Richmond’s Legend Brewing Co. Celebrates 20 Years

Thursday, 27 February 2014 14:23 by Info@YesVirginia.org
With the craft brewery movement quickly gaining speed over the last two years, Legend Brewing Co.’s 20-year history makes it Virginia’s oldest craft brewery still in operation. It is also the largest independently-owned craft brewing company in the Commonwealth...

With the craft brewery movement quickly gaining speed over the last two years, Legend Brewing Co.’s 20-year history makes it Virginia’s oldest craft brewery still in operation. It is also the largest independently-owned craft brewing company in the Commonwealth.

In January 1994, founder Tom Martin opened a small tasting room and pub off West 7th Street, then a gravel road in Richmond’s historic Old Manchester district. He started with four beers — the quickly popular Brown Ale, Lager, Pilsner and Porter.

What began as a 10-barrel brewhouse with four fermenters and four finishing tanks has grown into a 30-barrel brewhouse with 37 fermenters and 10 finishing tanks. In addition, the small tasting room has blossomed into a full restaurant with seating for 180 inside and 200 on the deck. Its location right on the James River with unobstructed views of the city skyline quickly made this a Richmond hot spot.

The rise of the farm-to-table and locally-grown movements have made the experience of visiting a craft brewery increasingly popular. Legend beers are unpasteurized and made with simple, natural ingredients — barley malt, hops, water and yeast. In addition, beer-lovers can enjoy a tour of the brewery followed by a tasting and meal, all enjoyed within an historic setting.

Legend has become a mainstay in Virginia’s ever-growing food and beverage industry because of its focus on delivering high-quality, fresh products. It is also one of the few craft breweries that produce both lagers and ales, which require a different process and ingredients.

Virginia’s beer industry has grown by leaps and bounds over the last few years. According to the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, there were 46 breweries in 2011. That number increased to 63 in 2012 and 75 in 2013, with most of the growth coming from the craft brewery niche. Part of that growth is attributable to Senate Bill 604, signed in May 2012, which allows beer manufacturers to sell and sample beer on their premises without obtaining a second restaurant license.

With the Brewer’s Association reporting 70 more breweries in the planning stages in Virginia, the Commonwealth’s craft brewery industry is poised to continue its positive momentum. Virginia has proven to be a successful location for entrepreneurs and food and beverage companies alike, making it an ideal choice for the craft brewery market. To learn more, 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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YesVirginia Business Blog | A place for news, opinions, and information regarding the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.

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.

Virginia Wins Another Defense Company's Corporate Headquarters

Tuesday, 1 May 2012 15:02 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Yesterday, DRS Technologies announced it would relocate its corporate headquarters from New Jersey to Arlington County, Va. The company will expand its Virginia presence to more than 100 employees, bringing a capital investment in excess of $10 million to the region...

Yesterday, DRS Technologies announced it would relocate its corporate headquarters from New Jersey to Arlington County, Va. The company will expand its Virginia presence to more than 100 employees, bringing a capital investment in excess of $10 million to the region.

The defense technology leader is a subsidiary of Italian conglomerate Finmeccanica S.p.A., a top ten global defense and aerospace leader. DRS Technologies develops a wide range of mission-critical systems for homeland security and military needs.

The Governor met with company officials at the Farnborough International Air Show in summer 2010.

Virginia was chosen for the company’s new headquarters location due to its proximity to key customers in the D.C. area, as well as the company’s positive experience with Virginia’s pro-business regulatory environment and tech-savvy workforce. Virginia has the highest concentration of high-tech workers according to Cyberstates 2011.

To learn why major defense companies such as DRS Technologies, Northrop Grumman, ITT Exelis and ATK have all recently selected the Commonwealth for their headquarters location, click here.

Engility Corp. Establishes Global Headquarters in Virginia

Friday, 27 April 2012 15:30 by Info@YesVirginia.org
L-3 Communications spin-off Engility Corp. announced yesterday that it would establish its new corporate headquarters in Fairfax County, Va. The project, a positive result of the Governor’s recent marketing mission to New York and Canada, will bring 50 new jobs and a $6.5 million investment to Northern Virginia...

L-3 Communications spin-off Engility Corp. announced yesterday that it would establish its new corporate headquarters in Fairfax County, Va. The project, a positive result of the Governor’s recent marketing mission to New York and Canada, will bring 50 new jobs and a $6.5 million investment to Northern Virginia.

With more than $2 billion in sales and 9,200 employees worldwide, Engility Corp. is a leading professional services firm providing systems engineering and technical assistance support services to numerous government agencies, including the Department of Defense. Virginia’s proximity to the company’s key markets and customers was a deciding factor for this headquarters location.

L-3 Communications’ existing presence in the Commonwealth and positive experience with Virginia’s highly-skilled workforce and pro-business tax structure led Engility to choose Virginia over its competition in Maryland.

As part of the professional services industry, Engility’s new headquarters location builds upon the success Virginia has shown in the sector. Professional services was the Commonwealth’s top sector for job creation in 2011, announcing 12,769 new jobs. With human capital as the major input, the sector’s 108 percent growth over the last year illustrates the driving force of Virginia’s world-class workforce.

To learn more why companies continue to select the Commonwealth for their headquarters locations, click here.

Bristol, Virginia’s NextGen Broadband Network Recognized in National Study

Wednesday, 25 April 2012 16:10 by Info@YesVirginia.org
New industry study Broadband at the Speed of Light details how three communities, including Bristol, Va., took matters into their own hands to develop some of the top broadband networks in the country...

New industry study Broadband at the Speed of Light details how three communities, including Bristol, Va., took matters into their own hands to develop some of the top broadband networks in the country.

Published by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) and the Benton Foundation, the study details a growing trend — rather than relying on the slower pace of private sector telecommunications expansion, community leaders are successfully designing and implementing their own public broadband networks.

Bristol is touted as one of the first municipalities in the nation to build a citywide Fiber-To-The-Home (FTTH) network that offers telephone, cable television and Internet broadband access. The local power utility, Bristol Virginia Utilities, launched its fiber optic network in 2003 under the name OptiNet.

Study author Christopher Mitchell noted that Bristol’s residents have “faster and lower cost access to the Internet than anyone in San Francisco, Seattle or any other major city.”

With a take rate above 70 percent, OptiNet has since expanded outside of Bristol to nearby businesses and industrial parks, helping to create hundreds of jobs for Virginians. Named the 2009 Community Broadband Fiber Network of the Year by the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisers, the network has also been praised in The Economist and in the FCC’s National Broadband Plan for America.

OptiNet is not the only technology investment Southern Virginia has seen. Several years ago the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative established an 800 mile open-access, fiber-optic broadband network, attracting Gigaparks and technology companies to the former tobacco region.

High-speed broadband infrastructure has become an increasingly important component to business expansion decisions, allowing Virginia to remain competitive on a global level. The expansions of companies such as Microsoft, Northrop Grumman, CGI and Alpha Natural Resources in the region are due in part to the availability of a high-speed network.

To learn more about Virginia’s strength as a technology leader and why companies continue to locate in the Top State for Business, click here.

Healthcare Leader McKesson Corp. Expands Footprint in the Commonwealth

Friday, 20 April 2012 16:40 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Earlier this week, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling joined McKesson officials to celebrate the grand opening of the company’s new medical distribution center in Caroline County. Initially announced in August 2010, the new, state-of-the-art distribution center will allow McKesson to better serve its domestic and international customers, bringing 150 new jobs and a $50 million investment to Virginia.

Ranked 15th on the Fortune 500, McKesson is the largest pharmaceutical wholesaler in North America, distributing one-third of all medicines used each day. McKesson’s selection of Virginia over Maryland and Pennsylvania confirms the Commonwealth’s strong advantages for companies vested in global logistics.

The new distribution center will enhance McKesson’s total supply chain efficiency as well as extend the company’s footprint in Virginia. Building off the McKesson Medical Surgical corporate office in Richmond, this new distribution center will bring the company’s employee base in Virginia to more than 600.

Virginia offers several advantages for distribution centers, including easy rail access, six major highways, one of the largest container ports on the East Coast, and the third largest state-maintained transportation network in the country.

To learn more about why the nation’s leading distributors are locating in Virginia, click here.

American Legislative Exchange Council Gives Virginia a Top 3 Ranking For Economic Outlook

Friday, 13 April 2012 13:23 by Info@YesVirginia.org
In its fifth edition of Rich States, Poor States the American Legislative Exchange Council rated Virginia in the top three for its 2012 Economic Outlook Ranking...

In its fifth edition of Rich States, Poor States the American Legislative Exchange Council rated Virginia in the top three for its 2012 Economic Outlook Ranking. This forward-looking ranking comprises 15 equally weighted state policy variables, including personal and corporate tax rates, as well as worker’s compensation costs, right-to-work status and even the quality of the state legislature.

As the highest ranked state in the region, Virginia definitively outshined its competition. With a corporate tax rate of six percent that remains unchanged since 1972, a right-to-work regulatory environment, and an unemployment tax burden that is 32 percent lower than the national average, it is easy to see why this is the second consecutive year the Commonwealth has made the top three in this study.

Virginia’s pro-growth economic policies offer companies long-term incentives to invest in the Commonwealth. For example, Virginia was able to successfully compete against nearby Maryland on a number of recent headquarters relocation announcements, including Northrop Grumman, ITT Exelis, Bechtel Corp. (divisional headquarters), Acentia and Alpha Natural Resources.

To learn why Virginia is consistently ranked America’s Top State for Business click here.

31 Virginia Professors Make The Princeton Review’s Best 300 Professors List

Thursday, 5 April 2012 14:40 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia professors represented more than 10% of The Princeton’s Reviews inaugural Best 300 Professors list. Teaming up with RateMyProfessors.com, the organizations reviewed data on more than 42,000 professors to create their first ranking of America’s top undergraduate professors...

Virginia professors represented more than 10% of The Princeton Review's inaugural Best 300 Professors list. Teaming up with RateMyProfessors.com, the organizations reviewed data on more than 42,000 professors to create their first ranking of America’s top undergraduate professors.

The Best 300 Professors list includes professors from five Virginia schools:  University of Mary Washington, James Madison University, Sweet Briar College, University of Richmond and the College of William & Mary. A broad range of departments was represented, including computer science, mathematics, economics, chemistry, biology, accounting, political science, english and psychology, among others.

The ranking was based on survey data from college students, using both quantitative and qualitative statistics to evaluate factors such as the student’s overall experience in the classroom, the professor’s teaching ability and the professor’s accessibility.

Virginia’s strong performance on The Best 300 Professors list is yet another validation of the Commonwealth’s excellent higher education system. Virginia’s colleges and universities have achieved national recognition on a number of the prestigious U.S. News and World Report college rankings.

Last year, Virginia’s colleges and universities awarded 133,603 degrees ranging from associate through doctorate levels. With more than 500,000 students currently enrolled in more than 100 in-state institutions, Virginia’s strong pipeline of skilled workers is ready to meet the needs of businesses expanding across the Commonwealth. 

To learn more about Virginia’s outstanding education system and workforce training programs, click here.

Shenandoah Valley Partnership Launches Education and Training Database

Tuesday, 5 March 2013 09:57 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Shenandoah Valley Partnership recently announced the launch of the new Shenandoah Valley Education and Training Database. The database will provide both employers and citizens with one convenient tool to learn about the wealth of training programs available throughout the region...

The Shenandoah Valley Partnership recently announced the launch of the new Shenandoah Valley Education and Training Database. The database will provide both employers and citizens with one convenient tool to learn about the wealth of training programs available throughout the region.

The database is located at http://www.svp-va.org/database.aspx and is searchable by keyword, field of study and degree level. It was created to solve the problem of employers not being aware of the broad offering of educational programs available, particularly in the region’s high growth areas, which include advanced manufacturing, agriculture, energy, life sciences and IT.

Located between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains, the Shenandoah Valley Partnership includes the counties of Augusta, Bath, Highland, Page, Rockbridge, Rockingham and Shenandoah, as well as the cities of Buena Vista, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Staunton and Waynesboro.

The region is home to a number of prestigious higher education institutions, including James Madison University, Mary Baldwin College, Virginia Military Institute, and Washington and Lee University, as well as numerous community and technical colleges.

With 94 percent of the region’s 2012 corporate investment coming from expansion projects, the high quality of the local workforce is often cited as a compelling reason for a company’s decision to remain in the Shenandoah Valley. 

Take McKee Foods, maker of Little Debbie® snack foods and one of the area’s major employers, as an example. President and CEO Mike McKee stated, “We have found our Virginia workforce to be some of the most loyal and highly-skilled employees in the industry—and about 85 members of our Virginia workforce have been at the plant since it opened. Our Virginia employees, now over 700 strong, are highly-motivated and have helped us boost plant productivity by 24 percent over the last two years.”

Jointly developed by the Shenandoah Valley Partnership and Blue Ridge Community College, the Shenandoah Valley Education and Training Database is another positive example of cooperation among the public, private and educational sectors in Virginia. To learn more about the Commonwealth’s highly-skilled workforce and premier educational programs, 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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YesVirginia Business Blog | A place for news, opinions, and information regarding the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.

RaesWear — Pouch Pants that Solve the Storage Problem

Thursday, 23 July 2015 16:49 by Info@YesVirginia.org
When entrepreneur Leigh Cockram was traveling on business in the summer of 2012, she struggled to find a way to store her hotel key, money and phone while going for a run. She thought, “There’s gotta be a better way,” so she created one...

When entrepreneur Leigh Cockram was traveling on business in the summer of 2012, she struggled to find a way to store her hotel key, money and phone while going for a run. She thought, “There’s gotta be a better way,” so she created one.

The RaesWear concept includes a patented design with a front and back pocket along the entire length of the waistband. The runner uses one of two access points on the front and back to stow a variety of gear, without the fear that it will slip out or pull on their shorts or tights.

The company was named after Leigh’s grandfather, Ray, who was a gunner in the Army Air Corp. during World War II. Rae became a family name passed down to future generations and was a nice pun on race wear, while honoring the legacy of service established by her grandfather.

Leigh began making prototypes herself in 2012, and was directed by The Launch Place to a designer in North Carolina to make additional samples. Realizing she wanted to work closer to home and manufacture the products in Virginia, Leigh connected with Mollie’s Originals in Martinsville in 2014, and they have been manufacturing the products ever since.

RaesWear began with one pair of running tights and has grown to 13 products, including shorts, skorts, capris, tights and pants. While initially designed for athletes, customers are using the clothes for both exercise and throughout the day.

The company’s website at www.RaesWear.com was launched in December 2014, and products are sold online and at Mollie’s Originals. Leigh and her husband have used grass roots efforts, from social media YouTube videos, to appearances at marathon expos, to get the word out. They plan to start a paid advertising campaign shortly. 

They have also received requests to develop a product for men, and are currently working on a menswear line.

In true entrepreneurial fashion, Leigh has kept her day job and works on RaesWear at night and on the weekends from her home. Her husband has transitioned to support RaesWear full-time. 

“The best analogy I can give for running a business is being pregnant. You’re excited and nervous and you stay up at night wondering if things will be okay. And then you have your baby and it’s wonderful, but you’re always stressed and going through peaks and valleys, wondering if you’re doing the right things to make your child a success. It’s a true roller coaster, but very rewarding to take an idea from concept to reality all on our own,” said Leigh Cockram.

RaesWear is another strong example of the innovation and creativity of Virginia entrepreneurs. To learn why the Commonwealth is a great location to grow a business, click here.

Leigh Cockram, RaesWear owner, stands next to a display of her company’s pocketed athletic products at Mollie’s Originals in Martinsville, Va. Photo courtesy of Leigh Cockram.

Wise, Virginia is Home to First FAA Approved Drone Delivery of Medical Supplies in the U.S.

Friday, 17 July 2015 15:18 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Today’s event, called Let’s Fly Wisely, is the first FAA approved delivery of medical supplies by drone in the U.S...

Today’s event, called Let’s Fly Wisely, marked the first FAA approved delivery of medical supplies by drone in the U.S.

This research mission was overseen by the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, one of only six groups across the U.S. that won FAA approval to conduct Unmanned Aerial System research at sites across Virginia, New Jersey and Maryland. MAPP is headquartered at Virginia Tech’s Institute of Critical Technology and Applied Sciences.

The mission began when NASA Langley Research Center flew about twenty prescriptions from Tazewell County Airport to the Lonesome Pine Airport in Wise, Va., in an SR22 aircraft. The plane was operated remotely, but had a pilot on board for backup and safety purposes.

The prescriptions were then transferred into smaller packages, flown in 10-pound drones provided by Australian company Flirtey Inc. and delivered to the Remote Area Medical tent at the Wise County Fairgrounds. Remote Area Medical has served the people of Wise County for more than 15 years.

This project demonstrates one of the humanitarian outcomes of UAS technology could include delivery of medical supplies to underserved or remote areas.

Flirtey Inc. Founder and CEO Matt Sweeney called this a “Kitty Hawk moment” for Wise County and the UAS industry.

The success of this event and its location in the Commonwealth furthers Virginia’s leadership position in the aerospace industry. To learn why more than 260 aerospace companies have chosen to operate in Virginia, click here.

Governor McAuliffe holds one of the first medical prescriptions delivered by drone in the U.S. at the Let’s Fly Wisely event in Wise, Va. Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech College of Engineering.

Virginia’s Colleges and Universities Make Another Strong Showing on MONEY’s Best Colleges List

Tuesday, 14 July 2015 17:16 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Once again, Virginia’s higher education institutions made a strong showing on MONEY Magazine’s 2015 Best Colleges List...

Once again, Virginia’s higher education institutions made a strong showing on MONEY Magazine’s 2015 Best Colleges List

10 Virginia institutions made the Top 200 overall:  University of Virginia (No. 17), Washington and Lee University (No. 24), Virginia Military Institute (No. 48), Virginia Tech (also tied at No. 48), James Madison University (No. 59), College of William and Mary (No. 75), University of Richmond (No. 105), University of Mary Washington (No. 119), George Mason University (No. 127), and Hampden-Sydney College (No. 157).

The Commonwealth had seven schools make the Top 50 Best Public Colleges list:  UVA was No. 4, Virginia Tech and VMI both tied for No. 15, JMU tied with another school for No. 19, College of William and Mary was in a three-way tie for No. 26, University of Mary Washington tied with another school for No. 42, and GMU rounded out the list in a three-way tie for No. 47.

Virginia also had strong results in the Top 50 Best Liberal Arts Colleges list with four schools:  Washington and Lee was No. 4, VMI was No. 10, University of Richmond tied with another school for No. 26, and Hampden-Sydney College was No. 38.  

Bridgewater College was counted among the Top 50 Most Affordable Private Colleges and Hampton University was included in the Top 50 Colleges That Add the Most Value list.

The editors at MONEY Magazine only included the 736 schools with an above-median graduation rate from the list of 1,500 four-year colleges and universities in the U.S. The schools were then ranked on 21 factors falling into the three categories of quality of education, affordability and outcomes.

Virginia’s world-class education system is currently serving more than 575,000 students who will provide a steady pipeline to support the Commonwealth’s current industry needs. To learn why Virginia’s higher education institutions continue to be highly ranked, click here.

A view of The Rotunda at University of Virginia, ranked No. 4 on MONEY Magazine’s Top 50 Best Public Colleges list for 2015. Photo courtesy of Virginia Tourism Corp.

University of Mary Washington’s Convergence Center Joins Learning and Technology

Tuesday, 30 June 2015 16:39 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The University of Mary Washington’s energetic new learning facility, the Information and Technology Convergence Center, was completed fall 2014...

The University of Mary Washington’s energetic new learning facility, the Information and Technology Convergence Center, was completed fall 2014.

This technology-rich, four-story building offers UMW students and faculty a “commons” space that includes a digital auditorium, 10 conference rooms, four high-tech classrooms, audio/video production space, and multiple collaboration, study and meeting spaces through an open design. It also houses UMW’s speaking and writing centers, along with a café.

Visitors are greeted by a multi-story media wall in the atrium that uses laser phosphor display technology to showcase student work. The digital gallery on the third floor also features student artwork on interactive touchscreens.

The Convergence Center houses a production studio with a 180 degree green screen, high definition cameras, teleprompters, a control room and an audio recording booth. The multimedia editing lab has five iMacs loaded with a full suite of A/V editing software so students obtain real-world experience.

The center also holds a two-story digital auditorium that can seat 150 people for classes, lectures or performances. The auditorium has three screens and a full theatrical lighting system. It also opens up into a lobby and garden that can be used to host events holding up to 300 people.

Sprinkled throughout the center are collaboration spaces and conference rooms that have conferencing capabilities, projectors and flat-panel displays. There is even an incubator classroom that allows professors to experiment with the latest technology. The modular design is complemented by high definition projectors, cameras, flat screen displays and wireless microphones.

UMW’s Convergence Center has become a central gathering place for students to learn and engage with their schoolwork in an interactive, high-tech environment. It is another example of the state-of-the-art technology Virginia’s higher education institutions are using to train the 21st century workforce. To learn more about the Commonwealth’s premier educational offerings, click here.

VEDP gets a tour of the digital auditorium at UMW’s Information and Technology Convergence Center.

Virginia Western Community College Offers Cutting-Edge Mechatronics Training

Monday, 22 June 2015 15:07 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Mechatronics is a growing interdisciplinary field that incorporates mechanical and electrical engineering with computer science and looks at industrial operations from a system-wide perspective...

Mechatronics is a growing interdisciplinary field that incorporates mechanical and electrical engineering with computer science and looks at industrial operations from a system-wide perspective.

Students in this field become well-versed in electro-mechanics, computers, digital control systems, robotics and mechanical CAD, and go on to pursue careers in the automotive, aerospace, defense, consumer and manufacturing industries.

Virginia Western Community College offers three programs in mechatronics. First, students can earn a certificate that will allow them to take Level 1 of the Siemens Mechatronic Systems Certification Program. Second, students earning a two-year associate degree can sit for Level 2 of the Siemens certification. And, third, students completing the two-year program who go on to a university and earn a four-year degree can sit for Level 3 of the Siemens certification.

The Siemens Mechatronic Systems Certification is an industry standard with worldwide recognition allowing students to illustrate to employers that they are qualified and ready to work as technicians. The college began offering mechatronics courses in 2008, and now has 100 students in the program.

VWCC is one of only 35 colleges in the world that offers a certified Siemens Mechatronics program.

VWCC is actively engaged with high school students in the area. Through The Regional Academy for Advanced Technology it offers both engineering and mechatronics training for high school juniors and seniors interested in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) career. Currently, about 250 students are enrolled in The Regional Academy.

VWCC maintains an active dialogue with companies in the Roanoke Valley to ensure its training closely aligns with industry requirements. They have held two annual manufacturing summits where faculty meet with employers in the area to better understand their needs. Regional employers have also made commitments to mentor students and donate lab equipment.

“The goal of the mechatronics program at Virginia Western is to prepare students with globally, in-demand skills through local engagement to be well-educated, work-ready engineering technicians,” said Professor Dan Horine, Mechatronics Program Head at VWCC.

VWCC is a great example of the cutting-edge STEM education available through Virginia’s 23-member community college system. To learn how Virginia’s higher education institutions are preparing the workforce of tomorrow, click here.

VWCC mechatronics students commission the FESTO Modular Production System at one of the labs in the School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Specialty’s Our Name — Expanding a Family Business Through the Generations

Friday, 29 May 2015 09:19 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Butch Harrison founded Specialty’s Our Name in 1990, a precision sheet metal fabrication and machine shop based in Ashland, Va. His three sons, Brandon, Utley and Kevin, worked in the shop since high school and each found their niche, whether it was handling the finances, managing customer relationships or processing orders...

Butch Harrison founded Specialty’s Our Name in 1990, a precision sheet metal fabrication and machine shop based in Ashland, Va.

His three sons, Brandon, Utley and Kevin, worked in the shop since high school and each found their niche, whether it was handling the finances, managing customer relationships or processing orders. When their dad passed away in 2009, the brothers took ownership and proudly carried on the family name and reputation for a superior product and customer service at S.O.N. Inc.

“We do the work other people don’t want to do,” said Brandon Harrison. “Our high-end, custom sheet metal work is in the White House Visitor Center, the American Civil War Museum at Tredegar and the Virginia Historical Society, and our customers include Homeland Security, Architectural Graphics Inc., Dometic Corporation and Showbest Fixtures.”

The company has successfully grown from two people in a 2,500 square foot building to more than 30 people in a 32,000 square foot facility. The company delivers custom products and can offer consulting, drafting, welding, deburring, powder coating and precision parts, all from one location.

The Harrison brothers not only weathered the recent economic downturn, but were able to continue growing their company. “We did feel some of the effects, but we manage our finances well and purchase equipment as we need it, so we don’t carry a lot of debt.” said Harrison. “We also have a broad customer range, from the marine industry to railroads to store fixtures. Being diverse helped us stay strong and grow our company through the tough times.”

The brothers also took a calculated risk and started a sister company in 2008, Pro Powder & Paint Inc. “About 90 percent of our 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

 

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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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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