Did you know this is Manufacturing Appreciation Week?

Friday, 21 October 2011 09:17 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Governor McDonnell declared October 17-21 as Manufacturing Appreciation Week for Virginia. This should come as no surprise to the many Virginians employed by the manufacturing industry — more than 200,000 of us. In the last few weeks alone, manufacturing companies across a variety of industries have signaled their confidence in Virginia’s workforce by locating or expanding their operations in the Commonwealth.

Federal-Mogul Corp., a global automotive supplier, plans to invest $10 million to expand its automotive engine bearing manufacturing facility in Blacksburg Industrial Park, bringing 50 new jobs to Montgomery County. Albany Industries, a manufacturer of upholstered household furniture, announced it will invest $2.5 million to establish production capabilities in Galax, Va. This investment represents Albany Industry’s first operation in Virginia and will bring 335 new jobs to Southwest Virginia. 

On the international front, Axxor Group, a Netherlands-based producer of honeycomb, announced it will establish its first U.S. operation in Pittsylvania County in Southern Virginia. In 2006, Swedwood North America, a furniture manufacturer and subsidiary of IKEA, selected Virginia as the location for its first U.S. manufacturing facility. As Axxor Group is a major supplier of honeycomb to Swedwood’s furniture manufacturing operations, this investment is a natural outgrowth of that initial partnership.  

Also arriving from across the pond is NBG Holding’s announcement to establish its first U.S. subsidiary, Fiber Cable Technology, in Botetourt county. The Austrian company will invest $5 million and create 25 new jobs to manufacture specialty optical fiber and optical cables for the defense and energy markets. 

Whether manufacturing furniture or fiber optic cable, companies from all around the world have recognized the pro-business advantages a Virginia location offers. To learn more about the breadth of industries served by the Commonwealth click here. You can also view a Made in Virginia video produced by the Virginia Manufacturers Association here.

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Virginia Sails Closer to Becoming the Energy Capital of the East Coast

Thursday, 20 October 2011 17:21 by Info@YesVirginia.org

With October slated as Energy Month in Virginia, the announcement of a new wind turbine test facility moves the Commonwealth one step closer to becoming the Energy Capital of the East Coast. Named Poseidon Atlantic, the facility will be located in Northampton County on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. VEDP recently attended the AWEA Offshore Wind Expo where Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling announced this project at a dinner for industry stakeholders.

Poseidon Atlantic will be the first comprehensive testing facility of its kind in the U.S. What makes this project unique is its ability to both test and certify the entire wind turbine (as opposed to testing component parts). Poseidon Atlantic will be the only U.S. site able to perform comprehensive testing for both offshore and land-based turbines.

The Poseidon Atlantic team selected Virginia for this project due to its prime location, as the Commonwealth couldn’t be more well-positioned for the offshore wind industry. Virginia has the ideal combination of strong Class 6 winds along the coast combined with shallow waters that allow for the easy installation of turbines and testing pads. The Commonwealth also has the necessary infrastructure already in place including an experienced maritime workforce, access to a fully operational high voltage transmission grid close to shore, and a robust transportation network including the Port of Virginia, which has the deepest obstruction-free channels on the East Coast.

Given the current worldwide shortage of full-service testing centers, this project positions Virginia at the forefront of the industry. Certification is a critical final step in the R&D process as wind turbine manufacturers often seek IEC certification prior to bringing a product to market. The facility is expected to build up to ten testing pads, leasing these to wind turbine manufacturers and bringing the global offshore wind supply chain to Virginia’s shores.

In addition to Poseidon Atlantic, Virginia has attracted additional private sector interest from wind industry leaders over this past year. In February, Gamesa Technology Corp. and Newport News Shipbuilding jointly launched the Offshore Wind Technology Center to develop next-generation offshore wind systems. The two companies were already collaborating to launch Gamesa’s first offshore prototype, the G11X-5.0 MW. In early October, Apex Offshore Wind, LLC and Maersk Line, Limited joined forces and announced their partnership to develop utility-scale offshore wind energy projects.

Though still in its infancy, the wind industry could create thousands of jobs for Virginians and provide a renewable source of energy. With the global supply chain recognizing Virginia’s unique assets and setting up shop along the coast, the Commonwealth is poised to become a hub for the offshore wind industry and one step closer to claiming the title, Energy Capital of the East Coast.

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Microsoft and Virginia - A Partnership for the Future

Wednesday, 5 October 2011 16:31 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Virginia and Microsoft have partnered once again – not surprisingly as both are IT leaders who realize staying at the top requires investing in the future. This time, that investment takes the form of educating the Commonwealth’s public high school students as Virginia is only the third state in the nation to implement the Microsoft IT Academy Program. With an aggressive goal of full participation by the end of this school year, the program will support both students and teachers by making software and coursework available including everything from computer basics to programming to the opportunity to earn recognized Microsoft certifications.

Virginia is certainly no stranger to technology with the highest concentration of high-tech companies in the country according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Microsoft has demonstrated its understanding of Virginia’s pro-technology climate through the 2010 announcement of its investment of up to $499 million to locate its latest generation data center in Southern Virginia’s Mecklenburg County. This was followed by a recent announcement that the company would invest $150 million to expand this advanced data center and add 21 MW of electric power capacity.

The groundwork to attract Microsoft’s data center and support its educational offering for all Virginians was quite literally laid several years ago by the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative. In an effort to support underserved rural areas in Southern Virginia, MBC established an 800 mile open-access, fiber-optic broadband network. While this advanced network has attracted a flurry of Gigaparks and technology companies to the former tobacco region, the network will also provide high-speed internet access to more than 100 schools in Southern Virginia through a federal broadband stimulus program.

Beginning this school year, students in two Southern Virginia counties have been equipped with high speed broadband for the first time. Jumping from 45 Mbps to 100 Mbps is a significant leap that allows students and teachers to take full advantage of the internet, specifically improving video streaming and online collaboration. Establishing high speed connectivity in rural areas like Southern Virginia sets the stage for Microsoft’s IT Academy to be successful.  This will be truly be a statewide  program, allowing students everywhere to take full advantage of Microsoft’s online resources  in order to build the technical skills necessary to fuel Virginia’s booming IT industry.

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Montgomery County Makes Inc. Magazine’s 500|5000 List for 2011

Tuesday, 27 September 2011 15:09 by Info@YesVirginia.org

With close to 300 Virginia companies on Inc. Magazine’s 2011 Inc. 500|5000 list of the fasting growing companies, the Commonwealth is very well represented. What is perhaps more impressive is the breadth of that representation, spanning multiple regions and industries. With our close proximity to the nation’s capitol, it is no surprise that more than 100 of these Virginia businesses were in the government services sector. However, the list of our top growing companies showed a healthy diversification across the IT, healthcare, business services, energy and education sectors as well. Virginia’s companies are growing in growth industries, which is great news for the Commonwealth.

Montgomery County is a microcosm illustrating this manifold growth. With three companies on the list in three different sectors, Montgomery County entrepreneurs exhibit the creativity and innovation Virginia is known for. Modea, a digital advertising agency, is a homegrown start-up with an impressive client list allowing for a new headquarters building and the addition of 200 employees over the next five years. UXB International is an environmental technology company specializing in demilitarization and weapons removal that has moved to Montgomery County to take advantage of the Virginia Tech Research Center. Harmonia Holding Group is another local startup catering to the software and systems engineering needs of the military and federal agencies from its headquarters, also located at the Virginia Tech Research Center. 

Learn more at the Montgomery County Economic Development News Center.

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A Success for Dex

Tuesday, 20 September 2011 11:43 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Who doesn’t love to hear a success story – especially one from right here in Virginia? Dex, a division of Arrow Truck Sales, dismantles used Mack and Volvo trucks to harvest components for reuse on other trucks. With more than 2.7 million heavy-duty trucks in operation in the U.S., there is a growing market for quality used parts.

Five years after signing a lease for a building space in Floyd Regional Commerce Center in Floyd, Virginia, Dex has reached its reuse and recycling goal. The challenge required Dex to reuse or recycle every component part of the heavy-duty trucks they acquire. While most parts were marketable for resale, Dex had to find new markets for items like glass, plastics, rubber or damaged pieces.

This extensive sorting and processing required extra time and resources, but given their core value of environmental care Dex remained committed to reaching their goal.

Dex’s facility in Floyd has 29 full-time employees. The company has outgrown the 50,000-square-foot space and is leasing other temporary space. With this growth they are also looking toward the future and are currently working on the design aspects of products to ensure Mack and Volvo trucks produce zero landfill waste.

David Ingram, Chairman of Floyd County’s Board of Supervisors, said, “We are very glad that Dex chose Floyd County five years ago. Every job they’ve added is important.”

Congrats Dex!

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Praise for Hanover County

Thursday, 15 September 2011 15:33 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Last month, Hanover County received heaping praise in a Richmond Times-Dispatch article that detailed how Hanover has continued to be a great place to live and work despite a tough economic environment.

Known for its passionate citizen involvement and strong partnerships between businesses and government, Hanover prides itself on responsible planning and good, old-fashioned hard work. While there are many individuals that contributed in one way or another, the true spirit of Hanover’s success continues to be a community effort.

Check out the full article here.

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Center for Advanced Engineering and Research Opens in Bedford County

Friday, 9 September 2011 10:12 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Last month, Bedford County and the Virginia Region 2000 Partnership announced the opening of the Center for Advanced Engineering and Research (CAER).  Held August 25th, the ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrated the fruition of a project that involved extensive regional collaboration over the course of several years.

With an overflowing parking lot, more than 100 public officials and business leaders attended the ceremony and got a first look at the new 30,000-square-foot facility. Businesses such as Babcock & Wilcox, Areva and Innovative Wireless Technologies, as well as the University of Virginia, have all secured space. The Region 2000 Partnership will continue to work toward securing more companies and organizations for the Center, which will be used 70% for research, 20% for community and outreach and 10% for administrative support. 

Speaking on behalf of Governor Bob McDonnell, Virginia’s Secretary of Technology Jim Duffy praised the partnerships that were fostered to open the center, and spoke of the “brightest minds” that will use the Center for research.

The goal of CAER is to be an industry-focused regional research and development center that drives the development of innovative products and processes by providing local access to university and federal research and inventions. It will target growth industries specific to the region, and will put university innovations into action through practical implementation in industry. CAER aims to increase the competitiveness for core, high-wage industries and improve the long-term prospects of existing industrial employers by creating a knowledge-based research hub for the region. 

Bill Guzek of the CAER Board of Directors said, “The center is meant to be an economic engine for the region. This is just the beginning.”

More information regarding CAER can be found on their website.

 

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Have You Heard?

Tuesday, 16 August 2011 15:02 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Just over a month after being named America’s Top State for Business by CNBC, Virginia has received another No. 1 ranking. The Commonwealth has been named the most pro-business state in the country by the 2011 Pollina Corporate Real Estate study: “Pollina Corporate Top 10 Pro-Business States for 2011: The Rise of the West.” Not only is it the third consecutive year that Virginia has taken home top honors, the Commonwealth won the 2011 top-ranking by the largest victory margin in the history of the study.

In its eighth year, the study is considered the “Gold Standard” in evaluating states by using a comprehensive ranking system based on factors ranging from taxes, right-to-work legislation, infrastructure spending and economic incentive programs. 

This year, Virginia lead over the number two spot by 44 points and was dubbed, “the brightest star on the American Flag,” in terms of its pro-business climate. But it’s not just our top spot status that garners such a prestigious title – the Commonwealth has held the top spot five times since the study began, with second place finishes in 2005 and 2006 and third place in 2008. Our consistent presence among the top pro-business states is proof that the Commonwealth has been and will continue to be open for business.

Virginia’s pro-business reputation was also reaffirmed this year by our second place finish in the Labor, Taxes and Other Factors category and our first place finish in the Incentives and Economic Development Agency Factors, which sites the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) as one of the “finest economic development organizations in the nation.” The Commonwealth also performed strongly in the Education and Infrastructure categories and continues to shine on its Report Card.

All of us at VEDP couldn’t be prouder to represent our state and are committed to keeping Virginia the best state for business.

Click here for more information on the rankings and to see the full report.

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SRI’s Center for Advanced Drug Research Continues to Grow

Friday, 12 August 2011 09:01 by Info@YesVirginia.org
YesVirginia Business Blog | A place for news, opinions, and information regarding the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.

Check out VEDP’s Ad for the UCI Road World Championships on NBC Sports

Tuesday, 22 September 2015 16:41 by Info@YesVirginia.org
As many of you are already aware, the 2015 UCI Road World Championship cycling event is taking place in Richmond this week. Excitement has built around the event, which is returning to the U.S. for the first time in nearly 30 years...

As many of you are already aware, the 2015 UCI Road World Championship cycling event is taking place in Richmond this week.

Excitement has built around the event, which is returning to the U.S. for the first time in nearly 30 years. It is a huge coup for Richmond to have been selected as the host city and furthers its reputation as a global destination. The championships are held annually in an international city chosen by the Union Cycliste Internationale through a competitive bidding process.

With 450,000 spectators expected to watch the race onsite and a TV audience in the hundreds of millions, this is certainly a tremendous opportunity to represent Virginia on the world stage. 

The Virginia Tourism Corp. has partnered with Richmond 2015, the organizer of the nine-day event, and will air 500 30-second commercials across U.S. domestic television broadcasts during the event. As part of Virginia's sponsorship, VEDP received a portion of these spots and produced a new commercial tailored to the UCI event that is airing on NBC Sports Network during the race this week.

VEDP worked with Richmond companies Elevation Advertising to create the ad and The Branching to produce it. Overcoast developed the original background track, incorporating the cycling sounds.

Richmond is fortunate to have a strong cycling culture and was able to draw upon local talent to film the ad. We’re grateful to Carytown Bicycle Company, who provided items for the shoot, and local cyclist John Eiler, who rides for Team Carytown Bicycle Company and appears in the commercial.

Sports commentators have already remarked on the beauty of the city and the diverse and challenging courses that Richmond offers to competitors.

To learn why Virginia is a great place to live, work and play, click here. Check out our TV ad below.

CCAM Graduates First Class of Transitioning Military and Veteran Training Students

Tuesday, 15 September 2015 14:58 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing recently celebrated the graduation of its first class from the Transitioning Military and Veteran Training Program. This initiative provides advanced manufacturing and precision machining training for active duty and veteran soldiers preparing to enter the civilian workforce...

The Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing recently celebrated the graduation of its first class from the Transitioning Military and Veteran Training Program. This initiative provides advanced manufacturing and precision machining training for active duty and veteran soldiers preparing to enter the civilian workforce.

The program was developed through a collaboration among CCAM, the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, Southside Virginia Community College, the Crater Regional Workforce Investment Board, the Virginia Employment Commission, 180 Skills and the Fort Lee Soldier for Life – Transition Assistance Program.

Fort Lee’s Soldier for Life program identified a group of transitioning soldiers to participate in the inaugural class. This gave the soldiers the opportunity to receive training, free-of-charge, during the last few months of their enlistment to prepare them to quickly begin a civilian career.

Training took place at SVCC’s Emporia Center and included 162 modules of interactive, online learning and 300+ hours of hands-on training. Instructors were provided by SVCC and SVHEC.

The eight graduates received a Machining Skills Certificate from SVCC and five industry credentials, including OSHA 10 and 4 NIMS (National Institute of Metalworking Skills) certifications.

Employers in the region, including Enclos Inc., Jewett Machine Inc., Richmond Tooling Inc., Rolls-Royce, Coesia North America and Kosmo Machine Inc. actively supported the program by participating in the curriculum design and visiting and mentoring students along the way.

All eight graduates have received job offers. 

“The motivation of the students and employers made this first class a success,” said CCAM Director of Workforce Development Bruce Sobczak. “Driven by feedback from local employers, we’re currently looking at expanding the curriculum to include industrial maintenance technician and industrial CAD drafter certifications, as well as adding a location to serve the military workforce in the Hampton Roads region.”

To learn more about the Transitioning Military and Veteran Training Program, contact Bruce Sobczak at bruce.sobczak@ccam-va.com.

More than 18,000 people exit Virginia military bases each year and enter the civilian workplace. This initiative is another shining example of the public-private partnerships that keep Virginia’s workforce at the top of their game. To learn more, click here.

The Transitioning Military and Veteran Training Program students celebrate their graduation with CCAM’s Bruce Sobczak (center) and their Fort Lee program managers (in uniform). Photo courtesy of CCAM.

McKee Foods Celebrates 25 Years in Virginia

Wednesday, 26 August 2015 16:14 by Info@YesVirginia.org
McKee Foods recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of its Stuarts Draft manufacturing facility in Augusta County, Va. McKee Foods is known for its Little Debbie® line of snack cakes. The family business has grown from a five-person bakery in the 1930’s to America’s No. 1 brand of snack cakes...

McKee Foods recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of its Stuarts Draft manufacturing facility in Augusta County, Va.

McKee Foods is known for its Little Debbie® line of snack cakes. The family business has grown from a five-person bakery in the 1930’s to America’s No. 1 brand of snack cakes.

The Stuarts Draft plant is one of the most advanced facilities in the baking industry. The company established the bakery in 1990 to produce oatmeal crème pies, honey buns and other bakery products.

The company’s most recent announcement in October 2014 included a $34 million investment and 54 new jobs to expand the facility.

McKee Foods employs more than 1,000 people and is the largest manufacturing employer in Augusta County. The company frequently credits the high productivity of its Virginia workforce as paramount to its success.

"We have found our Virginia workforce to be some of the most loyal and highly-skilled employees in the industry — and about 85 members of our Virginia workforce have been at the plant since it opened," said McKee Foods President and CEO Mike McKee.

In addition to a strong manufacturing workforce, Virginia provides McKee Foods with a strategic location, offering easy access to the company’s Northeastern and Canadian customers. Located in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, the Stuarts Draft location offers McKee employees a high quality of life with close proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway, Appalachian Trail and numerous national parks.

To learn why more than 580 leading food and beverage companies, like McKee Foods, have chosen to locate in Virginia, click here.

Representatives from McKee Foods, Augusta County and VEDP celebrate the company’s 25th anniversary in Stuarts Draft, Va. Photo courtesy of McKee Foods Corp.

Virginia Receives an “A” for Small Business Friendliness

Tuesday, 18 August 2015 14:39 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia received an A for overall friendliness on Thumbtack.com’s fourth annual Small Business Friendliness Survey. Virginia was the highest ranked state in the Mid-Atlantic and top 10 nationwide. Nearby competitors Maryland received a D+ and North Carolina a B-...

Virginia received an A for overall friendliness on Thumbtack.com’s fourth annual Small Business Friendliness Survey. Virginia was the highest ranked state in the Mid-Atlantic and top 10 nationwide. Nearby competitors Maryland received a D+ and North Carolina a B-.

Thumbtack.com surveyed 17,633 small businesses across the U.S. with 36 questions to evaluate the friendliness of state and local policies toward small businesses on more than a dozen metrics.

Highlights for the Commonwealth include an A+ for ease of starting a business, licensing regulations and environmental factors.   

“Small business owners on Thumbtack have consistently told us that they welcome support from their governments but are frequently frustrated by unnecessary bureaucratic obstacles,” said Jon Lieber, chief economist of Thumbtack.com. “Virginia's policies that support entrepreneurs could provide a helpful guide as we fight a general decline in business startups nationwide.”

“There is an excellent climate for small business in Virginia,” commented a translator and professor in Roanoke. “It is a great place to start and run a business because the state offers support, networking, referral and community enthusiasm.”

Richmond was ranked the No. 3 friendliest city in the U.S. and received an A+.

The survey results once again illustrate that Virginia is a great place for entrepreneurs to start and grow a business. To learn more about the Commonwealth’s pro-business policies, strategic location, competitive operating costs, leading research institutions and highly educated workforce, click here.

Image courtesy of Thumbtack.com

Classes Commence at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center’s IT Academy

Thursday, 13 August 2015 13:32 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Classes start this Monday, August 17, at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center’s IT Academy. The IT Academy offers a fast track for students to gain the knowledge and credentials to quickly obtain employment in the technology sector...

Classes start this Monday, August 17, at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center’s IT Academy.

The IT Academy offers a fast track for students to gain the knowledge and credentials to quickly obtain employment in the technology sector.

Seventeen students are enrolled in the first cohort, with classes scheduled Monday – Thursday evenings over a four month period. Afterwards, students can test for the Computing Technology Industry Association A+, Network+ and Server+ certifications. SVHEC is a member of the CompTIA Authorized Partner Program. 

Classes will take place in the newly renovated, 5,013-square-foot lab at SVHEC in South Boston, Va. The lab includes a data center, hardware repair center, computer-based classroom and conference area to closely approximate a real-world environment.

“We are seeing what I call a market correction in education with an increasing emphasis on students earning third-party credentials. The hands-on, intensive nature of the program allows students to quickly learn the skills they need to be successful in the workplace. Initiatives like the IT Academy are critical to closing the skills gap and preparing the region with skilled workers needed for jobs available right here, right now,” said Dr. Betty Adams, executive director of the SVHEC.

SVHEC and its partners initially designed the academy’s core curriculum around the three certifications and will develop advanced training based on needs and recommendations from major employers in the region. SVHEC worked closely with the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative, ATOS/Microsoft and HP to launch the academy.

The academy was announced in September 2014 after the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification & Community Revitalization Commission approved grant funding. Governor McAuliffe gave the keynote address at the ribbon-cutting ceremony this June.

To learn more about the program or sign up for the next cohort in June, visit http://www.svhec.org/ita.

The SVHEC IT Academy is another example of the cutting-edge training programs available across the Commonwealth. To learn how Virginia’s workforce can be the advantage for your business, click here.

Governor McAuliffe, Secretary Maurice Jones and SVHEC Executive Director Dr. Betty Adams join members of SVHEC and local officials at the IT Academy ribbon-cutting ceremony in June. Photo courtesy of SVHEC/Drew Morris.

VEDP’s Dan Gundersen to Speak at White House Forum on Economic Development

Wednesday, 29 July 2015 16:00 by Info@YesVirginia.org
VEDP’s COO Dan Gundersen was selected to speak at the fourth annual White House Forum on Economic Development hosted by the International Economic Development Council and SelectUSA...

VEDP’s COO Dan Gundersen was selected to speak at the fourth annual White House Forum on Economic Development hosted by the International Economic Development Council and SelectUSA.

This one-day summit allows a select group of economic development leaders from around the country to directly engage with senior members of the Obama Administration on topics with the greatest potential to impact job creation, such as infrastructure development, international trade and attraction, and manufacturing.

Gundersen will participate on a four-person panel entitled “Targeting and Landing Prospects:  Best Practices in International Attraction,” moderated by Peggy Philbin, Deputy Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of SelectUSA. He is the only state representative and will be joined by regional economic developers from Phoenix, Minneapolis/St. Paul and southeastern Michigan.

Gundersen will highlight Virginia’s presence around the globe, the Governor’s missions and recent successes of the VEDP team. 

“The White House Forum is a tremendous opportunity to meet with senior officials and discuss ways in which federal, state and local groups can work together to advance economic development and job creation. It’s an honor to be included with such a distinguished group to discuss the challenges facing our nation and the opportunity to broaden our message globally that the U.S. is a great location for business and investment,” said Gundersen.

Virginia will be well-represented as Barry Matherly, President and CEO of the Greater Richmond Partnership, was selected to moderate a panel on the next generation of manufacturing. Matherly also serves as the Vice Chair of the IEDC.

To learn more about Virginia’s unique combination of resources and why more than 700 international companies have chosen to call the Commonwealth home, click here.

RaesWear — Pouch Pants that Solve the Storage Problem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Virginia Western Community College Offers Cutting-Edge Mechatronics Training

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Shenandoah Valley Partnership Launches Education and Training Database

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take McKee Foods, maker of Little Debbie® snack foods and one of the area’s major employers, as an example. President and CEO Mike McKee stated, “We have found our Virginia workforce to be some of the most loya:plusone href="http://vedp.org/BlogSpot/post/Virginia-A-Leader-in-High-Tech.aspx" size="medium">

Virginia adds to its dominance in the high-tech sector by winning the new headquarters location for Acentia, a premier provider of technology and management solutions for both federal and commercial customers, which has moved from Maryland to its new home in Fairfax County. The project includes a $3.1 million investment and the creation of 60 new jobs for the Commonwealth.

While high-tech is often associated with the Silicon Valley, Virginia actually has the highest concentration of high-tech companies in the country. That’s according to the recently-released Enterprising States 2011: Recovery and Renewal for the 21st Century prepared by Praxis Strategy Group and Joel Kotkin for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In 2010 there were 12,999 high-tech firms in Virginia in industries such as Computer Systems Design Services, Engineering Services, Semiconductor and Related Device Manufacturing and Software Publishing. Over the last five years, Virginia’s high-tech sector has grown by 2,305 firms.

In addition to having the highest concentration of high-tech firms, Virginia also has the nation’s highest concentration of high-tech workers, according to the trade publication Cyberstates 2011. High-tech sector jobs grew to 277,575, up 6.7 percent in the Commonwealth from 2005 to 2010. Even more impressive, during this same time period high-tech employment fell by 6 percent nationwide.

Possessing a highly skilled IT workforce was an important part of winning the Acentia headquarters location for Virginia. According to Acentia CEO Todd Stottlemyer, “Fairfax County gives us access to the highly-skilled technical staff and management consultants we need to continue to provide essential services to our customers. As a company with very aggressive growth plans, we are excited about the possibilities that moving our headquarters to Virginia presents to our customers and the entire Acentia team. Our new space should be a springboard to a great 2012 for Acentia.”

To learn why Acentia and other high-tech companies such as CSC, General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman have all chosen Virginia, click here.

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The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP), a state authority created by the Virginia General Assembly to better serve those seeking a prime business location and increased trade opportunities, provides confidential site selection and international trade services. VEDP's mission: To enhance the quality of life and raise the standard of living for all Virginians, in collaboration with Virginia communities, through aggressive business recruitment, expansion assistance, and trade development, thereby expanding the tax base and creating higher-income employment opportunities.

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