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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charlottesville Startup GigDog Launches from UVA’s i.Lab

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VEDP’s international trade division recently hosted more than 200 professionals at the 65th annual Virginia Conference on World Trade in Williamsburg, Va.

The two-day event provided attendees with the opportunity to develop their international network with in-country experts, as well as attend sessions where panelists offered practical advice on how to expand sales in the global marketplace.

The event kicked off with an evening networking reception featuring Ignite Speed Networking, a Virginia company that has the world’s only platform for group-based speed networking.

Prior to the conference, attendees were encouraged to take the Global Mindset Survey offered by the renowned Thunderbird School of Global Management. The next morning, Dr. Mansour Javidan, Director of the Najafi Global Mindset Institute and Garvin Distinguished Professor at Thunderbird, went over the results of the survey and helped attendees pinpoint areas to improve their cross-cultural interactions.

Participants then chose between two tracks for the main portion of the day. Track A included a session each on how to gain traction in the South American, Asian and European markets. Track B was geared towards defense companies and offered sessions on the Foreign Military Sales process, the Australia/U.S. Defense Trade Cooperation Treaty, and how to manage and motivate foreign distributors.

The keynote address was provided by Michael Eyestone, Minister-Counsellor (Commercial Policy) and Senior Trade Commissioner at the Embassy of Canada in Washington, D.C. Eyestone discussed the plentiful opportunities that Canada offers as the U.S.’ No. 1 export destination. It provides a strong entry point for companies new to exporting due to the ease of restrictions and common language.

The conference concluded with an evening banquet where three awards were given, recognizing excellence in international trade. The Commonwealth of Virginia Governor’s Award for Excellence in International Trade was given to Moog Components Group out of Blacksburg, Va. The Virginia International Business Council Global Excellence Award recognized Joseph Ruddy, chief operating officer at Virginia International Terminals. The Virginia TradePort Innovator of the Year Award was given to Shawn Utt of Pulaski County.

Save the date for next year’s conference, October 29-30, at The Richmond Marriott in Richmond, Va. Visit www.vacwt.org for conference details and www.exportvirginia.org to learn how VEDP can help your company sell overseas.

Paul Grossman, VEDP vice president of international trade, congratulates Greg Boyer, vice president of sales at Moog Components Group, for winning The Commonwealth of Virginia Governor’s Award for Excellence in International Trade.

UMW Hosts Transformation 20/20 — A Regional Economic Development Summit

Monday, 4 November 2013 10:34 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Last week, University of Mary Washington hosted Transformation 20/20, a summit focused on economic development in the greater Fredericksburg region...

Last week, University of Mary Washington hosted Transformation 20/20, a summit focused on economic development in the greater Fredericksburg region.

The goal of Transformation 20/20 is to develop a clear vision as the region moves toward the year 2020. The summit brought together more than 150 public and private sector attendees to discuss opportunities for collaboration across the Fredericksburg region.

Preparation for the summit began a year earlier when UMW President Rick Hurley, the UMW Center for Economic Development, and Fredericksburg Regional Alliance met with local economic development professionals and business leaders in the community. FRA is the first Virginia economic development organization to be formally affiliated with a higher education institution and is housed on UMW’s campus.

Part of the year-long planning process involved commissioning a study from Chmura Economics & Analytics, and those results were presented at the summit.

The Chmura report identified six industry clusters economic developers should include as part of their strategy to encourage job creation and capital investment in the Fredericksburg region. They include business services, finance/insurance/real estate, health and life sciences, information/communications, manufacturing, and public administration.

The Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce also presented the results of a survey of young professionals, ages 21-40, in the region. The survey found that these young adults were pleased with the job market and planned to stay in the Fredericksburg area. The group suggested improvements to traffic congestion and more recreational and networking opportunities would increase their likelihood to remain in the region.

Transformation 20/20 served as a catalyst for identifying areas of opportunity to encourage economic prosperity in the Fredericksburg community. Continued conversations about how to improve traffic, increase broadband infrastructure, and encourage entrepreneurs are expected to take place — UMW plans to make Transformation 20/20 an annual event.

To learn more about FRA and the UMW Center for Economic Development, click on the highlighted links.

UMW President Rick Hurley and Fredericksburg City Council Member Matt Kelly (right to left) discuss economic development strategy at the Transformation 20/20 summit. Photo courtesy of Fredericksburg Patch.com/Susan Larson.

STIHL Inc. Wins AME 2013 Manufacturing Excellence Award

Friday, 25 October 2013 16:19 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Association for Manufacturing Excellence recently recognized STIHL Inc. with a 2013 Manufacturing Excellence Award at its recent AME International Excellence Inside Conference in Toronto, Canada...

The Association for Manufacturing Excellence recently recognized STIHL Inc. with a 2013 Manufacturing Excellence Award at its recent AME International Excellence Inside Conference in Toronto, Canada.

The AME Manufacturing Excellence Award is given to North American manufacturing plants that have demonstrated excellence in their manufacturing and business operations. AME seeks to acknowledge manufacturers that have implemented continuous improvement, lean principles, creativity and innovation.

STIHL’s award-winning Virginia Beach facility serves as both its U.S. headquarters and base of operations to manufacture more than 280 models of chains saws and other power equipment. The company manufactures the No. 1 brand of chain saws in the world.

According to the company, “The AME assessment team noted the facility’s strides toward the establishment of a continuous improvement system, focusing on the implementation of advanced technology, integration of automation, data systems, work instructions, signaling devices and steps toward the establishment of flow.”

Since opening its Virginia Beach plant in 1974, STIHL has grown from 20,000 square feet under one roof to more than two million square feet on a 150-acre campus. With a talented workforce of 1,900 Virginians, the company exports products to more than 90 countries around the world.

Over the last 20 years, STIHL has announced more than $335 million of investment in the Commonwealth. What keeps an innovative global leader like STIHL coming back? Virginia has successfully competed against China, Brazil and Germany due to its highly-skilled workforce, premier logistics system and pro-business environment.

To learn more about the innovative environment Virginia offers global leaders like STIHL, click here.

Glenn Marshall, chair of AME’s Manufacturing as a Desirable Career Path program; Brent Sheffler, managing director, Knowledge Transfer and Strategic Outreach at VEDP; Christian Koestler, vice president of operations at STIHL Inc.; and Dale Gehring, Chairman of AME, celebrate STIHL’s AME 2013 Manufacturing Excellence Award in Toronto, Canada.

Williamsburg-James City County School System Celebrates National Manufacturing Day

Wednesday, 23 October 2013 13:48 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Williamsburg-James City County School system recently celebrated Manufacturing Day with tours of three local manufacturing operations...

The Williamsburg-James City County School system recently celebrated Manufacturing Day with tours of three local manufacturing operations.

Manufacturing Day is a national program that encourages companies across the U.S. to provide tours to local high school students and teachers. The goals are to illustrate the high-tech nature of the industry, encourage students to explore careers in manufacturing and STEM subjects, and build relationships between school systems and the manufacturing community.

A group of students, teachers, guidance counselors and school board members from WJCC were able to witness firsthand the advanced logistical operations of Wal-Mart Import Distribution Center and the high-tech food packaging operations of Ball Corp. and Printpack Inc.

“Our region is known for its strength in the hospitality industry. We wanted to let students know there are opportunities in other fields right here in their own community,” said Kate Sipes, one of the event organizers and business development and retention coordinator at James City County Office of Economic Development.

WJCC is also the first public school system in North America to sign up for the Association of Manufacturing Excellence “Adopt a School” initiative. This allows AME to partner with schools and local businesses to share best practices and help design curricula to improve career readiness.

“Manufacturing Day allowed students to see what modern manufacturing is — a sleek, technology-driven industry full of high-paid, fulfilling careers,” said Glenn Marshall, chair of AME’s Manufacturing as a Desirable Career Path program.

Just down the road, Newport News Shipbuilding also hosted a similar event to educate guidance counselors from the region on the advanced operations and rewarding careers available at the shipyard.

Virginia continues to be a leader in preparing students for advanced manufacturing careers with strong STEM education programs. To learn more, click here.

WJCC students, teachers and school administrators gather for a tour of Printpack Inc. as part of national Manufacturing Day.

Virginia Institute of Marine Science Bolsters the Commonwealth's Oyster Industry

Wednesday, 16 October 2013 11:08 by Info@YesVirginia.org

The Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) has played an important role in the recovery of the Commonwealth’s oyster industry through its research and educational offerings. 

The popular species of oyster found along the Atlantic Coast is named Crassostrea virginica, literally “Virginia oyster,” because of its predominance in Virginia waters, including the Chesapeake and its tributaries. Unfortunately, the wild oyster beds and natural reefs off Virginia’s coastline have been depleted over the last 100 years due to overfishing, pollution, disease and changing water temperature and saline levels.

These factors have caused the industry to migrate towards aquaculture techniques that involve cultivating oysters and closely monitoring their growth phases on and offshore.

VIMS partners with local oyster farms by sharing its scientific and industry research, providing education on sustainable aquaculture techniques, and guiding companies through the regulation process.

This has enabled small businesses to prosper, such as Rappahannock River Oyster Co. Recently featured in national news, the great grandsons of the founder quickly learned the ropes after taking over the 100-year-old family business in 2001.

Today, the company owns three restaurants and ships 100,000 oysters per week to restaurants all over the U.S., as well as Hong Kong. Rappahannock River Oyster Co. is helping to repopularize the Virginia oyster and offers four flavors. The “Rappahannock” is the sweetest variety and is grown in the Rappahannock River, while “Olde Salts” from the Chincoteague Bay is the saltiest.

According to Rappahannock River Oyster Co. Director of Operations, Captain Anthony Marchetti, “VIMS has laid the foundation to help develop quality seed that allows us to grow more oysters. Over the last five years, we’ve seen a 500 percent increase in the production of our Rappahannock oysters.”

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

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

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

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

 

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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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UBED—Economic Gardening: William & Mary Incubates Growing Businesses

Thursday, 7 June 2012 10:01 by Info@YesVirginia.org
“William & Mary (W&M) is looking at how to grow what’s already in Virginia, as well as to help bring companies into the Commonwealth,” said Leonard Sledge, William & Mary’s Director of Economic Development...

As promised, VEDP is delving into UBED (University-Based Economic Development) in our institutions of higher learning across the Commonwealth.

“William & Mary (W&M) is looking at how to grow what’s already in Virginia, as well as to help bring companies into the Commonwealth,” said Leonard Sledge, William & Mary’s Director of Economic Development.

To that end, W&M’s Technology and Business Center has partnered with the county to run the James City County Business & Technology Incubator (JCC-BTI). The incubator provides support and advisory services to help accelerate the growth of younger companies. This support includes help setting goals and milestones, general business advice, organizational guidance, networking events, assistance locating financing and other service providers, and the use of a professional business facility.

The incubator also liaises with W&M’s Mason School of Business and Entrepreneurship Center. Business school professors are assigned to each incubator company to help determine strategy. Business school students are also engaged in problem-solving initiatives for incubator companies through project and classroom exercises.

Launched in January 2007, the JCC-BTI has worked with 10 companies, graduating three to date. One such graduate is MODU System, a Malaysian manufacturer of conveyor belt systems. The incubator helped the company enter the U.S. market, advising management on how to position the product and locate resellers in the U.S.

Another success story is Breathe Healthy, a manufacturer of antimicrobial face masks with superior comfort and filtering abilities. JCC-BTI helped the veteran-owned company locate key markets for its product, as well as launch international sales.

According to William Bean, Director of W&M’s Technology Business Center, “We’re looking for companies that are passionate and serious about the growth of their business. Our incubator clients span a variety of industries, but the one thing they have in common is a genuine excitement to use the services of our incubator for accelerating growth.”

To learn more about W&M’s Office of Economic Development or the James City County Business & Technology Incubator, click on the highlighted links.

Mail America Expands in Bedford County, Virginia

Monday, 4 June 2012 13:31 by Info@YesVirginia.org

On Tuesday, advertising company Mail America announced plans to expand operations in Bedford County through a $5 million investment. The company will maintain its current facility while adding another 42,000 square feet through a nearby location.

This expansion will create 75 new jobs over the next three years as the company seeks to hire print and mail insertion operators, maintenance staff and administrative personnel to help meet growing customer demand.

Producing nearly 400 million U.S. mail pieces each year, Mail America has operated in Bedford County since 1989 and currently employs 325 Virginians. The company’s positive experience with the region’s skilled and motivated workforce was a major deciding factor for this project.

Virginia’s competitive operative costs and pro-business environment also influenced the company’s decision to expand in the Commonwealth. According to Virginia Delegate Kathy Byron, “Our region continues to demonstrate that it is an ideal place for businesses to grow and to locate. The attributes we have here—reasonable taxes and regulations, a skilled and talented workforce, and welcoming state and local governments that are ready to work as partners—are instrumental to the success of firms like Mail America.”

This is the second expansion Bedford County has seen this year. Forestry Equipment of Virginia announced plans to expand its truck assembly business earlier in March. Both companies received assistance from the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission for their expansions.

To learn why companies continue to find success in the Commonwealth and why Virginia is ranked America’s Top State for Business, click here.

UBED — Virginia Tech Leverages Alumni Network to Develop Cyber Security Solutions

Thursday, 31 May 2012 10:51 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia Tech has developed a number of University-Based Economic Development (UBED) programs as part of its long-term strategy to help connect faculty and students with companies and communities...

Virginia Tech has developed a number of University-Based Economic Development (UBED) programs as part of its long-term strategy to help connect faculty and students with companies and communities. 

According to John Provo, Office of Economic Development Director, “The global network starts as soon as you walk out the door. We facilitate the sharing of Virginia Tech’s intellectual capital with the private sector to develop problem-solving solutions.”

One such group is VT-IDEA (Virginia Tech Intelligence and Defense Executive Alumni). Founded in January 2009, VT-IDEA is made up of alumni working in senior government and industry positions in the national security sector. The group’s mission is two-fold:  it serves as both a resource for national security professionals to better connect, and it helps Virginia Tech get even more plugged in to the national security space.

Through its efforts to build a faster pipeline from the research in Blacksburg to the cyber security needs in D.C., VT-IDEA has recently helped introduce two new ideas to industry insiders. The first is a data safeguarding device that can wipe tablets and cell phones clean, removing confidential information once the individual has left a secured area. The second technology foils radio signal eaves-droppers. The technology senses the intrusion and reconfigures the network to make it secure.

VT-IDEA not only helps spot and commercialize winning solutions; it also puts early stage entrepreneurs in touch with financing and venture capital sources. The group will be doing just that at its upcoming meeting “VT-IDEA Presents Innovation and Entrepreneurship at VTECH” on June 21 at the VT Research Center - Arlington.

To learn more about how the VT-IDEA group and Virginia Tech’s Office of Economic Development are building partnerships with the business community, click on the highlighted links.

German Manufacturer McAirlaid’s Expands in Virginia

Wednesday, 30 May 2012 13:19 by Info@YesVirginia.org
German manufacturer McAirlaid’s recently celebrated the addition of a 75,000-square-foot expansion to its existing U.S. headquarters in Rocky Mount, VA. Adding to the company’s 70,000-square-foot facility at Franklin County Commerce Center, the expansion will increase the company’s global capacity by 30 percent while creating 40 new jobs in the region...

German manufacturer McAirlaid’s recently celebrated the addition of a 75,000-square-foot expansion to its existing U.S. headquarters in Rocky Mount, Va. Adding to the company’s 70,000-square-foot facility at Franklin County Commerce Center, the expansion will increase the company’s global capacity by 30 percent while creating 40 new jobs in the region.

The expansion provides McAirlaid’s with the additional space to serve its customers in the hygiene, medical, food packaging, filtration and home décor spaces through its non-woven absorbency materials. It also allows the company to reduce imports of raw materials and rely more heavily on U.S. vendors, primarily on the East Coast.

McAirlaid’s first announced it would establish its U.S. headquarters in Virginia through an $85 million investment in 2006. In the words of CEO Alexander Maksimow, “Franklin County’s commitment to education through the public school system and job training programs, coupled with an existing workforce of highly motivated people with a strong work ethic, were key factors in McAirlaid’s site selection.”

Since opening its U.S. headquarters in Franklin County in March 2008, the company has received a warm welcome while experiencing the benefits of Virginia’s skilled workforce, education system and premier East Coast location. This additional investment allows McAirlaid’s to build on its success to date, illustrating the company’s commitment to grow in Franklin County.

To learn why companies continue to locate in Virginia due to the Commonwealth’s skilled workforce and excellent education system, click here.

Company and local officials joined Mary Rae Carter, Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade for Rural Economic Development, at McAirlaid’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.

UBED — Old Dominion University Develops A Knowledge Community

Thursday, 24 May 2012 10:08 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Universities play an essential role in developing the human capital so important to economic development, leading to the current term UBED (University-Based Economic Development). Over the coming weeks, VEDP will feature a series of blogs focusing on what universities are doing across the Commonwealth to play a more active role in reaching out to the business community...

Universities play an essential role in developing the human capital so important to economic development, leading to the current term UBED (University-Based Economic Development). Over the coming weeks, VEDP will feature a series of blogs focusing on what universities are doing across the Commonwealth to play a more active role in reaching out to the business community.

According to Tom Osha, President and CEO of Old Dominion University’s (ODU) Innovation Research Park (IRP), ODU is transitioning to a more active role in economic development by developing a 24/7 live-work-play community. IRP is capitalizing on the move away from traditional research parks to an updated model — the “knowledge community.” 

This new community caters to the next generation of researchers who desire a higher level of engagement in the neighborhood where they work. No longer satisfied with commuting home to the suburbs, this generation is looking to live, work and play all in the same location. 

IRP provides just that through its location within ODU’s University Village. Impressive on its own, IRP currently has 350 employees working in two 100,000-square-foot buildings, with plenty of room for expansion. Add to that University Village’s 10 restaurants, retail stores, hotel, theater, art gallery and the Ted Constant arena, and one can see the attractiveness of such a hub.

The economic development impact occurs when companies are drawn to communities like this, bringing with them investment and new jobs to the area. One such company is ipConfigure, which chose to locate at IRP over a location in Texas due to ODU’s multidimensional offerings.

ODU’s Computational Intelligence and Machine Vision Lab was a significant consideration for the company, as their video surveillance technology utilizes just the sort of facial recognition algorithms developed at the lab. Easy access to a qualified employee base and close proximity to amenities also clinched the deal.

"ipConfigure hires ODU graduates and interns, utilizes the ODU Business Gateway, eats in the ODU Village, puts guests up at the hotel, buys tickets to ODU football and other sporting events, and attracts its customers to come to IRP to see the research happening at the Vision Lab and elsewhere around ODU," Osha stated.

The university also put ipConfigure in touch with the Virginia Port Authority, the first customer of the company’s new Wide Area Surveillance products.

ODU is a shining example of a Virginia university that is seeking to bring the benefits of its research outside the classroom by catering to the needs of businesses. To learn more about ODU’s interaction with the business community, click here.

Blacksburg, Va. Ranked Top 5 on Forbes.com Best Small Cities for Jobs List

Tuesday, 22 May 2012 13:12 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford area was ranked Top 5 on the recently published Forbes.com Best Small Cities for Jobs list. Looking at 242 MSAs, Forbes.com calculated the ranking using employment numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the period November 2000 through January 2012...

The Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford area was ranked Top 5 on the recently published Forbes.com Best Small Cities for Jobs list. Looking at 242 MSAs, Forbes.com calculated the ranking using employment numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the period November 2000 through January 2012.

This ranking continues the positive recognition the region has received including a No. 4 rating on Site Selection magazine’s Governors Cup for metro areas with a population of less than 200,000. Blacksburg, Va. was also named the No. 1 Best Place in the U.S. to Raise Kids by Bloomberg Businessweek.

The Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford MSA continues to receive accolades for a number of reasons. Home to top-ranked Virginia Tech, the area’s workforce is highly educated, with two-thirds of residents above the age of 25 holding a bachelor’s degree or higher and 40 percent holding a graduate or professional degree.

The research capabilities of Virginia Tech combined with a highly-educated workforce have proven to be a winning combination, attracting companies and research parks to the area. The Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, located adjacent to Virginia Tech’s main campus, is home to 140 high-tech companies which employ more than 2,200 Virginians.

The Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford MSA is able to retain its highly-skilled workforce due to the strong quality of life the region offers. The family-friendly community provides residents with numerous recreational activities due to its convenient access to the Appalachian Trail, Washington-Jefferson National Forest, Smith Mountain Lake and New River.

To learn more about the Commonwealth’s plentiful resources — including a world-class workforce, top-ranked education system and strong quality of life — that make Virginia America’s Top State for Business, click here.

Virginia State University’s Business School Wins Three Awards

Monday, 21 May 2012 09:44 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Congratulations to Virginia State University’s (VSU) Reginald F. Lewis School of Business for winning three awards over the last few months...

Congratulations to Virginia State University’s (VSU) Reginald F. Lewis School of Business for winning three awards over the last few months.

Last week, VSU’s business school was awarded the RichTech Technology Innovation Deployment Award for its creative use of technology to enhance a process. RichTech honors organizations that help advance Virginia’s technology-based economy.

This win was a nice follow-up to the “Best Business Program in the Country” award received earlier this month from The Center for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). The Center for HBCU ranked VSU’s business school No. 1 for its commitment to innovation. 

Last September, VSU’s business school received the Governor’s Technology Award in the category of Innovation in Higher Education. The award was presented at the Commonwealth of Virginia Innovative Technology Symposium in recognition of the most creative initiatives in the public sector. 

All three awards recognized the business school’s “Digital at the Core” initiative. As the first school in the country to delivery its core curriculum primarily via digital format, the school launched its pilot program in the fall of 2010. Digital textbooks, MP3 audio chapters, MP3 study guides, quizzes and flashcards were all available via download for a cost-friendly licensing fee of $19.95.

Founded in 1882, VSU is an example of Virginia’s premier higher education system that partners with industries to prepare students with the technological training and skills they will utilize upon entering the workforce.

To learn more about Virginia’s highly skilled workforce as well as customized training and recruitment programs, click here.

Digital Realty Adds to Loudoun County’s Data Center Alley

Friday, 18 May 2012 09:06 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Congratulations to Loudoun County for winning another expansion from data center provider, Digital Realty. The company officially broke ground on its fourth building in what’s known as “Data Center Alley” in Loudoun County, Va...

Congratulations to Loudoun County for winning another expansion from data center provider, Digital Realty. The company officially broke ground on its fourth building in what’s known as “Data Center Alley” in Loudoun County, Va.

The two-story, 214,000-square-foot building will house 10 data centers and bring an $80 million investment along with 180 temporary positions and 12 full-time jobs to the area. With more than 50 percent of the world’s internet traffic flowing through Loudoun County each day, the region certainly has become a hub for leading data center operations. Add to that an energy rate 28 percent below the national average and 10 million square feet of data center capacity, and one can easily see why data centers are flocking to Virginia.

Data processing was actually the dominant sector across the Commonwealth in 2011, accounting for more than $960 million in capital investment and almost half of the nonmanufacturing investment. Virginia is poised to continue its growth in the sector as it has both the highest concentration of high-tech workers in the nation and the advanced telecom infrastructure across the Commonwealth to support the industry.

Virginia data centers claimed three of the top 10 spots in Southern Business & Development’s 2011 Ten Best Data Center Sites in the South list. In addition, Bristol, Va., was touted in the study Broadband at the Speed of Light as one of the first municipalities in the nation to build a citywide Fiber-To-The-Home network.

To learn why leading companies have invested more than $4.4 billion in Virginia data centers over the last ten years, click here.

State, local and company officials celebrated the opening of Digital Realty’s newest building at the groundbreaking ceremony in Loudoun County.

ICF International Opens Business Process Management Center in Henry County, Va.

Monday, 14 May 2012 16:58 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Governor McDonnell and Lieutenant Governor Bolling attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony in Henry County, Va., to celebrate the opening of ICF International’s Business Process Management operations center. The opening of the facility comes just over a year after the Governor announced the project would bring 539 new jobs and a $15 million investment to Southern Virginia.

As a global professional and technology services firm, locating near a skilled workforce is critical. Following the company’s $20 million expansion of its Fairfax County headquarters in 2010, this project is further validation of the strength of Virginia’s workforce across the state. 

This victory also illustrates the breadth of Virginia’s technology infrastructure, another key deciding factor that helped the Commonwealth compete against Georgia, Maryland, Tennessee and West Virginia. Companies in Southern Virginia can take advantage of Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative’s 800 mile open-access, fiber optic broadband network.

In the words of ICF International Chairman and CEO Sudhakar Kesavan, “ICF is proud to expand its operations in Virginia and to call the Commonwealth its home. As a professional services firm, ICF International maintains its global headquarters here, which offers the best combination of a robust economy, a pro-business climate, a high-quality workforce, and an outstanding quality of life for ICF employees. We are pleased to open this new operations center in Henry County and to build our workforce from local residents.”

With the highest concentration of technology workers in the country, Virginia continues to attract world-class companies and gain recognition as the Top State for Business. To learn more, click here.

Governor McDonnell addresses the crowd at ICF International’s ribbon-cutting ceremony in Martinsville, Va.

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Virginia Wins Site Selection Magazine’s 2011 Competitiveness Award

Monday, 7 May 2012 09:49 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Site Selection Magazine named Virginia the winner of its annual Competitiveness Award, which recognizes excellence on the part of a state-level economic development group...

Site Selection magazine named Virginia the winner of its annual Competitiveness Award, which recognizes excellence on the part of a state-level economic development group. The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) accepted the award at the Industrial Asset Management Council’s Spring Professional Forum held in Austin, Texas.

The Competitiveness Award was based on a 10-factor index using Conway Data Inc.’s New Plant database. The number of new and expanded facilities, capital invested in new and expanded facilities, total jobs created, the individual state tax climate and state unemployment rate were a few of the factors used in selecting the Commonwealth as the winner.

Virginia’s low-tax business climate, right to work status and competitive operating costs were just some of the benefits touted by Site Selection. Add to that a world-class transportation infrastructure, robust telecommunications network, and a tech-savvy workforce, and it’s easy to see why Virginia is the clear winner.

This award continues the positive recognition the Commonwealth has seen in 2012. Virginia has already been recognized with a Top 3 Economic Outlook Ranking from the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Rich States, Poor States study, a Top 5 ranking in Site Selection’s Governor’s Cup, a Top 3 ranking on Gallup’s Job Creation Index, and a Top 10 ranking on Chief Executive’s Best States for Business.

To learn why Virginia continues to garner attention as a top state for business, click here.

Mark Arend, Site Selection Editor in Chief, presents VEDP representative Brent Sheffler with the Competitiveness Award.

Balchem Corp. Opens First Operation in Virginia

Wednesday, 2 May 2012 12:53 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Alleghany County won a new manufacturing operation when Balchem Corporation decided to locate its first operation in the Commonwealth there. The project will bring an initial investment of approximately $10 million and 55 new jobs to the region over the next 2-3 years...

Alleghany County won a new manufacturing operation when Balchem Corporation decided to locate its first operation in the Commonwealth there. The project will bring an initial investment of approximately $10 million and 55 new jobs to the region over the next 2-3 years.

As a leading producer of encapsulated ingredients for the animal nutrition and health market, Balchem’s growing portfolio of products has gained strong market acceptance at a global level. The manufacturing facility in Covington, Va., will allow Balchem to build on this success by more than doubling its output capacity for this market.

Virginia’s strong manufacturing workforce, rich raw material supply and competitive overall cost structure weren't the only reasons the Commonwealth was selected for this project. Alleghany County’s strategic location was also a critical factor in the selection process. Direct access to Interstates 64 and 81 will provide the company with convenient access to customers in the Northeast and Midwest markets, and close proximity to Virginia’s world-class port system will allow Balchem to easily serve its international customers.

A 45-year-old, publicly-traded company, Balchem was ranked #29 on Forbes.com’s 2011 America’s Best Small Companies list. To learn more about Virginia’s extensive manufacturing capabilities and why the Commonwealth continues to attract top companies like Balchem, click here.

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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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customers want a finish on their steel or aluminum products. We provide that and do our own powder coating and wet paint at a facility just down the street,” said Harrison.

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

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

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

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

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Marstel-Day — Growing a Green Business in Virginia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Performance Signs — From a Dorm Room to the Highway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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NCS Technologies — A Case Study of Innovation During Sequestration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Highground Services — A Successful Graduate of the Franklin Business Incubator

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Shenandoah Valley Partnership Launches inDEMAND Jobs Site

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

The Shenandoah Valley Partnership is partnering with WHSV-TV3 news to launch an educational campaign called “inDEMAND Local Career Opportunities.”

The purpose of inDemand is to increase awareness about high-paying career opportunities in high-growth industries where there is a substantial demand for a qualified workforce. With the cost of higher education a concern for many families, this campaign will highlight rewarding jobs that require some additional training, but not a full four-year degree. 

Through linkage with Dream It, Do It — Virginia, the campaign will help both students and current employees match their career aspirations with programs and certifications offered through the Virginia Community College System, Career and Technical Education Centers, and four-year colleges and universities.

WHSV-TV3 is currently filming a series of three minute videos featuring 26 different careers that will be posted on their site at http://www.whsv.com/indemand. Governor McAuliffe kicked off the campaign earlier this month and his interview is included on the site.

The first video focused on high demand in the welding industry. Training to become a welder takes about six months and companies in the Shenandoah Valley are projected to hire 180 welders over the next 10 years.

Upcoming videos will discuss local demand for employees in the software development, mechatronics, accounting and trucking industries, to name just a few.

The Shenandoah Valley’s inDemand campaign highlights the premier workforce training programs that exist across the Commonwealth. To learn how Virginia is keeping its workforce up-to-date on the latest technology through its 15 public universities, 45 private institutions and 23 community colleges, click here.

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Virginia Makes a Strong Showing on Kiplinger’s 2015 Best College Values List

Friday, 17 April 2015 16:00 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia universities made a strong showing on Kiplinger’s annual Best Colleges list, all the more important in the current environment where finding a quality education at an affordable price has become increasingly challenging...

Virginia universities made a strong showing on Kiplinger’s annual Best Colleges list, all the more important in the current environment where finding a quality education at an affordable price has become increasingly challenging.

In the public categories list, University of Virginia was ranked No. 2, The College of William and Mary No. 5, James Madison University No. 29, Virginia Tech No. 35, Christopher Newport University No. 83, and University of Mary Washington was No. 84.

For the liberal arts category, Washington and Lee University received a No. 2 ranking, University of Richmond No. 10, and Christendom College was No. 57.

To calculate the rankings, the editors at Kiplinger looked at a number of metrics used to determine both quality and value. The list was drawn from more than 1,200 four-year higher education institutions across the U.S.

Quality was measured through admission rates, test scores of incoming freshman, freshman retention, students per faculty and four-year graduation rates.

Value was calculated by looking at the overall cost of education, the amount of need-based and non-need-based aid, the percentage of need met and student debt at graduation.

Virginia’s strong rankings in both the public and liberal arts categories show the breadth of the Commonwealth’s premier education offerings. Virginia has more than 575,000 students enrolled in 230 campuses across the state ensuring the workforce of tomorrow is prepared to meet industry needs. To learn more click here.

A view of the Rotunda at the University of Virginia. Photo courtesy of UVA and Cassidy Girvin.

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VEDP and CCAM Receive Achievement in Innovation Award from Business Facilities Magazine

Tuesday, 14 April 2015 17:07 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Business Facilities magazine recently announced its 2015 Economic Development Awards and VEDP was a recipient of one of five Achievement in Innovation Awards for the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing...

Business Facilities magazine recently announced its 2015 Economic Development Awards and VEDP was a recipient of one of five Achievement in Innovation Awards for the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing.

The Business Facilities article mentioned how difficult it was to narrow down candidates this year because best practices are being implemented across the country, making CCAM’s recognition all the more meaningful.                                                          

According to the Business Facilities’ editorial staff, “The states that are ahead of the curve have developed innovation hubs for targeted growth sectors and created an environment that makes their locations fertile ground for emerging businesses. This year, we’re focusing our spotlight on five programs that have exhibited consistent excellence in the development of innovation hubs and three successful initiatives targeting entrepreneurs.”

CCAM is an applied research center that brings together Virginia’s leading manufacturing companies and educational institutions to turn research into real-world technologies and solutions. It operates out of a 62,000-square-foot facility located adjacent to the 1,000-acre Rolls-Royce Crosspointe Campus in Prince George County, Va.

CCAM is focused on advancing and commercializing manufacturing technologies in six key areas — surface engineering, manufacturing systems, machining technologies, welding, additive manufacturing and composite materials.

Operating as a public-private partnership, its roster is made up of five university members and 33 corporate and industry members, including globally recognized leaders Aerojet Rocketdyne, Airbus, Alcoa, Canon, Chromalloy, NASA, Newport News Shipbuilding, Oerlikon Metco, Rolls-Royce, Sandvik Coromant and Siemens.

This award highlights what the more than 5,600 manufacturing companies located in Virginia already know — that the Commonwealth is a hub of advanced manufacturing and offers companies the innovative environment to grow. To learn more click here.

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

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VEDP’s Advertising Agency Wins Best in Show for Stone Brewing Kit

Monday, 13 April 2015 15:27 by Info@YesVirginia.org
We at VEDP are proud to congratulate our advertising agency, Elevation, for winning Best in Show in the Promotional Design & Advertising category at the Richmond Ad Club’s annual awards show...

We at VEDP are proud to congratulate our advertising agency, Elevation, for winning Best in Show in the Promotional Design & Advertising category at the Richmond Ad Club’s annual awards show.

Elevation helped us develop a unique presentation for the executive team at Stone Brewing Co. as part of our marketing process to win their East Coast location for Virginia.

During a meeting among Stone Brewing Co., the Governor, his administration, and other key members of the Virginia marketing team, VEDP organized a surprise visit from a character actor portraying Thomas Jefferson.

Agriculture was one of Jefferson’s greatest passions, and at Monticello he grew the ingredients to make his own ale, continuing Virginia’s more than 400-year brewing legacy.

Elevation developed a script for Jefferson to describe Virginia’s plentiful natural resources that would make an excellent home for Stone Brewing’s East Coast location. They also developed a kit filled with Virginia brewing ingredients for Jefferson to present to the Stone executive team — pure Virginia water, wheat, hops and molasses.

As everyone knows, the pitch was successful and Stone Brewing announced their plans to invest $74 million to construct a brewery, packaging hall, restaurant, gardens, retail store and offices in Richmond this past fall.

Virginia successfully competed against more than 20 states, and winning this competitive project from the country’s 10th largest craft brewing company has furthered the Commonwealth’s position as a serious player in the craft beer industry.

Food and beverage companies continue to find Virginia has the recipe for success. To learn why food processing companies have invested more than $2.1 billion in Virginia since 2004, click here.

An actor portraying Thomas Jefferson holds the Stone Brewing kit for a marketing presentation that won Best in Show at the Richmond Ad Club awards.

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Magnets USA Celebrates 25 Years and a New Facility in Virginia

Friday, 27 March 2015 16:57 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Magnets USA recently celebrated 25 years in the Roanoke Valley region of Virginia. The company also hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new building in Vinton, Va...

Magnets USA recently celebrated 25 years in the Roanoke Valley region of Virginia. The company also hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new building in Vinton, Va.

Magnets USA moved from nearby Roanoke City into the former Grumman Fire Truck Corp. location, a newly-renovated, climate-controlled, 45,000-square-foot building. The grand opening event featured fire trucks previously manufactured at the Grumman building to commemorate its history.

The new facility will provide 70 percent more production space and allow the company to add 25 new jobs to its current workforce of 60. VEDP’s Virginia Jobs Investment Program is assisting the company with training funds for the new jobs.

Founded in 1990, the company began selling adhesive materials that magnetized business cards. Today, Magnets USA produces more than 20 million magnetized marketing products each year, including calendars, sports and event schedules, banners and business cards. 

Virginia’s premier business environment has allowed the company to successfully expand its customer base to include the real estate market, Chicago Bears, Salem Red Sox, Kid Rock Enterprises, Burning Man, Floyd Fest, the American Quilter’s Society and local schools.

Magnets USA has also worked with VEDP’s international trade team to increase global sales. The company currently exports to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The company’s history and success in Virginia is another example of the pro-business environment and resources the Commonwealth provides for growing companies. To learn more, click here.

The Magnets USA team prepares to cut the ribbon at the company’s grand opening ceremony for its renovated facility in Vinton, Va. Photo courtesy of Magnets USA.

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About VEDP

Virginia Economic Development Partnership is the Best State for Business

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

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

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.

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

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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Wytheville, Va., company Evatran is leading the way in developing an electronic vehicle (EV) wireless recharging system. Governor Bob McDonnell hosted the company’s launch event for its Apollo Program at the state capitol in Richmond, Va., last Thursday.

Google, Duke Energy, Hertz, Clemson University and the Commonwealth of Virginia have already signed on for Phase I of the Apollo Program. These partners have agreed to test the company’s wireless charging technology over the next three months and provide feedback to the company.

Evatran has been on the fast-track since June 2010 when Governor McDonnell announced the company would invest $3.5 million to establish a new manufacturing operation in Wytheville, Va., bringing 84 new jobs to the area. The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Wythe County, the Joint Industrial Development Authority of Wythe County, Wytheville, Rural Retreat and Virginia’s aCorridor to successfully compete against North Carolina and Ohio for the project.

Evatran’s Plugless Power system is unique — as its name suggests it does not require the EV to be plugged in to recharge. Through inductive power transfer, the user simply has to park the vehicle over a specialized pad which uses magnetic fields to transfer energy from the pad’s coils to the receiving coils within the vehicle adapter. The energy is only converted to electricity once inside the vehicle, ensuring a safe transfer.

Evatran hopes the convenience of its technology will aid in the early adoption of EVs as a standard mode of transportation, helping to ease the global energy crisis.

As a green energy pioneer, the company illustrates the strength of Virginia’s entrepreneurs in both the technology and energy sectors. To learn more about the Commonwealth’s unique offering for technology and energy companies click here.

Made In America — Insourcing On the Rise

Monday, 27 February 2012 17:11 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Insourcing, reshoring, even backshoring are all terms used to described the growing trend of previously-outsourced manufacturing jobs returning to the U.S.

What exactly is driving this trend since Asia, and specifically China, has been earmarked as the go to place for cheap labor over the last decade?  The answer is simple — when it comes to goods for the U.S. market, on a total cost basis, manufacturing in China is becoming less attractive while manufacturing in the U.S. is becoming all the more so.

With increased exposure to the West, Chinese workers are demanding higher wages.  According to The Boston Consulting Group’s report Made in America, Again, Chinese wages are growing 15-20 percent each year. 

Labor typically represents only 7-25 percent of the cost in manufacturing a product. Other factors also moving in the U.S.’ favor include a favorable exchange rate, increased U.S. worker productivity and rising energy and land costs in China. Longer supply chains necessitate higher inventory and shipping expenses as well as pose political, intellectual property and weather related risks — all of which have become less tolerable to global manufacturers.

The combination of these factors led The Boston Consulting Group to conclude that “By sometime around 2015 — for many goods destined for North American consumers — manufacturing in some parts of the U.S. will be just as economical as manufacturing in China.”

In addition, China’s manufacturing infrastructure will increasingly be put to use to serve the local market. Its rising middle class will demand more products, absorbing a larger percentage of the goods produced in China. Given the costs and risks mentioned above, global supply chains appear to be shortening, with companies returning to the U.S. to manufacture goods closer to the end user.

Virginia’s furniture industry is a great illustration of this trend, with a number of expansions announced over the last few months. In Galax, Va., Albany Industries’ first Virginia location will create 335 new jobs and Vaughn-Bassett’s expansion of an existing factory and acquisition of an additional factory will create more than 100 jobs.

In addition, Netherlands producer Axxor Group chose Pittsylvania County for its first U.S. operation to supply honeycomb to nearby IKEA subsidiary Swedwood North America. Most recently, Laminate Technologies selected Henry County for its new Mid-Atlantic manufacturing operation, creating 30 new jobs.

Virginia’s cost-effective operating climate combined with its highly-skilled manufacturing workforce puts the Commonwealth in a prime position to capitalize on this trend. From Galax, Va., Vaughn-Bassett CEO John Bassett explained, “We are winning the battle against our Asian competition because we have the finest workforce in the world and we have the best equipped factories in the world,” as quoted by WSLS 10 News.

With 2011 manufacturing job creation up 31% and investment up 75% over last year, Virginia has already distinguished itself as a manufacturing powerhouse. To learn why Virginia’s pro-business climate and educated workforce make it a great location for manufacturing companies, click here.

Virginia Small Business Financing Authority Launches Micro-Loan Program

Thursday, 23 February 2012 16:33 by Info@YesVirginia.org
While micro-loans are often associated with aiding entrepreneurs across the globe, the Virginia Small Business Financing Authority has established a program to help Virginia entrepreneurs right here in the Commonwealth.

While micro-loans are often associated with aiding entrepreneurs across the globe, the Virginia Small Business Financing Authority has established a program to help Virginia entrepreneurs right here in the Commonwealth.

The program is targeted towards existing Virginia businesses that will use the financing to either create new jobs or retain existing jobs. Companies must have been in operation for at least three years, as well as meet additional criteria in order to take advantage of the program.

These short-term loans will have a maximum maturity of one year with rates based off the Wall Street Journal  Prime Rate. Funds can be used for financing working capital needs, fixed asset purchases, leasehold improvements or technology infrastructure.

Virginia is a great place to start and grow a business, offering entrepreneurs a variety of resources at all stages of expansion. Use these links to learn more about Virginia’s Micro-Loan Program and obtain an application.

To learn more about Virginia’s resources for early stage companies click here.

Laminate Technologies Can’t Resist Virginia’s Furniture Community in Henry County

Tuesday, 21 February 2012 09:40 by Info@YesVirginia.org
YesVirginia Business Blog | A place for news, opinions, and information regarding the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.

The Gateway Center for Enterprise Opens in Central Virginia

Thursday, 25 July 2013 16:43 by Info@YesVirginia.org
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, 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.

High-tech “Fab Lab” Comes to Virginia’s Patrick Henry Community College

Monday, 22 July 2013 15:47 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) began offering tours of its Fab Lab this summer. The Fab Lab is short for digital fabrication laboratory, which gives students and local businesses access to 3D design and prototyping equipment to create new products and inventions...

Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) began offering tours of its Fab Lab this summer. The Fab Lab is short for digital fabrication laboratory, which gives students and local businesses access to 3D design and prototyping equipment to create new products and inventions.

The Fab Lab concept originated at MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms. In November 2011, PHCC, the New College Institute and Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation sponsored a two-week visit from the Mobile Fab Lab of the Carolinas. During that time the lab received more than 300 visits from interested students and community members.

Working with the same partners, PHCC was able to obtain funding from the Virginia Community College System to purchase equipment and establish its own Fab Lab.

Located at the The Artisan Center in Martinsville, the 1600-square-foot Fab Lab houses a Roland MDX 20 mini mill, Roland CAMM-1 Servo GX-24 vinyl cutter, Stratasys uPrint SE Plus FDM 3D printer, Morgan Industries Morgan Press G-100T Injection Molder, Formech 686 Vacuum Former, Universal Laser 4.60, Routermate 4’ x 4’ CNC router and Torchmate 2’ x 4’ CNC plasma cutter.

The 10 Dell workstations in the lab offer open source software, which allows entrepreneurs and students to seamlessly continue their work at home or in other locations.

The Fab Lab has generated a lot of interest among students and business partners in the community. Lab Coordinator Matthew Wade estimates the lab has seen more than 100 visitors since its soft launch in April.

The lab will host a grand-opening event this fall to coincide with its first class, a basic manufacturing class that will teach students and entrepreneurs how to use the equipment in the lab to bring their ideas to life.

“Inventors can create designs with our software, use the vinyl cutter and CNC mill to fabricate and carve out a circuit board, and then utilize our 3D printer to produce a working model of their new product idea,” said PHCC Lab Coordinator Matthew Wade.

The PHCC Fab Lab is another example of the cutting-edge technology available at Virginia’s colleges and universities, helping prepare a strong pipeline of technically-skilled workers. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s recent Enterprising States study, Virginia is the No. 1 state in STEM job concentration and has the No. 1 share of high-tech businesses.

To learn more about Virginia’s leading higher education system and workforce preparation programs, click here.

A view of the Patrick Henry Community College Fab Lab in Martinsville, Va.

German Investment in Virginia Continues—PRUFREX Establishes First U.S. Location

Wednesday, 17 July 2013 16:23 by Info@YesVirginia.org
PRUFREX Innovative Power Products GmbH announced plans to establish its first U.S. location in Virginia Beach through a $7.33 million investment, which will create 60 new jobs. The project includes both a manufacturing facility as well as the company’s U.S. headquarters...

PRUFREX Innovative Power Products GmbH announced plans to establish its first U.S. location in Virginia Beach through a $7.33 million investment, which will create 60 new jobs. The project includes both a manufacturing facility as well as the company’s U.S. headquarters.

PRUFREX is a leading producer of digital ignition systems and electronic control systems for the small engine, marine and recreation, automotive, and electric and cordless power markets. The company’s global headquarters are in Cadolzburg, Germany.

The benefits of supply chain for economic development are apparent in this project—PRUFREX selected Virginia Beach over Georgia to be closer to two key customers, German-based BMZ Batteries and STIHL Inc.

STIHL opened its first U.S. plant in Virginia Beach in 1974, and has since grown to become the No. 1 brand of chain saws in the world. The company’s U.S. headquarters are now located in Virginia Beach, and since 1990 the company has announced investment of $335 million and 942 new jobs in the Commonwealth.

BMZ Batteries followed in April 2011, also establishing its U.S. headquarters in Virginia Beach to be close to STIHL and its other international customers. 

Germany has been in the top three for international investment and job creation in the Commonwealth over the last four years.

PRUFREX, BMZ Batteries and STIHL have all made reference to the quality of Virginia’s workforce, particularly its engineering and advanced manufacturing capabilities, as well as the Commonwealth’s strategic East location and ability to easily reach U.S. customers through its premier logistics infrastructure.

Virginia’s transportation network includes access to the international Port of Virginia, the only U.S. East Coast location able to handle post-Panamax vessels as first port of call, as well as an integrated system of six interstate highways, nine commercial airports and 14 railroads, including two Class I lines.

To learn why Virginia is home to more than 700 internationally-owned companies, click here.

Institute of Advanced Learning and Research Launches First Company—Dan River Plants

Tuesday, 16 July 2013 15:46 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Institute of Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) recently announced its first commercial spin-off, Dan River Plants, LLC...

The Institute of Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) recently announced its first commercial spin-off, Dan River Plants, LLC.

Dan River Plants uses micropropagation technology to create, clone and grow plants at a rapid rate. The technology was developed through collaboration between IALR’s Institute for Sustainable and Renewable Resources and Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. 

Micropropagation utilizes plant tissue cultures to grow identical plants by an order of magnitude, yielding rapid and reliable results. The company is producing both decorative plants, such as lilies, roses and azaleas, as well as biofuel crops. 

Dan River Plants plans to invest $1.3 million and create 27 new jobs to establish a facility at Ringgold East Industrial Park in Pittsylvania County, Va.

IALR was established in 2000 through partnerships among Virginia Tech, Averett University, Danville Community College, Pittsylvania County, City of Danville, Future of the Piedmont Foundation, Tobacco Indemnification Commission and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The center uniquely operates as a research and development facility, education leader, business incubator and conference center.

We have previously blogged on some of IALR’s programs, including its STEM Mobile Learning Lab and the Virginia Polymer Coalition.

IALR has strategically positioned itself to capitalize on the expertise found in Southern Virginia. The center focuses on four main areas of research, including sustainable and renewable resources, analytical chemistry, polymers and composites, and vehicle research.

IALR is yet another example of the innovative research and collaboration with universities that supports Virginia businesses, from start-up to late stage. To learn more about opportunities to co-locate with Virginia’s leading universities at R&D centers across the Commonwealth, click here.

Digital Realty Expands Campus in Loudoun County’s Data Center Alley

Thursday, 11 July 2013 15:22 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Digital Realty just announced a $150 million expansion to its data center campus in Virginia’s Loudoun County. The project is expected to create 50 new jobs over the next three years...

Digital Realty just announced a $150 million expansion to its data center campus in Virginia’s Loudoun County. The project is expected to create 50 new jobs over the next three years.

Digital Realty is the largest data center operator in Loudoun County, with more than one million square feet of space. The company’s latest building is expected to be 400,000 square feet and house 22 data centers.

This project is a strong follow-up to the company’s announcement last May. It broke ground on its fourth building in Loudoun County, representing an $80 million investment and the anticipated creation of 12 full-time jobs and 180 temporary positions.

Often called “Data Center Alley,” Loudoun County has become one of the top data center locations in the country. It currently maintains five million square feet of existing data center space with another three million square feet in development.

Loudoun County also handles up to 70 percent of the world’s internet traffic each day.

Fueled by increased customer demand for cloud computing, mobile applications and social networking, the data center industry continues to grow at a rapid pace. For calendar year 2012, data center announced investment topped $1 billion in Virginia.

The Commonwealth remains a prime location for data centers due to its advanced fiber infrastructure, abundant power redundancy, affordable energy rates and top notch IT workforce. Virginia has the highest concentration of high-tech workers according to Cyberstates 2013.

In addition, Virginia’s Retail Sales and Use Tax Exemption on qualified computer equipment helps data center operators lower their overall cost structure.

Virginia is home to 700 data centers establishments and has seen $5.8 billion in announced data center investment over the last decade. To learn why leaders like Amazon, Capital One, Digital Realty, Facebook, Google and Microsoft have all chosen the Commonwealth, click here.

Tempur Sealy International Expands in Scott County, Virginia

Monday, 8 July 2013 15:07 by Info@YesVirginia.org
On Wednesday, Tempur Sealy International, Inc. announced plans to expand its manufacturing facility in Scott County through a $13.3 million investment. The project will create 42 new jobs and allow the company to upgrade equipment and grow its Southwest Virginia operation...

On Wednesday, Tempur Sealy International, Inc. announced plans to expand its manufacturing facility in Scott County through a $13.3 million investment. The project will create 42 new jobs and allow the company to upgrade equipment and grow its Southwest Virginia operation.

The 500,000-square-foot facility has successfully operated at Duffield Industrial Park for 12 years, producing mattresses and pillows for the company’s Tempur-Pedic brand.

Temper Sealy is the largest bedding provider in the world and changed its name in March to reflect Tempur-Pedic’s $1.3 billion acquisition of Sealy Corp., announced in the fall of 2012. The Company's portfolio of iconic brand names includes Tempur®, Tempur-Pedic®, Sealy®, Sealy Posturepedic®, Optimum™ and Stearns & Foster®.

Virginia was chosen over New Mexico for this project due to the high quality of Southwest Virginia’s manufacturing workforce, low cost of operations and strategic location, with prime access to I-77 and I-81.

As part of the Virginia’s e-Region, Southwest Virginia has a strong legacy of supporting leading manufacturing and technology companies through its focus on electronic information technology, energy, education and emerging manufacturing specialties.

To learn why manufacturing companies continue to select Virginia, investing more than $13.7 billion over the last decade, click here.

Canon Virginia Adds Toner Manufacturing Operation to Newport News Facility

Friday, 28 June 2013 14:35 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Canon Virginia Inc. recently announced plans to include toner manufacturing at its headquarters location in Newport News, Va., through a $27 million investment...

Canon Virginia Inc. recently announced plans to include toner manufacturing at its headquarters location in Newport News, Va., through a $27 million investment.

Canon Virginia has successfully operated in Newport News since 1985, serving as the manufacturing hub of Canon U.S.A., a subsidiary of Japan-based Canon Inc. The Newport News campus includes a factory service center and manufacturing operations for a variety of Canon products, including copiers, printers and cartridges.

Governor McDonnell met with Canon Inc. officials while in Tokyo as part of his recent Asia Marketing Mission.

By allocating 30,000 square feet of upgraded space to this project, Canon Virginia will improve efficiencies by manufacturing both the ink toner and cartridges all in one location.

Canon Virginia employs nearly 2,000 Virginians across the Commonwealth, and the company has invested more than $371 million in its Virginia operations in the last four years.

World-class manufacturing companies like Canon Inc. continue to invest in the Commonwealth due to its competitive operating environment, highly-skilled manufacturing workforce and premier logistics infrastructure.

To learn why manufacturing companies have invested more than $13.7 billion in Virginia over the last decade, click here.

YesVirginia Business Blog | November 2014

VEDP Host Virginia Tour for Chinese Journalists

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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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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