Virginia Wins Another Defense Company's Corporate Headquarters

Tuesday, 1 May 2012 15:02 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Yesterday, DRS Technologies announced it would relocate its corporate headquarters from New Jersey to Arlington County, Va. The company will expand its Virginia presence to more than 100 employees, bringing a capital investment in excess of $10 million to the region...

Yesterday, DRS Technologies announced it would relocate its corporate headquarters from New Jersey to Arlington County, Va. The company will expand its Virginia presence to more than 100 employees, bringing a capital investment in excess of $10 million to the region.

The defense technology leader is a subsidiary of Italian conglomerate Finmeccanica S.p.A., a top ten global defense and aerospace leader. DRS Technologies develops a wide range of mission-critical systems for homeland security and military needs.

The Governor met with company officials at the Farnborough International Air Show in summer 2010.

Virginia was chosen for the company’s new headquarters location due to its proximity to key customers in the D.C. area, as well as the company’s positive experience with Virginia’s pro-business regulatory environment and tech-savvy workforce. Virginia has the highest concentration of high-tech workers according to Cyberstates 2011.

To learn why major defense companies such as DRS Technologies, Northrop Grumman, ITT Exelis and ATK have all recently selected the Commonwealth for their headquarters location, click here.

Engility Corp. Establishes Global Headquarters in Virginia

Friday, 27 April 2012 15:30 by Info@YesVirginia.org
L-3 Communications spin-off Engility Corp. announced yesterday that it would establish its new corporate headquarters in Fairfax County, Va. The project, a positive result of the Governor’s recent marketing mission to New York and Canada, will bring 50 new jobs and a $6.5 million investment to Northern Virginia...

L-3 Communications spin-off Engility Corp. announced yesterday that it would establish its new corporate headquarters in Fairfax County, Va. The project, a positive result of the Governor’s recent marketing mission to New York and Canada, will bring 50 new jobs and a $6.5 million investment to Northern Virginia.

With more than $2 billion in sales and 9,200 employees worldwide, Engility Corp. is a leading professional services firm providing systems engineering and technical assistance support services to numerous government agencies, including the Department of Defense. Virginia’s proximity to the company’s key markets and customers was a deciding factor for this headquarters location.

L-3 Communications’ existing presence in the Commonwealth and positive experience with Virginia’s highly-skilled workforce and pro-business tax structure led Engility to choose Virginia over its competition in Maryland.

As part of the professional services industry, Engility’s new headquarters location builds upon the success Virginia has shown in the sector. Professional services was the Commonwealth’s top sector for job creation in 2011, announcing 12,769 new jobs. With human capital as the major input, the sector’s 108 percent growth over the last year illustrates the driving force of Virginia’s world-class workforce.

To learn more why companies continue to select the Commonwealth for their headquarters locations, click here.

Bristol, Virginia’s NextGen Broadband Network Recognized in National Study

Wednesday, 25 April 2012 16:10 by Info@YesVirginia.org
New industry study Broadband at the Speed of Light details how three communities, including Bristol, Va., took matters into their own hands to develop some of the top broadband networks in the country...

New industry study Broadband at the Speed of Light details how three communities, including Bristol, Va., took matters into their own hands to develop some of the top broadband networks in the country.

Published by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) and the Benton Foundation, the study details a growing trend — rather than relying on the slower pace of private sector telecommunications expansion, community leaders are successfully designing and implementing their own public broadband networks.

Bristol is touted as one of the first municipalities in the nation to build a citywide Fiber-To-The-Home (FTTH) network that offers telephone, cable television and Internet broadband access. The local power utility, Bristol Virginia Utilities, launched its fiber optic network in 2003 under the name OptiNet.

Study author Christopher Mitchell noted that Bristol’s residents have “faster and lower cost access to the Internet than anyone in San Francisco, Seattle or any other major city.”

With a take rate above 70 percent, OptiNet has since expanded outside of Bristol to nearby businesses and industrial parks, helping to create hundreds of jobs for Virginians. Named the 2009 Community Broadband Fiber Network of the Year by the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisers, the network has also been praised in The Economist and in the FCC’s National Broadband Plan for America.

OptiNet is not the only technology investment Southern Virginia has seen. Several years ago the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative established an 800 mile open-access, fiber-optic broadband network, attracting Gigaparks and technology companies to the former tobacco region.

High-speed broadband infrastructure has become an increasingly important component to business expansion decisions, allowing Virginia to remain competitive on a global level. The expansions of companies such as Microsoft, Northrop Grumman, CGI and Alpha Natural Resources in the region are due in part to the availability of a high-speed network.

To learn more about Virginia’s strength as a technology leader and why companies continue to locate in the Top State for Business, click here.

Healthcare Leader McKesson Corp. Expands Footprint in the Commonwealth

Friday, 20 April 2012 16:40 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Earlier this week, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling joined McKesson officials to celebrate the grand opening of the company’s new medical distribution center in Caroline County. Initially announced in August 2010, the new, state-of-the-art distribution center will allow McKesson to better serve its domestic and international customers, bringing 150 new jobs and a $50 million investment to Virginia.

Ranked 15th on the Fortune 500, McKesson is the largest pharmaceutical wholesaler in North America, distributing one-third of all medicines used each day. McKesson’s selection of Virginia over Maryland and Pennsylvania confirms the Commonwealth’s strong advantages for companies vested in global logistics.

The new distribution center will enhance McKesson’s total supply chain efficiency as well as extend the company’s footprint in Virginia. Building off the McKesson Medical Surgical corporate office in Richmond, this new distribution center will bring the company’s employee base in Virginia to more than 600.

Virginia offers several advantages for distribution centers, including easy rail access, six major highways, one of the largest container ports on the East Coast, and the third largest state-maintained transportation network in the country.

To learn more about why the nation’s leading distributors are locating in Virginia, click here.

American Legislative Exchange Council Gives Virginia a Top 3 Ranking For Economic Outlook

Friday, 13 April 2012 13:23 by Info@YesVirginia.org
In its fifth edition of Rich States, Poor States the American Legislative Exchange Council rated Virginia in the top three for its 2012 Economic Outlook Ranking...

In its fifth edition of Rich States, Poor States the American Legislative Exchange Council rated Virginia in the top three for its 2012 Economic Outlook Ranking. This forward-looking ranking comprises 15 equally weighted state policy variables, including personal and corporate tax rates, as well as worker’s compensation costs, right-to-work status and even the quality of the state legislature.

As the highest ranked state in the region, Virginia definitively outshined its competition. With a corporate tax rate of six percent that remains unchanged since 1972, a right-to-work regulatory environment, and an unemployment tax burden that is 32 percent lower than the national average, it is easy to see why this is the second consecutive year the Commonwealth has made the top three in this study.

Virginia’s pro-growth economic policies offer companies long-term incentives to invest in the Commonwealth. For example, Virginia was able to successfully compete against nearby Maryland on a number of recent headquarters relocation announcements, including Northrop Grumman, ITT Exelis, Bechtel Corp. (divisional headquarters), Acentia and Alpha Natural Resources.

To learn why Virginia is consistently ranked America’s Top State for Business click here.

31 Virginia Professors Make The Princeton Review’s Best 300 Professors List

Thursday, 5 April 2012 14:40 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia professors represented more than 10% of The Princeton’s Reviews inaugural Best 300 Professors list. Teaming up with RateMyProfessors.com, the organizations reviewed data on more than 42,000 professors to create their first ranking of America’s top undergraduate professors...

Virginia professors represented more than 10% of The Princeton Review's inaugural Best 300 Professors list. Teaming up with RateMyProfessors.com, the organizations reviewed data on more than 42,000 professors to create their first ranking of America’s top undergraduate professors.

The Best 300 Professors list includes professors from five Virginia schools:  University of Mary Washington, James Madison University, Sweet Briar College, University of Richmond and the College of William & Mary. A broad range of departments was represented, including computer science, mathematics, economics, chemistry, biology, accounting, political science, english and psychology, among others.

The ranking was based on survey data from college students, using both quantitative and qualitative statistics to evaluate factors such as the student’s overall experience in the classroom, the professor’s teaching ability and the professor’s accessibility.

Virginia’s strong performance on The Best 300 Professors list is yet another validation of the Commonwealth’s excellent higher education system. Virginia’s colleges and universities have achieved national recognition on a number of the prestigious U.S. News and World Report college rankings.

Last year, Virginia’s colleges and universities awarded 133,603 degrees ranging from associate through doctorate levels. With more than 500,000 students currently enrolled in more than 100 in-state institutions, Virginia’s strong pipeline of skilled workers is ready to meet the needs of businesses expanding across the Commonwealth. 

To learn more about Virginia’s outstanding education system and workforce training programs, click here.

Richmond, Virginia Receives a Top 3 Ranking on Gallup’s Job Creation Index

Tuesday, 3 April 2012 13:26 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Richmond, Va., was recently ranked No. 3 on Gallup’s Job Creation Index. Comparing the 50 largest metro areas across the U.S., the index looks at net job creation — contrasting percentage of companies hiring against companies letting employees go...

Richmond, Va., was recently ranked No. 3 on Gallup’s Job Creation Index. Comparing the 50 largest metro areas across the U.S., the index looks at net job creation — contrasting percentage of companies hiring against companies letting employees go.

What makes this ranking unique is that it reflects the perception of the local workforce regarding job creation in their city. Gallup performed a survey over calendar year 2011, interviewing employees in each metro area about whether their employers were expanding or downsizing.

Thirty-six percent of Richmond’s workforce stated that their employer was expanding while only 14 percent said their company was decreasing its workforce, yielding a net job creation index score of 22.

Richmond’s No. 3 ranking illustrates the positive job creation momentum in Virginia, and the workforce survey correlates with actual results. Governor McDonnell recently announced that January’s seasonally adjusted unemployment in Virginia fell to 5.8 percent, a three-year low.

Coming shortly after Virginia was named the 2012 Best State to Make a Living by MoneyRates.com, Gallup’s Job Creation ranking illustrates the high quality of life and career opportunities employees find in Virginia, as well as why the Commonwealth is able to attract a world-class workforce. New and established companies alike continually praise the skill and productivity of Virginia’s workforce.

To learn more about Virginia’s stellar employee base and why the Commonwealth is continually ranked America’s Top State for Business, click here.

4G Wireless Comes to Southwestern Virginia

Monday, 26 March 2012 17:06 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Businesses and residents in Southwestern Virginia will soon enjoy faster, more consistent wireless network access. Over the next three years, The Virginia Coalfield Coalition will partner with Verizon Wireless to install the network that will reach 95,000 households and 2,600 businesses in seven counties.

Businesses and residents in Southwestern Virginia will soon enjoy faster, more consistent wireless network access. Over the next three years, The Virginia Coalfield Coalition will partner with Verizon Wireless to install the network that will reach 95,000 households and 2,600 businesses in seven counties.

The Virginia Tobacco Commission committed $7.5 million in grants to implement the Fourth Generation Long Term Evolution (4G LTE) wireless network. The 4G LTE network is the most advanced technology currently available and is up to 10 times faster than 3G service, according to Verizon. The project will be completed in three phases, upgrading many existing towers and building at least 11 new towers in 2013-2014. Officials expect the first towers to be operational as soon as October 2012. 

This investment will improve cellular phone service and also bring high-speed internet access to new areas, making Southwestern Virginia an even more appealing location for all businesses, particularly the high-tech industry. Global leaders such as Northrop Grumman, CGI and AT&T have all chosen to locate operations in the region. Southwestern Virginia also offers tech businesses access to high-speed broadband networks, a skilled workforce with tech-tailored training programs and low operational costs.

These easily accessible resources mirror a statewide trend, making Virginia an even more attractive place to do business. With the highest concentration of high-tech workers according to Cyberstates 2011, the Commonwealth has the workforce to support its expanding tech industry.

To learn why leading technology companies have invested more than $9 billion over the last ten years to grow their operations in Virginia, click here.

MWV Launches Center for Packaging Innovation Pilot Plant

Tuesday, 20 March 2012 12:57 by Info@YesVirginia.org
MeadWestvaco Corporation (MWV) recently opened its state-of-the-art pilot plant in Henrico County, Va., last week. The plant is part of MWV’s Center for Packaging Innovation, which the company moved to its corporate headquarters in Richmond, Va., from Raleigh, N.C. in 2010...

MeadWestvaco Corporation (MWV) recently opened its state-of-the-art pilot plant in Henrico County, Va., last week. The plant is part of MWV’s Center for Packaging Innovation, which the company moved to its corporate headquarters in Richmond, Va., from Raleigh, N.C. in 2010.

MWV’s Center for Packaging Innovation develops and tests new products and technologies as part of the company’s effort to find creative packaging solutions for customers across the globe. The 48,000-square-foot plant will allow the company to increase its pre-commercialization product testing. 

With five new labs MWV’s capabilities include wood fiber development, polymer compounding, metallurgy and corrosion analysis, coatings and materials testing, form/fill/seal machines, die-cutting, distribution and supply chain testing, equipment prototyping, injection molding and multi-layer extrusion and lamination, to name just a few.

The pilot plant is the latest in a series of investments this Fortune 500 company has made in the Commonwealth. MWV invested $80 million to move its corporate headquarters from Connecticut to Richmond, Va., in 2006, creating 400 new jobs. The company also announced an investment of $285 million in June 2011 to construct a new, state-of-the-art biomass boiler at its Covington Mill in Alleghany County, Va.  MWV has been a Covington employer since 1899.

These investments illustrate MWV’s confidence in Virginia’s talent and infrastructure to support innovative projects across the Commonwealth. According to MWV Chairman and CEO John A. Luke, Jr., “Virginia is not only our corporate home; it is a major base of operations and gateway for our business around the world.”

To learn why companies continue to invest in the Commonwealth and locate their headquarters in Virginia’s pro-business environment, click here.

Site Selection Magazine’s Governor’s Cup Awards Virginia a Top 5 Ranking

Thursday, 15 March 2012 11:07 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Site Selection Magazine awarded Virginia a Top 5 ranking with its annual Governor’s Cup for new and expanded facilities. Virginia’s 273 new projects and expansions showed an increase of 44 percent over 2010, allowing the Commonwealth to climb from 10th place last year to 5th place this year...

Site Selection Magazine awarded Virginia a Top 5 ranking with its annual Governor’s Cup for new and expanded facilities. Virginia’s 273 new projects and expansions showed an increase of 44 percent over 2010, allowing the Commonwealth to climb from 10th place last year to 5th place this year.

To be included in the rankings, new facilities and expansions had to meet at least one of the following criteria: a minimum investment of $1 million, creation of at least 50 jobs and the addition of at least 20,000 square feet of new floor space.

Northern Virginia’s Arlington/Alexandria area received a No. 8 ranking for Top Metros with populations over one million. For metro areas with a population less than 200,000 three Virginia regions made the top 10 list. The Blacksburg/Christiansburg/Radford region was rated No. 4 and Charlottesville and Danville were both rated No. 8.

Staunton/Waynesboro, Va., received a 13th place ranking in the Top Micropolitan category. Micropolitans are defined as rural areas with a population of less than 50,000.

Staunton has been in the press recently when Forbes.com picked up the publication “How to Radically Revitalize America: A Micropolitan Manifesto.” Written and photographed by Staunton business owners, the publication describes how entrepreneurs are choosing to locate their businesses in Staunton, Va., for the rich quality of life the area offers.

Virginia’s pro-business operating environment, highly skilled workforce, leading R&D centers, premier logistics network and strong quality of life are just some of the reasons Virginia continues to lead with top accolades from CNBC, Forbes.com, Pollina Corporate Real Estate and Site Selection Magazine.

To learn why Virginia is the best state for business and offers the right mix of resources to support your business, click here.

Volvo Trucks’ New River Valley Plant First to Achieve Two Energy Certifications

Tuesday, 13 March 2012 15:12 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Volvo Trucks’ New River Valley plant in Dublin, Va., is the first U.S. facility certified to the ISO 50001 standards and the first Superior Energy Performance (SEP)-certified facility to use the ISO 50001 as its energy management standard...

Volvo Trucks’ New River Valley plant in Dublin, Va., is the first U.S. facility certified to the ISO 50001 standards and the first Superior Energy Performance (SEP)-certified facility to use the ISO 50001 as its energy management standard.

The New River Valley plant achieved both certifications by participating in pilot programs supported by the U.S. Department of Defense and offered through the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB). The Virginia plant was SEP certified at the highest level, platinum, due to its 15 percent improvement in energy performance over a three-year period.

These energy efficiency certifications not only take the Virginia plant closer to becoming carbon neutral, they also allow the company to be more competitive at a global level.

Company management credits its skilled Virginia workforce for coming up with many of the energy-saving ideas. “These certifications required a high degree of cooperation — a total plant effort. Employees at all levels have been actively engaged throughout our entire energy reduction journey,” said Lars Blomberg, Volvo Trucks vice president.

The 1.6 million-square-foot plant at New River Valley is a marquee establishment in Southwestern Virginia, employing more than 2,000 Virginians. The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with New River Economic Development Alliance and Pulaski County in 1999 on the company’s $148 million expansion of the plant, which created 1,277 new jobs. 

Virginia is home to 170 automotive companies and Volvo Trucks’ New River Valley plant is a prime example of the innovation Virginia companies are bringing to the industry. With a pro-business operating environment, skilled workforce and R&D partnerships with universities, such as the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and the National Tire Research Center, the Commonwealth has the infrastructure to support the future growth of this industry.

To learn more about what Virginia can offer automotive companies click here.

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

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Virginia Receives an “A” for Small Business Friendliness

Tuesday, 18 August 2015 14:39 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia received an A for overall friendliness on Thumbtack.com’s fourth annual Small Business Friendliness Survey. Virginia was the highest ranked state in the Mid-Atlantic and top 10 nationwide. Nearby competitors Maryland received a D+ and North Carolina a B-...

Virginia received an A for overall friendliness on Thumbtack.com’s fourth annual Small Business Friendliness Survey. Virginia was the highest ranked state in the Mid-Atlantic and top 10 nationwide. Nearby competitors Maryland received a D+ and North Carolina a B-.

Thumbtack.com surveyed 17,633 small businesses across the U.S. with 36 questions to evaluate the friendliness of state and local policies toward small businesses on more than a dozen metrics.

Highlights for the Commonwealth include an A+ for ease of starting a business, licensing regulations and environmental factors.   

“Small business owners on Thumbtack have consistently told us that they welcome support from their governments but are frequently frustrated by unnecessary bureaucratic obstacles,” said Jon Lieber, chief economist of Thumbtack.com. “Virginia's policies that support entrepreneurs could provide a helpful guide as we fight a general decline in business startups nationwide.”

“There is an excellent climate for small business in Virginia,” commented a translator and professor in Roanoke. “It is a great place to start and run a business because the state offers support, networking, referral and community enthusiasm.”

Richmond was ranked the No. 3 friendliest city in the U.S. and received an A+.

The survey results once again illustrate that Virginia is a great place for entrepreneurs to start and grow a business. To learn more about the Commonwealth’s pro-business policies, strategic location, competitive operating costs, leading research institutions and highly educated workforce, click here.

Image courtesy of Thumbtack.com

Classes Commence at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center’s IT Academy

Thursday, 13 August 2015 13:32 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Classes start this Monday, August 17, at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center’s IT Academy. The IT Academy offers a fast track for students to gain the knowledge and credentials to quickly obtain employment in the technology sector...

Classes start this Monday, August 17, at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center’s IT Academy.

The IT Academy offers a fast track for students to gain the knowledge and credentials to quickly obtain employment in the technology sector.

Seventeen students are enrolled in the first cohort, with classes scheduled Monday – Thursday evenings over a four month period. Afterwards, students can test for the Computing Technology Industry Association A+, Network+ and Server+ certifications. SVHEC is a member of the CompTIA Authorized Partner Program. 

Classes will take place in the newly renovated, 5,013-square-foot lab at SVHEC in South Boston, Va. The lab includes a data center, hardware repair center, computer-based classroom and conference area to closely approximate a real-world environment.

“We are seeing what I call a market correction in education with an increasing emphasis on students earning third-party credentials. The hands-on, intensive nature of the program allows students to quickly learn the skills they need to be successful in the workplace. Initiatives like the IT Academy are critical to closing the skills gap and preparing the region with skilled workers needed for jobs available right here, right now,” said Dr. Betty Adams, executive director of the SVHEC.

SVHEC and its partners initially designed the academy’s core curriculum around the three certifications and will develop advanced training based on needs and recommendations from major employers in the region. SVHEC worked closely with the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative, ATOS/Microsoft and HP to launch the academy.

The academy was announced in September 2014 after the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification & Community Revitalization Commission approved grant funding. Governor McAuliffe gave the keynote address at the ribbon-cutting ceremony this June.

To learn more about the program or sign up for the next cohort in June, visit http://www.svhec.org/ita.

The SVHEC IT Academy is another example of the cutting-edge training programs available across the Commonwealth. To learn how Virginia’s workforce can be the advantage for your business, click here.

Governor McAuliffe, Secretary Maurice Jones and SVHEC Executive Director Dr. Betty Adams join members of SVHEC and local officials at the IT Academy ribbon-cutting ceremony in June. Photo courtesy of SVHEC/Drew Morris.

RaesWear — Pouch Pants that Solve the Storage Problem

Thursday, 23 July 2015 16:49 by Info@YesVirginia.org
When entrepreneur Leigh Cockram was traveling on business in the summer of 2012, she struggled to find a way to store her hotel key, money and phone while going for a run. She thought, “There’s gotta be a better way,” so she created one...

When entrepreneur Leigh Cockram was traveling on business in the summer of 2012, she struggled to find a way to store her hotel key, money and phone while going for a run. She thought, “There’s gotta be a better way,” so she created one.

The RaesWear concept includes a patented design with a front and back pocket along the entire length of the waistband. The runner uses one of two access points on the front and back to stow a variety of gear, without the fear that it will slip out or pull on their shorts or tights.

The company was named after Leigh’s grandfather, Ray, who was a gunner in the Army Air Corp. during World War II. Rae became a family name passed down to future generations and was a nice pun on race wear, while honoring the legacy of service established by her grandfather.

Leigh began making prototypes herself in 2012, and was directed by The Launch Place to a designer in North Carolina to make additional samples. Realizing she wanted to work closer to home and manufacture the products in Virginia, Leigh connected with Mollie’s Originals in Martinsville in 2014, and they have been manufacturing the products ever since.

RaesWear began with one pair of running tights and has grown to 13 products, including shorts, skorts, capris, tights and pants. While initially designed for athletes, customers are using the clothes for both exercise and throughout the day.

The company’s website at www.RaesWear.com was launched in December 2014, and products are sold online and at Mollie’s Originals. Leigh and her husband have used grass roots efforts, from social media YouTube videos, to appearances at marathon expos, to get the word out. They plan to start a paid advertising campaign shortly. 

They have also received requests to develop a product for men, and are currently working on a menswear line.

In true entrepreneurial fashion, Leigh has kept her day job and works on RaesWear at night and on the weekends from her home. Her husband has transitioned to support RaesWear full-time. 

“The best analogy I can give for running a business is being pregnant. You’re excited and nervous and you stay up at night wondering if things will be okay. And then you have your baby and it’s wonderful, but you’re always stressed and going through peaks and valleys, wondering if you’re doing the right things to make your child a success. It’s a true roller coaster, but very rewarding to take an idea from concept to reality all on our own,” said Leigh Cockram.

RaesWear is another strong example of the innovation and creativity of Virginia entrepreneurs. To learn why the Commonwealth is a great location to grow a business, click here.

Leigh Cockram, RaesWear owner, stands next to a display of her company’s pocketed athletic products at Mollie’s Originals in Martinsville, Va. Photo courtesy of Leigh Cockram.

Wise, Virginia is Home to First FAA Approved Drone Delivery of Medical Supplies in the U.S.

Friday, 17 July 2015 15:18 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Today’s event, called Let’s Fly Wisely, is the first FAA approved delivery of medical supplies by drone in the U.S...

Today’s event, called Let’s Fly Wisely, marked the first FAA approved delivery of medical supplies by drone in the U.S.

This research mission was overseen by the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, one of only six groups across the U.S. that won FAA approval to conduct Unmanned Aerial System research at sites across Virginia, New Jersey and Maryland. MAPP is headquartered at Virginia Tech’s Institute of Critical Technology and Applied Sciences.

The mission began when NASA Langley Research Center flew about twenty prescriptions from Tazewell County Airport to the Lonesome Pine Airport in Wise, Va., in an SR22 aircraft. The plane was operated remotely, but had a pilot on board for backup and safety purposes.

The prescriptions were then transferred into smaller packages, flown in 10-pound drones provided by Australian company Flirtey Inc. and delivered to the Remote Area Medical tent at the Wise County Fairgrounds. Remote Area Medical has served the people of Wise County for more than 15 years.

This project demonstrates one of the humanitarian outcomes of UAS technology could include delivery of medical supplies to underserved or remote areas.

Flirtey Inc. Founder and CEO Matt Sweeney called this a “Kitty Hawk moment” for Wise County and the UAS industry.

The success of this event and its location in the Commonwealth furthers Virginia’s leadership position in the aerospace industry. To learn why more than 260 aerospace companies have chosen to operate in Virginia, click here.

Governor McAuliffe holds one of the first medical prescriptions delivered by drone in the U.S. at the Let’s Fly Wisely event in Wise, Va. Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech College of Engineering.

Virginia’s Colleges and Universities Make Another Strong Showing on MONEY’s Best Colleges List

Tuesday, 14 July 2015 17:16 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Once again, Virginia’s higher education institutions made a strong showing on MONEY Magazine’s 2015 Best Colleges List...

Once again, Virginia’s higher education institutions made a strong showing on MONEY Magazine’s 2015 Best Colleges List

10 Virginia institutions made the Top 200 overall:  University of Virginia (No. 17), Washington and Lee University (No. 24), Virginia Military Institute (No. 48), Virginia Tech (also tied at No. 48), James Madison University (No. 59), College of William and Mary (No. 75), University of Richmond (No. 105), University of Mary Washington (No. 119), George Mason University (No. 127), and Hampden-Sydney College (No. 157).

The Commonwealth had seven schools make the Top 50 Best Public Colleges list:  UVA was No. 4, Virginia Tech and VMI both tied for No. 15, JMU tied with another school for No. 19, College of William and Mary was in a three-way tie for No. 26, University of Mary Washington tied with another school for No. 42, and GMU rounded out the list in a three-way tie for No. 47.

Virginia also had strong results in the Top 50 Best Liberal Arts Colleges list with four schools:  Washington and Lee was No. 4, VMI was No. 10, University of Richmond tied with another school for No. 26, and Hampden-Sydney College was No. 38.  

Bridgewater College was counted among the Top 50 Most Affordable Private Colleges and Hampton University was included in the Top 50 Colleges That Add the Most Value list.

The editors at MONEY Magazine only included the 736 schools with an above-median graduation rate from the list of 1,500 four-year colleges and universities in the U.S. The schools were then ranked on 21 factors falling into the three categories of quality of education, affordability and outcomes.

Virginia’s world-class education system is currently serving more than 575,000 students who will provide a steady pipeline to support the Commonwealth’s current industry needs. To learn why Virginia’s higher education institutions continue to be highly ranked, click here.

A view of The Rotunda at University of Virginia, ranked No. 4 on MONEY Magazine’s Top 50 Best Public Colleges list for 2015. Photo courtesy of Virginia Tourism Corp.

University of Mary Washington’s Convergence Center Joins Learning and Technology

Tuesday, 30 June 2015 16:39 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The University of Mary Washington’s energetic new learning facility, the Information and Technology Convergence Center, was completed fall 2014...

The University of Mary Washington’s energetic new learning facility, the Information and Technology Convergence Center, was completed fall 2014.

This technology-rich, four-story building offers UMW students and faculty a “commons” space that includes a digital auditorium, 10 conference rooms, four high-tech classrooms, audio/video production space, and multiple collaboration, study and meeting spaces through an open design. It also houses UMW’s speaking and writing centers, along with a café.

Visitors are greeted by a multi-story media wall in the atrium that uses laser phosphor display technology to showcase student work. The digital gallery on the third floor also features student artwork on interactive touchscreens.

The Convergence Center houses a production studio with a 180 degree green screen, high definition cameras, teleprompters, a control room and an audio recording booth. The multimedia editing lab has five iMacs loaded with a full suite of A/V editing software so students obtain real-world experience.

The center also holds a two-story digital auditorium that can seat 150 people for classes, lectures or performances. The auditorium has three screens and a full theatrical lighting system. It also opens up into a lobby and garden that can be used to host events holding up to 300 people.

Sprinkled throughout the center are collaboration spaces and conference rooms that have conferencing capabilities, projectors and flat-panel displays. There is even an incubator classroom that allows professors to experiment with the latest technology. The modular design is complemented by high definition projectors, cameras, flat screen displays and wireless microphones.

UMW’s Convergence Center has become a central gathering place for students to learn and engage with their schoolwork in an interactive, high-tech environment. It is another example of the state-of-the-art technology Virginia’s higher education institutions are using to train the 21st century workforce. To learn more about the Commonwealth’s premier educational offerings, click here.

VEDP gets a tour of the digital auditorium at UMW’s Information and Technology Convergence Center.

Virginia Western Community College Offers Cutting-Edge Mechatronics Training

Monday, 22 June 2015 15:07 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Mechatronics is a growing interdisciplinary field that incorporates mechanical and electrical engineering with computer science and looks at industrial operations from a system-wide perspective...

Mechatronics is a growing interdisciplinary field that incorporates mechanical and electrical engineering with computer science and looks at industrial operations from a system-wide perspective.

Students in this field become well-versed in electro-mechanics, computers, digital control systems, robotics and mechanical CAD, and go on to pursue careers in the automotive, aerospace, defense, consumer and manufacturing industries.

Virginia Western Community College offers three programs in mechatronics. First, students can earn a certificate that will allow them to take Level 1 of the Siemens Mechatronic Systems Certification Program. Second, students earning a two-year associate degree can sit for Level 2 of the Siemens certification. And, third, students completing the two-year program who go on to a university and earn a four-year degree can sit for Level 3 of the Siemens certification.

The Siemens Mechatronic Systems Certification is an industry standard with worldwide recognition allowing students to illustrate to employers that they are qualified and ready to work as technicians. The college began offering mechatronics courses in 2008, and now has 100 students in the program.

VWCC is one of only 35 colleges in the world that offers a certified Siemens Mechatronics program.

VWCC is actively engaged with high school students in the area. Through The Regional Academy for Advanced Technology it offers both engineering and mechatronics training for high school juniors and seniors interested in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) career. Currently, about 250 students are enrolled in The Regional Academy.

VWCC maintains an active dialogue with companies in the Roanoke Valley to ensure its training closely aligns with industry requirements. They have held two annual manufacturing summits where faculty meet with employers in the area to better understand their needs. Regional employers have also made commitments to mentor students and donate lab equipment.

“The goal of the mechatronics program at Virginia Western is to prepare students with globally, in-demand skills through local engagement to be well-educated, work-ready engineering technicians,” said Professor Dan Horine, Mechatronics Program Head at VWCC.

VWCC is a great example of the cutting-edge STEM education available through Virginia’s 23-member community college system. To learn how Virginia’s higher education institutions are preparing the workforce of tomorrow, click here.

VWCC mechatronics students commission the FESTO Modular Production System at one of the labs in the School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Performance Signs — From a Dorm Room to the Highway

Thursday, 21 May 2015 10:30 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Founder Robbie Morris was an engineering student at Virginia Tech when he started making decals for his brother’s stock car racing team. Robbie actually ran the decal machine out of his dorm room in the fall of 1995...

Founder Robbie Morris was an engineering student at Virginia Tech when he started making decals for his brother’s stock car racing team. Robbie actually ran the decal machine out of his dorm room in the fall of 1995.

While out on an engineering co-op, Robbie realized he enjoyed the creativity of the sign work much more than the structure of his engineering internship and decided to pursue the sign business full-time.

Today, Performance Signs makes a variety of signs, banners, vehicle lettering, vehicle wraps, window lettering and real estate signs for commercial businesses, public safety vehicles and highways.

Self-awareness is an important trait for entrepreneurs, and surrounding oneself with the right people and skillsets is critical. Robbie found the perfect business partner in his wife Katherine. She came on board full-time in 2004 and made improvements with her ability to manage, schedule and handle the day-to-day business, allowing Robbie to focus on the creative side.

Robbie and Katherine focused on building relationships with their customers and that paid off. “We were doing work for a sign company that supported a police department in Southwest Virginia,” said Performance Signs Founder Robbie Morris. “Those decals were an exact match for the Albemarle police department near us. We were able to approach them and found that there was a need for somebody to serve the public safety vehicles in our area. There’s a tightknit community among the police, fire department and rescue squad, and our relationship with that core group has helped us grow.”

When the recession hit, Robbie and Katherine looked at everything they did in order to be more efficient, from the number of phone lines they needed to the amount of equipment. They also took a calculated risk when a property became available. 

“All indications were that it would be crazy to buy something right now, but it completely came together for us,” said Robbie. “We really felt like God was moving in our lives and the timing was right. We did an SBA 504 loan. It was a lot of work, but through that process it helped us see our business in a new way.”

Robbie and Katherine closed on their building in the fall of 2009, and continuing their quest for efficiency, installed a solar-paneled roof on the 8,000-square-foot facility. Depending upon the time of year, the solar panels generate anywhere from 55-100 percent of the building’s electricity. 

Robbie and Katherine’s tenacity allowed them to successfully bounce back from the recession. The company has doubled sales since 2010 and grown from four to 12 people.

Performance Signs was also just selected to participate in the inaugural class of Ones to Watch, a business mentoring initiative run by the U.S. Senate Productivity and Quality Award Program for Virginia.

As we celebrate Virginia Business Appreciation Month, Performance Signs stands as another great example of the innovation and creativity of Virginia entrepreneurs. To learn why Virginia is a great place to grow a business, click here.

Performance Signs CEO Katherine Morris and Founder Robert Morris outside their company headquarters in Ruckersville, Va.

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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