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...
YesVirginia Business Blog | All posts tagged 'Dr. Justin Barone'

Bioplastics — How One Virginia Company is Making Plastic out of Feathers

星期五, 28 三月 2014 11:45 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Eastern BioPlastics has successfully commercialized a process to make plastic out of chicken feathers. By using what was formerly a waste product, the company is making plastic components in a sustainable way...

Eastern BioPlastics has successfully commercialized a process to make plastic out of chicken feathers. By using what was formerly a waste product, the company is making plastic components in a sustainable way.

Co-founders Sonny Meyerhoeffer and Dr. Justin Barone established the company in Mount Crawford, Va., in 2008. They combined Meyerhoeffer’s background as an entrepreneur in the poultry industry with Barone’s engineering expertise as a professor at Virginia Tech to accomplish a difficult task — commercializing R&D into an effective process.

The company replaces up to 50 percent of the petroleum component of plastics with fiber made from chicken feathers. This chicken feather fiber, called feather fiber intermediate, has a number of advantages over petroleum. It is a renewable resource and makes use of something that was previously viewed as a waste product. In addition, the chicken feather fibers are very strong yet lightweight, making them ideal for plastic products.

Eastern BioPlastics has developed a proprietary technique that cleans and processes the chicken feathers in a cost-competitive way. The feather fiber intermediate is blended with polyolefins in a resin, and then extruded into pellet form. These pellets are then sold to original equipment manufacturers that use injection molding to form any number of end products for use in the automotive, furniture and sports equipment industries. The company is currently beta testing this product with customers.

Eastern BioPlastics has also developed a second product called Environmental BioProtector. Feathers are extremely oil absorbent; news coverage of massive oil spills illustrates how birds suffer because the oil becomes trapped in their feathers. The company has developed a product using chicken feathers to help clean up oil spills, from large-scale disasters to consumer use for car oil leaks. Environmental BioProtector is USDA certified and made of 99 percent bio-based material, making it one of the most eco-friendly and low cost oil absorbing solutions on the market today. The company has been selling this product since May 2013.

Creating an entirely new product in 2008 was no easy feat, especially during the economic downturn of 2009-2010. According to co-founder Meyerhoeffer, “Back then nobody wanted to take a chance on anything new. We had to figure out how to break in and create a market with a brand new product.”

When asked why he kept going during these early days, Meyerhoeffer responded, “I was never led to quit and we stayed at it because we knew there was something there that was better. You have to persevere through the tough times. I think a lot of entrepreneurs are that way. You know you’ve got something viable and it’s just about continuing through to the end.”

The founders of Eastern BioPlastics exemplify the entrepreneurial spirit and innovation that’s alive and well in the Commonwealth. To learn what Virginia offers and why it’s a great place to start a business, click here.

Eastern BioPlastics co-founder Sonny Meyerhoeffer displays his Bioplastic Composite Resins made from chicken feathers. 

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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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The Gateway Center for Enterprise Opens in Central Virginia

Thursday, 25 July 2013 16:43 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Today, Virginia’s Gateway Region opened The Gateway Center for Enterprise in Colonials Heights, Va., with the first of many third Thursday networking events...

Today, Virginia’s Gateway Region opened The Gateway Center for Enterprise in Colonials Heights, Va., with the first of many third Thursday networking events.

Today’s event was geared towards new entrepreneurs, with a speaker panel that provided information on how to start and grow a small business. Future third Thursday topics include how to access capital and leadership skills for innovators.

The focus of The Gateway Center is to support local entrepreneurs through a variety of programs, including training, networking events, one-on-one counseling, mentorship programs, and access to the office, library and resource center of Virginia’s Gateway Region. 

The Gateway Center was made possible through partnerships with The Center for Women's Enterprise at REDC Community Capital Group and the Crater Small Business Development Center at Longwood University. 

The center is housed within the main office of Virginia’s Gateway Region, a regional economic development group that supports the cities of Colonial Heights, Hopewell and Petersburg, and the counties of Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Prince George, Surry and Sussex.

Located in Central Virginia, the Gateway Region offers companies easy access to U.S. and international markets through Virginia’s premier transportation network. Advanced manufacturing, global logistics and food processing companies have been drawn to the area’s skilled workforce and access to top education and research institutions.

The Gateway Center is another example of the innovative environment Virginia offers to entrepreneurs. To learn more about starting a business in the Commonwealth, click here.

Virginia's Gateway Region houses The Gateway Center for Enterprise in Colonial Heights, Va.

High-tech “Fab Lab” Comes to Virginia’s Patrick Henry Community College

Monday, 22 July 2013 15:47 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) began offering tours of its Fab Lab this summer. The Fab Lab is short for digital fabrication laboratory, which gives students and local businesses access to 3D design and prototyping equipment to create new products and inventions...

Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) began offering tours of its Fab Lab this summer. The Fab Lab is short for digital fabrication laboratory, which gives students and local businesses access to 3D design and prototyping equipment to create new products and inventions.

The Fab Lab concept originated at MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms. In November 2011, PHCC, the New College Institute and Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation sponsored a two-week visit from the Mobile Fab Lab of the Carolinas. During that time the lab received more than 300 visits from interested students and community members.

Working with the same partners, PHCC was able to obtain funding from the Virginia Community College System to purchase equipment and establish its own Fab Lab.

Located at the The Artisan Center in Martinsville, the 1600-square-foot Fab Lab houses a Roland MDX 20 mini mill, Roland CAMM-1 Servo GX-24 vinyl cutter, Stratasys uPrint SE Plus FDM 3D printer, Morgan Industries Morgan Press G-100T Injection Molder, Formech 686 Vacuum Former, Universal Laser 4.60, Routermate 4’ x 4’ CNC router and Torchmate 2’ x 4’ CNC plasma cutter.

The 10 Dell workstations in the lab offer open source software, which allows entrepreneurs and students to seamlessly continue their work at home or in other locations.

The Fab Lab has generated a lot of interest among students and business partners in the community. Lab Coordinator Matthew Wade estimates the lab has seen more than 100 visitors since its soft launch in April.

The lab will host a grand-opening event this fall to coincide with its first class, a basic manufacturing class that will teach students and entrepreneurs how to use the equipment in the lab to bring their ideas to life.

“Inventors can create designs with our software, use the vinyl cutter and CNC mill to fabricate and carve out a circuit board, and then utilize our 3D printer to produce a working model of their new product idea,” said PHCC Lab Coordinator Matthew Wade.

The PHCC Fab Lab is another example of the cutting-edge technology available at Virginia’s colleges and universities, helping prepare a strong pipeline of technically-skilled workers. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s recent Enterprising States study, Virginia is the No. 1 state in STEM job concentration and has the No. 1 share of high-tech businesses.

To learn more about Virginia’s leading higher education system and workforce preparation programs, click here.

A view of the Patrick Henry Community College Fab Lab in Martinsville, Va.

German Investment in Virginia Continues—PRUFREX Establishes First U.S. Location

Wednesday, 17 July 2013 16:23 by Info@YesVirginia.org
PRUFREX Innovative Power Products GmbH announced plans to establish its first U.S. location in Virginia Beach through a $7.33 million investment, which will create 60 new jobs. The project includes both a manufacturing facility as well as the company’s U.S. headquarters...

PRUFREX Innovative Power Products GmbH announced plans to establish its first U.S. location in Virginia Beach through a $7.33 million investment, which will create 60 new jobs. The project includes both a manufacturing facility as well as the company’s U.S. headquarters.

PRUFREX is a leading producer of digital ignition systems and electronic control systems for the small engine, marine and recreation, automotive, and electric and cordless power markets. The company’s global headquarters are in Cadolzburg, Germany.

The benefits of supply chain for economic development are apparent in this project—PRUFREX selected Virginia Beach over Georgia to be closer to two key customers, German-based BMZ Batteries and STIHL Inc.

STIHL opened its first U.S. plant in Virginia Beach in 1974, and has since grown to become the No. 1 brand of chain saws in the world. The company’s U.S. headquarters are now located in Virginia Beach, and since 1990 the company has announced investment of $335 million and 942 new jobs in the Commonwealth.

BMZ Batteries followed in April 2011, also establishing its U.S. headquarters in Virginia Beach to be close to STIHL and its other international customers. 

Germany has been in the top three for international investment and job creation in the Commonwealth over the last four years.

PRUFREX, BMZ Batteries and STIHL have all made reference to the quality of Virginia’s workforce, particularly its engineering and advanced manufacturing capabilities, as well as the Commonwealth’s strategic East location and ability to easily reach U.S. customers through its premier logistics infrastructure.

Virginia’s transportation network includes access to the international Port of Virginia, the only U.S. East Coast location able to handle post-Panamax vessels as first port of call, as well as an integrated system of six interstate highways, nine commercial airports and 14 railroads, including two Class I lines.

To learn why Virginia is home to more than 700 internationally-owned companies, click here.

Institute of Advanced Learning and Research Launches First Company—Dan River Plants

Tuesday, 16 July 2013 15:46 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Institute of Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) recently announced its first commercial spin-off, Dan River Plants, LLC...

The Institute of Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) recently announced its first commercial spin-off, Dan River Plants, LLC.

Dan River Plants uses micropropagation technology to create, clone and grow plants at a rapid rate. The technology was developed through collaboration between IALR’s Institute for Sustainable and Renewable Resources and Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. 

Micropropagation utilizes plant tissue cultures to grow identical plants by an order of magnitude, yielding rapid and reliable results. The company is producing both decorative plants, such as lilies, roses and azaleas, as well as biofuel crops. 

Dan River Plants plans to invest $1.3 million and create 27 new jobs to establish a facility at Ringgold East Industrial Park in Pittsylvania County, Va.

IALR was established in 2000 through partnerships among Virginia Tech, Averett University, Danville Community College, Pittsylvania County, City of Danville, Future of the Piedmont Foundation, Tobacco Indemnification Commission and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The center uniquely operates as a research and development facility, education leader, business incubator and conference center.

We have previously blogged on some of IALR’s programs, including its STEM Mobile Learning Lab and the Virginia Polymer Coalition.

IALR has strategically positioned itself to capitalize on the expertise found in Southern Virginia. The center focuses on four main areas of research, including sustainable and renewable resources, analytical chemistry, polymers and composites, and vehicle research.

IALR is yet another example of the innovative research and collaboration with universities that supports Virginia businesses, from start-up to late stage. To learn more about opportunities to co-locate with Virginia’s leading universities at R&D centers across the Commonwealth, click here.

Digital Realty Expands Campus in Loudoun County’s Data Center Alley

Thursday, 11 July 2013 15:22 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Digital Realty just announced a $150 million expansion to its data center campus in Virginia’s Loudoun County. The project is expected to create 50 new jobs over the next three years...

Digital Realty just announced a $150 million expansion to its data center campus in Virginia’s Loudoun County. The project is expected to create 50 new jobs over the next three years.

Digital Realty is the largest data center operator in Loudoun County, with more than one million square feet of space. The company’s latest building is expected to be 400,000 square feet and house 22 data centers.

This project is a strong follow-up to the company’s announcement last May. It broke ground on its fourth building in Loudoun County, representing an $80 million investment and the anticipated creation of 12 full-time jobs and 180 temporary positions.

Often called “Data Center Alley,” Loudoun County has become one of the top data center locations in the country. It currently maintains five million square feet of existing data center space with another three million square feet in development.

Loudoun County also handles up to 70 percent of the world’s internet traffic each day.

Fueled by increased customer demand for cloud computing, mobile applications and social networking, the data center industry continues to grow at a rapid pace. For calendar year 2012, data center announced investment topped $1 billion in Virginia.

The Commonwealth remains a prime location for data centers due to its advanced fiber infrastructure, abundant power redundancy, affordable energy rates and top notch IT workforce. Virginia has the highest concentration of high-tech workers according to Cyberstates 2013.

In addition, Virginia’s Retail Sales and Use Tax Exemption on qualified computer equipment helps data center operators lower their overall cost structure.

Virginia is home to 700 data centers establishments and has seen $5.8 billion in announced data center investment over the last decade. To learn why leaders like Amazon, Capital One, Digital Realty, Facebook, Google and Microsoft have all chosen the Commonwealth, click here.

Tempur Sealy International Expands in Scott County, Virginia

Monday, 8 July 2013 15:07 by Info@YesVirginia.org
On Wednesday, Tempur Sealy International, Inc. announced plans to expand its manufacturing facility in Scott County through a $13.3 million investment. The project will create 42 new jobs and allow the company to upgrade equipment and grow its Southwest Virginia operation...

On Wednesday, Tempur Sealy International, Inc. announced plans to expand its manufacturing facility in Scott County through a $13.3 million investment. The project will create 42 new jobs and allow the company to upgrade equipment and grow its Southwest Virginia operation.

The 500,000-square-foot facility has successfully operated at Duffield Industrial Park for 12 years, producing mattresses and pillows for the company’s Tempur-Pedic brand.

Temper Sealy is the largest bedding provider in the world and changed its name in March to reflect Tempur-Pedic’s $1.3 billion acquisition of Sealy Corp., announced in the fall of 2012. The Company's portfolio of iconic brand names includes Tempur®, Tempur-Pedic®, Sealy®, Sealy Posturepedic®, Optimum™ and Stearns & Foster®.

Virginia was chosen over New Mexico for this project due to the high quality of Southwest Virginia’s manufacturing workforce, low cost of operations and strategic location, with prime access to I-77 and I-81.

As part of the Virginia’s e-Region, Southwest Virginia has a strong legacy of supporting leading manufacturing and technology companies through its focus on electronic information technology, energy, education and emerging manufacturing specialties.

To learn why manufacturing companies continue to select Virginia, investing more than $13.7 billion over the last decade, click here.

Canon Virginia Adds Toner Manufacturing Operation to Newport News Facility

Friday, 28 June 2013 14:35 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Canon Virginia Inc. recently announced plans to include toner manufacturing at its headquarters location in Newport News, Va., through a $27 million investment...

Canon Virginia Inc. recently announced plans to include toner manufacturing at its headquarters location in Newport News, Va., through a $27 million investment.

Canon Virginia has successfully operated in Newport News since 1985, serving as the manufacturing hub of Canon U.S.A., a subsidiary of Japan-based Canon Inc. The Newport News campus includes a factory service center and manufacturing operations for a variety of Canon products, including copiers, printers and cartridges.

Governor McDonnell met with Canon Inc. officials while in Tokyo as part of his recent Asia Marketing Mission.

By allocating 30,000 square feet of upgraded space to this project, Canon Virginia will improve efficiencies by manufacturing both the ink toner and cartridges all in one location.

Canon Virginia employs nearly 2,000 Virginians across the Commonwealth, and the company has invested more than $371 million in its Virginia operations in the last four years.

World-class manufacturing companies like Canon Inc. continue to invest in the Commonwealth due to its competitive operating environment, highly-skilled manufacturing workforce and premier logistics infrastructure.

To learn why manufacturing companies have invested more than $13.7 billion in Virginia over the last decade, click here.

Intelliject CEO Wins E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year 2013 Greater Washington Award

Wednesday, 26 June 2013 13:16 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Intelliject President & CEO Spencer Williamson recently won the Ernst & Young (E&Y) Entrepreneur of the Year 2013 Greater Washington award in the Health Services and Technology category...

Intelliject President & CEO Spencer Williamson recently won the Ernst & Young (E&Y) Entrepreneur of the Year 2013 Greater Washington Award in the Health Services and Technology category.

Based in Richmond, Va., Intelliject was founded in 2004 by twin brothers Eric and Evan Edwards in an effort to find a more user-friendly solution to administer epinephrine in the event of anaphylactic shock. Both brothers had suffered from severe allergies since childhood.

That solution became the Auvi-Q device, the first and only epinephrine auto-injector with voice instructions. Auvi-Q provides step-by-step voice instructions along with visual cues and a five-second countdown to help ensure the medication is delivered quickly and accurately during a potentially life-threatening situation.

After years of development, Auvi-Q is now on the fast track. The company received FDA approval for the device in August 2012 and reached a licensing agreement with Sanofi-Aventis to commercialize the product in North America.

In January 2013, Auvi-Q became available on pharmacy shelves in the U.S., and the company is well-positioned to expand internationally.

Intelliject is a shining example of Virginia’s growing life sciences industry and the innovative environment the Commonwealth offers to entrepreneurs. More than 800 life sciences companies have chosen to locate in Virginia for its access to top research institutions, biotech parks and a highly-trained workforce with the medical expertise to support the industry.

To learn why Virginia was ranked the No. 2 Emerging Biotech Hub by Business Facilities magazine, click here.

International Paper’s Franklin Mill Gains Another Tenant—Franklin Lumber

Tuesday, 25 June 2013 16:04 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Former International Paper (IP) Franklin Mill employees have come up with a clever solution to make use of the dormant sawmill at IP’s Franklin, Va., site—establish a new company and purchase the mill...

Former International Paper (IP) Franklin Mill employees have come up with a clever solution to make use of the dormant sawmill at IP’s Franklin, Va., site—establish a new company and purchase the mill.

The newly-formed company will operate under the name Franklin Lumber, and the $14.8 million investment is expected to create 72 new jobs.

The Franklin Mill facility, located in Isle of Wight County, has seen its fair share of activity over the last year. After initially closing the paper mill in 2009, International Paper returned in the summer of 2012 and repurposed part of the facility to manufacture fluff pulp.

Also in 2012, Tak Investments announced plans to invest $60 million and create 85 new jobs to establish ST Tissue, a recycled tissue plant, by repurposing a vacant portion of the Franklin Mill site.

Franklin Lumber expects to produce 60 million board feet of southern yellow pine lumber each year for retail, treating and truss manufacturers. This project will benefit Virginia’s logging supply chain as 40 percent of the company’s materials will be sourced from the Commonwealth.

Virginia was selected for this project due to the founders’ knowledge of the Franklin Mill site and familiarity with the assets of the region, which include a strong wood basket supply chain, a skilled manufacturing workforce and a premier logistics infrastructure.

This investment also represents the first Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) grant to a forestry project.

Franklin Lumber joins more than 6,000 manufacturing companies located in the Commonwealth and illustrates that Virginia is not only a great place for manufacturers, but a great place to start a business. Virginia recently earned an A for its small business friendliness—to learn more, click here.

VEDP’s Digital Advertising Recognized by Richmond Ad Club

Monday, 10 June 2013 13:36 by Info@YesVirginia.org
VEDP’s YesVA mobile app and in-app advertisement for The Wall Street Journal were both recognized at the 2012 Richmond Ad Club’s Richmond Show...

VEDP’s YesVA mobile app and in-app advertisement for The Wall Street Journal were both recognized at the 2012 Richmond Ad Club’s Richmond Show.

Judged by a panel of nationally-recognized advertising and design professionals, VEDP’s advertising agency of record, Elevation, won the silver and bronze awards in the interactive category for its VEDP work.

VEDP launched the YesVA mobile app for iPad, iPhone and Android devices in the fall of 2012. This interactive tool allows clients to perform property searches and compare Virginia to other states in major business categories.

The app is available for free download at http://www.yesvirginia.org/App, or through the AppleApp Store and Google Play store.

The YesVA mobile app is part of VEDP’s digital marketing campaign targeting C-level executives and site selection consultants in selected geographies across the U.S., Europe and Asia, including native language advertisements in the German and Chinese markets.

The campaign, which began in 2012 and continues into 2013, is expected to generate more than 23 million impressions on the websites of leading business and site selection publications. The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Site Selection, Area Development, Financial Times Asia and Financial Times Germany were among the selected media outlets. The campaign also incorporated pay-per-click search engine marketing via Google AdWords.

By helping companies make the most informed decision on business locations, the YesVA mobile app is yet another example of an innovative tool developed by VEDP to market Virginia as a top state for business.

To learn why Virginia’s unique combination of resources has encouraged businesses to prosper here for more than 400 years, click here.

A view of the Virginia ad from The Wall Street Journal app.

HP Hood—Largest Investment in 30 Years by Expanding Company in Frederick County

Thursday, 6 June 2013 16:05 by Info@YesVirginia.org
HP Hood recently announced plans to expand its facility in Frederick County through an $84.6 million investment that will create 75 new jobs...

HP Hood recently announced plans to expand its facility in Frederick County through an $84.6 million investment that will create 75 new jobs.

This project represents the biggest investment in 30 years by an expanding company in Frederick County. It will allow the company to increase its ultra-high-temperature production capacity. This method of pasteurizing milk products allows a longer shelf life, and the Frederick County plant is the largest facility of its type in the U.S.

HP Hood is one of the primary dairy producers in the country, with nearly $2 billion in sales and 15 plants across the U.S. The company’s well-known brands include Hood, Crowley, Simply Smart Milk, Heluva Good!, LACTAID®, BAILEYS® Coffee Creamers, HERSHEY’S® Milk and Milkshakes, and Blue Diamond Almond Breeze® almond milk.

The company has successfully operated the Frederick County plant since 2001, growing to 500 employees with the help of this expansion.

Virginia’s food and beverage industry is expanding at a rapid pace. So far in 2013, Virginia food and beverage companies have announced 12 projects, creating more than 900 jobs and bringing almost $500 million of investment into the Commonwealth.

Food and beverage companies love Virginia because the Commonwealth provides a strategic East Coast location, premier transportation network, highly-productive advanced manufacturing workforce, favorably priced utility rates and a corporate tax rate of six percent that remains unchanged since 1972.

To learn why leading food and beverage companies like Hershey Foods, McKee Foods, Nestlé Prepared Foods, Kraft Foods and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters have all established operations in Virginia, 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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