Company News For the Record

For the Record - February 2018

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Blue Ridge Lumber Co. LLC plans to invest nearly $2.7 million in its Essex County lumberyard. The project is expected to create 17 jobs. The company is adding dry kiln capacity to increase hardwood exports. Blue Ridge Lumber has been selling Appalachian hardwoods since 1981, operating six facilities throughout Virginia and exporting products around the world. The company has committed to purchase more than $5.2 million of Virginia logs and lumber during the next three years. (

Fairlead Integrated has started construction on a 40,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Virginia Beach. It will be larger than the company’s existing manufacturing site in Chesapeake. Fairlead said the project at 561 London Bridge Road will extend its manufacturing footprint and allow the Portsmouth-based company to prepare for increased demand from military customers for hardware and software. Fairlead makes products that are part of mission-critical systems in the U.S. Navy’s Nimitz and Ford-class aircraft carriers, Virginia-class submarines, all classes of surface combatants and amphibious ships. (

Insurance firm Geico said it plans to hire about 500 people in Virginia Beach now that the regional office will be handling all the sales, service and claims for the state of Tennessee. The office, which oversees the company’s Virginia and North Carolina operations, employs 2,985 people. Geico had a growth spurt in December 2016, too, when it expanded by 500 people in Virginia Beach. Director of Human Resources Beth Roberts said the hiring will take place in the next few months and some of the jobs will replace people who have earned promotions and transferred to other locations. (The Virginian-Pilot)

Global Technical Systems (GTS), a Virginia Beach-based provider of advanced engineering solutions for the defense and homeland security industries, plans to build a $54.7 million, 500,000-square-foot manufacturing center that would create 1,100 jobs.  GTS plans to build an electro-mechanical energy storage system operation. It would produce and distribute 100 percent green energy storage systems using advanced composites and engineering technologies. The building will be located on about 30 acres of land currently owned by the city of Virginia Beach, at the site of the former Owl’s Creek Golf Course. (

More than 75 people are losing their seats on the board of directors for the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance. The board will shrink to 23 people, down from more than 100. Alliance President and CEO Rick Weddle said the smaller board and other changes will improve the organization and modernize the way it’s governed. The alliance’s governance model was designed in 1997 and received minor updates in 2005. (Inside Business)

Biotechnology packaging company Instant Systems is expanding in Norfolk. The company plans to invest more than $900,000 to purchase equipment for new product lines and training related to its packaging technology.  The project is expected to create 72 jobs and retain 26 positions, nearly tripling the size of the company’s workforce.  Founded in 2005, Instant Systems makes custom, medical-grade bags for the processing, storage, and transport of biological materials. (

The $169 million, four-lane Interstate 564 Intermodal Connector in Norfolk opened in December, making it easier for motor carriers to move cargo to and from The Port of Virginia’s Norfolk International Terminals (NIT). The connector is a dedicated ramp that provides a direct link between the NIT’s North Gate and I-564. The roadway was designed to speed the flow of truck-borne exports and imports while reducing the volume of vehicles on Hampton Boulevard, one of Norfolk’s busiest thoroughfares. (

Richmond-based law firm Sands Anderson PC has opened an office in Williamsburg, its sixth location. Leading the office will be Williamsburg-based attorney Elizabeth L. White, who specializes in community association law. The law firm said the location will allow it to more efficiently serve clients in those markets. (

Smartmouth Brewing Co., based in Norfolk, opened its second brewery in Virginia Beach. The company leased the former U.S. Post Office building and renovated it to include a small-batch, 10-barrel brewery system, a private event space and an 8,000-square-foot tasting room with a back deck. Smartmouth worked with several Hampton Roads companies during the construction phase, including WPA Architects, Spacemakers and Benevolent Design. (

Virginia Beach has reduced its tax rate for data-center equipment, joining Henrico County in a bid to attract data centers with tax incentives. The city’s new rate drops the tax on computers and peripherals used in data centers from $4 to 40 cents per $100 of assessed value, a reduction of 90 percent. In April, Henrico dropped its business property tax rate on computers and related equipment for data centers from $3.50 to 40 cents per $100 of assessed value. (

Verona-based Nexus Services plans to add 200 workers nationwide during 2018, doubling its workforce, with many of the new jobs created in the Shenandoah Valley.  Nexus is a family of companies and charities offering services to immigrants. Nexus says an improved business outlook and tax reform by the U.S. Congress have enabled the expansion.  (

A new boutique hotel plans to open in downtown Staunton this spring. The 49-room Blackburn Inn is scheduled to open on the grounds of the Villages of Staunton at 301 Greenville Ave.   Robin Miller, a principal of Richmond-based Miller & Associates, is the developer behind the project. He and a partner, Dan Gecker, also developed the 80-acre Villages of Staunton, the original site of Western State Hospital. Miller is known for the adaptive re-use of architecturally significant buildings in Richmond, Petersburg and Staunton. He said in a statement that state and federal historic tax credits made the Blackburn project financially feasible. He did not disclose the investment cost. (

The Shenandoah County Industrial Development Authority hired consulting engineering firm Draper Aden Associates to help attract businesses to the county. The consulting firm will perform land surveys, wetlands planning, due diligence work, borings to investigate soil grade and the potential for sinkholes, and other activities to prepare IDA-owned land for businesses to move in. (Northern Virginia Daily)

More than $250 million in construction projects will be underway on the James Madison University campus in Harrisonburg during the spring semester. Projects include an expansion and renovation of the College of Business, the new Union Bank and Trust Center and two new parking decks. (News release)

Tanker truck manufacturer Amthor International will invest $7.1 million to expand its Pittsylvania County operations, adding 70 jobs. The company will build a 115,000-square-foot plant to accommodate increased demand for fabricated tanker trucks and will designate the new Gretna facility as its corporate headquarters. In addition to creating 70 jobs, the project will retain 110 positions. The company has operated in Pittsylvania County for 25 years. Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe approved a $250,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to assist with the project. The Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission also approved $255,000 from its Tobacco Region Opportunity Fund. The Virginia Small Business Financing Authority also provided assistance. ( 

Bassett Furniture is growing again. The company has acquired outdoor furniture specialist Lane Venture, a division of North Carolina-based Heritage Home Group for $15.5 million in cash. “Lane Venture has been an important player in the outdoor furniture market since its inception in 1972,” Rob Spilman, Bassett’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “We have been contemplating our entry into the outdoor market for some time, and we believe that Lane Venture is the appropriate platform to become a serious participant in this growing category.” (Martinsville Bulletin) 

Pioneer Hospital in Patrick County is one of two closed hospitals in rural Virginia that have been sold. Virginia Community Capital purchased Pioneer Hospital for $5.7 million in a foreclosure auction. The bank had loaned Pioneer Health Services $6.7 million to renovate the building before Pioneer, based in Mississippi, filed for bankruptcy. Lee County meanwhile sold its shuttered hospital for $2 million to Americore, a Florida startup that is expected within months to seek state approval to reopen it. (The Roanoke Times)

As Danville’s River District continues to see buildings under development, it is expected to see an increase in overall property values. Bridge Street is an example of how development is raising assessed values in the River District. Most of the buildings along its five-block length have seen redevelopment during the past 10 years. The most recent project — River District Tower in the former Dan River Research Building — was assessed at $405,000 in 2007. Its current assessment tops $12 million. (Danville Register & Bee)

Telvista sent a notice to Danville Mayor John Gilstrap  in early January informing the city of the upcoming closure of its call center. It said the company “will cease operations and release its approximately 300 employees on March 7, 2018.” The closure will be permanent, Telvista Vice President of Human Resources Loren Rosario-Maldonado wrote in the letter. The company plans to offer severance benefits and transition programs to employees. Lisa Wallace, site director at the Telvista Danville location, said the company plans to consolidate its U.S. operations at its headquarters in Dallas. (Danville Register & Bee)

Atlantic Credit and Finance (ACF) it is expanding into downtown Roanoke, a move expected to create 115 jobs during the next two years. The company will invest $4 million as it moves into a 54,000-square-foot office at 111 Franklin Road. Construction on its new space in the Franklin Plaza building will begin immediately, and the company expects to be in its new offices this year. The company is now located at 3353 Orange Ave.  Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe approved a $250,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to assist the city with the project. ACF is eligible to receive state benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. (

Volvo Trucks in Dublin has signed a 20-year lease on a 221-acre tract next to its existing plant, with a purchase option. The Pulaski County Industrial Development Authority bought the land for $2.7 million in November, which opens the door to a future expansion by one of the region’s largest employers. Volvo Trucks currently employs 2,600 people at its 300-acre site. The development authority already has conveyed 49 acres to the company as part of a previous performance agreement. Volvo acquired that land in exchange for fulfilling a commitment to create 32 jobs while investing $38.1 million in plant upgrades and a new customer center. Volvo plans to use the 49 acres to extend a 1.1-mile customer experience track, where potential buyers can test drive vehicles without getting on public roads.  (The Roanoke Times)  

Wells Fargo has donated the iconic bank building sitting dark on a downtown Roanoke street corner to Christiansburg-based Virginia Community Capital, a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution and for-profit bank. The organization plans to open a dialogue with residents about what the 105-year-old structure could become. Leah Fremouw, director of community impact at VCC, said the organization will announce a series of community meetings on the bank building in coming months. The city’s assessment of its value is $3.47 million. VCC intends to eventually sell it. The purchaser would be encouraged but not obligated to follow the vision, Fremouw said. The money that would be paid for the building will be reinvested in the economic development of the Roanoke region, Fremouw said. (The Roanoke Times) 

A downtown Bristol building that once housed the historic Cameo Theatre has been sold, and its new owner has plans to bring the space back to life. Brent Buchanan, manager of Oakley-Cook Funeral Home, bought the building in October. The 550-seat theater at 703 State St. was built in 1925 and ranks among the 15 oldest in Virginia, according to the League of Historic American Theatres. Established as a vaudeville theater, it primarily attracted audiences and performers from passenger trains that once stopped nearby. Buchanan hopes to present a mix of live entertainment and movies. (Bristol Herald-Courier)

The Heart of Appalachia Collaborative Economic Transition Project in Tazewell County has been awarded a $300,000 Community Development Block Grant. The project aims to help transition coal industry-related businesses in 16 counties and three cities in Southwest Virginia. The initiative will provide direct counseling, training, mentoring, business service plan development and other targeted technical assistance to approximately 58 coal industry-related businesses, retaining about 200 existing jobs in Southwest Virginia. The project is expected to create 10 businesses and 30 jobs. The federally funded program is administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. (Bristol Herald Courier) 

The Hunter Smith Family Foundation has given the University of Virginia’s College at Wise the largest gift in the college’s history. The $10 million gift will be matched by U.Va.’s Bicentennial Fund program, bringing the total to $20 million for U.Va-Wise students. The $20 million endowment will provide significant access to scholarships for more than 100 qualified students each year. The scholarship program will commence immediately to qualified high school and community college students who plan to attend U.Va-Wise in the 2018 fall semester. (Bristol Herald Courier) 

Five contractors are currently working to renovate the former Bristol Inn at the intersection of Euclid Avenue and Gate City Highway. Plans call for the hotel to reopen in spring 2018 as a Rodeway Inn — as part of the Choice Hotels chain — Raj Patel said. His father, Jay Patel, who also operates a hotel in Gastonia, N.C., is the owner. The property, developed in the 1960s, has been a Holiday Inn, Ramada Inn and Howard Johnson hotel. It closed a couple of years ago and had fallen into disrepair. The building includes a restaurant space, which the owners hope to lease. (Bristol Herald Courier) 

Media startup Axios, launched in January 2017, is growing fast and ready to put down roots in the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington County. The company currently has its own wing of the MakeOffices Clarendon co-working space and has signed a 10-year lease for a floor in the same building. Axios will soon start the build-out process for its new space on the 13th floor of the office building at 3100 Clarendon Blvd. It expects to move out of MakeOffices and into the new space by mid-2018. ( 

Cathay Pacific Airlines will launch nonstop service Sept. 16 between Hong Kong and Washington Dulles International airports. The airline will offer four nonstop, roundtrip flights per week.  Cathay Pacific offers more than 100 flights per week from six cities in the U.S. and two in Canada. The airline offers flights to Hong Kong and beyond, including more than 22 destinations in mainland China. ( 

Defense Technology Equipment Inc., a provider of aviation logistics and procurement solutions, plans to expand in Loudoun County, a $866,500 project expected to add 20 jobs to its workforce. Defense Technology Equipment provides aftermarket sales and distribution of spare parts for military aircraft. Its offices are located 15 minutes from Washington, D.C., and it has a distribution center and warehouse near Washington Dulles International Airport. ( 

Tegna Inc. has agreed to purchase Midwest Television Inc.’s radio and television holdings in San Diego for $325 million in cash. The deal with the family-owned Midwest includes CBS affiliate KFMB-TV, CW affiliate KFMB-D2 and radio stations KFMB-AM 760 and KFMB-FM 100.7. The deal is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close in the first quarter. Tegna is a television and digital media company with 46 television stations in 38 U.S. markets. San Diego is the 29th-largest U.S. TV market with 1.1 million households and the 17th-largest radio market. (Washington Business Journal) 

Commonwealth Public Broadcasting Corp. plans to buy two additional FM radio stations in the region and reformat its news and music programming. The Chesterfield County-based nonprofit said it has agreed to buy radio stations WBBT (107.3 FM) and WWLB (93.1 FM), from Portland, Ore.-based Alpha Media. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The acquisition must be approved by the Federal Communications Commission. Commonwealth Public Broadcasting said it has submitted an application to the FCC and expects to complete the acquisition in the first quarter of 2018. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Lynchburg’s long-awaited Community Health Center opened to patients and the media in January at 800 Fifth St. It is expected to serve about 3,000 patients annually and act as a second location for the Free Clinic of Central Virginia on Main Street. The clinic serves the uninsured, underinsured and individuals with an income less than 200 percent of the Federal poverty level, which is $24,600 for a family of four. The $8 million clinic provides immediate and primary care as well as mental health and other services.  It is the result of collaboration between Centra Health, Free Clinic of Central Virginia and the Community Access Network, which consists of medical professionals and others who seek to increase residents’ access to health care. (The News & Advance) 

The co-founder and former CEO of Health Diagnostic Laboratory Inc. is suing LeClairRyan for malpractice, accusing the law firm of giving bad legal advice that contributed to the Richmond-based blood-testing company’s downfall. The lawsuit, filed by Tonya H. Mallory, seeks at least $150 million in damages personally for Mallory from LeClairRyan, a national law firm with its largest office in Richmond. The lawsuit centers on what Mallory claims was “incorrect legal advice given to her by several LeClairRyan lawyers over a several-year period of time from 2008 through 2013,” according to the court filing. In a statement, LeClairRyan called the lawsuit “nothing more than an attempt by Mallory to avoid taking responsibility for the actions that she took on her own at HDL.” (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Virginia Tourism Corp. has selected The Martin Agency as its advertising agency of record. The Richmond-based agency was selected after a competitive bidding process that attracted more than 20 applicants. It’s familiar territory for the agency, which invented the enduring Virginia is for Lovers slogan in 1969 and which has done creative work for the state tourism division over the years. “The Martin Agency is known for representing global brands,” said Rita McClenny, Virginia Tourism president and CEO. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

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