Virginia Receives Top Ranking on Forbes.com’s 2012 Best States For Business

Thursday, 13 December 2012 16:34 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Once again, Virginia received a podium ranking from Forbes.com in its annual Best States for Business ranking. Coming in at No. 2, Virginia is the top state on the East Coast and has held first or second overall since the ranking began in 2006...

Once again, Virginia received a podium ranking from Forbes.com in its annual Best States for Business ranking. Coming in at No. 2, Virginia is the top state on the East Coast and has held first or second overall since the ranking began in 2006.

The ranking is based on six categories: costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, current economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life.

The Commonwealth was ranked No. 1 in the category of regulatory environment. According to Forbes.com, “The state ranks on top of the regulatory category because of its strong incentive offerings and business friendly government policies." With right-to-work laws, an unemployment tax burden 32 percent lower than the national average, and a six percent corporate tax rate unchanged since 1972, companies have improved their bottom lines just by locating in Virginia.

In the important category of labor supply, Virginia came in at No. 2 and was the top state on the East Coast. With 4.1 million motivated and highly skilled workers and more than 500,000 students enrolled in Virginia’s top-ranked colleges and universities, the Commonwealth has a strong pipeline ready to fill present and future industry needs.

Virginia was ranked No. 4 in the quality of life category, a metric that is gaining increasing importance for companies making relocation decisions. Virginia has one of the nation’s highest concentrations of historic resources and is blessed with beautiful mountains, rivers and beaches, as well as 35 state parks, 22 national parks and more than 500 trails, providing an abundance of recreational opportunities for residents.

This top ranking from Forbes.com adds to the distinguished list of honors Virginia has received this year, including winning the 2011 Competitiveness Award from Site Selection magazine, a No. 2 ranking on Pollina Corporate Real Estate’s Top Pro-Business States for 2012, and No. 3 rankings on Business Facilities’ 2012 State Rankings Report and CNBC’s America’s Top States for Business list, to name a few. 

To learn why Virginia continues to receive top recognition from the industry as the premier state for business, click here.

Leading Global Satellite Services Provider Intelsat Moves Headquarters to Virginia

Tuesday, 11 December 2012 12:30 by Info@YesVirginia.org
At an event overlooking the site for the company’s new headquarters building in Tysons Corner, Va., Governor McDonnell announced Intelsat will move its U.S. headquarters from Washington, D.C., to Fairfax County in 2014. The project will bring at least 430 jobs and an investment of more than $24 million in leasehold improvements to Northern Virginia...

At an event overlooking the site for the company’s new headquarters building in Tysons Corner, Va., Governor McDonnell announced Intelsat will move its U.S. headquarters from Washington, D.C., to Fairfax County in 2014. The project will bring at least 430 jobs and an investment of more than $24 million in leasehold improvements to Northern Virginia.

With plans to lease 188,000 square feet, Intelsat will be the anchor tenant at Tysons Tower, a new, 20-story office building being developed by Macerich as part of a three tower, mixed-use project at Tysons Corner Center. 

The state-of-the-art tower will be the tallest building in Tysons Corner, offering Intelsat employees panoramic views of Northern Virginia, a modern workspace, prime access to the amenities of Tysons Corner, and direct connection to the Capital Beltway and planned extension of the Metro Silver Line.

In addition, close proximity to Washington Dulles International Airport gives the Luxembourg-based company access to 80 percent of the world’s economies.

As the world’s leading provider of satellite services, Intelsat has delivered information to leading media companies, multinational corporations, Internet Service Providers and government agencies for more than 45 years. 

Intelsat’s new headquarters location in Fairfax County is not only aligned with its growing customer base, but it also offers access to a strong pipeline of highly-skilled workers. According to Cyberstates 2011, Virginia has the highest concentration of high-tech workers.

To learn why global leaders continue to select Virginia as an environment that reflects their innovative culture, click here.

Latin American Subsidiary Phoenix Packaging Continues Growth in Pulaski County

Wednesday, 5 December 2012 16:13 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Phoenix Packaging recently announced plans to invest $20 million and create 100 new jobs to expand its Virginia operation in Pulaski County. This represents the second expansion in less than two years, bringing the company’s total announcements to $58 million in capital investment and more than 400 new jobs...

Phoenix Packaging recently announced plans to invest $20 million and create 100 new jobs to expand its Virginia operation in Pulaski County. This represents the second expansion in less than two years, bringing the company’s total announcements to $58 million in capital investment and more than 400 new jobs.

Part of Virginia’s New River Valley region, Pulaski County also serves as the company’s North American Headquarters. Phoenix Packing is a subsidiary of Grupo Phoenix, a leading Latin American manufacturer of packaging products targeting the food and disposable consumer product industries.

Seeking closer proximity to its U.S. customers, the company first selected Virginia in 2010 from more than 40 other possible sites. Virginia competed against Arizona for this latest expansion project and has successfully competed against Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, California and Nevada over the last three years. 

After investigating options overseas, Phoenix Packaging’s decision to remain and grow its Virginia operation illustrates just how well the Commonwealth competes on a global level.

Virginia’s strategic location, premier transportation infrastructure, skilled workforce, world-class higher education institutions, and competitive operating costs were all leading factors in the company’s multiple decisions for Virginia.

In addition, Virginia’s growing food and beverage industry, a primary market for Phoenix Packaging, proved to be an attractive asset. With names like Kraft Foods, Nestle and Hershey, Virginia boasts more than 550 food and beverage manufacturing companies that have invested $1.9 billion in the Commonwealth over the last decade. In fact, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, one of Phoenix Packaging’s customers, announced last year it would invest $180 million to establish a production and distribution facility in Isle of Wight County, Va.

To learn why Virginia manufacturers continue to find success in the Commonwealth, investing more than $13.8 billion over the last decade, click here.

Rolls-Royce Announces Second Facility on Virginia Crosspointe Campus

Tuesday, 4 December 2012 09:34 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Rolls-Royce recently announced it will begin construction on a second advanced manufacturing facility at its Crosspointe campus in Prince George County, Va., which is expected to bring a $136 million investment and 140 new jobs to the Central Virginia region...

Rolls-Royce recently announced it will begin construction on a second advanced manufacturing facility at its Crosspointe campus in Prince George County, Va., which is expected to bring a $136 million investment and 140 new jobs to the Central Virginia region.

The 90,000-square-foot Advanced Airfoil Machining Facility will be located on Rolls-Royce’s 1,000-acre campus, adjacent to its Rotatives manufacturing facility. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2013.

The Advanced Airfoil Machining Facility will produce turbine blades and nozzle guide vanes for advanced aero engines used in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Airbus 380 and Airbus 350. Using Rolls-Royce’s advanced machining technology and proprietary high-speed cutting process, the company has the ability to precisely shape specialized materials and efficiently produce durable engine components.

Driven by growth for its aero engines, the company continues to expand its Crosspointe facility, making it the largest and most advanced Rolls-Royce campus in North America. Rolls-Royce’s vision for the Crosspointe campus is to create a hub of advanced manufacturing innovation, with partnerships between leading research universities, government and businesses. 

To date, the Crosspointe campus includes the company’s Rotatives facility, which opened in May 2011 as a center of excellence to manufacture the company’s engine discs. Also at Crosspointe, CCAM opened this fall as an applied research center, joining leading Virginia universities and manufacturing companies to bring real-world solutions to market more quickly.

With ample space and a robust, industrial-grade infrastructure for additional facilities, Rolls-Royce’s Crosspointe Campus is poised to attract suppliers and continue its growth as a leading center for advanced manufacturing.

To learn more about the Rolls-Royce Crosspointe Campus and Virginia’s capabilities in the advanced manufacturing space, click on the highlighted links.

A rendering of Rolls-Royce's Advanced Airfoil Machining Facility at its Crosspointe campus in Prince George County, Va.

HanesBrands Inc. Expands in Patrick County

Thursday, 29 November 2012 13:47 by Info@YesVirginia.org
HanesBrands recently announced plans to expand its Woolwine plant in Patrick County, Va., through a $1.6 million investment...

HanesBrands recently announced plans to expand its Woolwine plant in Patrick County, Va., through a $1.6 million investment.

The company will upgrade the plant with high-speed manufacturing equipment that will double current capacity and allow the company to increase production of performance fabrics in the women’s sports market. 

The investment will bring 50 new jobs and retain 215 jobs at the Patrick County operation. In addition, HanesBrands employs a workforce of 400 at its distribution center in nearby Martinsville, Va.

HanesBrands has a long history in the region and the company’s positive experience with Virginia’s pro-business climate and advanced manufacturing workforce helped ensure the Commonwealth was selected once again.

Southern Virginia maintains a rich heritage of textile operations, and this investment illustrates Virginia’s manufacturing prowess in the competitive worldwide apparel industry.

With more than 6,000 manufacturers located in Virginia, the Commonwealth has seen more than $13.8 billion in capital investment from manufacturing companies over the last 10 years. To learn more about Virginia’s advanced manufacturing industry, click here.

WEIGHTPACK Moves Headquarters from Italy to Virginia

Thursday, 15 November 2012 14:47 by Info@YesVirginia.org
WEIGHTPACK Inc. recently announced plans to move its headquarters from Italy and expand its existing operation in Powhatan County, Va. The project will bring a $2.6 million investment and 35 new jobs to the Central Virginia region...

WEIGHTPACK Inc. recently announced plans to move its headquarters from Italy and expand its existing operation in Powhatan County, Va. The project will bring a $2.6 million investment and 35 new jobs to the Central Virginia region.

WEIGHTPACK is a packaging machinery company that designs and builds complete lines for the filling and capping of liquid product containers, with applications in the beverage, home care, personal care, pharmaceutical and chemical industries.

The company has operated in Powhatan since 2001, and the decision to move its global headquarters to the same location illustrates how well Virginia’s business environment, workforce, and logistics infrastructure compete at a global level.

The Powhatan location is poised to become a major production hub as the company transitions to a more vertically integrated supply chain, providing for growing customer demand in the North and South American and Asian markets.

Powhatan County’s strong quality of life and access to Virginia’s world-class transportation network make it a premier location. WEIGHTPACK has historically used the international Port of Virginia for importing component parts. With the expansion of the production facility, the company expects to increase its exports through the port to reach international markets.

As global companies continue to bring high technology, manufacturing jobs to the U.S., Virginia stands ready to fulfill industry needs with a strong pipeline of highly-skilled, advanced manufacturing employees.

To learn more about Virginia’s advanced manufacturing capabilities and why more than 6,000 manufacturing establishments have located in the Commonwealth, click here.

CCAM Opens Facility in Prince George County, Virginia

Wednesday, 14 November 2012 10:09 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM) received its full certificate of occupancy and opened its facility in Prince George County, Va., this September. CCAM has been steadily growing both in members and machinery and is expected to host a grand opening event in spring 2013...

The Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM) received its full certificate of occupancy and opened its facility in Prince George County, Va., this September. CCAM has been steadily growing both in members and machinery and is expected to host a grand opening event in spring 2013.

CCAM has added three Tier 2 and three Tier 3 industry members over the last few months, bringing the total number of participating companies to 14.

The applied research center includes a high bay area, five machining labs, five computational labs, a visualization lab, meeting rooms with conferencing ability, open and modular workstations, and a cafeteria.

With participation from its industry partners and university members, engineers at the center are currently working on 10 research projects. One project involves adaptive machining, which uses specialized equipment to measure and make adjustments in real time as components are being manufactured, leading to improved performance and lower costs.

Another project incorporates multi-modal part inspection, which uses imagery to obtain information and identify small defects early in the manufacturing process, allowing any issues to be fixed before entering into high-rate production.

CCAM is another example of the public-private partnership between Virginia’s leading universities and world-class manufacturing companies to bring real-world solutions to the market more quickly. To learn more about CCAM, visit www.ccam-va.com.

CCAM’s high bay area includes a Laser Powder Deposition Machine and the Sulzer Metco Thermal Spray Cell, pictured below.

STEM Mobile Learning Lab—A Vehicle for Educating Virginia Students

Tuesday, 13 November 2012 13:45 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Since going on the road in spring 2010, the STEM Mobile Learning Lab has hosted 15,000 visitors from more than 300 locations. The lab offers numerous hands-on experiments as a method of educating K-12 students and members of the community in STEM subjects—science, technology, education and math...

Since going on the road in spring 2010, the STEM Mobile Learning Lab has hosted 15,000 visitors in more than 300 locations. The lab offers numerous hands-on experiments as a method of educating K-12 students and members of the community in STEM subjects—science, technology, education and math.

The STEM Mobile Learning Lab was established by the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR), a research, education and conference institute based in Danville, Va.

The 38-foot trailer contains multiple work stations, a clean area for experiments and a movie screen. Its impressive equipment list includes several laptops, high resolution microscopes, an HDTV video monitor, and additional demonstration gear. 

The STEM Mobile Learning Lab offers experiments in the areas of nanotechnology and renewable energy. Leading by example, the flex-fuel truck that tows the lab can run on either diesel fuel or cooking oil.

Using the STEM Mobile Learning Lab, students can participate in experiments that compare the energy efficiency of CFL and incandescent light bulbs, see how wind and solar power work, learn about energy conservation and how to weatherize doors and windows, and even look at microscopic particles on their own skin.

Preparing students to join the Commonwealth’s world-class workforce in the growing fields of science, technology, engineering and math is key to keeping Virginia at the top. According to Cyberstates 2011, Virginia has the nation’s highest concentration of high-tech workers.

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

Students use high resolution microscopes to participate in one of the many hands-on experiments offered by the STEM Mobile Learning Lab.

VEDP Releases Exporting Guide for Service Companies

Tuesday, 6 November 2012 09:18 by Info@YesVirginia.org
VEDP’s International Trade division recently released an exporting guide focused on the unique needs of service companies called “Exporting Services: A Guide for New Exporters”...

VEDP’s International Trade division recently released an exporting guide focused on the unique needs of service companies called “Exporting Services: A Guide for New Exporters.”

Some of the issues addressed in the guide include assessing export readiness, understanding export regulations, identifying a target market, protecting intellectual property, acquiring work permits and certifications, developing a market entry strategy, and negotiating financing and payment terms.

The services industry is thriving in Virginia—professional, scientific and technical services was the top sector for job creation in 2011, announcing 12,769 new jobs. With human capital as the major input, it’s no surprise that Virginia’s highly skilled workforce has proved to be a key advantage in growing this sector.

According to The Brookings Institution, Virginia’s service exports accounted for 42.6 percent of the state’s total exports in 2010, illustrating an opportunity to grow Virginia’s exports in a sector where the Commonwealth has the resources to leverage its success into international markets.

Helping Virginia companies grow sales overseas not only benefits Virginia businesses, but it also creates jobs at home. According to The Brookings Institution, Virginia exports supported more than 236,000 jobs in 2010.

To learn how VEDP’s International Trade division can help your company grow, go to www.exportvirginia.org.

Celanese Corp. Converts Giles County Celco Plant to Natural Gas

Friday, 2 November 2012 10:15 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Fortune 500 company Celanese Corp. just announced it will invest $150 million to convert its Celco Plant in Giles County, Va., from coal-fired to natural-gas fired boilers. The project will create 22 new full-time jobs, as well as employ an estimated 200 construction workers...

Fortune 500 company Celanese Corp. just announced it will invest $150 million to convert its Celco Plant in Giles County, Va., from coal-fired to natural-gas fired boilers. The project will create 22 new full-time jobs, as well as employ an estimated 200 construction workers.

Celanese Corp. is a global technology leader engaged in the production of specialty materials and chemical products used in a wide variety of industries and applications. The Virginia Celco Plant has helped make the company a leading producer of cellulose acetate tow, used in filter media.

The Celco Plant first established operations in Giles County, Va., in 1939 and is the largest employer in the county. Positioned along the New River and Route 460, this location offers the unique combination of a picturesque setting between the mountains, easy access to I-81, and close proximity to Virginia Tech and the region’s skilled and educated workforce.

This investment will allow the company to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions while updating equipment to improve its energy efficiency—two goals aligned with the company’s core values of sustainability and operational excellence.

This project continues the positive trend of Virginia manufacturers making significant investments to upgrade to more environmentally-friendly sources of energy. Last year, MeadWestvaco announced plans to invest $285 million to construct a new, state-of-the-art biomass boiler at its Covington plant, and just last week RockTenn hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of a natural gas pipeline to its West Point mill.

To learn why leading manufacturers continue to invest in the Commonwealth, bringing more than $13.8 billion in projects over the last decade, click here.

A view of the Celco Plant from across the New River.

VEDP Launches “YesVA” App

Thursday, 1 November 2012 13:48 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Today, VEDP launched the YesVA app for iPad, iPhone and Android devices available for download by visiting www.YesVirginia.org/app or through the App Store and Google Play Store...

Today, VEDP launched the YesVA app for iPad, iPhone and Android devices available for download by visiting www.YesVirginia.org/app or through the App Store and Google Play Store.

The YesVA app is an interactive tool that allows clients and site selection consultants to perform site and building searches and compare Virginia to other states, directly from a mobile device.

The YesVA app allows users to perform the following actions:
   •  Explore Virginia’s existing inventory of available properties in an easy-to-use map
   •  Navigate properties by type and narrow down options based on user requirements
   •  Save properties for later and share them with contacts
   •  View 1:1 attributes of how Virginia compares to other states in major business categories
   •  View profiles for each of the communities, regions and MSAs in Virginia
   •  View recent industry announcements for each community
   •  Communicate with VEDP regarding any of the properties within the app

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

To download the free YesVa app, visit www.YesVirginia.org/app or go directly to the App Store and Google Play Store.

A view from the main screen of the YesVa app.

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Virginia Economic Development Partnership is the Best State for Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get to Know VEDP’s NEW COO Dan Gundersen

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

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

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

Q:  What has your first 75 days been like?

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

Q:  What specifically have you focused on?

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

Q:  What does VEDP do really well?

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

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

Q:  What challenges do you see ahead?

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

Q:  Where are you focusing your efforts for FY15?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pollina Awards Virginia Another Top Pro-Business State Ranking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo courtesy of the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Orbital Sciences Completes Second Launch to the International Space Station

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VEDP Welcomes VJIP to the Team

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Virginia a Top State for Private Equity Investment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo courtesy of Private Equity Growth Capital Council

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Virginia Economic Development Partnership is the Best State for Business

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

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