Company News For the Record

For the Record - November 2019

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SOUTHERN VIRGINIA
A new community learning center is coming to Cardinal Village in southern Danville, city officials announced in September. The 6,000-square-foot facility will be on Chatham Avenue and will include a library/computer room, a commercial kitchen, exercise room, 2,000 square feet of recreation space and four offices. Construction is expected to start in November, with completion set for August 2020, according to the Danville Redevelopment and Housing Authority, which will own and operate the center. (Danville Register & Bee)

Danville Vice Mayor Lee Vogler says the city should reexamine parking space requirements for businesses because the rules are outmoded and complex. One big issue is there are 54 categories of businesses in the city code, which is used to determine how many parking spaces an establishment must have at minimum to operate. “Reading it is like reading a novel,” Vogler says. The city manager says his staff, including the planning office, will look into the matter. (Danville Register & Bee)

A $711,000, three-year grant from the Danville Regional Foundation will expand the River District Association business pitch competition to the rest of Danville and Pittsylvania County. The grant will also fund an entrepreneurial ecosystem coordinator at The Launch Place and help develop local efforts, including entrepreneurial programs for women, minorities and young people. (Danville Register & Bee)

A subsidiary of Dominion Energy Inc. has acquired the 80-megawatt Greensville Solar facility in Greensville County near Emporia, which is expected to come online in late 2020. Dominion Generation purchased the project and a second site in Suffolk from Savion LLC, a subsidiary of Macquarie’s Green Investment Group, in September. Power generated at the two sites, as well as the renewable energy credits, will go to telecommunications company T-Mobile USA Inc. under long-term contracts. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

Halifax County administrators and school officials are pitching a 1-cent local sales tax to voters in a Nov. 5 referendum. If the tax is approved, the revenue will be required to be dedicated to the construction and renovation of schools in Halifax County. The county’s high school is in the most need of revamping, with cost estimates for renovation beginning at $73 million, or up to $100 million for a replacement high school. The tax is expected to be in effect for 30 years. (South Boston News & Record)

In September, Canadian wood products company Teal-Jones Group purchased two lumber mills in Virginia, including Pine Products Inc. in Henry County, with plans to invest $31.75 million and create 126 jobs. At Pine Products, the company says it will spend $21 million and create 67 jobs. The other purchase was Potomac Supply LLC in Westmoreland County. Teal-Jones, a family business, has committed to source 100% of its net new timber purchases from Virginia, totaling about $100 million over the next four years, according to the governor’s office. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality issued permits approving four new solar farms across Virginia, the governor’s office announced in October. The four projects include two in Southern Virginia: Danville Farm, a 12-megawatt facility in Pittsylvania County from Strata Solar Development, and Grasshopper Solar Project, an 80-megawatt solar farm in Mecklenburg County developed by Dominion Energy Services. The other projects are in Henrico and Campbell counties. Gov. Ralph Northam signed an executive order in September setting a goal for the state’s electric power to be completely generated from carbon-free sources, including wind, solar and nuclear, by 2050. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

South Boston has asked the Virginia Department of Transportation to approve traffic roundabouts that would prevent heavy truck traffic from rolling through its commercial district. Although two-way downtown traffic has long been a goal of town officials and business owners, South Boston currently has no way to keep the big trucks out, which would need to occur for Main Street to become two-way again. (South Boston News & Record)

EASTERN VIRGINIA
Dominion Energy has filed a proposal to build 220 turbines off the coast of Virginia Beach by 2026, building on its offshore wind pilot project under construction. If approved, the estimated $7.8 billion project would be the largest wind energy development in the nation and is expected to produce 2,600 megawatts of energy — enough to power 650,000 homes. Dominion began construction on its $300 million Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) project in June, to erect two 600-foot-tall, 6-megawatt wind turbines 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach by the end of 2020. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

A federal lawsuit refiled Oct. 15 says a problem with the Navy’s Virginia-class submarines shedding their sonar-absorbing outer skin has remained unsolved and casts blame on shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries, alleging the company falsified testing, inspection results and certifications on multi-billion dollar submarine contracts. The case is being brought by a former company engineer who says he was fired for raising concerns about hull coating processes and procedures. The company will vigorously fight the charges, said Jennifer Boykin, president of HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding division. (Daily Press)

An auxiliary runway at Norfolk International Airport that consultants have called a “hamstring” to airport growth is one step closer to extinction. As the airport maps out a master plan looking 20 years into the future, its board has approved several changes suggested by consultants, including removal of that shorter general aviation runway that crosses the main 9,000-foot runway. (The Virginian-Pilot)

Virginia Beach-based Optima Health Plan will become the majority owner of Richmond-based Virginia Premier, a nonprofit managed-care organization. Virginia Premier was founded in 1995 by VCU Health System. The Richmond-based health system will retain a 20% ownership stake in Virginia Premier. Together, Optima and Virginia Premier will serve nearly 800,000 members. Optima is a subsidiary of Norfolk-based Sentara Healthcare. Company officials said Virginia Premier and Optima will continue to operate as separate entities, retaining their names and brands. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

Grammy-winning rapper and singer Pharrell Williams, a Virginia Beach native, hit a home run with his inaugural Something in the Water Festival at the beach last April, according to survey results and an economic analysis the city released in late September. Now, festival planners are ramping up for a 2020 event April 20-26. Technology, health and wellness events may be added early in the week at the Convention Center, said Brian Solis, festival coordinator for the city manager’s office. Tickets will go on sale Nov. 15. (The Virginian-Pilot)

NORTHERN VIRGINIA
Anyone looking to land a job at Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters in Crystal City should become familiar with its leadership principles. That was just one lesson that thousands of attendees at an Amazon career day event heard from company officials in September. Held near the company’s future headquarters, the event was billed as an opportunity for people to learn about the company and talk to those who already work for Amazon. Similar events were held in five other cities. (Washington Business Journal)

Block.one, a blockchain software developer backed by PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel and co-founded by Virginia native Daniel Larimer, announced in late September that it will locate its new $10 million U.S. headquarters in Arlington County, creating 170 jobs. Block.one currently has a major operational center at the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center in Blacksburg that em­­ploys more than 80 engineering and research and development workers. It has additional locations in Hong Kong and Los Angeles. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

DivvyCloud, a fast-growing automated cloud and container security and compliance company, moved into its new corporate headquarters in Arlington in late September and announced plans to double its workforce to at least 120 within the next year. The tech firm’s new 13,000-square-foot offices in the Court House neighborhood on Wilson Boulevard are a big leap from the 2,000-square-foot space it originally occupied in Rosslyn in 2018. DivvyCloud has grown from 20 to 55 employees since 2018, according to a news release. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

High Purity Systems Inc., a provider of mechanical piping systems, plans to expand its Manassas manufacturing operation, a move that is expected to create 105 jobs. The Manassas-based company plans to invest about $8.5 million in expanding into a new, 30,000-square-foot facility, the governor’s office announced. According to the city’s Department of Economic Development, the new jobs’ average salaries will exceed $100,000, and the new facility will allow the company to triple its production. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

Northrop Grumman Corp. secured a pair of contracts worth $1.88 billion to modernize GPS systems and several surveillance aircraft for the Air Force. The contract follows a February award of $59 million for engineering and manufacturing development work, which will include new GPS receivers capable of transmitting a new secure, jamming-resistant signal known as M-Code. (Washington Business Journal)

Tysons-based Tegna Inc. has completed its $740 million cash acquisition of 11 television stations from Texas-based Nexstar Media Group. The 11 stations were among 19 divested by Nexstar for a total of $1.32 billion to meet federal antitrust requirements as it acquires Chicago-based Tribune Media for $7.2 billion. In addition to the 11 stations sold to Tegna, Nexstar sold eight stations formerly owned by Tribune Media — including WTVR in Richmond and WTKR and WGNT in Norfolk — to E.W. Scripps Co. for $580 million. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

SHENANDOAH VALLEY
Augusta County’s Board of Supervisors voted 5-2 in September to move forward with the purchase agreement of 111/113 S. Augusta St. for a new courthouse, but the purchase could be up in the air with a revelation that came out after the vote. Marion Ward rushed to the front of the room, saying that she only learned about the vote shortly before the meeting. She explained that she renovated the building in the early 2000s, that it likely cannot be demolished and that she has right of first refusal. The purchase agreement has a 120-day contingency to ensure permits can be obtained, and the closing date is listed as Dec. 31. (News Leader)

Clarke County planners are considering a telecommunications infrastructure company’s proposal to replace a wireless phone antenna mast in southeastern Clarke with one more than twice as tall. Crown Castle asked the Planning Commission to approve a special-use permit for the 185-foot monopole off U.S. 17/50 in the Pine Acres Area. The existing monopole, built in 2003, is 84 feet tall. If approved, AT&T antennas would be installed 181 feet up the pole, and T-Mobile antennas would be installed 10 feet lower, and there would be room on the structure for antennas used by emergency services providers. (The Winchester Star)

Seven new defendants and $4 million were added in October to the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority’s civil lawsuit that alleges a series of embezzlements and financial misappropriations during the tenure of Jennifer McDonald, the authority’s former executive director, who faces 28 felony criminal charges, including embezzlement. Two of McDonald’s family members, husband Samuel D. North and mother Linda Hassenplug, were added to the lawsuit. Little Rugratz Daycare LLC, which is registered to Hassenplug, was another new defendant, along with former EDA administrative assistant Michelle “Missy” Henry and former B&G Goods store owner William Lambert. The lawsuit now seeks $21.3 million in damages. In late September, the Virginia State Police announced that 14 current and former local officials — including all five Warren County supervisors — were charged with misdemeanor misfeasance and nonfeasance “based on the individuals’ knowledge of and inaction [regarding] the EDA’s mismanagement of funds.” (The Northern Virginia Daily, The Washington Post)

Woodstock’s Walton & Smoot Pharmacy announced it would close Oct. 23 after 113 years in service. Pharmacy owners Charles French and Nancy Miller said the closing has to do with a number of changing factors, including the influence of insurance companies and mail-order pharmacies. After the pharmacy closes, prescriptions will be transferred to the CVS in Woodstock. (The Northern Virginia Daily)

Winchester Public Schools received a nearly $4 million Education Innovation and Research Early-Phase grant from the U.S. Department of Education to implement a “whole school immersion approach to computer science” at John Kerr and Garland Quarles elementary schools, the school division announced in September. The five-year grant will give students the opportunity to learn more about computational thinking, officials say. The program will be fully implemented at the two schools for the 2020-21 school year. Both schools are designated Title I, serving a combined 914 high-need or disadvantaged students in kindergarten through fourth grade. (The Winchester Star)

CENTRAL VIRGINIA
Heirloom Development has proposed a 101-foot-tall mixed-use building on Charlottesville Downtown Mall, in a space currently occupied by The Artful Lodger on Market Street. In mid-September, the city’s Board of Architectural Review approved a special-use permit application, and the city Planning Commission is expected to take up the matter in November or December. If approved, the Charlottesville developers plan a mix of commercial space and apartments.

Pharmaceutical Product Development LLC (PPD) expects to create 200 jobs in a $63.7 million expansion of its bioanalytical lab in Henrico County. Wilmington, North Carolina-based PPD provides drug development, laboratory and lifecycle management services, and has more than 22,000 employees working in    46 countries, including more than 1,000 people in Henrico. PPD’s existing facility there covers more than 250,000 square feet. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

True Health Diagnostics LLC is laying off more employees in Richmond as it winds down business and sells off its assets after filing for bankruptcy in July. The blood-testing company occupies space in the Virginia Bio+Tech Park in the same building as Health Diagnostic Laboratory, which filed for bankruptcy in 2015. About 130 True Health employees were still working in the lab in early October, collecting receivables and helping liquidate assets, the company said. About 250 already have been laid off, and most will be gone by the end of the year, officials say. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Just in time for fall, pumpkins have moved onto the list of Virginia’s top 20 agriculture commodities. A recent report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service says pumpkin sales in Virginia reached an estimated $11 million in 2018. Wholesale pumpkins generated
$10.3 million, while sales of pick-your-own pumpkins brought in an estimated $700,000. (The Associated Press)

SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA
Abingdon Town Council discussed the future of the sites of two former big-box stores, both owned by Marathon Realty Corp. What was once Magic Mart at Washington Crossing shopping center is now slated for demolition to make way for a 98-room Hampton Inn, which could take up to 16 months to construct. It would replace Abingdon’s current Hampton Inn, which is set to be demolished. Options for the former Kmart, however, are up in the air after spawning a debate between Town Council and Washington County supervisors, who have proposed making the Kmart the new location for the county courthouse. It’s on the  Nov. 5 ballot for the county. (Bristol Herald Courier)

Virginia received six grants totaling $4.2 million from the Appalachian Regional Commission’s Partnership and Workforce Revitalization (POWER) program, Gov. Ralph Northam announced in October. The grants will support efforts including broadband and solar power expansion, workforce development and water systems improvements. The projects include: $1.5 million to the Southwest Virginia Workforce Development Board for a substance-abuse program; $1 million to BARC Electric Cooperative to expand broadband in Goshen; $588,072 to create a fast-track curriculum to train auto technicians; $1.04 million to Appalachian Community Capital for the Opportunity Appalachia Project. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

Blackjewel LLC has proposed selling two of its mines in Wyoming, and as part of the sale, more than $3.44 million would be paid to former employees at Blackjewel’s Virginia, Kentucky and West Virginia mines. When the mines closed and Blackjewel filed for bankruptcy in July, employees reported that their most recent paychecks were bouncing, and direct-deposit pay was pulled out of bank accounts. Nearly 1,100 people worked for the company. The U.S. Department of Labor reported that more than $2.75 million in wages were owed to Virginia employees. The company proposed the deal in early October in a West Virginia federal bankruptcy court. (The Coalfield Progress)

Dickenson County officials kicked off the first of 10 pilot projects under the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy’s Abandoned Mine Land Program in October. In March, Gov. Ralph Northam and U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith identified the Splashdam water line extension project among recommendations for funding from the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. The project received a grant of $356,500, which will go to the Dickenson County Public Service Authority for expansion of water service in the Splashdam area, including a campground. Other projects include a solar energy system in Wise County and Norton’s Project Intersection to develop an industrial site to attract capital investment and jobs. (The Dickenson Star)

Abingdon’s Harbor House restaurant closed Oct. 28, after its lease was up on Main Street. The building is set to be sold, and the restaurant ended service after 28 years. How­­­­ever, the 200-seat seafood and steak spot may find a new location, manager David Shreeves says. (Bristol Herald Courier)

The University of Virginia at Wise asked the State Council of Higher Education (SCHEV) to start a master’s in education program by fall 2020, which could help 30 more teachers in Southwest Virginia earn advanced degrees every year. There’s a statewide teacher shortage, but there’s an added challenge in the region, because only about 20% of teachers have advanced degrees. Under current policy, students get an undergraduate degree in the subject area they want to teach and then have to enter a graduate program to get an education degree. Only Bluefield College and Radford University offer master’s programs in education in the region. (Virginia Mercury)

A six-mile stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Botetourt County reopened on Oct. 8, a month after federal officials deemed that part of the scenic road unsafe. Pavement had settled in at least five spots, making the road dangerous for certain types of vehicles, especially motorcycles and automobiles with low road clearance. The closure happened at a bad time for the National Park Service, with leaf-peeping season on the horizon and the end of the federal government’s fiscal year.  (The Roanoke Times)

Carilion Clinic announced in late September it will spend $30 million to convert part of Tanglewood Mall into a hub for its growing children’s health care services. Carilion signed a lease to take over 150,000 square feet, which includes the spaces vacated by J.C. Penney and Miller-Motte Technical College. The mall’s owner and Roanoke County officials expect retailers, restaurants and other businesses will follow, as Carilion Children’s brings an estimated 200 employees and 500 families a day to Tanglewood. (The Roanoke Times)

The Community College Access Program in the Roanoke Valley turned 10 in September, having helped 752 students obtain post-high school degrees and certifications. The initiative pays up to three years of tuition at Virginia Western Community College, and Roanoke city public schools has sent the most students to the program in the state. Roanoke schools Superintendent Rita Bishop says she’s seen a more engaged student body since her school system joined the program in 2009, following Salem City Schools’ successful pilot year. (The Roanoke Times)

Roanoke County planning commissioners unanimously recommended a rezoning sought by LewisGale Medical Center to build a standalone emergency room off U.S. 460 in Bonsack. The project would be similar to the facility created near Tanglewood Mall in 2017 and would offer eight exam rooms. Residents voiced concerns about the prospect of more traffic at a busy intersection at the entrance to their neighborhood, but the hospital said the new facility would generate about 40 patient visits per day and 10 ambulance trips per week, a relatively low impact. (The Roanoke Times)

State transportation officials joined a handful of local and area lawmakers in early October to encourage a push to establish new passenger rail service in Montgomery County. Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine and Ray Smoot, a Commonwealth Transportation Board member, spoke at an event in Christiansburg about the New River Valley Rail 2020 campaign, an extension of the passenger rail service launched in Roanoke two years ago. (The Roanoke Times)

A former Kmart store in Salem was sold for $3.66 million in August by The Keith Corp., a Charlotte, North Carolina-based commercial real estate firm. The 86,000-square-foot building at 1355 W. Main St. was owned by Sears Holdings, the Illinois-based parent company of the Sears and Kmart retail chains. The store was one of 78 Kmarts and 26 Sears stores that the company announced it was closing in 2017. Virginia Beach’s Divaris Real Estate represented Sears Holdings in the deal. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

SHAH Development purchased the old Steer House building in Pulaski for $250,000 in September, according to president David Hagan, who has invested elsewhere in the county. He says he’s open to selling or renting to a long-term tenant, but isn’t sure what type of business would occupy the building, which housed the steak house for more than 40 years before closing in August. However, Hagan says he considers a family restaurant one of Pulaski’s greatest needs. (The Roanoke Times)

Roanoke’s Valley View Mall has lost its Sears anchor tenant, part of Sears Holding Corp.’s plan to close 26 Sears and Kmart stores this fall after filing for bankruptcy. Mall owner CBL Properties says it will work with the store’s corporate owner to redevelop the property into “something more productive,” which may or may not mean another department store. CBL has turned other vacant spaces into retail, dining and entertainment destinations. Experts stressed that the closure of the department store is not an indicator of the mall’s overall health. (The Roanoke Times)

The Virginia Outdoors Foundation announced in September six grants totaling nearly $4 million to restore and protect woodlands in Bland, Botetourt, Charlotte, Roanoke and Rockbridge counties as part of an effort to offset environmental damage caused by the Mountain Valley Pipeline. This is the latest disbursement from a fund established last year when Mountain Valley agreed to pay a total of $27.5 million to compensate for the forest fragmentation and water pollution that was expected from clearing land and digging trenches for the massive buried pipe. Virginia then passed the company’s payments on to four conservation groups, including the Virginia Outdoors Foundation. (The Roanoke Times)

Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business launched a new program this fall for students to participate in writing actual loans to commercial borrowers with money from the Virginia Tech Foundation. Credit Corps is aimed at enhancing students’ skills in credit risk analysis, business analytics, teamwork and portfolio management. At the same time, the program seeks to earn a competitive return for the foundation, which is committing $2 million over four years to sponsor the program. Atlantic Union Bank has signed on as the program’s inaugural partner. (News release)





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