Company News For the Record

For the Record - November 2017

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SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA
A proposed pumped hydroelectric storage power station in Southwest Virginia would bring approximately $576 million in economic benefits to the state — half of it to the coalfields region, according to a new study conducted by Richmond-based Chmura Economics & Analytics and commissioned by Dominion Energy. The report also found that the project would support nearly 3,000 Virginia jobs during development and construction, including more than 2,000 in the coalfield region. Dominion is considering two sites, an abandoned mine in Wise County and a 4,100-acre site in Tazewell County. The proposed facility comes as a result of legislation approved in the 2017 Virginia General Assembly that encourages development of pumped storage technology in the region. (Bristol Herald Courier) 

Wytheville-based Clarke Precision Machine is one of a dozen companies picked to participate in the Virginia Economic Gardening Pilot Program. These “second-stage” businesses have moved beyond the startup phase by substantially increasing their revenue or employment. Virginia Economic Development Partnership partnered with the Edward Lowe Foundation, which hosts the National Center for Economic Gardening, on the project. They set up a statewide network providing each company access to a team of research specialists. The teams will devote approximately 36 hours of assistance to each company. The program aims to address growth issues, such as identifying new markets and industry trends, refining business models and raising online visibility. (VirginiaBusiness.com) 

The proposed merger of two area health systems must close within 90 days and be subject to constant state oversight, according to the Tennessee Certificate of Public Advantage approved in September. Tennessee Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner formally approved an agreement to allow Mountain States Health Alliance and Wellmont Health System to unite as Ballad Health. Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery III also gave his approval to the plan. The merger would combine 21 hospitals — including 14 in Tennessee — and about 15,000 employees across Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. Separate approvals by the Virginia attorney general and commissioner of health are pending. (Bristol Herald Courier) 

For the seventh consecutive year, the Smyth Career & Technology Center in Marion has been recognized by the national affiliate of Jobs for Virginia Graduates (JVG) for outstanding student achievement. The program focuses on helping disadvantaged students graduate and improve their odds for workplace success. Barry Glenn, president and CEO of JVG in Richmond, attended the school board’s September meeting to announce the award and present certificates to the school. He said the national recognition from Jobs for America’s Graduates was presented at the national training seminar in Las Vegas in July. The award is presented for high performance in achieving all five standards of JAG for the Class of 2016. (SWVAToday.com) 

SOUTHERN VIRGINIA
Arrington Performance will close its doors in Martinsville and move to Michigan under new ownership, according to the company’s CEO, Tim Krauskopf. Arrington Performance builds hemispherical combustion chamber (HEMI) engines and custom, high-performance parts for late model Chrysler vehicles. Krauskopf said that Arrington employs 22 people, but it is unclear how many employees will relocate to Michigan. Krauskopf said that one of the major factors in the sale was the challenge Arrington has faced since Chrysler left NASCAR at the conclusion of the 2012 racing season. (Martinsville Bulletin)

Averett University laid off 12 employees in a cost-cutting measure that targeted staff and administrative positions, spokeswoman Cassie Williams Jones confirmed in September. The layoffs were done to address increasing competition for higher-achieving students applying for college and decreasing enrollment of adult students, Jones said. The job cuts happened within weeks of the start of the new school year. (Danville Register & Bee) 

Bank of McKenney and Citizens Community Bank announced in September that the bank created by their merger will be called Touchstone Bank. The merger, which is expected to be complete by the end of the year, will create a bank based in Prince George County. It will have 13 offices in Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Prince George, Brunswick and Mecklenburg counties and Franklin, Halifax and Vance counties in North Carolina. The combined bank will have assets of $441 million, based on financial reporting as of June 30. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre is officially open for business and ready to attract companies. Local and state officials and economic developers made that declaration in September while breaking ground for a manufacturing training center to be part of the industrial park, which is under development on 720 acres off U.S. 220 South at the Virginia-North Carolina line. Commonwealth Crossing has four lots on which companies can locate. However, EDC officials have said that if necessary, lots can be combined to meet a company’s needs, or the entire park could be made to accommodate a single large industry. (Martinsville Bulletin) 

A new precision machining program has begun at George Washington High School in Danville. Modeled after a program at Danville Community College (DCC), the two-year training program will serve as a feeder for high school students who want to continue their studies and finish their degree at DCC or another institution. (News release) 

SHENANDOAH VALLEY
Sales revenue has slowed at AccuTec Blades Inc., causing 10 of its 164 employees to take separation packages, a news release said.  The Verona-based industrial blade manufacturer said the employees opted to take voluntary separation packages in order to reduce company labor costs. The company, which is the largest U.S. manufacturer of industrial blades, had anticipated higher sales revenue for fiscal year 2017. (News Leader)

Equus Capital Partners Ltd., a Philadelphia-based private-equity real estate fund manager, has broken ground on a 287,000-square-foot speculative warehouse logistics facility in Winchester’s Stonewall Industrial Park. The park is located along the Interstate 81 corridor in Frederick County, about 75 miles west of Washington, D.C. The building will sit on a 20-acre site. According to Equus, the facility will be constructed of tilt-up concrete panels with a 32-foot clear height, energy efficient interior lighting and an ESFR sprinkler system.  (VirginiaBusiness.com)

Four Valley initiatives have received state funding to boost local and regional tourism. A $50,000 grant will be split among Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance, the city tourism office and the city Department of Economic Development. The money will fund the creation of 360-degree panoramic views of the downtown area for HDR’s website and create a new magazine advertising downtown attractions. The Shenandoah Spirits Trail received a $36,000 grant to target millennials and baby boomers in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.  The Passport to a Shenandoah BeerWerks Adventure, a 12-location beer trail featuring four Harrisonburg craft breweries, received more than $22,000 for cross-promotion of each brewery and advertising outdoor activities. Shenandoah Valley Takes Flight also received $25,000 for the promotion of the Valley as “an outstanding year-round destination to global visitors.” (The Shenandoah Valley-Herald)

The Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport could soon have a new airline carrier. The airport commission has recommended a proposal from Skywest Airlines to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Skywest would replace ViaAir, which has frustrated airport executives with its performance. Skywest proposes to operate flights using a 50-seat jet and offer service to Washington Dulles and Chicago O’Hare international airports. (News Leader)

EASTERN VIRGINIA
Bayshore Concrete Products Corp., of Cape Charles, has told 100 workers they will be laid off in November and early 2018. The moves came as work winds down on the $1 billion Bayonne Bridge project in New Jersey, which had been using Bayshore for precast concrete products. At the peak of construction, Bayshore employed 350 people at its Cape Charles facility. The plant will have 55 employees after the layoffs. (The Virginian-Pilot)

Home furnishing retailer IKEA announced the contractors involved in building its 338,000-square-foot Norfolk store, while revealing the store will not open until spring 2019. IKEA has picked Memphis-based Linkous Construction Co. as construction manager. Other firms assisting with the project are: Divaris Real Estate for site selection support; Willcox Savage for local land use counsel; Kimley-Horn for civil and traffic engineering; IMEG for structural engineering; ACIES Engineering Inc. for mechanical, electrical and plumbing design; Code Consultants Inc. for code consulting and fire protection; GET Solutions Inc. for geotechnical services; and GreenbergFarrow for development coordination and project architect. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

Muhlbauer Inc. is investing $12 million to add about 52,000 square feet to its facility in Oakland Industrial Park in Newport News to showcase and customize high-tech automated machines for North American clients. Newport News-based W.M. Jordan Co. crews started construction behind the existing building this spring, and company officials are aiming to have the two-story building completed and equipped this month. (Daily Press)

The National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) in Hampton was recently awarded $499,833 in federal grant money to facilitate a regionwide 757 Accelerate program aimed at growing startups and early-stage companies to create more local jobs. The NIA estimates 757 Accelerate could help create at least 15 companies and more than 100 jobs in the region, said James Closs, NIA director of research program development. The mentor-driven, cohort-based program will connect promising businesses with investors, education and support services across Southeastern Virginia, including the Eastern Shore. (Daily Press) 

York County may soon be home to a drone park. Jim Noel, director of the York County Economic Development Authority, has his eyes on a 192-acre fuel farm owned by the state off Penniman Road. The land is an approved Federal Aviation Administration Fly Zone. Noel is working on a grant proposal seeking $2.5 million from the Virginia Growth and Opportunity (GO Viginia) Board to support conversion of the fuel farm into a drone testing facility. The 192-acre fly zone is bordered by 241 acres that could be used as an industrial park with flex space for the unmanned systems businesses.  (Daily Press)

NORTHERN VIRGINIA
Comstock Partners and Herndon have crafted a deal to advance a planned public-private redevelopment of the town’s historic center, replacing a parking lot and aging buildings with residential and retail space and a new arts center. The proposed agreement, the subject of an expected Oct. 24 Herndon Town Council vote, provides for 281 apartments in three buildings, 17,600 square feet of retail in two buildings, an 18,000-square-foot new home for ArtSpace, a 761-space parking garage, arts walk, three plazas and outdoor seating. Pending approval of the deal, work is expected to begin in 2019, with completion in 2021. (Washington Business Journal) 

McLean-based Mars Inc. has completed its $9.1 billion acquisition of VCA Inc., the owner of more than 800 small-animal veterinary hospitals in the U.S. and Canada. On Jan. 9, Mars and VCA announced an agreement under which Mars would acquire VCA for $93 per share. VCA will operate as a separate business within Mars Petcare. Bob Antin, a co-founder of VCA, will continue as its CEO, and its headquarters will remain in Los Angeles.  Mars produces some of the best-known candy and pet-care brands, including Snickers and Pedigree. (VirginiaBusiness.com) 

Northrop Grumman has reached a deal to acquire fellow defense contractor Orbital ATK for about $7.8 billion. Falls Church-based Northrop Grumman said in September it had identified “significant” opportunities for revenue growth, cost cuts and more efficient operations by adding Dulles-based Orbital. Northrop Grumman’s products and services include missile systems, drones and cyber defense technology. Orbital’s lineup includes launch systems, defense electronics and satellites. The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2018. (USA Today) 

Virginia will have to pay $4.8 million that it has withheld from Northrop Grumman for messaging services since April, but the Falls Church-based information technology giant must continue to provide email service for nearly 60,000 state employees while aiding transition to a new vendor, under a September ruling by a Richmond judge. The decision breaks a legal logjam over the transition of messaging services from Northrop Grumman to the new vendor and ends a purported threat by the IT company to shut down email service for at least 56,000 employees in critical state agencies on Oct. 27. (Richmond Times-Dispatch) 

ROANOKE/NEW RIVER VALLEY
BNC Bancorp changed its name to Pinnacle Financial Partners in September at sign-unveiling events in six markets including Roanoke. High Point, N.C.-based BNC and Nashville, Tenn.-based Pinnacle completed their merger on June 16. The $1.9 billion all-stock deal was announced in January. Systems and operations conversions will continue through the end of the year. The merger is Pinnacle’s first move outside of Tennessee. Pinnacle now operates in 11 primarily urban markets in Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee. The banking company had about $20.9 billion in assets as of June 30, becoming the second-largest bank holding company based in Tennessee. (VirginiaBusiness.com) 

The Botetourt County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in September to approve a rezoning request sought by Boxley Materials Co. for a 20-acre site on Thompson Drive near Eagle Rock, where the company will produce asphalt to be used for construction work on a 9-mile stretch of U.S. 220. The plant is expected to run only about 50 days a year. Its lifespan would be limited to the three years it will take the Virginia Department of Transportation to complete the work, which is scheduled to begin next year. (The Roanoke Times) 

Virginia Tech unveiled a new academic logo in September and scrapped the old “Invent the Future” tagline as part of a broad rebranding effort. The new look will be familiar, as it’s a reimagining of the iconic “flying VT” used by the school’s sports teams for years. Tech has long had two logos, one for athletics and one for academics. Now, the two logos will look almost identical but with subtle differences. The old academic emblem, a maroon shield featuring the War Memorial pylons, will be phased out. (The Roanoke Times) 

A new lab opened in September in Roanoke for scientists to explore whether people can be coached in a way that changes their thinking patterns and prompts them to eat better, exercise more and boost their metabolism. The Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute Center for Transformative Research on Health Behaviors will focus on understanding lifestyle diseases, such as obesity and diabetes, that are caused or aggravated by a person’s behavior. (The Roanoke Times) 

CENTRAL VIRGINIA
The return of Virginia’s largest health insurance company to the individual market in 68 localities will give at least one coverage option to up to 70,000 people who had none for the coming year. The September decision by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield partly reverses the company’s announcement on Aug. 11 that it would pull out of the individual market in Virginia, leaving up to 206,000 Virginians potentially without health insurance coverage in 2018. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Technology startup Astraea plans to invest $1 million to expand its Charlottesville operations, creating 31 jobs. Founded in September 2016, Astraea applies advanced data science and machine learning to image and sensor data gathered from Earth-observing satellites. The goal is to identify and predict real-time changes in land use, traffic patterns, land and water quality and environmental trends. Virginia competed against California, Colorado and Montana for the project. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

Richmond-based CarLotz has raised $30 million in equity capital through TRP Capital Partners to fund continued expansion of the 6-year-old used vehicle consignment business. The company, founded in 2011, plans to use the capital to add a minimum of 10 locations during the next two years, said Michael Bor, CarLotz co-founder and CEO. It now has five locations — three in Virginia and two in North Carolina. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

A new alliance of 21 CEOs from Richmond to Baltimore is making its first public pitch to unite a “super-region” that features an interconnected transportation system and attracts young talent that currently is looking elsewhere. The Greater Washington Partnership, created at the end of last year, issued a vision statement in September that identifies the two priorities as “table-stakes issues” for the expanded region to thrive and better compete with such regional powerhouses as the greater Austin, Dallas and Miami areas. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Top officers from ICMA-RC, one of downtown Richmond’s newest corporate tenants, came to town in September for the grand opening of its Riverfront Plaza office. The Washington, D.C.-based provider of public-sector retirement plans chose Richmond from among 20 cities for a second location, a 55,000-square-foot office expected to hire 250 people by 2019. Currently more than 100 people work at the company’s Richmond location on the fifth and sixth floors of Riverfront Plaza’s East Tower. They moved into the office in mid-June. (VirginiaBusiness.com)




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