Business news and intelligence for and about the Virginia business email@example.comCopyright 20152015-03-01T11:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/TOUR_RichmondBreweryTours.pngPhoto by Sarah Hauser, courtesy Virginia Tourism Corp.
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/happy-trails#When:23:00:00ZTourism, once mostly grounded by the recession, is taking off again in Virginia and across the country.
With new hotels in the pipeline and the state’s rising profile as a destination for culinary experiences that include visits to wineries and breweries, Virginia is positioning itself for a strong 2015.
“Culinary tourism has become huge,” says Caroline Logan, director of corporate communications for the Virginia Tourism Corp.
With food usually comes lodging, and that’s trending in a positive direction as well. “Viewed from the 50,000-foot level, the lodging industry is in a really good place,” says Bobby Bowers, senior vice president of operations for Smith Travel Research, which tracks hotel room supply and demand around the world.
As of the end of October, the revenue per available room, a combined measurement of occupancy and room prices, was up 8.4 percent nationwide to $70.70 a night compared with 2013, representing what is projected to be the fifth consecutive year of growth. “Most people expect 2015 to be a smidgen lower, but I am not convinced that it will be lower at all,” Bowers says.
In Virginia, the news has been good, too, though more earthbound. The lingering effect of sequestration on Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads has suppressed government and corporate travel, which only now are in recovery. The result, as of October, has been an increase in revenue per available room of 6.4 percent to $58.72 compared with 2013 — numbers that were good enough to make tourism one of the few expansion areas in the commonwealth’s economy.
While figures for 2014 aren’t in yet, the state saw $21.5 billion in revenue from tourists in 2013, a 14 percent increase from 2012.
Even though demand for lodging was on the increase last year, only modest numbers of new rooms came on line during 2014. As of mid-November, Virginia had expanded its hotel room numbers by just 0.1 percent in 2014, while the national rate was 0.8 percent. Slow growth is expected to continue in 2015, Bowers says, with about 2,170 new rooms in the pipeline for the commonwealth for a growth rate of about 1.5 percent (see story on Page 57).
Most of the visitors who occupy those rooms — 58 percent in 2013, the last year for which figures were available — come to the commonwealth by car to visit family and friends, according to the research firm TNS Travels. These visitors will continue to be the mainstay of the Virginia tourism and hospitality business. Yet two major sporting events (see story on Page 57) and several travel trends, including culinary tourism, should help the state’s tourism industry gain altitude in 2015.
One factor in Virginia’s favor is a surging millennial market. Logan says many younger tourists are attracted not only by the state’s varied opportunities for outdoor recreation, but by the chance to have authentic local experiences at reasonable rates. That quest dovetails nicely with another trend: the exponential expansion of wineries, breweries and locally sourced restaurants.
Virginia now has more than 250 wineries and counting, and so many craft breweries (more than 60) that the state tourism website offers itineraries for beer tours. Stone Brewing Co., the 10th largest craft brewery in the country, is getting into the act, promising to invest $74 million in a brewery that will open in Richmond next year.
Restaurants are paralleling that development by drawing diners with their locavore credentials. In a coup for the state, Esquire magazine recently announced that Virginia was not just about ham anymore in naming it the Food Region of 2014.
Increasingly, hotels and bed-and-breakfasts are partnering with chefs for cross-over events and promotions, says Logan, using last November’s Wine & Brine festivities along the Eastern Shore as an example. Under development in that region now is an oyster trail that will celebrate the waterman culture of the Chesapeake Bay. Logan says the self-guided route should be ready in the next 12 to 18 months.
The southwestern section of Virginia likewise is trending. The popular Crooked Road, a 300-mile route through the region’s folk and country music heritage, now is supplemented by the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, which opened in August in Bristol. The nonprofit museum’s executive director, Leah Ross, expects it to average 90,000 visitors a year with revenues projected at $2.5 million by the museum’s second year of operations.
The three-day Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion festival has become another big draw for Bristol. In its first year, the three-day festival drew 7,500 people; last year, on its 15th anniversary, 60,000 people showed up to hear more than 1,000 artists.
New outdoor attractions in the region are sprouting up too, most notably the Spearhead Trails project, an ambitious network of 500 miles of ATV and equestrian trails near Saint Paul. The 70-mile Mountain View trail there already is open, and completion of the rest of the trails is promised by next year. Near Pocahontas in Tazewell County, Spearhead will add 20 miles of ATV trails this year to augment the 30-mile Pocahontas trail already in operation.
Another significant development for tourism in the region includes the return of the Virginia Museum of Transportation’s Norfolk and Western Class J 611 steam engine to Roanoke. The engine, built in that city, has been undergoing a $3.5 million restoration in North Carolina, but it will return home under its own steam in April, says the museum’s executive director, Beverly T. Fitzpatrick Jr. The engine, pulling eight to 15 cars, then will make four weekend excursions a year on Norfolk Southern tracks, west toward Radford and east to Lynchburg at dates yet to be determined. Once in operation, Fitzpatrick says, the Class J 611 will offer the only steam engine excursion in the commonwealth.
“It’s an exciting time for the state,” says Eric Terry, president of the Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association, of the prospects for tourism in Virginia this year and into the foreseeable future. “We really have turned the corner.”2014-12-30T23:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/0314_cover.png
The Big Book 2015
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/the-big-book-2015#When:11:00:00ZVirginia faced economic headwinds in the past year. Sequestration — across-the-board federal budget cuts — slowed growth in the commonwealth, which has for years been one of the largest recipients of government contracts. The change was especially felt in Virginia’s defense industry that is largely concentrated in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads.
The commonwealth’s slowing economy contributed to it being toppled from its perch as the top state for business in an annual ranking by Forbes.com. The commonwealth fell to No. 4 last year, behind Utah, North Dakota and North Carolina. The Old Dominion had been No. 1 or No. 2 for the past eight years. “Virginia is expected to rank in the bottom half of states on growth for jobs, incomes and gross state product over the next five years, according to Moody’s,” Forbes.com said in explaining the downgrade.
Nonetheless, the commonwealth still is a highly attractive place to do business. Forbes.com, for example, notes that Virginia continues to rank at the top of its regulatory category because of its strong incentive offerings and business-friendly government policies. The commonwealth also ranks well in a wide number of other lists assessing business climate and quality of life.
Despite increasing partisanship in the General Assembly, Democrats and Republicans appear to find common ground on many economic issues. Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s economic strategy is to attract investment and create jobs in industries not dependent on government spending. Last year, the state announced 286 new deals and expansions, which are expected to create 18,672 jobs and $5.5 billion in investment.
The following pages offer insights into the people, companies and institutions that continue to shape Virginia’s economy and quality of life. They include:
50 highly influential individuals and power couples whose actions and opinions make an impact in the arts, banking, economics, education, energy, health care, manufacturing and tourism.
Charts listing Virginia’s biggest economic development projects in 2014 and tracking trends in international investment and trade at the Port of Virginia.
The commonwealth’s largest public and private companies, its fastest-growing firms in rankings by Inc. magazine and the Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s Fantastic 50 program, plus an overview of CEO pay at Virginia-based corporations with at least $1 billion in revenue.
Enrollment at Virginia’s four-year public and private colleges and a list of their endowments.
Virginia’s top firms and companies in construction, commercial real estate, banking, insurance, health care, accounting, law and many other fields.
These industry and community leaders will play a big part in the evolution of Virginia’s economy.
Most Influential Virginians
On The Move
Fortune 500 Companies
Top 15 Announcements by Job
Top Growth Occupations/Industries in Virginia
International Investment in Virginia
Top 15 Announcements by Investment
Top 10 Sectors by Employment
Top 10 Sectors by Investment
Port of Virginia Stats
Construction & Development
Major Road Construction Projects
Architectural and Engineering Firms
Commercial Real Estate Firms
Largest Public Companies
Virginia Companies on The Black Enterprise 100
Fantastic 50 (Virginia’s 50 Fastest-Growing Companies)
Mergers & Acquisitions
Inc. 500 Companies Located in Virginia
Largest Private Companies
Virginia CEO Pay Report
Colleges & Universities (Private)
Colleges & Universities (Public)
Endowments at Virginia Colleges and Universities
Banks and Thrifts
Top SBA Lenders - Virginia District Office
Top Hospitals by Revenue
Virginia Nursing Homes
Health and Accident Insurers
A Sampling of Donations by Companies and Corporate Foundations
A Sampling of Donations by Individuals and Family Foundations
50 Largest Foundations in Virginia by Total Giving (2012)
Top Lobbyist Spending
Chambers of Commerce
Virginia Commercial Airports
Top 10 Craft Breweries
Business Incubators by Square Feet
Small Business Development Centers2015-03-01T11:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/mediagraphic.png
Betting big on local TV
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/betting-big-on-local-tv#When:11:00:00ZBack in the early 1990s when Dennis Wharton was a reporter for Variety covering cable and broadcast television legislation on Capitol Hill, some Federal Communications Commission officials and analysts were predicting that cable TV would soon ring the death knell for local network affiliate stations.
“And here we are 31 years later with a robust and healthy local TV business,” says Wharton, now executive vice president of the Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Broadcasters, the trade industry association for U.S. television and radio broadcasters. “The demise of local affiliates has been written many, many times and the business has probably had one of the best years it’s ever had.”
Richmond-based Media General and McLean-based Gannett are betting big on local TV, joining the ranks of Tribune Co. and other companies in divesting or spinning off their newspaper and print media holdings in favor of owning local network affiliate television stations.
December Media General completed a $1.6 billion merger with Austin, Texas-based LIN Media, creating a new Media General with 71 television stations reaching 24 percent of American households. (Media General owned just 18 stations in mid-2013, before combining with Nashville-based Young Broadcasting.) In late December, Media General became the largest owner of affiliates for the CW Network.
Gannett, which owns 46 television stations and reaches about 30 percent of the U.S. population, is the nation’s top owner of CBS and NBC affiliates. Itannounced last August that it planned to spin off its print media holdings into a new, separate company. Gannett acquired 20 stations from Dallas-based Belos Corp. in 2013 for $1.5 billion and last year purchased six more stations for $215 million from Dallas-based London Broadcasting Company.
Gannett had $1.4 billion in third-quarter 2014 revenues, a 15 percent increase over the prior year. Media General similarly saw a 21 percent increase in net operating revenue over the same time period.
Despite increasing advertising revenues for broadcast and network television, however, some media analysts say that the cord-cutting movement and fast-changing technologies for how we watch video content could one day endanger local television affiliates in the same way that the Internet harmed the newspaper industry.
Consumers now view network TV content across multiple platforms, including mobile phones, tablets, video game consoles and streaming media players. Some viewers, particularly millennials, purchase network television shows on an a la carte basis through services such as Apple’s iTunes Store and Wal-Mart’s VUDU, circumventing local TV stations altogether. (Congress has also seen some unsuccessful pushes to unbundle cable packages, allowing consumers to purchase channels a la carte, but the latest such effort by U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., stalled in committee.)
Still others have eschewed cable subscriptions in favor of less expensive content providers such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, all of which now boast original programming. (In fact this year, for the first time, none of the four major networks won a Golden Globe for television programming, but Amazon and Netflix did.) CBS now offers a dedicated app making its programming available for a fee without requiring a cable TV subscription and HBO’s HBO Go service will also be available as a standalone streaming service starting in April. (A recent survey by Dallas-based international marketing firm Parks Associates found that a projected 7 million cable subscribers would drop cable entirely in favor of the HBO streaming service.) And, upping the ante, DISH Network has released a $20 per month streaming-only service called Sling TV that offers a basic package of 12 channels, including ESPN, CNN, TNT, HGTV, The Food Network and The Disney Channel. (But Sling TV doesn’t include any network TV or local affiliate programming.)
In the short term, local television station ownership is a strong, sensible investment, says cable industry consultant Howard Homonoff. But what television-viewing technology will look like 25 years from now is “literally unknowable,” he says. And while online and alternate-platform viewing “especially by young people are certainly potentially great threats, I would view it still as an evolutionary rather than a revolutionary process” in terms of how changing technology will impact local TV affiliates.
"America¹s love affair with TV is stronger than ever, especially at the local level, yet consumers' media viewing habits are rapidly evolving due to technological advances,” says Media General's President and CEO Vincent Sadusky says. “Media General is a technology-driven company and we are focused on staying ahead of the curve by evaluating and investing in the latest technologies. Our goal is to produce the highest quality and quantity of unique local content and be consumers' and advertisers' number one choice on all screens."
Gregory Fairchild, an associate professor in the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, says, “The challenge for media providers … is neither their technologies nor their business models have caught up to what the consumer would like to have. It makes it very hard to predict which models will be the models that will work going forward.”
Standalone streaming services such as HBO GO, DISH’s Sling TV and CBS All Access are game changers and are harbingers of greater innovations to come in content delivery, Fairchild says.
Affiliate owners need to be on the lookout for online services that might emerge to supplant the local news business in the same way that sites such as eBay, Craigslist, Monster.com and Match.com stole away the newspaper industry’s revenue stream for classified ads and personal ads, he says.
As for local affiliates being the sole suppliers of network content, CBS All Access already threatens that model, though the Supreme Court’s ruling last year against online video provider Aero prohibits online broadcasting of network TV shows by third parties without the consent of the television networks. Fairchild points out, however, that after Napster was put out of business for making copyrighted music available for free, Apple stepped into the void and rewrote the entire industry model for music sales and pricing. Similar online delivery of network television content, he says, could mean that local affiliates will have less bargaining power with network television content providers in the future if more and more consumers seek content from alternative sources.
Last summer, CBS pulled its network affiliation from WISH-TV in Indianapolis and switched to rival station WTTV after a dispute over how much of a share the network would get from the retransmission fees WISH receives from cable providers. Media General was already in negotiations to buy WISH’s parent company, LIN Media, and dropped its buying price by more than $100 million in part due to the CBS dispute.
Nevertheless, for the next several years at least, all the speculation may be much ado about nothing.
For one thing, those cable retransmission fees remain a growing, stable and important revenue stream for network affiliates. Though the law allowing retransmission fee was passed in 1992, stations didn’t start demanding the fees from cable providers until the mid-2000s.
Advertising still makes up the lion’s share of earnings for local TV stations, but the retransmission fees now make up about 20 to 25 percent of the stations’ revenues, a figure that continues to increase, says Justin Nielson, a senior research analyst with SNL Kagan. (Battles between cable providers and networks over these retransmission fees have resulted in high-profile showdowns and channel “blackouts.”)
Gannett’s retransmission fees jumped 67 percent last year, Gannett CEO Gracia Martore noted in September at Goldman Sachs’ Communacopia conference, though she added that there still remains a gap between the value of the content provided by network affiliates and the amount cable providers are willing to pay for it.
Also, points out Nielson, the SNL Kagan analyst, local stations are awaiting a cash bonanza in 2016 when the FCC will allow stations to auction unused spectrum bandwidth to wireless telecommunications providers.
Political advertising remains a major revenue stream for local stations. In an October earnings call, Martore said that “for the foreseeable future [politicians] will continue to be highly dependent on broadcast television to get elected.”
Furthermore, people who watch TV shows the traditional way, on a television and during the timeslots when the shows air, remain the dominant demographic for viewership. In 2014, the average American viewer watched 4 hours and 32 minutes of live television daily, according to Nielsen ratings data. That was down just slightly from 4 hours and 44 minutes in 2013. (Time-shifted DVR viewing largely made up the difference, Nielsen concluded.) Broadcast network television viewership ratings also consistently dwarf competing content from cable networks.
TV shows and live sporting events, awards shows, musicals and reality competitions are driving factors keeping timeslot network television viewership strong, Wharton says. Cord cutters usually can’t purchase television shows online until at least a day or two after the shows have aired, and that can make you feel alienated around the office water cooler, he says.
And in poorer areas where residents generally can’t afford a monthly cable subscription, HD antennas drive viewership of local affiliates as well as the affiliates’ additional digital broadcast channels, which can include content such as the popular African-American network Bounce TV, Wharton adds.
Additionally, social media has been a huge boon for live television viewership. “Twitter is probably one of the greatest inventions for live, local network broadcasters because of the amount of conversation and dialogue that’s going on during shows, whether it’s snarky comments during the Emmy Awards or the Grammys or just TV shows like ‘The Good Wife’,” Wharton says.
Also, he adds, locally generated news and weather reports remain a vital service to viewers that online-only distributors can’t offer. “Compelling content will always rule the day and there is demand. Particularly in a weather or emergency situation, there’s no substitute for local broadcasting.” For instance, when Buffalo, N.Y., was hit by a major snowstorm last November, local news viewership rose to the level of NFL football game ratings. (Gannett and Media General both own stations in that market.)
At least for the near future, local network affiliates aren’t going anywhere.
“We feel really good about the way each of our businesses is positioned amid today's increasingly digital media landscape,” Martore said in September. “Clearly our publishing and broadcasting businesses are buttressed by strong digital strategies. The needs and preferences of our readers and viewers may be changing, but we have used that dynamic to our advantage as we have developed and continue to develop new and innovative ways to reach them.”
Says Homonoff: “Media companies … have to continue to aggressively invest in their online and mobile presence [but] even though there are different platforms to get local media, people still know the names of their local media providers and people still care about the local news and events in their own communities and the local broadcaster has to continue to be the key player in that local media marketplace and that’s a business I think has growth potential.”2015-03-01T11:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/INTERVIEW_Leopold2.pngDiane G. Leopold Photo by Jay Paul
Adventure on and off the job
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/adventure-on-and-off-the-job#When:11:00:00ZDiane Leopold says she landed her first job in the energy industry as a power plant engineer “because of my willingness to climb the stacks.” A petite woman who barely tops five feet, Leopold had no problem scrambling up 500-foot-tall smokestacks during plant inspections.
Heights apparently didn’t bother Leopold, an avid skydiver at the time. Much scarier to her was crawling into tunnels to check water intake into a power station.
Leopold got her start 25 years ago as the first female power plant engineer at Potomac Electric Power Co. (PEPCO), just outside Washington, D.C. Today, she’s president of Dominion Energy for Dominion Resources Inc., one of the country’s largest energy producers.
Leopold oversees Dominion’s natural-gas transmission, storage and liquefaction operations. “The easy way to think about it is everything that’s natural-gas infrastructure,” she explains.
Described by some of her colleagues as “a rising star,” she’s the executive quoted on Dominion deals like a recent $400 million contract with a Pennsylvania mill to produce pipe for a possible 550-mile natural gas pipeline. Like other energy companies, Dominion is making large investments in natural gas. It’s taking advantage of new supplies to generate electricity that will replace energy from coal-fired power stations that are being shuttered in response to more stringent federal clean air rules.
Leopold also took charge of Dominion’s successful application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to build the East Coast’s first natural-gas liquefaction plant at its Cove Point facility in Calvert County, Md. The $3.8 billion project, which would allow Dominion to export liquefied natural gas, drew strong opposition from environmentalists much like a new project Dominion and other companies are proposing for Virginia: the $5 billion, 554-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
While the pipeline enjoys support from politicians and economic development groups, Leopold has been getting an earful at town meetings across the state. Some property owners have filed suit to keep pipeline surveyors off their land. To gain access, Dominion officials expect to file lawsuits against 240 Virginians, because state law allows natural gas utilities to survey without landowner permission.
Meanwhile, environmental groups have raised a host of issues from concern about local water supplies to the marring of Virginia’s highest ridges and forests. They are especially worried about an increase in hydraulic fracturing, a process that involves drilling and injecting water and other fluids underground at high pressure to release oil and natural gas from rock formations.
Based on citizen feedback and field tests so far, Leopold says, Dominion has rerouted some of the pipeline. “We’re part of the community, so, of course, we care and wish we could make everybody happy,” she says.
Yet, she sees many benefits. “This pipeline is coming to serve very critical needs of the customers — the customers being the local gas distribution companies and the electric utilities of Virginia and North Carolina. The natural gas that is so plentiful right now in the regions around Southwest Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio is needed for reliability, stability and economic development of the regions of Virginia and Carolina. And there isn’t a way of having it magically appear without a pipeline to get there.”
Shepherding along controversial projects is a high-pressure job. Recently remarried, Leopold is the mother of a blended family with five children ages 10 to 20.
So how does she relax and juggle all her responsibilities?
“I go to the gym nearly every day,” says Leopold. She’s also been known to occasionally rappel off office buildings to help raise funds for worthy causes. Last May, while wearing a harness, she rappelled down 20 stories of the Eighth and
Main building in downtown Richmond, where she works on the 19th floor, to raise money for the United Way.
Her other hobby is adventure travel. “I’ve rappelled down waterfalls, down cliffs. I love being out in nature. … That’s what really keeps my stress levels in check.” One of her all-time favorite adventure vacations was climbing Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro, one of the world’s tallest mountains at 19,341 feet. That was in 1993, “before kids,” she says.
Leopold has taken her two teenage children on adventure trips, and now has more partners for outdoor fun. “Last summer we went to Utah. I took the three stepkids on their first adventure trip. My kids were used to it.”
Leopold earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical and electrical engineering from the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom. She received a master’s degree in electrical engineering (energy conversion, power and transmission) from George Washington University and an MBA from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Virginia Business interviewed Leopold at her office. An edited transcript of the interview follows:
Virginia Business: You have an engineering background. What led you to the energy industry?
Leopold: I started in high school. I wanted to be a recording engineer, music engineer. I actually started in that, and I very quickly realized that my talents were not in music, but I loved the engineering. So I started as an engineering major. My undergraduate work was in England at the University of Sussex.
VB: Why did you go there?
Leopold: I went as an exchange student over a summer between 10th and 11th grade, and I just fell in love with it. I came home saying, “Mom, Dad, I want to move to England.” They said, “You set up an education, raise the money and you can go.” In my junior year, I held three jobs in high school and raised enough for a year’s worth of tuition to bridge me until getting into college and went over there in my senior year in high school. I came back for one year, and then I transferred over and went through my college years there … I couldn’t decide between electrical and mechanical engineering, and so I double majored in the two. You had a choice of being electrically biased or mechanically bent … you had to choose a focus between the two. So I chose to be mechanically bent, and that’s how I ended up in energy.
VB: Tell us about your key responsibilities as president of Dominion Energy for Dominion Resources.
Leopold: There are three major parts of it. There are distribution assets, which are the natural-gas customers, and that’s in Ohio and West Virginia. We have our natural-gas transmission business, Dominion Transmission, which owns all of our large, interstate pipelines; our natural-gas storage facilities … Our Atlantic Coast Pipeline asset will be a transmission asset. And then our third business is our Midstream business … That’s natural gas processing and gathering as a service for producers that … goes into the interstate pipeline system.
VB: I understand you are the executive overseeing Dominion’s proposed $5 billion, 550-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The project is proving to be controversial in some areas of Virginia. What is the greatest challenge for Dominion and its partners in moving forward?
Leopold: We’re very excited about this project … We have an enormous amount of support. There is some opposition in certain areas, and our focus is to be very transparent and open and follow the process. We’ll continue to do so throughout our permitting and construction and continue to talk with the communities to let everybody know all of the facts behind the project as we proceed.
VB: Some property owners are suing. They are challenging the state law that allows natural-gas companies to come on their private property to survey for potential pipeline routes without landowner permission. Do you expect the lawsuits to delay the timetable for the project?
Leopold: No, we do not expect a delay. It is our obligation as part of the project to determine and prove to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [FERC] that we have assessed the route with the least impacts as a totality. And so we are in that process now and looking at all of the environmental issues, the cultural and historical issues across every piece of land that we may cross. We continue to listen to landowners, to do our survey work and to look at all of the potential options. We have performed a significant amount of rerouting based on the information that we learned through this surveying process where we investigate the land.
VB: So Dominion has proposed some changes based on the feedback you’ve gotten so far?
Leopold: Based on the feedback, but the feedback being going on the ground and actually doing the surveys, and doing the environmental studies and doing the cultural and archaeological resource reports. All that information is filed publicly as part of the resource reports in the FERC process. This is just the pre-filing process for FERC … We will file this summer for an actual application certificate … but as part of that we put forward draft resource reports of our initial studies and conclusions behind it. And then we continuously work to refine those over time. [Based on those reports, Dominion reported nine major route alternatives, 12 route variations and 21 route adjustments as of early January.]
VB: Overall, how many Virginia property owners have allowed Dominion to come on their land to survey for the pipeline?
Leopold: Sixty-five percent or so have granted us permission to survey the property.
VB: Opposition has been particularly fierce in Nelson County where the proposed route covers about 35 miles. Has there been any rerouting there?
Leopold: Not a lot, because only about 30 percent of the landowners have allowed us to come on their property to survey. [Since the interview, Dominion dropped lawsuits against 14 Nelson County landowners, out of a total of 59, whose property was on the original pipeline route but was later removed.]
VB: Taking landowners to court. Do you feel this is harming the image of Dominion or the project?
Leopold: We care very much about the communities that we serve. We’ve been here for over 100 years. We intend to be here for another 100. We live here. We work here. And it matters. We’ve been around other companies who, they build something, and then they leave. That’s not Dominion … We are going to continue to work with all of the landowners. And we will build it with the utmost focus on safety, reliability, environmental excellence to protect the land and the people that is our region. But we are intending to provide a very needed service that also has wonderful benefits. The economic development, the environmental benefits of what this can bring to Virginia and North Carolina are just phenomenal.
VB: So, economic and environmental benefits because natural gas is not as polluting as coal?
Leopold: Exactly. Natural gas is roughly 50 percent of the greenhouse gas and lower in nitrous oxide, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter … But also to provide electric reliability, fuel diversity, supply diversity of natural gas … If you think about just last year with the polar vortex, having so much electric power being dependent upon single sources of supply or single pipelines for the power grid — being able to have that diversity of infrastructure and diversity of supply is important for reliability. And the economic development that is along the entire pipeline route for being able to attract other businesses to come into that area where there just hasn’t been natural gas.
VB: If the court rules in Dominion’s favor, then the company would use eminent domain?
Leopold: No. That gives us the right to do the survey, to be able to assess the resources, the environmental implications of each property … Then you come up with your recommended route that you have to put in your application to FERC. Once you finalize that route, you work with the landowners to try to have the easements granted. It [eminent domain] is only a very last resort … Typically, in over 95 percent or so of the cases, you will get some agreement with the landowner to be able to have the easement granted. [Dominion would only have eminent domain authority if FERC approves the project.]
VB: So you don’t buy the property. You just buy easement rights? I read that about 75-feet of right of way is needed to maintain the pipeline?
Leopold: That’s right.
VB: Does Dominion have a set amount of revenue put aside for the payment of easements? And how much would that be?
Leopold: We have projected costs for all different aspects of the project — for the pipe, for the land. We don’t typically break it down …
VB: Would easement costs be one of your larger costs, smaller costs?
Leopold: It’s a significant cost. It’s a large project, and there is a lot of land. [In Virginia, there are about 3,400 parcels of land along the route owned by nearly 3,000 landowners.]
VB: Environment groups are concerned about the project going through some of the state’s highlands and mountain forests. Any response you’d like to make to these concerns?
Leopold: As I said before, we care very much about protecting the land ourselves. There are many pipelines that cross these mountains today. And the natural-gas pipelines, because they’re buried, people don’t realize how many of them there are that operate very safely and without environmental impacts throughout the country. I think there are 2½ times the number of natural gas pipelines in Virginia as interstate highways. We work with the fish and wildlife agencies. We work with the EPA and the state environmental authorities in all of the states … An entire environmental impact study is filed as part of the FERC application process.
VB: Doesn’t FERC also come out with its own environmental impact statement?
VB: What is the timetable for FERC’s environmental study?
Leopold: We submit our application this summer. As part of getting a FERC certificate, it typically takes in the 9- to 12-month time-frame. After you submit that an environmental impact statement is issued by FERC. If they believe there is a significant environmental impact; then they would not issue a certificate. It would be our obligation to mitigate whatever environmental impacts that would be part of it … Whether it’s water, or air, or habitat — if there are issues raised, then we have to mitigate or we won’t get a certificate. That’s part of the process, and we take it very seriously.
VB: Is Dominion looking at the possibility of using public rights of way or its own transmission easements to lessen the need for using private property for easements?
Leopold: Yes. In fact, part of the FERC process is you would always want to use existing corridors wherever possible … This is a new corridor we’re trying to bring the natural gas from and so it’s fairly limited. Where there are rights of way that could be the same, we look into it to the highest extent possible. It is unfortunately quite small in this case.
VB: You say quite small. How many miles?
Leopold: About 20 miles so far [based on current research.]
VB: The new pipeline would allow 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas to pass through Virginia every day. Would all of that gas be used in Virginia? Would some be sold to clients in other states?
Leopold: Right now the project is over 90 percent subscribed, and we’re in negotiations for the remainder of it. All of our customers are customers of Virginia or North Carolina. They are the electric and gas utilities of both states … Dominion [and its partners] build the natural-gas pipeline. We don’t buy the natural gas. The customers are Virginia Natural Gas, Virginia Electric and Power Co., Public Service of North Carolina, Duke and Piedmont Natural Gas. They are buying capacity on the pipeline, and then they are going back and purchasing the gas so that they can deliver it for their needs.
VB: So the argument that the project isn’t really going to help Virginia or North Carolina isn’t correct?
Leopold: This pipeline is solely for Virginia/North Carolina.
VB: People relate to power on a personal basis every day. Power has become such a necessity of life.
Leopold: It is, and Virginia has low-price power. Compared to a lot of other parts of the country, if you go up to New England, out in California, you find a much higher cost of power.
VB: And the pipeline will help keep prices low in Virginia?
Leopold: Very much so because right now, the difference between the natural-gas price in the West Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Ohio, Southwest Pennsylvania area — that’s what you saw last year during the polar vortices — it was $2 and $3 there while it was $20, $50 over on the East Coast. Today in the U.S., the lowest-priced natural gas is in that region where Atlantic Coast Pipeline is taking the natural gas from … So the coupling of the low-cost electric prices through the diversity and infrastructure Virginia already has, coupled with the low-price natural gases, is a winning combination.
VB: When you have a project, do you go out to the site? Do you like that part of your job?
Leopold: I love that part of the job.
VB: Tell me about that. Are people surprised when a petite, 5’1” woman comes out? What kind of reaction do you get?
Leopold: Every facility has its own culture, so when you show up at Virginia City (in Wise County), it might be a little bit different than showing up at one of our sites up in New England, or one of our sites in West Virginia. You just get to know everybody on their own terms.
VB: So no one has ever challenged your credibility or your authority?
Leopold: Oh, they have. Down in South America I was at a power station and they said, “We just don’t think you should be here.”
VB: What did you say?
Leopold: “I hear your opinion, but I’m here and hopefully I can show you that I’ll be able to add value.” In each situation, it’s just a little bit different … I certainly don’t get angry at it myself. I take it as an opportunity to be able to show them that they can respect me. And I want to earn their respect.2015-03-01T11:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Buchanan5300.pngNancy Buchanan is executive director of the William & Mary Real Estate Foundation, Photo by Mark Rhodes
No colonial ivory tower
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/no-colonial-ivory-tower#When:11:00:00ZWilliamsburg did not exist in 1693 when England’s King William III and Queen Mary II chartered a “perpetual College of Divinity, Philosophy, Languages, and other good Arts and Sciences” in the Virginia colony. More than 320 years later, the city and the College of William & Mary enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship.
The nation’s second-oldest college (Harvard was founded in 1636), William & Mary is known as one of the nation’s “public ivy” universities, offering a private-college education at a public-school price. Its historic main campus covers 1,200 acres in downtown Williamsburg, with four undergraduate programs offered in Washington, D.C. The university’s Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences (VIMS), one of the nation’s top marine research and education centers, occupies 42 acres in Gloucester Point.
William & Mary enrolls 6,300 undergraduate and 2,100 graduate students and employs more than 2,300 people on its main campus. A 2006 study showed that spending by the university, students, staff, faculty and campus visitors had an economic impact of more than $500 million on the commonwealth. But the university’s financial contributions transcend the numbers, school officials say, with faculty, students and graduates applying their knowledge and skills to a variety of research, business and governmental endeavors.
James R. Golden groups the school’s impact into four categories: students, expenditures and research, connections to the broader business community and civic leadership. “Our biggest technology transfer happens every May when we send out our new graduates,” says Golden, who retired as William & Mary’s vice president for strategic initiatives last August and now serves as a voluntary senior counselor to university President Taylor Reveley. “That’s the heart of what we do, and William & Mary does that extremely well. We really deliver prepared folks who go out and have great careers.”
A valuable recruiting tool
That’s a view shared by local economic development officials who tout the venerable institution to companies considering relocating or expanding in Hampton Roads. Because of William & Mary’s long history as a good school, international companies, especially, “recognize the value of an education at that institution and will relocate their families here,” says Steve Cook, vice president of the Norfolk-based Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance.
The university’s collaboration with Williamsburg and James City and York counties in the Triangle Business Incubator also helps attract new business. The Alan B. Miller Entrepreneurship Center in William & Mary’s Mason School of Business manages the incubator that assists fledgling businesses in getting off the ground. “Assets like that often provide enticement to companies to come to the region,” Cook says. “They see that William & Mary can help them get their business started.”
Cook and his HREDA colleagues make sure businesses touring the region visit the Mason School. “The Mason School of Business is a great school,” Cook adds. “It obviously produces a lot of great graduates. Their influence is drawn across a number of industries.”
Many Mason graduates remain in the region to start their own businesses or work for established companies, while others retire in Williamsburg. That signifies an important connection for the region and the commonwealth, Golden says, noting that William & Mary is the only U.S. school to give MBA students any-time access to an executive mentor. The business school’s Executive Partners Program pairs more than 100 senior business leaders with MBA students. “It’s a real strength to engage them in the life of the university,” he adds. “They enjoy the opportunity to share their expertise, and the students benefit from their guidance and connections.”
Beginning this fall, MBA students will be able to attain their degree online. “We recognize that many students don’t have the time and schedule to participate in a regular program,” Golden says.
Collaborating on economic development activities throughout Hampton Roads benefits the university, as well as businesses and the region as a whole. “We pitch in to help in ways that are pertinent to the university,” says Julie Summs, William & Mary’s director of economic development and business innovation. Students gain career experience interning with local businesses, while fledgling entrepreneurs can obtain advice and support, and faculty and students tackle a variety of research, including marine science, geriatrics, modeling and simulation and bioinformatics.
The university secures more than $50 million annually in sponsored research, including projects with NASA and Jefferson Lab. Last year, Forbes magazine placed William & Mary 22nd among research universities, not bad for an institution without an engineering or medical school. “We are very strong in the basic sciences of physics, biology, chemistry and computer science,” Golden notes. “Our small, but effective Department of Applied Sciences is world class in connections.”
In addition, VIMS provides a unique venue for the school’s economic development endeavors. Researchers meet quarterly with industry leaders to discuss their work, including efforts to develop disease-resistant, fast-growing oysters and innovations in measuring small concentrations of contaminants in the Chesapeake Bay. “VIMS does a lot of sponsored research and develops potential connections with the private sector, which lead to significant corporate investments,” Golden says.
Two years ago, the university received the largest single financial award in its history in the form of a $25 million, five-year grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development to track more than $5.5 trillion in foreign aid. Faculty and student research led to the development of AidData, the largest database of international investments by world governments. “AidData makes detailed information about more than one million aid distribution projects more accessible to a variety of stakeholders.” Summs says. “It creates the tools to allow people to target, deliver and evaluate aid.”
Getting university research into the public domain falls under the Technology Transfer Office. “We’re not a big research university, but a lot of very good research goes on here,” says Jason McDevitt, president of the William & Mary Intellectual Fund and director of the Technology Transfer Office, which licenses research findings to companies to use in commercialized ventures. “We want to use it to benefit the economy.”
Startups are particularly attractive, McDevitt adds. “We like to do startups because there are additional economic benefits. For example, professionals looking to start companies in computer software can provide jobs for recent graduates where they wouldn’t have to leave the area.”
That was the case with Vertical Carbon Technologies, a Newport News startup founded by William & Mary doctoral graduate Xin Zhao, who is using university research on graphene (pure carbon in the form of a thin sheet) to improve energy density in batteries. “They’re doing well and making progress in developing new materials,” McDevitt says.
Researchers also worked with Mobjack Binnacle Products of Richmond to develop biodegradable escape panels for sunken fishing traps that can no longer be used for fishing but still deplete the marine population. “The traps land at the bottom of the water, capturing sea animals that won’t be harvested,” McDevitt explains. “The biodegradable panel lasts during the fishing season and breaks down after the fisherman’s use is done, allowing unwanted animals caught in the trap to escape.”
William & Mary’s business innovation program, launched in late 2013, aims to make the university more financially self-sufficient in an era of diminishing public funding. The program looks for cost-effective ways to promote innovation in business processes, find new revenue sources and redistribute funds to the school’s top priorities. “We want to do our part to make sure we spend the dollars we have in the best way possible and make sure we are the most effective, efficient and organized business operation we can be,” Summs says.
The initiative includes signing onto projects that enhance the university’s financial status while meeting student needs. In 2000, the nonprofit William & Mary Foundation partnered with C.C. Casey Limited Co. to develop 365 acres adjacent to the west end of campus into a mixed-used, urban community called New Town. Today, New Town has a variety of homes, more than 170 shops and restaurants and Discovery Business Park, which offers office sites where firms can collaborate on research and development with William & Mary faculty and students. “I definitely think it’s a draw for both residents and tourists,” Summs says. “Our employees are patrons of the shops, restaurants and services.”
A student-focused development with apartments and restaurants opened in 2011 as Tribe Square. A student survey had indicated a lack of off-campus retail and dining establishments for students. “Students felt that the academics here were wonderful, but they needed more things to do,” says Nancy Buchanan, executive director of the William & Mary Real Estate Foundation, which developed Tribe Square. “The restaurants were built to satisfy that need, and it made a lot of sense to add housing and maximize the use of the property.”
Developments like Tribe Square and New Town, along with companies that market university research and a steady stream of new graduates can provide leverage for Williamsburg to capitalize on its position at the center of a Hampton Roads-Richmond mega-region. “We’re halfway between Richmond and Norfolk and can actively promote a conversation of how these two regions can work together more effectively in areas like transportation and economic diversification,” Golden says. “We want to convince people that this is a great place to come and do business.”2015-03-01T11:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/CUBA_APPLES.pngIna Ramirez inspects apples at Glaize Apples in Winchester, which exports to many countries.
Seeds of hope
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/seeds-of-hope#When:11:00:00ZOf all the changes to official U.S. relations with Havana that President Barack Obama announced in December, Virginia’s Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore thinks the new power of U.S. banks to deal directly with their Cuban counterparts may be the most important to boost the state’s level of farm exports to the island nation.
Nearly 15 years ago, the George W. Bush administration relaxed portions of the 55-year-old American trade embargo against Cuba to allow tightly regulated exports of U.S. food and farm products. U.S. agribusiness companies, however, have been forced to use third-party banks — usually based in Canada or Europe — to act as financial intermediaries on these exports.
For many potential exporters in Virginia, fees charged by these foreign banks made the overall cost of selling products in Cuba unprofitable, Haymore says.
“The biggest removal of a barrier to entry [to Cuba], in my opinion, is that financial institutions in the United States will now have direct banking ties with Cuban banks in order to facilitate financial transactions as it relates to exports,” Haymore says. Under the current system, “the only winner is that third-party bank in Europe or Canada.”
Haymore describes the third-party bank fees as “another transaction that adds no value to the crop or the commodity, yet it adds a cost to the crop or commodity. I can’t put a dollar figure on it, but it makes products from Virginia and the United States a little more expensive than a similar crop coming from another country that has the ability to [do] direct banking with Cuba. That one issue alone will help facilitate new sales of products between Virginia and Cuba.”
Haymore says some agribusinesses have told him point blank they were interested in exporting to Cuba, but “having to deal with a third-party bank in Europe or someplace else takes them out of the equation.” He says owners of Virginia companies that have been sitting on the sidelines with regard to Cuba have told him they will begin exporting if the two nations’ banks can pay each other directly.
Focus on food staples
If anyone in Virginia is an expert on trade with Cuba, it’s Haymore. He was named secretary of agriculture and forestry first by former Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell in January 2010 and then reappointed by Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe last year. Before being elevated to a Cabinet post five years ago, Haymore had headed the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services under former Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine for nearly 2½ years.
During the past seven years, Haymore has made regular trips to Cuba for its annual international trade show. Every year at the November event, Havana seeks to match the products offered by private companies around the world with the annual shopping lists drawn up for bids by Cuban procurement agencies.
While attending the event, U.S. food producers and government representatives like Haymore try to meet with officials from Alimport and other Cuban agencies charged with importing between 80 and 90 percent of all the food consumed there.
In his last visit, Haymore says, Cuban officials told him once again that their nation’s continued economic difficulties will limit the total amount and variety of the country’s foreign purchases.
“They told us in November they were focusing more on the staples, the essentials for life,” Haymore reports. “From Virginia, that means soybeans. It’s a staple there. It’s an animal feed product that’s used first for animal consumption and eventually for human consumption. They’re able to afford only the necessities of life. An apple … would not be considered a staple.”
Shipments began in 2003
U.S. and Virginia agribusinesses began shipping products through the commonwealth’s seaports to Cuba in 2003, according to Haymore. Exports surged steadily from $838,000 worth of apples, pork and poultry meat that first year to almost $26 million of soybeans, processed soy products and poultry in 2006. In 2009, just before the onset of a global recession, $57 million of pork, poultry, apples, soybeans and processed soy products were sent to Cuba.
After plunging to about $32 million in 2010, the total of farm products shipped through Hampton Roads to Cuba rebounded impressively to almost $64 million in 2011 and rose again to $65.6 million in 2012.
Unfortunately in 2013, Havana’s tightening focus on essential food staples meant that only $38.4 million of soybeans and processed soy meal were shipped from Virginia, according to Haymore. Export data for 2014 had not been released by the time this article went to press.
Almost all of Virginia’s soy exports come from Perdue Agribusiness based in Salisbury, Md. It’s the grain division of the privately held poultry giant, Perdue Farms Inc. The company buys soybeans from farmers all over the mid-Atlantic region, not just Virginia, according to Julie De­Young, a company spokeswoman.
In an email, DeYoung said Perdue Agribusiness sends one vessel a month of loose soybeans to Cuba, “plus an occasional vessel of high protein soybean meal.” She declined to disclose how large those shipments are in tons or how much they are worth in dollars.
DeYoung said the Perdue Foods division hasn’t sold poultry products to Cuba since 2006, because the nation “is a very price-driven market which isn’t a good match with our premium market position.”
In the near term, said DeYoung, “We expect it will continue to be a price-driven market so don’t anticipate it being a focus for us in the near future. We will of course continue to monitor and will review the opportunity if the market changes down the road.”
Haymore says he and his staff will be watching developments in the Cuban economy in the coming months as well as any moves in the U.S. Congress to either further liberalize terms of the U.S. economic embargo with Cuba or tighten them. In the meantime, he wants to protect Virginia’s current share of U.S. farm exports to Cuba.
“We first and foremost want to grow the commodities we send down there already,” says Haymore. “We will work diligently to ensure Virginia first holds its own and then grows the amount of what we sell, especially soybeans. Then we want to get back to apple exports … Perhaps the same situation with poultry and pork … You want to be sure you keep what you’ve got and you grow what you’ve got and find ways to get new products in there, and that’s what we’ll be doing.”2015-03-01T11:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/COVER_Open.pngGov. Terry McAuliffe holds a roundtable discussion on economic and workforce development at Danville Community College.
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/workforce-worries#When:11:00:00ZGov. Terry McAuliffe wants to train an extra 50,000 people in high-demand jobs skills by the end of his term, a feat he believes will make the commonwealth more attractive to growing businesses.
By comparison, just over 53,000 workforce credentials were awarded last year in Virginia in the STEM-H (science, technology, electronics, math and health) skill sets the governor is targeting.
Maurice Jones, McAuliffe’s secretary of commerce and trade, calls the governor’s goal audacious. “I think having that out in front of everybody is really going to be the catalyst for us,” Jones says.
Maybe not so much a catalyst as a kick in the butt, because Virginia is apparently not as good as it could be at workforce training. A 159-page report released in December by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission finds that Virginia’s training programs can be difficult to use and sometimes don’t offer lessons in the job skills that employers need.
Some programs are underused and poorly marketed. Only 16 percent of the employers polled by JLARC reported using any of the public workforce development services. Many instead used private-sector temp agencies.
McAuliffe, though, ever the state’s hyper-salesman, acted way ahead of the JLARC study’s public release, proposing changes to the state’s workforce programs last summer under his New Virginia Economy Strategic Plan. The question now is: Will the administration’s sweeping makeover succeed?
The JLARC report
The JLARC team surveyed 120 local chambers of commerce, 17 employer associations and 15 regional workforce boards. It also held focus-group interviews in five areas of the commonwealth. There’s a lot of dissatisfaction out there.
Employers find the state’s workforce programs “complex and disjointed,” according to the report. Career and technical education (CTE) programs offered in high schools and community colleges put an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) classes, which are in demand. But only 3 percent of high school CTE courses statewide are in the health sciences, a field that represented nearly a fifth of job openings in 2013, the latest year data was available for the study.
Plus, Virginia’s apprenticeship program is underused, and its management is split between the Department of Labor and Industry and the Virginia Community College System. In fact, management of the various programs is poorly handled, according to JLARC, largely because no single body has authority over workforce training. The Virginia Board of Workforce Development “does not have sufficient statutory authority” to manage the various programs that make up workforce development in Virginia. In short, nobody’s in charge.
Even figuring out how well the workforce programs work is a challenge because many of them fail to measure things such as employer satisfaction with employees’ training. Tracey Smith, who led the JLARC staff that produced the report, says Virginia’s workforce programs have suffered from “a lack of clear leadership” and an inconsistent approach to dialogue between businesses and the state and local entities that are supposed to provide training. Some regions do better at this than others, she says. “There’s no forum on a regular basis for them to talk,” she says. “This can’t be successful without the business community’s input.”
The governor’s plan
Jones, who is McAuliffe’s point man on this issue, says changes already are underway — both in what the administration can do on its own and in General Assembly legislation. He cited a few executive branch initiatives — one that would consolidate the apprenticeship program under the Department of Labor and Industry. “Right now, we basically have the program run through two different agencies, community colleges and the Department of Labor. If you’re a business … you have to get approval from both departments. That takes more time and makes it less attractive,” Jones says.
The governor’s plan also calls for shifting some of the federal dollars the state gets for workforce training toward the certifications that businesses want. Jones says the governor proposes to “reprogram” $3.4 million “to make sure that money goes into training and education leading to certification. That’s going to be a huge change,” he says.
The administration also is supporting efforts to revamp the Virginia Board of Workforce Development. A bill introduced in this year’s legislative session by state Sen. Frank Ruff, R-Clarksville, would require quarterly meetings and the hiring of an executive director who would be supervised by the governor’s chief workforce development adviser — Jones, the secretary of commerce and trade. The bill also would require annual reports on the performance, measured against state-level metrics established by the adviser, of the state’s career and technical education and workforce development programs. It would also mandate regular collaboration between the Virginia Employment Commission and the Virginia Community College System. Ruff’s legislation and a nearly identical version in the House of Delegates were both approved in early February without any opposition. (The legislative session had not ended when this issue went to press.)
That bill is aimed at one of the major issues identified by the JLARC report — the state doesn’t have a single entity in charge. Even Jones’ description of the state’s current approach to workforce training emphasizes how disconnected it is despite the millions of dollars being pumped in from mostly federal sources. “Some of the changes we’re going to make are going to require some pain,” he says. “We need to make it more business driven, we have to have a system that’s actually producing the talent that businesses demand,” he says.
Community colleges’ role
Another piece of legislation backed by McAuliffe and the VCCS is another Ruff-sponsored bill to create a community college training grant program that would give schools $1,000 for each student who completes a noncredit training program at the school and then gets an industry-recognized certification or license in a high-demand field in the region served by the college. In testimony to the Senate Finance Committee’s education subcommittee in late January, Glenn DuBois, chancellor of the VCCS, called that bill “a game-changer proposal that directly links pay for performance.”
DuBois credited the JLARC study for putting a focus on the workforce issues, even though a VCCS spokesman earlier this year criticized part of the report, saying it gave inaccurate information about what community colleges offer. The VCCS was seeking $7 million in this year’s budget for the new grant program, and DuBois says it could produce up to 7,500 new credentials. The noncredit training that would produce those credentials currently is not funded by the state. The VCCS-backed legislation would provide $1 million in need-based financial aid for students pursuing those credentials.
McAuliffe supports the training grant bill, and Ruff expected it to pass the House, too. The same bill passed the Senate last year with unanimous support, but was left in a House committee until the JLARC report was done, he says. “That study confirmed much of the problem that I was trying to address,” he says. “I believe we should be successful this year.”
McAuliffe already is trying the cash-incentive approach with community colleges. A program announced in December puts up $500,000 in direct incentives for seven colleges. For every student with an industry-recognized certification the schools deliver, they will get $1,000.
The participating schools are the Blue Ridge Community College, Germanna Community College, Thomas Nelson Community College, Virginia Western Community College and the three schools that make up Southern VA Works — Danville Community College, Patrick Henry Community College and Southside Virginia Community College.
Some of the high-demand credentials cited include project management, and welding certificates and a commercial driver’s license. Those are the kinds of courses that community colleges already offer, says David A. Sam, president of Germanna Community College, which has locations in the Fredericksburg region. He says the school will use the new money to expand its capacity and hire more trainers.
Both the proposed grant program and the state-level oversight of how workforce training is provided could help even out the offerings available around the state. That was one main criticism from the JLARC report, that the kinds of courses offered and the connection to what businesses really want was uneven, with some regions better than others.
Community colleges and high schools use advisory committees to get advice on what courses to offer, but, according to the JLARC study, “the quality of their contributions varies greatly. Advisory committees do not meet regularly in all regions and are not always composed of employers.”
Germanna has a lot of employer contact, Sam says, with advisory committees for all of the career and technical programs. He also has a committee of local CEOs who advise him directly. The school holds an annual meeting to discuss local job trends and find out how its graduates are doing. Sam is skeptical of JLARC’s criticisms of how some schools connect with local businesses. “I’m not sure what problem they’re trying to solve there,” he says. “If some of my fellow presidents aren’t doing that, I’d be surprised.”
The renewed attention on how schools deliver job training is a good thing, but he’s wary on that point, too. “One of my concerns about the JLARC report is, if it means increased bureaucracy, that doesn’t really help. If it means better coordination, where you don’t have too many chefs trying to make the stew, then that’s good.”
Coordination between agencies
There are already a lot of chefs, though, and the JLARC report emphasizes that they don’t always work well together. For example, the state’s one-stop workforce centers, managed by the Virginia Board of Workforce Development, give people around the state a place to get help finding a job or learning about career training options. Yet about a third of the centers have little or no staff representation from the Virginia Employment Commission. So, people who go to a VEC office might not find out about available options in skills training and education.
Another big problem is the lack of information about what happens to students after they leave community college or other training programs. “That’s been a challenge for as long as I’ve been in the business,” says Sam at Germanna Community College. “When they go out into the job market, we need to know: Did they pass a certification or licensure test? We need to know how well they’re doing on the job,” he says. Community colleges try to survey employers, but Sam says they get “minimal responses.” Improving this feedback loop is part of McAuliffe’s plan.
For people on the front lines, improving the way Virginia provides workforce training and education will take more than just reorganization. At the Danville Public Schools Adult & Career Education Center, for example, managers know what employers want; they just can’t afford to provide it. “One of the biggest issues, I hate to say it, is the lack of resources,” says Jackie Rochford, the center’s program coordinator. The Danville region has one of the highest unemployment rates in the commonwealth so it needs the jobs that workforce training could bring more than most. “We’ve been in a situation where … adding programs has been impossible,” Rochford says. One program that local employers want, for example, is precision machining. “It’s a very expensive program” and the city of Danville would have to come up with half the cost, she says. It’s possible that program will be added in 2016 if the city can obtain funding, she says. Danville Community College already has a precision machining program, but its classes are usually full, so Rochford’s students can’t get in.
Plus, Rochford says that, in high unemployment regions like Southern Virginia, students who complete job training tend to go elsewhere, often to employers in North Carolina. Local companies who need these workers often can’t pay as much as companies elsewhere. “That’s a Catch-22 when you talk about a region like ours,” she says. “If we train them in the high-tech areas, those jobs aren’t here.”
In other parts of the state, there might be some challenge in recruiting people to seek the job training McAuliffe wants. Statewide unemployment just dropped to 4.8 percent, so many people won’t feel the same pressure to retrain. Some of the state’s most populated regions, in fact, have jobless rates well below the state average. Jones, though, thinks a lot of people are underemployed, working part-time jobs or jobs that don’t pay well enough. As for funding, Jones says the main focus of McAuliffe’s approach is wise spending of the dollars it has. “We’ve got to make sure we’re using it in a strategic and targeted way,” he says.
According to figures that McAuliffe and Jones frequently cite, by 2022 there will be about 500,000 new jobs in Virginia in addition to vacancies created by the retirement of current workers. Many of those positions will be in scientific, technical and health-care fields. Not everybody needs a four-year degree, Jones says, but almost every worker will need some kind of post-secondary education or workforce credentials. If this revamping of the state’s job-training program succeeds, it will be a powerful recruiting tool. If it stumbles, the state’s attempt to move away from being too dependent on federal spending won’t work so well, and Virginia’s economy will suffer.
Jones acknowledges that going back to school or studying for an industry certification takes time and money, and there’s a risk that a job might not be waiting. Yet for both job seekers and the state, “the bigger risk is to not be prepared.”2015-03-01T11:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Bernie5169.pngPhoto by Mark Rhodes
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/march-madness#When:11:00:00ZWelcome to The Big Book, Virginia Business’ annual compendium of list makers — who’s influential, who’s on the move and who’s well connected — generally speaking, the people, companies and organizations that are doing big things across Virginia.
The Big Book is always our biggest annual issue; just about everyone likes making or reading lists. Our editors have been working madly for months, especially toiling over this year’s list of the 50 Most Influential Virginians. If you don’t see your favorite politician or university president on the list — don’t worry; we’ve excluded them to keep from crowding out other business and community leaders. If you’re not sure we have the right 50, what can I say? We did our best, and there’s always next year.
The Big Book is also a great source book. Check out our lists of largest public companies, private companies, law firms, accounting firms and contractors; fastest-growing firms; public and private colleges and universities; and on and on. Throughout the year, people tell us this information helps their organizations with a wide range of sales efforts and development activities.
On March 12, we’ll celebrate the publication of this year’s Big Book with our annual Big Ball at The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond. Each year this black-tie-optional event draws many of the who’s who from our lists.
The theme of this year’s Big Ball is March Madness. Many Virginia schools were competing at or near the top of their basketball conference standings in mid-February, giving their alumni hope for a possible appearance in the NCAA Tournament in March. Throw some school colors into your formal wear and come ready for fun. Our sponsors, Williams Mullen, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Dominion as well as our nonprofit partner, The Virginia Early Childhood Foundation, make this event possible. Want to be a part of the party? Give us a call to check on tickets.
Sports madness? Lately, I’ve experienced a little myself. I recently developed a serious nagging wrist pain playing tennis. My doctor prescribed an anti-inflammatory, but the pharmacy needed a “pre-authorization” that could take a week to get.
Not wanting to endure another week of pain, I asked how much it would cost to fill without insurance. The clerk came back with an incredible answer: $1,020 for a 30-day supply! Then, more calls to the insurer, an “exception,” and a co-pay price of $50. Health care, now that’s some madness!
It seems there’s always more than enough madness to go around. Take a look at history — from the Emperor Caesar’s assassination on the Ides of March, to the madness of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, to beat-generation poet Allen Ginsberg’s, “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness…”
The potential for madness runs rampant in Virginia politics. Just look at how quickly the spotlight for scandal, alleged or otherwise, shifted from Republican Bob McDonnell to Democrat Joe Morrissey. Perhaps sadness is a better descriptor than madness — both cases, very sad.
This year was a short session for the General Assembly. The official calendar ended on the last day of February, and the veto session reconvenes mid-April. It’s common for a couple of days of early March madness to be required to get the state’s budget passed.
Despite the short session, we’ve seen a perennial set of “brochure bills” blossoming. These are designed to score points with voters in both parties on polarizing issues such as gun rights, health care, gay rights, the environment, immigration and taxes.
Rarely do such bills make it out of committee, even more rarely do they pass both the House and the Senate, but they are seen as especially important with all of Virginia’s legislators coming up for re-election this year. Brochure bills fire up the electoral base in both parties by reminding voters of their likes and dislikes. This year’s session will undoubtedly score some points, but it’s unlikely to move the ball very far downfield. Now there’s some madness!
Oh, but I digress! Yes, it was a mad rush to put this issue of the magazine together, and we hope that you enjoy our Big Book. We also hope that you will join us for The Big Ball. I’ll be adding a bit of tartan flair to my tuxedo, representing Macalester College. I’m not sure where Mac stands in basketball, but when I was a student they started what became an NCAA all-Division record for losses at football — 50 consecutive games lost over five straight years. As I’ve often said in this column, I’m hopeful we can do better.2015-03-01T11:00:00+00:00
Followups - March 2015
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/followups-march-2015#When:11:00:00ZTobacco Commission rescinds grant for medical school
The Virginia To­­bacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission has rescinded the remaining $19 million of a grant originally made in 2009 to help in starting a medical school in Southwest Virginia.
The Bristol Herald Courier reported in January that the organization currently overseeing the project, the Alliance for Rural Health, has been invited to reapply for funding at a later date.
The original $25 million grant was made in 2009 to help Bristol, Tenn.-based King University establish a medical school in Abingdon. Plans for a medical school, however, later were dropped and the project focused instead on creating a health training center in Abingdon.
The Alliance for Rural Health has brought together a group of institutions to educate physicians and other health-care professionals. Its partners include the Virginia Community College System, Emory & Henry College, East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine, the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine and Mountain State Health Alliance.
As the project changed, the $25 million grant was reduced to $20 million with $1 million available to pay for startup costs.
Virginia Business looked at the evolution of the project in the Southwest Virginia regional report in the January issue.
Virginia Tech to give stipends to its athletes
Virginia Tech announced in January that it will give stipends to its athletes on 22 teams to help pay the full cost of attending college.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that Tech was one of the first universities in the country to make such a move since the NCAA voted 79-1 to expand athletic scholarships to cover incidental expenses in addition to room, board, books and tuition.
Tech will provide a $2,500 stipend for each full scholarship under the plan, which is expected to cost the school $850,000 to $900,000 next year. The school expects about 400 athletes to receive stipends.
The magazine examined the growing debate about compensation of college athletes in a story in the June 2014 issue.
Liberty’s economicimpact in Lynchburg
A study commissioned by Liberty University found that it had an economic impact of $1 billion in the Lynchburg area during the 2013-14 fiscal year.
The News & Advance in Lynchburg reported that the study found that the school was responsible for supporting 1 in 5 jobs in the area.
Virginia Business looked at the influence of the university on the Lynchburg region’s economy in a January community profile.2015-03-01T11:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/IMG_8535.pngNew welding program at Blue Ridge Community College.
Forming a bond
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/forming-a-bond#When:11:00:00ZWhen it comes to economic development outreach in the Shenandoah Valley, Blue Ridge Community College has a permanent seat at the table. Blue Ridge’s professional course offerings, licensure and certification programs, and custom training for businesses are designed to help meet the workforce needs of a variety of prospective employers.
“For companies looking at a particular region, workforce is often their No. 1 concern,” says BRCC President John Downey, a member of the board of directors of the Shenandoah Valley Partnership. “We have a history of working with companies to start programs that meet specific industry needs.”
In the case of Provides Metal­meccanica, an Italian manufacturer and supplier of heat exchangers for HVAC companies worldwide, Blue Ridge’s new 4,000-square-foot welding center, which opened in March off Interstate 81 in Mount Crawford, helped the company recruit workers for its first U.S. operation, in Augusta County.
“Welding is a huge need for this company,” says Amanda Glover, director of economic development in Augusta County. “Provides will be looking for ASME-certified welders — not just entry-level welders, but those who either have certification already or can easily get that certification. That’s very important to them.” (ASME, which was founded as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, is a New York-based standards organization.)
The college’s noncredit welding program offers courses in basic welding, intermediate welding and pipe welding and prepares graduates to earn industry certification. In response to the needs of Provides as well as a growing number of companies in the area, the BRCC welding center has added instructors and is offering additional sections of courses. Classes are taught twice a week in the morning, afternoon and evening. At any one time, there are approximately 60 people enrolled in the program.
“We’re very fortunate in the valley in that our vocational centers, our colleges and other technical training programs all work very well together,” Downey says. “But despite having some excellent welding programs, companies looked to us to pick up where the others were leaving off.”
In conjunction with BRCC’s Advanced Manufacturing Center, which opened in 2011, Blue Ridge is supplying high-tech companies with the skilled workers they will need for the future. “We feel like between these two buildings we’ll be able to meet the needs of industry here in the valley for many years to come,” Downey says. “Students who are technically trained will be the ones to succeed.”
Provides originated in Italy in 1968 as a company that specialized in the production of metallic office furniture. Between 1973 and 1980, it also specialized in the construction of racks, aluminum telephone booths and stepladders, and finally, in the production of pressurized gas tanks. In 1991, the company branched into the air-conditioning sector, and five years later it designed and manufactured the first series of heat exchangers for HVAC systems. Provides has since become a leader in the heat exchanger sector and expanded into China.
Another factor that led to Provides’ decision to locate in Augusta County was the opportunity to share space with one of its customers, Daikin Applied. The two companies will co-locate in a 40,000-square-foot facility in Verona. “Daikin made this project very easy,” Glover says. “It’s a great example of a private company and the public sector working together with economic development.”
Location was also a selling point. “Being in Verona, at the intersection of Interstates 81 and 64, they’ll be able to get their products to market quickly, whether they want to go north-south or east-west,” Glover said. “That’s a huge advantage.”
In addition, county officials have spent a lot of time connecting Provides with local service providers, including banking, payroll companies and information technology firms — “the whole range of things they need to get up and running,” Glover said.
The deal with Provides — which recently incorporated in Virginia as Provides U.S. Inc. — was largely finalized in November, although Glover said there is still a lot to be done on site in terms of converting the space and completing the initial round of new hires. Provides is expected to begin operating locally in the spring.
“Daikin Applied and Augusta County have worked hard to provide a smooth landing for Provides,” says Larry Willis, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, “and we look forward to supporting the company’s growth in the years to come.”2015-03-01T11:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/SV_amanda_glover.pngAmanda Glover, director of economic development for Augusta County
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/international-impact#When:11:00:00ZIn addition to the standard economic development fare of corporate expansions and relocations, the Shenandoah Valley sampled foreign investment last year.
“International investment is hot right now,” says Amanda Glover, director of economic development for Augusta County, which capitalized on the trend in 2014. “We have a strong network of partners here in the valley.”
In December, Italian manufacturer Provides Metalmeccanica, which makes components for commercial and industrial HVAC systems, announced plans to invest $6.1 million in its first U.S. manufacturing operation in Augusta. Provides (pronounced pro-VEE-dus) will co-locate with the air conditioning company Daikin Applied in a 40,000-square-foot space in Verona. The Provides operation is expected to create 45 jobs.
Provides is a longtime Daikin supplier, and Glover says the opportunity for the companies to share space was a significant incentive. The deal will allow Provides to further develop its business and reduce product time to market for customers in North and South America.
In a statement, Provides CEO Franco Provenziani says Augusta’s strategic location, skilled workforce and competitive energy costs were big factors in its decision to locate in the county. “We also found the local supply base to be capable of supporting all facets of our new operation,” he says.
Augusta marked another international investment in October when DASCOM Americas, which provides business-printing solutions and makes industrial LED lighting, opened its new headquarters in a 20,000-square-foot facility in the county’s Mill Place Commerce Park. The company is part of DASCOM Holdings, a conglomerate based in Hong Kong.
“Our new building is a huge step in our progression in serving the Americas market,” says DASCOM Americas President Ron Acorn. “Mill Place is a great strategic setting for our construction and provides exceptional logistical advantages for us. The facility itself will allow us to consolidate a number of functions to better serve our customers and is indicative of our ownership’s long-term commitment to employees, customers and Augusta County.”
The regional headquarters will house administration, marketing, sales, product management, technical support, assembly, warehousing and shipping.
DASCOM expects the new facility will generate new jobs at other companies in the area, primarily in small-scale manufacturing. Initial plans are to begin assembling some models of the company’s industrial LED lights in Virginia this year.
Also in October, Shamrock Farms opened its new milk plant at Mill Place. Arizona-based Shamrock Farms is one of the largest family-owned and -operated dairies in the U.S. The 130,000-square-foot Augusta processing facility employs 60 people.
Still another addition in the works at Mill Place is Blue Ridge Machine Works, which is relocating from Grottoes. The machine and design business offers contract manufacturing, custom-machined components, prototypes and short-run production machining for a variety of industries.
Construction on the new facility began in the fall, with plans for it to be operational by spring. “We have a great group of professionals working on this project,” says Mike Shelton, the company’s president and CEO.
A Waynesboro company, meanwhile, is expanding its horticulture operation with the help of a state grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund. Bloomaker USA Inc. is tripling the size of its greenhouse, increasing capacity for growing, packing and shipping its patented Long Life Tulips and Amaryllis flowers, which are designed to bloom for four to eight weeks. The company’s $2 million investment is expected to create nearly 100 jobs.
Bloomaker was started in 2010 by a Dutch couple who relocated to Augusta and spent more than a year researching the North American market for fresh flowers. They concluded that customers primarily want three things: instant gratification, convenience and value. The expansion will allow Bloomaker to meet the demands of major retail customers in the U.S. while extending distribution to Canada. The company expects to increase sales from $10 million to more than $25 million annually during the next five years. Bloomaker worked with Columbia Gas to extend a nearby natural-gas line, about a mile away, to the site to heat the greenhouse more efficiently.
The region’s largest corporate investment in 2014 came from McKee Foods Corp., which spent $34 million to boost production at its Stuarts Draft facility. The expansion will create 54 jobs. McKee Foods produces snack cakes and other products for brands such as Little Debbie, Drake’s Cakes, Sunbelt Bakery, Heartland and Fieldstone.
“McKee continues to do well and enjoys a high level of productivity at its Stuarts Draft plant,” Glover says.
Other Augusta-area companies who announced expansion plans in 2014 included Neuman Aluminum USA, Carded Graphics, Houff’s Feed and Fertilizer, NIBCO of Virginia Inc. and Polymer Group in Waynesboro.
All told, the Augusta economic development office reported 11 announcements last year totaling $70 million in investment and 220 new jobs. “It was a great year for us,” Glover says. “And we have a lot of deals still in the pipeline. 2015 looks like another strong year.”
Augusta may be setting the pace in the valley, but it was a Shenandoah County facility that was home to 2014’s biggest jobs announcement.
In May, International Automotive Components Group announced plans to add about 300 positions at its Strasburg plant. The company makes automotive interior components such as instrument panels, door panels, flooring, acoustics and other interior trims for customers such as Nissan, Honda, Hyundai/Kia and Mercedes.
Employment at the IAC Strasburg facility has fluctuated in recent years with the ebb and flow of the automotive industry. However, IAC, which was built from the former global interiors divisions of Lear Corp. and Collins & Aikman, has increased capacity substantially in North America in the past 16 months and is rapidly expanding in India, China and Germany.
North of Shenandoah County, Navy Federal Credit Union achieved an important milestone last year, surpassing 1,000 employees at its Winchester call center. Navy Federal is now the largest private-sector employer in Frederick County and ranks among the top five in the northern Shenandoah Valley.
Since opening in Frederick County in 2006, Navy Federal has expanded its campus footprint twice, most recently completing Building II, which resulted in 400 new jobs. In June, the company began hiring for nearly 100 additional positions. Navy Federal also maintains a branch in Winchester.
“Navy Federal’s growth in the Shenandoah Valley has been a terrific experience,” says Susan Brooks, vice president of the Winchester Operations Center. “This area has the kind of talented people we need to support our mission of serving our growing membership.”
In February, Pactiv, a manufacturer of polystyrene products, announced it will invest $5 million during the next three years in the expansion of its Frederick County facility. The project will enhance Pactiv’s ability to manufacture its GreenGuard products — building products designed to help achieve moisture management and energy efficiency. Pactiv has operated the Frederick plant since acquiring it in 1996 and has 90 employees.
“Manufacturers continue to grow and expand here, providing job opportunities for our residents, bolstering the overall economy and adding further diversity to our local economy,” says Patrick Barker, executive director of the Frederick County Economic Development Authority.
2015-03-01T11:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/003.pngCore Health & Fitness took over Med-Fit Systems’ Independence plant. Photo courtesy Core Fitness LLC
A game-changer for Grayson
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/a-game-changer-for-grayson#When:11:00:00ZLegend has it that Arthur Jones, inventor of workout equipment, exotic animal enthusiast and airplane fanatic, chose the Southwest Virginia town of Independence to manufacture his Nautilus product line because of a chance listing in a plane’s logbook.
Jones had bought a used aircraft and needed a pilot with the correct certification to fly it, says Jon Little. He looked through the logbook from the previous owner and found the name of a pilot.
“The guy certified for that model airplane had lived in Grayson County in [the town of] Independence,” Little says. “Arthur hunted him down and decided to open up a factory in Independence. He felt like the people were great, and it was a great place to open a business.”
That was 1975. Despite changing hands numerous times since then, the factory consistently served as the county’s largest employer. For several weeks, though, it looked like the plant had shut down for good.
Nonetheless, Core Health & Fitness, where Little works as vice president of operations, announced last year it would take over operations, investing $2 million to expand the plant and provide 250 jobs.
Core Health & Fitness includes remnants of the former Nautilus corporate structure that oversaw the Independence plant until 2009, two years after Jones’ death, when the company split up its brands.
Med-Fit Systems bought the Independence plant and the Nautilus commercial brand, while Schwinn Fitness and Stairmaster remained with Core Health & Fitness, which was located in Nautilus Inc.’s longtime home of Vancouver, Wash.
Med-Fit struggled to do more than break even, however, and it closed in April. When it issued its notices for layoffs and+ closure, Core Health & Fitness moved in to acquire the brands and the plant.
“Nautilus had been a leading employer in Grayson County for around 40 years, and so when they closed the doors, it was a real bitter blow, not only economically but to the morale in the county,” says Tom Elliott, executive director of Virginia’s aCorridor, a Southwest Virginia economic development alliance. “For these former Nautilus executives to make the decision to acquire the assets and reopen the facility was really a game-changer.”
Grayson County Administrator Jonathan Sweet worked with the Virginia’s aCorridor, the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission and others to help line up incentives to seal the deal with Core Health & Fitness while also taking care of loose ends from the Med-Fit closing.
That included assisting Med-Fit in continuing operations until the company could be positioned for sale by temporarily deferring principal and interest payments on its economic development loans.
Sweet also worked to line up the incentive package for Core Health & Fitness, which totals $2.7 million, including $1 million from the Tobacco
Commission, $350,000 from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund and $783,200 from an Enterprise Zone Job Creation Grant.
Sweet says the county also “got creative” in shifting Med-Fit’s old incentives to make way for Core Health & Fitness.
“Med-Fit had taken out a tooling loan for a quarter million dollars. We were able to allow Core to assume that note, and we were willing to forgive that assumed note based upon the same jobs and capital investment performance as outlined in the state incentives,” Sweet says. “That saved the county a quarter million dollars of new money and prevented us in essence from losing a quarter million dollars in that note because Med-Fit went defunct.”
Beyond his responsibilities as county administrator, Sweet has worked with the company in a different way, serving as a fitness model in Nautilus ads.
Core Health & Fitness says its decision to acquire the Grayson County plant came about not just from incentives but because of how the existing facility and its trained workforce fit into its plans.
“The plant’s already set up for commercial strength manufacturing,” Little says. “You’ve got second- and third-generation employees there who’ve been doing machining, welding or assembly in that factory for years and years and who know how to do it with exceptional quality. We looked at that and determined that part of our strategy, if we acquired the [Independence] plant, needed to be leveraging its flexibility in manufacturing equipment across all of our products.
“Our plan is to bring manufacturing strength products back from Asia to the U.S.,” says Little. “That will double the volume coming through that factory, and in manufacturing volume is the key to happiness.”
Restoration of the factory’s operations and the planned expansion for new product lines again restores the Independence plant to its status as Grayson County’s top private-sector employer.
“What was so exciting about the project is they looked at the quality of the product and quality of the workforce, as well as their desire to have a Made in the U.S.A. product for state tax and marketing reasons,” says Sweet. “We’re talking about bringing manufacturing jobs back from China to the U.S. and Southwest Virginia. That’s the game-changer.”2015-03-01T11:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/SW_volvoplant.pngThe Volvo truck plant in Dublin has recently added 200 jobs. Photo courtesy Governor of Virginia
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/manufacturing-rebound#When:11:00:00ZBuoyed by a resurgent manufacturing sector, Southwest Virginia continued to ride the nation’s economic upswing in 2014.
Numerous longstanding employers announced expansions from the Roanoke Valley down through the New River Valley and farther southwest, while two localities on the Blue Ridge Plateau — Carroll County and Grayson County — saw new businesses fill spots left vacant by previous occupants.
The growth filled vacant industrial land tracts and spurred Roanoke Valley governments to form the Western Virginia Industrial Facility Authority to find new potential economic development sites. A longer-running collaborative effort — the 13-locality Virginia’s First Regional Industrial Facilities Authority, which operates the New River Valley Commerce Park — saw its first tenant open its doors and begin production, with Red Sun Farms growing 18 acres of organic and hydroponic tomatoes under greenhouse glass.
Other projects announced in 2013, including Korona Candles and Falls Stamp and Welding in Pulaski County, Virginia Transformer in Roanoke and Ardagh Group in Roanoke County, also began production last year.
“Things have been firing on all cylinders, from the smallest … projects all the way up to the Red Sun Farms, the Korona Candles and Volvo,” says Aric Bopp, executive director of the New River Valley Economic Development Alliance. “Our region is one of the few in Virginia that’s out of the recovery phase of the recession. We’ve got more jobs than we’ve ever had, more people in the workforce than we’ve ever had. We don’t want to let off the throttle at all.”
(This year, however, began on a somber note as Norfolk Southern announced in January that it would relocate 500 positions in Roanoke to either Norfolk or Atlanta. The company employed 1,700 people in the area.)
Roughly three-quarters of job growth nationally tends to come from expansions by existing companies, and that rule of thumb fit the Roanoke and New River valleys last year.
Consider Altec Industries. The Birmingham, Ala.-based company makes aerial devices for bucket trucks, cranes and digger derricks at a plant in Botetourt County.
“Once I became familiar with their name, now if I’m going down the road and see a bucket truck for Appalachian or whoever, it’s almost always an Altec truck,” says Beth Doughty, executive director for the Roanoke Regional Partnership.
“They located here in 2000 and expanded in 2010, 2011, 2012 and now 2014,” with the latest announcement adding 203 jobs, Doughty says. “They’ve continued to expand and grow. You want the businesses in your region to be successful. They’re the poster child for that.”
Similarly, Volvo Trucks added 200 jobs this year at its Pulaski County plant as the company ramped up production. The company also collaborated with its workers union, United Auto Workers Local 2069, to identify and use in-house talent to design and build a customer experience track. The dogbane-shaped, 1.1-mile paved loop wraps around storm water ponds and an off-road path, allowing potential buyers and visitors without commercial driver’s licenses to test long-haul and off-road trucks in simulated real-life conditions.
At least two expansions saw existing companies in one locality open new operations centers in a neighboring locality.
Alexander Industries, which since 2001 has built specialized rifles, cartridges and accessories at the Radford Army Ammunition Plant for use by military, law enforcement and civilian customers, is building a new, 25,000-square-foot facility in Dublin Industrial Park in Pulaski County. The expansion allows the company to move from a “build-to-order” to a “build-to-sell” business model, meaning that company officials will seek out new domestic and international markets.
Farther southwest, Mayville Engineering Co. Inc. (MEC) in Wytheville announced it would invest $10 million to expand into a new manufacturing facility in the former Merillat plant in Smyth County.
MEC fabricates metal products for agricultural, commercial vehicle, construction, forestry, on/off road power sports, energy, military and industrial markets. The company has seen growth in demand from new and existing contracts.
“They had a need to expand and a need to expand quickly,” says Tom Elliott, executive director of Virginia’s aCorridor, a Southwest Virginia economic development alliance. “They were unable to do so in Wytheville, where they already have an operation. We were very pleased they were able to locate that project in a neighboring county.”
The Smyth County Board of Supervisors voted in December, four months after the MEC deal was announced, to withdraw funding and disaffiliate with Virginia’s aCorridor. Still, the regional partnership saw major deals announced in two of its affiliate members, Carroll County and Grayson County, both of which sit atop the Blue Ridge Plateau.
Vanguard Furniture, a high-end, made-to-order furniture upholstery maker with five manufacturing buildings in Conover, N.C., and a showroom in High Point, N.C., announced it would open a new production operation in the former Parkdale Mills site in the Carroll County Industrial Park, creating 200 jobs.
In Grayson County, Core Health & Fitness said it would take over the former Med-Fit operation, which in various forms had manufactured Nautilus fitness machines for nearly 40 years. The reopened facility added brand lines that previously had been produced in China, creating a total of 250 jobs. The increased employment allowed the plant to retake its spot as the county’s top employer.
“I think that we were lagging a little bit behind the economic turnaround, even though a lot of the economists in Washington were pointing to factors that said we were turning the corner a couple of years ago,” Elliott says. “It appears that this year is when we started seeing that very intangible factor called confidence. It began to return. This year represents our best year in terms of jobs since 2007 and our best year in terms of capital investment since 2011.”
Pulaski County continued to assert strength as a regional destination for manufacturing. The NRV Commerce Park is located there, and four of the year’s top job-producing deals, including the Volvo and Alexander Industries expansions, happened in Pulaski County. Additionally, MTM Inc., a medical and transportation management company, and James Hardie Building Products Inc., which makes fiber-cement siding for the construction industry, announced expansions in Pulaski, creating 66 and 69 jobs, respectively.
Chalk up the county’s success during the past couple of years to a combination of offering a key location with access to rail, interstate highways and natural gas; plenty of still-vacant industrial land; a cooperative pro-business attitude from local government; and positive movement in the national economy, says Pulaski County Administrator Pete Huber.
“I’ve been working in Pulaski County for 28 years, and I’ve seen some bad times when AT&T and Burlington Industries were closing,” Huber says. “We swam upstream just a bit following the recession. Things picked up a bit quicker here, but where the national economy is going is a prime, if not the prime, driver in the economy.”
While Pulaski County still has remaining room in the NRV Commerce Park — a 1,000-acre property is planned for sites 75 acres or larger, with the anticipation of hosting up to five businesses of that size — other localities are rapidly running short of inventory.
“A lot of the good products and good buildings and good sites that were available are beginning to be occupied,” Bopp says. “There’s starting to be a shortfall of turnkey infrastructure and product. That’s going to be a challenge going forward.”
Doughty cited similar problems in the Roanoke region but also expressed hope in the creation of the Western Virginia Industrial Facility Authority, designed to identify possible Roanoke Valley economic development sites and give its governments more flexibility to strike agreements and work together to lure large industry.
2015-03-01T11:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/cabinetry_exterior_01.pngThe Corsi Group is creating a 97,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Charlotte County. Photos by Steven Mantilla
Ready to grow
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/ready-to-grow#When:11:00:00ZBy the end of March, The Corsi Group plans to start producing cabinets at its 97,000-square-foot facility called Siteline Cabinetry in the Charlotte County Industrial Park in Keysville.
It’s a solid start for the Indianapolis-based cabinet manufacturer, which announced last spring it would invest $5 million and create 110 jobs in opening its first Virginia operation.
“I think it’s going to be a huge impact,” says Susan Adams, the economic development associate for Charlotte County.
Since rural Virginia employers draw their employees from a large radius, Adams believes job openings at the Siteline Cabinetry plant will have an effect beyond Charlotte County, which had an unemployment rate of 6.3 percent in December when the statewide rate was 4.5 percent. (These figures are not seasonally adjusted, meaning they do not take into account seasonal fluctuations in the labor market.)
The Corsi announcement is the biggest deal made last year in the region served by Virginia’s Growth Alliance in terms of projected number of new jobs. Virginia’s Growth Alliance is an economic development organization serving Amelia, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Greensville, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway and Prince Edward counties and the city of Emporia.
Corsi, which makes and sells kitchen and bathroom cabinets, will produce a new cabinet line at the Keysville facility. The Indianapolis-based, privately owned company was founded by Pat Corsi, its chairman and CEO, 42 years ago. Besides Virginia, it has plants in Indianapolis and Elkins, W.Va.
“We are seeing a lot of growth that’s going on both in the remodel industry and new construction, and we want to take advantage of that and be a part of it,” says Corsi President Ken Pfarr in discussing the company’s expansion into the commonwealth.
Corsi had taken a good look at Southern Virginia several years ago when it was considering an expansion before the Great Recession hit, says Jeff Reed, executive director of Virginia’s Growth Alliance. Company officials revisited the region when an improving economy again raised the possibility of an expansion.
Pfarr says logistical considerations such as access to East Coast customers and the availability of supplies played a part in the decision to locate in Virginia, but company officials also felt comfortable in Charlotte County. “We just liked the people,” Pfarr says.
Reed believes another reason that Corsi picked the Keysville site was the availability of a building. “The importance of that cannot be understated there,” Reed says. “There is a lack of quality-supply, shell buildings and manufacturing facilities throughout the commonwealth, so it’s hard to find a location that has a suitable building.”
Reed also says Corsi officials appeared to be impressed with the area’s workforce initiatives, like the woodworking training program offered by the South Boston-based Southern Virginia Higher Education Center in partnership with Danville Community College. Pfarr says the company already is in talks with Southside Virginia Community College to devise other employee-training programs.
In addition, Corsi received economic development incentives, including a $100,000 grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund and a $375,000 grant from the Tobacco Commission. The factory also is in a Virginia Enterprise Zone, which made Corsi eligible for local grants.
Pfarr says that when a company is expanding, incentives are extremely important. “Without the help of the state and the county, it is extremely difficult to do a startup because ... all you’re doing is spending money for one to two years before you ... start to see a profit, so it becomes very important to get as much help and incentives as you can find,” he says.
Besides Keysville, Corsi considered sites in Indiana, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky.
“This time we did not have a predetermined area. Our interest was more in logistics, labor force and available industrial areas to set up our facility, so that’s why we looked at so many states,” Pfarr says.
He says Corsi’s Keysville facility will have more employees and output than its other plants. He projects the plant will produce about 2,000 kitchen cabinets per week. Positions at the plant will range from machine operators and assemblers to forklift drivers and supervisors. Pfarr estimates that the average wage will range from $12 to $13 per hour.
During the site selection process, vetting of qualifications was a two-way street. County officials also traveled to Corsi’s plant in West Virginia to make sure that the company’s culture was a good fit for its workforce. “They had a great reputation and, I think, what they have there will work here as well,” says Adams, the county economic development official.2015-03-01T11:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/SOVA_Kilgour.pngPhoto by Michaele White, Office of the Governor of Virginia
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/positive-outlook#When:11:00:00ZEncouraged by increasing interest from business prospects last year, Southern Virginia economic development leaders say they are optimistic about 2015 as the region continues to recover from the loss of legacy industries, such as tobacco, textile and furniture.
“I think the economy is improving, so I think businesses are looking at their long-range plans and evaluating where they want to be in 2015, 2016 and beyond and are soliciting … sites and buildings and other things … to prepare for future growth,” says Jeff Reed, executive director of Virginia’s Growth Alliance, an economic development organization that mostly covers South Central Virginia.
The region has benefitted from continuing growth at Microsoft’s data center, which opened in Mecklenburg County in 2010. Last year, Microsoft announced its third expansion in the county, a move expected to inject more than $346 million in the area and add 90 jobs.
The biggest job announcement in the VGA region last year involved The Corsi Group, which plans to invest $5 million in opening a manufacturing facility in Charlotte County. The operation is expected to create 110 jobs
Henry County already has secured an economic development project this year. Hardide Coatings Inc., an English advanced surface-coatings manufacturer, will invest $7.25 million in its first Virginia operation. Twenty-nine jobs are expected to be created in that deal, with an average salary of $50,000.
Another newcomer to Henry County is aerospace company Kilgour Industries Ltd., which is investing $27.3 million and creating 155 jobs.
The Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. also continues to see growth from existing businesses. Tennessee-based Eastman Chemical Co., which has a facility in Martinsville, recently acquired another local window film company, Commonwealth Laminating & Coating (CLC).
“We now have more than 35 percent of the world’s window film produced in Henry County,” says Mark Heath, economic development director for Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development.
Other Southern Virginia companies also continue to expand. In late 2014, Memphis-based Monogram Food Solutions announced plans to invest $36.5 million and add 200 jobs at its Henry County facility, which makes processed-meat products.
Danville expects an economic boost from Telvista’s plan to expand its call center in the city, adding 300 jobs and investing $1 million. Telly Tucker, Danville’s head of economic development, says he has seen promising prospect interest in the city since he came on board in mid-2014. The city is continuing its River District Development Project, which is aimed at revitalizing downtown Danville and driving economic development.
“There’s this contagious momentum … that’s brewing here in Danville that, I think, folks who live in the community can feel,” he says.
Tucker says Danville’s assets include its workforce, its city-owned utilities and the availability of gigabyte infrastructure. The city’s broadband network, nDanville, is partially connected to a regional fiber-optic network, the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corp.
Danville, however, hit an economic development snag last year. It sued GOK International and Web Parts LLC for a total of $2.3 million for their failure to meet performance agreements connected to incentives offered by the city and the Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission, which provides formerly tobacco-dependent communities with money to promote economic development. (The GOK International and Web Parts projects were announced in 2012.) According to Danville’s lawsuits, GOK International said it would create 600 jobs and invest $25 million in the area; while Web Parts planned to create 260 jobs and invest $10 million in Danville.
Danville says that it now vets prospective businesses more thoroughly. The Tobacco Commission also may see some changes in the way it handles proposed projects. Legislation was introduced this year in the Virginia General Assembly to reform the commission.
Southern Virginia scored a victory in developing one of its industrial sites. Last year, Henry County received a grading permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for its Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre mega-site. Economic development officials had worked for two years to secure the permit.
Berry Hill Road Industrial Park in Pittsylvania County also has run into regulatory issues with the Corps of Engineers. Local officials still are trying to get a permit to continue developing the site, which is jointly owned by Pittsylvania and Danville.
Meanwhile, Greensville County is looking for a tenant for its Mid-Atlantic Advanced Manufacturing Center, a mega-site that spans 1,600 acres. “It’s as close as it’s going to get without a client,” says Natalie Slate, the county’s director of economic development, about development efforts at the park.
When companies expand or come to an area for the first time, one of their biggest concerns is finding a capable workforce, a growing issue in many areas as baby boomers start to retire.
“The biggest challenge anyone in economic development has, if they’re telling the truth, is finding skilled labor,” says Heath of Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development. “Finding people that have the right blend of skills and work ethic is becoming more and more difficult, and that’s not here; that’s everywhere.”
In dealing with that issue, Southern Virginia has a number of workforce initiatives in place, including the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center in South Boston and New College Institute (NCI), which opened its first new building last year in Martinsville. NCI partners with college and universities to offer bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees and other special programs.
Another workforce training program is the Center for Advanced Film Manufacturing. It prepares workers for employment at Eastman and CLC through collaboration between the companies, Patrick Henry Community College, NCI and the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp.
Another workforce effort is underway to bring more medical students to Southern Virginia. The Tobacco Commission recently awarded an $800,000 grant to the Integrative Centers for Science and Medicine and the College of Henricopolis School of Medicine to help establish a medical school in Martinsville.
The project is expected to funnel $3 million into the area over the next three years and create 111 jobs. The school, which has a target opening date of fall 2016, will educate primary-care physicians for underserved and underprivileged areas of the state.
While workforce development is a big concern, Reed and Slate also point to a lack of natural gas as another issue in recruiting businesses. There are several efforts underway to bring more natural gas to the area, such as the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which involves Richmond-based Dominion Resources. The 550-mile pipeline would pass through part of Southern Virginia.
Reed of Virginia’s Growth Alliance says he would be thrilled to see the project approved because the region has little access to natural gas. “That’s a huge game changer for our industrial development projects because so many of the projects that we get eliminated from, we’re being eliminated because we can’t supply natural gas,” he says.
Being in a rural area can also pose its own challenges when it comes to securing projects. Greensville County’s Slate, for example, says prospective companies sometimes think they won’t be able to find trained workforce in a thinly populated area. That’s not the case, she says, because workers in rural counties are willing to commute farther to work than employees living in traffic-congested metro areas. “My biggest challenge is overcoming that perception,” Slate says.
2015-03-01T11:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Biogrund1.pngBiogrund’s first Loudoun County employees include Hamed Khursrawy (left), Barbara Specht, Digvijay Chowhan and Felix Specht.
Killer customer service
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/killer-customer-service#When:11:00:00ZBringing international companies to Loudoun County is an ongoing focus for Buddy Rizer and his staff in the Department of Economic Development.
That’s why they are excited about Germany-based Biogrund’s decision to open its U.S. operations in the county. “We have been proactively seeking international companies,” says Rizer, noting he’s also pleased that Biogrund is a pharmaceutical firm. “We hope to grow that category. We haven’t had many pharmaceutical companies come here. We think this will be a good jumping off spot for us.”
The deal is an offshoot of the county’s “sister county” partnership with Main-Taunus-Kreis in Germany, a district that sits between Frankfurt and Wiesbaden. The two areas share similarities in landscapes and lifestyles. “Loudoun is very close to our area in Europe,” says Felix Specht, managing director of Biogrund U.S. Inc.
Biogrund’s parent company is located in the small town of Huenstetten, Germany, not far from Frankfurt. The company works with pharmaceutical and related companies in developing and producing of solid oral dosage forms such as film and sugar coating.
Loudoun began working with the parent company in 2011 after learning it was interested in opening a U.S. office. “Coming to the U.S. was very important,” Specht says. “There are a lot of big, multinational pharmaceutical companies that have development in the U.S.”
The county wasn’t on the company’s radar in the beginning. It first looked at locations in New Jersey. “Most of our customers were situated there,” Specht says, noting that the company also looked at Chicago and the Philadelphia area. Loudoun was the fourth location to be considered.
The company liked Loudoun’s central location on the East Coast with access to major interstates and airports. “You can cover both the South and the North,” Specht says. “We have a lot of customers in the New Jersey area, and it’s easy to get to them in a three-hour drive. You can visit two to three customers.”
Biogrund sells in Virginia and the Carolinas as well. “We also serve customers in California,” Specht says. “We are trying to cover all of the U.S., but we are beginning on the East Coast.”
During its selection process, Bio­grund contacted the economic development office in each area it visited. Loudoun’s customer service stood out, Specht says. “They were willing to meet with me immediately. They offered us fantastic service.”
The county assisted the company in finding a location along with contractors it would need to build a facility. Loudoun officials also helped link the company to other services in the area. “I think Loudoun County is very special,” Specht says. “It’s more important for a smaller company that is coming into the U.S. to get good service rather than have tax benefits. Whenever we have a problem, we can call Loudoun, and they will support us. I don’t believe any European country would give that good support to a company coming to the area.”
Rizer believes Loudoun makes perfect sense for Biogrund and other international companies. “We have the infrastructure that companies need to get started, and [Washington] Dulles International Airport is here,” he says.
Biogrund made a $2 million investment, building an approximately 7,000-square-foot lab and manufacturing facility in the county. It started with four employees — two that were hired in addition to Specht and his wife, Barbara, who works with customer service. “A decision was made to invest low and then invest again after three to five years,” Specht says. “We will be hiring another two people this year. We could have up to 20 employees in five years, but it’s difficult to say.”
Biogrund’s parent company has approximately 60 employees in Germany. When it opened in 1999, it also only had two to three employees. “When I started with the company in 2004 it had 10 employees. I was the eleventh,” Specht says.2015-03-01T11:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Friant_Street-View-2_Small.pngPhotos courtesy Friant and Associates
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/boosting-efficiency#When:11:00:00ZPhiladelphia attorney Tim Bak became very familiar with Suffolk when he was helping California-based Friant and Associates search for an East Coast location.
Bak traveled to the Hampton Roads city five or six times during 2014. “The company looked all up and down the East Coast, from Georgia to New Jersey,” he says. “We talked to each state and looked at the ports and existing warehouse space in each of those areas.”
Founded in 1990 and based in Oakland, Friant and Associates designs and manufactures customizable office systems. The company started its search for an East Coast location in 2013. Being on the East Coast was important to the company. “It’s hard to be on the West Coast and support our East Coast dealers and customers,” says Paul Friant, the company’s president and CEO.
After looking at all of the variables, the company narrowed its search to Virginia and Maryland. It toured existing space in Baltimore. “That looked good, the pricing was right, and there were incentives from Maryland,” Bak says.
The site selected in the CenterPoint Intermodal Center in Suffolk, however, will be a new 357,000-square-foot facility, and that factor appealed to Friant. The building is owned by the developer, Chicago-based CenterPoint Properties. Friant is the long term leaseholder. The company hopes to be open by early summer.
“It will be a clean canvas for us,” Paul Friant says. “It will be a building with all of the newest technology — state-of-the-art machinery.”
Suffolk’s central location on the East Coast and its proximity to the Port of Virginia also were pluses. Friant imports furniture components as well as some finished pieces from China. “But most of its manufacturing is done in the U.S.,” Bak says, noting the company’s 300,000-plus-square-foot manufacturing facility in California.
The process of receiving imports from China and distributing merchandise from California to customers on the East Coast hasn’t run as smoothly as the company would like. During its tours, Friant was impressed by the efficiency of the Port of Virginia. “The West Coast port is not as efficient,” Bak says. “We are looking to keep the product flowing through. There is time sensitivity. If time is tight, we need an efficient port to get things in quickly.”
The Suffolk location also is expected to benefit from the impending expansion of the Panama Canal, which will double the canal’s capacity. Companies like Friant will be able to ship products on larger ships. “They will be able to get more product to the East Coast with a shorter route through the Canal,” says Kevin Hughes, Suffolk’s director of economic development.
Timeliness is crucial to the company’s reputation for customer service. Friant prides itself in its quick turnaround on orders. The company offers customers two shipping schedules: one option is five days and the other is 10 days.
The company liked the fact that the outside space in CenterPoint was large enough to allow drivers to pick up a container from the port, park it at the facility and then pick up and transport another container. “It’s more efficient to leave it and get what goes out,” Bak says.
After the company narrowed its search, negotiations went back and forth between the company and the two finalists. The decision to come to Virginia was due in part to the state’s ability to put a deal together and have staff ready to assist the company with hiring and locations. “How fast they came back to us with information was really important,” says Paul Friant. “We had a positive relationship.”
The VEDP and the city teamed with the Port of Virginia and the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance to secure the project. Gov. Terry McAuliffe approved a $200,000 grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund, and the company will receive benefits from the Port of Virginia Economic and Infrastructure Development Zone Grant Program. Additional funding and services to support the company’s employee training activities will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.
The company’s $17.4 million investment will create 166 jobs over three years. “We will start with at least 75 employees and move up to 166,” Bak says.
The new jobs in advanced furniture manufacturing are expected to help diversify Suffolk’s industrial base. “We’re excited about that,” Hughes says.
Bak is complimentary of the way negotiations were handled by the city and the commonwealth. “They were very professional and knowledgeable,” he says.2015-03-01T11:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Rigney5454.pngThe threat of sequestration “has put a chill on our economy,” says Chuck Rigney. Photo by Mark Rhodes
The value of diversity
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/the-value-of-diversity#When:11:00:00ZHampton Roads continues to diversify its economy while combating the effects of defense spending cutbacks. Currently, military spending represents more than 40 percent of the local economy.
“That’s more than it should be,” says Chuck Rigney, Portsmouth’s director of economic development, “We are fortunate, in the sense, that Hampton Roads has the world’s largest concentration of military and the country’s largest number of military commands outside of Washington D.C. The effect is that we have somewhat of an economic protection with those assets.”
But sequestration — across-the-board federal budget cuts — is causing ripple effects in the region’s economy.
“The threat of sequestration has caused the green light to go to yellow and sometimes put a stop on government spending and contracts in the area,” Rigney says. “It has put a chill on our economy. Everybody that [supplies] the military, such as major Department of Defense contractors, are holding back or waiting for work that would routinely be greenlighted, but nothing is routine anymore.”
Old Dominion University’s Economic Forecasting Project reported in January that Hampton Roads’ real gross regional product rose 2.2 percent last year and is expected to grow less than 2 percent this year.
The region is finding ways to diversify in order to remain healthy, Rigney says. “We want to make sure we can broaden our economy.”
In December, for example, two international companies, Germany-based Becker Hydraulics and Italy-based Pacorini announced plans to move into the region.
Becker Hydraulics will invest more than $500,000 in a manufacturing facility in Chesapeake’s Cavalier Industrial Park, creating 10 jobs. The company will produce hydraulic hose systems as well as fuel and bio-diesel hose assembly lines for various industrial applications. Pacorini, a logistics company serving the coffee industry, also will invest more than $500,000 in a Suffolk facility and create 10 jobs.
Bright spots for Portsmouth last year included national retailers such as Kroger Marketplace opening in areas of the city that previously were blighted or in need of shopping opportunities.
The city’s Old Town and downtown areas also are seeing a surge in multifamily housing, creating a higher density of people living and working in that area.
The Naval Medical Center Portsmouth and Portsmouth-based Norfolk Naval Shipyard continue to grow, and the city’s technology sector is expanding, Rigney says. “That’s an increasingly targeted area,” he adds.
The Portsmouth Marine Terminal on the west bank of the Elizabeth River reopened last fall after being closed since 2011. The Port of Virginia is talking with a handful of ocean carriers about moving additional smaller-vessel services into the terminal. “It’s becoming a player in helping bring additional cargo into the port,” says Rigney.
Hampton announced new business and expansion projects last year involving more than $106 million in capital investment and 2,085 new jobs.
“We’ve had over 760,000 square feet of commercial space sold, leased or renovated,” says Leonard Sledge, the city’s director of economic development.
One of the city’s biggest wins was the $25 million expansion of Alcoa’s Hampton Roads operations. The company will add equipment for a new production line and modify existing machinery to produce lighter-weight jet engine blades. Once production ramps up, the company expects to add at least 75 employees over three years.
Liberty-Source PBC will invest $1.56 million to begin operations at Fort Monroe, creating 596 jobs. The company will provide finance, accounting, human-resources, customer-care and support services for customers such as AOL.
Another Hampton deal involved the relocation of the national sales center for Newport News-based Ferguson, a major wholesale plumbing distributor, to the Hampton Roads Center’s central campus. The move could bring as many as 350 jobs to Hampton in the next three years.
Another win for Hampton was the opening of Faneuil Inc.’s customer contact center at Peninsula Town Center. The 22,250-square-foot facility represents a $2 million capital investment, creating up to 400 jobs.
Peter Chapman, Norfolk’s deputy city manager, says 2014 also was a “dynamic year” for the city. “Several major projects are under construction and emerging districts are taking off and defining their character,” he says. “Also, manufacturing is on the rise.”
One of the projects under construction is The Main, a $126 million Hilton hotel and conference center at the corner of Granby and Main streets. Also downtown, the former Waterside marketplace on the Elizabeth River is being transformed into an entertainment complex called Waterside Live!
Simon Premium Outlets is planning a 351,000-square-foot outlet in Norfolk this year. The $75 million investment will include up to 120 retail stores and will create 300 construction jobs and 800 permanent jobs.
In Suffolk, the arrival of Pacorini will contribute to the city’s growing reputation as a coffee industry hub. The company picked a 150,000-square-foot warehouse in the Northgate Industrial Park for its newest location. Locally, Pacorini will support the operations of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, maker of Keurig’s K-cups, in Isle of Wight County.
Meanwhile, Massimo Zanetti, the largest private-label coffee producer in the U.S., is moving a production line from Canada to its Suffolk facility. The company will invest $4 million and hire 15 employees.
The Ohio-based J.M. Smucker Co., which owns Folgers, also will expand its liquid-coffee concentrate facility in Suffolk. The $4 million project will add 15,000 square feet.
One of the city’s largest new projects is Friant and Associates. The office furniture manufacturer is building a 357,000-square-foot manufacturing and distribution center.
The Newport News Economic Development Authority is riding the tide of growth as well. “We are causing and facilitating diversification of our economy,” says Florence Kingston, the authority’s director of development.”
The city received a new enterprise zone designation in December, which will allow it to offer new and expanding companies state incentives for job training to go along with local incentives.
One of the city’s largest deals was the $152 million expansion of Germany-based Continental, a major automotive supplier. Continental will make turbochargers at its Newport News site and boost production on its gasoline high-pressure injector, fuel rail and pump assembly lines. The project will create 525 jobs during the next three to four years.
The city also is assisting Liebherr Mining Equipment in its $53 million expansion, which is expected to create 174 jobs by 2017. The company, which makes coal-mining trucks, is doubling production. The project also includes a new training facility and additional office space.
The city is working with the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility as it prepares to compete for a medium-energy electron ion collider, which is expected to advance the study of sub-atomic matter interaction. The lab’s competition for the project is Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island.
Virginia Beach saw a rebound in industrial and retail activity last year. The city expects to add more than 1,400 new jobs by assisting in the expansion of 29 companies and recruiting 13 new businesses. “We have had $70 million in new capital investments,” says Warren Harris, the city’s director of economic development. “We are working with companies that will increase the per-capita income of our residents.”
One newcomer, Canada Metal (Pacific) Ltd., a manufacturer of marine and industrial products, is investing $3 million to establish its first U.S. manufacturing operation, creating 70 jobs over three years. “This company aligns perfectly with our aggressive growth in advanced manufacturing,” Harris says.
Last year the city opened the fifth phase of Town Center, adding more than 213,000 square feet of office space, 290 apartment units and a 927-space parking garage. It also leased 27,000 square feet of space to national retailers such as Anthropologie.
San Diego-based Green Flash Brewery broke ground on its first East Coast craft-beer brewery in the city’s Corporate Landing Commerce Park. The $20 investment project was announced in 2013.
Harris also notes the city is negotiating with a private-sector partner, which is investing $200 million, in developing the planned 500,000-square-foot Virginia Beach Arena.
“The city put in $53 to $78 million of infrastructure improvements around the site,” Harris says. “Our goal is to be up and opened by the fall of 2017.”
2015-03-01T11:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/IMG_5229-Edit.pngStone Brewing plans to build a brewery and restaurant in Richmond. Photos courtesy Stone Brewing Co.
Set on Stone?
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/set-on-stone#When:11:00:00ZControversy still was brewing months after one of the nation’s largest craft brewers selected Richmond for its East Coast base. The project, which is expected to create 288 jobs, will include a brewery and eventually, a restaurant.
Escondido, Calif.-based Stone Brewing is investing at least $41 million in the city. The brewery will be located in the city’s Greater Fulton neighborhood, which was mostly torn down during a failed 1970s Urban Renewal plan. The Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens restaurant will be located by the nearby James River.
While the project wasn’t the largest economic development announcement made last year in Central Virginia, it was one of the most coveted. When Stone put out a request for proposals in early 2014 for a brewery location East of the Mississippi, it received 200 responses from more than 20 states. The company eventually made 40 site visits and narrowed its list to three finalists — Columbus, Ohio; Norfolk and Richmond.
But the project isn’t a winning deal in everyone’s eyes. Opponents believe Stone is receiving an incentives package from the city that is too rich and gives it an unfair advantage over other local businesses. Proponents, on the other hand, see the project as a public-private partnership that will, among other things, help revitalize one of the city’s blighted neighborhoods.
The city’s incentive package is valued at more than $30 million. It includes $23 million in bonds for the facility’s construction, $8 million in bonds for Stone Brewing’s restaurant and beer garden and $2 million in grants, matching contributions made by the Governor’s Opportunity Fund. Stone says it will repay the city’s investment through lease payments on the property, which will include interest, and is matching $7 million in state and local grants.
Michael Byrne, director of operations at the Richmond-based Tobacco Company Restaurant, has formed a group with 35 other restaurants aimed at stopping the city’s funding for Stone’s restaurant and beer garden. He says Richmond is not being transparent about the incentives package it is giving Stone in that part of the deal.
“Nobody in my group has ever said that Stone Brewery shouldn’t take the deal,” says Byrne. “No one should ever be offered that deal outside of the brewery itself.”
But Greg Koch, Stone’s CEO and co-founder, says any suggestion that the city’s financial assistance is a gift is inaccurate since Stone will repay the money with interest, making the venture a viable investment for the city. “If it wasn’t, the city wouldn’t be making it, and these kind of deals are not uncommon in the worlds of cities and businesses,” Koch says.
Greg Wingfield, CEO of the Greater Richmond Partnership, also thinks the Stone plan was a good deal for all parties involved. He says that about 10 years ago, Richmond was thinking of giving away the Fulton Gasworks site so it wouldn’t have to deal with environmental concerns. The site is part of the 14-acre parcel where Stone will locate.
Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones also backs the deal. “Mayor Jones views the Stone opportunity as a chance to jump start development in an area that is undeveloped,” said the mayor’s press secretary Tammy Hawley. “The city has also been focused on increasing our tourism draw, and we view increased tourism in the city as to everyone’s advantage. Efforts to expand the city’s tax base, create jobs, and attract other investment will ultimately benefit the whole of Richmond’s economy. A strengthened overall economy will benefit all businesses.”
Stone expects to begin operation of the brewery by early 2016, but the restaurant and beer garden won’t open until a few years down the road, Koch says. The restaurant will include organic, local products and guest taps featuring a large number of local craft beers.
Koch says Stone will need a diverse level of skill sets when it ramps up hiring, from entry level to executive level positions. Jobs will range from brewers to management and sales staff.
“When it’s all said and done, we are going to have quite a place that we believe will bring people in from far and wide to experience our unique characteristics, and also simultaneously people will get to experience the uniqueness of Richmond, Va., bringing people into bars and restaurants and hotels and artisan products and, you know, we’re just glad to be a part of it,” Koch says.2015-03-01T11:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/20141024_BIZ_WING_AWE01.pngGreg Wingfield Photo by Alexa Welch Edlund/Richmond Times-Dispatch
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/big-wins#When:11:00:00ZCentral Virginia has been at the center of some major economic development wins lately, including a much-coveted craft brewery headed for Richmond, a $2 billion paper plant to be built in Chesterfield County and a chemical plant that is being revived in Petersburg.
This year, the area is expected to get worldwide exposure when the UCI Road World Championships are held in Richmond Sept. 19-27. While many Americans may not be familiar with the cycling competition, organizers expect the event to bring 450,000 spectators from around the world, creating about $158 million in local economic impact and attracting millions of global television viewers. The championships haven’t been held in the U.S. since 1986. Last year, they were in Spain.
Greg Wingfield, president and CEO of the Greater Richmond Partnership (GRP), doesn’t expect the event to have a long-term economic impact, but he believes it’ll create a positive image for the city. “So, the PR value will have more of a long-lasting effect,” Wingfield says.
A craft brewer’s plans to locate in Richmond may also add to its cool factor. After a much-publicized hunt for a location east of the Mississippi, Escondido, Calif.-based Stone Brewing said last year it would establish a brewery and, eventually, a restaurant in the city, investing at least $41 million and creating a minimum of 288 jobs.
Wingfield says the GRP region, which includes Richmond and Chesterfield, Hanover and Henrico counties, now has made up the jobs lost during the Great Recession. “Every new job we’ve added since mid-April has increased the total number of employed individuals, so we now have a net new gain of people working in the region,” he says.
Last year, GRP assisted with projects expected to create 3,172 future jobs and almost $2.2 billion in capital investments.
The biggest project involved Shandong Tranlin Paper Co.’s plans to locate its U.S. headquarters in Chesterfield County. The Chinese pulp and paper company is investing $2 billion and expects to create 2,000 jobs in the area by 2020.
“That was a deal that, in my mind, was one of the faster economic deals I’ve seen in my 20 years,” says Wingfield, who has headed GRP since 1994 and is retiring in June. (The organization’s current senior vice president, Barry I. Matherly, will take over as president and CEO.) The transaction took about 10 months to complete from start to finish, Wingfield says.
Another big job boost is expected from the federal government’s decision to locate the Foreign Affairs Security Training Center at Fort Pickett in Nottoway County. Jeff Reed, executive director for Virginia’s Growth Alliance, an economic development group that includes Nottoway, says the move is a game changer for his region. The center is expected to train up to 10,000 U.S. State Department staff and foreign-affairs workers. The construction phase of the project is estimated to create hundreds of jobs and bring millions of dollars in federal investment to Nottoway, according to a news release issued by Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office.
While the public sector is expected to help the economy at Fort Pickett, defense cuts could affect Fort Lee in Prince George County and its surrounding area. The Army base could lose up to 3,600 military and civilian positions, according to a report by the U.S. Army Environmental Command.
Helen Cauthen, president of the Central Virginia Partnership for Economic Development says project activity last year increased in her region, which includes Charlottesville and Albemarle, Culpeper, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, Nelson and Orange counties.
The project list includes two custom apparel makers. Fairfax-based CustomInk expanded its warehouse in Albemarle County, investing $45 million in the venture and adding 582 jobs. New Jersey-based Green Applications meanwhile plans to set up its first Virginia operation in Gordonsville, investing $9.75 million and creating 323 jobs. Green Applications is moving into a building formerly occupied by American Press, which closed the plant in 2011.
Region 2000, a regional development network that serves the Lynchburg area, also has new jobs in the pipeline.
The biggest announcement last year came from Lindenburg Industry, a subsidiary of a Chinese company. Lindenburg is investing an estimated $113 million in its first U.S. manufacturing operation, creating 349 jobs in Appomattox County.
Nuclear power companies Areva and Babcock and Wilcox (B&W) cut some positions in the region last year, but Megan Lucas, head of Region 2000’s Business and Economic Development Alliance, says the nuclear energy sector still is a major asset in the region.
Lucas notes that the area is home to diverse group of businesses and a number of educational institutions, such as Liberty University, Lynchburg College, Randolph College, Sweet Briar College, Central Virginia Community College and Virginia Technical Institute, which focuses on technical-skills training.
But Central Virginia isn’t gaining attention just from business prospects — Hollywood is taking notice of the region, too.
This spring, PBS will film a Civil War drama in the Richmond and Petersburg areas. The program will premiere next winter.
“Turn,” a Colonial-era spy drama that airs on AMC, filmed its first and second seasons in the area, and “Ithaca,” a movie directed by Meg Ryan and produced by Tom Hanks, wrapped up production in the Richmond and Petersburg areas last summer. The governor’s office says film productions had an economic impact of $382.5 million in Virginia and provided $19.4 million in state and local tax revenue for the commonwealth in 2013.
In addition to serving as a film site, Virginia’s Gateway Region — which includes Petersburg, Hopewell and Colonial Heights plus the counties of Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Prince George, Surry and Sussex — welcomed news last year that UniTao Pharmaceuticals would purchase the Boehringer Ingelheim plant in Petersburg. Boehringer had announced plans to close the plant. UniTao Pharmaceuticals, the subsidiary of a Shanghai firm, is expected to invest $22.5 million in the facility and create 376 jobs.
Renee Chapline, the head of the region’s economic development organization, says it also has seen an uptick in retail activity and community development projects, such as the reopening of the Beacon Theatre in Hopewell in 2013. The theater “has brought a lot of new life to the city,” Chapline says.
As Wingfield prepares to retire, he remains optimistic about Richmond’s future economic growth. “I think the best years are in front of the region as we continue to get accolades, the area continues to attract millennials,” he says, noting that the city’s historic infrastructure is a big draw. “That’s, you know, what people are interested in and live in. You can’t recreate that in a Charlotte or someplace. It’s either you got it or you don’t.”
2015-03-01T11:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/RESOURCES_VTKnowledgeWorks.pngVT KnowledgeWorks Photo courtey Virginia Tech
Incubators, small business centers help entrepreneurs’ ideas take root
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/incubators-small-business-centers-help-entrepreneurs-ideas-take-root#When:11:00:00ZThe recruiting of a big new factory promising lots of jobs still grabs headlines, but many communities increasingly see the value of nurturing local entrepreneurs. Studies suggest that the majority of new jobs come from the expansion of local small businesses.
The Hampton Roads Community Foundation has made improving the business climate for entrepreneurs one of the key elements of its Reinvent Hampton Roads project. Encouragement of entrepreneurs is seen as a strategy for improving the region’s ability to attract more higher-paying jobs.
Helping entrepreneurs get their companies off the ground are a wide variety of resources, including business incubators and small business development centers throughout the state.
The incubators range from the Jacksonville Center for the Arts in Floyd, which offers office and studio space and consultation, to the 1.1-million-square-foot Virginia BioTechnology Research Park in Richmond.
One of the more innovative and successful business incubators, or accelerators, has been VT KnowledgeWorks based at the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center in Blacksburg. In addition to providing space and advice to entrepreneurs, VT KnowledgeWorks sponsors a number of local and international competitions.
For example, its annual Tech Transfer Challenge Prize offers $100,000 worth of mentorship and business support services to a winning team of Virginia Tech faculty, staff, students or alumni proposing to start a business in Blacksburg based on Tech-owned technology.
VT KnowledgeWorks also holds the Global Entrepreneurship Challenge. It’s a program that encourages students in developing entrepreneurial ideas, enhancing understanding of the requirements for a successful business venture and showcasing creativity.
The Virginia network of small business development centers offers offices located in every region of the state. The centers offer customized counseling and education for small businesses owners.
2015-03-01T11:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Washington_Dulles_International_Airport_at_Dusk.pngWashington Dulles International Airport Photos courtesy Virginia Tourism Corp.
Travel spending by U.S. residents supports 213,000 jobs in Virginia
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/travel-spending-by-u.s.-residents-supports-213000-jobs-in-virginia#When:11:00:00ZTourism remains big business in Virginia. Preliminary estimates released in an August report by the U.S. Travel Association said spending by U.S. residents traveling in Virginia in 2013 rose to $21.5 billion, an increase of 1.4 percent from 2012.
This spending directly supported 213,000 jobs in Virginia in 2013, making it the fifth-largest employer in the state, the report said. Tourism jobs, in fact, represent 7 percent of Virginia’s total private employment.
These employees earned nearly $4.9 billion in payroll income during 2013, representing a 3.6 percent increase from 2012.
Domestic-travel spending also generated more than $2.8 billion in tax revenue during 2013 for federal, state and local governments, an increase of 3.6 percent from 2012.
Forty-one of Virginia’s 134 counties and independent cities saw more than $100 million in domestic-travel spending in 2013. The most spending occurred in Arlington County, $2.8 billion, followed by Fairfax County, $2.7 billion, and Loudoun County, $1.5 billion.
High-profile historical attractions around the state include Monticello, Colonial Williamsburg, Mount Vernon, Arlington National Cemetery and the State Capitol. Also drawing visitors are theme parks like Kings Dominion and Busch Gardens, and natural attractions such as the Blue Ridge Mountains and Virginia’s lakes and beaches.
The following pages offer some insights into various elements of Virginia’s tourism industry, including lists of its largest conference hotels, commercial airports, and largest breweries.
One facility expected to join the list of major meeting venues is The Main, a $126 million Hilton hotel and conference center that is currently under construction at the corner of Granby and Main streets in Norfolk.
Virginia’s largest airport, Washington Dulles International Airport, saw emplanements decline 2.27 percent in 2013 while passenger volume at Reagan National Airport in Arlington, the second-largest facility, rose nearly 4 percent. The biggest jump in passenger volume, however, occurred at the commonwealth’s smallest airport, Shenandoah Valley Regional, which saw its boardings grow nearly 30 percent in 2013.
CPAs offer their insights on economy’s direction
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/cpas-offer-their-insights-on-economys-direction#When:11:00:00ZCPAs and lawyers help clients with tax, regulatory and legal issues, so they have a good grasp of how changes in these areas might affect the economy.
The Virginia Society of Certified Public Accounts polls its membership annually to get their take on the state and national economy.
Nearly 36 percent of the respondents in the latest poll, published in November, said they were somewhat pessimistic about the national economy versus nearly 29 percent who said they were somewhat optimistic. Another 7 percent were very pessimistic while about 2 percent were very optimistic.
About 27 percent of poll participants took a “balanced” view of the economy — neither optimistic or pessimistic.
More than a third of the respondents, 34.2 percent, believed a full recovery is more than four years away.
The CPAs’ view of the Virginia economy was more positive with 33 percent somewhat optimistic and about 6 percent very optimistic. Twenty-three percent were somewhat pessimistic and 5.4 percent were very pessimistic.
Eighty-five percent of those polled said partisanship at the federal and state level was preventing government from addressing urgent needs that have an impact on business. Seventy-four percent said the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is hurting the U.S. economy, and nearly 52 percent said it should be reformed.
The following pages list the largest law and accounting firms in Virginia. McGuireWoods remains the leader among law firms with more than 300 Virginia lawyers, while PwC is the biggest accounting firm with more than 500 CPAs in the state.
This section also provides a listing of spending by lobbyists. The Virginia Public Access Project provides a list of entertainment and gifts that lobbyists reported providing to legislative and executive officials. Lobbyists now report these expenses twice a year, in June and December. Before 2014, lobbyists disclosed these expenses once a year.
2015-03-01T11:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/12ROAcoverCreggerCenter04.pngA $25 million pledge from the Mulheren family will help with the construction of Roanoke College’s Cregger Center.
Private donations boost innovations in Virginia
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/private-donations-boost-innovations-in-virginia#When:11:00:00ZInnovation frequently gets a push from private donations. That’s certainly the case in Virginia where generous businessmen and women support many causes, donating funds to hospitals, museums and schools.
In February, the family foundation of well-known commercial real estate mogul Milt Peterson agreed to donate $10 million towards an initiative in Fairfax County that could put Virginia on the cutting edge of the personalized health-care revolution.
Inova plans to build a multimillion Center for Personal Health on the 117-acre Exxon Mobil campus in Falls Church. Inova will lease the campus in a bid to launch an international center that could spark more economic development in the life sciences field, helping to replace jobs in NOVA lost as a result of budget cuts in federal defense.
Inova acknowledges that the center won’t happen without a lot of money and collaboration between the public and private sectors.
That story has been playing out around the state with donors stepping up to move projects forward. Roanoke College in Salem recently received the largest gift in its history: a $25 million pledge from the Mulheren Family foundation, a family with two generations of alumni from the college. The donation is part of a $200 million fundraising campaign that will enable the private liberal arts college to make capital improvements, among other goals. Artist P. Buckley Moss also made headlines when she gave $10 million to Virginia Tech for an arts center.
Corporate donations are vital as well with Virginia-based companies such as Altria Group, Dominion Resources and others donating millions every year for efforts ranging from student scholarships to the renovation of local performing arts centers.
Our section on philanthropy includes charts on individual, family and corporate donations and the nonprofits that benefit from their largesse. To read these pages is to come away with the knowledge that many people and organizations still find it better to give than to receive.
Medicaid expansion, federal cuts make health-care a top state issue
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/medicaid-expansion-federal-cuts-make-health-care-a-top-state-issue#When:11:00:00ZHealth care remains a major issue in Virginia. A proposed expansion of health coverage to uninsured Virginians through the use of Medicaid dollars last year resulted in a months-long budget standoff. The impasse was resolved (with no expansion) when the resignation of a Democratic state senator tipped the balance of power in that body.
The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association has supported Medicaid expansion. The group says cuts in federal payments to Virginia health-care providers are expected to hit $448 million this year. Seventeen of 38 rural Virginia hospitals had negative operating margins in 2013, according to data collected by Richmond-based Virginia Health Information.
Virginia’s top hospitals in terms of net patient revenue continue to be VCU Health System, Inova Fairfax Hospital and the University of Virginia Medical Center, according to 2013 data from Virginia Health Information. Each of the three hospitals had more than $1 billion in net patient revenue, with VCU edging ahead of Inova, the previous leader, in 2013.
New to the list is Bon Secours St. Francis Medical Center in Chesterfield County, which opened in 2005. The median net patient revenue for the 25 hospitals on the list is roughly $400 million.
Anthem remains by far the leading health insurer in Virginia in terms of premiums collected in the commonwealth. The company insures about 3 million people in Virginia.
Anthem announced in February that it had suffered a massive security breach involving the records of 80 million people throughout the country, including past and present customers, and employees.
Woodbine Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Alexandria, a 307-bed facility, remains the top nursing facility in Virginia in net patient revenue, with nearly $31 million in 2013.
2015-03-01T11:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/BANK_Aston4838.pngRobert Aston is chairman and CEO of TowneBank. Photo by Mark Rhodes
Community banks are busy with mergers and acquisitions
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/community-banks-are-busy-with-mergers-and-acquisitions#When:11:00:00ZLast year saw little change at the top of the list of Virginia’s biggest banks in terms of deposits. A number of shifts, however, took place among community banks.
At the beginning of 2014, Richmond-based Union Bankshares completed the merger of Stellar One and Union First Market banks following Union’s acquisition of Charlottesville-based Stellar One Corp.
The $445 million deal created Virginia’s largest community bank with $7 billion in assets and $5.7 billion in deposits.
In February 2014, West Virginia-based United Bankshares completed its acquisition of Arlington-based Virginia Commerce Bancorp in a deal valued at $490.6 million. Virginia Commerce, the holding company for Virginia Commerce Bank, had $2.8 billion in assets.
Early this year, Hampton Roads-based TowneBank acquired Richmond-based Franklin Financial Corp., the parent company of Franklin Federal Savings Bank, in a $275 million deal.
TowneBank was founded in 1999 while Franklin Federal opened its doors more than 80 years ago, in 1933. Nonetheless, the companies said they shared a common corporate culture and approach to customer service.
With the Franklin acquisition, total assets for the combined companies stood at more than $6 billion and deposits totaled more than $4 billion.
In addition, several banks in Virginia are acquiring branches being shed by Charlotte-based Bank of America.
Strasburg-based First Bank is buying six branches in the Shenandoah Valley, boosting its total number of offices to 16 and increasing its deposits by $308 million to $827 million.
Likewise, Raleigh, N.C.-based HomeTrust Bank acquired 10 Bank of America locations in Virginia and North Carolina in June, six of which are in the Roanoke Valley. First Community Bancshares in Bluefield, the holding company for First Community Bank, also bought six branches, including one in Blacksburg,
Bank of America has reduced its number of branches from more than 6,000 nationwide five years ago to fewer than 5,000 today as customers switch to online and mobile banking, according to Charlottesville-based SNL Financial.
2015-03-01T11:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/VT105792_20144196803.pngTimothy Sands became president of Virginia Tech in June.Photo by Michael Kiernan, courtesy Virginia Tech
New president installed at Tech, which remains state’s largest school
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/new-president-installed-at-tech-which-remains-states-largest-school#When:11:00:00ZVirginia’s public colleges and universities — often counted the commonwealth’s greatest assets — enrolled nearly 400,000 students last fall, a slight decline from fall 2013.
The number of full-time students stayed steady at most of the commonwealth’s four-year institutions but showed a drop at Norfolk State and Virginia State universities, both of which are historically black colleges.
Last year saw the changing of the guard at Virginia Tech, the commonwealth’s largest university in terms of full-time students with more than 28,500 enrolled in the fall. Charles Steger, Tech’s president since 2000, retired after a tenure that included dramatic increases in enrollment, research and facilities. He also ushered Tech through its greatest tragedy, the killing of 32 students and faculty in April 2007 by a deranged student who also took his own life.
Steger was succeeded in June by Timothy Sands, who previously was executive vice president for academic affairs and provost at Purdue University in Indiana.
The University of Virginia meanwhile was convulsed by the death of freshman Hannah Graham and the publication of a story in Rolling Stone depicting a gang rape at a U.Va. fraternity party in 2012.
The man charged with first degree murder and abduction with intent to defile in Graham’s case, Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr., also has been charged with the 2005 rape and attempted murder of a woman in Fairfax County.
The Rolling Stone rape account ignited a firestorm of protest and led to the suspension of fraternity activities on campus before criticism of the errors in the story forced the magazine to back away from the article and issue an apology.
Northern Virginia Community College remains by far the commonwealth’s largest community college with more than 51,000 students, of whom nearly 33,000 attend part time.
50 Most Influential Virginians, including Power Couples and People on the Move
2015-03-01T11:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Largestcos_orbital.pngAn Orbital ATK Inc. Antares rocket explodes shortly after launch in October. AP Photo/NASA, Joel Kowsky
Dramatic events are taking place at some of state’s biggest companies
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/dramatic-events-are-taking-place-at-some-of-states-biggest-companies#When:11:00:00ZVirginia has always prided itself as a good place for business. After all, the Virginia colony was started in 1607 as a business enterprise, not a refuge for religious dissenters.
Many companies that have taken root here have become major international enterprises. Our list of the 50 largest publicly traded companies based in the commonwealth, for example, includes 41 with more than $1 billion in annual revenue.
The group is a diverse lot, ranging from defense contractors such as Falls Church-based General Dynamics to Bristol-based coal mining company Alpha Natural
Resources to Toano-based flooring retailer Lumber Liquidators.
Behind the rankings and the numbers are sometimes dramatic events. Dulles-based Orbital ATK is forging ahead after a failed rocket launch at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility last October. Sterling-based Neustar is fighting to keep its longtime national contract for managing phone number portability, which represents half its revenue.
Waynesboro-based wireless phone service Ntelos has refocused its business on the western half of Virginia and West Virginia after abandoning its territories in Hampton Roads and Richmond.
Soon to join the list of largest public companies is Richmond-based Performance Food Group, No. 2 on the list of largest private companies in the commonwealth. The food distributor announced plans in September to hold an initial public offering to raise $100 million.
The state’s largest privately owned company is candy maker Mars Inc., based in McLean.
With the help of Equilar Inc., Virginia Business follows compensation trends among the commonwealth’s largest companies. In the latest report, based on the most recent proxies, the top earning executive was a woman, Phebe Novakovic, the CEO of General Dynamics.
Virginia also is home to seven companies on Black Enterprise magazine’s list of 100 biggest African-American businesses. They are Thompson Hospitality, SENTEL Corp., SoBran Inc., Capstone Corp., Metters Industries Inc., Advanced Systems Development Inc. and InScope International.
2015-03-01T11:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/CRE_Kroger1986.pngMajor grocery store retailers are locating more stores in Virginia. Photo by Mark Rhodes
Groceries anchor mixed-use projects
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/groceries-anchor-mixed-use-projects#When:11:00:00ZMove over multi-family. The new darling in Virginia’s construction market is the grocery-anchored, mixed-use center. During the past year, several major grocery stores, including Kroger, Wegmans and Martin’s, have either built or announced new stores.
Whole Foods, Harris Teeter, Fresh Market and Wal-Mart also are expanding their number of stores. Typically, they serve as anchor tenants in mixed-use developments that strive to create environments where people can live, work and play.
Mixed-use developments are big around the state, especially in and around Tysons Corner, where the opening of the expanded Silver Line Metro last summer has sparked millions of square feet of new development.
Health care is another driver in mixed-use development. Developers are including medical office buildings in centers near apartments and shopping like the $50 million, 160,000-square-foot Short Pump Medical Center complex that’s going up in Henrico County.
There’s also a surge in the building of assisted-living communities, rehabilitation centers and nursing homes, driven by the aging baby-boomer demographic.
Throw in hotel projects under construction such as the $126 million, public/private, hotel/conference center in downtown Norfolk, and it’s easy to understand why contractors expressed a sense of optimism during a recent survey by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), an Arlington-based trade group. It found that 80 percent of the U.S. construction firms that were polled planned to expand their payrolls this year, with Virginia reporting more expansion plans than any other state.
The construction industry also is keeping an eye on large energy infrastructure projects. If a federal agency approves a new 550-mile natural gas pipeline that would come through Virginia, the $5 billion project would create hundreds of construction jobs.
While work hasn’t returned to pre-recession levels, the overall mood is brighter than it has been in years.
Construction & development
2015-03-01T11:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/2014-06-18-Tranlin-Announcement.pngPhoto courtesy Governor of Virginia
Projects announced in 2014 expected to create 18,672 jobs
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/projects-announced-in-2014-expected-to-create-18672-jobs#When:11:00:00ZFrom paper products to data centers and automotive parts, Virginia attracted its share of major new business deals last year. Altogether, the state announced 286 new deals and expansions expected to create 18,672 jobs and $5.5 billion in investment.
The figures were up from 2013 when the state’s Virginia Economic Development Partnership reported 321 announcements representing $3.6 billion in investment and 16,135 new jobs.
The show stopper deal came from China’s Shandong Tranlin Paper Co. In the largest investment ever by a Chinese company in Virginia’s history, Shandong plans to invest $2 billion during the next five years to build its first U.S. advanced manufacturing operation in Chesterfield County. By 2020, the plant’s paper and pulp operations should bring 2,000 new jobs in Central Virginia. The icing on the cake? Shandong will make environmentally friendly paper products from corn stalks and wheat straw, creating new “cash crops” for Virginia farmers.
Data centers continue their strong showing, representing two of the state’s top five investment deals in 2014.
Manufacturing also saw resurgence. One of the largest deals, a $150 million expansion by Continental Automotive Systems in Newport News, is expected to create 525 new jobs.
Virginia continues to enjoy respectable rankings on national lists even as it grapples with issues such as improving its transportation network and diversifying its economy. The commonwealth came in No. 10 on Site Selection magazine’s annual list of the Top Ten State Business Climates and slipped from No. 1 to No. 4 on Forbes.com’s Best States for Business.
Steep cuts in the country’s national defense budgets have Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads working to reinvent their economies. NOVA, however, got good news in February when Inova decided to lease the 117-acre Exxon Mobil Fairfax campus for a new multimillion Personalized Health Center. The project is expected to jumpstart a biotech boom and help replace some of the lost federal jobs.
50 most influential Virginians
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/50-most-influential-virginians1#When:11:00:00ZBusiness leaders bemoan them, but people always read them. So hats off to our annual power list. The 2015 list of Virginia’s 50 most influential business leaders shines a light on the men and women who are shaping policy, deals, companies and real estate in Virginia.
As power ebbs and flows, some names drop off the list, while new faces move on. Among this year’s newcomers: CEO Gracia Martore, who’s taking media giant Gannett in a new direction; Bill and Pam Royall of Richmond, philanthropic heavyweights in the arts community and founders of a successful college direct-marketing company that recently was sold for $850 million; and Ed Walker of Roanoke, who helped usher in a era of downtown urban activism by renovating some of the city’s most iconic buildings.
For inclusion on our list, editors look for leaders who are making a difference. They aren’t afraid to wield influence, be it political, social, financial or philanthropic, to get things done.
Virginia Business does not consider elected officials or college and university presidents. We tend to stay away from heads of government agencies, although occasionally one may slip in, like this year’s John Reinhart. As CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority, he oversees one of Virginia’s most significant economic assets and has the port turning a profit rather than a loss. Being in the black? Always an attribute of power.
50 Most Influential Virginians, including Power Couples and People on the Move
Head of Center for Innovative Technology to step down Dec. 31
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/head-of-center-for-innovative-technology-to-step-down-dec.-31#When:21:37:00ZPeter Jobse, CEO of Herndon-based Center for Innovative Technology since 2003, plans the leave the state nonprofit corporation at the end of the year.
Jobse joined the Center for Innovative Technology in October 2002 as executive vice president and chief operating officer. In May 2003, he was named CEO by CIT's board of directors.
“I commend Pete for the work he has done to put CIT in a solid position that will allow it to be an integral part of growing the New Virginia Economy,” Gov. Terry McAuliffe said in a statement.
During Jobse's tenure, CIT founded the GAP Funds, a venture portfolio of three seed-stage funds. Jobse also created the Connect Service Line, a consulting service that has produced over $40 million in technology consulting contracts.
Mach37 was founded in 2013 as the nation's first cybersecurity accelerator. It now has a portfolio of 17 companies and will create an average of 12 companies a year.
Before coming to CIT, Jobse had a long career at EDS and as a founder of ArcSight, a security startup acquired by Hewlett-Packard. He plans to return to the private sector after stepping down at CIT on Dec. 31.
The CIT board of directors has created a CEO search committee.2015-02-27T21:37:00+00:00
Virginia ranks sixth in telecommuting opportunities
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-ranks-sixth-in-telecommuting-opportunities#When:09:37:00ZVirginia ranks sixth when it comes to at-home telecommuting opportunities, according to FlexJobs, which specializes in telecommuting and flexible job opportunities.
According to its survey of more than 30,000 companies, FlexJobs found that 4.5 percent of Virginia's population worked from home. Major employers offering telecommuting opportunities include Bulletin Intelligence, Salesforce and Pitney Bowes.
FlexJob's list included the top 10 states where companies recruit the most state-based telecommuters. According to FlexJobs, 96.5 percent of telecommuting jobs require the worker to live in a specific location.
FlexJob's list includes:
3. New York
9. New Jersey
Deltek plans to acquire Texas-based talent management solutions company
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/deltek-plans-to-acquire-texas-based-talent-management-solutions-company#When:22:16:00ZHerndon-based Deltek plans to acquire HRsmart, a Texas-based a provider of talent management solutions with more than 1,000 customers around the world.
Deltek is a provider of enterprise software and information solutions for professional services firms and government contractors.
The company said the HRsmart deal would make it a a significant player in the talent management market. It said HRsmart, based in Richardson, Texas, would offer it a unified platform for recruiting, training, compensating and developing employees.
Financial details on the deal were not disclosed. The acquisition is expected to close in coming weeks.
Deltek has 18,000 customers.2015-02-26T22:16:00+00:00
JLL Capital Markets arranges $40.4 million in financing for three office buildings in Chantilly
JLL’s Capital Markets has arranged $40.4 million in financing on behalf of Federal Partners for a three-building, 409,478-square-foot Class A office portfolio in Chantilly.
BB&T provided the seven-year loan. Liberty Center I, II and III are located in the Westfields Corporate Center, a popular location for cybersecurity and defense-related industry tenants.
According to JLL, the properties are leased to three investment-grade tenants. All three properties offer enhanced security features, audio-visual capabilities and space necessary to conduct business with government intelligence agencies.
Executive Vice President Jon Goldstein, Managing Director Wesley Boatwright and Executive Vice President Mike Yavinsky led the JLL team on the transaction.
“The portfolio’s outstanding tenancy, prominent location within Westfields Corporate Center and exceptional sponsorship were all factors that generated significant lender interest,” Goldstein said in a statement. “Ultimately, BB&T was selected because it offered the optimal combination of loan terms and flexibility.”
Federal Partners is a co-investment joint venture between Spaulding & Slye Investments and one of the nation’s largest pension funds in the United States. Established in 2004, Federal Partners focuses on acquiring U.S. federal government and government contractor leased properties.
JLL Capital Markets is a global provider of capital solutions for real estate investors and occupiers including sales, financing, repositioning, advisory or recapitalization execution. In 2013 JLL Capital Markets completed $99 billion in investment sale and debt and equity transactions globally. The firm’s Capital Markets team includes a staff of 1,300.2015-02-26T20:11:00+00:00
First Tennessee names commercial banking relationship manager
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/first-tennessee-names-commercial-banking-relationship-manager#When:20:08:00ZCharlie Vaughters has joined First Tennessee Bank in Richmond as commercial banking relationship manager.
Vaughters specializes in corporate loans and treasury/cash management solutions as well as international products and loans.
He is a University of Virginia Darden School of Business graduate with eight years in banking.
The bank’s Richmond team will move into a new 6,000-square-foot Virginia headquarters at Reynolds Crossings this spring.
First Tennessee Bank is part of First Horizon National Corp. Founded in Memphis in 1864, the bank expanded to Richmond seven years ago.2015-02-26T20:08:00+00:00
Skanska USA hires Thomas Rathburn as project executive for Washington, D.C., region
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/skanska-usa-hires-thomas-rathburn-as-project-executive-for-washington-d.c#When:20:08:00ZSkanska USA has hired Thomas Rathburn as project executive for its Washington, D.C. region. Rathburn brings more than 28 years of experience in various construction sectors, including base building, life sciences, technologies, oil and gas and heavy highway and infrastructure development.
In his role at Skanska, he will work on commercial development projects within the greater Washington/Baltimore area.
Rathburn is a D.C. area native and a graduate of Virginia Tech, with a bachelor’s degree in building construction. He serves on the industry board of Tech’s Myers/Lawson School of Construction.
Skanska USA is one of the largest construction and development companies in the U.S. Based out of New York, it has offices in 33 metro areas, with more than 9,600 employees. In 2013, its work in building construction, including infrastructure development (public-private partnerships), generated nearly $7 billion in revenue. The revenue of parent company, Skanska AB, headquartered in Stockholm, totaled $21 billion in 2013.2015-02-26T20:08:00+00:00
Engility completes acquisition of TASC
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/engility-completes-acquisition-of-tasc#When:19:49:00ZEngility Holdings Inc. announced Thursday it had completed its $1.3 billion acquisition of TASC Inc.
Chantilly-based Engility is a government services contractor. TASC, which also is based in Chantilly, provides services to national security and public safety customers. For 2014, the combined company generated estimated revenue of approximately $2.5 billion and adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) of $210 million. Together the combined company has more than 2,000 contracts and task orders.
In a statement, Engility’s president and CEO Tony Smeraglinolo said the acquisition will among other things, help the company diversify its customer base and improve its cash flow and adjusted earnings.
The combined company will be led by a mix of executives from Engility and TASC. Engility’s CEO is leading the organization, while TASC’s former CEO, John P. Hynes Jr., is now chief operating officer of the merged firm. David Savner and Peter A. Marino are serving as non-executive co-chairmen of the firm, which has expanded its board of directors from seven members to 11 members.2015-02-26T19:49:00+00:00
First Bank receives approval to acquire six branches from Bank of America
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/first-bank-receives-approval-to-acquire-six-branches-from-bank-of-america#When:01:59:00ZStrasburg-based First Bank is one step closer to acquiring six bank branches in Virginia from Bank of America.
First Bank received approval to acquire the branches from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond and the Bureau of Financial Institutions, a regulatory division of the Virginia State Corporation Commission. The acquisition, first announced in November, is expected to go through April 17.
First Bank plans to obtain retail branches in Woodstock, Staunton, Waynesboro, Elkton, Farmville and Dillwyn. First Bank expects to be the largest bank headquartered in the Shenandoah Valley after the transaction closes with 16 branches and more than $750 million in total assets.
"We are very pleased to receive this approval and excited about expanding deeper into the Shenandoah Valley and central Virginia," Scott C. Harvard, president and CEO of First National Corp., the bank’s parent company, said in a statement. "This strategic acquisition of an excellent deposit franchise expands our banking presence in Virginia, includes an experienced and talented team of associates, provides core funding for the future, and complements our existing loan production offices in Staunton and Harrisonburg.”
First Bank, which opened in 1907, currently offers loan, deposit, and wealth management products and services.2015-02-26T01:59:00+00:00
Lumber Liquidators stock falls 26.4 percent
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/lumber-liquidators-stock-falls-26.4-percent#When:22:42:00ZThe stock price of Toano-based Lumber Liquidators fell more than 25 percent Wednesday after the company disclosed it is facing possible criminal charges brought by federal prosecutors.
Lumber Liquidators officials also said in a conference call that they were expecting a negative report on the company on the CBS television news show “60 Minutes,” according to CNBC.
The company on Wednesday reported fourth quarter earnings of 64 cents per share on $272 million in net sales. Both numbers missed analysts' expectations.
Lumber Liquidators’ stock closed at $50.63 a share on Wednesday, down 26.4 percent from Tuesday.
In September 2013, Lumber Liquidators’ offices in Richmond and Toano were raided by officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service looking for information about the company’s importation of wood flooring products.
“Since then, we have been cooperating with the federal authorities, including the Department of Justice (DOJ), in their investigation,” the company said in a regulatory filing. “ In recent communications, the DOJ indicated that it is contemplating seeking criminal charges under the Lacey Act… At this time, we do not have enough information to estimate a reasonably possible loss or range of loss that may result from actions by the DOJ as a result of its investigation.”
The Lacey Act is a federal conservation law that prohibits trade in wildlife, fish, and plants that have been illegally sold. According to news reports, the investigation appears to concern wood from eastern Russia.
Virginia Retirement System picks Windham Capital as strategic partner
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-retirement-system-picks-windham-capital-as-strategic-partner#When:22:40:00ZThe Richmond-based Virginia Retirement System has chosen Boston-based Windham Capital Management as a strategic partner, managing $200 million.
Windham will manage the money under its “risk regime” strategy, a risk-based, multi-asset class portfolio.
“We are honored to be selected by a prestigious institution like the Virginia Retirement System,” Mark Kritzman, the founder and CEO of Windham Capital Management, said in a statement.
“We believe our unique approach to risk management and asset allocation will add value to the system and look forward to working with members of the investment team and investment committee to cultivate the strategic partnership,” he said.
The partnership is part of an initiative, called the Innovation Fund, recently begun by the retirement system. The Innovation Fund focuses on finding unique sources of return and identifying new ways of looking at risk.
Founded in 1988, Windham Capital is an independent asset management firm that focuses on risk-based investment solutions.2015-02-25T22:40:00+00:00
Survey finds military millennials more focused on financial future
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/survey-finds-military-millennials-more-focused-on-financial-future#When:21:04:00ZA survey by Vienna-based Navy Federal Credit Union finds that millennials who serve in the military are more likely than their civilian contemporaries to adopt long-term financial goals.
The survey found that 66 percent of millennials on active duty or with an active duty spouse have made plans for their financial future. By contrast, 49 percent of civilian millennials have made financial plans.
In addition, 58 percent of military millennials believe they have the financial literacy to meet their goals, compared to 37 percent of civilians.
The survey also indicated, however, that millennials in the general population have made strong gains in improving their financial habits during the past year.
Navy Federal said monitoring the financial habits of millennials is important because of the growing influence they will have on the economy. U.S. Census Bureau projects they will surpass baby boomers this year as the nation's largest living generation.
Navy Federal commissioned global market research firm ORC International to conduct the survey. Respondents were separated into two groups: active-duty military millennials (or their spouses) and the general millennial population. The report presents findings conducted among a sample of 1,311 adults 18 years of age and older. This includes 300 active-duty military millennials (or their spouses) and 1,011 general population adults. The survey was live from Nov. 24 to Dec. 8.
Navy Federal Credit Union is the world's largest credit union with $62 billion in assets, 5 million members, 259 branches, and a workforce of over 12,000 employees worldwide. The credit union serves all Department of Defense and Coast Guard active duty, civilian, and contractor personnel and their families.2015-02-25T21:04:00+00:00
Dollar Tree sales up ahead of merger
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/dollar-tree-sales-up-ahead-of-merger#When:19:18:00ZDiscount retailer Dollar Tree Inc. announced Wednesday that its fourth-quarter sales grew 10.8 percent to $2.48 billion.
Quarterly profit was $206.6 million, or $1 per share, compared with $213 million, or $1.02 per diluted share, during the fourth quarter of 2013. Profit would be $239 million excluding costs associated with Dollar Tree’s pending acquisition of Family Dollar.
The Chesapeake-based company also announced that it expects to divest no more than 300 stores to gain clearance from the Federal Trade Commission for the Family Dollar deal. Dollar Tree said it expects to reach an agreement with the FTC in early March and wants to close on the Family Dollar deal by April 27.
During the fourth quarter, Dollar Tree opened 90 stores, expanded or relocated six stores and closed five stores. Retail selling space increased 7.4 percent to 46.5 million square feet.
Full-year sales rose 9.7 percent to $8.6 billion, compared with $7.84 billion the prior year. Profit for 2014 rose $2.5 million to $599.2 million, or $2.90 per diluted share, including acquisition-related costs.2015-02-25T19:18:00+00:00
Homeland Security Solutions adds new member to board of directors
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/homeland-security-solutions-adds-new-member-to-board-of-directors#When:21:40:00ZVirginia-based Homeland Security Solutions (HSSI) announced Tuesday that Raymond Geoffroy has joined the company’s board of directors. He is the former assistant deputy commandant, plans, policies and operations (security)at the United States Marine Corps.
HSSI provides training, technology, and professional services to law enforcement and security organizations at the federal, state and local level. The firm has offices in Hampton and Alexandria.
As senior special advisor to the board, Geoffroy is expected to help strengthen HSSI’s visibility in the security, law enforcement, and public safety sectors.
Geoffroy retired in October after more than 23 years in federal civil service with the Marine Corps. As deputy assistant commandant his responsibilities ranged from being the Marine Corps chief law enforcement officer to protecting Marine Corps installations and operating forces.
He graduated from the Federal Executive Institute, the National War College and the FBI’s National Executive Institute.2015-02-24T21:40:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/mcb_headshot.jpg
Rolls-Royce North America names new CEO
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/rolls-royce-north-america-names-new-ceo#When:20:27:00ZRolls-Royce North America has named Marion C. Blakey as its next president and CEO and chair of its board of directors.
Blakey is the current president and CEO of the Arlington-based Aerospace Industries Association, where she has served for almost eight years.
Blakey will succeed James M. Guyette, who is retiring from Rolls-Royce in May.
Previously, Blakey served a five-year term as administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, where she managed 44,000 employees and a $14 billion budget. From 2001 to 2002, she chaired the National Transportation Safety Board.
Blakey received her bachelor’s degree from the Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia and attended Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies for graduate work in Middle East Affairs.2015-02-24T20:27:00+00:00
The future of retail real estate
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/the-future-of-retail-real-estate#When:18:30:00ZIf you want to see the future of retail real estate, look no further than Apple or Tesla. These brand-centric retailers who push products through multiple channels and the innovative use of space represent the nimble nature of today’s retailers, the chairman of the International Council of Shopping Centers said Tuesday.
During an address to the 2015 Real Estate Circle of Excellence Breakfast in Richmond sponsored by Virginia Commonwealth University, Robert Welanetz outlined major trends in retail real estate to an audience of 175 people.
Whether it’s smart phones and mobile devices — Apple’s speciality — or Telsa’s electric-powered cars, retailers must be prepared to market products over various channels to be relevant, said Welanetz.
A global adviser for Blackstone Real Estate Partners, Welanetz lived in Shanghai, China, for eight years, 2004-2012. He said Apple’s first four stores in China experienced $800 million in sales in the first year, more than some sales for U.S. department store chains.
Apple stores, he added, are some of the most productive in the world. He credits the company’s success to the “culture of the whole organization from creating the product to delivery apps for the consumer to attach to the product.”
Tesla’s stores are the second most-productive behind Apple’s, he said. Founder Elon Musk’s ability “to predict changes to the consumer is an example of what will go on on in the retail world,” Welanetz said.
Appealing to shoppers over multiple channels is a huge trend. “Most retailers will tell you that the multi-channel customer is more valuable,” said Welanetz. That’s because they tend to spend 170 percent more than a single-source shopper, he added.
The use of social media is growing, and it’s important to tap into this trend, he advises, with 53 percent of the people on Twitter recommending products. Studies show that 90 percent of consumers trust peer recommendations, he said, so positive exposure on Twitter is valuable.
Overall, Welanetz identified global instability as the biggest threat to retail real estate. With wars, ethnic unrest and terrorism in many parts of the world, “how can people think about consumption when so much is going on?”
Asked what shopping malls are doing to shore up security in response to a recent revelation that a terrorist group was advocating attacks on malls in North America, Welanetz responded that many malls employ heads of security and off-site contractors to boost security. Some have police stations within their premises, and malls are working hard to stay ahead on internal and external security.
“I think we are doing our part,” he said. Yet with large numbers of people coming through, “it’s hard to be 100 percent protective, but I hope we’re meeting the benchmark.”
Other key drivers that Welanetz said are driving retail real estate:
· Shifting demographics.
More than half the world’s population is made up of people under the age 30. These people use mobile devices.
· Social media
While retailers need to use it to stay relevant, clicks don’t necessarily mean the death of bricks, with some shoppers still wanting to come in person to see merchandise before buying. Welanetz said studies show that 48 percent of consumers say they have ordered an item online and picked it up at the store, while another 37 percent did research online about an item and made their purchase in a store. Another 35 percent said they purchased merchandise online.
In the U.S. online sales represent about 12.2 percent of all retail sales. In the United Kingdom, Welanetz said the figure is 7.9 percent and in China the rate is 1.6 percent.
It will probably level off at some point, he added, with some experts guessing that the figure will grow to between 15 and 20 percent.
· Urbanization and resurgence of urban population growth
In the U. S. the lack of new development in recent years as a response to the Great Recession prompted more urban infill and the suburban regeneration of existing assets. Mixed-use developments that combine, residential , retail and commercial, are popular.
“The importance of food in retail settings has jumped dramatically,” he says.
Today, in a one million-square-foot project, developers are devoting about 30 to 40 percent of the space to food and food-related retailers, such as restaurants, bars and grocery stores, Welanetz noted. That compares to about five percent of the space in previous years.
Food trucks represent another big trend. “In most major U. S. cities, food trucks have become a gourmet distribution point for ethnic goods.”
This is the science of matching up what consumers are thinking about and what they will respond to. “While customers all look the same, they don’t all act the same,” he said. " … Relevance to the end user is the key question.”
“People want the context of their shopping centers to be real.”2015-02-24T18:30:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/White.jpg
Scott White joins board of directors of Harrison & Bates
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/scott-white-joins-board-of-directors-of-harrison-bates#When:16:25:00ZG. Scott White has been elected to the Board of Directors of Harrison & Bates Inc., the local commercial real estate affiliate doing business as Colliers International in Richmond and Norfolk. White, a senior vice president, has been with the firm for 30 years and specializes in office brokerage.
In another promotion at the firm, Matthew Hamilton was named vice president. Hamilton has been with the firm four years and also specializes in office brokerage.2015-02-24T16:25:00+00:00
Friends of Nelson to produce its own study on economic impact of pipeline.
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/friends-of-nelson-to-produce-its-own-study-on-economic-impact-of-pipeline#When:22:39:00ZFriends of Nelson, a group opposed to a proposed 550-mile natural gas pipeline that would run through Nelson County for about 35 miles, plans to produce its own economic impact study on the project.
“Dominion’s latest effort, a report entitled ‘The Economic Impacts of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline,’ fails to be a credible and comprehensive analysis of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline impacts on market area natural gas and electric prices, as well as the impacts on regional economies,” the group said in a press release.
Dominion, along with three other energy companies, has proposed the $5 billion pipeline project, contending that it is critical to getting competitively priced natural gas to Southeastern markets.
Earlier this month, Dominion released a report that it commissioned, which said the pipeline could save consumers and businesses $377 million annually in energy costs. In addition, the Virginia-based consulting firm of ICF International said that Virginia and North Carolina electricity consumers would benefit because the lower cost of natural gas to fuel power generation would result in lower electricity bills.
The project has drawn support from Gov. Terry McAuliffe and other public officials as a creator of jobs and economic development.
Friends of Nelson says the report focuses on only one side of the balance sheet. “The economic and social costs to communities of construction, monitoring and maintenance, including the effect of natural gas exports on domestic gas prices, which are real costs, are neither acknowledged nor addressed in the report,” Ernie Reed, of Friends of Nelson, said in a statement.
According to the group, Dominion’s report did not address an array of losses, which could come from building the massive pipeline. It listed things such as loss of property values to landowners, the loss of natural scenic value, the costs to water, soil and personal property in the event of an explosion or accident, the costs of repairing roads damaged by heavy truck traffic during construction and the loss of property rights through possible exercise of eminent domain should the project win approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Friends of Nelson said its report would focus on the economic and socioeconomic costs to Nelson County on the construction, maintenance, operation and monitoring of the pipeline.
“The economy of Nelson County is based on tourism, agriculture, recreation and the scenic beauty of the Rockfish Valley. These and so much more are threated by the proposed pipeline,” said Joanna Salidis, the group’s president.
Nelson County landowners and supporters will finance the report, which is expected to be complete in May.
Dominion continued to see resistance to the project on another front Monday when protestors that were part of a “Richmond People’s Climate March” disrupted traffic near Dominion’s corporate headquarters in downtown Richmond. The march began at about 7 a.m. at the Capitol Bell Tower, and demonstrators headed to Second and Tredegar Streets, where they blocked traffic. When some of the protestors refused to move away from the street, police arrested one of them for disorderly conduct.2015-02-23T22:39:00+00:00
Public colleges and universities sign economic development agreement
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/public-colleges-and-universities-sign-economic-development-agreement#When:21:46:00ZVirginia’s public institutions of higher education on Monday announced a new agreement with state agencies to help promote economic development in the commonwealth.
The agreement between college and university leaders with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and the Center of Innovative Technology (CIT) renewed and expanded on a similar agreement signed in 2012.
Maurice Jones, Virginia’s secretary of commerce and trade, said at a signing ceremony that the commonwealth’s higher education institutions are crucial partners in economic development. When major companies are asked what they are looking for in a new location, the first response is a “high-quality higher education institution for my folks.”
The new memorandum of understanding adds CIT to the group, includes entrepreneurs in its target audience and takes more concrete steps toward crafting a coordinated marketing effort. One of the goals of the agreement is to raise awareness of what public colleges and universities have to offer in helping businesses and boosting regional economic development.
The expanded partnership is expected to increase the number of corporate contacts and project leads, improve internships and hiring opportunities for Virginia graduates and compile information about business-related research.
The new agreement will remain in effect until 2018.2015-02-23T21:46:00+00:00
Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer reports a strong start for 2015
If the first month of the year is any sign, it looks like Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer is off to a rousing start for 2015. The firm reported that its ten Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina offices completed 132 lease transactions totaling more than 1,019,000 square feet with a transactional value of more than $87.1 million during the month of January – a 174% increase in lease volume over the firm’s January 2014 performance.
In addition, Thalhimer executed 20 sale transactions in January totaling over 1,892,000 square feet and more than $136.1 million in sales volume – a 153% increase over its January 2014 performance.
“These positive numbers are evidence that our markets are gaining momentum, and our team is in position to capture the momentum on behalf of our clients,” Lee Warfield, Thalhimer’s president said in a statement.2015-02-23T21:14:00+00:00
State seeks consent order imposing a $361,000 penalty on CSX in response to oil rail car spill
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/state-seeks-consent-order-imposing-a-361000-penalty-on-csx-in-response-to-o#When:21:09:00ZThe Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has proposed a consent order in response to the derailment of a railcar that caught fire in the James River in Lynchburg on April 30, 2014.
The order imposes a $361,000 civil charge against tanker car owner CSX Transportation Inc.
An investigation by DEQ and CSX determined that of the more than 29,000 gallons of crude oil in the breached tanker, about 98 percent was consumed in the fire. DEQ said in a press release that it checked water quality for several days along the river from Lynchburg to Richmond and observed no other environmental concerns at the time.
The consent order is based on state law that prohibits release of oil to land or water.
The order, to which CSX has agreed, also calls for CSX to pay more than $18,500 for DEQ’s investigative costs following the spill. In addition, CSX will complete restoration of the James River bank in the area of the derailment and conduct monitoring of the river to determine if there are any long-term environmental impacts from the incident.
The public has until March 25, to submit comments on the order before it goes to the State Water Control Board for final approval.
Since the Lynchburg spill, CSX had another one on Feb. 16, in Mount Carbon, W.Va., about 30 miles from the state’s capital of Charleston. In both cases, rail tanker cars were carrying Bakken crude oil from North Dakota to an oil-shipping depot in Yorktown.
In West Virginia, CSX was carrying 3 million gallons of crude oil. About 20 tanker cars jumped the track, causing a fireball that burned one home to the ground and forced the evacuation of two towns and temporarily closed two nearby water treatment plants.
After the second spill, Virginia Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine urged federal regulators to move up its review of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s proposed regulations regarding operational controls for high-hazard flammable trains.
“We must enact new, stronger standards for these tank cars that carry dangerous materials through our communities,” Sens. Warner and Kaine wrote in a Feb. 20 letter to the administrator of the Office of Management and Budget. “The sooner these standards are in place, the sooner manufacturers can bring safer tank cars to market. Until then, the industry continues to wait for clearer direction, and thousands of Virginians along this route bear the risk of future accidents.”
Sens. Warner and Kaine are lobbying for regulations requiring the strongest possible tank cars, and a requirement that railroads transporting Bakken crude oil notify emergency response officials in the communities along the rail corridor.2015-02-23T21:09:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Dr._Ronald_A._Crutcher_small2.jpgRonald Andrew Crutcher | University of Richmond photo.
University of Richmond names next president
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/university-of-richmond-names-next-president#When:18:14:00ZThe University of Richmond has named Ronald Andrew Crutcher as its next president. Crutcher, the retired president of Wheaton College in Norton, Mass., will become Richmond’s 10th president on July 1 when he’ll succeed Edward L. Ayers.
From 2004 to 2014 Crutcher was president of Wheaton College, a private college enrolling approximatley 1,650 students. The appointment concludes a national search by Richmond’s Board of Directors.
“Our charge was to find an outstanding leader who would build on the University’s momentum and strengths, further enhance academic quality, engage alumni actively in the life of the University, secure wider recognition for the University’s excellence and ensure Richmond successfully navigates the challenges that all of higher education will face in the coming years,” George W. Wellde Jr., co-chair of the search committee and a past rector at the university, said in a statement. “We believe we have found all of that in Ron Crutcher. Not surprisingly, the position attracted an exceptional pool of candidates, and even among this very strong field, Ron stood out.”
While at Wheaton, Crutcher oversaw the largest capital project in the college’s history, a $46 million science center. He also led the most successful campaign in Wheaton’s history, which secured more than $137 million during the economic downturn. As president of
Wheaton, he also helped increase enrollment, diversify the student body and create new faculty positions and programs in film, neuroscience and bioinformatics, among others.
Prior to heading Wheaton College, he was provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Miami University of Ohio. Earlier in his career, he was director of the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin (1994 to 1999) and dean of the Conservatory at the Cleveland Institute of Music (1990 to 1994).
Crutcher currently serves as co-chair of LEAP (Liberal Education and America’s Promise), the Association of American Colleges & Universities’ national campaign to promote wider understanding of the importance of liberal education in preparing students for careers and citizenship. He has also served on the Board of the American Council on Education (ACE) and the Fulbright Association and was chair of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts.
In addition to being president, Crutcher will be a music professor at Richmond. He is a former member of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and several other symphonies and currently performs in the U.S. and Europe as a member of the Klemperer Trio.
He serves or has served on the boards of the Berklee College of Music, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Cincinnati Opera Association, the Austin Symphony Orchestra and the Harlem Spiritual Ensemble. He was president of Chamber Music America from 1996 to 2000.
Crutcher, who began studying the cello at 14, became the first cellist to receive the doctor of musical arts degree from Yale, where he also earned his master’s. He earned his undergraduate degree from Miami University.
He is married to Betty Neal Crutcher, a consultant who leads workshops for organizations and institutions in cross-cultural mentoring. They have a daughter, Sara Crutcher, who lives in Chicago.2015-02-23T18:14:00+00:00
Retail Properties of America expands in greater Washington, D.C., market
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/retail-properties-of-america-expands-in-greater-washington-d.c.-market#When:17:02:00ZRetail Properties of America Inc., an Oak Brook, Ill.-based REIT, continues to expand its footprint in the greater Washington, D.C., market.
In late January, the company closed on the acquisition of two properties — Merrifield Town Center in Falls Church for $56.5 million and Fort Evans Plaza II in Leesburg for $65 million.
GlobeSt.com reports that the company announced another group of acquisitions, including a 38,000-square-foot strip shopping mall in Tysons Corner from Finmarc Management.
In late January, Retail Properties said it ownedmore than 2.9 million square feet in the Washington,D.C./Baltimore area.
“These acquisitions represent a significant expansion in oneof our target markets, as we continue to execute on our long-term geographic concentration strategy,” Shane Garrison, the REIT’s COO, said in a statement.
Merrifield Town Center includes 85,000 square feet of street-level retail beneath two high-rise residential buildings. The center sits at the main entrance to the Mosaic District, a 31-acre, mixed-use
urban project, that includes retail, office, residential and hotel space. The center is one mile from the Dunn Loring Merrifield Metrorail station.
Fort Evans Plaza II is a 229,000-square-foot power center with a mix of national retail tenants.2015-02-23T17:02:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Judd_William.jpgWilliam Judd | Pediatric Specialists of Virginia photo.
Pediatric Specialists of Virginia names chief operating officer
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/pediatric-specialists-of-virginia-names-chief-operating-officer#When:16:37:00ZPediatric Specialists of Virginia (PSV), a joint venture between Children’s National Medical Center and Falls Church-based Inova, has tapped William Judd as its chief operating officer. Judd was the regional vice president for the Maryland Operations of National Spine & Pain Centers, the nation’s largest interventional pain management practice.
In his new role, Judd will focus on guiding PSV through its next stage of development and growth. PSV is a physician group practice that was formed in 2013. The nonprofit, which launched with five specialties, has tripled in size over the last 18 months and plans to continue its growth in the next several years, including the expansion of a pediatric Ambulatory Surgery Center in Spring 2015.
Judd served as COO for Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center & Regional Health System in Fort Meade, Md.; COO for DiLorenzo TRICARE Health Clinic-Pentagon in Arlington and senior health policy analyst in the Office of the Army Surgeon General in Falls Church.
He received a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of New Hampshire in Durham, N.H., and an master’s degree in health-care administration from Baylor University in Waco, Texas.2015-02-23T16:37:00+00:00
Leidos adds member to board of directors
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/leidos-adds-member-to-board-of-directors#When:16:29:00ZReston-based Leidos has appointed Gary May to its board of directors. May is the dean of the College of Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.
Before becoming dean, May chaired Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering from 2005 to 2011. From 2002 to 2005, he was executive assistant to Tech President G. Wayne Clough.
May received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Georgia Tech in 1985 and master and doctorate degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California at Berkeley.
Leidos is a Fortune 500 company, which provides services to national security, health and engineering clients. The company reported annual revenues of approximately $5.77 billion for its fiscal year ended Jan. 31.2015-02-23T16:29:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Rob-Wright-Dark-SMALL.jpg
Rob Wright joins Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer as a senior vice president
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/rob-wright-joins-cushman-wakefield-thalhimer-as-a-senior-vice-president#When:16:23:00ZCushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer announces that Rob Wright has joined the firm’s Virginia Beach office as a senior vice president. Wright will focus on landlord and tenant representation of office and retail properties throughout Virginia.
Before joining Thalhimer, Wright worked for The Katsias Co. He is a graduate of The University of Virginia.
Olde Jamestowne Apartments in Williamsburg sells for $3 million
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/olde-jamestowne-apartments-in-williamsburg-sells-for-3-million#When:16:10:00ZOlde Jamestowne Apartments LLC has purchased the 52-unit Olde Jamestowne Apartments in Williamsburg for $3 million or about $58,000 per unit.
Jonathan Skinner of Harrison and Lear Inc. in Hampton represented the buyer in the transaction. John Wessling of S.L. Nusbaum Realty Co. represented the seller.
The complex previously was owned by Olde Jamestowne Associates LP. It consists of one-bedroom, one-bathroom units and, according to Harrison and Lear, was 100 percent occupied at the time of sale.
Harrison and Lear will serve as the managing agent for Olde Jamestowne.2015-02-23T16:10:00+00:00
S&V renews 64,000-square-foot lease in Newport News
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/sv-renews-64000-square-foot-lease-in-newport-news#When:16:08:00ZCushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer reports the following recent lease transactions in the Hampton Roads area:
S&V renewed a 64,000-square-foot lease at 5601 City Line Road in Newport News. Clay Culbreth represented the landlord in the lease negotiations.
Huntington Ingalls leased 40,766 square feet at 5201 City Line Road in Newport News Culbreth represented both the landlord and tenant in the negotiations.
Lockwood Brothers renewed its lease of 38,400 square feet in Tidewater Warehouses at 814 Childs Ave. in Hampton. Bobby Phillips handled the lease negotiations.
LifeNet Health, Inc. renewed a 15,000-square-foot lease in Rosemont Commerce Park at 3417 Chandler Creek Road in Virginia Beach. Janet Whitbeck handled the lease negotiations for the landlord.
Petco leased 11,236 square feet in Hanbury Village Shopping Center at 237 E. Hanbury Road. in Chesapeake. Richard L. Thalhimer handled the lease negotiations on behalf of Petco, and Ed Kimple and David Machupa represented the landlord.2015-02-23T16:08:00+00:00
Roanoke shopping center sells for $1.1 million
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/roanoke-shopping-center-sells-for-1.1-million#When:15:34:00ZThe Piccadilly Square Shopping Center at 3193 Franklin Road in Roanoke has sold for $1.1 million.
According to Poe & Cronk Real Estate Group, which brokered the deal, the 15,830-square-foot center is home to Elaine Stephenson Interiors, Mosaic Yarn, Punch Boutique and Edward Grant Salon. Bryan Musselwhite represented the purchaser, who was not disclosed, in the transaction.2015-02-23T15:34:00+00:00
JLL reports on Richmond leases
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/jll-reports-on-richmond-leases#When:15:31:00ZJLL recently completed several transactions in the Richmond region totaling 371,912 square feet. The transactions include the following:
· The Martin Agency leased 118,518 square feet at One Shockoe Plaza in Richmond. Ned Roberts represented the tenant.
· Southern Graphic System signed a lease for 88,384 square feet at 5301 Lewis Road in Sandston. Jimmy Appich, Adam Lawson and Jake Servinsky represented the tenant.
· Providence Service Corp. leased 34,931 square feet at 10304 Spotsylvania Ave. in Fredericksburg. Charlie Polk and Roberts represented the tenant.
· Creative Flooring of Virginia leased 24,280 square feet at 2801 Hermitage Road in Richmond. Jake Servinsky represented the tenant.
· AON leased 15,351 square feet at 7325 Beaufort Springs Drive in Richmond. Polk and Gareth Jones represented the tenant.
· BusinessSuites LP leased 13,107 square feet at 3900 Westerre Parkway in Richmond. Appich represented the tenant.
· Movement Mortgage signed a sublease for 18,517 square feet at 8720 Stony Point Parkway in Richmond. Adam Lawson and Scott Harrison represented the sublandlord.2015-02-23T15:31:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/BrianNewlinYHB.gif
Back to basics: password security
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/back-to-basics-password-security#When:10:14:00ZAnother widespread, high-profile security breach — this one at Virginia’s largest health insurance provider, Anthem — serves as a reminder that our business and customer information is targeted in a very real way on a regular basis. Securing sensitive information can no longer be deferred to the back-office information technology staff. It has become the responsibility of all employees. And one of the most effective ways to protect information is by using strong passwords.
Passwords serve the same purpose as the keys on your key ring. Would you install a lock on your home, car, or safe with a generic key used by lots of other people? Probably not. Consider a password a key that you can create yourself. With a little forethought and planning, your passwords can be strong and protect your business’s information, be easy to remember and can even help you learn new things. Here are some tips to make passwords manageable.
Protecting really important information
Some information is so important that it needs a unique and very strong password. Your email, online bank account, and investment accounts are probably the highest risk data you access online. Each of these accounts should have a long, complex, unique password. Here are my suggestions for creating a strong unique password.
• Select a song, movie or book — for example, the Beatles song “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” released in 1968. Take the first letter of each word, and add some special characters and/or more information to the beginning or end:
• Use a pass phrase. Long passwords are the strongest. If a password is long enough, it can include dictionary words without deprecating the password strength:
Protecting kind-of important information
All data are not created equal. Therefore, all passwords do not have to be created equally. For less-sensitive information, I suggest using what I call a Consistent Dynamic Password (CDP). This password has two parts. The first part is a strong default password. The second part is applicable to the data it is securing.
1. The first half of the CDP (the consistent part) is a strong default password with letters, numbers, a special character, no dictionary words, and at least 8 characters. You can use the suggestions above to create the first half. Continuing with the Beatles example, let’s use “WmGGW1968!” as the default password.
2. The second half of the CDP (the dynamic part) is to add a component applicable to the data being protected. For example, let’s say you are creating a password for your online Wall Street Journal subscription. The information protected by the password is not sensitive, but you still need a strong password. So, add something to the end of the default password like WallSt.
3. Combine the two components of the CDP to make a strong, easy to remember password: WmGGW1968!WallSt.
There are a few benefits to using the CDP for less sensitive accounts. First, although the data is less sensitive, the password is strong but easy to remember. Second, if the login credentials are compromised, they would not impact your other accounts because all of your passwords are different.
Using passwords to learn something new
Some passwords must be changed frequently, so you can use them to drill new information into your brain by finding something you want to learn and creating a password using that information. For example, I wanted to learn the military alphabet, so for about 18 months, my passwords included some derivative of Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, etc. You could consider historical events (JulyFour1776@Mer!c*) or phone numbers (867-5309#forJenny). A word of caution — most password cracking tools and rainbow tables account for the substitution of numbers or special characters for letters, so replacing A with @ and I with 1 does not help the cause.
Steve Gibson of Gibson Research Corp. suggests “password padding” as another method to craft easy to remember but difficult to crack passwords. Padding is the practice of adding a combination of characters to increase password length. For example, adding a character combination like, ^--^ to the beginning or end of a password makes it far less likely to be cracked. The password “password” would take 0.00217 seconds to crack. But padding it to create the password “password^--^” increases that time to 6.9 months! Another word of caution — using password as your password is a really bad idea.
Until all sensitive information includes some form of multi-factor authentication, passwords are sticking around. It’s best to accept this truism and make the best of it. Your data will continue to be targeted, and strong passwords will be the best first line of defense.
Bryan Newlin is an IT Audit Manager with Yount, Hyde & Barbour’s Risk Advisory Services Team in Winchester and a member of the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants (VSCPA). For more information contact Bryan at (540) 662-3417, firstname.lastname@example.org, or by visiting http://yhbcpa.com2015-02-23T10:14:00+00:00
U.Va. names new dean for School of Engineering and Applied Science
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/u.va.-names-new-dean-for-school-of-engineering-and-applied-science#When:22:14:00ZCraig H. Benson has been named dean of the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science. The appointment is effective July 1.
A member of the National Academy of Engineering, Benson chairs the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Department of Geological Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, He also co-directs the Office of Sustainability and directs Sustainability Research and Education.
Benson is also an affiliate professor at the university’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.
Benson will succeed James H. Aylor at U.Va., who will rejoin the faculty after a one-year sabbatical.
The School of Engineering and Applied Science is the second-largest of U.Va.’s 11 schools, with 2,688 undergraduate and 585 graduate students and 141 faculty members. The school offers 10 undergraduate degrees and 10 graduate degrees, and earned $49.2 million in sponsored research awards last year.
Benson received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Lehigh University and a master’s in civil engineering/geotechnical engineering and a doctorate in civil engineering/geoenvironmental engineering at the University of Texas at Austin.2015-02-20T22:14:00+00:00
Maureen McDonnell sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/maureen-mcdonnell-sentenced-to-a-year-and-one-day-in-prison#When:17:45:00ZVirginia’s version of a Greek tragedy lurched through one of its final scenes Friday, as former first lady Maureen McDonnell was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for her conviction in a scandal that also ensnared her husband, former Gov. Bob McDonnell.
The McDonnells were convicted on corruption charges in September after accepting loans and gifts worth at least $177,000 from Virginia businessman Jonnie Williams Sr.
The former governor was convicted on 11 corruption counts and was sentenced in January to two years in prison. He is free on bond while appealing his conviction to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
In sentencing the 60-year-old Mrs. McDonnell, who was convicted on eight corruption counts and also is free on bond pending appeal, U.S. District Court Judge James Spencer said the former first lady had been “bedazzled by material possessions.”
What emerged from the trial, character witness testimony and letters sent to him on the former first lady’s behalf, Spencer said, was a story of “a good Maureen and the ‘other Maureen,’” and it was the other Maureen who held a high perch in the governor’s mansion and acted badly.”
During the McDonnells’ joint trial, Mrs. McDonnell didn’t testify. But she was depicted as the main link between Williams and the first family.
She acknowledged as much in apologizing to the court for her mistakes, just before sentencing.
“I was the one who let the serpent into the mansion,” Mrs. McDonnell said, referring to Williams.
“The venom from the serpent poisoned my marriage, my family and the commonwealth I love. I would do anything to turn back the clock and live those two years with the knowledge I have now.”
In exchange for immunity from prosecution, Williams testified during the McDonnells’ trial that he showered the first family with gifts and loans to get their help in promoting Anatabloc, a dietary supplement that claimed to reduce inflammation.
Defense attorneys contend Williams received nothing in return that would not be provided to any Virginia business.
Williams resigned as CEO of his company at the end of 2013. Star Scientific, now called Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals, has moved its headquarters to Florida.
Spencer said the trial, and the involvement of the governor and his wife, was “puzzling, sad and tragic, and sometimes bizarre.”
The “bizarre” aspect of it, Spencer suggested, was the manner in which the former governor’s attorneys blamed Maureen McDonnell for his legal problems and then seemed to discard her as part of a broken-marriage defense.
The judge characterized the defense posture as morphing from “let’s throw mama under to the bus” to “let’s throw mama off the train.”
Neither of the McDonnells looked at each other during their six-week trial, and they made special effort to enter the court separately.
None of that iciness was evident in a packed courtroom on Friday during the three-hour hearing before sentencing.
One of the biggest surprises of all occurred when the former governor kissed his wife in a swooping Hollywood-style gesture — although the kiss landed on her right check — just after she entered the courtroom.
Courtroom observers were stunned, trying to understand what the gesture might mean. The McDonnells have been living apart.
Whatever her transgressions, perhaps no political spouse — certainly none in Virginia’s recent memory — has been vilified as much as Maureen McDonnell in the news media and in courtroom proceedings.
Politico, for example, called her, “Lady Macbeth with an AmEx card.”
Prosecutors suggested that the former governor’s wife needed attention, and her fondness for expensive shoes and dresses helped land her husband in court.
Williams took Mrs. McDonnell on a well-documented 2011 shopping spree in New York that included spending $10,999 at Oscar de la Renta, $5,685 at Louis Vuitton and $2,600 at Bergdorf Goodman.
William Burck, one of Maureen’s McDonnell’s attorneys, shocked the courtroom during the trial by saying his client had a “crush” on Williams.
Their relationship, Burck said, would be one that most people would regard as “inappropriate.” He mentioned numerous private meetings and hundreds of text messages and phone calls between them.
The withering criticism of Mrs. McDonnell continued on the witness stand where epithets such as “nutbag” and “unstable” were heaped on her by former staff members.
In a story published during the trial, Slate magazine columnist Dahlia Lithwick thought all the piling-on was too much.
She said it was clear that Bob McDonnell profited as much from the couple’s relationship with Williams as his wife did.
Among Lithwick’s conclusions was this one, with tongue-in-cheek:
“There are a lot of reasons Mrs. McDonnell appears to be the prime mover in Graftgate. For one, she clearly fell prey to the well-documented double standard that first ladies need to wear designer gowns, while male public officials can squeak by on a fabulous tie.”2015-02-20T17:45:00+00:00
Three rockets scheduled for Monday launch at Wallops Flight Facility
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/three-rockets-scheduled-for-monday-launch-at-wallops-flight-facility#When:22:22:00ZThree rockets are scheduled for launch early Monday at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
The Terrier-Oriole suborbital rockets, which are involved in a Department of Defense mission, will blast off between 12:30 and 4:30 a.m.
The rockets are scheduled to launch within a one-minute period and may be visible to residents in the mid-Atlantic region. The back-up launch dates are Feb. 24 through 27.
At the request of DoD project managers, no real-time launch status updates will be available. The launches will not be shown live on the Internet nor will launch status updates be provided on social media once the countdown begins.
The NASA Visitor Center at Wallops will not be open for viewing the launches.2015-02-19T22:22:00+00:00
GTT plans to acquire MegaPath’s Managed Services business
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/gtt-plans-to-acquire-megapaths-managed-services-business#When:22:20:00ZMcLean-based GTT Communications Inc. announced Thursday plans to acquire the managed services business of MegaPath Corp. using $144.8 million in cash and $7.5 million in GTT common stock.
GTT operates an IP network, which connects to any location in the world and with any application in the cloud. California-based MegaPath is a cloud communications company offering voice, unified communications, information technology and data networking services. It has offices throughout the country, including Herndon.
“This acquisition furthers our growth strategy to expand our cloud networking services by adding a comprehensive portfolio of managed services. We are adding significant expertise to deliver managed security services with multi-layered solutions to protect large enterprises from cyber threats,” Rick Calder, GTT’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “This transaction accelerates our progress toward achieving our next financial objective of $400 million in revenue and $100 million in adjusted EBITDA."
The deal is expected to close April 1, after it receives regulatory approvals.
In 2014, MegaPath’s Managed services business generated revenue of approximately $124 million and adjusted EBITDA of approximately $20 million.2015-02-19T22:20:00+00:00
Three Virginia schools rank among top producers of Peace Corps volunteers
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/three-virginia-schools-rank-among-top-producers-of-peace-corps-volunteers#When:20:27:00ZVirginia Tech, the University of Virginia and the College of William & Mary ranked among the top U.S. colleges and universities producing Peace Corps volunteers last year.
Together the three schools had 100 alums join the international program.
Virginia Tech had 43 volunteers in 2014, making it 11th among large colleges and universities (with more than 15,000 undergraduates).
U.Va. tied George Washington University for third for midsize schools (5,000 to 15,000 undergrads) with 36 volunteers in 2014. William & Mary was 12th in the same category with 21 volunteers.
In a state-by-state comparison, Virginia ranked eighth with 260 Peace Corps volunteers, following California (926); New York (412); Washington state (320); Florida (305); Illinois (284); Pennsylvania (270); and Texas (269).
The Washington, D.C., area including Northern Virginia ranked second among U.S. metro areas for volunteers with 284, trailing only the New York City area, which had 335.
The top volunteer producing schools nationwide by category were: large schools, University of Washington (72); midsize schools, Western Washington University (47); and small schools, Gonzaga University, 20.
The statistics are based on the 2014 fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30.2015-02-19T20:27:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/32034.jpg
Former Ernst & Young CEO named to Northrop Grumman Corp. board
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/former-ernst-young-ceo-named-to-northrop-grumman-corp-board#When:19:21:00ZFalls Church-based Northrop Grumman Corp. has elected James S. Turley, former chairman and chief executive officer of Ernst & Young, to its board of directors.
The addition of Turley increases Northrop Grumman's board of directors to 12 members, 11 of whom are independent directors.
Turley served as chairman and chief executive officer of Ernst & Young from 2001 until his retirement in 2013.
He joined Ernst & Young in 1977 and held various positions there until being named regional managing partner for the Upper Midwest in 1994 and for New York in 1998. He was named deputy chairman in 2000.
Turley holds an undergraduate degree and a master's degree in accounting from Rice University. He currently serves on the corporate boards for Citigroup, Emerson Electric Co. and Intrexon Corp.
He also serves on the board of directors of the Boy Scouts of America, the board of trustees for Rice University and is chair of the National Corporate Theatre Fund. He also serves on the Committee for Economic Development.2015-02-19T19:21:00+00:00
JLL reports transactions in Hampton Roads totalling more than 260,000 square feet
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/jll-reports-transactions-in-hampton-roads-totalling-more-than-260000-square#When:17:39:00ZJLL has completed several transactions in the Hampton Roads region, totalling 262,728 square feet. Some of the largest deals were in the industrial sector. The transactions include the following:
Continental Terminals leased 98,000 square feet at 1400 Cavalier Drive in Chesapeake. Erin Corrie and Gregg Christoffersen represented the building owner.
Flo-Serve leased 23,585 square feet at 3732 Cook Blvd. in Chesapeake. Christoffersen and Corrie represented the building owner.
Cross Fit leased 19,853 square feet at 1081 W 35th St. in Norfolk. Deborah Stearns and Christoffersen represented the building owner.
L&W Supply Corp. leased 31,812 square feet at 5600 Virginia Beach Blvd. in Norfolk. Christoffersen and Maureen Rooks represented the tenant.
EdgeConneX leased 19,820 square feet at 3800 Village Ave. in Norfolk. Christoffersen represented the tenant.
Clarus Fluid Intelligence leased 19,275 square feet at 7421 Central Business Park Drive in Norfolk. Wes Edwards represented the tenant.
Boeringer Ingelheim (BI) sold a 219-acre pharmaceutical campus in Petersburg to UniTao Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Shanghai-based Tenry Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. UniTao plans to invest $22 million in the facility, which will manufacture active pharmaceutical ingredients for common over-the-counter medications. The sale, announced in October, means the plant, slated for closure under BI, will remain open with more than 300 new jobs expected to be created over three years. Corrie, Christoffersen and Jimmy Appich represented the seller.2015-02-19T17:39:00+00:00
N.C. leads the South in solar energy
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/n.c.-leads-the-south-in-solar-energy#When:14:00:00ZVirginia might have cheap nuclear power, but North Carolina is leading the way in the South when it comes to solar power, according to a report from Duke University.
North Carolina, which had almost no large-scale solar energy seven years ago, now ranks first in the Southeast and fourth in the nation in solar energy capacity, says the report.
"North Carolina is in an enviable position when it comes to solar power development,” said the report’s lead author, Lukas Brun, senior research analyst at Duke’s Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness (CGGC). “From being virtually nonexistent in 2008, it is today the South’s leader in solar power. The result has been a growth in companies and employment in the industry, providing widespread benefits to the state."
A sunny climate, interested companies and investor- and business-friendly policies have combined to boost solar energy in the Tar Heel state. North Carolina now has 150 utility-scale solar facilities, with another 377 facilities planned.
The economic impact of N.C.’s solar industry extends beyond its solar facilities. The report describes a solar “value chain” of investors, solar developers, construction contractors and solar panel and component manufacturers including more than 450 companies.
Together, these companies support some 4,300 jobs and represent a $2 billion investment. In addition to jobs, solar industry-related businesses provide income for landowners and tax revenue for N.C. towns, the report states.
Those economic benefits are spread across different regions of the state, including urban areas and rural counties such as Catawba, Robeson and Wayne, which lead the state in large-scale solar capacity.
The Environmental Defense Fund sponsored the research for the report.2015-02-19T14:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Phillip_Avant.jpg
SunTrust Bank names Central Virginia market president
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/suntrust-bank-names-central-virginia-market-president#When:21:13:00ZSunTrust Bank has named Phillip Avant president of its Central Virginia market, which includes the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Tri-Cities areas.
Avant will continue to be SunTrust’s commercial banking team leader for Central Virginia, reporting to John Stallings, president of SunTrust’s Virginia Division.
Avant began his career at SunTrust in 1999 and moved to Richmond in 2008. He was named commercial team leader last year.
Avant is a member of the board of directors for the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce.
Avant holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in business administration from the Vanderbilt University Owen Graduate School of Management.
Atlanta-based SunTrust Banks Inc. had total assets of $190.3 billion and total deposits of $140.6 billion as of Dec. 31.2015-02-18T21:13:00+00:00
Groups want Dominion to abandon plans for North Anna 3 reactor
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/groups-want-dominion-to-abandon-plans-for-north-anna-3-reactor#When:21:11:00ZFriends of the Earth and 13 other organizations oppose the building of a third nuclear reactor at the North Anna Power Station in Louisa County.
Dominion Resources has not yet made a final decision regarding its plans to proceed with a third reactor at North Anna. Even so, Friends of the Earth, a Washington, D.C.-based environmental network that claims 5,000 local activist groups and more than 2 million members at its Website, joined other groups including the Sierra Club, Virginia Chapter; Mothers Against Uranium Minin, Friends of Nelson and Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice to urge the state to bypass nuclear in favor of a clean-energy plan.
The letter, sent to Gov. Terry McAuliffe, members of the Virginia General Assembly, nuclear regulatory commissioners and Dominion Resources, says that the proposed reactor would sit on an active earthquake fault and lacks a reliable water supply for cooling three reactors.
The letter also notes the project’s high cost. “The $10 to $20 billion required to build North Anna 3 would result in major electricity cost increases for residential and business customers when our future electricity needs can be met more effectively through less costly investments in efficiency programs and renewable energy such as solar and wind,“ the letter says.
It goes on to say that “the construction and operation of this new reactor on an active earthquake fault line would jeopardize the reliability of our electricity service, threaten water resources, endanger public health, and create security risks for the people living in Central Virginia and beyond. “
In August 2011, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake stuck the small town of Mineral and hit the nearby North Anna Nuclear Power Station. The plant automatically shut down and lost its offsite electrical power. An inspection by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) later found that the ground motion of the earthquake exceeded some levels for which the plant originally was licensed. There was no damage to safety equipment, and safety systems functioned during the quake.
“A more serious earthquake, after construction of a third reactor, could take more than 3,300 megawatts of power off the grid immediately and indefinitely impact the security and resiliency of our electricity supply,” he letter says. “Alternatively, investment in efficiency and renewable energy provide for distributed generation, not vulnerable to any single natural event like an earthquake or severe storms. Distributed generation is also far less vulnerable to terrorist attacks or sabotage.”2015-02-18T21:11:00+00:00
Virginia restaurants, culinary professionals named James Beard Foundation Awards semifinalists
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-restaurants-culinary-professionals-named-james-beard-foundation-aw#When:20:41:00ZA handful of Virginia restaurants and food-service professionals have been named semifinalists of the James Beard Foundation Awards, which recognize culinary professionals for excellence and achievement in their fields.
The finalists will be announced March 24, and the awards ceremony will be held May 4 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
The semifinalists list spans 21 categories. The semifinalists were selected from a list of 34,000 online entries.
Best New Restaurant
The Alley Light, Charlottesville
Outstanding Pastry Chef
Caitlin Dysart, 2941, Falls Church
Outstanding Wine, Spirits or Beer Professional
Diane Flynt, Foggy Ridge Cider, Dugspur
Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic
Peter Chang, Peter Chang China Café, Glen Allen
Lee Gregory, The Roosevelt, Richmond
Tarver King, The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm, Lovettsville
Dale Reitzer, Acacia, Richmond
Angelo Vangelopoulos, The Ivy Inn, Charlottesville2015-02-18T20:41:00+00:00
North Anna, Surry rated lowest-cost nuclear stations
Dominion Virginia Power's North Anna and Surry power stations in Virginia were among the lowest cost producers of nuclear-generated electricity in the country, according to a recent report by a nuclear industry trade publication.
Nucleonics Week, a newsletter and database published by Platts, reported that North Anna in Louisa County and Surry in Surry County were the lowest and second-lowest cost producers of the companies that reported costs to the federal government during the three-year period 2010-2012. Platts, a unit of McGraw Hill Financial, is a provider of energy and commodities information.
"Key to our low-cost performance is our highly skilled and experienced work force in addition to having identical units. It is gratifying to see that we have been very successful when compared to other operating nuclear units,” David Heacock, Dominion’s chief nuclear officer, said in a statement.
According to Nucleonics Week, which published the story in late January, of 27 stations reporting their nuclear operations and maintenance costs, the average production costs from 2010 through 2012 for North Anna and Surry were the lowest — $16.05 and $17.38 per megawatt-hour, respectively.
Averaging operations and maintenance costs over a three-year period provides an accurate perspective of nuclear generation costs because it minimizes the impact of refueling outages. Dominion's nuclear units are refueled every 18 months. Typically, refueling outages in the industry take about 35 days to complete.
Meanwhile, North Anna was the lowest-cost producer of nuclear-generated electricity for 2012, and Surry ranked as the fifth lowest-cost producer, of the stations that reported costs. North Anna and Surry's operations and maintenance costs totaled $14.76 and $20.21 per megawatt-hour, respectively.
"We have a huge advantage in being able to share spare parts, and share workforce and procedures," Heacock said. He also noted that the company benefits from performing more work in-house, which provides a cost advantage over other nuclear operators.2015-02-18T20:05:00+00:00
Virginia Business Systems acquires Apex Technologies
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-business-systems-acquires-apex-technologies#When:12:05:00ZVirginia Business Systems has acquired Apex Technologies/JMD Solutions of Chesapeake.
The acquisition expands the office equipment company’s reach in the growing Hampton Roads market.
“Though we have had a service and technology presence here for the last eight years, the expertise and breadth of services that Apex provides, allows VBS to bring the best of their competitive pricing, their document solutions expertise and their award-winning technology and service to this critical market,” Jim Dotter, president of Virginia Business Systems, said in a statement.
Virginia Business Systems will retain Apex’s staff.
VBS, headquartered in Richmond, is one of the largest office equipment companies in the country. It has 11 offices in Pennsylvania and Virginia.2015-02-18T12:05:00+00:00
U.Va.’s Curry School Foundation launches education accelerator
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/u.va.s-curry-school-foundation-launches-education-accelerator#When:22:46:00ZThe University of Virginia Curry School of Education Foundation has launched the Jefferson Education Accelerator, which is designed to help advance promising education solutions by providing access to expertise, investment capital and the opportunity to conduct studies with leading researchers and practitioners.
The organization is building a nationwide network of K-12 schools, colleges and universities that have shown interest in testing promising products and services. The accelerator will also provide investment capital for some ventures through its Jefferson Education Fund.
Companies that are selected to participate in the accelerator will, in exchange for a small portion of their equity, receive support, evaluation, and guidance from researchers and industry experts.
The accelerator CEO will be Bart Epstein, an education executive who helped build the world’s largest online homework help service, acquired by IAC in 2012.
Brien Walton will be chief investment officer. He previously was CEO of the Education Design Studio and national coordinator for credit evaluations at the American Council on Education.
In addition to the Curry School Foundation’s support, the accelerator has received initial investment from University of Virginia alumni and USA Funds. A portion of the proceeds from the accelerator and fund will return to the Curry School Foundation.2015-02-17T22:46:00+00:00
Capital One Bank names senior director of sales for wealth and asset management
Capital One Bank has named Tom Covington senior director of sales for its wealth and asset management team.
Covington will oversee the sales, business development and marketing activities for Capital One's trust, wealth management, private banking, and institutional investment management lines of business.
He is based in Capital One's McLean headquarters.
Covington has more than 30 years of wealth planning and investment management experience, including 18 years with Merrill Lynch. There he served in a series of roles including senior vice president and business unit manager for the mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions.2015-02-17T21:23:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/7eleven.jpgPhoto courtesy 7-Eleven
7-Eleven waiving franchise fee for select stores in Virginia
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/7-eleven-waving-franchise-fees-for-select-store-in-virginia#When:20:56:00ZDallas-based 7-Eleven Inc. is waiving the franchise fee for a number of its stores across the country until June 30, including 29 locations in Virginia. The waiver can save franchisees up to $80,000.
The convenience store chain says that over the last four years it has added more than 1,300 stores in the U.S. Now that a customer base has been established at the new locations, the company is looking to transition these stores to franchise operations.
Basic 7-Eleven franchisee qualifications include being 21 years or older, a permanent U.S. resident, having excellent credit and $50,000 in liquid assets. Prospective franchise owners will still be responsible for the costs of licensing, permits and the initial down-payment on inventory, totaling approximately $30,000. Because the qualifying stores are considered low volume, they may qualify for additional, limited-time financial support, 7-Eleven says.
To view a list of the Virginia stores eligible for the waiver, click here.
Former K12 CFO joins Reston-based Mirixa
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/former-k12-cfo-joins-reston-based-mirixa#When:19:03:00ZReston-based Mirixa Corp. has hired Jim Vedder as senior vice president of finance and accounting. Vedder was most recently the chief financial officer at K12 Inc., an education company which is headquartered in Herndon.
Mirixa is a provider of medication therapy management and other pharmacist-delivered patient-care services for health plans. In his new role, Vedder will oversee all aspects of finance and accounting activities for Mirixa.
Vedder is a CPA with more than 23 years' experience in finance and accounting. He earned a dual bachelor's degree in finance and accounting from the University of Pennsylvania.2015-02-17T19:03:00+00:00
Carlotz expands consignment concept to motorcycles.
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/carlotz-expands-consignment-concept-to-motorcycles#When:19:25:00ZCarLotz, the Richmond-based used vehicle consignment business serving the sale-by-owner and corporate vehicle market, announced the grand opening Monday of its motorcycle consignment and retail business.
The Bike Shop by CarLotz is a used motorcycle consignment store located adjacent to the company’s flagship used car store on Midlothian Turnpike in Midlothian.
“Many of our car and truck customers are also motorcycle owners and have told us how difficult it is to sell a used bike given the limited information available to help with pricing, the time and hassle required to market the bike and the distaste many consumers have for negotiating with strangers. Launching The Bike Shop will allow us to better meet the unique needs of the motorcycle customer … “Michael Bor, CarLotz CEO, said in a statement.
The company started consigning and selling motorcycles about a year ago, he added. When the retail space next to its flagship CarLotz store on Midlothian Turnpike became available, it decided to create a boutique experience for buyers and sellers of sale-by-owner motorcycles.
The shop at 11944 Midlothian Turnpike in Chesterfield County creates an indoor showroom for up to 45 motorcycles with additional expansion space available. The Bike Shop by CarLotz already has already assisted buyers and sellers of Harley-Davidson, Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki, BMW and other bikes with transactions in the private sale market.
“It gives us great pleasure to expand our consignment model to other segments of the vehicle market. We started with cars and trucks, then moved into commercial and corporate fleet vehicles and now motorcycles. It’s a natural expansion for us into a market that gains tremendous value from a service like ours,” said Bor.
CarLotz will likely expand The Bike Shop concept to its other markets as it finds expansion capacity in those cities.2015-02-16T19:25:00+00:00
Wheeler REIT to acquire South Carolina shopping center for $9.4 million
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/wheeler-reit-to-acquire-south-carolina-shopping-center-for-9.4-million#When:18:48:00ZVirginia Beach-based Wheeler Real Estate Investment Trust, Inc. has entered into a contract to acquire Butler Square, a shopping center in Mauldin, S.C., for $9.4 million or about $114 per square foot.
Built in 1987 and renovated in 2011, Butler Square is an 82,400-square-foot, grocery-anchored shopping center. Its tenants include Bi-Lo, Dollar Tree, Cato Fashions and Sally Beauty Supplies.
The center is approximately 6 miles southeast of Greenville Downtown Airport and approximately 12.6 miles south of Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport.
Wheeler REIT specializes in owning, acquiring, financing, developing, renovating, leasing and managing income-producing assets, such as community centers, neighborhood centers, strip centers and free-standing retail properties.
Wheeler’s portfolio contains properties, primarily leased by nationally and regionally recognized retailers of consumer goods and located in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast and Southwest.2015-02-16T18:48:00+00:00
Loan loss on Regency Mall was $65.2 million
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/loan-loss-on-regency-mall-was-65.2-million#When:16:45:00ZWhen a joint local venture between Thalhimer Realty Partners Inc. and the Rebkee Co. decided earlier this month to team up and buy Regency Mall, that was good news for the aging retail property. The two Richmond-based companies plan to revitalize what was once the region’s premier shopping destination.
Yet Trepp LLC reports that the payment on the property’s outstanding loan incurred a loss of $65.2 million, or 94 percent of the loan balance prior to the resolution. The loss, said the New York-based information and analytics company, was well above the last appraisal reduction on the loan of $56.2 million.
According to Trepp, the 450,000-square-foot enclosed mall sold for $13.1 million, below the Henrico County property’s most recent appraised value of $15 million. The outstanding mortgage was nearly $70 million with Regency part of an original CMBS deal that included other properties.
According to Trepp, the deal now has a $5.3 million loan remaining.The deal was originated in 2002 by Bank of America.
Thalhimer and Rebkee purchased the property from LNK Partners LC, based in Miami, a special servicer that took over the loan when it went into default in 2011.2015-02-16T16:45:00+00:00
Union First Market Bank changes name to Union Bank & Trust
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/union-first-market-bank-changes-name-to-union-bank-trust#When:16:07:00ZRichmond-based Union Bankshares Corp. said Monday it has changed the legal name for its bank to Union Bank & Trust from Union First Market Bank.
The brand name for the bank remains Union, the company said.
Union Bank & Trust has 131 branches and more than 200 ATMs throughout Virginia.2015-02-16T16:07:00+00:00
Keswick Hall and Golf Club receives 2015 Forbes Five-Star Award
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/keswick-hall-and-golf-club-receives-2015-forbes-five-star-award#When:15:47:00ZKeswick Hall and Golf Club, a 600-acre resort in Charlottesville, has been recognized with a Forbes Five-Star Award.
In Forbes’ 57th annual list of its Travel Guide’s Star Rating winners, Keswick is one of only 115 properties worldwide to achieve the honor, the highest travel accolade bestowed by the publication.
The award is based on visits by expert, anonymous inspectors who go to thousands of properties annually to evaluate standards, quality, value and overall experience.
Keswick Hall and Golf Club is one of three in Virginia including its sister property, The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, and the Inn at Little Washington in Washington. Little Washington’s restaurant also made the list, the only restaurant in Virginia to make what is an elite group of 55 Forbes’ five-star rated restaurants.
Last fall Keswick opened a new Pete Dye-designed golf course, Full Cry, at its Keswick Golf Club. Its 48 guestrooms also were recently renovated.
“This award confirms Keswick Hall’s combination of superior service, modern amenities and gracious Southern hospitality is hitting the mark,” Greg Sligh, the resort’s president and managing director, said in a statement.
The property is home to the Keswick Club, a members club introduced in 1948 when architect Fred Findlay added its first nine holes of golf. The course expanded to 18 holes in the mid-1950s and was renovated in 1992 by Arnold Palmer. In 2013, Pete Dye was commissioned to create its new Full Cry layout, named in Golf Digest’s “2014 Best New Courses” list.
Richmond-based Riverstone Group owns Keswick Hall and Golf Club under its Historic Hotels of Albemarle division. Riverstone also owns and manages The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Resort and The Sea Pines Resort in South Carolina, The Jefferson Hotel and The Hermitage Hotel in Tennessee.2015-02-16T15:47:00+00:00
New senior housing project coming to Fairfax County
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/new-senior-housing-project-coming-to-fairfax-county#When:15:43:00ZCapitol Seniors Housing is opening four new communities this year, representing an investment of $90 million in senior housing.
One of the communities, a $15 million, 35,550-square-foot project with 48 memory care units, will be built in Fairfax County.
Arbor Terrace of Fairfax will offer a combination of assisted-living and memory-care residences. “The senior population is growing at twice the national average, with many baby boomers entering retirement. We are at the forefront of adding brand-new, state-of-the-art communities to cities and towns that seniors call home,” Scott Stewart, founder and managing partner for Capitol Seniors Housing, said in a statement.
The largest community at 77,655 square feet, will be located in Tampa, Fla. The other projects are in Torrance, Calif., and Marlboro, N.J.
Based in Washington, D.C, Capitol Seniors Housing is a real estate private-equity firm focusing on acquiring and investing in the development of seniors housing communities.
Since 2003, the company has invested more than $1 billion on behalf of its joint-venture partners and amassed a nationwide portfolio of more than 50 senior-housing real estate assets.
Capitol Seniors Housing says it has realized a combined gross profit of $335 million for its investors.2015-02-16T15:43:00+00:00
Virginia cities among best places for black-owned businesses
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-cities-among-best-places-for-black-owned-businesses#When:05:35:00ZSeveral areas in Virginia have been identified by NerdWallet as Best Places for Black-owned Businesses.
The study by the personal finance website looked at 111 U.S. metropolitan areas with populations over 100,000 to compile the list.
The following local MSAs ranked in the top 20: Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, Virginia MSA (No. 5); Richmond (No.11) and Hampton Roads (No. 13). Other local areas on the list were: Charlottesville (No. 43); Lynchburg (No. 54) and Roanoke (No. 55).
In Northern Virginia, the study noted business resources such as the Northern Virginia Black Chamber of Commerce and BizLaunch, an Arlington-based entrepreneurship program.
NerdWallet rated the MSAs on seven metrics: the average revenue of black-owned businesses; percent of firms owned by African Americans; businesses per 100 residents; median income of black residents; cost of living and the November 2014 unemployment rate.2015-02-14T05:35:00+00:00
General Dynamics announces management changes
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/general-dynamics-announces-management-changes#When:19:34:00ZFalls Church-based General Dynamics announced a series of management changes on Friday.
Larry R. Flynn, the current president of the company’s Gulfstream Aerospace Corp., will succeed Joseph T. Lombardo as executive vice president of General Dynamics’ Aerospace group when Lombardo retires in June.
Mark L. Burns, president of product support for Gulfstream, will succeed Flynn as president.
Also, M. Amy Gilliland, vice president, human resources, will succeed Walter M. Oliver as the corporation’s senior vice president, human resources and administration, when Oliver retires in March.
The Flynn and Burns appointments are effective on July 1, and the Gilliland appointment is effective April 1.2015-02-13T19:34:00+00:00
Nelson County receives funds to improve broadband service
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/nelson-county-receives-funds-to-improve-broadband-service#When:16:55:00ZNelson County has received a $200,000 grant to improve broadband service.
The money, a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), will allow the county to construct about 8 miles of fiber along the Route 151 corridor in Nelson, according to Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office.
The goal of the project is to increase broadband availability and improve connectivity to businesses. The project is expected to create 20 jobs.
Since 1982, the federally-funded CDBG program has been administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Virginia receives up to $17 million annually for this program.
The CDBG program is a flexible tool for community improvement in Virginia.
Grants can address a wide range of needs, from infrastructure for new or expanding industries, new or improved water and sewer systems in rural areas, rehabilitation of housing in declining neighborhoods, revitalization of commercial districts, support to small businesses and support of facilities for a variety of needed critical community services.2015-02-13T16:55:00+00:00
Bon Secours Richmond Health System expands to Shockoe Bottom
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/bon-secours-richmond-health-system-expands-to-shockoe-bottom#When:21:34:00ZBon Secours Richmond Health System has expanded primary-care services to Richmond’s Shockoe Bottom with the opening of Canal Crossing Internal Medicine.
Located in the Canal Crossing building at 115 S. 15th St., the office has 10 patient rooms, labs and a waiting room with a view of Richmond’s Main Street Station.
Dr. Vicki Latham-Solomon will operate the office along with other staff.
“Demand for a primary-care practice in Shockoe Bottom has never been higher,” Latham-Solomon, said in a statement. “We’re leading the way by opening up this practice in an area that has grown dramatically in recent years.”
Many new apartment projects, some of them historic rehabilitations, are drawing new people to the Bottom.
Bon Secour’s office will offer adult primary care, management of chronic medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension and obesity, senior care, annual physicals, women’s services, minor surgery, immunizations and checkups.2015-02-12T21:34:00+00:00
Nordstrom Rack store to open at Pembroke Mall in Virginia Beach
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/nordstrom-rack-store-to-open-at-pembroke-mall-in-virginia-beach#When:21:28:00ZThe 32,500-square-foot store is scheduled to open at Pembroke Mall in spring 2016.
Nordstrom Rack is the off-price retail division of Nordstrom. Its stores carry merchandise from Nordstrom stores and Nordstrom.com, as well as specially purchased items from many of the brands sold at Nordstrom.
Pembroke Mall is an enclosed regional shopping center in Virginia Beach with more than 635,000 square feet of gross leasable area.
The new Nordstrom Rack store will occupy a portion of an existing Sears store on the mall’s ground level.
The building is owned by Sears Holdings, which will continue to occupy a position on the primary floor of the existing store. Sears also signed a lease with DSW for an adjacent store that will soon open at the mall.
The mall's current anchor tenants include Target, Kohl's and Steinmart. It has more than 60 tenants.
When it opens, the Nordstrom Rack store will be the seventh in Virginia. The company will open its sixth Rack location at Springfield Town Center on April 16. Nordstrom also operates five full-line stores in the state.
Nordstrom operates 292 stores in 38 states. They include 116 full-line stores in the U.S. and one in Canada; 167 Nordstrom Rack stores; two Jeffrey boutiques and one clearance store.2015-02-12T21:28:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Robert_Mills.jpg
Richmond architect Robert S. Mills is named AIA Fellow
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/richmond-architect-robert-s.-mills-is-named-aia-fellow#When:21:13:00ZRobert S. Mills, principal at Commonwealth Architects, in Richmond, has been named by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) to its College of Fellows, an honor awarded to members who have made significant contributions to the profession.
The 2015 Jury of Fellows elevated 147 AIA members across the United States to its College of Fellows out of a total AIA membership of more than 85,000.
Mills is one of the founding principals of Commonwealth Architects. He has more than three decades of experience in his profession. He was recognized for his service, leadership and professional expertise on the city of Richmond’s Planning Commission and Commission of Architectural Review with the Virginia Society AIA Distinguished Achievement Award in 2008 and the AIA Richmond Marcellus Wright Jr. Award for Public Service in 2012. He currently serves as chair of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Art and Architectural Review Board.
Fellowship is the highest honor the AIA can bestow upon a member. Mills joins another member of Commonwealth Architects, Principal Emeritus Richard L. Ford, Jr., to have been elected to the College of Fellows since the founding of the firm in 1999.2015-02-12T21:13:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Jamie-Thomas.jpg
Jamie Thomas joins Commonwealth Commercial Partners as a senior vice president
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/jamie-thomas-joins-commonwealth-commercial-partners-as-a-senior-vice-presid#When:21:02:00ZCommonwealth Commercial Partners said Thursday James “Jamie” L. Thomas Jr. has joined the firm as a senior vice president.
Thomas will be responsible for implementing the commercial real estate firm’s business development plan and executing strategic growth and expansion in its markets.
Thomas comes to Commonwealth Commercial with more than 28 years of experience in investment real estate. His practice includes residential, commercial, and institutional and privately owned assets. Thomas most recently worked for First Potomac Realty Trust, a publicly traded REIT based in Bethesda, Md. Thomas served as Potomac’s director of property management for Southern Virginia, overseeing the operation of up to 6 million square feet of industrial and flex properties from Richmond to Hampton Roads.
Commonwealth Commercial Partners, based in Henrico County, also has offices in Hampton Roads; Nashville, Tenn.; Greensboro, N.C.; and Tampa and Jacksonville, Fla.2015-02-12T21:02:00+00:00
New partner joins Gentry Locke’s Lynchburg office
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/new-partner-joins-gentry-lockes-lynchburg-office#When:20:06:00ZGlenn W. Pulley has joined Gentry Locke’s Lynchburg office as a partner.
Pulley is a member of the firm’s litigation practice area, focusing on injury cases, commercial disputes, will contests, employment, and construction law.
He has practiced in Danville for 38 years. In 2002, Pulley was inducted as a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.
He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Richmond and law degree UR’s T.C. Williams School of Law.2015-02-12T20:06:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/IFLY_VA_Beach.jpg
Indoor Skydiving facility opens in Virginia Beach
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/indoor-skydiving-facility-opens-in-virginia-beach#When:19:26:00ZiFLY Va Beach Indoor Skydiving has opened the first and only vertical wind tunnel in Virginia.
The $7 million facility at 2412 Pacific Ave. in Virginia Beach introduces advanced wind tunnel technology for a controlled indoor skydiving adventure.
The 19,000-square-foot venue has a 48-foot-tall, climate-controlled recirculating flight chamber powered by four fans generating 1,400 horse power that create variable wind speeds of up to 160 miles per hour.
“We’re always excited to welcome another unique recreational or entertainment offering to Virginia Beach” Warren D. Harris, director of Virginia Beach Economic Development, said in a statement.
The skydiving experience is open to people of all ages and varying capabilities. The company said in a statement that no parachutes are required, and no experience necessary to fly in the controlled environment. While there multiple rate structures for different groups, typically a flight package starts at $49.95 per person for a group of 12.
iFly has locations across the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, Middle East and Asia. Virginia Beach is the company’s 27th location.
According to the company, more than 5.5 million customers have flown in its wind tunnels around the world.
In addition to providing facilities for the general public, iFLY Va Beach also provides a new training venue for military professionals and civilian skydivers.
The facility has created 26 full-time jobs, including two positions filled with service-disabled veterans. The number of jobs is expected to grow to more than 30 employees by the summer.
The new entertainment venue is the first of three major initiatives for the 2.1-acre site on Pacific Avenue and 25th Street. The city of Virginia Beach is working with the Breeden Co. on a public/private partnership to develop multifamily housing and a 598-space parking garage, with 340 spaces allotted for public use. The site was formerly a municipal parking lot with 240 spaces.
The residential development will include 147 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments that are scheduled to open this summer. Aqua on 25th Street is a $35 million development with amenities that include a pool, rooftop decks and grills and a state-of-the-art fitness center.
The cost to build the garage is estimated at $10 million, and the city’s contribution includes the expense for the garage, street improvements and relocation of utilities at the site.2015-02-12T19:26:00+00:00
Bill to ‘ban the box’ on job forms fails
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/bill-to-ban-the-box-on-job-forms-fails#When:14:21:00ZA bill to remove the requirement to indicate a criminal record on government employment applications died in a House subcommittee this week.
SB 1017 passed the Senate last week on a 21-17 vote but was killed on its first stop in the House of Delegates. The “ban the box” bill, introduced by Sen. Rosalyn Dance, D-Petersburg, would have removed the box from applications that prospective employees must check if they have been convicted of a crime. It would have applied only to state agencies.
The measure was considered Wednesday by the Civil Law Subcommittee of the House Courts of Justice Committee. It died on a non-recorded voice vote to “gently” lay the bill on the table.
Del. Betsy Carr, D-Richmond, had sponsored the House version of the bill (HB 1680). In January, it also failed in the Civil Law Subcommittee.
Even though they tabled SB 1017, subcommittee members expressed broad support for the idea behind the legislation. Republican Dels. Greg Habeeb of Salem, Manoli Loupassi of Richmond and Randall Minchew of Leesburg pledged to support a revised version of the bill next year.
“We had Delegate Carr’s bill earlier. I think this subcommittee actually expressed a lot of interest in trying to find a way to help with re-entry issues,” said Habeeb, chairman of the subcommittee. “I expressed concern with this just because of the burden on employers and the potential liability employers are going to have.”
Dance disagreed, saying the bill would benefit job applicants and society.
“I don’t see it as an added burden,” she said. “I see it as an opportunity to put some more people into jobs, paying taxes.”
Richard Walker, the CEO and founder of Bridging the Gap in Virginia, a nonprofit organization that helps ex-offenders reintegrate into society, spoke in favor of the bill.
“I work with individuals on a daily basis who have this challenge,” said Walker, who holds workshops on employment for former felons.
“The title of my workshop is ‘Overcoming Barriers.’ The biggest barrier is sitting in front of a potential employer, seeking to get a position. A lot of these [people], because the box is checked there, they don’t even reach that potential employer.”
Walker, an ex-offender, said he had benefitted from an employer disregarding his criminal history and giving him a job.
“I am a product. I have been sanctioned, licensed and secured by the State of Virginia to perform mental health services,” Walker said. “We’re asking that the State of Virginia would rectify this to allow individuals to have that opportunity to at least be interviewed, to at least be one-on-one with that potential employer state agency, to indicate whether or not they are able to do that skill.”
Loupassi shared Habeeb’s concern about the risk of hiring an applicant with a criminal history.
“I think that the primary reason why employers don’t take a chance with people who come out and are felons is because they’re scared they’re going to get sued for negligent hiring,” Loupassi said. “Even if you ban the box, it doesn’t matter, because sooner or later, if they find out that the guy’s got a felony, it won’t matter – their employment plan says, ‘You don’t get a job.’”
Del. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, noted that the bill would provide only a starting point in the job application process. It would afford applicants the chance for an interview without their felony immediately disqualifying them, she said.
“This is only at the entry level – getting your foot in the door,” said McClellan, a member of the subcommittee. “The point here is that … when you have that box on an application and it is checked, no matter who you are, it’s a scarlet letter; you’re not even getting in.”
Habeeb and other subcommittee maintained their concerns about the legislation, ultimately voting to kill it for the session.
“We ended up laying Delegate Carr’s bill on the table with a genuine promise from a lot of us that we want to actually find a solution to this issue,” Habeeb said. “My inclination on your bill is the same as it was on Delegate Carr’s bill.”
Minchew agreed, moving to “gently” lay the bill on the table. He offered to help craft new language in hopes of passing such a law in 2016.2015-02-12T14:21:00+00:00
San-J International Inc. announces $38 million expansion in Henrico
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/san-j-international-inc.-announces-38-million-expansion-in-henrico#When:21:54:00ZSan-J International Inc., a manufacturer of Japanese soy cause, announced Wednesday plans to expand in Henrico County. The company is investing $38 million and adding 18 jobs to produce more of its product in the area, according to Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office.
“I had the honor of meeting with company officials in Tokyo last October, and I am thrilled to celebrate the fruition of this significant win,” McAuliffe said in a statement.
The San-J plant in Henrico now employs 55 people. It has been operating in the area since 1987. San-J is part of San-Jirushi, a tamari and miso company established in 1804 in Japan.
McAuliffe approved a $300,000 performance-based grant from the Virginia Investment Partnership program for the project. Funding and services to support the company’s employee training and retraining activities will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.
Virginia competed against Oregon for the project.2015-02-11T21:54:00+00:00
Arlington project selects Bozzuto Construction Co. as general contractor
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/arlington-project-selects-bozzuto-construction-co.-as-general-contractor#When:21:01:00ZBozzuto Construction Co., based in Greenbelt, Md., has been selected by the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) as general contractor for The Springs, a mixed-use, apartment community in Arlington.
Construction on the $42 million dollar, five-story project will begin in early 2015 and is scheduled for completion in summer of 2016.
Located on N. Thomas Street and N.Carlin Springs Road in the Ballston neighborhood, The Springs will be home to APAH’s new headquarters as well as 104 apartments ranging in size from a studio to three-bedrooms.
More than 80% of the homes will be family-size, offering two or three bedrooms; 98 of the residences will be designated as affordable for low-income individuals and families.
Amenities will include a community room, business center, fitness studio, underground parking and bicycle storage.
The project is close to the Ballston Metro and various bus routes.2015-02-11T21:01:00+00:00
Dominion-commissioned analysis says pipeline could save $377 million annually in energy costs
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/dominion-commissioned-analysis-says-pipeline-could-save-377-million-annuall#When:20:16:00ZDominion continued to make its case Wednesday for a 550-mile natural gas pipeline. According to an analysis by Virginia-based consulting firm ICF International, which was commissioned by Dominion, businesses in Virginia and North Carolina could save an estimated $377 million annually in lower energy costs if the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline is built.
“Virginia and North Carolina electricity consumers benefit from (the Atlantic Coast Pipeline) because the lower cost of natural gas to fuel power generation will, in turn, result in lower electricity bills for consumers,” ICF International said.
Dominion and three other energy companies, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and AGL Resources, have formed a joint venture to build the $4.5 billion to $5 billion pipeline, pending regulatory approval, that would stretch from Harrison County, W. Va., to Robeson County, N.C., with an extension to Chesapeake.
ICF also found that more than 2,200 full-time, permanent jobs could be created in the two states because of lower energy prices. It said the new jobs would come from businesses being able to reinvest energy savings in growth and from business growth that would come as a result of consumers having more disposable income.
“The Atlantic Coast Pipeline may be the largest private economic growth driver in Virginia and North Carolina for the next decade,” Diane Leopold, president of Dominion Energy, said in a statement. “The substantial long-term benefits identified in this analysis are just one part of the story. Not only will billions of dollars be injected into the regional economy by the construction project itself, there may be even greater gains as businesses and industry are attracted by new supplies of low-cost energy.”
ICF International examined the pipeline’s 20-year impact on Virginia and North Carolina starting with the first full year of operation in 2019. The pipeline would increase natural-gas supplies in the region by providing access to lower-cost sources in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
The report projected that the greatest potential savings, about $349 million annually, would be in lower electricity costs because of the increasingly important role natural gas has in fueling electric generation.
The report also said Virginia and North Carolina could expect an annual average increase in the total economic output of the states of $218 million, $131 million in average annual labor income and $23 million in average annual state tax revenue because of the estimated energy savings.
By facilitating the construction of new natural gas-fired electric generation, another 970 temporary construction jobs would be created. The cost savings, economic benefits and jobs resulting from the lower energy prices would be on top of the economic benefits generated from the construction of the pipeline.
An earlier study by Richmond-based Chmura Economics & Analytics said construction activity related to building the pipeline could inject an annual average of $456.3 million into the combined economies of West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina, supporting 2,873 annual jobs from 2014 to 2019. Another 271 permanent jobs related to the pipeline’s operational needs could be created.
Dominion and Duke Energy have noted the need for additional natural-gas supplies as they replace less-efficient, coal-fired power stations with ones fueled by natural gas. Natural gas produces about half the carbon emissions of coal when it is burned and has significantly lower levels of other emissions.
ICF International said the switch to natural gas for power generation is the primary reason demand for natural gas in Virginia and North Carolina should more than double by 2035.
Subsidiaries of all four partners and Public Service of North Carolina have signed on for service from the proposed pipeline.2015-02-11T20:16:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Dynax_Groundbreaking_Feb._11%2C_20151.jpg
Dynax America breaks ground on $33 million expansion in Botetourt County
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/dynax-america-breaks-ground-on-33-million-expansion-in-botetourt-county#When:20:14:00ZOfficials of Dynax America Corp. and Botetourt County broke ground Wednesday on an expansion that will nearly double the size of the company’s facility in EastPark in Botetourt County.
The 144,000-square-foot expansion is part of a $32.6 million project announced in October that will add 75 jobs at an average wage of $40,683.
Dynax America Corp., which located in Botetourt County in 1995, has expanded several times and now has 580 employees, making it the county’s largest private employer. The company manufactures transmission parts.
“Dynax America Corp. has enjoyed great success in Botetourt County, President Tatsuo Kuroda said in a statement. “The support of the state and the county has been important. But our employees have played the most important role in the company’s success.”
Donald Scothorn, chairman of the county’s Board of Supervisors, said the Dynax expansion “is the best endorsement of Botetourt County as a premier business location."
Branch and Associates will serve as the general contractor for the expansion. The project is expected to be complete by December.2015-02-11T20:14:00+00:00
REI opening Virginia Beach store next year
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/rei-opening-virginia-beach-store-next-year#When:03:11:00ZA Seattle-area outdoor retailer is coming to Virginia Beach. Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) said Tuesday it plans to open a store at Pembroke Mall in the spring 2016.
The store will span more than 27,400 square feet, REI says.
According to the company, the first REI in Virginia opened in 1990 in Bailey's Crossroads. Today, the nearest REI is more than 100 miles away in the Richmond-Short Pump area.
The store will feature gear for camping, climbing, cycling, fitness, hiking, paddling, snow sports and travel. It also will offer year-round REI Outdoor School classes and a bike shop for assembly and repairs.2015-02-11T03:11:00+00:00
Cardinal Bank sets up $250,000 endowment for first-generation college students
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/cardinal-bank-sets-up-250000-endowment-for-first-generation-college-student#When:22:41:00ZCardinal Bank has established a $250,000 endowment at George Mason University that will fund scholarships to selected first-generation college students attending the university.
Cardinal’s funding of the scholarship program will provide financial assistance to graduates of the university’s Early Identification Program (EIP), which prepares eighth through 12th graders for college. The first recipients have been selected for the scholarship program.
Last year, 107 high school students graduated from the EIP and 90 percent of them enrolled in 27 colleges around the country. George Mason University was the destination of 35 graduates.
Since establishing the EIP in 1987, George Mason University has been hosting weekly tutoring and mentoring sessions and a three-week Summer Academic Academy to improve students’ access to higher education and their quality of life.
The program identifies seventh graders who show academic promise, motivation, commitment and leadership potential. Currently there are 145 students participating in the 8th grade program and 440 in the high school program.2015-02-10T22:41:00+00:00