The MACH37 Cyber Accelerator Opens in Herndon, Virginia

Tuesday, 17 September 2013 16:10 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia’s new MACH37 Cyber Accelerator recently opened at the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) in Herndon, Va., just five months after the announcement of its creation...

Virginia’s new MACH37 Cyber Accelerator recently opened at the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) in Herndon, Va., just five months after the announcement of its creation.

The MACH37 accelerator program is designed to capitalize on Virginia’s expertise in the cybersecurity industry and help launch additional start-up companies developing innovative technology in this area.

The first five companies selected for this program are Cypherpath, Key Cybersecurity Inc., Pierce Global Threat Intelligence, CyberLingua, and Sikernes.

These companies will participate in two 90-day sessions. At the beginning of the first session, they will receive seed funding, followed by introductions to a network of cybersecurity experts and investors to help mentor and develop their products and technology. 

At the end of the first 90-day session, the companies will go before a professional panel on Demo Day. If the presentation is successful, selected companies will receive additional funding and be allowed to participate in the second 90-day session.

The MACH37 Cyber Accelerator is modeled after the Y-Combinator, an accelerator program in Silicon Valley that has helped develop more than 460 companies. The MACH37 program helps cybersecurity entrepreneurs bridge the gap between idea generation and commercialization. 

The program is named after the escape velocity of Mach 37, the minimum velocity needed to launch passed the earth’s gravitational field.

MACH37’s location at CIT is in the hub of the Dulles Technology Corridor, providing early stage companies access to a solid pipeline of high-tech employees.

In addition, CIT is partnering with Virginia Tech to develop a cyber test range available to MACH37 companies. This remotely-accessible test center will be located nearby at Virginia Tech’s Hume Center for National Security and Technology in Arlington, Va.

The MACH37 Cyber Accelerator is another shining example of how Virginia’s public and private institutions partner to create an innovate environment for entrepreneurs to create new products and technology. 

To learn more about Virginia’s pro-business research and development opportunities, click here.

Governor McDonnell meets with members of the cybersecurity community during the MACH37 Cyber Accelerator grand opening event at CIT in Herndon, Va.

First Deep Space Mission Launches from Virginia’s Wallops Flight Facility

Monday, 9 September 2013 17:03 by Info@YesVirginia.org
At approximately 11:27 p.m. on Friday, September 6, NASA, Orbital Sciences and the Virginia Space Flight Authority launched the LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer) Mission from Virginia’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) Pad OB at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore...

At approximately 11:27 p.m. on Friday, September 6, NASA, Orbital Sciences and the Virginia Space Flight Authority launched the LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer) Mission from Virginia’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) Pad OB at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

The LADEE Mission accomplishes a number of firsts—it is the first deep space mission to launch from the Wallops Flight Facility, as well as the first payload to launch on the U.S. Air Force’s Minotaur V rocket. The Minotaur V launch vehicle was built by Virginia company Orbital Sciences. 

The LADEE spacecraft was constructed using Modular Common Spacecraft Bus Architecture, representing a departure from custom design towards assembly production and multi-use design in order to reduce costs.

Upon completing three phasing orbits around the earth, the LADEE spacecraft will enter the moon’s orbit through a three-minute Lunar Orbit Insertion maneuver that involves firing the spacecraft’s onboard propellant for approximately three minutes.

After being captured by the moon’s gravitational field, LADEE will orbit around the moon for a 100-day science phase to collect data and study the lunar atmosphere. The moon’s atmosphere is classified as a surface boundary exosphere, a thin layer that is theorized to be the most common type of atmosphere in the universe.

Scientists hope to determine the density, composition and variability of the moon’s atmosphere, as well as learn more about the lunar dust environment. Knowledge gained through this mission can be extrapolated to the atmosphere of other planets, including Earth.

With another Antares mission expected to launch in mid-September from the MARS facility, Virginia remains at the forefront of U.S. space exploration. MARS is one of only four commercial sites authorized by the FAA for orbital space launches, and offers an ideal trajectory for earth orbit insertion.

To learn more about Virginia’s burgeoning aerospace industry, click here.

The LADEE Mission launches from Virginia’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on September 6. Photo courtesy of NASA/Carla Cioffi.

Service Center Metals Celebrates 10-year Anniversary and Expansion

Thursday, 5 September 2013 12:46 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Service Center Metals recently celebrated 10 years of doing business in Prince George County, Va. The ceremony, attended by Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, included a ground-breaking celebration for a second plant at the SouthPoint Business Park location...

Service Center Metals recently celebrated 10 years of doing business in Prince George County, Va. The ceremony, attended by Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, included a ground-breaking celebration for a second plant at the SouthPoint Business Park location.

Service Center Metals was founded in 2002 by three former Reynolds Metals executives to produce aluminum extruded products. As its name implies, Service Center Metals has chosen to focus exclusively on a unique niche—service center customers. 

After weathering the ups and downs of the last 10 years, the company now boasts more than 120 employees and $145 million in revenue. Since its opening, Service Center Metals has produced more than 635 million pounds of extrusions.

The company’s expansion includes a compact remelt plant that will be located adjacent to its extrusion plant. Currently, Service Center Metals must ship its aluminum scrap to and from a third-party provider to be remelted. Bringing this process in-house will allow the company to better recycle its scrap materials, as well as serve its customers more quickly and in an environmentally-friendly way.

As a home-grown manufacturing company, Service Center Metals is a strong example of the success entrepreneurs experience when they start a business in the Commonwealth. To learn more about Virginia’s innovative business environment, click here.

Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling (left center) joins company and local officials at the Service Center Metals ground-breaking ceremony in Prince George County, Va.

2013 ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index Ranks Virginia No. 5 in Economic Outlook

Wednesday, 21 August 2013 16:23 by Info@YesVirginia.org
In its sixth edition of Rich States, Poor States, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) recognized Virginia at No. 5 in its 2013 Economic Outlook ranking...

In its sixth edition of Rich States, Poor States, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) recognized Virginia at No. 5 in its 2013 Economic Outlook ranking.

The Economic Outlook category measures how a state is expected to perform in the future based on 15 policy areas controlled at the state level. The study points out the direct correlation between policy decisions and a state’s level of economic competitiveness.

Virginia has historically performed strongly in the Economic Outlook category—in five out of the last six years the Commonwealth has scored in the top five.

Virginia was the only state in the mid-Atlantic to break the top 10.

Rich State, Poor States highlights some of Virginia’s pro-growth policies that enabled it to achieve a top ranking. The Commonwealth’s pro-growth tax policies, fairness of its legal system, low workers’ compensation costs and right-to-work status were among the reasons Virginia’s economic outlook remains strong.

In addition, Virginia offers companies a corporate tax rate of six percent that remains unchanged since 1972, electricity costs below the national average, and the second lowest unemployment insurance tax rate in the nation.

Virginia has been providing companies with the right location and resources to succeed for more than 400 years. To learn why the Commonwealth continues to receive top accolades, click here.

VEDP Launches ‘Going Global’ Initiative for Defense Companies

Tuesday, 13 August 2013 14:45 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Today, VEDP announced the launch of its ‘Going Global’ initiative as part of its strategy to help Virginia defense companies mitigate the effects of sequestration...

Today, VEDP announced the launch of its ‘Going Global’ initiative as part of its strategy to help Virginia defense companies mitigate the effects of sequestration.

Sequestration is the name for the automatic federal spending cuts that began on March 1 as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011, enacted by Congress to resolve the U.S. debt-ceiling crisis.

The impact of Sequestration has been less severe than expected—Department of Defense contracts decreased from $56.9 billion in FY2011 to $51.5 billion in FY2012. However, the Commonwealth is the top state for DoD contracts, raising concerns that lost contracts could results in lower revenues for Virginia companies unless they can find new customers.

As part of its sequestration mitigation strategy, VEDP is working with Virginia defense companies to help them find those new customers overseas. The receipt of nearly $2 million in federal and state funds will allow VEDP to augment some of its most successful programs already underway within the International Trade division. 

For example, defense companies will be able to utilize VEDP’s Global Network team of in-country consultants from more than 55 countries. Market research services include compiling background information, identifying potential distributors, conducting due diligence, arranging matchmaking appointments with potential partners and customers, assessing competition, and helping companies understand the regulatory environment.
 
VEDP will be able to assist companies with export compliance. Virginia companies participating in this program will receive an export compliance analysis, including guidance on completing a Commodities Jurisdiction Analysis and submitting the required paperwork to the Department of State in compliance with International Traffic in Arms Regulations.

The grant will also allow companies to enhance their marketing and digital presence to target foreign markets through website translation and search engine optimization.

VEDP recently released an export guide for defense companies titled Export Opportunities for Virginia’s Defense Industry. The guide outlines regulations, processes and strategies specific to the defense industry, and contains marketing and sales best practices for both new and experienced exporters. 

VEDP’s International Trade division offers a wide variety of programs to help Virginia companies succeed in the global marketplace. To learn more, click here.

Virginia Receives Numerous Top Rankings from Business Facilities Magazine

Friday, 9 August 2013 10:35 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Once again, Virginia received a number of top rankings in Business Facilities’ 2013 State Rankings Report. The Commonwealth was ranked No. 5 for Best Business Climate and No. 8 for Economic Growth Potential...

Once again, Virginia received a number of top rankings in Business Facilities’ 2013 State Rankings Report. The Commonwealth was ranked No. 5 for Best Business Climate and No. 8 for Economic Growth Potential.

The strength of Virginia’s workforce and education system was recognized through a No. 8 ranking for Best Education Climate and a No. 9 in the Employment Leaders category.

A number of Virginia’s key industries were also touted by the study. Virginia was ranked No. 4 in the Data Center category. Data center investment has grown at a rapid pace in the Commonwealth due to Virginia’s plentiful high-tech workforce, substantial broadband infrastructure, and low-cost environment. In 2012, Virginia saw more than $1 billion in investment in this sector.

Virginia was ranked No. 7 in the Aerospace/Defense Industry Leaders category. This comes as no surprise, as the Commonwealth is the No. 1 state for Department of Defense contracts and is home to a number of global aerospace and defense companies due to its strengths in the high-tech and manufacturing spaces, strong military presence and close proximity to federal customers. Virginia also offers one of only four commercial sites authorized by the FAA for orbital space launch.

Often referred to as the “Energy Capital of the East Coast,” Virginia was recognized as a Biofuels Leader with a No. 7 ranking. The Commonwealth has seen a number of announcements in this sector—Enviva is currently completing construction on a 454,000-metric-ton wood pellet manufacturing facility in Southampton County. The company will utilize Southern Virginia’s rich wood basket, seasoned labor force, and proximity to the Port of Chesapeake to provide biomass for its international customers.

In addition, three Virginia localities were recognized in the Business Facilities Metro Rankings Report. Prince George County was rated No. 7 for Economic Growth Potential, due in part to expansions at Ft. Lee, Rolls-Royce and the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM). 

Newport News and Norfolk were ranked No. 2 and No. 9, respectively, as Logistics Leaders (Ports) for their proximity to the international Port of Virginia. Offering access to 250 ports in more than 100 overseas locations, the Port of Virginia is the only U.S. East Coast location able to handle post-Panamax vessels as first port of call.

Virginia continues to receive top accolades because the Commonwealth offers the location and resources businesses need to succeed. To learn why companies have prospered in Virginia for more than 400 years, click here.

Nine Virginia Schools Make Forbes 2013 America’s Top 200 Colleges Report

Thursday, 1 August 2013 16:30 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Once again, Virginia colleges and universities made a strong showing on the Forbes 2013 America’s Top Colleges list...

Once again, Virginia colleges and universities made a strong showing on the Forbes 2013 America’s Top Colleges list.

Nine Virginia institutions were ranked in the Top 200 in the Overall Category: Washington and Lee University (No. 21), University of Virginia (No. 29), College of William and Mary (No. 44), Virginia Military Institute (No. 87), University of Richmond (No. 88), Virginia Tech (No. 110), James Madison University (No. 168), Hampden-Sydney College (No. 189), and George Mason University (No. 197).

Virginia schools also stood out in a number of categories. Washington and Lee University was ranked No. 20 on the Best Private Colleges list, and James Madison University came in at No. 21 on the Best Value Colleges List.

Three Virginia schools made the Top 25 in the Best Public Colleges category. University of Virginia was ranked No. 4, College of William and Mary was ranked No. 9, and Virginia Military Institute came in at No. 17.

What is unique about this ranking is that Forbes focuses on ROI and what students get out of their college experience. Forbes looks at five areas to determine its rankings—student satisfaction scores, post-graduate success, student debt, graduation rates and nationally recognized awards.

Virginia’s higher education system currently includes more than 450,000 students enrolled at institutions ranging from 15 comprehensive public institutions, eight of which offer doctoral programs, more than 50 private accredited four-year colleges and universities, and 23 public community colleges.

The quality of Virginia’s workforce is often cited as a critical advantage by companies in the Commonwealth, and with a world-class higher education system, Virginia is poised to maintain a strong pipeline of skilled workers.

To learn how Virginia’s premier higher education system is preparing a skilled workforce for the future, click here.

The Gateway Center for Enterprise Opens in Central Virginia

Thursday, 25 July 2013 16:43 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Today, Virginia’s Gateway Region opened The Gateway Center for Enterprise in Colonials Heights, Va., with the first of many third Thursday networking events...

Today, Virginia’s Gateway Region opened The Gateway Center for Enterprise in Colonials Heights, Va., with the first of many third Thursday networking events.

Today’s event was geared towards new entrepreneurs, with a speaker panel that provided information on how to start and grow a small business. Future third Thursday topics include how to access capital and leadership skills for innovators.

The focus of The Gateway Center is to support local entrepreneurs through a variety of programs, including training, networking events, one-on-one counseling, mentorship programs, and access to the office, library and resource center of Virginia’s Gateway Region. 

The Gateway Center was made possible through partnerships with The Center for Women's Enterprise at REDC Community Capital Group and the Crater Small Business Development Center at Longwood University. 

The center is housed within the main office of Virginia’s Gateway Region, a regional economic development group that supports the cities of Colonial Heights, Hopewell and Petersburg, and the counties of Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Prince George, Surry and Sussex.

Located in Central Virginia, the Gateway Region offers companies easy access to U.S. and international markets through Virginia’s premier transportation network. Advanced manufacturing, global logistics and food processing companies have been drawn to the area’s skilled workforce and access to top education and research institutions.

The Gateway Center is another example of the innovative environment Virginia offers to entrepreneurs. To learn more about starting a business in the Commonwealth, click here.

Virginia's Gateway Region houses The Gateway Center for Enterprise in Colonial Heights, Va.

High-tech “Fab Lab” Comes to Virginia’s Patrick Henry Community College

Monday, 22 July 2013 15:47 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) began offering tours of its Fab Lab this summer. The Fab Lab is short for digital fabrication laboratory, which gives students and local businesses access to 3D design and prototyping equipment to create new products and inventions...

Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) began offering tours of its Fab Lab this summer. The Fab Lab is short for digital fabrication laboratory, which gives students and local businesses access to 3D design and prototyping equipment to create new products and inventions.

The Fab Lab concept originated at MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms. In November 2011, PHCC, the New College Institute and Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation sponsored a two-week visit from the Mobile Fab Lab of the Carolinas. During that time the lab received more than 300 visits from interested students and community members.

Working with the same partners, PHCC was able to obtain funding from the Virginia Community College System to purchase equipment and establish its own Fab Lab.

Located at the The Artisan Center in Martinsville, the 1600-square-foot Fab Lab houses a Roland MDX 20 mini mill, Roland CAMM-1 Servo GX-24 vinyl cutter, Stratasys uPrint SE Plus FDM 3D printer, Morgan Industries Morgan Press G-100T Injection Molder, Formech 686 Vacuum Former, Universal Laser 4.60, Routermate 4’ x 4’ CNC router and Torchmate 2’ x 4’ CNC plasma cutter.

The 10 Dell workstations in the lab offer open source software, which allows entrepreneurs and students to seamlessly continue their work at home or in other locations.

The Fab Lab has generated a lot of interest among students and business partners in the community. Lab Coordinator Matthew Wade estimates the lab has seen more than 100 visitors since its soft launch in April.

The lab will host a grand-opening event this fall to coincide with its first class, a basic manufacturing class that will teach students and entrepreneurs how to use the equipment in the lab to bring their ideas to life.

“Inventors can create designs with our software, use the vinyl cutter and CNC mill to fabricate and carve out a circuit board, and then utilize our 3D printer to produce a working model of their new product idea,” said PHCC Lab Coordinator Matthew Wade.

The PHCC Fab Lab is another example of the cutting-edge technology available at Virginia’s colleges and universities, helping prepare a strong pipeline of technically-skilled workers. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s recent Enterprising States study, Virginia is the No. 1 state in STEM job concentration and has the No. 1 share of high-tech businesses.

To learn more about Virginia’s leading higher education system and workforce preparation programs, click here.

A view of the Patrick Henry Community College Fab Lab in Martinsville, Va.

German Investment in Virginia Continues—PRUFREX Establishes First U.S. Location

Wednesday, 17 July 2013 16:23 by Info@YesVirginia.org
PRUFREX Innovative Power Products GmbH announced plans to establish its first U.S. location in Virginia Beach through a $7.33 million investment, which will create 60 new jobs. The project includes both a manufacturing facility as well as the company’s U.S. headquarters...

PRUFREX Innovative Power Products GmbH announced plans to establish its first U.S. location in Virginia Beach through a $7.33 million investment, which will create 60 new jobs. The project includes both a manufacturing facility as well as the company’s U.S. headquarters.

PRUFREX is a leading producer of digital ignition systems and electronic control systems for the small engine, marine and recreation, automotive, and electric and cordless power markets. The company’s global headquarters are in Cadolzburg, Germany.

The benefits of supply chain for economic development are apparent in this project—PRUFREX selected Virginia Beach over Georgia to be closer to two key customers, German-based BMZ Batteries and STIHL Inc.

STIHL opened its first U.S. plant in Virginia Beach in 1974, and has since grown to become the No. 1 brand of chain saws in the world. The company’s U.S. headquarters are now located in Virginia Beach, and since 1990 the company has announced investment of $335 million and 942 new jobs in the Commonwealth.

BMZ Batteries followed in April 2011, also establishing its U.S. headquarters in Virginia Beach to be close to STIHL and its other international customers. 

Germany has been in the top three for international investment and job creation in the Commonwealth over the last four years.

PRUFREX, BMZ Batteries and STIHL have all made reference to the quality of Virginia’s workforce, particularly its engineering and advanced manufacturing capabilities, as well as the Commonwealth’s strategic East location and ability to easily reach U.S. customers through its premier logistics infrastructure.

Virginia’s transportation network includes access to the international Port of Virginia, the only U.S. East Coast location able to handle post-Panamax vessels as first port of call, as well as an integrated system of six interstate highways, nine commercial airports and 14 railroads, including two Class I lines.

To learn why Virginia is home to more than 700 internationally-owned companies, click here.

Institute of Advanced Learning and Research Launches First Company—Dan River Plants

Tuesday, 16 July 2013 15:46 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Institute of Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) recently announced its first commercial spin-off, Dan River Plants, LLC...

The Institute of Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) recently announced its first commercial spin-off, Dan River Plants, LLC.

Dan River Plants uses micropropagation technology to create, clone and grow plants at a rapid rate. The technology was developed through collaboration between IALR’s Institute for Sustainable and Renewable Resources and Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. 

Micropropagation utilizes plant tissue cultures to grow identical plants by an order of magnitude, yielding rapid and reliable results. The company is producing both decorative plants, such as lilies, roses and azaleas, as well as biofuel crops. 

Dan River Plants plans to invest $1.3 million and create 27 new jobs to establish a facility at Ringgold East Industrial Park in Pittsylvania County, Va.

IALR was established in 2000 through partnerships among Virginia Tech, Averett University, Danville Community College, Pittsylvania County, City of Danville, Future of the Piedmont Foundation, Tobacco Indemnification Commission and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The center uniquely operates as a research and development facility, education leader, business incubator and conference center.

We have previously blogged on some of IALR’s programs, including its STEM Mobile Learning Lab and the Virginia Polymer Coalition.

IALR has strategically positioned itself to capitalize on the expertise found in Southern Virginia. The center focuses on four main areas of research, including sustainable and renewable resources, analytical chemistry, polymers and composites, and vehicle research.

IALR is yet another example of the innovative research and collaboration with universities that supports Virginia businesses, from start-up to late stage. To learn more about opportunities to co-locate with Virginia’s leading universities at R&D centers across the Commonwealth, click here.

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Virginia Economic Development Partnership is the Best State for Business

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

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

From Rebuild to Reopen

Monday, 23 May 2011 08:24 by Info@YesVirginia.org

During the month of April, the South was devastated after hundreds of tornados tore through the region.  Homes and businesses were damaged and even destroyed, leaving those affected with little to do but pick up the pieces.

In the face of such destruction, it’s difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel—and for many—getting back on their feet could take months.  So when we heard the news that Utility Trailer Manufacturing Company was already reopening their manufacturing facility in Washington County, we were thrilled.

Utility’s dry van plant was struck by a tornado on April 28,th leaving considerable damage to the roof and building, but fortunately sparing the company’s 340 employees.  The plant manufactures Utility’s 4000D and 4000D-X Composite™ dry van trailers and it was a priority to get the facility up and running after the storm. Utility’s President, Harold Bennett praised employees and contractors saying, “[they] have done a masterful job of clean-up, debris removal, clearing damaged inventory, and helping the community rebuild what was lost from the tornado devastation.”  He went on to say, “the committed effort by Utility employees at cleaning up and restarting Glade Spring reinforces [his] faith in the human spirit and people’s ability to rise above near tragedy.”

Bennett’s praise is certainly not news to us here in Virginia. Our workforce is continually lauded by companies as hard-working, highly-skilled and educated, and diverse in their abilities and skill-sets. And as Virginians, we know that our workers aren’t just ready to perform the tasks at hand, they are also invested in their communities and in the lives of fellow citizens. So while disaster is never welcome, our workforce— one of Virginia’s biggest assets—continues to prove that they are the backbone of successful industry.

Release Reels also works with Rappahannock Community College and hires interns with an interest in machining as a career. “Giving a chance to somebody that might not be university bound has been pretty cool. Manufacturing is not what it used to be, it’s technology driven. We run a clean shop and it’s a great environment where people can learn a lot,” said Seigler.

The company’s high standards and customer service have paid off. After beginning with production of 100 reels per month, the company is now selling almost 600 reels per month and building the infrastructure to grow beyond that. They have also expanded into international markets from Europe to Southeast Asia.  

“The international market is huge for us,” noted Seigler. “People love an American-made product. Japan has a large fishing industry with some of the top shops in the world there. Being accepted by those customers is a strong statement for the quality of our products.”

As we celebrate Virginia Business Appreciation Month, Release Reels is a great example of the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit alive in the Commonwealth. To learn more why Virginia is a great place to grow a business, click here.

Release Reels Founder and President Wes Seigler demonstrates the company’s premium saltwater fishing reels for a future customer. Photo courtesy of Release Reels.

Highground Services — A Successful Graduate of the Franklin Business Incubator

Friday, 1 May 2015 09:34 by Info@YesVirginia.org
John Warren and James Strozier, two former International Paper employees, put their experience together and became entrepreneurs when they created Highground Services in 2006. They co-founded the company with their wives, allowing it to qualify as a veteran-owned, SWAM (small, women-owned and minority) business...

John Warren and James Strozier, two former International Paper employees, put their experience together and became entrepreneurs when they created Highground Services in 2006. They co-founded the company with their wives, allowing it to qualify as a veteran-owned, SWAM (small, women-owned and minority) business.

The company provides high quality engineering services for process control, system automation and instrumentation projects.

The company was off to a fast start — they landed their first contract with International Paper in May 2007 and became a part of the Franklin Business Incubator that December.

When International Paper announced the closing of its Franklin Mill in 2009, this represented a substantial part of Highground Services’ sales.

Rather than be discouraged by the economic downturn and loss of their largest customer, Warren and Strozier seized the opportunity to hire displaced International Paper workers and expand their customer base. They also diversified their business by providing new services, including electrical construction and plant maintenance.

“We made a conscious decision to locate in a historically underutilized business zone and we really value being a part of this community,” said CEO James Strozier. “Our employees are tremendous and they worked tirelessly to help us not only survive, but thrive in what could have been a very challenging time.”

The company’s efforts have paid off in multiple ways. They received the Virginia Business Incubation Association's Donna Noble Incubator Client Award in 2009, UVA’s Darden School of Business Tayloe Murphy Resilience Awards in 2011 and the Franklin/Southampton Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year Award in 2010.

Highground Services has surpassed the $5 million revenue mark for the third straight year, and grown from four founders to 65 employees. The company is also poised to graduate from the Franklin Business Incubator and is in the process of purchasing a building across the street in downtown Franklin.

The entrepreneurial spirit and resiliency of Highground Services is a great reminder of the innovation that exists here in the Commonwealth as we celebrate Virginia Business Appreciation Month. To learn why Virginia offers the resources for entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses, click here.

Co-founders Jim and Lisa Strozier (center) are joined by local officials in front of their new property in downtown Franklin, Va.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Ranks Virginia a Top State for Performance, Innovation and Talent

Monday, 6 May 2013 17:18 by Info@YesVirginia.org
In its fourth annual Enterprising States study, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce gave Virginia top marks in three out of six categories. Virginia was ranked No. 3 in Overall Innovation and Entrepreneurship, No. 5 in Overall Performance, and No. 5 in Overall Talent Pipeline...

In its fourth annual Enterprising States study, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce gave Virginia top marks in three out of six categories. Virginia was ranked No. 3 in Overall Innovation and Entrepreneurship, No. 5 in Overall Performance, and No. 5 in Overall Talent Pipeline.

This year’s theme, Getting Down to Small Business, focused on the importance of small businesses to lead the economic recovery, and looked at how states can implement policies to support entrepreneurs.

The study noted the importance of accelerator initiatives, economic gardening activities, business plan competitions, workforce development curricula and international trade programs—all of which Virginia does. Governor McDonnell’s 2012 Year of the Entrepreneur initiative and Virginia’s Business One Stop program received special recognition in the report.

Virginia was able to obtain a No. 3 ranking in Overall Innovation and Entrepreneurship due to its leadership in science and technology. According to the study, Virginia is the No. 1 state in STEM job concentration and has the No. 1 share of high-tech businesses.

The Commonwealth’s high standard of living and No.1 ranking in adjusted median family income helped Virginia to achieve a Top 5 spot in Overall Performance.

The report also noted Virginia’s well-educated workforce, including strong high school advanced placement scores, educational attainment, and higher education efficiency—all contributors to Virginia’s success in obtaining a Top 5 ranking in Overall Talent Pipeline.

These top rankings confirm Virginia’s position as a leading place for small businesses and entrepreneurs. The Commonwealth recently received an “A” for its small business friendliness from The Kauffman Foundation and Thumbtack.com.

With March unemployment at 5.3 percent, the lowest number since December 2008, the Commonwealth’s focus on small business and job creation is yielding positive results. To learn why Virginia continues to be a great place to start a business, click here.

Small Businesses Rank Virginia A Top Ten Friendliest State for Doing Business

Monday, 11 June 2012 09:31 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia was ranked the No. 7 Friendliest State by more than 6,000 small businesses surveyed by Thumbtack.com and the Kauffman Foundation in the recently published Thumbtack.com Small Business Survey...

Virginia was ranked the No. 7 Friendliest State by more than 6,000 small businesses surveyed by Thumbtack.com and the Kauffman Foundation in the recently published Thumbtack.com Small Business Survey.

Virginia was in the top ten nationwide in the following categories: lowest cost to hire a new employee, business-friendly labor and hiring regulations, strong training programs, and networking events geared towards small businesses.

The Commonwealth was also the No. 1 state in the Mid-Atlantic region in the categories of overall small business friendliness, lowest cost of hiring a new employee, and ease of starting a small business.

Small businesses and entrepreneurs are at the heart of economic growth, providing 65 percent of net new jobs nationwide between 1993 and 2009, according to the Thumbtack.com Small Business Survey.

Governor McDonnell’s recent announcement of new legislature to encourage investment in small business further illustrates Virginia’s intent to attract and assist small businesses. Senate Bill 344 and House Bill 585 created the Small Business Investment Grant Fund which offers a grant equal to 10 percent of the qualified investment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grow Internationally With a Helping Hand

Friday, 28 August 2009 11:23 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Operating a company has its challenges. Taking the leap to expand your business internationally can be downright daunting.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Since 2006, VEDP’s Global Network has helped nearly 200 Virginia companies navigate common international obstacles—language and cultural barriers and the like—and provide the services they need to set up shop overseas. The Network removes much of the risk by offering pre-screened, in-country consultants, who, in partnership with VEDP International Trade, deliver industry-specific market research. Recently, the Network expanded into 17 additional countries, including Bulgaria, Turkey, the Netherlands, Israel and South Africa, now providing in-country services in a total of 44 different countries.

Research available ranges from the best strategy for entering a particular market to information on distributors, competitors and potential clients. Once the company visits its target market, the Global Network provides a host of in-country services, including logistical support, matchmaking assistance and service provider contacts.

Nancy Cleveland of LC Technologies in Fairfax used the Global Network to find a reputable distributor in France.  LC Technologies has developed a unique technology that uses eye movement to control computers and monitor and record eye motion and related eye data. 

 “We really could not have found CIMIS [LC Technologies’ new distributor] in France without the help of VEDP’s Global Network,” Cleveland said. “It’s difficult to find good people in other countries, and VEDP has been invaluable in helping us locate CIMIS, a good match for our very specialized technology.”

During these difficult economic times, when U.S. sales are down for many Virginia businesses, it is vital that companies look beyond American borders for sales opportunities.  The Global Network provides a familiar, helping hand full of critical and timely information about opportunities in specific industries in 44 target markets. The services are free to Virginia companies up to $3,000 per fiscal year. For more information about VEDP’s Global Network, visit http://www.exportvirginia.org/.

Celebration Leads to Jobs in Martinsville

Friday, 14 August 2009 15:43 by Info@YesVirginia.org

The Martinsville-Henry County community has reason to celebrate. Monogram Food Solutions, LLC, a meat manufacturer out of Memphis, announced it will purchase the meat snack business of American Foods Group, LLC (also known as Knauss Foods), including the Martinsville production facility. The company plans to invest $3 million to expand production capacity at the Patriot Centre Industrial Park facility. The company has committed to investing every dollar it can in the local economy. More importantly, Monogram Food Solutions has agreed to keep all of the current employees and add 120 new jobs. www.YesVirginia.org

This announcement is like a breath of fresh air for a region that has been wrestling with a double-digit unemployment rate that’s more than twice the national average. Monogram Food Solutions’ average annual salary of about $28,000 is right in line with the region’s prevailing average wage, and 120 new jobs will provide a welcome opportunity for some of the 800+ folks who have been laid off since January 2008. About 50 people have already been hired. Another 70 should be employed by the end of the year.

The job requirements? “Energetic, passionate people who are not afraid of hard work,” was what the company was looking for, according to Ches Jackson, President of Monogram Meat Snacks. They shouldn’t be too hard to find in Martinsville.

 

Virginia Helps Companies Make Headlines

Monday, 10 August 2009 09:51 by Info@YesVirginia.org

LiteSteel Technologies America, Canon, Optical Cable Corporation, Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding and GE Energy were recently showcased in IndustryWeek as the definition of advanced manufacturing.

LiteSteel was touted for its globality and Canon for its sustainability. Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding was highlighted for its successful supply chain network and Optical Cable Corporation for customization. GE Energy received high marks for leading-edge technology.

Had they paid for that horn-tooting ink in the form of an advertisement it a) would not have had the credibility of a third-party validator such as IndustryWeek behind it and b) would have cost upward of $10,000. Instead, these companies in June gave an hour of their time, some refreshments and a few chotchkies bearing their brand. In return, they received positive coverage in one of the most powerful business-to-business media venues out there thanks to their participation in the Virginia Advanced Manufacturing Media Tour, hosted by VEDP. 

VEDP coordinates two media tours annually to bring awareness to industries that are experiencing success across Virginia.  While the chief objective of the tour is to promote Virginia as an ideal business location, we also manage to snag a positive headline here and there for participating companies.

Media tours are just one of many ways VEDP works to nurture Virginia’s relationship with its corporate community. A company’s partnership with the Commonwealth doesn’t end when the shovel pierces the Earth. It’s only just beginning. To learn more about partnering with Virginia, visit www.YesVirginia.org.