For the Record - Southwest Virginia, February 2012

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Bristol Compressors International Inc., a producer of products for the residential HVAC and commercial refrigeration markets, announced the elimination of 250 positions. The cuts were made as part of a restructuring triggered by a slow recovery from the economic downturn, which depressed new home sales. The company is continuing to invest in new product development and expanding its export business. (Bristol Herald Courier)

Heartwood, an artisan center in Abingdon, was named one of the country’s top 10 craft galleries by USA Today and American Style magazine. The center, which opened in mid-2011, also received state recognition as a tourism destination, receiving a First Lady’s Opportunity Hall of Fame award.  (Bristol Herald Courier)

ITT Exelis, a manufacturer of night-vision equipment, said it will lay off 300 workers at its Roanoke County plant in the face of decreased orders as the U.S. withdraws combat troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. The cutbacks will also affect plants in Massachusetts and California. The Virginia facility employs about 1,400 people. (The Roanoke Times)

Shenandoah Life Insurance Co. policyholders approved a plan that would convert it from a mutual insurance company to a stock insurance company, and cede ownership to Arizona-based United Prosperity Life Insurance Co. United pledged to invest $60 million into Shenandoah, which was taken over by state regulators after it suffered catastrophic stock market losses in 2008. (The Roanoke Times)

Smith/Packett, a Roanoke developer overseeing the South Peak mixed-use project in Roanoke County, changed plans for the site in response to the slowed economy. Financing for infrastructure improvements has been downsized from $16 million to $7 million. Development of the site was also broken into two phases, the first focused around lodging, and a second to bring more businesses and restaurants aboard within 20 years. (The Roanoke Times)

Synchrony Inc., a Roanoke County technology company, was bought by Dresser-Rand Group Inc., of Texas, for $50 million, with a performance incentive which could add another $10 million. Dresser makes rotating equipment for the oil and gas industry and bought Synchrony for its magnetic bearings, which would allow for production of equipment that wouldn’t need oil for lubrication. (The Roanoke Times)

Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Co., of Galax, bought 150,000 seedlings from the state forestry department and donated them to planting projects on private and public land across the state. Since 2007 the company has donated 750,000 trees through a program in which it donates a seedling for each tree it harvests. (The Roanoke Times)

Virginia reached a $3.8 million amendment to an existing contract with Alpha Natural Resources for preliminary engineering work on the Pound Connector and Doe Branch of the Coalfields Expressway, a proposed four-lane highway from Wise County moving through Dickinson and Buchanan counties to the West Virginia line. The state also agreed to a $119.8 million contract amendment with Branch Highways Inc. to build the next phase of improvements to Route 58 between Hillsville and Stuart. (News release)

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