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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To YesVirginia Business Blog | A place for news, opinions, and information regarding the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.

Prince George County Recognized as One of Eight Innovative U.S. Counties by NACo

Tuesday, 17 December 2013 16:46 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Prince George County, Va., gained recognition as one of eight innovative counties highlighted in the recently-released report Strategies to Bolster Economic Resilience — County Leadership in Action by the National Association of Counties...

Prince George County, Va., gained recognition as one of eight innovative counties highlighted in the recently-released report Strategies to Bolster Economic Resilience — County Leadership in Action by the National Association of Counties.

In the report, NACo highlighted the strategies, partnerships and initiatives these eight counties pursued in their unique approach towards economic development. Founded in 1935, NACo is the only national organization that represents county governments in the U.S.

Prince George County received recognition for its focus on targeted industries, particularly advanced manufacturing, as the county’s partnership with Rolls-Royce was noted. Rolls-Royce’s 1,000-acre Crosspointe Campus in Prince George County is the company’s largest and most advanced campus in North America. It includes a Rotatives operation and Advanced Airfoil Machining Facility, with room for expansion. 

Prince George County and Rolls-Royce were also instrumental in establishing the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing adjacent to the Crosspointe Campus. CCAM celebrated its grand opening in March 2013 and functions as an applied research center, bringing together leading manufacturers and Virginia’s top educational institutions to collaborate and quickly turn ideas into real-world technologies. 

Homegrown company Service Center Metals was also mentioned in the study. The company recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary in Prince George County and announced plans to add a compact remelt plant. The company expects to add a total of 35 new jobs and invest $35 million through a two-phase expansion.

Through partnerships in the public, private and educational sectors, Prince George County has become a hub of advanced manufacturing innovation, drawing additional corporate partners and investment to the area.

To learn why Virginia has provided an innovative environment, allowing businesses to prosper here for more than 400 years, click here.

A view of CCAM, adjacent to Rolls-Royce’s Crosspointe Campus in Prince George County, Va.

Homegrown Martinsville Company Expands — Textiles Solid as a Stone in Virginia

Wednesday, 11 December 2013 16:35 by Info@YesVirginia.org
When Virginia entrepreneur David Stone decided to start his own company, Solid Stone Fabrics, in 2003 he knew the perfect location — his hometown of Martinsville, Va...

When Virginia entrepreneur David Stone decided to start his own company, Solid Stone Fabrics, in 2003 he knew the perfect location — his hometown of Martinsville, Va. 

With a solid background in the fabrics industry, including stints at Kayser-Roth, Tultex, Reebok and Pine Crest Fabrics, Stone had the industry knowledge and contacts to hit the ground running and start a successful business out of his home. When a truckload of fabric showed up at his front door, his wife let him know it was time to expand.

Stone moved into the local business incubator at the West Piedmont Business Development Center and stayed there until 2008. He carved out a strong niche in the stretch fabric market, supplying materials for customers in the dancewear, swimwear, costume, team and other active apparel markets. The incubator provided much more than a physical location; it offered microloans to help along the way as the company grew.

Solid Stone Fabrics moved into its current location, a 24,000-squre-foot building in downtown Martinsville, in 2008. And, according to Stone, “That’s when things really took off,” which included adding sales offices in New Jersey and California.

“We were primed to do most of our manufacturing in Asia, but we found it difficult to do smaller runs and get a quick response for our customers,” said Stone. “That frustration led us to do more of our own manufacturing here at home in Virginia.”

At any one time, Solid Stone Fabrics has 250,000 yards of material at its facility in Martinsville, ready to respond quickly to both business and individual customers. Martinsville serves as the company’s headquarters and center of operations, which includes adding embellishments for its active apparel markets, printing flags and banners for high schools, and assisting global customers in sourcing and supplying their fabric needs.

To date, the company has 24 employees, and just this week announced plans to create 16 more jobs over the next three years and invest $1.0 million in a second facility in Martinsville. Located just a few blocks away, the second building will add 23,000 square feet of manufacturing space and is expected to be operational by December 15.

“It’s exciting to be back in your hometown and putting people back to work — 40 jobs means a lot,” said Stone.  “In addition, occupying these older buildings in Martinsville is really breathing new life into the heart of our city.”

As to why Stone chose to expand in Martinsville, the answer is simple, “The majority of our employees are from here and educated here. I have relied heavily on Patrick Henry Community College and I can’t say enough about the talent here in Southern Virginia,” said Stone. “We’ve received a lot of support from the City of Martinsville, Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development and the Tobacco Commission — we’re so grateful to have all of that assistance by our side when we need it.”

Solid Stone Fabrics illustrates the success entrepreneurs find when they start a business in the Commonwealth, as well as how competitive Virginia manufacturing is on a global scale. To learn why Virginia is the best state for business, click here.

Members of the Solid Stone Fabrics team discuss their latest innovations from company headquarters in Martinsville, Va.

Charlottesville Startup GigDog Launches from UVA’s i.Lab

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Virginia Entrepreneurs — Dr. Lucy’s Takes Gluten-Free Global with VALET Program

Thursday, 21 November 2013 16:44 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Ten years ago, Dr. Lucy Gibney’s experience with food allergies was fairly typical for a board-certified emergency medicine physician. That all changed when her four month old son had a life-threatening allergic reaction to infant formula...

Ten years ago, Dr. Lucy Gibney’s experience with food allergies was fairly typical for a board-certified emergency medicine physician. That all changed when her four month old son had a life-threatening allergic reaction to infant formula.

Food safety quickly became a priority; however, at the time Dr. Lucy had trouble finding allergy-free products that were both safe and tasted good. Having developed a love of baking and experimenting with recipes since childhood, she combined this with her medical training in nutrition to develop delicious, allergy-free baked goods the whole family could enjoy.

Dr. Lucy and her husband wanted to share their cookies, brownies and snacks with other families, and thus was born Dr. Lucy’s line of baked goods, free from gluten, milk, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts.

In 2007, Dr. Lucy’s opened a 2,500-square-foot bakery in Norfolk, Va. The company outgrew this space three years ago and moved into a facility that has now grown to 22,000 square feet, including a dedicated bakery, warehouse, office space and laboratory to ensure sourced ingredients have not been cross-contaminated with any allergens. 

The company has expanded to more than 100 employees and managed to double sales every year since inception. Dr. Lucy’s began selling to natural food and grocery stores in the Hampton Roads area, and expanded throughout the mid-Atlantic region on its own momentum. Within the first six months, the company established a Midwest presence through an industry trade show in Chicago and gained an introduction to a buyer at Whole Foods Market by attending the Virginia Food and Beverage Expo. Dr. Lucy’s products are now in more than 6,000 retail locations across the U.S.

Dr. Lucy’s became a member of VEDP’s Virginia Leaders in Export Trade program in July 2012 after some early growth in Canada and the U.K. VALET helped the company research which new markets to focus on, and provided introductions to international consumer products experts, banking relationships and legal consults.

According to Dr. Lucy, “VALET put everything we needed right there in front of us. We really benefitted from the research component to check our facts and feel comfortable investing resources in a particular direction. Especially as a small company, having a jump start with core competencies in the international arena makes a big difference — it could have taken us years to develop this on our own.”

Through the VALET program, Dr. Lucy’s is expanding deeper into Europe and is now shipping to Mexico. To learn more about VALET and what VEDP’s international trade program can do for you, click here.

Dr. Lucy’s develops Spanish-language packaging as it prepares to enter the Mexican market.

Virginia Makes History Again — Orbital Sciences Launches First Satellite Built by High School Students

Wednesday, 20 November 2013 13:56 by Info@YesVirginia.org
At approximately 8:15 p.m. last night, Orbital Sciences launched the first satellite built by high school students, a team from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va...

At approximately 8:15 p.m. last night, Orbital Sciences launched the first satellite built by high school students, a team from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va. 

The satellite, known as TJ3SAT, is a CubeSat that has been designed, built and tested by more than 50 students at Thomas Jefferson and represents nearly seven years of work. Orbital Sciences mentored the students and provided financial support, as well as space testing facilities.

TJ3SAT measures 10 x 10 x 11 cm and weighs approximately two pounds. Its payload consists of a voice synthesizer that converts text to voice. Once it enters Earth orbit, students from around the world will be able to freely access the satellite by sending strings of text to the TJ3SAT website. Approved messages will be transmitted to the satellite, where they will be converted to voice signals and transmitted back to Earth using amateur radio frequency.

TJ3SAT launched from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-OB at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. MARS is one of only four commercial sites approved by the FAA for orbital space launches, and offers an ideal trajectory for Earth orbit insertion.

Orbital Sciences launched TJ3SAT with 27 other CubeSats aboard a Minotaur I rocket as part of its ORS-3 mission for the U.S. Air Force.

The collaborative partnership between Orbital Sciences and Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology illustrates Virginia’s position at the forefront of STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math), preparing students for careers in advanced fields, such as aerospace.

Use the highlighted links to learn more about the TJ3SAT program and Virginia’s leadership in the aerospace industry.

The Minotaur I rocket, carrying the first satellite built by high school students, launches from MARS at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. Photo courtesy of NASA Wallops/Chris Perry.

Virginia Conference on World Trade Celebrates 65 Years of Global Business Success

Wednesday, 13 November 2013 09:48 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Southern Virginia Product Advancement Center Incubates Companies From the Lab to the Marketplace

Thursday, 18 December 2014 14:39 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Formerly known as the Riverstone Energy Center, the recently rebranded Southern Virginia Product Advancement Center in South Boston, Va., functions as an incubator helping the Commonwealth’s advanced manufacturing companies develop their technology from the lab to the marketplace...

Formerly known as the Riverstone Energy Center, the recently rebranded Southern Virginia Product Advancement Center in South Boston, Va., functions as an incubator helping the Commonwealth’s advanced manufacturing companies develop their technology from the lab to the marketplace.

SVPAC replicates major components of the manufacturing process by offering companies assistance with modeling and simulation, prototyping, advanced manufacturing processes and applied coating development.

The center’s modeling and simulation program includes a virtual reality theater with high performance computing resources, simulation software and a fully immersive 3-D cave display that can render a one-to-one ratio in real-life scaling. This allows manufacturers to design new products and predict and test performance using virtual technology. Any mistakes are made and fixed in a virtual environment, allowing for a cost-friendly R&D approach.

SVPAC’s Carbon Fiber Composite Manufacturing Lab will allow companies to produce component parts using specialized molds. The lab is expected to be completed in the spring 2015 and augment the hub of automotive and aerospace technology companies in the area.

Through a partnership with C-CARE (Center for Coatings Application Research and Education), companies have access to a coatings technology lab that houses 12,000 square feet of environmentally-controlled space. The comprehensive range of manufactured coatings applications equipment includes advanced robotics, reciprocating spray equipment and virtual reality training systems that can test new coatings technologies and design solutions under a variety of conditions.

SVPAC also offers traditional incubation services that include business plan development, access to R&D grants, office and manufacturing space, networking opportunities and mentoring.

SVPAC already has a number of success stories, which include helping a large automobile manufacturer develop new spray coating technology, developing a virtual reality tool for robot path programming with Kawasaki, and helping TMI Autotech with modeling and simulation to develop its high performance vehicles. TMI has also worked with other automotive resources in the region, including the Global Center for Automotive Performance Simulation located nearby at the Virginia Motorsports Technology Park.

VEDP and VEDA hosted SVPAC on their most recently Third Wednesday Webinar series, available here.

SVPAC is another example of the R&D capabilities Virginia offers to advance the innovative ideas and products of the Commonwealth’s technology-driven companies. To learn more, click here.

A view of the 3-D modeling and simulation capabilities at the Southern Virginia Product Advancement Center in South Boston, Va. Photo courtesy of the Southern Virginia Product Advancement Center.

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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

That growth is occurring across the industry. According to VIMS, the number of aquaculture oysters sold by Virginia farms has increased from 0.8 million in 2005 to 28.1 million in 2012.

“Renewed interest in regional flavors and sustainable food practices has helped drive this market,” said Karen Hudson, VIMS Commercial Shellfish Aquaculture Extension Specialist. “It’s already an economically valuable industry and one that has lots of potential to grow. In 2012, there was an economic output of almost $20 million associated with single oyster aquaculture in Virginia.”

Click on the highlighted link to learn more about VIMS aquaculture programs or attend the Virginia Aquaculture Conference in November.

Captain Anthony Marchetti examines a successful crop of the company’s sweet “Rappahannock” oysters, fresh from the Rappahannock River. Photo courtesy of Rappahannock River Oyster Co. 

 

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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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YesVirginia Business Blog | A place for news, opinions, and information regarding the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.

Fort Lee Hosts the 40th Annual Military Culinary Arts Competitive Training Event

Tuesday, 10 March 2015 17:28 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Once again, the annual military culinary competition comes to Fort Lee, Va. from March 7-12. During this week, members of all the U.S. armed forces and military personnel from other countries compete in individual and team events to show their culinary expertise...

Once again, the annual military culinary competition comes to Fort Lee, Va., from March 7-12. During this week, members of all the U.S. armed forces and military personnel from other countries compete in individual and team events to show their culinary expertise.

Fort Lee is a perfect fit for the competition — it’s home to the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence, which provides basic and advanced food service training for all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, as well as some ally countries.

Members of VEDP and the Virginia Gateway Region attended the event yesterday, where the table displays were built by the U.S Army Reserve. The whimsical presentations, all made out of food, included themes based on the Wizard of Oz, notable landmarks in Paris, a lady from a masquerade ball, and a Spanish-influenced chocolate bull and matador.   

The Hot Kitchen Competition included the use of Mobile Kitchen Trailers to make a gourmet, three-course meal. The meal was all the more impressive considering the trailers are meant to be used out in the field in forward movement scenarios, and usually involve heating a pre-made meal for 50-100 soldiers.

There were numerous live cooking competitions, all judged by members of the American Culinary Federation. This allows awards to be easily translated into certificates and recognized outside of the military environment, which is important for members who later pursue a culinary career in the private sector.

One of the live cooking demos included renowned chef Robert Irvine, from the Food Network show “Restaurant: Impossible.”  Robert entertained with cooking tips and joked with the many military personnel in attendance. Robert is very familiar with the impact of providing a well-cooked meal in military environments. Not only is he a former soldier, but he visits military bases around to world to cook and entertain the troops.

The importance of the event was captured by Chief Foreign Officer 3, Charles Talley Jr., “It’s great to have the opportunity to see the crop of young chefs and see their culinary evolution from day one at Fort Lee. Food involves passion, innovation, creativity and sustainment. Our food service impacts the morale of military teams during peace and wartime.”

Fort Lee’s Joint Culinary Center of Excellence and its Military Culinary Arts Competitive Training Event illustrate Virginia’s position at the center of the food industry. Food processing is one of Virginia’s largest manufacturing areas. To learn why more than 580 companies have located in the Commonwealth, click here.

Virginia BioTechnology Research Park Expands Its Reach Across Virginia

Wednesday, 25 February 2015 14:28 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Virginia BioTechnology Research Park is at full capacity, but is still expanding its reach in the Richmond community and across the Commonwealth...

The Virginia BioTechnology Research Park is at full capacity, but is still expanding its reach in the Richmond community and across the Commonwealth.

Since its founding in 1992, the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park has grown to include seven buildings on 34 acres in the heart of Richmond. This represents 1.3 million square feet of space next to the VCU Medical Center, a Top 100 life sciences research center.

The park is currently home to nearly 60 life science companies, employing more than 2,300 scientists, engineers and researchers in the Central Virginia region.

The company’s most recent physical expansion occurred last spring on its Biotech 8 building, occupied by HDL Inc., which started up in the Biotech Center. Future expansion opportunities are available on two sites in the park.

According to Executive Director Carrie Roth, “Building on the urban renewal component of the research park, to be successful we need to focus on the process not the place through infrastructure for entrepreneurial, innovation and commercialization success. We’re repositioning the park and removing our borders to define it as a part of the larger, integrated knowledge-based life sciences community.”

To that end, the park is inviting outsiders in and opening up its shared lab. The lab has equipment donated by Altria in addition to purchased equipment, including a biosafety cabinet, CO2 incubator, inverted microscope and centrifuges. This allows early stage companies access to the equipment by renting benches on a monthly basis or purchasing a daily pass to the lab. In addition, access to the shared lab equipment helps those seeking grants by being able to include this on their application.

The management team is also engaging with partners across the region. For example, the Dominion Resources Innovation Center in Ashland provides mentoring and business support services to technology-based start-ups. The team at the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park has re-engaged its partnership with the innovation center and plans are in motion to move it closer into the town of Ashland. The new facility will also have dedicated lab space.

The Virginia BioTechnology Research Park is a shining example of the burgeoning life sciences clusters across the Commonwealth. To learn why more than 800 biotech establishments have selected Virginia, click here.

Members of the Richmond Regional Planning District Commission along with Carrie Roth of the Research Park listen to L. Franklin Bost, executive associate dean at the VCU School of Engineering, discuss activities of the VCU TRIP Center located in Biotech One. Photo courtesy of Virginia BioTechnology Research Park.

Capstone Integrated Machining Technology Program Comes to Danville

Friday, 20 February 2015 16:07 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Danville region has added to its precision machining expertise with the recently announced Capstone Integrated Machining Technology program at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research...

The Danville region has added to its precision machining expertise with the recently announced Capstone Integrated Machining Technology program at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research.

The program provides a third year of training for students that have completed Danville Community College’s popular two-year Precision Machining Technology program.

IALR has announced two grants in February to jumpstart the program — a $1.9 million grant from the Danville Regional Foundation and a $1 million endowment from the Gene Haas Foundation.

The funding will be used to upfit portions of the Hawkins Building at IALR and construct a workflow cell training lab, allowing students to replicate real world manufacturing conditions.

This additional training will enable students to earn nationally-recognized industry credentials, such as Level II and III certifications from the National Institute for Metalworking Skills.

The Capstone program will be ready for students by the fall semester. IALR and DCC estimate 15-20 students will participate in the first class, with the program expanding to 40 students at full capacity.

With the reshoring of manufacturing jobs to America and an aging baby boomer population, Southern Virginia is quickly becoming a go-to location to meet industry needs for a skilled workforce in this sector of advanced manufacturing.

According to DCC President Bruce Scism, “DCC ‘s Precision Machining Technology program is now the largest in the mid-Atlantic region, and it’s the only one that provides as wide a range of certification options.”

The Capstone program and partnership between IALR and DCC is another example of the teamwork among Virginia’s higher education system and public and private entities to develop the most advanced workforce training solutions. To learn more, click here.

Students in DCC’s Precision Machining Technology program receive training on Haas Mini Mill 5 axis machines.

Virginia Ranked a Top State for LEED Green Building Certifications in 2014

Friday, 6 February 2015 13:55 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Once again, Virginia made the U.S. Green Building Council’s annual list of Top 10 States for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) in 2014...

Once again, Virginia made the U.S. Green Building Council’s annual list of Top 10 States for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) in 2014.

The Commonwealth was ranked No. 4 and had 150 projects LEED-certified in 2014. This included a total of 18.6 million square feet of space, and 2.33 square feet per capita.

The report made special mention of the University of Mary Washington’s Technology Convergence Center in Fredericksburg, Va., which is LEED Silver-certified.

USGBC is made up of 12,870 member organizations and 197,000 professionals worldwide. It manages LEED, the most widely recognized green building certification program in the world. According to USGBC, LEED certifies 1.5 million square feet of space each day in 135 countries.

LEED-certified buildings are a win-win for the environment and economy. They provide healthier spaces to live, work and play, and lower energy costs in a sustainable way.

“LEED-certified building and the innovations they have driven contribute substantially to our national economic growth, create jobs and improve the quality of life in the communities where they are found,” said Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and founding chair of USGBC. “We commend the business and community leaders, policy makers and green building professionals in each of these states for making the commitment to create a healthier, more sustainable future.”

Virginia’s leadership as an innovator in this area illustrates the strong quality of life and cutting edge environment the Commonwealth offers to companies and their workforces. To learn why businesses have succeeded in Virginia for more than 400 years, click here.

Virginia Serious Game Institute Has a Banner First Year

Wednesday, 4 February 2015 13:55 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Virginia Serious Game Institute had a stellar first year that included launching six businesses and creating 70 new jobs in Prince William County...

The Virginia Serious Game Institute had a stellar first year that included launching six businesses and creating 70 new jobs in Prince William County.

VSGI is a business incubator that supports Virginia entrepreneurs in the modeling and simulation industry. It is the applied research arm of the Computer Game Design Program at George Mason University and is affiliated with the international Serious Game Institute. It is the only facility of its type on the East Coast and one of only a few worldwide.

VSGI provides Virginia schools, businesses and universities with hands-on training, certification, R&D assistance, incubation services, rapid prototype development and access to leading edge commercialization outputs and technologies.

Located on GMU’s Prince William Campus, VSGI operates as a public-private partnership offering entrepreneurs expertise in technology and business assistance from GMU, the Mason Enterprise Center, Prince William County and VEDP.

This location, just 26 miles south of Washington D.C., provides access to one of the top high-tech workforces in the nation. More than 60 GMU students have interned at VSGI, its resident companies or assisted in teaching.

VSGI supports Virginia’s STEM initiative by exposing younger students to careers in technology by hosting summer camps and workshops, as well as facilitating partnerships with larger IT companies that allow students to obtain hands-on learning experience.

VSGI is currently incubating five companies, and has the ability to house 10 startups at one time. To learn more, visit http://game.gmu.edu/sgi/. Be on the lookout for a call for applications in the coming weeks from the Prince William County Department of Economic Development.

Virginia has the highest concentration of high-tech workers in the nation. To learn more about the Commonwealth’s leadership in the tech sector and why innovative companies continue to choose Virginia, click here.

GMU Computer Game Design Program students provide modeling, simulation and design work for incubator companies at VSGI. Photo courtesy of Prince William County Department of Economic Development.

VEDP Launches 2015 Digital Advertising Campaign

Friday, 23 January 2015 09:34 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia has a great story and it’s imperative that it be told to the global business audience. In January, VEDP launched a new digital ad campaign, expected to deliver more than 73 million impressions through June 2015...

Virginia’s competitiveness and perception as a pro-business state remain strong. However, competition in the global economy and domestic markets continues to increase. Competing states are more aggressive in their outreach efforts, with several recently unveiling multi-million dollar advertising campaigns to promote and lure business.

Virginia has a great story and it’s imperative that it be told to the global business audience. In January, VEDP launched a new digital ad campaign, expected to deliver more than 73 million impressions through June 2015.

To maximize our limited resources, VEDP focused on digital media outlets and purchased an integrated schedule of online, mobile, tablet and pay-per-click search placements. The campaign targets VEDP’s geographic markets in the U.S, U.K., Germany and China.

The ads, promoting Virginia’s prime business location advantages, appear in Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Entrepreneur and Reuters, as well as two advertising networks — Bizo and Rocketfuel.

Search engine marketing remains a key component of our strategy. VEDP implemented pay-per-click ads on Google, Bing and Baidu. This is our first venture with Baidu, the leading search engine in China.

“VEDP’s advertising strategy continues to prove effective at generating leads and building awareness of the strengths that make the Commonwealth such a great place to work and live,” said Vince Barnett, VEDP vice president of communications & promotions. “The digital program provides unique targeting capabilities to reach key corporate decision makers, while making the most efficient use of limited advertising dollars.”

An example of a 15 second video pre-roll used as part of the campaign is below, and landing pages for the U.S., U.K., Germany and China can be found by clicking on the highlighted links.

To learn more about the opportunities for success that are waiting for you in Virginia, visit www.YesVirginia.org.

A view of the video pre-roll touting Virginia’s pro-business resources.

Amazon Fulfillment Center in Chesterfield Still Buzzing After the Holidays

Thursday, 8 January 2015 14:50 by Info@YesVirginia.org
VEDP toured the Amazon fulfillment center in Chesterfield, Va., this week, and we were pleased to see the facility was still buzzing with activity even after the holiday rush...

VEDP toured the Amazon fulfillment center in Chesterfield, Va., this week, and we were pleased to see the facility was still buzzing with activity even after the holiday rush.

The Chesterfield fulfillment center began operations in the fall of 2012, after the company’s December 2011 announcement that it would invest $85 million to establish the location and create 1,000 jobs.

Today, the 1.2 million square foot facility has 1,500 employees that help distribute more than 14 million items in the building.

The facility is an impressive maze of shelves, work stations and conveyor belts whizzing yellow bins, called “totes,” containing any type of smaller consumer good throughout the building in a blur of efficiency. Amazon’s other facility in nearby Dinwiddie County ships larger consumer goods, like kayaks and TVs.

Our tour guide took us through the massive layout and explained how departments such as receiving, stowing, packing and shipping all work together. Like any massive organization, Amazon has its own nomenclature. “Stowers” scan goods in and store them in the “library” where they are later retrieved by “pickers” who put items for a customer’s order into the “totes.”

The Chesterfield facility has more than 2,500 scanners, 1,300 carts and 40,000 yellow totes. 

Extreme efficiency is a requirement for success at Amazon. On 2013’s Cyber Monday, Amazon customers ordered more than 36.8 million items, which is a record-breaking 426 items per second.

The company operates under a continuous improvement mandate, and many suggestions come from employees themselves. Last year, 4,700 employees participated in 1,100 kaizens across North America to develop new processes and solutions to solve specific problems.

One reason Amazon has found success in Virginia is because its Chesterfield fulfillment center seamlessly blends Virginia’s skilled workforce with advanced technology and sophisticated algorithms to keep the operation humming at peak efficiency.

A second reason is Virginia’s premier logistics network. Amazon’s recognition as a powerhouse distributor was furthered when Coca Cola decided to bring back its Surge soda and sell it exclusively online through Amazon. Surge is the top-selling item at the Chesterfield facility.

Due to the strength of Virginia’s logistics network, more than 380 global logistics projects have been announced over the last 10 years with capital investment of more than $1.8 billion. The Commonwealth allows companies to transport products worldwide through its six interstate highways, nine commercial airports, 11 railroads, including two Class I lines, and the International Port of Virginia, one of the only East Coast locations in the U.S. able to handle post-Panamax vessels as first and last port of call.

To learn more, click here.

A view of Amazon’s fulfillment center at Meadowville Technology Park in Chesterfield, Va. Photo Courtesy of Chesterfield Economic Development.

Southern Virginia Product Advancement Center Incubates Companies From the Lab to the Marketplace

Thursday, 18 December 2014 14:39 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Formerly known as the Riverstone Energy Center, the recently rebranded Southern Virginia Product Advancement Center in South Boston, Va., functions as an incubator helping the Commonwealth’s advanced manufacturing companies develop their technology from the lab to the marketplace...

Formerly known as the Riverstone Energy Center, the recently rebranded Southern Virginia Product Advancement Center in South Boston, Va., functions as an incubator helping the Commonwealth’s advanced manufacturing companies develop their technology from the lab to the marketplace.

SVPAC replicates major components of the manufacturing process by offering companies assistance with modeling and simulation, prototyping, advanced manufacturing processes and applied coating development.

The center’s modeling and simulation program includes a virtual reality theater with high performance computing resources, simulation software and a fully immersive 3-D cave display that can render a one-to-one ratio in real-life scaling. This allows manufacturers to design new products and predict and test performance using virtual technology. Any mistakes are made and fixed in a virtual environment, allowing for a cost-friendly R&D approach.

SVPAC’s Carbon Fiber Composite Manufacturing Lab will allow companies to produce component parts using specialized molds. The lab is expected to be completed in the spring 2015 and augment the hub of automotive and aerospace technology companies in the area.

Through a partnership with C-CARE (Center for Coatings Application Research and Education), companies have access to a coatings technology lab that houses 12,000 square feet of environmentally-controlled space. The comprehensive range of manufactured coatings applications equipment includes advanced robotics, reciprocating spray equipment and virtual reality training systems that can test new coatings technologies and design solutions under a variety of conditions.

SVPAC also offers traditional incubation services that include business plan development, access to R&D grants, office and manufacturing space, networking opportunities and mentoring.

SVPAC already has a number of success stories, which include helping a large automobile manufacturer develop new spray coating technology, developing a virtual reality tool for robot path programming with Kawasaki, and helping TMI Autotech with modeling and simulation to develop its high performance vehicles. TMI has also worked with other automotive resources in the region, including the Global Center for Automotive Performance Simulation located nearby at the Virginia Motorsports Technology Park.

VEDP and VEDA hosted SVPAC on their most recently Third Wednesday Webinar series, available here.

SVPAC is another example of the R&D capabilities Virginia offers to advance the innovative ideas and products of the Commonwealth’s technology-driven companies. To learn more, click here.

A view of the 3-D modeling and simulation capabilities at the Southern Virginia Product Advancement Center in South Boston, Va. Photo courtesy of the Southern Virginia Product Advancement Center.

VEDP Receives No. 2 State Economic Development Organization Ranking for 2014

Wednesday, 10 December 2014 14:11 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The American Economic Development Institute and Pollina Corporate Real Estate ranked VEDP No. 2 on its Top 10 State Economic Development Organizations list for 2014...

The American Economic Development Institute and Pollina Corporate Real Estate ranked VEDP No. 2 on its Top 10 State Economic Development Organizations list for 2014.

With growing competitiveness on a global scale, AEDI and Pollina wanted to put the spotlight on state economic development organizations that are excelling at their job.

“Leaders of economic development organizations throughout the country need to do a far better job of understanding that their primary objective is to create new jobs and retain those already located in their state,” said Dr. Ronald Pollina, chairman of AEDI and president of Pollina. 

This ranking is largely based on data from Stage II of the AEDI/Pollina Corporate Top 10 Pro-Business States 2014 report released earlier this year. The Stage II data examines the state’s incentive programs and the marketing efforts of their economic development agencies.

More specifically on the marketing analysis, the authors of the study examined the resources devoted to the agencies, their ability to respond to new company inquiries and existing company needs, and the functionality of their website.

Interestingly, the study found that a majority of states had few programs for existing companies and did not devote enough resources to contacting and assisting these existing companies. In contrast, VEDP has an entire team devoted to business expansion, which accounted for 86% of announced investment and 74% of new job creation in calendar year 2013. Even more impressive, the top five project announcements for both new job creation and invested capital in 2013 were made by expanding Virginia companies.

Through our international trade division, VEDP helps existing Virginia businesses expand sales internationally. Programs such as the Global Network, VALET, Going Global Defense Initiative and trade missions provide companies with the research, introductions and export training to substantially increase sales overseas.

The importance of an agency’s website can’t be underestimated, as this is the first point of contact for many companies and site selection consultants. VEDP offers a variety of tools through our website, including VirginiaScan, Compare Virginia, Community Profiles, and the YesVA app, which allow consultants to easily search a geographic area for available properties and obtain comparative demographic, economic and real estate information to easily narrow their search.

According to VEDP President and CEO Martin Briley, “This ranking is a tremendous honor for all of us here at VEDP. It represents the hard work of our entire staff, our partners and our allies as we work together to augment the economic vitality of the Commonwealth and tell the Virginia story on the global stage.”

To learn how VEDP can help your company and why businesses have prospered in Virginia for more than 400 years, click here.

Photo courtesy of the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Charlottesville Entrepreneurs Launch Moonlighting Mobile Marketplace App

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VEDP Host Virginia Tour for Chinese Journalists

Friday, 21 November 2014 12:57 by Info@YesVirginia.org
VEDP hosted a delegation of 10 influential journalists from the People’s Republic of China on a visit to Richmond this week as part of a larger tour organized by the Global Times...

VEDP hosted a delegation of 10 influential journalists from the People’s Republic of China on a visit to Richmond this week as part of a larger tour organized by the Global Times.

The journalists previously visited South Korea, Israel and Vietnam. While in the U.S., the group will visit Washington D.C., St. Louis and New York City to cover themes such as the U.S. representational government, freedom of the press, the future of U.S.-China relations, and Chinese foreign direct investment in the U.S.

The visit to Richmond is an extension of the D.C. portion of the tour. While here, the journalists met with Governor McAuliffe, and heard from Tranlin Inc. CEO Jerry Peng about Shandong Tranlin Paper Co.’s decision to locate its first U.S. manufacturing operation in Chesterfield County, Va.

The journalists experienced the strong cultural relationship that exists between China and Virginia. The group visited the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and toured the Forbidden City: Imperial Treasures from the Palace Museum, Beijing and Beyond the Walls exhibitions.

The group’s final stop was at the Richmond Ballet for an overview of its Road to China cultural exchange scheduled for May 2015. The Richmond Ballet will travel to China to dance their mixed repertory program, Made in the USA: Traditions & Innovations, at the Meet in Beijing Arts Festival. This past July, the Richmond Ballet performed in China as part of the U.S. Department of State’s 2014 Cultural Pillar Delegation for the U.S.-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchange.

China-Virginia relations remain solid, and Governor McAuliffe led two marketing missions to China in July and October to tell the Virginia story and build relationships with companies seeking to expand into the U.S.

Virginia is a great location for international companies seeking to enter the U.S. due to the Commonwealth’s strategic East Coast location, pro-business regulatory and cost environment, excellent logistics network, premier workforce and enjoyable quality of life. To learn more, click here.

A group of leading online journalists from China visit the Virginia State Capitol during their tour of Richmond.

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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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About VEDP

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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