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Just in time for the holidays, Amazon.com announced it will invest $135 million to establish two fulfillments centers – one in Chesterfield County and one in Dinwiddie County. 1,350 new jobs will be created from the combined project, which is the largest job announcement Virginia has seen since 2004.
This joint win comes as a result of both counties working over many years to ensure their business parks would attract world class companies like Amazon. The Meadowville Technology Park in Chesterfield and Dinwiddie Commerce Park in Dinwiddie are shovel-ready sites offering sufficient water, gas, and electricity capacity for large business customers, as well as convenient access to I-95, I-85 and the nearby UPS hub.
Due to their central East Coast location, these two fulfillment centers will expand Amazon’s distribution ring across the U.S. and allow the company to easily service customers within one to two business days. Virginia already has a strong reputation for its logistics capabilities reaching both global and domestic markets. The Port of Virginia, with its deep harbor and Suez-class cranes, offers companies the only East Coast location able to hand post-Panamax vessels as first port of call. With two Class I railroads, an Inland Port, and a world-class interstate system, companies located in Virginia can transport goods to customers quickly and cheaply.
Virginia is a popular place for logistics companies with two recent announcement including Ace Hardware and Backcountry.com. To learn more about Virginia’s logistics capabilities and why more than 364 global logistics projects have been announced in the past ten years click here.
On Friday, IMS:GEAR Virginia announced plans to expand its manufacturing operations in Virginia Beach, Va. The company has successfully operated in Virginia Beach since 2000, growing to become one of the leading suppliers of car seat gear assemblies to the North American automotive market. In order to meet the increasing demand from its Tier 1 customer base, the company is investing $35.5 million in a new facility and additional machinery that will significantly increase its production capacity.
With global headquarters in Germany, the company certainly had a wide choice of locations. Virginia was able to compete against Georgia and keep the company in the Commonwealth due to Virginia’s favorable business environment and the quality of its workforce. Virginia’s automotive industry employs close to 15,000 people who are well-prepared by the world-class engineering programs offered through Virginia’s higher education system. In addition, the Commonwealth maintains a number of automotive R&D facilities, including the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, the Virginia Tech Advanced Vehicle Dynamics Lab, The Virginia Tech Center for Automotive Fuel Cell Systems, the National Tire Research Center, the National Crash Analysis Center, the Virginia Institute for Performance Engineering and Research, the University of Virginia Center for Applied Biomechanics, and Old Dominion University’s Full Scale Wind Tunnel at NASA Langley.
Despite concerns about the economy’s impact on the overall industry, automotive manufacturers are still finding a home in Virginia. With 170 automotive companies across the state, Virginia companies cover all aspects of the industry, including vehicle assembly, bodies and trailers, component parts and tires. Virginia’s workforce and pro-business climate continue to attract investment, as more than 100 automotive projects totaling $1.6 billion have created more than 5,540 new jobs over the last ten years.
Some of the leading automotive companies that have set up operations in the Commonwealth include Federal-Mogul, Continental AG, Dynax America, Goodyear Tire & Rubber, Volvo Trucks North America and Volkswagen of America. To learn more about Virginia’s assets in the automotive industry click here.
Last Thursday, Rubbermaid Commercial Products (RCP) announced it will create 71 new jobs and invest $67.25 million to expand its manufacturing operations in Winchester and establish a new distribution center in nearby Frederick County. The company has a longstanding relationship with the Commonwealth, as Winchester has also served as the company’s headquarters location since 1968.
The expansion in Winchester will allow the company to increase its production capabilities and improve its energy efficiency by replacing older equipment with state-of-the-art injection molding equipment. In Frederick County, the company is taking over the now-vacant G.E. Lighting facility and will convert this into an updated 454,000-square-foot global logistics center. The availability of a suitable logistics facility close to the company’s headquarters certainly aided the Commonwealth in securing this project.
Known for its leading commercial cleaning and sanitation products, RCP’s growth includes both domestic and global customers, such as Shangri-La Hotels worldwide and the Hong Kong Airport. Virginia’s superior logistics capabilities were a critical advantage in winning this deal. Both locations provide convenient access to I-66 and I-81, and with the Virginia Inland Port only a few miles away, the company can access international markets through the Port of Virginia.
The Winchester-Frederick County area is quickly becoming a hub for global manufacturing companies. O’Sullivan Films, Federal-Mogul, Kraft Foods, H.P. Hood and Thermo-Fisher Scientific are just a few of the leading manufacturers that have chosen to expand operations in the area. To learn more about Virginia’s manufacturing capabilities and why these companies said yes to Virginia click here.
VEDP recently hosted a Global Logistics Forum for Virginia economic developers, site selection consultants and logistics providers to discuss supply chain market dynamics. Hitting maximum capacity, this gathering couldn’t have been more timely given the recent activity in transportation infrastructure projects across the Commonwealth.
The Governor’s 2011 transportation proposal was the largest investment road and railways had seen in 25 years. In addition, Virginia’s transportation infrastructure has been strengthened by a flurry of recent public-private partnerships announcing improvements to Route 58 and the Coalfields Expressway in Southwestern Virginia, the I-95 HOV/Hot lanes project in Northern Virginia, and the Midtown Tunnel and MLK Expressway extension project in the Hampton Road region.
And just why is transportation getting all this attention? It appears word has gotten out that transportation infrastructure and economic development are directly related. This was a key theme of the VEDP Global Logistics Forum, and in the words of Governor McDonnell the two are “inextricably linked”. Bringing companies and jobs to Virginia brings more people to the Commonwealth, and these additional people add more cars to the roads and consume more goods, requiring more freight to be delivered to communities. Nationally, freight is expected to increase 19 percent by the year 2022. Without investment in maintaining and expanding this infrastructure, inefficiencies will result in a competitive disadvantage, certainly felt more acutely in an environment of increasing energy costs.
Virginia is fortunate to a have a truly intermodal system of transportation spanning the water, railways, roads, air and even into space. As each mode is related to the entire system, an increase or decrease in efficiency in one mode affects the entire system. This interdependency acts as a multiplier effect, thus any investment to improve one mode, exponentially improves the efficiency of the entire transit system.
The Commonwealth’s transportation system is certainly getting the attention and investment it deserves in order to, literally, lay the groundwork for Virginia’s future growth. As Virginia seeks to advance its position as CNBC’s Top State for Business, improvements to transportation infrastructure allow the Commonwealth to compete at the global level and attract businesses, jobs and consumers to Virginia.
To learn more about Virginia’s global logistics assets and why the Commonwealth is a leading gateway to the world click here.
(Pictured below: VEDP Logistics Business Development Manager, Warren Hammer, presents Virginia’s transportation assets to a group of industry professionals.)
Once again Virginia has received a podium ranking from Forbes.com as the #2 Best State for Business in 2011. Virginia claimed the number two spot for the second year running after placing number one from 2006 – 2009. Forbes.com uses six categories to determine the results and Virginia scored in the top five in three of the categories, including labor supply, regulatory environment and quality of life.
According to Forbes.com, “Virginia ranks No. 2 for the second straight year after a four year run ranked first. Virginia has a strong, educated labor force and a pro-business regulatory climate. The only thing keeping it from the top spot is its outlook.” While the article listed possible changes in federal and military spending as the reason Virginia didn’t receive the top accolade, Virginia’s strong growth story is illustrated by its recent number one ranking for Economic Potential in Business Facilities magazine 2011 Rankings Report.
2011 has been an impressive year for Virginia, with number one rankings from CNBC and Pollina Corporate Real Estate, as well as a top five ranking from Site Selection magazine. Virginia’s number one CNBC ranking was significant not only because it has held one of the top two places since 2007, but in 2011 Virginia received the highest point total in the history of the ranking.
The factors that are used to calculate these results include energy costs, corporate tax rates, right-to-work legislation, workers compensation laws, educational opportunities, the quality and skill of the workforce, job creation, project development, the potential and viability of the state’s growth strategy and quality of life. The results are in and Virginia has shown it is open for business by consistently scoring top state rankings.
To learn more about Virginia’s unique combination of resources that have encouraged entrepreneurs to prosper here for more than 400 years click here.
Yesterday, leading biomass fuel manufacturer Enviva LP announced plans to build a 454,000 metric ton wood pellet manufacturing facility in Southampton County, Va. This $75 million investment will create 64 new full-time jobs as well as additional jobs through the company’s logging supply chain.
Virginia is on the fast track to lay claim to the title “Energy Capital of the East Coast,” and this is certainly another step towards that end. With an “all-of-the-above” solution to the energy crisis, the Commonwealth possesses resources across multiple sectors ranging from conventional fuel mining to natural gas and nuclear energy, all the way to renewable energy sources such as wind and biomass.
Enviva’s mission is closely aligned with the Commonwealth, as it seeks to balance energy needs with environmental concerns through a strong commitment to sustainable business practices. Recognizing that transportation is a component of a company’s total environmental impact, Enviva strategically locates its facilities within 75 miles of biomass sources. The company also selects locations in close proximity to waterways and ports for easy shipment to international customers, particularly in Europe.
Fortunately, Southeastern Virginia is uniquely positioned to meet the company’s needs on both counts. Best summed up by Enviva Chairman and CEO John Keppler, “Southampton County has all the elements essential to our success: a rich wood basket, a strong and seasoned timber industry, a skilled and experienced labor force and is logistically advantaged to our Port of Chesapeake export terminal." Enviva invested in a terminal at the Port of Chesapeake earlier this year due to its deep water capacity and ability to accommodate a large variety of vessels.
To learn more about Virginia’s energy assets and why 385 energy companies have set up operations in the Commonwealth click here.
Yesterday, leading coal supplier Alpha Natural Resources celebrated the opening of its new corporate headquarters building in Bristol, Va. Governor McDonnell was joined by state and local officials to congratulate the company at its unique ribbon-cutting ceremony where a team of coal miners cut a ribbon of miner’s belts to commemorate the new building. Located on 30 acres at the Sugar Hollow Business Complex, the 130,000-square-foot building was designed to meet the green building Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards.
Alpha Natural Resources announced its selection of Virginia as the site for its new headquarters building just over two years ago. The investment of more than $20 million combined with the creation of 69 new jobs and preservation of 131 jobs is a significant boon for the City of Bristol and Southwest Virginia.
Virginia can count yet another headquarters win to its all-star roster, successfully competing against Maryland and Tennessee for the business. Alpha Natural Resources is certainly an impressive company to add to this list. Commencing operations in 2002, the company has quickly grown to become the world’s third largest metallurgical coal supplier and the top metallurgical coal supplier in the U.S.
Location was a key deciding factor in Virginia’s favor. According to CEO Kevin Crutchfield, “The property is in a very attractive park-like setting and has easy Interstate access. A distinct advantage of the new location is its proximity to many of the company’s operations and its convenience for Alpha’s current corporate office work force.” With a long history of coal mining in Southwest Virginia, the company has an experienced work force to draw upon for future growth.
To learn more about Virginia’s booming energy industry and why other energy companies have said yes to Virginia click here.
Commonwealth Laminating & Coating, Inc. just announced plans to invest $16.5 million to expand its highly advanced manufacturing facility in Martinsville, Va. Secretary Cheng was on hand today to present President & CEO Steve Phillips with a Virginia Flag to celebrate the company’s growth as well as the 40 additional jobs this project will create.
As Southside Virginia continues its economic rebound, it is particularly good news for the region when valued employers, such as Commonwealth Laminating & Coating, choose to remain and grow in the area. Even more impressive, Virginia successfully competed against China for this project. Though the company has operations in eight locations across five countries, the Martinsville location serves as the company’s sole manufacturing facility, not to mention its corporate headquarters. With the ever present concern about manufacturing jobs migrating overseas, this expansion speaks volumes about how competitive Virginia’s business environment really is at the global level.
This expansion will allow the company to grow its solar control window film and high-performance coatings business serving the automotive, architectural, safety and security, and industrial markets. It also marks another win for Virginia as the Commonwealth stakes its claim as a leading polymer and film manufacturing location.
Virginia is home to more than 200 plastics companies that employ more than 20,000 residents. Since 2002, plastics and advanced materials companies have invested more than one billion and created more than 5,600 new jobs in Virginia. Recently, a number of new investments have been announced including Dupont, O’Sullivan Films and Green Mountain Coffee packaging supplier Phoenix Packaging. To learn why these plastics and advanced materials companies chose to locate their manufacturing facilities in Virginia click here.
What many commuters traveling through Dulles Airport may not know is that this airport handles a significant amount of commercial freight and is primed to handle additional air cargo capacity. From refrigerated food to flowers to pharmaceuticals and heavy equipment, Dulles Airport offers a number of competitive advantages for advanced manufacturers, freight forwarders and third-party logistics providers.
Officials from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), Loudoun County, and Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) recently hosted a group of site selection consultants to expound upon these strategic advantages – location, low operating costs and existing infrastructure.
Located at the center of the East Coast air cargo market, the Dulles Catchment Area covers 25 states and part of Canada with overnight service. Dulles has a dedicated access road providing a fast connection to I-95, and its close proximity to I-81 and I-70 provide an extensive ground transportation network to Eastern, Midwestern and Canadian markets. Due to the nature of goods being transported, timing is critical and gains in efficiencies not only deliver a better product to the end user, but save the shipper from incurring spoilage costs.
Of equal importance to its import capabilities, Dulles is also able to attract a strong market for export, which is crucial to establish cargo for the backhaul. “If exports and imports match up, it’s a huge enhancement and adds to the price-point value. Air freight carriers and manufacturers ideally want the planes to be fully loaded both coming and going,” said Warren Hammer, VEDP Business Development Manager – Logistics.
Dulles Airport can also be highly competitive from a cost standpoint. It is an industry standard to charge landing fees; however, Dulles bases its fees on the Maximum Landing Weight while many of its competitors base their fees on the Maximum Take-Off Weight. As an airplane weighs considerably less at landing, due to fuel consumption, these cost savings can add up over time. Dulles also competes favorably on other costs such as lower cargo handling and fuel fees, as well as fewer weather-related delays compared to its Northern counterparts, leading to an overall lower operational cost structure for carriers and manufacturers.
In 2010 Dulles handled almost 323,000 metric tons of freight, with more than 195,000 metric tons traveling internationally. Its 442 weekly international departures to 48 destinations around the world illustrate how Dulles has already developed a substantial infrastructure. “There’s already a critical mass for the global air cargo market, but what’s most exciting is there’s capacity to grow,” said Brent Sheffler, VEDP Managing Director - Advanced Manufacturing. Added Sheffler, “Dulles has 515,000 square feet of cargo warehouse space, nearly one million square feet of cargo ramp and hundreds of acres surrounding the airport to support highly-secured air cargo and climate-controlled distribution facilities.”
The air cargo capabilities of Dulles International Airport add to the compelling story of why Virginia is CNBC’s Top State for Business. To learn why Virginia’s is a leading gateway to the world click here.
Best known as the college town surrounding Virginia Tech, Blacksburg is making a name for itself as a family-friendly community after receiving top scores on a number of factors parents consider when deciding where to live. “Excellent schools, combined with an affordable cost of living, relatively low crime, and plentiful amenities lifted Blacksburg to first place in Businessweek.com’s sixth nationwide ranking of best places in each state in the U.S. to raise kids,” according to Bloomberg Businessweek.
Blacksburg offers residents a high quality of life with a multitude of recreational activities. Located between the Blue Ridge and Alleghany Mountains, the town provides easy access to the Appalachian Trail and the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. In addition to an aquatic and community center, Blacksburg maintains more than 400 acres of parkland which houses public playgrounds, sports fields and miles of walking and biking trails.
It is no surprise that the top city to raise children has an excellent educational system, with schools that score well above average on standardized tests. The community is home to seven public schools – from elementary through high school – as well as several private schools, day-care facilities and preschools. As for higher education, Virginia Tech was ranked 28th in U.S. News & World Report’s Top Public National Universities list and its College of Engineering was ranked 15th in the nation. With more than 100 centers and institutes performing research, Virginia Tech graduates enter the workforce armed with real world, problem-solving experience.
The Blacksburg workforce is highly educated, with two-thirds of residents above the age of 25 holding a bachelor’s degree or higher and 40 percent holding a graduate or professional degree. This type of educated workforce combined with the research capabilities of Virginia Tech is a huge draw for companies. The Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center is home to more than 140 high-tech companies and research centers and Blacksburg Industrial Park is one of several industrial and research business parks housing numerous high-tech and manufacturing companies. In fact, Blacksburg had three companies make Inc. Magazine’s 2011 500|5000 list of the fasting growing U.S. companies.
To learn more about why Blacksburg, Va. is the best place in the U.S. to raise a family click here.
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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