDP Board of Directors, realized that fundamental changes were needed inside the organization.  Don called for the creation of a Chief Operating Officer position and recruited Dan Gundersen to help reset VEDP. Dan’s initial focus was on strategic direction, creative programming, engaging employees, and assuring greater management control and accountability procedures.

We began to peel back the layers of VEDP. Dan Gundersen produced for the Board a first-ever Strategic Review that serves today as the guidepost for a 3-5 year action strategy for VEDP. A new compensation plan was adopted which provided pay equity across positions. We evaluated funding models for 49 other states’ economic development entities, produced new top-line metrics, put in place a robust communications strategy for the external partners and encouraged new avenues for employee input and engagement.   

We (Chris Lumsden and Dan Clemente) succeeded Don Seale as Chairman and Vice-Chairman respectively and the first thing we decided to do was to hear from our stakeholders. We conducted a Listening Tour that involved over 150 economic development professionals, public officials, and business interests in all regions of Virginia and more than 80 counties. We learned that over several years’ time, VEDP’s approach to marketing and deals had alienated many of its stakeholders and contributed to a crisis of confidence.

In March of this year, we asked Dan Gundersen to serve as Interim President and CEO, as well as COO, to help turn around VEDP. He demonstrated great courage and collaborative leadership skills in managing VEDP during a period of serious political stress and organizational crisis. Working with the Board’s Finance and Audit Committee, the VEDP team put in place solid due diligence procedures for discretionary grants, cleaned up twenty years of Governor Opportunity Fund records, and delved into data integrity and integration issues. VEDP also moved its 55,000 square-foot headquarters to new space that saved the Commonwealth over $1.8 million. The new headquarters is designed with open spaces and glass offices and, quite literally, sends a clear message to all that VEDP is a transparent organization that is reinventing itself for the next generation of economic development.   

By mid-summer, again with direct involvement of key Board leaders, input from the Joint Legislative Audit & Review Commission (JLARC) team and independent management consultants, VEDP was prepared to roll out a reorganization. Dan Gundersen successfully led VEDP through the difficult reorganization process, with input from a core planning group, cross-functional work teams, and facilitated focus groups of employees throughout the organization. Three new market-facing divisions were established: Business Investment, Competitive Initiatives and Workforce Development. They operate alongside VEDP’s International Trade team to support businesses.

New management in key spots has infused new energy and determination to have VEDP become recognized as the very best economic development organization in the country. We are pleased that Stephen Moret will join us at the helm in January.

Our work is not over—far from it. But we have laid a solid foundation on which to build a bright future for economic growth in Virginia. This would not have happened without the active support of Virginia’s economic development professionals. We thank you and look forward to continuing to work closely with you as we enter into the new year with renewed confidence and enthusiasm.

Sincerely,

Dan Clemente, Chairman of the Board
Vince Mastracco, Vice-Chairman of the Board
Chris Lumsden, previous Chairman of the Board

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Getting to Know: New River Valley

Thursday, 1 September 2016 16:30 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Throughout the year, VEDP embarks on regional familiarization trips, or FAM tours. In August, Charlie Jewell of the New River Valley Alliance lead a small group from VEDP on a tour around the New River Valley (NRV), which included 20 visits to local businesses.

The NRV covers more than 200 square miles and is home to Giles County, Pulaski County, Floyd County, Montgomery County, the City of Radford and Towns of Blacksburg and Christiansburg. With a growing population of 183,000, the NRV has an incredibly diverse and robust economy for its size.

In 2015, the region had the second highest job growth rate in Virginia, and this year, Area Development Magazine listed the NRV as having the fourth best workforce in the nation. The Valley is also a constant recipient of quality of life accolades thanks to the area’s beautiful mountainous setting and charming small town atmosphere. The NRV is also bolstered by their esteemed universities, including Virginia Tech and Radford, in addition to the New River Valley Community College.

On the tour, VEDP visited a wide array of business including Red Sun Farms, Jackson Park Inn, Floyd Commerce Park, Rackspace, Virginia Tech’s Corporate Research Center and the Riverbend Facility.

To learn more about Virginia’s wide variety of communities, click here.


Members from VEDP tour available building space in the New River Valley.

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Virginia’s Woodworking Industry Provides Solid Foundation

Friday, 26 August 2016 14:31 by Info@YesVirginia.org

This week, VEDP is attending the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta, Georgia. We had the opportunity to partner with our state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and Department of Forestry to promote Virginia and its forest products, emphasizing the importance of the industry in the Commonwealth.

More than 31,000 people were employed by over 900 companies in Virginia’s wood products industry in 2015, which had a direct economic output of $10.3 billion and supported an additional output of $7.1 billion.

Virginia’s strategic mid-Atlantic location and superior transportation network provide access to 43 percent of the U.S. population located within a one-day (10 hour) drive. These assets combined with access to the Port of Virginia and a direct connection to over 100 foreign ports make an ideal location for wood industry companies.

Virginia’s higher education system provides education and training programs to bolster the Commonwealth’s workforce and therefore Virginia businesses. Virginia Tech’s Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation is home to the following research centers: Conservation Management Institute, Center for Geospatial Information Technology and Virginia Water Resources Research Center. Virginia State University partners with Virginia Tech to run the Virginia Cooperative Extension to offer programs such as the Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program and the Virginia SHARP Logger Program. Blue Ridge Community College has a Die Cutting and Packaging program to generate skilled technicians for the paperboard packaging industry.

In the past decade, wood products companies in Virginia have announced projects worth $3.8 billion in pledged investment and more than 10,100 pledged jobs. To learn why companies choose Virginia click here.

YesVirginia Business Blog | A place for news, opinions, and information regarding the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.

Craft Beer Industry Thrives in Virginia

Thursday, 5 May 2016 09:22 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Virginia is celebrating Business Appreciation Month in Philadelphia this week by showcasing local breweries during BrewExpo America, the country’s largest craft brewery industry gathering.

America’s beer-brewing tradition began more than 400 years ago in historic Jamestown. Today, more than 130 licensed breweries call Virginia home and have an economic impact of $1 billion. The Commonwealth’s craft brewing industry began to flourish in 2012 when a new state law allowed breweries to sell their beer for on-premises consumption. In 2015, Virginia craft brewers produced 274,111 barrels of beer – 346% more than in 2011.

Across the Commonwealth, communities are engaged in helping the craft beer industry thrive. Virginia Tech hosts the largest, and one of few remaining, barley breeding programs in the eastern U.S. The university is also home to a state-of-the-art, new brewhouse and malting system to support industry research in fermentation and brewing.

The first commercial-scale hops drying and pelletizing facility in the Mid-Atlantic was created by Lucketts Mill & HopWorks at Black Hops Farm in Loudoun County. Michigan-based Pilot Malt House announced the opening of its second artisan craft malting operation in Loudoun County in 2015 at Black Hops Farm. The project is a collaboration between the Commonwealth, Loudoun County and Pilot Malt House and includes funding from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund.

Richmond’s Hardywood has been a key player in Virginia’s thriving craft beer industry. Founded by lifelong friends, Hardywood has been brewing beer since 2011. The brewery’s beers have earned international praise with medals at the World Beer Cup and Great American Beer Festival in addition to receiving a rare 100 rating by BeerAdvocate Magazine. Hardywood was rated Virginia's Top Brewery by RateBeer.com users and Thrillist.com recognized it as Virginia’s Best Brewery. The Greater Richmond Chamber Business Council awarded Hardywood the Business of the Year Award in 2013.

In Alexandria, Port City Brewing Company opened its brewery in January 2011 to create more options for quality, locally produced craft beer to Northern Virginia. Port City Brewing Company was named Small Brewing Company of the Year at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival in Denver, and has received numerous awards and recognition since 2011.

Virginia is proud to showcase its craft beer assets and local breweries at BrewExpo America. Governor Terry McAuliffe hosted a Virginia craft beer reception along with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Virginia’s craft brewing community and our partners.

As we celebrate Virginia Business Appreciation Month, the craft beer industry serves as a great example of the passion and dedication of Virginia entrepreneurs. To learn why the Commonwealth is a great location to grow a business, click here.


Virginia team during BrewExpo America 2016

Mechatronics Curriculum Likely to Give Mega Boost to Roanoke’s Workforce Pipeline

Wednesday, 6 April 2016 10:03 by Info@YesVirginia.org

The Roanoke Valley Region has recently become a magnet for the automotive industry.

Italy-based ELDOR Corporation, a leading automotive supplier of ignition coils and systems, engine and electronic control units and full systems for hybrids, is the latest company to establish an operation in Botetourt County. A major deciding factor for the company was the region’s skilled workforce.

Thanks to Virginia Western Community College’s (VWCC) advanced technology education programs, there is a strong pipeline of skilled workers to serve the area’s growing automotive industry. VWCC offers an Associate degree in Applied Science with a focus on Mechatronic Systems Engineering Technology—a cross-discipline that combines mechanical, electrical and computer engineering to meet high performance manufacturing industry standards. The community college also offers a Siemens Mechatronic Systems Certification Program to prepare students to work in the ever-growing complex technology industry. 

Students have access to the Fab Lab at VWCC, giving them digital fabrication resources as a platform for their own innovation and inventions. Automated Manufacturing instructor Daniel Horine showcased VWCC’s impressive equipment and training capabilities following the Governor’s ELDOR announcement last month. Attendees, including ELDOR’s executive team, got a personal tour of the community college’s Fab Lab.

The Mechatronics program at VWCC is a great testament to how higher education works to provide students with industry specific skills and create a steady workforce pipeline for area employers. To learn more about Virginia’s 23 community colleges, located on 40 campuses around the state, click here.


VWCC Automated Manufacturing instructor Daniel Horine gives ELDOR executives a tour of the Fab Lab.

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Governor McAuliffe Signs Memorandum of Understanding with Jeollanam-do Provincial Government to Enhance Economic Activity

Thursday, 25 February 2016 09:58 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Governor McAuliffe Signs Memorandum of Understanding with South Korea’s Jeollanam-do Provincial Government to strengthen economic and cultural ties. VEDP joined Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore at the signing ceremony, and look forward to enhancing economic activity.

Governor McAuliffe Signs Memorandum of Understanding with South Korea’s Jeollanam-do Provincial Government to strengthen economic and cultural ties.

VEDP joined Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore at the signing ceremony, and look forward to enhancing economic activity.

The Commonwealth and Jeollanam-do Province share a common desire to exchange information to enhance mutually beneficial economic and cultural activity, including research and development, governmental collaboration, and other related activity pertaining to growth industries, including information and communication technology, agriculture, logistics, energy, and other areas within the global market.

Over the past four decades, the Republic of Korea has demonstrated incredible economic growth and global integration to become a high-tech industrialized economy. Today, the Republic of Korea is the world's 12th largest economy, and ranks 12th among Virginia export destinations. Some of the top opportunities for U.S. exporters in South Korea include:

  • Aerospace Industry
  • Defense Industry Equipment
  • Cosmetics
  • Energy: New and Renewable
  • Medical Equipment
  • Laboratory Scientific Instruments
  • Pollution Control Equipment
  • Education Services

This agreement solidifies the importance of leveraging partnerships in order to build a new Virginia economy. To learn more about Virginia’s global focus, click here.


Governor Terry McAuliffe and Governor Nak Yon Lee of Jeollanam-do Provincial Government celebrate signing of MOU.

Plastics Industry Thrives in Virginia

Wednesday, 17 February 2016 12:52 by Info@YesVirginia.org
This week, VEDP sponsored and attended the Plastics News Executive Forum in Naples, Florida. We had the opportunity to talk with many of the world’s top plastics processors and share the benefits of doing business in Virginia.

This week, VEDP sponsored and attended the Plastics News Executive Forum in Naples, Florida. We had the opportunity to talk with many of the world’s top plastics processors and share the benefits of doing business in Virginia.

Virginia’s strategic mid-Atlantic location and superior transportation network provide access to 43% of the U.S. population within a one-day (10 hour) drive. These assets combined with our competitive operating costs make an ideal location for plastics companies.

The Port of Virginia is a leading gateway to the global market, offering direct connection to over 100 foreign ports. The Port offers the single best infrastructure on the East Coast with no overhead obstructions, on-dock rail service, easy access to ocean lanes, and is the only East Coast port with Congressional authorization to dredge to 55 feet.

Virginia is home to over 200 plastics companies that employ more than 20,300 Virginians. A few companies who call Virginia home include Rubbermaid, TREX, General Packaging, Klockner Pentaplast, Hanwha Azdel and Variform.

Since 2005, plastics and advanced materials companies have invested $1.01 billion and created more than 4,600 new jobs in Virginia. To learn more about Virginia’s plastics industry, click here.

 
Panel of plastics professionals during the Plastics News Executive Forum.

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The Port of Virginia Reinvests in Richmond Marine Terminal

Wednesday, 10 February 2016 09:54 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Port of Virginia signed a lease to continue operation of Richmond Marine Terminal through 2056 allowing the port to implement a long-term strategy to reinvest in RMT.

The Port of Virginia signed a lease to continue operation of Richmond Marine Terminal through 2056 allowing the port to implement a long-term strategy to reinvest in RMT.

In order to modernize the 120-acre barge terminal, a $4.2 million 350-ton crane was installed at RMT, which will speed up the loading and unloading of the container barge.

A new barge was added with 50 percent more capacity to carry containers in a single trip. Rail upgrades, regular dredging, new cargo-moving equipment and other improvements are also scheduled to occur.

RMT is strategically located along the James River and I-95, and connects Richmond and the state to global trade through The Port of Virginia’s container terminals in the Norfolk Harbor.

The Port of Virginia offers direct service to more than 45 counties worldwide.