International Paper’s Franklin Mill Finds a New Tenant in Tak Investments

Thursday, 2 August 2012 10:10 by Info@YesVirginia.org
This week, Tak Investments Inc. announced it will invest $60 million and create 85 new jobs to establish a recycled tissue plant for its subsidiary, ST Tissue, in Isle of Wight County...

This week, Tak Investments Inc. announced it will invest $60 million and create 85 new jobs to establish a recycled tissue plant for its subsidiary, ST Tissue, in Isle of Wight County.

A win-win for the company and county, this project will repurpose a vacant portion of the International Paper mill in Franklin, Va., making use of machinery already in place.

This news comes within a month of International Paper’s announcement that it recommenced operations at its formerly-closed Franklin Mill. After closing the mill in 2009, International Paper upfit a portion of the mill to manufacture fluff pulp, bringing more than 200 new jobs to the region.

Location and existing infrastructure were key factors in Virginia’s favor, allowing the Commonwealth to successfully compete against Wisconsin. The Franklin Mill location allows the company to take advantage of an existing facility with paper-making machinery and a trained workforce already in place.

In addition, the location not only aligns with the company’s supply chain, but Virginia’s strategic East Coast location and premier transportation infrastructure will allow the company to capture additional market share. 

This project builds on the success Isle of Wight County has experienced on its way towards economic recovery. Recent announcements from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and International Paper are expected to bring more than 1,000 jobs to the area.

To learn why leading manufacturers continue to select the Commonwealth, investing more than $13.8 billion from 2002 to 2010, click here.

Ace Hardware Celebrates Grand Opening of East Coast Import Center in Virginia

Tuesday, 31 July 2012 15:08 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Last Thursday, Ace Hardware held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the grand opening of its East Coast import center at the Centerpoint Intermodal Center in Suffolk, Va...

Last Thursday, Ace Hardware held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the grand opening of its East Coast import center at the Centerpoint Intermodal Center in Suffolk, Va.

The project, which includes a 336,000-square-foot facility, was announced last fall and is expected to bring a $14 million investment and 75 new jobs to the Hampton Roads region. 

The East Coast import center builds upon the company’s existing Virginia presence, which includes 275 employees at its regional distribution center in Prince George County, and many more Virginia employees at the 54 independently-owned stores located across the Commonwealth.

As Ace Hardware’s first and only import center on the East Coast, the facility will allow the company to optimize its supply chain to retail locations. It also validates the Hampton Roads region as a center of international trade.

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.

Big R Bridge Announces First Virginia Location in Washington County

Friday, 13 July 2012 14:36 by Info@YesVirginia.org
On Tuesday, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling attended an event to announce that Big R Bridge, a national leader in developing engineered solutions in steel bridges, corrugated metal structures, retaining wall systems and corrugated pipe, will establish its first Virginia location in Washington County.

On Tuesday, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling attended an event to announce that Big R Bridge, a national leader in developing engineered solutions for steel bridges, corrugated metal structures, retaining wall systems and corrugated pipe, will establish its first Virginia location in Washington County.

The $1.9 million investment will be used to convert the former Lynchburg Steel Facility into a manufacturing operation for the company’s prefabricated bridge parts, bringing 32 new jobs to Southwest Virginia.

Big R Bridge has been supplying prefabricated bridges and custom engineered products for more than 40 years, handling more than 10,000 installations to date and creating more than 300 bridges each year.

The new facility in Washington County will allow the company to expand its U.S. footprint and more easily access East Coast markets. Virginia successfully competed against North Carolina for the project.

The Commonwealth was chosen for its strategic location and premier logistics network, offering easy access to Interstates 81 and 77. Virginia was also selected for its exceptional workforce with the advanced manufacturing skills needed to produce the company’s highly engineered solutions.

With names like DuPont, Honeywell, Owens & Minor, Merck and Rolls-Royce, Virginia continues to attract top tier manufacturing companies. To learn why more than 6,000 manufacturers call Virginia home, click here.

Virginia Delegate Landes Named BIO State Legislator of the Year

Wednesday, 11 July 2012 13:33 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) honored Virginia Delegate R. Steven Landes as its State Legislator of the Year at the recent 2012 BIO International Convention in Boston, Mass.

The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) honored Virginia Delegate R. Steven Landes as its State Legislator of the Year at the recent 2012 BIO International Convention in Boston, Mass.

Delegate Landes was recognized for his efforts in advancing the field of biotech and supporting legislation to make Virginia a top state to attract and retain life sciences businesses.

BIO is the world’s largest biotech organization and the BIO International Convention is the largest global event for the biotech industry with 15,000 attendees at its annual conference.

Delegate Landes was given the award in the Virginia Pavilion, a 1,500-square-foot space organized by VEDP. The Pavilion showcased Virginia’s universities, companies and local economic development groups in the Commonwealth’s major life science clusters: Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads, Charlottesville, Greater Richmond, and the I-81 Corridor.

With its central location in the Mid-Atlantic Life Science cluster and strong technology and life sciences workforce, Virginia’s biotech industry is on the rise. Top research institutions such as SRI International and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, as well as leading companies, including Merck, Fareva, McKesson, Teva Pharmaceuticals, and Boehringer Ingelheim have all chosen to locate in the Commonwealth.

To learn more about Virginia’s growing life science industry and why the private sector has invested more than $1.9 billion over the last decade, click here.

Virginia Biotechnology Association Interim Executive Director Jeff Gallagher (left) and BIO Vice President, Alliance Development and State Government Relations Fritz Bittenbender (right) present Delegate Landes with the State Legislator of the Year award.

Virginia Wins Area Development’s 2012 Silver Shovel Award

Monday, 9 July 2012 15:16 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Virginia was recently awarded a Silver Shovel in the 5-9 Million population category by Area Development magazine.

As part of the magazine’s seventh annual ranking, the award recognizes states for attracting investment projects that created a high number of new jobs in calendar year 2011. States were recognized for establishing policies that drive job growth, infrastructure improvements, and processes that attract new employers.

The award is based on each state’s top 10 projects that broke ground in 2011, using a number of weighted factors such as number of new jobs created, size of investment, number of new facilities, and the diversity of industries represented.

The ten outstanding projects that made Virginia a winner were: Amazon.com, ICF International, United States Green Energy, Soft Tech Consulting Inc., Katoen Natie, Backcountry.com, International Paper, PPD Inc., Rubbermaid Commercial Products Inc., and Microsoft Corp.

Also a winner of the Silver Shovel in 2009 and 2006, this recognition continues Virginia’s winning streak with awards such as Site Selection magazine’s 2011 Competitiveness Award, MoneyRates.com’s 2012 Best State to Make a Living, Pollina Corporate Real Estate’s 2011 Top Pro-Business State, CNBC’s 2011 Top State for Business, and Business Facilities magazine’s top spot for Economic Growth Potential in 2011.

To learn more about Virginia’s unique combination of assets that has allowed businesses to prosper here for more than 400 years, click here.

New Capital One Data Center Comes to Chesterfield County

Thursday, 5 July 2012 09:22 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Capital One recently announced plans to invest $150 million to establish a new data center in Chesterfield County, bringing 50 new jobs to the area. Virginia successfully competed against Texas for this project.

Capital One recently announced plans to invest $150 million to establish a new data center in Chesterfield County, bringing 50 new jobs to the area. Virginia successfully competed against Texas for this project.

Chesterfield County was selected due to its proximity to Capital One’s existing operations in the Greater Richmond area. The Fortune 500 company has successfully operated in Virginia for more than two decades.

Central Virginia is seeing a growing cluster of data centers due its abundant power, advanced fiber network, and low risk of natural disasters. In addition, the strong partnership between local officials and utility providers allows deals such as this to be put together quickly.

Virginia is fast becoming a popular place for data centers across the Commonwealth. Data processing was the dominant sector for investment in 2011 at $960 million, accounting for almost half of the nonmanufacturing investment.

The Commonwealth not only offers companies low electricity rates below the national average; it maintains a highly qualified workforce to support the sector, with the highest concentration of high-tech workers according to Cyberstates 2011. In addition, the Retail Sales and Use Tax Exemption provides a competitive cost advantage on qualified equipment for data centers.

To learn more about Virginia’s capabilities and why companies have invested more than $4.4 billion in the Commonwealth’s data center industry over the past ten years, click here.

UBED—JMU’s Virginia Center for Wind Energy Educates the Industry

Friday, 29 June 2012 11:12 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Continuing our series on University-Based Economic Development, we will look at how James Madison University’s (JMU) Virginia Center for Wind Energy (VCWE) keeps industry professionals educated on wind power developments in Virginia.

Located in a 4,000-square-foot commercial lab space near JMU’s main campus, the center has been active since 2001. VCWE provides measurements, economic modeling, education, energy policy analysis and GIS reports on wind energy in the Commonwealth.

VCWE recently hosted the 2012 Statewide Wind Energy Symposium, which included panel discussions and workshops ranging from Wind 101 to Regulatory and Permitting Options. The 150 attendees included government officials, wind industry decision-makers, business owners and Virginia residents.

During the symposium VCWE launched its Small Wind Training & Testing Facility, which will be used primarily for workforce training in the small wind industry. Small wind is traditionally defined as turbines below 100 kilowatts (kW) with most residential turbines under 20 kW. Through the center students will have access to three wind turbines, a WeatherBug weather station, a solar array system and additional measurement equipment.

Uncertainty still surrounds the national production tax credit, and locally, many cities do not have wind ordinances in place, making education the critical mandate for VCWE.

“The Small Wind Training and Testing Facility was designed to address a lack of available resources in the region to support the training of a small wind workforce throughout Virginia and beyond. This resource will support teaching of undergraduates at JMU and other educational institutions throughout the Commonwealth, as well as the training of residents and business owners who seek to learn more about how to apply wind energy in Virginia,” said Dr. Jonathan Miles, VCWE Director.

Fortunately Virginia has a compelling wind story with its shallow waters, strong Class 6 winds, high voltage transmission grid, and maritime workforce. To learn more JMU’s Virginia Center for Wind Energy, click here.

Dr. Jonathan Miles, VCWE Director, addresses the crowd at the JMU Small Wind Training & Testing Facility ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Virginia Port Authority and VEDP Launch Joint Marketing Initiative

Thursday, 28 June 2012 15:52 by Info@YesVirginia.org

The Virginia Port Authority (VPA) and VEDP signed a Memorandum of Understanding to launch a joint marketing initiative to better share Virginia’s unique story with businesses that utilize port facilities.

The marketing initiative will include creating a shared message to be featured through websites, joint client calls on marketing missions, and collaborative representation at various industry events and tradeshows.

The Port of Virginia handles 1.9 million TEUs each year and is fully prepared to accommodate 10,000+ TEU vessels. Its 50-foot shipping channels are the deepest on the East Coast, offering companies the only East Coast location able to hand post-Panamax vessels as first port of call.

Truly an intermodal gateway, the Port of Virginia provides barge, rail and truck distribution with a 48-hour transit time to Chicago. The port offers connectivity with two Class I railroads as well as an Inland Port and Virginia’s premier interstate system.

The Port of Virginia is an economic engine providing 343,000 port-related jobs across the Commonwealth. Over the last two years numerous companies have announced relocations or expansions related to the Port of Virginia’s world-class capabilities, including Ace Hardware, Albany Industries, Amazon.com, Federal-Mogul, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Honeywell, Rubbermaid, and Stihl Inc., to name a few.

To learn more about Virginia’s premier transportation infrastructure and the Port of Virginia, click on the highlighted links.

Virginia Port Authority Vice Chair Jim Boyd (left) signs the Memorandum of Understanding with VEDP Chairman Julien Patterson.

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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 | All posts tagged 'Virginia Tech'

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine Holds Its First Commencement Ceremony

Friday, 9 May 2014 12:07 by Info@YesVirginia.org

The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine will hold its first-ever commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 10 at 8:30 a.m. at the Jefferson Center in Roanoke.

The ceremony will be held for the school’s first 40 graduates, who are all continuing on to a residency. U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, who as a former governor of Virginia signed legislation to support the creation of the new school, will be the keynote speaker.

The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute serves as a model of collaboration between public and private partners. The institute combines Virginia Tech’s sciences, bioinformatics, and engineering with Carilion Clinic’s highly experienced medical staff. The Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute collaborates with 75 institutions around the world, and has 168 research employees.

In addition, the institute’s unique, patient-centered learning model and small class size allows students to learn through real-life situations with ample student participation. Only 15 percent of medical schools in the U.S. have a patient-centered learning curriculum.

Virginia has a number of nationally recognized medical training and research institutes around the state, including the VCU School of Medicine and the UVA Department of Biomedical Engineering and School of Medicine, and now adds another major medical school in the western part of the state.

Virginia’s nationally acclaimed universities and community colleges, ensure businesses have a knowledgeable and highly trained workforce. The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute is a great example of how Virginia is preparing for jobs of the 21st century. To learn more about Virginia’s more than 100 in-state institutions of higher education, click here.

A view of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute—located in Roanoke, Virginia.

Bioplastics — How One Virginia Company is Making Plastic out of Feathers

Friday, 28 March 2014 11:45 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Eastern BioPlastics has successfully commercialized a process to make plastic out of chicken feathers. By using what was formerly a waste product, the company is making plastic components in a sustainable way...

Eastern BioPlastics has successfully commercialized a process to make plastic out of chicken feathers. By using what was formerly a waste product, the company is making plastic components in a sustainable way.

Co-founders Sonny Meyerhoeffer and Dr. Justin Barone established the company in Mount Crawford, Va., in 2008. They combined Meyerhoeffer’s background as an entrepreneur in the poultry industry with Barone’s engineering expertise as a professor at Virginia Tech to accomplish a difficult task — commercializing R&D into an effective process.

The company replaces up to 50 percent of the petroleum component of plastics with fiber made from chicken feathers. This chicken feather fiber, called feather fiber intermediate, has a number of advantages over petroleum. It is a renewable resource and makes use of something that was previously viewed as a waste product. In addition, the chicken feather fibers are very strong yet lightweight, making them ideal for plastic products.

Eastern BioPlastics has developed a proprietary technique that cleans and processes the chicken feathers in a cost-competitive way. The feather fiber intermediate is blended with polyolefins in a resin, and then extruded into pellet form. These pellets are then sold to original equipment manufacturers that use injection molding to form any number of end products for use in the automotive, furniture and sports equipment industries. The company is currently beta testing this product with customers.

Eastern BioPlastics has also developed a second product called Environmental BioProtector. Feathers are extremely oil absorbent; news coverage of massive oil spills illustrates how birds suffer because the oil becomes trapped in their feathers. The company has developed a product using chicken feathers to help clean up oil spills, from large-scale disasters to consumer use for car oil leaks. Environmental BioProtector is USDA certified and made of 99 percent bio-based material, making it one of the most eco-friendly and low cost oil absorbing solutions on the market today. The company has been selling this product since May 2013.

Creating an entirely new product in 2008 was no easy feat, especially during the economic downturn of 2009-2010. According to co-founder Meyerhoeffer, “Back then nobody wanted to take a chance on anything new. We had to figure out how to break in and create a market with a brand new product.”

When asked why he kept going during these early days, Meyerhoeffer responded, “I was never led to quit and we stayed at it because we knew there was something there that was better. You have to persevere through the tough times. I think a lot of entrepreneurs are that way. You know you’ve got something viable and it’s just about continuing through to the end.”

The founders of Eastern BioPlastics exemplify the entrepreneurial spirit and innovation that’s alive and well in the Commonwealth. To learn what Virginia offers and why it’s a great place to start a business, click here.

Eastern BioPlastics co-founder Sonny Meyerhoeffer displays his Bioplastic Composite Resins made from chicken feathers. 

Virginia’s Focus on Cybersecurity Remains Strong

Thursday, 6 March 2014 14:22 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Governor McAuliffe recently announced the launch of Cyber Virginia, a plan to establish the Virginia Cybersecurity Commission and augment Virginia’s leadership in cybersecurity...

Governor McAuliffe recently announced the launch of Cyber Virginia, a plan to establish the Virginia Cybersecurity Commission and augment Virginia’s leadership in cybersecurity.

The Commonwealth has a strong legacy in cybersecurity, and is well-positioned with the infrastructure to grow this sector. Virginia has the highest concentration of high-tech workers, according to Cyberstates 2013, and up to 70 percent of the world’s Internet traffic flows through Northern Virginia every day. Growth in the Commonwealth’s data center industry remains robust — investment topped $1 billion in 2012 — positioning Virginia as the place to be for companies moving towards cloud computing.

Virginia’s close proximity to the federal government’s cybersecurity operations also played a role in establishing its leadership position. The Commonwealth is home to the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity and Communication Integration Center, and DARPA.

Virginia’s premier institutions of higher education are poised to maintain the Commonwealth’s leadership in technology through a healthy pipeline of skilled technology workers. Twenty-two of Virginia’s 23 community colleges offer training programs in cybersecurity.

In addition, the NSA and U.S. Department of Homeland Security named five Virginia schools as National Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education: George Mason University, Hampton University, James Madison University, Marymount University, and Norfolk State University. Virginia Tech was named a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Research.

To highlight a couple of these programs, Virginia Tech offers the Hume Center for National Security and Technology, which researches intelligence applications of cyberattacks and defense. The university also provides students with real world experience through its IT Security Lab. In partnership with the Naval Postgraduate School and L-3 Communications, Virginia Tech hosts the Cybersecurity Innovations Laboratory at its Arlington campus.

In one of our recent blogs, we mentioned George Mason University’s expertise as the author of the VEDP Cybersecurity Export Market Report. GMU is home to the International Cyber Center and founded the Center for Secure Information Systems in 1990, which was the first academic center in security in the U.S. and one of the NSA’s original Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education.

To learn more about Virginia’s leadership in cybersecurity and the overall technology industry, click here.

A view of the Virginia Tech Research Center — Arlington, which houses the Northern Virginia location of the Hume Center for National Security and Technology.

FAA Selects Virginia Tech as Test Site for Unmanned Aircrafts

Friday, 3 January 2014 16:03 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The FAA recently announced that Virginia Tech was selected as one of six test sites across the country to conduct research on unmanned aircraft systems...

The FAA recently announced that Virginia Tech was selected as one of six test sites across the country to conduct research on unmanned aircraft systems.

This initiative will help the FAA establish safety standards that will allow UAS, such as drones, to share airspace and integrate with commercial airlines. Test sites were selected for their geographic and climate diversity, as well as existing infrastructure and aviation experience.

The test site at Virginia Tech will focus on UAS failure mode testing, and identify and evaluate operational and technical risk areas.

Virginia Tech led the submission of a joint proposal for Virginia, New Jersey and Maryland called the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership. In order to enhance the region’s competitiveness, the governors of each state agreed to support the initiative, and Virginia Tech will partner with Rutgers University and the University of Maryland, College Park.

Virginia has already shown its support for UAS and securing the Commonwealth’s position as an aerospace leader. In December, Governor McDonnell announced Virginia Tech would receive more than $2.6 million in Federal Action Contingency Trust funds to operate the UAS test site.

In addition, the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership successfully completed its first flight in October with a team from the Virginia Center for Autonomous Systems, a research partnership between Virginia Tech’s Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science and the College of Engineering. The team attached sensory equipment provided by American Aerospace Advisors to an unmanned 250-pound helicopter. Using ultraviolet and infrared cameras, the group was able to gather data on the health of five acres of tobacco crops.

This type of research could help farmers quickly survey their land to gain a better understanding of crop health, reduce pesticide use and improve yield. Agriculture is expected to be a prime growth market for UAS technology.

This win for Virginia Tech illustrates the Commonwealth’s premier higher education system, as well as its leadership in the aerospace industry. To learn more click here.

A team from Virginia Tech prepares to launch an unmanned 250-pound helicopter for a research mission to determine if UAS can gather meaningful data for crop management.  Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech.

Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program Celebrates 30 Years

Thursday, 28 February 2013 13:21 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program (CGEP) recently celebrated its 30-year anniversary at an event in Richmond, Va., hosted by CGEP and VEDP...

The Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program (CGEP) recently celebrated its 30-year anniversary at an event in Richmond, Va., hosted by CGEP and VEDP.

CGEP offers Master’s degrees and certificate programs for engineers and scientists seeking to further their education while remaining in the workforce. Students can pursue degrees in Computer Engineering, Civil & Environmental Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Engineering Administration, Environmental Science & Engineering, and Systems Engineering.

What is most unique about the program is its distance learning model, which includes both online courses and televised courses offered at more than 25 sites across Virginia. CGEP uses the latest interactive video conferencing technology, allowing for two-way audio and video to provide an interactive classroom experience for students.

In addition, graduate students can personalize their program by taking advantage of courses offered by any of the five participating universities, which include George Mason University, Old Dominion University, University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Virginia Tech.

During the 2011-2012 academic year, total enrollment in CGEP increased by 10 percent to 6,759 students. CGEP attributes this growth to increased offerings in online coursework, allowing busy graduate students to take classes anywhere, anytime.

CGEP is another example of the innovative programs offered by Virginia’s prestigious higher education institutions to ensure a solid pipeline of skilled employees is ready to fulfill industry needs. 

To learn more about CGEP or Virginia’s higher education offerings, click on the highlighted links.

Virginia’s Wind Industry Gains Speed with Two Federal Announcements

Monday, 17 December 2012 16:12 by Info@YesVirginia.org
In the last few weeks, Virginia’s wind industry has won validation with two positive announcements from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and Department of Energy (DOE)...

In the last few weeks, Virginia’s wind industry has won validation with two positive announcements from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and Department of Energy (DOE).

On November 30, the BOEM announced federals waters off the Virginia coastline qualified as one of only two wind energy areas (WEAs) for the upcoming competitive lease sale process. This is the first-ever wind energy lease sale on the Outer Continental Shelf.

The Commonwealth’s WEA encompasses 112,800 acres located about 23.5 nautical miles off Virginia’s coastline. According to the BOEM, this area would have the capacity to produce more than 2,000 MW of wind generation, enough electricity to power 700,000 homes.

On December 12, the DOE announced that a Virginia team led by Dominion Virginia Power was one of seven projects awarded an initial grant of up to $4 million for the engineering, design and installation of an offshore wind turbine demonstration facility.  

Dominion will install two Alstom 6-megawatt turbines off the Virginia coastline using an innovative “twisted jacket” foundation that requires less steel. In addition to Alstom Power Inc., the Dominion team includes KBR; the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME); the National Renewable Energy Laboratory; the Virginia Tech Advanced Research Institute; and Newport News Shipbuilding.

Virginia-based Fugro Atlantic has also been selected by the DMME to conduct a geological survey to study the seafloor of Virginia’s WEA in the Outer Continental Shelf.

Recognition from both the BOEM and DOE highlights the Commonwealth’s strengths in the offshore wind industry. Virginia is well-positioned as a leader in this renewable energy field, offering the ideal combination of strong Class 6 winds, shallow waters off the coast, an experienced maritime workforce, a robust transportation network, and access to a fully operational high voltage transmission grid close to shore.

Often called the “Energy Capital of the East Coast,” Virginia is home to more than 380 energy companies and has seen more than $4.6 billion invested in energy projects over the last decade. To learn more about Virginia’s burgeoning energy industry, click here.

A rendering of the Dominion offshore wind turbine demonstration facility, consisting of two Alstom 6-megawatt turbines. Courtesy of Dominion Virginia Power.

National Tire Research Center Displays New Tire Testing Machine “Flat-Trac LTRe”

Friday, 26 October 2012 15:23 by Info@YesVirginia.org
This week, the National Tire Research Center (NTRC) hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the unveiling of its new tire testing machined called the “Flat Trac LTRe”...

This week, the National Tire Research Center (NTRC) hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the unveiling of its new tire testing machine called the “Flat Trac LTRe.”

This high-performance, $11.3 million machine is the only one of its kind. It allows speeds up to 200 mph on car, truck and motorsports vehicles and tests tire performance during acceleration, brake and burnout events, as well as wheel torque capability.

Located in the Virginia Motorsports Technology Park adjacent to the Virginia International Raceway track in Halifax County, the NTRC provides easy access to real-world testing right on a premier race track.

NTRC is an applied research and testing facility established in 2010 through a public-private partnership between the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, General Motors, the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, and the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission.

By combining the industry leadership of General Motors with the research prowess of Virginia Tech, NTRC will focus on developing safer tires that are environmentally friendly, providing higher fuel economy with lower emissions.

Southern Virginia has become quite a hub for the automotive industry. NTRC has partnered with nearby Southern Virginia Vehicle Motion Lab (SoVa Motion), a facility also operated by Virginia Tech that rounds out the region’s offering to automotive manufacturers by providing shock and suspension testing, on-vehicle sensing, and full-motion driving simulation.

Virginia's advanced manufacturing capabilities cover all aspects of the automotive industry. To learn why automotive companies have invested more than $1 billion in the Commonwealth over the last decade, click here.

Dr. Tom Dingus, director of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, addresses the crowd at the National Tire Research Center ribbon-cutting event in Halifax County.

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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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