Microsoft and Virginia Partner Once Again

Microsoft recently announced a $150 million expansion to add 21 MW of electric power capacity to its latest generation data center in Southern Virginia’s Mecklenburg County. Coming just one year after the company announced it would invest up to $499 million to establish this data center, Microsoft has demonstrated an impressive understanding of Virginia’s technology assets.

Virginia has the highest concentration of high-tech professionals and one of the largest populations of security-cleared personnel in the nation. With more than half of the world’s daily Internet traffic flowing through the Commonwealth, Virginia has a unique combination of capacity, security and quality to meet the needs of the IT industry.

Additional groundwork to attract Microsoft’s data center to Southern Virginia was laid, quite literally, several years ago by the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative (MBC). In an effort to support underserved rural areas in Virginia, MBC established an 800 mile open-access, fiber-optic broadband network. This advanced network has drawn a number of Gigaparks and technology companies to the former tobacco region.

Microsoft has also partnered with Virginia on another front  – education. Virginia is only the third state in the nation to implement the Microsoft IT Academy Program for public high school students. With the goal of statewide 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.

This partnership is no surprise, as both Virginia and Microsoft are IT leaders who realize that staying at the top requires investing in the future. With the highest concentration of high-tech companies in the country (according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce), and the workforce and training programs to fuel this booming industry, Virginia is poised to retain its position as the leading location for technology companies. To learn more about Virginia’s technology capabilities click here.

Ace Hardware Chooses Virginia for its East Coast Import Center

Hardware franchise giant Ace Hardware announced it will invest $14 million to establish its new East Coast Import Center in Suffolk, Va., a port city in the Hampton Roads region. The company selected a build-to-suit location at the CenterPoint Intermodal Center, a multi-warehouse location offering 5.8 million square feet of Class A distribution and warehouse space.  The company already employs 275 people at its distribution center in Prince George County, Va., and the decision to expand its presence in the Commonwealth illustrates the positive economic climate companies experience when they choose to do business with Virginia.      

This investment is a prime example of Virginia’s burgeoning logistics industry, as the company selected Virginia not only for its pro-business climate, but also for its excellent location and premier transportation system. The Port of Virginia is one of the largest intermodal facilities on the East Coast, and the only East Coast location able to handle post-Panamax vessels as first port of call due to its deep harbor and Suez-class cranes. Virginia’s world-class transportation system continues inland with its 14 railroads, inland port, six major interstate highways and 14 commercial airports. 

Ace Hardware is not alone in its recognition of Virginia’s global logistics capabilities; more than 240 major companies have also set up distribution centers in the Commonwealth. In the past 10 years Virginia has attracted 364 logistics projects with an investment value of $1.7 billion. Companies such as Dollar Tree, GlaxoSmithKline, HSN, Home Depot, J. Crew, Owens & Minor, QVC, SYSCO, Target and Wal-Mart have recognized the benefits of establishing logistical operations in the Commonwealth. To learn more about Virginia’s global logistics capabilities click here

International Business Community Expands in Virginia

German manufacturer The Hornschuch Group celebrated the completion of its O’Sullivan Films expansion in Winchester, Va., almost a year to the date of the company’s announcement last September. The $28.3 million investment added manufacturing capacity for a high-end artificial leather product line. O’Sullivan Films is an established leader in the production of polymer films and finishing film technologies with a rich 114-year history serving the automotive, healthcare, consumer and building products industries.   

This project is a positive outcome of the Governor’s European Marketing Trip in July 2010, where he met with officials at the company’s headquarters in Germany. Rolf Gemmersdoerfer, Chairman of The Hornschuch Group, said, “We knew that Virginia was a great place to do business. Our acquisition of O’Sullivan Films is a testimonial to that effect. Governor McDonnell’s visit to our facility in July was very helpful. When a governor of a U.S. state takes the time to meet prospective investors in Europe, it sends the message that Virginia is willing to develop a working relationship with companies that will benefit the citizens of Virginia.”

The Governor’s European Marketing Trip netted a second investment – Netherlands honeycomb producer Axxor Group recently announced it will invest $4.96 million to establish its first U.S. operation, Axxor N.A., in Southern Virginia’s Pittsylvania County. Axxor Group has a unique single-step method to efficiently produce honeycomb for furniture, automotive and packing applications. The company is entering the U.S. market to supply honeycomb to IKEA subsidiary Swedwood North America, located in nearby Danville, Va. Swedwood opened  its location in Virginia in 2008 through the efforts of state and local agencies. 

To learn more about Virginia’s capabilities in the manufacturing sectors described above click here.

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