Virginia Delivers — Inaugural Flower Shipment from Ethiopia

Monday, 13 February 2012 10:33 by Info@YesVirginia.org
If you receive a bouquet this Valentine’s Day, it may contain flowers flown in from Ethiopia. Ethiopian Airlines delivered its first shipment, nearly two tons of Hypericum flowers, to Washington Dulles International Airport in January, and continues to deliver this amount on a weekly basis...

If you receive a bouquet this Valentine’s Day, it may contain flowers flown in from Ethiopia. Ethiopian Airlines delivered its first shipment, nearly two tons of Hypericum flowers, to Washington Dulles International Airport in January, and continues to deliver this amount on a weekly basis.

Arriving in perfect condition from Addis Ababa, this shipment of the Hypericum Coco variety was grown by Sun Kissed Flowers on the highlands of Ethiopia in East Africa. Ethiopia’s elevation, soil quality and weather conditions are perfect for slow-growing flowers, making some of the highest quality Hypericums in the world. A popular filler flower used to complement bouquets, the Hypericum’s signature berries resemble the coffee bean, one of Ethiopia’s better known exports.

While flowers may not be top of mind when Westerners think about Ethiopia, the country’s horticulture industry is on the rise. Also a global leader in producing a wide variety of roses and carnations, EthiopianFlowerExport.com reported the country exported 450 million cut flowers in the first quarter of fiscal 2011, with expectations to generate $530 million in revenues by 2014.

This milestone is part of the transformation taking place among commercial air carriers. Faced with rising operating costs, carriers are trying to squeeze every possible dollar to hold margins steady — hence the air cargo industry has taken off. (For additional information on the air cargo industry see our November blog.)

When it comes to delivering perishable cargo, such as flowers, Virginia’s logistics network is world-class. Dulles’ central East Coast location is within a day’s reach of more than 50 percent of the U.S. market. With a catchment area that covers 25 states and parts of Canada, as well as a dedicated access road to I-95, Dulles’ ability to save valuable time and spoilage costs has made it a sought-after import/export location.

More than 240 companies have set up distribution centers in the Commonwealth and companies shipping perishable goods, such as flowers, food and pharmaceuticals, are discovering the benefits of Virginia’s premier air cargo industry. To learn more Virginia’s world-class logistics capabilities click here.

Fortune 100 Company Honeywell Chooses Virginia - Again

Thursday, 9 February 2012 12:07 by Info@YesVirginia.org

While it’s always exciting when a new company opens its first operation in the Commonwealth, VEDP is just as enthusiastic when a long-standing Virginia company chooses to expand its operations here. That’s just what happened when Honeywell announced its plans to expand its Advanced Fibers and Composites (AF&C) operation in Chesterfield County through an investment of $27.5 million, which will create 50 new jobs.

Honeywell began operating in Virginia back in 1928 and this 80-plus year history has resulted in 17 facilities across the Commonwealth that employ 1,800 Virginians. Continued expansion and investment in Virginia confirms the company’s positive experience in the Commonwealth, allowing Virginia to beat out North Carolina and South Carolina for this project.

Honeywell’s AF&C business manufactures the lightest and strongest polyethylene fiber in the world. Its life-saving technology is used in applications to protect military and police officers where lightweight strength is critical. Bullet-resistant vests, breast plates, helmets, combat vehicles and military aircraft are just a few applications for AF&C’s world-class polyethylene fiber.

Virginia’s appeal to the plastics and advanced materials industry spans numerous subsectors including fiber and film manufacturing, blow molding, injection molding, pipe manufacturing, thermoforming and equipment manufacturing. With recent announcements from the likes of DuPont, Rubbermaid Commercial Products, Tessy Plastics, O’Sullivan Films and Phoenix Packaging, Virginia has made its mark as an ideal location for plastics and advanced materials companies. To learn more click here.

Advance Auto Parts Adds Financial Center to Virginia Headquarters

Wednesday, 8 February 2012 10:02 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Advance Auto Parts recently announced its plans to establish a Financial Services Commercial Customer Care Center at its corporate headquarters location in Roanoke, Va. Located at the Crossroads Corporate Business Center, this project will bring an $8 million investment and 75 new jobs to Roanoke over the next three years.

Advance Auto Parts recently announced its plans to establish a Financial Services Commercial Customer Care Center at its corporate headquarters location in Roanoke, Va. Located at the Crossroads Corporate Business Center, this project will bring an $8 million investment and 75 new jobs to Roanoke over the next three years.

Historically catering to the do-it-yourself market, Advance Auto Parts has expanded its customer base to include commercial customers. This project will allow the company to enhance its customer service to this market, bringing the management of the entire commercial credit experience under one roof.

Commencing operations in Roanoke 80 years ago, Advance Auto Parts has successfully grown its operations in the Commonwealth from a small, family-run business to a Fortune 500 Company. CEO Darren R. Jackson recently rang the bell at the NYSE to celebrate the company’s 10-year anniversary as a publicly-traded company.

The company’s commitment to Virginia and the Roanoke region is expressed by CEO Darren R. Jackson, “Over the last few years, we have invested over $10 million in our Store Support Center in Roanoke in our effort to expand and improve our facilities. This new team will be part of our over 1,600 Team Member base in Roanoke and is an integral part of our goal to grow Advance through service and reflects our longstanding commitment to the growth and development of the Roanoke Valley.”

Virginia is home to 70 corporate headquarters of companies exceeding $500 million in revenue. To learn why leading companies, like Advance Auto Parts, call Virginia home, click here.

Tessy Plastics - Second Injection Molding Company to Expand in Virginia in 45 Days

Tuesday, 7 February 2012 09:50 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia is a great place for plastics companies. With Rubbermaid Commercial Products announcing an expansion in December, Tessy Plastic’s January announcement is a strong indicator that injection molding companies are on the rise in the Commonwealth...

Virginia is a great place for plastics companies. With Rubbermaid Commercial Products announcing an expansion in December, Tessy Plastic’s January announcement is a strong indicator that injection molding companies are on the rise in the Commonwealth.

Operating in Lynchburg, Va., since 1997, Tessy Plastics plans to invest $4.8 million to expand its current 60,000-square-foot facility by nearly 30,000 square feet. The new space will be used for additional high-technology injection molding, robotics and assembly equipment, primarily serving the company’s growing medical sector. The project will create 60 new jobs, adding to the company’s 143-person Virginia workforce.

Tessy Plastics selected Lynchburg, Va., due to its proximity to the company’s customer base and confidence in the local workforce. “We at Tessy Plastics have an excellent, hardworking and honest workforce. With our great employees and the partnership with the city of Lynchburg and the state of Virginia, I look forward to investing in our future to make us a stronger, more efficient company which will help us stay competitive in a global market,” said Tessy Plastics President Ken Beck.

Virginia is able to attract leading plastics companies due to its strategic East Coast location, world-class transportation system, competitive operating costs and its highly skilled workforce, referenced above.  Virginia’s higher education system offers a number of training programs to meet the needs of the plastics industry. Those programs include the High Performance Manufacturing Technician certification offered through the Virginia Community College System, the Certificate in Polymer Manufacturing Processes at Danville Community College, the Advanced Manufacturing and Packaging Technology curriculum at Dabney S. Lancaster Community College, and the Center for High Performance Manufacturing and the Macromolecules and Interfaces Institute, both at Virginia Tech.

With more than 200 plastics companies operating in the Commonwealth, Virginia actively participates in industry events, such as the Plastics News Executive Forum and the upcoming National Plastics Expo in Orlando, Fl., from April 2-5. Come visit VEDP at booth #174 to learn more about Virginia’s strengths in the plastics industry.

CCAM Receives 2012 Manufacturing Leadership 100 Award

Friday, 27 January 2012 14:53 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia’s Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM) recently won a 2012 Manufacturing Leadership 100 Award (ML100) in the category of New Workforce. The awards are presented by Manufacturing Executive, a division of Thomas Publishing LLC of New York.

Virginia’s Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM) recently won a 2012 Manufacturing Leadership 100 Award (ML100) in the category of New Workforce. The awards are presented by Manufacturing Executive, a division of Thomas Publishing LLC of New York.

Created eight years ago, the ML100 Awards recognize excellence, innovation and transformational projects in the field of manufacturing. The New Workforce category seeks to honor companies that “have come up with innovative ways to bring new workers with critically needed new skills into the workplace, and to allow them to productively collaborate with and learn from existing knowledge experts. Winning projects, for example, will involve education and training, knowledge management and transfer, and collaboration with educational institutions,” according to Manufacturing Executive.

The award criteria is a near perfect description of CCAM, which brings together leading manufacturing companies and top educational institutions to collaborate and develop new technologies that result in a more efficient manufacturing process. Canon Virginia Inc., Chromalloy, Newport News Shipbuilding, Rolls-Royce, Sandvik Coromant and Siemens are a few of the market leading companies that participate in the program with the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and Virginia State University. CCAM’s research efforts focus on developing solutions for surface engineering and manufacturing systems. Research is already underway in labs at UVA and Virginia Tech while CCAM's 60,000 square-foot, high-technology facility is expected to open in September 2012 in Prince George County, Va.

To learn more about Virginia’s internationally recognized R&D facilities and why companies choose Virginia for its access to cutting-edge research and technology, click here.

Virginia’s Community College System Receives Innovation in Government Award

Thursday, 19 January 2012 15:29 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia’s Community College System was recently awarded the Innovation in Government award for the development of an online career and educational tool called the Virginia Education Wizard.

Virginia’s Community College System was recently awarded the Innovation in Government award for the development of an online career and educational tool called the Virginia Education Wizard. The award was given by the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University as part of its Excellence in Virginia Government Awards, recognizing outstanding contributions that have a significant impact on Virginia’s citizens.

The Virginia Education Wizard, located at www.vawizard.org, allows users to narrow down their choice of career by taking a number of interest, value and skill assessment tests. It then provides information on colleges offering programs in the targeted subject area. The site also offers students and parents information on planning for college, including test preparation and financial aid. This is all accomplished with the assistance of an online guide, named Ginny, who walks users through each step.

Developed by Chmura Economics & Analytics in tandem with IT professionals at Virginia’s Community Colleges, the website pulls in real-time market data from Chmura Economics & Analytics. Since its launch in March 2009, more than 314,000 individual accounts have been created. The site also topped one million visits in August 2011. The tool is successfully being used not only by high school students, but also by career coaches and guidance counselors, as it provides one location with everything needed for the college planning process.

The success of the Virginia Education Wizard illustrates the strength of Virginia’s excellent education system, preparing a highly skilled workforce to support a wide variety of industry needs. Virginia’s Community College System was developed more than 40 years ago and provides occupational and technical training programs through its 23 schools across 40 campuses. With nearly half a million students taking classes each year, companies located in Virginia have access to a steady stream of highly trained employees.

To learn how Virginia’s quality workforce can support your industry click here.

Virginia’s Region 2000 Wins Public-Private Partnership Award

Tuesday, 17 January 2012 15:47 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Region 2000, representing the 2,000 square miles surrounding Lynchburg, Va., received the Public-Private Partnership award for its work in establishing a collaborative environment between leading businesses and educational institutions to foster regional economic development.

Region 2000, representing the 2,000 square miles surrounding Lynchburg, Va., received the Public-Private Partnership award for its work in establishing a collaborative environment between leading businesses and educational institutions to foster regional economic development. The award is part of the Excellence in Virginia Government Awards given by the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Region 2000 partners with six organizations to provide economic development, regional planning, workforce training and networking opportunities for the Lynchburg area. One of its newest organizations is the Center for Advanced Engineering and Research (CAER), a R&D center established to provide local companies with access to university research to speed the development of innovative products and technologies.

The Center for Advanced Engineering and Research opened in August 2011 and currently comprises three facilities. First, the CAER Research and Education Facility, located at New London Business and Technology Park in Bedford County, includes a nuclear power plant room simulator, three-dimensional simulation computing capability, research labs and a cognitive radio test room. Second, CAER operates a Wireless Test Facility in conjunction with Liberty University. This Open Area Test Site, originally developed by Ericsson, is designed to conduct Electro Magnetic compatibility testing. Third, the Wireless Sensor Lab operates as a partnership between CAER, the University of Virginia and Central Virginia Community College. This Multiscale Agile Systems Technology Lab supports the research of motes and other miniature electronic devices.

The CAER is a prime example of the many public-private partnerships established across Virginia to expedite innovation in the technology, advanced manufacturing and energy sectors. To learn more about Virginia’s key business sectors click here.

Below  - Governor L. Douglas Wilder congratulates Region 2000 Economic Development Council Director Bryan David.

Virginia – A Leader in High-Tech

Wednesday, 11 January 2012 15:37 by Info@YesVirginia.org
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.

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.

Enviva Launches First Shipment from Virginia’s Port of Chesapeake

Monday, 9 January 2012 15:16 by Info@YesVirginia.org
On New Year’s Eve, Enviva LP opened its deep water terminal at Virginia’s Port of Chesapeake. The first shipment, consisting of 28,000 metric tons of wood pellets, is destined for Europe aboard the MV Daishin Maru.

On New Year’s Eve, Enviva LP opened its deep water terminal at Virginia’s Port of Chesapeake. The first shipment, consisting of 28,000 metric tons of wood pellets, is destined for Europe aboard the MV Daishin Maru

Enviva acquired the deep water terminal last January to handle up to three million tons of biomass export to international customers. The company constructed a 157-foot-tall silo at the site, able to store 45,000 metric tons of wood pellets at a time and withstand extreme weather conditions due to its technologically advanced design.

Enviva selected the Port of Chesapeake due to its deep water capacity and ability to handle a variety of vessels, as well as its access to international markets and proximity to biomass sources and other company operations. The company already has a facility in the region, and announced its plans to build a 454,000 metric ton wood pellet manufacturing facility in Southampton County, Va., this past November. The $75 million investment will create 64 new full-time jobs, plus the additional jobs created through the company’s logging supply chain.

With demand for renewable sources of energy expected to increase, Enviva, a leader in biomass fuel manufacturing, is well-positioned for growth. The company expects its facility at the Port of Chesapeake to be a “flagship operation,” as it is ideally situated close to the biomass supply chain with the capabilities to reach global customers. 

To learn more about why Virginia is laying claim to the title, “Energy Capital of the East Coast,” click here.

Amazon.Com Brings 1,350 New Jobs to Virginia

Thursday, 22 December 2011 15:56 by Info@YesVirginia.org
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.

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.

German Manufacturer Shifts into High Gear Bringing 80 New Jobs to Virginia Beach

Tuesday, 20 December 2011 15:33 by Info@YesVirginia.org
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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get to Know VEDP’s NEW COO Dan Gundersen

Wednesday, 13 August 2014 13:21 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Dan Gundersen joined VEDP as Chief Operating Officer this May, where his focus is on running the day-to-day operations of VEDP. Dan’s full profile is available in the summer issue of Commerce Quarterly. To help you get to know Dan, here’s an interview we recently did to see how his first few months are going...

Dan Gundersen joined VEDP as Chief Operating Officer this May, where his focus is on running the day-to-day operations of VEDP. Dan’s full profile is available in the summer issue of Commerce Quarterly

To help you get to know Dan, here’s an interview we recently did to see how his first few months are going.

Q:  What has your first 75 days been like?

A:  It’s been focused entirely on the internal operations of VEDP. For many years now, VEDP has operated as a flat organization with the different department heads reporting directly to the CEO. With the recent reorganization and refocusing of VEDP’s initiatives, it became clear that there was a need for a coordinating role to help bring the operations into better alignment and to provide a more targeted and strategic focus for our efforts. And that’s really what my job is all about.

Q:  What specifically have you focused on?

A:  Performance metrics for the economic development profession has been something that I’ve focused on for years now. I’ve served on the board of the International Economic Development Council for a long time and have championed this cause. Recently I co-chaired the first ever performance metric analysis for the economic development profession with the IEDC called Making It Count:  Metrics for High Performing EDOs. The goal there was to be able to identify those metrics that can help us better tell the story of what we do and why we do it. Today it’s not just about jobs created and leveraging public sector dollars. The IEDC report provides more than 200 new measures that economic development groups can use. We’re taking a couple pages out of that book to help VEDP better describe the impact of its work. At the September VEDP board meeting we will introduce several new metrics to be able to assess our progress.

Q:  What does VEDP do really well?

A: In one word — deals. Martin Briley has an incredible ability to focus on the deal pipeline and knows the nuances of every single deal inside and out. He’s living and breathing our Salesforce database, and I think that has helped drive productivity to a very high level. 

Of course, exceeding goals is possible only if you have really good talent among staff, terrific esprit de corps, effective partnerships, and an incredible devotion to what I would call a “cause.” VEDP staff represents one of the most committed organizations that I’ve ever had the privilege of working for. In a way, that makes my job so much easier.

Q:  What challenges do you see ahead?

A:  The world of economic development is changing so quickly and we’re expected to be so many things to so many people. One of our biggest challenges is going to be keeping our focus on those things that we do well, while also being a thought leader and an advocate for the business community, a catalyst for launching new ideas, and even at times a broker of resources for others so that together we can bring about greater economic gain for the state. That’s why it’s important that VEDP develop its own strategic operating plan that builds on regional assets and that aligns seamlessly with the overall economic strategy that the Administration will be producing later this year. Right now, that’s probably my top priority.

Q:  Where are you focusing your efforts for FY15?

A:  The new strategic operating plan will highlight a few areas where we believe we can focus more of our attention and resources. One of those will be with identifying and assisting high growth firms. Research shows that high growth firms in any regional economy account for upwards of 70-80 percent of the net new jobs, and yet, these firms account for less than one percent of all business establishments. You’re going to see VEDP develop a very sophisticated strategy for making sure we are meeting the needs of these businesses better than any other state.

Another area will be an intense focus targeting foreign direct investment and assisting firms that wish to conduct trade in emerging markets around the world.

Finally, VEDP is going to be aggressively positioning itself with brand development and targeted marketing to be able to identify firms that could and should be in Virginia. It’s all about sustained and profitable growth and Virginia has all of those fundamentals to make it happen.

Keep an eye out — this fall we’ll be distributing a live podcast that Dan did for the Atlanta and St. Louis Federal Reserve Banks on the future of economic development.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dream It, Do It – Virginia Hosts Seven Manufacturing Technology Camps This Summer

Thursday, 31 July 2014 14:33 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Dream It, Do It – Virginia hosted seven Manufacturing Technology Camps across the Commonwealth this summer. The camps are designed to reach out to high school students who are considering a career in manufacturing...

Dream It, Do It – Virginia hosted seven Manufacturing Technology Camps across the Commonwealth this summer. The camps are designed to reach out to high school students who are considering a career in manufacturing.       

The three-and-a-half-day camps allow students to experience all levels of production, from raw materials to finished goods. Students also participate in tours, lectures and manufacturing demonstrations where they get to see the latest in automation and robotics from Virginia’s leading manufacturers.

Students in the Manufacturing Technology Camps also participate in a competition where they work with a team to complete an assignment that involves designing, building and running a manufacturing system. During the competition, students receive training and mentoring from industry experts. Students on the winning team receive scholarships to pursue STEM education tracks.

This summer, two camps were offered at Southside Virginia Community College in Keysville, two at Lake Country Advanced Knowledge Center in South Hill, and one each at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center in South Boston, at STIHL Inc. in Virginia Beach, and at ITAC in Chester. Halifax County posted a video from their Manufacturing Technology Camp here.

Dream It, Do It – Virginia is part of a national organization that provides access to on-the-job training and certifications to keep the existing manufacturing workforce up-to-date on the latest technology, as well as build awareness among youth about the many options and rewards a manufacturing career can offer.

The manufacturing jobs of today are very different from what manufacturing jobs in the past may have entailed. Virginia’s advanced manufacturing takes place in a clean, safe environment and requires high skill and high levels of education. Manual labor has largely been replaced with automation. An advanced manufacturing career today often involves managing the technical process to improve efficiencies and product throughput. The work is interesting and employees are rewarded with a competitive salary.

The Dream It, Do It – Virginia website provides a number of valuable tools for investigating a career in the Commonwealth’s advanced manufacturing industry. It allows students to assess their interests and skills to determine an area of focus, as well as view the educational requirements and career track for that specialty. You can also watch the recent Dream It, Do It – Virginia Third Wednesday Webinar by clicking here.

Businesses in the Commonwealth praise the experience and dedication of their Virginia workforce as one of their prime factors for success. Dream It, Do It – Virginia is one example of the many educational groups across the Commonwealth ensuring that Virginia’s workforce has the skills and training to match industry demand. To learn more, click here.

Students get hands on experience at one of the Manufacturing Technology Camps at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center in Halifax County, Va. Photo courtesy of Halifax County Industrial Development Authority.

VSU Small Farm Outreach Program Helps Sabra Grow First Crop of Chickpeas in Virginia

Wednesday, 30 July 2014 09:05 by Info@YesVirginia.org
It’s harvest time and good news for Sabra Dipping Co. Virginia State University’s College of Agriculture is about to gather one of Virginia’s first ever crop of chickpeas...

It’s harvest time and good news for Sabra Dipping Co. Virginia State University’s College of Agriculture is about to gather one of Virginia’s first crop of chickpeas.

Sabra has partnered with VSU to research the possibility of sourcing chickpeas, the main ingredient in its top-selling hummus, closer to the company’s 49-acre campus in Chesterfield County. Sabra is the No. 1 brand of hummus in the U.S. and has established both a manufacturing operation and R&D Center of Excellence on its campus at Ruffin Mill Industrial Park in Chesterfield County.

Sabra first announced plans to establish a facility in Virginia in November 2008. Part of the company’s decision to locate in Chesterfield County was the proximity to VSU’s College of Agriculture. “During the company’s decision-making process, we arranged several meetings with the College of Agriculture to explore opportunities to grow chickpeas in Virginia and enhance the profitability of the company,” said Renee Chapline, president and CEO at Virginia Gateway Region.

Over the last two years, Sabra and VSU have implemented Dr. Harbans Bhardwaj’s chickpea research through the university’s Small Farms Outreach Program. Cliff Somerville, a VSU Small Farm Outreach agent, has worked with a number of farms across Virginia to test the growth of different varieties of chickpeas.

According to Somerville, while last year’s crops were largely a washout due to weather conditions (excessive rain) and a problem with worms, VSU and Sabra discovered that one type of chickpea seed worked well in Virginia — the “Billy Bean” variety.

This year, VSU only planted the “Billy Bean” variety and Somerville supervised one of those test sites – three acres on a farm in Halifax County.

“The plants got up to around 30 inches and it’s a good population with about 32-34 pods per stalk,” said Somerville. “It’s a successful crop. We’ve done a test run with the combine to check moisture levels, and we’re getting ready to do a full harvest in the next week or so. This will be one of the first crops of chickpeas grown in Virginia.”

The success of Virginia’s first group of chickpea crops has the potential to be a win-win for both Sabra and Virginia farmers. It would allow Sabra to shorten its supply chain and reduce risk by sourcing one of its main ingredients closer to the company’s manufacturing facility. It also would provide diversification for Virginia farmers, particularly those in the tobacco region.

To learn about Virginia’s plentiful resources, and how the Commonwealth’s higher education institutions partner with businesses to innovate, click here.

VSU Small  Farm Outreach agents Cliff Somerville and Derrick Cladd, program director William Crutchfield and cooperating farmer Mr. James Brown (left to right) examine plants in Halifax County, part of Virginia’s first successful group of chickpea crops. Photo courtesy of Virginia State University.

Richmond, Hampton Roads and Charlottesville are Top Happiest Metro Areas in the U.S.

Friday, 25 July 2014 15:53 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Richmond/Petersburg was ranked No. 1 and Hampton Roads (Norfolk/Virginia Beach/Newport News) was ranked No. 2 on the National Bureau of Economic Research list of Top 10 Happiest Metropolitan Areas with a Population Greater Than One Million. Charlottesville was ranked No. 1 as the U.S. Metropolitan Area with the Highest Reported Happiness...

Richmond/Petersburg was ranked No. 1 and Hampton Roads (Norfolk/Virginia Beach/Newport News) was ranked No. 2 on the National Bureau of Economic Research list of Top 10 Happiest Metropolitan Areas with a Population Greater Than One Million. Charlottesville was ranked No. 1 as the U.S. Metropolitan Area with the Highest Reported Happiness.

Economists at Harvard University and the University of British Columbia published a working paper called “Unhappy Cities” through the National Bureau of Economic Research. NBER is the nation’s leading nonprofit economic research organization, with more than 1,300 economics and business professors teaching across North America.

The authors of the study, Edward Glaeser, Joshua Gottlieb and Oren Ziv, used the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a self-reported study on happiness conducted by the CDC, as their primary data source. Because the BRFSS data reports the county where a respondent lives, the authors were able to link responses with location.

They then performed a series of regression analyses to control for individual factors, such as education, income and race, to come up with an adjusted life satisfaction estimate for each MSA.

The authors discovered there is indeed a correlation between happiness and location. They also found that self-reported unhappiness is highest in declining cities, areas linked with lower levels of population and income growth.

It comes as no surprise that multiple regions in Virginia received top marks in this study. With more than 400 years of rich history, the Commonwealth offers employers and citizens an affordable cost of living, access to parks and natural resources ranging from the mountains to the ocean, and recreational opportunities from historical sites to modern sports, entertainment and cultural venues. To learn why reports like this give Virginia a top ranking on quality of life, click here.

A map of the U.S. which shows each metropolitan and rural areas' adjusted life satisfaction. Photo courtesy of the University of British Columbia.

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Water from the Three Springs Water Treatment Plant in McGaheysville, Va., was ranked Top 5 in the nation at the recent Great American Water Taste Test in Washington, D.C...

Water from the Three Springs Water Treatment Plant in McGaheysville, Va., was ranked Top 5 in the nation at the recent Great American Water Taste Test in Washington, D.C.

The contest was managed by the National Rural Water Association as part of its yearly Rural Water Rally. Participants had to win both state and national competitions to be represented at the final judging panel.

Clarity, bouquet and taste were the selection criteria, with judges focusing on water samples that had no taste, no smell and perfect clarity.

The Three Springs Water Treatment Plant is located in Virginia’s picturesque Shenandoah Valley. The water quality is naturally pure as plant manager Luke Hornick stated, “We add fluorine and chlorine, but the water is of such purity that nothing else is needed.”

High water quality is important not just for individual consumption, but it also drives business decisions. Food processing and brewing companies require large amounts of high quality water, making Virginia a preferred location for those industries.

According to Rockingham County director of Community Development William Vaughn, “It’s one of the primary reasons that Coors — now MillerCoors — established East Coast operations here 25 years ago.”

Concerns over water quality and availability are receiving increased attention across the globe, making Virginia’s infrastructure resources a valuable asset for companies located in the Commonwealth. To learn more about Virginia’s world-class capabilities serving the food and beverage industry click here.

A view of Virginia's Shenandoah River

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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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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