Company News For the Record

For the Record - September 2018

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EASTERN VIRGINIA
757 Angels – the first and only organized angel group in Hampton Roads – has invested $36 million in 16 companies. According to the organization’s 2018 Impact Report, it is making a significant difference for startup and early stage businesses across the state. Since its launch, in excess of 90 percent of its capital has stayed in Hampton Roads and 70 percent of portfolio companies are earning revenue. (Inside Business)

A tourism task force has agreed to recommend a transition plan that would allow the Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance’s Tourism Council to begin operation. Created by Senate Bill 942, the council will utilize the Historic Triangle Marketing Fund to market attractions in Williamsburg, James City and York counties to overnight tourists. It’ll do so with revenue generated through a 1-percent sales tax increase created by SB 942 and the existing $2 transient occupancy tax.  (The Virginia Gazette)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has approved its final authorization to dredge and widen the channels leading to the Port of Virginia. The report allows the project to be included in the federal Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) bill, which is a larger list of projects eligible for federal matching funds. The projects in WRDA that receive funding are determined during the federal budget process. The largest ships in the Atlantic trade already are calling Virginia, but the added depth will allow for even bigger vessels to visit and for ships to come in and out more fully loaded. The dredging project will deepen the channels to 55 feet and widen them in certain areas to allow for two-way traffic of ultra-large container vessels. That will allow the port to reclaim its status as the deepest port on the East Coast. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

Norfolk-based Sentara Healthcare will increase its financial support dramatically for Eastern Virginia Medical School, with a commitment of $130 million during the next five years. Sentara’s annual funding to EVMS will rise from $9 million to $26 million for 2018 through 2023. EVMS said it will use the additional Sentara funds to establish new programs, bolster existing ones and continue advancing the status of the medical school. Under a longstanding agreement, Sentara hospitals provide clinical teaching environments for EVMS students and residents, especially at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

The 468-room Sheraton Norfolk Waterside is finishing a multimillion-dollar renovation. The hotel said its new design, using a nautical palette of blues and metallic-accented grays, is seen throughout the hotel’s lobby, guest rooms, meeting rooms and fitness center. Renovations include the hotel’s Club Lounge, its 1,100-square-foot Presidential Suite and its 46,000 square feet of flexible meeting and event space. The 24-hour fitness center is being doubled to 1,400 square feet, and new equipment is being added. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

SHENANDOAH VALLEY
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute has awarded $1 million to James Madison University to strengthen the school’s ability to engage students of all backgrounds in science. With this grant, JMU will begin this fall to implement an innovative plan for biology majors. JMU is one of 57 schools nationwide to receive a five-year Inclusive Excellence grant, following two rounds of competition that attracted applications from 594 institutions. Tim Bloss, associate professor of biology in the College of Science and Mathematics, will lead an implementation team of 21 faculty members and student representatives in collaboration with a university leadership group. Together, they will work to ensure that all biology majors, whether they come to JMU through traditional or non-traditional pathways, develop a sense of belonging in the college and an identity as future scientists.  (News release)

A Marriott Springhill Suites Hotel is coming to the Rutherford Crossing area, according to Frederick County planning documents. A site plan for the 2.13-acre property, located on the southeast side of Market Street, calls for the construction of a 63,503-square-foot, four-story hotel with 96 rooms, a lounge/dining area, a fitness center and an indoor pool. There would be 98 parking spaces. Frederick County tax maps indicate the site is owned by BTB Hospitality LLC located at 2224 Wilson Blvd., which is the address of Pine-Burke Realty. Glen P. Burke is listed as the registered agent for the LLC on the Commonwealth of Virginia State Corporation Commission website. In 2003, a limited liability corporation headed by Burke bought the historic George Washington Hotel in downtown Winchester for $600,000 and did a massive renovation of the property. (The Winchester Star)

Since the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail passport marketing program began in December, 1,254 passports have been redeemed. With visits to six different breweries needed to redeem the cards, that means visitors and local residents have made 7,524 brewery visits in the past seven months. Not bad for a program with modest beginnings whose outcome was anything but assured. Once people have visited at least six of the 14 breweries on the trail, they can mail the passport in for a free T-shirt. With those 7,524 visits, program participants have come from 40 states and at least one person from overseas. (The News Virginian)

Edinburg-based Shenandoah Telecommunications Co. has boosted the internet speed of its existing business customers without raising prices. Typical business customers now have internet speeds that are three times higher than what they had before June, the company said. The change took place in June for thousands of Shentel business customers in Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland. As an example, the company said a business with 25 Mbps speed in May was upgraded to 101 Mbps speed in June for the same price. At the same time, Shentel said it eliminated slower speeds that no longer met business customer needs. Earlier this year, the company also introduced a new top-speed internet tier — 150 Mbps. (Virginia­Business.com)

CENTRAL VIRGINIA
An effort to boost broadband internet to rural areas of Amherst County is picking up speed. The Amherst County Broadband Authority is working with SCS Broadband to provide wireless service through the towers scattered across the county. The Arrington-based company submitted a proposal to the county and would have its equipment on the towers, which are owned by the Region 2000 Radio Board, fully up and running by summer 2019, according to a schedule outlined in a proposed agreement. (The News & Advance)

The Bon Secours Richmond Health System’s effort to prime the Westhampton School property for redevelopment — and walk back a commitment it made as part of the Washington Redskins training camp deal — received a green light from the Richmond City Council in late July. A split council voted 5-4 to approve the health system’s request to rezone the school property in the city’s West End from a residential to a mixed-use business district. The request also covered 10 residential properties the health system owns along the Henrico County line, abutting the school property. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

A Canadian paper company plans to invest $275 million and create 140 jobs to manufacture recycled paper products at the Bear Island paper mill, a 600,000-square-foot plant in Hanover County that closed more than a year ago. Cascades Inc., a maker of packaging and tissue products based in Kingsey Falls, Quebec, is acquiring the mill for $34.2 million from its owner, White Birch Paper Co. Connecticut-based White Birch will temporarily operate the site as a newsprint mill under a 27-month lease, after which Cascades will convert equipment at the mill for its own production needs. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

SCANA shareholders agreed in late July to sell the South Carolina utility to Richmond-based Dominion Energy, which has agreed to swallow billions of dollars in debt from the company’s failed nuclear construction project and other operations. The deal gives Dominion — already one of the nation’s largest utility companies — more of a foothold in South Carolina. The company operates a pair of solar farms in the state, as well as gas pipelines purchased from SCANA in years past. SCANA has about 1.6 million electric and natural gas residential and business accounts in the Carolinas. The combined company would operate in 18 states, providing energy to about 6.5 million regulated customer accounts. (The Washington Post)

Innovairre Communications LLC, a manufacturer of direct-mail fundraising materials for nonprofits, plans to invest $4.85 million in upgrading its equipment and expanding operations in Bedford County. The project is expected to add 12 jobs to its existing workforce of 72. (News release)

Flooring retail giant Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc. is moving its corporate headquarters to the Richmond region. The company said in late July that it will move its offices to the former Southern Season gourmet grocery store space in the Libbie Mill-Midtown mixed-use development off Staples Mill Road in Henrico County during the fourth quarter next year. Lumber Liquidators will take over the vacant 53,000-square-foot Southern Season store, which closed in April 2016 after opening less than two years earlier. The specialty flooring retailer will combine its corporate employees working in Toano, near Williamsburg, with those working in a satellite office on West Broad Street near Willow Lawn Drive into the Libbie Mill-Midtown space. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Forest-based Moore & Giles, a leather design business, plans to purchase a 50,000-square-foot distribution center in the Amelon Commerce Center in Madison Heights. Plans are in place to begin operations in the new location, located off Virginia 130, in September. Previously, the facility was owned and operated by Old Dominion Footwear. (The News & Advance)

Sabra Dipping Co. LLC broke ground on July 31 on an expansion of its hummus-making facility in Chesterfield County. The company said the 40,000-square-foot expansion will enable Sabra to expedite product delivery to retailers.  The addition more than doubles the company’s finished goods storage capacity and lays the groundwork for future packaging customization capabilities. Sabra expects to add 12 full-time positions upon completion of the expansion, which will be designed to maintain Gold certification under the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification program. (News release)

Two Charlottesville companies are partnering to grow their business and raise the city’s profile as a hub for the renewable energy industry. Sigora Solar’s residential customers will receive a free Lumin Smart Panel, a device that allows residents to remotely control appliances and analyze their energy usage and bills. The companies connected through the Charlottesville Renewable Energy Alliance, of which both companies are members. (Charlottesville Tomorrow)

When it was established in 1982, the University of Virginia’s apprenticeship program was the first of its kind at a major public university. It has become a model for other programs and changed many lives, including those of the 10 who graduated in July. Each year, the program accepts students who spend four years learning from mentors while working full time for UVa Facilities Management, earning a salary and full university employee benefits. After work, they take courses in their trade. By the program’s end, they complete 400 hours of classroom instruction and 8,000 hours of on-the-job training. All of this year’s apprenticeship graduates, who learned trades such as plumbing, heating and air conditioning, electrical work and carpentry, are taking jobs with U.Va. (The Daily Progress)

SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA
Bristol Compressors announced in late July that its Bristol plant will be shuttered over the next couple of months, putting 470 employees out of work. The company — which produces hermetically sealed compressors for air-conditioning units, heat pumps, geothermal units and refrigeration units — blamed loss of business in the Middle East as the most significant contributor to the plant closing. Because of that, the business could not maintain profitability, a company representative said earlier. The manufacturer has operated in Washington County since 1975 and is the county’s third-biggest employer.  (Bristol Herald Courier)

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission halted all work on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in August after judges suspended two key permits for the 600-mile project. FERC sent a letter to Dominion Energy, which has led the pipeline’s construction, saying work must stop until the permit issues are resolved. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit vacated a National Park Service permit allowing the pipeline to tunnel under the Blue Ridge Parkway. The court also vacated a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service permit governing impact on endangered wildlife. In July, the same court revoked a permit for the 300-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline to cross about 3.5 miles of the Jefferson National Forest. FERC also stepped in to halt work on that pipeline, as well.  (The Washington Post)

After years of preparation and a number of delays, the long-promised Sessions Hotel in Bristol is about to move from drawing board dream to a full-on construction project. Developers held a groundbreaking ceremony in July, even though some work had occurred at the site. The hotel is to be created inside three vacant, historic buildings — the former Jobbers Candy factory and the Service Mills building along Goode Street and the Owen Equipment building — formerly Bristol Grocery — on State Street.  Roanoke-based Creative Boutique Hotels is developing the $20 million, 70-room project, which is expected to open in 2019. (Bristol Herald Courier)

The Southwest Times office complex building in Pulaski is being sold — but the newspaper isn’t going anywhere. The South­west Times is relocating to the end unit of the same complex — 42 Fifth St. NW. (The Southwest Times)

Sugar Hill Cidery LLC plans to open a hard cidery and restaurant in Norton. The project, which represents almost half a million dollars in new investment, is expected to create at least 36 jobs. The cidery is a sister company of Sugar Hill Brewing Co. LLC, a craft brewery and restaurant in St. Paul. Sugar Hill Cidery will be located in a soon-to-be renovated former auto dealership owned by the Norton Industrial Development Authority. The city has been working with the state for several years to make the site a center of downtown activity. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

ROANOKE/NEW RIVER VALLEY
Developers hoping to revive the desolate Christiansburg Marketplace shopping center say design work is underway now and three anchor tenants are interested in locating there. Chris Carlsen’s group, RC Christiansburg, purchased the shopping center in December with plans to invest $30 million in renovations, developers said at the time. Carlsen declined to name the companies his group hopes will sign leases soon, but he said they’re in negotiations with retailers in the food, sporting goods and soft goods — such as clothing — industries. (The Roanoke Times)

The 110-year-old Liberty Trust office building in downtown Roanoke has been sold. Poe & Cronk Real Estate Group in Roanoke reported the new owner, JS Project LLC of Fairfax, plans a historic restoration of the 36,000-square-foot building, turning it into a boutique hotel. The building, constructed in 1908 by the Liberty Trust Co., is located at 101 S. Jefferson St. In 1982, the property was listed in the National Register of Historic Places and as a Virginia Historic Landmark. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

Montgomery County is calling on more than a dozen localities across Southwest Virginia to begin taking steps toward a goal of connecting the major trail networks between the Roanoke and New River valleys. In a letter sent to localities in July, Montgomery County Board of Supervisors Chairman Chris Tuck discussed the establishment of a regional committee to explore the ambitious idea of a system from Roanoke to Galax — which could create at some point 100 miles or more of linked primary trail. The plan, if completed, would connect the Roanoke Valley’s greenways system to Blacksburg’s and Christiansburg’s Huckleberry Trail, which would then — via the Radford area — link to the New River Trail that runs from the town of Pulaski to the city of Galax. (The Roanoke Times)

The National Bank of Blacksburg lost $2.4 million to Russian hackers, and its insurer wants to reimburse it only $50,000, according to a lawsuit the bank filed in U.S. District Court in Roanoke. Filed on June 28, the bank’s lawsuit against Everest National Insurance Co. describes two incidents in which the bank’s computer systems were compromised and security controls disabled. This allowed weekend-long sprees in which “hundreds of ATMs across North America” were used to loot accounts, the lawsuit said. According to the lawsuit, National Bank of Blacksburg, which has 25 offices throughout Southwest Virginia, lost about $570,000 in May 2016 and more than $1.8 million in January 2017. Investigators tied the computer break-ins to Russia, the lawsuit said. There is an ongoing criminal investigation of the thefts, according to court filings. (The Roanoke Times)

The New River Valley Mall announced a major tenant shakeup in late July, as Ulta Beauty and Kirkland’s prepare to move in. Leasing agency CBL Properties also announced DISH Network will join the mall as it downsizes and relocates the Christiansburg call center that has been in the Falling Branch Corporate Park for 18 years. That office previously employed 600 people. Now, between 75 and 125 will work in the space between Kohl’s and New River Community College, according to a news release. The news is the latest sign of an effort to diversify the mall that has served as the retail hub of the New River Valley for a generation — but faces an uncertain future as big box retailers struggle against online competitors. (The Roanoke Times)

The New River Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization plans to re-submit to the state an estimated $215 million proposal to complete a long-awaited connection of Virginia Tech’s Smart Road to Interstate 81. The proposal’s application received a unanimous 7-0 vote of support from the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors in late July. The vote covered a package of resolutions backing several Smart Scale applications. The MPO, which includes Montgomery County officials, plans to submit the proposal to Smart Scale, a program that scores — and hopefully later funds — competing transportation projects from across the state.  (The Roanoke Times)

A national provider of telemedicine services announced in July that it will offer its services in several Virginia nursing homes with the goal of keeping residents from unnecessary hospitalizations. TripleCare plans by year-end to bring virtual physician supported services to three of Commonwealth Care of Roanoke facilities: Radford Health and Rehab Center, Abingdon Health and Rehab Center and Carriage Hill Health and Rehab Center in Fredericksburg. TripleCare’s physicians will be able to connect to Commonwealth Care’s patients during overnights and weekends when the facilities’ physicians are not on site. Patients can be treated in place or should be transferred to a hospital. (The Roanoke Times)

The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine welcomed its ninth class to be part of Virginia Tech’s ninth college in late July. It is the first new class to join since the Roanoke-based medical school became an official college of Virginia Tech on July 1.  The medical school’s Class of 2022 has 43 members selected from almost 4,000 applications. From that, 312 participated in the school’s Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) process, held on seven Saturdays throughout the fall and winter months. The class, almost evenly split, has 22 men and 21 women. The class represents 11 states and 32 undergraduate institutions. Almost half — 20 — are Virginia residents. (News release)

NORTHERN VIRGINIA
Unmanned aircraft company Aurora Flight Sciences plans to build a $13.75 million robotics facility at its headquarters in Manassas, creating 135 jobs. The facility will include a manufacturing unit, a research and development lab, a hangar and office space. The company was acquired by The Boeing Co. last year. Aurora Flight Sciences is a developer and manufacturer of advanced aerospace platforms and autonomous systems. (Virginia­Business.com)

McLean-based Capital One Financial Corp. has been tapped by Walmart Inc. to be the exclusive issuer of the retail giant’s credit cards, the two companies announced in July. Capital One will take over Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart’s private and co-branded credit card programs from Synchrony Financial beginning Aug. 1, 2019. More details of the program will be released later. (Washington Business Journal)

Manassas-based Ennis Electric is expected to move its headquarters to Prince William County’s Innovation Park as part of a $20 million project that will add 65 jobs during the next several years. Ennis is the latest company to choose the 1,500-acre technology and research park anchored by George Mason University for its operations after a lull in development activity there during and after the recession. (Washington Business Journal)

Herndon-based Magnet Forensics has acquired Tracks Inspector, a digital investigation software product. The financial details about the deal with Tracks Inspector B.V., which is based in The Netherlands, were not disclosed. Tracks Inspector will join the Magnet Forensics product portfolio under the new name Magnet Review. Magnet Forensics develops digital investigation software that acquires, analyzes and shares evidence from computers, smartphones, the cloud and other sources. The company’s tools are used by more than 4,000 agencies in 93 countries. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

Thompson Hospitality Corp., a large Northern Virginia food service and restaurant company, has acquired a stake in Matchbox Food Group and will begin operating the chain of 11 restaurants immediately. Reston-based Thompson invested an undisclosed amount to recapitalize the company. Matchbox operates eight of its pizza restaurants in the D.C. area and three in other markets — Richmond, Dallas and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The company ran into financial trouble in the past few years as it expanded rapidly in the D.C. area and other markets. (Washington Business Journal)

SOUTHERN VIRGINIA
A new aluminum welding class at Danville Community College is helping students find good local jobs after just a few weeks of study. Six students who recently completed the first eight-week class already have been hired by Amthor as the company expands its operations in Gretna. Amthor Operations Manager Ronnie Farmer, who started with the company as a tank welder 25 years ago, teaches the non-credit welding course. (Danville Register & Bee)

The Danville-Pittsylvania Regional Industrial Facility Authority has given the go-ahead to plans by the Institute to Advanced Learning and Research to expand the Gene Haas Center for Integrated Machining. The 13,700-square foot expansion will consist of two rapid-launch labs that will allow manufacturers moving to the area to have space to create their products and train staff while their permanent buildings are being constructed or renovated. Mark Gignac, executive director of the institute, said the new building will be entirely funded by the state. (Danville Register & Bee)

The Hardide Coatings production facility in Martinsville has been certified to coat U.S. aerospace components, a development that the company expects will give it access to new markets. Hardide develops, manufactures and applies advanced tungsten-carbide coatings for a wide range of engineering components. The company said its material offers dramatic improvements in component life, particularly when applied to components used in extreme environments. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

Press Glass, the largest independent flat glass processing operation in Europe, will invest $43.55 million and bring 212 jobs to Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre. Press Glass will be the first facility to locate to CCBC. Construction should begin near the end of 2018, and production is scheduled to begin at the end of 2019. (Martinsville Bulletin)

The Southern Virginia Higher Education Center is partnering with Radford University and New College Institute to offer a new cybersecurity program for working IT professionals. Through this partnership, Radford University’s Innovative Mobile Personalized Accelerated Competency Training (IMPACT) will be available through the SVHEC this fall. Cybersecurity is a growing field, with the commonwealth estimating 36,000 job openings in 650 companies. (The Gazette-Virginian)

It could be several months before anyone knows what caused a July 25 explosion at the Thomas Industrial Fabrication plant in Woolwine. The Roanoke office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration confirmed the next day that an investigation has been launched into the incident. Three employees were injured in the explosion, which also caused internal and external damage to the building. (Danville Register & Bee)

VCU Health in Richmond is seeking $50,000 from the Tobacco Commission to study the reuse of the former Community Memorial Healthcenter facility in South Hill as a disaster preparedness and training center. The commission’s next scheduled meeting is Sept. 19. The old CMH facility, built in 1954, was shuttered in November 2017 when VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital moved to its $93 million medical campus on the north end of South Hill. (SoVaNow.com)




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