Did you know this is Manufacturing Appreciation Week?

Friday, 21 October 2011 09:17 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Governor McDonnell declared October 17-21 as Manufacturing Appreciation Week for Virginia. This should come as no surprise to the many Virginians employed by the manufacturing industry — more than 200,000 of us. In the last few weeks alone, manufacturing companies across a variety of industries have signaled their confidence in Virginia’s workforce by locating or expanding their operations in the Commonwealth.

Federal-Mogul Corp., a global automotive supplier, plans to invest $10 million to expand its automotive engine bearing manufacturing facility in Blacksburg Industrial Park, bringing 50 new jobs to Montgomery County. Albany Industries, a manufacturer of upholstered household furniture, announced it will invest $2.5 million to establish production capabilities in Galax, Va. This investment represents Albany Industry’s first operation in Virginia and will bring 335 new jobs to Southwest Virginia. 

On the international front, Axxor Group, a Netherlands-based producer of honeycomb, announced it will establish its first U.S. operation in Pittsylvania County in Southern Virginia. In 2006, Swedwood North America, a furniture manufacturer and subsidiary of IKEA, selected Virginia as the location for its first U.S. manufacturing facility. As Axxor Group is a major supplier of honeycomb to Swedwood’s furniture manufacturing operations, this investment is a natural outgrowth of that initial partnership.  

Also arriving from across the pond is NBG Holding’s announcement to establish its first U.S. subsidiary, Fiber Cable Technology, in Botetourt county. The Austrian company will invest $5 million and create 25 new jobs to manufacture specialty optical fiber and optical cables for the defense and energy markets. 

Whether manufacturing furniture or fiber optic cable, companies from all around the world have recognized the pro-business advantages a Virginia location offers. To learn more about the breadth of industries served by the Commonwealth click here. You can also view a Made in Virginia video produced by the Virginia Manufacturers Association here.

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Virginia Sails Closer to Becoming the Energy Capital of the East Coast

Thursday, 20 October 2011 17:21 by Info@YesVirginia.org

With October slated as Energy Month in Virginia, the announcement of a new wind turbine test facility moves the Commonwealth one step closer to becoming the Energy Capital of the East Coast. Named Poseidon Atlantic, the facility will be located in Northampton County on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. VEDP recently attended the AWEA Offshore Wind Expo where Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling announced this project at a dinner for industry stakeholders.

Poseidon Atlantic will be the first comprehensive testing facility of its kind in the U.S. What makes this project unique is its ability to both test and certify the entire wind turbine (as opposed to testing component parts). Poseidon Atlantic will be the only U.S. site able to perform comprehensive testing for both offshore and land-based turbines.

The Poseidon Atlantic team selected Virginia for this project due to its prime location, as the Commonwealth couldn’t be more well-positioned for the offshore wind industry. Virginia has the ideal combination of strong Class 6 winds along the coast combined with shallow waters that allow for the easy installation of turbines and testing pads. The Commonwealth also has the necessary infrastructure already in place including an experienced maritime workforce, access to a fully operational high voltage transmission grid close to shore, and a robust transportation network including the Port of Virginia, which has the deepest obstruction-free channels on the East Coast.

Given the current worldwide shortage of full-service testing centers, this project positions Virginia at the forefront of the industry. Certification is a critical final step in the R&D process as wind turbine manufacturers often seek IEC certification prior to bringing a product to market. The facility is expected to build up to ten testing pads, leasing these to wind turbine manufacturers and bringing the global offshore wind supply chain to Virginia’s shores.

In addition to Poseidon Atlantic, Virginia has attracted additional private sector interest from wind industry leaders over this past year. In February, Gamesa Technology Corp. and Newport News Shipbuilding jointly launched the Offshore Wind Technology Center to develop next-generation offshore wind systems. The two companies were already collaborating to launch Gamesa’s first offshore prototype, the G11X-5.0 MW. In early October, Apex Offshore Wind, LLC and Maersk Line, Limited joined forces and announced their partnership to develop utility-scale offshore wind energy projects.

Though still in its infancy, the wind industry could create thousands of jobs for Virginians and provide a renewable source of energy. With the global supply chain recognizing Virginia’s unique assets and setting up shop along the coast, the Commonwealth is poised to become a hub for the offshore wind industry and one step closer to claiming the title, Energy Capital of the East Coast.

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Microsoft and Virginia - A Partnership for the Future

Wednesday, 5 October 2011 16:31 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Virginia and Microsoft have partnered once again – not surprisingly as both are IT leaders who realize staying at the top requires investing in the future. This time, that investment takes the form of educating the Commonwealth’s public high school students as Virginia is only the third state in the nation to implement the Microsoft IT Academy Program. With an aggressive goal of full participation by the end of this school year, the program will support both students and teachers by making software and coursework available including everything from computer basics to programming to the opportunity to earn recognized Microsoft certifications.

Virginia is certainly no stranger to technology with the highest concentration of high-tech companies in the country according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Microsoft has demonstrated its understanding of Virginia’s pro-technology climate through the 2010 announcement of its investment of up to $499 million to locate its latest generation data center in Southern Virginia’s Mecklenburg County. This was followed by a recent announcement that the company would invest $150 million to expand this advanced data center and add 21 MW of electric power capacity.

The groundwork to attract Microsoft’s data center and support its educational offering for all Virginians was quite literally laid several years ago by the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative. In an effort to support underserved rural areas in Southern Virginia, MBC established an 800 mile open-access, fiber-optic broadband network. While this advanced network has attracted a flurry of Gigaparks and technology companies to the former tobacco region, the network will also provide high-speed internet access to more than 100 schools in Southern Virginia through a federal broadband stimulus program.

Beginning this school year, students in two Southern Virginia counties have been equipped with high speed broadband for the first time. Jumping from 45 Mbps to 100 Mbps is a significant leap that allows students and teachers to take full advantage of the internet, specifically improving video streaming and online collaboration. Establishing high speed connectivity in rural areas like Southern Virginia sets the stage for Microsoft’s IT Academy to be successful.  This will be truly be a statewide  program, allowing students everywhere to take full advantage of Microsoft’s online resources  in order to build the technical skills necessary to fuel Virginia’s booming IT industry.

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Montgomery County Makes Inc. Magazine’s 500|5000 List for 2011

Tuesday, 27 September 2011 15:09 by Info@YesVirginia.org

With close to 300 Virginia companies on Inc. Magazine’s 2011 Inc. 500|5000 list of the fasting growing companies, the Commonwealth is very well represented. What is perhaps more impressive is the breadth of that representation, spanning multiple regions and industries. With our close proximity to the nation’s capitol, it is no surprise that more than 100 of these Virginia businesses were in the government services sector. However, the list of our top growing companies showed a healthy diversification across the IT, healthcare, business services, energy and education sectors as well. Virginia’s companies are growing in growth industries, which is great news for the Commonwealth.

Montgomery County is a microcosm illustrating this manifold growth. With three companies on the list in three different sectors, Montgomery County entrepreneurs exhibit the creativity and innovation Virginia is known for. Modea, a digital advertising agency, is a homegrown start-up with an impressive client list allowing for a new headquarters building and the addition of 200 employees over the next five years. UXB International is an environmental technology company specializing in demilitarization and weapons removal that has moved to Montgomery County to take advantage of the Virginia Tech Research Center. Harmonia Holding Group is another local startup catering to the software and systems engineering needs of the military and federal agencies from its headquarters, also located at the Virginia Tech Research Center. 

Learn more at the Montgomery County Economic Development News Center.

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A Success for Dex

Tuesday, 20 September 2011 11:43 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Who doesn’t love to hear a success story – especially one from right here in Virginia? Dex, a division of Arrow Truck Sales, dismantles used Mack and Volvo trucks to harvest components for reuse on other trucks. With more than 2.7 million heavy-duty trucks in operation in the U.S., there is a growing market for quality used parts.

Five years after signing a lease for a building space in Floyd Regional Commerce Center in Floyd, Virginia, Dex has reached its reuse and recycling goal. The challenge required Dex to reuse or recycle every component part of the heavy-duty trucks they acquire. While most parts were marketable for resale, Dex had to find new markets for items like glass, plastics, rubber or damaged pieces.

This extensive sorting and processing required extra time and resources, but given their core value of environmental care Dex remained committed to reaching their goal.

Dex’s facility in Floyd has 29 full-time employees. The company has outgrown the 50,000-square-foot space and is leasing other temporary space. With this growth they are also looking toward the future and are currently working on the design aspects of products to ensure Mack and Volvo trucks produce zero landfill waste.

David Ingram, Chairman of Floyd County’s Board of Supervisors, said, “We are very glad that Dex chose Floyd County five years ago. Every job they’ve added is important.”

Congrats Dex!

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Praise for Hanover County

Thursday, 15 September 2011 15:33 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Last month, Hanover County received heaping praise in a Richmond Times-Dispatch article that detailed how Hanover has continued to be a great place to live and work despite a tough economic environment.

Known for its passionate citizen involvement and strong partnerships between businesses and government, Hanover prides itself on responsible planning and good, old-fashioned hard work. While there are many individuals that contributed in one way or another, the true spirit of Hanover’s success continues to be a community effort.

Check out the full article here.

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Center for Advanced Engineering and Research Opens in Bedford County

Friday, 9 September 2011 10:12 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Last month, Bedford County and the Virginia Region 2000 Partnership announced the opening of the Center for Advanced Engineering and Research (CAER).  Held August 25th, the ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrated the fruition of a project that involved extensive regional collaboration over the course of several years.

With an overflowing parking lot, more than 100 public officials and business leaders attended the ceremony and got a first look at the new 30,000-square-foot facility. Businesses such as Babcock & Wilcox, Areva and Innovative Wireless Technologies, as well as the University of Virginia, have all secured space. The Region 2000 Partnership will continue to work toward securing more companies and organizations for the Center, which will be used 70% for research, 20% for community and outreach and 10% for administrative support. 

Speaking on behalf of Governor Bob McDonnell, Virginia’s Secretary of Technology Jim Duffy praised the partnerships that were fostered to open the center, and spoke of the “brightest minds” that will use the Center for research.

The goal of CAER is to be an industry-focused regional research and development center that drives the development of innovative products and processes by providing local access to university and federal research and inventions. It will target growth industries specific to the region, and will put university innovations into action through practical implementation in industry. CAER aims to increase the competitiveness for core, high-wage industries and improve the long-term prospects of existing industrial employers by creating a knowledge-based research hub for the region. 

Bill Guzek of the CAER Board of Directors said, “The center is meant to be an economic engine for the region. This is just the beginning.”

More information regarding CAER can be found on their website.

 

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Have You Heard?

Tuesday, 16 August 2011 15:02 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Just over a month after being named America’s Top State for Business by CNBC, Virginia has received another No. 1 ranking. The Commonwealth has been named the most pro-business state in the country by the 2011 Pollina Corporate Real Estate study: “Pollina Corporate Top 10 Pro-Business States for 2011: The Rise of the West.” Not only is it the third consecutive year that Virginia has taken home top honors, the Commonwealth won the 2011 top-ranking by the largest victory margin in the history of the study.

In its eighth year, the study is considered the “Gold Standard” in evaluating states by using a comprehensive ranking system based on factors ranging from taxes, right-to-work legislation, infrastructure spending and economic incentive programs. 

This year, Virginia lead over the number two spot by 44 points and was dubbed, “the brightest star on the American Flag,” in terms of its pro-business climate. But it’s not just our top spot status that garners such a prestigious title – the Commonwealth has held the top spot five times since the study began, with second place finishes in 2005 and 2006 and third place in 2008. Our consistent presence among the top pro-business states is proof that the Commonwealth has been and will continue to be open for business.

Virginia’s pro-business reputation was also reaffirmed this year by our second place finish in the Labor, Taxes and Other Factors category and our first place finish in the Incentives and Economic Development Agency Factors, which sites the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) as one of the “finest economic development organizations in the nation.” The Commonwealth also performed strongly in the Education and Infrastructure categories and continues to shine on its Report Card.

All of us at VEDP couldn’t be prouder to represent our state and are committed to keeping Virginia the best state for business.

Click here for more information on the rankings and to see the full report.

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SRI’s Center for Advanced Drug Research Continues to Grow

Friday, 12 August 2011 09:01 by Info@YesVirginia.org

In 2009, SRI opened its Center for Advanced Drug Research (CADRE) in Shenandoah Valley with 15 researchers and support staff.  Since then, they have grown to 45. Now SRI Shenandoah Valley is planning a build-out that will accommodate 100 scientists, researchers and other staff members.

Located in the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Metro area, the Center is an independent, not-for-profit research institute. It focuses on improving efficiency in the pharmaceutical industry, developing life-saving treatments for neglected diseases, and helping our nation respond to bio-threats through client-sponsored R&D.

The Center was established as a result of partnerships among state and local governments and James Madison University, located in the area. The continued growth of CADRE is exciting news for the Harrisonburg-Rockingham area, as it will draw more bio-tech and life sciences companies to the region, creating jobs and increasing the valuable research done at the Center.

You can find more information on SRI’s CADRE here.

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Virginia Companies Join Forces

Monday, 8 August 2011 09:37 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Boeing Information Solutions, of Arlington, Virginia, is joining forces with another Virginia-based company – Solutions Made Simple Inc. (SMSI).  Based in Reston, Virginia, SMSI is an information services provider that is known for its Twister data integration framework products.

Prior to the acquisition, Boeing worked with SMSI over the past several years and, according to John Hinshaw, Boeing’s vice president and general manager of Information Solutions, believes this will be a “better, more cost-effective way to manage data across disparate networks.”.  SMSI’s technology takes complex layers of information that are housed in an unlimited number of applications and various data sources, and makes that information easily available for users to access and extract. This type of technology is what Hinshaw sees as a “strong complement to [Boeing’s] existing capabilities.”

SMSI currently employs approximately 65 people. For additional information click here.

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Virginia named #1 for Economic Growth Potential

Wednesday, 3 August 2011 09:31 by Info@YesVirginia.org

When you’re on the top, it’s not just about being number one – it’s about staying there. In June, CNBC named Virginia America’s Top State for Business, and now, Business Facilities magazine has ranked Virginia #1 for Economic Growth Potential, an award that all of us here in the Commonwealth plan to see to fruition.

The study took a hard look at factors like job creation, project development, incentives and workforce. It also took into account the state’s growth strategy; including the depth and breadth of incentives, as well as partnerships among state and local governments, educational institutions and businesses.

Virginia has done its part to help keep its business climate positive, including the formation of the Economic Development and Job Creation Commission and the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing. Both aim to carry out Virginia’s goal of more jobs and investment for the Commonwealth now and in the future.

Check out the article in Business Facilities for the full rankings.

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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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