Company News For the Record

For the Record - October 2019

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In August, Artisan Packaging purchased the Graham Packaging plastics plant in Harrisonburg, an approximately $5.3 million deal that includes the land, the building, and all of the equipment and assets of the facility. Workers at Graham Packaging received notice in June that the factory would close and lay off all employees on Sept. 4, but Artisan says it will retain all of the plant’s employees and hire about 15 more. Jay Veenis, an owner of Artisan, has been the plant manager for five years. (Daily News-Record)

The former Beverley Hotel in downtown Staunton reopened as the 28-unit, five-story Beverley Apartments in August, after $4 million in renovation work. Richmond developers Robin Miller and Dan Gecker purchased the condemned property in 2017 for $165,000, and they also renovated buildings on the old Western State Hospital campus, including the Villages at Staunton apartments and the Blackburn Inn. The developers received historic tax credits through the state and federal governments. (News Leader)

Cranberry’s Grocery and Eatery, a mainstay business in downtown Staunton, is under new management after owner Joseph White died suddenly in August. The store’s approximately 20 full-time and part-time employees are keeping it going, and White’s son, Harry White, now owns the store and Staunton Coffee Co. Right now, the goal is to keep Cranberry’s up and running, its manager says. (News Leader)

Frederick County purchased the Sunnyside Plaza shopping center for $2.1 million for extra office space. The county government was running out of room at its administrative building in Winchester, officials said. The 70,614-square-foot shopping center is home to five tenants, and the county says it plans to honor their leases. (The Winchester Star)

In Harrisonburg, Ridgeview Moulding and Millwork of Luray announced plans to open a new showroom in the historic Wetsel Seed building in late September, expanding its marketing to homebuilders in the Harrisonburg-Staunton-Charlottesville area. The cabinetry company has been in operation since 1993, and its current owners bought the business in 2015. (Daily News-Record)

The new Weyers Cave Library Station is expected to open in late winter or early spring, says Augusta County’s library director, who hopes to lease part of the Franklin Street building that formerly housed the Super Save Food Market, which closed in June. Augusta County supervisors approved $169,200 in funding for the new station, which would provide service to residents north of Route 250, where there is no library. (News Leader)

The longtime downtown Winchester Dollar General store is closing, the Tennessee-based company confirmed in September. No date was announced for the shutdown of the store, which has been a fixture on the Loudoun Street Mall for 50 years and employs six workers. It’s currently the only store on the pedestrian mall that sells groceries, and other grocery stores are not within easy walking distance for downtown residents. (The Winchester Star)

A prebuilt housing project is heading to Danville, after City Council voted 7-1 to approve three zoning requests in September. The plan, put forward by the Danville Redevelopment and Housing Authority, is first to build a model home to show potential buyers what they can purchase and then erect a total of five homes on three streets. Costing $114,000 to $132,000, they would be targeted toward people making 120% or less of the city’s median household income of about $54,400 a year. (Danville Register & Bee)

The Free Clinic of Danville closed in August because of a sharp drop in patient volume, due to Medicaid expansion in Virginia. The clinic, which opened in 1993, offered free health and dental care to low-income patients lacking insurance. At the end of 2018, the clinic had 187 patients, but after the January expansion of Medicaid, that number had dropped to 35 patients by March. In July, the count was down to 15. (Danville Register & Bee)

Halifax County supervisors moved in September to borrow another $10 million to finance the reconstruction of the county courthouse, which comes on top of a prior bond obligation of $16.7 million taken out by the county in 2016. Halifax officials voted unanimously to submit a loan application to the Virginia Resources Authority for no more than $12.5 million, with a 3% interest rate. (

In September, Hampden-Sydney College received the largest gift in its history, $30 million, from Stanley F. Pauley, chairman and CEO of Carpenter Co., a Richmond-based producer of polyurethane materials. The gift, donated through the Pauley Family Foundation, will support a new academic building, which will be named the Pauley Science Center. Pauley served on the college’s board of trustees but is not a graduate. (

In the most recent round of Community Development Block Grant awards by the state, Mecklenburg County came up a big winner, receiving $3.8 million for three projects. They include phase two of Chase City’s Endly Street project, awarded $1.3 million; the first phase of La Crosse’s Pine Street neighborhood improvement project, receiving nearly $1.4 million; and Mecklenburg’s Quail Hollow Road housing rehab project, awarded   $1 million. (

Pittsylvania County has seen a steady decline in its total acreage of farm crops planted, according to the state’s Farm Service Agency. The county has lost 37 farmers, and tobacco production has decreased statewide by almost 30% since last year. In Pittsylvania, the number of planted acres has dropped 29% over eight years, from 82,861 to 58,771. (Danville Register & Bee)

In South Boston, the new SOVA Innovation Hub will feature a first-floor Microsoft visitors center with technology similar to that deployed by the tech giant at its Redmond, Washington, headquarters. The Innovation Hub, a $5 million project set for completion next year, will feature an “experience center” with augmented reality technology and innovative tools that can enhance the region’s agricultural industry. The building will serve as headquarters for Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corp., a nonprofit corporation that oversees fiber-optic broadband operations in the region. (

The Virginia Carolina Warehouse in Clarksville resumed live tobacco auctions in September, offering a market alternative for growers who now sell their crop directly to cigarette makers and their purchasing agents. This comes as Southside Virginia’s four largest tobacco-producing counties — Pittsylvania, Mecklenburg, Brunswick and Halifax — have seen acreage plummet by 30% over the past two years. (

Henrico County-based Altria Group Inc. announced in late August that it’s discussing an all-stock “merger of equals” to reunite with Philip Morris International Inc., which Altria spun off into an independent company in 2008. A longtime Fortune 500 company listed among the S&P 500, Altria is the parent company of Richmond-based tobacco products manufacturer Philip Morris USA, best known for its Marlboro cigarettes brand. Based in New York, Philip Morris International is also a Fortune 500 company and manufactures Marlboro cigarettes and other tobacco products for sale outside the United States. (

Appomattox residents can expect to see improvements along Main, Church and Court streets after the town was awarded $700,000 in state grant money for downtown revitalization. The grant was among more than $13.4 million in Community Development Block Grants announced in August to pay for projects designed to help build strong regional economies in Virginia. In Appomattox, the first priority is renovating downtown storefronts, while secondary projects include adding streetlamps on Church and Main streets and creating a small parking lot at the corner of Church and Harrell streets. (The News & Advance)

Nearly 300 Virginia companies are ranked on the most recent list of the nation’s fastest-growing, privately held companies. Leading 295 Virginia firms on the 2019   Inc. 5000 ranking is Mechanicsville-based Connected Solutions Group. It is No. 8 overall, with a three-year revenue growth rate of 12,701%. Connected Solutions also is Inc.’s highest-ranked telecommunications company. Virginia ranks fifth among the states in terms of companies on the list. (

Dominion Energy claimed excess profits of $277.3 million in 2018, a return of 13.47%, topping the 9.2% approved by regulators for most of Dominion’s spending, according to a State Corporation Commission report. The figures, part of an annual SCC review of Dominion’s earnings for Virginia lawmakers, come as the state monitors the rollout of a contentious law passed in 2018 that reconfigured how the company handles overearnings. As part of the new law, the Richmond-based electric monopoly will be allowed to divert excess earnings into new capital investments that modernize the state’s electric grid and boost renewables, instead of refunding the money to ratepayers or reducing electricity rates. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Michael C. Hild, founder and CEO of now-defunct Chesterfield County-based Live Well Financial, was arrested by federal officials in August and charged with five criminal counts in a $140 million bond fraud scheme. In a separate action, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed civil charges against Hild. Officials allege he fraudulently inflated the value of the company’s portfolio of complex reverse-mortgage bonds to induce various securities dealers and at least one financial institution into loaning more money to the fast-growing mortgage lender and servicer. In September, he pleaded not guilty in federal court in New York City, and the trial is set for October 2020. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

The Richmond-based venture capital firm NRV led a $2 million investment round in Ario Technologies Inc., a Norfolk startup that makes augmented reality software, a technology that can be used in various environments such as manufacturing plants to enhance training, increase safety or improve production. Ario also announced that it has been awarded a $1.5 million Small Business Innovation Research grant by the U.S. Air Force, bringing the company a total of $3.5 million of new funding. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Building One @ Tech Center Research Park, the first of 10 buildings planned for the 50-acre Newport News research park, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony in August to mark its official opening. Construction of the 81,600-square-foot building began in 2017. The $450 million, 850,000-square-foot research park, which is being developed by W.M. Jordan, Virginia Tech and Newport News, is part of a mixed-use campus that will include 550,000 square feet of retail, residential and restaurant developments. (

In the wake of Hurricane Dorian’s devastation, Hampton University has invited students from the University of the Bahamas to continue their education in Virginia at no cost for a semester. The president of the University of the Bahamas is a former chief administrator at Hampton and a friend of William Harvey, Hampton’s president. The University of the Bahamas’ north campus was destroyed in the hurricane, so Hampton offered to provide its students free room, board and tuition this fall. (The New York Times)

A potential $931 million contract awarded to Newport News-based Huntington Ingalls Industries has withstood a protest lodged by a rival shipbuilder. The Government Accountability Office in August dismissed the objections of Austal USA. Huntington Ingalls announced May 1 that it had won a contract for “planning yard services” to support the Navy’s littoral combat ships, smaller vessels that can operate close to shore. The initial outlay was for $5 million, but it included options over six years that could increase its value to $931 million, according to Naval Sea Systems Command. (Daily Press)

Virginia Beach officials are considering a voluntary program to buy out frequently flooded homes. Purchased houses would then be demolished, and the city would restrict future development on the properties, earmarking them as parks, land to plant trees or to be used in flood-control projects. It’s one of several strategies that city leaders are weighing to prevent damage in flood-prone areas and was identified in the city’s recent sea-level rise study as the most cost-efficient way to limit future expenses from flooding. (The Virginian-Pilot)

Even before Inc. completes its Northern Virginia office hub, the e-commerce giant has helped make the area the most competitive housing market in the U.S. It’s hardest for buyers to win a home in Alexandria and Arlington, cities near Washington’s Reagan National Airport and close to where Amazon is building its East Coast headquarters, according to a study by Redfin Corp. The brokerage’s analysis factored in bidding wars, waived contingencies, above-list-price offers and how fast properties went under contract. (Bloomberg News)

Citizens for Responsible Solar, a group of Culpeper residents who voiced opposition to a utility-scale solar plant proposed near the Rapidan River, notched a victory in late August as Cricket Solar LLC withdrew its application. The group cited concerns about natural and historic resources in the area and asked for the county’s Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors to delay their votes to allow the public more time to review the plan, which called for an 80-megawatt facility. The California company said it will continue to respond to community concerns. (Culpeper Star Exponent)

Inova Health System is launching a campaign to help combat addiction and substance abuse — funded in part by a $16 million donation from the Hitt family, who own the construction company Hitt Contracting. The Act on Addiction campaign will target people in Northern Virginia suffering from addiction, as well as family members and others who could benefit from learning the signs of addictions and where to go for help. (Washington Business Journal)

Interstate Hotels & Resorts, a hotel management company based in Arlington, will merge with Plano, Texas-based Aimbridge Hospitality. The deal will create a company managing a hotel-operating portfolio of more than 1,400 properties. Terms of the deal, which is expected to close by the end of the year, were not disclosed. Interstate currently manages about 600 properties and Aimbridge, which says it is North America’s largest third-party hotel management company, about 800. (Washington Business Journal)

Overcoming its initial reservations, Leesburg Town Council approved Church + Market, a development that will bring 116 apartments, about 33,000 square feet of commercial space and a parking garage to the downtown area. “This is going to be a game-changer,” Mayor Kelly Burk said. “We need to respect the charm and attractiveness that we have. ... I believe that this project will do that. I believe it will help the economic development in the town.” (Loudoun Times-Mirror)

The University of Maryland has reached a deal to plant its flag in Crystal City, opening the door to potential collaborations with Inc. as it establishes its second headquarters in the area. The state’s flagship university plans to open a Discovery Center at 241 18th St. South, the same building where JBG Smith Properties has established a National Landing marketing center and where Amazon also plans to lease space. U.Md. will lease its 8,000 square feet from JBG Smith, and it hopes to offer programming by fall 2020, if not sooner. (Washington Business Journal)

Gov. Ralph Northam announced in September that project applications are open for the third round of funding through the state’s Abandoned Mine Land pilot program, administered by the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy. The state provides $10 million in economic development grants to projects that are designed to boost the economy by reclaiming abandoned mines for new purposes. Proposals are due Oct. 31 to the DMME, and forms and other information are on the department’s website. The state has given grants to 15 projects, mostly in Southwest Virginia, since 2017. (News release)

The Barter Theatre in Abingdon reported a $500,000 shortfall in August after poor ticket sales for its staging of “Shrek,” a $300,000 production based on the DreamWorks movie. Also, tourism is down by 16% in the region, and attendance was off for other shows during the 2019 season, said the theater’s producing artistic director. A donor campaign is under way to recoup the theater’s losses; its $7.6 million budget relies 64% on ticket sales; 27% on grants and donations, and 9% on gift shop sales. (Bristol Herald Courier)

Bristol saw a good fiscal 2019, its City Council reported in August. The Virginia side of the city finished the year with $19 million in its general fund account, a significant increase over $14.2 million last year and $7.4 million two years ago. Also, tax revenues in nearly all major categories came in above forecasts, while expenses were at 92%, with spending just below $50 million instead of the projected $54.3 million. Two years ago, by contrast, the Virginia Auditor of Public Accounts, deemed Bristol the most financially stressed locality in the state, a designation recently withdrawn in light of improvements and new policies. (Bristol Herald Courier)

The Coalfield Progress, The Post and The Dickenson Star have been sold to a Missouri-based newspaper company whose owners are keen on trying to help save small-town newspapers. The sale is one of several as American Hometown Publishing, which purchased the local newspapers in 2005, comes to an end. LCP2 LLC, an affiliate of Lewis County Press LLC, in Canton, Mo., took ownership of the papers on Sept. 6.   General Manager Bill Endean, Advertising Manager Karen Tate and Editor and Publisher Jenay Tate will remain and become the leadership team of the papers. (The Coalfield Progress)

More businesses are coming to Bristol’s The Falls commercial development near the Tennessee border. Bristol Virginia City Council approved a $350,000 meals tax rebate for a developer to build a 1,500-square-foot Pizza Hut on land just across Lee Highway from The Falls. This summer, developer K.D. Moore announced plans to locate a 20,000-square-foot Planet Fitness exercise center and a 10,000-square-foot retail building with businesses related to the gym on sites near the eastern edge of The Falls, near Pizza Plus. Another 2.87-acre parcel is listed as under contract. The Falls was created after the Virginia General Assembly approved a program to temporarily allow a percentage of state sales tax revenues to flow back to the locality to help subsidize the development. (Bristol Herald Courier)

In August, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner toured the Flatwoods Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center program site in Coeburn. The federal Department of Labor announced in May that the U.S. Forest Service would end its role in operating the Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers and that the Labor Department would oversee the program, leading to the closure of Flatwoods and eight other sites around the country. This led to a bipartisan backlash and Warner teaming up with fellow Democratic U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine and Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, to express their concerns to the federal labor and agriculture secretaries, who reversed course in June. Flatwoods has 55 Job Corps students, who attain HVAC installation, electrical and plumbing skills. (Bristol Herald Courier)

Chef Torrece Gregoire, better known as Chef T on the TV cooking competition show “Hell’s Kitchen,” opened her first restaurant at St. Paul’s Western Front Hotel in September. Ina + Forbes, a fusion of Caribbean cuisine and local ingredients, is a tribute to her late grandmother, who lived in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, where Gregoire is from. Before opening her own restaurant, Gregoire worked in restaurant management, enrolled in culinary school and worked for the executive chef of The St. Regis-Atlanta. (Bristol Herald Courier)

A member of the Haysi Partners community organization, Matt Owens, told Dickenson County supervisors in late August that he plans to convert a large building in downtown Haysi for multiple uses, including a potential moonshine distillery, a gym that would be open to the public and a financial-planning business. His aim, Owens said, is to have the entire community debt-free within the next five years. Saundra Hamilton, who is working to secure a license to open a distillery, said she’s six to nine months away from formal approval required by federal and state agencies. (Dickenson Star)

Wise County free clinic The Health Wagon was awarded a three-year, $1 million grant from the United Health Foundation, which will allow it to provide more specialty and diagnostic treatment to patients in six Southwest Virginia counties. U.S. Sen. Mark Warner attended the grant presentation ceremony in Wise and applauded the work of the clinic, which has two stationary facilities, two mobile units and offers several pop-up clinics. Executive Director Teresa Gardner Tyson says the funds will allow The Health Wagon to purchase new tools to provide mammograms, ultrasounds, X-rays and dental services, as well as the possibility of acquiring a mobile catheterization lab. (

In September, legislators and local officials launched InvestSWVA, a marketing campaign for Southwest Virginia aimed at supporting economic development in the region. Southwest Virginia legislators and business leaders described how InvestSWVA will bring together state and local leaders, economic development agencies and corporate stakeholders to attract new jobs to the region. The Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, an independent board that doles out money for projects in economically depressed areas of the state, sent $400,000 to the initiative. Point Broadband, a Georgia-based internet provider, provided a match. (The Roanoke Times)

A Bristol businessman, Peter Holler, who has sold securities for more than 40 years, was suspended as a broker after getting caught up in a $1.3 billion Ponzi scheme. A southern Florida man, former Woodbridge Group of Companies CEO Robert Shapiro — not the attorney — is set to be sentenced in federal court after pleading guilty to charges related to the scheme. Holler was one of several hundred people involved in marketing direct loans for Woodbridge. He was suspended for two years by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority in 2018 and had to return nearly $50,000 in commissions from the sales. (Bristol Herald Courier)

More than $3.25 million in Tobacco Region Opportunity funds have gone to help current and new businesses in Tazewell County, according to local officials. Nearly half went to Project Jonah, a fish farm that is expected to cost about $135 million and bring at least 130 jobs initially. Aside from the tobacco funds, the project has received a $10 million low-interest loan from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and is expected to start by December. (The News & Press)

Northern Virginia-based tech company 1901 Group broke ground in August for its largest office, which will be in Blacksburg. Founder and CEO Sonu Singh, a Blacksburg native and Virginia Tech graduate, says he’s keeping his headquarters in Reston, near his federal government client base, but plans to employ between 600 and 700 people in Blacksburg, where the 45,000-square-foot, $8.8 million building will be constructed in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center. (The Roanoke Times)

A North Carolina developer has plans for Roanoke’s Evans Spring, the largest spot left in the area for a major commercial and residential development. Charlotte-based Pavilion Development Co. has contracts to buy 128 acres along the south side of Interstate 581 across from the Valley View Mall area, including 11 houses. Plans call for a retail shopping hub, a grocery store and apartments. The developers say they plan to apply for a rezoning of the site, probably in November. (The Roanoke Times)

Montgomery County officials agreed unanimously in August to provide an economic development incentive grant of up to $2.5 million toward the redevelopment of the old Blacksburg Middle School site, which has been the subject of debate for nearly two decades. In May, Blacksburg Town Council members approved rezoning of the 20-acre site to allow a mix of commercial and residential developments. The incentive is contingent on the creation of skilled jobs by the site’s future tenants. (The Roanoke Times)

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in August to reconsider its finding that the Mountain Valley Pipeline would not significantly harm protected fish and bats in its path. This represents a victory for the Sierra Club and other environmental groups, which filed a legal challenge to the service’s 2017 opinion. There was no official word that construction of the pipeline must stop where the permits are reviewed. (The Roanoke Times)

A Virginia legislator took Norfolk Southern to task for furloughing about 130 Roanoke employees in September. Del. Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke) said he was “shocked and deeply disappointed to hear about Norfolk Southern’s plans right after Labor Day.” The railroad company, which announced in December that it will move its corporate headquarters from Norfolk to Atlanta, said the furloughs were part of a new strategic plan of targeted hiring and furloughing. (

In his fourth annual State of the City speech in August, Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea spoke about several projects on the city’s horizon, including expansion of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute, Carilion Clinic’s $300 million expansion of Roanoke Memorial Hospital and the merger of Radford University and the Jefferson College of Health Sciences. Roanoke also became the first inductee into the National Civic League’s All-America City Hall of Fame after being named an All-America City seven years in a row. (The Roanoke Times)

Virginia Tech is moving forward with $164.4 million in campus capital projects, including a new $74.2 million undergraduate science laboratory, a $63 million student wellness center renovation and expansion, the construction of 10 new livestock and poultry research facilities costing $22.5 million, and a weight room expansion and renovation costing $4.9 million, approved by its board in August. The next step is to hire contractors for the projects, a spokesman said. (The Roanoke Times)

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