Virginia Wins Area Development’s 2012 Silver Shovel Award

Monday, 9 July 2012 15:16 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Virginia was recently awarded a Silver Shovel in the 5-9 Million population category by Area Development magazine.

As part of the magazine’s seventh annual ranking, the award recognizes states for attracting investment projects that created a high number of new jobs in calendar year 2011. States were recognized for establishing policies that drive job growth, infrastructure improvements, and processes that attract new employers.

The award is based on each state’s top 10 projects that broke ground in 2011, using a number of weighted factors such as number of new jobs created, size of investment, number of new facilities, and the diversity of industries represented.

The ten outstanding projects that made Virginia a winner were: Amazon.com, ICF International, United States Green Energy, Soft Tech Consulting Inc., Katoen Natie, Backcountry.com, International Paper, PPD Inc., Rubbermaid Commercial Products Inc., and Microsoft Corp.

Also a winner of the Silver Shovel in 2009 and 2006, this recognition continues Virginia’s winning streak with awards such as Site Selection magazine’s 2011 Competitiveness Award, MoneyRates.com’s 2012 Best State to Make a Living, Pollina Corporate Real Estate’s 2011 Top Pro-Business State, CNBC’s 2011 Top State for Business, and Business Facilities magazine’s top spot for Economic Growth Potential in 2011.

To learn more about Virginia’s unique combination of assets that has allowed businesses to prosper here for more than 400 years, click here.

New Capital One Data Center Comes to Chesterfield County

Thursday, 5 July 2012 09:22 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Capital One recently announced plans to invest $150 million to establish a new data center in Chesterfield County, bringing 50 new jobs to the area. Virginia successfully competed against Texas for this project.

Capital One recently announced plans to invest $150 million to establish a new data center in Chesterfield County, bringing 50 new jobs to the area. Virginia successfully competed against Texas for this project.

Chesterfield County was selected due to its proximity to Capital One’s existing operations in the Greater Richmond area. The Fortune 500 company has successfully operated in Virginia for more than two decades.

Central Virginia is seeing a growing cluster of data centers due its abundant power, advanced fiber network, and low risk of natural disasters. In addition, the strong partnership between local officials and utility providers allows deals such as this to be put together quickly.

Virginia is fast becoming a popular place for data centers across the Commonwealth. Data processing was the dominant sector for investment in 2011 at $960 million, accounting for almost half of the nonmanufacturing investment.

The Commonwealth not only offers companies low electricity rates below the national average; it maintains a highly qualified workforce to support the sector, with the highest concentration of high-tech workers according to Cyberstates 2011. In addition, the Retail Sales and Use Tax Exemption provides a competitive cost advantage on qualified equipment for data centers.

To learn more about Virginia’s capabilities and why companies have invested more than $4.4 billion in the Commonwealth’s data center industry over the past ten years, click here.

UBED—JMU’s Virginia Center for Wind Energy Educates the Industry

Friday, 29 June 2012 11:12 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Continuing our series on University-Based Economic Development, we will look at how James Madison University’s (JMU) Virginia Center for Wind Energy (VCWE) keeps industry professionals educated on wind power developments in Virginia.

Located in a 4,000-square-foot commercial lab space near JMU’s main campus, the center has been active since 2001. VCWE provides measurements, economic modeling, education, energy policy analysis and GIS reports on wind energy in the Commonwealth.

VCWE recently hosted the 2012 Statewide Wind Energy Symposium, which included panel discussions and workshops ranging from Wind 101 to Regulatory and Permitting Options. The 150 attendees included government officials, wind industry decision-makers, business owners and Virginia residents.

During the symposium VCWE launched its Small Wind Training & Testing Facility, which will be used primarily for workforce training in the small wind industry. Small wind is traditionally defined as turbines below 100 kilowatts (kW) with most residential turbines under 20 kW. Through the center students will have access to three wind turbines, a WeatherBug weather station, a solar array system and additional measurement equipment.

Uncertainty still surrounds the national production tax credit, and locally, many cities do not have wind ordinances in place, making education the critical mandate for VCWE.

“The Small Wind Training and Testing Facility was designed to address a lack of available resources in the region to support the training of a small wind workforce throughout Virginia and beyond. This resource will support teaching of undergraduates at JMU and other educational institutions throughout the Commonwealth, as well as the training of residents and business owners who seek to learn more about how to apply wind energy in Virginia,” said Dr. Jonathan Miles, VCWE Director.

Fortunately Virginia has a compelling wind story with its shallow waters, strong Class 6 winds, high voltage transmission grid, and maritime workforce. To learn more JMU’s Virginia Center for Wind Energy, click here.

Dr. Jonathan Miles, VCWE Director, addresses the crowd at the JMU Small Wind Training & Testing Facility ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Virginia Port Authority and VEDP Launch Joint Marketing Initiative

Thursday, 28 June 2012 15:52 by Info@YesVirginia.org

The Virginia Port Authority (VPA) and VEDP signed a Memorandum of Understanding to launch a joint marketing initiative to better share Virginia’s unique story with businesses that utilize port facilities.

The marketing initiative will include creating a shared message to be featured through websites, joint client calls on marketing missions, and collaborative representation at various industry events and tradeshows.

The Port of Virginia handles 1.9 million TEUs each year and is fully prepared to accommodate 10,000+ TEU vessels. Its 50-foot shipping channels are the deepest on the East Coast, offering companies the only East Coast location able to hand post-Panamax vessels as first port of call.

Truly an intermodal gateway, the Port of Virginia provides barge, rail and truck distribution with a 48-hour transit time to Chicago. The port offers connectivity with two Class I railroads as well as an Inland Port and Virginia’s premier interstate system.

The Port of Virginia is an economic engine providing 343,000 port-related jobs across the Commonwealth. Over the last two years numerous companies have announced relocations or expansions related to the Port of Virginia’s world-class capabilities, including Ace Hardware, Albany Industries, Amazon.com, Federal-Mogul, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Honeywell, Rubbermaid, and Stihl Inc., to name a few.

To learn more about Virginia’s premier transportation infrastructure and the Port of Virginia, click on the highlighted links.

Virginia Port Authority Vice Chair Jim Boyd (left) signs the Memorandum of Understanding with VEDP Chairman Julien Patterson.

Sabra Dipping Co. Expands its Footprint in Chesterfield County, Va.

Monday, 25 June 2012 14:12 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Sabra Dipping Co. announced two exciting projects on its 49-acre campus at Ruffin Mill Industrial Park in Chesterfield County. America’s leading hummus producer will expand its existing food manufacturing operation and establish a Center of Excellence (COE) research and development facility. The combined investment will bring $28 million and 90 new jobs to Chesterfield County.

The manufacturing expansion will give Sabra 50 percent more production capacity with improvements such as adding two lines and a packaging automation system. Sabra first chose Chesterfield County as the site for its new manufacturing facility in 2008.

The new COE facility will feature a state-of-the-art culinary center and research center where Sabra plans to partner with universities on food science research. Construction on the new 20,000-square-foot facility is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2012.

Sabra Dipping Co. was formed through a joint venture between PepsiCo and Israel’s second-largest food and beverage company, the Strauss Group. Sabra’s award-winning flavors have made it the leading producer of hummus in the U.S.

This project is another positive result of a Governor’s marketing mission. Governor McDonnell met with Strauss Group officials in Israel during his November 2011 mission.

The company chose Virginia again for both its skilled workforce and cost-competitive advantages. Sabra CEO Ronen Zohar said, “The fact that we are building the Sabra Center of Excellence in Virginia is a testament to our belief in the people, the community and the resources available here.”

Virginia’s low and stable tax rate combined with competitive electricity and construction costs helped make the Commonwealth the clear winner. In addition, Virginia’s workforce is well-prepared through industry-specific training programs provided by the Commonwealth’s top-ranked universities and 23-member community college system.

To learn why more than 555 food and beverage manufacturing companies have invested more than $1.9 billion in Virginia over the last decade, click here.

German Subsidiary Berryville Graphics Expands in Clarke County, Va.

Thursday, 21 June 2012 09:47 by Info@YesVirginia.org
While traveling on his recent European Marketing Mission, Governor McDonnell announced that German subsidiary Berryville Graphics will consolidate operations through an expansion of its headquarters and manufacturing facility in Berryville, Va. The project will bring a $10.6 million investment and 84 new jobs to Clarke County...

While traveling on his recent European Marketing Mission, Governor McDonnell announced that German subsidiary Berryville Graphics will consolidate operations through an expansion of its headquarters and manufacturing facility in Berryville, Va. The project will bring a $10.6 million investment and 84 new jobs to Clarke County.

One of the largest manufacturers of hardcover and softcover books, Berryville Graphics produces nearly 120 million books each year from its Berryville facility. The company is a subsidiary of German-owned Bertelsmann AG, the largest media company in Europe.

On June 12 the Governor met with Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Rabe in Gutersloh, Germany to close the deal as part of his European Marketing Mission.

Located in Berryville since 1956, Berryville Graphics has found success in Virginia despite challenges the publishing industry has faced in recent years. In addition to the region’s skilled and dedicated workforce, Virginia’s premier logistics network was also a key reason for consolidating operations in Clarke County.

The Clarke County location offers convenient access to I-81, I-70 and the I-66 connection to I-95. In addition, Virginia’s two Class I railroads, Inland Port, and international Port of Virginia allow companies to reach customers across multiple markets quickly and cost-effectively.

To learn why companies keep choosing the Commonwealth for its premier logistics capabilities and world-class workforce, click here.

DARPA Opens New Headquarters Building in Virginia’s Science Corridor

Tuesday, 19 June 2012 11:31 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently celebrated the opening of its new headquarters building in the Ballston Science Corridor in Arlington, Va. DARPA first announced plans to relocate in July 2009 in order to meet updated Department of Defense (DOD) security requirements...

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently celebrated the opening of its new headquarters building in the Ballston Science Corridor in Arlington, Va. DARPA first announced plans to relocate in July 2009 in order to meet updated Department of Defense (DOD) security requirements.

Federal, state and local officials worked with the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission to keep DARPA within the Science Corridor in Arlington, and avoid relocation to a military base. This project retained 800 jobs at DARPA and more than 1,700 jobs through its partnerships with other defense contractors and private businesses in the region.

The Virginia National Defense Industrial Authority administered a $10 million grant to customize the new building to meet the DOD’s Minimum Anti-terrorism Standards for Buildings. The 13-story, 352,000-square-foot building was also constructed to meet LEED Silver energy efficiency requirements.

A leading research institution and agency of the DOD, DARPA’s mission is to develop critical technology to preserve national security. The agency’s innovations have led to key scientific and research discoveries, including involvement in the creation of the Internet.

As part of the Ballston Science Corridor, DARPA will enjoy synergies with the surrounding science community, including the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, CACI International, and the new Virginia Tech research center.

DARPA is one example of the many leading research institutions in the Commonwealth, providing Virginia businesses with access to cutting-edge research and an innovative workforce. To learn more about Virginia’s world-class research capabilities, click here.

Virginia Commended as America’s Most Livable State by U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Monday, 18 June 2012 16:52 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia was named a Top Performing State and commended as America’s Most Livable State in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s recent report Enterprising States 2012. The report was released at the U.S. Chamber’s annual Jobs Summit on June 13...

Virginia was named a Top Performing State and commended as America’s Most Livable State in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s recent report Enterprising States 2012. The report was released at the U.S. Chamber’s annual Jobs Summit on June 13.

The report reviewed the economic development and job creation policies of all 50 states, looking at growth, productivity and livability measures. The Top Performing States were calculated using the follow seven factors: long-term job growth, short-term job growth, overall expansion of gross state product, state output per job, growth in output per job, growth in per capital personal income, and median income of a four-person household adjusted for state cost of living.

Virginia was ranked No. 1 in Median Family Income, STEM Job Concentration, and High-tech Share of All Businesses. The Commonwealth outperformed other states due to its high quality of living combined with a strong base of high-tech businesses and the skilled workers to support these companies.

This comes as no surprise, as Virginia has previously been recognized as having both the highest concentration of high-tech companies and the highest concentration of high-tech workers, according to Enterprising States 2011 and Cyberstates 2011, respectively.

The study also referenced Virginia’s leadership in building upon its strengths in technology through new legislative initiatives promoting research and development and investment in technology and science.

May’s seasonally adjusted unemployment numbers confirm Virginia’s positive story. Holding steady at 5.6 percent, the jobless number is well below the national average and remains the lowest rate in three years.

To learn why Virginia continues to receive top rankings for its pro-business environment, skilled workforce and high quality of life, click here.

UBED—Piedmont Virginia Community College Prepares Analysts for the Intelligence Community

Thursday, 14 June 2012 13:19 by Info@YesVirginia.org

As part of our ongoing series we are taking a look at what higher education institutions are doing around the Commonwealth to support University-Based Economic Development (UBED).

Piedmont Virginia Community College (PVCC) has partnered with the Advanced Technical Intelligence Center for Human Capital Development to develop an Analyst Boot Camp program for the intelligence community.

The 10-week, 400-hour Analyst Boot Camp is geared towards entry level intelligence workers with a bachelor’s degree. While at the boot camp students obtain Secret security clearance, and by the end of the program they can apply for Top Secret clearance.

The boot camp provides an overview of world events from an intelligence perspective, as well as coursework on the different types of intelligence. It also prepares students on all aspects necessary to complete a briefing, including gathering, analyzing and reporting on data.

Because participants get such a thorough overview of the intelligence community and can hit the ground running after graduation, PVCC estimates the program saves future employers $50,000-$80,000 per student.

The Analyst Boot Camp was developed to support the training needs of Central Virginia’s intelligence community. In particular, as part of the Base Realignment and Closure legislation, the Defense Intelligence Agency moved more than 800 jobs to Albemarle County’s Rivanna Station beginning in 2010. 

To date, the Analyst Boot Camp has graduated two classes and the third class is scheduled to begin later this month. Graduates find employment in the military, intelligence agencies, law enforcement, and in cyber security fields in the private sector.

This fall the program will expand its coursework for more advanced students to include a Certified Ethical Hacker course, additional software courses, and additional homeland security and counter-terrorism courses.

PVCC’s Analyst Boot Camp is another example of the customized workforce training solutions Virginia higher education institutions offer employers across the state. To learn more about the Analyst Boot Camp or PVCC’s customized workforce training solutions, click on the highlighted links.

Leading Lime Producer Carmeuse Lime & Stone Expands in Frederick County

Wednesday, 13 June 2012 09:31 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Last week, Carmeuse Lime & Stone announced it will expand its Frederick County limestone mining and quarrying operation through a $45 million investment, creating 25 new jobs.

The investment will be used to purchase new machinery and equipment, including a new modern kiln, to meet increased demand for the company’s products. With new EPA regulations around the production of “clean coal,” demand for lime products has increased due to lime’s ability to absorb sulfur and reduce emissions.

With a Belgium parent company and 90 facilities across the globe, the largest producer of lime and limestone products in North America certainly had its pick of locations. Carmeuse Lime & Stone chose Virginia not once, but five times, through its multiple operations across the Commonwealth. 

Carmeuse Lime & Stone has found success in Frederick County since 1959. The company’s decision to grow this location was based upon the region’s highly skilled workforce, wealth of natural resources, and supporting infrastructure.

With trucking as the company’s main distribution channel, Virginia’s superior logistics network helped seal the deal. The Frederick County location offers convenient access to I-81, I-70 and the I-66 connection to I-95, allowing the company to easily reach Eastern, Midwestern and Canadian markets.

In addition, the Virginia Inland Port is only a few miles away, allowing the company to access international markets through the world-class Port of Virginia.

To learn why Virginia is consistently ranked America’s Top State for Business, and why manufacturing companies keep coming back to the Commonwealth, click here.

Small Businesses Rank Virginia A Top Ten Friendliest State for Doing Business

Monday, 11 June 2012 09:31 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia was ranked the No. 7 Friendliest State by more than 6,000 small businesses surveyed by Thumbtack.com and the Kauffman Foundation in the recently published Thumbtack.com Small Business Survey...

Virginia was ranked the No. 7 Friendliest State by more than 6,000 small businesses surveyed by Thumbtack.com and the Kauffman Foundation in the recently published Thumbtack.com Small Business Survey.

Virginia was in the top ten nationwide in the following categories: lowest cost to hire a new employee, business-friendly labor and hiring regulations, strong training programs, and networking events geared towards small businesses.

The Commonwealth was also the No. 1 state in the Mid-Atlantic region in the categories of overall small business friendliness, lowest cost of hiring a new employee, and ease of starting a small business.

Small businesses and entrepreneurs are at the heart of economic growth, providing 65 percent of net new jobs nationwide between 1993 and 2009, according to the Thumbtack.com Small Business Survey.

Governor McDonnell’s recent announcement of new legislature to encourage investment in small business further illustrates Virginia’s intent to attract and assist small businesses. Senate Bill 344 and House Bill 585 created the Small Business Investment Grant Fund which offers a grant equal to 10 percent of the qualified investment.

To learn why Virginia is a great place to start a business and read more about the extensive resources available to entrepreneurs, click here.

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

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Virginia Wins Another Defense Company's Corporate Headquarters

Tuesday, 1 May 2012 15:02 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Yesterday, DRS Technologies announced it would relocate its corporate headquarters from New Jersey to Arlington County, Va. The company will expand its Virginia presence to more than 100 employees, bringing a capital investment in excess of $10 million to the region...

Yesterday, DRS Technologies announced it would relocate its corporate headquarters from New Jersey to Arlington County, Va. The company will expand its Virginia presence to more than 100 employees, bringing a capital investment in excess of $10 million to the region.

The defense technology leader is a subsidiary of Italian conglomerate Finmeccanica S.p.A., a top ten global defense and aerospace leader. DRS Technologies develops a wide range of mission-critical systems for homeland security and military needs.

The Governor met with company officials at the Farnborough International Air Show in summer 2010.

Virginia was chosen for the company’s new headquarters location due to its proximity to key customers in the D.C. area, as well as the company’s positive experience with Virginia’s pro-business regulatory environment and tech-savvy workforce. Virginia has the highest concentration of high-tech workers according to Cyberstates 2011.

To learn why major defense companies such as DRS Technologies, Northrop Grumman, ITT Exelis and ATK have all recently selected the Commonwealth for their headquarters location, click here.

Engility Corp. Establishes Global Headquarters in Virginia

Friday, 27 April 2012 15:30 by Info@YesVirginia.org
L-3 Communications spin-off Engility Corp. announced yesterday that it would establish its new corporate headquarters in Fairfax County, Va. The project, a positive result of the Governor’s recent marketing mission to New York and Canada, will bring 50 new jobs and a $6.5 million investment to Northern Virginia...

L-3 Communications spin-off Engility Corp. announced yesterday that it would establish its new corporate headquarters in Fairfax County, Va. The project, a positive result of the Governor’s recent marketing mission to New York and Canada, will bring 50 new jobs and a $6.5 million investment to Northern Virginia.

With more than $2 billion in sales and 9,200 employees worldwide, Engility Corp. is a leading professional services firm providing systems engineering and technical assistance support services to numerous government agencies, including the Department of Defense. Virginia’s proximity to the company’s key markets and customers was a deciding factor for this headquarters location.

L-3 Communications’ existing presence in the Commonwealth and positive experience with Virginia’s highly-skilled workforce and pro-business tax structure led Engility to choose Virginia over its competition in Maryland.

As part of the professional services industry, Engility’s new headquarters location builds upon the success Virginia has shown in the sector. Professional services was the Commonwealth’s top sector for job creation in 2011, announcing 12,769 new jobs. With human capital as the major input, the sector’s 108 percent growth over the last year illustrates the driving force of Virginia’s world-class workforce.

To learn more why companies continue to select the Commonwealth for their headquarters locations, click here.

Bristol, Virginia’s NextGen Broadband Network Recognized in National Study

Wednesday, 25 April 2012 16:10 by Info@YesVirginia.org
New industry study Broadband at the Speed of Light details how three communities, including Bristol, Va., took matters into their own hands to develop some of the top broadband networks in the country...

New industry study Broadband at the Speed of Light details how three communities, including Bristol, Va., took matters into their own hands to develop some of the top broadband networks in the country.

Published by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) and the Benton Foundation, the study details a growing trend — rather than relying on the slower pace of private sector telecommunications expansion, community leaders are successfully designing and implementing their own public broadband networks.

Bristol is touted as one of the first municipalities in the nation to build a citywide Fiber-To-The-Home (FTTH) network that offers telephone, cable television and Internet broadband access. The local power utility, Bristol Virginia Utilities, launched its fiber optic network in 2003 under the name OptiNet.

Study author Christopher Mitchell noted that Bristol’s residents have “faster and lower cost access to the Internet than anyone in San Francisco, Seattle or any other major city.”

With a take rate above 70 percent, OptiNet has since expanded outside of Bristol to nearby businesses and industrial parks, helping to create hundreds of jobs for Virginians. Named the 2009 Community Broadband Fiber Network of the Year by the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisers, the network has also been praised in The Economist and in the FCC’s National Broadband Plan for America.

OptiNet is not the only technology investment Southern Virginia has seen. Several years ago the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative established an 800 mile open-access, fiber-optic broadband network, attracting Gigaparks and technology companies to the former tobacco region.

High-speed broadband infrastructure has become an increasingly important component to business expansion decisions, allowing Virginia to remain competitive on a global level. The expansions of companies such as Microsoft, Northrop Grumman, CGI and Alpha Natural Resources in the region are due in part to the availability of a high-speed network.

To learn more about Virginia’s strength as a technology leader and why companies continue to locate in the Top State for Business, click here.

Healthcare Leader McKesson Corp. Expands Footprint in the Commonwealth

Friday, 20 April 2012 16:40 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Earlier this week, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling joined McKesson officials to celebrate the grand opening of the company’s new medical distribution center in Caroline County. Initially announced in August 2010, the new, state-of-the-art distribution center will allow McKesson to better serve its domestic and international customers, bringing 150 new jobs and a $50 million investment to Virginia.

Ranked 15th on the Fortune 500, McKesson is the largest pharmaceutical wholesaler in North America, distributing one-third of all medicines used each day. McKesson’s selection of Virginia over Maryland and Pennsylvania confirms the Commonwealth’s strong advantages for companies vested in global logistics.

The new distribution center will enhance McKesson’s total supply chain efficiency as well as extend the company’s footprint in Virginia. Building off the McKesson Medical Surgical corporate office in Richmond, this new distribution center will bring the company’s employee base in Virginia to more than 600.

Virginia offers several advantages for distribution centers, including easy rail access, six major highways, one of the largest container ports on the East Coast, and the third largest state-maintained transportation network in the country.

To learn more about why the nation’s leading distributors are locating in Virginia, click here.

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Plastics on the Rise — Insights from the Plastics News Forum 2014

Friday, 7 March 2014 14:15 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Last week, VEDP attended the Plastics News Executive Forum in Tampa, Florida. We had the opportunity to hear from Bill Wood, Founder of Mountaintop Economics & Research, and learn why he thinks the North American plastics industry is on the rise...

Last week, VEDP attended the Plastics News Executive Forum in Tampa, Florida. We had the opportunity to hear from Bill Wood, Founder of Mountaintop Economics & Research, and learn why he thinks the North American plastics industry is on the rise.

First, the Institute for Supply Management’s Purchasing Managers' Index has been growing for the past few years. The PMI is an economic indicator derived from monthly surveys of private sector companies. Since the PMI has been on the rise for several years, Bill predicts it should continue to increase for years to come, which is good news for Virginia’s already thriving plastics industry.

Second, U.S. durable goods orders are on the upward trend with five percent growth in 2014. Durable goods are items from toasters to aircraft meant to last three years or more. This increase shows hopeful signs for factory activity which have slowed in recent years.

Finally, U.S. plastic parts production has increased six percent in the past year. Low U.S. natural gas prices have helped increase domestic plastic production after a decline from the 2008 recession.

These three factors are strong indicators that the U.S. plastics industry will continue to grow in 2014. Since 2003, Virginia plastics firms have invested more than $1 billion and created more than 4,900 jobs. To learn more about Virginia’s plastics industry, click here.

Bill Wood, Founder of Mountaintop Economics & Research, presents at the Plastics News Executive Forum 2014.

Virginia’s Focus on Cybersecurity Remains Strong

Thursday, 6 March 2014 14:22 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Governor McAuliffe recently announced the launch of Cyber Virginia, a plan to establish the Virginia Cybersecurity Commission and augment Virginia’s leadership in cybersecurity...

Governor McAuliffe recently announced the launch of Cyber Virginia, a plan to establish the Virginia Cybersecurity Commission and augment Virginia’s leadership in cybersecurity.

The Commonwealth has a strong legacy in cybersecurity, and is well-positioned with the infrastructure to grow this sector. Virginia has the highest concentration of high-tech workers, according to Cyberstates 2013, and up to 70 percent of the world’s Internet traffic flows through Northern Virginia every day. Growth in the Commonwealth’s data center industry remains robust — investment topped $1 billion in 2012 — positioning Virginia as the place to be for companies moving towards cloud computing.

Virginia’s close proximity to the federal government’s cybersecurity operations also played a role in establishing its leadership position. The Commonwealth is home to the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity and Communication Integration Center, and DARPA.

Virginia’s premier institutions of higher education are poised to maintain the Commonwealth’s leadership in technology through a healthy pipeline of skilled technology workers. Twenty-two of Virginia’s 23 community colleges offer training programs in cybersecurity.

In addition, the NSA and U.S. Department of Homeland Security named five Virginia schools as National Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education: George Mason University, Hampton University, James Madison University, Marymount University, and Norfolk State University. Virginia Tech was named a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Research.

To highlight a couple of these programs, Virginia Tech offers the Hume Center for National Security and Technology, which researches intelligence applications of cyberattacks and defense. The university also provides students with real world experience through its IT Security Lab. In partnership with the Naval Postgraduate School and L-3 Communications, Virginia Tech hosts the Cybersecurity Innovations Laboratory at its Arlington campus.

In one of our recent blogs, we mentioned George Mason University’s expertise as the author of the VEDP Cybersecurity Export Market Report. GMU is home to the International Cyber Center and founded the Center for Secure Information Systems in 1990, which was the first academic center in security in the U.S. and one of the NSA’s original Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education.

To learn more about Virginia’s leadership in cybersecurity and the overall technology industry, click here.

A view of the Virginia Tech Research Center — Arlington, which houses the Northern Virginia location of the Hume Center for National Security and Technology.

Richmond’s Legend Brewing Co. Celebrates 20 Years

Thursday, 27 February 2014 14:23 by Info@YesVirginia.org
With the craft brewery movement quickly gaining speed over the last two years, Legend Brewing Co.’s 20-year history makes it Virginia’s oldest craft brewery still in operation. It is also the largest independently-owned craft brewing company in the Commonwealth...

With the craft brewery movement quickly gaining speed over the last two years, Legend Brewing Co.’s 20-year history makes it Virginia’s oldest craft brewery still in operation. It is also the largest independently-owned craft brewing company in the Commonwealth.

In January 1994, founder Tom Martin opened a small tasting room and pub off West 7th Street, then a gravel road in Richmond’s historic Old Manchester district. He started with four beers — the quickly popular Brown Ale, Lager, Pilsner and Porter.

What began as a 10-barrel brewhouse with four fermenters and four finishing tanks has grown into a 30-barrel brewhouse with 37 fermenters and 10 finishing tanks. In addition, the small tasting room has blossomed into a full restaurant with seating for 180 inside and 200 on the deck. Its location right on the James River with unobstructed views of the city skyline quickly made this a Richmond hot spot.

The rise of the farm-to-table and locally-grown movements have made the experience of visiting a craft brewery increasingly popular. Legend beers are unpasteurized and made with simple, natural ingredients — barley malt, hops, water and yeast. In addition, beer-lovers can enjoy a tour of the brewery followed by a tasting and meal, all enjoyed within an historic setting.

Legend has become a mainstay in Virginia’s ever-growing food and beverage industry because of its focus on delivering high-quality, fresh products. It is also one of the few craft breweries that produce both lagers and ales, which require a different process and ingredients.

Virginia’s beer industry has grown by leaps and bounds over the last few years. According to the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, there were 46 breweries in 2011. That number increased to 63 in 2012 and 75 in 2013, with most of the growth coming from the craft brewery niche. Part of that growth is attributable to Senate Bill 604, signed in May 2012, which allows beer manufacturers to sell and sample beer on their premises without obtaining a second restaurant license.

With the Brewer’s Association reporting 70 more breweries in the planning stages in Virginia, the Commonwealth’s craft brewery industry is poised to continue its positive momentum. Virginia has proven to be a successful location for entrepreneurs and food and beverage companies alike, making it an ideal choice for the craft brewery market. To learn more, click here.

Virginia Ranked Top 3 in LEED Green Building Certifications

Monday, 24 February 2014 17:05 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The U.S. Green Building Council recently named Virginia No. 3 for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certifications as part of its annual ranking...

The U.S. Green Building Council recently named Virginia No. 3 for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certifications as part of its annual ranking.

LEED is one of the most well-recognized and respected green building certification programs in the world, incorporating design, construction, maintenance and operational aspects into its environmentally-friendly analysis.

More than 57,000 commercial and institutional projects currently participate in LEED, comprised of 10.5 billion square feet of construction space in 147 countries. Each day more than 1.5 million square feet of space is LEED-certified.

In 2013, Virginia had 160 projects LEED-certified, which encompassed 16.8 million square feet of space and 2.11 square feet per capita. The ranking is based on per capita numbers to allow for a fair comparison among different population levels.

The office and retail space at 1776 Wilson Boulevard in Arlington, Va., received recognition as a notable project. It is the first commercial building in Arlington to earn LEED Platinum certification.

“As the economy recovers, green buildings continue to provide for jobs at every professional level and skill set from carpenters to architects,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair, USGBC.

Investment in green-building infrastructure creates real economic value in the form of lower energy costs up front, and the reduction in greenhouse gases ensures a sustainable future for the environment and future generations.

Virginia’s leadership in this area is yet another example of the innovative environment the Commonwealth offers to business owners. To learn more about Virginia’s unique resources that have allowed companies to prosper here for more than 400 years, click here.

VEDP Publishes Cybersecurity Export Market Report

Friday, 21 February 2014 14:17 by Info@YesVirginia.org
This week, VEDP announced the release of its Cybersecurity Export Market Report. The report was prepared by George Mason University as part of VEDP’s Going Global Defense Initiative to help Virginia defense companies mitigate the impact of sequestration by growing their sales internationally...

This week, VEDP announced the release of its Cybersecurity Export Market Report. The report was prepared by George Mason University as part of VEDP’s Going Global Defense Initiative to help Virginia defense companies mitigate the impact of sequestration by growing their sales internationally.

The Cybersecurity Export Market Report identifies the top 10 foreign markets that provide the best opportunities for exporting cybersecurity technologies. In-depth analysis of each market includes information on political and legal issues, market size and growth, market entry strategies, competition, trade agreements, and government programs and policies.

The top 10 markets for U.S. Cybersecurity exports are:

  1. Saudi Arabia
  2. United Arab Emirates
  3. Qatar
  4. Kuwait
  5. South Korea
  6. Brazil
  7. Japan
  8. United Kingdom
  9. Australia
  10. Indonesia

George Mason University is renowned for its expertise in information systems security. GMU founded the Center for Secure Information Systems in 1990, which was the first academic center in security in the U.S. and one of the NSA’s original Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education. GMU is also home to the International Cyber Center.

With the highest concentration of high-tech workers in the nation, Virginia is a leader in technology and its companies are at the forefront of developments in cybersecurity, including cryptography, forensics, intrusion detection and firewall devices.

In addition to an established industry base, Virginia is home to a number of federal agencies that focus on cybersecurity, including the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity and Communication Integration Center, and DARPA.

To download the Cybersecurity Export Market Report click here, and to learn more about Virginia’s leadership in technology, click here.

Broadband Access is Key to Economic Growth in Healthcare IT

Tuesday, 11 February 2014 15:01 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Access to broadband and faster internet speeds has increasingly become a catalyst for economic growth. This is especially important in high-tech sectors, such as Healthcare IT, as we move further into the knowledge economy...

Access to broadband and faster internet speeds has increasingly become a catalyst for economic growth. This is especially important in high-tech sectors, such as Healthcare IT, as we move further into the knowledge economy.

The Virginia Center for Innovative Technology recently released its annual 2013 Healthcare IT Assessment, which again points to Virginia’s position as a technology leader.

First, access to broadband has increased. Since 2010, the percentage of the Virginia population with access to broadband has grown from 33 percent to 97 percent.

Second, Virginia is a national leader in broadband speed. In 2013, the Commonwealth was able to increase its average download speed by 33 percent to 11.1 Mbps (megabits per second), moving Virginia up to a No. 3 national ranking. Virginia remains well ahead of the national average, which is 8.7 Mbps.

Third, Virginia also improved its average peak connection speed. In 2013, the Commonwealth increased its peak connection speed to 44 Mbps, vs. the national average of 36.3 Mbps. This puts the Commonwealth at a No. 6 ranking and reflects a year-over-year improvement of 29 percent.

These increases in broadband access and speed are helping to grow sectors, such as Healthcare IT, that require the transmission of large amounts of data. In 2013, Virginia ranked No. 3 in hospital-based adoption of Electronic Medical Records. Over the last four years, Virginia hospitals have consistently shown greater than 90 percent adoption rate of EMR. Other medical providers across the Commonwealth are also closing the gap in early adoption of EMR, with 86.5 percent of Virginia physicians participating in 2013.

To continue improving care and offer a higher quality of service to patients, the next step for healthcare providers is participation in initiatives, such as Healthcare Information Exchanges and Telehealth Services. According to the study, 50 percent of Virginia hospitals participated in HIE and 58.6 percent offered Telehealth Services in 2013.

The CIT study illustrates how Virginia’s leadership in building a robust broadband network has laid the groundwork for growth in high-tech sectors like Healthcare IT. To learn more about Virginia’s innovative, technology-driven environment and how the Commonwealth can help your business, click here.

Virginia Values Veterans — Helping Employers Reenergize their Labor Pool

Monday, 27 January 2014 14:15 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia Values Veterans, also known as V3, is an initiative to help Virginia companies better reach out to veterans as part of their talent acquisition strategy and make Virginia the most veteran-friendly state in the country...

Virginia Values Veterans, also known as V3, is an initiative to help Virginia companies better reach out to veterans as part of their talent acquisition strategy and make Virginia the most veteran-friendly state in the country.

More than 18,000 people exit Virginia military bases each year and enter the civilian workforce. While most programs are geared towards helping veterans navigate this change, V3 is unique because it trains the employers on how to attract and retain these valuable workers.

V3 is managed by the Virginia Department of Veterans Services. Since the program was first announced in June 2012, 161 certified organizations have pledged 5,218 jobs to veterans and made 3,099 hires to date.

The program offers employers access to training, coaching and networks for best-practices sharing on how to build their veteran-employment pipeline. V3 is targeting companies with less than 1,000 employees because this group represents the majority of total hiring decisions.

Interested employers begin by taking a free online assessment test to determine their current level of vet friendliness and readiness for the V3 Certification Process. By completing milestones at each stage, employers earn V3 Certification from Bronze to Gold level.

The program is expected to be a win-win, reducing veteran unemployment and helping companies gain access to a skilled pipeline of workers they might otherwise miss out on.

V3 is hosting its 2014 Kick-Off Conference in Richmond on February 11. To sign up and learn more, visit http://virginiavaluesvets.com/.

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A Successful Tomorrow Starts Today

Thursday, 7 July 2011 11:31 by Info@YesVirginia.org

With the changing economic landscape, companies both large and small are increasingly relying on a skilled and educated workforce. Higher technological competencies and experience with service-oriented positions are just a few of the skills employers are looking for to ensure their business’ success.

Preparing students to enter this business environment is an important task and one that Frederick County and Winchester, Virginia are taking seriously. Check out the video below on how educators, employers, and government officials are equipping students to thrive in tomorrow’s workforce.

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Third Time's a Charm- Virginia Ranked CNBC's Top State for Business

Wednesday, 29 June 2011 11:42 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Virginia has done it again—CNBC announced that Virginia has reclaimed the award for “Top State for Business.” Since the rankings began five years ago, Virginia has remained in the top two spots, with first-place finishes in 2007, 2009 and now 2011, and second place awards in 2008 and 2010. This year, Virginia was followed by Texas at number two, North Carolina as number three, and Georgia and Colorado coming in at fourth and fifth.

The news was announced live from Mount Vernon, Virginia. Speaking about Virginia’s win, CNBC Senior Correspondent Scott Cohn, said, "With an unprecedented fiscal crisis at the state level, never has it been tougher to stay competitive. But Virginia met the challenge on every level, achieving the highest point total in the history of our study, and finishing in the top half of every category. In the see-saw battle between Virginia and Texas, Virginia is back on top--for now."

CNBC took an in-depth look at why Virginia again came out on top. Using publicly available data, each state was scored on 43 different measures of competitiveness. States received points based on their rankings in each metric, which were then separated into 10 broad categories: Cost of Doing Business, Workforce, Quality of Life, Economy, Infrastructure & Transportation, Technology & Innovation, Education, Business Friendliness, Access to Capital and Cost of Living.

Not only did the Commonwealth win the highest ranking—Virginia received the highest point total in the history of the rankings, finishing in the top-half of every category ranked.

Virginia has often been lauded for its strategic location, friendly business climate and diverse economy, and this year’s CNBC top ranking was no different. The Commonwealth also showed marked improvements in its tax burden and education. Not only that, Virginia finished in the top ten in five categories: Infrastructure & Transportation at number 10, Economy at number 8, Education at number 6, second in Business Friendliness and tenth in Access to Capital.

So when people ask why they should “Say Yes” to Virginia, don’t just take our word for it—ask the experts.

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Volvo Trucks Achieves Energy Efficiency Goals

Monday, 27 June 2011 09:41 by Info@YesVirginia.org

 Volvo is currently working toward a corporate goal of making all of its manufacturing facilities carbon dioxide neutral by 2012- a goal that requires alternative uses of renewable energy, as well as reducing overall energy consumption at its plants.

Volvo Trucks, located in Dublin, Virginia, took the goal even farther, hoping to reduce consumption by 25% in a single year at its New River Valley plant.  Check out this article on the U.S. Department of Energy’s site, which highlights Volvo Trucks’ success in achieving its goals, and the steps it took to get there.

 

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Virginia Tech Corporate Research Park Receives Award of Excellence

Thursday, 23 June 2011 11:20 by Info@YesVirginia.org

 “Outstanding”, “Exceptional leadership in innovation”, “Driving innovation in communities” –These are just a few of the attributes describing Virginia Tech’s Corporate Research Park, which was recently awarded the 2010 Award of Excellence by the Association of University Research Parks (AURP). In its 15th year, the Award of Excellence recognizes the achievements of research parks and industry partners. The award looks to research parks that successfully bring technology from its initial stages in the laboratory to applicable business solutions, which in turn promotes sustainable economic development in the region through jobs, revenue, and overall business growth.

The Virginia Tech Corporate Research Park currently houses over 140 high-tech companies and research centers that employ more than 2,200 people in 27 buildings. A Phase II build-out is planned for the park, adding 28 buildings totaling 950,000 square-feet, and housing 3,000 employees over the next decade. The park is adjacent to the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Check out the link below for more information on the 2010 Award of Excellence and a video about the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Park:

The 2010 Award of Excellence

 

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From Rebuild to Reopen

Monday, 23 May 2011 08:24 by Info@YesVirginia.org

During the month of April, the South was devastated after hundreds of tornados tore through the region.  Homes and businesses were damaged and even destroyed, leaving those affected with little to do but pick up the pieces.

In the face of such destruction, it’s difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel—and for many—getting back on their feet could take months.  So when we heard the news that Utility Trailer Manufacturing Company was already reopening their manufacturing facility in Washington County, we were thrilled.

Utility’s dry van plant was struck by a tornado on April 28,th leaving considerable damage to the roof and building, but fortunately sparing the company’s 340 employees.  The plant manufactures Utility’s 4000D and 4000D-X Composite™ dry van trailers and it was a priority to get the facility up and running after the storm. Utility’s President, Harold Bennett praised employees and contractors saying, “[they] have done a masterful job of clean-up, debris removal, clearing damaged inventory, and helping the community rebuild what was lost from the tornado devastation.”  He went on to say, “the committed effort by Utility employees at cleaning up and restarting Glade Spring reinforces [his] faith in the human spirit and people’s ability to rise above near tragedy.”

Bennett’s praise is certainly not news to us here in Virginia. Our workforce is continually lauded by companies as hard-working, highly-skilled and educated, and diverse in their abilities and skill-sets. And as Virginians, we know that our workers aren’t just ready to perform the tasks at hand, they are also invested in their communities and in the lives of fellow citizens. So while disaster is never welcome, our workforce— one of Virginia’s biggest assets—continues to prove that they are the backbone of successful industry.

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The Big Apple

Monday, 23 May 2011 08:21 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Last Tuesday, Governor Bob McDonnell and members of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership traveled to the Big Apple to promote the Commonwealth.  A short, but busy one-day marketing trip, the Governor met with corporate partners throughout the morning and hosted a luncheon for business representatives and consultants from the greater New York area.  Following the luncheon, the Governor headed to NASDAQ to preside over the day’s closing ceremony and spoke from the floor with Bloomberg Business Week and Cavuto from Fox News.  Check out some of the photos from the day.

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We're wired up!

Friday, 22 April 2011 13:34 by Info@YesVirginia.org

A new industry sector continues to gain momentum here in Virginia and we’re not the only ones spreading the word. Southern Business & Development magazine ranked three Virginia data center sites in their winter 2011 “Ten Best Data Sites in the South” list. Scott County Regional Business and Technology Park in Duffield, Quality Technology Services in Richmond and GigaParks in southern Virginia all made the cut.

IT operations are an essential aspect of most companies’ operations today, and maintaining a functional data center is crucial to continuing business success. Virginia’s multiple data center locations offer an array of necessary resources to meet the increasing demand for these sites.  From existing infrastructure to ready-to-develop sites, Virginia has locations across the state- both in close proximity to Washington D.C. as well as throughout rural southern Virginia. In fact, Southern Business & Development said, “Southern Virginia is so wired up that we really couldn’t pick a specific site in that part of the state as one of our best data center sites simply because there are so many of them."

InAugust 2010, Microsoft Corp. announced their plans to open a $499 million next generation data center at one of these sites in southern Virginia. The largest investment in southern Virginia history, this project in Mecklenburg County demonstrates Virginia’s commitment to meeting the needs of businesses through a continual development of stat YesVirginia Business Blog | A place for news, opinions, and information regarding the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.

Forbes.com Ranks Virginia #2 Best State for Business for Second Year Running

Monday, 5 December 2011 11:01 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Once again Virginia has received a podium ranking from Forbes.com as the #2 Best State for Business in 2011. Virginia claimed the number two spot for the second year running after placing number one from 2006 – 2009.

Once again Virginia has received a podium ranking from Forbes.com as the #2 Best State for Business in 2011. Virginia claimed the number two spot for the second year running after placing number one from 2006 – 2009. Forbes.com uses six categories to determine the results and Virginia scored in the top five in three of the categories, including labor supply, regulatory environment and quality of life.

According to Forbes.com, “Virginia ranks No. 2 for the second straight year after a four year run ranked first. Virginia has a strong, educated labor force and a pro-business regulatory climate. The only thing keeping it from the top spot is its outlook.”  While the article listed possible changes in federal and military spending as the reason Virginia didn’t receive the top accolade, Virginia’s strong growth story is illustrated by its recent number one ranking for Economic Potential in Business Facilities magazine 2011 Rankings Report.

2011 has been an impressive year for Virginia, with number one rankings from CNBC and Pollina Corporate Real Estate, as well as a top five ranking from Site Selection magazine. Virginia’s number one CNBC ranking was significant not only because it has held one of the top two places since 2007, but in 2011 Virginia received the highest point total in the history of the ranking. 

The factors that are used to calculate these results include energy costs, corporate tax rates, right-to-work legislation, workers compensation laws, educational opportunities, the quality and skill of the workforce, job creation, project development, the potential and viability of the state’s growth strategy and quality of life. The results are in and Virginia has shown it is open for business by consistently scoring top state rankings. 

To learn more about Virginia’s unique combination of resources that have encouraged entrepreneurs to prosper here for more than 400 years click here.

Virginia’s Renewable Energy Industry Expands

Thursday, 1 December 2011 17:24 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Yesterday, leading biomass fuel manufacturer Enviva LP announced plans to build a 454,000 metric ton wood pellet manufacturing facility in Southampton County, Va. This $75 million investment will create 64 new full-time jobs as well as additional jobs through the company’s logging supply chain.

Yesterday, leading biomass fuel manufacturer Enviva LP announced plans to build a 454,000 metric ton wood pellet manufacturing facility in Southampton County, Va. This $75 million investment will create 64 new full-time jobs as well as additional jobs through the company’s logging supply chain.

Virginia is on the fast track to lay claim to the title “Energy Capital of the East Coast,” and this is certainly another step towards that end. With an “all-of-the-above” solution to the energy crisis, the Commonwealth possesses resources across multiple sectors ranging from conventional fuel mining to natural gas and nuclear energy, all the way to renewable energy sources such as wind and biomass.

Enviva’s mission is closely aligned with the Commonwealth, as it seeks to balance energy needs with environmental concerns through a strong commitment to sustainable business practices. Recognizing that transportation is a component of a company’s total environmental impact, Enviva strategically locates its facilities within 75 miles of biomass sources. The company also selects locations in close proximity to waterways and ports for easy shipment to international customers, particularly in Europe. 

Fortunately, Southeastern Virginia is uniquely positioned to meet the company’s needs on both counts. Best summed up by Enviva Chairman and CEO John Keppler, “Southampton County has all the elements essential to our success: a rich wood basket, a strong and seasoned timber industry, a skilled and experienced labor force and is logistically advantaged to our Port of Chesapeake export terminal." Enviva invested in a terminal at the Port of Chesapeake earlier this year due to its deep water capacity and ability to accommodate a large variety of vessels.

To learn more about Virginia’s energy assets and why 385 energy companies have set up operations in the Commonwealth click here.

Alpha Natural Resources Opens Headquarters in Bristol Virginia

Tuesday, 29 November 2011 14:12 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Yesterday, leading coal supplier Alpha Natural Resources celebrated the opening of its new corporate headquarters building in Bristol, Va. Governor McDonnell was joined by state and local officials to congratulate the company at its unique ribbon-cutting ceremony where a team of coal miners cut a ribbon of miner’s belts to commemorate the new building.

Yesterday, leading coal supplier Alpha Natural Resources celebrated the opening of its new corporate headquarters building in Bristol, Va. Governor McDonnell was joined by state and local officials to congratulate the company at its unique ribbon-cutting ceremony where a team of coal miners cut a ribbon of miner’s belts to commem YesVirginia Business Blog | A place for news, opinions, and information regarding the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.

Specialty’s Our Name — Expanding a Family Business Through the Generations

Friday, 29 May 2015 09:19 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Butch Harrison founded Specialty’s Our Name in 1990, a precision sheet metal fabrication and machine shop based in Ashland, Va. His three sons, Brandon, Utley and Kevin, worked in the shop since high school and each found their niche, whether it was handling the finances, managing customer relationships or processing orders...

Butch Harrison founded Specialty’s Our Name in 1990, a precision sheet metal fabrication and machine shop based in Ashland, Va.

His three sons, Brandon, Utley and Kevin, worked in the shop since high school and each found their niche, whether it was handling the finances, managing customer relationships or processing orders. When their dad passed away in 2009, the brothers took ownership and proudly carried on the family name and reputation for a superior product and customer service at S.O.N. Inc.

“We do the work other people don’t want to do,” said Brandon Harrison. “Our high-end, custom sheet metal work is in the White House Visitor Center, the American Civil War Museum at Tredegar and the Virginia Historical Society, and our customers include Homeland Security, Architectural Graphics Inc., Dometic Corporation and Showbest Fixtures.”

The company has successfully grown from two people in a 2,500 square foot building to more than 30 people in a 32,000 square foot facility. The company delivers custom products and can offer consulting, drafting, welding, deburring, powder coating and precision parts, all from one location.

The Harrison brothers not only weathered the recent economic downturn, but were able to continue growing their company. “We did feel some of the effects, but we manage our finances well and purchase equipment as we need it, so we don’t carry a lot of debt.” said Harrison. “We also have a broad customer range, from the marine industry to railroads to store fixtures. Being diverse helped us stay strong and grow our company through the tough times.”

The brothers also took a calculated risk and started a sister company in 2008, Pro Powder & Paint Inc. “About 90 percent of our customers want a finish on their steel or aluminum products. We provide that and do our own powder coating and wet paint at a facility just down the street,” said Harrison.

The company just had one of its best years and has a solid plan to grow both businesses and eventually combine them into one larger building.

“We are lucky,” said Harrison. “The three of us are all equally responsible and we get to expand on what our father built. We really try to keep the family atmosphere throughout the company as we grow. We have several cousins and family members working in the shop, and we treat all of our employees like we are one big family. Without every piece of the puzzle coming together, this wouldn’t be possible.”

As we celebrate Virginia Business Appreciation Month, Specialty’s Our Name serves as another great example of the ingenuity and dedication of Virginia entrepreneurs. To learn why the Commonwealth is a great location to grow a business, click here.

Specialty’s Our Name owners Brandon, Utley and Kevin Harrison at their company headquarters in Ashland, Va.

Marstel-Day — Growing a Green Business in Virginia

Thursday, 28 May 2015 09:33 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Rebecca Rubin started Marstel-Day in 2002 with a passion to help large institutions conduct business in a way that is both effective and preserves the natural resource base...

Rebecca Rubin started Marstel-Day in 2002 with a passion to help large institutions conduct business in a way that is both effective and preserves the natural resource base.

Based out of Fredericksburg, Va., the company has grown from a one-woman desk to 160 employees nationwide. With clients ranging from government agencies to academic institutions, Marstel-Day helps organizations develop an overall strategy to be more eco-friendly.

“Our customers may have the interest and funding, but we help them with their strategies and policies,” said President and CEO Rebecca Rubin. “Whether they want to be carbon neutral or make better use of their ecosystem services or reduce water consumption or be ready for climate change, we help them get there. We look at such things as their vulnerability to drought, temperature change, responsiveness and resilience of the IT structure to climate events — and help them answer the big picture questions.”

The company’s success speaks for itself. Marstel-Day experienced 8-10 percent growth every year, including during the economic downturn. Its impressive client roster includes the Department of Defense, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, Department of Homeland Security, Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration and National Laboratories. 

Marstel-Day has also received numerous accolades, including being named to both the Inc. 5000 list and Zweigwhite’s Hot Firm list for six consecutive years, the Alliance for Workplace Excellence Eco-Leadership Award three years in a row, the Virginia Fantastic 50 list for the third time, and the UVA Darden School’s Tayloe Murphy Award for Resilience.

Rubin chose to headquarter the business in Fredericksburg for two reasons:  proximity to a rail line and access to a great park system. “We were deliberately trying to get our employees off the roads and onto public transportation,” said Rubin. “Our other Virginia offices in Richmond and Alexandria are also within a quarter of a mile of a main train line. If you translate that into hours saved, it has an enormous impact on employee morale and health.”

“Because of its battlefield history, Fredericksburg has preserved green spaces and they have a new trail system. Having a park system where our employees can jog or bike during their lunch hour or after work is tremendously important to us.”

“There’s a reason why we’re here. Historically, Virginia has done a good job of understanding and appreciating the significance of nature and ecotourism. We find Virginia’s and the Governor’s commitment to green important to us as a company.”

As we celebrate Virginia Business Appreciation Month, Marstel-Day is another great example of how entrepreneurs find a successful environment for innovation in the Commonwealth. To learn why Virginia is a great place to grow a business, click here.

Marstel-Day President and CEO Rebecca Rubin at the company’s headquarters in Fredericksburg, Va. Photo courtesy of Marstel-Day LLC.

Performance Signs — From a Dorm Room to the Highway

Thursday, 21 May 2015 10:30 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Founder Robbie Morris was an engineering student at Virginia Tech when he started making decals for his brother’s stock car racing team. Robbie actually ran the decal machine out of his dorm room in the fall of 1995...

Founder Robbie Morris was an engineering student at Virginia Tech when he started making decals for his brother’s stock car racing team. Robbie actually ran the decal machine out of his dorm room in the fall of 1995.

While out on an engineering co-op, Robbie realized he enjoyed the creativity of the sign work much more than the structure of his engineering internship and decided to pursue the sign business full-time.

Today, Performance Signs makes a variety of signs, banners, vehicle lettering, vehicle wraps, window lettering and real estate signs for commercial businesses, public safety vehicles and highways.

Self-awareness is an important trait for entrepreneurs, and surrounding oneself with the right people and skillsets is critical. Robbie found the perfect business partner in his wife Katherine. She came on board full-time in 2004 and made improvements with her ability to manage, schedule and handle the day-to-day business, allowing Robbie to focus on the creative side.

Robbie and Katherine focused on building relationships with their customers and that paid off. “We were doing work for a sign company that supported a police department in Southwest Virginia,” said Performance Signs Founder Robbie Morris. “Those decals were an exact match for the Albemarle police department near us. We were able to approach them and found that there was a need for somebody to serve the public safety vehicles in our area. There’s a tightknit community among the police, fire department and rescue squad, and our relationship with that core group has helped us grow.”

When the recession hit, Robbie and Katherine looked at everything they did in order to be more efficient, from the number of phone lines they needed to the amount of equipment. They also took a calculated risk when a property became available. 

“All indications were that it would be crazy to buy something right now, but it completely came together for us,” said Robbie. “We really felt like God was moving in our lives and the timing was right. We did an SBA 504 loan. It was a lot of work, but through that process it helped us see our business in a new way.”

Robbie and Katherine closed on their building in the fall of 2009, and continuing their quest for efficiency, installed a solar-paneled roof on the 8,000-square-foot facility. Depending upon the time of year, the solar panels generate anywhere from 55-100 percent of the building’s electricity. 

Robbie and Katherine’s tenacity allowed them to successfully bounce back from the recession. The company has doubled sales since 2010 and grown from four to 12 people.

Performance Signs was also just selected to participate in the inaugural class of Ones to Watch, a business mentoring initiative run by the U.S. Senate Productivity and Quality Award Program for Virginia.

As we celebrate Virginia Business Appreciation Month, Performance Signs stands as another great example of the innovation and creativity of Virginia entrepreneurs. To learn why Virginia is a great place to grow a business, click here.

Performance Signs CEO Katherine Morris and Founder Robert Morris outside their company headquarters in Ruckersville, Va.

Release Reels — An Entrepreneur’s Journey from Biking to Fishing

Thursday, 14 May 2015 09:50 by Info@YesVirginia.org
After a hectic career traveling all over the U.S. and Europe as a professional cyclist, all Wes Seigler wanted to do after retiring as an athlete was to relax at his parent’s home in Reedville, Va., and fish every day like he did as a kid...

After a hectic career traveling all over the U.S. and Europe as a professional cyclist,  all Wes Seigler wanted to do after retiring as an athlete was to relax at his parent’s home in Reedville, Va., and fish every day like he did as a kid.

While fishing on the Chesapeake Bay and offshore Virginia, Seigler and his friends soon encountered problems with the performance of the reels they were using. Drawing upon his experience perfecting his own bike gearing and after encouragement from contacts in the cycling industry, Seigler decided to design his own product.

Release Reels was established in 2009. Seigler quickly found himself in the world of POs, RFQs and SKUs and learning what it all meant on the go. He initially started manufacturing in China, but found his intellectual property was leaking into competitors’ products and decided to bring back the manufacturing stateside.

Release Reels makes premium saltwater fishing reels, and the tolerances are very high. The product has to perform perfectly and look sharp. In order to make sure the machining was spot on, he decided to manufacture it himself. Upon being told he couldn’t compete with Asia, Seigler responded, “We can, we just gotta be willing to work.”

The company now operates nine CNC machines and has 10 full-time employees. 100% of the assembly and machining is done in Virginia and 100% of the component parts are made in the U.S. Seigler sources specialty bearings from Florida, gears and springs from Wisconsin and screws from San Diego, all to ensure the product is made in the USA.

“We have to win all categories — that’s the mentality of our company,” said Seigler. Release Reels products outperform in every class — they are smaller and more powerful, while weighing less.

The company also maintains a lifetime warranty on all its products, which no one else in the industry does. “If you purchase a product, I believe you should be able to call somebody and talk to them,” remarked Seigler. “We can fix it inexpensively, since we do all the machining in-house. Customers love the interaction and that carries into their next purchase.”

Release Reels also works with Rappahannock Community College and hires interns with an interest in machining as a career. “Giving a chance to somebody that might not be university bound has been pretty cool. Manufacturing is not what it used to be, it’s technology driven. We run a clean shop and it’s a great environment where people can learn a lot,” said Seigler.

The company’s high standards and customer service have paid off. After beginning with production of 100 reels per month, the company is now selling almost 600 reels per month and building the infrastructure to grow beyond that. They have also expanded into international markets from Europe to Southeast Asia.  

“The international market is huge for us,” noted Seigler. “People love an American-made product. Japan has a large fishing industry with some of the top shops in the world there. Being accepted by those customers is a strong statement for the quality of our products.”

As we celebrate Virginia Business Appreciation Month, Release Reels is a great example of the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit alive in the Commonwealth. To learn more why Virginia is a great place to grow a business, click here.

Release Reels Founder and President Wes Seigler demonstrates the company’s premium saltwater fishing reels for a future customer. Photo courtesy of Release Reels.

NCS Technologies — A Case Study of Innovation During Sequestration

Thursday, 7 May 2015 10:33 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Founded in Northern Virginia in 1996, NCS Technologies made a name for itself as a nimble and responsive small business computer manufacturer and supplier to state and federal agencies, the military, the intelligence community and commercial markets. The company operates out of a modern campus in Gainesville...

Founded in Northern Virginia in 1996, NCS Technologies made a name for itself as a nimble and responsive small business computer manufacturer and supplier to state and federal agencies, the military, the intelligence community and commercial markets. The company operates out of a modern campus in Gainesville.

The company’s products include commercial-off-the-shelf laptops and desktops for offices and schools, high-performance servers for corporate networks, and rugged tablet computers and servers for the military. Over the years, much of the company’s business depended on government.

Like many companies that found a niche serving federal agencies, the impact of sequestration created significant challenges. However, as with all great companies, NCS was able to turn those challenges into opportunities and come out successfully on the other side.

NCS has bounced back to its full pre-sequestration workforce and used the opportunity to diversify its customer base. The company realized that its experience delivering advanced computing products and services to highly demanding government customers could be translated into innovative new products for other growing markets, including healthcare, advanced manufacturing, banking and financial services.

The company kept innovating during the economic downturn and developed the industry’s only zero client laptop. Zero client computers have no operating system or data stored locally. Everything is virtually saved in the cloud, making the data more secure in the event the computer is hacked, lost or stolen.

While global competitors have developed zero client desktops, NCS Technologies is the only company able to master the engineering challenges to fit those capabilities, including patented Wi-Fi capability, into a mobile laptop product.

“Our employees are our greatest investment in innovation,” said John Callahan, vice president of marketing. “They are truly knowledge workers, including electrical engineers, sales representatives, program managers, financial analysts, highly trained assembly-line associates, technical support and customer service employees. Prince William County and surrounding Northern Virginia offers us that range of workforce that helps us excel in a complex, ultra-competitive environment.”

As part of Virginia Business Appreciation Month, NCS Technologies represents the high-growth industry and technological innovation that is alive and well in the Commonwealth. To learn why companies have found success in Virginia for more than 400 years, click here.

The Cirrus LT from NCS Technologies is the world’s first mobile zero client laptop computer. Photo courtesy of NCS Technologies.

 

 

Highground Services — A Successful Graduate of the Franklin Business Incubator

Friday, 1 May 2015 09:34 by Info@YesVirginia.org
John Warren and James Strozier, two former International Paper employees, put their experience together and became entrepreneurs when they created Highground Services in 2006. They co-founded the company with their wives, allowing it to qualify as a veteran-owned, SWAM (small, women-owned and minority) business...

John Warren and James Strozier, two former International Paper employees, put their experience together and became entrepreneurs when they created Highground Services in 2006. They co-founded the company with their wives, allowing it to qualify as a veteran-owned, SWAM (small, women-owned and minority) business.

The company provides high quality engineering services for process control, system automation and instrumentation projects.

The company was off to a fast start — they landed their first contract with International Paper in May 2007 and became a part of the Franklin Business Incubator that December.

When International Paper announced the closing of its Franklin Mill in 2009, this represented a substantial part of Highground Services’ sales.

Rather than be discouraged by the economic downturn and loss of their largest customer, Warren and Strozier seized the opportunity to hire displaced International Paper workers and expand their customer base. They also diversified their business by providing new services, including electrical construction and plant maintenance.

“We made a conscious decision to locate in a historically underutilized business zone and we really value being a part of this community,” said CEO James Strozier. “Our employees are tremendous and they worked tirelessly to help us not only survive, but thrive in what could have been a very challenging time.”

The company’s efforts have paid off in multiple ways. They received the Virginia Business Incubation Association's Donna Noble Incubator Client Award in 2009, UVA’s Darden School of Business Tayloe Murphy Resilience Awards in 2011 and the Franklin/Southampton Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year Award in 2010.

Highground Services has surpassed the $5 million revenue mark for the third straight year, and grown from four founders to 65 employees. The company is also poised to graduate from the Franklin Business Incubator and is in the process of purchasing a building across the street in downtown Franklin.

The entrepreneurial spirit and resiliency of Highground Services is a great reminder of the innovation that exists here in the Commonwealth as we celebrate Virginia Business Appreciation Month. To learn why Virginia offers the resources for entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses, click here.

Co-founders Jim and Lisa Strozier (center) are joined by local officials in front of their new property in downtown Franklin, Va.

Shenandoah Valley Partnership Launches inDEMAND Jobs Site

Tuesday, 21 April 2015 10:28 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Shenandoah Valley Partnership is partnering with WHSV-TV3 news to launch an educational campaign called “inDEMAND Local Career Opportunities...