Looking back: 25 years of Virginia business

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A sampling of business developments reported in Virginia Business during the past 25 years.


George Mason University economist James Buchanan wins the Nobel Prize for economics.

James River Corp. becomes the nation’s largest paper manufacturer after acquiring Crown Zellerbach’s paper and packaging operations.

Gov. Gerald L. Baliles guides a $422 million-a-year transportation revenue package through a legislative special session .


Voters approve the creation of the Virginia Lottery.

Mobil leases a 215,000-square-foot building in Fairfax County in anticipation of moving its headquarters from New York in 1988.

NVHomes, the precursor of Reston-based NVR Inc., acquires Ryan Homes.


Lillian Vernon opens a 400,000-square-foot distribution and warehouse center in Virginia Beach. The city eventually becomes the company’s home.

The stock of Owens & Minor Inc., a Richmond-based company founded in 1882, begins trading on the New York Stock Exchange.


Norfolk-based Sovran Financial Corp., Virginia’s biggest bank, merges with Atlanta-based Citizens and Southern Corp.

Richmond-based A.H. Robins is bought by New York-based American Home Products.

Norfolk Southern gives the Hotel Roanoke to Virginia Tech.

Herndon-based Legent Corp. is formed in the merger of software companies Duquesne Systems and Morino Associates.


The United Mine Workers of America and Pittston Coal Co. reach a settlement ending a 10-month strike mainly affecting mines in Virginia.

Old Dominion Electric Cooperative and Virginia Power announce plans to build a $1.2 billion, 786-megawatt, coal-fired generating plant in Halifax County.

Potomac Mills in Dale City announces plans to add 700,000 square feet to its existing 1.2 million-square-foot complex.


The savings and loan crisis decimates the ranks of Virginia’s thrifts.

C&S/Sovran agrees to a $4.3 billion merger with NCNB Corp. to create NationsBank.

Hershey Foods Corp. announces plans to build a $60 million plant in the Shenandoah Valley.

RF&P Railroad sells 113-mile railroad line to CSX Corp. and its real estate arm to the Virginia Retirement System.


The Blacksburg Electronic Village is launched.

Geico Corp. announces plans to move its regional office from Chevy Chase, Md., to Stafford County, bringing 650 jobs. (The center eventually grows to 3,000 employees.)

Roanoke-based Dominion Bankshares is acquired by Charlotte, N.C.-based First Union Corp. in an $852 million deal.

Virginia-based America Online holds its initial public offering.


Circuit City Stores Inc. opens its first CarMax superstore in Henrico County.

Alexandria-based J.E. Roberts Cos. plans merger with Amresco Holdings in Dallas to create the nation’s largest company involved in disposing of bad real estate loans


Walt Disney Co. Chairman Michael Eisner cancels plans for Disney’s America, a theme park proposed for western Prince William County.

Dibrell Brothers Inc. of Danville merges with Monk-Austin Inc., a Farmville, N.C.-based tobacco processor, creating a $1.4 billion operation called DiMon Inc.

Shareholders of Broadway-based WLR Foods rebuff attempts by Arkansas-based Tyson Foods to take over the company.

Signet Banking Corp. spins off its credit-card division, which become Capital One Financial Corp. 


Chesapeake-based Dollar Tree Inc. holds an initial public offering.

Motorola buys an option to purchase land in Goochland County where it plans to build a $3 billion semiconductor plant. The plant is never built.

The renovated Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center reopens in Roanoke.

IBM and Toshiba announce plans to build a $1 billion advanced computer chip plant in Manassas. (Micron Technology later becomes the plant’s owner.)


Tenneco Inc. spins off Newport News Shipbuilding as a separate company.

Richmond-based CCA Industries, headed by William H. Goodwin, sells AMF Bowling to Goldman Sachs for a reported $1.35 billion.

The Pittston Co., a Fortune 500 company, moves its headquarters from Connecticut to Richmond. It is now The Brink’s Co.

Motorola and Siemens AG announce plans to build a $1.2 billion computer chip factory, called White Oak Semiconductors, in eastern Henrico County. (It later becomes Qimonda.)

McLean-based Sunrise Assisted Living raises $114 million in an initial public offering.


Conrail is divided between Norfolk Southern and CSX, with Norfolk Southern getting 6.000 route miles and CSX getting 3,600.

Richmond-based Trigon Blue Cross Blue Shield becomes a publicly traded company, raising $201.5 million in an initial public offering.

After filing for bankruptcy court protection twice in five years, 40-year-old, Richmond-based Best Products Inc. goes out of business.

McLean-based IT company BDM International is acquired by TRW Inc. for $975 million.

Virginia Beach-based International Family Entertainment Inc., the owner and operator of cable TV’s Family Channel, is sold to News Corp. for $1.9 billion.

Virginia-based Jefferson, Central Fidelity and Signet banks are bought by North Carolina banks, Wachovia and First Union.


Gov. Jim Gilmore names Donald Upson the state’s first secretary of technology.

Roanoke-based Advance Auto Parts buys 580 Western Auto stores from Sears, Roebuck & Co.

Atlanta-based SunTrust acquires Richmond-based Crestar Financial Corp. for $9.5 billion.


Newport News Shipbuilding fends off two hostile takeovers, from Litton Industries Inc. and General Dynamics Corp.

Fairfax-based Mobil Corp. is acquired by Texas-based Exxon Corp. for $81.2 billion. The combined Exxon Mobil Corp. is based in Texas.

The $300 million MacArthur Center shopping mall opens in downtown Norfolk.

Falls Church-based General Dynamics acquires Gulfstream Aerospace for $4.77 billion.


Richmond-based Dominion Resources Inc. and Consolidated Natural Gas of Pittsburgh merge, creating one of the nation’s largest energy companies.
AOL merges with Time Warner to create AOL Time Warner.

Martinsville-based clothing manufacturer Tultex lays off 3,300 workers nationwide.

Armada Hoffler breaks ground on the first phase of Virginia Beach Town Center. The first buildings open in 2002.

Richmond-based Reynolds Metals is acquired by Pittsburgh-based Alcoa Inc.

Charlottesville-based Value America goes bankrupt in the dot-com bust.

Virginia International Raceway reopens in Halifax County, becoming a magnet for motorsports enthusiasts and a catalyst for industrial development.


Virginia is slated to receive $4.2 billion over 25 years in the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.

Broadway-based WLR Foods merges with Pilgrim’s Pride.

Los Angeles-based Northrop Grumman purchases Newport News Shipbuilding.

Advance Auto Parts becomes a publicly traded company.


Voters in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia reject bond referendums that would raise money for transportation projects.

Indianapolis-based Anthem Inc. acquires Richmond-based Trigon Healthcare.

Essel Propack America, a subsidiary of an India-based company, locates its first U.S. facility, a $21 million factory, in Danville to make toothpaste tubes, creating 81 jobs.

Henrico County-based CarMax Inc. becomes a separate, publicly traded company. It had been part of Circuit City Stores Inc.

Virginia Commonwealth University research professor John B. Finn and George Mason University economics professor Vernon L. Smith are named Nobel Prize laureates.


Steve Case resigns as the chairman of AOL Time Warner Inc.
Bristol Virginia Utilities launches $30 million fiber-optic network.

BB&T Corp. takes over First Virginia Banks Inc.

Construction begins on a new $202.5 million convention center in Virginia Beach.


Smithfield Foods expands its European operations with investments and acquisitions in Spain and the United Kingdom.

Daytona Beach, Fla.-based International Speedway Corp. acquires Martinsville Speedway for $192 million.

Henrico County-based Genworth Financial Inc. holds an initial public offering, raising $2.83 billion.

Blacksburg-based Luna Innovations announces plans to locate a nanotechnology plant in Danville.


Institute for Advanced Learning and Research opens in Danville.

The Fair and Equitable Tobacco Reform Act ends quotas for tobacco farmers.

Hampton Roads Convention Center opens.

Danville-based Dimon Inc. merges with rival Standard Commercial Corp. to form Alliance One International, based in Morrisville, N.C.

The Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance and the Peninsula Alliance for Economic Development merge.

McLean-based Capital One acquires New Orleans-based banking company Hibernia Corp. in a deal worth $5 billion.

Virginia signs a 10-year, $2 billion contract with Northrop Grumman to modernize the state’s information technology system.


Gujarat Heavy Chemicals Ltd., an Indian company, acquires textile manufacturer Dan River Inc. in a deal worth $93 million.

Packaging industry giant MeadWestvaco Corp. moves its headquarters from Connecticut to Richmond.

Harrisonburg-based Fairfield Language Technologies is bought by ABS Capital Partners and Norwest Equity Partners. The company becomes Arlington-based Rosetta Stone.

Ford Motor Co. says it will close its 81-year-old truck plant in Norfolk, which employs 2,500 workers.

Dominion Resources begins building an $800 million, 585-megawatt power plant in Wise County.

Carilion Health System announces a $100 million, seven-year plan to transform itself into Carilion Clinic. names Virginia the best state for business in the first year of its ranking of the states.


California-based SRI International announces plans for its Center for Advanced Drug Research near Harrisonburg.

Carilion Health System and Virginia Tech announce plans for a new medical school.

APM Terminals opens a $450 million terminal in Portsmouth.

New River Pharmaceuticals, a drug developer based in Radford, is bought by Shire Plc for $2.6 billion, making its founder, Randal J. Kirk, a billionaire.

Volkswagen of America moves its headquarters from Michigan to Herndon.


Altria Group relocates headquarters from New York to Richmond.

Canon Virginia Inc. in Newport News invests $600 million to expand its operations, adding 1,000 jobs.

CSC moves its headquarters from El Segundo, Calif., to Fairfax County.

Henrico County-based LandAmerica sells three title companies to Fidelity National Financial in Jacksonville, Fla. (LandAmerica eventually goes out of business.)

McLean-based Capital One Financial Corp. acquires Chevy Chase Bank.

Areva and Northrop Grumman announce joint venture that will manufacture nuclear power components, creating 500 jobs in Newport News.


The Federal Transit Administration signs off on a $5.2 billion, 23-mile extension of the Metrorail system to Washington Dulles International Airport.

Henrico County-based Circuit City Stores Inc. files for bankruptcy and closes its remaining 567 stores, eliminating 34,000 jobs.

Germany-based memory chipmaker Qimonda closes its Henrico County plant, eliminating 1,500 jobs.

Abingdon-based Alpha Natural Resources acquires Maryland-based Foundation Coal Holdings Inc. for $2 billion, creating the nation’s third largest coal company.

White Mill Development LLC begins work on converting the former Dan River Inc. “white mill” into a technology center in Danville.

International Paper Corp. closes its paper mill in Isle of Wight County near Franklin, eliminating 1,100 jobs.

Hilton Worldwide and Science Applications International Corp. move their headquarters from California to Tysons Corner.


The Virginia Port Authority leases the 291-acre APM Portsmouth Terminal for $40 million a year for 20 years. The deal effectively ends bidding by private companies to take over VPA’s operations.

Defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp. announces plans to move its headquarters from Los Angeles to Fairfax County.

Microsoft Corp. decides to place a $499 million data center in the Boydton Industrial Park in Mecklenburg County, creating 50 jobs.

Norfolk Southern Corp.’s Heartland Corridor officially opens. The $261 million project raised railroad tunnels to accommodate double-stacked trains, increasing their capacity and cutting a day off travel time from the East Coast to the Midwest.

Two business groups merge to form the Prince William Chamber of Commerce, the largest chamber in Northern Virginia.


Abingdon-based Alpha Natural Resources announces plans to acquire Richmond-based Massey Energy Co. nine months after 29 Massey workers are killed in a West Virginia mining accident.




Virginia Business publishes its first issue in March. Media General Inc. executive James Dillon is the first publisher.


Virginia Business acquires the Tidewater Virginian, a Norfolk-based business magazine, and continues to publish its Hampton Roads Statistic Digest.


The first Virginia 100, the magazine’s annual list of wealthiest Virginians, is published in June.


The List of Leaders, an annual compilation of industry leaders, is introduced in the February issue


Site Selection guide first published in August.

Travel and meeting planner starts in October.


James A. Bacon, the magazine’s editor and associate publisher, becomes publisher and editor-in-chief.


Magazine marks its 10th anniversary with issue that looks at future trends in a variety of industries.


Fantastic 50, an annual list of fastest-growing Virginia companies, is published for the first time in collaboration with the Virginia Chamber of Commerce.


The Legal Elite begins with the December issue. The magazine begins publishing the educational guide R U Ready?


Annual Super CPA list begins with the November issue.


Doug Forshey becomes publisher and editor-in-chief of Virginia Business.  Magazine begins publishing the Greater Richmond Statistical Digest.


The magazine begins publishing the Guide to Doing Business in Virginia.


Virginia Business celebrates 20th anniversary. It publishes the first Hampton Roads Maritime and International Trade Guide.


Bernie Niemeier becomes the magazine’s president and publisher.


Nicholas Chabraja, CEO of Falls Church-based defense contractor General Dynamics, is named the magazine’s first Virginia Business Person of the Year.


Media General Inc. sells Virginia Business to Virginia Business Publications LLC, an investment company whose majority shareholder is Richmond-based Virginia Capital Partners.


March issue marks magazine’s 25th anniversary.


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