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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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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Governor McAuliffe Signs Memorandum of Understanding with Jeollanam-do Provincial Government to Enhance Economic Activity

Thursday, 25 February 2016 09:58 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Governor McAuliffe Signs Memorandum of Understanding with South Korea’s Jeollanam-do Provincial Government to strengthen economic and cultural ties. VEDP joined Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore at the signing ceremony, and look forward to enhancing economic activity.

Governor McAuliffe Signs Memorandum of Understanding with South Korea’s Jeollanam-do Provincial Government to strengthen economic and cultural ties.

VEDP joined Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore at the signing ceremony, and look forward to enhancing economic activity.

The Commonwealth and Jeollanam-do Province share a common desire to exchange information to enhance mutually beneficial economic and cultural activity, including research and development, governmental collaboration, and other related activity pertaining to growth industries, including information and communication technology, agriculture, logistics, energy, and other areas within the global market.

Over the past four decades, the Republic of Korea has demonstrated incredible economic growth and global integration to become a high-tech industrialized economy. Today, the Republic of Korea is the world's 12th largest economy, and ranks 12th among Virginia export destinations. Some of the top opportunities for U.S. exporters in South Korea include:

  • Aerospace Industry
  • Defense Industry Equipment
  • Cosmetics
  • Energy: New and Renewable
  • Medical Equipment
  • Laboratory Scientific Instruments
  • Pollution Control Equipment
  • Education Services

This agreement solidifies the importance of leveraging partnerships in order to build a new Virginia economy. To learn more about Virginia’s global focus, click here.


Governor Terry McAuliffe and Governor Nak Yon Lee of Jeollanam-do Provincial Government celebrate signing of MOU.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Virginia Western Community College Offers Cutting-Edge Mechatronics Training

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.