Carded Graphics Continues Growth Trajectory in Staunton, Va.

Friday, 14 September 2012 14:00 by Info@YesVirginia.org
On Wednesday, Carded Graphics announced plans to expand its production capacity in Staunton, Va., bringing a $7 million investment and 34 new jobs to the Shenandoah Valley region...

On Wednesday, Carded Graphics announced plans to expand its production capacity in Staunton, Va., bringing a $7 million investment and 34 new jobs to the Shenandoah Valley region.

A leading producer of custom folding cartons and paperboard packaging, the additional capacity will allow Carded Graphics to meet growing customer demand for its award-winning graphics, packaging design, printing, die-cutting, and state-of-the-art converting technology.

Originally founded in Virginia, the company has morphed and relocated through a number of acquisitions. Since returning to the Commonwealth in 2006, the company has doubled in size.

The City of Staunton offers a prime location for the company’s 120,000-square-foot facility, which houses Carded Graphics’ corporate offices and production plant. Located near the interchange of I-81 and I-64, the company can easily access Virginia’s premier transportation network with convenient reach to customers across the U.S.

In addition, Carded Graphics plays a key role in the Shenandoah Valley supply chain, providing packaging to nearby companies, including Hershey’s, Hollister, and ASR.

With its low-cost operating environment, highly-skilled workforce and robust transportation infrastructure, Virginia continues to be a prime location for advanced manufacturers, attracting more than $13.8 billion in capital investment over the last decade.

To find out what more than 6,000 Virginia manufacturing establishments already know, click here.

Montgomery County Gains another 50 Jobs—Social Media Company Heyo Expands

Wednesday, 12 September 2012 08:55 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Heyo, formerly known as Lujure Media Inc., just announced plans to invest $100,000 and create 50 new jobs in Blacksburg, Va., located in Montgomery County...

Heyo, formerly known as Lujure Media Inc., just announced plans to invest $100,000 and create 50 new jobs in Blacksburg, Va., located in Montgomery County.

Founded by students at Virginia Tech and Radford University in 2010, Heyo is a shining example of the innovation and creativity of Virginia’s entrepreneurs. The company provides an easy-to-use platform that allows users to drag and drop Facebook fan pages, mobile apps and websites.

Virginia’s universities thrive when it comes to cultivating the entrepreneurial spirit necessary to create next generation technologies. Heyo’s student entrepreneurs received guidance along the way through entrepreneurial programs at their respective universities.

CTO Brian Putt was a member of Radford University’s Collegiate Entrepreneurs club. CEO Nathan Latka and CFO Josh Gunter both attended Virginia Tech and the trio entered Heyo into the Virginia Tech Student Business Competition in 2011, winning the $5,000 grand prize. The competition was sponsored by the Virginia Tech KnowledgeWorks Third Annual Entrepreneurship Summit. 

With easy access to tech-savvy grads, Heyo’s decision to remain in Blacksburg is certainly a positive reflection on the local talent pool. According to CEO Nathan Latka, “The close knit community makes it easy to build culture and hire top tier talent from top ranked local universities like Virginia Tech and Radford University.”

No stranger to top IT talent, Virginia boasts the highest concentration of high-tech workers according to Cyberstates 2011.

Governor McDonnell designated 2012 as “The Year of the Entrepreneur,” and Heyo’s rapid success is a great example of why Virginia is the best place for entrepreneurs.

To learn more about Virginia’s robust technology industry, click here.

Multiple Virginia Locations Ranked Top Ten by CNN Money’s Best Places to Live

Friday, 7 September 2012 14:08 by Info@YesVirginia.org
CNN Money magazine named Reston, Va., No. 7 in the overall ranking in its Best Places to Live: America’s Best Small Cities report. Reston earned a top ten placement due to its unique combination of exceptional access to growing job markets and high quality of life.

This week, the National Tire Research Center (NTRC) hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the unveiling of its new tire testing machine called the “Flat Trac LTRe.”

This high-performance, $11.3 million machine is the only one of its kind. It allows speeds up to 200 mph on car, truck and motorsports vehicles and tests tire performance during acceleration, brake and burnout events, as well as wheel torque capability.

Located in the Virginia Motorsports Technology Park adjacent to the Virginia International Raceway track in Halifax County, the NTRC provides easy access to real-world testing right on a premier race track.

NTRC is an applied research and testing facility established in 2010 through a public-private partnership between the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, General Motors, the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, and the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission.

By combining the industry leadership of General Motors with the research prowess of Virginia Tech, NTRC will focus on developing safer tires that are environmentally friendly, providing higher fuel economy with lower emissions.

Southern Virginia has become quite a hub for the automotive industry. NTRC has partnered with nearby Southern Virginia Vehicle Motion Lab (SoVa Motion), a facility also operated by Virginia Tech that rounds out the region’s offering to automotive manufacturers by providing shock and suspension testing, on-vehicle sensing, and full-motion driving simulation.

Virginia's advanced manufacturing capabilities cover all aspects of the automotive industry. To learn why automotive companies have invested more than $1 billion in the Commonwealth over the last decade, click here.

Dr. Tom Dingus, director of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, addresses the crowd at the National Tire Research Center ribbon-cutting event in Halifax County.

New Coatings Research Facility “C-CARE” Unveiled in South Boston, Virginia

Thursday, 25 October 2012 14:56 by Info@YesVirginia.org

The Center for Coatings Application, Research, and Education (C-CARE) was unveiled this Monday at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in South Boston, Va.

C-CARE’s mission is to help commercialize solutions in the field of surface engineering and attract advanced manufacturing companies to the region by providing workforce training, R&D, and improved links between educational institutions and industry partners.

The 12,000-square-foot, climate-controlled facility includes a lab equipped with advanced robotics, reciprocating spray equipment, and virtual reality training systems. C-CARE’s lab will be used to test new coatings technologies and design solutions that increase product quality and efficiency for applications in the aerospace, automotive, construction, food, manufacturing and wood industries.

This two-year project is the result of collaboration between Halifax Industrial Development Authority, the Riverstone Energy Center, and the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center. 

The American Wood Finishing Institute (AWFI) will operate and staff the facility. As a leading provider of coatings technology training and consulting, AWFI will offer C-CARE access to subject matter experts with real-world experience applying coatings to metal, wood, plastics and other composite materials.

C-Care augments Virginia’s existing strength in the advanced manufacturing sector, as leaders such as the Altria Group, DuPont, Honeywell, MeadWestvaco and Rubbermaid have all established operations in the Commonwealth.

To learn why Virginia is home to more than 6,000 manufacturing establishments, click here.

Virginia Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade for Rural Development Mary Rae Carter (center) joins members of C-CARE, industry partners, and state and local officials at the ribbon-cutting ceremony in South Boston, Va.

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Virginia’s Biotech Industry Gains Another Asset: Virginia Biosciences Health Research Corp.

Friday, 8 February 2013 13:11 by Info@YesVirginia.org
This week, the Virginia Biosciences Health Research Corporation (VBHRC) announced its establishment to foster scientific research and provide a venue for public/private partnerships with Virginia’s leading universities...

This week, the Virginia Biosciences Health Research Corporation (VBHRC) announced its establishment to foster scientific research and provide a venue for public/private partnerships with Virginia’s leading universities.

The five founding universities include Eastern Virginia Medical School, George Mason University, University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University and Virginia Tech. VBHRC will also include an 11-member Project Management and Oversight Panel as well as a 13-member Board of Directors.

VBHRC’s mission is to encourage industrial partnerships and increase corporate-sponsored research at Virginia’s universities to augment the Commonwealth’s growing biotech industry. VBHRC’s ultimate goal is to develop life sciences technology that can be used to start new companies and create jobs.

The research focus of VBHRC includes bioinformatics and medical informatics, point of care diagnostics, and drug discovery and delivery.

VBHRC joins a list of leading research institutes in the Commonwealth, including SRI International, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 11 Federally Funded R&D Centers, and 20 FLC Laboratories.

Virginia continues to gain recognition for its life sciences industry and was recently ranked the No. 2 Emerging Biotech Hub in Business Facilities’ 2012 State Ranking Report. With its central location in the mid-Atlantic life sciences corridor and strong technology and life sciences workforce, Virginia is home to nearly 800 biotech companies.

To learn why the private sector has invested almost $2 billion in Virginia’s life sciences industry over the last decade, click here.

Microsoft Announces $348 Million Expansion to Virginia Data Center Campus

Wednesday, 6 February 2013 10:36 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Last week, Microsoft announced plans to invest $348 million to expand its latest generation data center campus in Mecklenburg County, Va., creating 30 new jobs...

Last week, Microsoft announced plans to invest $348 million to expand its latest generation data center campus in Mecklenburg County, Va., creating 30 new jobs.

Fueled by strong customer demand for its cloud services, this investment will allow Microsoft to construct two additional buildings on its existing Mecklenburg County campus. In 2010, Microsoft announced a $499 million investment to establish this facility, followed by a $150 million expansion in 2011, bringing Microsoft’s total investment in this location to almost $1 billion.

With its modular technology and advanced cooling mechanics, the Mecklenburg County location is one of Microsoft’s most advanced data centers. In addition, Microsoft is purchasing renewable energy credits to offset all carbon emissions at the site.

Southern Virginia’s ability to provide a world-class data center location is due in part to infrastructure developed by the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative (MBC). Established several years ago to support underserved areas, today MBC owns and operates more than 1,500 miles of fiber optic network in Southern Virginia as well as a long-haul fiber network.

Virginia continues to be a prime location for data centers—data processing was the dominant sector for investment in the Commonwealth in 2011, at more than $960 million. Offering companies both the advanced broadband infrastructure and highly-skilled technical workforce, Virginia is poised to continue its growth in this sector.

In addition, the Commonwealth’s favorable electricity rates and Retail Sales and Use Tax Exemption on computer equipment used in data centers provide a strong competitive advantage to companies.

To learn why more than 700 data processing and hosting establishments have selected a Virginia location, click here.

Virginia Recognized as Top State for Green LEED Certifications in 2012

Monday, 28 January 2013 15:06 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Last week, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) ranked Virginia as the top state for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certifications in its annual ranking...

Last week, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) ranked Virginia as the top state for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certifications in its annual ranking.

In 2012, Virginia certified 170 projects, which encompassed 29.7 million square feet of LEED-certified space. With 3.71 square feet of certified space per capita, the Commonwealth moved up two places from last year.

Cooper Vineyards of Louisa County was recognized as the first winery on the East Coast to achieve LEED Platinum status.

USGBC is an international organization made up of 77 chapters, 13,000 member organizations, and 181,000 LEED professionals with a mission to build a more sustainable future.

USGBC manages LEED, one of the most renowned green building programs in the world. LEED provides certification programs for the efficient and environmentally-friendly design, construction and operation of a variety of buildings. According to USGBC, LEED certifies 1.6 million square feet of building space each day.

LEED-certified spaces not only offer a healthier environment, the efficiency gains yield a direct impact to a company’s bottom line. Virginia’s leadership in this area illustrates the Commonwealth’s innovative approach to providing a competitive environment in which companies can do business.

To learn more about Virginia’s unique combination of resources and why businesses have succeeded in the Commonwealth for more than 400 years, click here.

JMU Helps Build Virginia’s Cyber Security Workforce

Thursday, 24 January 2013 09:40 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia’s cyber security capabilities span the Commonwealth, and one such hub is located around James Madison University (JMU) in the Shenandoah Valley Region...

Virginia’s cyber security capabilities span the Commonwealth, and one such hub is located around James Madison University (JMU) in the Shenandoah Valley Region.

With an information security program that began in 1999, JMU’s Computer Information Systems (CIS) program was ranked 9th among all Information Systems programs by Bloomberg Businessweek in 2012.

JMU prepares students for cyber security careers with an impressive offering of undergraduate and graduate programs that allow students to earn National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security certificates along the way. Employers are taking notice—JMU graduates are being snapped up by marquee IT and consulting firms, including IBM, CGI, Accenture, Deloitte, KPMG, PWC, as well as a number of government agencies.

One of the more unique aspects of the CIS programs at JMU is the level of engagement among students and the community. 

On campus, JMU students participate in student clubs that compete nationally, such as the Computer Forensics Group and the Cyber Defense Club. In addition, the JMU Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP) Student Chapter is the largest AITP student chapter in the U.S. AITP is the leading worldwide society of professionals in the IT industry.

JMU also engages the community through Cyber Defense Boot Camp, a summer program for high school technology teachers, and CyberCity, a program introducing disadvantaged high school students to careers in the CIS field.

Home to the Institute for Infrastructure and Information Assurance, JMU has partnered with George Mason University, the University of Virginia, and other public and private sector institutions on more than 60 research projects in the information security field.

With Virginia universities at the forefront of cyber security research and education, the Commonwealth’s workforce is well-positioned to maintain its top ranking with the highest concentration of high-tech workers, according to Cyberstates 2011.

To learn more about Virginia’s world-class IT and cyber security capabilities across the Commonwealth, click here.

VSU Part of Team Awarded $400 Million U.S. Army IT Contract

Tuesday, 15 January 2013 13:54 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia State University (VSU) recently announced it was selected as part of a 16-member team awarded a $400 million IT contract with the U.S. Army...

Virginia State University (VSU) recently announced it was selected as part of a 16-member team awarded a $400 million IT contract with the U.S. Army.

The Information Technology Services-Small Business (ITS-SB) contract was awarded by the Army Contracting Command-National Capital Region (ACC-NCR) and the Army Computer Hardware, Enterprise Software and Solutions (CHESS) groups as part of a competitive bid process.

The selected partners will support the U.S. Army’s enterprise infrastructure needs by providing a full spectrum of innovative IT services and solutions.

Eight of the 16 selected partners are based in Virginia, including lead-company Tantus|OnPoint. The other Virginia companies/institutions are: Advanced Resource Technologies Inc., CACI, Lunarline Inc., Strohmeir Consulting LLC, Systems Integration & Management Inc., VSU, and Zenetex LLC.

According to VSU, the university will provide support in the areas of Information Assurance, Independent Verification & Validation, Internet Protocol Version 6, Migration and Integration Services, and Warranty and Maintenance.

VSU was selected as one of only two universities to participate in the partnership. The university has a strong legacy of supporting U.S. Department of Defense contracts.

VSU has received multiple accolades for its innovation in IT. VEDP blogged last year about VSU’s Reginald F. Lewis School of Business winning three awards for its “Digital at the Core” initiative, which delivers core curriculum through digital textbooks, MP3 audio chapters, MP3 study guides, and downloadable quizzes and flashcards.

Founded in 1882, VSU is an example of Virginia’s premier higher education system that partners with companies to prepare students with the technological training and skills they will utilize upon entering the workforce.

To learn more about Virginia’s highly skilled workforce and world-class education programs, click here

Prince William County Science Accelerator Augments Virginia’s Booming Biotech Industry

Wednesday, 9 January 2013 10:46 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Prince William County Science Accelerator recently opened its doors, offering an innovative location for early stage life sciences companies in the Northern Virginia region...

The Prince William County Science Accelerator recently opened its doors, offering an innovative location for early stage life sciences companies in the Northern Virginia region.

The 9,000-square-foot facility offers companies wet lab space for lease that can be built-out to meet specific client needs. Building on the existing industry cluster in the region, the Science Accelerator is expected to serve as a catalyst, accelerating the growth of smaller life sciences companies.

The Science Accelerator is located at Innovation Technology Park, a world-class research and technology park in Prince William County. Anchored by one of George Mason University’s campuses, the 1600-acre corporate park is 20 miles from Washington Dulles International Airport and 30 minutes from the Capitol Beltway. The high-tech hub is home to numerous corporate and institutional clients, including the Virginia Department of Forensic Science, the FBI Northern Virginia Resident Agency, Mediatech, ATCC, and the GMU/NIH Biosafety Research Lab.

Another example of the many successful public-private partnerships in Virginia, the Science Accelerator was developed by the Prince William County Department of Economic Development, Rinker Design Associates P.C., and NAL Research.

Virginia has recently gained recognition for its life sciences industry as the No. 2 Emerging Biotech Hub in Business Facilities’ 2012 State Rankings Report. The Commonwealth offers companies a central location in the mid-Atlantic life sciences corridor combined with access to leading research institutes, including SRI International, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 11 Federally Funded R&D Centers, and 20 FLC laboratories.

To learn why nearly 800 life science companies have chosen a Virginia location, click here.

A view of the Prince William Science Accelerator at Innovation Technology Park. Courtesy of Prince William County.

William & Mary Unveils the Commonwealth Center for Energy and the Environment

Tuesday, 8 January 2013 10:37 by Info@YesVirginia.org
This December, The College of William & Mary opened its new Commonwealth Center for Energy and the Environment to foster an interdisciplinary approach for teaching and researching environmental issues.

This December, The College of William & Mary opened its new Commonwealth Center for Energy and the Environment to foster an interdisciplinary approach for teaching and researching environmental issues.

Open to all William & Mary faculty, the center will function as both a think tank and research incubator that integrates disciplines including the natural sciences, law and policy, social sciences and the humanities.

In 2013, the center will support up to three short-term Environmental Enquiry Groups to define and explore direction for future research and teaching opportunities. Once topics are approved, the center will support the development of Long Term Environmental Quest groups for more advanced study.

William & Mary is already home to the School of Marine Science/Virginia Institute of Marine Science (SMS/VIMS), a leading institution specializing in coastal and estuary marine science and among the largest marine research and education centers in the United States.

With greater interdisciplinary focus, the Commonwealth Center for Energy and the Environment may be able to expand research and address the complicated relationship between energy generation and its impact on the environment.

The center will support Virginia’s “all-of-the-above” strategy to become “the Energy Capital of the East Coast” while expanding the Commonwealth’s energy partnerships and advanced research development. By leading the charge to develop offshore energy, expand renewables and advocate on behalf of traditional fuels including coal, natural gas, oil and nuclear energy, Virginia aims to secure reliable energy for businesses and citizens in the future.

To learn why more than 385 energy companies have established operations in the Commonwealth, click here.

Kraft Foods Invests $25 Million to Expand Virginia Plant

Thursday, 20 December 2012 17:24 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Today, Kraft Foods Group announced plans to invest $25 million to increase production capacity at its plant in Frederick County, Va., creating 25 new jobs...

Today, Kraft Foods Group announced plans to invest $25 million to increase production capacity at its plant in Frederick County, Va., creating 25 new jobs. 

Located on 30 acres in Frederick County, the Kraft Foods plant has been producing Capri Sun juice drinks since 1991, employing 460 Virginians. The company has made multiple investments in this facility over the years, including a 2010 announcement that it would invest $40 million and create 100 jobs.

Utilizing its existing 335,000-square-foot facility, Kraft Foods plans to add a production line to increase capacity, as well as bring its packaging to the same facility by adding technology to manufacture its mylar bags onsite.

Food and beverage companies like Kraft Foods continue to select the Commonwealth for its competitive operating environment. Virginia offers competitively priced and reliable electricity, a productive and highly-skilled workforce, a corporate tax rate of 6 percent that remains unchanged since 1972, an unemployment tax burden 32 percent lower than the national average, and construction costs 16 percent lower than the national average.

Virginia’s food and beverage cluster is on the rise, with more than 550 companies calling Virginia home. Not only does the Commonwealth provide a premier transportation network with access to 55 percent of the U.S. population in a 750-mile radius; its top-ranked universities and community college system offer training programs specifically designed to meet the needs of the food and beverage industry.

To learn why Virginia has the recipe for success, receiving more than $1.9 billion in investment for food and beverage projects over the last decade, click here.

Virginia CEO Wins Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award

Wednesday, 19 December 2012 09:30 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Health Diagnostic Laboratory (HDL) CEO and co-founder Tonya Mallory recently won the prestigious Ernst & Young (E&Y) Entrepreneur of the Year® Award in the Emerging Company category...

Health Diagnostic Laboratory (HDL) CEO and co-founder Tonya Mallory recently won the prestigious Ernst & Young (E&Y) Entrepreneur of the Year® Award in the Emerging Company category.

Headquartered in Richmond, Va., HDL provides comprehensive testing for cardiovascular and other chronic diseases with a vision towards a more preventative approach to healthcare.

Since its founding in 2009, HDL has rapidly grown to more than 500 employees and has announced two expansions, expected to exceed $70 million, for its facility at the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park.

For 26 years Ernst & Young has recognized business leaders for their innovation and success through its Entrepreneur of the Year® awards. Winners were selected in 10 categories from a worldwide field of 2,000 companies and awarded at the E&Y Strategic Growth Forum gala in Palm Springs, Calif.

Mallory’s novel approach to laboratory testing epitomizes just the innovation Governor McDonnell had in mind when he declared 2012 “The Year of the Entrepreneur.” “Virginia is an incubator for good ideas and we have the right tax, regulatory and business climate for entrepreneurs to turn those ideas into job-creating businesses,” said McDonnell.

Virginia offered Mallory and the team at HDL the right infrastructure at the right time, including a prime location and workforce at the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park.

Adjacent to Virginia Commonwealth University, a Top 100 life sciences research center in downtown Richmond, the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park is located on 34 acres that include nine buildings and more than 1.1 million square feet of office and research space. The park employs more than 2,200 scientists, engineers and researchers through its 60 life science companies, research institutes, and state and federal labs.

The Commonwealth’s biotech industry is on the rise, gaining recognition as a No. 2 Emerging Biotech Hub in Business Facilities’ 2012 State Rankings Report. Virginia offers companies a central location in the Mid-Atlantic life sciences corridor and access to top research institutes, including SRI International, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 11 Federally Funded R&D Centers, and 20 FLC laboratories.

To learn why 800 life science companies have chosen to locate operations in Virginia, click here.

Virginia’s Wind Industry Gains Speed with Two Federal Announcements

Monday, 17 December 2012 16:12 by Info@YesVirginia.org
In the last few weeks, Virginia’s wind industry has won validation with two positive announcements from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and Department of Energy (DOE)...

In the last few weeks, Virginia’s wind industry has won validation with two positive announcements from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and Department of Energy (DOE).

On November 30, the BOEM announced federals waters off the Virginia coastline qualified as one of only two wind energy areas (WEAs) for the upcoming competitive lease sale process. This is the first-ever wind energy lease sale on the Outer Continental Shelf.

The Commonwealth’s WEA encompasses 112,800 acres located about 23.5 nautical miles off Virginia’s coastline. According to the BOEM, this area would have the capacity to produce more than 2,000 MW of wind generation, enough electricity to power 700,000 homes.

On December 12, the DOE announced that a Virginia team led by Dominion Virginia Power was one of seven projects awarded an initial grant of up to $4 million for the engineering, design and installation of an offshore wind turbine demonstration facility.  

Dominion will install two Alstom 6-megawatt turbines off the Virginia coastline using an innovative “twisted jacket” foundation that requires less steel. In addition to Alstom Power Inc., the Dominion team includes KBR; the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME); the National Renewable Energy Laboratory; the Virginia Tech Advanced Research Institute; and Newport News Shipbuilding.

Virginia-based Fugro Atlantic has also been selected by the DMME to conduct a geological survey to study the seafloor of Virginia’s WEA in the Outer Continental Shelf.

Recognition from both the BOEM and DOE highlights the Commonwealth’s strengths in the offshore wind industry. Virginia is well-positioned as a leader in this renewable energy field, offering the ideal combination of strong Class 6 winds, shallow waters off the coast, an experienced maritime workforce, a robust transportation network, and access to a fully operational high voltage transmission grid close to shore.

Often called the “Energy Capital of the East Coast,” Virginia is home to more than 380 energy companies and has seen more than $4.6 billion invested in energy projects over the last decade. To learn more about Virginia’s burgeoning energy industry, click here.

A rendering of the Dominion offshore wind turbine demonstration facility, consisting of two Alstom 6-megawatt turbines. Courtesy of Dominion Virginia Power.

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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.

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’o;s juices, as well as loving yourself by consuming healthy products.

May — Hillary and her professors visited the High Pressure Processing Laboratory, part of Virginia Tech’s renowned Food Science and Technology program. The team learned that HPP is an innovative technology in food safety that kills microorganisms and extends shelf life through extreme water pressure. It avoids using chemicals and heat that can alter the taste and nutritional content of foods and beverages.

June — Hillary headed to Miami to visit Hiperbaric, the world’s leading manufacturer of HPP equipment for the food industry. She came away with additional knowledge and an agreement to lease one of the company’s machines for arrival in September.

July — The next step involved looking for a space to set up manufacturing. Hillary worked with economic developers in Albemarle County to find a suitable building. She found the perfect location at 1822 Broadway Street in Charlottesville, an industrial district that is within walking distance of the downtown mall area. The 12,000-square-foot facility is approximately 50 percent manufacturing, with the remainder allocated for office and warehouse space.

August — Lumi began setting up shop in an empty warehouse, which included adding everything from plumbing to electricity. Dominion Virginia Power was particularly helpful in upgrading the facility to the necessary 480 volts in an expedited time frame.

September — The Hiperbaric machine was delivered and the team configured production, warehousing and office space.

October — On October 11, Lumi produced the first HPP juice off the production line. VDACS came out to inspect the facility, and according to Hillary, “On October 25 we got the okay to sell and it was game on!”

November — The company has been selling its fresh vegetable and fruit juices for almost four weeks. Lumi has already branched out from Charlottesville to retailers such as Whole Foods Market and Relay Foods in Richmond, D.C., and Rockville, Md. From weeks three to four the company has more than doubled sales.

According to Hillary, “One reason I went to business school was to start my own company. I believe in the viability of manufacturing in the U.S. and in creating jobs and industry at home. I feel really fortunate there have been so many wonderful people that have been a part of this. We wouldn’t be here today without the support of partners at the university, state and county level. I feel extremely thankful and regardless of the obstacles, every day is more wonderful than the one before.”

Use the highlighted links to learn more about Lumi Juice and why Virginia is a great place to start a business.

Hillary Lewis, co-founder of Lumi Juice, expands sales through a product display in Richmond’s Ellwood Thompson’s Natural Foods Market.

Virginia Entrepreneurs — Dr. Lucy’s Takes Gluten-Free Global with VALET Program

Thursday, 21 November 2013 16:44 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Ten years ago, Dr. Lucy Gibney’s experience with food allergies was fairly typical for a board-certified emergency medicine physician. That all changed when her four month old son had a life-threatening allergic reaction to infant formula...

Ten years ago, Dr. Lucy Gibney’s experience with food allergies was fairly typical for a board-certified emergency medicine physician. That all changed when her four month old son had a life-threatening allergic reaction to infant formula.

Food safety quickly became a priority; however, at the time Dr. Lucy had trouble finding allergy-free products that were both safe and tasted good. Having developed a love of baking and experimenting with recipes since childhood, she combined this with her medical training in nutrition to develop delicious, allergy-free baked goods the whole family could enjoy.

Dr. Lucy and her husband wanted to share their cookies, brownies and snacks with other families, and thus was born Dr. Lucy’s line of baked goods, free from gluten, milk, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts.

In 2007, Dr. Lucy’s opened a 2,500-square-foot bakery in Norfolk, Va. The company outgrew this space three years ago and moved into a facility that has now grown to 22,000 square feet, including a dedicated bakery, warehouse, office space and laboratory to ensure sourced ingredients have not been cross-contaminated with any allergens. 

The company has expanded to more than 100 employees and managed to double sales every year since inception. Dr. Lucy’s began selling to natural food and grocery stores in the Hampton Roads area, and expanded throughout the mid-Atlantic region on its own momentum. Within the first six months, the company established a Midwest presence through an industry trade show in Chicago and gained an introduction to a buyer at Whole Foods Market by attending the Virginia Food and Beverage Expo. Dr. Lucy’s products are now in more than 6,000 retail locations across the U.S.

Dr. Lucy’s became a member of VEDP’s Virginia Leaders in Export Trade program in July 2012 after some early growth in Canada and the U.K. VALET helped the company research which new markets to focus on, and provided introductions to international consumer products experts, banking relationships and legal consults.

According to Dr. Lucy, “VALET put everything we needed right there in front of us. We really benefitted from the research component to check our facts and feel comfortable investing resources in a particular direction. Especially as a small company, having a jump start with core competencies in the international arena makes a big difference — it could have taken us years to develop this on our own.”

Through the VALET program, Dr. Lucy’s is expanding deeper into Europe and is now shipping to Mexico. To learn more about VALET and what VEDP’s international trade program can do for you, click here.

Dr. Lucy’s develops Spanish-language packaging as it prepares to enter the Mexican market.

Virginia Makes History Again — Orbital Sciences Launches First Satellite Built by High School Students

Wednesday, 20 November 2013 13:56 by Info@YesVirginia.org
At approximately 8:15 p.m. last night, Orbital Sciences launched the first satellite built by high school students, a team from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va...

At approximately 8:15 p.m. last night, Orbital Sciences launched the first satellite built by high school students, a team from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va. 

The satellite, known as TJ3SAT, is a CubeSat that has been designed, built and tested by more than 50 students at Thomas Jefferson and represents nearly seven years of work. Orbital Sciences mentored the students and provided financial support, as well as space testing facilities.

TJ3SAT measures 10 x 10 x 11 cm and weighs approximately two pounds. Its payload consists of a voice synthesizer that converts text to voice. Once it enters Earth orbit, students from around the world will be able to freely access the satellite by sending strings of text to the TJ3SAT website. Approved messages will be transmitted to the satellite, where they will be converted to voice signals and transmitted back to Earth using amateur radio frequency.

TJ3SAT launched from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-OB at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. MARS is one of only four commercial sites approved by the FAA for orbital space launches, and offers an ideal trajectory for Earth orbit insertion.

Orbital Sciences launched TJ3SAT with 27 other CubeSats aboard a Minotaur I rocket as part of its ORS-3 mission for the U.S. Air Force.

The collaborative partnership between Orbital Sciences and Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology illustrates Virginia’s position at the forefront of STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math), preparing students for careers in advanced fields, such as aerospace.

Use the highlighted links to learn more about the TJ3SAT program and Virginia’s leadership in the aerospace industry.

The Minotaur I rocket, carrying the first satellite built by high school students, launches from MARS at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. Photo courtesy of NASA Wallops/Chris Perry.

Virginia Conference on World Trade Celebrates 65 Years of Global Business Success

Wednesday, 13 November 2013 09:48 by Info@YesVirginia.org
On Friday, The Vitamin Shoppe announced plans to establish its first Virginia distribution facility in Hanover County. The operation will be located at the Virginia Transportation Park in Ashland, Va., and will bring a $39.4 million investment and 174 new jobs to the Central Virginia region...

On Friday, The Vitamin Shoppe announced plans to establish its first Virginia distribution facility in Hanover County. The operation will be located at the Virginia Transportation Park in Ashland, Va., and will bring a $39.4 million investment and 174 new jobs to the Central Virginia region.

The Vitamin Shoppe’s accelerated growth and desire to be closer to its mid-Atlantic customer base were primary reasons for building the warehouse and fulfillment center in Virginia. The company has grown from one store in 1977 to more than 550 company-owned retail stores today.

Virginia successfully competed against North Carolina due to the Commonwealth’s strategic location, competitive business costs, and premier workforce.

The Hanover County location offers visibility to I-95, allowing the company to easily access Virginia’s premier transportation network, which includes six major interstate highways, 14 railroads, nine commercial airports and the international Port of Virginia.

Virginia’s competitive operating environment includes a six percent corporate tax rate that remains unchanged since 1972, construction costs 16 percent below the national average, and a low unemployment tax rate 32 percent below the national average.

According to Ashland Mayor Faye Prichard, “The Town of Ashland and The Vitamin Shoppe share core values of community involvement and healthy living…. Their decision to locate in Ashland and Hanover builds upon the reputation of this region serving as a strategic location for supply chain centers in the mid-Atlantic.”

The Vitamin Shoppe joins the company of Ace Hardware, Amazon.com, Backcountry.com, Home Depot, McKesson Corp, QVC, Target and Wal-Mart, all of which have established fulfillment and distribution operations in the Commonwealth.

To learn why Virginia continues to be a leading location for distribution centers, attracting more than $1.6 billion in capital investment from global logistics companies over the last 10 years, click here.

Virginia’s Metro Areas Win Four Top Ten Rankings from Business Facilities Magazine

Friday, 31 August 2012 10:49 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Four Virginia locations received top ten rankings from Business Facilities Magazine’s 2012 Metro Rankings Report. Now in its eighth year, the report recognizes future economic leaders by ranking more than 350 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in 13 categories.

Four Virginia locations received top ten rankings from Business Facilities Magazine’s 2012 Metro Rankings Report. Now in its eighth year, the report recognizes future economic leaders by ranking more than 350 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in 13 categories.

Arlington and Richmond, Va., both earned top ten placements for Best Quality of Life. Virginia’s 57 state and national parks, top-ranked schools, low unemployment and abundant cultural resources routinely garner national attentio"font-family: arial,helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: x-small;">UMW President Rick Hurley and Fredericksburg City Council Member Matt Kelly (right to left) discuss economic development strategy at the Transformation 20/20 summit. Photo courtesy of Fredericksburg Patch.com/Susan Larson.

STIHL Inc. Wins AME 2013 Manufacturing Excellence Award

Friday, 25 October 2013 16:19 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Association for Manufacturing Excellence recently recognized STIHL Inc. with a 2013 Manufacturing Excellence Award at its recent AME International Excellence Inside Conference in Toronto, Canada...

The Association for Manufacturing Excellence recently recognized STIHL Inc. with a 2013 Manufacturing Excellence Award at its recent AME International Excellence Inside Conference in Toronto, Canada.

The AME Manufacturing Excellence Award is given to North American manufacturing plants that have demonstrated excellence in their manufacturing and business operations. AME seeks to acknowledge manufacturers that have implemented continuous improvement, lean principles, creativity and innovation.

STIHL’s award-winning Virginia Beach facility serves as both its U.S. headquarters and base of operations to manufacture more than 280 models of chains saws and other power equipment. The company manufactures the No. 1 brand of chain saws in the world.

According to the company, “The AME assessment team noted the facility’s strides toward the establishment of a continuous improvement system, focusing on the implementation of advanced technology, integration of automation, data systems, work instructions, signaling devices and steps toward the establishment of flow.”

Since opening its Virginia Beach plant in 1974, STIHL has grown from 20,000 square feet under one roof to more than two million square feet on a 150-acre campus. With a talented workforce of 1,900 Virginians, the company exports products to more than 90 countries around the world.

Over the last 20 years, STIHL has announced more than $335 million of investment in the Commonwealth. What keeps an innovative global leader like STIHL coming back? Virginia has successfully competed against China, Brazil and Germany due to its highly-skilled workforce, premier logistics system and pro-business environment.

To learn more about the innovative environment Virginia offers global leaders like STIHL, click here.

Glenn Marshall, chair of AME’s Manufacturing as a Desirable Career Path program; Brent Sheffler, managing director, Knowledge Transfer and Strategic Outreach at VEDP; Christian Koestler, vice president of operations at STIHL Inc.; and Dale Gehring, Chairman of AME, celebrate STIHL’s AME 2013 Manufacturing Excellence Award in Toronto, Canada.

Williamsburg-James City County School System Celebrates National Manufacturing Day

Wednesday, 23 October 2013 13:48 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Williamsburg-James City County School system recently celebrated Manufacturing Day with tours of three local manufacturing operations...

The Williamsburg-James City County School system recently celebrated Manufacturing Day with tours of three local manufacturing operations.

Manufacturing Day is a national program that encourages companies across the U.S. to provide tours to local high school students and teachers. The goals are to illustrate the high-tech nature of the industry, encourage students to explore careers in manufacturing and STEM subjects, and build relationships between school systems and the manufacturing community.

A group of students, teachers, guidance counselors and school board members from WJCC were able to witness firsthand the advanced logistical operations of Wal-Mart Import Distribution Center and the high-tech food packaging operations of Ball Corp. and Printpack Inc.

“Our region is known for its strength in the hospitality industry. We wanted to let students know there are opportunities in other fields right here in their own community,” said Kate Sipes, one of the event organizers and business development and retention coordinator at James City County Office of Economic Development.

WJCC is also the first public school system in North America to sign up for the Association of Manufacturing Excellence “Adopt a School” initiative. This allows AME to partner with schools and local businesses to share best practices and help design curricula to improve career readiness.

“Manufacturing Day allowed students to see what modern manufacturing is — a sleek, technology-driven industry full of high-paid, fulfilling careers,” said Glenn Marshall, chair of AME’s Manufacturing as a Desirable Career Path program.

Just down the road, Newport News Shipbuilding also hosted a similar event to educate guidance counselors from the region on the advanced operations and rewarding careers available at the shipyard.

Virginia continues to be a leader in preparing students for advanced manufacturing careers with strong STEM education programs. To learn more, click here.

WJCC students, teachers and school administrators gather for a tour of Printpack Inc. as part of national Manufacturing Day.

Virginia Institute of Marine Science Bolsters the Commonwealth's Oyster Industry

Wednesday, 16 October 2013 11:08 by Info@YesVirginia.org

The Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) has played an important role in the recovery of the Commonwealth’s oyster industry through its research and educational offerings. 

The popular species of oyster found along the Atlantic Coast is named Crassostrea virginica, literally “Virginia oyster,” because of its predominance in Virginia waters, including the Chesapeake and its tributaries. Unfortunately, the wild oyster beds and natural reefs off Virginia’s coastline have been depleted over the last 100 years due to overfishing, pollution, disease and changing water temperature and saline levels.

These factors have caused the industry to migrate towards aquaculture techniques that involve cultivating oysters and closely monitoring their growth phases on and offshore.

VIMS partners with local oyster farms by sharing its scientific and industry research, providing education on sustainable aquaculture techniques, and guiding companies through the regulation process.

This has enabled small businesses to prosper, such as Rappahannock River Oyster Co. Recently featured in national news, the great grandsons of the founder quickly learned the ropes after taking over the 100-year-old family business in 2001.

Today, the company owns three restaurants and ships 100,000 oysters per week to restaurants all over the U.S., as well as Hong Kong. Rappahannock River Oyster Co. is helping to repopularize the Virginia oyster and offers four flavors. The “Rappahannock” is the sweetest variety and is grown in the Rappahannock River, while “Olde Salts” from the Chincoteague Bay is the saltiest.

According to Rappahannock River Oyster Co. Director of Operations, Captain Anthony Marchetti, “VIMS has laid the foundation to help develop quality seed that allows us to grow more oysters. Over the last five years, we’ve seen a 500 percent increase in the production of our Rappahannock oysters.”

That growth is occurring across the industry. According to VIMS, the number of aquaculture oysters sold by Virginia farms has increased from 0.8 million in 2005 to 28.1 million in 2012.

“Renewed interest in regional flavors and sustainable food practices has helped drive this market,” said Karen Hudson, VIMS Commercial Shellfish Aquaculture Extension Specialist. “It’s already an economically valuable industry and one that has lots of potential to grow. In 2012, there was an economic output of almost $20 million associated with single oyster aquaculture in Virginia.”

Click on the highlighted link to learn more about VIMS aquaculture programs or attend the Virginia Aquaculture Conference in November.

Captain Anthony Marchetti examines a successful crop of the company’s sweet “Rappahannock” oysters, fresh from the Rappahannock River. Photo courtesy of Rappahannock River Oyster Co. 

 

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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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Secretary Cheng recently attended an event at McKee Foods’ Stuarts Draft facility in Augusta County, Va., to announce the company’s planned investment of $19 million to expand the plant, creating 78 new jobs.

Best known for its Little Debbie® line of snack cakes, McKee Foods produces a wide range of food products under the Sunbelt®, Heartland® and Fieldstone™ Bakery brands. Increased demand for the company’s line of Little Debbie® donuts is a major driver for the additional production capacity.

Successfully operating in Augusta County for 22 years, the high productivity of the local workforce helped Virginia win this project. The plant’s productivity, measured in cases produced per employee, has improved by 24 percent over the last two years, with the same number of employees and no additional automation.

According to Randy Smith, Vice President, McKee Foods Stuarts Draft operations, “McKee Foods initially recognized the strategic advantage of building a manufacturing facility in August County more than two decades ago. A major point in that decision was seeing that the Shenandoah Valley gave us access to a highly-skilled workforce. Today we’re pleased to be able to expand our production capabilities here.”

In addition to a highly-skilled manufacturing workforce, Virginia allows companies to improve their bottom lines. With a corporate income tax rate of 6 percent, an unemployment tax burden 32 percent lower than the national average, construction costs 16 percent lower than the national average, and favorably priced utility rates, more than 550 food and beverage companies call Virginia home.

To learn why food and beverage manufacturers have invested more than $1.9 billion in Virginia over the last decade, click here.

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Virginia Economic Development Partnership is the Best State for Business

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

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