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.

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GMU Computer Game Design Program students provide modeling, simulation and design work for incubator companies at VSGI. Photo courtesy of Prince William County Department of Economic Development.

VEDP Launches 2015 Digital Advertising Campaign

Friday, 23 January 2015 09:34 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia has a great story and it’s imperative that it be told to the global business audience. In January, VEDP launched a new digital ad campaign, expected to deliver more than 73 million impressions through June 2015...

Virginia’s competitiveness and perception as a pro-business state remain strong. However, competition in the global economy and domestic markets continues to increase. Competing states are more aggressive in their outreach efforts, with several recently unveiling multi-million dollar advertising campaigns to promote and lure business.

Virginia has a great story and it’s imperative that it be told to the global business audience. In January, VEDP launched a new digital ad campaign, expected to deliver more than 73 million impressions through June 2015.

To maximize our limited resources, VEDP focused on digital media outlets and purchased an integrated schedule of online, mobile, tablet and pay-per-click search placements. The campaign targets VEDP’s geographic markets in the U.S, U.K., Germany and China.

The ads, promoting Virginia’s prime business location advantages, appear in Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Entrepreneur and Reuters, as well as two advertising networks — Bizo and Rocketfuel.

Search engine marketing remains a key component of our strategy. VEDP implemented pay-per-click ads on Google, Bing and Baidu. This is our first venture with Baidu, the leading search engine in China.

“VEDP’s advertising strategy continues to prove effective at generating leads and building awareness of the strengths that make the Commonwealth such a great place to work and live,” said Vince Barnett, VEDP vice president of communications & promotions. “The digital program provides unique targeting capabilities to reach key corporate decision makers, while making the most efficient use of limited advertising dollars.”

An example of a 15 second video pre-roll used as part of the campaign is below, and landing pages for the U.S., U.K., Germany and China can be found by clicking on the highlighted links.

To learn more about the opportunities for success that are waiting for you in Virginia, visit www.YesVirginia.org.

A view of the video pre-roll touting Virginia’s pro-business resources.

Amazon Fulfillment Center in Chesterfield Still Buzzing After the Holidays

Thursday, 8 January 2015 14:50 by Info@YesVirginia.org
VEDP was named a “Best in Class” economic development organization today at the International Economic Development Council’s Annual Conference...

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

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

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

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

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

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

"To enhance the quality of life and raise the standard of living for all Virginians, in collaboration with Virginia communities, through aggressive business recruitment, expansion assistance, and trade development, thereby expanding the tax base and creating higher-income employment opportunities."

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

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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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Charlottesville Entrepreneurs Launch Moonlighting Mobile Marketplace App

Monday, 8 December 2014 15:51 by Info@YesVirginia.org
A team of Charlottesville entrepreneurs recently launched Moonlighting, a mobile company with an app that helps job seekers and people needing work done to connect...

A team of Charlottesville entrepreneurs recently launched Moonlighting, a mobile company with an app that helps job seekers and people needing work done to connect.

The three co-founders began brainstorming in August 2013 to find a way to parlay their expertise in payment platform development and mobile technology. According to CEO Jeff Tennery, “We wanted to do something significant that would really resonate with people. The employment market made the most sense.”

According to the company, Moonlighting is the only marketplace that lets users engage as both a payer and earner in a mobile environment. With two simple categories —“make money now” and “get stuff done” — users can easily identify their needs and skills.

The app is similar in functionality to Facebook and Twitter. In addition, users can easily post Moonlighting requests to their social media accounts.

Like most entrepreneurs, the company founders kept their day jobs while moonlighting on nights and weekends to hammer out the business plan and technology. After raising an angel seed round of funding in April and testing an alpha version of the technology in August, the company officially launched its app on October 15.

In just over a month, Moonlighting has already reached thousands of users nationwide, with projections for dramatic growth.

“Charlottesville is a rich, diverse area with a solid investment community. There’s a strong constituency of experienced business people looking to finance start-up and angel companies and offer their expertise,” said Tennery.

Proximity to UVA also allowed the company to tap into a talented labor pool. “We worked with undergrads from the business school on the marketing, Darden grads helped us with the business plan, and law school students helped write our terms and conditions,” noted Tennery.  “The region is rich in both business and culture, so there’s a great labor force of UVA grads who want to remain in the area.”

Highlighting the growing peer-to-peer economy and its financial impact, Moonlighting has published its first comprehensive report on how the nation is “moonlighting” through multiple financial opportunities. The monthly M.O.O.N. Report (Mobile Optimized On-Demand Network) tells the story of the American moonlighter and reveals the economic trends taking place in the new 1099 society. To download the app and report, visit the company’s website http://moonlightingapp.com/.

The fast growth of a technology-driven company like Moonlighting is another example of how Virginia provides the right resources and environment for entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses. To learn more, click here.

The Moonlighting team at the company’s October launch party.

VEDP 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.

VEDP Releases Two New Marketing Tools for Mobile Devices

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

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

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

New features for the YesVA App version 2.0 include:

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

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

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

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

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

A view of the VEDP iBook homepage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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