Fort Lee Hosts the 40th Annual Military Culinary Arts Competitive Training Event

Tuesday, 10 March 2015 17:28 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Once again, the annual military culinary competition comes to Fort Lee, Va. from March 7-12. During this week, members of all the U.S. armed forces and military personnel from other countries compete in individual and team events to show their culinary expertise...

Once again, the annual military culinary competition comes to Fort Lee, Va., from March 7-12. During this week, members of all the U.S. armed forces and military personnel from other countries compete in individual and team events to show their culinary expertise.

Fort Lee is a perfect fit for the competition — it’s home to the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence, which provides basic and advanced food service training for all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, as well as some ally countries.

Members of VEDP and the Virginia Gateway Region attended the event yesterday, where the table displays were built by the U.S Army Reserve. The whimsical presentations, all made out of food, included themes based on the Wizard of Oz, notable landmarks in Paris, a lady from a masquerade ball, and a Spanish-influenced chocolate bull and matador.   

The Hot Kitchen Competition included the use of Mobile Kitchen Trailers to make a gourmet, three-course meal. The meal was all the more impressive considering the trailers are meant to be used out in the field in forward movement scenarios, and usually involve heating a pre-made meal for 50-100 soldiers.

There were numerous live cooking competitions, all judged by members of the American Culinary Federation. This allows awards to be easily translated into certificates and recognized outside of the military environment, which is important for members who later pursue a culinary career in the private sector.

One of the live cooking demos included renowned chef Robert Irvine, from the Food Network show “Restaurant: Impossible.”  Robert entertained with cooking tips and joked with the many military personnel in attendance. Robert is very familiar with the impact of providing a well-cooked meal in military environments. Not only is he a former soldier, but he visits military bases around to world to cook and entertain the troops.

The importance of the event was captured by Chief Foreign Officer 3, Charles Talley Jr., “It’s great to have the opportunity to see the crop of young chefs and see their culinary evolution from day one at Fort Lee. Food involves passion, innovation, creativity and sustainment. Our food service impacts the morale of military teams during peace and wartime.”

Fort Lee’s Joint Culinary Center of Excellence and its Military Culinary Arts Competitive Training Event illustrate Virginia’s position at the center of the food industry. Food processing is one of Virginia’s largest manufacturing areas. To learn why more than 580 companies have located in the Commonwealth, click here.

Virginia BioTechnology Research Park Expands Its Reach Across Virginia

Wednesday, 25 February 2015 14:28 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Virginia BioTechnology Research Park is at full capacity, but is still expanding its reach in the Richmond community and across the Commonwealth...

The Virginia BioTechnology Research Park is at full capacity, but is still expanding its reach in the Richmond community and across the Commonwealth.

Since its founding in 1992, the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park has grown to include seven buildings on 34 acres in the heart of Richmond. This represents 1.3 million square feet of space next to the VCU Medical Center, a Top 100 life sciences research center.

The park is currently home to nearly 60 life science companies, employing more than 2,300 scientists, engineers and researchers in the Central Virginia region.

The company’s most recent physical expansion occurred last spring on its Biotech 8 building, occupied by HDL Inc., which started up in the Biotech Center. Future expansion opportunities are available on two sites in the park.

According to Executive Director Carrie Roth, “Building on the urban renewal component of the research park, to be successful we need to focus on the process not the place through infrastructure for entrepreneurial, innovation and commercialization success. We’re repositioning the park and removing our borders to define it as a part of the larger, integrated knowledge-based life sciences community.”

To that end, the park is inviting outsiders in and opening up its shared lab. The lab has equipment donated by Altria in addition to purchased equipment, including a biosafety cabinet, CO2 incubator, inverted microscope and centrifuges. This allows early stage companies access to the equipment by renting benches on a monthly basis or purchasing a daily pass to the lab. In addition, access to the shared lab equipment helps those seeking grants by being able to include this on their application.

The management team is also engaging with partners across the region. For example, the Dominion Resources Innovation Center in Ashland provides mentoring and business support services to technology-based start-ups. The team at the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park has re-engaged its partnership with the innovation center and plans are in motion to move it closer into the town of Ashland. The new facility will also have dedicated lab space.

The Virginia BioTechnology Research Park is a shining example of the burgeoning life sciences clusters across the Commonwealth. To learn why more than 800 biotech establishments have selected Virginia, click here.

Members of the Richmond Regional Planning District Commission along with Carrie Roth of the Research Park listen to L. Franklin Bost, executive associate dean at the VCU School of Engineering, discuss activities of the VCU TRIP Center located in Biotech One. Photo courtesy of Virginia BioTechnology Research Park.

Capstone Integrated Machining Technology Program Comes to Danville

Friday, 20 February 2015 16:07 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Danville region has added to its precision machining expertise with the recently announced Capstone Integrated Machining Technology program at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research...

The Danville region has added to its precision machining expertise with the recently announced Capstone Integrated Machining Technology program at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research.

The program provides a third year of training for students that have completed Danville Community College’s popular two-year Precision Machining Technology program.

IALR has announced two grants in February to jumpstart the program — a $1.9 million grant from the Danville Regional Foundation and a $1 million endowment from the Gene Haas Foundation.

The funding will be used to upfit portions of the Hawkins Building at IALR and construct a workflow cell training lab, allowing students to replicate real world manufacturing conditions.

This additional training will enable students to earn nationally-recognized industry credentials, such as Level II and III certifications from the National Institute for Metalworking Skills.

The Capstone program will be ready for students by the fall semester. IALR and DCC estimate 15-20 students will participate in the first class, with the program expanding to 40 students at full capacity.

With the reshoring of manufacturing jobs to America and an aging baby boomer population, Southern Virginia is quickly becoming a go-to location to meet industry needs for a skilled workforce in this sector of advanced manufacturing.

According to DCC President Bruce Scism, “DCC ‘s Precision Machining Technology program is now the largest in the mid-Atlantic region, and it’s the only one that provides as wide a range of certification options.”

The Capstone program and partnership between IALR and DCC is another example of the teamwork among Virginia’s higher education system and public and private entities to develop the most advanced workforce training solutions. To learn more, click here.

Students in DCC’s Precision Machining Technology program receive training on Haas Mini Mill 5 axis machines.

Virginia Ranked a Top State for LEED Green Building Certifications in 2014

Friday, 6 February 2015 13:55 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Once again, Virginia made the U.S. Green Building Council’s annual list of Top 10 States for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) in 2014...

Once again, Virginia made the U.S. Green Building Council’s annual list of Top 10 States for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) in 2014.

The Commonwealth was ranked No. 4 and had 150 projects LEED-certified in 2014. This included a total of 18.6 million square feet of space, and 2.33 square feet per capita.

The report made special mention of the University of Mary Washington’s Technology Convergence Center in Fredericksburg, Va., which is LEED Silver-certified.

USGBC is made up of 12,870 member organizations and 197,000 professionals worldwide. It manages LEED, the most widely recognized green building certification program in the world. According to USGBC, LEED certifies 1.5 million square feet of space each day in 135 countries.

LEED-certified buildings are a win-win for the environment and economy. They provide healthier spaces to live, work and play, and lower energy costs in a sustainable way.

“LEED-certified building and the innovations they have driven contribute substantially to our national economic growth, create jobs and improve the quality of life in the communities where they are found,” said Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and founding chair of USGBC. “We commend the business and community leaders, policy makers and green building professionals in each of these states for making the commitment to create a healthier, more sustainable future.”

Virginia’s leadership as an innovator in this area illustrates the strong quality of life and cutting edge environment the Commonwealth offers to companies and their workforces. To learn why businesses have succeeded in Virginia for more than 400 years, click here.

Virginia Serious Game Institute Has a Banner First Year

Wednesday, 4 February 2015 13:55 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Virginia Serious Game Institute had a stellar first year that included launching six businesses and creating 70 new jobs in Prince William County...

The Virginia Serious Game Institute had a stellar first year that included launching six businesses and creating 70 new jobs in Prince William County.

VSGI is a business incubator that supports Virginia entrepreneurs in the modeling and simulation industry. It is the applied research arm of the Computer Game Design Program at George Mason University and is affiliated with the international Serious Game Institute. It is the only facility of its type on the East Coast and one of only a few worldwide.

VSGI provides Virginia schools, businesses and universities with hands-on training, certification, R&D assistance, incubation services, rapid prototype development and access to leading edge commercialization outputs and technologies.

Located on GMU’s Prince William Campus, VSGI operates as a public-private partnership offering entrepreneurs expertise in technology and business assistance from GMU, the Mason Enterprise Center, Prince William County and VEDP.

This location, just 26 miles south of Washington D.C., provides access to one of the top high-tech workforces in the nation. More than 60 GMU students have interned at VSGI, its resident companies or assisted in teaching.

VSGI supports Virginia’s STEM initiative by exposing younger students to careers in technology by hosting summer camps and workshops, as well as facilitating partnerships with larger IT companies that allow students to obtain hands-on learning experience.

VSGI is currently incubating five companies, and has the ability to house 10 startups at one time. To learn more, visit http://game.gmu.edu/sgi/. Be on the lookout for a call for applications in the coming weeks from the Prince William County Department of Economic Development.

Virginia has the highest concentration of high-tech workers in the nation. To learn more about the Commonwealth’s leadership in the tech sector and why innovative companies continue to choose Virginia, click here.

GMU Computer Game Design Program students provide modeling, simulation and design work for incubator companies at VSGI. Photo courtesy of Prince William County Department of Economic Development.

VEDP Launches 2015 Digital Advertising Campaign

Friday, 23 January 2015 09:34 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia has a great story and it’s imperative that it be told to the global business audience. In January, VEDP launched a new digital ad campaign, expected to deliver more than 73 million impressions through June 2015...

Virginia’s competitiveness and perception as a pro-business state remain strong. However, competition in the global economy and domestic markets continues to increase. Competing states are more aggressive in their outreach efforts, with several recently unveiling multi-million dollar advertising campaigns to promote and lure business.

Virginia has a great story and it’s imperative that it be told to the global business audience. In January, VEDP launched a new digital ad campaign, expected to deliver more than 73 million impressions through June 2015.

To maximize our limited resources, VEDP focused on digital media outlets and purchased an integrated schedule of online, mobile, tablet and pay-per-click search placements. The campaign targets VEDP’s geographic markets in the U.S, U.K., Germany and China.

The ads, promoting Virginia’s prime business location advantages, appear in Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Entrepreneur and Reuters, as well as two advertising networks — Bizo and Rocketfuel.

Search engine marketing remains a key component of our strategy. VEDP implemented pay-per-click ads on Google, Bing and Baidu. This is our first venture with Baidu, the leading search engine in China.

“VEDP’s advertising strategy continues to prove effective at generating leads and building awareness of the strengths that make the Commonwealth such a great place to work and live,” said Vince Barnett, VEDP vice president of communications & promotions. “The digital program provides unique targeting capabilities to reach key corporate decision makers, while making the most efficient use of limited advertising dollars.”

An example of a 15 second video pre-roll used as part of the campaign is below, and landing pages for the U.S., U.K., Germany and China can be found by clicking on the highlighted links.

To learn more about the opportunities for success that are waiting for you in Virginia, visit www.YesVirginia.org.

A view of the video pre-roll touting Virginia’s pro-business resources.

Amazon Fulfillment Center in Chesterfield Still Buzzing After the Holidays

Thursday, 8 January 2015 14:50 by Info@YesVirginia.org
VEDP toured the Amazon fulfillment center in Chesterfield, Va., this week, and we were pleased to see the facility was still buzzing with activity even after the holiday rush...

VEDP toured the Amazon fulfillment center in Chesterfield, Va., this week, and we were pleased to see the facility was still buzzing with activity even after the holiday rush.

The Chesterfield fulfillment center began operations in the fall of 2012, after the company’s December 2011 announcement that it would invest $85 million to establish the location and create 1,000 jobs.

Today, the 1.2 million square foot facility has 1,500 employees that help distribute more than 14 million items in the building.

The facility is an impressive maze of shelves, work stations and conveyor belts whizzing yellow bins, called “totes,” containing any type of smaller consumer good throughout the building in a blur of efficiency. Amazon’s other facility in nearby Dinwiddie County ships larger consumer goods, like kayaks and TVs.

Our tour guide took us through the massive layout and explained how departments such as receiving, stowing, packing and shipping all work together. Like any massive organization, Amazon has its own nomenclature. “Stowers” scan goods in and store them in the “library” where they are later retrieved by “pickers” who put items for a customer’s order into the “totes.”

The Chesterfield facility has more than 2,500 scanners, 1,300 carts and 40,000 yellow totes. 

Extreme efficiency is a requirement for success at Amazon. On 2013’s Cyber Monday, Amazon customers ordered more than 36.8 million items, which is a record-breaking 426 items per second.

The company operates under a continuous improvement mandate, and many suggestions come from employees themselves. Last year, 4,700 employees participated in 1,100 kaizens across North America to develop new processes and solutions to solve specific problems.

One reason Amazon has found success in Virginia is because its Chesterfield fulfillment center seamlessly blends Virginia’s skilled workforce with advanced technology and sophisticated algorithms to keep the operation humming at peak efficiency.

A second reason is Virginia’s premier logistics network. Amazon’s recognition as a powerhouse distributor was furthered when Coca Cola decided to bring back its Surge soda and sell it exclusively online through Amazon. Surge is the top-selling item at the Chesterfield facility.

Due to the strength of Virginia’s logistics network, more than 380 global logistics projects have been announced over the last 10 years with capital investment of more than $1.8 billion. The Commonwealth allows companies to transport products worldwide through its six interstate highways, nine commercial airports, 11 railroads, including two Class I lines, and the International Port of Virginia, one of the only East Coast locations in the U.S. able to handle post-Panamax vessels as first and last port of call.

To learn more, click here.

A view of Amazon’s fulfillment center at Meadowville Technology Park in Chesterfield, Va. Photo Courtesy of Chesterfield Economic Development.

Southern Virginia Product Advancement Center Incubates Companies From the Lab to the Marketplace

Thursday, 18 December 2014 14:39 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Formerly known as the Riverstone Energy Center, the recently rebranded Southern Virginia Product Advancement Center in South Boston, Va., functions as an incubator helping the Commonwealth’s advanced manufacturing companies develop their technology from the lab to the marketplace...

Formerly known as the Riverstone Energy Center, the recently rebranded Southern Virginia Product Advancement Center in South Boston, Va., functions as an incubator helping the Commonwealth’s advanced manufacturing companies develop their technology from the lab to the marketplace.

SVPAC replicates major components of the manufacturing process by offering companies assistance with modeling and simulation, prototyping, advanced manufacturing processes and applied coating development.

The center’s modeling and simulation program includes a virtual reality theater with high performance computing resources, simulation software and a fully immersive 3-D cave display that can render a one-to-one ratio in real-life scaling. This allows manufacturers to design new products and predict and test performance using virtual technology. Any mistakes are made and fixed in a virtual environment, allowing for a cost-friendly R&D approach.

SVPAC’s Carbon Fiber Composite Manufacturing Lab will allow companies to produce component parts using specialized molds. The lab is expected to be completed in the spring 2015 and augment the hub of automotive and aerospace technology companies in the area.

Through a partnership with C-CARE (Center for Coatings Application Research and Education), companies have access to a coatings technology lab that houses 12,000 square feet of environmentally-controlled space. The comprehensive range of manufactured coatings applications equipment includes advanced robotics, reciprocating spray equipment and virtual reality training systems that can test new coatings technologies and design solutions under a variety of conditions.

SVPAC also offers traditional incubation services that include business plan development, access to R&D grants, office and manufacturing space, networking opportunities and mentoring.

SVPAC already has a number of success stories, which include helping a large automobile manufacturer develop new spray coating technology, developing a virtual reality tool for robot path programming with Kawasaki, and helping TMI Autotech with modeling and simulation to develop its high performance vehicles. TMI has also worked with other automotive resources in the region, including the Global Center for Automotive Performance Simulation located nearby at the Virginia Motorsports Technology Park.

VEDP and VEDA hosted SVPAC on their most recently Third Wednesday Webinar series, available here.

SVPAC is another example of the R&D capabilities Virginia offers to advance the innovative ideas and products of the Commonwealth’s technology-driven companies. To learn more, click here.

A view of the 3-D modeling and simulation capabilities at the Southern Virginia Product Advancement Center in South Boston, Va. Photo courtesy of the Southern Virginia Product Advancement Center.

VEDP Receives No. 2 State Economic Development Organization Ranking for 2014

Wednesday, 10 December 2014 14:11 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The American Economic Development Institute and Pollina Corporate Real Estate ranked VEDP No. 2 on its Top 10 State Economic Development Organizations list for 2014...

The American Economic Development Institute and Pollina Corporate Real Estate ranked VEDP No. 2 on its Top 10 State Economic Development Organizations list for 2014.

With growing competitiveness on a global scale, AEDI and Pollina wanted to put the spotlight on state economic development organizations that are excelling at their job.

“Leaders of economic development organizations throughout the country need to do a far better job of understanding that their primary objective is to create new jobs and retain those already located in their state,” said Dr. Ronald Pollina, chairman of AEDI and president of Pollina. 

This ranking is largely based on data from Stage II of the AEDI/Pollina Corporate Top 10 Pro-Business States 2014 report released earlier this year. The Stage II data examines the state’s incentive programs and the marketing efforts of their economic development agencies.

More specifically on the marketing analysis, the authors of the study examined the resources devoted to the agencies, their ability to respond to new company inquiries and existing company needs, and the functionality of their website.

Interestingly, the study found that a majority of states had few programs for existing companies and did not devote enough resources to contacting and assisting these existing companies. In contrast, VEDP has an entire team devoted to business expansion, which accounted for 86% of announced investment and 74% of new job creation in calendar year 2013. Even more impressive, the top five project announcements for both new job creation and invested capital in 2013 were made by expanding Virginia companies.

Through our international trade division, VEDP helps existing Virginia businesses expand sales internationally. Programs such as the Global Network, VALET, Going Global Defense Initiative and trade missions provide companies with the research, introductions and export training to substantially increase sales overseas.

The importance of an agency’s website can’t be underestimated, as this is the first point of contact for many companies and site selection consultants. VEDP offers a variety of tools through our website, including VirginiaScan, Compare Virginia, Community Profiles, and the YesVA app, which allow consultants to easily search a geographic area for available properties and obtain comparative demographic, economic and real estate information to easily narrow their search.

According to VEDP President and CEO Martin Briley, “This ranking is a tremendous honor for all of us here at VEDP. It represents the hard work of our entire staff, our partners and our allies as we work together to augment the economic vitality of the Commonwealth and tell the Virginia story on the global stage.”

To learn how VEDP can help your company and why businesses have prospered in Virginia for more than 400 years, click here.

Photo courtesy of the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Charlottesville Entrepreneurs Launch Moonlighting Mobile Marketplace App

Monday, 8 December 2014 15:51 by Info@YesVirginia.org
A team of Charlottesville entrepreneurs recently launched Moonlighting, a mobile company with an app that helps job seekers and people needing work done to connect...

A team of Charlottesville entrepreneurs recently launched Moonlighting, a mobile company with an app that helps job seekers and people needing work done to connect.

The three co-founders began brainstorming in August 2013 to find a way to parlay their expertise in payment platform development and mobile technology. According to CEO Jeff Tennery, “We wanted to do something significant that would really resonate with people. The employment market made the most sense.”

According to the company, Moonlighting is the only marketplace that lets users engage as both a payer and earner in a mobile environment. With two simple categories —“make money now” and “get stuff done” — users can easily identify their needs and skills.

The app is similar in functionality to Facebook and Twitter. In addition, users can easily post Moonlighting requests to their social media accounts.

Like most entrepreneurs, the company founders kept their day jobs while moonlighting on nights and weekends to hammer out the business plan and technology. After raising an angel seed round of funding in April and testing an alpha version of the technology in August, the company officially launched its app on October 15.

In just over a month, Moonlighting has already reached thousands of users nationwide, with projections for dramatic growth.

“Charlottesville is a rich, diverse area with a solid investment community. There’s a strong constituency of experienced business people looking to finance start-up and angel companies and offer their expertise,” said Tennery.

Proximity to UVA also allowed the company to tap into a talented labor pool. “We worked with undergrads from the business school on the marketing, Darden grads helped us with the business plan, and law school students helped write our terms and conditions,” noted Tennery.  “The region is rich in both business and culture, so there’s a great labor force of UVA grads who want to remain in the area.”

Highlighting the growing peer-to-peer economy and its financial impact, Moonlighting has published its first comprehensive report on how the nation is “moonlighting” through multiple financial opportunities. The monthly M.O.O.N. Report (Mobile Optimized On-Demand Network) tells the story of the American moonlighter and reveals the economic trends taking place in the new 1099 society. To download the app and report, visit the company’s website http://moonlightingapp.com/.

The fast growth of a technology-driven company like Moonlighting is another example of how Virginia provides the right resources and environment for entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses. To learn more, click here.

The Moonlighting team at the company’s October launch party.

VEDP Host Virginia Tour for Chinese Journalists

Friday, 21 November 2014 12:57 by Info@YesVirginia.org
VEDP hosted a delegation of 10 influential journalists from the People’s Republic of China on a visit to Richmond this week as part of a larger tour organized by the Global Times...

VEDP hosted a delegation of 10 influential journalists from the People’s Republic of China on a visit to Richmond this week as part of a larger tour organized by the Global Times.

The journalists previously visited South Korea, Israel and Vietnam. While in the U.S., the group will visit Washington D.C., St. Louis and New York City to cover themes such as the U.S. representational government, freedom of the press, the future of U.S.-China relations, and Chinese foreign direct investment in the U.S.

The visit to Richmond is an extension of the D.C. portion of the tour. While here, the journalists met with Governor McAuliffe, and heard from Tranlin Inc. CEO Jerry Peng about Shandong Tranlin Paper Co.’s decision to locate its first U.S. manufacturing operation in Chesterfield County, Va.

The journalists experienced the strong cultural relationship that exists between China and Virginia. The group visited the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and toured the Forbidden City: Imperial Treasures from the Palace Museum, Beijing and Beyond the Walls exhibitions.

The group’s final stop was at the Richmond Ballet for an overview of its Road to China cultural exchange scheduled for May 2015. The Richmond Ballet will travel to China to dance their mixed repertory program, Made in the USA: Traditions & Innovations, at the Meet in Beijing Arts Festival. This past July, the Richmond Ballet performed in China as part of the U.S. Department of State’s 2014 Cultural Pillar Delegation for the U.S.-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchange.

China-Virginia relations remain solid, and Governor McAuliffe led two marketing missions to China in July and October to tell the Virginia story and build relationships with companies seeking to expand into the U.S.

Virginia is a great location for international companies seeking to enter the U.S. due to the Commonwealth’s strategic East Coast location, pro-business regulatory and cost environment, excellent logistics network, premier workforce and enjoyable quality of life. To learn more, click here.

A group of leading online journalists from China visit the Virginia State Capitol during their tour of Richmond.

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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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Georgia Pacific’s Big Island Mill Celebrates 125 Years in Virginia

Thursday, 26 May 2016 13:53 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Virginia is celebrating Business Appreciation Month by showcasing Georgia Pacific and the 125th anniversary of its Big Island paper mill in Bedford County, Virginia.

Georgia Pacific is one of the world’s leading manufacturers and distributors of tissue, pulp, paper, packaging, building products and related chemicals. Located just north of Lynchburg on the James River, Big Island mill is one of four Georgia Pacific locations in Virginia. The other facilities are located in Gladys, Emporia and Ridgeway.

The Big Island mill has been in continuous operation since 1891, when the first roll of paper was produced. The mill has faced ownership changes, fire, floods, and machinery and technological shifts during the past 125 years.

The paper mill’s most recent announcement in 2015 included a $50 million investment to improve reliability and environmental performance and upgrade technology.

To mark the mill’s 125 years of continual operation, Georgia-Pacific has launched a year-long commemoration throughout 2016 to honor the mill’s history, celebrate generations of employees and to thank the community for its enduring support.

The Big Island facility employs about 330 people and is Bedford County’s oldest business. The company credits its success to the community, which helped sustain and support Big Island and generations of families who continue to work at the mill for more than a century.

In addition to a strong manufacturing workforce, Virginia provides Georgia Pacific with a strategic location, offering easy access to the company’s customers. Located on the upper James River, the Big Island location offers employees a high quality of life with close proximity to the Blue Ridge Mountains, scenic hiking and biking trails, and numerous national parks.

As we celebrate Virginia Business Appreciation month, Georgia Pacific’s Big Island paper mill serves as a great example of how Virginia can offer long-term prosperity. To learn why companies like Georgia Pacific call Virginia home, click here.

An undated photo of a maintenance crew working at the Big Island paper mill.

Distribution Companies Deliver Big Investment to Virginia

Wednesday, 18 May 2016 14:53 by Info@YesVirginia.org

This week, for Business Appreciation Month, we’re highlighting Virginia’s distribution industry and celebrating the positive impact these companies bring to the Commonwealth.

Virginia's businesses provide services and manufactured goods to customers throughout the world. Our distribution base remains strong and continues to grow with companies like The Home Depot, Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart, Ace Hardware and Amazon.com all delivering goods from the Commonwealth.

Increasingly, retailers and distributors are taking advantage of Virginia's proximity to Eastern U.S. and Midwest markets. Millions of square feet of new warehousing space have been added at new distribution centers around the state.

In the past decade, 365 global logistics industry projects have announced capital investment of more than $1.8 billion and the creation of over 16,500 new jobs.

The Commonwealth is within a one-day drive time of approximately 43 percent of the U.S. population and over 186,000 manufacturing establishments. With our central East Coast location, Virginia is an obvious choice for many companies looking to establish or expand distribution centers.

In 2012, The Vitamin Shoppe announced a $39.4 million investment to establish a distribution center and create 174 new jobs in Hanover County. The 312,000 square-foot facility has become the company’s flagship distribution center featuring a state-of-the-art conveyor and picking and packing systems to move products from storage shelves throughout the facility to shipping bays.

McLane Foodservice Distribution, located in Prince William County, services restaurants in the Mid-Atlantic region. With two expansions in the last 10 years, the 223,000 square foot facility has three different temperature controlled areas—freezer, refrigerated and dry—in addition to employing more than 160 people.

As part of Virginia Business Appreciation Month, the distribution and global logistics industry is a great example of success due to the Commonwealth’s premier location and business environment. To learn more about the distribution industry in Virginia, click here.


The Vitamin Shoppe distribution center in Hanover County, Virginia.

Cybersecurity Industry Surges Ahead in Virginia

Thursday, 12 May 2016 10:46 by Info@YesVirginia.org

It’s Business Appreciation Month in Virginia, and we’re celebrating by highlighting one of the Commonwealth’s top industries, cybersecurity.

With its close proximity to Washington, D.C., Virginia is part of the nation’s Cyber Capital. As the hub of leading-edge intelligence technology, Virginia serves as a fertile ground for the growing cybersecurity industry. Key federal agencies involved with cybersecurity along with the nation’s leading cyber companies, such as Booz Allen Hamilton, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman Corp. are located in Virginia.

The Commonwealth is at the center of the IT industry, with 70 percent of the world’s internet traffic passing through Virginia.

On the heels of California, Virginia has the second highest concentration of technology workers in the nation, with nearly 10 percent of the state’s workforce employed by the information technology sector, according to Cyberstates 2015. As a result, Virginia is home to the headquarters of nearly 40 of the Washington Technology Top 100 federal contracting companies.

Reston’s Carahsoft is one of the most successful, fastest growing technology solution providers in the U.S. Founded in 2004, Carahsoft helps government agencies find the best possible technology solution at the best possible value.

NCS Technologies, headquartered in Gainesville, designs, manufactures, distributes and supports its products from a single location for clients including federal agencies, healthcare and schools. Since its founding in 1996, NCS Technologies has become a leading domestic producer of computers, servers and storage systems.

As part of Virginia Business Appreciation Month, cybersecurity represents the high-growth and technological innovation that is alive and well in the Commonwealth. To learn why these companies have found success in Virginia, click here.

 

Craft Beer Industry Thrives in Virginia

Thursday, 5 May 2016 09:22 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Virginia is celebrating Business Appreciation Month in Philadelphia this week by showcasing local breweries during BrewExpo America, the country’s largest craft brewery industry gathering.

America’s beer-brewing tradition began more than 400 years ago in historic Jamestown. Today, more than 130 licensed breweries call Virginia home and have an economic impact of $1 billion. The Commonwealth’s craft brewing industry began to flourish in 2012 when a new state law allowed breweries to sell their beer for on-premises consumption. In 2015, Virginia craft brewers produced 274,111 barrels of beer – 346% more than in 2011.

Across the Commonwealth, communities are engaged in helping the craft beer industry thrive. Virginia Tech hosts the largest, and one of few remaining, barley breeding programs in the eastern U.S. The university is also home to a state-of-the-art, new brewhouse and malting system to support industry research in fermentation and brewing.

The first commercial-scale hops drying and pelletizing facility in the Mid-Atlantic was created by Lucketts Mill & HopWorks at Black Hops Farm in Loudoun County. Michigan-based Pilot Malt House announced the opening of its second artisan craft malting operation in Loudoun County in 2015 at Black Hops Farm. The project is a collaboration between the Commonwealth, Loudoun County and Pilot Malt House and includes funding from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund.

Richmond’s Hardywood has been a key player in Virginia’s thriving craft beer industry. Founded by lifelong friends, Hardywood has been brewing beer since 2011. The brewery’s beers have earned international praise with medals at the World Beer Cup and Great American Beer Festival in addition to receiving a rare 100 rating by BeerAdvocate Magazine. Hardywood was rated Virginia's Top Brewery by RateBeer.com users and Thrillist.com recognized it as Virginia’s Best Brewery. The Greater Richmond Chamber Business Council awarded Hardywood the Business of the Year Award in 2013.

In Alexandria, Port City Brewing Company opened its brewery in January 2011 to create more options for quality, locally produced craft beer to Northern Virginia. Port City Brewing Company was named Small Brewing Company of the Year at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival in Denver, and has received numerous awards and recognition since 2011.

Virginia is proud to showcase its craft beer assets and local breweries at BrewExpo America. Governor Terry McAuliffe hosted a Virginia craft beer reception along with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Virginia’s craft brewing community and our partners.

As we celebrate Virginia Business Appreciation Month, the craft beer industry serves as a great example of the passion and dedication of Virginia entrepreneurs. To learn why the Commonwealth is a great location to grow a business, click here.


Virginia team during BrewExpo America 2016

Specialty’s Our Name — Expanding a Family Business Through the Generations

Friday, 29 May 2015 09:19 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Butch Harrison founded Specialty’s Our Name in 1990, a precision sheet metal fabrication and machine shop based in Ashland, Va. His three sons, Brandon, Utley and Kevin, worked in the shop since high school and each found their niche, whether it was handling the finances, managing customer relationships or processing orders...

Butch Harrison founded Specialty’s Our Name in 1990, a precision sheet metal fabrication and machine shop based in Ashland, Va.

His three sons, Brandon, Utley and Kevin, worked in the shop since high school and each found their niche, whether it was handling the finances, managing customer relationships or processing orders. When their dad passed away in 2009, the brothers took ownership and proudly carried on the family name and reputation for a superior product and customer service at S.O.N. Inc.

“We do the work other people don’t want to do,” said Brandon Harrison. “Our high-end, custom sheet metal work is in the White House Visitor Center, the American Civil War Museum at Tredegar and the Virginia Historical Society, and our customers include Homeland Security, Architectural Graphics Inc., Dometic Corporation and Showbest Fixtures.”

The company has successfully grown from two people in a 2,500 square foot building to more than 30 people in a 32,000 square foot facility. The company delivers custom products and can offer consulting, drafting, welding, deburring, powder coating and precision parts, all from one location.

The Harrison brothers not only weathered the recent economic downturn, but were able to continue growing their company. “We did feel some of the effects, but we manage our finances well and purchase equipment as we need it, so we don’t carry a lot of debt.” said Harrison. “We also have a broad customer range, from the marine industry to railroads to store fixtures. Being diverse helped us stay strong and grow our company through the tough times.”

The brothers also took a calculated risk and started a sister company in 2008, Pro Powder & Paint Inc. “About 90 percent of our customers want a finish on their steel or aluminum products. We provide that and do our own powder coating and wet paint at a facility just down the street,” said Harrison.

The company just had one of its best years and has a solid plan to grow both businesses and eventually combine them into one larger building.

“We are lucky,” said Harrison. “The three of us are all equally responsible and we get to expand on what our father built. We really try to keep the family atmosphere throughout the company as we grow. We have several cousins and family members working in the shop, and we treat all of our employees like we are one big family. Without every piece of the puzzle coming together, this wouldn’t be possible.”

As we celebrate Virginia Business Appreciation Month, Specialty’s Our Name serves as another great example of the ingenuity and dedication of Virginia entrepreneurs. To learn why the Commonwealth is a great location to grow a business, click here.

Specialty’s Our Name owners Brandon, Utley and Kevin Harrison at their company headquarters in Ashland, Va.

Marstel-Day — Growing a Green Business in Virginia

Thursday, 28 May 2015 09:33 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Rebecca Rubin started Marstel-Day in 2002 with a passion to help large institutions conduct business in a way that is both effective and preserves the natural resource base...

Rebecca Rubin started Marstel-Day in 2002 with a passion to help large institutions conduct business in a way that is both effective and preserves the natural resource base.

Based out of Fredericksburg, Va., the company has grown from a one-woman desk to 160 employees nationwide. With clients ranging from government agencies to academic institutions, Marstel-Day helps organizations develop an overall strategy to be more eco-friendly.

“Our customers may have the interest and funding, but we help them with their strategies and policies,” said President and CEO Rebecca Rubin. “Whether they want to be carbon neutral or make better use of their ecosystem services or reduce water consumption or be ready for climate change, we help them get there. We look at such things as their vulnerability to drought, temperature change, responsiveness and resilience of the IT structure to climate events — and help them answer the big picture questions.”

The company’s success speaks for itself. Marstel-Day experienced 8-10 percent growth every year, including during the economic downturn. Its impressive client roster includes the Department of Defense, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, Department of Homeland Security, Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration and National Laboratories. 

Marstel-Day has also received numerous accolades, including being named to both the Inc. 5000 list and Zweigwhite’s Hot Firm list for six consecutive years, the Alliance for Workplace Excellence Eco-Leadership Award three years in a row, the Virginia Fantastic 50 list for the third time, and the UVA Darden School’s Tayloe Murphy Award for Resilience.

Rubin chose to headquarter the business in Fredericksburg for two reasons:  proximity to a rail line and access to a great park system. “We were deliberately trying to get our employees off the roads and onto public transportation,” said Rubin. “Our other Virginia offices in Richmond and Alexandria are also within a quarter of a mile of a main train line. If you translate that into hours saved, it has an enormous impact on employee morale and health.”

“Because of its battlefield history, Fredericksburg has preserved green spaces and they have a new trail system. Having a park system where our employees can jog or bike during their lunch hour or after work is tremendously important to us.”

“There’s a reason why we’re here. Historically, Virginia has done a good job of understanding and appreciating the significance of nature and ecotourism. We find Virginia’s and the Governor’s commitment to green important to us as a company.”

As we celebrate Virginia Business Appreciation Month, Marstel-Day is another great example of how entrepreneurs find a successful environment for innovation in the Commonwealth. To learn why Virginia is a great place to grow a business, click here.

Marstel-Day President and CEO Rebecca Rubin at the company’s headquarters in Fredericksburg, Va. Photo courtesy of Marstel-Day LLC.

Release Reels — An Entrepreneur’s Journey from Biking to Fishing

Thursday, 14 May 2015 09:50 by Info@YesVirginia.org
After a hectic career traveling all over the U.S. and Europe as a professional cyclist, all Wes Seigler wanted to do after retiring as an athlete was to relax at his parent’s home in Reedville, Va., and fish every day like he did as a kid...

After a hectic career traveling all over the U.S. and Europe as a professional cyclist,  all Wes Seigler wanted to do after retiring as an athlete was to relax at his parent’s home in Reedville, Va., and fish every day like he did as a kid.

While fishing on the Chesapeake Bay and offshore Virginia, Seigler and his friends soon encountered problems with the performance of the reels they were using. Drawing upon his experience perfecting his own bike gearing and after encouragement from contacts in the cycling industry, Seigler decided to design his own product.

Release Reels was established in 2009. Seigler quickly found himself in the world of POs, RFQs and SKUs and learning what it all meant on the go. He initially started manufacturing in China, but found his intellectual property was leaking into competitors’ products and decided to bring back the manufacturing stateside.

Release Reels makes premium saltwater fishing reels, and the tolerances are very high. The product has to perform perfectly and look sharp. In order to make sure the machining was spot on, he decided to manufacture it himself. Upon being told he couldn’t compete with Asia, Seigler responded, “We can, we just gotta be willing to work.”

The company now operates nine CNC machines and has 10 full-time employees. 100% of the assembly and machining is done in Virginia and 100% of the component parts are made in the U.S. Seigler sources specialty bearings from Florida, gears and springs from Wisconsin and screws from San Diego, all to ensure the product is made in the USA.

“We have to win all categories — that’s the mentality of our company,” said Seigler. Release Reels products outperform in every class — they are smaller and more powerful, while weighing less.

The company also maintains a lifetime warranty on all its products, which no one else in the industry does. “If you purchase a product, I believe you should be able to call somebody and talk to them,” remarked Seigler. “We can fix it inexpensively, since we do all the machining in-house. Customers love the interaction and that carries into their next purchase.”

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

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

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

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

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

NCS Technologies — A Case Study of Innovation During Sequestration

Thursday, 7 May 2015 10:33 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Founded in Northern Virginia in 1996, NCS Technologies made a name for itself as a nimble and responsive small business computer manufacturer and supplier to state and federal agencies, the military, the intelligence community and commercial markets. The company operates out of a modern campus in Gainesville...

Founded in Northern Virginia in 1996, NCS Technologies made a name for itself as a nimble and responsive small business computer manufacturer and supplier to state and federal agencies, the military, the intelligence community and commercial markets. The company operates out of a modern campus in Gainesville.

The company’s products include commercial-off-the-shelf laptops and desktops for offices and schools, high-performance servers for corporate networks, and rugged tablet computers and servers for the military. Over the years, much of the company’s business depended on government.

Like many companies that found a niche serving federal agencies, the impact of sequestration created significant challenges. However, as with all great companies, NCS was able to turn those challenges into opportunities and come out successfully on the other side.

NCS has bounced back to its full pre-sequestration workforce and used the opportunity to diversify its customer base. The company realized that its experience delivering advanced computing products and services to highly demanding government customers could be translated into innovative new products for other growing markets, including healthcare, advanced manufacturing, banking and financial services.

The company kept innovating during the economic downturn and developed the industry’s only zero client laptop. Zero client computers have no operating system or data stored locally. Everything is virtually saved in the cloud, making the data more secure in the event the computer is hacked, lost or stolen.

While global competitors have developed zero client desktops, NCS Technologies is the only company able to master the engineering challenges to fit those capabilities, including patented Wi-Fi capability, into a mobile laptop product.

“Our employees are our greatest investment in innovation,” said John Callahan, vice president of marketing. “They are truly knowledge workers, including electrical engineers, sales representatives, program managers, financial analysts, highly trained assembly-line associates, technical support and customer service employees. Prince William County and surrounding Northern Virginia offers us that range of workforce that helps us excel in a complex, ultra-competitive environment.”

As part of Virginia Business Appreciation Month, NCS Technologies represents the high-growth industry and technological innovation that is alive and well in the Commonwealth. To learn why companies have found success in Virginia for more than 400 years, click here.

The Cirrus LT from NCS Technologies is the world’s first mobile zero client laptop computer. Photo courtesy of NCS Technologies.

 

 

Highground Services — A Successful Graduate of the Franklin Business Incubator

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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