Virginia received an A+ on Thumbtack.com’s annual Small Business Friendliness Survey. The Commonwealth improved its rank to the fourth overall friendliest state in the U.S. and the top state on the East Coast.
Virginia outshone its surrounding competition for the third year in a row. Maryland received a C- and North Carolina earned a C+. Virginia has never received less than an A since the inception of this ranking.
Thumbtack.com partnered with the Kauffman Foundation to survey more than 12,600 entrepreneurs across the country. This ranking is unique because its results come straight from the comments of small business owners.
“After a two-month survey of thousands of small business owners nationwide, business owners have reaffirmed that Virginia is a premier destination for starting and running a business,” said Jon Lieber, Chief Economist of Thumbtack.com. “Creating a business climate that is welcoming to small, dynamic businesses is more important than ever, and Virginia's A+ grade by its small businesses shows what a welcoming and friendly place the Commonwealth is for entrepreneurs.”
Highlights for Virginia include a No. 3 ranking for ease of licensing regulations, a No. 4 ranking for ease of overall regulations, and a No. 5 ranking for training and networking programs. According to Thumbtack.com, the strongest correlating factor for the perception of small business friendliness is the ease of licensing forms, requirements and fees.
In addition, the study examined 82 metropolitan regions. Richmond was ranked No. 10 overall and Virginia Beach was ranked No. 20 overall. Richmond and Virginia Beach were ranked No. 3 and No. 4, respectively, for ease of licensing regulations.
Entrepreneurs and start-ups are becoming increasingly important for economic growth and organic job creation. According to Thumbtack.com, “Virginia’s small businesses were the third most optimistic in the nation when it came to plans to hire more employees in the next twelve months.”
To learn why Virginia is a great place to start and grow a business, click here.
The founding of the Center for Advanced Film Manufacturing was recently announced in Martinsville-Henry County during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Patrick Henry Community College.
Through a public-private partnership, the center will offer a 28-credit Advanced Film Certification Program. Students will take classes at Patrick Henry Community College and New College Institute, while receiving access to hands-on training with machinery and equipment at nearby Eastman Chemical and Commonwealth Laminating & Coating. In March, Eastman Chemical announced plans to acquire Commonwealth Laminating & Coating.
Advanced film experts at Eastman Chemical and Commonwealth Laminating & Coating are advising on curriculum and will participate as part-time instructors. The companies will also offer internships and all graduates of the program are guaranteed an interview at Eastman Chemical.
The Martinsville-Henry County region has become “the window film capital of the world,” producing more than 30 percent of the global supply of coated and dyed film.
Performance or advanced films are terms used to describe any film applied to another material, such as a glass window. Films come in the form of tints, laminates, coating and composites, providing benefits such as tints on car windows to reduce glare, tints on office building windows for privacy, additional strength to industrial windows for security, and the addition of photovoltaic materials to solar panels to capture the sun’s energy.
Students can apply to the Advanced Film Certification Program on the PHCC website, and the first class will commence in fall 2014.
Virginia is home to more than 200 plastics companies, and the Center for Advanced Film Manufacturing will help ensure the Commonwealth has a well-trained workforce pipeline to maintain its leadership in this industry sector. To learn more, click here.
Two employees at Eastman Chemical stand proudly in Martinsville-Henry County, “the window film capital of the world." Photo courtesy of Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp.
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.
The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine will hold its first-ever commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 10 at 8:30 a.m. at the Jefferson Center in Roanoke.The ceremony will be held for the school’s first 40 graduates, who are all continuing on to a residency. U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, who as a former governor of Virginia signed legislation to support the creation of the new school, will be the keynote speaker.The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute serves as a model of collaboration between public and private partners. The institute combines Virginia Tech’s sciences, bioinformatics, and engineering with Carilion Clinic’s highly experienced medical staff. The Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute collaborates with 75 institutions around the world, and has 168 research employees. In addition, the institute’s unique, patient-centered learning model and small class size allows students to learn through real-life situations with ample student participation. Only 15 percent of medical schools in the U.S. have a patient-centered learning curriculum.Virginia has a number of nationally recognized medical training and research institutes around the state, including the VCU School of Medicine and the UVA Department of Biomedical Engineering and School of Medicine, and now adds another major medical school in the western part of the state.Virginia’s nationally acclaimed universities and community colleges, ensure businesses have a knowledgeable and highly trained workforce. The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute is a great example of how Virginia is preparing for jobs of the 21st century. To learn more about Virginia’s more than 100 in-state institutions of higher education, click here.A view of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute—located in Roanoke, Virginia.
Last Thursday, a kickoff event was held marking the beginning of development at Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre.The event at the 740-acre site attracted members of the U.S. Congress, state leaders, local officials, and citizens and neighbors from both Virginia and North Carolina. The CCBC project began in 2007 when Henry County purchased the land. Earlier this month, the grading permit was awarded by the Army Corps of Engineers.Chairman of the Henry County Board of Supervisors H.G. Vaughn, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, U.S. Congressman Robert Hurt, U.S. Congressman Morgan Griffith, and Virginia House of Delegates member Danny Marshall delivered remarks. U.S Senator Mark Warner could not attend the event but had his remarks delivered by a member of his staff.Henry County officials said their plan is to create about 140 to 170 acres of useable pad space for potential companies. Grading work on the site is expected to begin within two to three weeks and it could take up to 18-24 months to complete that work. The Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation will be the lead agency in marketing the property.CCBC is a prime location for advanced manufacturing companies, including automotive and aerospace. The business park is located in an Enterprise Zone, which allows companies to apply for special zone grants and incentives. CCBC is located 33 miles from the Piedmont Triad International Airport and is adjacent to the Norfolk Southern Railway Mainline. Funding partners for CCBC include Henry County, the City of Martinsville, the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation, the Tobacco Commission, The Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the Small Business Administration and the Mid-Atlantic Broadband.CCBC is another example of the pipeline of premier business parks that keeps manufacturing companies coming to the Commonwealth. To learn why manufacturers have invested more than $13.7 billion in Virginia over the last decade, click here.Federal, state and local officials celebrate the groundbreaking of CCBC, a 740-acre business park in Martinsville-Henry County.
Halifax County Industrial Development Authority recently announced it has received a $427,500 grant to complete Phase III renovations on the Southern Virginia Advanced Manufacturing Center.
SVAMC is located in South Boston, Va., at the former Daystrom Furniture manufacturing plant. Halifax County purchased the facility three years ago, which includes 34 acres and three buildings totaling 430,000 square feet.
The county has been renovating the site, originally established in the 1960s, and recently added a new, more energy-efficient roof. Phase III renovations will extend natural gas to the site through a collaboration with Columbia Gas of Virginia.
The goal of the project is to provide a manufacturing ecosystem that will draw multiple companies to the area, as well as jobs and investment. The facility will include both advanced manufacturing and hands-on workforce training space for multiple tenants. It is expected to be ready in early 2015.
VEDP helped Halifax County identify the grant from the U.S. Community Advancement and Improvement Program. Matt Leonard, executive director of the Halifax County IDA, emphasized the importance of the funding for the region, commenting, “The USCAIP grant provides benefits beyond its dollar value.”
Advanced manufacturing continues to be a mainstay of Virginia’s economy, with 5,600 manufacturers employing almost 231,000 workers. To learn why manufacturing companies have invested more than $13.7 billion in the Commonwealth over the last 10 years, click here.
A rendering of the Southern Virginia Advanced Manufacturing Center in South Boston, Va. Photo courtesy of Halifax County Industrial Development Authority.
Eastern BioPlastics has successfully commercialized a process to make plastic out of chicken feathers. By using what was formerly a waste product, the company is making plastic components in a sustainable way.
Co-founders Sonny Meyerhoeffer and Dr. Justin Barone established the company in Mount Crawford, Va., in 2008. They combined Meyerhoeffer’s background as an entrepreneur in the poultry industry with Barone’s engineering expertise as a professor at Virginia Tech to accomplish a difficult task — commercializing R&D into an effective process.
The company replaces up to 50 percent of the petroleum component of plastics with fiber made from chicken feathers. This chicken feather fiber, called feather fiber intermediate, has a number of advantages over petroleum. It is a renewable resource and makes use of something that was previously viewed as a waste product. In addition, the chicken feather fibers are very strong yet lightweight, making them ideal for plastic products.
Eastern BioPlastics has developed a proprietary technique that cleans and processes the chicken feathers in a cost-competitive way. The feather fiber intermediate is blended with polyolefins in a resin, and then extruded into pellet form. These pellets are then sold to original equipment manufacturers that use injection molding to form any number of end products for use in the automotive, furniture and sports equipment industries. The company is currently beta testing this product with customers.
Eastern BioPlastics has also developed a second product called Environmental BioProtector. Feathers are extremely oil absorbent; news coverage of massive oil spills illustrates how birds suffer because the oil becomes trapped in their feathers. The company has developed a product using chicken feathers to help clean up oil spills, from large-scale disasters to consumer use for car oil leaks. Environmental BioProtector is USDA certified and made of 99 percent bio-based material, making it one of the most eco-friendly and low cost oil absorbing solutions on the market today. The company has been selling this product since May 2013.
Creating an entirely new product in 2008 was no easy feat, especially during the economic downturn of 2009-2010. According to co-founder Meyerhoeffer, “Back then nobody wanted to take a chance on anything new. We had to figure out how to break in and create a market with a brand new product.”
When asked why he kept going during these early days, Meyerhoeffer responded, “I was never led to quit and we stayed at it because we knew there was something there that was better. You have to persevere through the tough times. I think a lot of entrepreneurs are that way. You know you’ve got something viable and it’s just about continuing through to the end.”
The founders of Eastern BioPlastics exemplify the entrepreneurial spirit and innovation that’s alive and well in the Commonwealth. To learn what Virginia offers and why it’s a great place to start a business, click here.
Eastern BioPlastics co-founder Sonny Meyerhoeffer displays his Bioplastic Composite Resins made from chicken feathers.
VEDP just released its Maritime Opportunities Export Report for Virginia. The report was prepared by Old Dominion University as part of VEDP’s Going Global Defense Initiative aimed at helping Virginia defense companies mitigate the impact of sequestration by increasing international sales.
This report, geared towards small and medium defense contractors, is timely given current expectations for another BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) process and the possibility of the U.S. military shifting some assets to the Pacific Rim.
The Maritime Opportunities Export Report gives a high level overview of the process a company would need to follow in order to export defense products or services. For example, one of the first steps a company should take is determining if its product or service is on the U.S. Munitions List or the Commerce Control List so it can obtain the appropriate registration and license to export. The report also provides helpful links to federal resources that govern these procedures.
Recognizing that the most reliable indicator of future trade activity is current trade activity, the report utilized a mixture of historical data on defense import purchases combined with expected growth rates and political and financial stability to determine the export opportunity ranking by country.
The Top 10 markets for U.S. Maritime Exports are:
The report also outlines a number of emerging growth markets in the global maritime industry. These include anti-piracy products, services and technology; ship conversions and deactivations; privatized naval security; unmanned underwater vehicles for mining, mapping, environmental testing, route surveying and port surveillance; and C4ISTAR which stands for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, targeting acquisitions and reconnaissance.
To download the report and learn more about VEDP’s Going Global Defense Initiative, click here.
Capital One recently celebrated the opening of its newest data center in Chesterfield County. The $150 million project was first announced in June 2012.
This investment represents part of Capital One’s efforts to streamline and automate its IT infrastructure, adding new technologies to continue its reputation for leadership and exceptional customer service.
The 242,000-square-foot facility is scalable for future growth and includes redundant power supply and substantial backup systems to ensure uninterrupted service. It is also LEED Gold certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.
“This new data center is a bold example of the value we place on having the best technology to deliver on our customer mission, and we are proud to continue our strong relationship with Virginia and expand our workforce here,” said Rob Alexander, Chief Information Officer at Capital One.
The company employs more than 15,000 associates in Virginia, drawing on the Commonwealth’s strong IT and professional services labor pool. While the company initially expected to create 50 new jobs related to this investment, Capital One now expects to double that over the next year in Central Virginia.
Capital One was founded in Virginia more than 20 years ago. The company has thrived in the Commonwealth and grown to become a Fortune 500 company (NYSE: COF) and one of the most recognized brand names in the U.S. It is the country’s largest direct bank and 7th largest bank based on deposits.
Chesterfield County was selected for this project due to its proximity to Capital One’s existing operations in the Greater Richmond area. Central Virginia has been part of Virginia’s booming data center industry because it offers abundant power, an advanced fiber-optic network, low risk of natural disaster, and a strong IT workforce.
To learn why approximately 700 data processing, hosting and related establishments have selected Virginia as their home, click here.
While other ports along the East Coast scramble to deepen their channels in preparation for the Panama Canal expansion, the Port of Virginia stands ready as the only port on the U.S. East Coast currently capable of handling post-Panamax ships as first and last port of call.
With 50-foot channels and authorization up to 55 feet, the Port of Virginia offers the deepest shipping channels on the U.S. East Coast, able to accommodate ships greater than 10,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units). Even just a few feet of channel depth can have a significant impact. 45-foot channels can only accommodate up to 8,500-TEU vessels and 42-foot channels can only accommodate 4,500-TEU vessels.
The Port of Virginia offers prime, unobstructed access to the Atlantic Ocean. This saves valuable transit time and costs, and ships traveling to the Port of Virginia can avoid the hassle of traveling inland, navigating rivers and overhead obstructions like low bridges.
Served by every major shipping line, the Port of Virginia offers direct connection to more than 100 foreign ports and reach to any country in the world. Norfolk Southern and CSX offer on-dock, double-stack intermodal service to markets throughout the Northeast, Midwest and Southeast. Customers also have access to 12 short-line railroads for a total of 3,500 miles of track throughout Virginia.
The Port of Virginia is one of the largest intermodal networks on the East Coast, handling 2.2 million TEUs in 2013. The Virginia Port Authority operates four owned terminals: three marine terminals, Norfolk International Terminals, Portsmouth Marine Terminal, Newport News Marine Terminal, and an inland facility, the Virginia Inland Port. VPA also operates two leased marine facilities: APM Terminals and the Port of Richmond.
Norfolk International Terminals is the Port of Virginia’s largest terminal. It houses 14 Suez Class ZPMC cranes, the largest, most efficient cranes in the world. Capable of handling current and future ships, these cranes have a 245-foot reach that can offload vessels loaded 27 containers wide.
APM Terminals is known as the most technologically advanced terminal in the Americas. It automates and optimizes the flow of crane and container movements, and its advanced tracking systems can pinpoint the exact location of every container. Cargo movements are handled by eight Super Post-Panamax ship-to-shore cranes, 30 semi-automated rail-mounted gantry cranes and two rubber-tire gantry cranes with electric spreader bars.
Use the highlighted links to learn more about the capabilities of the world-class Port of Virginia and Virginia’s global logistics network.
Return to blog homepage
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.
© Copyright 2017
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Located on 30 acres at the Sugar Hollow Business Complex, the 130,000-square-foot building was designed to meet the green building Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards.
Alpha Natural Resources announced its selection of Virginia as the site for its new headquarters building just over two years ago. The investment of more than $20 million combined with the creation of 69 new jobs and preservation of 131 jobs is a significant boon for the City of Bristol and Southwest Virginia.
Virginia can count yet another headquarters win to its all-star roster, successfully competing against Maryland and Tennessee for the business. Alpha Natural Resources is certainly an impressive company to add to this list. Commencing operations in 2002, the company has quickly grown to become the world’s third largest metallurgical coal supplier and the top metallurgical coal supplier in the U.S.
Location was a key deciding factor in Virginia’s favor. According to CEO Kevin Crutchfield, “The property is in a very attractive park-like setting and has easy Interstate access. A distinct advantage of the new location is its proximity to many of the company’s operations and its convenience for Alpha’s current corporate office work force.” With a long history of coal mining in Southwest Virginia, the company has an experienced work force to draw upon for future growth.
To learn more about Virginia’s booming energy industry and why other energy companies have said yes to Virginia click here.
Commonwealth Laminating & Coating, Inc. just announced plans to invest $16.5 million to expand its highly advanced manufacturing facility in Martinsville, Va. Secretary Cheng was on hand today to present President & CEO Steve Phillips with a Virginia Flag to celebrate the company’s growth as well as the 40 additional jobs this project will create.As Southside Virginia continues its economic rebound, it is particularly good news for the region when valued employers, such as Commonwealth Laminating & Coating, choose to remain and grow in the area. Even more impressive, Virginia successfully competed against China for this project. Though the company has operations in eight locations across five countries, the Martinsville location serves as the company’s sole manufacturing facility, not to mention its corporate headquarters. With the ever present concern about manufacturing jobs migrating overseas, this expansion speaks volumes about how competitive Virginia’s business environment really is at the global level. This expansion will allow the company to grow its solar control window film and high-performance coatings business serving the automotive, architectural, safety and security, and industrial markets. It also marks another win for Virginia as the Commonwealth stakes its claim as a leading polymer and film manufacturing location. Virginia is home to more than 200 plastics companies that employ more than 20,000 residents. Since 2002, plastics and advanced materials companies have invested more than one billion and created more than 5,600 new jobs in Virginia. Recently, a number of new investments have been announced including Dupont, O’Sullivan Films and Green Mountain Coffee packaging supplier Phoenix Packaging. To learn why these plastics and advanced materials companies chose to locate their manufacturing facilities in Virginia click here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
McKee Foods recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of its Stuarts Draft manufacturing facility in Augusta County, Va.
McKee Foods is known for its Little Debbie® line of snack cakes. The family business has grown from a five-person bakery in the 1930’s to America’s No. 1 brand of snack cakes.
The Stuarts Draft plant is one of the most advanced facilities in the baking industry. The company established the bakery in 1990 to produce oatmeal crème pies, honey buns and other bakery products.
The company’s most recent announcement in October 2014 included a $34 million investment and 54 new jobs to expand the facility.
McKee Foods employs more than 1,000 people and is the largest manufacturing employer in Augusta County. The company frequently credits the high productivity of its Virginia workforce as paramount to its success.
"We have found our Virginia workforce to be some of the most loyal and highly-skilled employees in the industry — and about 85 members of our Virginia workforce have been at the plant since it opened," said McKee Foods President and CEO Mike McKee.
In addition to a strong manufacturing workforce, Virginia provides McKee Foods with a strategic location, offering easy access to the company’s Northeastern and Canadian customers. Located in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, the Stuarts Draft location offers McKee employees a high quality of life with close proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway, Appalachian Trail and numerous national parks.
To learn why more than 580 leading food and beverage companies, like McKee Foods, have chosen to locate in Virginia, click here.
Representatives from McKee Foods, Augusta County and VEDP celebrate the company’s 25th anniversary in Stuarts Draft, Va. Photo courtesy of McKee Foods Corp.
Denbigh High School’s Aviation Academy in Newport News, Va., was added to the 2013-2014 list of Partnership Response in Manufacturing Education (PRIME) programs for the upcoming school year. Only 11 schools across the country were added this year.
PRIME is a program developed by the SME Education Foundation to prepare students for manufacturing careers by advancing education in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subjects. It employs a community-based, real-world approach to education, forging partnerships between schools, higher education institutions, companies and the community.
To become part of the PRIME program, a school must have an exemplary manufacturing curriculum that has been in place for at least three years. The program must include both academic and hands-on fabrication instruction; access to local colleges with the opportunity to participate in postsecondary programs; and access to local manufacturing companies for company tours, job shadowing and mentoring opportunities.
PRIME is part of SME’s initiative to support the reshoring of manufacturing jobs to the U.S. and ensure we have a strong pipeline of skilled manufacturing workers to support future industry needs.
Denbigh High School’s Aviation Academy offers a four-year magnet program that prepares students for careers in engineering, aviation and electronics. Students take a number of classes at the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport, including an FAA Pilot Ground School course. The academy provides students with cutting-edge electronics and technology equipment, and students are encouraged to pursue college dual enrollment opportunities.
Denbigh High School’s Aviation Academy is another example of Virginia’s exemplary secondary education system, preparing graduates to enter the manufacturing workforce or pursue more advanced degrees at the Commonwealth’s leading higher education institutions. To learn more, click here.
At 10:58 a.m. yesterday morning, Orbital Sciences successfully completed the second launch of its Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft from Pad-OA of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.
This mission is the first time a spacecraft launched from Virginia will visit the International Space Station.
Antares will deliver the Cygnus spacecraft along with 1,300 pounds of food, clothing and other cargo to the Expedition 37 crew on the International Space Station.
The Cygnus spacecraft is scheduled to arrive at the International Space Station on Sunday, September 22. Prior to its arrival, Cygnus will perform a series of tests and maneuvers to demonstrate its readiness to rendezvous with the space station. On Sunday, the crew of Expedition 37 will operate the station’s 57-foot robotic arm to grapple Cygnus and maneuver it into the docking station.
The purpose of this mission is to demonstrate the capabilities and readiness of Orbital Sciences’ cargo delivery system as part of its Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program with NASA. Orbital Sciences successfully completed the inaugural test flight of Antares and Cygnus in April.
Subsequently, Orbital Sciences will carry out eight resupply missions through 2016, delivering approximately 20,000 kilograms of cargo to the International Space Station as part of its $1.9 billion Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA.
These resupply missions will aid the crews of the International Space Station in carrying out scientific experiments in a microgravity research lab.
Following the historic LADEE launch just over a week ago, Virginia’s leadership in space exploration is evident. Through the MARS facility, Virginia offers one of only four commercial sites approved by the FAA for orbital space launches.
To learn more about Virginia’s thriving aerospace industry, click here.
Orbital Sciences' Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft launch from Pad-OA of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Photo color-enhanced and courtesy of NASA/Bill Ingalls.
Virginia’s new MACH37 Cyber Accelerator recently opened at the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) in Herndon, Va., just five months after the announcement of its creation.
The MACH37 accelerator program is designed to capitalize on Virginia’s expertise in the cybersecurity industry and help launch additional start-up companies developing innovative technology in this area.
The first five companies selected for this program are Cypherpath, Key Cybersecurity Inc., Pierce Global Threat Intelligence, CyberLingua, and Sikernes.
These companies will participate in two 90-day sessions. At the beginning of the first session, they will receive seed funding, followed by introductions to a network of cybersecurity experts and investors to help mentor and develop their products and technology.
At the end of the first 90-day session, the companies will go before a professional panel on Demo Day. If the presentation is successful, selected companies will receive additional funding and be allowed to participate in the second 90-day session.
The MACH37 Cyber Accelerator is modeled after the Y-Combinator, an accelerator program in Silicon Valley that has helped develop more than 460 companies. The MACH37 program helps cybersecurity entrepreneurs bridge the gap between idea generation and commercialization.
The program is named after the escape velocity of Mach 37, the minimum velocity needed to launch passed the earth’s gravitational field.
MACH37’s location at CIT is in the hub of the Dulles Technology Corridor, providing early stage companies access to a solid pipeline of high-tech employees.
In addition, CIT is partnering with Virginia Tech to develop a cyber test range available to MACH37 companies. This remotely-accessible test center will be located nearby at Virginia Tech’s Hume Center for National Security and Technology in Arlington, Va.
The MACH37 Cyber Accelerator is another shining example of how Virginia’s public and private institutions partner to create an innovate environment for entrepreneurs to create new products and technology.
To learn more about Virginia’s pro-business research and development opportunities, click here.
Governor McDonnell meets with members of the cybersecurity community during the MACH37 Cyber Accelerator grand opening event at CIT in Herndon, Va.
At approximately 11:27 p.m. on Friday, September 6, NASA, Orbital Sciences and the Virginia Space Flight Authority launched the LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer) Mission from Virginia’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) Pad OB at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.
The LADEE Mission accomplishes a number of firsts—it is the first deep space mission to launch from the Wallops Flight Facility, as well as the first payload to launch on the U.S. Air Force’s Minotaur V rocket. The Minotaur V launch vehicle was built by Virginia company Orbital Sciences.
The LADEE spacecraft was constructed using Modular Common Spacecraft Bus Architecture, representing a departure from custom design towards assembly production and multi-use design in order to reduce costs.
Upon completing three phasing orbits around the earth, the LADEE spacecraft will enter the moon’s orbit through a three-minute Lunar Orbit Insertion maneuver that involves firing the spacecraft’s onboard propellant for approximately three minutes.
After being captured by the moon’s gravitational field, LADEE will orbit around the moon for a 100-day science phase to collect data and study the lunar atmosphere. The moon’s atmosphere is classified as a surface boundary exosphere, a thin layer that is theorized to be the most common type of atmosphere in the universe.
Scientists hope to determine the density, composition and variability of the moon’s atmosphere, as well as learn more about the lunar dust environment. Knowledge gained through this mission can be extrapolated to the atmosphere of other planets, including Earth.
With another Antares mission expected to launch in mid-September from the MARS facility, Virginia remains at the forefront of U.S. space exploration. MARS is one of only four commercial sites authorized by the FAA for orbital space launches, and offers an ideal trajectory for earth orbit insertion.
To learn more about Virginia’s burgeoning aerospace industry, click here.
The LADEE Mission launches from Virginia’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on September 6. Photo courtesy of NASA/Carla Cioffi.
Service Center Metals recently celebrated 10 years of doing business in Prince George County, Va. The ceremony, attended by Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, included a ground-breaking celebration for a second plant at the SouthPoint Business Park location.
Service Center Metals was founded in 2002 by three former Reynolds Metals executives to produce aluminum extruded products. As its name implies, Service Center Metals has chosen to focus exclusively on a unique niche—service center customers.
After weathering the ups and downs of the last 10 years, the company now boasts more than 120 employees and $145 million in revenue. Since its opening, Service Center Metals has produced more than 635 million pounds of extrusions.
The company’s expansion includes a compact remelt plant that will be located adjacent to its extrusion plant. Currently, Service Center Metals must ship its aluminum scrap to and from a third-party provider to be remelted. Bringing this process in-house will allow the company to better recycle its scrap materials, as well as serve its customers more quickly and in an environmentally-friendly way.
As a home-grown manufacturing company, Service Center Metals is a strong example of the success entrepreneurs experience when they start a business in the Commonwealth. To learn more about Virginia’s innovative business environment, click here.
Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling (left center) joins company and local officials at the Service Center Metals ground-breaking ceremony in Prince George County, Va.
In its sixth edition of Rich States, Poor States, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) recognized Virginia at No. 5 in its 2013 Economic Outlook ranking.
The Economic Outlook category measures how a state is expected to perform in the future based on 15 policy areas controlled at the state level. The study points out the direct correlation between policy decisions and a state’s level of economic competitiveness.
Virginia has historically performed strongly in the Economic Outlook category—in five out of the last six years the Commonwealth has scored in the top five.
Virginia was the only state in the mid-Atlantic to break the top 10.
Rich State, Poor States highlights some of Virginia’s pro-growth policies that enabled it to achieve a top ranking. The Commonwealth’s pro-growth tax policies, fairness of its legal system, low workers’ compensation costs and right-to-work status were among the reasons Virginia’s economic outlook remains strong.
In addition, Virginia offers companies a corporate tax rate of six percent that remains unchanged since 1972, electricity costs below the national average, and the second lowest unemployment insurance tax rate in the nation.
Virginia has been providing companies with the right location and resources to succeed for more than 400 years. To learn why the Commonwealth continues to receive top accolades, click here.
Today, VEDP announced the launch of its ‘Going Global’ initiative as part of its strategy to help Virginia defense companies mitigate the effects of sequestration.
Sequestration is the name for the automatic federal spending cuts that began on March 1 as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011, enacted by Congress to resolve the U.S. debt-ceiling crisis. The impact of Sequestration has been less severe than expected—Department of Defense contracts decreased from $56.9 billion in FY2011 to $51.5 billion in FY2012. However, the Commonwealth is the top state for DoD contracts, raising concerns that lost contracts could results in lower revenues for Virginia companies unless they can find new customers.As part of its sequestration mitigation strategy, VEDP is working with Virginia defense companies to help them find those new customers overseas. The receipt of nearly $2 million in federal and state funds will allow VEDP to augment some of its most successful programs already underway within the International Trade division. For example, defense companies will be able to utilize VEDP’s Global Network team of in-country consultants from more than 55 countries. Market research services include compiling background information, identifying potential distributors, conducting due diligence, arranging matchmaking appointments with potential partners and customers, assessing competition, and helping companies understand the regulatory environment. VEDP will be able to assist companies with export compliance. Virginia companies participating in this program will receive an export compliance analysis, including guidance on completing a Commodities Jurisdiction Analysis and submitting the required paperwork to the Department of State in compliance with International Traffic in Arms Regulations.The grant will also allow companies to enhance their marketing and digital presence to target foreign markets through website translation and search engine optimization.VEDP recently released an export guide for defense companies titled Export Opportunities for Virginia’s Defense Industry. The guide outlines regulations, processes and strategies specific to the defense industry, and contains marketing and sales best practices for both new and experienced exporters. VEDP’s International Trade division offers a wide variety of programs to help Virginia companies succeed in the global marketplace. To learn more, click here.
Once again, Virginia colleges and universities made a strong showing on the Forbes 2013 America’s Top Colleges list.
Nine Virginia institutions were ranked in the Top 200 in the Overall Category: Washington and Lee University (No. 21), University of Virginia (No. 29), College of William and Mary (No. 44), Virginia Military Institute (No. 87), University of Richmond (No. 88), Virginia Tech (No. 110), James Madison University (No. 168), Hampden-Sydney College (No. 189), and George Mason University (No. 197).
Virginia schools also stood out in a number of categories. Washington and Lee University was ranked No. 20 on the Best Private Colleges list, and James Madison University came in at No. 21 on the Best Value Colleges List.
Three Virginia schools made the Top 25 in the Best Public Colleges category. University of Virginia was ranked No. 4, College of William and Mary was ranked No. 9, and Virginia Military Institute came in at No. 17.
What is unique about this ranking is that Forbes focuses on ROI and what students get out of their college experience. Forbes looks at five areas to determine its rankings—student satisfaction scores, post-graduate success, student debt, graduation rates and nationally recognized awards.
Virginia’s higher education system currently includes more than 450,000 students enrolled at institutions ranging from 15 comprehensive public institutions, eight of which offer doctoral programs, more than 50 private accredited four-year colleges and universities, and 23 public community colleges.
The quality of Virginia’s workforce is often cited as a critical advantage by companies in the Commonwealth, and with a world-class higher education system, Virginia is poised to maintain a strong pipeline of skilled workers.
To learn how Virginia’s premier higher education system is preparing a skilled workforce for the future, click here.
Today, Virginia’s Gateway Region opened The Gateway Center for Enterprise in Colonials Heights, Va., with the first of many third Thursday networking events.
Today’s event was geared towards new entrepreneurs, with a speaker panel that provided information on how to start and grow a small business. Future third Thursday topics include how to access capital and leadership skills for innovators.
The focus of The Gateway Center is to support local entrepreneurs through a variety of programs, including training, networking events, one-on-one counseling, mentorship programs, and access to the office, library and resource center of Virginia’s Gateway Region.
The Gateway Center was made possible through partnerships with The Center for Women's Enterprise at REDC Community Capital Group and the Crater Small Business Development Center at Longwood University.
The center is housed within the main office of Virginia’s Gateway Region, a regional economic development group that supports the cities of Colonial Heights, Hopewell and Petersburg, and the counties of Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Prince George, Surry and Sussex.
Located in Central Virginia, the Gateway Region offers companies easy access to U.S. and international markets through Virginia’s premier transportation network. Advanced manufacturing, global logistics and food processing companies have been drawn to the area’s skilled workforce and access to top education and research institutions.
The Gateway Center is another example of the innovative environment Virginia offers to entrepreneurs. To learn more about starting a business in the Commonwealth, click here.
Virginia's Gateway Region houses The Gateway Center for Enterprise in Colonial Heights, Va.
Once again, Virginia’s higher education institutions made a strong showing on MONEY Magazine’s 2015 Best Colleges List.
10 Virginia institutions made the Top 200 overall: University of Virginia (No. 17), Washington and Lee University (No. 24), Virginia Military Institute (No. 48), Virginia Tech (also tied at No. 48), James Madison University (No. 59), College of William and Mary (No. 75), University of Richmond (No. 105), University of Mary Washington (No. 119), George Mason University (No. 127), and Hampden-Sydney College (No. 157).
The Commonwealth had seven schools make the Top 50 Best Public Colleges list: UVA was No. 4, Virginia Tech and VMI both tied for No. 15, JMU tied with another school for No. 19, College of William and Mary was in a three-way tie for No. 26, University of Mary Washington tied with another school for No. 42, and GMU rounded out the list in a three-way tie for No. 47.
Virginia also had strong results in the Top 50 Best Liberal Arts Colleges list with four schools: Washington and Lee was No. 4, VMI was No. 10, University of Richmond tied with another school for No. 26, and Hampden-Sydney College was No. 38.
Bridgewater College was counted among the Top 50 Most Affordable Private Colleges and Hampton University was included in the Top 50 Colleges That Add the Most Value list.
The editors at MONEY Magazine only included the 736 schools with an above-median graduation rate from the list of 1,500 four-year colleges and universities in the U.S. The schools were then ranked on 21 factors falling into the three categories of quality of education, affordability and outcomes.
Virginia’s world-class education system is currently serving more than 575,000 students who will provide a steady pipeline to support the Commonwealth’s current industry needs. To learn why Virginia’s higher education institutions continue to be highly ranked, click here.
A view of The Rotunda at University of Virginia, ranked No. 4 on MONEY Magazine’s Top 50 Best Public Colleges list for 2015. Photo courtesy of Virginia Tourism Corp.
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.