Forbes.com Names Virginia America’s "Best State for Business"

Virginia won the top spot again in the Forbes.com 2013 Best States for Business ranking. Virginia has held one of the top two spots every year since the award’s inception, placing No. 1 from 2006-2009 and No. 2 from 2010-2012.

Forbes.com uses six factors to determine its ranking, and Virginia is the only state to rank in the top five in four of the six categories. Virginia was ranked No. 1 for its regulatory environment, No. 2 for its labor supply, No. 4 for quality of life and No. 5 for economic climate.

According to Forbes.com, "Virginia ranks first among the states in the regulatory category because of its business-friendly government policies and strong incentive offerings. The tort system is one of the best in the country for businesses, according to the Mercatus Center’s Freedom in the 50 States. Virginia is also one of 24 right-to-work states, which explains why only 4.4% of its workers are in unions — fifth lowest in the U.S."

The study also highlighted the strength of Virginia’s workforce, which has helped draw companies like Amazon.com and Microsoft to the Commonwealth. Virginia has the highest concentration of high-tech workers, according to TechAmerica’s Cyberstates 2013.

With concerns nationwide over the effects of sequestration, Forbes.com noted how well Virginia’s economy has performed. "Virginia’s $446 billion economy held up better than most states during the Great Recession, thanks in part to spending by the federal government. But the state has a diverse economy with strengths in bioscience, logistics, manufacturing and technology. There are 31 companies (public and private) with more than $3 billion in sales headquartered in Virginia."

Virginia continues to garner top accolades due to the Commonwealth’s pro-business environment, competitive operating costs, world-class labor pool, premier logistics network and strong quality of life. To learn why companies have found success in the Commonwealth for more than 400 years, click here.


Virginia Space Industry Ignites with Two Historic Launches in Two Weeks

Virginia’s saw two launches in two weeks from its Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Virginia offers one of only four commercial sites approved by the FAA for orbital space launches.

At 10:58 a.m. on September 18, Orbital Sciences successfully completed the second launch of its Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft from Pad-OA of MARS. This mission is the first time a spacecraft launched from Virginia will visit the International Space Station.

Antares delivered the Cygnus spacecraft along with 1,300 pounds of food, clothing and other cargo to the Expedition 37 crew at the International Space Station on Sunday, September 29.

The purpose of this mission was to demonstrate the capabilities and readiness of Orbital Sciences’ cargo delivery system as part of its Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program with NASA. Orbital Sciences successfully completed the inaugural test flight of Antares and Cygnus in April.

Subsequently, Orbital Sciences will carry out eight resupply missions through 2016, delivering approximately 20,000 kilograms of cargo to the International Space Station as part of its $1.9 billion Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA.

This mission followed the historic LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer) launch at 11:27 p.m. on September 6. The LADEE Mission accomplished a number of firsts — it is the first deep-space mission to launch from the Wallops Flight Facility, as well as the first payload to launch on the U.S. Air Force’s Minotaur V rocket. The Minotaur V launch vehicle was built by Virginia company Orbital Sciences.

After completing three phasing orbits around the earth, the LADEE spacecraft entered the moon’s orbit through a maneuver that involved firing the spacecraft’s onboard propellant for approximately three minutes.

LADEE is currently orbiting around the moon for a 100-day science phase to collect data and study the lunar atmosphere. Scientists hope to determine the density, composition and variability of the moon’s atmosphere, as well as learn more about the lunar dust environment. Knowledge gained through this mission can be extrapolated to the atmosphere of other planets, including Earth.

These missions further establish Virginia’s position at the forefront of U.S. space exploration. To learn more about Virginia’s thriving aerospace industry, click here.


Nine Virginia Schools Make Forbes.com's 2013 America’s Top 200 Colleges Report

Once again, Virginia colleges and universities made a strong showing on the Forbes.com 2013 America’s Top Colleges list.

Nine Virginia institutions were ranked in the Top 200 in the Overall Category: Washington and Lee University (No. 21), University of Virginia (No. 29), College of William and Mary (No. 44), Virginia Military Institute (No. 87), University of Richmond (No. 88), Virginia Tech (No. 110), James Madison University (No. 168), Hampden-Sydney College (No. 189), and George Mason University (No. 197).

Virginia schools also stood out in a number of categories. Washington and Lee University was ranked No. 20 on the Best Private Colleges list, and James Madison University came in at No. 21 on the Best Value Colleges List.

Three Virginia schools made the Top 25 in the Best Public Colleges category. University of Virginia was ranked No. 4, College of William and Mary was ranked No. 9, and Virginia Military Institute came in at No. 17.

What is unique about this ranking is that Forbes.com focuses on ROI and what students get out of their college experience. Forbes.com looks at five areas to determine its rankings: student satisfaction scores, post-graduate success, student debt, graduation rates and nationally recognized awards.

Virginia’s higher education system currently includes more than 450,000 students enrolled at institutions ranging from 15 comprehensive public institutions, eight of which offer doctoral programs, more than 50 private accredited four-year colleges and universities, and 23 public community colleges.

The quality of Virginia’s workforce is often cited as a critical advantage by companies in the Commonwealth, and with a world-class higher education system, Virginia is poised to maintain a strong pipeline of skilled workers.

To learn how Virginia’s premier higher education system is preparing a skilled workforce for the future, click here.


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