Virginia Receives Top Ranking on Forbes.com’s 2012 Best States For Business

Thursday, 13 December 2012 16:34 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Once again, Virginia received a podium ranking from Forbes.com in its annual Best States for Business ranking. Coming in at No. 2, Virginia is the top state on the East Coast and has held first or second overall since the ranking began in 2006...

Once again, Virginia received a podium ranking from Forbes.com in its annual Best States for Business ranking. Coming in at No. 2, Virginia is the top state on the East Coast and has held first or second overall since the ranking began in 2006.

The ranking is based on six categories: costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, current economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life.

The Commonwealth was ranked No. 1 in the category of regulatory environment. According to Forbes.com, “The state ranks on top of the regulatory category because of its strong incentive offerings and business friendly government policies." With right-to-work laws, an unemployment tax burden 32 percent lower than the national average, and a six percent corporate tax rate unchanged since 1972, companies have improved their bottom lines just by locating in Virginia.

In the important category of labor supply, Virginia came in at No. 2 and was the top state on the East Coast. With 4.1 million motivated and highly skilled workers and more than 500,000 students enrolled in Virginia’s top-ranked colleges and universities, the Commonwealth has a strong pipeline ready to fill present and future industry needs.

Virginia was ranked No. 4 in the quality of life category, a metric that is gaining increasing importance for companies making relocation decisions. Virginia has one of the nation’s highest concentrations of historic resources and is blessed with beautiful mountains, rivers and beaches, as well as 35 state parks, 22 national parks and more than 500 trails, providing an abundance of recreational opportunities for residents.

This top ranking from Forbes.com adds to the distinguished list of honors Virginia has received this year, including winning the 2011 Competitiveness Award from Site Selection magazine, a No. 2 ranking on Pollina Corporate Real Estate’s Top Pro-Business States for 2012, and No. 3 rankings on Business Facilities’ 2012 State Rankings Report and CNBC’s America’s Top States for Business list, to name a few. 

To learn why Virginia continues to receive top recognition from the industry as the premier state for business, click here.

Leading Global Satellite Services Provider Intelsat Moves Headquarters to Virginia

Tuesday, 11 December 2012 12:30 by Info@YesVirginia.org
At an event overlooking the site for the company’s new headquarters building in Tysons Corner, Va., Governor McDonnell announced Intelsat will move its U.S. headquarters from Washington, D.C., to Fairfax County in 2014. The project will bring at least 430 jobs and an investment of more than $24 million in leasehold improvements to Northern Virginia...

At an event overlooking the site for the company’s new headquarters building in Tysons Corner, Va., Governor McDonnell announced Intelsat will move its U.S. headquarters from Washington, D.C., to Fairfax County in 2014. The project will bring at least 430 jobs and an investment of more than $24 million in leasehold improvements to Northern Virginia.

With plans to lease 188,000 square feet, Intelsat will be the anchor tenant at Tysons Tower, a new, 20-story office building being developed by Macerich as part of a three tower, mixed-use project at Tysons Corner Center. 

The state-of-the-art tower will be the tallest building in Tysons Corner, offering Intelsat employees panoramic views of Northern Virginia, a modern workspace, prime access to the amenities of Tysons Corner, and direct connection to the Capital Beltway and planned extension of the Metro Silver Line.

In addition, close proximity to Washington Dulles International Airport gives the Luxembourg-based company access to 80 percent of the world’s economies.

As the world’s leading provider of satellite services, Intelsat has delivered information to leading media companies, multinational corporations, Internet Service Providers and government agencies for more than 45 years. 

Intelsat’s new headquarters location in Fairfax County is not only aligned with its growing customer base, but it also offers access to a strong pipeline of highly-skilled workers. According to Cyberstates 2011, Virginia has the highest concentration of high-tech workers.

To learn why global leaders continue to select Virginia as an environment that reflects their innovative culture, click here.

Latin American Subsidiary Phoenix Packaging Continues Growth in Pulaski County

Wednesday, 5 December 2012 16:13 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Phoenix Packaging recently announced plans to invest $20 million and create 100 new jobs to expand its Virginia operation in Pulaski County. This represents the second expansion in less than two years, bringing the company’s total announcements to $58 million in capital investment and more than 400 new jobs...

Phoenix Packaging recently announced plans to invest $20 million and create 100 new jobs to expand its Virginia operation in Pulaski County. This represents the second expansion in less than two years, bringing the company’s total announcements to $58 million in capital investment and more than 400 new jobs.

Part of Virginia’s New River Valley region, Pulaski County also serves as the company’s North American Headquarters. Phoenix Packing is a subsidiary of Grupo Phoenix, a leading Latin American manufacturer of packaging products targeting the food and disposable consumer product industries.

Seeking closer proximity to its U.S. customers, the company first selected Virginia in 2010 from more than 40 other possible sites. Virginia competed against Arizona for this latest expansion project and has successfully competed against Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, California and Nevada over the last three years. 

After investigating options overseas, Phoenix Packaging’s decision to remain and grow its Virginia operation illustrates just how well the Commonwealth competes on a global level.

Virginia’s strategic location, premier transportation infrastructure, skilled workforce, world-class higher education institutions, and competitive operating costs were all leading factors in the company’s multiple decisions for Virginia.

In addition, Virginia’s growing food and beverage industry, a primary market for Phoenix Packaging, proved to be an attractive asset. With names like Kraft Foods, Nestle and Hershey, Virginia boasts more than 550 food and beverage manufacturing companies that have invested $1.9 billion in the Commonwealth over the last decade. In fact, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, one of Phoenix Packaging’s customers, announced last year it would invest $180 million to establish a production and distribution facility in Isle of Wight County, Va.

To learn why Virginia manufacturers continue to find success in the Commonwealth, investing more than $13.8 billion over the last decade, click here.

Rolls-Royce Announces Second Facility on Virginia Crosspointe Campus

Tuesday, 4 December 2012 09:34 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Rolls-Royce recently announced it will begin construction on a second advanced manufacturing facility at its Crosspointe campus in Prince George County, Va., which is expected to bring a $136 million investment and 140 new jobs to the Central Virginia region...

Rolls-Royce recently announced it will begin construction on a second advanced manufacturing facility at its Crosspointe campus in Prince George County, Va., which is expected to bring a $136 million investment and 140 new jobs to the Central Virginia region.

The 90,000-square-foot Advanced Airfoil Machining Facility will be located on Rolls-Royce’s 1,000-acre campus, adjacent to its Rotatives manufacturing facility. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2013.

The Advanced Airfoil Machining Facility will produce turbine blades and nozzle guide vanes for advanced aero engines used in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Airbus 380 and Airbus 350. Using Rolls-Royce’s advanced machining technology and proprietary high-speed cutting process, the company has the ability to precisely shape specialized materials and efficiently produce durable engine components.

Driven by growth for its aero engines, the company continues to expand its Crosspointe facility, making it the largest and most advanced Rolls-Royce campus in North America. Rolls-Royce’s vision for the Crosspointe campus is to create a hub of advanced manufacturing innovation, with partnerships between leading research universities, government and businesses. 

To date, the Crosspointe campus includes the company’s Rotatives facility, which opened in May 2011 as a center of excellence to manufacture the company’s engine discs. Also at Crosspointe, CCAM opened this fall as an applied research center, joining leading Virginia universities and manufacturing companies to bring real-world solutions to market more quickly.

With ample space and a robust, industrial-grade infrastructure for additional facilities, Rolls-Royce’s Crosspointe Campus is poised to attract suppliers and continue its growth as a leading center for advanced manufacturing.

To learn more about the Rolls-Royce Crosspointe Campus and Virginia’s capabilities in the advanced manufacturing space, click on the highlighted links.

A rendering of Rolls-Royce's Advanced Airfoil Machining Facility at its Crosspointe campus in Prince George County, Va.

HanesBrands Inc. Expands in Patrick County

Thursday, 29 November 2012 13:47 by Info@YesVirginia.org
HanesBrands recently announced plans to expand its Woolwine plant in Patrick County, Va., through a $1.6 million investment...

HanesBrands recently announced plans to expand its Woolwine plant in Patrick County, Va., through a $1.6 million investment.

The company will upgrade the plant with high-speed manufacturing equipment that will double current capacity and allow the company to increase production of performance fabrics in the women’s sports market. 

The investment will bring 50 new jobs and retain 215 jobs at the Patrick County operation. In addition, HanesBrands employs a workforce of 400 at its distribution center in nearby Martinsville, Va.

HanesBrands has a long history in the region and the company’s positive experience with Virginia’s pro-business climate and advanced manufacturing workforce helped ensure the Commonwealth was selected once again.

Southern Virginia maintains a rich heritage of textile operations, and this investment illustrates Virginia’s manufacturing prowess in the competitive worldwide apparel industry.

With more than 6,000 manufacturers located in Virginia, the Commonwealth has seen more than $13.8 billion in capital investment from manufacturing companies over the last 10 years. To learn more about Virginia’s advanced manufacturing industry, click here.

WEIGHTPACK Moves Headquarters from Italy to Virginia

Thursday, 15 November 2012 14:47 by Info@YesVirginia.org
WEIGHTPACK Inc. recently announced plans to move its headquarters from Italy and expand its existing operation in Powhatan County, Va. The project will bring a $2.6 million investment and 35 new jobs to the Central Virginia region...

WEIGHTPACK Inc. recently announced plans to move its headquarters from Italy and expand its existing operation in Powhatan County, Va. The project will bring a $2.6 million investment and 35 new jobs to the Central Virginia region.

WEIGHTPACK is a packaging machinery company that designs and builds complete lines for the filling and capping of liquid product containers, with applications in the beverage, home care, personal care, pharmaceutical and chemical industries.

The company has operated in Powhatan since 2001, and the decision to move its global headquarters to the same location illustrates how well Virginia’s business environment, workforce, and logistics infrastructure compete at a global level.

The Powhatan location is poised to become a major production hub as the company transitions to a more vertically integrated supply chain, providing for growing customer demand in the North and South American and Asian markets.

Powhatan County’s strong quality of life and access to Virginia’s world-class transportation network make it a premier location. WEIGHTPACK has historically used the international Port of Virginia for importing component parts. With the expansion of the production facility, the company expects to increase its exports through the port to reach international markets.

As global companies continue to bring high technology, manufacturing jobs to the U.S., Virginia stands ready to fulfill industry needs with a strong pipeline of highly-skilled, advanced manufacturing employees.

To learn more about Virginia’s advanced manufacturing capabilities and why more than 6,000 manufacturing establishments have located in the Commonwealth, click here.

CCAM Opens Facility in Prince George County, Virginia

Wednesday, 14 November 2012 10:09 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM) received its full certificate of occupancy and opened its facility in Prince George County, Va., this September. CCAM has been steadily growing both in members and machinery and is expected to host a grand opening event in spring 2013...

The Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM) received its full certificate of occupancy and opened its facility in Prince George County, Va., this September. CCAM has been steadily growing both in members and machinery and is expected to host a grand opening event in spring 2013.

CCAM has added three Tier 2 and three Tier 3 industry members over the last few months, bringing the total number of participating companies to 14.

The applied research center includes a high bay area, five machining labs, five computational labs, a visualization lab, meeting rooms with conferencing ability, open and modular workstations, and a cafeteria.

With participation from its industry partners and university members, engineers at the center are currently working on 10 research projects. One project involves adaptive machining, which uses specialized equipment to measure and make adjustments in real time as components are being manufactured, leading to improved performance and lower costs.

Another project incorporates multi-modal part inspection, which uses imagery to obtain information and identify small defects early in the manufacturing process, allowing any issues to be fixed before entering into high-rate production.

CCAM is another example of the public-private partnership between Virginia’s leading universities and world-class manufacturing companies to bring real-world solutions to the market more quickly. To learn more about CCAM, visit www.ccam-va.com.

CCAM’s high bay area includes a Laser Powder Deposition Machine and the Sulzer Metco Thermal Spray Cell, pictured below.

STEM Mobile Learning Lab—A Vehicle for Educating Virginia Students

Tuesday, 13 November 2012 13:45 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Since going on the road in spring 2010, the STEM Mobile Learning Lab has hosted 15,000 visitors from more than 300 locations. The lab offers numerous hands-on experiments as a method of educating K-12 students and members of the community in STEM subjects—science, technology, education and math...

Since going on the road in spring 2010, the STEM Mobile Learning Lab has hosted 15,000 visitors in more than 300 locations. The lab offers numerous hands-on experiments as a method of educating K-12 students and members of the community in STEM subjects—science, technology, education and math.

The STEM Mobile Learning Lab was established by the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR), a research, education and conference institute based in Danville, Va.

The 38-foot trailer contains multiple work stations, a clean area for experiments and a movie screen. Its impressive equipment list includes several laptops, high resolution microscopes, an HDTV video monitor, and additional demonstration gear. 

The STEM Mobile Learning Lab offers experiments in the areas of nanotechnology and renewable energy. Leading by example, the flex-fuel truck that tows the lab can run on either diesel fuel or cooking oil.

Using the STEM Mobile Learning Lab, students can participate in experiments that compare the energy efficiency of CFL and incandescent light bulbs, see how wind and solar power work, learn about energy conservation and how to weatherize doors and windows, and even look at microscopic particles on their own skin.

Preparing students to join the Commonwealth’s world-class workforce in the growing fields of science, technology, engineering and math is key to keeping Virginia at the top. According to Cyberstates 2011, Virginia has the nation’s highest concentration of high-tech workers.

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

Students use high resolution microscopes to participate in one of the many hands-on experiments offered by the STEM Mobile Learning Lab.

VEDP Releases Exporting Guide for Service Companies

Tuesday, 6 November 2012 09:18 by Info@YesVirginia.org
VEDP’s International Trade division recently released an exporting guide focused on the unique needs of service companies called “Exporting Services: A Guide for New Exporters”...

VEDP’s International Trade division recently released an exporting guide focused on the unique needs of service companies called “Exporting Services: A Guide for New Exporters.”

Some of the issues addressed in the guide include assessing export readiness, understanding export regulations, identifying a target market, protecting intellectual property, acquiring work permits and certifications, developing a market entry strategy, and negotiating financing and payment terms.

The services industry is thriving in Virginia—professional, scientific and technical services was the top sector for job creation in 2011, announcing 12,769 new jobs. With human capital as the major input, it’s no surprise that Virginia’s highly skilled workforce has proved to be a key advantage in growing this sector.

According to The Brookings Institution, Virginia’s service exports accounted for 42.6 percent of the state’s total exports in 2010, illustrating an opportunity to grow Virginia’s exports in a sector where the Commonwealth has the resources to leverage its success into international markets.

Helping Virginia companies grow sales overseas not only benefits Virginia businesses, but it also creates jobs at home. According to The Brookings Institution, Virginia exports supported more than 236,000 jobs in 2010.

To learn how VEDP’s International Trade division can help your company grow, go to www.exportvirginia.org.

Celanese Corp. Converts Giles County Celco Plant to Natural Gas

Friday, 2 November 2012 10:15 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Fortune 500 company Celanese Corp. just announced it will invest $150 million to convert its Celco Plant in Giles County, Va., from coal-fired to natural-gas fired boilers. The project will create 22 new full-time jobs, as well as employ an estimated 200 construction workers...

Fortune 500 company Celanese Corp. just announced it will invest $150 million to convert its Celco Plant in Giles County, Va., from coal-fired to natural-gas fired boilers. The project will create 22 new full-time jobs, as well as employ an estimated 200 construction workers.

Celanese Corp. is a global technology leader engaged in the production of specialty materials and chemical products used in a wide variety of industries and applications. The Virginia Celco Plant has helped make the company a leading producer of cellulose acetate tow, used in filter media.

The Celco Plant first established operations in Giles County, Va., in 1939 and is the largest employer in the county. Positioned along the New River and Route 460, this location offers the unique combination of a picturesque setting between the mountains, easy access to I-81, and close proximity to Virginia Tech and the region’s skilled and educated workforce.

This investment will allow the company to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions while updating equipment to improve its energy efficiency—two goals aligned with the company’s core values of sustainability and operational excellence.

This project continues the positive trend of Virginia manufacturers making significant investments to upgrade to more environmentally-friendly sources of energy. Last year, MeadWestvaco announced plans to invest $285 million to construct a new, state-of-the-art biomass boiler at its Covington plant, and just last week RockTenn hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of a natural gas pipeline to its West Point mill.

To learn why leading manufacturers continue to invest in the Commonwealth, bringing more than $13.8 billion in projects over the last decade, click here.

A view of the Celco Plant from across the New River.

VEDP Launches “YesVA” App

Thursday, 1 November 2012 13:48 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Today, VEDP launched the YesVA app for iPad, iPhone and Android devices available for download by visiting www.YesVirginia.org/app or through the App Store and Google Play Store...

Today, VEDP launched the YesVA app for iPad, iPhone and Android devices available for download by visiting www.YesVirginia.org/app or through the App Store and Google Play Store.

The YesVA app is an interactive tool that allows clients and site selection consultants to perform site and building searches and compare Virginia to other states, directly from a mobile device.

The YesVA app allows users to perform the following actions:
   •  Explore Virginia’s existing inventory of available properties in an easy-to-use map
   •  Navigate properties by type and narrow down options based on user requirements
   •  Save properties for later and share them with contacts
   •  View 1:1 attributes of how Virginia compares to other states in major business categories
   •  View profiles for each of the communities, regions and MSAs in Virginia
   •  View recent industry announcements for each community
   •  Communicate with VEDP regarding any of the properties within the app

By helping companies make the most informed decision on business locations, the YesVA app is yet another example of an innovative tool developed by VEDP to market Virginia as a top state for business.

To download the free YesVa app, visit www.YesVirginia.org/app or go directly to the App Store and Google Play Store.

A view from the main screen of the YesVa app.

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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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Virginia is Top 3 Again in Business Facilities’ 2012 State Rankings Report

Wednesday, 15 August 2012 16:46 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia again received a top three ranking in two coveted categories—the Commonwealth was ranked No. 3 in Best Business Climate and No. 2 for Economic Growth Potential. Virginia also received top ten recognition in the categories of Employment Leaders, Credit Quality, Per Capita Income, and Workforce Health and Safety...

Virginia again received a top three ranking in two coveted categories—the Commonwealth was ranked No. 3 in Best Business Climate and No. 2 for Economic Growth Potential. Virginia also received top ten recognition in the categories of Employment Leaders, Credit Quality, Per Capita Income, and Workforce Health and Safety.

As part of its eighth annual ranking, Business Facilities magazine weighed factors such as educational climate, the availability of workforce training, cost of labor, infrastructure, utility costs, credit rating and business tax climate. The magazine gave extra credit to states that have established pro-business policies.

According to Business Facilities magazine, “As the Commonwealth continues to rack up an impressive tally of corporate headquarters relocations, Virginia also has established itself as a high-tech hub with its new Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing, anchored by jet-engine maker Rolls-Royce.”

Virginia also received recognition for its leadership in two industry sectors— Aerospace and Biotech.

The Commonwealth was ranked No. 7 in the category of Aerospace/Defense Industry Leaders. With more than 230 aerospace companies calling Virginia home, the Commonwealth continues to attract industry leaders such as Alcoa Howmet, Cobham Composite Products, Dynamic Aviation, Northrop Grumman, Dynamic Aviation, Orbital Sciences, Rockwell Collins and Rolls-Royce. First in the nation for Department of Defense Prime Contracts in 2011, companies have invested more than $1.5 billion in relocating or expanding in Virginia over the last 10 years.

Virginia was also ranked No. 2 as an Emerging Biotech Hub. Located in the heart of the Mid-Atlantic life scienc 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.

 

 

Virginia was selected for its strategic location and premier transportation system, which includes access to the international Port of Virginia, one of the largest intermodal facilities on the East Coast and the only U.S. East Coast location able to handle post-Panamax vessels as first port of call. Virginia also offers 14 railroads, an inland port, six major interstate highways and nine commercial airports.

To learn more about Virginia’s burgeoning logistics industry and why companies have invested more than $1.6 billion in logistics projects across the Commonwealth over the last 10 years, click here.

Representatives from Ace Hardware Corporation, the City of Suffolk and the Commonwealth of Virginia celebrate the grand opening of the company’s new East Coast import center.

Renewable Energy Company Enviva Breaks Ground on Virginia Manufacturing Facility

Friday, 27 July 2012 15:01 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling and Secretary Todd Haymore attended Enviva’s ground-breaking ceremony at the Southampton County Commerce and Logistics Center in Franklin, Va...

On Wednesday, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling and Secretary Todd Haymore attended Enviva’s ground-breaking ceremony at the Southampton County Commerce and Logistics Center in Franklin, Va.

Enviva began construction on its 454,000-metric-ton wood pellet manufacturing facility after announcing this project would bring a $75 million investment and 64 new jobs to Southampton County last November. The facility is expected to support more than 100 additional jobs through the company’s logging supply chain.

As a leading biomass fuel supplier, Enviva’s commitment to sustainable practices is evident in its location requirements. To minimize its carbon footprint, the company seeks strategic locations offering close proximity to both biomass sources as well as waterways and ports, for easy shipment to international customers.

Southeastern Virginia is uniquely positioned to meet the company’s needs on both counts. According to Enviva Chairman and CEO John Keppler, “Southampton County has all the elements essential to our success: a rich wood basket, a strong and seasoned timber industry, a skilled and experienced labor force, and is logistically advantaged to our Port of Chesapeake export terminal.”

This past New Year’s Eve, Enviva opened its deep water terminal at the Port of Chesapeake. The company selected Virginia’s Port of Chesapeake for its deep water capacity and ability to handle a variety of vessels. The company’s inaugural shipment consisted of 28,000 metric tons of wood pellets destined for Europe aboard the MV Daishin Maru.

With the Commonwealth's “all-of-the-above” approach to energy, this investment continues Virginia’s quest to lay claim to the title “Energy Capital of the East Coast.” From conventional fuel mining to renewable energy producers, Virginia provides energy companies with the resources for success.

To learn why energy companies have invested more than $4.6 billion in Virginia over the last ten years, click here.

Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling and Enviva CEO John Keppler (center) join state, local and company officials at the Enviva ground-breaking ceremony in Franklin, Va.

The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research Hosts Launch of Virginia Polymer Coalition

Thursday, 26 July 2012 09:48 by Info@YesVirginia.org
On August 15, the Virginia Polymer Coalition will commence with its inaugural meeting at The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) in Danville, Va.

On August 15, the Virginia Polymer Coalition will commence with its inaugural meeting at The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) in Danville, Va.

Southern Virginia has seen a growing cluster of polymer technology and manufacturing companies, and a recently commissioned study from the Southside Business Technology Center confirms the need for better industry collaboration and research.

With rising raw materials costs, polymer manufacturers are looking for ways to manage costs as well as find better methods for product testing, materials analysis and recycling.

Sustainability is also a frequent topic in the industry, augmented by customer requests for biodegradable products. Increased interest in Biopolymers as a possible solution has led to the need for additional research in this field.

The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research is an ideal location for this industry hub, offering an existing polymer lab, onsite scientists, and a strong partnership with Virginia Tech faculty.

“Polymer manufacturers represent an important industry in Southern Virginia with products ranging from packaging, including tubes, tape, film and bags to fibre and tires,” said  IALR Executive Director Liam Leightley. “One way for the Virginia Polymer Coalition to support the cluster is for it to regularly host a network meeting for regional polymer companies to be able to meet, discuss and share their business challenges, R&D needs, best practices and industry solutions.” 

To learn more about The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research and Virginia’s broad selection of world-class research institutions, click on the highlighted links.

A view of The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville, Va.

International Paper Commences Manufacturing Operations at Franklin Mill

Wednesday, 18 July 2012 13:49 by Info@YesVirginia.org
International Paper recently announced it began manufacturing operations at its Franklin Mill in Isle of Wight County. In May 2011, Governor McDonnell announced the company’s plans to invest $83 million to repurpose a portion of its closed mill and create more than 200 new jobs in the region.

International Paper recently announced it began manufacturing operations at its Franklin Mill in Isle of Wight County. In May 2011, Governor McDonnell announced the company’s plans to invest $83 million to repurpose a portion of its closed mill and create more than 200 new jobs in the region.

After closing the paper mill in 2009, International Paper has upfit a portion of the plant to manufacture fluff pulp, a key component in absorbency products such as diapers and hygiene products. The company expects to produce 840 tons per day of high-quality fluff pulp once it ramps up to full production.

“This is a wonderful turnaround story for Isle of Wight County—to have some recovery of the jobs lost in 2009 and repurpose a facility is great news for the region,” said VEDP Managing Director Brent Sheffler.

The company’s familiarity with the assets of the region—including a strong wood basket supply chain and a skilled and dedicated advanced manufacturing workforce—helped Virginia win this project.

Logistics infrastructure was also a critical deciding factor, as the company expects to export a substantial amount of its product. Access to existing rail service and close proximity to the international Port of Virginia made the Franklin Mill the clear choice.

As the third largest global supplier of fluff pulp, this investment allows the company to expand its footprint in this growing market and continue its strong legacy in Virginia’s pro-business environment. 

With more than 6,000 manufacturing companies located in the Commonwealth, click here to learn why leading companies like International Paper continue to invest in Virginia.

We tout Virginia’s East Coast location as both a premium tourism destination and an economic development plus. For tourists, Virginia offers beautiful beaches and an oasis for water sports enthusiasts. But Virginia’s geographic fortune, particularly in the Hampton Roads region, also lends itself to an industry that is growing in importance. Our coastal seat is a cream-of-the-crop location for offshore wind projects.

The Hampton Roads region is well positioned to become a hub for offshore wind supply.  According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Virginia offers a class 6 (outstanding) wind power classification within 10-15 miles of shore and within close proximity to major power demand centers. The risk of major hurricane strikes is minimal in the Commonwealth, which boasts a robust coastal transmission grid, and Virginia is one of only 10 states to possess a shallow water resource base, which is important for turbine placement.

Class 6 winds are located virtually beyond the visual horizon, so those folks who loathe the idea of a turbine view need not worry. They would barely be seen, even on the clearest of days.

Virginia and its partners are working to leverage the Commonwealth’s assets to become a leading provider of wind energy. University partners, including James Madison University, Old Dominion University, William & Mary (VIMS), the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech are engaged in wind research and development, as are corporate partners such as Dominion Power, AREVA, GE Energy, SAIC, and NASA Langley Research Center. Most recently, Dabney S. Lancaster Community College began assembling a wind energy turbine technician training curriculum that covers everything from wind safety to turbine troubleshooting and repair. The college plans to offer the curriculum in 2010.

When the companies come a knockin, we hope to be ready. The Commonwealth’s wind potential is already attracting attention from energy industry leaders such as AREVA, a major Virginia employer that is seeking a location for future wind turbine manufacturing plants. In a recent Daily Press article (http://www.dailypress.com/news/dp-local_windfarm_0904sep04,0,7182547.story) , it was estimated that construction of 100 wind turbines off of Virginia’s coast could create 8,000-10,000 new jobs. How’s that? Turbine manufacturers want to be close to their client.

Wise County in Southwest Virginia last week approved BP Wind Energy’s and Dominion’s plans to move forward with construction of a wind farm within its borders. Nearby Tazewell County is considering a similar proposal. The Southwest region of the Commonwealth provides class 4 (good) wind.

We look forward to working with energy prospects to leverage the potential of our wind—regardless of the region. For more information about VEDP’s energy industry efforts, visit www.YesVirginia.org.

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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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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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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.

Virginia to Offer Foreign Direct Investment Expertise

Friday, 24 March 2017 09:51 by Info@YesVirginia.org

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership will attend the German American Trade Association’s U.S. Entry Meeting in Stuttgart, Germany on March 29.

The German American Trade Association is a nonprofit organization that offers seminars and advice on site selection, funding, customs affairs, and finding agents and distributors for companies looking to do business with the U.S.

Ryland Potter, a member of VEDP’s Business Investment division, will serve as a foreign direct investment expert and speak on subsidies and grants available to German companies looking to expand into the U.S. market.

Virginia is a leading gateway to successful business in North America, with more than 550 internationally-owned companies choosing to call the Commonwealth home.

"Companies thinking about establishing a subsidiary in the U.S. attend GATA meetings to get the most up-to-date information in order to assess their potential,” said Luisa Blumfeld, GATA’s Marketing Director.

VEDP values its partnership with the German American Trade Association and the opportunity to meet with companies directly to showcase Virginia as a location to do business.

International companies have invested more than $8.3 billion over the past 10 years. To learn why so many companies choose to invest in Virginia, click here.

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Virginia Rises to Second in Atlantic Region in Annual Workforce Development Rankings

Wednesday, 1 February 2017 14:25 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Virginia rose from fourth to second in the Atlantic region in a recent analysis of state workforce development activities conducted by Site Selection Magazine.

Site Selection’s third annual state workforce development rankings provide a general sense of which states, in a given region, are devoting sufficient or superior resources to preparing their workforces for current and future employment. The analysis looked at states’ commitment to skills development as measured by their spending on workforce development, K-12 preparation and the number of working-age adults deemed “career-ready.”

Among the eight ranked states, Virginia scored ahead of highly competitive states like Florida, North Carolina, Maryland, and Delaware, and tied with South Carolina.

“Virginia’s improved ranking is further evidence that we’re making significant progress toward building a 21st century workforce,” said Governor McAuliffe. “We know that workforce is the number one factor companies evaluate when making a decision to locate a new facility or expand their existing business.  We’re pleased to see our position improve relative to our regional competitors and will continue our efforts to assure our position as a leader in workforce development and education.”

Virginia offers customized recruiting and training services through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program (VJIP). To learn more about this economic development incentive, click here.

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Virginia Economic Developers Recognized in National Ranking

Wednesday, 25 January 2017 14:20 by Info@YesVirginia.org

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

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.

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 ful Shading Accent 2"/>

As 2016 comes to a close, we want to recognize the economic development profession throughout Virginia that works tirelessly for the common good, and in particular, to the dedicated employees of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership Authority (VEDP).

As leaders of the Board of Directors of VEDP—which by anyone’s measure, just experienced its most difficult year of operation since its formation in 1995—we are wrestling with deep problems facing VEDP, the economy and some systemic ones woven into the very fabric of how our Commonwealth approaches economic development. We are, however, optimistic because we know that economic development partners across the state are taking actions necessary to fortify Virginia’s future.

For our part, the VEDP Board is engaged. In 2014, Don Seale, then Chairman of the VEDP Board of Directors, realized that fundamental changes were needed inside the organization.  Don called for the creation of a Chief Operating Officer position and recruited Dan Gundersen to help reset VEDP. Dan’s initial focus was on strategic direction, creative programming, engaging employees, and assuring greater management control and accountability procedures.

We began to peel back the layers of VEDP. Dan Gundersen produced for the Board a first-ever Strategic Review that serves today as the guidepost for a 3-5 year action strategy for VEDP. A new compensation plan was adopted which provided pay equity across positions. We evaluated funding models for 49 other states’ economic development entities, produced new top-line metrics, put in place a robust communications strategy for the external partners and encouraged new avenues for employee input and engagement.   

We (Chris Lumsden and Dan Clemente) succeeded Don Seale as Chairman and Vice-Chairman respectively and the first thing we decided to do was to hear from our stakeholders. We conducted a Listening Tour that involved over 150 economic development professionals, public officials, and business interests in all regions of Virginia and more than 80 counties. We learned that over several years’ time, VEDP’s approach to marketing and deals had alienated many of its stakeholders and contributed to a crisis of confidence.

In March of this year, we asked Dan Gundersen to serve as Interim President and CEO, as well as COO, to help turn around VEDP. He demonstrated great courage and collaborative leadership skills in managing VEDP during a period of serious political stress and organizational crisis. Working with the Board’s Finance and Audit Committee, the VEDP team put in place solid due diligence procedures for discretionary grants, cleaned up twenty years of Governor Opportunity Fund records, and delved into data integrity and integration issues. VEDP also moved its 55,000 square-foot headquarters to new space that saved the Commonwealth over $1.8 million. The new headquarters is designed with open spaces and glass offices and, quite literally, sends a clear message to all that VEDP is a transparent organization that is reinventing itself for the next generation of economic development.   

By mid-summer, again with direct involvement of key Board leaders, input from the Joint Legislative Audit & Review Commission (JLARC) team and independent management consultants, VEDP was prepared to roll out a reorganization. Dan Gundersen successfully led VEDP through the difficult reorganization process, with input from a core planning group, cross-functional work teams, and facilitated focus groups of employees throughout the organization. Three new market-facing divisions were established: Business Investment, Competitive Initiatives and Workforce Development. They operate alongside VEDP’s International Trade team to support businesses.

New management in key spots has infused new energy and determination to have VEDP become recognized as the very best economic development organization in the country. We are pleased that Stephen Moret will join us at the helm in January.

Our work is not over—far from it. But we have laid a solid foundation on which to build a bright future for economic growth in Virginia. This would not have happened without the active support of Virginia’s economic development professionals. We thank you and look forward to continuing to work closely with you as we enter into the new year with renewed confidence and enthusiasm.

Sincerely,

Dan Clemente, Chairman of the Board
Vince Mastracco, Vice-Chairman of the Board
Chris Lumsden, previous Chairman of the Board

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Getting to Know: New River Valley

Thursday, 1 September 2016 16:30 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Throughout the year, VEDP embarks on regional familiarization trips, or FAM tours. In August, Charlie Jewell of the New River Valley Alliance lead a small group from VEDP on a tour around the New River Valley (NRV), which included 20 visits to local businesses.

The NRV covers more than 200 square miles and is home to Giles County, Pulaski County, Floyd County, Montgomery County, the City of Radford and Towns of Blacksburg and Christiansburg. With a growing population of 183,000, the NRV has an incredibly diverse and robust economy for its size.

In 2015, the region had the second highest job growth rate in Virginia, and this year, Area Development Magazine listed the NRV as having the fourth best workforce in the nation. The Valley is also a constant recipient of quality of life accolades thanks to the area’s beautiful mountainous setting and charming small town atmosphere. The NRV is also bolstered by their esteemed universities, including Virginia Tech and Radford, in addition to the New River Valley Community College.

On the tour, VEDP visited a wide array of business including Red Sun Farms, Jackson Park Inn, Floyd Commerce Park, Rackspace, Virginia Tech’s Corporate Research Center and the Riverbend Facility.

To learn more about Virginia’s wide variety of communities, click here.


Members from VEDP tour available building space in the New River Valley.

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Virginia’s Woodworking Industry Provides Solid Foundation

Friday, 26 August 2016 14:31 by Info@YesVirginia.org

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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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This week, VEDP is attending the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta, Georgia. We had the opportunity to partner with our state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and Department of Forestry to promote Virginia and its forest products, emphasizing the importance of the industry in the Commonwealth.

More than 31,000 people were employed by over 900 companies in Virginia’s wood products industry in 2015, which had a direct economic output of $10.3 billion and supported an additional output of $7.1 billion.

Virginia’s strategic mid-Atlantic location and superior transportation network provide access to 43 percent of the U.S. population located within a one-day (10 hour) drive. These assets combined with access to the Port of Virginia and a direct connection to over 100 foreign ports make an ideal location for wood industry companies.

Virginia’s higher education system provides education and training programs to bolster the Commonwealth’s workforce and therefore Virginia businesses. Virginia Tech’s Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation is home to the following research centers: Conservation Management Institute, Center for Geospatial Information Technology and Virginia Water Resources Research Center. Virginia State University partners with Virginia Tech to run the Virginia Cooperative Extension to offer programs such as the Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program and the Virginia SHARP Logger Program. Blue Ridge Community College has a Die Cutting and Packaging program to generate skilled technicians for the paperboard packaging industry.

In the past decade, wood products companies in Virginia have announced projects worth $3.8 billion in pledged investment and more than 10,100 pledged jobs. To learn why companies choose Virginia click here.

VEDP, VDACS and VA Department of Forestry provide large Virginia presence at IWF 2016.

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Foreign Direct Investment Makes Massive Job Impact on Virginia

Thursday, 23 June 2016 09:48 by Info@YesVirginia.org

This week, VEDP attended the SelectUSA Investment Summit, a high-profile event in Washington, D.C. dedicated to promoting foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States. We had the opportunity to connect with companies all over the world to discuss the benefits of doing business in Virginia.

Governor Terry McAuliffe hosted a Virginia reception to showcase the Commonwealth’s assets and participated in a workforce development panel during the conference.

Global investment supports nearly 487,000 jobs in Virginia. These direct FDI and related supply chain jobs earn higher compensation than the overall state average.

During SelectUSA 2015, VEDP met ELDOR Corporation for the first time. Following the Summit, Governor McAuliffe traveled to ELDOR’s headquarters in Italy to meet with company leadership. Less than one year after first meeting at SelectUSA, ELDOR announced their plans to invest $75 million and create 350 new jobs at their North American regional headquarters in Botetourt County.

More than 700 internationally-owned companies call Virginia home, including Canon, Stihl and Rolls-Royce. Cost-effective operations, pro-business values, global logistics assets and easy access to the U.S. market are just a few of the unique resources that allow businesses to prosper here.

From 2009 to 2014, international companies announced more than 15,000 new jobs and $4.6 billion investment in the Commonwealth. To learn why companies choose Virginia for internal investment, click here.


Governor McAuliffe
participated in a workforce development panel during SelectUSA.

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Sumitomo Machinery Corporation Celebrates 50 Years in North America

Friday, 3 June 2016 11:40 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Sumitomo Machinery Corporation of America (SMCA) is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its North American headquarters, located in Chesapeake, Virginia.

Sumitomo Machinery Corporation of America is a subsidiary of Sumitomo Heavy Industries, one of the largest manufacturers of machinery in Japan and the global leader in power transmission knowledge and innovation. SMCA is the premiere power transmission and control solution provider and has customers across the U.S. and globally.

In 1987, Sumitomo relocated to Chesapeake from New Jersey and constructed a new manufacturing facility for the production of its cyclo drive technologies, speed reducers, speed variators, motors and related industrial gears.

Sumitomo has experienced consistent growth since joining the Commonwealth. In 2009, SMCA announced its first Engineering and Service Center would open in Chesapeake, and in 2012, they shared plans for the first phase of a three year investment strategy to transition their 250,000-square-foot facility from an assembly and distribution center to an assembly and manufacturing facility. 

In August 2013, the company announced a definitive merger agreement with Hansen Industrial Transmissions Inc., a leading provider of large size industrial gear drives, which operates at the HNA facility in Verona, Virginia.

Since locating to Virginia, Sumitomo has invested over $60 million in the Commonwealth and has 264 employees in Chesapeake, Suffolk and Verona.

Virginia’s strategic central location on the U.S. East Coast and access to the Port of Virginia has made an ideal home for Sumitomo.

To learn why more than 5,500 manufacturing companies like Sumitomo have chosen to locate in Virginia, click here.


Mayor of Chesapeake Alan Krasnoff and Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones recognize Sumitomo leadership during the anniversary event.

Georgia Pacific’s Big Island Mill Celebrates 125 Years in Virginia

Thursday, 26 May 2016 13:53 by Info@YesVirginia.org

VEDP, VDACS and VA Department of Forestry provide large Virginia presence at IWF 2016.

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Subscribewith close proximity to the Blue Ridge Mountains, scenic hiking and biking trails, and numerous national parks.

As we celebrate Virginia Business Appreciation month, Georgia Pacific’s Big Island paper mill serves as a great example of how Virginia can offer long-term prosperity. To learn why companies like Georgia Pacific call Virginia home, click here.

An undated photo of a maintenance crew working at the Big Island paper mill.

Distribution Companies Deliver Big Investment to Virginia

Wednesday, 18 May 2016 14:53 by Info@YesVirginia.org