Mexican Company Announces First U.S. Location in Pulaski County, Va.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013 10:46 by Info@YesVirginia.org
From New River Community College last week, Governor McDonnell announced that Red Sun Farms will establish its first U.S. location in Pulaski County, Va., to produce organic, greenhouse grown tomatoes. The $30 million investment will create 205 new jobs over the next five years...

From New River Community College last week, Governor McDonnell announced that Red Sun Farms will establish its first U.S. location in Pulaski County, Va., to produce organic, greenhouse grown tomatoes. The $30 million investment will create 205 new jobs over the next five years.

Part of the Agricola El Rosal group based in Mexico, Red Sun Farms produces tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers using greenhouse hydroponics. The company’s high technology includes the use of hot water heating, carbon dioxide injection, climate control and fully-automated irrigation.

With plans to build a 45-acre greenhouse operation, Red Suns Farms will be the first tenant in the New River Valley Commerce Park, a 1,000-acre industrial site located four miles from I-81 and 30 minutes from Virginia Tech.

Virginia was able to successfully compete against Tennessee because Pulaski County offered the right mix of resources, including ideal climate conditions, a ready workforce, and a central location providing prime access to East Coast markets.

In addition, Pulaski County offers excess water capacity combined with very competitive electric rates. The region maintains its skilled workforce through access to 12 colleges and universities within a 60-mile radius, and provides a strong quality of life through two state parks, the Jefferson National Forest, and close proximity to the Appalachian Trial and Blue Ridge Parkway.

Virginia’s food and beverage industry continues to build momentum—just last week the Governor announced more than $176 million in capital investment and 265 new jobs in this growing sector. 

To learn why food and beverage companies continue to choose the Commonwealth, investing more than $1.9 billion over the last decade, click here.

Governor McDonnell presents a Virginia flag to Thierry Legros, Red Sun Farms Managing Director, during the company’s announcement event in Pulaski County, Va.

Shamrock Farms Breaks Ground in Augusta County, Virginia

Monday, 18 March 2013 17:01 by Info@YesVirginia.org
On Friday, Governor McDonnell attended a ground-breaking ceremony to announce Shamrock Farms’ plans to build a dairy manufacturing facility in Augusta County, Va., which will bring a $50 million investment and 60 new jobs to the region...

On Friday, Governor McDonnell attended a ground-breaking ceremony to announce Shamrock Farms’ plans to build a dairy manufacturing facility in Augusta County, Va., which will bring a $50 million investment and 60 new jobs to the region.

Since its founding in 1922, Shamrock Farms has grown to become one of the largest family-owned-and-operated dairies in the U.S. This is the company’s first operation in Virginia.

During the ceremony, officials broke ground on Shamrock Farms’ state-of-the-art, 130,000-square-foot facility which will be located at Mill Place Commerce Park. This investment will allow the company to better serve the East Coast market and meet growing demand for its On-the-Go mmmmilk and Rockin’ Refuel brands. 

Through its ultra-pasteurization process and airtight safety seal, Shamrock Farms’ extended shelf life products stay fresher on store shelves for longer.

Virginia successfully competed against Maryland and West Virginia because Augusta County offered the right infrastructure mix—a strong, local milk supply chain, an advanced manufacturing workforce, and a strategic location with easy access to Virginia’s premier transportation network through I-81.

Shamrock Farms is not the only food and beverage company to find success in Augusta County—McKee Foods, maker of Little Debbie® snack cakes, has operated a manufacturing plant there for more than 22 years, and credits the region’s skilled workforce with achieving significant productivity gains.

Last week alone, the Governor announced more than $176 million in capital investment and 265 new jobs in Virginia—all from the Commonwealth’s food and beverage industry.

To learn why more than 550 food and beverage manufacturing companies have established operations in the Commonwealth, including household names like Hershey Foods, Nestlé Prepared Foods, Kraft Foods, and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, click here.

Governor McDonnell (third from left) is joined by company, state and local officials, as well as Roxie, the Shamrock Farms’ mascot, at the company’s ground-breaking ceremony in Augusta County, Va.

VEDP Economist Touts Benefits of Virginia’s Offshore Wind Industry to House Committee

Friday, 15 March 2013 13:53 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Earlier this month, VEDP Senior Economist Brian Kroll testified before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. The subject of the oversight hearing was “America’s Offshore Energy Resources: Creating Jobs, Securing America, and Lowering Prices”...

Earlier this month, VEDP Senior Economist Brian Kroll testified before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. The subject of the oversight hearing was “America’s Offshore Energy Resources: Creating Jobs, Securing America, and Lowering Prices.”

The subcommittee, led by Congressman Doug Lamborn, heard testimony from four experts on how offshore energy can be a catalyst for job creation and economic development, particularly in regions off the Outer Continental Shelf.

VEDP Senior Economist Brian Kroll focused on the positive impact of Virginia’s growing offshore wind industry.

Using an economic impact analysis that assumed 2,000 MW of offshore wind capacity were built over a 10-year period and only half of the supply chain located in the Commonwealth, Kroll concluded that 2,125 direct jobs and 2,710 indirect jobs could be created in Virginia over the first five years, and an additional 1,635 direct jobs and 1,960 indirect jobs could be created over the last five years, for a grand total of 8,430 new jobs in Virginia.

These jobs would primarily come from sectors such as operations and maintenance, construction, and the manufacturing of nacelles, turbine blades and generators.

In addition, Kroll concluded these jobs would benefit Virginia through an additional $9 billion in GDP and $119 million in state-level tax revenue over the 10-year period.

With yesterday’s announcement that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is on track to issue the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy a wind energy research lease on the Outer Continental Shelf, Virginia’s wind industry continues to build momentum. 

In December, we blogged about the positive announcements from the BOEM, advertising the first-ever wind energy lease sale on the Outer Continental Shelf, and from the Department of Energy, reporting that a Virginia team was one of seven projects awarded a grant for the engineering, design and installation of an offshore wind turbine demonstration facility.

Virginia is primed to be a leader in the offshore wind industry, providing the ideal combination of strong Class 6 winds, shallow waters off the coast, an experienced maritime workforce, a robust transportation network, and access to a fully operational high voltage transmission grid close to shore.

To watch a webcast of Brian Kroll’s presentation, click here and to learn why more than 380 energy companies call Virginia home, click here

VEDP Senior Economist Brian Kroll testifies before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources about the economic benefits of developing Virginia’s offshore wind industry.

Unilever Invests $96.2 Million in Suffolk, Va. Lipton Tea Plant

Tuesday, 12 March 2013 14:11 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Yesterday, Unilever announced plans to invest $96.2 million to upgrade its Lipton Tea Plant in Suffolk, part of the Hampton Roads region of Virginia...

Yesterday, Unilever announced plans to invest $96.2 million to upgrade its Lipton Tea Plant in Suffolk, part of the Hampton Roads region of Virginia.

The Lipton Tea plant has operated out of Suffolk since 1955 and is the largest tea processing facility in the U.S., producing nearly all the Lipton tea bags sold throughout North America. 

The investment will allow the company to increase production by both expanding and upgrading to more modern equipment. The Suffolk plant already has a reputation for efficiency and sustainability—in 2009 it became a “zero-landfill” facility through a combination of recycling, composting, and converting waste into usable energy.

Close proximity to the international Port of Virginia was a key deciding factor in the Commonwealth’s favor. Unilever already utilizes the port to bring in loose tea from all over the world for processing at its Suffolk plant. The Port of Virginia offers access to 250 ports in more than 100 overseas locations.

The strength of the Hampton Roads employee pool was another positive factor cited by the company. More than 300 highly-skilled workers currently support the Lipton plant.

This investment adds to Virginia’s growing food and beverage cluster. Home to household names such as Hershey Foods, Nestlé Prepared Foods, Kraft Foods, and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, more than 550 food and beverage manufacturing companies have established operations in the Commonwealth.

To learn why food and beverage companies have invested more than $1.9 in Virginia over the last decade, click here.

Governor McDonnell presents Bill Kelly, Suffolk Supply Chain Leader, Unilever, with a commemorative share of stock in the Virginia Company at the Lipton Tea plant announcement event in Suffolk, Va.

Porter’s Group Comes to Lynchburg, Virginia

Thursday, 7 March 2013 14:31 by Info@YesVirginia.org
On Monday, Porter’s Group LLC announced plans to establish its first Virginia operation in the City of Lynchburg through a $1.8 million investment, creating 120 new jobs...

On Monday, Porter’s Group LLC announced plans to establish its first Virginia operation in the City of Lynchburg through a $1.8 million investment, creating 120 new jobs.

Porter’s Group manufactures fabricated metal products, and its advanced capabilities allow it to produce a broad range of products from ATMs to engine parts.

The company plans to purchase an existing manufacturing facility from one of its customers, Diebold Inc., allowing it to quickly transition the plant for its specific production needs. The talented manufacturing workforce already in place in the Lynchburg region will also aid in the company’s quick ramp-up to production.

In addition to a turnkey building and ready workforce, Lynchburg offers a prime location that geographically aligns the company’s operations with its existing customer base. 

Located near I-81, Lynchburg provides convenient access to Virginia’s premier transportation network, which includes six interstate highways, nine commercial airports, 14 railroads, including two Class I lines, and the international Port of Virginia. 

Leading manufacturing companies continue to select the Commonwealth due to its competitive cost environment, strategic location and highly-skilled workforce. To learn why manufacturing companies have invested more than $13.7 billion in Virginia over the last decade, click here.

Shenandoah Valley Partnership Launches Education and Training Database

Tuesday, 5 March 2013 09:57 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Shenandoah Valley Partnership recently announced the launch of the new Shenandoah Valley Education and Training Database. The database will provide both employers and citizens with one convenient tool to learn about the wealth of training programs available throughout the region...

The Shenandoah Valley Partnership recently announced the launch of the new Shenandoah Valley Education and Training Database. The database will provide both employers and citizens with one convenient tool to learn about the wealth of training programs available throughout the region.

The database is located at http://www.svp-va.org/database.aspx and is searchable by keyword, field of study and degree level. It was created to solve the problem of employers not being aware of the broad offering of educational programs available, particularly in the region’s high growth areas, which include advanced manufacturing, agriculture, energy, life sciences and IT.

Located between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains, the Shenandoah Valley Partnership includes the counties of Augusta, Bath, Highland, Page, Rockbridge, Rockingham and Shenandoah, as well as the cities of Buena Vista, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Staunton and Waynesboro.

The region is home to a number of prestigious higher education institutions, including James Madison University, Mary Baldwin College, Virginia Military Institute, and Washington and Lee University, as well as numerous community and technical colleges.

With 94 percent of the region’s 2012 corporate investment coming from expansion projects, the high quality of the local workforce is often cited as a compelling reason for a company’s decision to remain in the Shenandoah Valley. 

Take McKee Foods, maker of Little Debbie® snack foods and one of the area’s major employers, as an example. President and CEO Mike McKee stated, “We have found our Virginia workforce to be some of the most loyal and highly-skilled employees in the industry—and about 85 members of our Virginia workforce have been at the plant since it opened. Our Virginia employees, now over 700 strong, are highly-motivated and have helped us boost plant productivity by 24 percent over the last two years.”

Jointly developed by the Shenandoah Valley Partnership and Blue Ridge Community College, the Shenandoah Valley Education and Training Database is another positive example of cooperation among the public, private and educational sectors in Virginia. To learn more about the Commonwealth’s highly-skilled workforce and premier educational programs, click here.

Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program Celebrates 30 Years

Thursday, 28 February 2013 13:21 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program (CGEP) recently celebrated its 30-year anniversary at an event in Richmond, Va., hosted by CGEP and VEDP...

The Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program (CGEP) recently celebrated its 30-year anniversary at an event in Richmond, Va., hosted by CGEP and VEDP.

CGEP offers Master’s degrees and certificate programs for engineers and scientists seeking to further their education while remaining in the workforce. Students can pursue degrees in Computer Engineering, Civil & Environmental Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Engineering Administration, Environmental Science & Engineering, and Systems Engineering.

What is most unique about the program is its distance learning model, which includes both online courses and televised courses offered at more than 25 sites across Virginia. CGEP uses the latest interactive video conferencing technology, allowing for two-way audio and video to provide an interactive classroom experience for students.

In addition, graduate students can personalize their program by taking advantage of courses offered by any of the five participating universities, which include George Mason University, Old Dominion University, University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Virginia Tech.

During the 2011-2012 academic year, total enrollment in CGEP increased by 10 percent to 6,759 students. CGEP attributes this growth to increased offerings in online coursework, allowing busy graduate students to take classes anywhere, anytime.

CGEP is another example of the innovative programs offered by Virginia’s prestigious higher education institutions to ensure a solid pipeline of skilled employees is ready to fulfill industry needs. 

To learn more about CGEP or Virginia’s higher education offerings, click on the highlighted links.

Liebherr Mining Equipment Co. Expands in Hampton Roads, Virginia

Monday, 25 February 2013 13:47 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Liebherr Mining Equipment Newport News Co. recently announced plans to expand its advanced manufacturing operation in Hampton Roads, Va., through a $45.4 million investment, creating 174 new jobs...

Liebherr Mining Equipment Newport News Co. recently announced plans to expand its advanced manufacturing operation in Hampton Roads, Va., through a $45.4 million investment, creating 174 new jobs. 

The Liebherr campus is located in Copeland Industrial Park, which covers two Virginia cities—Newport News and Hampton.  

Liebherr, part of the Liebherr Group based in Switzerland, is known as a leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment. The expansion will allow the company to meet demand for its mining trucks as well as develop new models.  The company expects to produce 240-ton, 320-ton, and 400-ton models.

In addition to increasing capacity and adding production equipment, this investment also enables Liebherr to expand its office and warehouse space. The company plans to add a training center as well as augment its material flow process.

Established in the Hampton Roads region in 1970, the company’s 40-year history and decision to further invest in Virginia speaks to its positive experience with the Commonwealth’s skilled workforce and pro-business climate.

The Hampton Roads location also offers close proximity to the international Port of Virginia. The company’s equipment is shipped worldwide, and the Port of Virginia offers access to 250 ports in more than 100 overseas locations. In addition, it is the only port on the U.S. East Coast able to handle post-Panamax vessels as first port of call.

With its skilled workforce, low-cost environment, and premier logistics infrastructure, Virginia is home to more than 6,000 manufacturing establishments. To learn why manufacturing companies have invested more than $13.7 billion in the Commonwealth over the last decade, click here.

Secretary Jim Cheng addresses the crowd at the Liebherrr Mining Equipment Co. announcement event in Newport News, Va.

New Logistics Research Center Established in Central Virginia

Thursday, 21 February 2013 09:55 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Last week, Governor McDonnell announced the establishment of the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Logistics Systems (CCALS) in Prince George County, Va...

Last week, Governor McDonnell announced the establishment of the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Logistics Systems (CCALS) in Prince George County, Va.

This public-private alliance will focus on solving logistics challenges and bringing solutions to market more quickly by partnering Virginia’s leading universities and logistics companies. Founding members include Longwood University, UVA, VCU, VSU, Logistics Management Resources, and LMI.

The expertise of the founding members includes a variety of disciplines within the logistics industry, such as supply chain risk management, modeling and simulation, large-scale data management, enterprise system integration, and workforce development.

To foster a collaborative research environment, the CCALS facility is expected to include computation and large-scale data mining laboratories, as well as a production warehouse for advanced simulation experiments.

In addition to bringing solutions to market more quickly, CCALS will allow industry members to influence the curriculum and workforce development programs at participating universities, as well as obtain access to the quality pipeline of graduates entering Virginia’s workforce each year.

CCALS complements Central Virginia’s existing logistics hub, which already includes the U.S. Army’s Logistics University at Fort Lee, two Amazon.com distribution centers, and significant UPS and FedEx operations.

Virginia continues to build upon the reputation of its premier logistics network, which includes six interstate highways, nine commercial airports, 14 railroads, including two Class I lines, and the International Port of Virginia, which is the only East Coast location in the U.S. able to handle post-Panamax vessels as first port of call. 

To learn why companies have invested more than $1.8 billion in Virginia logistics projects over the last decade, click here.

International Subsidiary Daikin McQuay Expands in Augusta County

Thursday, 14 February 2013 14:38 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Yesterday, Daikin McQuay announced plans to invest $9.2 million to expand its facility in Augusta County, creating 50 new jobs...

Yesterday, Daikin McQuay announced plans to invest $9.2 million to expand its facility in Augusta County, creating 50 new jobs.

A subsidiary of Fortune 1000 company Daikin Industries, Daikin McQuay is the largest HVAC and refrigeration company in the world. The company designs flexible HVAC solutions for commercial, industrial and institutional markets with a focus on high energy efficiency.

The expansion will allow the company to better serve its global customers through the addition of a testing area to demonstrate the performance of its products using a variety of metrics.   

Daikin McQuay has found success in Augusta County for almost 60 years, tapping into the engineering and technical expertise of the local workforce. The center of the company’s industrial chiller operation is located at the Augusta County facility.

Governor McDonnell met with company officials during his Asia Marketing Mission in 2011, as well as during marketing trips to New York in 2011 and 2012 to tout Virginia’s premier business environment.

The Commonwealth continues to attract global leaders like Daikin McQuay due to Virginia’s unique combination of assets, which include a high-tech workforce, world-class logistics network, and competitive operating costs. To learn more, click here.

Virginia Beach Develops Economic Gardening Initiative

Tuesday, 12 February 2013 14:58 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Virginia Beach Economic Development Authority and Hampton Roads Partnership have joined together to launch the Virginia Beach Economic Gardening Initiative...

The Virginia Beach Economic Development Authority and Hampton Roads Partnership have joined together to launch the Virginia Beach Economic Gardening Initiative.

The economic gardening program will allow local entrepreneurs access to resources and information typically only available to larger, more established companies. 

Specifically, the Virginia Beach initiative will provide high-tech research tools so participating companies can analyze their strategy and market dynamics. The program includes access to advice from seasoned entrepreneurs through a partnership with the Service Corps of Retired Executives.

In addition, companies will receive 35 hours of support from a national team with expertise in marketing, data analysis, geographic information systems, and social media. The program is available to 10 companies each year, and the first three companies selected include Morphix Technologies Inc., Virginia Toy & Novelty Co., and Klett Consulting Group Inc.

Economic gardening is a growing trend in economic development circles. Holding to the theory that entrepreneurs drive local economies, adherents support these smaller business owners by providing resources in the community to help businesses grow. This grass-roots approach, popularized by MIT researcher David Birch, is a complement to the more traditional economic development model of recruitment and retention.

The Virginia Beach Economic Gardening Initiative is an example of the innovative, pro-business environment that exists across the Commonwealth of Virginia. To learn more about the resources Virginia offers to help businesses succeed, click here.

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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.

Charlottesville Entrepreneurs Launch Moonlighting Mobile Marketplace App

Monday, 8 December 2014 15:51 by Info@YesVirginia.org
A team of Charlottesville entrepreneurs recently launched Moonlighting, a mobile company with an app that helps job seekers and people needing work done to connect...

A team of Charlottesville entrepreneurs recently launched Moonlighting, a mobile company with an app that helps job seekers and people needing work done to connect.

The three co-founders began brainstorming in August 2013 to find a way to parlay their expertise in payment platform development and mobile technology. According to CEO Jeff Tennery, “We wanted to do something significant that would really resonate with people. The employment market made the most sense.”

According to the company, Moonlighting is the only marketplace that lets users engage as both a payer and earner in a mobile environment. With two simple categories —“make money now” and “get stuff done” — users can easily identify their needs and skills.

The app is similar in functionality to Facebook and Twitter. In addition, users can easily post Moonlighting requests to their social media accounts.

Like most entrepreneurs, the company founders kept their day jobs while moonlighting on nights and weekends to hammer out the business plan and technology. After raising an angel seed round of funding in April and testing an alpha version of the technology in August, the company officially launched its app on October 15.

In just over a month, Moonlighting has already reached thousands of users nationwide, with projections for dramatic growth.

“Charlottesville is a rich, diverse area with a solid investment community. There’s a strong constituency of experienced business people looking to finance start-up and angel companies and offer their expertise,” said Tennery.

Proximity to UVA also allowed the company to tap into a talented labor pool. “We worked with undergrads from the business school on the marketing, Darden grads helped us with the business plan, and law school students helped write our terms and conditions,” noted Tennery.  “The region is rich in both business and culture, so there’s a great labor force of UVA grads who want to remain in the area.”

Highlighting the growing peer-to-peer economy and its financial impact, Moonlighting has published its first comprehensive report on how the nation is “moonlighting” through multiple financial opportunities. The monthly M.O.O.N. Report (Mobile Optimized On-Demand Network) tells the story of the American moonlighter and reveals the economic trends taking place in the new 1099 society. To download the app and report, visit the company’s website http://moonlightingapp.com/.

The fast growth of a technology-driven company like Moonlighting is another example of how Virginia provides the right resources and environment for entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses. To learn more, click here.

The Moonlighting team at the company’s October launch party.

Charlottesville Startup GigDog Launches from UVA’s i.Lab

Monday, 9 December 2013 16:38 by Info@YesVirginia.org

While working as a geo-political analyst for the Department of Defense, Anslem “J.R.” Gentle came up with an idea for an entertainment and promotion company.

J.R. saw how lesser-known musicians would advertise their upcoming performances on posters and realized even people who saw the posters were not likely to attend the concerts because they weren’t familiar with the music. Thus was born the idea for GigDog — a streaming interactive internet radio station that only plays the music of bands scheduled to perform in the local area within the following six weeks.

What helped turn GigDog from an idea into a real company was access to the UVA i.Lab, an incubator for start-ups in Charlottesville, Va. The i.Lab is the revamped version of the Darden School incubator and includes a newly-renovated space and expanded program. It is unique because it is open to both UVA students and members of the Charlottesville community.

UVA’s i.Lab includes office space with access to a 3-D printer for prototyping, a “pitch” room, workshop, large meeting area, media rooms with Skyping abilities, and a full coffee shop and collaboration area. Applications are due in early January and the year-long program begins in the spring. i.Lab can accommodate 25 companies per year and offers entrepreneurial workshops, a speaker series on topics of interest, and access to professors and the 11 schools within UVA.

GigDog was incorporated in the summer of 2012 and joined the i.Lab pilot program. GigDog’s benefit to both musicians and consumers has allowed it to grow quickly —  it became operational in January 2013 and has grown from 14 bands and 16 venues in Charlottesville to more than 500 bands and 445 venues in five cities.

“As an entrepreneur, being in an environment of like-minded people is paramount,” said GigDog founder J.R. Gentle. “I had the whole of UVA and Darden as a resource. If I needed help with marketing or finance questions I could talk to those professors. I also learned just as much talking to the fellow entrepreneurs in the program.”

GigDog has just launched a RocketHub crowdfunding campaign to expand into additional cities. To experience GigDog visit http://www.gigdog.fm/ and to learn more about the UVA i.Lab visit http://www.ilabatuva.org/

GigDog founder J.R. Gentle chats with another entrepreneur and i.Lab director Philippe Sommer (left to right).

Lumi Juice — From Start-up to Store Shelves in Six Months

Monday, 25 November 2013 09:43 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Graduating MBA student Hillary Lewis could hardly imagine what the next few months would hold when two of her professors at UVA’s Darden School of Business approached her about creating a consumer products company. The timeline below illustrates how quickly a company can start up in Virginia’s supportive entrepreneurial environment...

Graduating MBA student Hillary Lewis could hardly imagine what the next few months would hold when two of her professors at UVA’s Darden School of Business approached her about creating a consumer products company. The timeline below illustrates how quickly a company can start up in Virginia’s supportive entrepreneurial environment.

April — Walking through a natural foods store, Hillary learned about High Pressure Processing, a unique technology that inactivates bacteria while at the same time preserving vital nutrients in food and beverages. Inspiration struck and Hillary came back to her professors with the idea for a healthy juice company. 

She chose the name Lumi, which is an acronym for LoveUMeanIt, a slogan Hillary shared with her undergrad sorority sisters. The company was incorporated on April 18 and the brand message is one of both loving the company’s juices, as well as loving yourself by consuming healthy products.

May — Hillary and her professors visited the High Pressure Processing Laboratory, part of Virginia Tech’s renowned Food Science and Technology program. The team learned that HPP is an innovative technology in food safety that kills microorganisms and extends shelf life through extreme water pressure. It avoids using chemicals and heat that can alter the taste and nutritional content of foods and beverages.

June — Hillary headed to Miami to visit Hiperbaric, the world’s leading manufacturer of HPP equipment for the food industry. She came away with additional knowledge and an agreement to lease one of the company’s machines for arrival in September.

July — The next step involved looking for a space to set up manufacturing. Hillary worked with economic developers in Albemarle County to find a suitable building. She found the perfect location at 1822 Broadway Street in Charlottesville, an industrial district that is within walking distance of the downtown mall area. The 12,000-square-foot facility is approximately 50 percent manufacturing, with the remainder allocated for office and warehouse space.

August — Lumi began setting up shop in an empty warehouse, which included adding everything from plumbing to electricity. Dominion Virginia Power was particularly helpful in upgrading the facility to the necessary 480 volts in an expedited time frame.

September — The Hiperbaric machine was delivered and the team configured production, warehousing and office space.

October — On October 11, Lumi produced the first HPP juice off the production line. VDACS came out to inspect the facility, and according to Hillary, “On October 25 we got the okay to sell and it was game on!”

November — The company has been selling its fresh vegetable and fruit juices for almost four weeks. Lumi has already branched out from Charlottesville to retailers such as Whole Foods Market and Relay Foods in Richmond, D.C., and Rockville, Md. From weeks three to four the company has more than doubled sales.

According to Hillary, “One reason I went to business school was to start my own company. I believe in the viability of manufacturing in the U.S. and in creating jobs and industry at home. I feel really fortunate there have been so many wonderful people that have been a part of this. We wouldn’t be here today without the support of partners at the university, state and county level. I feel extremely thankful and regardless of the obstacles, every day is more wonderful than the one before.”

Use the highlighted links to learn more about Lumi Juice and why Virginia is a great place to start a business.

Hillary Lewis, co-founder of Lumi Juice, expands sales through a product display in Richmond’s Ellwood Thompson’s Natural Foods Market.

Montgomery County Gains another 50 Jobs—Social Media Company Heyo Expands

Wednesday, 12 September 2012 08:55 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Heyo, formerly known as Lujure Media Inc., just announced plans to invest $100,000 and create 50 new jobs in Blacksburg, Va., located in Montgomery County...

Heyo, formerly known as Lujure Media Inc., just announced plans to invest $100,000 and create 50 new jobs in Blacksburg, Va., located in Montgomery County.

Founded by students at Virginia Tech and Radford University in 2010, Heyo is a shining example of the innovation and creativity of Virginia’s entrepreneurs. The company provides an easy-to-use platform that allows users to drag and drop Facebook fan pages, mobile apps and websites.

Virginia’s universities thrive when it comes to cultivating the entrepreneurial spirit necessary to create next generation technologies. Heyo’s student entrepreneurs received guidance along the way through entrepreneurial programs at their respective universities.

CTO Brian Putt was a member of Radford University’s Collegiate Entrepreneurs club. CEO Nathan Latka and CFO Josh Gunter both attended Virginia Tech and the trio entered Heyo into the Virginia Tech Student Business Competition in 2011, winning the $5,000 grand prize. The competition was sponsored by the Virginia Tech KnowledgeWorks Third Annual Entrepreneurship Summit. 

With easy access to tech-savvy grads, Heyo’s decision to remain in Blacksburg is certainly a positive reflection on the local talent pool. According to CEO Nathan Latka, “The close knit community makes it easy to build culture and hire top tier talent from top ranked local universities like Virginia Tech and Radford University.”

No stranger to top IT talent, Virginia boasts the highest concentration of high-tech workers according to Cyberstates 2011.

Governor McDonnell designated 2012 as “The Year of the Entrepreneur,” and Heyo’s rapid success is a great example of why Virginia is the best place for entrepreneurs.

To learn more about Virginia’s robust technology industry, click here.

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