Heathsville firm helping to revive manufacturing jobs

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Print this page by Susan Smigielski Acker
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Heathsville-based Hickory Ground Solutions LLC is helping Southern Virginia and East Tennessee create manufacturing jobs, using lessons learned in war-torn places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

The American Indian-owned consulting firm also is working with Central Oklahoma’s oil industry leaders to find ways to resume normal production more quickly after a natural disaster.
On all three contracts, Hickory Ground Solutions is teaming with another consulting firm, Supply Chain Visions LLC, which has operations in Arlington County and the Boston area. The projects are part of the Small Business Administration’s Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership, which aims to promote a resurgence in manufacturing jobs in economically hard-hit regions.

Hickory Ground Solutions and Supply Chain Visions formed a joint venture, SEE Alliance, in May. The firms use expertise that their leaders, — Bart Morrison of Hickory Ground Solutions and Steve Geary of Supply Chain Visions — gained in countries whose economies had been disrupted by conflict.

As a Department of Defense employee, for example, Morrison worked to re-establish a functioning business community in Iraq.

Geary, meanwhile, helped create Defense supply chains in Iraq and Afghanistan, “Our understanding of supply chain requirements provides the SBA with a team that can understand competing requirements and identify alignment opportunities,” he says.

Under a $167,242 federal contract, the team will work with the Southside Virginia Planning District Commission to devise a plan for Mecklenburg, Brunswick and Halifax counties. “That area used to be a regional powerhouse in textiles, but with the passing of NAFTA in 2000, it no longer is,” Morrison says.

The team will analyze the area, looking for opportunities to attract new manufacturers. Another goal is to increase small-business participation in manufacturing and the supply chain.
For East Tennessee, the problem is similar, except that, instead of textiles, the disrupted industry is coal mining. Once the area’s industrial king, coal has been knocked off the throne because of tougher federal regulations and increased U.S. production of natural gas. The SBA contract for that project is $167,969.

The companies will identify area businesses that can help create manufacturing jobs and use local companies as suppliers. “Many times businesspeople overlook nearby areas and don’t know who has what to offer,” Morrison says.

In Central Oklahoma, the goal of a $188,561 contract is figuring how to decrease production downtime in the oil industry after a natural disaster. “This area gets hit with a lot of tornadoes. It can be devastating,” Morrison says.

A May tornado in Moore, Okla., near Oklahoma City, had peak winds estimated at 210 mph, killing 23 people and injuring 377 others.

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