Business news and intelligence for and about the Virginia business firstname.lastname@example.orgCopyright 20142014-10-21T16:55:00+00:00
Virginia unemployment rate remains steady in September at 5.5 percent
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-unemployment-rate-remains-steady-in-september-at-5.5-percent#When:16:55:00ZVirginia’s unemployment rate remained unchanged in September at 5.5 percent, according to the Virginia Employment Commission.
The commonwealth’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate for August was revised downward by one-tenth of a percentage point, from 5.6 percent to 5.5 percent. The unemployment rate in Virginia had risen three out of four months from May through August.
The September number was the same rate recorded in September 2013. Virginia’s unemployment numbers remain lower than the national rate, 5.9 percent in September. VEC, however, noted that the gap has narrowed in recent months as Virginia’s unemployment rate has risen and the national rate has fallen.
The seasonally adjusted figures take into account seasonal fluctuations in the labor market.
Virginia’s nonfarm employment fell by 7,400 jobs in September to 3.78 million, the second consecutive monthly loss. The VEC also revised the numbers for August employment. Virginia lost 5,400 jobs that month, 3,900 more than originally reported.
In September, employment fell in six major industry divisions while rising in two. The biggest drop was in private education and health services, down 2,700 jobs to 510,200. The biggest job gains, 2,100, occurred in finance.2014-10-21T16:55:00+00:00
Richmond company signs export deals in China
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/richmond-company-signs-export-deals-in-china#When:13:39:00ZA Richmond producer of animal feed additives has signed export deals with China for 2014 and 2015, Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced during his trade mission to Asia.
Richmond-based Agrivita Biogroup Inc. specializes in bioscience and animal nutrition. The agreements were made during the VIV Beijing large animal feed trade show in September. Agrivita had been exploring sales opportunities in China with help from the international marketing staff of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS).
The company already has five distributors in China and is planning to add another four. This year, the company made $400,000 in sales, but that is expected to grow in 2015 to over $1.5 million, according to a statement from Arunas Vanagas, President of Agrivita Biogroup Inc.
Agrivita worked with VDACS in 2013 to register its product in China. Earlier this year, the company shipped samples to be used in feeding trials. The trials showed increased milk from dairy cattle, more efficient growth in poultry and greater weight gain in swine production, the governor’s office said.
McAuliffe announced the deal on the second leg of his two-week trade mission to Japan, China, Hong Kong and South Korea.2014-10-21T13:39:00+00:00
Booz Allen Hamilton purchases health-care business
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/booz-allen-hamilton-purchases-health-care-business#When:18:28:00ZBooz Allen Hamilton announced Monday it has purchased the health-care unit of Genova Technologies.
The acquisition includes a facility in Baltimore with a staff of 40 people who provide IT solutions and strategy for the U.S. government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
The move will expand Booz Allen Hamilton’s IT support of the Department of Health and Human Services and expands its engineering and technology expertise for government and commercial clients.
Genova Technologies, which is based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, will retain its defense and commercial businesses.2014-10-20T18:28:00+00:00
Blue Ridge Railcar Repair to add 37 jobs in Charlotte County
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/blue-ridge-railcar-repair-to-add-37-jobs-in-charlotte-county#When:16:56:00ZKeysville-based Blue Ridge Railcar Repair LLC unveiled Monday a $2.4 million expansion plan that’s expected to create 37 jobs.
Blue Ridge Railcar, which repairs, cleans and paints railcars, will expand to meet increased marketplace demand and grow its customer base. The company was created earlier this year when Patriot Rail Co. LLC acquired Alderman Railcar Services Inc. Jacksonville, Fla.-based Patriot Rail operates 500 miles of railroads and railcar repair facilities in 14 states.
“Patriot Rail’s investment in our Virginia-based Blue Ridge Railcar Repair is directly related to the support received from the state and local economic development councils,” John Fenton, Patriot Rail’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “We were also attracted to the facility’s unique locale which will allow for expansion, as well as access to a nearby community college with a vocational training program to support new hires and continuing education for employees.”
Gov. Terry McAuliffe approved a $100,000 grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund for the project. The Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission also approved a $155,000 grant for the project. The company may be able to receive benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program, and The Virginia Jobs Investment Program will provide funding and services for Blue Ridge Railcar’s employee training.2014-10-20T16:56:00+00:00
Stafford property sells for $1.04 million
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/stafford-property-sells-for-1.04-million#When:14:54:00ZA Stafford County industrial park property has been sold for $1.04 million.
The commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer said the 23,500-square-foot property is on 4.47 acres at 29 Synan Road in the Synan Industrial Park in Falmouth.
The buyer is 29 Synan Road LLC and the seller is L.C. Smith Inc. L.C. Smith and Creation Iron will operate from the building.
Wilson H. Greelaw Jr. of Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer handled negotiations on behalf of the buyer.2014-10-20T14:54:00+00:00
Richmond building sold for $1.3 million
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/richmond-building-sold-for-1.3-million#When:14:52:00ZROWVA Properties LLC has bought a 38,976-square-foot building in Richmond for $1.3 million.
The commercial real estate company Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer said the freestanding three-story building at 501 Oliver Hill Way was purchased from Richmond Art Colony LLC as an investment.
Connie Jordan Nielsen of Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer handled the sale negotiations on behalf of the buyer.2014-10-20T14:52:00+00:00
Sale of MacArthur Center and Stony Point Fashion Park completed
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/sale-of-macarthur-center-and-stony-point-fashion-park-completed#When:14:19:00ZConnecticut-based Starwood Capital Group has completed its $1.4 billion purchase of seven regional shopping malls, including MacArthur Center in Norfolk and Stony Point Fashion Park in Richmond.
The seller was Taubman Centers Inc., based in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
Under the deal announced in June, Starwood paid $785 million in cash and assumed $620 million in debt.
The seven properties total more than 7 million square feet. They will become part of the portfolio of Starwood Retail Partners, which redevelops and manages retail real estate properties.
The company said existing management teams will continue to operate the properties under the direction of Starwood Retail Partners.
In addition to the Virginia malls, the deal includes:
• Northlake Mall in Charlotte, N.C.
• The Mall at Wellington Green in Wellington, Fla.
• The Shops at Willow Bend in Plano, Texas.
• The Mall at Partridge Creek in Clinton Township, Mich.
• Fairlane Town Center in Dearborn, Mich.
The 660,000-square-foot Stony Point Fashion Park opened in 2003.
MacArthur Center, which has 1 million square feet, opened in downtown Norfolk in 1999.2014-10-20T14:19:00+00:00
Three Virginia companies make list of fastest-growing inner-city businesses
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/three-virginia-companies-make-list-of-fastest-growing-inner-city-businesses#When:16:42:00ZThree Virginia companies have been named to a list of the 100 fastest-growing inner-city businesses in the country.
Team Henry Enterprises in Newport News ranked No. 12, River City Comprehensive Counseling Services in Richmond was No. 13 and The Pediatric Connection in Richmond was No. 97 on the 2014 Inner City 100 compiled by Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) and Fortune magazine.
Team Henry Enterprises provides construction management, environmental, marine and emergency response services.
It has a five-year growth rate of 555.8 percent and posted revenue of $11.4 million last year. The company ranked second on the list among construction companies.
In addition to the company's Newport News headquarters, it has satellite offices throughout the South and employs more than 60 people. Its CEO is Devon Henry.
River City Comprehensive Counseling Services had revenue of $3.86 million last year and a five-year growth rate of 530 percent.
It ranked first on the list among health-care and biotechnology companies.
The CEO is James Christmas, who started River City Comprehensive Counseling in 2008. Its workforce grew from four to 150 in five years.
The Pediatric Connection has a five-year growth rate of 56.8 percent and posted revenue of $15.95 million last year.
It ranks ninth among health-care and biotech companies on the list.
CEO Beth Bailey founded The Pediatric Connection with her partner Bruce Green in 1999. The company provides equipment, supplies and home nursing services to children in Virginia and Georgia.
The rankings for each company were announced at an awards ceremony Thursday in Boston.
Winners also attended a two-day small business conference for urban companies featuring management case studies presented by Harvard Business School professors and sessions led by the CEOs of fast-growing firms.
The 2014 Inner City 100 winners are from 53 cities and 23 states. The companies grew at an average compound annual growth rate of 39 percent and an average gross growth rate of 336 percent from 2009 to 2013.2014-10-17T16:42:00+00:00
Booz Allen Hamilton launches online data-science program
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/booz-allen-hamilton-launches-online-data-science-program#When:16:27:00ZMcLean-based Booz Allen Hamilton is starting a data-science training program.
The program offers 40 hours of content, teaching common data-science principles while guiding students through advanced, scenario-based challenges.
The program offers 32 “missions” that allow users with basic programming proficiency to transform raw data into business-critical insights. Participants ear points, awards and badges when they complete a level that they can share on social media.
“We’re…seeing a clear demand — across all industries — for data science expertise, but it far exceeds the available supply of trained professionals,” Booz Allen Hamilton’s Peter Guerra said in a statement. “By introducing training like Explore Data Science, we’re providing companies and interested individuals with an invaluable resource while empowering an increasingly data-drive workforce.”
The program for an individual is a one-time fee of $1,250.2014-10-17T16:27:00+00:00
Shamrock Farms opens Augusta County milk plant
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/shamrock-farms-opens-augusta-county-milk-plant#When:15:42:00ZArizona-based Shamrock Farms has officially opened its Augusta County milk plant at the Mill Place Commerce Park in Verona.
The 190,000-square-foot building was constructed in 13 months on a 40-acre parcel of land. The property has room for expansion.
Shamrock Farms said the plant features newly developed extended shelf life (ESL) technology, which allows milk to stay fresh longer.
The facility, which currently employs 50 people, will produce protein-fortified milk beverages.
When the project was announced last year, the anticipated cost was $50 million.
The builder is Howard Shockey & Sons, Inc. of Winchester.
Shamrock Farms is one of the largest family-owned-and-operated dairies in the U.S. Based in Phoenix, Shamrock’s family farm hosts a herd of more than 10,000 cows. The company was founded in 1922 in Tucson, Ariz.
In 2013, then-Gov. Bob McDonnell approved a $250,000 grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund to assist Augusta County in securing the project. He also approved $50,000 from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund, a grant administered by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Through its Virginia Jobs Investment Program, the Virginia Department of Business Assistance also was expected to provide funding and services to support the company’s recruitment, training and retraining activities.2014-10-17T15:42:00+00:00
Revamped and renamed Springfield Town Center holds grand opening
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/revamped-and-renamed-springfield-town-center-holds-grand-opening#When:15:38:00ZPennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT) on Friday marked the grand opening of the Springfield Town Center in Fairfax County.
New York-based Vornado Realty Trust spent two years and $250 million revamping the former Springfield Mall. The company announced in March it was selling the property to Philadelphia-based PREIT for $465 million..
PREIT said the mall is at approximately 81 percent total occupancy, including anchor tenants. Non-anchor is more than 60 percent, the company said, but more than 80 percent of the non-anchor space had tenant commitments (consisting of executed leases and leases being negotiated) on opening day.
Before the holiday shopping season, additional stores occupying about 50,000 square feet are expected to open, the company said. Non-anchor tenant occupancy is expected to reach more than 90 percent by the end of next year.
A list of nearly 100 mall tenants includes department stores such as Macy’s, J.C. Penney and Target plus discount specialty retailer Nordstrom Rack.
The mall also includes popular retailers such as Forever 21 and H&M and will feature a 12-screen Regal Cinema.
More than 15 retailers on the list were expected to open in the mall after Oct. 17.
Bank of Lancaster to open new Richmond branch
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/bank-of-lancaster-to-open-new-richmond-branch#When:14:20:00ZBank of Lancaster is opening a branch in Richmond’s West End on Nov. 3.
The 1,500-square-foot location will be on the corner of Libbie and Patterson avenues.
The Kilmarnock-based bank already has an office in the western part of the city at 6800 Paragon Place. It also plans to open a location on Robious Road in spring 2015.
In addition to the Richmond office, Bank of Lancaster has eight branches in the Northern Neck and a residential lending office in Middlesex County. The bank’s services include retail and commercial banking, investment services and mortgage banking.2014-10-17T14:20:00+00:00
Capital One giving five-year, $5 million gift to the Kennedy Center
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/capital-one-giving-five-year-5-million-gift-to-the-kennedy-center#When:20:24:00ZThe John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. is receiving a five-year, $5 million gift from McLean-based Capital One Financial Corp.
The money will fund “Comedy at the Kennedy Center,” a series of events aimed at elevating comedy as an art form.
The program will include the annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, main-stage productions such as “Shear Madness” and a comedy series that will bring three high-profile comedians to the center.
This season's comedy events include Mark Twain Prize recipient Jay Leno on April 8 and Kathy Griffin on June 20. A third comedy event will be announced at a later date.2014-10-16T20:24:00+00:00
Cigital Inc. names new executives
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/cigital-inc.-names-new-executives#When:19:59:00ZDulles-based software security services and products firm Cigital Inc. has named John Salmon vice president for North America sales and James Paul managing director of the Central Region.
Salmon was vice president of enterprise solutions at Trustwave. Before joining Trustwave, he served in business development leadership positions at ICONS and the Salinas Group.
Paul also joins Cigital from Trustwave, where he was the senior vice president of product management for compliance and risk.
Cigital has regional offices in North America, Europe and Asia.2014-10-16T19:59:00+00:00
Michael & Son Services buys Alexandria property for new headquarters
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/michael-sons-services-buys-alexandria-property-for-new-headquarters#When:18:55:00ZCafferty Commercial Real Estate Services in McLean is working with Michael & Son Services Inc. on a new headquarters project in Alexandria.
According to President Tom Cafferty, Michael & Son, which provides electrical, plumbing and HVAC services, purchased a six-acre site at 6375 Bren Mar Drive for $3.4 million. It plans to build a 61,000-square-foot office building there that will consolidate several of the company’s operations in the Alexandria area.
Cafferty says his firm will provide development services for the new project, which will be constructed of brick and reflective glass.2014-10-16T18:55:00+00:00
Virginia nursery acquired by major greenhouse operation
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-nursery-acquired-by-major-greenhouse-operation#When:18:49:00ZOne of the nation’s largest greenhouse growers has acquired a Virginia nursery.
Elkridge, Md.-based Bell Nursery has acquired Blue Ridge Growers’ 110 acres in Stevensburg and 150 acres of Bentwood Farms in North Carolina. Bell supplies The Home Depot in seven states and the District of Columbia.
Blue Ridge Growers will grow annuals, perennials, mums and poinsettias for Home Depots. According to Bell, the acquisition of Blue Ridge Growers will allow it to expand in-house production and provide future growth.2014-10-16T18:49:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Building-5-9325_small.jpg
Archway 60 Office Park reopens as Fountain Park
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/archway-60-office-park-reopens-as-fountain-park#When:18:48:00ZArchway 60 Office Park on Midlothian Turnpike in Chesterfield County has been reopened under the name of Fountain Park after a major renovation.
The new name highlights the park’s existing fountain plaza. The four-building office park has 65,000 square feet of space and has been refurbished with a new façade, including stone columns, new trim, paint and a new roof. In addition, directional signage was added so tenants and visitors could easily locate businesses within the park.
Midlothian Partners of Virginia LLC said in a statement that it invested in the renovation to refresh the look and better position the property, taking full advantage of its location. “We have spent the better part of a year enhancing a very well-located office park to attract medical, service and office tenants. It’s a great opportunity to take advantage of a superior location, with terrific accessibility and visibility from Midlothian Turnpike and close proximity to major hospitals,” said Sanford M. “Sandy” Cohen of Midlothian Partners.
Divaris Real Estate is handling the leasing and management of the project on behalf of Midlothian Partners. Currently the office park is home to Old Dominion Pediatrics, Brothers’ Keeper Inc., Rehabilitation Associations PC, Olmeja Advocacy LLC, CML Pizza Inc. and Personal Dental Care.2014-10-16T18:48:00+00:00
Orthopedic practices to merge
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/orthopedic-practices-to-merge#When:18:21:00ZFairfax-based Commonwealth Orthopaedics and Richmond-based OrthoVirginia will merge their practices.
When the merger takes effect on Jan. 1, Commonwealth Orthopaedics will change its name to OrthoVirginia.
The combination is expected to create the largest orthopedic specialty group practice in Virginia, with 82 physicians, 21 office locations, an MRI facility, and multiple physical and occupational therapy clinics and outpatient surgery centers.
Financial details of the merger were not released.
In a statement, Dr. David Miller, president of OrthoVirginia, said the merger “will improve the delivery of orthopedic care in Virginia, provide a stronger network of high-quality orthopedic physicians, and position both organizations for future success in a rapidly changing health-care environment.”
Dr. Mark Madden, chairman of Commonwealth Orthopaedics, said in a statement that, except for the name change, “the merger will be seamless to patients. Day-to-day operations at both organizations will not change.”
Commonwealth Orthopaedics is the largest orthopedic specialty group practice in Northern Virginia with 37 physicians. Established in 1994, it has 10 office locations in the region, including seven physical-therapy facilities and an outpatient-surgery center.
OrthoVirginia is a 45-physician orthopedic specialty group practice with 11 locations in the Richmond, Prince George County, Kilmarnock and Farmville areas, including seven physical-therapy locations and two outpatient-surgery centers. It was founded in 1960.2014-10-16T18:21:00+00:00
Workforce training program expands list of assessment centers
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/workforce-training-program-expands-list-of-assessment-centers#When:18:18:00ZNine Virginia community colleges have been designated as assessment centers for the Manufacturing Skills Institute (MSI), the workforce development affiliate of the Virginia Manufacturers Association.
The schools include: Blue Ridge Community College, Community College Workforce Alliance (John Tyler Community College and J. Sargent Reynolds Community College), Mountain Empire Community College, Southside Virginia Community College, Tidewater Community College, Thomas Nelson Community College, Virginia Highlands Community College and Virginia Western Community College.
The new assessment centers will expand opportunities for workers to gain credentials for their skills.
The initial focus of the partnership will be to expand the MSI Manufacturing Technician 1 (MT1) certificate program as a baseline credential for Virginia's 6,000 manufacturers as well as integrating it into degree pathways and dual enrollment opportunities.
The goal is to create an emerging workforce that has the 12 critical technical skills that are fundamental to occupations in advanced technology industries.
"We knew in 2007 that manufacturers would have a skills gap of approximately 11,000 people a year,” Brett Vassey, VMA’s President and CEO, said in a statement. “We also knew that the largest need was in the manufacturing technician occupation and 96 percent of manufacturers wanted people with these applied and measurable skills. Although the economic challenges of the last few years slowed demand, it is back and we need to move quickly and this partnership between MSI and Virginia's community colleges will help close the skills gaps for manufacturers"
The community college-based assessment centers will join ECPI University, which has six assessment centers, and the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center in offering MT1 resources.
Dixon Hughes Goodman adds partner
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/dixon-hughes-goodman-adds-partner#When:14:51:00ZDixon Hughes Goodman (DHG) announced that Nicholas Harrison has joined the firm’s Richmond office as a partner.
He will lead the DHG’S Virginia Tax Advisory Services Group. Harrison has more than 12 years experience providing tax consulting and compliance services to middle market and large public and private companies.
He has helped clients with income tax provision review and compliance, nexus reviews, voluntary disclosure agreements, Sarbanes Oxley 404 tax reviews and transaction analysis.
Previously, Harrison was a senior manager at KPMG.2014-10-16T14:51:00+00:00
VCU’s Institute for Contemporary Art will drive new development, director says
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/vcus-institute-for-contemporary-art-will-drive-new-development-director-say#When:21:41:00ZWhy is a new contemporary art institute significant for Richmond? VCU’s Institute for Contemporary Art will add to the city’s sense of distinction and help drive new economic development, the institute’s director Lisa Freiman said Wednesday.
In remarks to the Richmond chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women, Freiman said nearly $33 million of a $37 million funding goal has been raised for the facility, designed by Steven Holl, an award-winning New York architect. With its multiple galleries, including a 36-foot high third-floor gallery, modern design and outdoor sculpture garden and plaza, Holl designed the building as a gateway between the university and the city.
Construction got underway at the building’s site last month at the intersection of Broad and Belvedere, not far from Interstate 95 near Virginia Commonwealth University.
The intersection is one of the city’s busiest, with 60,000 cars passing through it every day, said Freiman. She predicts the ICA will be an economic spark for the area. “A lot of economic transformation is coming in, restaurants, boutiques, even a petite Wal-Mart,” Freiman said, referring to a new convenience-store size Wal-Mart that will occupy ground-floor space in a seven-story classroom-and-office building under construction on Grace Street on VCU’s Monroe Park Campus.
The center will have double entrances, one facing Richmond at the intersection and another fronting VCU’s campus.
Freiman noted that Richmond already is ahead of many cities in terms of having a distinct sense of place because of its well-preserved historical structures. This pleasing and unique aesthetic is lacking in many American cities, Freiman told the real estate group, where similar large-box retailers tend to build the same size and type stores.
While Richmond already has many museums, including the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the new institute will fulfill a specific niche of showcasing contemporary art and by providing a museum space for VCU, one of the country’s top-rated art schools, Freiman said.
It will function as a noncollecting institution, showcasing a changing array of exhibitions not only by VCU artists, “but the best of contemporary art from around the world,” said Freiman. She predicts that the 43,000-square-foot institute “will create opportunities for cultural tourism and community revitalization.”
The building’s exterior walls will be done in zinc. Clear and translucent glass walls will create transparency, bringing natural light into the building. Freiman said the building, with 43 geothermal wells, three green roofs and other sustainable building features, plans to seek platinum certification from LEED, the highest rating from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
VCU announced on Tuesday the naming of the first-floor gallery in the Markel Center of the Institute for Contemporary Arts in honor of Beverly W. Reynolds, a longtime gallery owner, VCU School of the Arts advocate and a community leader in the arts.
The tribute to Reynolds was made possible by gifts to the ICA fundraising campaign in her honor by more than 80 donors and a recent significant contribution by her close friends, Harmon and George Logan of Charlottesville. Campaign co-chairs Pam and Bill Royall and ICA donors Carolyn and John Snow also directed a portion of their gifts in her honor, bringing the total gifts and pledges in Reynolds’ name to $3 million.
“It is appropriate and wonderful that one of the most prominent spaces in the ICA be named for Bev Reynolds, one of the most prominent supporters of the arts in our city’s history,” VCU President Michael Rao said in a statement. “Bev has been a catalyst in bringing innovative and inspiring works of art to Richmond for many years, and her impact on the campaign for the ICA has been just as profound. Her generosity, vision and spirit have inspired so many others, and I am proud that her transformative and indelible legacy will be permanently honored at the ICA.”2014-10-15T21:41:00+00:00
Shoppers get a look at Portsmouth’s new Kroger Marketplace
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/shoppers-get-a-look-at-portsmouths-new-kroger-marketplace#When:21:36:00ZPortsmouth shoppers got a look at the region’s newest Kroger Marketplace store Wednesday with the opening of a 124,000-square-foot store at 1301 Frederick Blvd., the former home of I.C. Norcom High School.
Like Kroger’s other large stores, the Portsmouth Midtown Kroger Marketplace stocks more than groceries. Thestore offers 30,000 square feet of non-grocery space where customers can shop in departments ranging from apparel, home décor and baby and infant gear.
The store also offers a natural foods department, a Fred Meyer Jewelers, a pharmacy with drive-through service, a Starbucks kiosk with seating area and free Wi-Fi and a Kroger Fuel Center.
Unique to the Kroger stores in the Hampton Roads area, Portsmouth Midtown Marketplace amenities include an expanded gourmet wine and cheese pairing station and a more efficient layout to help customers navigate the store. According to Kroger, the added features were largely based upon customer feedback and shopping behaviors.
The store’s community room will be named the I.C. Norcom Room in honor of the school that formerly stood on the grounds. The high school was renamed to honor its first supervising principal, Israel Charles Norcom, a pioneer educator in the region.
“Our goal for this store is to make a positive impact on the community and bring an enjoyable shopping experience to our customers,” store Manager Terry Lucas said in a statement.
The Portsmouth Kroger Marketplace, which will employ nearly 350 full- and part-time workers, is the second Marketplace store in Hampton Roads. The next Marketplace store is planned to open in December in Suffolk.
Kroger Mid-Atlantic also operates two Marketplace stores in the Richmond market, with plans to open more in the next several years.2014-10-15T21:36:00+00:00
Clearview Logix to acquire health-care practice of Evenspring
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/clearview-logix-to-acquire-health-care-practice-of-evenspring#When:20:19:00ZClearview Logix, a healthcare analytics and application development company, is acquiring the health-care practice of Evenspring, a software development consultancy.
Both companies are based in Richmond. The deal is expected to close on Nov. 1.
As part of the transaction, Evenspring partner Allen Hatzimanolis will join Clearview as its chief technology officer.
Clearview used Evenspring to develop its web-based employer-branded health plan selection tool for employees.
“The combination of Clearview Logix’s problem-solving approach with Evenspring’s software development capabilities will allow us to capitalize on emergent opportunities in the rapidly changing health-care market, and also offer our partners enhanced decision support solutions,” Tim O’Shea, a Clearview founder, said in a statement..
Founded by Aujang Abadi, Tyler Carbone, and Hatzimanolis, Evenspring’s health division specializes in health-care related software development, primarily serving health consumers, employers and insurance distribution channels such as marketplaces and exchanges.
Evenspring is the development partner of BeneFinder, an individual insurance marketplace.
Clearview was started last year by O’Shea and Dr. Larry Colley, the developers of patented analytic decision support models for health insurance purchasers.
The company is marketing the My Clearview model, which aids consumers in selecting health plan options that minimizes their total expected cost.
Clearview also developed Quote Master, a small group multi-carrier quoting engine that helps brokers to identify the optimal carrier and plans for a small-group clients.2014-10-15T20:19:00+00:00
American Staffing Association releases list of ‘hard-to-fill’ jobs in the U.S.
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/american-staffing-association-releases-list-of-hard-to-fill-jobs-in-the-u.s#When:20:19:00ZWhat are the hardest jobs to fill in the U.S.? Alexandria-based American Staffing Association has an idea.
The association has released a list of the hardest-to-fill jobs in the U.S., with occupational and physical therapists taking the No. 1 and 2 spots, respectively.
The finding is based on ASA’s Skills Gap Index, which tracks the number of hardest-to-fill occupations in the country. The index found 207 occupations that are hard to fill. The top 10 are:
1. Occupational therapists
2. Physical therapists
3. Truck drivers, heavy and tractor-trailer
4. Occupational therapist assistants
5. Speech-language pathologists
6. Physician assistants
7. Merchandise displayers and window trimmers
8. Physical therapist assistants
9. Nursing instructors and teachers, postsecondary
10. Computer software engineers, applications
The skills gap index, updated quarterly, uses Career Builder's hiring indicator, which measures the level of difficulty to recruit for a specific job based on demand, supply of active candidates and total population working in it on a scale of 1-100. Occupations with a score less than 50 and demand of 2,000 jobs or more were considered hard to fill.2014-10-15T20:19:00+00:00
Grant Thornton promotes six employees in Virginia
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/grant-thornton-promotes-six-employees-in-virginia#When:18:01:00ZChicago-based accounting firm Grant Thornton LLP has announced a number of promotions at its Virginia offices.
Eric Heffernan is now global public sector advisory principal at Grant Thornton LLP’s Alexandria location. The McLean office promoted Tim O’Neil to audit partner; Rob Spence to international tax partner; Jeremy Cusimano to forensic and valuation services managing director; Nishit Mehta to audit managing director and Margery Van Vleet to tax managing director. It also promoted Bryan Keith to tax managing director in the Washington, D.C. Office
According to Grant Thornton LLP, partners and principals have consistently demonstrated an ability to understand and meet the needs of companies and industries. They have also demonstrated long-term leadership in the accounting profession and the community. Managing directors are the company’s highest-level employee position.
Heffernan has been with Grant Thornton LLP since 2002. His expertise lies in organizational improvement, human capital management and sourcing operations to help transform large federal agencies operations.
O’Neil began working at the firm in 2004. He has 13 years of experience in accounting, business operations, and information technology.
Spence and Cusimano have been with Grant Thornton since 2012. Spence experience includes foreign tax credits, post-merger integration and structuring for expansion and disposition. Prior to joining Grant Thornton LLP, Cusimano served as economic advisor to the enforcement director at the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and chief economist for petroleum reserves at the U.S. Department of Energy.
Mehta joined Grant Thornton in 2008 and specializes in real estate issues. Van Vleet started working at Grant Thornton in 2011 and focuses on tax technology implementation and support.
Overall, Grant Thornton added 32 new partners and principals and promoted 21 workers to managing director. The company is the U.S. member company of Grant Thornton International Ltd. In the United States, Grant Thornton has revenue of more than $1.3 billion and has more than 6,000 employees.2014-10-15T18:01:00+00:00
Hilton unveils lifestyle hotel brand
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/hilton-unveils-lifestyle-hotel-brand#When:17:41:00ZHilton Worldwide announced Wednesday the launch of its new lifestyle brand, Canopy by Hilton.
The new brand, set to open at hotels in 11 locations, will feature individualized features from the properties' local neighborhood, a comfortable lobby and "extra-value" items such as a welcome gift and local food and beer tastings.
“Built on extensive market research, our highly anticipated Canopy by Hilton brand delivers a fresh approach to hospitality and the guest experience,” Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta said in a statement. “We saw an opportunity to not only enter the lifestyle space by developing a new brand, but also to redefine this category by creating a more accessible lifestyle brand. We identified the need to take the emphasis off of capital-intensive design and deliver exactly what the target consumer desires: an energizing, comfortable stay with more included value.”
The hotels will begin opening in 2015. Canopy by Hilton has signed letters of intent to open in neighborhoods in Portland, London, Miami, Bethesda, Md., San Diego, Nashville, Savannah, Ga., Indianapolis, Charlotte, Oklahoma City and Ithaca, N.Y.
Canopy has already attracted the interest of ownership groups including The Buccini/Pollin Group, KeyStone Corporation, Anish Hotel Group, Baywood Hotels, North Point Hospitality Group, J Street Hospitality, and Levine Properties.2014-10-15T17:41:00+00:00
Governor unveils 2014 Virginia Energy Plan
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/governor-unveils-2014-virginia-energy-plan#When:21:04:00ZAmid a backdrop of protestors who railed against a proposed new natural-gas pipeline, Gov. Terry McAuliffe formally presented his 2014 Virginia Energy Plan Tuesday to a standing room only crowd of nearly 200 people.
The Virginia Chamber of Commerce and the Virginia League of Conservation Voters co-sponsored the event at the Virginia Science Museum in Richmond. In front of the museum, a crowd of about 30 people, including college students and residents of Nelson County, voiced their opposition to a new pipeline with signs and cheers amplified by a megaphone.
“We are the people. We are united. We won’t let you build this pipeline,” they said.
The group was referring to a $4.5 billion, 550-mile natural-gas pipeline proposed by four energy companies, including Virginia-based Dominion, that would run from Harrison County, W. Va., through Virginia including Nelson County, and south through central North Carolina.
While speakers at the event briefly referenced the controversial pipeline, the governor’s nearly 500-page energy plan focuses on a broad vision for state energy policy that advocates an “all of the above” approach.
In his remarks, McAuliffe said, “If we are going to build the economy Virginia families deserve, we must begin by giving them the energy plan our economy demands.’’
McAuliffe’s stamp on Virginia’s Energy Plan, mandated by state law to be updated by Oct. 1 of this year, primarily focuses on four areas: growing the state’s energy industry, delivering best-in-class infrastructure, incorporating energy conservation and innovation and addressing workforce needs with many workers in the energy sectors preparing for retirement.
Currently, about 6 percent of Virginia’s energy comes from renewable sources, Maurice Jones, Virginia’s secretary of commerce and trade, said. The plan calls for the formation of a new public/private authority to help facilitate renewable projects, particularly in the solar sector.
His remarks were followed by panel discussion on energy issues. One of those speakers noted that Virginia is far behind other states in solar development. Of the 6 percent renewable figure, only one half of one percent of that comes from renewables sources that are solar- or wind-based, according to Angela Navarro, a staff attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center who works with six states in the Southeast on energy issues. “That’s not a balanced portfolio,” she said.
Compared with Virginia, which currently has 15 megawatts of solar power installed, she said Georgia has 700 megawatts and North Carolina generates 650 megawatts of solar power. These states have solar tax credits, and North Carolina mandates a renewable portfolio standard -- policies that drive significant change, Navarro said.
While the natural-gas sector is experiencing rapid growth and low prices now due to the discovery of the Marcellus shale, Navarro said prices for the commodity are historically volatile. “Wind and solar provide a hedge to natural gas prices,” she said.
The energy plan calls for 15 percent of Virginia’s energy to come from renewables by 2025 and a 10 percent reduction in energy consumption by 2020. Currently, most of the state’s energy comes from nuclear power (about 36 percent), natural gas (30 percent) and coal (29 percent).
Navarro commended the new plan’s recommendations for pilot programs that allow individuals to invest in solar.
Besides renewables, Jones says the state sees big opportunities in offshore wind and in energy efficiency, particularly by converting petro-fueled state vehicles to other forms of energy and by assisting local governments with conservation and retrofitting efforts.
State facilities alone, including colleges and universities, consume about $200 million a year in energy, so a 10 percent savings could bring $20 million to $30 million in savings a year, said Conrad Spangler, director of the state’s department of Mines, Mineral and Energy.
One new initiative for the state’s coal industry would help them find new international markets for their services and technology, Jones said, much like the state did for the defense industry.
“The market for coal is still robust abroad,” he said. “ Going global would help the coal supply chain,” which has seen mines close and jobs cut under new federal emission standards.
Providing new energy infrastructure is important to growing the state’s energy sector, Jones, said, and the state would be open to special utility rates to enhance such growth. “I know this is a sensitive topic, and we will have to do it in a way that balances interests,” he said.
Another panel speaker, Keith Togna, global energy lead for Honeywell Performance Materials and Technologies, reminded the audience that energy costs are one of a manufacturer’s highest expenses. “The cost of energy impacts our ability to be competitive in the global marketplace,” he said.
Large manufacturers need access, reliability and affordable energy. “It’s paramount to where we will site a facility.”
During the wide-ranging discussion on energy, the shouts of protestors could periodically be heard, punctuating the timeliness of the topic. Several students from the University of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University were among the protesters, and some of them attended the event as well. They belong to the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition, a relatively new group that brings student networks together.
Laura Cross, a student at the U.Va. said, “We’re trying to unify our voices as students." As Jake Turner, a graduate student at U.Va. put it, “We’re the ones who are going to be around for a long time.”
According to Turner, the students are protesting the pipeline, because they would rather see money invested in renewables.2014-10-14T21:04:00+00:00
Virginia to use federal grant to boost health-care enrollment
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-to-use-federal-grant-to-boost-health-care-enrollment#When:20:55:00ZVirginia has been awarded a $9.3 million federal grant to hire more than 100 people to help residents sign up for health care.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe said the grant would play a significant role in his efforts to expand health care coverage. “We will use this money to put more boots on the ground to make sure individuals and families find the best low-cost insurance options for them, and to make sure they know about the financial assistance that is available,” the governor said in a statement.
During the 2013-14 sign-up period, more than 216,000 Virginians purchased health plans. Nonetheless, the governor’s office said an estimated 300,000 Virginians who would have qualified for tax credits if they had bought insurance on healthcare.gov remain uninsured.
McAuliffe has set a goal to enroll up to 160,000 more Virginians on the federal website during the enrollment period that ends Feb. 15.
The grant, one of only four given to the states, was awarded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It will be administered by the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services.
The commonwealth will partner with the Virginia Community Healthcare Association and the Virginia Poverty Law Center in hiring enrollment assistants.2014-10-14T20:55:00+00:00
Virginia Economic Development Partnership announces new roles in UK, Ireland office
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/virginia-economic-development-partnership-announces-new-roles-in-uk-ireland#When:20:52:00ZThe Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) has tapped two marketing professionals to attract business from the United Kingdom and Ireland to Virginia.
Andrew Harfoot will serve as VEDP’s director of state of Virginia for the United Kingdom and Ireland, and Heather Wells will serve as the organization’s business attraction manager.
Harfoot and Wells are directors of Springboard Marketing Ltd., a business-to-business marketing firm in Kent County (located in South East England). During the last decade, Hartfoot and Wells have represented Richmond in Northern Europe. Springboard, established in 1992, has 10 employees.
VEDP established operations in the UK and Ireland in 2010.2014-10-14T20:52:00+00:00
Wheeler REIT to acquire Tennessee shopping center
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/wheeler-reit-to-acquire-tennessee-shopping-center#When:20:49:00ZVirginia Beach-based Wheeler Real Estate Investment Trust Inc. has signed a contract to acquire a shopping center in Tennessee for $9.75 million.
The acquisition involves Crockett Square, a 107,122-square-foot retail center in Morristown, Tenn., a city of nearly 30,000 people. The property is totally leased by national retail chains such as Hobby Lobby, Dollar Tree, Pier 1 and Ross.
The shopping center, built in 2005, is near a Walmart store and is directly across the street from Walters State Community College, both of which generate traffic in the area.
The company plans to make the acquisition using a combination of cash and bank debt.2014-10-14T20:49:00+00:00
CIT releases progress report on Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/cit-releases-progress-report-on-the-commonwealth-research-commercialization#When:20:47:00ZOrganizations funded by The Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund (CRCF) produced more than 12 patents and created at least four new life science/cyber security companies in Fiscal Year 2014, according to a new report by the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT).
Herndon-based CIT, which manages the fund, released the report detailing CRCF’s performance on Tuesday. The fund invests in projects that address challenges in the life sciences, cyber security, advanced manufacturing and energy sectors. The Virginia General Assembly appropriated $4.8 million to the fund for FY2014. CIT used $4.2 million of those funds that year to invest in 52 projects, which received $7.4 million in matching funds. The report also found the following about companies funded by CRCF:
• At least seven companies posted sales and/or revenue totaling more than $3 million.
• More than 50 patents have been filed by the grantees or are pending.
• At least one CRCF recipient expanded its operations across the state, and at least two non-Virginia companies located all or a portion of their operations to the commonwealth.
• CRCF award recipients reported nearly $30 million in additional investments made in research and technology work after CRCF projects ended.
The program was established in 2011 and since then, has received nearly 400 applications. To date, CRCF has announced 146 awards.2014-10-14T20:47:00+00:00
Virginia revenues up 5.3 percent in September
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-revenues-up-5.3-percent-in-september#When:19:40:00ZVirginia's revenues great 5.3 percent in September, Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced Tuesday.
All major sources of revenue grew during the month. It also marked the first time revenues have increased for three consecutive months since April through June of 2013.
September is a major revenue collection month for Virginia. It marks the last month of the first quarter, and estimate payments from individuals, corporations and insurance companies all are due in September.
“I am pleased to see that our revenue collections are up, however, we must remain cautious because the commonwealth has only collected about one-quarter of its general fund revenue estimate to date. My administration will continue to take a prudent approach to help ensure that Virginia remains fiscally strong,” McAuliffe said in a statement.
On a fiscal year-to-date basis, total revenue collections rose 6.7 percent compared with the same time period last year. That is ahead of the revised annual forecast growth of 2.9 percent. Rises in the individual income, corporate and sales taxes contributed to the increases.
On a year-to-date basis, collections of payroll withholding taxes rose 6.3 percent, compared with a 2.7 percent estimate in the state's revised forecast. Non-withholding collections grew 14.7 percent, and sales tax collections grew 4.6 percent, slightly above the 4.4 percent predicted increase. Through the first quarter of the fiscal year, corporate income tax collections grew 12.4 percent, ahead of an estimated 0.9 percent decline.2014-10-14T19:40:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Green_Flash_Brewing_Co._in_Virginia_Beach.jpg
Green Flash Brewing Co. breaks ground in Virginia Beach
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/green-flash-brewing-co.-breaks-ground-in-virginia-beach#When:21:25:00ZThe co-founders of Green Flash Brewing Co., Mike and Lisa Hinkley, joined local and state officials Monday in a groundbreaking in Virginia Beach for the San Diego-based brewery’s first East Coast location.
Brewmaster Chuck Silva, state Sen.Jeffrey McWaters, Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones and Virginia Beach Mayor William D. Sessoms were on hand to mark the official start of construction of the 58,000-square-foot brewery, tasting room and beer garden at the corner of General Booth Boulevard and Corporate Landing.
Green Flash partnered with Hampton Roads-based developers, The Miller Group, to proceed with land acquisition, design and permitting.
“When they reach capacity, Green Flash will be producing 100,000 barrels of beer every year from Virginia Beach, and that is certainly something to celebrate,” Mayor William D. Sessoms of Virginia Beach said in a statement.
“We extend many thanks to everyone in the community for making us feel welcome and at home from day one and look forward to celebrating our opening upon completion of construction in 2016,” said Mike Hinkley.
According to the city of Virginia Beach, a steadily growing demand for Green Flash beers on the East Coast prompted the need for a second brewery. Virginia Beach was chosen because of its ease of access from mid-Atlantic corridors as well as for its coastal landscape and cultural similarities to San Diego.
The Virginia brewery will allow Green Flash to cold-ship fresh beer via second-day freight. This will result in lower pricing at retail and a smaller carbon footprint.
“Most importantly,” said Green Flash co-founder and vice president of Marketing Lisa Hinkley, “we will have the chance to further connect with our customers on the East Coast … Our most powerful brand building comes when we are face to face with our customers and they can see, hear, feel and taste our beer at the source. It is then that they are able to experience our passion for brewing innovation and explore our craft first-hand.”
From a production standpoint, the new brewery will replicate the production capabilities of the Green Flash headquarters in San Diego. The brewery’s interior footprint will follow the same plan with most equipment installed prior to opening. The fermentation tanks will be delivered in three phases: 50 percent of capacity up front, with 25 percent added as needed until reaching the operation’s full capacity to meet demand. Upon opening, the Virginia Beach facility will employ 40 people and represent $20 million of invested capital.2014-10-13T21:25:00+00:00
AES selling its interest in Turkish joint venture for $125 million
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/aes-selling-its-interest-in-turkish-joint-venture-for-125-million#When:21:25:00ZArlington-based AES Corp. has agreed to sell for $125 million its interest in a Turkish joint venture to its partners.
AES held 49.62 percent equity interest in AES Entek Elektrik Üretimi A.Ş. (AES Entek), a joint venture with partners KOÇ HOLDİNG A.Ş. and AYGAZ A.Ş.
The sale represents 100 percent of AES’ interest in assets in Turkey.
“With the sale of our Turkish assets, we will have exited nine countries and received proceeds of $2.4 billion from asset sales over the past three years," Andrés Gluski, AES’ president and CEO said in a statement. “In line with our strategy, we have focused on simplifying our portfolio and exiting those markets where we do not have a sustainable competitive advantage.”
AES is a Fortune 200 global power company providing energy to 20 countries.
The company has 17,800 employees and its 2013 revenues were $16 billion.2014-10-13T21:25:00+00:00
McGuireWoods names new partner
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/mcguirewoods-names-new-partner#When:16:16:00ZMcGuireWoods has named Brad R. Newberg partner in its Tysons Corner office. Newberg will join the firm’s intellectual property litigation and patents department.
Newberg most recently worked for Reed Smith’s Falls Church office where he was lead attorney on different intellectual property matters.
Overall, Newberg has 15 years of intellectual property experience, including copyright, trademark and domain name issues.
Newberg earned his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1997. He also received two undergraduate degrees in economics from Penn, including a degree from Penn’s Wharton School of Business.
McGuireWoods LLP employs more than 900 lawyers in 20 offices around the world.2014-10-13T16:16:00+00:00
New Kroger Marketplace will open in Portsmouth Oct. 15
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/new-kroger-marketplace-will-open-in-portsmouth-oct.-15#When:16:02:00ZThe Portsmouth Midtown Kroger Marketplace, located at 1301 Frederick Blvd., will open this Wednesday, Oct. 15, at 7 a.m.
Kroger Limited Partnership, an affiliate of The Kroger Co., developed the store at the former home of I.C. Norcom High School.
“We’re thrilled to be welcoming the Kroger Marketplace to the Portsmouth community,” Portsmouth Mayor Kenny Wright said in a statement. “This store will create approximately 350 jobs and provide an opportunity for our residents to shop and work where they live. This is another step in rebuilding our city and restoring quality services in our neighborhoods."
Similar to the Virginia Beach Marketplace, the Portsmouth store will offer shoppers more than groceries with 30,000 square feet set aside for home-store offerings ranging from apparel to home décor.2014-10-13T16:02:00+00:00
Franklin Johnston Group picks up large residential portfolio
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/franklin-johnston-group-picks-up-large-residential-portfolio#When:15:27:00ZThe Franklin Johnston Group, a Virginia Beach-based apartment developer and manager, announced an agreement Monday to manage all Waverton Associates Communities, which include 2,200 residences in the Richmond and Hampton Roads areas.
Waverton Associates in Portsmouth has developed and built many residential and commercial properties throughout the region with an estimated value of more than $800 million. The Waverton portfolio includes Meridian Watermark, Chesterfield County; Impressions, Newport News; Meridian Parkside, Newport News; Meridian Harbourview, Suffolk; and Waverton Chesapeake, Chesapeake. The portfolio consists of both market rate and tax-credit communities.
The FJG management team took over on Oct. 1.
The Franklin Johnston Group, which opened for business a little more than a year ago, owns and manages more than 7,000 units and 45 properties throughout the Eastern U.S. The portfolio includes its own properties as well as those owned in partnership with various individual and institutional investors.
FJG employs more than 300 people throughout the mid-Atlantic and Southeast.2014-10-13T15:27:00+00:00
2015 will see many CMBS loans mature in Virginia
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/2015-will-see-many-cmbs-loans-mature-in-virginia#When:15:24:00ZVirginia has 166 commercial mortgage-backed backed security (CMBS) loans, with a balance of $1.8 billion, coming due during the next 12 months.
Of that amount, 15 percent, or 25 of the loans, are delinquent in the amount of $311,444,891, which could open the door to possible note sales, discounted payoffs or restructurings according to Trepp, a commercial real estate analytics firm based in New York.
Its Southeast Market Snapshot report on maturing loans shows that Virginia is doing better than some other states.
The region is dominated by Florida, Virginia, Georgia, and North Carolina, making it the second-largest region in the country in terms of outstanding CMBS loan balance. Of the $95.6 billion in outstanding CMBS loans, just over 13 percent of that balance will mature during the next twelve months. Of the $12.8 billion in maturing loans, more than 200 of them — totaling $2.1 billion — are currently delinquent.
Alabama and Tennessee have the lowest amount of healthy loans in their region with 35.6 percent of Alabama’s loans delinquent and 21.5 percent of Tennessee’s loans in delinquency.
The Trepp snapshot is updated on a quarterly basis. CMBS loans are a type of mortgage-backed security backed by commercial mortgages rather than residential real estate.2014-10-13T15:24:00+00:00
JLL assisted Stone Brewing Co. in its bid to come to Richmond
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/jll-assisted-stone-brewing-co.-in-its-bid-to-come-to-richmond#When:14:12:00ZCommercial real estate services firm JLL worked with Stone Brewing Co. of Escondido, Calif., on the selection of its Richmond East Coast production and distribution facility.
The city of Richmond Economic Development Authority will build Stone’s 192,800-square-foot production and distribution project. Located in the Fulton Bottom area of the city at the intersection of Williamsburg Avenue and Nicholson Street, brewery plans also include a bistro and gift shop located in the adjacent Intermediate Terminal building.
According to JLL, Stone received more than of 300 responses to its original Request for Proposal (RFP) for an East Coast facility and engaged JLL to assist with the selection process.
JLL helped Stone evaluate different cities and sites, as well as water quality, supply chain, incentives and other metrics. In the end, JLL said Richmond was the top choice given its location and other attributes, not the least of which was a site with access to the James River.
Scott Keeton, vice president, JLL, provided site selection and other services.
“Richmond prevailed among a large pool of options because of the city’s thriving artisan, craft food and beverage scene,” Keeton said in a statement. “Lots of credit is due to both the Commonwealth of Virginia and the city of Richmond for their hard work in bringing Stone to Richmond.”2014-10-13T14:12:00+00:00
Darden ranks No. 3 in top MBA schools in the world
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/darden-ranks-no.-3-in-top-mba-schools-in-the-world#When:16:30:00ZThe Economist has ranked the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business No. 3 on its list of best full-time MBA programs in the world.
The magazine said Darden provided “MBA students with the ultimate educational experience.” In 2013, Darden ranked fourth on the list.
The ranking highlighted Darden’s “case method learning and top-ranked teaching faculty.” The magazine also mentioned the school’s W.L. Lyons Brown III Innovation Laboratory, which serves as an entrepreneurial hub for U.Va. and the community.
Schools were ranked in 17 criteria, ranging from its education experience to its diversity and alumni network. The magazine surveys students and alumni and collects data from business schools.
Darden ranked first out of all schools in the personal development and educational experience and diversity of recruiters categories.
Darden was the only school in Virginia to be named to the list.
The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business were ranked No. 1 and No. 2.2014-10-10T16:30:00+00:00
Commonwealth approves adoption by same-sex couples
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/commonwealth-approves-adoption-by-same-sex-couples#When:16:16:00ZThe Virginia Department of Social Services released a bulletin on Friday informing local social services divisions that adoption by same-sex spouses is now legal in the commonwealth.
“Now that same-sex marriage in Virginia is officially legal, we owe it to all Virginians to ensure that every couple is treated equally under all of our laws, no matter whom they love,” Gov. Terry McAuliffe said in a statement.
Virginia law states that a “married couple or an unmarried individual shall be eligible to receive placement of a child for purposes of adoption.”
The bulletin says that when determining the appropriateness of a foster or adoptive home, “Virginia, in response to the Fourth Circuit ruling, now recognizes any legally-performed marriage (same-sex or opposite-sex), whether performed in Virginia or another state. This ruling does not confer legal status to civil unions or domestic partnerships. Any married couple is a married couple for purposes of adoptive placements.”
.2014-10-10T16:16:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/STONE_LARGE.jpgStone Brewing's beers on display at the Governor's Mansion.
Stone Brewing to locate first East Coast facility in Richmond
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/stone-brewing-to-locate-first-east-coast-facility-in-richmond#When:19:56:00ZIt’s official. San Diego-based Stone Brewing Co. will invest $74 million to open its first East Coast production facility in Richmond. The venture is expected to create more than 288 jobs.
“I have that feeling in my heart like we made the right choice,” Steve Wagner, Stone Brewing’s president and co-founder, said at the announcement ceremony held Thursday outside the Executive Mansion in Richmond. “This is so great.”
The River City beat out two other finalists — Norfolk and Columbus, Ohio, to land the major craft brewery. Roanoke also was in the top five. Overall, Stone received more than 200 requests for proposals and made 40 site visits.
Stone Brewing’s facility will include a brewery, packaging hall, restaurant, gardens and retail store in the city’s Greater Fulton neighborhood. The facilities will be built in phases, with the brewery expected to be in operation in late 2015 or early 2016.
In its first year, the brewery expects to produce 120,000 barrels of beer. That will almost double the barrels of craft beer produced in Virginia last year (130,000). According to the Brewers Association, Virginia currently has 72 craft breweries operating, up from 58 in June 2013.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe approved a $5 million Governor’s Opportunity Fund grant for the project. Stone Brewing also will be able to receive a grant up to $250,000 from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund, depending on its procurement and its use of Virginia grown products. The company will also receive benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program as well as funding and services from the Virginia Jobs Investment Program for employee training. The city’s incentive package is even bigger, totaling 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.
Stone Brewing is not the only craft brewery making a splash in the state. Green Flash Brewing Co., also based in San Diego, will break ground Monday on its East Coast brewery in Virginia Beach. According to Green Flash’s website, it expects to make an investment of $20 million in the Virginia Beach facility and hire more than 40 people.
Stone Brewing says it is the 10th largest craft brewer in the United States. Earlier this year, the brewery made the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. The company also is making its mark overseas. It plans to open the first American-owned craft brewery in Europe in late 2015 or early 2016. The company was founded in 1996 by Wagner and Greg Koch.
Michaele L. White Photo2014-10-09T19:56:00+00:00
Washington D.C. office market benefits from migration from the suburbs
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/washington-d.c.-office-market-benefits-from-migration-from-the-suburbs#When:19:54:00ZThe District of Columbia has seen growth in leasing due to businesses and associations relocating from the suburbs to downtown Washington, D.C. The trend comes despite negative absorption (when more companies are downsizing or subleasing space than expanding and adding space) and high office vacancies in other areas of the overall region.
JLL reports that over the past 24 months, there has been more than 300,000 square feet of new leasing activity in the District as a result of tenants from Maryland and Virginia migrating into the city.
“The migration of suburban tenants into the District and robust expansion activity among startups and high-technology companies helped fill a gap in an otherwise tepid demand environment during the third quarter,” Scott Homa, senior vice president research at JLL, said in a statement.
While creative industries such as digital media, software engineering, advertising and consumer technology represent a relatively small portion of the metro D.C. tenant base, Homa said incremental growth – primarily concentrated downtown – helped offset contractions within the region’s core industries of legal services and government contracting.
Doug Mueller, a senior vice president at JLL, noted that the migration is heavily populated by associations, technology companies and professional services firms. “The quality and location of office space with easy access to mass transit, abundant amenities and housing options also has a visible and tangible impact on attracting and retaining top talent,” he said in a statement.
According to JLL’s Office Insight report for the third quarter, since the start of 2014, a total of 21,200 private-sector office jobs have been added to the metro D.C. economy. Although substantial declines in federal payrolls continue to offset the private sector growth, regional unemployment (5.4 percent) remains significantly below the national average (6.1 percent).
JLL’s snapshot of the Metro D.C. office market:
· Total vacancy, 17.2 percent
· Year-to-date net absorption in square feet (s.f.), -2,069,130
· Q3 2014 net absorption (s.f.), -1,346,328
· 12-month rent growth, 7.6 percent
· Total under construction (s.f.), 4,619,612
· Preleased under construction, 56.9 percent
“We feel the D.C. market has finally bottomed and that there are early signs of a resurgence in tenant demand,” said Homa. “Although tenants still hold strong negotiating leverage in today’s marketplace, the tightening of the top segment of the market suggests that the downtown market has found stability.”2014-10-09T19:54:00+00:00
California Cartage Co. renews lease for more than 300,000 square feet in Suffolk
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/california-cartage-co.-renews-lease-for-more-than-300000-square-feet-in-suf#When:19:17:00ZCalifornia Cartage, a logistics company based out of Long Beach, Calif., has renewed and expanded its space to 336,074 square feet at the Commonwealth Commerce Center in Suffolk. Chamie Burroughs, Worth Remick and Ashton Williamson of CBRE/Hampton roads handled the transaction on behalf of the landlord.
In other deals for CBRE in the Richmond market:
NorAm International Partners Inc. leased 34,095 square feet at 7510-7512 Whitepine Road in Richmond. Matt Anderson, John Carpin and Malcolm Randolph handled the transaction on behalf of the landlord.
NCI Information Systems renewed its 29,024 square-foot lease at 1510 and 1530 E. Parham Road in Richmond. Joe Marchetti, David Wilkins and Rebecca Barricklow handled the transaction on behalf of the landlord.2014-10-09T19:17:00+00:00
95 Express Lanes could be completed by December
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/95-express-lanes-could-be-completed-by-december#When:18:45:00ZThe 95 Express Lanes could be completed as soon as December, according to the contractor Transurban.
The project will add express toll lanes to Interstate 95 between Interstate 395 and Garrisonville Road in Stafford County.
Pricing will be dictated by current traffic conditions. The price to use the express lanes will range from 20 cents to 80 cents per mile, increasing with traffic congestion.. Carpools with three or more people may use the lanes for free.
The express lanes are reversible, and the schedule largely will be based on the same schedule as the high-occupancy vehicle lanes are now.
Drivers who want to use the lanes will need an E-ZPass. Drivers who want to use the lanes for carpooling will need to get an E-ZPass Flex, which will allow them to switch the E-ZPass to a mode indicating they have at least three people in the car.
The new lanes provide more direct routes to some destinations, such as Fort Belvoir and Potomac Mills.
More information on using the new lanes is available at http://www.95expresslanes.com/using.2014-10-09T18:45:00+00:00
Maximus appoints chief information officer
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/maximus-appoints-chief-information-officer#When:14:49:00ZMaximus has named Kelly Clark its chief information officer.
He will be responsible for executing the technology strategy of the Reston-based government contractor.
Clark most recently was vice president of data operations for Optum, which is part of United Health. Previously, he was chief information officer of OptiumHealth and chief operating officer of OptumHealth Financial Services.
Maximus operates government health and human services programs in the U.S., United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Saudi Arabia. The company works to improve cost effectiveness and efficiency of government-sponsored programs.2014-10-09T14:49:00+00:00
CSC names controller and principal accounting officer
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/csc-names-controller-and-principal-accounting-officer#When:14:45:00ZIT contractor CSC has named Diane Wilfong vice president, controller and principal accounting officer.
Wilfong was previously senior vice president, controller and chief accounting officer of Caesars Entertainment. Wilfong will replace Michael Sweeney, who has been CSC's interim controller since mid-September.
Wilfong has been with Caesars since 2009. Before that she spent 10 years at Eastman Kodak Co. in a variety of roles, most recently as corporate controller and chief accounting officer.
CSC, based in Falls Church, is an IT contractor that has approximately 76,000 employees around the world.2014-10-09T14:45:00+00:00
Guaranteed Rate opens office in Northern Virginia
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/guaranteed-rate-opens-office-in-northern-virginia#When:21:37:00ZGuaranteed Rate, one of the ten largest retail mortgage lenders in the U.S., announced Wednesday the opening of its Fairfax office located at 8280 Willow Oaks Corporate Drive.
Last year, Guaranteed Rate, based out of Chicago, funded nearly $16 billion in loans.
The Fairfax location is the company's third in Virginia. According to the company’s Website, its other offices are in Suffolk and Reston. Nationwide, Guaranteed Rate has 175 offices, including the Virginia locations.2014-10-08T21:37:00+00:00
Survey finds optimism among Hampton Roads business people
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/survey-finds-optimism-among-hampton-roads-business-people#When:20:04:00ZNearly two in three Hampton Roads business leaders attending a major community event say their companies will hire additional employees in the next 12 months.
That finding is a highlight of an inaugural Business Pulse survey taken on Tuesday. The survey was conducted by Lead Hampton Roads, a leadership development program through the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Davenport & Co. a Richmond-based investment services firm with offices in Hampton Roads.
It was taken during the Oct. 7, “2014 State of the Region” address, during which James Koch and Gary Wagner of Old Dominion University presented data and observations on the local economy to 800 people gathered at the Marriot Hotel in downtown Norfolk.
Optimism seems to prevail in the survey, despite a glum prediction from the ODU report that Hampton Roads may have suffered a second recession had the region not received two major shipbuilding contracts.
At the breakfast, guests were asked to text in answers so results could appear on large screens. The survey focused on issues such as tourism, the port, quality of life and the perceived strength of the local business community.
“It’s important to ask the business community where it thinks our region is headed,” John Piscitelli, senior vice president at Davenport & Co., said in a statement. “That kind of feedback is critical to future success.”
Other findings from the survey of 350 respondents:
- 72 percent agree that “livability” or quality of life compares favorably with the largest metro areas in the U.S.
- 68 percent think the Port of Hampton Roads will grow in 2015 and 2016.
- 70 percent feel the stock market will be higher during the next 12 months.
- 74 percent disagree that Hampton Roads is poised to take a “regional approach” to problem solving.
- 91 percent agree that the addition of tourism-focused infrastructure will boost the local economy.2014-10-08T20:04:00+00:00
Kings Grant House opening memory care building
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/kings-grant-house-opening-memory-care-building#When:19:49:00ZKings Grant House, an assisted living facility in Virginia Beach, is opening a new memory care center.
The new two-story building at the facility features a 24-unit memory care center and three assisted living units. The building also features living and dining rooms on each floor, support staff space and a generator.
The new building will allow Kings Grant to expand its care for seniors who have Alzheimer’s disease or other memory impairments.
Kings Grant is a property owned by Charlottesville-based Commonwealth Assisted Living.2014-10-08T19:49:00+00:00
TWD & Associates Inc. relocates headquarters to Tysons Corner
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/twd-associates-inc.-relocates-headquarters-to-tysons-corner#When:18:28:00ZTWD & Associates Inc., a communication and collaboration solutions provider for national security-focused organizations, has relocated its office headquarters from Arlington County to the Tysons Corner area.
The move brings the company closer to new commercial and construction contractor clients, whilemaintaining a presence in the government community.
“We have expanded our business into commercial areas to compliment our 20-year heritage of government support,” Larry Besterman, president and CEO, said in a statement. “Tysons Corner now serves as a bridge between these two markets. We’re looking forward to the transition and all the new opportunities it will provide our company. Not only are we in the heart of the Dulles technology corridor, we’re also Metro accessible via the new Silver Line – making downtown D.C. easily accessible as well.”
The new 10,000-square-foot office, located at 1751 Pinnacle Drive, consolidates two office spaces into a single headquarters location. With a capacity for 30+ plus employees, it’s equipped with comprehensive communications capabilities and collaboration areas, allowing employees to connect on different platforms, in or out of the office.
"We're excited to to able to deliver our employees the same capabilities that we deliver our clients," said Besterman. "This new move wil help the company all around ..."2014-10-08T18:28:00+00:00
3Pillar Global appoints vice president of marketing, business development
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/3pillar-global-appoints-vice-president-of-marketing-business-development#When:18:02:00ZFairfax-based software company 3Pillar Global has named Christina Cravens vice president of marketing and business development.
In her new role, she will be responsible for 3Pillar Global’s marketing efforts.
Cravens previously was vice president of global demand generation at OpenText, another software company. Before that, she was senior director of global lead generation at MicroStrategy, which provides business intelligence, mobile software and cloud-based services.2014-10-08T18:02:00+00:00
Sabra Dipping Co. opens expanded facility in Chesterfield
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/sabra-dipping-co.-opens-expanded-facility-in-chesterfield#When:21:18:00ZHummus maker Sabra Dipping Co. is humming along nicely in Chesterfield.
The company opened its expanded production facility in Chesterfield on Tuesday. The 118,000 square-foot-expansion will allow the food manufacturer to double capacity at its Chesterfield plant and add 70 jobs there in 2015. More jobs are also expected to be added in 2016.
The expansion, announced last spring, includes office spaces, meeting rooms and a cafeteria, outdoor patio, company store and coffee shop for employees.
This is Sabra’s third expansion since opening its Virginia facility in 2010. The company is owned by U.S.-based PepsiCo and Strauss Group, headquartered in Israel.2014-10-07T21:18:00+00:00
CapTech plans to hire 100 employees
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/captech-plans-to-hire-100-employees#When:21:03:00ZRichmond based CapTech, an IT consulting firm, plans to hire 100 employees by the end of next year.
The company currently has more than 450 employees at five offices and a number of satellite locations throughout the U.S.
The positions to be filled include mobile developers, customer experience managers, project managers, analysts and data scientists.
The company was recently named to the Inc. 5,000 list of the nation’s fastest-growing companies for the seventh consecutive year, ranked at No. 3,759.
CapTech’s services include management consulting, systems integration and data management.
CapTech serves a wide variety of industries, including financial services, utilities, state government, health care, retail, consumer goods and hospitality.2014-10-07T21:03:00+00:00
Electric motor manufacturer coming to Montgomery County
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/electric-motor-manufacturer-coming-to-montgomery-county#When:19:58:00ZInMotion, a manufacturer of motors and drives for electric and hybrid vehicles, plans to invest more than $5 million to establish its first U.S. manufacturing operations in Montgomery County.
The company, which will locate in the Technology Manufacturing Building in Blacksburg, expects to employ 80 employees in Montgomery County in three years.
Through a lease agreement with the Economic Development Authority (EDA) of Montgomery County, InMotion will occupy about 60,000-square-feet of office and manufacturing space at the Technology Manufacturing Building.
Built in 2001, the 109,000-square-foot facility is owned and managed by EDA.
InMotion, a subsidiary of Italy-based Zapi S.p.A., is a supplier of advanced software, power electronics, controls, motors and generators for electric vehicles.
With annual sales of more than $105 million, it has more than 300 employees in offices in Europe, Virginia, Japan and China.
The company’s products are used by manufacturers of electric lift trucks, mobile off-highway vehicles, personal mobility devices, elevators, buses and refrigeration systems.
Montgomery County worked with the New River Valley Economic Development Alliance, Virginia Economic Development Partnership, MBC Development Corp. and the Town of Blacksburg to support the project.2014-10-07T19:58:00+00:00
Ellucian appoints new president and CEO
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/ellucian-appoints-new-president-and-ceo#When:19:58:00ZFairfax-based Ellucian has appointed a new president and CEO.
Jeff Ray will lead the company effective immediately. He replaces John F. Speer III, who will remain chairperson of the board.
Previously, Ray was CEO of Ventyx, an enterprise software and services supplier to critical infrastructure providers. He also was CEO of DS SolidWorks, where he oversaw an online platform for cloud-based offerings.
Ellucian includes more than 2,700 professionals. The company provides cloud-based services and solutions to more than 1,500 higher education institutions.2014-10-07T19:58:00+00:00
Norfolk names Deputy City Manager
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/norfolk-names-deputy-city-manager#When:21:49:00ZNorfolk has named a Richmond economic development official as its deputy city manager, effective Nov. 3. Peter Chapman currently is Richmond’s deputy chief administrative officer for economic development and planning. In Norfolk, he will oversee a development portfolio that includes economic development, workforce development, the city's economic development authority, and he will serve as liaison to the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority.
Chapman has more than 20 years of experience in economic development, public housing and urban revitalization. He has served as Richmond’s deputy chief administrative officer since 2009, where he’s been responsible for a $600 million public housing transformation initiative, the redevelopment of several downtown arts district venues and the relocation of a regional transportation center.
Before taking the position in Richmond, Chapman worked in Denver, primarily as an economic development policy director. In that role, he oversaw a portfolio of eight economic and community development agencies with a cumulative annual budget of $150 million.2014-10-06T21:49:00+00:00
Portsmouth selects Charles Rigney as director of economic development
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/portsmouth-selects-charles-rigney-as-director-of-economic-development#When:21:44:00ZCharles E. “Chuck” Rigney has been appointed as Portsmouth’s director of economic development. Rigney brings more than three decades of economic development experience to the city. He comes to Portsmouth from Norfolk where he was the assistant director of development.
Rigney has been involved in new development and business expansions throughout Norfolk’s business and industrial parks. He has facilitated small business deals at urban redevelopment sites, including the Chelsea Business District and the Norfolk & Western Railroad Line Historic District, homes to microbrewers Smartmouth and O’Connor Brewing.
Rigney worked as Norfolk’s interim economic development director from September 2011 to September 2013.
He begins his position in Portsmouth on Nov. 3.2014-10-06T21:44:00+00:00
Lumos Networks names new CFO
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/lumos-networks-names-new-cfo#When:21:39:00ZWaynesboro-based Lumos Networks Corp. has appointed Johan G. Broekhuysen, as executive vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer.
He also remains the company’s chief accounting officer.
He previously was interim chief financial officer and corporate controller for six months.
Broekhuysen, age 43, joined the company in November 2012 as vice president and corporate controller and was appointed chief accounting officer in January.
Before joining the company, Broekhuysen was senior vice president, assistant treasurer and corporate controller of GlobalLogic Inc., a privately-held software research and development company.
Lumos Networks is a fiber-based provider in the mid-Atlantic region, offering connectivity in 23 markets in Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Ohio and Kentucky.2014-10-06T21:39:00+00:00
Carytown Burgers and Fries to add second location in Short Pump
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/carytown-burgers-and-fries-to-add-second-location-in-short-pump#When:20:44:00ZCarytown Burgers and Fries plans to add a second restaurant in the Richmond market. The Breeden Co., developer of Towne Center West in the Short Pump corridor of Henrico County, said Monday that a West End location would open in the mixed-use center on West Broad Street in January 2015.
The 2,883-square-foot restaurant expects to hire 40 to 50 people.
Carytown Burgers and Fries restaurant first opened its doors in Carytown in 2001. That location has 30 employees.
It recently broke ground on an operation that will focus on the catering side of the business at 5404 Lakeside Ave. in Henrico County. Owner Michael Barber said catering will be run from that location with 25 employees. There will be a café up front for people to try menu items. The project is scheduled to open in late October.
At the new restaurant, Barber plans an outside patio and an area for curbside pickup. On the inside, there will be a sports bar space, a section for children and plenty of other space for indoor dining. The menu will be the same as at the Cary Street location.
The Breeden Co. is a Virginia Beach-based real estate services with three major subsidiaries: Breeden Property Management, Breeden Realty and Breeden Construction. They operate a combined portfolio of nearly 10,000 apartments units, more than 2 million square feet of retail and office space and 1,700 residential homes.2014-10-06T20:44:00+00:00
Virginia Chamber leads efforts to create benefits exchange
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-chamber-leads-efforts-to-create-benefits-exchange#When:19:50:00ZVirginia businesses soon will have a new option to shop for employee benefits.
The Virginia Chamber of Commerce is launching Virginia Benefits Market (virginiabenfits.com), an online exchange that will allow employers to compare medical and supplemental insurance costs from participating carriers.
The chamber is working with more than 60 regional chambers of commerce to publicize the exchange and educate employers about its benefits.
“This market-based approach will broaden choices for business owners by taking advantage of the collective buying power of state and local chamber members,” Barry DuVal, president and CEO of the Virginia Chamber, said in a statement.
The Virginia chamber hopes to have the site launched by Dec. 1, according to Ryan Dunn, vice president of business and government relations. Employers do not need to be chamber members to participate, Dunn said.
The following companies are participating in the exchange:
-Allstate Benefits (accident, critical illness, life insurance)
-Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield (health insurance)
-Chubb (disability insurance)
-Delta Dental (dental coverage)
-Dominion Dental Services (dental coverage, vision insurance)
-Legal Resources (family legal protection)
-Optima Health (health insurance)
-UnitedHealthcare (health insurance)
Chambers of commerce in Oklahoma and North Carolina have launched similar private exchanges. Another 15 or 16 have similar exchanges in the works, Dunn says.
The Virginia Benefits Market is managed by the Virginia Benefits Alliance, which is a joint venture of the Virginia Chamber and Norfolk-based Chamber Solutions. CieloStar will host and administer the exchange program.2014-10-06T19:50:00+00:00
Supreme Court decision makes same-sex marriage legal in Virginia
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/supreme-court-decision-makes-same-sex-marriage-legal-in-virginia#When:15:49:00ZSame-sex marriage now is legal in Virginia.
The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to take up appeals on same-sex marriage cases originating in five states, including Virginia.
The decision means that lower court rulings striking down same-sex marriage bans will take effect.
Besides Virginia, the court decision affects appeals from Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah and Wisconsin, according to news reports.
“The Supreme Court rejected all petitions for certiorari related to Virginia's marriage equality litigation, thereby letting stand the Fourth Circuit's decision that same-sex couples in the commonwealth are entitled to all the rights and privileges of marriage,” Attorney General Mark Herring said. “The Fourth Circuit is expected to issue its mandate at 1 p.m., meaning marriage licenses for same-sex couples can be issued at that time and the commonwealth will recognize all marriages that were lawfully performed in other states."
Another six states under the jurisdiction of federal appeals courts that struck down same-sex marriage bans also will be affected. They are Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming.
The numbers of states where same-sex marriage is legal will rise from 19 to 30 plus the District of Columbia.
“This is a historic and long overdue moment for our commonwealth and our country,” Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, said in a statement. “On issues ranging from recognizing same-sex marriages to extending health care benefits to same-sex spouses of state employees, Virginia is already well-prepared to implement this historic decision. Going forward we will act quickly to continue to bring all of our policies and practices into compliance so that we can give marriages between same-sex partners the full faith and credit they deserve.”
Virginia House Speaker William J. Howell, a Republican who supports traditional marriage, said he was disappointed by the court's action. "The debate over Virginia's constitutional amendment defining marriage needs a clear and decisive resolution from the Supreme Court," he said in a statement. "The court’s decision today leaves Virginians without an affirmative answer on this issue, unnecessarily prolonging the political debate and creating long-term uncertainty regarding the status of same-sex marriages in Virginia depending on the outcome of litigation in other parts of the country."
Capital Square Realty Advisors acquires health-care related properties in Virginia and Wisconsin
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/capital-square-realty-advisors-acquires-healthcare-buildings-in-virginia-an#When:15:48:00ZCapital Square Realty Advisors LLC in Richmond has acquired a two-building portfolio of health-care related properties located in the Richmond suburb of Mechanicsville and the Milwaukee suburb of Hartford, Wis. The purchase price was not disclosed.
“The demographic aging of America and the impact of the Affordable Care Act makes quality health-care real estate assets such as these attractive investments, and we’re pleased to further expand Capital Square Realty Advisors’ portfolio in this specialized sector,” Louis Rogers, founder and CEO of Capital Square Realty Advisors, said in a statement.
He noted that both properties have long-term leases and are fully leased.
The portfolio includes a built-to-suit, 20,066-square-foot, single-story medical office building that is leased to a single tenant, the Virginia Women’s Center, the largest women’s health-care private practice in central Virginia. Located at 7515 Right Flank Road, the center is a mile from Memorial Regional Medical Center. The 2.1-acre property, constructed in 2013, includes 103 parking spaces. It’s located within The Shoppes at Bell Creek, a mixed-use development of office condominiums, free-standing office buildings, a veterinary hospital and retail stores.
The building in Hartford is a 73,756-square-foot, two-story building that’s leased to API Healthcare Inc., a GE Healthcare company. It was constructed in 2004 as a build-to-suit for API Healthcare’s corporate headquarters, on nearly 22 acres in one of Washington County’s industrial parks.
Capital Square Realty Advisors specializes in the creation and management of commercial real estate investment programs for Section 1031 exchange investors and discretionary (non-1031) investors using the Delaware Statutory Trust structure.2014-10-06T15:48:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/WA_entrance01_745x420_FitToBoxSmallDimension_Center.jpg
Hilton Worldwide agrees to sell Waldorf Astoria to a Chinese company for $1.95 billion
Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. in McLean announced Monday that it has entered into an agreement with Anbang Insurance Group Co. Ltd., an insurance company based in Beijing, in which Anbang has agreed to purchase the Waldorf Astoria New York for $1.95 billion. As part of a long-term strategic partnership, Anbang will grant Hilton Worldwide a management agreement to continue to operate the property for the next 100 years, and the hotel will undergo a major renovation.
The Waldorf Astoria New York on Park Avenue is the flagship hotel of Hilton Worldwide’s rapidly expanding luxury brand, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts. Since 2007, the brand has increased its footprint to a portfolio of 27 destinations, including Amsterdam, Beijing, Chicago, Dubai, Jerusalem and Shanghai. Its pipeline of nine additional hotels includes key destinations such as Bali, Bangkok and Beverly Hills.
“We are very excited to be entering into this long-term relationship with Anbang, which will ensure that the Waldorf Astoria New York represents the brand’s world-class standards for generations to come. This relationship represents a unique opportunity for our organizations to work together to finally maximize the full value of this iconic asset on a full city block in midtown Manhattan,” Christopher J. Nassetta, president and CEO of Hilton Worldwide, said in a statement.
Hilton Worldwide said it would use proceeds from the sale to acquire additional hotel assets in the U.S. in one or more transactions as part of a like-kind exchange under Internal Revenue Code Section 1031. These acquisitions will be finalized and announced at a later date.
The Waldorf Astoria New York was called “The Greatest of the Them All” by Hilton Worldwide’s founder Conrad Hilton. With its Art Deco architecture, it has been internationally recognized as a grand hotel for more than a century. It offers restaurants (including Peacock Alley, Bull and Bear Prime Steakhouse and Oscar’s), lounges and bars, the Guerlain Spa, more than 60,000 square feet of high-tech equipped function space, a business center and boutiques.
Hilton Worldwide is a global hospitality company, with properties ranging from luxury and full-service hotels and resorts to extended-stay suites. The company's portfolio of 11 world-class global brands is comprised of more than 4,200 managed, franchised, owned and leased hotels and timeshare properties, with more than 690,000 rooms in 93 countries and territories, including Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Curio - A Collection by Hilton, DoubleTree by Hilton, Embassy Suites Hotels, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Hotels, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Home2 Suites by Hilton and Hilton Grand Vacations.
Anbang Insurance Group has more than 30,000 employees and more than $700 billion yuan in assets. It provides a range of financial and insurance services and products to more than 20 million customers, including life insurance, pensions, health insurance, property and casualty insurance and asset management.2014-10-06T15:41:00+00:00
S. L. Nusbaum reports transactions totaling $13.8 million for September
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/s.-l.-nusbaum-reports-transactions-totaling-13.8-million-for-september#When:14:58:00ZS. L. Nusbaum Realty Co. in Norfolk reports transactions for the month of September totaling $13.8 million in volume on about 180,000 square feet of commercial space. Some of the largest deals included:
• Ocean Air Auto Repair Inc. sublet 30,976 square feet of commercial buildings located at 3496-3500 Holland Road in Virginia Beach. Cheyney Cole handled the transaction.
• JF Fitness leased 25,600 square feet of retail space at 5432 Glenside Drive in Richmond. James Gresock and Nathan Shor represented the landlord.
• New Generation Daycare & Learning Center LLC leased 14,500 square feet of retail space at 603 Lincoln St. in Norfolk. Christopher Zarpas represented the landlord.
• Food Lion exercised its option on 33,234 square feet of retail space at College Park Square In Virginia Beach. Tyler Jacobson represented the landlord.2014-10-06T14:58:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/wall-breaking-10-14_%2816%291.jpg
A wall breaking instead of a groundbreaking
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/a-wall-breaking-instead-of-a-groundbreaking#When:14:49:00ZJefferson College of Health Sciences, the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Radford University hosted a “wall breaking” ceremony recently for the new Virginia Intercollegiate Anatomy Lab at Carilion Roanoke Community Hospital.
The lab, to be located on the eighth floor of the hospital in downtown Roanoke, will house 15 anatomy tables.
Since the $2.5 million project is being constructed in an existing building, there was no ground to break. In place of that symbolic gesture, officials celebrated with a wall breaking ceremony. The hospital space is being rebuilt to accommodate the needs of the new anatomy lab. Jefferson College and Radford’s doctorate of physical therapy program is housed in the hospital now.
“This ceremony marks a key step in the collaborations between our academic institutions,” Nathaniel L. Bishop, president of Jefferson College of Health Sciences, said in a statement. “Not only do all of our students learn how to work together in the shared space, but it makes good economic sense to build one dedicated lab for all three schools rather than three separate facilities.”
When complete, the shared space will allow health-care students to work collaboratively in clinical settings before entering their professions. It’s scheduled to be done by late spring 2015.
Jefferson College of Health Sciences, a private higher education institution, is an affiliate of Carilion Clinic.
Radford University is a public university with nearly 10,000 students located about 45 minutes from downtown Roanoke in Radford.2014-10-06T14:49:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Rcenter.png
Retail strip center in Richmond sells for $1.9 million
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/retail-strip-center-in-richmond-sells-for-1.9-million#When:14:10:00ZThe Capital Markets Group of Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer represented HM Real Estate Holding LLC in the sale of a 15,220-square-foot retail strip center at 7601 W. Broad Street in Richmond. Richmond Properties LLC purchased the property for $1.9 million as an investment. According to Thalhimer, the center is 100 percent leased.
In other Central Virginia lease transactions:
Trane US Inc. leased 23,200 square feet in Crescent Business Center II at 10404 Lakeridge Parkway in Hanover County. Thalhimer’s Scott Douglas and Franklin Bell handled lease negotiations.
In Charlottesville, Verizon renewed its lease for 10,548 square feet at 874 Rio East Ct. Alicia Farrell handled lease negotiations.2014-10-06T14:10:00+00:00
Companies looking for strong hiring season
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/companies-looking-for-strong-hiring-season#When:15:57:00ZAlmost 90 percent of companies hiring seasonal employees plan to hire the same number or more applicants for the upcoming holiday season, according to a national survey from Richmond-based Snagajob.
They survey also found that seasonal employees will work an average of 25 hours a week.
The survey also found the following trends from seasonal hiring managers:
68 percent will fill their seasonal positions by October.
68 percent said they reviewed applicants’ social media sites.
90 percent frequently conduct criminal background checks.
34 percent said a “positive attitude” was the most important trait for seasonal hires, followed by the ability to work the schedule needed (20 percent).
55 percent said they would hire someone with no previous work experience, while 35 percent said they would hire someone who had been fired by another company.
Snagajob’s annual Holiday Hiring Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research and included surveys of 1,009 U.S. employers.
Snagajob provides recruitment and hiring solutions for companies seeking hourly workers.2014-10-03T15:57:00+00:00
Loudoun sees $250 million in investment during fiscal year
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/loudoun-sees-250-million-in-investment-during-fiscal-year#When:15:45:00ZCompanies invested almost $250 million to move to or expand in Loudoun County during the last fiscal year, according to the annual report of the county’s department of economic development.
In the past three fiscal years, the county has seen almost $1 billion in commercial development, according to the department. The latest fiscal year, FY2014, ended June 30.
“Without a doubt, Loudoun is one of the biggest economic development success stories in America,” Economic Development Director Buddy Rizer said in a statement.
According to the report, the county is known around its growth in two industries: data centers and wineries. Loudoun’s 56 data centers bring an estimated $60 million in revenue to the county annually.
Loudoun also added eight wineries in FY14, bringing the total in the county to 42.2014-10-03T15:45:00+00:00
Homestead Creamery named Roanoke’s Small Business of the Year
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/homestead-creamery-named-roanokes-small-business-of-the-year#When:15:02:00ZHomestead Creamery has been named the 2014 Small Business of the Year by The Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce and Roanoke Regional Small Business Development Center.
The creamery, headquartered in Wirtz, was recognized this week at the chamber’s Small Business Awards Dinner at the Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center.
Homestead, founded in 2001, offers a line of bottled milk, ice cream, yogurt, butter, dips and cheeses.
“The Small Business Awards selection committee was impressed Homestead Creamery’s story of preserving two family farms for future generations while using modern technology to process their products, and still deliver their products door-to-door for their loyal customer,” Joyce Waugh, president of the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement.
The committee evaluated nominees based on sales, employee growth, staying power, innovativeness and contributions to the community. To be eligible for the small business of the year award companies must meet SBA small business standards and be at least three years old.
Past small business of the year winners include Roanoke Natural Foods Coop (2013), EHS Support Services (2012), Interactive Achievement (2011), Magnets USA (2010), Home Instead Senior Care (2009), Virginia Prosthetics (2008), and Luna Innovations (2007).
The following companies in the Roanoke region also were recognized at the awards:
Small Business Advocate: Samantha Steidle, The CoLab
Small Business Veteran of the Year: Michael Leigh, OpX Solutions
Construction/Real Estate: Clark Brothers Welding
Micro-Business (five employees or less): OpX Solutions
Technology: TORC Robotics
Business-to-Business Services: Protos Security
Business-to-Consumer Services: Generation Solutions
Wholesale/Retail: Homestead Creamery
Legacy Award (in business for 50 years or more): SFCS Inc.
Best New Small Business (in business for one to three years): Doctors Express Roanoke
Not-for-Profit Arts & Culture: The Science Museum of Western Virginia
Not-for-Profit Health & Human Services: United Way of Roanoke2014-10-03T15:02:00+00:00
Town Center of Virginia Beach to celebrate opening of new office tower on Oct. 8
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/town-center-of-virginia-beach-to-celebrate-opening-of-new-office-tower-on-o#When:18:54:00ZAs Town Center of Virginia Beach continues to grow, so does development around the massive mixed-use center. An existing apartment community is expanding, there’s a new hotel in the works and a new office tower that will boost the amount of Class A office space in the 17-block center to 1 million square feet will be open for tours next week.
A celebration ceremony is set for Wednesday, Oct. 8, at 10 a.m. at the town center for 4525 Main Street Tower. The 15-story tower is the new corporate headquarters for Clark Nexsen, an architectural and engineering firm that relocated from downtown Norfolk. The Virginia Beach Economic Development Apartment also located to the new building.
The Breeden Co., a Virginia Beach-based real estate development firm, has purchased 11 acres on Alicia Drive, for $4.7 million to expand its existing Cambria at Cornerstone apartment community. It’s located a few minutes from the center. The 276-unit complex located within the master planned community of Cambria is the only Triple AAA rated apartment community in Hampton Roads.
Janet Whitbeck, a vice president for Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer in Hampton Roads who assisted Breeden with the land transaction, said Thalhimer also sold two acres on Alicia Drive to a hotel developer who plans to build a Value Place Hotel on the site.2014-10-02T18:54:00+00:00
Former Living Social co-founder, CEO to join Graham Holdings
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/former-living-social-co-founder-ceo-to-join-graham-holdings#When:17:17:00ZThe ex-CEO and co-founder of Living Social will become president of Graham Holdings. Timothy O’Shaughnessy will start working at the Arlington-based company on Nov. 3.
O’Shaughnessy was CEO of Living Social for seven years until stepping down in August. He co-founded the e-commerce and marketing company, which grew to sales of nearly $2 billion, with three other people in 2007.
In his new role, O’Shaughnessy will oversee Graham Holdings’ investments and acquisitions. He also will help set a new direction for the firm, which for many years was best known for running The Washington Post (the newspaper was sold to Jeff Bezos last year for $250 million).
“Tim will be central to the future of our company,” Donald E. Graham, chairman and CEO of Graham Holdings, said in a statement. “We are lucky to have him join us.”
Graham is O’Shaughnessy’s father-in-law. His daughter, Laura, heads SocialCode, a company owned by Graham Holdings.
O’Shaughnessy, 32, graduated from Georgetown University in 2004 and joined AOL as a product manager. In 2006, he moved to Revolution Health, where he eventually became vice president of product development. During that time, he and three others developed a series of apps for Facebook, which grew into LivingSocial.
Graham Holdings is a education and media company whose principal operations include educational services, television broadcasting, cable systems and online, print and local TV news.2014-10-02T17:17:00+00:00
Luna Innovations will expand Blacksburg office
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/luna-innovations-will-expand-blacksburg-office#When:16:23:00ZLuna Innovations Inc. said Thursday that it would expand its Blacksburg office in Montgomery County. The company plans a $500,000 investment into a newly renovated 41,000-square-foot suite in the Technology Manufacturing Building where Luna is currently located.
“We have been a tenant since 2007 and have been very pleased to be a part of Blacksburg’s business community,” Luna President and CEO My Chung said in a statement. “…We believe that this expansion will enable us to capitalize on the growth potential of our business.”
Montgomery County worked with the town of Blacksburg to support the expansion. Through an agreement with the county’s Economic Development Authority, Luna’s space will include a renovated executive office, lab and manufacturing space at the Technology Manufacturing Building. Built in 2001, the building is a 109,000-square-foot facility owned and managed by the EDA.
Luna, a public company composed of scientists, engineers, and business professionals, develops and manufactures new generation technologies and products. It focuses on taking innovative technologies from applied research to product development and the commercial market, driving breakthroughs in fields such as aerospace, automotive, telecommunications, healthcare, energy, and defense.2014-10-02T16:23:00+00:00
McKee Foods to expand operations in Augusta County
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/mckee-foods-to-expand-operations-in-augusta-county#When:15:34:00ZMcKee Foods Corp. plans to spend $34 million to expand production at its manufacturing facility in Augusta County, a project that is expected to create 54 new jobs.
The Stuarts Draft plant currently employs 1,000 workers and is one of the largest employers in Augusta County. McKee Foods, a privately held company based in Collegedale, Tenn., produces snack foods, cereals and baked goods.
Virginia competed against Arkansas for the project, where McKee Foods also has a plant. To secure the project, Gov. Terry McAuliffe approved a $300,000 performance-based grant from the Virginia Investment Partnership program, an incentive available to existing Virginia companies.
Additional funding and services to support the company’s employee training activities will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.
McKee Foods, which has annual sales of about $1.2 billion, has operated the plant in Augusta County for 24 years.
“The business climate in the commonwealth is very favorable, and we have found Stuarts Draft to be geographically well-positioned to serve the markets for our brands,” Randy Smith, vice president of Stuarts Draft operations for McKee Foods, said in a statement.
The company employs more than 5,000 people in Collegedale; Stuarts Draft, Gentry, Ark.; and Kingman, Ariz.
Its brands include Little Debbie Snacks, Drake’s Cakes, Sunbelt Bakery snacks and cereals, and Heartland and Fieldstone Bakery food products.2014-10-02T15:34:00+00:00
QBE turns old school into headquarters
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/qbe-turns-old-school-into-headquarters#When:13:47:00ZQuality Business Engineering (QBE), a management and technology consulting company, has invested more than $1.2 million in turning the former PACE West School building in Gainesville into the company’s new headquarters.
The purchase of the nearly 80-year-old school building on a 9-acre site is the latest milestone in the expansion efforts of QBE, whose primary customers are the federal government and the defense community. The company has added more than 30 positions since the beginning of last year.
Formerly county surplus, the former school building is now categorized as a taxable commercial real estate property while still enabling residents’ access to the site and its fields. QBE has agreed to maintain the historic front façade of the building and contribute funds for science technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs in local schools.
QBE said it recognized the importance of continuing to provide a place for the social and cultural events that had been held in the facility. The company said it still welcomes many community organizations that have held events in the building, including the Boy Scouts, charities, workout classes, churches and a banjo class.2014-10-02T13:47:00+00:00
Most Virginia metro areas see rising unemployment
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/most-virginia-metro-areas-see-rising-unemployment#When:21:32:00ZUnemployment continued to creep up at most of Virginia’s metro areas in August, according to the Virginia Employment Commission.
The jobless rates in eight of the commonwealth’s 11 metro areas rose during the month in a range of three-tenths of percentage point to half a point.
The three areas where unemployment rates were unchanged in August were Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford, Harrisonburg and Bristol.
Only one urban area in the state, Northern Virginia, now has a jobless rate under 5 percent, 4.7 percent. In July, the Charlottesville and Winchester areas also had rates under 5 percent.
While Northern Virginia had the lowest rate, the Danville area continued to have the highest, 8.4 percent.
The biggest jumps in unemployment occurred in the Richmond and Roanoke areas, both of which saw their numbers rise half of a percentage point , from 5.6 to 6.1 percent.
All of the numbers are not seasonally adjusted, meaning they do not reflect seasonal fluctuations in the labor market. The corresponding state and national unemployment rates during August were 6.3 and 5.7 percent, respectively.
The more widely used seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Virginia in August was 5.6 percent, an increase of three-tenths of a percentage point from July. Virginia’s jobless rate has inched up in three of the past four months.
Here is a breakdown of the metro-area unemployment numbers:
Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford: 6.2 percent in August, unchanged from July.
Bristol: 7.2 percent, unchanged.
Charlottesville: 5.2 percent, up from 4.8 percent.
Danville: 8.4 percent, up from 8 percent.
Hampton Roads: 6.2 percent, up from 5.8 percent.
Harrisonburg: 5.5 percent, unchanged.
Lynchburg: 6.6 percent, up from 6.3 percent.
Northern Virginia: 4.7 percent, up from 4.3 percent.
Richmond: 6.1 percent, up from 5.6 percent.
Roanoke: 6.1 percent, up from 5.6 percent.
Winchester: 5.2 percent, up from 4.8 percent.2014-10-01T21:32:00+00:00
Gannett acquires Cars.com for $1.8 billion
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/gannett-acquires-cars.com-for-1.8-billion#When:20:25:00ZAs of Wednesday, Gannett officially owns Cars.com, a deal it sealed with $1.8 billion in cash.
Under the agreement, Gannett acquired the 73 percent interest it did not already own in Classified Ventures LLC, which previously owned Cars.com.
Cars.com is an independent research site for car shoppers with approximately 30 million monthly visits. According to a statement from Gannett’s CEO Gracia Martore, Cars.com serves approximately 20,000 dealers and in 2014 had a pro forma 2014 revenue of approximately $535 million.
Gannett says the acquisition doubles its digital portfolio. By mid-next year, Gannett plans to split its publishing business from its broadcast and digital side.2014-10-01T20:25:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Regency-Square-Investment-Summary-2.jpg
Regency Square sale is sparking buyer interest
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/regency-square-sale-is-sparking-buyer-interest#When:19:56:00ZFor a shopping mall that has seen its better days, Regency Square in Henrico County is generating lots of interest.
Maybe it’s the bargain basement price. The mall is expected to be sold in the range of $20 million, said Dave Monahan, vice president with JLL (Jones Lang LaSalle) Retail Capital Markets in New York, the real estate firm retained to sell the property.
Or maybe it’s the strong location on north Parham Road, not far from Interstate 64, which offers opportunities for mixed-use and redevelopment.
After two weeks of marketing the property through JLL’s proprietary data base of retail and mall investors — local, regional and national — Monahan says, “We’ve seen a very strong response. Richmond is an attractive market. From a demographic perspective, there is strong household income and a dense population. It is well located real estate that has experienced some neglect over the past several years, which happens sometimes when you have an over-leveraged property that ultimately gets transferred to a special servicer.”
The 39-year-old, 821,000-square foot property, which includes nearly 48 acres, has an appraised value of about $25 million. That’s far below what is owed on an outstanding mortgage of nearly $70 million, with Regency part of an original CMBS (commercial mortgage backed securities) deal that included other properties.
Its most recent owner, the Michigan-based Taubman Centers Inc., gave the title to the mall back to its lender in January 2012 to avoid foreclosure, and it went into special servicing. At the time, Taubman said the move relieved the company of $72.2 million in debt obligations, plus accrued interest. The servicer hired JLL to lease and manage the mall.
Taubman also developed and built Stony Point Fashion Mall in Richmond, which it is selling to Starwood Capital group, a private-equity real estate firm .
Trepp, a real estate analytics firm in New York, is keeping a watch on Regency’s sale, since investors are expected to take a hit.
Yet some potential buyers are viewing Regency as an opportunity. “What we are seeing across the country, there has been an increasing appetite within the enclosed regional mall space within the last 24 to 36 months. The space has received a lot of negative publicity. However, from an investment perspective, there is more liquidity today than there has been over the past three years,” Monahan said.
According to JLL, Regency’s 91 stores (not including anchors J.C. Penney and Sears which own their properties) are 95 percent occupied. The mall had annual sales in 2013 of $76 million, a big drop from sales during the mall’s glory years, which predated the construction of rivals Short Pump Town Center and Stony Point Fashion Park.
According to local real estate sources, the name of one out-of-state real estate investor already has been passed along to JLL, after the investor called to express interest in Regency Square.
Andy Little, a principal with John B. Levy & Co., a boutique real estate investment bank in Richmond, said, “At $20 million and down, I think people will be swarming all over it. My guess is that it will go higher than that.”
So what are retail investors looking for these days? In a nutshell, something that can’t be provided on the Internet.
“We work with lenders and investors,” said Little. “What people look for are those stores anchored by tenants that aren’t going to be impacted terribly by the Internet. Which brings you back to grocery-anchored centers. You can’t get your nails done or your hair cut online. These retailers are generally concentrated near grocery stores. So there’s still a tremendous amount of demand for those grocery-anchored centers.”
Regency doesn’t have a grocery store. With its central location in western Henrico, Little said a buyer might decide to renovate into a mixed-use property with apartments.
Brian Glass, a senior vice president with Colliers in Richmond, says a major renovation into mixed-use could be a hard sell. Regency is a two-story mall with a two-story parking deck. “This is a tough one to redevelop. It’s not like Cloverleaf, where you had to knock down a one-level building on a level paved area,” he said referring to a former mall in Chesterfield County that was redeveloped into a grocery-anchored, mixed-use project. “This is on a hill. It’s more complex since it’s graded.”
Glass also noted that deals may have been cut with current tenants to keep them at the mall, or it could be that tenants could get out of leases if anchors like Penneys or Sears left. Together, they take up more than 300,000 square feet of the mall. Macy’s also has two stores at Regency.2014-10-01T19:56:00+00:00
VSU, four community colleges receive work-force training grants
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/vsu-four-community-colleges-receive-work-force-training-grants#When:19:43:00ZVirginia State University and four of Virginia’s community colleges have received federal grants totaling $14 million for work-force training programs.
The grants, from the U.S. Department of Labor’s (US DOL) Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training initiative, will be used to provide training and credentialing in high-demand STEM-H (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and health) fields.
VSU received $3.2 million to provide training in the wireless industry for veterans, dislocated and underemployed workers. The college will work to accelerate credential completion, implement new instruction models, bolster online and technology-enabled learning, implement apprenticeships, and offer Wireless Technician certificates and associate and baccalaureate degrees.
Lord Fairfax Community College received $3.25 million to create Knowledge to Work, an educational search engine and online portal designed to help workers find free and low-cost learning resources tied to competencies and credentials, including badges, certificates and degrees.
Danville Community College received $2.5 million to incorporate workplace experiential learning in advanced manufacturing in an educational setting. The new program, Retooling America, focuses on realistic, fully integrated training experiences in a full-scale manufacturing facility.
Southwest Virginia Community College received $2.5 million to provide training in advanced manufacturing and carpentry industries through the college’s PluggedIn VA. PluggedIn VA is a program, which provides expedited paths through a GED, postsecondary education and job training to a high demand job.
Thomas Nelson Community College received $2.5 million to work with regional employers and work-force organizations to develop and implement an education and training system to produce multi-skilled technicians in advanced manufacturing.
“These five new grant awards will drive industry driven STEM-H credentials, apprenticeships and on-the-job training to help build the skilled, high tech workforce for Virginia businesses and industry sectors” Gov. Terry McAuliffe said in a statement. “This is another step forward towards my vision of a new Virginia economy, and I congratulate each of the colleges on their success.”2014-10-01T19:43:00+00:00
Richmond’s Fan District designated as one of 10 great neighborhoods
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/richmonds-fan-district-designated-as-one-of-10-great-neighborhoods#When:16:35:00ZThe American Planning Association in Washington, D.C., said Wednesday that The Fan District in Richmond has been selected as one of 10 great neighborhoods for 2014.
The association cited the Fan’s history, large collections of intact Victorian homes and pedestrian-friendly environment as reasons why the neighborhood won the designation.
Each October during National Community Planning Month, APA’s Great Places in America program names 30 exemplary streets, neighborhoods and public spaces that add value to communities and foster economic growth and jobs.
APA’s selections focus on authentic characteristics that have evolved from years of thoughtful and deliberate planning by residents, community leaders and planners.
"Recognizing these special places highlights the role planning plays in adding value to communities," William Anderson, president of APA, said in a statement.
The group looks for places that represent what it considers the gold standard in terms of having a sense of place, cultural and historical interest, community involvement, and a vision for tomorrow.
Since Great Places in America was launched in 2007, APA has designated 230 neighborhoods, streets and public spaces.
The Fan District, adjacent to downtown Richmond, gets its name from the way some streets physically fan westward from Monroe Park to the Boulevard..
The APA cited its variety of architectural styles including Italianate, Richardson Romanesque, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, the Bungalow, American Foursquare, Tudor Revival, Spanish Colonial and Art Deco.
The Fan began developing in the late 19th century. According to the APA, construction began on a streetcar line connecting the neighborhood to downtown Richmond. By 1930, the Fan had been transformed into the neighborhood seen today.
The APA also noted the Fan District Association’s role in organizing regular events with community participation including a holiday house tour, Historic Garden Week and a winter carnival.
In addition to The Fan, here are the nine other great neighborhoods for 2014: Adams Morgan in Washington, D.C.; Arbor Hill in Albany, N.Y.; Central West End in St. Louis, Miss.; Fields Corner in Dorchester, Mass.; Fremont in Seattle, Wash.; Greater Belhaven in Jackson, Miss.; La Alma/Lincoln Park in Denver, Colo.; Uptown in Oakland, Calif.; and the Victorian District in Savannah, Ga.2014-10-01T16:35:00+00:00
Prince William County: new hot data center destination
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/prince-william-county-new-hot-data-center-destination#When:16:25:00ZPrince William County announced Wednesday that it has surpassed 2 million square feet of data center space. Its growing dominance in the data center market comes with the completion of 20 economic development projects that provide a total of $3.6 billion in capital investment and 653 new jobs.
County officials credited a strong fiber optic network, reliable power and attractive tax incentive programs as the reasons behind Prince William’s success in drawing data center business.
"We’re delighted to have surpassed the 2 million square foot data center capacity threshold,” Jeffrey Kaczmarek, executive director, Prince William County Department of Economic Development, said in a statement. “Data center projects yield significant capital investment and highly-skilled, high-paying jobs to Prince William County.”
The county’s large land parcels and multi-use zoned sites, which allow for security buffers, also are helping to attract the centers and cybersecurity and information technology businesses seeking an East Coast presence. Prince William County is located 20 miles from the nation’s capital. With a total land area of 348 miles, it’s the second largest county in the state.
According to a recent study by 451 Research, a New York-based information technology research and advisory company, Northern Virginia will overtake the New York metro as the biggest multi-tenant data center market in the country by the beginning of next year.
Currently Loudoun County is the pre-eminent location in the region for data centers. About 70 percent of the world’s Internet traffic passes through Loudoun, located north of Prince William County. According to data from Loudoun’s economic development office, Loudoun's Data Center Alley is home to 56 data centers, occupying 5.2 million square feet. An additional 1.3 million square feet of space is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
Some of the main players in Loudoun are Equinix, DuPont Fabros Technology, Digital Realty Trust and RagingWire. DuPont Fabros Technology, a real estate investment trust based in Washington, D.C., officially opened its newest data center last week, ACC7, at its 1.6 million-square-foot Ashburn corporate campus.
The region’s dominance in Internet connectivity can be traced back to the 1990s when major companies like AOL and Equinix put down roots in Northern Virginia.2014-10-01T16:25:00+00:00
ICF International names senior vice president
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/icf-international-names-senior-vice-president#When:08:15:00ZIT contractor ICF International has named John T. Guda senior vice president and general manager of its commercial health-care business.
Most recently, Guda was senior managing partner and general manager for Global Healthcare & Life Sciences Consulting at Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC). He also was previously president of global delivery and chief technology officer with First Consulting Group Inc. He has held several executive positions with Eclipsys Corpo. (now Allscripts), US Healthcare (now Aetna) and SMS (now Siemens), as well as several entrepreneurial companies.2014-10-01T08:15:00+00:00
Amthor International to create 30 jobs in Southern Virginia
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/amthor-international-to-create-30-jobs-in-southern-virginia#When:21:47:00ZAmthor International announced plans Tuesday to ramp up production at its Gretna plant and create 30 jobs, according to a statement on its website.
The Gretna-based company says it is the largest and most diverse manufacturer of truck-mounted tanks in the U.S. The family-owned firm already employs more than 100 people at the 86,000-square-foot plant.
Effective immediately, Amthor will be hiring welders, mechanics, and electricians. The expansion will allow the company to operate its two existing shifts at capacity.
The company grew from a 1928 blacksmith shop in Ellenville, N.Y., to two locations today.2014-09-30T21:47:00+00:00
Hollister Inc. dedicates plant expansion in Augusta County
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/hollister-inc.-dedicates-plant-expansion-in-augusta-county#When:21:34:00ZHollister Inc. on Tuesday held a ribbon-cutting for a $29 million expansion project at its Stuarts Draft plant.
The project increases the overall size of the plant by more than 25 percent, adding 50,000 square feet of additional space.
The project also includes new equipment to automate processes, enhance products and increase production volume.
Hollister is an employee-owned company that develops, manufactures and markets medical devices. It is based in Libertyville, Ill., 40 miles north of downtown Chicago.
Hollister has operated in the Stuarts Draft area of Augusta County since 1979.
“This Hollister expansion project will have an enormous economic impact on Augusta County long-term,” Amanda Glover, the county's economic development director, said in a statement.
The commonwealth competed against Ireland for the project, the governor’s office said when the deal was announced in March 2013.
Then-Gov. Bob McDonnell approved a $250,000 performance-based grant for the project from the Virginia Investment Partnership program, an incentive available to existing Virginia companies.
Through its Virginia Jobs Investment Program, the Virginia Department of Business Assistance will provide funding and services to support the company’s retraining activities.2014-09-30T21:34:00+00:00
Virginia’s personal income growth ranks 44th in the nation
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginias-personal-income-growth-ranks-44th-in-the-nation#When:21:28:00ZPersonal income in Virginia grew only 1.3 percent during the second quarter this year, a growth rate that ranked 44th in the nation, according to estimates released by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Nonetheless, the second-quarter figure actually represented an improvement for the commonwealth compared with the previous four quarters in which personal income growth ranged from 0.2 to 0.9 percent.
Nationwide, state personal growth accelerated to 1.5 percent in the second quarter from 1.2 percent in the first quarter.
Personal income is the income received by all persons from all sources.
Growth rates among the 50 states and the District of Columbia ranged from 2.7 percent in North Dakota and Nebraska to 1.1 percent in New York and Alaska.
Virginia’s personal income growth rate in the second quarter was slower than all but one of its neighboring states, Maryland, which ranked 47th with a rate of 1.2 percent. The District of Columbia, which was not ranked, had only a slightly better growth rate, 1.3 percent.
North Carolina ranked 20th with a rate of 1.6 percent, followed by West Virginia at 22nd, Tennessee at 23rd and Kentucky at 29th .
Growth rates rose in 36 states, including Virginia. Inflation, as measured by the national price index for personal consumption expenditures, increased to 0.6 percent in the second quarter from 0.3 percent in the first quarter.
The national acceleration in personal income growth was mostly attributable to property income (dividends, interest and rent), which grew 1.8 percent in the second quarter after growing 0.2 percent in the first quarter. Growth in both net earnings and transfer receipts did not accelerate in the second quarter; growing 1.4 percent and 1.6 percent respectively.
Overall, earnings grew $149 billion in the second quarter, slightly less than the $156.2 growth in the first quarter. Earnings grew in 22 of the 24 industries for which BEA prepares quarterly estimates, with the largest nonfarm increases in health care ($17.4 billion), professional services ($17.1 billion), retail trade ($13.7 billion), and durable goods manufacturing ($12.8 billion).
For the second consecutive quarter, the earnings increase in Texas was larger than the increase in every other state. Earnings in Texas, which accounted for 8.9 percent of the nation, grew $19.2 billion in the second quarter. Earnings in California, which accounted for 13.2 percent of the nation, grew $16.9 billion.2014-09-30T21:28:00+00:00
Wheeler Real Estate Investment Trust closes on deal to buy South Carolina center
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/wheeler-real-estate-investment-trust-closes-on-deal-to-buy-south-carolina-c#When:19:56:00ZWheeler Real Estate Investment Trust Inc. said Tuesday that the Virginia-Beach based firm has closed a contract entered into by an affiliate company to acquire Graystone Crossing, a 21,997-square-foot retail center for $5.4 million, or $245.49 per square foot.
The REIT said it used a combination of cash and bank debt to purchase the property in Tega Cay, S.C.
“We are excited to announce this acquisition, as Graystone Crossing is a well-located retail center in a strong community that has recently seen exponential growth. The property is shadow-anchored by a Walmart Supercenter and is currently 100 percent leased with several of its tenants nationally known,” Jon S. Wheeler, the company’s chairman and CEO said in a statement.
Graystone Crossing matches the REIT’s criteria of purchasing “necessity-based” properties located in secondary and tertiary markets.
Graystone Crossing was built in 2007. Besides Walmart, tenants include T-Mobile, Tropical Smoothie and Edible Arrangements.
The center is located on SC Highway 160, a primary state highway that runs from the North Carolina state line into Lancaster County, S.C.2014-09-30T19:56:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/NView_redistricting.pngOneVirginia2021 aims to redraw district boundaries. AP Photo/Richmond Times-Dispatch, Bob Brown
Campaign to change redistricting begins to gather steam
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/campaign-to-change-redistricting-begins-to-gather-steam#When:10:00:00Z“Laws are like sausage,” an old saying goes. “It’s better not to see them being made.”
If the process of making laws is ugly, the procedure used by most states to redraw legislative and congressional districts is downright repulsive, and it ought to stop.
In the majority of states, including Virginia, sitting legislators have the power to redraw their own districts (and those of the congressional delegation) every 10 years to adjust to population shifts reflected in the latest Census.
The process is an exercise in naked power politics. Essentially, legislators choose their voters. Their first priority is to ensure their own re-election. Their second goal is to cripple the opposing party. Creating cohesive districts that meet the needs of their constituents? That’s somewhere at the bottom of the list.
My first exposure to this legislative butchery came years ago in Georgia, my native state. A veteran state senator had barely survived two strong challenges from a popular politician in his district, the mayor of my mother’s hometown. The senator’s one ambition in redrawing his district was to eviscerate his challenger’s power base.
When the initial redistricting map was unveiled, the mayor’s town had been sliced to pieces. A community with fewer than 10,000 residents had been divided among three senatorial districts. At the urging of the mayor, the town eventually was moved entirely to a new district, giving the community coherent representation in the General Assembly but also granting the grizzled old senator his wish.
In the years since that incident, the redistricting practices of most legislatures have not improved. Nationwide, the process has created gerrymandered “safe” districts so dominated by one party that incumbents face little chance of defeat in general elections. The real threats come from hard-line challengers from their own parties running in low-turnout primaries. The result is that state legislators and many members of Congress see no advantage in compromise with the opposing party.
The danger in straying from a strict party-line stance can be seen in the primary defeats last year of two veteran Republican legislators, Delegates Joe. T. May of Loudoun County and Beverly Sherwood of Frederick County. Their indiscretion was supporting a bipartisan, comprehensive transportation funding bill backed by a large swath of the Virginia business community.
(Democrats, I should point out, are not immune to hyper-partisanship. Remember Joe Lieberman? The Connecticut senator, who ran as the Democrats’ vice presidential candidate in 2000, was defeated in the Democratic primary in his re-election bid in 2006 because of his support for the war in Iraq. He nonetheless won the general election by running as an independent. )
In Richmond and in Washington, D.C., lawmakers’ fearful focus on the whims of their party base has contributed to gridlock on crucial issues. Their biggest concern is holding onto their seats for another term.
The role of the redistricting process in creating this political quagmire is no mystery. A growing number of states have taken steps to wrest redistricting powers from politicians. Twenty-one states now have independent redistricting commissions with varying responsibilities in redrawing the legislative and congressional districts.
Attempts have been made to create a similar body in Virginia with little success. For years, bills introduced in the General Assembly to create a bipartisan or nonpartisan redistricting process have languished in a House subcommittee.
In 2011, then-Gov. Bob McDonnell appointed a redistricting reform commission to recommend redistricting plans for legislative and congressional seats based on the Census of 2010. Those recommendations, however, were ignored by the General Assembly. The Senate, then controlled by Democrats, and the House, controlled by Republicans, drew the maps for their own seats.
Frustration with the General Assembly’s contempt for reform led a small group of Virginias last year to start a campaign aimed at changing the process before the next round of redistricting begins after the 2020 Census.
Their organization, OneVirginia2021, is raising money, circulating petitions and recruiting volunteers. So far, executive director Matt Scoble says, the organization has received pledges for about $250,000 and seen resolutions passed by several localities, including Williamsburg and Blacksburg, calling on the legislature to change the process.
There is a sense of urgency in this cause. Taking the redistricting power away from the legislature and giving it to an independent commission will require amending the state constitution. That is a lengthy process that entails two votes by the General Assembly — with an election in between — and a public referendum.
The campaign is bolstered by the results of a 2013 survey of 1,000 Virginia residents by the University of Mary Washington. It found that that 74 percent of respondents want an independent board — not the legislature — to redraw legislative and congressional boundaries. Only 15 percent favored leaving the process in legislators’ hands. The remaining 11 percent were undecided.
According to its website, people involved in OneVirginia2021 include Bill Bolling, Virginia’s lieutenant governor from 2006 to 2014; Leigh Middleditch, co-founder of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership; Greg Lucyk, retired chief staff attorney for the Virginia Supreme Court; former Delegates Dave Nutter and Shannon Valentine; and A.E. Dick Howard, a University of Virginia law professor who led the commission that wrote Virginia’s current constitution.
OneVirginia2021 held a legislative summit in Charlottesville in late September to come up with criteria for redistricting reform, and it will sponsor a series of town meetings throughout the state, beginning in Danville and Williamsburg in October.
“We are organizing to show legislators that we do have the majority on this,” Scoble says. “They need to let redistricting reform become a reality.”
Reform should be a high priority issue in legislative races next year. Some of the butchers in the sausage factory need to get the boot.2014-09-30T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/VABEACH_Medina1936.pngAJ Medina was able to buy a house in Virginia Beach only four years after graduating college. Photo by Mark Rhodes
Hitting the beach
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/hitting-the-beach#When:10:00:00ZWhen he graduated from Virginia Tech four years ago, AJ Medina could have returned home to job-rich Northern Virginia. Instead, he moved to Virginia Beach.
Today, he’s designing buildings for colleges and universities as an architect with Clark Nexsen, while settling into a new house and enjoying the amenities that Virginia’s largest city offers.
Medina is one of a growing number of millennials — born between the early 1980s and the late 1990s — who are flocking to Virginia Beach. Seventeen percent of the city’s residents fall into the 20-29 age group, an increase of 5.6 percent from 2010 to 2013. The city has become a magnet of sorts for millennials in search of diverse employment, housing and entertainment options — so much so that in August, Forbes designated the city a “millennial boomtown.”
For Medina, Virginia Beach is a good blend of urban and suburban life, with beaches thrown in as an added bonus. “On the weekends, my friends and I do anything from going to Town Center to bumming it out on the beach.” And, the cost of living is affordable for recent college graduates, he adds, noting that four years out of college he most likely would not have been able to purchase a home in Northern Virginia. Based on data from 2012, the median house price was $480,200 in Fairfax County, compared with $272,700 in Virginia Beach.
Medina and his fellow millennials are fueling Virginia Beach’s growth, says Gerald S. Divaris, chairman and CEO of Divaris Real Estate, who notes that the average age of resort city residents is in the early 30s. “We have a lot of younger folks, but they’re working and more educated and have money to spend,” Divaris says. Millennials, he adds, are drawn to the city’s expansive oceanfront, varied housing options and highly regarded public schools.
City leaders also attribute much of Virginia Beach’s growing popularity among young professionals to Town Center, the 17-block, mixed-used development, which has become the core of the city’s central business district. Since opening in 2003, Town Center has evolved into a trendy destination, setting its sights on upscale retailers that are unique to the region.
“It’s a very nice live-work-play environment,” says Warren Harris, Virginia Beach’s economic development director. “A lot of people are looking to work and live within walking distance. You can walk to work and then at 5, 6 or 7, leave the office building, and you have the choice of multiple restaurants for dinner. Later, you can go to a performance at the Funny Bone or at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts.”
Starting this fall, a cluster of retailers will be making their first foray into Hampton Roads at the Town Center. The trendy women’s clothing chain Anthropologie will anchor retail in Town Center’s newly constructed 15-story Main Street Tower, which also features office space, 288 luxury apartments and an 890-car parking garage. Meanwhile, clothing and housewares retailer Free People and yoga-inspired athletic retailer Lululemon will move into the Armada Hoffler office tower in space that previously housed Red Star Tavern. Upscale furniture and housewares dealer West Elm, specialty store Francesca’s and eateries Twist Martini and Tupelo Honey Café also are moving into the Hampton Roads market via Town Center this fall.
Divaris, whose company leases and manages Town Center, believes the development’s success in attracting upscale shops reflects Virginia Beach’s growing affluence, as well as the development’s central location in the city. “Town Center is equidistant to everybody,” he says. “It has a terrific combination of uses so it’s not just dependent on offices, retail or restaurants. That enables these types of stores to succeed.”
Clark Nexsen CEO Tom Winborne also believes the trendy retailers and entertainment options will help him attract young engineers and architects like Medina. Based in Hampton Roads since the early 1970s, the architectural design firm had leased space in Norfolk for almost 30 years when it began looking for updated headquarters. With its work-play-live environment, Town Center fit the bill, and about 300 Clark Nexsen employees moved into Main Street Tower in July.
“Where we were really didn’t have the downtown feel that all our young employees were looking for,” Winborne says. “They pay a lot of attention to where they’re located. Town Center has the amenities we were looking for: housing for lots of different age groups, tons of walk-to places for breakfast, lunch and after work. It’s got that young, vibrant environment we’re looking for.”
In addition to anchoring Main Street Tower, Clark Nexsen architects and engineers designed the building, customizing the firm’s 80,000 square feet of office space to include an open layout and lighting controlled by sensors for time of day and occupancy.
Winborne, however, stresses that the company did not set out to leave Norfolk. The firm checked out rental options in downtown Norfolk and other areas of the city before committing to Town Center. “It’s never been a Norfolk thing or a Virginia Beach thing,” he adds. “I’m a staunch believer in regionalism. The thing most important to me is to keep Clark Nexsen here in Hampton Roads.”
Princess Anne Commons
Virginia Beach’s economic development department has also set up shop in Main Street Tower. Harris hopes the glistening new building will be another tool in the city’s arsenal to attract new businesses. “Having that Class A product on the market allows us to go across the world and showcase that facility, Town Center and the other facilities available here in Virginia Beach.” He adds that the city is already looking at options for Town Center’s next phase.
Harris and his team also are focusing on other business sites in the sprawling city. Princess Anne Commons, home to several medical facilities — including Sentara Princess Anne Hospital, LifeNet and Operation Smile, as well as the Virginia Beach Higher Education Center — is slated to become the city’s next corridor of economic development.
Earlier this year, Mayor Will Sessoms established a task force charged with attracting more industries focusing on biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and health-care delivery. In preparation, the city has hired a bioscience consultant, opened a new shopping center along the corridor and is improving roads in the area. In September, the task force announced preliminary plans for a new bio-medical park in the Princess Anne corridor that would be developed as a public/private partnership.
“We really haven’t necessarily leveraged bioscience as an industrial cluster,” Harris adds. “But we’re always looking to diversify our economy, and we think this is a great new industry cluster.”
Fifty-four businesses moved to Virginia Beach or expanded their operations in the city last year, leading to the creation of more than 2,200 jobs, a 100 percent increase over the previous year. The city also garnered $260 million in new capital investment, factors leading to CNNMoney.com naming it the “Easiest Place to Start a Business” and the second “Most Business-Friendly City” in the United States.
Harris and other city officials believe a new sports and entertainment facility would contribute to Virginia Beach’s business-friendly status. This spring, City Council entered negotiations with United States Management to build an 18,000-seat arena. USM has lined up $200 million in private financing to construct the facility, with the city contributing $52 million to $78 million for infrastructure improvements. “It would expand our goal to have a year-round experience in the resort area,” Harris says, noting that the arena would host entertainment and sporting events primarily from October through May, the “shoulder season” for tourism when the number of visitors typically drops off.
While an arena would not be completed until 2016, the city could welcome the Virginia Beach Neptunes, its first minor league professional baseball team, as early as next spring. Under the auspices of Virginia Beach Professional Baseball LLC, the $40 million project would be financed through private bonds and would include a 5,000-seat stadium and 13 baseball and softball fields adjacent to the Virginia Beach SportsPlex. “It will help brand Virginia Beach as an amateur sports mecca for teams to come to,” Harris says.
Millennials who have children in Virginia Beach Public Schools are among the citizens Aaron Spence is talking to as he settles into his new position as the city’s school superintendent. The Virginia Beach native graduated from the city’s Green Run High School and returned home this summer after stints as the chief high school officer for the Houston Independent School District and superintendent of Moore County (N.C.) Public Schools. “It was a unique opportunity for me to come back and serve the school district that meant so much to me and served me so well,” he says.
As part of his 120-day transition plan, Spence has been meeting with community leaders, principals, teachers, parents and students to get to know Virginia Beach’s 86 schools and their needs. “We’re having frank conversations about where we are today versus what we say our expectations are for our students,” Spence adds. “That gives us areas where we need to focus and work.”
Spence’s initial goals are straightforward: keep the schools focused on student learning and establish Virginia Beach Schools as the nation’s foremost school division. A complete shift in the system’s priorities is not on the drawing board, even as he formulates a new strategic plan.
“I don’t foresee overturning the apple cart,” he says. “Virginia Beach is an excellent school system, and community support for our schools is exceptional, but there are opportunities to strengthen and extend the work and focus on rising challenges.”
Those include closing achievement gaps because of a growing number of students living in poverty, responding to a business community seeking graduates immersed in globally competitive skills and boosting students’ critical thinking skills. The school system has forged connections with local community colleges and vocational schools, with students taking advanced courses and attaining certification in industries ranging from health care to advanced manufacturing. All are part of creating multiple pathways for success, Spence adds.
“A student can turn left when they graduate from high school and be employable immediately if they choose or continue on to postsecondary education. No one size fits all solutions for our students,” he says. “We want to make sure no matter what our students want to do, they understand the options they have and what those options mean in terms of becoming productive members of society.”
Options that include remaining in or — like Spence — returning to Virginia Beach.2014-09-30T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/TECH_laserbridge.pngRowland George of NDEC Photo by Mark Gormus, Richmond Times-Dispatch
Point to point
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/point-to-point#When:10:00:00ZWhen you’re using binoculars to scout sites from the top of buildings in Washington, D.C., it’s probably no surprise when you get a visit from men in dark glasses.
“I remember being up there, and Homeland Security wanted to know what we were doing on the rooftops. We were about 27, 30 stories up. … You could see the high-rises, the monuments, going to D.C. We were just tickled they were paying attention,” recalls Rowland George, vice president of Henrico County-based telecommunications engineering and installation firm NDEC.
A network design and engineering firm, NDEC specializes in telecommunications work such as engineering and design plans for fiber-cable installations to cell phone towers. The company also installed fiber-optic cable infrastructure and SMART Boards for Henrico County Public Schools.
But among its lesser-known services is the installation of laser bridges, a nifty, optical data-transfer system that can deliver a constant data stream of up to10 gigabytes between two points as far as five miles away, via invisible, pencil-thin lasers.
A pair of laser transceivers, which somewhat resemble tourist viewfinders, must be mounted within an uninterrupted line of sight, usually on rooftops. Companies typically use the technology to connect internal computer systems or intranets between buildings.
The laser-bridge technology is about 15 years old, but it’s improved drastically since it first came on the market, George says.
Systems range from about $30,000 to $75,000 depending on how large a data stream a company requires. The system is often used in historic districts and areas where it is cost prohibitive to install fiber-optic cable, either because there’s no existing infrastructure or the property between the two points to be connected is owned by other interests. It’s especially popular in Europe, George says.
“We’ve got over 16,000 [laser bridge] links around the world. … We’ve got quite a lot of product out there,” says John Taylor, vice president of sales for San Diego-based LightPointe, which manufactures the laser bridge hardware.
NDEC has installed laser bridges on the East Coast from Pennsylvania to North Carolina.
In the Richmond area, NDEC clients using the laser bridge include ad firm The Martin Agency and auto dealership Richmond Ford. In Northern Virginia, the authorized installers for the system are NDEC and Maryland-based firm American Telecom Solutions, whose laser-bridge clients include Fairfax County-based defense contractor General Dynamics and the Alexandria-based nonprofit National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
One of the laser bridge’s advantages, Taylor says, is that “it’s highly secure, and it has very high bandwidth you can’t get from Wi-Fi bridges.”
A typical Wi-Fi system is protected only by software encryption. Radio frequency waves radiate from the point of broadcast and can be detected and intercepted by anyone in range. The laser bridge system is pencil-thin, invisible and virtually undetectable. The data already are encrypted, and to hack into it from outside a building, you’d have to install another compatible transceiver in the same narrow, physical line of sight that the laser is traversing, George says.
The latest systems come equipped with eight lasers and are equipped with auto-tracking technology to compensate for the swaying of tall rooftops. Because the systems are usually high in the air, they’re really interrupted only by severe weather. “Birds flying through it doesn’t affect it, but if they build a nest on [the transceiver], then that’s an issue,” George says, laughing.
The Martin Agency installed its system in 2010 to connect employees in a building about a block and a half away from its headquarters to its company intranet, says John Cartier, a vice president and network operations manager for the ad firm. The system is robust, he says, and can support voiceover IP phone service in addition to the company’s intranet.
The cost of the laser-bridge system was about the same as it would have been to subscribe for a few months to a 1 GB-per-second connection from a telecommunications provider and connect to the intranet via a virtual private network (VPN), Cartier says. Unlike a connection from an Internet provider, the laser bridge requires only a one-time capital outlay with no subscriptions or ongoing fees.
For The Martin Agency, the laser bridge also made sense because NDEC could install it and get it up and running in six hours, whereas it would have taken many months to get permits and permissions to install physical cable over a two-block distance in a crowded, historic, downtown district.
NDEC also installed a laser bridge for Old Dominion University. It used the system from roughly 2003 to 2009 to connect its campus intranet to ODU’s Frank Reidy Research Center for Bioelectrics, which was then housed about 1.25 miles away in the Norfolk Health Department’s building. Installing fiber-optic cable over that distance on property that the university didn’t own was too expensive a proposition, so ODU installed the laser bridge, says Wayne C. Jones, the university’s director of information technology infrastructure. ODU stopped using the laser bridge after the bioelectrics center moved into ODU’s Innovation Research Park on the university campus.
ODU’s laser bridge worked pretty reliably during the years it was operational, but there were a few snags, Jones says. For one, a few years after ODU installed the laser bridge, Sentara Healthcare built Virginia Heart Hospital nearby and the construction disrupted the lasers’ line-of-sight connection, so one of the laser transceivers had to be moved, and a cable had to be run a short distance from the relocated transceiver to the ODU researchers’ office. Additionally, Norfolk is prone to heavy fog and that took the system down about four or five times, sometimes for several hours, Jones recalls.
“If you have a very hard downpour of rain or snow or fog, your signal is going to be affected,” Jones says. “It would not work for anyone in emergency management or banking or any [industry] in which … the loss of a data packet would spell financial doom or life or death.”
Summing up the laser bridges, George says, “A lot of people don’t know about it, and as we tell everybody, your No. 1 choice would be hardwired. That takes fog and snow and things you don’t have control of out of the equation. This is more of a niche product where you need a connection between points A and B and … [laying cable is] either cost-prohibitive, or you’ve got real estate or infrastructure issues.”2014-09-30T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/INTERVIEW_Jones1.png“We need to have more tools in our incentive toolbox." Maurice Jones. Photos by Rick DeBerry
A ‘son of Southside’
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/a-son-of-southside#When:10:00:00ZMaurice Jones is Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s point man in the administration’s efforts to transform Virginia’s economy.
As secretary of commerce and trade, he oversees 13 business-related agencies — including the Virginia Economic Development Partnership — and is the chairman of a Cabinet steering committee coordinating state agencies in pursuing the administration’s economic development strategy.
“The big goal is to help to reposition the engine of economic growth in Virginia away from the public sector and more toward the private sector,” he says. “That’s the big theme of our journey.”
Jones, 50, comes to the job with a diverse background in the public and private sectors. Before joining the McAuliffe administration, he was deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for nearly two years.
He also has been publisher of The Virginian-Pilot newspaper in Norfolk, commissioner of the Virginia Department of Social Services and deputy chief of staff under Gov. Mark Warner, a Treasury Department official under President Bill Clinton, a lawyer in Richmond at Hunton & Williams and a partner at Venture Philanthropy Partners, a firm that invests millions of dollars in the Washington, D.C., area in helping low-income children.
“I also bring the most formative experience of my life, which is growing up in Southside Virginia,” Jones says. “Because I’m a native of Virginia and because I’m a son of Southside, I bring a passion for working on these economic development issues.”
His grandparents, James and Rosa Hatchett, who raised him on a tobacco farm in Lunenburg County, are foremost in a group of people Jones describes as game changers in his life. The group includes an eighth-grade science teacher who arranged for him to become a page at the General Assembly in Richmond and later helped him win a full scholarship to Hampden-Sydney College. He graduated first in his class at Hampden-Sydney.
Jones credits another “angel in my life,” Josiah Bunting, then president of Hampden-Sydney, with helping him win a Rhodes Scholar scholarship to Oxford University where he earned a master’s in international relations. He later received a law degree from the University of Virginia.
Jones commutes to Richmond daily from Norfolk where he lives with his wife, Lisa Smith, and their 11-year-old daughter, Michela. “I like being able to go home,” he says. “It sounds corny, but I like being able to walk my daughter to the school bus in the morning.”
In addition to traveling up and down Interstate 64 every day, Jones also travels with his daughter as she pursues her passion, AAU basketball. “I’m one of the coaches of her team. So I spend a lot of time frankly following her to basketball games,” he says.
Virginia Business interviewed Jones on Aug. 21 at his office on Capitol Square in Richmond. The following is an edited transcript.
Virginia Business: You’ve held a wide variety of jobs in the private sector and in government. What attracted you to this position?
Jones: I’d say two or three things. One, I’m a native of Virginia, so being able to be in public service in Virginia is an attraction to me. And this is sort of my second tour of duty.
A second is the job itself is a lot of fun, and it’s a heck of a challenge. You are attempting to facilitate the public sector’s being a partner in job creation and business attraction at a time that we’re coming out of the worst recession since the Great Depression …
A third is the chance to work with this governor on these challenges. It was for me apparent that this was something that, for him, was going to be a priority and, frankly, that he was going to be an unbelievable asset in this whole space.
For all of those reasons, I thought this was an opportunity well worth going for.
VB: Now, given your background, do you feel like you bring a unique perspective to the economic challenges facing the state?
Jones: I want to stay humble with that. I think what I bring is a combination of public- and private-sector leadership experience. I also bring the most formative experience of my life, which is growing up in Southside Virginia … Because I’m a native of Virginia and because I’m a son of Southside, I bring a passion for working on these economic development issues. That’s what I try to bring to the game every day.
VB: Do you have any sort of particular goals as far as numbers of jobs created or businesses recruited during your term?
Jones: The big goal is to help to reposition the engine of economic growth in Virginia away from the public sector and more toward the private sector. That’s the big theme of our journey. It really is diversifying the economy … so that the long-term trajectory is a more balanced one where our engines of growth are both public and private, and that the public is not so dominant. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to keep the public space. We want to grow the private [sector]. This is a cause that will outlive my few years [as secretary of commerce and trade]. But if I can contribute with the governor to that repositioning, it will be a job well done.
VB: What is the [administration’s] economic strategy?
Jones: There are five strategic areas that we’re trying to focus on. One I would put under the theme of infrastructure. By infrastructure, I mean such things as a 21st-century energy policy, which enables us to keep our energy prices, particularly our electricity prices, the most competitive in the country. You cannot do economic development without competitive energy prices.
Another infrastructure area is helping the state develop more project-ready sites — small, medium and large — so that when the projects come along, they’ll give us a look because we have the assets, and we won’t be at a disadvantage …
Broadband, by the way, is part of infrastructure: broadband expansion in rural Virginia — we’re in dire need of that. In most parts of rural Virginia, [there is] no more than 25 percent penetration for broadband.
A second area of focus of the strategy is targeting high-growth, high-wage sectors — attempting to intensify our focus on cybersecurity, advanced manufacturing, information technology (particularly in the health-care space), energy and life sciences. Those are some of the areas where we really want to target growth.
Third area: workforce development. You’ve probably seen what we’re doing there. We’re finding the biggest opportunity to add value is … by producing licensures, certifications and apprenticeships for those jobs that don’t require a four-year degree — in most cases don’t require two-year degrees — but do require post-secondary training.
The fourth area of real focus for us is entrepreneurism, with incentives and policies to enhance the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the state so that we’re not only just the best state for business, but we’re the best state in which to launch a business.
The last area is the overall business climate. We need to keep it really, really competitive. We need to have more tools in our incentive toolbox. We need to keep our corporate tax rates low. We need to keep our regulations lean and smart. Those are the five pillars of the strategy for us.
VB: North Carolina recently has cut its corporate tax rate [from 6.9 percent last year to 6 percent this year]. Is that something that should be examined in Virginia?
Jones: I think we always have to look at our tax rate. Virginia’s corporate tax rate hasn’t changed since 1972. Our tax rate [of 6 percent] actually is one of our attractive features. But I say that we should always be looking to see what our competitors are doing. I wouldn’t just single out taxes. Taxes are a part of a bucket I would call cost of doing business. So the real question is: Can Virginia offer a lowest cost of doing business environment for our businesses? Taxes are one part of that. Fees are another part. Regulatory framework, that’s another part. All of that is part of the cost of doing business. And we have to be a lowest cost provider to stay competitive. We’ve got to look at all of that as we’re trying to woo and keep and help launch businesses.
VB: Virginia’s unemployment rate is relatively low, but it has been creeping up in recent months. Some economists are saying it’s because of the reduction in defense spending … Do you agree?
Jones: It’s not just defense spending … If you looked at the top 20 employers in Virginia, you know what you would discover? You would discover 13 of the top 20 employers in Virginia are either public sector — and that’s state, local or federal [government] — or they’re contractors to the public sector. That means there are seven out of the top 20 that are in the private sector.
So, yes, the economists are right, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. The whole story is — I hate to use this analogy because somebody is going to be upset with me — a Denver Broncos challenge. Peyton Manning is their offense. If Peyton Manning is having a good game, they win. If Peyton Manning has a bad game, they lose. With us, the analogy is the public sector is our offense right now. If the public sector has a good season, we’re good. If the public sector is in a season of contraction, guess what?
So, they are right that the federal plays a big piece of this. And the federal plays a big piece because not only is it the number of jobs, it’s the wages. Federal wages are healthy … We need more balance in our engine of economic growth … We need to catalyze private sector, nonpublic-dependent growth.
VB: Is there any particular initiative on your part or the governor’s addressing issues in Southern Virginia and Southwest Virginia?
Jones: There’s a yes and a no answer. Each one of our regions, I believe, has assets that will enable it to attract particular sectors. That southern part of the state is a particularly attractive area for manufacturing. We are hustling, attempting to woo advanced manufacturing businesses, in particular, to the commonwealth. And our biggest success was the Tranlin deal out in Chesterfield [where a $2 billion, Chinese-owned paper plant eventually will employ 2,000 workers].
But we also just announced three deals out in Grayson County, all in the manufacturing space. That’s the big opportunity also in that part of the state. [It has a] low cost of doing business. It has a workforce that has a great work ethic. It’s also a workforce that has had manufacturing experience.
I think another opportunity for that area frankly is tourism … Tourism is a big generator of economic activity in the state. Last year alone: $21.2 billion in expenditures, 210,000 jobs. That area hasn’t fully exploited its tourism assets. It’s beginning to — parks and trails, etc. And tourism generates other businesses. So, you’re going to see us next year, more likely than not, having a real focus on tourism in … I used to call it Southside Virginia … they’re calling it Southern Virginia now.
The other piece is the workforce piece. Workforce development in that part of our state will be indispensable for economic growth.
VB: Will your background enable you to work with the federal government?
Jones: Oh yes ... I have a number of relationships there that will enable me to hopefully get some things done with the federal government. The federal government still is a big player for us, and we still have lots of business to do with it. And I’m hopeful that the relationships that I have will be helpful in that regard. The other thing — having a working knowledge of the federal government — I think, has been helpful for me in this job. No question.
VB: Do you have any desire to run for public office yourself?
Jones: That’s not a decision I can make without my big bosses — my family. I don’t think about public office in the context of running versus not running, to be honest with you. I think about it in the context of: Is the job a job that would afford me an opportunity to actually do some good? There are plenty of jobs in government that are not appealing to me. So, I’m not contemplating running for any public office now, but I’m also not ruling anything out.
VB: I also want to talk about your background [growing up in Kenbridge in Lunenburg County].
Jones: Yes. Growing up, I farmed tobacco. I was raised by my mother’s parents, by far the most influential people in my life, my grandparents. My grandfather, born in 1914, in August of 1914, so he’d be 100 today if he were still alive … He went to school for six years in a barn. And then, as he would describe it, he went out into the woods and started cutting pulp wood and hauling logs. He eventually had his own sawmill …
My grandmother finished 11 years of school. At that time, you could graduate, 11 years. I went to live with them when I was 3 months old, and that’s where I remained. ... I tell everybody, if you want to inspire a child to go to college, put them in a tobacco field.
VB: And as I understand it, a high school teacher helped you apply for being a page here at the General Assembly.
Jones: Actually, it was my eighth-grade science teacher … This is the beauty of a place like Kenbridge, a small town, with 1,200 people. My eighth-grade science teacher [Barbara Palmer], one day after a debate match, … said, “I want to introduce you to somebody,” and she introduced me to the senator from that area, a guy named Jim Edmunds.
And she said, “The senator and I were talking about your being a page.” I’ll be honest with you, I’m a country boy. The only pages I knew were these [sheets of paper lying on a table]. ... How can I be a page?
And they could tell that I had no idea what they were talking about. The senator explained it to me, and I thought, “Yes, that’s cool.” The next thing I knew, that upcoming fall, in my ninth-grade year, I was a page at the General Assembly ...
I came down here. At that time, they put the pages up at the John Marshall Hotel. I stayed with other pages from all over the state. [Former Gov. L. Douglas] Wilder was a state senator at that time. Chuck Robb was the lieutenant governor. This was, for a little boy from the country, a whole other world …
After that experience, I was committed to going to law school … I thought, “You know what? I might be able to do this, too.”
That eighth-grade science teacher stayed in my life. When I was a senior in high school, one afternoon I was going to [football] practice, and she showed up at the high school. She said, “Have you applied to college yet?” I said, “Well, I’m going to.” She said, “You’re right, young man. You’re going to today.”
She marched me off. She told my coach, “He won’t be at practice today.” She sat me down in the afternoons after school, and I applied to college.
Now, little did I know she already had in mind the college she wanted me to go to. I was applying to Georgetown. This is what a young guy is thinking about, why did I apply to Georgetown? They had a great basketball team. You’ve got to apply to Georgetown! Then I applied to William & Mary.
Then she said, “Well, you’ve got to apply to Hampden-Sydney College.” And I said, “Hampden-Sydney? Well, tell me something about it.” She said, “It’s all male.” I said, “Well, what’s your next option?” She said, “No, no, no, you’ve got to apply.”
So I applied to those three. I got into all three of them, but honestly, we couldn’t afford any of them … the issue was financial access for me. And William & Mary, it looked like up until one week before I was supposed to make a decision, was going to be the place. They put together a package of loans and grants, and I thought, “I can do this.”
Then literally a week before I was supposed to decide, I received a call from a professor at Hampden-Sydney, and he said, “We’d like you to come up and interview for a scholarship. Would you be interested?” I was like, “Scholarship? Yes, sir, I can come now.” He said, “Well, come on up.”
At the end of the interview, the professor said, “Do you have any questions?” And I said, “Now that I think about it, I never asked you, how much does the scholarship pay if I’m lucky enough to get it?”
And he looks at me and says, “It will pay your entire need.” I looked at him, and I said, “Do you know my entire need?” He goes, “This is a full scholarship.”
I got a full scholarship from Hampden-Sydney. I tell you why I got that full scholarship. That eighth-grade science teacher stayed on them night and day to look at this guy’s application and give him a shot. That eighth-grade science teacher changed my life.2014-09-30T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/CRE_Backcountry.pngBackcountry.com invested more than $20 million to open a distribution center in Montgomery County.
Location, location, location
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/location-location-location#When:10:00:00ZVirginia isn’t just for lovers or political scandals — it’s also for distribution centers.
In the past few years, the state has seen a plethora of companies locating distribution centers and warehouses here, including Amazon, Medline and Philip Morris USA in Chesterfield County, Lumber Liquidators in Henrico County, The Vitamin Shoppe in Hanover County and outdoor gear retailer Backcountry.com in Montgomery County.
The industrial real estate market is particularly hot statewide because Internet retailers are attracted by Virginia’s central location on the East Coast and its proximity to the key transportation arteries of interstates 81 and 95, not to mention the Port of Virginia in Norfolk and its intermodal center in Front Royal.
“As online shopping and online sales increase, there’s less of a need for bricks-and-mortar locations and more of a need for distribution and logistics locations. It’s all about speed for the customer. It’s all about building distribution networks where people can be reached quickly with their products,” says Matthew Huff, an associate broker with Roanoke-based Poe & Cronk Real Estate Group.
Poe & Cronk assisted Backcountry.com in opening a distribution center in Montgomery County’s Falling Branch Corporate Park in 2012.
About 70 percent of Backcountry.com’s customers are on the East Coast, says Brian Hamilton, Montgomery County’s economic development director. That drove its decision to locate in Virginia, just off Interstate 81. “Our site is an eight-hour drive to New York and in eight hours you can also get to Atlanta,” Hamilton says.
Backcountry.com invested $20 million and built a 315,000-square-foot East Coast fulfillment center, creating 200 jobs in the New River Valley area.
That’s a typical scenario for a larger distribution center.
In Hanover County, The Vitamin Shoppe built a 300,000-square-foot, $39.4 million distribution center last year alongside Interstate 95 in Ashland. Republic National Distributing Co., the second-largest wine and spirits wholesaler in the U.S., is building a 260,000-sqare-foot, $17 million distribution center next door.
According to Edwin Gaskin, Hanover’s economic development director, distribution centers “represent a healthy percentage” of the county’s current economic development prospects, and every company is interested in new construction. “They want to design their facility for maximum efficiency,” he says. “If your staff has to take 20 more steps to do the same task because of poor design, that’s not efficient.”
Distribution centers require a big footprint and possess unique architectural needs, says Lang Williams, a senior vice president in the Norfolk office of CBRE, which assisted with The Vitamin Shoppe deal. High ceilings, for instance, are required to stack inventory, and companies need powerful fire suppression systems.
“There is very little, if any, quality available space with the design features that these users need,” Williams says. Because of the specialized equipment designed to handle each company’s product distribution, “you pretty much have to build it new,” he says. “In The Vitamin Shoppe’s case, the material-handling system they have is almost as expensive to design and install and invest in as the building itself.”
Distribution and logistics centers also require large areas for loading trucks as well as plenty of parking. Distribution centers, like the one Amazon opened in Chesterfield, also tend to require a lot of manual labor. An e-commerce business “may have 2,000 employees at a large distribution center,” Williams says. “That’s a lot more land you also need to support parking.”
The area of the state that has probably benefited the most from the influx of distribution centers is the metro Richmond area. Their massive size and economic impact was heralded by the arrival of Amazon, which in 2012 opened a 1-million-square-foot, $85 million fulfillment center at Chesterfield County’s Meadowville Technology Park off Interstate 295.
The company employs about 1,100 workers at the facility and hires an additional 2,000 workers seasonally. Amazon simultaneously opened another 1 million-square-foot, $50 million fulfilment center in Dinwiddie County.
“When Amazon entered Richmond … that really established Richmond all of a sudden on [other distribution companies’] radar,” says Williams. “They look at the sophisticated supply team of an Amazon and they think, ‘Gosh, they must know something.’ … That seemed to make Richmond a popular place to be.”
The vacancy rate for industrial properties in Richmond reached 7.3 percent in the second quarter of this year, a five-year low, according to CBRE Global Research and Consulting. The average rental rate in the market was $4.07 per square foot. The Richmond market had just over 1 million square feet of existing stock available for lease.
Other major projects under construction in the Richmond area include one for Lumber Liquidators. The retail flooring company is opening a new, 1-million-square-foot distribution center this fall in Henrico’s White Oak Technology Park. “They’re a very fast-growing company with a number of retail stores, and their growth has demanded that they have their own distribution facility,” says Gary McLaren, executive director of the Henrico Economic Development Authority.
In Chesterfield County, Chicago-based Medline, a medical supply company, built a 404,000-square-foot, $20 million distribution center in the county’s Meadowville Technology Park this year. In the same industrial park, Philip Morris USA is spending $50 million on a complex of four tobacco-storage warehouses totaling 1 million square feet, which will open next year.
“With our success with Amazon, Medline and others, we are experiencing an increase in direct inquiries from interested firms,” says Will Davis, Chesterfield’s economic development director. The infrastructure required by the large industrial fulfillment centers is not only attracting other logistics centers but also call centers, back-office finance centers and associated third-party logistics firms, Davis says.
Because of that explosion of interest, real estate investment trusts are starting to build distribution center space on spec for the first time in several years, says Matt Braun, senior associate with Cushman & Wakefield|Thalhimer Commercial Real Estate in Richmond.
Pennsylvania-based Liberty Property Trust is building a 129,000-square-foot space in Henrico County near Richmond International Airport. Brandywine Realty Trust, also based in Pennsylvania, is building three industrial warehouses with higher ceilings and large bays in that area as well.
Says Braun: “We’ve seen more people looking at big tracts in the last 12 months than in probably the last six years combined.”2014-09-30T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Godwin1753.pngMike Godwin was able to reduce a 28 percent rate hike in health insurance premiums to 15 percent. Photo by Mark Rhodes
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/balancing-act#When:10:00:00ZFinding ways to minimize health insurance costs is not a new challenge for Mike Godwin, the vice president of human resources for Eggleston, a Norfolk-based nonprofit.
The continuing rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), however, is forcing him to add some new tricks to his playbook. As a result, this year he was able to take an initial 28 percent rate hike to his company’s health insurance premiums and reduce it to 15 percent.
“We want to take care of our employees as best we can and continue to be an employer of choice, and so our strategy is fluid right now,” says Godwin, whose firm provides education, training and employment services to people with disabilities.
He is not alone in searching for alternatives. Officials at Virginia companies large and small are exploring a variety of options, including the use of private health exchanges and self-insurance plans, in an effort to keep health costs down and avoid entanglements with potentially onerous provisions of the ACA. Nonetheless, many companies are finding that rising health-care spending is leaving them with less money for other employee benefits.
Godwin has been trying creative tactics for several years to mitigate rising health insurance premiums. Full-time employees are now given a choice of plans: They can opt for a high-deductible health savings account (HSA), which is covered entirely by Eggleston, or a traditional health plan with a lower deductible that requires the employee to pick up 25 percent of the premium.
Godwin also dropped the company’s fully insured dental plan in favor of a “self-insured” model. That move requires Eggleston to pay the entire bill for all claims up to a certain threshold, but it enabled the company to save $10,000 in overall dental costs. Also, many Eggleston employees were reclassified as part-time workers under the ACA’s definition (working less than 30 hours a week), a shift that helped lower overall health premium outlays.
Still, Godwin has had to tweak plan designs even further this year to bring the latest rate increase down, adding, among other changes, a $150 deductible to the prescription drug plan. To help employees pay for their out-of-pocket increase, Eggleston gave them a 2 percent raise.
He plans to continue looking for other coverage alternatives to help the company and its employees cope with future cost increases. “We are just taking it year by year and trying to be as creative as we can to keep absorbing the premium hits,” he says.
Rising health-care costs and concerns over new ACA conditions are making it harder for companies like Godwin’s to maintain the level of benefits their employees have come to expect.
An August report by independent consulting firm Towers Watson found that health-care costs for U.S. employers will rise, on average, 5.2 percent in 2015 if plan designs are not changed.
Year-over-year increases in health-care costs are cutting into spending for other benefits. Nearly all other employer-subsidized benefits, including dependent care, tuition assistance and professional and career development programs, have been on the decline since 2010, according to “Employee Benefits 2014,” a research report sponsored by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
“Health-care costs are becoming more of a major problem for employers, big and small,” says Dick Miller, an account director based in the Richmond office of Towers Watson. “And employers are searching around for ways that they can better manage those costs, better control those costs — not just in passing the costs onto the employees, but also trying to get at the root of the cause and trying to reduce costs for the health-care programs that they offer.”
In fact, the Towers Watson report found that 81 percent of employers are planning to implement moderate to significant changes to their health-care plans during the next three years in an effort to control costs. These changes include significantly reducing company subsidies for spouses and dependents (or denying coverage altogether to working spouses); using specialty pharmacy management plans to gain greater control over drug outlays; and setting up plans that encourage employees to, whenever possible, utilize telemedicine and “virtual” doctor’s office visits via telephone or Skype.
Other companies are limiting employee choices by offering a sole high-deductible plan or a health savings account in tandem with company-sponsored wellness programs, says Cynthia Weidner, vice president of health-care consulting for the Charlottesville office of HighRoads, a national benefits plan management firm. With this approach, she explains, “the employee has a powerful financial incentive to use medical services more cost-efficiently.”
In other cases, employers are looking at a complete paradigm shift in their health coverage, using private health exchanges or adopting a self-insured or self-funding model.
A private health exchange is an online marketplace that provides employees access to a number of health plans and other insurance products. A private exchange puts more responsibility on employees to choose their benefits while helping companies cap their per-employee benefit outlays.
A growing number of organizations operating in Virginia now offer private exchanges — including the Virginia Farm Bureau, Virginia Chamber of Commerce, benefits consultants Towers Watson and Mercer, and health insurer Cigna.
Consulting giant Accenture estimates that 3 million people enrolled in private health exchanges this year and projects that enrollment in these exchanges will reach 40 million by 2018, surpassing the number expected to gain coverage through federal and state government-run exchanges like Healthcare.gov.
The private exchanges also provide an easy way for employers to offer a “defined contribution” or set an annual expenditure for employee health benefits. That feature, Weidner notes, is attractive to companies “who want to avoid bumping up against the Cadillac tax,” a 40 percent excise tax set to be imposed by the ACA on health plans that cost more than $10,200 for individual coverage.
“These private exchanges really enable what we used to call ‘flexible benefits,’ where people could take their benefits dollars and choose from between, say, two or three health plans, a dental plan, life insurance, and so forth,” explains Jackie Jackson, principal at Jack Consulting in Richmond.
“The private exchanges are different in that they’ve got the technology underpinning them so people can compare all kinds of different plans and features, and they can model things like, ‘If I take my life insurance up to $200,000, how much will come out of my paycheck?’ They give the employee a lot of control and choice, and a lot of people, especially the millennials, like that aspect.”
Many Virginia companies already are using the exchanges to serve their over-65 retirees. One is Richmond-based Dominion Resources, which moved its nonunion retirees to Towers Watson’s OneExchange last spring. Retirees receive annual stipends to use in paying for Medicare Advantage and Medicare supplemental policies and, if any funds are left over, they can spend the money on dental, vision and prescription drug coverage or out-of-pocket costs.
Wendy Wellener, Dominion’s vice president of human resources, says using the exchange “eliminates the market risk” of the self-insured plan that the company had been using and gives retirees the ability “to choose plans that best fit their needs.”
David Speier, a senior consultant at Towers Watson, says that many companies are scrutinizing private exchanges as a solution for current employees as well as retirees, but employers are largely taking a wait-and-see approach at the moment. He expects midsize companies, which he defines as companies with between 500 and 3,000 employees, will be the first to switch their employees over to private exchanges.
“These companies are facing a decision between whether to build their own health-care program — or rebuild it because of changes brought about by the ACA — or basically buy insurance on a private exchange that provides all the necessary administration, compliance, enrollment and decision support tasks,” he explains. “There’s still some hesitance among the large companies because they realize that to some extent they’ll lose control over design, handholding and some of the other things an employer has always done with their own program.”
Weidner agrees but says that many large companies won’t move until their competitors do. “The exchanges are still a little new, a little untested and, with the ACA also being so new, they want to make sure that they’re complying with regulations, staying within budget and giving their employees and family members a good experience,” she explains. “They’re not sure just yet if the exchange can do that.”
Risk and control
Private exchanges enable employers to cap their own costs and gain efficiencies and savings in the cost and time involved in negotiating and administering health plans, but “it’s not a way to reduce the overall cost of delivering health care or plan premiums,” says David Barney, vice president of benefit services at Scott Insurance in Lynchburg.
For this reason, they’re not a fit for smaller companies, 11 million of which are facing large premium increases under the ACA, according to a 2014 report by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid’s Office of the Actuary. Many will have little choice but to dump coverage altogether and send employees into public exchanges, Barney says, but some small employers are first taking a hard look at the self-insurance (or self-funding) model.
This approach requires employers to pay all of their workers’ claims up to a certain dollar threshold, at which point, a stop-gap or reinsurance policy, paid for by the employer, would kick in. A threshold policy can be set for the claims made by each worker or in aggregate.
“This has typically been a strategy for larger employers with over 200 employees,” states Barney. “But now, even smaller employers with as few as, say, 10 to 20 employees are looking at self-funding strategies. It’s where the largest amount of disruption is happening right now.”
Self-insurance is much more risky than traditional plans, since the employer is on the hook for the initial claims if an employee suffers a major medical event, such as a heart attack or cancer, but it also gives employers more flexibility and control over their benefits plan, Barney explains.
The employer can choose what benefits will be covered and the reinsurance premiums are underwritten according to the group’s overall risk, rather than the individual demographics used by the ACA. The model, Barney notes, also allows employers to dodge a 2 percent ACA fee imposed on traditional health plans, along with the added mandates and “messy pricing structure” involved with the ACA’s “essential benefits,” such as mental health, certain preventive services and maternity coverage.
“With self-insurance, you can also gain the positive impact of successful wellness programs,” he says. “If your employees get healthy and use less insurance, that’s a cost that might have materialized but you end up avoiding.”
Many insurance brokers, including Scott Insurance, have developed (or are planning to develop) “captive” self-insurance programs that allow small and midsize companies to work together as a group to share risk, gain administrative efficiencies and negotiate lower stop-gap premiums.
While companies are spending a lot of time researching the various new options and alternatives, Jackson notes that it remains to be seen which ones will actually take hold. She expects employers to continue developing creative ways to strike a critical balance between controlling costs and providing the benefits needed to attract and retain top employees.
“The benefits area is changing so quickly on a lot of fronts that companies are in this period of research and watch-and-wait to just figure out what they’re dealing with, how their benefits fit with what they want to accomplish as a business and what is the right benefits mix and strategy for the future,” she explains. “Everybody’s worried less about right now and more about: Where do we want to be in the next three to five years?”2014-09-30T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/WOMEN_Taylor1851.png
Ladder to the top
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/ladder-to-the-top#When:10:00:00ZNot every executive wants to sweep a manufacturing floor. Yet when Nancy M. Taylor was a divisional president for Richmond-based Tredegar Corp., she did that job and others at many of the company’s U.S. facilities. Occasionally pulling an eight- to 12-hour shift, she says, provides valuable insight into a plant’s operation.
“It helps you sort out what’s going on at a plant … You see in a much more in-depth way than you would walking through a plant for a couple of hours.”
Employees are skeptical at first. Yet Taylor says once they realize it’s not a publicity stunt — “I don’t let people take photos” then everyone just gets down to work. “They have skills you don’t have in that context, and you ask them questions. It’s very powerful, and they’re receptive.”
Besides sweeping the floor, Taylor has helped with packaging and carrying product samples to a lab for quality testing. “I learn something more about our pressures, our products, our challenges,” says Taylor. “I’m very energized by it.”
Today, Taylor is president and CEO at Tredegar where she continues to occasionally work in a plant. Tredegar, which had revenue of $961 million last year, employs about 2,700 people in the U.S. and abroad. About 131 people work for the company in Richmond, home to its corporate headquarters, the Film Products Division and a technical center.
When Taylor took the reins in Feb. 2010, she felt well prepared for the job.
Two of the company’s former CEOs, Norman A. Scher and John Gottwald (who continues to serve on the board of directors) committed to helping her professional development early on. “I had two really strong mentors at Tredegar, and that makes a big difference for women. I was in a pretty male-dominated industry.”
Since Taylor had worked for the company 19 years, beginning as an assistant general counsel in 1991 and moving up through the ranks, she was well versed in its culture and corporate governance.
Taylor was named general counsel in 1997 and by 2005 became president of Tredegar Film Products. In 2009, she added corporate business development to her responsibilities.
After she was named CEO, “I didn’t feel I had to win over the board. I didn’t have internal battles as I came into the role.”
Still, running a global company isn’t easy. Tredegar, which was spun off from the Ethyl Corp. in 1989, has seven international film plants in Brazil (2) , China (2) , The Netherlands, India and Hungary. Taylor tries to visit these locations at least once every two years.
Tredegar’s films are used in many personal care products, including feminine hygiene products and baby diapers, while the aluminum extrusions have applications ranging from construction to electrical and transportation markets.
Keeping a competitive advantage in multiple markets is a challenge, says Taylor. “You have to understand the trends in the market, and you have to make adjustments.”
Maintaining a work/life balance is another challenge for working women. When Taylor was assigned to oversee the European operations for the company’s film products, she took her three children — who were in elementary school at the time — with her. The experience turned out to be broadening for her family, she says, because the children traveled with her throughout Europe and learned how to navigate in a non English-speaking environment.
At home, the family’s backbone has been a longtime nanny.
“She’s the woman behind the woman,” says Taylor, who employed the nanny back when a now college-age child was an infant.
While Taylor has taken time off from work to help at her children’s schools, there are areas where she feels she has made personal sacrifices because of her job. “I sacrificed in two places: personal time for me and having time to do community activities.”
When Taylor speaks to women’s groups, she tells them to “focus on the corporate culture of a company and make a decision as to if the company’s values align with yours.”
She also encourages women in senior positions to be supportive of other women executives. “I was the only woman for years in the senior ranks” at her company, she says “and that can be lonely.”
As for advice, “Women need to be confident in what they’re bringing to the table. You are bringing value. You have a lot to offer. Sometimes it just takes women longer to develop that confidence.”2014-09-30T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/WOMEN_Niland1813.pngBarbara A. Niland if CFO of Huntington Ingalls Industries. Photo by Mark Rhodes
Women make their mark
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/women-make-their-mark#When:10:00:00ZThis is supposed to be the Year of the Horse, according to the Chinese calendar. Yet it might be remembered with a different kick. From sound bites on the news from women CEOs at such old-line companies as General Motors to Hillary Clinton’s position as the frontrunner in the polls for the Democratic nomination for the presidency, 2014 is shaping up as the Year of the Woman.
While women remain in the minority as leaders at America’s largest companies, their numbers are rising. In 2014, 24, or 4.8 percent of America’s Fortune 500 CEOs are women, up from 20 in 2013 and more than at any time since Fortune magazine began tracking executives’ gender in 1998.
Progress is evident in other areas as well. Economist Janet Yellen made headlines earlier this year when she became the first woman chair of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, which sets the country’s monetary policy.
In Virginia, the story is much the same, with women heading major business initiatives. Among Virginia’s 22 Fortune 500 firms, two are led by women. One of them, General Dynamics’ Phebe N. Novakovic, was the highest paid public company CEO in Virginia last year, with $18.7 million in total compensation. (See "Paid to perform")
The other Fortune 500 CEO, Gracia C. Martore at McLean-based Gannett Inc., will assume a new challenge when the corporation splits into two publicly traded entities. One company will include Gannett’s newspapers, and the other, which Martore will lead, will house its digital and broadcast properties.
In Newport News, Barbara A. Niland played a key role in the 2011 spinoff of Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII), the former giant shipbuilding arm of Fairfax County-based Northrop Grumman Corp. After creating HII’s corporate financial team from scratch, Niland became CFO of what is now an independent Fortune 500 company.
Meanwhile in Richmond, Gail W. Johnson serves as a successful model for women entrepreneurs. Twenty-five years after starting Rainbow Station Inc., she is taking her preschool franchise model overseas. The company has opened two of what are expected to be 110 schools in China and is expanding into Indonesia as well.
Johnson, who began her career as a pediatric nurse, can remember when women had few career choices. “I have seen a lot of change. Maybe we aren’t where we need to be in 2014, but we in are in much better place than we have been in the past.”
As proof, Johnson shares this anecdote. “Just a few years back, I walked into a dealership with the intention of buying four new vans for Rainbow Station. I was totally ignored as if I wasn’t even there,” she recalls, “and I believe I was not taken seriously because I am a woman.”
When Johnson went to leave, a sales associate finally approached her and learned that she was ready to purchase vehicles. “Needless to say they tried to relentlessly to get me back inside. I refused to do business with them from that day on. But today this would never happen.”
Johnson, Niland and Martore were among five women executives who agreed to participate in an email survey conducted by Virginia Business about some of the major business challenges facing executives today. The other women are Nancy H. Agee, president and CEO of Carilion Clinic, a major regional health system based in Roanoke, and Nancy Taylor, president and CEO of Tredegar Corp., a plastics film and aluminum extrusions company in Richmond. (See separate story on Taylor).
Besides challenges, the women discussed how their companies recruit top talent and weighed in on work/life balance, compensation and what motivates them as leaders.
When it comes to gender equality, Gannett takes pride in its woman-led management team. In 2013 the Women’s Forum of New York named Gannett as one of 40 Fortune 500 companies to have 30 percent or more female membership on its board of directors. “It’s crucial for diversity to be a core value,” says Martore. “Our top executive positions are led by women who serve in the chairman, CEO, CFO and CMO roles. Diversity is one of the key performance indicators by which senior management is evaluated.”
While more women are moving into the C suite, the fact that Sheryl Sandberg’s recent TEDtalk and book, “Lean In,” resonated with so many women is “pretty hard evidence that we still don’t have gender equality,” says Taylor. In the book, Facebook’s chief operating officer looks at why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled, even though there are more women in the pipeline, and 50 percent of the nation’s college graduates are women. She talks about how women unintentionally hold themselves back in their careers by not “leaning in” and aggressively pursuing their career goals with confidence, and she offers tips on how to do this. “What it takes to get there will be different by industry, company and individual, but there are a number of common challenges,” says Taylor.
On the issue of pay equity, some women noted that compensation for women executives is getting better. “When women first began achieving executive positions, their pay was not equitable, but that curve is flattening and will continue to do so,” says Agee. “The more executive compensation reflects accountability for performance, the less gender is a factor in the equation.”
In Virginia, full-time working women earned 76.9 percent of the pay of their male counterparts, which ranks the Old Dominion 32nd among the states, according to a recent analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. The national average was 78.6 percent.
In the Virginia Business email poll, women cited a range of business challenges, from maintaining a competitive advantage to responding to the needs of customers and consumers. Often the challenges of running a business are industry specific. For instance, at HII, Niland worries about having one primary customer, the U.S. Navy, which commissions the nuclear-powered ships her company builds. “Add to that the specter of sequestration, and the result is a significant challenge to resource planning, including employment levels (due to potential and unknown workload fluctuations) and capital allocations.”
Agee’s organization has nine hospitals, employs 600 physicians and operates nearly 200 practice sites. She says the key to leading an organization of this size and complexity is “a culture of collaboration, partnerships and relationships.”
Attracting top talent
Recruiting top talent is crucial. The women said they focus on hiring the best and brightest. “We are always looking for the ‘A’ performers — those exceptional individuals who raise the bar,” says Martore.
“The key is to create a culture where the best employees want to work and aren’t afraid to take bold steps.”
Overall, creating a work environment that offers opportunities for growth along with competitive benefits and compensation helps recruit and retain top talent. Niland says HII offers wellness programs and affordable health care as well as significant workforce development opportunities, including two apprentice schools. “We are focused on our employees’ well-being.”
To find skilled employees, Taylor says, her company uses an outside recruiting firm, while Johnson’s company recruits on college campuses and has an intern program.
Maintaining a work/life balance can be a challenge, the women said, no matter the industry, largely because of globalization. “Today with globalization, technology and particularly communication devices, we are in a 24/7, no work-hour boundary environment, and you have to manage that in a way that meets both the business requirements and your personal needs,” says Niland.
Some of the women said their companies are responding with practices such as flexible scheduling and wellness initiatives in addition to encouraging employees to use vacation time. “Unique to our business, you also have the option to bring your child to work,” Johnson says. “It can be really nice to be able to just pop into the other room and check on your child a couple of times throughout the day.”
Success is built on personal motivation, and several of the women say they are motivated not only by the impact their company has on the community but also the investment they have in their colleagues.
“Just the other day I was watching a young leader in our organization, someone I have known for several years, and I was so impressed with the ease with which he handled himself, his confidence, communication skills and his ability to work with a team. I told him so, and he said, ‘You taught me how to do it.’ That is what motivates me,” says Agee.
Building a company that is strong and well positioned for the future motivates Taylor and Martore. “The idea of shaping a business that creates value today and into the future for shareholders, for customers, for employees,” says Taylor. “ … I can’t emphasize enough how seriously I take that responsibility. It is my driver.”
Martore also noted the many constituencies that CEOs strive to serve. “My goal is to serve them all well by leading well.”2014-09-30T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/WarnerGillespie.pngEd Gillespie (left) is challenging Mark Warner. AP Photo/Richmond Times-Dispatch, Bob Brown
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/uphill-climb#When:10:00:00ZEd Gillespie has a steep climb ahead. Not only is he taking on a popular Democratic incumbent in first-term Sen. Mark Warner, but he’s doing so before voters who lately have given Democrats every top office in the state and twice backed President Barack Obama.
Plus, Gillespie — a veteran GOP political consultant making his first run for office — has to overcome Warner’s massive advantage in name recognition. Warner has also held the lead in fundraising, though the final totals won’t be known until after Election Day.
Still, Warner has his own hurdles. Obama’s approval ratings are down in Virginia and everywhere else, which will likely cut into Warner’s support. There’s also the big question: which party will control the Senate after Nov. 4?
So far GOP strategists have been putting their focus on other races in their drive to retake the Senate, but if beating Warner becomes important to the GOP’s hopes of taking over, expect a lot of attention and money to pour into Virginia in the final weeks of the campaign.
Warner has had a double-digit lead in the polls for months. An early September poll by Christopher Newport University showed him leading Gillespie by 22 points. Nonetheless, another poll late in the month by Quinnipiac University gave Warner only a nine-point lead, 48-39 percent.
"This is a very winnable race,” Gillespie says. A midterm election like this one favors the GOP, which often fares better because voter turnout is lower and the electorate has a higher share of older, affluent white voters, who tend to support Republicans.
Gillespie has campaigned on the economy and is trying to harness any voter anxiety about wages, jobs and health-care costs. He wants to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, eliminate federal regulations that he says hurt businesses, and expand oil and gas production, which would include allowing offshore drilling.
He supports a balanced budget amendment and would seek a seat on the Senate Armed Services Committee so he could advocate for expanding defense spending, which is important for Virginia’s economy. “We do need to make a higher priority of defense spending because it’s in our national interest,” he says. “When we’re slashing … our military [budget] and spending more on the Affordable Care Act and other spending programs, I think our priorities are out of whack.”
Gillespie says Warner talks about his bipartisan efforts but is in near lockstep with Obama. Giving the GOP control of the Senate “will have a positive impact,” Gillespie says. “It will mean that Republicans will get control of the Senate for the last two years of this presidency, and I think that means a lot.”
Running against the president makes sense for Gillespie’s campaign, says Stephen Farnsworth, political science professor at the University of Mary Washington. “They would much rather be running against Barack Obama,” he says. But instead, they are running against Warner, a skilled campaigner who is well funded. “It’s very hard to beat an incumbent,” he says.
Warner, meanwhile, is touting what issues he’s taken on in his first term and what he’s trying to do now, such as improving care for military veterans and easing the burden of student loans. On the campaign trail, Warner says, “I hear more about student debt than I do about Obamacare.” He favors immigration reform. “In the business world, it’s all about access to talent and capital,” he says.
He thinks the current GOP has grown too extreme and lost its pro-business credentials. When it comes to governing, Warner says he won’t point fingers. “There’s enormous frustration with the lack of productive activities out of Washington,” he says. “I’m going to be … part of the solution rather than part of the problem.”
One big unknown is what effect the candidacy of Libertarian-leaning Robert Sarvis will have. Sarvis ran for governor last November, receiving 6.5 percent of the vote, a significant showing in a race that Terry McAuliffe won by just 2.5 percentage points over GOP nominee Ken Cuccinelli.
Could he do that again? Probably not, says Quentin Kidd, director of the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University. He thinks some of Sarvis’ support came from voter dissatisfaction with the two major-party candidates. Plus, voters may come to see Sarvis as the perennial candidate, always running for office.
Sarvis says his candidacy gives voters a choice. “Sending another Republican or Democrat back to Washington isn’t going to change a thing,” he says. “It’s time to try something different.” He supports cutting federal taxes and regulations and limiting the reach and influence of government. “You have a choice between a government that’s not governing in the public interest and a government that is serving the people,” he says.
Sarvis lacks the money to compete with his opponents, though. And observers say that while Gillespie might raise millions, he would need a lot of cash to overcome Warner’s advantages. “What Gillespie’s campaign has to do is convince people that the Warner they’ve known for a decade and really liked is not the Warner they’ve elected,” Kidd says. “That’s really hard to do, and Warner has plenty of money to remind people of why they like him.”
Gillespie could get a financial boost, though, if GOP donors nationwide think the Virginia race is winnable and could help give Republicans control of the Senate. “If the polls show this thing tightening up he may get some money,” says Harry Wilson, director of the Institute for Policy and Opinion Research at Roanoke College. Even with a lot of outside funding, Warner would still be tough to beat. Gillespie “has an awful lot of work to do,” he says. 2014-09-30T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Ballot-box.png
Not just one election, but two
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/not-just-one-election-but-two#When:10:00:00ZThere’s another story of this odd, odd election.
When 7th District voters go to the polls on Nov. 4, they will be casting two ballots in two different elections.
One ballot will be to fill the vacancy that occurred when U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor, R-7th, stepped down from Congress in August, four months before his term expired, to permit whoever succeeds him to have a seniority advantage. (In September, boutique investment bank Moelis & Co. announced that Cantor will become vice chairman and managing director of the firm and open its Washington, D.C., office.)
The other ballot will be to choose someone to serve a full two years in Congress.2014-09-30T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/COVER_BratandTrammell.pngRepublican Dave Brat (left) and Democrat Jack Trammell are both professors at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland.
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/rare-competition#When:10:00:00ZStanding in the backyard of an Ashland supporter not long ago, Jack Trammell greeted well-wishers at a fundraising and get-acquainted session, letting people take a good look at him.
He will be doing that a lot. Trammell is an unknown dropped into the middle of what likely will be one of the most-watched congressional elections in the country.
The attention will come not because Trammell, a Democrat, is in the race. It’s because of his opponent, Republican Dave Brat, who until June was an unknown like Trammell.
Then came the upset that turned the political world on its head.
Brat, a tea party-backed insurgent, defeated seven-term Rep. Eric Cantor in the 7th District Republican primary. His victory over the House majority leader marked one of the biggest political upsets in American history.
The Brat-Trammell race is one of two congressional races in Virginia that will be in the spotlight this November.
The other is in the 10th District. The retirement of longtime Rep. Frank Wolf has triggered a scramble to fill a seat in the rapidly changing exurbs of Northern Virginia where Wolf, a Republican, has held sway for more than 30 years.
Two college professors
Brat’s victory over Cantor sent national political reporters scrambling to find out who Brat was.
They could have asked Trammell.
He has known Brat for a long time — playing basketball together and sharing conversations.
They are both 50 years old and professors at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, which has 1,300 students. The election between two professors is the biggest news to hit the campus in a very long time, maybe ever.
Brat, an economics professor, and Trammell, a sociology professor and the college’s director of disability support services, will be competing to fill Cantor’s seat in Congress.
The race in this conservative district could well be a barometer of how the fissure between the tea party and the Republican establishment could affect general elections.
“I’m going after some of the same Republicans that Dave is,” Trammell says.
Those likely would be more traditional Republicans who might have a bone to pick with Brat because of his furious attacks against Cantor, saying he was invisible in the district and wasn’t conservative enough in these right-leaning times for the GOP.
The party fracture was illustrated when the 7th District Republican Committee this summer denied a $300,000 funding request from Brat’s campaign.
In a mid-August news release, however, Brat insisted that the party is now unified behind his candidacy.
But is it?
Orange County is one of the few areas that supported Cantor in the primary, and a former chairman of the county’s Republican committee says it is going to be harder to get Republicans to the polls.
“Right or wrong, there are some hard feelings,” says Doug Rogers, the former chairman. “I’m worried about the ones who are not going to vote.”
If the Republican turnout is low, Rogers says, it could be a good opportunity for Democrats. “I’m going to say, ‘Let’s get away from the upset feelings … we’re all Republicans,’ ” Rogers says.
Democrats in the 7th District are primed to pounce if Brat’s appeal falters.
Abbi Easter, chair of the 7th District Democratic Committee, said that although the district is strongly Republican, Cantor’s defeat gives Democrats a rare opportunity.
“The Republican Party has been hijacked by an extremist view. Jack [Trammell] is going to reach across the aisle,” Easter says.
Even though their two-professor race may be unconventional, Brat and Trammell are adhering to the traditional themes of their respective parties.
In part, Brat trounced Cantor by taking a hardline anti-immigration stand and accusing Cantor of favoring amnesty for illegal immigrants living in the U.S., a charge that Cantor’s staff repeatedly denied.
Brat says he fully values illegal immigrants as human beings. But he says increasing the labor supply with low-wage workers will cause the wages of American workers to fall and jobs to be lost.
“This is about the economy and the self-interest of the people of the 7th [District],” Brat says.
He also favors defunding the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and says he will support a balanced budget amendment if he gets to Congress.
Trammell has expressed support for comprehensive immigration reform.
“There are a lot of moving parts to immigration. And we need to work across the aisles. But one part that’s not moving is the House. And that’s something I would like to change,” he told an interviewer on MSNBC.
Trammell has said he also favors expanded health care and reproductive rights for women.
Despite a dispute over money within his party, Brat has a sizeable lead in fundraising over Trammell.
For the reporting period that ended on June 30, Brat reported raising about $611,000 overall, with nearly $219,000 cash on hand. Trammell had raised $155,000 with $141,000 in the bank, according to Federal Election Commission records.
Filling Wolf’s seat
The other big congressional race drawing attention in Virginia is in the 10th District, where 17-term Republican Congressman Frank Wolf, a Northern Virginia institution, has announced his retirement.
Republican nominee Barbara Comstock, 55, a lawyer and member of the House of Delegates who is a former senior aide to Wolf, is running with his endorsement to keep the district in GOP hands.
She worked for the Justice Department during President George W. Bush’s administration and was first elected to the House of Delegates in 2009.
Democratic candidate John Foust, who will be 63 by election time, also is a lawyer and member of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. He is hoping to wrest the seat away from Republicans.
Wolf has kept the 10th District reliably Republican since 1981. When he announced his retirement, he was the longest-serving member of Congress from Virginia.
He also held a senior position on the powerful House Appropriations Committee.
But his reign is over, and Democrats sense an opportunity.
As a conservative, Comstock takes the traditional Republican position on the Affordable Care Act: she wants to repeal the legislation that established it.
She defends the Second Amendment right to bear arms, opposes abortion, supports right-to-work laws, advocates tax relief and favors offshore drilling and oil exploration.
“My campaign is focused on the 21st century, putting people back to work, making sure we’re strengthening our military, so we have a strong defense industry in our district,” Comstock told “Fox & Friends.”
Foust favors the Affordable Care Act but says it’s not perfect.
He is in favor of allowing women to make their own health-care decisions, including the right to an abortion, and he emphasizes the right of women to have equal pay for equal work.
On immigration, Foust says he believes in reforms that secure the nation’s borders but also address “in a practical and compassionate way the issue of millions of undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States.”
Both Comstock and Foust have been building substantial war chests in their run for Congress.
Comstock had raised $1.4 million at the end of the June 30 reporting cycle and had $576,000 on hand. Foust had raised, $1.5 million, including $400,000 in personal loans, but ended the cycle with $1.1 million in cash on hand.
Since that report, the Republican Congressional Leadership Fund political action committee announced it will spend $1 million to help elect Comstock.
Stephen Farnsworth, director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington, says Republican gerrymandering has engineered the 10th District, as well as the 7th District, toward the election of Republican candidates.
“Comstock is an experienced politician and has been effective in being elected to the [Virginia] House of Delegates. This congressional district is easier to win than her House of Delegates district,” Farnsworth says.
He notes that while there has been growing diversity in the eastern section of the 10th District, the area between Dulles and the West Virginia line is still staunchly conservative.
For Brat in the 7th District and Comstock in the 10th, Farnsworth argues that it’s their election to lose.2014-09-30T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/BobbyScott3.pngRep. Bobby Scott notes that Virginia still has strong representation on key committees.AP Photo/Richmond Times-Dispatch
Part of the cycle
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/part-of-the-cycle#When:10:00:00ZRep. Bobby Scott (D-3rd District) is more optimistic than Gov. Terry McAuliffe about the fate of the state’s economy after the departures of powerful, veteran Virginia Reps. Eric Cantor (R-7th District), Frank Wolf (R-10th) and Jim Moran (D-8th).
Scott notes Virginia kept more than its fair share of Department of Defense dollars after the 2000 retirement of three of the state’s most senior U.S. congressmen: Thomas J. Bliley Jr. (after 19 years of service), Herbert Bateman (17 years) and Owen Pickett (13 years).
“We’ve been through this before,” says Scott, who, along with Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-6th), are expected to win re-election next month and become the state’s most senior congressmen. “I guess it goes in cycles. The [Virginia] delegation works together and gets things done, but it’s easier when you have people in good positions.”
Scott says Virginia’s proximity to Washington, D.C., its established companies and skilled workforce in areas such as shipbuilding and ship repair, plus the rising influence of three of the state’s congressmen on the powerful House Armed Services Committee — Randy Forbes (R-4th), Rob Wittman (R-1st) and Scott Rigell (R-2nd) — will prevent any substantial additional losses of federal defense dollars.
Political analyst Quentin Kidd of Christopher Newport University agrees that Virginia’s proximity to the Pentagon and other cash-strapped federal agencies will make it more expensive and therefore harder to spend federal dollars in more distant states; but he takes a more pessimistic view on the power the Virginia delegation will retain in the next Congress.
Kidd predicts the other 49 state delegations will work harder and perhaps be much more successful in winning a bigger share of a shrinking federal budget. The Budget Control Act of 2011 called for more than $1 trillion in spending cuts by 2021.
Kidd recalls how hard Virginia lawmakers in 2010 — without the influence of former Republican Sen. John Warner, retired former chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee — had to fight to keep the Pentagon from following through on plans to relocate a single aircraft carrier from Hampton Roads to Naval Station Mayport near Jacksonville, Fla.
“If John Warner were still in office at the time, I’m not sure that discussion would have gone as far as it did,” he says.
“Given the state of our economy right now, there are very few instances where we can create new growth. There are not a lot of new opportunities, so that’s why you will find states trying to pick off federal [spending contracts], like an aircraft carrier,” says Kidd. “What’s really important for our delegation is protecting what we have.”
Chris DeNicolo, lead defense and aerospace analyst at the Standard & Poor’s credit rating company, argues that the loss of Cantor, Moran and Wolf won’t mean much to the state’s defense contractors, given what he describes as a steady and continuing decline in support for Pentagon spending increases.
He says Virginia’s loss of influence in the House of Representatives would be more worrisome if the Pentagon were in the midst of another round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) activities, which often depress the economies of regions around military installations. “People have talked about [another round of BRAC], but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen in the current environment,” he says. “That’s when tens of thousands of people are affected.”2014-09-30T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/cantor3.pngEric Cantor was defeated soundly in a June primary. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
Goodbye, Eric Cantor
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/goodbye-eric-cantor#When:10:00:00ZWhile lamenting the upcoming retirements of U.S. Reps. Frank Wolf (R-10th District) and Jim Moran (D-8th), Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe told WTOP radio listeners in July he also was “heartsick” that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-7th District), once one of the most influential voices on Capitol Hill, had lost his job.
This summer, the commonwealth faced a $2.4 billion budget shortfall through fiscal year 2016, the product of a precipitous, drop in federal spending since 2011 and the loss of more than 150,000 private-sector jobs supported by that money, according to McAuliffe’s budget report to the General Assembly in mid-August.
His anguish at the prospect of losing even more federal spending without the help of three senior Virginia lawmakers is understandable, given the decline in the commonwealth’s finances.
“While traditionally Virginia’s economy parallels or outpaces the national economy, we are now seeing that, as the national economy begins to grow, our economy is suffering disproportionately due to federal government cuts,” McAuliffe said.
Cantor, who had served in Congress since 2001, suffered a stunning, double-digit loss in the June 10 Republican primary. The victor was Dave Brat, a libertarian economics professor at Randolph-Macon College who is a growing favorite of many tea-party conservatives in Virginia and across the nation.
Brat’s victory spotlights a growing rift in the Republican Party over the government’s relationship with big business. That widening gap, political analysts say, could prevent the party from reaching a consensus on critical issues, even if the GOP succeeds in gaining control of both houses of Congress in November.
Starting with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Brat says he wants to eliminate federal programs that promote any business or industry over any other. Brat, like other critics of the ACA’s mandate that all Americans over the age of 21 have health insurance, says that component of the law constitutes a massive, undeserved gift by the Obama administration to health insurance companies. While Occupy Wall Street progressives deride congressional favoritism as “corporate welfare,” Brat and other libertarian economists call it “crony-capitalism.”
“It’s unAmerican,” he says.
Specifically, Brat wants to end the H-1B guest worker visa program long favored by the state’s powerful high-technology industry. The program allows U.S. employers to temporarily hire foreign workers in specialized occupations. Instead, Brat favors increased public-private partnerships in STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math) for all U.S. students beginning in middle school.
He also opposes renewal of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, a pet project of Cantor’s that provides subsidized, federally guaranteed loans to U.S. companies, many of which Brat and other critics say already are profitable enough to borrow all they need quite affordably from private banks anywhere in the country.
Renewed funding for these foreign trade loans, used by 113 Virginia companies since 2007 according to the Ex-Im Bank’s website, is supported by the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. In late July the commonwealth’s two U.S. Senators, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, introduced legislation to increase the agency’s lending charter to $160 billion from $140 billion before it was scheduled to expire on Sept. 30.
“Special firms get special treatment, and they get special treatment because they can afford lobbyists and high-priced attorneys up on K Street [in Washington],” complains Brat. “The Republican Creed that I’m running on has six principles, and the second one is equal treatment under the law. I take that seriously. You cannot be treating citizens of your country on an unfair basis, discriminating against your own citizens based on their access to power in Washington, D.C.”
Brat’s primary victory is one of the visible examples of the growing discontent among conservative Republican voters with the party’s leadership. In the most recent Republican primary season, the campaigns of “establishment” and tea-party candidates spent $135 million fighting each other, according to an analysis of political contributions by Bloomberg News.
If the GOP regains control of the U.S. Senate from Democrats and retains control of the House of Representatives, as it is widely expected to do, the growing rift between the party’s two wings might continue, rather than break, the current gridlock on Capitol Hill.
Analyst Stan Collender, writing on the Forbes magazine website, predicts that an ideological split between more moderate Republicans in the Senate and a much more conservative House will continue to plague federal budget negotiations even if the party controls both chambers.
He predicts that the first serious sign of discord will come during the winter when the party’s factions rehash an old issue, whether defunding the Affordable Care Act should be linked to raising the U.S. government’s debt ceiling, or borrowing limit, by the March 15 deadline.
“The standoff could well last for months and require multiple fights before it’s settled,” writes Collender. “Expect Wall Street to be unhappy, interest rates to rise because of the uncertainty and another possible downgrade of U.S. debt.”
On the other hand, Stephen Farns­worth, a University of Mary Washington (UMW) political science professor and analyst, argues that a divided Congress (even when one party controls both chambers) “is not necessarily bad for business.” He says many issues important to business, including federal regulations, “are unlikely to be altered in an environment like this.”
‘Jobs are a priority’
Virginia’s business leaders disagree with suggestions that the Republican majority in the General Assembly is becoming gradually more divided along the same ideological lines seen in Congress.
Barry DuVal, president of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, points to the numerous laws benefiting companies passed in the 2014 session — as well as this past summer’s announcement that a Chinese company, Shandong Tranlin Paper Co. Ltd., will build a $2 billion pulp plant in Chesterfield County. It’s expected to employ 2,000 workers by 2020.
“I think that jobs are a priority for both political parties, members of both House and Senate … think if we can align our resources like we’ve done, Virginia will not fall into the state of Washington paralysis,” he says.
Mary Huffard Kegley, director of government relations at the Virginia Retail Federation, adds that, in her experience, General Assembly lawmakers from both parties do all they can to accommodate business groups. Many even give lobbyists from different industries the job of working in a group to craft a piece of legislation that is acceptable to all economic stakeholders before it gets introduced to the floor, she says.
“Compromise is not a dirty word in Richmond,” she says.
Nevertheless, UMW analyst Farnsworth believes that Virginia lawmakers’ tradition of compromise is eroding. He points to the protracted battle over increased state funding for Virginia’s aged transportation infrastructure that lasted through the tenures of two previous governors (Kaine and Bob McDonnell) along with the Medicaid funding donnybrook that marred the passage of McAuliffe’s first budget this past session. Both battles are clear evidence of what Farnsworth calls “the Washingtonization” of Virginia state politics.
He says more and more Virginia Republicans fear that any votes they cast supporting laws endorsed by Virginia business organizations but opposed by anti-tax, tea-party forces could mean the end of their political careers. Last year, two longtime GOP legislators who backed the 2013 comprehensive transportation funding bill passed by the General Assembly in 2013 — state Delegates Joe. T. May (Loudoun) and Beverly Sherwood (Frederick) — were defeated in a party primary months later.
“As difficult it was for the governor in the last session, all indications are it will be more difficult for him next year,” predicts Farnsworth. “You have incumbent lawmakers worried about tea-party challengers and as a result there’s not likely to be much compromise. By the same token, McAuliffe’s failure to charm enough Republicans to get Medicaid expansion through and his scorched-earth policies … do not indicate much cooperation next year … If you like gridlock, there’ll be plenty more in 2015 than in 2014 … I think that applies to both Richmond and Washington.”2014-09-30T10:00:00+00:00
2014 ethics legislation made minor reforms
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/2014-ethics-legislation-made-minor-reforms#When:10:00:00ZIn the wake of the headline-grabbing scandal surrounding the gifts and loans the McDonnells received from business executive Jonnie Williams — and subsequent January 2014 indictment of the first couple — the General Assembly grappled with creating ethics reforms.
The legislation resulted in some minor changes to Virginia law.
The following are new rules governing disclosure requirements and gifts received from a lobbyist or person seeking to do business with the state.
Require public officials and lobbyists to file disclosure forms twice a year, rather than just once.
Limit the value of “tangible gifts” from one lobbyist or person seeking government contracts to a total of $250 a year. The limit does not include “non-tangible” gifts, such as entertainment, hospitality, tickets, admissions, transportation, lodging or meals.
Decrease the disclosure requirement for many financial interests from $10,000 to $5,000.
The law also created the Virginia Conflicts of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council, which would be a 15-member commission tasked with overseeing the collection and review of financial disclosure forms, advising public officials on ethical issues and recommending changes to ethics laws.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe, however, defunded the commission in June. He said then that he wanted to create deeper reforms in the 2015 session and also questioned the constitutionality of some of the powers given to the commission.
Another portion of the law requires creation of a searchable database of public officials’ financial and gift disclosures. But state officials have been grappling with the creation — and funding — of the database. And the ethics commission was supposed to be responsible for implementing the online database.2014-09-30T10:00:00+00:00