A large crowd turns out to welcome MeadWestvaco

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Print this page by Paula C. Squires

More than 300 business, political and civic leaders turned out tonight to celebrate at an open house thrown at the corporate headquarters of Richmond’s newest Fortune 500.  Gov. Bob McDonnell called the relocation of MeadWestvaco, a global packaging company formerly based in Stanford, Conn., to Richmond, a “beacon of hope” in tough economic times.

“It’s a big day for this city to officially recognize the opening of this headquarters,” said McDonnell. “We’re in a tough time. Virginia has a 6.9 percent unemployment rate.” The crowd welcomed the 650 jobs that came with the relocation of the company with hearty applause. In one of the best lines of the evening, McDonnell said, “It’s a source of encouragement, and we all know that we need encouragement. I’ve been in office only 45 days, and I’ve had a $4 billion deficit and four blizzards,” he quipped, referring to the state’s recent snowstorms.

The atmosphere at the event, though, was nothing but sunny. Vases of yellow daffodils graced tables, offices and conference rooms, which were open for tours.  For most people, the highlight was the expansive view of the city’s nightscape and the James River from the 9th floor, home of the company’s executive suites.

Besides McDonnell, three former governors, Timothy Kaine, George Allen, and Douglas Wilder, attended along with former Lt. Gov. John Hager, Congressman Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones. The CEOs of two other Richmond Fortune 500s, Tom Farrell of Dominion, and Gil Minor of Owens & Minor, also were on hand to lend support to MeadWestvaco’s CEO John Luke.

Rising from the banks of the James, the 310,000-square-foot, eco-friendly headquarters was built with recycled glass, rubber, and other materials.  The project, which earned the highest rating of four globes from the Green Building Initiative, expects to save as much as 21 percent in energy efficiency.

Luke said, “This building reflects our business strategy and corporate culture: to be innovative, collaborative, sustainable and to be connected to the community. This is where we will connect MeadWestvaco to the rest of the world.”

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