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.

The Power of the Future Belongs to Virginia

Monday, 6 July 2009 13:22 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Check out Virginia Business Magazine’s latest issue for a comprehensive article about Virginia’s nuclear industry.

It makes for a good read. The article underscores Virginia’s efforts to maintain a strong base of power generation from various traditional sources, while a variety of renewable resources and their associated technologies take on a larger share of the power-generation picture.

There’s no doubt the Commonwealth views nuclear as a key pillar of our unique generation and power reliability story. The power of the future belongs to Virginia. Home to three of the top global players in the energy sector (AREVA NP, Babcock & Wilcox and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding) and a plethora of national players, Virginia’s cluster of technology, workforce and corporate businesses positions the Commonwealth as a leader in clean energy and advanced manufacturing of components for the energy sector. The vertical integration of Virginia’s assets—from workforce to real estate to research & development, to regulatory climate and proximity to market—means that energy-related companies can grow in a business climate that is prepared to sustain their competitiveness for the long term.

The article highlights the groundbreaking of the new AREVA Newport News project, a joint venture with Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding to manufacture equipment and pressure vessels for the nuclear industry. Governor Kaine will join AREVA and Northrop Grumman officials later this month for the groundbreaking ceremony in Newport News. Also discussed are several industry firsts that are happening right here in the Commonwealth: Babcock & Wilcox’s plans to develop a scalable, modular game-changing nuclear reactor, Dominion Virginia Power’s plans to build one of the first new nuclear reactors in the U.S. in three decades, and Virginia Commonwealth University is the first state university to add a nuclear engineering track to its masters engineering degree program.

The Commonwealth’s energy sector already employs more than 31,000 people, and Virginia ranks second in the number of nuclear engineers. We see both of those figures growing by leaps and bounds in the coming years, thanks to programs such as PRODUCED in Virginia (Providing Undergraduate Connections to Engineering Education in Virginia) and important strategic investments like that of the Virginia Tobacco Commission toward R&D facilities and research contracts, mainly around energy.

With help from a state interagency energy task force, VEDP is actively seeking project opportunities across the full spectrum of traditional and alternative energy resources. For more information about operating your energy facility in Virginia, visit us at www.YesVirginia.org or contact Mike Carruth at mcarruth@yesvirginia.org.

We’re Pro-Business and We’re Proud

Thursday, 25 June 2009 21:22 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Well, it looks like Virginia has done it again. Despite a troubled national economy, the Commonwealth is the top pro-business state for 2009, according to Pollina Corporate Real Estate, a top U.S. corporate site location expert. While Pollina doesn’t have the brand recognition that Forbes does, the organization’s seal of approval carries substantial weight in economic development and site selection circles.

This leading label marks Virginia’s third No. 1 ranking by Pollina. The Commonwealth held the top spot in 2003 and 2007. We ranked second in the Pollina study from 2004 to 2006 and dropped to third place last year. The current recession brings even more importance to Virginia’s climb from third last year to first place.

It means we must be doing something right. The annual study evaluated all 50 states based on 33 factors, including taxes, human resources, right-to-work legislation, energy costs, infrastructure spending, workers compensation laws, economic incentives programs, and state economic development efforts.

Virginia did well in the Labor, Taxes, and Other Factors categories, where we placed fourth overall. Our lead can also be attributed to strengths in college completion, low unemployment, right-to-work status, workers compensation rates, low corporate taxes, low sales and gross receipts taxes, our corporate litigation environment, and low crime rates.

"Virginia maintained its rank for Incentives and Economic Development Agency Factors by having one of the finest economic development departments in the nation, and providing flexible incentives for business creation. A close examination of Virginia’s programs reveals a very well-balanced understanding of economic development," said Brent Pollina, Vice President of Pollina Corporate and author of the study. "The programs include: low-interest loans, infrastructure improvement grants, corporate tax credits, enterprise zone tax credits, customized industrial training and property tax abatements. The Governor’s Opportunity Fund is one example of a program that clearly sets Virginia apart from other states. Virginia’s strength is its ability to front-load some of its key business incentives. This provides companies with capital when they most need it – the first 36 months of a project."

There you have it. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Pounding International Pavement

Wednesday, 17 June 2009 16:13 by Info@YesVirginia.org

VEDP gets a lot of inquiries—and criticism—regarding Governor Kaine’s participation on overseas marketing missions.

The comments often leave us scratching our heads. During these tough economic times, what is more important than working to bring jobs and investment to the Commonwealth? It’s more important now than ever to be out pounding the pavement in the name of promotion.

International pavement is especially important given that in 2008, international companies were responsible for more than 6,000 new jobs and $1.5 billion of investment in Virginia. The capital investments made by international companies in 2008 increased by more than 84 percent over 2007 and represented the fourth straight year of increased international investment. 

VEDP would really like to see that trend continue. Therefore, we plan and budget for overseas marketing missions, an aggressive and pro-active approach to project recruitment and export development that exposes the maximum number of foreign business leaders in a minimum amount of time to the advantages of doing business in Virginia. These trips also enable foreign corporate officials to meet the Commonwealth’s leadership, and provide Virginia’s leadership the opportunity to strengthen their understanding of current financial and business environments overseas. 

The Governor’s participation is especially important because he can open doors that VEDP is unable to open on its own. With the Governor at the lead, we meet with CEOs. Without him, we usually end up with someone with very little decision-making power.  

These trips are nothing new—Virginia governors have participated on overseas marketing missions for many years.  A personal meeting by the Governor with corporate executives demonstrates the high priority that is placed on Virginia’s business community, an important message to relay in a highly competitive market.

We’re thankful we have a Governor who embraces globalism and doesn’t get hung up on the misperception that it means American jobs going overseas. International companies like Volkswagen, AREVA, Canon and Swedwood, all of which have recently brought quality jobs and significant investments to the Commonwealth—are proof of that. They like us, too.

To learn more about the benefits your international company can enjoy in Virginia, visit YesVirginia.org or call us at (804) 545-5600.

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Green is in High Gear in Virginia

Friday, 12 June 2009 13:55 by Info@YesVirginia.org

 Green is the nation’s new favorite color. It’s on product packaging, splashed across the side of buses, dangling from company tag lines. Now it’s being attached to job categories. Add to white-collar and blue-collar the new “green-collar” job.

As we all know, “green” refers to more than just a color these days. It’s all about the environment, energy efficiency and conservation, and eco-friendliness.

Governor Tim Kaine pointed Virginia in the direction of all things green in September 2007 when he released the Virginia Energy Plan. The plan challenges the Commonwealth to a 40 percent reduction of the rate of energy growth by 2017, and a 30 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, bringing emissions back to 2000 levels.

In December 2008, Governor Kaine launched the Renew Virginia Initiative with the goal of making Virginia a leader in environmental protection and energy conservation and efficiency. The initiative includes legislative proposals to reduce Virginia’s dependency on foreign oil, improve the environment and create “green” jobs.

That’s where we come in. Before the Initiative was launched, Governor Kaine hosted an energy roundtable discussion to hear from executives representing a wide range of alternative energy generation, energy conservation, and research and development companies. They discussed best practices for corporate and university research and development collaboration, incentives, skill sets needed to attract energy project investment, and factors influencing site location of energy production facilities.

With insider information in hand, VEDP is better equipped to assist energy companies in finding solutions to meet their business needs. We understand the importance of having policy support and we have new knowledge about the factors that influence energy-related companies’ location decisions. We get the need for a supportive business climate, and we can deliver.

We’re now working with an interagency task force, made up of relevant state agencies, university partners and federal labs in Virginia to build a compelling case for energy-related businesses’ location to Virginia.

To learn more about what Virginia can offer your energy company, check out our Web site at YesVirginia.org or call us at (804) 545-5600.

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IT Just Got a Little Cheaper to Operate in Virginia

Thursday, 4 June 2009 09:29 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia offers a great advantage for Information Technology and the growing cluster of data centers already located throughout the Commonwealth.

Information technology companies that may have glanced at Virginia in the past may want to take a harder look. Virginia now offers a great advantage for IT and the growing cluster of data centers already located throughout the Commonwealth. The Virginia General Assembly recently unanimously passed a bill that enables companies to receive an exemption from the Virginia Retail Sales and Use Tax for computer equipment purchased or leased for use in a data center.

There are a few stipulations, of course. The equipment must be purchased or leased between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2020. The data center must be located in a Virginia locality and generate at least $150 million in capital investment after July 1, 2009. Last but not least, at least 50 new jobs must be created that pay one and one half times the prevailing average wage in the locality.

This legislation has already proven to be a valuable tool in recruiting and retaining existing data centers. VEDP issued a press release announcing Virginia’s new advantage to industry pubs that generated immediate inquiries.

Moments after the release was sent, Data Center Knowledge headlined the news on its Web site: http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2009/05/13/virginia-passes-data-center-tax-incentives/. And the phone lines in VEDP’s Business Development Division received multiple calls from companies that read the release. IT and data centers are definitely a strong growth sector of Virginia’s economy. We look forward to continuing to look for ways that assist with financial efficiencies and operational savings for these businesses. 

For more information about how VEDP can assist your company, visit us at YesVirginia.org or call (804) 545-5600.

VEDP is Entering the Blogosphere

Tuesday, 19 May 2009 15:40 by Info@YesVirginia.org

We’re not sure we belong here, but we’re giving it a shot. We’d like to think VEDP is among cutting-edge state economic development organizations. After all, Virginia has been ranked the “Best State for Business” for three years in a row by Forbes.com. That didn’t just happen.

In times of economic crisis, Virginia needs to be creative with how it delivers its message. We’re often credited for our creativity when it comes to helping companies find solutions to meet their needs. Now it’s time to help ourselves.

Like others, our marketing budget has been slashed and our economic development activity has slowed. But in comparison to other states across the nation, Virginia is holding its own. In fact, the number of announcements, the sector and geographic diversity, and the encouraging ratio of new to expanding economic development projects suggest that Virginia remains a sought-after destination for new business investment.

We intend to keep it that way. If one (free) method of marketing Virginia means venturing out into the unknown world of cyberspace—we’re willing to give it a shot. It remains to be seen if it will help; it certainly can’t hurt.

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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 | December 2013

Dan River Region Launches Workforce Readiness Pilot Program for Virginia

Thursday, 19 December 2013 14:48 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Companies, employees and economic development professionals in the Dan River Region have been participating in a workforce readiness pilot program in Virginia since June...

Companies, employees and economic development professionals in the Dan River Region have been participating in a workforce readiness pilot program in Virginia since June.

This program would allow the region to be recognized by ACT as a Certified Work Ready Community by helping individuals obtain a National Career Readiness Certificate. ACT is a not-for-profit public trust dedicated to helping people achieve education and workplace success.

ACT’s National Career Readiness Certificate includes four levels — platinum, gold, silver and bronze — that measure cognitive and behavioral abilities critical for on-the-job success. Specific skills that are measured include math, reading comprehension, problem-solving, discipline, teamwork, customer service and managerial potential.

The individual certificate can help job-seekers distinguish themselves, as well as help companies identify training needs for their employees. The community certification assists regions in quantifying the quality of their workforce and promoting this asset to attract additional companies and investment.

The Dan River region is located in Southern Virginia and includes the cities of Danville and Martinsville and the counties of Henry, Pittsylvania, Patrick and Halifax. The region has a strong legacy in furniture and textile manufacturing, and through workforce training programs at its numerous community colleges, offers a deep advanced manufacturing labor pool that has attracted investment from plastics, automotive, and food processing companies.

“This initiative represents an opportunity to change our workforce story from focusing on census data around educational attainment to a story that focuses on the skills of our workforce and how those align with industry needs,” said Dr. Julie Brown, project director at DRRC.

According to the Dan River Region Collaborative, if 2,300 residents earn certificates during the next two years, the region will be recognized as a Certified Work Ready Community. The region is well on its way with more than 1,200 certificates earned to date. The region is also actively recruiting corporate partners to join the program — almost 50 companies have signed up to date.

To learn how to participate in the ACT program as an individual or corporation, visit http://www.danriverrc.org/work-ready-community.

Prince George County Recognized as One of Eight Innovative U.S. Counties by NACo

Tuesday, 17 December 2013 16:46 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Prince George County, Va., gained recognition as one of eight innovative counties highlighted in the recently-released report Strategies to Bolster Economic Resilience — County Leadership in Action by the National Association of Counties...

Prince George County, Va., gained recognition as one of eight innovative counties highlighted in the recently-released report Strategies to Bolster Economic Resilience — County Leadership in Action by the National Association of Counties.

In the report, NACo highlighted the strategies, partnerships and initiatives these eight counties pursued in their unique approach towards economic development. Founded in 1935, NACo is the only national organization that represents county governments in the U.S.

Prince George County received recognition for its focus on targeted industries, particularly advanced manufacturing, as the county’s partnership with Rolls-Royce was noted. Rolls-Royce’s 1,000-acre Crosspointe Campus in Prince George County is the company’s largest and most advanced campus in North America. It includes a Rotatives operation and Advanced Airfoil Machining Facility, with room for expansion. 

Prince George County and Rolls-Royce were also instrumental in establishing the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing adjacent to the Crosspointe Campus. CCAM celebrated its grand opening in March 2013 and functions as an applied research center, bringing together leading manufacturers and Virginia’s top educational institutions to collaborate and quickly turn ideas into real-world technologies. 

Homegrown company Service Center Metals was also mentioned in the study. The company recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary in Prince George County and announced plans to add a compact remelt plant. The company expects to add a total of 35 new jobs and invest $35 million through a two-phase expansion.

Through partnerships in the public, private and educational sectors, Prince George County has become a hub of advanced manufacturing innovation, drawing additional corporate partners and investment to the area.

To learn why Virginia has provided an innovative environment, allowing businesses to prosper here for more than 400 years, click here.

A view of CCAM, adjacent to Rolls-Royce’s Crosspointe Campus in Prince George County, Va.

Homegrown Martinsville Company Expands — Textiles Solid as a Stone in Virginia

Wednesday, 11 December 2013 16:35 by Info@YesVirginia.org
When Virginia entrepreneur David Stone decided to start his own company, Solid Stone Fabrics, in 2003 he knew the perfect location — his hometown of Martinsville, Va...

When Virginia entrepreneur David Stone decided to start his own company, Solid Stone Fabrics, in 2003 he knew the perfect location — his hometown of Martinsville, Va. 

With a solid background in the fabrics industry, including stints at Kayser-Roth, Tultex, Reebok and Pine Crest Fabrics, Stone had the industry knowledge and contacts to hit the ground running and start a successful business out of his home. When a truckload of fabric showed up at his front door, his wife let him know it was time to expand.

Stone moved into the local business incubator at the West Piedmont Business Development Center and stayed there until 2008. He carved out a strong niche in the stretch fabric market, supplying materials for customers in the dancewear, swimwear, costume, team and other active apparel markets. The incubator provided much more than a physical location; it offered microloans to help along the way as the company grew.

Solid Stone Fabrics moved into its current location, a 24,000-squre-foot building in downtown Martinsville, in 2008. And, according to Stone, “That’s when things really took off,” which included adding sales offices in New Jersey and California.

“We were primed to do most of our manufacturing in Asia, but we found it difficult to do smaller runs and get a quick response for our customers,” said Stone. “That frustration led us to do more of our own manufacturing here at home in Virginia.”

At any one time, Solid Stone Fabrics has 250,000 yards of material at its facility in Martinsville, ready to respond quickly to both business and individual customers. Martinsville serves as the company’s headquarters and center of operations, which includes adding embellishments for its active apparel markets, printing flags and banners for high schools, and assisting global customers in sourcing and supplying their fabric needs.

To date, the company has 24 employees, and just this week announced plans to create 16 more jobs over the next three years and invest $1.0 million in a second facility in Martinsville. Located just a few blocks away, the second building will add 23,000 square feet of manufacturing space and is expected to be operational by December 15.

“It’s exciting to be back in your hometown and putting people back to work — 40 jobs means a lot,” said Stone.  “In addition, occupying these older buildings in Martinsville is really breathing new life into the heart of our city.”

As to why Stone chose to expand in Martinsville, the answer is simple, “The majority of our employees are from here and educated here. I have relied heavily on Patrick Henry Community College and I can’t say enough about the talent here in Southern Virginia,” said Stone. “We’ve received a lot of support from the City of Martinsville, Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development and the Tobacco Commission — we’re so grateful to have all of that assistance by our side when we need it.”

Solid Stone Fabrics illustrates the success entrepreneurs find when they start a business in the Commonwealth, as well as how competitive Virginia manufacturing is on a global scale. To learn why Virginia is the best state for business, click here.

Members of the Solid Stone Fabrics team discuss their latest innovations from company headquarters in Martinsville, Va.

Charlottesville Startup GigDog Launches from UVA’s i.Lab

Monday, 9 December 2013 16:38 by Info@YesVirginia.org

While working as a geo-political analyst for the Department of Defense, Anslem “J.R.” Gentle came up with an idea for an entertainment and promotion company.

J.R. saw how lesser-known musicians would advertise their upcoming performances on posters and realized even people who saw the posters were not likely to attend the concerts because they weren’t familiar with the music. Thus was born the idea for GigDog — a streaming interactive internet radio station that only plays the music of bands scheduled to perform in the local area within the following six weeks.

What helped turn GigDog from an idea into a real company was access to the UVA i.Lab, an incubator for start-ups in Charlottesville, Va. The i.Lab is the revamped version of the Darden School incubator and includes a newly-renovated space and expanded program. It is unique because it is open to both UVA students and members of the Charlottesville community.

UVA’s i.Lab includes office space with access to a 3-D printer for prototyping, a “pitch” room, workshop, large meeting area, media rooms with Skyping abilities, and a full coffee shop and collaboration area. Applications are due in early January and the year-long program begins in the spring. i.Lab can accommodate 25 companies per year and offers entrepreneurial workshops, a speaker series on topics of interest, and access to professors and the 11 schools within UVA.

GigDog was incorporated in the summer of 2012 and joined the i.Lab pilot program. GigDog’s benefit to both musicians and consumers has allowed it to grow quickly —  it became operational in January 2013 and has grown from 14 bands and 16 venues in Charlottesville to more than 500 bands and 445 venues in five cities.

“As an entrepreneur, being in an environment of like-minded people is paramount,” said GigDog founder J.R. Gentle. “I had the whole of UVA and Darden as a resource. If I needed help with marketing or finance questions I could talk to those professors. I also learned just as much talking to the fellow entrepreneurs in the program.”

GigDog has just launched a RocketHub crowdfunding campaign to expand into additional cities. To experience GigDog visit http://www.gigdog.fm/ and to learn more about the UVA i.Lab visit http://www.ilabatuva.org/

GigDog founder J.R. Gentle chats with another entrepreneur and i.Lab director Philippe Sommer (left to right).

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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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