Forbes.com Names Virginia A Best State for Business

Wednesday, 12 November 2014 17:41 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia has done it again, receiving another top ranking on the Forbes.com annual Best States for Business study. Virginia ranked No. 4 this year and had previously held the No. 1 or 2 spot since the inception of the study in 2006. While we are accustomed to a higher billing, Virginia is honored to receive the continued recognition from Forbes as a best state for business...

Virginia has done it again, receiving another top ranking on the Forbes.com annual Best States for Business study. Virginia ranked No. 4 this year and had previously held the No. 1 or 2 spot since the inception of the study in 2006. While we are accustomed to a higher billing, Virginia is honored to receive the continued recognition from Forbes as a best state for business.

The Forbes.com ranking is based on six categories pulled from 36 points of data — costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life.

Highlights for the Commonwealth of Virginia include the No. 1 ranking for its regulatory environment. Forbes.com touted Virginia’s strong incentive offerings and business-friendly government policies.

Virginia ranked No. 2 for labor supply and was the top state on the East Coast. The Commonwealth’s skilled and well-educated workforce has long been esteemed by Virginia companies as a key component in their success. In addition, Virginia has the highest concentration of high-tech workers according to the TechAmerica Foundation’s Cyberstates 2013.

Virginia received a No. 5 ranking for quality of life. The Commonwealth’s favorable cost of living combined with access to natural resources, from the ocean to the mountains, and its historical, cultural and sports and entertainment offerings make Virginia a great place to live and work.

Concern over the effects of sequestration led to a lower score in the growth prospects category, ultimately affecting Virginia’s overall ranking this year. The growth prospects category includes a five-year forecast from Moody’s Analytics.

VEDP and the Virginia economic development community have long realized the potential impact of sequestration to our economy, and today’s No. 4 ranking further illustrates the new economic challenge facing Virginia.    

The Commonwealth is committed to attracting new jobs and capital investment, and cultivating new economic growth through a proactive and aggressive economic development program. Initiatives like VEDP’s Going Global Defense Initiative, which helps Virginia defense companies mitigate the impact of federal spending cuts by launching an international strategy and growing revenue in markets overseas, will play an important role as we build a new Virginia economy.

In the meantime, Virginia takes pride in our strong showing in the 2014 Forbes.com Best States for Business report. We continue to be ranked a best state because Virginia offers a business-friendly environment, favorable operating costs, a top workforce and premier East Coast location and transportation network. To learn why companies have prospered in the Commonwealth for more than 400 years, click here.

Photo courtesy of Virginia Tourism Corp.

Global Center for Automotive Performance Simulation Established in Halifax County

Friday, 7 November 2014 16:14 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Global Center for Automotive Performance Simulation was recently established in Halifax County, Va., through the merging of the National Tire Research Center and SoVa Motion...

The Global Center for Automotive Performance Simulation was recently established in Halifax County, Va., through the merging of the National Tire Research Center and SoVa Motion.

The facility will remain at the Virginia Motorsports Technology Park, adjacent to the Virginia International Raceway, which is the longest motorsports road course in the U.S. with 4.2 miles of tarmac.

The National Tire Research Center was established in 2010 through a public-private partnership among the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, General Motors, the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, and the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission.

The tire center houses the Flat Trac LTRe, an $11.3 million, high-performance tire testing machine that allows speeds of 200 mph on car, truck and motorsports vehicles. Due to strong customer demand, the center has grown from 13 to 26 employees, and expects to expand beyond 30 employees over the next year.

NTRC has previously partnered with SoVa Motion (Southern Virginia Vehicle Motion Lab), which is operated by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. SoVa Motion has an eight-post shaker rig and driving simulator which can replicate various road conditions and many of the world’s racing tracks to test driver performance, shock and suspension reaction, on-vehicle sensing, as well as virtually prototype vehicle components.

While the facilities have served major U.S. customers, such as General Motors, Goodyear Racing and NASCAR, rebranding as GCAPS reflects the increasing global scope of their customer base.

GCAPS will also build upon the success of its math modeling and simulation capabilities by adding a virtual design and integration laboratory. The facility will provide full performance testing of highway and racetrack vehicles in both physical and virtual environments.

GCAPS is a key part of Virginia’s Motorsports Alley and augments the Commonwealth’s strengths in the automotive industry. To learn why more than 150 automotive companies call Virginia home, click here.

Executive Director Frank Della Pia appears next to a tire testing machine at the newly-branded Global Center for Automotive Performance Simulation in Halifax County, Va. Photo courtesy of the Global Center for Automotive Performance Simulation.

VEDP Releases Two New Marketing Tools for Mobile Devices

Friday, 31 October 2014 15:26 by Info@YesVirginia.org
VEDP recently released two new marketing tools for use on mobile devices. First, the YesVA App version 2.0 was released to the Apple App Store. For those who have already downloaded the original app to your iPad or iPhone, you can obtain the new version in the Updates section of the App Store...

VEDP recently released two new marketing tools for use on mobile devices.

First, the YesVA App version 2.0 was released to the Apple App Store. For those who have already downloaded the original app to your iPad or iPhone, you can obtain the new version in the Updates section of the App Store.

New features for the YesVA App version 2.0 include:

  • Overall redesign to iOS 7 standards for design and user interface
  • The ability to filter properties by region
  • Better property grouping and functionality in map view
  • Better search functionality which matches the search function of the VirginiaScan desktop version

There were no changes made to the Android version. For those who have never downloaded the app, links to both the Apple and Android versions are available at http://www.YesVirginia.org/aboutus/app.

Second, we have also released the VEDP iBook. This interactive sales tool allows economic development professionals to present to clients on the road using only an iPad. The VEDP iBook links directly to VirginiaScan for property searches and the Compare Virginia tool for side-by-side comparisons between Virginia and other states and MSAs on key economic metrics.

Content also includes video testimonials from C-level industry peers and interactive graphical presentations of Virginia’s premier assets, including our workforce, infrastructure and transportation network.

These interactive tools are another demonstration of the innovation that is alive and well in the Commonwealth. We hope these will assist our economic development partners in marketing Virginia as the best state for business to companies across the globe. To learn more, click here.

A view of the VEDP iBook homepage.

Williamsburg-James City County School System Hosts Second Annual Manufacturing Day

Wednesday, 29 October 2014 15:30 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Earlier this month, schools and companies partnered to host 17 events across Virginia as part of the second annual national Manufacturing Day campaign...

Earlier this month, schools and companies partnered to host 17 events across Virginia as part of the second annual national Manufacturing Day campaign.

One such event included students from Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools for the second year. Students, teachers and guidance counselors were given tours of the manufacturing plants at six local companies, including Anheuser-Busch, Ball Corp., Coresix Precision Glass, Owens-Illinois, Printpack Inc. and Walmart Distribution Center.

Students learned about the diversity of careers in manufacturing, as well the high-tech skills needed to pursue a career in advanced manufacturing.

The students also learned about the various paths available to prepare for this type of career. Representatives from Thomas Nelson Community College were on hand to discuss coursework they offer to prepare students to directly enter the manufacturing workforce or continue on to a four-year degree.

The event was sponsored by WJCC Public Schools, the Association for Manufacturing Excellence and James City County.

A WJCC guidance counselor also attended another Manufacturing Day event nearby at Newport News Shipbuilding. The program allowed 13 area high school guidance counselors to tour the Welding School and The Apprentice School to view hands-on demonstrations of trades training.

Manufacturing Day is a national program that encourages manufacturing companies across the U.S. to open their doors and provide tours for high school students in their communities. The purpose is to dispel misperceptions about the industry and inspire students to pursue careers in manufacturing after seeing the high-tech, rewarding career paths available to them.

The Manufacturing Day events in Virginia illustrate the Commonwealth’s leadership in preparing students for advanced manufacturing careers and developing a workforce with the skills to meet industry needs. To learn more, click here.

Virginia students tour the Anheuser-Busch control room and learn about the high-tech nature of today’s advanced manufacturing careers. Photo courtesy of the Association for Manufacturing Excellence.

VEDP Named a “Best in Class” Economic Development Group at IEDC Conference

Monday, 20 October 2014 13:22 by Info@YesVirginia.org
VEDP was named a “Best in Class” economic development organization today at the International Economic Development Council’s Annual Conference...

VEDP was named a “Best in Class” economic development organization today at the International Economic Development Council’s Annual Conference.

The results were tabulated by Development Counsellors International as part of its 2014 “Winning Strategies in Economic Development Marketing” report. DCI conducts a survey among U.S. corporate executives and site selection consultants every three years.

“The leading economic development organizations identified in this year’s survey set the standard across the country for being ‘Best in Class’ on so many levels and clearly stand out to site selectors across the country,” said DCI President Andrew T. Levine. “As states look at how to build and strengthen relationships with site selectors and influence corporate executives’ decisions on where to locate, invest and create jobs, ‘Winning Strategies’ provides a glimpse into the minds of this important audience.”

VEDP tied for sixth place with 15 percent of the responding executives and location advisors identifying us as a top economic development organization.

During FY2014, VEDP assisted on 183 projects that resulted in announcements of 15,029 new jobs and $5.19 billion in invested capital. These 183 projects will generate an estimated $280 million of new state tax revenue for Virginia after five years and approximately $620 million after 10 years. These projects will also generate an estimated $276 million of local tax revenue after five years and approximately $612 million after 10 years.

VEDP’s recognition as a “Best in Class” organization from one of our key markets — executives and location advisors — makes this award all the more meaningful and illustrates that we are on track to fulfill our 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."

To learn more about how VEDP can assist your business, click here.

NASA Grant Creates New STEM Education Program at Virginia’s Community Colleges

Tuesday, 14 October 2014 16:00 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Virginia Space Grant Consortium recently announced a new program called STEM Takes Flight at Virginia’s Community Colleges funded by a $500,000 grant from NASA...

The Virginia Space Grant Consortium recently announced a new program called STEM Takes Flight at Virginia’s Community Colleges funded by a $500,000 grant from NASA.

The purpose of the initiative is to augment STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education within the Virginia Community College System and build stronger connectivity with NASA to provide students with world-class learning and research opportunities.

STEM Takes Flight at Virginia’s Community Colleges offers a full suite of programs that includes real-world internships, research experiences, additional coursework and faculty training.

One example is the Build/Fly/Learn component which allows students to work on paid summer research projects at both NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va. This opportunity is available to 38 community college rising sophomores who work in teams under the guidance of a NASA mentor.

Additional coursework includes two multi-disciplinary classes on mission development and planning offered through Virginia’s Eastern Shore Community College, which will allow students to develop and fly a sounding rocket payload. A third course covers sea level rise and its impact on coastal communities. It’s available online and led by Virginia Western and Thomas Nelson Community Colleges.

VCCS faculty will also receive additional training through a residential professional development STEM workshop at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. Twenty professors will have the opportunity to participate in a hands-on case study beginning June 2015.

The STEM Takes Flight program is another example of Virginia’s premier higher education system that provides real-world experiences to ensure Virginia’s workforce pipeline is ready to meet the industry needs of the future. To learn more about Virginia’s higher education and workforce training solutions, click here.

James Carter, a former NASA Langley Research Center intern, researches heat calibrations on model spray coatings.

JMU Extends Collaboration to the Community with the Ice House

Tuesday, 30 September 2014 16:59 by Info@YesVirginia.org
James Madison University and partners have joined together to create the Ice House, a revitalized building complex in downtown Harrisonburg that will serve as a center of collaboration and engagement for JMU students, entrepreneurs and citizens in the local community...

James Madison University and partners have joined together to create the Ice House, a revitalized building complex in downtown Harrisonburg that will serve as a center of collaboration and engagement for JMU students, entrepreneurs and citizens in the local community.

Formerly known as the Cassco Ice House complex, the building was constructed in 1934 for ice and cold storage to support the region’s distribution of agricultural products. Operations were discontinued in 2004 and the building was unused until the recent revitalization plans rechristened it the Ice House.

The name references both the building’s history as well as a JMU initiative called ICE, an acronym for Innovation-Collaboration-Entrepreneurship. JMU seeks to become a model of engagement that mobilizes resources from the university and community to launch new businesses and commercialize technology.

Phase one of the project is complete and JMU has occupied 30,000 of the 80,000-square-foot building with departments such as Outreach and Engagement, the Office of Technology Innovation, Communications and Marketing, the JMU Small Business Development Center, the Center for Entrepreneurship and the Lifelong Learning Institute.

The principal developers of the Ice House project are both JMU alumni and the furniture was designed and built by JMU’s Industrial Design students.

The building currently offers space available for rent that includes offices, event space, a kitchen, and classrooms and conference rooms fit with touchscreen A/V equipment and web conferencing capabilities.

Phase two of the project includes plans to make the Ice House a center of the downtown community with restaurants, a brewery, yoga studio, retail space and loft apartments.

The project is a win-win for the university and the community. Small business owners and entrepreneurs gain better access to JMU’s resources, and JMU students benefit from working on live projects with real businesses.

JMU and its programs at the Ice House are another example of how the Commonwealth’s premier colleges and universities provide real-world experience to Virginia students and innovative ways to collaborate with the local community. To learn more, click here.

A view of the open office and collaborative space at the Ice House in downtown Harrisonburg, Va. Photo courtesy of James Madison University.

Mary Baldwin College Gives Tour of New College of Health Sciences Building

Tuesday, 23 September 2014 12:59 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Recently, a group of economic development professionals toured the new Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences building at Mary Baldwin College in Fishersvillle, Va...

Recently, a group of economic development professionals toured the new Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences building at Mary Baldwin College in Fishersvillle, Va.

Classes are well underway — the school officially opened this past June and welcomed its inaugural class of 70 occupational therapy and physical therapy students.

The state-of-the-art building is 55,000 square feet, with a central atrium that encompasses all three stories. The tech-rich environment incorporates multimedia with cameras that allow students to see a close-up demonstration during class, as well as view a recording of the session.

The nine clinical laboratories include a neurological lab room, simulation lab, multiple skills labs, a human anatomy and a virtual anatomy lab. The multimedia environment also includes four large classrooms and six seminar rooms. 

The building was designed as a place where students can congregate after class to continue learning. The open architecture allows for multiple collaboration spaces, and the building includes a café and break room with lockers. The myriad of windows lets in natural light, making it a place where students want to be.

The Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences is currently training doctoral students in both physical therapy and occupational therapy, with plans to add a master’s degree for physician assistants and a degree-completion program for nurses in 2015.

The school is located in the center of the Augusta County medical corridor. Adjacent to the Augusta Health hospital complex, it offers easy access to I-64 and is just seven miles from Mary Baldwin’s main campus.

The Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences is another example of how Virginia’s higher education institutions are using cutting edge technology to prepare a workforce ready to add value as soon as they enter the employment pipeline. To learn more about Virginia’s world-class education system, click here.

Mary Baldwin College welcomes its inaugural class of occupational and physical therapy students at the Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences new building in Fishersville, Va. Photo courtesy of Mary Baldwin College.

VCU’s da Vinci Center Offers Real-World Interdisciplinary Training

Tuesday, 16 September 2014 09:10 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Where can a student work on a live project alongside classmates from the Schools of Arts, Business, Engineering, and the Humanities and Sciences? VCU’s da Vinci Center...

Where can a student work on a live project alongside classmates from the Schools of Arts, Business, Engineering, and the Humanities and Sciences? VCU’s da Vinci Center.

Companies in the greater Richmond area submit a product innovation problem to the da Vinci Center. Art, design, business and engineering students then work on cross-functional teams to develop an innovative solution, sponsored by the company.

The da Vinci Center prepares Virginia students to enter the workforce and hit the ground running, armed with the innovative and entrepreneurial thinking they will need to tackle everyday problems on the job. While students major in one area of study, the program allows them to see through the lens of multiple disciplines. It also emulates the way different departments work together to solve problems in a corporate environment.

Housed in the Pauley Pavilion, part of the School of Engineering, the center offers a multi-use space that facilitates product development from idea generation to market validation. Students have access to rapid prototyping machines and computer modeling and 3D object scanning equipment.

VEDP’s own economist, Michael Gilbert, was a da Vinci Center participant during his time at VCU. He worked on a minimally-invasive surgery trainer for physicians at MCV.

“The experience gained was invaluable,” said Gilbert. “Working on a cross-functional team with students from the School of the Arts, School of Engineering, and School of Business provided me insight and skills I still use today. Developing intellectual property on the team and through the course as an undergraduate is something I will never forget.”

The center offers two programs — an Undergraduate Certificate in Product Innovation and a Master of Product Innovation. The center is currently accepting applications for its spring 2015 class.

The da Vinci Center is yet another example of the cutting edge programs Virginia’s colleges and universities offer to prepare the workforce of tomorrow. To learn more about the Commonwealth’s premier higher education system, click here.

A group of students at VCU’s da Vinci Center develop a surgery trainer for MCV physicians. Photo courtesy of VCU da Vinci Center project team.

VEDP Receives Six Communications Awards at the 2014 SEDC Annual Conference

Wednesday, 3 September 2014 10:06 by Info@YesVirginia.org
VEDP received six communications awards for its marketing collateral at the SEDC (Southern Economic Development Council) Communication Awards Ceremony...

VEDP received six communications awards for its marketing collateral at the SEDC (Southern Economic Development Council) Communication Awards Ceremony.

The ceremony was held this August in conjunction with the 2014 SEDC Annual Conference in Atlanta, where more than 350 economic development professionals gathered for three days to learn about current economic development trends and strategies.

The six awards presented to VEDP included:

  • Special Judges Award for Online Content and Mobile Access recognizing VEDP’s website
  • Award of SUPERIOR for VEDP’s website relaunch
  • Award of EXCELLENCE for VEDP’s pocket brochure Map Out Success for Your Business in Virginia
  • Award of MERIT for VEDP’s annual report Results 2013
  • Award of MERIT for the VEDP marketing video Business Legacies Begin in Virginia
  • Award of MERIT in Thinking Outside the Box for VEDP’s webinar Innovation in Virginia: Live from the National Innovation Summit

“VEDP hit the mark this year with their marketing campaigns,” said SEDC President Gene Stinson. “These campaigns not only show creativity, but also solid messaging and effectiveness at reaching their target audiences. We were wowed by all the entries we received this year, and were impressed with the high level of marketing work being done in economic development by SEDC members.

The judging panel consisted of economic development consultants, practitioners and design professionals from across the southern U.S. Criteria included graphic appeal, clarity of message, quality of information, positioning, differentiation and format.

VEDP markets the Commonwealth of Virginia to companies seeking new business locations, expansion and international trade opportunities. To see examples of VEDP’s award-winning marketing materials and learn why Virginia is the Best State for Business, click here.

VEDP Vice President of Business Attraction Mike Lehmkuhler accepts the Special Judges Award for Online Content and Mobile access on behalf of VEDP from SEDC Chairman Hal Johnson.

Volvo Trucks Opens New Customer Experience Track in New River Valley

Thursday, 21 August 2014 15:54 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Last week, Governor McAuliffe celebrated the opening of Volvo Trucks’ new Customer Experience Track with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Dublin, Va...

Last week, Governor McAuliffe celebrated the opening of Volvo Trucks’ new Customer Experience Track with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Dublin, Va.

The 1.1 mile track features two paved lanes, straight-a-ways and eight percent super-elevated curves to simulate highway conditions. There is also an off-road portion to replicate more challenging conditions, showcasing the range of the company’s Class 8 vehicles.

The track is located on the company’s nearly 300-acre New River Valley campus, which contains the largest Volvo Truck manufacturing facility in the world at 1.6 million square feet. The plant is certified to ISO 500001 energy, ISO 9001 quality and ISO 14001 environmental standards.

The company drew from the expertise of its advanced manufacturing workforce to design and build the track. Employees even had a role in naming it the Twin Oaks Track after deciding to keep two oak trees in the center of the course.

Market demand has made significant strides since the recession, with the plant employing more than 2,500 workers. Earlier this summer, the company invested $69 million to add state-of-the-art equipment and redesign the facility to further improve efficiency and product quality, creating 200 new jobs in the process.

The track will likely draw additional customers to the New River Valley region to visit the plant and test drive potential Volvo Truck purchases.

It also augments Virginia’s thriving automotive industry which includes assets like the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, National Tire Research Center, SoVA Motion, National Crash Analysis Center, CCAM, C-CARE and the Virginia Modeling and Simulation Center, to name a few.

To learn why more than 150 automotive companies call Virginia home and have announced $1.1 billion in capital investment over the last 10 years, click here.

Governor McAuliffe takes a test drive on Volvo Trucks’ new Customer Experience Track in Dublin, Va.

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Virginia Economic Development Partnership is the Best State for Business

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

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MAAP Unmanned Aerial Test Site at Virginia Tech Declared Fully Operational by FAA

Monday, 18 August 2014 15:57 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Last week, a group of government, academic and business leaders gathered at Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute to celebrate the FAA declaring the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems test site program fully operational...

Last week, a group of government, academic and business leaders gathered at Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute to celebrate the FAA declaring the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems test site program fully operational.

In December 2013, the FAA announced that Virginia Tech was selected as one of six test sites across the country to conduct research as part of an initiative to establish safety standards for integrating UAS, such as drones, with commercial aircrafts.

Virginia Tech led the submission of a joint proposal for Virginia, New Jersey and Maryland, along with Rutgers University and the University of Maryland, called the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership. MAAP is headquartered at Virginia Tech’s Institute of Critical Technology and Applied Sciences, with test sites located across Virginia, New Jersey and Maryland.

The ceremony included a simulation flight involving an unmanned, multi-rotor helicopter called the Smart Road Flyer. It was modified for transportation research by Dr. Kevin Kochersberger, a professor with the College of Engineering and the Virginia Center for Autonomous Systems, and engineering students from the Unmanned Systems Laboratory at Virginia Tech. The simulation gathered information from a mock accident scene on an interstate highway.

This scenario illustrates the wide-ranging future capabilities of UAS. Potential uses of this technology include disaster response, search and rescue missions, utility and pipeline inspections, agricultural monitoring, wildlife management, cargo delivery and weather observation.

This is another win for Virginia’s burgeoning aerospace industry. With flights to the International Space Station taking off from MARS/NASA Wallops Flight Facility and UAS launched from MAAP at Virginia Tech, the Commonwealth has the assets to stake its claim as a national aerospace leader. 

To learn why more than 250 aerospace companies have chosen to call Virginia home, click here.

Dr. Kevin Kochersberger (right) describes a UAS simulation flight at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute during the MAAP First Flight Ceremony. University President Timothy Sands, Virginia Delegate Joseph Yost, Governor Terry McAuliffe, and MAAP Executive Director Rose Mooney (left to right) discuss the future of unmanned and autonomous aviation at the event. Photo Courtesy of Virginia Tech.

Get to Know VEDP’s NEW COO Dan Gundersen

Wednesday, 13 August 2014 13:21 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Dan Gundersen joined VEDP as Chief Operating Officer this May, where his focus is on running the day-to-day operations of VEDP. Dan’s full profile is available in the summer issue of Commerce Quarterly. To help you get to know Dan, here’s an interview we recently did to see how his first few months are going...

Dan Gundersen joined VEDP as Chief Operating Officer this May, where his focus is on running the day-to-day operations of VEDP. Dan’s full profile is available in the summer issue of Commerce Quarterly

To help you get to know Dan, here’s an interview we recently did to see how his first few months are going.

Q:  What has your first 75 days been like?

A:  It’s been focused entirely on the internal operations of VEDP. For many years now, VEDP has operated as a flat organization with the different department heads reporting directly to the CEO. With the recent reorganization and refocusing of VEDP’s initiatives, it became clear that there was a need for a coordinating role to help bring the operations into better alignment and to provide a more targeted and strategic focus for our efforts. And that’s really what my job is all about.

Q:  What specifically have you focused on?

A:  Performance metrics for the economic development profession has been something that I’ve focused on for years now. I’ve served on the board of the International Economic Development Council for a long time and have championed this cause. Recently I co-chaired the first ever performance metric analysis for the economic development profession with the IEDC called Making It Count:  Metrics for High Performing EDOs. The goal there was to be able to identify those metrics that can help us better tell the story of what we do and why we do it. Today it’s not just about jobs created and leveraging public sector dollars. The IEDC report provides more than 200 new measures that economic development groups can use. We’re taking a couple pages out of that book to help VEDP better describe the impact of its work. At the September VEDP board meeting we will introduce several new metrics to be able to assess our progress.

Q:  What does VEDP do really well?

A: In one word — deals. Martin Briley has an incredible ability to focus on the deal pipeline and knows the nuances of every single deal inside and out. He’s living and breathing our Salesforce database, and I think that has helped drive productivity to a very high level. 

Of course, exceeding goals is possible only if you have really good talent among staff, terrific esprit de corps, effective partnerships, and an incredible devotion to what I would call a “cause.” VEDP staff represents one of the most committed organizations that I’ve ever had the privilege of working for. In a way, that makes my job so much easier.

Q:  What challenges do you see ahead?

A:  The world of economic development is changing so quickly and we’re expected to be so many things to so many people. One of our biggest challenges is going to be keeping our focus on those things that we do well, while also being a thought leader and an advocate for the business community, a catalyst for launching new ideas, and even at times a broker of resources for others so that together we can bring about greater economic gain for the state. That’s why it’s important that VEDP develop its own strategic operating plan that builds on regional assets and that aligns seamlessly with the overall economic strategy that the Administration will be producing later this year. Right now, that’s probably my top priority.

Q:  Where are you focusing your efforts for FY15?

A:  The new strategic operating plan will highlight a few areas where we believe we can focus more of our attention and resources. One of those will be with identifying and assisting high growth firms. Research shows that high growth firms in any regional economy account for upwards of 70-80 percent of the net new jobs, and yet, these firms account for less than one percent of all business establishments. You’re going to see VEDP develop a very sophisticated strategy for making sure we are meeting the needs of these businesses better than any other state.

Another area will be an intense focus targeting foreign direct investment and assisting firms that wish to conduct trade in emerging markets around the world.

Finally, VEDP is going to be aggressively positioning itself with brand development and targeted marketing to be able to identify firms that could and should be in Virginia. It’s all about sustained and profitable growth and Virginia has all of those fundamentals to make it happen.

Keep an eye out — this fall we’ll be distributing a live podcast that Dan did for the Atlanta and St. Louis Federal Reserve Banks on the future of economic development.

Virginia Schools Rank High on the Forbes and Money Top Colleges Lists

Tuesday, 12 August 2014 09:46 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia’s higher education institutions once again ranked high on the Forbes America’s Top Colleges 2014 list. Forbes partnered with the Center for College Affordability and Productivity on its seventh annual ranking.

Virginia’s higher education institutions once again ranked high on the Forbes America’s Top Colleges 2014 list. Forbes partnered with the Center for College Affordability and Productivity on its seventh annual ranking.

Three Virginia schools made the Top 25 in the Best Public Colleges category:  University of Virginia was No. 5, College of William and Mary was No. 6, and Virginia Tech was No. 23.

In the Overall category, eight Virginia colleges made the Top 200 list: Washington and Lee University (No. 33), UVA (No. 40), College of William and Mary (No. 41), University of Richmond (No. 96), Virginia Tech (No. 117), Virginia Military Institute (No. 129), Hampden-Sydney College (No. 171), and James Madison University (No. 188).

Washington and Lee University was also ranked No. 15 on the Best Liberal Arts Colleges list.

Forbes is a unique ranking because instead of focusing on the metrics of how competitive an institution is to get in to, it focuses on what students get out of college in terms of ROI. The five factors that determine the ranking include student satisfaction, post-graduate success, graduation rates, academic success and student debt.

Money also gave Virginia high marks on its Best Colleges for Your Money 2014 ranking. The Commonwealth scored well in the Best Public Colleges category with UVA at No. 3, VMI at No. 4, Virginia Tech at No. 12, JMU at No. 17 and the College of William and Mary at No. 20.

In the Overall category, 10 Virginia institutions made the Top 200:  UVA (No. 16), VMI (No. 18), Washington and Lee University (No. 39), Virginia Tech (No. 42), JMU (No. 53), College of William and Mary (No. 60), George Mason University (No. 101), University of Mary Washington (No. 107), University of Richmond (No. 120), and Hampden-Sydney College (No. 156).

Money only included schools with an above-average six-year graduation rate, and then based the ranking on a number of factors in three main categories — quality of education, affordability and outcomes.

Virginia’s substantial higher education system includes more than 100 in-state institutions that are preparing 450,000 students to enter the workforce. From large universities, to small private colleges, to the 23-member Virginia Community College System, the Commonwealth’s world-class education system stands ready to support industry demand with a strong pipeline of highly skilled workers.

To learn more about Virginia’s premier education system, click here.

A view of the Rotunda at the University of Virginia. UVA was ranked No. 3 on Money’s Best Public Colleges list. Photo courtesy of Virginia Tourism Corp.

Dream It, Do It – Virginia Hosts Seven Manufacturing Technology Camps This Summer

Thursday, 31 July 2014 14:33 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Dream It, Do It – Virginia hosted seven Manufacturing Technology Camps across the Commonwealth this summer. The camps are designed to reach out to high school students who are considering a career in manufacturing...

Dream It, Do It – Virginia hosted seven Manufacturing Technology Camps across the Commonwealth this summer. The camps are designed to reach out to high school students who are considering a career in manufacturing.       

The three-and-a-half-day camps allow students to experience all levels of production, from raw materials to finished goods. Students also participate in tours, lectures and manufacturing demonstrations where they get to see the latest in automation and robotics from Virginia’s leading manufacturers.

Students in the Manufacturing Technology Camps also participate in a competition where they work with a team to complete an assignment that involves designing, building and running a manufacturing system. During the competition, students receive training and mentoring from industry experts. Students on the winning team receive scholarships to pursue STEM education tracks.

This summer, two camps were offered at Southside Virginia Community College in Keysville, two at Lake Country Advanced Knowledge Center in South Hill, and one each at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center in South Boston, at STIHL Inc. in Virginia Beach, and at ITAC in Chester. Halifax County posted a video from their Manufacturing Technology Camp here.

Dream It, Do It – Virginia is part of a national organization that provides access to on-the-job training and certifications to keep the existing manufacturing workforce up-to-date on the latest technology, as well as build awareness among youth about the many options and rewards a manufacturing career can offer.

The manufacturing jobs of today are very different from what manufacturing jobs in the past may have entailed. Virginia’s advanced manufacturing takes place in a clean, safe environment and requires high skill and high levels of education. Manual labor has largely been replaced with automation. An advanced manufacturing career today often involves managing the technical process to improve efficiencies and product throughput. The work is interesting and employees are rewarded with a competitive salary.

The Dream It, Do It – Virginia website provides a number of valuable tools for investigating a career in the Commonwealth’s advanced manufacturing industry. It allows students to assess their interests and skills to determine an area of focus, as well as view the educational requirements and career track for that specialty. You can also watch the recent Dream It, Do It – Virginia Third Wednesday Webinar by clicking here.

Businesses in the Commonwealth praise the experience and dedication of their Virginia workforce as one of their prime factors for success. Dream It, Do It – Virginia is one example of the many educational groups across the Commonwealth ensuring that Virginia’s workforce has the skills and training to match industry demand. To learn more, click here.

Students get hands on experience at one of the Manufacturing Technology Camps at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center in Halifax County, Va. Photo courtesy of Halifax County Industrial Development Authority.

VSU Small Farm Outreach Program Helps Sabra Grow First Crop of Chickpeas in Virginia

Wednesday, 30 July 2014 09:05 by Info@YesVirginia.org
It’s harvest time and good news for Sabra Dipping Co. Virginia State University’s College of Agriculture is about to gather one of Virginia’s first ever crop of chickpeas...

It’s harvest time and good news for Sabra Dipping Co. Virginia State University’s College of Agriculture is about to gather one of Virginia’s first crop of chickpeas.

Sabra has partnered with VSU to research the possibility of sourcing chickpeas, the main ingredient in its top-selling hummus, closer to the company’s 49-acre campus in Chesterfield County. Sabra is the No. 1 brand of hummus in the U.S. and has established both a manufacturing operation and R&D Center of Excellence on its campus at Ruffin Mill Industrial Park in Chesterfield County.

Sabra first announced plans to establish a facility in Virginia in November 2008. Part of the company’s decision to locate in Chesterfield County was the proximity to VSU’s College of Agriculture. “During the company’s decision-making process, we arranged several meetings with the College of Agriculture to explore opportunities to grow chickpeas in Virginia and enhance the profitability of the company,” said Renee Chapline, president and CEO at Virginia Gateway Region.

Over the last two years, Sabra and VSU have implemented Dr. Harbans Bhardwaj’s chickpea research through the university’s Small Farms Outreach Program. Cliff Somerville, a VSU Small Farm Outreach agent, has worked with a number of farms across Virginia to test the growth of different varieties of chickpeas.

According to Somerville, while last year’s crops were largely a washout due to weather conditions (excessive rain) and a problem with worms, VSU and Sabra discovered that one type of chickpea seed worked well in Virginia — the “Billy Bean” variety.

This year, VSU only planted the “Billy Bean” variety and Somerville supervised one of those test sites – three acres on a farm in Halifax County.

“The plants got up to around 30 inches and it’s a good population with about 32-34 pods per stalk,” said Somerville. “It’s a successful crop. We’ve done a test run with the combine to check moisture levels, and we’re getting ready to do a full harvest in the next week or so. This will be one of the first crops of chickpeas grown in Virginia.”

The success of Virginia’s first group of chickpea crops has the potential to be a win-win for both Sabra and Virginia farmers. It would allow Sabra to shorten its supply chain and reduce risk by sourcing one of its main ingredients closer to the company’s manufacturing facility. It also would provide diversification for Virginia farmers, particularly those in the tobacco region.

To learn about Virginia’s plentiful resources, and how the Commonwealth’s higher education institutions partner with businesses to innovate, click here.

VSU Small  Farm Outreach agents Cliff Somerville and Derrick Cladd, program director William Crutchfield and cooperating farmer Mr. James Brown (left to right) examine plants in Halifax County, part of Virginia’s first successful group of chickpea crops. Photo courtesy of Virginia State University.

Richmond, Hampton Roads and Charlottesville are Top Happiest Metro Areas in the U.S.

Friday, 25 July 2014 15:53 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Richmond/Petersburg was ranked No. 1 and Hampton Roads (Norfolk/Virginia Beach/Newport News) was ranked No. 2 on the National Bureau of Economic Research list of Top 10 Happiest Metropolitan Areas with a Population Greater Than One Million. Charlottesville was ranked No. 1 as the U.S. Metropolitan Area with the Highest Reported Happiness...

Richmond/Petersburg was ranked No. 1 and Hampton Roads (Norfolk/Virginia Beach/Newport News) was ranked No. 2 on the National Bureau of Economic Research list of Top 10 Happiest Metropolitan Areas with a Population Greater Than One Million. Charlottesville was ranked No. 1 as the U.S. Metropolitan Area with the Highest Reported Happiness.

Economists at Harvard University and the University of British Columbia published a working paper called “Unhappy Cities” through the National Bureau of Economic Research. NBER is the nation’s leading nonprofit economic research organization, with more than 1,300 economics and business professors teaching across North America.

The authors of the study, Edward Glaeser, Joshua Gottlieb and Oren Ziv, used the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a self-reported study on happiness conducted by the CDC, as their primary data source. Because the BRFSS data reports the county where a respondent lives, the authors were able to link responses with location.

They then performed a series of regression analyses to control for individual factors, such as education, income and race, to come up with an adjusted life satisfaction estimate for each MSA.

The authors discovered there is indeed a correlation between happiness and location. They also found that self-reported unhappiness is highest in declining cities, areas linked with lower levels of population and income growth.

It comes as no surprise that multiple regions in Virginia received top marks in this study. With more than 400 years of rich history, the Commonwealth offers employers and citizens an affordable cost of living, access to parks and natural resources ranging from the mountains to the ocean, and recreational opportunities from historical sites to modern sports, entertainment and cultural venues. To learn why reports like this give Virginia a top ranking on quality of life, click here.

A map of the U.S. which shows each metropolitan and rural areas' adjusted life satisfaction. Photo courtesy of the University of British Columbia.

Pollina Awards Virginia Another Top Pro-Business State Ranking

Tuesday, 15 July 2014 10:40 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Once again, Virginia received a leading ranking on Pollina Corporate Real Estate’s Top 10 Pro-Business States 2014 report. The Commonwealth was ranked fourth, taking the same slot as last year. Virginia has consistently received top marks in this report, taking one of the top two spots from 2005-2012...

Once again, Virginia received a leading ranking on Pollina Corporate Real Estate’s Top 10 Pro-Business States 2014 report.

The Commonwealth was ranked fourth, taking the same slot as last year. Virginia has consistently received top marks in this report, taking one of the top three spots from 2005-2012.

“Clearly a national leader in the 11 years of this study, no other state comes close to Virginia when it comes to being a consistent pro-business state,” said Brent Pollina, vice president of Pollina Corporate Real Estate, Inc. and co-author of the study.

Virginia was the top ranked state on the East Coast this year and has received an overall grade of “A” in each of the last five years.

“Virginia has consistently remained at the top of the list because Virginia’s state and local leaders are innovative and aggressive in attracting and retaining jobs and investment. Key to Virginia’s success is its ability to balance low taxes, a good labor force and a strong economic development program. With a Stage I rank of No. 6 and a Stage II rank of No. 3, Virginia has one of the most well-rounded business climates in the nation,” added Pollina.

The ranking is based on 32 factors controlled at the state level, including taxes, human resources, right-to-work legislation, energy costs, infrastructure spending, workers' compensation legislation, jobs gained, financial incentives and state economic development evaluations. The report was co-published with the American Economic Development Institute.

The ranking also reflected positively at the agency level of economic development. Virginia received an “A” in both incentives and marketing/website/response to new and existing employers.

As the report alluded to — consistency is key. Corporations making large investment and employment decisions want to feel confident that the location they select will maintain its positive attributes years down the line. The Commonwealth’s solid track record and stellar resources make it easy for companies to say “Yes” to Virginia. To learn more, click here.

Photo courtesy of the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Orbital Sciences Completes Second Launch to the International Space Station

Monday, 14 July 2014 15:33 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Yesterday at 12:52 p.m., Orbital Sciences completed its second launch to the International Space Station from Pad-OA of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore...

Yesterday at 12:52 p.m., Orbital Sciences completed its second launch to the International Space Station from Pad-OA of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

The Orb-2 mission is Orbital Sciences’ second of eight resupply missions to the ISS, part of Orbital Sciences’ $1.9 billion Commercial Resupply Service contract with NASA. Orbital Sciences will deliver more than 40,000 pounds of cargo to the ISS through 2016.

The Antares rocket launched the Cygnus spacecraft, carrying more than 3,600 pounds of research materials, hardware, science experiments and provisions for the crew of Expedition 40 aboard the ISS. The experiments include nanosatellites to take images of earth, satellites to allow 3-D mapping and robotic navigation inside the space station, and student projects from the Student Spaceflight Experiment Program.

Cygnus is expected to reach ISS Wednesday morning. Over the next two days Cygnus will complete a series of thruster burns to bring it close to the ISS, at which point the crew will use the ISS robotic arm to grapple and rendezvous with the spacecraft.

Cygnus will remain berthed with ISS for approximately 30 days so that the Expedition 40 crew can unload the cargo and reload it with trash. Upon completion of the mission, Cygnus will be burned up during reentry to Earth’s atmosphere.

Yesterday’s successful second launch to the ISS illustrates Virginia’s continued leadership in the aerospace industry. Through MARS, Virginia is one of only a few sites across the U.S. authorized for orbital space launches. To learn why more than 250 aerospace companies call Virginia home, click here.

Orbital Sciences’ Antares rocket takes off from Pad-OA of MARS at NASA Wallops Flight Facility on its second mission to the International Space Station. Photo courtesy of NASA/Bill Ingalls.

VEDP’s “Business Legacies Begin in Virginia” Video Wins Telly Award

Tuesday, 8 July 2014 14:20 by Info@YesVirginia.org
VEDP’s “Business Legacies Begin in Virginia” video recently won a Bronze Telly Award in the category of Recruitment, part of the larger Film/Video category...

VEDP’s “Business Legacies Begin in Virginia” video recently won a Bronze Telly Award in the category of Recruitment, part of the larger Film/Video category.

Since its founding in 1979, the Telly Awards has been honoring outstanding TV commercials and programs, video and film productions, and online commercials, videos and films.

This year’s 35th Annual Telly Awards has been one of the most competitive, with more than 12,000 entries received from all 50 states, as well as other countries.

The award was presented to VEDP and BES Studios, an agency that helped VEDP produce the video. VEDP also worked with 3 Creative on the project. 

Digital storytelling has become an increasingly important component of the marketing mix in economic development as companies and site selection consultants perform more upfront research online.

“The Business Legacies Begin in Virginia video is an important tool we’ve added to our digital marketing strategy,” said Vince Barnett, VEDP Vice President of Communications & Promotions. “We’re grateful to all our partners across the Commonwealth who helped us by providing video footage and access to film some great shots, and we’re honored to receive this award.”

A list of the corporate, regional and local partners who helped VEDP obtain video footage is displayed in the closing credits.

To view the video, visit VEDP’s website or YouTube channel.

VEDP Welcomes VJIP to the Team

Thursday, 3 July 2014 09:50 by Info@YesVirginia.org
It’s official — at the beginning of our fiscal year, July 1, the Virginia Jobs Investment Program became part of the VEDP team. House bill 932 passed by the Virginia General Assembly in in the spring 2014 special session moved the administration of VJIP to VEDP to further align Virginia’s job incentive programs...

It’s official — at the beginning of our fiscal year, July 1, the Virginia Jobs Investment Program became part of the VEDP team. House bill 932 passed by the Virginia General Assembly in in the spring 2014 special session moved the administration of VJIP to VEDP to further align Virginia’s job incentive programs.

In fiscal year 2014, VJIP was involved in 96 percent of the projects that VEDP completed.

VJIP is the second oldest incentive in the Commonwealth and was established in 1965. According to VJIP interim director Frank Strickler, “This is a homecoming for us. VEDP’s predecessor organization and ours were originally joined under the Department of Economic Development until 1996 when VEDP was formed and we were moved to the Department of Business Assistance. We have worked closely with VEDP’s business expansion and business attraction managers for years, so it’s great to be under one roof again.”

VJIP is charged with marketing and managing a state-funded grant that helps companies train their employees. Companies can qualify for the incentive in any of three categories: new and existing business expansions that create jobs, small businesses that create new jobs, and workforce retraining to upgrade the skills of existing employees.

Due to the flexibility of the three categories, a wide range of companies can qualify for the incentive. VJIP serves both large and small businesses in a variety of industries. VJIP project managers also provide free consulting services to client companies, helping them find solutions for their recruiting and training issues.

The VJIP grant is a performance-driven incentive distributed on a pay-as-you-go basis after each employee has been on the job for more than 90 days. VJIP managers work with the company to develop a training outline and budget, so that the client has skin in the game. Companies can receive up to 50 percent reimbursement for qualified recruiting and training costs. Due to the multiplier effect, the incentive usually nets a 100 percent ROI (return on investment) in six months.

VJIP is one of the longstanding examples of incentives that attract companies to Virginia’s pro-business environment. To learn more about VJIP, click here.

Members of the VJIP team include (back row) Frank Strickler, Tre Akins, (front row) Lea Lofty, Brenda Young and Debbie Melvin. 

Virginia a Top State for Private Equity Investment

Monday, 30 June 2014 15:44 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia was ranked No. 7 for private equity investment in 2013, according to the Private Equity Growth Capital Council’s fourth annual investment report...

Virginia was ranked No. 7 for private equity investment in 2013, according to the Private Equity Growth Capital Council’s fourth annual investment report.

Last year, 66 companies across the Commonwealth received $14.7 billion in private equity investment. Virginia moved up in the rankings from 16th place last year.

This signals that investors see value in Virginia’s entrepreneurs and growing companies. Private equity is typically used as growth capital to fuel expansion, as well as to assist companies in strategic turnaround situations.

“Private equity investment is long-term capital at work,” said Steve Judge, president and CEO of the Private Equity Growth Capital Council. “The companies in states across the country that receive private equity investment are able to expand their businesses, develop new innovations and hire workers, and this report highlights the important contributions of private equity in the U.S. economy.”

Virginia also saw two congressional districts break the top 20 in private equity investment. Virginia’s 4th Congressional District received $4.7 billion and Virginia’s 11th Congressional District received $4.5 billion. China-based W.H. Group’s acquisition of Smithfield Foods Inc. represents a majority of District 4's investment.

According to the PEGCC report, private equity firms have invested $129.1 billion in Virginia-based companies from 2004-2013. The report further states that there are 568 private equity-backed companies headquartered in the Commonwealth, which support more than 309,570 jobs at facilities both in and out of state.

The ability of Virginia companies to attract this amount of private equity investment is another testament to the level of innovation and success that entrepreneurs find when they locate their businesses in the Commonwealth. To learn why Virginia is a top state for business and investment, click here.

Photo courtesy of Private Equity Growth Capital Council

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Virginia Economic Development Partnership is the Best State for Business

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

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Grow Internationally With a Helping Hand

Friday, 28 August 2009 11:23 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Operating a company has its challenges. Taking the leap to expand your business internationally can be downright daunting.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Since 2006, VEDP’s Global Network has helped nearly 200 Virginia companies navigate common international obstacles—language and cultural barriers and the like—and provide the services they need to set up shop overseas. The Network removes much of the risk by offering pre-screened, in-country consultants, who, in partnership with VEDP International Trade, deliver industry-specific market research. Recently, the Network expanded into 17 additional countries, including Bulgaria, Turkey, the Netherlands, Israel and South Africa, now providing in-country services in a total of 44 different countries.

Research available ranges from the best strategy for entering a particular market to information on distributors, competitors and potential clients. Once the company visits its target market, the Global Network provides a host of in-country services, including logistical support, matchmaking assistance and service provider contacts.

Nancy Cleveland of LC Technologies in Fairfax used the Global Network to find a reputable distributor in France.  LC Technologies has developed a unique technology that uses eye movement to control computers and monitor and record eye motion and related eye data. 

 “We really could not have found CIMIS [LC Technologies’ new distributor] in France without the help of VEDP’s Global Network,” Cleveland said. “It’s difficult to find good people in other countries, and VEDP has been invaluable in helping us locate CIMIS, a good match for our very specialized technology.”

During these difficult economic times, when U.S. sales are down for many Virginia businesses, it is vital that companies look beyond American borders for sales opportunities.  The Global Network provides a familiar, helping hand full of critical and timely information about opportunities in specific industries in 44 target markets. The services are free to Virginia companies up to $3,000 per fiscal year. For more information about VEDP’s Global Network, visit http://www.exportvirginia.org/.

Celebration Leads to Jobs in Martinsville

Friday, 14 August 2009 15:43 by Info@YesVirginia.org

The Martinsville-Henry County community has reason to celebrate. Monogram Food Solutions, LLC, a meat manufacturer out of Memphis, announced it will purchase the meat snack business of American Foods Group, LLC (also known as Knauss Foods), including the Martinsville production facility. The company plans to invest $3 million to expand production capacity at the Patriot Centre Industrial Park facility. The company has committed to investing every dollar it can in the local economy. More importantly, Monogram Food Solutions has agreed to keep all of the current employees and add 120 new jobs. www.YesVirginia.org

This announcement is like a breath of fresh air for a region that has been wrestling with a double-digit unemployment rate that’s more than twice the national average. Monogram Food Solutions’ average annual salary of about $28,000 is right in line with the region’s prevailing average wage, and 120 new jobs will provide a welcome opportunity for some of the 800+ folks who have been laid off since January 2008. About 50 people have already been hired. Another 70 should be employed by the end of the year.

The job requirements? “Energetic, passionate people who are not afraid of hard work,” was what the company was looking for, according to Ches Jackson, President of Monogram Meat Snacks. They shouldn’t be too hard to find in Martinsville.

 

Virginia Helps Companies Make Headlines

Monday, 10 August 2009 09:51 by Info@YesVirginia.org

LiteSteel Technologies America, Canon, Optical Cable Corporation, Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding and GE Energy were recently showcased in IndustryWeek as the definition of advanced manufacturing.

LiteSteel was touted for its globality and Canon for its sustainability. Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding was highlighted for its successful supply chain network and Optical Cable Corporation for customization. GE Energy received high marks for leading-edge technology.

Had they paid for that horn-tooting ink in the form of an advertisement it a) would not have had the credibility of a third-party validator such as IndustryWeek behind it and b) would have cost upward of $10,000. Instead, these companies in June gave an hour of their time, some refreshments and a few chotchkies bearing their brand. In return, they received positive coverage in one of the most powerful business-to-business media venues out there thanks to their participation in the Virginia Advanced Manufacturing Media Tour, hosted by VEDP. 

VEDP coordinates two media tours annually to bring awareness to industries that are experiencing success across Virginia.  While the chief objective of the tour is to promote Virginia as an ideal business location, we also manage to snag a positive headline here and there for participating companies.

Media tours are just one of many ways VEDP works to nurture Virginia’s relationship with its corporate community. A company’s partnership with the Commonwealth doesn’t end when the shovel pierces the Earth. It’s only just beginning. To learn more about partnering with Virginia, visit www.YesVirginia.org.

The Power of the Future Belongs to Virginia

Monday, 6 July 2009 13:22 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Check out Virginia Business Magazine’s latest issue for a comprehensive article about Virginia’s nuclear industry.

It makes for a good read. The article underscores Virginia’s efforts to maintain a strong base of power generation from various traditional sources, while a variety of renewable resources and their associated technologies take on a larger share of the power-generation picture.

There’s no doubt the Commonwealth views nuclear as a key pillar of our unique generation and power reliability story. The power of the future belongs to Virginia. Home to three of the top global players in the energy sector (AREVA NP, Babcock & Wilcox and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding) and a plethora of national players, Virginia’s cluster of technology, workforce and corporate businesses positions the Commonwealth as a leader in clean energy and advanced manufacturing of components for the energy sector. The vertical integration of Virginia’s assets—from workforce to real estate to research & development, to regulatory climate and proximity to market—means that energy-related companies can grow in a business climate that is prepared to sustain their competitiveness for the long term.

The article highlights the groundbreaking of the new AREVA Newport News project, a joint venture with Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding to manufacture equipment and pressure vessels for the nuclear industry. Governor Kaine will join AREVA and Northrop Grumman officials later this month for the groundbreaking ceremony in Newport News. Also discussed are several industry firsts that are happening right here in the Commonwealth: Babcock & Wilcox’s plans to develop a scalable, modular game-changing nuclear reactor, Dominion Virginia Power’s plans to build one of the first new nuclear reactors in the U.S. in three decades, and Virginia Commonwealth University is the first state university to add a nuclear engineering track to its masters engineering degree program.

The Commonwealth’s energy sector already employs more than 31,000 people, and Virginia ranks second in the number of nuclear engineers. We see both of those figures growing by leaps and bounds in the coming years, thanks to programs such as PRODUCED in Virginia (Providing Undergraduate Connections to Engineering Education in Virginia) and important strategic investments like that of the Virginia Tobacco Commission toward R&D facilities and research contracts, mainly around energy.

With help from a state interagency energy task force, VEDP is actively seeking project opportunities across the full spectrum of traditional and alternative energy resources. For more information about operating your energy facility in Virginia, visit us at www.YesVirginia.org or contact Mike Carruth at mcarruth@yesvirginia.org.

We’re Pro-Business and We’re Proud

Thursday, 25 June 2009 21:22 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Well, it looks like Virginia has done it again. Despite a troubled national economy, the Commonwealth is the top pro-business state for 2009, according to Pollina Corporate Real Estate, a top U.S. corporate site location expert. While Pollina doesn’t have the brand recognition that Forbes does, the organization’s seal of approval carries substantial weight in economic development and site selection circles.

This leading label marks Virginia’s third No. 1 ranking by Pollina. The Commonwealth held the top spot in 2003 and 2007. We ranked second in the Pollina study from 2004 to 2006 and dropped to third place last year. The current recession brings even more importance to Virginia’s climb from third last year to first place.

It means we must be doing something right. The annual study evaluated all 50 states based on 33 factors, including taxes, human resources, right-to-work legislation, energy costs, infrastructure spending, workers compensation laws, economic incentives programs, and state economic development efforts.

Virginia did well in the Labor, Taxes, and Other Factors categories, where we placed fourth overall. Our lead can also be attributed to strengths in college completion, low unemployment, right-to-work status, workers compensation rates, low corporate taxes, low sales and gross receipts taxes, our corporate litigation environment, and low crime rates.

"Virginia maintained its rank for Incentives and Economic Development Agency Factors by having one of the finest economic development departments in the nation, and providing flexible incentives for business creation. A close examination of Virginia’s programs reveals a very well-balanced understanding of economic development," said Brent Pollina, Vice President of Pollina Corporate and author of the study. "The programs include: low-interest loans, infrastructure improvement grants, corporate tax credits, enterprise zone tax credits, customized industrial training and property tax abatements. The Governor’s Opportunity Fund is one example of a program that clearly sets Virginia apart from other states. Virginia’s strength is its ability to front-load some of its key business incentives. This provides companies with capital when they most need it – the first 36 months of a project."

There you have it. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Pounding International Pavement

Wednesday, 17 June 2009 16:13 by Info@YesVirginia.org

VEDP gets a lot of inquiries—and criticism—regarding Governor Kaine’s participation on overseas marketing missions.

The comments often leave us scratching our heads. During these tough economic times, what is more important than working to bring jobs and investment to the Commonwealth? It’s more important now than ever to be out pounding the pavement in the name of promotion.

International pavement is especially important given that in 2008, international companies were responsible for more than 6,000 new jobs and $1.5 billion of investment in Virginia. The capital investments made by international companies in 2008 increased by more than 84 percent over 2007 and represented the fourth straight year of increased international investment. 

VEDP would really like to see that trend continue. Therefore, we plan and budget for overseas marketing missions, an aggressive and pro-active approach to project recruitment and export development that exposes the maximum number of foreign business leaders in a minimum amount of time to the advantages of doing business in Virginia. These trips also enable foreign corporate officials to meet the Commonwealth’s leadership, and provide Virginia’s leadership the opportunity to strengthen their understanding of current financial and business environments overseas. 

The Governor’s participation is especially important because he can open doors that VEDP is unable to open on its own. With the Governor at the lead, we meet with CEOs. Without him, we usually end up with someone with very little decision-making power.  

These trips are nothing new—Virginia governors have participated on overseas marketing missions for many years.  A personal meeting by the Governor with corporate executives demonstrates the high priority that is placed on Virginia’s business community, an important message to relay in a highly competitive market.

We’re thankful we have a Governor who embraces globalism and doesn’t get hung up on the misperception that it means American jobs going overseas. International companies like Volkswagen, AREVA, Canon and Swedwood, all of which have recently brought quality jobs and significant investments to the Commonwealth—are proof of that. They like us, too.

To learn more about the benefits your international company can enjoy in Virginia, visit YesVirginia.org or call us at (804) 545-5600.

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Green is in High Gear in Virginia

Friday, 12 June 2009 13:55 by Info@YesVirginia.org

 Green is the nation’s new favorite color. It’s on product packaging, splashed across the side of buses, dangling from company tag lines. Now it’s being attached to job categories. Add to white-collar and blue-collar the new “green-collar” job.

As we all know, “green” refers to more than just a color these days. It’s all about the environment, energy efficiency and conservation, and eco-friendliness.

Governor Tim Kaine pointed Virginia in the direction of all things green in September 2007 when he released the Virginia Energy Plan. The plan challenges the Commonwealth to a 40 percent reduction of the rate of energy growth by 2017, and a 30 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, bringing emissions back to 2000 levels.

In December 2008, Governor Kaine launched the Renew Virginia Initiative with the goal of making Virginia a leader in environmental protection and energy conservation and efficiency. The initiative includes legislative proposals to reduce Virginia’s dependency on foreign oil, improve the environment and create “green” jobs.

That’s where we come in. Before the Initiative was launched, Governor Kaine hosted an energy roundtable discussion to hear from executives representing a wide range of alternative energy generation, energy conservation, and research and development companies. They discussed best practices for corporate and university research and development collaboration, incentives, skill sets needed to attract energy project investment, and factors influencing site location of energy production facilities.

With insider information in hand, VEDP is better equipped to assist energy companies in finding solutions to meet their business needs. We understand the importance of having policy support and we have new knowledge about the factors that influence energy-related companies’ location decisions. We get the need for a supportive business climate, and we can deliver.

We’re now working with an interagency task force, made up of relevant state agencies, university partners and federal labs in Virginia to build a compelling case for energy-related businesses’ location to Virginia.

To learn more about what Virginia can offer your energy company, check out our Web site at YesVirginia.org or call us at (804) 545-5600.

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IT Just Got a Little Cheaper to Operate in Virginia

Thursday, 4 June 2009 09:29 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia offers a great advantage for Information Technology and the growing cluster of data centers already located throughout the Commonwealth.

Information technology companies that may have glanced at Virginia in the past may want to take a harder look. Virginia now offers a great advantage for IT and the growing cluster of data centers already located throughout the Commonwealth. The Virginia General Assembly recently unanimously passed a bill that enables companies to receive an exemption from the Virginia Retail Sales and Use Tax for computer equipment purchased or leased for use in a data center.

There are a few stipulations, of course. The equipment must be purchased or leased between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2020. The data center must be located in a Virginia locality and generate at least $150 million in capital investment after July 1, 2009. Last but not least, at least 50 new jobs must be created that pay one and one half times the prevailing average wage in the locality.

This legislation has already proven to be a valuable tool in recruiting and retaining existing data centers. VEDP issued a press release announcing Virginia’s new advantage to industry pubs that generated immediate inquiries.

Moments after the release was sent, Data Center Knowledge headlined the news on its Web site: http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2009/05/13/virginia-passes-data-center-tax-incentives/. And the phone lines in VEDP’s Business Development Division received multiple calls from companies that read the release. IT and data centers are definitely a strong growth sector of Virginia’s economy. We look forward to continuing to look for ways that assist with financial efficiencies and operational savings for these businesses. 

For more information about how VEDP can assist your company, visit us at YesVirginia.org or call (804) 545-5600.

VEDP is Entering the Blogosphere

Tuesday, 19 May 2009 15:40 by Info@YesVirginia.org

We’re not sure we belong here, but we’re giving it a shot. We’d like to think VEDP is among cutting-edge state economic development organizations. After all, Virginia has been ranked the “Best State for Business” for three years in a row by Forbes.com. That didn’t just happen.

In times of economic crisis, Virginia needs to be creative with how it delivers its message. We’re often credited for our creativity when it comes to helping companies find solutions to meet their needs. Now it’s time to help ourselves.

Like others, our marketing budget has been slashed and our economic development activity has slowed. But in comparison to other states across the nation, Virginia is holding its own. In fact, the number of announcements, the sector and geographic diversity, and the encouraging ratio of new to expanding economic development projects suggest that Virginia remains a sought-after destination for new business investment.

We intend to keep it that way. If one (free) method of marketing Virginia means venturing out into the unknown world of cyberspace—we’re willing to give it a shot. It remains to be seen if it will help; it certainly can’t hurt.

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Virginia Economic Development Partnership is the Best State for Business

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

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