Unilever Invests $96.2 Million in Suffolk, Va. Lipton Tea Plant

Unilever recently announced plans to invest $96.2 million to upgrade its Lipton Tea plant in Suffolk, part of the Hampton Roads region of Virginia.

The Lipton Tea plant has operated out of Suffolk since 1955 and is the largest tea-processing facility in the U.S., producing nearly all the Lipton Tea bags sold throughout North America.

The investment will allow the company to increase production by both expanding and upgrading to more modern equipment. The Suffolk plant already has a reputation for efficiency and sustainability—in 2009 it became a "zero-landfill" facility through a combination of recycling, composting and converting waste into usable energy.

Close proximity to the international Port of Virginia was a key deciding factor in the Commonwealth’s favor. Unilever already utilizes the port to bring in loose tea from all over the world for processing at its Suffolk plant. The Port of Virginia offers access to 250 ports in more than 100 overseas locations.

The strength of the Hampton Roads employee pool was another positive factor cited by the company. More than 300 highly-skilled workers currently support the Lipton plant.

This investment was part of a banner two-week period for Virginia’s food and beverage cluster. With the Red Sun Farms, Shamrock Farms and Greencore Group announcements following just days later, Virginia saw the creation of 615 new jobs and more than $181 million in capital investment in this thriving sector.

To learn why more than 550 food and beverage companies have established operations in the Commonwealth, click here.

 

Microsoft Announces $348 Million Expansion to Virginia Data Center Campus

Microsoft announced plans to invest $348 million to expand its latest generation data center campus in Mecklenburg County, Va., creating 30 new jobs.

Fueled by strong customer demand for its cloud services, this investment will allow Microsoft to construct two additional buildings on its existing Mecklenburg County campus. In 2010, Microsoft announced a $499 million investment to establish this facility, followed by a $150 million expansion in 2011, bringing Microsoft’s total investment in this location to almost $1 billion.

With its modular technology and advanced cooling mechanics, the Mecklenburg County location is one of Microsoft’s most advanced data centers. In addition, Microsoft is purchasing renewable energy credits to offset carbon emissions at the site.

Southern Virginia’s ability to provide a world-class data center location is due in part to infrastructure developed by the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative (MBC). Established several years ago to support underserved areas, today MBC owns and operates more than 1,500 miles of fiber optic network in Southern Virginia as well as a long-haul fiber network.

Virginia continues to be a prime location for data centers—data processing investment topped $1 billion in 2012. Offering companies both the advanced broadband infrastructure and highly-skilled technical workforce, Virginia is poised to continue its growth in this sector.

In addition, the Commonwealth’s favorable electricity rates and Retail Sales and Use Tax Exemption on computer equipment used in data centers provide a strong competitive advantage to companies.

To learn why more than 700 data processing and hosting establishments have selected a Virginia location, click here.


Orbital Sciences Completes First Launch of Antares Rocket from Virginia

In April, Orbital Sciences completed the first launch of its Antares rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) Pad 0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

This first launch is a positive outcome of the public-private partnership between Orbital Sciences and the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (VCSFA). The two have partnered since 2008 to develop and improve Pad 0A, the liquid-fuel-capable launch facility at MARS.

As a test flight, the purpose of this mission was to launch the Antares rocket and deliver a payload similar in mass to the Cygnus spacecraft into the Earth’s orbit. In addition, the mission also launched three smartphones into orbit to test them for use as satellites.

The test flight is the first of 10 Antares missions scheduled from MARS. Orbital Sciences will next perform a demonstration mission, followed by eight resupply missions, delivering cargo to the International Space Station.

As part of the new era of space exploration in the U.S., NASA is increasingly relying on corporate partners through its Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program. In December 2008, NASA awarded Orbital Sciences a $1.9 billion Commercial Resupply Services contract to complete the eight resupply missions.

Through MARS, Virginia offers one of only four commercial sites authorized by the FAA for orbital space launches. MARS provides safer and lower cost access to space with an ideal trajectory for earth orbit insertion.

Virginia’s strategic location, high-tech workforce, and strong business environment continue to attract the aerospace industry. To learn why more than 230 aerospace companies call Virginia home, click here.


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