1448417973 Virginia Business http://www.virginiabusiness.com/ Business news and intelligence for and about the Virginia business community en psquires@va-business.com Copyright 2015 2015-11-24T16:17:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/two-state-agencies-moving-to-the-james-center Two state agencies moving to the James Center http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/two-state-agencies-moving-to-the-james-center http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/two-state-agencies-moving-to-the-james-center#When:16:17:00Z Two state agencies are leaving the Riverfront Plaza office building in downtown Richmond and will move to One James Center a few blocks away. The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) and the Virginia Tourism Corp. plan to make the move to what will be a slightly bigger space of 55,000 square feet in April of next year.  The agencies will occupy the 8th and 9th floors of the office tower at 1051 E. Cary St. in the heart of the city’s Central Business District. The two agencies currently lease nearly 51,000 square feet at Riverfront Plaza.Dan Gundersen, chief operating officer for the VEDP, said both offices are attractive, apples-to-apples downtown properties, yet the state will save money by moving to the James Center. “Compared to the price we are in now, it represents a significant savings,” he said. “If we had stayed in our current location, over the life of a 10- to an 11-year period, those costs would have escalated to the point that we did not feel were sustainable. This was really about cost containment.”  In addition, One James Center will offer more space for collaborative meetings and conferences for the 150 staffers that work at the two agencies.  “Right now we have less than a handful of conference rooms for a staff of 150 that’s all about meeting with its allies and stakeholders. We’re constantly finding ourselves without places to meet,” Gundersen said. The James Center has plenty of space available thanks to the recent departure of the McGuireWoods law firm. It left 257,000 square feet of space earlier this year when it moved into its new downtown headquarters at Gateway Plaza on Canal Street. 2015-11-24T16:17:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/oman-lifts-va.-poultry-ban Oman lifts Va. Poultry ban http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/oman-lifts-va.-poultry-ban http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/oman-lifts-va.-poultry-ban#When:16:02:00Z Oman has lifted its ban of poultry products from Virginia and other U.S. states, Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced from his marketing trip to the Middle East and India. The country had banned all imports of U.S. poultry in May in response to an outbreak of avian influenza in several Western and Midwestern states. In 2014, Virginia poultry producers exported $1 million in products to Oman, but, by September, exports were down 90 percent year-to-date due to the import ban, according to the governor’s office. At the same time, total Virginia agriculture and forestry exports to Oman have increased 117 percent, led by soybean exports of more than $5 million. McAuliffe said the ban was lifted after months of discussions between the governor’s office and the Embassy of Oman, including with Hunaina Sultan Al-Mughairy, Oman’s ambassador to the U.S. McAuliffe met with Oman’s ministers of commerce and industry and agricultural affairs and fish resources on Sunday. McAuliffe said he and Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore led discussions with several Oman poultry producers. "We understand every country's desire to protect its food supply,” Haymore said in a statement. “However, given that Virginia has not been affected by avian influenza and its poultry is among the safest and highest quality in the country, we greatly appreciate that Oman recognized our position and lifted its ban on our products.” 2015-11-24T16:02:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Dan_Doran_Headshot.jpeg http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/the-value-of-your-business-is-key-to-retirement-planning The value of your business is key to retirement planning http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/the-value-of-your-business-is-key-to-retirement-planning http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/the-value-of-your-business-is-key-to-retirement-planning#When:20:13:00Z When it comes to planning for retirement, business owners face some unique challenges. For the majority of entrepreneurs, cashing out of their business IS their retirement plan. However, two statistics stand out: on average, the company accounts for 70-80 percent of their life savings, and the vast majority of business owners don’t have a clear understanding of their company’s value. Simply knowing the accurate value of the business is the underpinning of a sound retirement strategy.  As with many things in life, knowledge is power. Many entrepreneurs take a passive approach without much reason as to when and how they will sell their company. This approach is apt to leave a lot of money on the table.  Or worse, when offers come in lower than anticipated, the result is often a delayed retirement.  To break this cycle, smart entrepreneurs plan for retirement by engaging in an “Exit Planning” process. Step 1: How much do I need to retire? Having a clear understanding of your funding needs should precede any retirement decision.  While this calculation can be informal, a formal Financial Plan can often save a business owner from costly incorrect assumptions. Working with a professional, you’ll go through a detailed process to model major purchase costs (a vacation home, a child’s college fund), ongoing expenses, as well as the likely performance of invested assets.  The net result: your magic number of what you need to retire.  Step 2: What’s my business worth? This is where business valuation and retirement planning intersect. Consider this: for most entrepreneurs, the majority of their portfolio is illiquid (the business), so the next question to answer is “what’s it worth?”  A formal business valuation not only will help business owners identify a likely market value for the business, but also identify any of the risk drivers and attributes that are influencing value. Step 3: Plan and execute Armed with the knowledge of what you need to retire, as well as what your business is worth, it’s time to make some decisions.  If your total portfolio exceeds your retirement funding requirements… proceed to a sale!  But in the event that you have a gap, it’s imperative to put in place a plan to increase value.  For some business owners, this planning can take several years. Failure to actively address valuation issues and to bridge a value gap only leaves one possibility: downgrading your retirement to a lower standard of living. Most business owners only get one shot at selling their business.  Given the size of the asset and its likely relative value in a portfolio, it only makes sense to do everything possible to ensure a great exit and a comfortable retirement.  The success of that great exit begins by answering two simple questions: what do I need? And what’s it really worth?  About the Author: Dan Doran is principal of Quantive Business Valuations, a professional business valuation practice specializing in small- to medium-sized closely held and family-owned businesses. Doran holds the CVA credential. Contact him at dandoran@quantivevaluations.com. 2015-11-23T20:13:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/FullSizeRender.jpg http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/att-opens-second-interactive-store-in-virginia AT&T opens second interactive store in Virginia http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/att-opens-second-interactive-store-in-virginia http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/att-opens-second-interactive-store-in-virginia#When:17:55:00Z AT&T has opened a second interactive store in Virginia in Newport News that lets customers interact with the latest technology. The 5,000-square-foot store at the Tech Center, a mixed-use development at 12080 Jefferson Ave., is among a handful of stores across the country where customers can check out devices across three zones. The company’s first Virginia interactive store is located in Charlottesville. The three zones are: The Connected Experience Zone, which shows how products can be used everyday. It highlights music, home security, entertainment and more. The Community Zone, where visitors can shop and play at interactive “community tables.” It displays apps, accessories and devices so customers can see how they can work together. The Explore Zone where walls show a variety of AT&T’s devices and accessories next to digital monitors explaining how they work. “Shoppers at our Newport News store will have an interactive experience that fits their mobile lifestyle,” Cristy Swink, vice president and general manager for AT&T Mid-Atlantic, said in a statement.  Instead of cash-register counters, customers will find round café-style “learning tables” where they can chat with an AT&T retail consultant or ask questions to learn about a product or service. The store, with a staff of 11 employees, represents about a $1 million investment.  According to the company, AT&T invested nearly $950 million in its Virginia wireless and wireline networks from 2011-2013. 2015-11-23T17:55:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Semmes_Avenue.png http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/richmond-development-group-purchases-12-acres-in-manchester Richmond development group purchases 12 acres in Manchester http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/richmond-development-group-purchases-12-acres-in-manchester http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/richmond-development-group-purchases-12-acres-in-manchester#When:16:37:00Z A local development group has purchased a prime 12.8-acre parcel in Manchester for  $3.7 million. Manchester Town Center LLC bought the land located at 1802 Semmes Ave. near the intersection of Cowardin and Semmes avenues.  Richmond-based Harper Associates will manage the property. According to CBRE|Richmond, the seller was Alleghany Warehouse Co. Inc. Matt Anderson and Rob Dirom of CBRE|Richmond represented the buyer in the transaction.  This site is located in the southwest corner of the fast-growing Manchester District and is close to the James River and within walking distance of downtown Richmond. The property, zoned light industrial, was most recently assessed by the city at $2.5 million.  It has 300,000 square feet of existing warehouse space.               In recent years, Manchester has become a hotspot for redevelopment with former manufacturing and industrial uses giving way to art galleries, loft apartments, retail development and office spaces. As for possible uses for the land, Will Allen, a portfolio manager for Harper Associates, said, “We’re thinking mixed use will be the way to go in that market. We’re looking hard at retail, maybe some office, maybe some apartments.”  Harper, a real estate development, investments and management company, has built projects ranging from 150,000 to 300,000 square feet in commercial and residential mixed-use communities. Projects include Chippenham Forest Square, a Lowe’s- and Walmart-anchored development at Forest Hill Avenue and Chippenham Parkway, and a development with a Kroger and Lowe's off 1500 West Broad Street, in the city near Virginia Commonwealth University. 2015-11-23T16:37:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/ware.png http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/norfolk-distribution-property-sells-for-1.3-million Norfolk distribution property sells for $1.3 million http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/norfolk-distribution-property-sells-for-1.3-million http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/norfolk-distribution-property-sells-for-1.3-million#When:16:21:00Z   Colony Tire Corporation has purchased a 31,800-square-foot building from Young & Koetzle in Norfolk for $1.3 million.   According to Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer, Colony Tire plans to use the property at 3499 Inventors Road as a new location for its wholesale tire distribution operation. Thalhimer’s Geoff Poston and William Throne handled the sale negotiations on behalf of the buyer. 2015-11-23T16:21:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/naiop-northern-virginia-announces-award-winning-projects NAIOP Northern Virginia announces award-winning projects http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/naiop-northern-virginia-announces-award-winning-projects http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/naiop-northern-virginia-announces-award-winning-projects#When:20:10:00Z   NAIOP Northern Virginia’s annual awards dinner drew more than 700 people last week to the Ritz-Carlton, Tysons, where they toasted 29 winning projects. According to NAIOP, the event was sold out. Awards were presented in many categories, with the event providing an opportunity to celebrate new and renovated contributions in the region by the commercial, industrial and mixed-use real estate community. The Firm of the Year Award of Excellence went to the Fairfax-based Peterson Cos. The company is celebrating its 50th anniversary of being in business and has been a mover and a shaker behind some of the region’s largest projects. Other awards included: Real Estate Transaction, Trendsetter Award of Excellence for Crystal City to Vornado/Charles E. Smith. Best Real Estate Transaction – Lease Award of Merit for EY Lease | 1775 Tysons Boulevard submitted by Lerner Enterprises and located in Tysons. Additional team members include: Cushman & Wakefield. Award of Excellence for K2M Group Holdings Inc. global headquarters submitted by Trammell Crow Co. and located in Leesburg. Additional team members include: Keane Enterprises and CBRE Inc. Best Real Estate Transaction – Office Expansion submitted by Skanska USA Building Inc. and located in Alexandria. Additional team members include: Skanska Infrastructure Development and BKV Group. Best Interiors for more than 50,000 square feet -- Award of Excellence for Evolent Health submitted by SmithGroupJJR and located in Ballston. Additional team members include: JLL and JLL Construction. Best Build-to-Suit Institutional Facility, over $20 Million Award of Excellence for Merrifield Center submitted by Fairfax County, Department of Public Works and Environmental Services (DPWES) and located in Merrifield. Additional team members include: Noritake Associates and Manhattan Construction Group. Best Speculative Office Building Award of Merit for Tysons Overlook submitted by MRP Realty and located in Tysons. Additional team members include: Rockpoint Group, LMI, CBRE Inc., Gensler and Harvey-Cleary Builders. For a complete list of the awards, go to http://www.naiopva.org/awards.htm. 2015-11-22T20:10:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/akridge-plans-to-redevelop-geico-building-at-tysons-into-an-office-tower Akridge plans to redevelop Geico building at Tysons into an office tower http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/akridge-plans-to-redevelop-geico-building-at-tysons-into-an-office-tower http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/akridge-plans-to-redevelop-geico-building-at-tysons-into-an-office-tower#When:19:16:00Z   Akridge and the Ronald D. Paul Cos. have acquired an older office building at Tysons that’s presently home to Geico’s Northern Virginia claims training center and have plans to redevelop it into an 11-story office tower with ground floor retail. The property at 1690 Old Meadow Road is currently a single-story, 13,000-square-foot commercial building surrounded by a large parking lot.  It sits across the street from the McLean Metro Station and planned Wegmans grocery store, with access to the Capital Beltway. As planned, the redevelopment will include trophy office space atop a five-story parking garage. KGD Architecture is designing the building, which will feature a 15-story, curved, glass curtain wall and an array of amenities, including a conference facility, an onsite restaurant, and a landscaped terrace with common space and bocce courts. The building’s sale, for a reported purchase price of $7.6 million, resulted from a tri-party agreement with GEICO and Merritt Properties.  According to Akridge, GEICO is relocating its current training facility to a new facility designed and built specifically for its needs that’s located in Merritt’s Ashbrook business park in Ashburn.  Jeff Groh and Michael Blyumin from JLL represented GEICO, and Joseph Svatos represented Akridge and the Ronald D. Paul Cos. in the real estate transaction. Akridge’s Andrei Ponomarev represented GEICO in the development and construction phase of the project. “Akridge is eager to expand its presence in Northern Virginia and to invest in the Tysons market,” Matt Klein, president of Akridge, said in a statement. “The opening of the Silver Line and Tyson’s planned growth will have a tremendous impact on the region.” Akridge, based in Washington, D.C., has invested in the Washington metro area for more than four decades. The commercial real estate company has another 10 million square feet in its pipeline and manages about 4 million square feet of properties.  2015-11-22T19:16:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/image001.jpg http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/full-service-hilton-is-up-and-running-in-downtown-richmond Full-service Hilton is up and running in downtown Richmond http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/full-service-hilton-is-up-and-running-in-downtown-richmond http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/full-service-hilton-is-up-and-running-in-downtown-richmond#When:18:43:00Z A new full-service Hilton is now in operation at the former Miller & Rhoads department store, which already had been through one renovation into a Hilton Garden Inn.  The rebranding followed $11.5 million in upgrades to the seven-story building at 501 E. Broad St.  The upgrades were inspired by the architecture and design of the original building.  Designed by Looney & Associates, the hotel still has the building’s original marble in the main lobby. However, its 250 guestrooms offer such modern amenities as large work spaces, complimentary Wi-Fi and mini-refrigerator.  There’s  more than 15,000 square feet of event space, double what the Hilton Garden Inn offered, including eight meeting rooms and two ballrooms.  Other amenities include a 24-hour fitness center,  Hilton HHonors lounge, and a bistro, which opened last week,  offering coffee, soups and sandwiches. The Herb N' Kitchen restaurant also is opening and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.  An Italian restaurant is scheduled to open in Spring 2016. The hotel, which opened in 2009 under the Hilton Garden Inn banner, is located in a building that shares space with Miller & Rhoads Residences, a 133-unit residential project that offers apartments and condominiums. 2015-11-22T18:43:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/american-national-raises-dividend-and-authorizes-share-repurchase-program American National raises dividend and authorizes share repurchase program http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/american-national-raises-dividend-and-authorizes-share-repurchase-program http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/american-national-raises-dividend-and-authorizes-share-repurchase-program#When:19:15:00Z Danville-based American National Bankshares Inc. has increased its quarterly dividend and authorized a share repurchase program. The parent company of American National Bank and Trust Co. will pay a quarterly cash dividend of 24 cents per common share on Dec. 18 to shareholders of record as of Dec. 4. The payment presents a 1 cent, 4.3 percent, increase, over the previous quarterly rate and the first change in the dividend since 2007. Under the share repurchase program, the company will buy up to 300,000 shares of its outstanding common stock, par value $1 a share, on the open market or in privately negotiated transactions. The program is authorized to continue through Dec. 31, 2017. The new authorization is in addition to an existing repurchase program approved by the board of directors in April 2014. That program has approximately 43,000 shares remaining for repurchase.  It will continue until the authorization is completed or expires at the end of 2017. American National Bank is a community bank serving Southern and Central Virginia and North Central North Carolina with 25 banking offices and two loan production offices. 2015-11-20T19:15:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/advance-auto-adds-director Advance Auto adds director http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/advance-auto-adds-director http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/advance-auto-adds-director#When:18:55:00Z Advance Auto Parts Inc. announced Friday that the president and CEO of the restaurant group that owns Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse has joined its board of directors. Advance Auto, an automotive parts retailer headquartered in Roanoke, said Eugene “Gene” I. Lee Jr. has joined its board of directors as of Friday. Lee also is on the board of directors of Darden, whose other restaurants include Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Eddie V’s and Yard House. Lee joined Darden when it acquired RARE Hospitality International Inc., where he had been president and a member of its board of directors since 2001. Following Darden’s acquisition of RARE in 2007, Lee held a variety of executive roles until he was appointed to his president and CEO in February of this year. 2015-11-20T18:55:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-unemployment-falls-to-4.2-percent Virginia unemployment falls to 4.2 percent http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-unemployment-falls-to-4.2-percent http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-unemployment-falls-to-4.2-percent#When:18:46:00Z Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dipped one-tenth of a percentage point in October to 4.2 percent, the commonwealth’s fourth-consecutive monthly decline. October’s jobless rate is the lowest in Virginia since August 2008 when it also was 4.2 percent. In October 2014, the rate was 4.9 percent. The national unemployment rate for October 2015 was 5 percent. All of the figures are seasonally adjusted, meaning they take into account seasonal fluctuations in the labor force. Virginia’s October rate was the lowest among the Southeast states and the third-lowest among the states east of the Mississippi.    The commonwealth’s total nonfarm employment rose by 11,900 jobs in October to 3,827,400. The October job gain was the second-consecutive monthly job gain. A previously reported loss of 200 jobs in September was revised to a gain of 1,100 jobs. Private sector employment grew by 12,600 jobs, while the public sector fell by 700 jobs. Employment rose in three industry sectors in October, declined in seven and remained unchanged in one — mining, at 8,800 jobs. The biggest increase was seen in professional and business services, up 8,800 to 690,900 jobs. The biggest loss occurred in private education and health services, down 1,400 jobs to 505,300. 2015-11-20T18:46:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/init-to-move-and-expand-north-american-headquarters INIT to move and expand North American headquarters http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/init-to-move-and-expand-north-american-headquarters http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/init-to-move-and-expand-north-american-headquarters#When:21:51:00Z INIT Innovations in Transportation Inc., a provider of intelligent systems for public transit, plans to move and expand its North American headquarters in Chesapeake. The company will consolidate its administrative offices, two manufacturing firms and warehouse operations in a new 70,000-square-foot facility in the Oakbrooke Business and Technology Center. GO-1 LLC., an affiliate of INIT, has signed a contract with the Chesapeake Economic Development Authority for eight acres of land to develop the facility. Groundbreaking on the site is scheduled for April. The building is targeted for completion in March 2017. INIT’s existing North American operations are located in Chesapeake’s Greenbrier Business District. It includes the company’s two manufacturing firms, Superior Quality Manufacturing LLC (SQM) and Total Quality Assembly LLC (TQA), and warehouses. The new offices will house INIT’s staff, including its engineering, development, sales, customer support, information technology, project management and administrative departments. INIT, TQA and SQM currently employ approximately 70 people. The company’s North American headquarters has been in Chesapeake since 1999. It has moved four times to larger spaces during the past 16 years. INIT’s parent company, INIT Group, is based in Karlsruhe, Germany. 2015-11-19T21:51:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/ausy-north-america-to-acquire-mclean-based-celerity AUSY North America to acquire McLean-based Celerity http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/ausy-north-america-to-acquire-mclean-based-celerity http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/ausy-north-america-to-acquire-mclean-based-celerity#When:21:30:00Z McLean-based Celerity, a business acceleration consultancy, has agreed to be acquired by AUSY North America. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed. AUSY North America, is a subsidiary of AUSY SA. The France-based parent company specializes in IT consulting and engineering. Celerity had $84 million in revenue in 2014. It has more than 500 employees in nine regional offices. The company will remain operationally autonomous after being acquired. It is expected to serve as a platform for future North American growth.  Celerity said the deal will enable it to expand service offerings in several key areas, such as offshore development and Open Source expertise. The Virginia company is AUSY’s first U.S.-based purchase as it builds a footprint in North America. AUSY has annual revenue of more than $340.9 million. It employs more than 4,000 workers at more than 35 locations in 10 countries. Celerity’s leadership team will remain in place, and there will be no changes in its personnel as a result of the change in ownership. 2015-11-19T21:30:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/washington-gas-customer-service-centers-to-create-more-than-200-virginia-jo Washington Gas customer service centers to create more than 200 Virginia jobs http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/washington-gas-customer-service-centers-to-create-more-than-200-virginia-jo http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/washington-gas-customer-service-centers-to-create-more-than-200-virginia-jo#When:21:25:00Z Washington Gas will set up customer service, credit and collections and billing operations in Virginia, in a deal expected to create more than 200 jobs. The company has five-year agreement with Faneuil, a call-center services company, which will establish call centers in Hampton and Martinsville by the end of next year. The Washington, D.C.-based natural gas company previously used offshore customer-service operations. Washington Gas will begin moving its call-center operations to Faneuil this year, and it expects to complete the customer service and credit and collections changeover by the end of July. The billing operations transition is expected to be completed by the end of next year. Washington Gas, a subsidiary of WGL Holdings,  serves more than 1.1 million customers in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. 2015-11-19T21:25:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/lynchburg-hotel-to-join-hiltons-curio-brand Lynchburg hotel to join Hilton’s Curio brand http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/lynchburg-hotel-to-join-hiltons-curio-brand http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/lynchburg-hotel-to-join-hiltons-curio-brand#When:20:45:00Z The Virginian, a historic building under redevelopment in Lynchburg, will join Hilton Worldwide’s boutique Curio brand. The hotel, which will be named The Virginian Lynchburg, Curio Collection by Hilton, is expected to reopen in 2017. Hilton launched its Curio brand last year, which now includes a collection of more than 70 independent upscale and luxury hotels. The Virginian Lynchburg will be Hilton’s first Curio-branded hotel in Virginia. The Virginian opened as a hotel in 1913 but ultimately served as a low-income housing complex for almost 30 years until it closed in 2014. Once restored, the hotel will offer 115 guestrooms, a ballroom and conference center, roof-top lounge, artisan coffee shop and a restaurant and bar. “Our team continues to work tirelessly to bring The Virginian back to life in the best way possible,” Blair Godsey, development partner of Altus Group, said in a statement. “We promise to stay close to the design roots of this early 20th century architectural treasure, while ensuring that it surpasses expectations as a modern and luxurious new hotel.” 2015-11-19T20:45:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/fairfax-county-chamber-of-commerce-plans-to-change-its-name Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce plans to change its name http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/fairfax-county-chamber-of-commerce-plans-to-change-its-name http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/fairfax-county-chamber-of-commerce-plans-to-change-its-name#When:20:44:00Z The Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce is getting  a new name. Beginning in January, it will  be called the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce. The organization said the move was the result of a call by business and political leaders for a unified business voice for the region.  It also said the new name more accurately reflects the role the Fairfax Chamber already is playing. “The rebranding and restructuring will allow us to better serve and increase our value to our members, stakeholders and business community,” Mitchell D. Weintraub, a partner in Cordia Partners and chairman of the Fairfax Chamber, said in a statement. He said the renamed organization would “seek to complement, not compete with the other chambers. This is about strengthening and unifying the regional business voice region.” 2015-11-18T20:44:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/name-change-for-virginia-hospitality-and-travel-association Name change for Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/name-change-for-virginia-hospitality-and-travel-association http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/name-change-for-virginia-hospitality-and-travel-association#When:20:25:00Z The Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association (VHTA) has changed its name to the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging and Travel Association (VRLTA). “After 22 years operating as the VHTA, this new designation better aligns our brand with our member base and ensures that our elected officials know who we are,” Debbie Donehey, the board’s chairman, said in a statement. “We represent not just hotels and tourist attractions but also restaurants and other companies and organizations that are committed to providing the traveling public with the highest quality customer service.” The VHTA began in 1993 when the Virginia Restaurant Association, Virginia Travel Council and Virginia Hotel and Motel Association came together under a single umbrella.  They will continue in that manner, but under the new name. The association is the primary advocate for the tourism industry across the state and will again focus its legislative efforts on defending post Labor Day school openings, fighting local meals and lodging taxes, advocating to ensure ABC laws are fair to restaurants and eateries and pushing for more tourism marketing support from the state and localities in fiscal year 2017. “Our members and the public will see a new logo and Website as well as a refreshed social media effort and valuable educational programs moving forward,” says Eric Terry, the association’s president. 2015-11-18T20:25:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/28.4-billion-offer-for-norfolk-southern-gets-cool-reception $28.4 billion offer for Norfolk Southern gets cool reception http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/28.4-billion-offer-for-norfolk-southern-gets-cool-reception http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/28.4-billion-offer-for-norfolk-southern-gets-cool-reception#When:16:57:00Z Norfolk Southern Corp. says that its board of directors would review an unsolicited $28.4 billion acquisition offer from Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd., Canada’s second-largest railroad. The Norfolk-based company’s initial reaction to the offer, however, showed little enthusiasm for a deal. Norfolk Southern described the offer as a “low-premium, non-binding and highly conditional indication of interest,”  in which Canadian Pacific would acquire it for $46.72 in cash and 0.348 Canadian Pacific (CP) shares for each Norfolk Southern share. The offer represents “a premium of less than 10 percent based on closing prices," Norfolk Southern said. The stock price closed Nov. 16 at $88.30. The company also raised questions about potential regulatory hurdles.  The deal would have to pass muster with the U.S. Surface Transportation Board and Canadian regulators. While the offer was disclosed on Tuesday, it was initially made in a letter to Norfolk Southern CEO James Squires on Nov. 9. “Mr. Squires asked CP CEO Hunter Harrison to hold off on sending this letter until such time as the two [CEOs] could meet face to face, which occurred last Friday November 13, 2015,”  Canadian Pacific said in releasing the letter on Wednesday. The letter said its acquisition proposal represented a 23 percent premium at that time over Norfolk Southern’s 45-day volume-weighted average of $79.14. The disclosure of the offer capped weeks of rumors that the two companies had entered preliminary talks. “We believe that combining our two great organizations will allow us to form an integrated transcontinental railroad with the scale and reach to deliver unsurpassed levels of safety and service to our customers and communities while also increasing competition and creating significant shareholder value,” says the letter, which was signed by Harrison and Andrew F. Reardon, Canadian Pacific’s chairman of the board. Norfolk Southern shareholders would own 41 percent of the shares in the combined company, according to the proposal. The letter says a deal would create a “transcontinental rail network connecting the major industrial production and population centers across North America,” reaching major ports located on the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic and the Pacific. 2015-11-18T16:57:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Bob_Archer_3x4_Headshot_VWMF.jpg Robert A. “Bob” Archer http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/virginia-war-memorial-foundation-board-elects-new-director Virginia War Memorial Foundation board elects new director http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/virginia-war-memorial-foundation-board-elects-new-director http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/virginia-war-memorial-foundation-board-elects-new-director#When:21:34:00Z Robert A. “Bob” Archer of Salem has been elected to the board of directors of the Virginia War Memorial Foundation. Archer is president and CEO of Blue Ridge Beverage Co., a family owned distributor of beer, wine and non-alcoholic drinks. A graduate of Virginia Tech, Archer served as an U.S. Army officer with the 82nd Airborne Division, including service in Vietnam with the 22nd Replacement Battalion.  During active duty, he attained the rank of Colonel and retired from the U.S. Army Reserves with 30 years of service in 1999. Archer is a past president of the National Beer Wholesalers Association and past chairman of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. 2015-11-17T21:34:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-to-keep-history-and-lovers-in-tourism-branding-efforts Virginia to keep history and lovers in tourism branding efforts http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-to-keep-history-and-lovers-in-tourism-branding-efforts http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-to-keep-history-and-lovers-in-tourism-branding-efforts#When:20:50:00Z Look for historic life experiences to be the mantra for marketing efforts by the state’s tourism agency next year. And everything will be wrapped in the state’s signature Virginia is for Lovers tagline. Virginia is for beach lovers, craft beer lovers, wine lovers, mountain lovers, oyster lovers and outdoor lovers to name a few of the subsets of the tagline that will be used in promotion efforts, state officials said Tuesday. During the last day of a three-day, VA-1 tourism summit at the Richmond Marriott Downtown that drew about 500 attendees, tourism officials used the occasion to spell out some of their strategies for 2016. “The VTC’s mission is we want more people to come, stay longer, and spend more money. So how do we move this vision forward?” said Thad Smith, who heads up VTC’s Brand 2020 efforts. After shying away from the state’s strong history draw for a couple of years, Smith says the state decided to re-embrace it, because “we could spend a billion dollars, and that’s what people know us for. Let’s use history as a platform to get their attention and then tell the story. “ That story is becoming more diverse as Virginia is becoming known for its culinary options and 267 wineries, 120 craft breweries and 23 distilleries. To update the Virginia is for Lovers advertising slogan, a 46-year-old tagline that earned a place in the Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame, the tourism agency will apply it to more labels. It also plans to focus on family fun and weddings in promotional materials. In an update on the state’s partnership marketing, officials said a program known as Drive Tourism assisted 23 localities in developing plans that broadened their product development. For instance Floyd County, known for its music and arts scene, decided to also push its outdoor recreation opportunities and wants to be known as a cycling destination in five years. Looking to tourism as an economic driver is important, said Caitlin Castainca. “You have to market your destination and manage it.” In Bristol, known as the birthplace for country music, Castainca said the town has capitalized on its roots by putting a country music museum downtown that drew visitors from all 50 states and 21 countries in the first year. “These visitors created a need for two new hotels and more dining options. It’s a great example of how a tourism product can change a downtown." In 2014, the state's tourism industry generated $22.4 billion in overall spending, 216,000 jobs, and $1.5 billion in local and state revenue. 2015-11-17T20:50:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/va.-unemployment-insurance-to-decrease-next-year Va. unemployment insurance to decrease next year http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/va.-unemployment-insurance-to-decrease-next-year http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/va.-unemployment-insurance-to-decrease-next-year#When:20:21:00Z Virginia employers next year will pay lower unemployment insurance (UI) taxes as the commonwealth’s economy improves. The new tax rates, which were announced Tuesday by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, include the elimination of a tax that was added in 2010 to return Virginia’s unemployment insurance fund to solvency and the lowering of other rates. Taken together, Virginia employers will save more than $74 million, or an average of $324 per individual employer in 2016, according to the governor’s office. Employers will no longer be required to pay a “fund-builder tax” next year because Virginia’s unemployment trust fund has surpassed 50 percent solvency.  The fund, which is used to pay unemployment benefits, is considered solvent if it can pay benefits, based on averages from the last 20 years, for 16.5 months with no revenue. In 2015, that would be $1.45 billion, and in 2015 the trust fund balance was about $852.2 million, or a solvency of 57 percent. The fund-builder tax was 0.2 percent of an employee’s wages up to $8,000, meaning employers paid about $16 per employee who earned more than that each year. The tax became effective in 2010 after the Great Recession when Virginia’s unemployment insurance trust fund became insolvent, and it was forced to borrow from the federal trust fund to pay unemployment claims. In addition, the “pool tax” will be lowered from 0.14 percent to 0.07 percent. The pool tax, which is designed to recover benefit costs that cannot be assigned to an employer, rose after the Great Recession from 0.08 percent to 0.28 percent. The pool tax, which also is based on an employee’s wages up to $8,000, is being lowered in 2015 from 0.14 percent to 0.07 percent. That will drop employers’ per-employee tax from about $11 to less than $6 per employee. The state also is lowering the base rate, which is determined by an employer’s experience over the past four state fiscal years. An employer's "experience" is based on benefit charges to the fund and an employer’s taxable wages. The average base rate will decline from 1.44 percent in 2015 to 1.36 percent in 2016. 2015-11-17T20:21:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/DSC_0108-21.jpg Tom Frantz, left, and Tayloe Negus. Photo courtesy of Matthew R. O. Brown Photography http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/the-case-for-a-mega-region-combining-richmond-area-and-hampton-roads The case for a mega-region combining the Richmond area and Hampton Roads http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/the-case-for-a-mega-region-combining-richmond-area-and-hampton-roads http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/the-case-for-a-mega-region-combining-richmond-area-and-hampton-roads#When:17:12:00Z To compete in a global economy, Richmond and Hampton Roads would do better as a combined mega-region, a prominent Virginia lawyer says.   As individual metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), Hampton Roads now ranks 39th and the Richmond region is 44th. “Together we would be the 16th largest MSA in the country with nearly 3 million people,” Tom Frantz, chairman of the board of Williams Mullen, said Tuesday during an appearance before the Greater Richmond Association for Commercial Real Estate. Frantz , a Virginia Beach resident, has been spearheading a mega-region initiative for several years. His talk drew about 140 people to the Country Club of Virginia. If the two regions aligned into what is known as a combined statistical area (CSA), the designation would reap economic benefits, Frantz says. “This would be better strategically than where we are today,” he said, with Virginia seeing flat economic development growth in 2014. Hampton Roads’ strong defense sector has suffered as a result of budget cuts under sequestration, while Richmond has lost some of its signature employers in recent years. A mega-region designation would make the Richmond and Hampton Roads regions, separated by about 50 miles, more competitive in several areas, Frantz says. For instance, he says, the combined region would better qualify for federal grants for transportation infrastructure, corporate relocation sites, professional sports teams and entertainment venues, institutional investments in commercial real estate and advertising dollars from corporations and public officials. “We’re not talking about merging cities, counties, fire departments. We’re not talking about combining governments or even merging economic development authorities,” Frantz said. “All we’re talking about is to enhance the way we hold ourselves out to the world as a combined mid-Atlantic gateway.”  To become a CSA, a formal application has to be filed with the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Frantz said the groups he works with are not to that point yet, as they need to forge a greater political consensus for the change.  Yet, he noted, more areas elsewhere are trying this route, including Austin and San Antonia in Texas and the Tampa and Orlando areas in Florida. The OMB lists 169 CSAs at its website. Some of them, like Chattanooga-Cleveland-Dalton, which covers ground in Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama, are much larger than what Frantz is proposing. He depicted the two regions as rich in assets, including the Port of Virginia in Hampton Roads, the fifth-largest in the country and the only one with a deep enough channel to accommodate the huge ships expected to call following the opening of the Panama Canal. Yet many challenges remain, he added, in terms of improving the road system to serve the port and diversifying the economy away from defense and toward industries such as biosciences, cybersecurity and advanced manufacturing. “To be successful, the same old ways we’ve done things in Virginia will not work,” he said. “We need to think boldly, positively and figure out how we can put together our strengths and succeed in a new economy and pick up jobs. Together, we have more opportunities.” In 2012, Frantz helped found the Hampton Roads Business Roundtable, a business advocacy group of about 32 business leaders that began working on a mega-region initiative. The group hired lobbyists last year to tackle transportation funding for projects like the widening of Interstate 64, which is underway, and improvements to U. S. Route 460 to better move containers from the port by trucks. Currently, Frantz said 63 percent of the port’s container traffic moves by truck, 33 percent by rail, and 4 percent by barge.  A subsector of a Richmond group, the Management Roundtable in Richmond, is working with Frantz’s group to support the mega-region efforts.  Tayloe Negus, that group’s executive director and a partner with Aon Hewitt, noted that Virginia ranked 48th out of the 50 states in 2014 in economic growth. “We were just ahead of Alaska and Mississippi,” he said. As a human relations consultant, Negus says he works with large companies. One of them decided that it would focus its growth efforts on the top 30 metropolitan areas in the world. “That is where the world is moving, towards these major metropolitans. If you’re not competing in that realm, you are going to fall behind,” he said. 2015-11-17T17:12:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/survey-finds-most-virginians-opposed-to-presidents-refugee-plan Survey finds most Virginians opposed to president’s refugee plan http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/survey-finds-most-virginians-opposed-to-presidents-refugee-plan http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/survey-finds-most-virginians-opposed-to-presidents-refugee-plan#When:15:56:00Z A new survey finds strong opposition in Virginia to President Obama’s plans to allow Syrian refugees to enter the U.S. Many state residents believe that the influx of refugees could increase the likelihood of a terrorist attack, according to the survey by the University of Mary Washington’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies. The survey interviews took place before last Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris. Since the attack, 23 governors, all but one of them Republicans, have said they would attempt to prevent refugees from coming to their states. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, however, has indicated that he still back the president’s plan. Four Republican members of the House of Delegates plan to introduce a bill in the next legislative session that would impose a moratorium on accepting Syrian refugees. Opposition to the refugee plan has grown nationally since investigators learned that one of the terrorists involved in the Paris attacks had a Syrian passport. “There was not much support for President Obama’s Syrian refugee policies before the terrorists struck in Paris last Friday night, and I suspect the limited support found in our survey has evaporated over the weekend,” Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political science at UMW and director of the university’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies, said in a statement. “Despite months of horrific images in the media of refugees struggling to escape a region filled with violence, President Obama has made little headway, at least in Virginia, in building support for hosting Syrians refugees here,” he said. Forty percent of survey respondents said they strongly opposed an administration plan to allow up to 70,000 refugees, including 10,000 from Syria, to enter the country during the next two years. An additional 16 percent said they were somewhat opposed. On the other hand, only 18 percent of respondents said they strongly supported the plan, with another 20 percent somewhat supporting it. The remaining 6 percent were uncertain. By a margin of 61 percent to 29 percent, respondents also said allowing Syrian refugees into the U.S. would increase the risk of a future terrorist attack. The rest said they were uncertain of the possible impact. Princeton Survey Research Associates International conducted the telephone survey of 1,006 adult Virginians from Nov. 4 to 9. About 60 percent of the respondents were contacted via cellphone and about 40 percent via landline. In the days since the terrorist attacks, a number of Republican presidential candidates have criticized plans to allow Syrian refugees into the country, raising concerns that they would not be sufficiently vetted. On Monday, Obama reiterated his support for admitting 10,000 Syrian refugees to the U.S. “Slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values,” he said. “Our nations can welcome refugees who are desperately seeking safety and ensure our own security. We can and must do both.” Virginia Republicans surveyed before the Paris attacks were highly critical of the resettlement idea, with 56 percent strongly opposed and another 16 percent somewhat opposed. Democrats were less critical, with 23 percent strongly opposed and another 19 percent somewhat opposed. Among independents, 41 percent were strongly opposed and another 14 percent were somewhat opposed. Northern Virginia was the region of the state most willing to allow refugees to enter the U.S., with 49 percent supporting the president’s plan. The western counties of the state were most critical, with only 28 percent supporting the plan. Latinos were more supportive of the refugee resettlement proposal, with 49 percent support, than were either African-Americans (30 percent) or whites (37 percent).   The survey had a sampling error margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. 2015-11-17T15:56:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/digital-realty-trust-buys-126-acres-in-loudoun-county-for-43-million Digital Realty Trust buys 126 acres in Loudoun County for $43 million http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/digital-realty-trust-buys-126-acres-in-loudoun-county-for-43-million http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/digital-realty-trust-buys-126-acres-in-loudoun-county-for-43-million#When:21:34:00Z     Digital Realty Trust Inc., a San Francisco-based company with a data center  in Northern Virginia, said Monday that it has closed on the purchase of nearly 126 acres of undeveloped land in Loudoun County for $43 million for a second data center. The site is located less than a mile from Digital Realty's existing data center campus in Ashburn and will allow Digital Realty to expand. Its adjacent to one of the main fiber trunk runs in the county as well as a recently constructed substation and Dominion Virginia Power transmission lines. The parcel is expected to support the development of more than 2 million square feet and the build-out of roughly 150 megawatts. The company said construction work is expected to begin next year, subject to market demand. Delivery will be phased to facilitate customer expansion requirements upon completion of the existing Digital Ashburn data center campus. "This acquisition is consistent with our strategy of investing in our global campus network to support the deployment of hybrid cloud environments near Internet hubs, providing capacity to grow with our best clients, and implementing our latest facility designs to support growing demand in Northern Virginia," Digital Realty's CEO A. William Stein said in a statement. "Data center demand in Ashburn remains robust, and we expect that trend to continue … We are pleased to expand our footprint and to strengthen our position in Northern Virginia, which has proven to be one of the most desirable data center markets in the United States." JLL said in a report last month that Northern Virginia now ranks as the No. 1. data center market in the country. Digital Realty Trust supports the data center and colocation strategies of more than 1,000 firms across its portfolio of data centers located throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.  Clients include domestic and international companies of all sizes, ranging from financial services, cloud and information technology services, to manufacturing, energy, gaming, life sciences and consumer products. 2015-11-16T21:34:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/media-general-agrees-to-negotiate-with-nexstar-broadcasting Media General agrees to negotiate with Nexstar Broadcasting http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/media-general-agrees-to-negotiate-with-nexstar-broadcasting http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/media-general-agrees-to-negotiate-with-nexstar-broadcasting#When:21:03:00Z Richmond-based Media General Inc. has rejected an unsolicited takeover offer from Nexstar Broadcasting Group Inc. but says it is willing to negotiate with the Texas company. Nexstar made an offer for Media General worth $4.1 billion including debt shortly after the Richmond company announced a deal to acquire Iowa-based Meredith Corp. for $3.1 billion. Deriding the Meredith deal as “ill-conceived," Nexstar, which is based in Irving, Texas, said its offer was superior and complained that an earlier bid for Media General had been given little consideration. On Monday, Media General said that its board had decided to negotiate with Nexstar about a possible deal after determining the Meredith agreement allowed it to explore an acquisition proposal from a third party. Media General, however, rejected Nexstar’s offer, “as currently constructed,” saying it undervalued the company and its prospects. “It is evident since our initial announcement that Media General and Nexstar shareholders recognize the compelling strategic and financial value that a Media General-Nexstar combination presents for both companies and our respective shareholders,” said Perry Sook, the chairman, resident and CEO of Nexstar, said in a statement.  “We are surprised that Media General’s Board considers the value of our proposal to be inadequate today, however, we are willing to engage with them to hear their perspectives," he said.. "We believe our proposal will deliver superior, immediate and long-term value to Media General shareholders compared with any alternatives available to the company.” The acquisition would create a company with 162 television stations in 99 markets, making it the second-largest owner of network affiliates in the nation. Nexstar had proposed paying $10.50 in cash plus 0.0898 Nextar shares for each Media General share. Based on its closing price on Nov. 13, Nexstar said the offer is worth $15.70 per Media General share. 2015-11-16T21:03:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/smithfield-foods-ceo-larry-pope-to-retire-at-the-end-of-the-year Smithfield Foods CEO Larry Pope to retire at the end of the year http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/smithfield-foods-ceo-larry-pope-to-retire-at-the-end-of-the-year http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/smithfield-foods-ceo-larry-pope-to-retire-at-the-end-of-the-year#When:21:00:00Z C. Larry Pope, the CEO of Smithfield Foods Inc., plans to retire on Dec. 31. He will be succeeded by Kenneth Sullivan, currently president and chief operating officer at the company, which is the world's largest pork processor and hog producer. Pope has worked for the Smithfield-based company for 35 years and has been CEO for nine years. “This planned leadership transition comes at a time of strength and growth for Smithfield. 2014 and 2015 have been the two best years in Smithfield’s history for financial performance, and I believe the company is primed for ongoing success,” Pope said in a statement. Sullivan was named president and chief operating officer earlier this year. He has held a number of positions at Smithfield, including serving as chief financial officer from 2013 to 2015, vice president of finance from 2010 to 2013 and chief accounting officer from 2007 to 2013. Before joining Smithfield in 2003, Sullivan worked for 12 years at large public accounting and consulting firms. Smithfield, which has annual sales of $15 billion, is owned by Shuanghui Group, the largest meat producer in China. 2015-11-16T21:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/dominion-energy-inc.-acquires-80-megawatt-solar-farm-on-eastern-shore-for-u Dominion Energy Inc. acquires 80-megawatt solar farm on Eastern Shore for undisclosed price http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/dominion-energy-inc.-acquires-80-megawatt-solar-farm-on-eastern-shore-for-u http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/dominion-energy-inc.-acquires-80-megawatt-solar-farm-on-eastern-shore-for-u#When:19:07:00Z Dominion Energy Inc., a subsidiary of Richmond-based Dominion, announced the acquisition Monday of an 80-megawatt solar facility on the Eastern Shore for an undisclosed price. The facility, under development by Community Energy Inc. in partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS) Inc., is one of the largest solar projects in the mid-Atlantic region, Construction on the Amazon Solar Farm U.S. East is expected to begin later this year, Dominion said, with the facility entering service in fall 2016.  Interconnection agreements already have been secured with Delmarva Power and an engineering, procurement and construction contract has been signed. The project is located in Accomack County near Oak Hall. Initially announced in June, it began as part of a long-term power purchase agreement with AWS, an affiliate of Amazon's cloud-computing business, and Radnor, Pa.-based Community Energy. The motivation behind the solar farm is Amazon’s long-term goal to achieve 100 percent renewable energy usage for its global infrastructure, with a milestone goal of achieving 40 percent renewable energy use by the end of 2016. According to Dominion, the power from Amazon Solar Farm U.S. East will enable AWS to increase renewable energy on the electrical grid that supplies both current and future AWS data centers. The farm was the first project approved under Virginia's permit-by-rule process for renewable energy projects with generating capacities of less than 100 megawatts. The statute streamlines the permitting process, allowing the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to issue bulk permits to construct and operate qualifying renewable energy projects. "We look forward to expanding our relationship with Amazon as it seeks to increase the mix of renewable energy on the electric grid powering its data centers," Thomas F. Farrell II, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Dominion, said in a statement. The project is expected to qualify for the federal investment tax credit. Dominion has 425 megawatts of solar generating capacity in operation or expected to enter service in 2015 in California, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Tennessee and Utah. 2015-11-16T19:07:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/synergy-installations-solutions-leases-20000-square-feet-in-richmond Synergy Installations Solutions leases 20,000 square feet in Richmond http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/synergy-installations-solutions-leases-20000-square-feet-in-richmond http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/synergy-installations-solutions-leases-20000-square-feet-in-richmond#When:16:43:00Z Synergy Installations Solutions LLC leased 20,000 square feet at 1125 Commerce Rd. in Richmond.  Isaac DeRegibus of Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer handled the lease negotiations.  In other transactions for Thalhimer in the region, Veritas Collaborative LLC leased 11,858 square feet in Reynolds Commons at 6627 W. Broad Street in Henrico County.  Brian K. Berkey handled the lease negotiations. Advanced Technologies in Homecare Inc. leased 8,000 square feet at 2922 W. Marshall St. in Richmond.  DeRegibus and John G. Myers, Jr. handled lease negotiations for the landlord. 2015-11-16T16:43:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Fairfax.jpg http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/pizza-have-it-your-way Pizza: Have it your way http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/pizza-have-it-your-way http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/pizza-have-it-your-way#When:16:29:00Z A pair of Virginia entrepreneurs are dishing up a new concept for a fast casual pizza restaurant.  Dave Wood, a former operator of 17 Dominos franchises in Northern Virginia, is the cofounder and CEO of Firenza. He and business partner, Dave Baer, have opened two Firenza restaurants, in Fairfax in March and in Alexandria earlier this month, and have plans for more. In 2016, they want to expand by 15 to 20 restaurants, with as many as five of them expected to be in Virginia. “The concept is similar to Chipotle. Instead of starting with a burrito, you start with a pizza crust, and you the customer direct the process,” says Wood. Customers can pick from nearly 40 toppings, including six sauces, seven cheeses, nine meats and 17 veggies. “Unlike most other fast casual pizza chains where the crusts are premade and machine-pressed, our pizza dough is made in house daily and hand-stretched to order right in front of the customers,” says Wood. Once the pizza dough is stretched, customers can go with one of two price points:  A 10-inch pizza with cheese and one topping is $6.99. Pizzas with more than one topping – be it two or 20 – cost $7.99. The pizzas are baked in an open flame, stone-hearth oven. Other menu items include wings, meatballs and custom salads. Beverages include beer and wine. Firenza’s Alexandria restaurant can seat 55. According to Wood, the company began franchising efforts in September to enhance the company’s growth. The franchise fee is $40,000 for a first restaurant, with total costs, including construction, equipment, etc., $400,000 to $500,000. Industry franchises that can take over an existing space can lower costs to about $250,000, says Wood. The franchise fee drops to $25,000 for any second or additional locations. With fast-casual pizza a multibillion-dollar industry, Firenza’s owners are certain they can make a go of their new concept. “Fifty-five percent of pizza consumers now purchase fast-casual pizza at least once per month, and Firenza is looking to capitalize on this growing demand and multiply across the country,” Baer said in a statement.   2015-11-16T16:29:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/market-center-at-harbour-view-in-suffolk-gets-three-new-tenants Market Center at Harbour View in Suffolk gets three new tenants http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/market-center-at-harbour-view-in-suffolk-gets-three-new-tenants http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/market-center-at-harbour-view-in-suffolk-gets-three-new-tenants#When:16:24:00Z Three new tenants have opened stores at Market Center at Harbour View, a retail development in the Harbour View area of north Suffolk. IHOP, Taco Bell and Mattress Firm, located at 6200 College Drive, will celebrate their official openings with a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony today, at noon. The stores recently opened side-by-side in a new, freestanding building. Sanjay Patel, of the LAP Group, owns the new Taco Bell Suffolk franchise. His company also owns and operates the nearby Hilton Garden Inn Chesapeake/ Suffolk. According to Suffolk’s Department of Media and Community Relations, the new IHOP restaurant has hired more than 75 full and part-time employees. Chris Read from CBRE/Hampton Roads assisted with the commercial real estate transactions. 2015-11-16T16:24:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/microsoft-announces-fourth-expansion-in-mecklenburg-county Microsoft announces fourth expansion in Mecklenburg County http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/microsoft-announces-fourth-expansion-in-mecklenburg-county http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/microsoft-announces-fourth-expansion-in-mecklenburg-county#When:21:39:00Z Microsoft Corp. once again is expanding in Mecklenburg County. The Redmond, Wash.-based technology company said Friday it is investing $402.4 million to expand its data center in the county. The project is expected to create 42 new jobs. Microsoft’s original project in 2010 involved an investment of up to $499 million and 50 new jobs. In 2011 the company invested an additional $150 million to expand the site, and in 2013 announced a $348 million expansion. In June 2014 Microsoft invested another $346.7 million, creating 90 new jobs. "The company’s fourth expansion project represents more than $1.74 billion in total capital investment since 2010, bringing more than 200 jobs to citizens in Southern Virginia,” Gov. Terry McAuliffe said in a statement.  McAuliffe approved a $700,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to help secure the project. The Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission  also approved $1.34 million in Tobacco Region Opportunity Funds. 2015-11-13T21:39:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/tegna-sells-pointroll-unit Tegna sells PointRoll unit http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/tegna-sells-pointroll-unit http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/tegna-sells-pointroll-unit#When:21:35:00Z McLean-based media company Tegna Inc. has sold PointRoll, a multi-screen digital ad tech and services company, to Sizmek Inc., an Austin, Texas-based open-ad management company. Sizmek reported that the acquisition price was $20 million, including $11 million in cash and $9 million in seller financing. PointRoll, based in King of Prussia, Pa., was part of Tegna Digital’s Cofactor brand. “This is a very strong combination of Sizmek’s technology and PointRoll’s [dynamic creative solutions] expertise, which can then be applied to the ever increasing need for global solutions,” Neil Nguyen, the CEO and president of Sizmek, said in a statement. In addition to the sale of PointRoll, Cofactor has appointed Sizmek as its preferred activation and distribution partner for digital content that Cofactor onboards for its customers. 2015-11-13T21:35:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/former-ceo-pushes-back-against-alpha-natural-resources-bid-to-cut-health-be Former CEO pushes back against Alpha Natural Resources’ bid to cut retiree health benefits http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/former-ceo-pushes-back-against-alpha-natural-resources-bid-to-cut-health-be http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/former-ceo-pushes-back-against-alpha-natural-resources-bid-to-cut-health-be#When:21:13:00Z A group of former employees of Alpha Natural Resources, led by Michael J. Quillen, the company’s founder and former chairman and CEO, is pushing back against an attempt by the coal company to cut health and other nonpension benefits for more than 4,500 nonunion retirees. The group filed an objection Wednesday in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Richmond to Alpha’s motion to terminate benefits on Dec. 31. Alpha filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Aug. 3. It said in a motion filed with the court on Nov. 3 that the benefits are a financial burden that cost the Bristol-based company about $2.7 million in 2014 and represent about a $125 million liability on the company’s balance sheet. Quillen formed Alpha in 2002. He headed the company during an IPO in 2005 and through a series of more than a dozen mergers and acquisitions, including the Massey Coal Co. in 2011. He stepped down as the company’s chairman in the spring of 2012 at a time when Alpha was one of the country's largest coal producers. Since then the company has shuttered some of its mines as the country moves to implement a federal clean power plan focused on cutting carbon emissions.  “While I understand the challenges that Alpha Natural Resources has faced in recent years, to suddenly try to eliminate retiree health benefits of thousands of families goes against the values the company was built on,” Quillen said in a statement. “ We made a pledge to our employees to provide a safe place to work and benefits that would extend beyond their years of employment. It’s imperative for the company to honor that pledge. I sincerely want to see the company survive, strengthen and take care of existing employees while recognizing the contribution of those who helped grow the company and the companies acquired since 2002.” The group also asked the court to appoint an employee committee to the bankruptcy proceedings. 2015-11-12T21:13:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/graham-holdings-co.-names-new-ceo Graham Holdings Co. names new CEO http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/graham-holdings-co.-names-new-ceo http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/graham-holdings-co.-names-new-ceo#When:20:41:00Z Graham Holdings Co. has named former LivingSocial CEO Timothy O’Shaughnessy as its president and CEO. Donald E. Graham, 70, who has been chairman and CEO since 1971, will remain chairman of the board of directors of the Arlington County-based company. O’Shaughnessy, 33, is the former CEO of LivingSocial and is the son-in-law of Graham. O’Shaughnessy joined Graham Holdings in 2014 as president to oversee investments and acquisitions and to help the company’s direction after sale of The Washington Post. O’Shaughnessy began his career at AOL and later ran product development at Revolution Health before he co-founded LivingSocial. Graham Holdings is an education and media company whose services include educational, television broadcasting, home health and hospice care and custom manufacturing. Some of its principal holdings include Kaplan, The Slate Group and Foreign Policy. The company had revenue of $3.5 billion in 2014. 2015-11-12T20:41:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/virginia-association-of-counties-elects-president Virginia Association of Counties elects president http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/virginia-association-of-counties-elects-president http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/virginia-association-of-counties-elects-president#When:20:32:00Z Judy S. Lyttle, chair of the Surry County Board of Supervisors, has been elected 2015-2016 president of the Virginia Association of Counties. Lyttle succeeds Fairfax County Supervisor Penny Gross. Lyttle became the first African-American woman to sit on the Surry Board of Supervisors when she was elected in 1999. Lyttle retired after working 33 years as a program assistant and assistant manager with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015-11-12T20:32:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/u.s.-homecare-products-expands U.S. Homecare Products expands http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/u.s.-homecare-products-expands http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/u.s.-homecare-products-expands#When:20:29:00Z Nevada-based U.S. Homecare Products LLC is expanding in Virginia Beach. The company is leasing a 59,625-square-foot space in the Ocean South Industrial Park at 1345 Taylor Farm Road. This space nearly doubles the company’s existing 31,800-square-foot lease at the same location. Additionally, U.S. Homecare will add eight to 10 jobs with average salaries of $32,000. The company imports and distributes health-care products. U.S. Homecare offers a line of incontinence products in addition to advanced wound dressings, urologicals, skin care and home care products. The expansion is the result of a partnership formed last year with Abena North America (ANA), based in Culver City, Calif. Its parent company is a Danish, family-owned manufacturer and wholesaler of health-care products. The Abena Group supplies more than 25,000 products and operates in more than 80 countries across the globe. Abena North America markets and sells Abena-branded products in Mexico, United States and Canada. It is shifting the majority of its distribution operations from California to Virginia Beach. The company cited the beach city's proximity to the Port of Virginia as strategic since 95 percent of  goods sold originate from Europe and Asia and are delivered in containers by sea freight. Geoff Poston, Tony Weiss and Patrick Mumey with Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer represented the landlord, James M. Beverly, in the negotiations. Glenn Gibson with Harvey Lindsay Commercial Real Estate represented the tenant. The transaction brings the 95,400-square-foot facility to full occupancy. 2015-11-12T20:29:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/jll-to-manage-stihl-inc.s-industrial-center-in-virginia-beach JLL to manage Stihl Inc.’s industrial center in Virginia Beach http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/jll-to-manage-stihl-inc.s-industrial-center-in-virginia-beach http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/jll-to-manage-stihl-inc.s-industrial-center-in-virginia-beach#When:20:23:00Z Power equipment manufacturer Stihl Inc. has awarded JLL the property management assignment for the International Industrial Center in Virginia Beach. In addition to providing property management services, JLL said it would oversee the facility’s leasing. Located on a 45-acre campus at 2600 International Parkway, the center totals 676,000 square feet of high-bay warehouse and manufacturing space and includes 100,000 square feet of mezzanine space, 95,000 square feet of office space, 650 parking spaces plus 50 trailer parking spaces. Built in 1987 and expanded in 1995, the Class A industrial center was previously a corporate headquarters and manufacturing site for Lillian Vernon. The property is within two miles of the I-264 interchange with access to the Port of Virginia and Norfolk International Airport. It’s also adjacent to Stihl’s international headquarters at 536 Viking Drive. Stihl employs more than 2,000 people nationwide. 2015-11-12T20:23:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/vcu-forms-company-to-manage-its-investments VCU forms company to manage its investments http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/vcu-forms-company-to-manage-its-investments http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/vcu-forms-company-to-manage-its-investments#When:19:57:00Z Virginia Commonwealth University has formed the VCU Investment Management Co. to advise the university and its affiliated foundations on the management of more than $2 billion in investable assets. Approved by the VCU Board of Visitors in May and the VCU Health Board of Directors in June, the new nonprofit company will provide investment and investment management services for the university and VCU Health and affiliated entities. VCU alumna Nancy Everett was named as CEO and chief investment officer. She started her career in the financial services industry in state government, spending 26 years with the Virginia Retirement System, including four years as its chief investment officer. Most recently she served as a senior adviser at New York-based Lombard Odier Investment Management. She also was managing director and head of U.S. fiduciary management at BlackRock and CEO of Promark Global Advisors, the former General Motors Asset Management Co. “The creation of the VCU Investment Management Company represents industry best practices in the financial stewardship of the university’s assets,” Everett said in a statement.  “Our role is to work with VCU and its affiliates to provide the financial stability necessary to fulfill its mission and to help it grow and prosper for generations to come.”  The company plans to begin investing activities in early 2016. William Lee has been named chief operating officer. Lee brings 18 years of experience in financial services and alternative investing. Prior to joining VCIMCO, Lee was a managing director, chief financial officer and chief compliance officer at Summit Rock Advisors in New York. Bob Hill was appointed deputy chief investment officer. Hill previously served as executive vice president, co-chief investment officer at Piedmont Investment Advisors and was CEO/CIO at Shenandoah Asset Management, which he co-founded in 1999. Bruce MacDonald was named managing director. MacDonald previously served as the chief investment officer and managing partner at Crayna Capital, an advisory firm he founded. He also spent several years at the University of Virginia Investment Management Company as chair of the investment committee. The investment company said its primary objective in managing the assets is to maximize long-term real return commensurate with the risk tolerance of the VCU entities. 2015-11-12T19:57:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/darden-ranked-among-top-schools-for-entrepreneurship-studies Darden ranked among top schools for entrepreneurship studies http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/darden-ranked-among-top-schools-for-entrepreneurship-studies http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/darden-ranked-among-top-schools-for-entrepreneurship-studies#When:22:18:00Z The University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business has been named one of the best graduate schools for entrepreneurship studies. Darden ranked 13th among graduate schools in a survey by The Princeton Review that will be published in  Entrepreneur magazine. The publications identify 25 undergraduate and 25 graduate schools as the best for entrepreneurship studies each year. This year’s list is the 10th annual survey. Babson College captured the top spot on the undergraduate entrepreneurship programs ranking for the fourth consecutive year. Harvard University finished No. 1 on the graduate entrepreneurship programs list for the second consecutive year. At 13th, the Darden School ranked behind the University of Oklahoma and ahead of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Oklahoma and UNC entrepreneurship programs also were ranked in the undergraduate list, at ninth and 21st, respectively. The graduate and undergraduate programs at the University of Maryland-College Park also were ranked on both lists, at tenth and 18th , respectively. The Princeton Review surveyed 300 school offering entrepreneurship studies to compile the lists. The 60-question survey was conducted from May through August. It asked schools to report on their level of  commitment to entrepreneurship studies inside and outside the classroom. More than three dozen data points were analyzed for the tally that determined the rankings. Topics covered included: the percentage of faculty, students, and alumni actively and successfully involved in entrepreneurial endeavors, the number and reach of mentorship programs, scholarships and grants for entrepreneurial studies, and the level of support for school-sponsored business plan competitions. The rankings will be published in the December issue of Entrepreneur on Nov. 17. 2015-11-11T22:18:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/williamsburg-premium-outlets-names-brandy-coffee-as-general-manager Williamsburg Premium Outlets names Brandy Coffee as general manager http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/williamsburg-premium-outlets-names-brandy-coffee-as-general-manager http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/williamsburg-premium-outlets-names-brandy-coffee-as-general-manager#When:21:10:00Z   Williamsburg Premium Outlets has named Brandy Coffee as general manager.  In making the announcement Wednesday, Simon, the outlet shopping center’s owner, said that Coffee would be responsible for daily operations, including maintenance, expense management and short-term leasing. She also oversees the center’s marketing and security programs and is involved with retailer and community relations. Coffee has spent the last 10 years working for Simon in a variety of roles at the company’s corporate headquarters in Indianapolis and at properties across the country, including regional malls, community lifestyle centers and Premium Outlets centers. Before taking the position in Williamsburg, Coffee was the general manager of Hagerstown Premium Outlets, in Hagerstown, Md. Williamsburg Premium Outlets is a 526,289-square-foot outlet shopping center located in historic Williamsburg. It is home to 135 stores including Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Coach, Calvin Klein, Cole Haan, DKNY and Michael Kors, among others. 2015-11-11T21:10:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/2155_Steppingstone_Square_-_The_Oceaneering_Building_Email.jpg http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/hff-arranges-sale-and-financing-for-industrial-facility-in-chesapeake HFF arranges sale and financing for industrial facility in Chesapeake http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/hff-arranges-sale-and-financing-for-industrial-facility-in-chesapeake http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/hff-arranges-sale-and-financing-for-industrial-facility-in-chesapeake#When:20:37:00Z Holliday Fenoglio Fowler LP (HFF) said Wednesday that it arranged the $30 million sale of the Oceaneering Building, a 154,000-square-foot, industrial flex manufacturing facility with office space in Chesapeake. The company also secured $21 million in acquisition financing for the building located at 2155 Steppingstone Square. HFF said it marketed the property on behalf of the seller, Armada Hoffler Properties, a Virginia Beach-based real estate investment trust.  LCN Capital Partners, a private-equity firm with offices in New York and London, purchased the building.  HFF worked on behalf of the new owner to place the acquisition loan with Goldman Sachs Mortgage Co. According to HFF, the Oceaneering Building was completed this year as a build-to-suit office and manufacturing facility that is 100 percent leased on a triple-net basis to Oceaneering International Inc., a deepwater engineering and applied technology company. The building has two adjacent pad sites — one on either side of the current structure — that can accommodate 58,000 square feet of future expansion. Developed by the seller, the two-story building features 86,000 square feet of office space, and 68,000 square feet of warehouse/manufacturing space. It is less than nine miles from Norfolk International Airport and downtown Norfolk. Interstate 64 is adjacent to the property along with Route 264, which offers access to the greater Hampton Roads region. Executive Managing Director Stephen Conley and Senior Managing Directors Dek Potts, Timothy Hall, Jim Meisel and Andrew Weir led the HFF investment sales team representing the seller.  Managing Director Cary Abod led the HFF debt placement team representing the new owner. “The Oceaneering Building attracted significant investor interest due to the credit of the tenant and the long-term lease commitment that Armada Hoffler secured as part of the build-to-suit for this state-of-the-art facility,” Potts said in a statement. 2015-11-11T20:37:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/SABMIller40940_original.jpg SABMiller beers on display in a U.S. supermarket. http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/altria-supports-anheuser-busch-inbevs-proposed-merger-with-sabmiller Altria supports Anheuser-Busch InBev’s proposed merger with SABMiller http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/altria-supports-anheuser-busch-inbevs-proposed-merger-with-sabmiller http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/altria-supports-anheuser-busch-inbevs-proposed-merger-with-sabmiller#When:15:14:00Z Richmond-based Altria Group said Wednesday it supports Anheuser-Busch InBev’s plans to buy SABMiller plc for $107 billion. The transaction would create the largest beer company in the world. Altria, one of the biggest tobacco companies in the world, owns approximately 27 percent of SABMiller, whose beer brands include Miller Lite, Miller Genuine Draft, Coors and Blue Moon. It has been a SABMiller shareholder since 2002.Anheuser-Busch makes Budweiser, Bud Light and Shock Top, among other beers. “Altria fully supports this transaction, and we strongly believe that the deal is in the best interest of our shareholders,” Marty Barrington, Altria’s chairman, CEO and president, said in a statement. “Upon closing, Altria will continue to participate in the global brewing profit pool as a large and significant shareholder in what will be the industry’s largest company. We continue to work constructively with the parties toward closing, and we look forward to working with the AB InBev management team at the new, combined company.” When the deal is finalized, Altria expects to receive an approximately 10.5 percent stake in the new, combined company and approximately $2.5 billion in cash, subject to proration. Altria also expects to have two seats on the new company’s board of directors. The transaction is subject to certain closing conditions, including shareholder approvals of both SABMiller and AB InBev and receiving the required regulatory approvals. 2015-11-11T15:14:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/rock-creek-property-group-closes-60-million-fund-ii-to-acquire-d.c.-area-pr Rock Creek Property Group closes $60 million Fund II to acquire D.C.-area properties http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/rock-creek-property-group-closes-60-million-fund-ii-to-acquire-d.c.-area-pr http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/rock-creek-property-group-closes-60-million-fund-ii-to-acquire-d.c.-area-pr#When:20:36:00Z Principals of Rock Creek Property Group said Tuesday that they have closed on their second real estate fund, in which they raised $60 million. Fund II will acquire office, retail, multifamily and industrial properties throughout the greater Washington, D.C., region. As with Rock Creek’s Fund I, launched in 2010, Fund II will continue to invest primarily in the $3 million to $30 million “middle-market” space, targeting development projects, value-added opportunities and strategic joint ventures. Fund II also will look to acquire well-located, income-producing assets that have the potential for long-term appreciation. “Not every property will be developed or acquired with a goal to exit in the short term,” Rock Creek Principals Gary Schlager and Andy Glick, said in a statement.  “Lessons learned from Fund I and our current deal flow both support the premise that certain assets should be held longer term.” Rock Creek will continue to focus on the D.C. region, where its four principals each have more than 25 years of experience. “We have been involved in many real estate cycles over the years and developed a unique niche,” Schlager said. “We have experience across all major product types, which allows us to both avoid tunnel-vision investing and to hone in on the highest and best use for each asset, sometimes in less obvious ways.” Rock Creek has redeveloped office buildings in D.C., and participated in a joint-venture development of multi-family assets including The Shelby, a 240-unit, new development in Alexandria. Rock Creek’s Fund II already has acquired three projects, all in D.C. They include a joint-venture acquisition in Washington’s emerging H Street Corridor. This property is located on a corner next to a Whole Foods that is under construction, and where Rock Creek plans to develop a mixed-use project. 2015-11-10T20:36:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/one-loudoun-plans-new-791-space-parking-garage One Loudoun plans new 791-space parking garage http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/one-loudoun-plans-new-791-space-parking-garage http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/one-loudoun-plans-new-791-space-parking-garage#When:20:16:00Z     The next stage of growth for One Loudoun, a mixed-use project in Loudoun County, is a four-story parking garage with 791 spaces. The county has issued a building permit to move forward with construction on the project. Howard Shockey & Sons Inc., out of Winchester, will serve as the general contractor while the architect is The Eisen Group of Washington, D.C.  The two companies said they are working together in a design-build alliance to speed up delivery, with the projected expected to be ready by March 2016. During construction, traffic will be routed to avoid impact on people traveling to Loudoun One, located at Rt. 7 and the Loudoun County Parkway. The mixed-use development provides a mix of 700,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, nearly 3 million square feet of office space, including the World Trade Center Dulles Airport, a hotel and 1,000 new homes – all within a walkable community. 2015-11-10T20:16:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginias-oyster-harvest-continues-to-grow Virginia’s oyster harvest continues to grow http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginias-oyster-harvest-continues-to-grow http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginias-oyster-harvest-continues-to-grow#When:18:37:00Z Virginia’s oyster harvest grew 24 percent last year to the highest level in almost three decades, Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office announced Tuesday. Over the past 11 years, the oyster harvest in Virginia has increased from 24,000 bushels in 2003 to an estimated 659,000 bushels last year, according to preliminary harvest reports from the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC). Last year’s oyster harvest is the highest level seen since 1986 and is 24 percent more than the 533,000 bushels harvested in 2013.          The dockside value of the oyster harvest also increased, from $22.2 million in 2013 to $33.8 million in 2014. Last year’s harvest resulted in an estimated $89 million in economic value, according to McAuliffe’s office. That figure is based on a multiplier of 2.63 on a dockside value of $33.8 million, a formula established by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. Preliminary harvest estimates show substantial gains in both wild-caught oysters from public oyster rocks as well as from privately leased water bottoms last year.          “This level of oyster harvest success was virtually inconceivable a decade ago, but we need to be mindful that oysters live in an ever-changing ecosystem and oysters remain susceptible to disease and other environmental factors outside of our control,’’ VMRC Commissioner John M.R. Bull, said in a statement. 2015-11-10T18:37:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/states-va-1-tourism-summit-expected-to-draw-500-people State’s Va-1 Tourism Summit expected to draw 500 people http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/states-va-1-tourism-summit-expected-to-draw-500-people http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/states-va-1-tourism-summit-expected-to-draw-500-people#When:20:53:00Z Virginia’s largest educational conference on tourism gets underway in less than a week. About 500 people are expected to attend the VA-1 Tourism Summit at the downtown Richmond Marriott, which begins on Sunday, Nov. 15, and continues through Tuesday, Nov. 17. “There’s networking and idea sharing for two days, and it’s where you will meet vendors, people in the industry and hear new breaking news on trends,” says Rita D. McClenny, president and CEO of the Virginia Tourism Corp. Virginia’s tourism industry is growing.  At the end of 2014, it was one of the state’s five largest industries, generating $22.4 billion in travel spending and supporting 216,900 jobs. During the opening general session on Monday, Nov. 16, at 11:45 a.m.,  Lt. Governor Ralph S. Northam will serve as the keynote speaker.  Another featured speaker, Gray Lawry, director of Media & Analytics (Miles), based out of Sarasota, Fla., will lead a session at 2:30 p.m. on “Video: The future of marketing.” On the following day,  “People will see our new creative ideas and where we’re going,” McClenny says, when the state unveils its latest tourism marketing plan on Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 1:30 p.m. There also will be sessions on Website trends and practices, blogger collaborations and the use of mobile apps to tap fans of craft breweries.  A full schedule of the program can be found at http://va1tourismsummit.org. Serving as conference sponsors are the Virginia Tourism Corp., the Virginia Hospitality & Travel Association, and the Virginia Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus. 2015-11-09T20:53:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Untitled_11.22.12_AM.png Shorewood Packaging facility http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/thalhimer-reports-sales-of-two-industrial-properties-in-hampton-roads Thalhimer reports sales of two industrial properties in Hampton Roads http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/thalhimer-reports-sales-of-two-industrial-properties-in-hampton-roads http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/thalhimer-reports-sales-of-two-industrial-properties-in-hampton-roads#When:16:17:00Z The former Shorewood Packaging facility in Newport News has sold to Municipal Partners III LLC for $4 million. The company bought the 266,611–square-foot industrial property on 23.3 acres from International Paper Co. for $4 million as an investment, according to Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer. Thalhimer’s Robert M. Thornton handled the sale negotiations on behalf of the seller. In another deal, G Street and Associates LLC bought an 83,204-square-foot warehouse property on 8.9 acres in Hampton from Pembroke Properties Inc. for $1million as an investment. Thalhimer’s Clay Culbreth handled the sale negotiations on behalf of the buyer. 2015-11-09T16:17:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/northern-virginia-outer-cre-submarkets-outperform-areas-inside-beltway Northern Virginia outer CRE submarkets outperform areas inside beltway http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/northern-virginia-outer-cre-submarkets-outperform-areas-inside-beltway http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/northern-virginia-outer-cre-submarkets-outperform-areas-inside-beltway#When:16:12:00Z   Who says close in, urban mixed-use environments are all the rage? A market report from the Washington office of Colliers found a “surprising divide” in vacancy rates between Northern Virginia office submarkets inside and outside the Capital Beltway at the end of the third quarter. Despite expectations that millennial-popular features such as walkability and amenities would have the highest impact on performance, outer submarkets such as Reston, Herndon, Loudoun County, and Prince William County outperformed some of more walkable inner submarkets. “The commercial real estate industry has been focused on submarkets where investors and landlords are expressing angst over softening demand.  Perhaps for that reason, few have tracked that Prince William County has the lowest vacancy rate of all the jurisdictions we track and that, with the exception of 2013, demand has been positive in Prince William every single year over the last ten,” Colliers International Director of Research Rob Hartley said in a statement. Colliers calculation of office vacancy rates for all of Northern Virginia came in at 18 percent, roughly equivalent to the 17.9 percent vacancy rate tracked at this same time last year. Third quarter reports from other real estate companies reported office vacancy rates for Northern Virginia, ranging from 14.8 to 20 percent. For Prince William, the Colliers report said third-quarter vacancy rates improved from 13.4% in 2014 to 12.1%.  This compares with 13.4% in Reston-Herndon, 18.5% in Tysons, and 22.7% in Rosslyn-Ballston. Colliers said that while third-quarter demand for office space grew across Prince William, Reston-Herndon, and Loudoun County, demand shrank in the inner submarkets, with the exceptions of Crystal City and the Eisenhower Avenue corridor, which has gained large new leases from federal agencies. In part, an influx of new product contributed to higher vacancy rates inside and along the Beltway, where 6.5 million square feet of space has been added since 2010. “Federal budget uncertainties also contributed to softer demand in inner submarkets, where landlords have been unable to backfill space that was vacated when the government and government contractors downsized their footprints. Outer submarkets have faced little to no challenges in backfilling available space due to increased demand,” Hartley said. 2015-11-09T16:12:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/NedWilliams_5x7.jpg http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/edward-m.-ned-williams-joins-harvey-lindsay-as-a-vice-president Edward M. “Ned” Williams joins Harvey Lindsay as a vice president http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/edward-m.-ned-williams-joins-harvey-lindsay-as-a-vice-president http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/edward-m.-ned-williams-joins-harvey-lindsay-as-a-vice-president#When:16:02:00Z     Edward M. “Ned” Williams has joined Harvey Lindsay Commercial Real Estate in Norfolk as vice president of investment real estate services. A veteran with more than 30 years in the industry, Williams will provide real estate brokerage and advisory services on investment and development properties.  His primary focus is sales and leasing representations, market evaluation and strategic planning and economic evaluation for developed and undeveloped real estate. Before joining Harvey Lindsay, he was vice president and managing broker with William E. Wood and Associates and a principal at Vector Real Estate Advisors LLC. 2015-11-09T16:02:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-business-systems-acquires-data-technologies Virginia Business Systems acquires Data Technologies http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-business-systems-acquires-data-technologies http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-business-systems-acquires-data-technologies#When:11:39:00Z Document management company Virginia Business Systems (VBS) has acquired Data Technologies of Richmond. Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed. Virginia Business Systems, also headquartered in Richmond, will increase its workforce from 80 to 90 employees after the acquisition, according to Jim Dotter, president of Virginia Business Systems. The acquisition also will grow VBS’ client database and expand resources available to former Data Technologies customers, Dotter said. Virginia Business Systems provides products and solutions from vendors in the industry such as Konica Minolta, Xerox, Lexmark, Muratec, KIP and Hewlett Packard. With the acquisition of Data Technologies, the company have also added Sharp to its vendors. VBS’ customers include Fortune 500 companies, colleges, small- and medium-sized businesses, churches, school districts, and local and state governments. 2015-11-09T11:39:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/virginia-state-university-names-three-officials Virginia State University names three officials http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/virginia-state-university-names-three-officials http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/virginia-state-university-names-three-officials#When:19:28:00Z Virginia State University in Petersburg has filled two positions in institutional advancement and has named a director of government relations. Garvin Maffett was named vice president for institutional advancement, and Anthony Thompson was appointed associate vice president for institutional advancement. Maffett was vice president for advancement and associate professor of education at Cumberland University in Tennessee. Thompson comes to VSU from Virginia Union University in Richmond, where he served as vice president for institutional advancement and senior vice president for institutional effectiveness and program development. The university has also appointed Ronald White director of government relations. He served for the past six years as district director and military liaison for U.S. Rep. J. Randy Forbes of Virginia’s 4th District. 2015-11-06T19:28:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/calendar/article/art-of-the-land-exhibt “Art of the Land” Exhibit http://www.virginiabusiness.com/calendar/article/art-of-the-land-exhibt http://www.virginiabusiness.com/calendar/article/art-of-the-land-exhibt#When:19:14:00Z 2015-11-06T19:14:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/middleton5348color.jpg http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/tips-and-tricks-for-reading-and-understanding-a-nonprofit-statement-of-cash Tips and tricks for reading and understanding a nonprofit statement of cash flows http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/tips-and-tricks-for-reading-and-understanding-a-nonprofit-statement-of-cash http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/tips-and-tricks-for-reading-and-understanding-a-nonprofit-statement-of-cash#When:20:57:00Z Many people in the business world have read a cash flow statement. These individuals tend to understand the basic difference between operating, financing and investing cash flows. However, nonprofit entities have items in each of these three categories of the cash flow statement that make reading the statement more difficult. With the proper definitions handy, and a few tips, reading the typical nonprofit entity’s cash flow statement can be much easier. Information about an organization’s cash flows, especially from operating activities, can provide data helpful in evaluating an entity’s long-term solvency. All entities, including nonprofit organizations, must pay their debts and obligations with cash, not income. There are many items included in change in net assets (nonprofit’s net income equivalent) that do not generate or expend cash. Understanding the typical nonprofit cash flow statement depends on understanding these noncash components. There are three categories within a cash flow statement: 1. Cash flows generated from operating activities 2. Cash flows generated from investing activities 3. Cash flows generation from financing activities Cash flows from operating activities represent cash that is coming in and going out of the entity as a result of the entity carrying out its mission, or doing what it was created to do in the form of revenue and expenses. Cash flows from investing activities are created by acquisition and disposition of assets, such as property and equipment, or purchasing and selling investments. Cash flows from financing activities are generated from external financing. For example, cash is generated by borrowing funds and debt repayments, and pledge collections restricted for long-term use. There are two primary types of presentations of the statement of cash flows. The direct method essentially lists all of the ins and outs of the organization’s cash. The indirect method starts with the change in net assets and then reflects adjustments for all non-cash transactions, then adjusts further for changes in individual accrual items (receivables and payables). For example, an increase in the accounts receivable account is subtracted from the change in net assets because revenue was recorded that has yet to be collected; it is an increase in revenue that has yet to result in increased cash flows. Later, when the receivable is collected, it will be added back to the change in net assets. In the nonprofit arena, there are unique line items in a statement of cash flows that are not seen in other types of entities’ cash flows. Noncash contributions are one such item. They are included in the change in net assets for the entity but not in cash flows. Unless sold, they do not provide cash to the organization. These items include donated collections, fixed assets, free space that is offered for use to the entity, or any number of other items. These are often referred to as in-kind donations. Generally speaking, they include anything that is not a cash gift. To make it even more interesting, another item you may see on the statement of cash flows relates to pledges receivable. Nonprofit organizations can record revenue once a donor has promised to contribute something at a later date, whether it is cash or something else. A pledge is an unconditional promise to give. Pledges receivable represent all of the promises to give that are outstanding to an organization. Revenue is recorded when the donor has made the promise and it is determined that there are no conditions that would prevent the donor from honoring the pledge; i.e. there is nothing the organization or others must do in order to receive the funds. Despite revenue being recorded, it is still a promise and is not a cash transaction until the pledge is paid. Contributions made to the organization for long-term purposes, such as to an endowment are considered financing activities rather than operating activities because they cannot be used for immediate operating purposes. These will often be identified as restricted contributions, meaning the donor has imposed a restriction either on the time in which they can be used or the purpose for which they can be used. There are more complex planned giving vehicles as well, and these items may present themselves on the statement of cash flows, but the important thing to remember regarding these items is that the revenue is often recorded at a different time than the cash is received and, as a result, it will have unique treatment on the statement of cash flows. The presentation for these items will vary, depending on the type of presentation (direct or indirect). Ultimately, the statement of cash flows shows the cash coming in and going out. For a nonprofit entity, there are various items included in revenue, which will never, or haven’t yet, involved a cash transaction. Armed with a bit of nonprofit lingo, reading the typical statement of cash flows from your local nonprofit organization is much easier. The cash flow statement can provide valuable information about an organization that cannot be derived from the other financial statements if one knows how to read it. Shawn Middleton is an assurance manager at PBMares LLP, providing assurance services to businesses, nonprofit organizations and government entities in Virginia. She is also a member of the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants can be reached by email at smiddleton@pbmares.com or by phone at 757-229-7180 2015-11-05T20:57:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/libbie-mill-office-retail-smaller1.jpg http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/cushman-wakefield-thalhimer-to-provide-leasing-services-for-libbie-mill-mid Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer to provide leasing services for Libbie Mill-Midtown http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/cushman-wakefield-thalhimer-to-provide-leasing-services-for-libbie-mill-mid http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/cushman-wakefield-thalhimer-to-provide-leasing-services-for-libbie-mill-mid#When:20:50:00Z   Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer has been selected by Gumenick Properties to provide exclusive retail leasing services for Libbie Mill-Midtown, an urban mixed-use development in Henrico County. Located off West Broad Street on Staples Mill Road, the project is convenient to downtown and surrounding suburban areas. The 80-acre, urban, mixed-use property offers a live-work-play environment. Public gathering spaces, include a lake with pier, park, and exercise trails. Currently anchored by Southern Season, a gourmet grocery store, the retail portion can accommodate a total of more than 200,000 square feet.  Spaces, ranging in size from 1,300 square feet to 65,000 square feet are available, including build-to-suit opportunities. The Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer team will consist of retail leasing representatives Pam Strieffler and Allyson Petty Wiggins. The retail leasing was formerly handled by CBRE-Richmond. 2015-11-05T20:50:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/FedEx_Ground_Manassas.jpg http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/fedex-ground-opens-new-distribution-center-in-manassas FedEx Ground opens new distribution center in Manassas http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/fedex-ground-opens-new-distribution-center-in-manassas http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/fedex-ground-opens-new-distribution-center-in-manassas#When:20:35:00Z FedEx Ground recently began operating from its new 175,000-square-foot distribution center in Manassas. The new facility at 7303 Cushing Road joins an existing station in Chantilly, which the company said would enable it to meet and exceed customer demands in the Northern Virginia area.  The center opened with 69 new employees. FedEX Ground said it plans to add to the overall area workforce as necessary to support increased demand. The company said it chose the Manassas site because of its ease of access to major highways, its proximity to customers’ distribution centers and a local community workforce for recruiting employees. The new facility is part of a nationwide network expansion to boost daily package volume capacity and enhance the speed and service capabilities of the FedEx Ground network. Since 2005, the company said it has opened 11 new hubs with advanced material-handling systems and expanded or relocated more than 500 local facilities. The improvements have accelerated ground service delivery by one day or more in more than 70 percent of the U. S. 2015-11-05T20:35:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/ATT00004.jpeg The Grand http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/harbor-group-international-acquires-300-million-apartment-portfolio Harbor Group International acquires $300 million apartment portfolio http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/harbor-group-international-acquires-300-million-apartment-portfolio http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/harbor-group-international-acquires-300-million-apartment-portfolio#When:20:32:00Z Harbor Group International LLC (“HGI”) announced Thursday that company affiliates have acquired three apartment communities – two in New Jersey and one in Maryland — for more than $300 million. Two of the properties are in New Jersey. They are The Grand, which has 564 units, in Cherry Hill and The Crest at Princeton Meadows, 704 units, in Plainsboro. The third property, the 748-unit Jefferson at Orchard Pond, is located in Gaithersburg, Md. HGI said it intends to invest an additional $10 million into the Maryland property to reposition it and an additional $9.1 million to continue renovations and enhancements at the New Jersey apartments. “Each of the properties presents the opportunity to execute a comprehensive capital program, which will provide quality of life improvements for our tenants and value for our investors,” T. Richard Litton Jr., president of Harbor Group International, said in a statement.  “HGI also will leverage the experience and operating efficiencies that exist as a result of owning other properties in the suburban Maryland and New Jersey markets.” HGI affiliates currently own 11 apartment communities in the Baltimore/Washington, D.C., corridor in Maryland. The Grand, a two building, high-rise property with many amenities, is currently 94 percent occupied, according to Harbor Group. The Crest, built in 1985, represents the newest construction among competing properties in Plainsboro and is 93 percent occupied. Jefferson at Orchard Pond, built in 1973, is a garden-style community along the I-270 corridor. It is 91 percent occupied. Harbor Group International is a private real estate investment and management firm that controls a portfolio of worldwide assets valued at about $4 billion.  It has its headquarters in Norfolk with offices in New York and Tel Aviv. The company’s real estate holdings include about 6 million square feet of commercial properties and approximately 25,000 apartment units. 2015-11-05T20:32:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/ChrisBecker.jpg Chris Becker http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/g.-j.-hopkins-inc.-names-vice-president G. J. Hopkins Inc. names vice president http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/g.-j.-hopkins-inc.-names-vice-president http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/g.-j.-hopkins-inc.-names-vice-president#When:14:41:00Z Roanoke-based G. J. Hopkins Inc. has promoted Chris Becker to vice president.  Becker, who has been with the company 20 years, was named mechanical division manager last year.  His recent major projects include: Western Forensic Laboratory, Monogram Foods and Radford University Center for the Sciences. G. J. Hopkins, an electrical and mechanical contractor founded in 1958, has been a part of The Branch Group Inc. since 1984. 2015-11-05T14:41:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/crew-richmond-celebrates-25th-anniversary CREW Richmond celebrates 25th anniversary http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/crew-richmond-celebrates-25th-anniversary http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/crew-richmond-celebrates-25th-anniversary#When:01:04:00Z   Nearly 200 people turned out for a reception Wednesday night at the Hilton Richmond in downtown Richmond that was part of CREW Richmond’s 25th anniversary celebration. The highlight of the evening was to honor the Top 25 Women to Watch in Richmond Commercial Real Estate. The women were selected by members of the Richmond chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women, which was founded in 1990.  “I can remember when 25 years ago there were just a few members of this organization, and we were trying to figure out what to do with Miller & Rhoads after it closed,” said Lucy Meade of Venture Richmond, who introduced the winners. Several of the group’s founding members attended the event. The 25 women who received the award came from various disciplines within the commercial real estate industry including interior design, communications, the legal community, architecture, accounting and commercial mortgage banking to name a few.  The women are: Daphne Berkowitz, Colliers International; Caroline Browder, Roth Doner Jackson Gibbons Condlin PLC; Melissa Canovos, Safe Harbor Title Co.; Christian Creswell, Evolve Architecture; Lauren Christian, Markel Corp.; Allison Domson, Williams Mullen; Jessica Ewald, Draper Aden Associates; Rowena Fratarcangelo, Greater Richmond Partnership; Karen Frye, Fulton Bank; Chris Hairston-White, Better Housing Coalition; Andrea Harlow, Williams Mullen; Catherine Haywood, Lingerfelt Commonwealth Partners; Kristie Inge, Highwoods Properties; Christina Lee Jeffries, 7 Hills Advisors; Monique Johnson, Virginia Community Capital; Ginny Johnston, Commonwealth Architects, Chandra Lantz, Hirschler Fleischer; Elizabeth Lewis, Keiter; Mary Katherine McGetrick, Williams Mullen; Allyson Petty Wiggins, Cushman Wakefield | Thalhimer; Muriel Rodriguez, Schnabel Engineering; Elizabeth Steele, Stewart Title Co. ; Jodie Strum, Atlantic Real Estate Capital; Patricia Taylor-Marais, Brandywine Realty Trust; and Amelia Wehunt, Timmons Group. 2015-11-05T01:04:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/LumberLiqlogo.png http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/lumber-liquidators-names-new-ceo Lumber Liquidators names new CEO http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/lumber-liquidators-names-new-ceo http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/lumber-liquidators-names-new-ceo#When:21:34:00Z Toano-based hardwood flooring retailer Lumber Liquidators has named John M. Presley as its new CEO, effective Nov. 16. Presley, who has been CEO of Glen Allen-based First Capital Bankcorp. since 2008, is chairman of Lumber Liquidators’ board of directors. Board member Nancy M. Taylor, the former CEO of Chesterfield-based Tredegar Corp., will assume Presley's role of independent chairman of the board and head of the special committee. Presley will continue to serve as a member of the board. As CEO, he will succeed Thomas D. Sullivan, Lumber Liquidators’ founder. Sullivan will serve as special advisor to the CEO and remain on the board. Sullivan has been leading Lumber Liquidators since its former CEO, Robert Lynch, unexpectedly resigned in May amid allegations about the levels of formaldehyde, a carcinogen, in the company’s Chinese-made laminate flooring. That flooring was the subject of a “60 Minutes” television report in March, which was followed by a federal investigation that is still ongoing. More recently, the company pleaded guilty to federal charges related to another investigation into the illegal importation of hardwood flooring. The company agreed to to pay the government more than $13 million to settle the investigation. In addition to announcing the new CEO Wednesday, Lumber Liquidators also reported its third-quarter financial results. It recorded a loss of $8.5 million, or a loss of 31 per diluted share, in for quarter compared to net income of $15.7 million, or 58 centers per diluted share, in the third quarter of 2014.       Net sales in the third quarter of 2015 were $236.1 million, a decrease of 11.3 percent from the third quarter of 2014. The company attributed the weaker sales in part to the formaldehyde investigation and a stronger competitive environment. Lumber Liquidators says Presley has more than 30 years of leadership experience with significant operational, financial, turnaround and risk management expertise.  He has served on the Lumber Liquidators board since 2006. 2015-11-04T21:34:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/stony-point-fashion-park-announces-50-million-redevelopment Stony Point Fashion Park announces $50 million redevelopment http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/stony-point-fashion-park-announces-50-million-redevelopment http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/stony-point-fashion-park-announces-50-million-redevelopment#When:21:16:00Z Starwood Retail Partners, the owners of Stony Point Fashion Park in Richmond, unveiled a $50 million redevelopment plan Wednesday to update the shopping center. It includes new entertainment experiences, enhanced welcoming and common areas, new shops and restaurants and improved accessibility for pedestrians and vehicles. Starwood Retail Partners, a Chicago-based shopping center asset management company, purchased the retail center in October 2014. The company said in a news release that itbegan plans for renovation shortly after the purchase. “Our vision for Stony Point is in step with the neighborhood and with the city’s business, shopping and entertainment plans for the future,” Scott Wolstein, CEO, Starwood Retail Partners, said in a statement. Starwood’s redevelopment is scheduled to begin in summer 2016 and will be done in phases, with the first phase an upgrade and modernization of the center’s outdoor common areas. The west end of the center, nowhome to CineBistro and Dillards, will be updated with the “The West End,” an  open-air place where guests can play a game of bocce or relax on modern rockers in a courtyard, interspersed with fire pits, fountains and tables. “The East Side” of the center, between Sak’s Fifth Avenue and Dick’s Sporting Good stores, will feature a park, entertainment and shopping. “Triangle Park,” was described as a welcoming destination with fountains, experiential art, seating (including heated benches) and space designed for the seasons, with a stage for summer events that can transform to a winter ice-skating rink in cooler months.    Starwood said it plans to add new retailers and restaurants that will complement the center’s offerings, which range from Tiffany & Co. and Sur La Table to Coach, Restoration Hardware and Saks. Stony Point Fashion Park opened in September 2003 and has lost several tenants in recent years including Louis Vuitton and Copeland’s Cheesecake Bistro. Currently, the 668,000-square foot shopping center has about 75 stores. 2015-11-04T21:16:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/chmura.jpg Chris Chmura gives an overview of the survey. http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/new-survey-shows-number-of-women-owned-businesses-growing-in-virginia New survey shows number of women-owned businesses growing in Virginia http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/new-survey-shows-number-of-women-owned-businesses-growing-in-virginia http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/new-survey-shows-number-of-women-owned-businesses-growing-in-virginia#When:21:07:00Z The average woman-owned business in Virginia has been operating for nearly 12 years, employs 9.7 people and has average annual revenue of $779,119. That data was part of a survey released Wednesday on the state of women-owned businesses in Virginia done by Richmond-based Chmura Economics and Analytics. The Richmond chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) commissioned the survey as part of its 40th anniversary celebration. It sponsored a program to share the survey results that drew about 160 people to the University of Richmond’s Jepson Alumni Center. Chris Chmura, CEO of Chmura Economics and Analytics, told the audience that Virginia ranked 12th among the states with 237,371 women-owned businesses, based on 2012 data. Her update for 2015 estimates that Virginia has 277,154 women-owned businesses employing 328,350 people and generating revenue of $57.2 billion a year. The average payroll cost per paid worker is $38,754.  Overall, total payroll accounts for 40 percent of the gross sales of the women-owned businesses, the survey said. “In 2015, women-owned businesses accounted for 36.3 percent of all private firms in Virginia,” Chmura said. ”Women-owned businesses are doing well, and they’re growing fast.” While 79 percent of the 255 businesses surveyed reporting having fewer than 10 employees, employment at women-owned businesses is expanding. It grew 9.7 percent from 2013 to 2014, a higher rate than the 0.6 percent overall employment growth in the commonwealth for the same period. This trend tracks national data. Between 1997 and 2014, when the number of businesses in the U.S. increased by 47 percent, Chmura said the number of women-owned businesses increased by 68 percent — a rate 1½ times the national average. In Virginia, 86 percent of the survey respondents said they started their businesses from scratch. A majority of them are sole business owners. Nearly half, 45 percent, operate in the professional and business services sector. The second largest sector was “other,” which includes personal and consumer services, such as restaurants and hair salons, and 10 percent of the survey’s respondents were in the construction sector.  Fifty-one percent of the companies are certified as woman-owned businesses, which can make them eligible for state and government loans. More than half of the respondents, 51 percent, reported using a credit card to access capital, followed by 27 percent who relied on commercial bank loans and 22 percent who turned to family and friends.  Government loans and contracts got lower marks in the financing area with 57 percent of the borrowers rating them as “insufficient” or “very insufficient.” A majority of the businesses said they did not borrow money in 2014, and 87 percent reported that they earned a profit that year. On average, the profit margin was 7.5 percent. In terms of challenges, more than 50 percent of the businesses listed business operations, including financial management, time management, staffing, business development and funding sources. Forty-three percent expressed a need for mentorship and close to 30 percent said business development and client management were among their key challenges. Chmura’s findings were based on surveys involving women-owned businesses in Northern Virginia, the Richmond area and Hampton Roads. The study has a margin of error of less than 7 percent.  In his remarks on the survey, Maurice Jones, Virginia’s secretary of commerce and trade, noted that for the first time Virginia has set aside $400,000 in a loan fund for small, woman-owned and minority-owned (SWAM) certified businesses. “We probably haven’t done a good job of marketing the program,” he said. The state also has set a goal of allocating 42 percent of the $5.5 billion it spends annually on contracts and services to SWAM businesses. Under the McAuliffe administration, 37 percent of that business now goes to these businesses, Jones said. The state spends half of this money on construction, he added. “We need more women in the construction business.” Another state goal is finding more balance as it builds a diverse economy, Jones said. While the state’s unemployment rate is the lowest in the Southeast at 4.3 percent, many of the new jobs being added are coming from Northern Virginia. Of the 36,700 jobs added year over year in 2015, 30,000 of them were in NoVa, Jones said. Another 4,000 came from the Hampton Roads area. For every defense spending-related job that has been lost in recent years, “it takes four Walmart jobs to make up for that and that’s if you just look at salary … We have an imbalance in our economy that is a huge risk.” The state would like to see more growth in the public sector and welcomes the growth of women-owned businesses. “That’s why this data is so helpful,” he said, because it helps the state see how it’s doing in creating a more balanced economy. Lee Brazzell, president of Richmond’s NAWBO chapter, said the organization is looking for ways to strengthen the wealth creation of women-owned businesses. “Once we do that we are helping to create wealth for the commonwealth.” 2015-11-04T21:07:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/loudoun-times-mirror-acquires-and-closes-two-newspapers Loudoun Times-Mirror acquires and closes two newspapers http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/loudoun-times-mirror-acquires-and-closes-two-newspapers http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/loudoun-times-mirror-acquires-and-closes-two-newspapers#When:18:57:00Z Two Loudoun County weekly newspapers, Leesburg Today and Ashburn Today, published their last issues on Wednesday. The newspapers ceased operations after being acquired by Leesburg-based Loudoun Times-Mirror, according to an announcement released Tuesday.  Northern Virginia  Media Services, the previous owner, continues to publish ewspapers in Middleburg and Fairfax, Arlington and Prince William counties. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. The websites of the two weekly newspapers will be consolidated at the Times-Mirror site, http://www.LoudounTimes.com. Five Leesburg Today staffers received job offers in news, advertising and production, according to the announcement. The Times-Mirror is published by Virginia News Group, which is owned and operated by Times-Mirror CEO and Publisher Peter Arundel. 2015-11-04T18:57:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/harrison-at-reston-town-center-wins-two-awards Harrison at Reston Town Center wins two awards http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/harrison-at-reston-town-center-wins-two-awards http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/harrison-at-reston-town-center-wins-two-awards#When:23:25:00Z Harrison at Reston Town Center, a new 360-unit luxury apartment community developed by Renaissance Centro in Reston, has won two top industry awards.   The project, which is 80 percent leased, offers many amenities. The community’s  28,000-square-foot common area garnered a Multifamily Pillars of the Industry Award in the interior merchandising category for Carlyn and Co. Carlyn’s design concept was inspired by elegant luxury hotels, with a broad demographic in mind. The common area offers amenities for residents who may be working from home, as well as those who are downsizing but still want the opportunity to entertain. Common area amenities include an indoor pool, culinary center, health and fitness center, executive business center and rooftop SkyClub with virtual golf and seasonal outdoor pool. The National Association of Home Builders’ Pillars Awards program highlights creative development concepts, innovative financing strategies, design, and superior management and marketing in apartments and condominiums throughout America. The Great American Living Awards (GALA) program, a Washington, D.C.,  residential design, sales, and marketing competition, honored the Harrison’s architecture by Lessard Design Inc. The Harrison’s GALA award for best multifamily design and architecture cited the project’s open floor plan arrangements that create living spaces with views of the Reston skyline. Located at 1800 Jonathan Way facing Reston Parkway, The Harrison is the latest project of Renaissance Centro, developer of two other multifamily communities across Reston Parkway from Reston Town Center: Stratford House and Carlton House. 2015-11-03T23:25:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Thlmr_0705_358-cropped.jpg http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/bayport-credit-union-buys-office-building-in-newport-news BayPort Credit Union buys office building in Newport News http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/bayport-credit-union-buys-office-building-in-newport-news http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/bayport-credit-union-buys-office-building-in-newport-news#When:22:45:00Z BayPort Credit Union has purchased a 98,506-square-foot, Class A office building in Newport News where it will relocate its corporate office. The purchase price was not disclosed. The building is located at the corner of Oyster Point Road and Canon Boulevard. According to Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer, which represented the seller, Municipal Partners LLC, BayPort plans to open a full-service branch with drive-thru lanes and an ATM. It will occupy about 20% of the building as an owner/occupant.   The credit union, currently located in Newport News, has branches throughout Hampton Roads. At the new location, the Newport News office of Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer occupies a suite on the first floor. It has retained the exclusive leasing and management assignment for the office building. Teresa Nettles of Thalhimer’s Newport News office represented the seller in the transaction. 2015-11-02T22:45:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/booz-allen-acquires-sparc-unit Booz Allen acquires SPARC unit http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/booz-allen-acquires-sparc-unit http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/booz-allen-acquires-sparc-unit#When:22:29:00Z McLean-based Booz Allen Hamilton has acquired the software services unit of SPARC, a Charleston, S.C., technology firm. Financial details about the deal were not disclosed. The SPARC unit, which has about  270 employees, who provide software development services for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and other public- and private-sector customers. “The SPARC team is a great addition to Booz Allen, bolstering our ability to deliver the large, highly integrated systems that clients are demanding,” Horacio Rozanski, the president and CEO of Booz Allen, said in a statement. “This acquisition advances the firm’s long-term strategy, which is focused on ensuring we have the specialized talent and technical capabilities we need to drive growth across our client base.” Booz Allen said the acquisition will expand and enhance its  ability to integrate technical and mission-related requirements to deliver technologies like cloud, mobile and modular services using contemporary methodologies such as Agile, DevOps and open source. The services group, which increased its revenue by 26 percent last year, will continue to operate from its Charleston facility, where 65 Booz Allen employees are currently co-located. In Booz Allen’s fiscal year 2017, the transaction is expected to be accretive to earnings and add approximately $50 million of incremental annual revenue. SPARC’s products unit will continue to operate separately under different ownership. In 2013, SPARC was ranked by Inc. 500 as the 14th fastest-growing private company in the U.S. Booz Allen said it has continued to invest in building its systems delivery business in recent years as part of the its long-term growth strategy, called Vision 2020. The firm sees growth opportunities driven by customer demand for rapid technology innovation in areas such as cloud, big data and mobility; advanced development methodologies and a demand for faster deployments.  Booz Allen employs more than 22,200 people globally, and had revenue of $5.27 billion for the 12 months ended March 31. 2015-11-02T22:29:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/jefferson-college-of-health-sciences-to-add-two-doctorate-programs Jefferson College of Health Sciences to add two doctorate programs http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/jefferson-college-of-health-sciences-to-add-two-doctorate-programs http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/jefferson-college-of-health-sciences-to-add-two-doctorate-programs#When:20:17:00Z                                                                                            The Roanoke-based Jefferson College of Health Sciences has added two doctorate-level programs to its 25 existing health care-focused degree and certificate programs. The new programs, the doctorate of nursing practice and the doctorate of health sciences, will begin next fall. In addition to announcing the doctorate-level programs, the college has introduced its Jefferson College of Health Sciences School of Graduate & Professional Studies. The school will include its graduate-level programs, which already enroll more than 250 students. The doctorate-level programs mark a significant milestone in the history of Jefferson College, which is part of Roanoke-based Carilion Clinic. Founded in 1914 as the Jefferson Hospital School of Nursing, the college by the 1980s had about 200 students in a handful of associate and certificate programs. Now it has almost 1,100 students. In addition to the new doctorate programs, Jefferson College offers master’s, bachelor’s and associate degrees, as well as a variety of graduate and undergraduate certificate and recertification programs. 2015-11-02T20:17:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-falls-to-12th-in-business-climate-list Virginia falls to 12th in business climate list http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-falls-to-12th-in-business-climate-list http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-falls-to-12th-in-business-climate-list#When:20:12:00Z Virginia has dropped off Site Selection magazine’s list of top 10 states with the best business climates. The Old Dominion slipped to 12th in the annual ranking. It has been among Site Selection's top 10 business climates ranking since 2007, ranking No. 10 last year. Virginia’s decline on the Site Selection list comes at a time it also is falling in economic development rankings compiled by CNBC and Forbes.com. Virginia also ranked 12th on the latest CNBC list where it ranked No. 1 in 2011. Virginia also was the top state in the Forbes.com list for four years, 2006-09, before fading to seventh this year. Georgia ranked No. 1 on the Site Selection list for the third straight year. Also in the top 10 were North Carolina, Kentucky, Louisiana, Texas, Tennessee, Ohio, Utah, Oklahoma and Indiana. Ranking ahead of Virginia at 11tth was Florida. Behind the Old Dominion were South Carolina and Alabama. Fifty percent of the business climate ranking is based on a survey of corporate site selection officials. They rank the states based on their recent experiences in locating facilities. The other 50 percent is based on an index of seven criteria, including competitiveness, tax burdens on new and mature companies, new plant facilities in 2014, new 2014 facilities per capita, total 2015 projects to date and 2015 projects per capita. Virginia garnered a total of 491 points, compared to Georgia’s 601 points. The commonwealth ranked fourth in snaring new projects through this August and eighth in 2015 projects per capita. In most other categories, the commonwealth ranked from 11th to 18th. However, Virginia ranked 39th in having a favorable tax burden for new firms. 2015-11-02T20:12:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/l.-l.-bean-to-open-second-virginia-store-at-short-pump-town-center L. L. Bean to open second Virginia store at Short Pump Town Center http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/l.-l.-bean-to-open-second-virginia-store-at-short-pump-town-center http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/l.-l.-bean-to-open-second-virginia-store-at-short-pump-town-center#When:16:30:00Z Outdoor retailer L. L. Bean will open its second store in Virginia at 9 a.m. at Short Pump Town Center in Henrico County on Nov. 6.  The 15,500-square-foot store is expected to employ 100 people. It will offer active and casual apparel and footwear, and outdoor gear including hiking, fly-fishing, kayaking and camping products. L.L. Bean plans three days of special events that include free fly-casting lessons, product giveaways and the store’s bootmobile. Customers also will have a chance to win a print of an original painting by Virginia artist Bobby Wiltshire. Commissioned by L. L. Bean, the painting of the Shenandoah Valley will appear on the cover of the company’s Christmas catalog. L. L Bean said in a news release that it decided to expand its presence in Virginia as part of an overall expansion plan. The Henrico County location will be the company’s 23rd retail store outside of its home state of Maine. L. L Bean opened its first Virginia store in July 2000 at Tysons. It has set a goal of 100 retail stores by 2020. The company cited the Richmond area’s high level of brand affinity as a reason why it decided to open a store at Short Pump. With natural resources such as the James River, there are many opportunities for outdoor activities. 2015-11-02T16:30:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/3_223533_1437666.jpg http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/bellwether-enterprise-closes-on-8.15-million-loan-for-richmond-apartments Bellwether Enterprise closes on $8.15 million loan for Richmond apartments http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/bellwether-enterprise-closes-on-8.15-million-loan-for-richmond-apartments http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/bellwether-enterprise-closes-on-8.15-million-loan-for-richmond-apartments#When:16:10:00Z   Bellwether Enterprise Real Estate Capital LLC recently originated an $8.1 million commercial mortgage-backed securities loan for the financing of Scott’s Edge Apartments in the Scott's Addition area in Richmond. KGS-Alpha Real Estate Capital Markets LLC served as the lender for the deal. The loan provides 10-year, fixed-rate financing with a three-year interest period followed by a 30-year amortization schedule. It represents the refinance of the existing senior construction loan. Bellwether Enterprise, a Cleveland-based national, commercial and multifamily mortgage banking company, said it structured new permanent financing around a historic tax credit structure. The loan was closed in less than 40 days from application during the property’s first month of stabilized occupancy. Scott’s Edge, located at 3408 Moore St., is an adaptive reuse, multifamily project consisting of 94 luxury apartment units in three historic warehouse buildings. It’s located on the former site of the Seaboard Bag Corp., a factory that produced burlap and paper feed and seed bags that later became Morgan Brother’s Bag Company. The project was completed in October 2014, and is fully occupied, according to Bellwether. Amenities include an 8,000-square-foot outdoor courtyard with a pool, bar area, grilling station and outdoor television. 2015-11-02T16:10:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/u.s.-homecare-leases-59625-square-feet-in-virginia-beach U.S. Homecare leases 59,625 square feet in Virginia Beach http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/u.s.-homecare-leases-59625-square-feet-in-virginia-beach http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/u.s.-homecare-leases-59625-square-feet-in-virginia-beach#When:16:03:00Z Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer reports recent lease transactions totaling more than 223,000 square feet in the Hampton Roads market. The largest transaction was for U.S. Homecare LLC, a Hartford, Conn.-based company that provides home health care services. It leased 59,625 square feet in Oceana South Industrial Park at 1345 Taylor Farm Road in Virginia Beach.  Geoff Poston, Tony Weiss and Patrick Mumey handled lease negotiations for the landlord. The transaction brings the 95,400-square-foot facility to  full occupnay. PRA Holding I LLC has renewed its lease of 32,688 square feet in Net Center at 5200 W. Mercury Blvd. in Hampton. Teresa Nettles handled lease negotiations. Volleyball Virginia has leased 11,000 square feet at 500 Woodlake Circle in Chesapeake. Weiss handled lease negotiations. Ryan Homes leased 10,000 square feet in the Davenport Building at 5400 Discovery Blvd. in Williamsburg. Andy Dallas handled lease negotiations. 2015-11-02T16:03:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/GAD_Partners_Color2.jpg Charles Allen (left), Michael Goodman and Robert Donnelly. http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-law-firm-changes-its-name Virginia law firm changes its name http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-law-firm-changes-its-name http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-law-firm-changes-its-name#When:09:00:00Z The law firm Goodman Allen & Filetti PLLC, which has offices in Richmond, Norfolk and Charlottesville, has changed its name to Goodman Allen Donnelly. The change recognizes the contributions of Robert F. Donnelly, a founding member of the firm, who now becomes a named member. He has focused his 27-year career on defending physicians, hospitals and other health care professionals sued for medical malpractice in Virginia courts Also reflected in the name change is the departure of Dante M. “Dan” Filetti, a founding member who was based at the Norfolk office. He is leaving the firm to explore new opportunities. The firm also has announced an expansion of its practice areas and the addition of several new attorneys. E. Duffy Myrtetus has joined the firm as a member. He has a broad transactional and litigation practice and is a member of the Virginia and Florida bars. Myrtetus is a former chair of the Real Estate Section of the City of Richmond Bar Association, a past president of the Out-of-State Practitioner’s Division of the Florida Bar, a former chair of the Florida Bar’s Council of Sections, and currently serves on the Florida Bar’s Board of Governors. Also joining the firm are Martha Weis as an associate and Ashley E. Mullen and Taylor D. Brewer as senior associates. Weis works with both the intellectual property and transactional teams while Mullen and Brewer have joined the litigation team. Goodman Allen Donnelly has 29 attorneys at its three offices. 2015-11-02T09:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Christopher_D._Kastner__thmb2.jpg Christopher Kastner http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/huntington-ingalls-industries-names-new-cfo Huntington Ingalls Industries names new CFO http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/huntington-ingalls-industries-names-new-cfo http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/huntington-ingalls-industries-names-new-cfo#When:19:54:00Z Newport News-based Huntington Ingalls Industries has named Christopher D. Kastner to succeed Barbara A. Niland as its chief financial officer and corporate vice president, business management. The change takes effect with Niland’s retirement on March 1. In addition, the shipbuilding company announced the promotion of two corporate vice presidents, Philip Luna and Michael S. Smith, to its senior management team. Niland joined Northrop Grumman Newport News in 2004. Huntington Ingalls President and CEO Mike Petters said she was instrumental in HII becoming a publicly traded company in 2011 when it was spun off by Falls Church-based Northrop Grumman. She was named the publicly traded company category winner in the 2013 Virginia CFO Awards. “I’ve relied upon her financial acumen and sound judgment, and she always gives 110 percent to every project or task, Petters said in a statement. “She demonstrates excellent leadership and a great commitment to the men and women who make up the HII enterprise, and we will miss her.” Kastner currently is corporate vice president and general manager, corporate development. Before being named to his current position in 2012, he was vice president and CFO for HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding division in Mississippi. He also has been vice president, business management, and CFO for Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding-Gulf Coast and vice president, contracts and risk management, for Northrop Grumman Ship Systems. He serves on the boards of Hampton Roads public broadcasting station WHRO and Eastern Virginia Medical School. Luna has been corporate vice president and president, UniversalPegasus International, an HII subsidiary. His promotion to the senior executive team takes effect immediately. Smith is corporate vice president, corporate development and nuclear and environment sciences. On March 1, he will join the senior executive team as corporate vice president, strategy and development. Both executives will report to Petters. Huntington Ingalls Industries is the largest military shipbuilding company in the nation.  It employs 37,000 people operating in the U.S. and overseas. 2015-10-30T19:54:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/allstate-insurance-leases-48000-square-feet-in-downtown-roanoke Allstate Insurance leases 48,000 square feet in downtown Roanoke http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/allstate-insurance-leases-48000-square-feet-in-downtown-roanoke http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/allstate-insurance-leases-48000-square-feet-in-downtown-roanoke#When:19:19:00Z Allstate Insurance has signed a 48,000-square-foot office lease to become a tenant at the Stone Printing Building in downtown Roanoke. According to Poe & Cronk Real Estate, Allstate will occupy the entire building, located at 116 N. Jefferson Street, adjacent to the Hotel Roanoke and the Roanoke Higher Education Center. Bryan Musselwhite and Matt Huff of Poe and Cronk Real Estate Group represented the landlord in the transaction, Blue Eagle Partnership LLC, a local Roanoke investment group. The previous tenant, the Veterans Administration in Roanoke,  moved back into the Poff Federal Building in 2014. The building can accommodate more than 300 employees. “Allstate was drawn to the energy and amenities of the revitalizing downtown market, and we were able to meet their office needs at our client’s property,” Matt Huff, a partner at Poe & Cronk, said in a statement. Allstate, a large insurer, is currently located at 1819 Electric Road in southwest Roanoke. 2015-10-29T19:19:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Whole_Foods.jpg http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/whole-foods-market-to-open-store-at-tech-center-in-newport-news Whole Foods Market to open store at Tech Center in Newport News http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/whole-foods-market-to-open-store-at-tech-center-in-newport-news http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/whole-foods-market-to-open-store-at-tech-center-in-newport-news#When:19:08:00Z   Whole Foods Market will open its first store in Newport News at the Marketplace at Tech Center on Nov. 4. The company will hold a bread-breaking ceremony at 8:45 a.m., and doors will open to the public at 9 a.m. A grocery retailer of natural and organic foods, Whole Market joins a growing roster of tenants in the 250,000-square-foot retail center. The Newport News store will include the Oyster Point Pub and Raw Bar, with 15 beers on tap (many of them local brews), a bakery with artisan bread, and it plans to feature many local food suppliers. “Whole Foods Market brings a new level of retail to the Peninsula,” John Lawson, CEO of W.M. Jordan, which is a joint venture developer on the project with S. J. Collins, based out of Georgia. Tech Center is located at the corner of Oyster Point Road and Jefferson Avenue. When built out, it will include a 50-acre Tech Center Research Park, the Marketplace at Tech Center and residential offerings on a 100-acre site. The $450 million project is projected to create more than 5,500 new jobs in Newport News. 2015-10-29T19:08:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/northern-virginia-moves-into-first-place-as-a-u.s.-data-center-market Northern Virginia moves into first place as a U.S. data center market http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/northern-virginia-moves-into-first-place-as-a-u.s.-data-center-market http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/northern-virginia-moves-into-first-place-as-a-u.s.-data-center-market#When:19:04:00Z Northern Virginia has surpassed the Tri-State New Jersey / New York region as the largest data center market in the U.S., according to a report from JLL. The company’s annual Data Center Outlook says the region has nearly 20 percent of the market share in enterprise demand year-to-date in 2015. Northern Virginia’s competitive utility rates, tax incentives, abundance of power and a robust fiber network compared to other Tier 1 markets  -- such as New York/New Jersey, Northern California, Chicago and Dallas  -- have made the region the most attractive global data center market for enterprise users of all sizes. JLL cited stable utility costs that have hovered around six cents per kilowatt (kWh) for the last five years, compared to a national average of 7.4 per kWh of the markets JLL surveyed. In addition, the report said data center operators in Northern Virginia are aggressively delivering turnkey data center space with new designs to meet enterprise user demand. “We expect the 2015 data center market to be on par with or surpass 2014’s record levels and that Northern Virginia will also be the leading market again in 2016,” JLL Managing Director Allen Tucker said in a statement.  “Users can expect to see continued stable pricing and concessions into 2016 as operators continue to compete for the nation’s most robust enterprise demand … “ The report provided this data on Northern Virginia’s 2015 data center supply: ·       Total inventory: 7.3 million square feet ·       Total commissioned vacant: 167,000 square feet ·       Under construction: 223,000 square feet ·       Planned: 606,000 square feet Northern Virginia is home to the nation’s largest data center REIT operators (CoreSite, CyrusOne, DuPont Fabros Technology, Digital Realty Trust, Equinix, Quality Technology Services) with some having their largest global portfolio presence in Ashburn. The JLL Data Center Outlook highlights other factors driving the market such as increased demand and M&A activity among owners . For instance, Digital Realty recently purchased Telx for $1.9 billion, nearly doubling its footprint and adding substantial services  for the company. Construction costs associated with a new data center are high, and the infrastructure investment can be as much as two to three times the amount to build, another reason why JLL says M&A has surged as small / medium size providers combine with larger providers to seek lower sources of capital. The expense is greater for enterprise users, who have increasingly shifted away from owned and build-to-suit facilities to third party providers to offset cost.    2015-10-29T19:04:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/out-about-virginia-living-museum-50th-anniversary-kick-off-celebration-and Out & About - Virginia Living Museum 50th anniversary kick-off celebration and Cityworks (X)po http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/out-about-virginia-living-museum-50th-anniversary-kick-off-celebration-and http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/out-about-virginia-living-museum-50th-anniversary-kick-off-celebration-and#When:10:00:00Z This month's Out & About features photos from the Virginia Living Museum 50th anniversary kick-off celebration in Newport News and CityWorks (X)po in Roanoke. To share photos of your company's special events with Virginia Business, e-mail your high resolution images along with photo ids to . Photos not used in the magazine may be posted on our online photo gallery. 2015-10-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/NView_investeducation.png http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/making-public-education-a-business-investment Making public education a business investment http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/making-public-education-a-business-investment http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/making-public-education-a-business-investment#When:10:00:00Z Most people think of an investment as a stock, a bond or a piece of real estate. A string of speakers at a recent Richmond workforce conference, however, spoke passionately about public education as a business investment.  That might seem to be an odd concept to many people. Don’t we already support schools with state and local taxes? Yes, we do, but it turns out the state’s share of funding is covering less of the bill. A report released in September by the state Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) found that the commonwealth spent 7 percent less per student last year than it did in 2005. Cities and counties are trying to make up the difference, paying the highest share of total K-12 spending in the Southeast. Nonetheless, 5,000 teaching positions have been eliminated statewide over the years. But this still sounds like a state government issue. Why does the business community need to get involved? Because, the speakers said,  K-12 — actually pre-K-12 — education is the first step in preparing a skilled workforce.  Some years ago, Virginia had many industries that hired workers without high school diplomas. Those days are gone.  Many jobs that will be created in coming decades will not require a college education, but they likely will require education and training beyond high school. Already, the term “skills gap” has become commonplace. It refers to the situation in which employers have jobs to offer but can’t find qualified candidates to fill them. Mike Petters, the president and CEO of Newport News-based Huntington Ingalls Inc., has faced the skills gap, and he believes he has found the root of the problem — early childhood education. HII is the parent company of Newport News Shipbuilding, Virginia’s largest industrial employer with more than 21,000 workers. Many of those high-skilled workers are at or near retirement age. Newport News Shipbuilding builds all of the Navy’s nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and shares responsibility for producing its nuclear-powered submarines. The work is complicated and labor-intensive. To maintain a pipeline of skilled workers, HII probably has the most extensive private workforce development program in the state. It includes apprentice schools in Newport News and Mississippi, extensive collaboration with community colleges and summer internships for college students and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) educators. That kind of effort, however, may not be able to overcome the education deficit that a child already has in entering kindergarten without early childhood education. In his speech at the Virginia Workforce Conference sponsored by the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Petters noted that the U.S. already trails most industrialized nations in the percentage of students receiving early childhood instruction.  Family income has become a determining factor in which children receive pre-kindergarten education, he said, creating “a rift between the haves and the have-nots before formal public education even begins.” “We see the consequences down the line, and that’s a shrinking pool of applicants years before most workforce development efforts begin,” he said. The ability of HII and other defense contractors to maintain a skilled workforce, Petters said, is not just a business problem. It also is a national security issue. “For us to keep our economy strong and remain competitive on this global stage, we must invest in education from the very beginning,” he said. So how does business attack the public school problem? The answer is “engagement,” according to James Dyke, who also spoke at the workforce conference. Dyke, a former Virginia secretary of education, now is a senior consultant with McGuireWoods Consulting. Engagement doesn’t necessarily involve throwing money at the issue. Instead, Dyke invites business leaders to become involved in education at the legislative and local-school levels. Drawing on a December report by a chamber subcommittee he chaired, Dyke suggested: The creation of a K-12 advocacy group similar to the Virginia Business Higher Education Council. The higher education council has been an effective supporter of Virginia’s public colleges and universities at the General Assembly. The use of grants to implement year-round schools. One struggling Petersburg elementary school has tried this approach and now is on the verge of accreditation. Collaboration between business managers and school principals, with managers sharing ideas that could help school operations run more efficiently. Involvement in the selection of local school board members, “the most difficult public service,” Dyke said. The business community would help recruit qualified candidates for elected and appointed boards. Business community support for a state constitutional amendment allowing more charter schools in Virginia. While admitting that charter schools don’t represent a “silver bullet” to save public education, Dyke said these schools have been effective in many other parts of the country. Gov. Terry McAuliffe has pledged to make K-12 education his top priority in the proposed two-year state budget he will present in December. While disclosing few details on his plans, the governor indicated his intent to reduce SOL testing, decrease class sizes and pump more money into early childhood education. That does not mean, of course, that the governor will have his wishes granted. McAuliffe and the Republican-controlled legislature have frequently been at odds over budget issues during the past two years. Dyke, however, believes that business community support for education improvements can turn the tide in a fractious General Assembly. He noted that his Richmond audience included both Democrats and Republicans. “We need to set those things aside … This is a business issue, but it also has to be a bipartisan issue.” 2015-10-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/HEALTH_Lundbergjpg.png Virginia Health Information has the state’s first All-Payer Claims Database, says Michael Lundberg. Photo by Jay Paul http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/data-dig Data dig http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/data-dig http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/data-dig#When:10:00:00Z The idea behind collecting huge piles of data is that, if you can sort it the right way, you’ll learn something. Now that option is available to anyone with a stake in Virginia’s health-care sector, from providers to employers to consumers. Working with the Virginia Department of Health, the nonprofit group Virginia Health Information has prepared the state’s first All-Payer Claims Database (APCD). It represents “hundreds of millions of paid claims” from 2011 to mid-2015, says Michael Lundberg, VHI’s executive director. There are lots of possible uses of the data, Lundberg says. Self-insured businesses can study the outcome of the health care their employees are getting and figure out what works and what doesn’t work. Accountable care organizations — which can be groups of doctors, hospitals or other health-care providers — can measure the health outcomes for the population they are treating. Health departments at the regional and state level can evaluate the needs of specific population groups, and insurers can evaluate the effectiveness of treatments and the costs. Consumers might get less direct benefits from the database, but they presumably will benefit when providers and insurers find some new efficiencies in how health care is delivered and priced. “The variety of different ways that somebody could use it is pretty much endless,” says Doug Gray, executive director of the Virginia Association of Health Plans (VAHP), which helped fund the data project launch. “For any health-care question that deals with the volume of services, this database can help us.” For example, the data can show how many prescriptions are being filled for a particular drug. “I’ll be interested in looking at a report on how many name-brand drugs are being prescribed versus generic,” Gray says. “So, we can figure out whether advertising campaigns are influencing those drug purchases.” The data also can be used to measure whether providers are succeeding in their treatment of a certain population. “This is the kind of thing Medicare is after, to incentivize hospitals and nursing homes to make sure that people don’t end up right back” in the hospital after being discharged, Gray says. There are, however, limits to the data. The information won’t, for example, include the actual costs of services agreed to by providers and insurers. So it won’t allow direct price comparisons, the kind that might create a competitive advantage. But the data should reveal patterns and practices and help show successes and failures. For example, the use of prescription opioids (pain-killing drugs like hydrocodone, oxycodone and morphine), is a serious health issue because of the rising number of opioid overdoses in Virginia and around the country (See related story.). The database can reveal how often certain physicians are prescribing these drugs and show in greater detail which parts of the state have higher numbers of opioid abuse. “There’re a whole lot of deep policy questions you can ask,” Gray says. The first batch of data became available in May, and the cost for accessing it varies depending on the user, Lundberg says. Marketing of the data is just beginning. VHI is using a marketing plan based on work by students at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Business. Subscribers will get training from VHI on how to access the data and regular suggestions “on how they can effectively use this,” Lundberg says. Virginia’s APCD effort was launched in 2012 with legislation from the General Assembly. The state’s Health Department contracted with VHI to implement the project. The initial $3.2 million cost for the project’s launch was shared by the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, VHI and the VAHP. APCDs started catching on among states about a dozen years ago. According to the APCD Council, about 30 states have either established APCDs or expressed a “strong interest” in doing so. Christopher Bailey, VHHA executive vice president, says all the major health systems in the commonwealth eventually will be subscribing to VHI’s service. “It just takes time,” he says. The first release had data from insurers Anthem, Cigna, the state’s Department of Medical Assistance Services (which administers Virginia’s Medicaid program), Innovation Health, Kaiser, Optima, Virginia Premier and United Healthcare. Data from Aetna and CareFirst has since been added, according to VHI. Bailey says the impact of big data is still in the early stages, as providers and insurers navigate what the data means for them, and state and local-level health agencies learn more about the populations they serve. Another piece of the puzzle is the growing use of electronic medical records (EMR). If providers use EMR technology, the results of treatment decisions can be accessed even more quickly. That will likely raise even more questions. “What this data does is just give you insight into variations and identifies opportunities” to cut costs or improve care, or both, Bailey says. The Virginia Center for Health Innovation (VCHI) is among the first to tap into the data, says Beth Bortz, the nonprofit organization’s president and CEO. The center is going through the information using a “waste calculator” program, which helps determine which tests or procedures aren’t effective. Milliman MedInsight, the company providing the software for handling the data, created the program. The software’s parameters are based on the Choosing Wisely campaign from the ABIM Foundation (American Board of Internal Medicine). That campaign, which aims to reduce the number of unnecessary tests and procedures, is funded in part by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Because the Choosing Wisely campaign “came from the medical community,” Bortz says, it should have some traction in changing behaviors. The center wants to use the data to narrow its focus and target what is really happening in Virginia’s health-care systems, not what might be happening. “It’s Virginia-specific data,” she says. The next step for the center will be developing a three-pronged campaign, targeting health-care providers, employers and consumers. One of the issues still unresolved is making sure health-care providers have adequate liability coverage in the event they recommend against a particular procedure. Bortz says VCHI has been talking with legal counsel at the Medical Society of Virginia about what might be done. “You should have what you need,” she says. Bortz says the center is seeking funding in Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s 2017-2018 budget for additional efforts to show doctors, employers and consumers ways to use the data in reducing unnecessary medical procedures and pricing the value of the health-care services. “This should be the low-hanging fruit that everybody agrees on,” she says. 2015-10-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/HEALTH_Edwards.png Dr. Eric Edwards, kaléo’s chief medical officer, says the median out-of-pocket cost of Evzio is under $20. Photo by Jay Paul http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/growing-momentum Growing momentum http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/growing-momentum http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/growing-momentum#When:10:00:00Z Richmond-based kaléo is in a good position to help lessen a very bad problem — the rising number of opioid overdose deaths in Virginia and around the country. That’s because it has created a device that can be used by almost anyone to treat an overdose, which means potentially life-saving treatment can be delivered without waiting for emergency personnel who often arrive too late. It’s called the Evzio, a slim, pocket-size device that carries two doses of naloxone, which temporarily counters the effect of opioids. The Evzio also gives audible instructions to users, telling them how to deliver the injection. It’s pretty simple: Remove the cap, press the device against the person’s outer thigh and press a button. Then immediately seek medical care for the victim. Evzio was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in April 2014. Its median out-of-pocket cost is less than $20, says Dr. Eric Edwards, one of the company founders and its chief medical officer and vice president of research and development. Kaléo’s product is, so far, the only FDA-approved device of its kind, and there is growing momentum nationwide to make access to naloxone easier. About a dozen states even allow it to be sold without a prescription, though Virginia is not yet among that group. Virginia did, though, pass several laws this year dealing with overdose preventions, including one that allows pharmacists to dispense naloxone under more lenient rules, allowing family members and other individuals to possess and use naloxone to treat an overdose. That law came out of recommendations from a task force created last year by Gov. Terry McAuliffe to develop new laws and policies for reducing the number of unintentional overdoses and opioid abuse. Opioids are widely used in prescription medications for pain relief because they work so well, Edwards says. Oxycodone, hydrocodone and fentanyl are among medications that contain opioids. The problem is that this more effective and legal treatment comes with big risks. Even when patients follow instructions, the drug can interact with some medications, such as those prescribed for depression or anxiety, or with medicines used to treat conditions such as COPD, sleep apnea or asthma. An opioid overdose often comes on quickly, and by the time emergency care arrives it can be too late. “The goal was: How do you bridge that gap and keep a patient breathing until the ambulance arrives? That was the value proposition” behind creating Evzio, Edwards says. The number of overdose deaths has been on the rise in recent years. In 2014 prescription opioid deaths in Virginia rose to 547, up more than 8 percent from the previous year, according to the Department of Health. Fatal heroin overdoses rose 12 percent last year from 2013, to 239. The problem is getting worse: In the first six months of this year, there were 126 heroin overdose deaths, a 25 percent increase over the same period last year. In September kaléo and a handful of medical groups focused on pain management launched a public awareness campaign called “America Starts Talking.” The goal is to raise awareness about the risks of opioid overdoses even from prescription medications. Many in the medical community have been rallying for several years in support of putting devices like the Evzio in the hands of lay people. Earlier this year the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) issued practice guidelines that call for providing naloxone to family members, significant others, firefighters and police officers who are trying to help an opioid overdose victim. Dr. Margaret Jarvis, who helped develop those guidelines for ASAM, says the stigma around drug addiction has slowed the progress of treatment options. “There’s still a huge chunk of the population that does not understand addiction as a disease, and so they don’t understand any need for medication,” she says. The problem has grown so quickly that many health-care providers are trying to respond without necessarily being sure they’re doing it correctly, Jarvis says. The new guidelines are intended to help physicians and others figure out if they’re doing the right thing. Naloxone has one big advantage in terms of safety — if it is given to a person accidently, someone not suffering an opioid overdose, it has no effect. “There’s just really kind of no downside to this,” she says. Kaléo’s beginning is partly a personal story. Eric Edwards and his twin brother, Evan, the company’s vice president for product development and industrialization, grew up with life-threatening food allergies. They developed a new way to deliver epinephrine, the drug used to treat many allergic reactions. That work led to the creation of the company. Kaléo’s near-term plans are to stay privately held and in Richmond. The Edwards brothers are from the Richmond area, and Eric is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Medicine. “We’re building this right here in Richmond,” he says. “Since we started this company we’ve been able to attract world-class talent.” 2015-10-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/LONGWOOD_president_Reveley_with_students.png Photo courtesy Longwood University http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/a-vital-role-to-play ‘A vital role to play’ http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/a-vital-role-to-play http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/a-vital-role-to-play#When:10:00:00Z Few, if any, college presidents have as many family ties to the institution they lead and the region in which their institutions are located as W. Taylor Reveley IV, president of Longwood University since 2013. He should not be confused with his father, W. Taylor Reveley III, the president of the College of William & Mary. And he certainly should not be confused with his grandfather, the late W. Taylor Reveley II, who was president of another Farmville-area institution, Hampden-Sydney College. Reveley’s ties to Longwood include a great-grandfather who was a biology professor there. He also is the grandson, great-grandson and great nephew of Longwood graduates. All of these ties help explain the affection that Reveley, a Richmond native, has for Longwood and the Farmville area. “I spent some of my happiest moments as a child here in Farmville,” Reveley says. “Farmville has the soul of a college town.” Changing local economy Farmville once was an industrial and railroad hub. Now, the three legs of its economy are retail, health care and education.  Employment in those sectors is led by the sprawling Green Front Furniture store, Centra Southside Community Hospital and the two colleges. Founded in 1839, Longwood is the third-oldest public university in the state. It has about 5,000 students and offers more than 100 majors. The university has more than 900 employees, including 248 instructional faculty and more than 300 classified employees. Longwood, its employees, students and visitors spend $49.4 million in Farmville annually, according to a recent economic impact report. Students alone spend more than $20 million in the community. Many university employees are from Farmville and other nearby communities. “I’m a product of Southside Virginia, born in Martinsville. Longwood is a plum job,” says Ken Copeland, the university’s vice president for administration and finance. Region’s revival Reveley, however, believes that Longwood’s role as an economic engine isn’t limited to how many people are on its payroll.  “It is inextricably tied to its educational mission,” Reveley says. “The best way an institution can serve its region is to do what it’s best at, which is educating students.” The surrounding rural region formerly was a powerhouse for tobacco farming, furniture manufacturing and textile production.  But those industries have waned. The area is trying to reinvent itself by attracting new industries and putting an emphasis on training at all levels. Overall, the region has experienced a higher unemployment rate than much of the commonwealth and has a relatively low number of college graduates. Thirteen percent of residents over age 18, for example, have earned at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with a state average of 32 percent, according to a recent community profile of the Commonwealth Planning District, which  includes Amelia, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Lunenburg, Nottoway and Prince Edward counties. “We’ve got a vital role to play in helping Southside take full steps into the knowledge economy,” Reveley says.   Keeping costs down  As Longwood’s president, Reveley is focused on improving student retention and graduation rates. This year, the retention rate — measuring the percentage of freshmen who return as sophomores — ticked up from 78 to 82 percent. In addition, Longwood’s six-year graduation rate has been running about 65 percent. Keeping tuition under control also is one of Reveley’s top priorities. “I’m certainly very proud that Longwood has had the lowest tuition increases by far, cumulatively, of any [four-year public institution in Virginia, over the last two years. That’s particularly important for Southside students,” Reveley says. For the 2014-15 academic year, Longwood’s total tuition and fees rose 2.1 percent to $11,580 for in-state students. For 2015-16, the same costs increased 2.8 percent to $11,910, according to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. Longwood plans to increase its enrollment by 20 percent to 6,000 by 2025.  “Six thousand is a great number for a public university like Longwood,” Reveley says. “You can maintain the intimacy of scale at that number, while also having the economies of scale to do some big things.” Students’ views Longwood’s small-school feel made it a perfect fit for at least two students, Abby Early and Lily Black. “I came for the smaller school, the small-school atmosphere. I really wanted a one-on-one with professors and not just be a number in a classroom,” says Early, a senior. (University officials say that Longwood has the largest percentage of classes taught by full-time faculty of all public universities in Virginia.) “I came to Longwood for the sense of community,” says Black, a sophomore. “I remembered, when I was touring, it was a smaller community, and it was definitely the feeling that I could meet someone new, but I could also see a lot of people on campus that I already knew.” University projects The university has $150 million in capital projects underway to help accommodate its growing student population. Projects include dormitories and a new student commons. The university also has established a variety of off-campus apartment communities for students who would rather not live in dormitories. One of the defining changes in Longwood’s campus came in 2004 with the creation of Brock Commons, a pedestrian mall with trees, plants, fountains and a large tiered plaza. Brock Commons replaced a narrow street that once divided the campus. A $3 million gift from Joan Brock, a 1964 graduate, and her husband, Macon, a co-founder of the Dollar Tree store chain, helped cover the cost of the $7.5  million project. “They’ve been great,” Reveley says. He says state-supported institutions are becoming more reliant on philanthropy for growth and improvements.  “To have momentum for new initiatives, you really have to look to philanthropy,” he says.  “That also means helping alumni develop the habit of engaging with their alma mater philanthropically.” When he took office in 2013, the university was completing a $41 million fundraising campaign, the largest in its history. Town-gown ties Making Farmville more of a student-oriented community is a goal for the town and the university. “What is good for Farmville is good for Longwood, and what is good for Longwood is good for Farmville. It’s clearly a two-way street,” says Mayor David Whitus, a member of the Longwood class of 1983.  Carol Broadwater says that Farmville business owners have a great interest in making the downtown welcoming to students and their parents. She and her husband, Richard, opened Amish Originals, a custom furniture store on Main Street 17 years ago. She sees her sales spike during parents’ weekends and other college events that attract people to Farmville.  “Ninety percent of our sales come from outside Farmville, and 50 percent come from Richmond,” she  explains. Farmville maintains robust retail sales for a small town. Last year, sales totaled more than $352 million. Longwood’s Small Business Development Center helped recruit a new Farmville eatery, Uptown Coffee Café, after students expressed interest in more places to eat and shop. Last year, the center led 69 training seminars that helped create or retain 246 jobs and assisted in generating $7.5 million in new capital, across the region it serves, which stretches from Patrick County in the west to Emporia in the east. Sheri McGuire, executive director of the university’s Small Business Development Center, says that in the past economic development focused on recruiting big industries that might create a large number of jobs at one time. But over the years, there has been a growing awareness that small businesses are a leading force in job creation. Shaping citizen leaders In 2007-2008, Longwood raised its profile by starting to compete at the Division 1 level in intercollegiate athletics. Recently, Longwood scored a coup sure to raise its national profile by being selected to host the single vice-presidential debate for the 2016 election. It is scheduled for Oct. 4, 2016. Reveley also has sought to enlarge upon the region’s association with one of the biggest turning points in history: the civil rights movement. In 1951, students at Moton High School in Prince Edward County —  a school for African-Americans — walked out of classes and began a two-week strike to protest overcrowded and inferior conditions at the school. They were led by 16-year-old Barbara Johns. A suit filed by the students and their families became a part of Brown vs. Board of Education, the historic U.S. Supreme Court decision that in 1954 declared segregation in public education was unconstitutional. In July, the university formalized a relationship with the Moton Museum, pledging operational support, along with help in fundraising, marketing and other areas. The museum is located in the former high-school building. Reveley said the affiliation provides an opportunity to enhance the university’s long-stated mission to shape citizen leaders, just as Barbara Johns led students out of Moton High School and stepped into history. Revisions are currently underway to center the university’s general education curriculum on citizen leadership, creating what university officials believe will be a distinctive niche in higher education. Reveley observes that Longwood is at the crossroads of history, bookended by the Civil War and Civil Rights. Gens. Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant marched past the north end of campus during Lee’s retreat toward Appomattox, where the Civil War ended. An imposing statue erected by Confederate veterans and the Daughters of the Confederacy lies just across from Longwood’s main buildings. Meanwhile, the Moton Museum lies at the south end of the campus. “Farmville and Longwood are intensely historic places,” Reveley says, pausing for emphasis. “Really drawing attention and amplifying that deep history is a powerful thing, and I think that has resonated nationally.” 2015-10-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/CRE_Allegiancy1.png Steve and Chris Sadler of Allegiancy. Photo by Jay Paul http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/radical-specialization ‘Radical specialization’ http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/radical-specialization http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/radical-specialization#When:10:00:00Z Can a firm that focuses on building analytics, building owners and today’s more creative funding methods become an industry leader? Steve and Chris Sadler think so.  The brothers founded Richmond-based Allegiancy in 2005. They didn’t want a commercial real estate asset management firm that tried to be good at everything. They wanted to be good at only one thing: managing an asset so effectively that they can ensure owner/investors maximum returns.  It’s what CEO Steve Sadler refers to as “radical specialization. I think of it like medicine,” he says. “In 1950, if you had a problem with your hand, you would have gone to a general surgeon at your hospital, and they would have done the best they could to solve your problem. Today, that’s not the case. You go to an orthopedic surgeon, and they only do hands or only do wrists. The specialization we see coming in real estate is very much like what has happened in medicine.”  The niche approach seems to be working. Today Allegiancy has a staff of 19 with $1 billion worth of assets under management. The company made the top half of Inc. Magazine’s list of 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in America this year, coming in 2,486 on growth of 151 percent and annual revenue of $3.7 million.  In July, it relocated its headquarters to a larger 7,000-square-foot office space in the Boulders Office Park in Chesterfield County. The move occurred shortly after Allegiancy acquired TriStone Realty Management in Houston. The deal added $450 million in assets under management in nine states, with most of Allegiancy’s holdings in low-rise office buildings in secondary markets along the Eastern seaboard. The Sadlers credit the company’s rapid growth in part to a technology-driven platform.  Allegiancy has invested nearly $2 million in proprietary technology that creates an analytical profile on every building. “We have a real-time data feed,” explains Steve. “We know every time an invoice comes in, when it gets paid … We know when a bid for work receives authorization and when it gets completed. We get information on how much power is being consumed every 15 minutes.”  All the information goes into a single, cloud-based database used by Allegiancy’s asset and property managers to make timely decisions. The hard-data approach, says President Chris Sadler, saves money on maintenance. Well-maintained buildings attract tenants who provide the income stream that increases a building’s value. Allegiancy also benefits since the company gets a monthly fee based on the percentage of a building’s revenue and growth of the asset. Chris says Allegiancy’s automated system is so good that it flagged higher-than-normal utility costs at an office building in North Carolina shortly after the firm took over management from a national company. After benchmarking the expenses against other buildings of its size, Allegiancy investigated and learned why the costs were higher. “The utility bills had been paid late every month,” says Chris. Under the previous asset manager’s system, invoices went to Nashville for processing and then to New York for a signature and then back to North Carolina before the bill was paid. “You could have $20,000 to $30,000 a month in electricity for a building like that,” notes Steve. With the utility charging a 5 percent late fee that meant late fees of $1,000 to $1,500 a month, or a bump in costs of as much as $18,000 a year. Allegiancy markets the company as being an advocate for the building’s owner so that type of waste doesn’t occur. “The equity owners usually get short shrift in the overall management of the asset,” says Chris. “The lender always gets paid. The leasing broker always gets paid. The guy paying all the bills and who has the greatest risk is the equity owner.” In many instances, he adds, buildings are owned by people or partnerships from afar “and there’s no one really looking out for that building like it’s their business.” One California investor, Mark Schoning, says he was so pleased with Allegiancy’s management that he later went on to become a shareholder in the company. “The vast bulk of my investments are with them,” he says. “I’ve been pleased with their returns and handling of investments.” Asked about a typical return on his investments, Schoning says returns have ranged from 7 percent to as much as 50 percent.  According to Steve, cash flows on most buildings are north of 8 percent. “That’s just cash flows, that’s not including capital gains,” he says. In September, Allegiancy filed a $50 million capital fundraising offering with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission under new regulations that the Sadlers say will open the doors to more real estate investment.  Under what’s known as the new Reg A+ rules — that grew out of a provision of the 2012 Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act — companies can raise up to $50 million in equity from investors, including smaller, non-accredited investors. Before the new rule went into effect in June, the limit was $5 million.  Steve has championed Reg A+ in speeches around the country. He refers to it as a “democratization of capital,” because it gives smaller businesses access to capital through an abbreviated and less expensive process, and it widens the circle of potential investors.  Allegiancy’s filing is under review by the SEC. Steve says San Francisco-based W.R. Hambrecht & Co.  has agreed to serve as the lead investment banker. If the offering passes SEC review, the firm plans to shop the deal to investors and close it out by December. The Sadlers’ goal is to raise at least $30 million, money they would use to continue acquiring other real estate asset management companies and building Allegiancy’s technology platform. Not everyone is a fan of the new Reg A+ offerings. While state regulators aren’t against increased investor participation, the North American Securities Administrators Association lobbied against the SEC ruling that pre-empted states from reviewing capital fundraisings of $20 million or more. They do have oversight on deals of $20 million or less.  Regulators in Montana and Massachusetts have filed suit in federal court to block or delay the new rules. “I think it’s a bad thing,” says Ron Thomas, director of the Division of Securities and Retail Franchising for Virginia. “Most of these offerings tend to be local in nature and who knows the issuers and business climate better than the local state securities administrator?”  Plus, there are still costs, though they are less onerous than ones associated with more traditional fundraising methods. If Allegiancy raises $30 million, Steve says, the company expects to spend about 7 percent, or $2 million. The bulk of that, $1.5 million, would go for broker commissions with the rest needed for direct costs such as printing and legal and filing fees.  Still, Reg A+ gives companies another option.  “It’s another arrow in the quiver. Companies can still do family and friends, a private placement, a full-fledged IPO, or a Reg A,” says Steve.  In Allegiancy’s case, the Sadlers are counting on a new round of capital to help them hit a five-year goal of managing $10 billion to $15 billion worth of assets.  “I think the future is bright,” says Steve. 2015-10-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/CRE_Hipp2269.png Jonathan W. Hipp’s company, Calkain Cos., specializes in net-leased properties. Photo by Mark Rhodes http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/the-triple-net-guys The triple-net guys http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/the-triple-net-guys http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/the-triple-net-guys#When:10:00:00Z When Jonathan W. Hipp, founding president and CEO of the commercial real estate firm Calkain Cos., is asked to pick one word to describe the reason for his success, he doesn’t hesitate: “Persistence,” he says. “I keep on pushing.” His clients can attest to that.  Back in the mid-1990s, when Hipp was a broker at Grubb & Ellis in Tysons Corner, John L. Gibson III was building Advance Auto stores in the Tidewater area. Hipp decided that he wanted to sell them for the developer, so he cold-called Gibson. No response. But, Hipp kept on calling and then drove down from Northern Virginia to see Gibson in person. The developer was impressed by the broker’s commitment, and they struck a deal. “We’ve had a fantastic relationship ever since,” Gibson says. “His work ethic speaks volumes.” These days, Gibson’s dealings with Hipp are through Calkain, the company that Hipp and his partner, David Sobelman, founded in 2005 to focus on a class of real estate known as single-tenant, triple-net leases. The term is applied to leases in which solo tenants are responsible for paying the taxes, insurance and upkeep (the three “nets” or NNN) on the properties they are leasing. These long-term tenants tend to be nationally known retail chains, such as drugstores, convenience stores, dollar stores, and fast and casual food restaurants such as Wendy’s and Hooters. Health clubs, day-care centers and dollar stores are other examples of common NNN leases. “No one else in the entire country was hyper-focused on that one property type,” Sobelman says. “We did not create the industry, but we professionalized it.” “I wanted to become the go-to guy in Virginia for triple net leases,” Hipp says. “Then the go-to guy for triple-net leases in Maryland. I decided to become a one-trick pony.” Today, less than a decade after Hipp and Sobelman started out in Reston as two optimists in an empty office that didn’t even have phones, Calkain has grown to nine offices nationwide, 40 employees and $10 billion in net-lease investment sales. The firm offers brokerage, consulting and investment services for private and institutional clients, in Southeastern states such as Virginia, Florida and North and South Carolina. Its asset management unit recently reached $100 million. To accommodate its expansion, Calkain recently moved to a larger space in Herndon where 21 of the company’s staff members work. Hipp hopes eventually to open offices in California, Chicago and Texas. “We don’t want to be the biggest [in our field], but the most dominant,” he says. Hipp describes a triple net lease as being like “a bond wrapped in real estate.” Like a bond, the lease is low risk and long term, usually 10 to 15 years. It offers a steady return, although not as high a one as more volatile investments, such as stocks. Unlike a bond, though, at the end of the day, the holder of the NNN lease owns a tangible asset — usually prime property — which almost always appreciates, even if a lease expires or a tenant defaults. Some of the most common buyers of NNN leases are people involved in retirement or estate planning who want a reliable, predicable income without having to field a lot of phone calls. A client with a net worth of $15 million to $30 million typically buys a property valued at $2 million to $5 million, says Sobelman. About 30 percent to 50 percent of Calkain’s business involves 1031 exchanges. Under this model, the IRS allows a seller of a commercial property to defer long-term capital gains for six months. Calkain subleases the property to a qualified intermediary who holds the money until the sellers can reinvest in a new property — in Calkain’s case, almost always a triple-net lease.     Nancy Miller, a senior vice president of Bull Realty’s National Net Leasing Group in Atlanta — a Calkain competitor —  says about  half of her NNN lease buyers are able to pay cash, while the rest take advantage of low interest rates to find favorable financing. “This sector has a higher demand than I’ve ever seen,” she says. “Sellers are getting top dollar, and the supply and demand curve are fighting one another. With so many people in the market, it is difficult to find quality property and be first at the table.” Part of that increased demand is coming from real estate investment trusts, known by the acronym REIT. The minimum  investment by a REIT used to be about $20 million, says George Renz of Renz & Renz real estate brokerage in Gilroy, Calif., another Calkain competitor.  Now, the floor has dropped to $5 million. “We’ll have to see what happens when interest rates go up,” he says. “Values may take a hit.” Miller and Renz speak well of Calkain.  The company “hires solid brokers, not newbies,” Miller says. “They have a fine reputation.” “Calkain is successful because of its ultra-specialization,” Renz says. “They almost exhaust the category [of NNN leases]. I give their ‘Little Book of Triple Net Leasing Investing’ to my customers.” Indeed, Hipp and Sobelman are renowned as NNN-lease experts. Last March, Sobelman was tapped to co-chair the International Council of Shopping Centers’ first-ever conference on that investment class. In September, he was a keynote speaker at the ICSC’s Western Division conference in California. Meanwhile, Calkain’s business keeps growing. In August, the company signed a brokerage agreement to sell eight Northern Virginia Burger Kings valued at $20 million, and it also recently listed an $8.8 million property in Stafford anchored by Chipotle and Verizon.  In June, it made headlines by selling a CVS drugstore in Tysons for a record $24.7 million — or $1,915 per-building-square-foot — to Rappaport, a commercial real estate company that normally focuses on shopping centers. “Jonathan helps me understand the value of properties on the market,” says company founder Gary D. Rappaport. “My investment was made on the security of the tenant, the knowledge that I could replace that tenant and the long-term recognition that that corner can only get better.” All this pursuit of dominance in the NNN lease arena doesn’t leave Hipp, in his early 50s, with a lot of room for recreational pursuits, though. “Free time, what’s that?” he says. Nonetheless, the broker, who lives in Lansdowne with his wife, two children and two rescue dogs, makes time to give back to his community. In October, Calkain held a black-tie dinner and auction at Salamander Resort and Spa in Middleburg to raise money for the training of service dogs for wounded veterans and other people with disabilities. “Jonathan is one of the good guys,” says Rappaport. “He understands the importance of telling the truth, which fosters long-term relationships. He understands that if you want to be a good businessman, first you have to be a good man.” 2015-10-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/VALLEY_JMU_new_convention_center_rendering.png The new $88 million, 8,500-seat convocation center will be a venue for basketball games and other events. Courtesy JMU http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/whats-new-at-jmu What’s new at JMU? http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/whats-new-at-jmu http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/whats-new-at-jmu#When:10:00:00Z Kevin Meaney knew the long-awaited Apartments on Grace at James Madison University would be a hit with sophomores, but he had no idea the 506 student beds would fill up in an hour. “The apartments were in response to a need,” says Meaney, JMU’s director of residence life. “A couple of years ago, the university decided it needed to build some transitional housing.” The $55 million, 200,000-square-foot, apartment-style residence hall opened in August. Each unit offers a full kitchen and two bedrooms to accommodate four students. Amenities include recreational areas with table tennis and pool tables, a Subway restaurant and academic spaces with desks and access to multimedia, plus study and group rooms. The apartment-style design will open the door to new options for the university when students are away during summer break. “We are trying to develop our conference services during the summer,” Meaney said. “It’s nice to have an apartment option for adults who come in for an academic conference.” The residence hall is just one of many new developments at JMU designed to benefit the student body and the community. The school also is planning to build a new on-campus convocation center at the corner of University Boulevard and Carrier Drive, adjacent to the East Campus Dining Hall and the Festival Conference and Student Center. The $88 million, 8,500-seat building will be a venue for basketball games, public speakers, university ceremonies, concerts, trade shows and other events. The center was approved by the state legislature three years ago as part of the planning process for the university. The university began its fundraising efforts in April. It needs to reach $12 million in donations before construction can begin. JMU had raised $2.5 million by mid-September. Kevin Warner, the interim director of athletics communications, expects that number to jump in coming months. “There are a number of private gifts that we feel optimistic about closing,” he says, noting there are  several naming opportunities for the building and key spaces in the structure for individuals and corporations. The facility will replace the current 30-year-old convocation center, which Warner refers to as “an inefficient use of space.” The new center will feature more courtside seating for donors and “a center-hung video board and ribbon boards around the concourse level,” Warner says. “We’ll also have a built-in practice facility and improved office space for the coaches.” The center also will offer eight suites as well as a club-seat section with a pregame hospitality area and center-court seats for club membership holders. “The center is for the entire Shenandoah Valley. There is no other space like this within an hour’s radius,” Warner says. “The John Paul Jones Arena [at the University of Virginia] is the next closest. We feel it will make a big impact on the local community.” In another development at JMU, the university recently renamed the School of Hospitality, Sport and Recreation Management as the Hart School of Hospitality, Sport and Recreation Management.  It is named for alumnus G.J. Hart and his wife, Heather, who gave the university more than $3 million. Hart is the executive chairman and CEO of California Pizza Kitchen. “With the naming of the school, we are looking to bring a little more focus to the restaurant side. We are able to do that thanks to G.J. and his connections in the restaurant industry,” says Michael J. O’Fallon, the school’s director. The Harts want to ensure that graduates of the school will be among the top in the nation. “My wife, Heather, and I decided to get involved as an opportunity to make a difference that’s long-lasting for James Madison University and in the lives of its students,” Hart says. “With this gift our goal is to create an environment where young people can get a fantastic, world-class education that inspires them to go on and do great things in the world. We also hope this gift encourages others who are thinking about making a difference in students’ lives to do so by supporting the university.” The school prepares its approximately 900 students for entry-level management positions. “Our programs require internships so our students will understand the business,” O’Fallon said. “That is why our school is becoming more popular with organizations. We have recruiters that come on campus that only recruit our students.” JMU also is reaching out to area schools to help prepare students for college. Under its Valley Scholars Program, now in its second year, JMU works with seven school districts — Harrisonburg, Staunton, Waynesboro and the counties of Rockingham, Augusta, Page and Shenandoah. Currently there are 70 students in the program. This year JMU’s partners in the project include Blue Ridge Community College and several area businesses. “We provide a pathway for students who come from families that believe college may not be an option because of their social or economic situation,” says Shaun Mooney, director of the program. “If students do everything that is required, JMU and its partners will pay for their college tuition. We see it as long-term investment in the valley.” 2015-10-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/VALLEY_EasternBioplasttic.png Eastern Bioplastics President Sonny Meyerhoeffer . AP Photo/Steve Helber http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/birds-of-a-feather Birds of a feather http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/birds-of-a-feather http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/birds-of-a-feather#When:10:00:00Z If you’ve ever been stuck behind a truck loaded with live poultry on a Shenandoah Valley road, you may have wondered: What happens to all of those feathers after processing? Eastern Bioplastics in Mount Crawford converts poultry feathers into plastic resins and oil-absorbing material for commercial applications. The company is one example of how new ventures with agricultural roots are being developed in the valley. With four of the top five farm counties in the state, the region, for example, is positioning itself as a player in the emerging ag-bio sector in Virginia. The sector “is a natural extension of the valley’s agricultural heritage,” says Carrie Chenery, the executive director of the Shenandoah Valley Partnership (SVP) and a native of Rockbridge County. “We see it as a huge opportunity.” Eastern Bioplastics works with manufacturers to develop composite resins that can be combined with other materials during production. Much of the company’s development to date has involved feather fiber-reinforced injection molding used to make office furniture, automotive parts, horticulture containers and sporting goods. Because the plastics industry relies on crude oil and natural gas, the use of poultry feathers, a renewable resource, can help reduce its carbon footprint. Another practical application for poultry feathers is as an absorbent. Eastern Bioplastics recently introduced a feather-based material, Environmental Bioprotector, which is capable of absorbing seven times its weight. The absorbent can be used to capture leaks under machinery or to remove oil from water-based solutions. The material is available in sock or pillow form and as a powder. Founded by Sonny Meyerhoeffer, who formed the Virginia Poultry Growers Cooperative, Eastern Bioplastics’ leadership team also includes research and development engineer Justin Barone, who was on the U.S. Department of Agriculture team that first discovered that the keratin protein in feathers could be processed into a biodegradable polymer. “Feather fibers are a waste product that we’ve turned into a benefit,” says Oriana Meyerhoeffer, an Eastern Bioplastics sales representative. “They’re green, sustainable and functional. And our resins are able to be used in existing machinery.” If the health of the local poultry industry is any indication, Eastern Bioplastics will have no shortage of feathers for the foreseeable future. Virginia Poultry Growers Cooperative is building a new 80,000-square-foot turkey processing facility in Hinton. The $62 million expansion during the next three years will be supported by additional investment in the company’s feed mill in Broadway and its grain elevator in Linville. The cooperative was hatched in 2004 as a way to save nearly 170 farms and 1,800 jobs in the wake of the decision to close the local Pilgrim’s Pride processing plant. The co-op is now the eighth-largest turkey processor in the U.S. and one of the largest suppliers of organic and antibiotic-free meat. It purchases and processes about 7 million turkeys per year. In a statement in July announcing the expansion, Gov. Terry McAuliffe said the cooperative “highlights the role that agriculture can and will play in building the new Virginia economy.” The region, in fact, was well represented at the Governor’s Agriculture and Industrial Biotechnology Conference in September. The event, held at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville, brought together public and private partners representing existing ag-bio businesses as well as research universities and marketing and economic development officials. The valley already counts a number of biotech companies. In addition to Eastern Bioplastics, the region is home to Micron Bio-Systems in Buena Vista, part of a global biotechnology firm that develops science-based solutions to agricultural challenges, including animal nutrition, land use and environmental changes. The region also is home to pharmaceutical giant Merck, which has a manufacturing facility in Elkton, and drug researcher SRI Shenandoah Valley, located in a 240-acre research park in Rockingham County. The valley also hosts medical manufacturers Hollister Inc. in Stuarts Draft and Thermo Fisher Scientific in Middletown, a leading supplier of lab products and equipment. Fields of Gold In early 2011, local leaders met to discuss how to take advantage of converging interests in agriculture, tourism and the local foods movement, and to develop a program that would benefit the region as a whole. These discussions laid the foundation for Fields of Gold, a partnership involving local governments, economic development and tourism entities, agribusiness and valley farmers.  Residents and valley visitors can travel along the Fields of Gold Farm Trail, which includes nearly 200 farms, wineries, breweries, nurseries, roadside stands, bed-and-breakfasts, farm-to-table restaurants, farmers markets and festivals. “The trail is really an agritourism roadmap for the region,” says Chenery, the SVP executive, adding that smaller producers and entrepreneurs have benefitted by marketing their products collectively. The program was recognized this year with a Community Economic Development Award from the Virginia Economic Developers Association. Workforce development In addition to developing agricultural ventures, the valley is developing its future manufacturing workforce by expanding the use of registered apprenticeships. The Shenandoah Valley Workforce Development Board recently was awarded a $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to launch the Valley to Virginia (V2V) Apprenticeship Initiative, an effort involving more than a dozen partners in business and education. The project will target skilled trades such as mechatronics, industrial maintenance technicians, machine operators, welders and production technicians. Key business partners include A.G. Stacker, Andros Foods North America, Ball Advanced Aluminum Technologies Corp., The Hershey Co., Kraft Foods, Thermo Fisher Scientific, R.R. Donnelley, Tenneco and the Virginia Manufacturers Association. Grant funds will be used to offset the cost of related instruction in apprenticeship programs typically offered at technical schools and community colleges. The initiative also will develop work-readiness training for pre-apprentice candidates through Goodwill Industries of the Valleys. “This grant award is a huge shot in the arm for regional apprenticeship programs aimed at enhancing the skilled workforce in advanced manufacturing,” says Sharon Johnson, CEO of the Shenandoah Valley Workforce Development Board.   V2V is expected to build support for the Registered Apprenticeship Journeyman credential, which is expected to produce 600 new registered apprenticeships throughout Virginia. Shenandoah Valley Partnership also has begun the in-Demand/Valley Career Hub campaign designed to increase awareness of high-wage, high-growth, high-demand career opportunities in the region that require some training beyond high school but do not necessarily require a four-year college degree. SVP has enlisted Harrisonburg television station WHSV-TV3 to produce a series of three-minute video spots in support of the inititive. They will air every other week over the next year. “These are good jobs, high-paying jobs, and they’re available right here in our community,” Chenery says. Blue Ridge Community College, which partners with Blue Ridge Aviation to operate a flight school in the region, is now offering the state’s first public commercial pilot program. The 17-credit-hour curriculum provides the educational background, skills and federal certification required to become a commercial pilot. Students are required to pay additional fees to cover the cost of the flight training. “The creation of the commercial pilot program is very timely, as the aviation industry, particularly the nation’s airlines, are struggling to find qualified pilots,” says Greg Campbell, executive director of the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport. “This program will create opportunities for those interested in a career as a commercial pilot and access to the training that will be necessary to fill pilot jobs in the future.” New investments The valley also continues to see a wide range of economic activity, led by the warehousing sector. FedEx Ground has begun construction on a new distribution center in the Green Hills Industrial Park in Staunton. The facility will measure more than 200,000 square feet on approximately 30 acres. The new center will replace an existing station in Fishersville and is part of a nationwide FedEx network expansion to boost daily package volume capacity and enhance speed and service. It is scheduled for completion next summer. Meanwhile, Threshold Enterprises, a distributor of nutritional supplements and natural health and beauty products, has opened a new East Coast distribution center in Frederick County. The 78,000-square-foot warehouse in the Stonewall Industrial Park will enable faster delivery times for the company’s East Coast customers, who previously were served by Threshold’s facility in Santa Cruz, Calif. Andros Foods North America — formerly Bowman Apple Products — is expanding its Mount Jackson plant and creating 160 jobs, marking one of the largest corporate investments in Shenandoah County’s history. The company’s plans include adding space and equipment to increase production of apple-based products. Another Shenandoah County business, Shentel, is acquiring Waynesboro-based nTelos in a $640 million deal, which includes wireless network assets, stores and approximately 300,000 retail subscribers in the mid-Atlantic region. A Sprint wireless affiliate, Shentel will convert nTelos retail wireless customers to that brand. Quality of life Valley cities continue to be ranked among the Best Small Places for Business and Careers, according to Forbes. Winchester (No. 15), Harrisonburg (No. 32) and Staunton (No. 55) were all named to the magazine’s list for 2015. The list is based on economic factors such as “gross metro product” — the total value of the local metro area’s goods and services — job growth, unemployment, median household income and college attainment, as well as quality-of-life considerations. Winchester was cited for its rich Civil War history and annual Apple Blossom Festival, while Harrisonburg is known for its vibrant downtown historic district, and Staunton is home to the Frontier Culture Museum, the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and The American Shakespeare Center. One valley attraction not mentioned in the Forbes list is The Factory Antique Mall in Verona, which is now the largest antique mall in the U.S. At 120,000 square feet, the mall houses more than 225 dealers and has recorded record-breaking sales every year since 2008. Opened in 1996, the Factory Antique Mall will celebrate 20 years of business next year. Over the years, the mall has seen an increase in interest from film and television production companies in using antiques as props. Recent patrons include the AMC series “Turn,” which focuses on George Washington’s spies during the Revolutionary War; Steven Spielberg’s movie “Lincoln,” which won the award for Best Production Design at the 2013 Oscars; and “Mercy Street,” a new PBS American drama series set in Virginia during the Civil War. “The Factory Antique Mall is a unique shopping destination and brings in customers from around the U.S.,” says general manager Jason Brinkley. “Customers are willing to travel hours to visit the mall.” 2015-10-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/132370e__Capital_One_DFE_0235.png A recent forum at Capital One Digital Labs in Vienna, addressed the need for workers with digital skills. http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/cracking-the-code Cracking the code? http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/cracking-the-code http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/cracking-the-code#When:10:00:00Z In a world increasingly driven by technology, corporate and government leaders across America continually bemoan the lack of digitally fluent and STEM-educated workers. In Virginia, major health-care systems have 2,000 job openings statewide “and half of those openings are for [computer] coders, and they’re having a hard time filling them,” says Maurice Jones, Virginia’s secretary of commerce and trade. In many industries there is an urgent need for digitally fluent workers with skills ranging from cybersecurity to computer programming to data management and more. Toward that end, Jones says, the administration of Gov. Terry McAuliffe has set a goal of adding 500,000 employees with STEM-H (science, technology, engineering, math and health care) certifications to the Virginia workforce by 2018. “We have to make sure Virginia establishes a brand of having the most prepared workforce for 21st-century jobs,” Jones says. “What Virginia has to do is make sure it has the talent and that we market the talent. Jobs will go where the talent is.” McAuliffe sounded the same themes at a recent digital fluency forum at Capital One Digital Labs in Vienna. “We must respond to the demands of the changing global economy by providing employers with a steady stream of talented workers who can succeed in the digital era,” he said. Corporations and nonprofits across the commonwealth are working with state and local governments to meet the challenge. For instance, McLean-based Capital One announced at the June forum that it’s investing $150 million in Future Edge, a new nationwide initiative to promote greater digital literacy. Highlights in Virginia include Coders, an app-development workshop for middle school students that teaches basic principles of software development. Students learn how to create simple apps with the help of the App Inventor coding platform, created by Google in cooperation with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The financial services giant also is funding groups such as Richmond-based CodeVA and San Francisco-based Black Girls Code, both of which are involved in training children in computer coding skills. Capital One also has developed a free online curriculum with Grovo, a New York learning technology company, to teach digital skills to low- to moderate-income workers. “We are thrilled to be partnering with Governor McAuliffe,” says Carolyn Berkowitz, managing vice president of community affairs at Capital One. As part of Future Edge, developed by Berkowitz, Capital One commissioned a research study from Boston-based labor market analytics firm Burning Glass Technologies, which looked into the digital skills gap among workers in Virginia and Washington, D.C. Among its findings, Burning Glass determined that more than 80 percent of Virginia’s middle-skills jobs (those paying above the national living wage but needing less education than a four-year degree) require digital skills. Furthermore, those middle-skills jobs that require digital skills pay 46 percent more than other middle-skills jobs. Not every worker needs a four-year degree, notes Jones. “Fifty to sixty percent of the new jobs over the next 10 to 15 years will not require a college degree, but they’ll definitely need post-secondary education and training. We have to keep our emphasis on graduating B.A.’s and M.A.’s and Ph.D.’s but balance that with the fact that there are also other, equally viable paths. … You can get some coding certifications in months or a year. This is a great path with great wages and great mobility.” Capital One has focused the bulk of its Future Edge efforts on middle-skills jobs because that is where the opportunity is greatest for increasing earning power, Berkowitz says. As for other companies, last year alone Fairfax County-based Northrop Grumman Corp. invested $15.9 million on STEM education initiatives worldwide. Since 2010 it has been the primary sponsor and funder for the Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot education initiative, aimed at increasing digital literacy skills among K-12 students across America. “For us it really is a global imperative. We feel that because we are such a large provider of global solutions that it really is incumbent upon us to help develop the next generation of cyber professionals,” says Diane Miller, director of InfoSec Operations and Cyber Initiatives for Northrop Grumman. She also serves on the education and workforce development group of the Virginia Cyber Security Commission. “We’ve been in the cyber business for a very, very long time — long before it was called cyber — and we were sensitive early on to the fact that there is a shortage of qualified talent in this space,” Miller says. “And as we’re creating new technologies and new solutions for our customers, we’re out looking for the best and brightest professionals in this space — and frankly so is everyone else — and so years ago we decided we would become part of the solution.” Another important step in achieving digital fluency is filling gaps in the education system, says Chris Dovi, co-founder of nonprofit CodeVA, which promotes computer literacy in schools. “Right now in the state of Virginia, computer science is taught almost nowhere in public schools, and, when it is taught, it’s very ad hoc,” he says, adding that it’s pretty much the same everywhere else in the nation. Some Virginia school systems may include a unit on app development or coding in an IT fundamentals course, Dovi says, “but there’s no set curriculum for any of those things. It’s something a teacher would decide to do on their own, and they typically know less than students.” CodeVA, which has received funding from donors such as the Robins Foundation, Capital One and Dominion, was founded in 2013 and is the only organization providing certification training for Virginia public school teachers to teach computer science courses. More than 180 teachers have received training from CodeVA in the last two years. Their school systems commit to having them teach a computer course in the schools as part of participation in the program, which amounts to about 100 hours of ongoing instruction for high school teachers. CodeVA also offers weeklong summer camps to teach computer coding skills to elementary- and middle-school students. They range in cost from $180 to $220, with early-bird enrollees getting the lowest price. Scholarships are available for students from at-risk backgrounds. Yet, summer camps and after-school programs aren’t a substitute for a school curriculum course, says Dovi.  While the need for cybersecurity professionals in the workforce tends to attract headlines, he notes that companies have a wide-ranging need for digitally fluent employees. Tech companies commonly hire foreign tech workers for open positions, Dovi adds, because there aren’t enough U.S. workers with skills in coding, software design and cloud-based infrastructure. “There’s no question that there are more opportunities if we have more people who are digitally fluent,” says Jones, the commerce and trade secretary. “We’re getting more demand to have more young workers who are digitally fluent so there’s more work to be done.” 2015-10-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/CPA_roundtableOpen.png Photo by Rick Deberry http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/breaking-down-the-numbers Breaking down the numbers http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/breaking-down-the-numbers http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/breaking-down-the-numbers#When:10:00:00Z In September, Virginia Business and the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants held a roundtable discussion at VSCPA’s Richmond headquarters to flesh out the issues highlighted in the 2016 Economic Expectations Survey. The CPA panelists were Jennifer Duff, CFO at Management Stack in Salem; L. Michael Gracik Jr., managing partner at Keiter in Glen Allen; Jimmy Haggard, partner at Dixon Hughes Goodman in Newport News; and John Renner, principal and owner at Renner & Co. CPA in Alexandria. Below is an edited transcript of the conversation.  Virginia Business:  In comparison to last year’s survey, only a few more CPAs this year say the economy has reached full recovery.  What gaps in the economy are they are seeing?  Duf f: I  believe that employment growth is a major factor in the economy, in how people view it, and that’s an issue near and dear to my heart being from Southwest Virginia.  We’ve recently experienced numerous job losses in the area from some of the bigger companies like Norfolk Southern.  Home Shopping Network has announced that they’re leaving the area, and Advance Auto Parts also [shifted some jobs to North Carolina], so it’s certainly an issue that we’ve seen in Southwest Virginia.  And while the employment growth numbers are trending positive across the state, it is regional because in Southwest Virginia … we have negative growth at the moment.  While across the state there are positive averages, they are trending much lower than the national average.  So this certainly is an issue that we need to address in Virginia in terms of job growth.  VB:  Two-thirds of respondents are opposed to the expansion of Medicaid.  The business community has been divided on this issue.  Why do you think so many CPAs are opposed to the expansion? Haggard: I think the primary drawback to the expansion … is the coverage of costs … I think the concern is initially, while there have been some promises at the federal level that those costs would be covered possibly the first couple of years, incrementally states are going to be required to pick up a larger percentage … and I think with states’ budgets being as constrained as they are now, it’s going to be very, very difficult for states to cover those costs … The other side of that argument is “Who are those individuals that are typically covered by Medicaid?” It’s the elderly.  It’s those with physical handicaps.  It’s children.  It’s lower income families. So, I think the concern is somewhat tied to the Affordable Care Act, that if you expand Medicaid now that the people are involved with the Affordable Care Act and have their own insurance policies, will they then transition to Medicaid? VB:  Infrastructure continues to be the most pressing issue for Virginia, according to the survey.  What are the biggest challenges Virginia is facing in terms of infrastructure? Duff: I think one thing we need to look at is multi-modal transportation.  It’s certainly regional.  Definitely in the Northern Virginia areas and the eastern areas of the state, the percentages are much higher, people using modes of transportation other than just driving to work.  We need to continue to expand that throughout the state. I do know that there was a Virginia Road to the Future package that was passed [in 2013] that’s putting $3 billion back into the transportation infrastructure, which should help the issue.  But that’s something that we certainly need to address to draw businesses to Virginia. VB: The survey shows that the vast majority supported the expansion of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline through Virginia.  Do you agree with that position? Gracik:  At the risk of disappointing some of my clients and friends who are dead set against it, I do agree with that position.  I think it’s good for the economy of the state. I think it helps ensure our future supplies of clean energy for the state, which is important for economic growth...I think that Dominion Resources has been a very good corporate citizen for the commonwealth, and I think they will do right by any property owners that may be impacted by the pipeline’s route.” VB:  According to the survey, a pro-business climate and an educated workforce are the top two factors in retaining and attracting businesses to Virginia.  How is Virginia faring in those areas in your opinion? Haggard:  I think we’re not where we need to be. I think we’re improving … The cost of workforce training and education, for even those people that are going to four-year colleges, has gotten excessive. … We drill into all of our children, and I’m as guilty because I did the same thing, ... “You need to go to college.  You need to get an education.” [But] those technical trades and certifications are so valuable to many of the industries that we’re trying to attract. We don’t have that workforce in place today to meet what we would hope our needs would be.  So it’s a continual process.  VB:  Many respondents say they’re taking steps to improve their work/life balance in their firms.  What sort of programs are [you] installing in your firm? Renner:  Well, we’ve been very, very proactive in this area.  I noticed in growing up in the profession there’s always been the glass ceiling there.  Firms were just discarding young women because they said, “Well, gee.  They’re going to get married and … raise a family.” I found that my better staff people while I was a manager at a firm were women. … So when I created my own firm, I created a flexible schedule for them … I think the profession is over 50 percent women now and … young fathers, the new fathers … want that flexibility, too.  …  The family is a joint effort now, so we’ve been making the effort to make that happen from both [ends]. I think it’s been very successful and hopefully more people will do that.  VB:  Access to credit continues to be a problem.  What challenges do businesses face when taking out a loan? Duff: I think that the access to credit is a result of coming out of the recession obviously.  Banks are more conservative, and other lending institutions are more conservative in terms of giving money to businesses.  One thing that I’ve personally seen is tightening of ratios.  Debt service coverage ratios may be tightening in order to ensure that the banks are comfortable with it.  Another big shift that I’ve seen in terms of pro-forma statements, and it’s an interesting sort of Catch-22 ...  You need the capital in order to get the results, but the bank wants the results before they give you the capital. That’s the difficulty that I’ve seen. Gracik:  I think the Dodd-Frank [financial reforms] legislation has had a big impact on the ability of small businesses to place debt with financial institutions.  We just bought the office building that we’re in, and getting that financed was a torturous process mainly due to the requirements placed on the lender by Dodd-Frank.  I thought we would never get the thing financed. Ultimately it happened, but it was a real pain.  That’s really stymying the lending environment. Haggard:  It’s the length of time, too, because if you try to go get a loan today, it will take you six months or more.  And the banks say, “I’ve got plenty of money.  I want to lend you the money,” but they don’t.  They don’t think anybody has the cash flow to be able to do it.  The economy is struggling, and small businesses are struggling, especially in our area.  And they really look at the cash flow.  Do you have the ability to pay it even though you’ve already got a loan with them, and you’re paying it back?  They don’t really pay much attention to that.  The regulations are so tight that it’s almost impossible to get a loan sometimes. VB:  Virginia has been continuously dropping in CNBC’s Top States for Business since it ranked as the top state in 2011.  What in your opinion is the reason for this continued drop? Gracik:  I think there are a number of factors.  I think it may have something to do with our tax rates, mainly more on the local tax side than the state income tax side.  Our state tax rate is, in my opinion, reasonable, but a lot of the local taxes — the BPOL [Business, Professional, and Occupational License] tax and personal property taxes — can be a hindrance to attracting companies to our state for business.  I think our infrastructure issues that are part of the budgetary issues we had in the state government over the past few years are also weighing unfavorably on that ranking. VB:  The survey shows that respondents feel that Virginia has an adequate talent supply to replenish its workforce.  What are some of our strengths in this area and in what ways could we improve our talent pipeline? Renner:  Well, we really do need more talent in the state.  In Northern Virginia, the community college is really trying hard … In Northern Virginia, everybody’s fighting for CPAs.  I’m sure everybody else in the state is doing the same thing. … We don’t have enough accountants … to take care of my firm’s needs.  You know, with the millennials, they keep moving around.  They’ll move around every year or so it seems like.  … But it’s a workforce that we’ve got to do something with.  The millennials have got to settle down and take hold of what they’re doing.  We need to really work with our community colleges for the people that aren’t going to go to a four-year college for a degree.  Maybe cut down the costs.  Right now, they’re trying to get college credits in high school.  And we’ve been successful in Prince William County and some in Fairfax County of getting some of those classes where they can get a jump on their college education to cut down some of that costs so that can help out with our workforce in the pipeline.  So I think we really need to work on our young people first.  Of course, we have a lot of immigrants, too, that also have got a lot of talent in Northern Virginia, and we’ve somehow got to get them into our workforce and train them in the skills and the culture of the United States. … There’re too many moving parts … but I don’t think we have as big a workforce as everybody thinks we do. VB:  Most respondents rated Virginia’s business climate as good when compared to other states.  What is Virginia doing well to attract and retain businesses and how could we improve our business climate? Duff:  Virginia has a lot of initiatives going on in terms of business development.  You can go to the Virginia.gov website.  There’s a Virginia Performs.  There’s a scorecard that lists all these initiatives that are going on.  It was very impressive to look at, but there’re also many other things that Virginia can do in terms of community development.  Really, what we need to do is [look] at how do we balance pro-business regulation with the tax climate.  These are all issues that all states face, but we also need to continue to promote our education in Virginia.  And then overall, just improve the quality of life. … The common theme is to keep the people here, to keep talent in Virginia. VB: An equal number of respondents in this survey said that they were either somewhat pessimistic or somewhat optimistic about the national economy.  Why do you think opinion is so divided there? Gracik: I think for a few reasons.  One, we have talked about the partisanship within the national government and how it always seems to be gridlocked there and the national government not working together to take a lot of steps that are needed to provide for stable economic growth.   Also, the stock market is kind of a circus these days with wild wide swings up and down, and those things have an impact on how people view the economy.  Additionally, we are part of a global economy … Whether you actually deal with global commerce or not, things that happen in Greece or what’s happening in China now … can have a negative impact on how folks view the economy. VB:  Survey respondents are in favor of reforming rather than repealing the ACA.  Is that a sign they expect the law to be permanent after recent court challenges? Haggard:  If you have the answer to that question, we’d all be a lot better off … I think most people believe that it would be better to go through some modification rather than a repeal.  You know, it’s tough to argue against some of the premises that led to the creation of the ACA.  But again, there needs to be some modifications so that we know exactly what we’re doing.  We’re covering people that need to be covered, but we’re improving our overall health-care coverage, and we’re being able to monitor the costs, and so I think it’s an easier sell with the understanding that, “Yes, it’s here.” It’s not going to be abandoned, but to some extent it does need some modification so that we can all live with it. 2015-10-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/CPA_Lee2057.png Chris Lee (left), CEO of R.E. Lee Cos., has been working to provide coverage for all of its employees. Photo by Mark Rhodes http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/a-cautious-outlook A cautious outlook http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/a-cautious-outlook http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/a-cautious-outlook#When:10:00:00Z While business has not returned to its prerecession level, the construction company R.E. Lee Cos. in Charlottesville is growing, and Chris Lee, its CEO, is hiring. Revenue this year is up about 18 percent, and the total workforce has grown almost 30 percent. But growing even faster for the family-owned company is the cost of health care, which is expected to double next year.  “It’s going to go from less than $200,000 to $400,000 in real dollars,” says Lee. “They’re huge numbers.” The situation, however, could have been worse. The company is paying the full premium on an additional health plan offering fewer benefits and a higher deductible to ensure that all of its 120 employees sign up for coverage. Otherwise, the company might fall prey to new Affordable Health Care rules that, Lee says, would have made the monthly cost per employee 30 percent higher. Despite its size, Lee’s company is no newcomer to employee health insurance. It has provided coverage for years, paying about 75 percent of the premium. Providing health benefits “is a critical component to attracting and retaining talent,” Lee says. Health-care costs continue to represent one of the biggest issues Virginia businesses are facing, according to the 2016 Economic Expectations Survey conducted recently by the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants. “The big thing is the rising cost of health insurance,” says L. Michael Gracik Jr., CPA, managing partner at Keiter in Glen Allen. “It’s causing people to spend a lot of time looking at their health coverage, trying to make changes to it, which in making changes to it, they are reducing or eliminating benefits.” The annual survey, in which more than 300 Virginia CPAs participated, found that a majority of respondents are highly skeptical of the Affordable Care Act, including the expansion of Medicaid coverage. Nonetheless, they dismiss calls for repeal of the law, favoring reform instead. Virginia CPAs also offered a cautious view on the future course of the economy and blamed partisanship in Washington, D.C., and Richmond for the failure of federal and state governments to address urgent issues. A slow recovery CPAs continue to be cautious in judging the nation’s recovery from the 2007-09 Great Recession. While a majority of respondents (53.4 percent) say the nation has reached a sustained economic recovery, the rest (46.6 percent) don’t think it has. “I think what this is confirming [is that] there’s still significant uncertainty among the population … about the health of the economy, and that uncertainty is because the economy didn’t bounce back like it has in other recoveries,” says Stephen Fuller, senior advisor and director for special projects of George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis. “It’s been a very tepid recovery.” CPAs also were on the fence about their outlook for the national economy next year. About 30 percent were either somewhat pessimistic or somewhat optimistic about the U.S. economy for next year. Only 7 percent had very pessimistic or very optimistic views about state of the economy. The rest of the respondents had a “balanced” view of the economy, expressing neither optimism nor pessimism. “This is a strong vote that they’re straddling the middle, ‘The economy is probably OK, but I’m looking over my shoulder,’” Fuller says. “That’s where the rest of the country is … It reflects a cautious population.”  That caution can be seen in recent national figures on consumer confidence. The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index increased moderately in September, but fell in October. “Consumers were less positive in their assessment of present-day conditions, in particular the job market, and were moderately less optimistic about the short-term outlook. Despite the decline, consumers still rate current conditions favorably, but they do not anticipate the economy strengthening much in the near-term,” Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board, said in a statement. When asked about actions their companies, industries or clients are taking in response to economic conditions, CPAs expect things to stay relatively unchanged — in areas ranging from capital spending to compensation and hiring. Nonetheless, the nation and state should see employment growth next year, says Chris Chmura, an economist who is CEO of Richmond-based Chmura Economics & Analytics. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Employment Statistics survey found that Virginia employment grew six-tenths of a percentage point in 2014 to 4.03 million jobs. That number is expected to rise 1.1 percent by the end of this year to 4.08 million jobs and rise 1.3 percent next year to 4.1 million jobs. Nationwide, employment grew 1.9 percent last year to 140 million jobs.  That pace is expected to increase slightly to 2 percent this year before falling back to 1.5 percent in 2016. “We expect employment growth will revert back to the historic trend after the faster growth rate in 2014-15,” Chmura says. “It will gradually revert to around a 1 percent range in a couple of years.” Although CPAs aren’t overwhelmingly optimistic about the U.S. economy, they appear more positive about the direction of Virginia’s economy next year. More than 45 percent of respondents are “somewhat” or “very” optimistic about the state economy; 32 percent hold a “balanced” view and 21.7 percent are “very” or “somewhat” pessimistic.  A majority (64.6 percent) also rated the overall business climate in the commonwealth as “good.” Most also have “somewhat” or “very” optimistic outlooks for their companies and industries in 2016 (58.4 percent and 47 percent, respectively). Most respondents (51.2 percent) believe capital investments in the state will remain the same and almost 40 percent think they will increase. Only 8.8 percent say capital investments in Virginia will decrease next year. The road ahead While the survey partly paints a positive picture of the commonwealth, it also shines a light on some of Virginia’s biggest problems. A sizeable number of the CPAs (almost 23 percent) say infrastructure is Virginia’s most pressing issue. A majority of Virginians probably associate the commonwealth’s infrastructure woes with the state of its roads. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2015 Report Card for Virginia’s Infrastructure, the state received a C- on its infrastructure. When looking at specific infrastructure issues, ASCE gave Virginia’s roads and wastewater facilities the poorest grades (D and D+, respectively). For many Virginians, creating a better transportation system is highly important. Northern Virginia is part of the Washington D.C., metro area, the most gridlock-plagued region in the nation, according to INRIX, a data technology company, and Texas A&M’s 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard. Traffic congestion caused an average of 82 hours of delay last year for Washington-area commuters. By comparison, the average delay for Hampton Roads commuters was 45 hours. But infrastructure problems don’t always mean tough commutes. “In Southwest Virginia, we don’t have a lot of traffic jams going on, especially in the more rural areas,” says Jennifer Duff, CPA, the chief financial officer at Management Stack in Salem. “But we have airport problems.  It’s very difficult to get in and out of Roanoke, and I know that that deters businesses from going there.” Threats on the horizon Besides infrastructure, health-care costs, government regulation, education and federal budget cuts also were among the top concerns revealed in the survey. Fuller, the GMU economist, is surprised that federal budget cuts weren’t the chief concern. “I would have thought that would have been the hot-button topic,” he says.  The threat of a government shutdown and sequestration — automatic federal budget cuts — still looms. Earlier this year, Congress passed a temporary budget, which will fund the government until Dec. 11. At that time, Congress has to agree on a long-term budget, which could include another round of sequestration. Congress must also raise the U.S. debt ceiling, the government’s borrowing limit, by Nov. 5, or risk default. Chmura also is concerned about the impact federal budget cuts will have on Virginia since the commonwealth receives more federal contract money than any other state. According to a recently released report prepared by Chmura Economics & Analytics, Virginia received $54.7 billion in defense spending in fiscal year 2014 (that includes contracts and defense payrolls).  Northern Virginia and Hamp­­­­­­­­­ton Roads are the areas of the commonwealth that will likely be hit the hardest if another round of sequestration or a government shutdown occurs. According to Chmura’s report, Fairfax County received the most defense dollars in the nation in 2014 ($19.1 billion). Newport News, the home of Newport News Shipbuilding, also was among the top 10 defense spending locations, receiving $6.2 billion. “Just the uncertainty itself has caused people not to expand, perhaps, as rapidly as they otherwise would. Not to hire as aggressively as they might. Not to take some of the risks that, in the past, weren’t considered as risky, but now they have to choose their steps much more carefully and moderate their risks because of that uncertainty that’s out there,” says Sean O’Connell, CPA, partner and tax service line leader for PBMares in Fairfax. While CPAs have varying views on the top issues facing the state, they are certain about one thing: the negative effect of partisanship. Almost 80 percent said partisanship at the federal and state level is preventing government from addressing urgent needs that have an impact on business. Critics say gerrymandering is contributing to that partisanship. In Virginia, legislators redraw their district lines every 10 years, a practice that can allow them to pack their districts with voters from their own parties. Disputes about redistricting have prompted calls for the creation of an independent, bipartisan redistricting commission, which most CPAs (65.7 percent) support. A nonprofit organization, OneVirginia2021, has filed a lawsuit asking for Virginia’s legislative boundaries to be redrawn, saying they are not compact and violate the constitution.    An effort to redraw Virginia’s congressional boundaries is underway. Federal courts have ruled that congressional maps, drawn in 2011, illegally crammed black voters into one district to dilute their influence in other districts. Health-care puzzle The need for bipartisanship is not the only issue on which many CPAs agree. Most also are on the same page in criticizing the Affordable Care Act. Two-thirds of CPAs (67.1 percent) say the ACA is hurting the U.S. economy, although most (54.8 percent) believe it should be reformed, not repealed.  That’s slightly higher than last year when 51.8 percent said the ACA should be reformed. “I think most people understand and believe that the ACA is here with us to stay in some way, shape or form,” says Jimmy Haggard, CPA, partner at Dixon Hughes Goodman in Newport News. “Given that understanding, I think most people believe that it would be better to go through some modification rather than a repeal.”  There is one part of the ACA, however, that most of the CPAs surveyed believe Virginia should avoid: the expansion of Medicaid. The Republican-controlled Virginia General Assembly has blocked expansion efforts by Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe. Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement shortfalls are among the issues hurting medical providers that need to be addressed by legislators, says Sean Connaughton, president and CEO of the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association, which represents the state’s major health-care systems and hospitals. According to the latest data from Virginia Health Information, 31 out of 88 state hospitals had a negative operating margin in 2013. Forty-six percent of the commonwealth’s 37 rural hospitals operated in the red that year. “Our hope is that we have a much broader discussion about the financial challenges facing Virginia’s hospitals we see right now, that the current system can’t continue the way it is, where all the burdens are being put on the providers and yet we can’t get folks to really talk about these challenges in any sort of concrete way,” he says.  Lee’s dilemma David Barney, vice president at Scott Insurance in Lynchburg, says many midsize employers will face new challenges in 2016 in complying with the ACA. Starting next year, employers with 50 or more full-time-equivalent workers will have to offer health insurance that complies with ACA standards or pay a penalty.  Also in 2016, the ACA’s “small group market,” which previously affected companies with fewer employees, will expand to include plans covering up to 100 workers. Critics say the switch could increase premiums 18 to 35 percent while imposing additional restrictions on employers.    The small-group market change created a dilemma for Lee, the owner of R.E. Lee Cos. He wants to avoid being lumped into that category. His company has 120 employees, but only 72 enrolled in health insurance last year. That number might mean he would have to participate in the small-group market. To bypass that issue, Lee added a third, less extensive level of insurance coverage to the company’s existing two plans. The company is paying 100 percent of the premium on the new plan to encourage all employees to sign up for health insurance. The higher costs in the small-group market “would have reduced the number of employees that would use the company plan,” Lee says.  Falling participation “would have increased premiums again next year, precipitating a negative spiral,” he adds. Changes to the small-group market may be on the way. President Barack Obama has signed the Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employers (PACE) Act, which lets states decide what size businesses are considered “small” for health-insurance purposes. According to a statement on the Virginia State Corporation Commission’s website, that decision lies with the Virginia General Assembly. “In summary, the Bureau [of Insurance] has no authority to administratively preserve the current definition of ‘small employer,’ as this will require a legislative change,” the statement says. “However, some small employer policyholders may be able to keep their current policies for a period of time if they renew their policy on or before October 1, 2016, if their current carrier still offers the policy and agrees to renew it. Lee would like for the small-group market to be eliminated, but he says the passage of the PACE Act is a step in the right direction. “With state control, hopefully, we can get some better decisions on our health programs,” he says. For now, it looks like Lee and many other employers will continue grappling with the ACA puzzle. “It’s been a mind-numbing few years, and I am pretty sure we’re not done with it yet — trying to figure out how we’re charged, why we pay as much as we do, and what can we do to manage these costs,” he says.   Click here for a copy of the entire Cover Story package. Click here for a copy of the full 2016 VSCPA Economic Expectations Survey Results. Virginia Society of CPAs roundtable     2015-10-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/SWEETBRIAR_Currin.png Freshman Amelia Currin was impressed by the ability of alumnae to keep the school alive. Photo courtesy Sweet Briar College http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/solving-a-math-problem Solving a math problem http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/solving-a-math-problem http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/solving-a-math-problem#When:10:00:00Z Sweet Briar College’s rescue by its alumnae sparked national headlines in June, with television crews and print journalists descending in droves on the 3,250-acre Amherst County campus just north of Lynchburg. Now, the future of the 114-year-old women’s college becomes a math problem. President Philip Stone, who was officially installed Sept. 25 after the resignation of his predecessor and the college’s board, says that to remain in business and balance the books Sweet Briar must increase its enrollment to about 800 students in the next few years. That would represent the largest number of students in the college’s history.  Sweet Briar’s on-campus enrollment in September was 248, including a thin freshman class of 38.  But college officials point out that, after Sweet Briar’s closing was announced in March, recruitment efforts ceased, and a number of Sweet Briar students transferred to other schools. Recruiting now has resumed with intensity. The college’s previous administration cited declining enrollment as one of the reasons for closing the school. The number of students on campus had dropped to 561 last year, a 14 percent drop over six years. Stone has a good track record for improving enrollment. He was president of Bridgewater College from 1994 to 2010, and in his first 10 years on the job enrollment grew by 78 percent. Besides increasing its student  body, Stone says Sweet Briar also must raise more money to strengthen its endowment, which currently totals about $68 million, while reducing annual withdrawals from 10 percent to 5 percent of its value. In addition, the school must cut expenses other than salaries by 20 percent. The college also must keep its eye on its debt. A liquidity provision in its bonds requires that Sweet Briar’s expendable resources exceed its debt by a margin of 10 percent on June 30, the end of its fiscal year. In other words, the college must have $1.10 for every $1 of debt to avoid triggering a bond default. Expendable resources include almost any asset that is not permanently restricted, such as certain endowment funds, college officials say. Stone points out that the college has a cushion, thanks to a ruling by Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring.  In June, Herring consented to the release of restrictions on $16 million from the college’s endowment for ongoing operations. Sweet Briar has a current outstanding bond debt of about $25 million. Stone says the college has never missed a payment on its bond debt and does not intend to. An improbable year The saga of Sweet Briar College could make a movie, and perhaps it will. College officials are creating a marketing campaign that will chronicle its improbable year. Stone, a lawyer, has had a remarkable year of his own. He never applied to be Sweet Briar’s president. Interested parties called him out of the blue, after hearing that he would be willing to help out. “Do you think you can save this place?” one caller asked. “I will do it,” Stone recalls saying, in accepting the job at the age of 72. When he started work at the college on July 3, “I had no senior staff remaining and urgent business to take care of,” Stone says. Sweet Briar’s highly popular study abroad program had been shifted to another women’s college; so had its nationally known equestrian program. They have since been returned to the college. Stone received 1,800 emails during his first week in office.  He has a simple strategy for saving Sweet Briar: “Get students and get funds.” The previous administration announced in March that it was closing the college at the end of August because of what it described as insurmountable financial problems. Among other factors, it cited a trend away from women’s colleges, especially those in rural areas like Sweet Briar. To increase enrollment, Stone says, one strategy will be to seek international students, targeting parents who can afford to pay for an American education but also favor their daughters being in a peaceful,  rural environment. Passionate alumnae Stone praises the college alumnae, who formed a group called Saving Sweet Briar to prevent the college from closing.   After a series of legal battles, the alumnae prevailed in mediated negotiations to keep the school open at least one more academic year. Alums raised $12 million in cash in about 100 days, while gathering pledges totaling $29 million that will be paid over several years. Teresa Pike Tomlinson, a fiery Sweet Briar alumna (Class of ’87) who is mayor of Columbus, Ga., now chairs the college’s new board of directors. “We have found a tremendous untapped capacity among Sweet Briar alumnae,” she says, citing their resources and passion to see the school survive. Tomlinson says Sweet Briar graduates inspired many people with their tenacity, carrying out sophisticated legal and fund­raising efforts to keep the school’s doors open. “It’s been a topic of conversation not only in Virginia but all across the country. We’re all rooting for Sweet Briar to have success,” says Robert Lambeth, president of the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia. Sweet Briar alumnae have responded not only with their pocketbooks, but also with a lot of elbow grease. Hundreds descended on the campus during the summer to clean, paint and wash the buildings. Some alums even volunteered to teach. One of them is Leigh Ann White (Class of ’86), who joined the economics department as a visiting assistant professor. Until June, she was an executive with Cambridge, Mass.-based Biogen, a major biotech company. White holds a master’s degree in demography from Georgetown University and earned her doctorate in health economics and health policy at Johns Hopkins University. “I just loved going to Sweet Briar, and I wanted to save the college,” she says. “It seemed like something I needed to do. It mattered.” Amelia Currin, a freshman from North Carolina, is among the small group of students who, against all odds, enrolled in the college this year. “I have witnessed a powerful group of women rise up in the form of Saving Sweet Briar and leverage their clout to overcome insurmountable odds. Who would not want to stand strong among their ranks?” Currin asks. Stone says the passion of people like Currin and White will help the college get back on its feet. “We want to make history together,” he says. 2015-10-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/HIGHERED_Funke.png University of Richmond student Rebecca Funke Photo by Jay Paul http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/recruiting-tool Recruiting tool http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/recruiting-tool http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/recruiting-tool#When:10:00:00Z When Rebecca Funke was considering where she would go to college, the University of Richmond offered her a full-tuition merit scholarship plus $3,000 to use any way she chose in enhancing her education.  The scholarship played a big role in the Perrysburg, Ohio, student’s decision to attend UR, where tuition totals $48,090 this year. “I knew at the end of the four years I wanted to be debt-free because I knew I wanted to continue onto grad school,” says Funke, now a UR senior. “[But] getting the scholarship at Richmond was not only about the money — it was the fact that Richmond saw my worth and would continue to provide me unique opportunities throughout my college years that would assist me in my future life goals,” she says. Every college and university wants the brightest students in their classrooms, and merit scholarships — based on ability rather than financial need — are powerful recruiting tools. James Monks, associate dean for undergraduate programs at UR’s Robins School of Business, says college officials typically talk about the “peer effect” and “seeding a classroom” in discussing the importance of merit scholarships. “The rationale and motivation most commonly articulated by college and universities is the belief that the quality of a student sitting next to someone has an impact on the education they get,” says Monks, who has written about the effects of merit scholarships. Critics of merit scholarships, however, say they divert money and attention from need-based scholarships. They note that many students who qualify for merit scholarships tend to be from higher-income families who have other options. Merit scholarships, depending on their size, pay for all or part of the recipients’ education.  The college price tag has long been a controversial issue, among parents and politicians.  State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) reports that tuition and mandatory fees at the commonwealth’s 15 public four-year colleges rose an average of 6 percent, for the 2015-16 academic year, while room and board charges increased 2.9 percent. These increases come at a time when state contributions to higher education continue to lag in relation to the rising cost of college at public colleges and universities.  Virginia students at the commonwealth’s public four-year schools now pay more than half the cost of their college education, compared with a state target of 33 percent. Despite the debate, many colleges use merit or honor scholarships as they scour the country in search of elite students. Jefferson Scholars The University of Virginia offers no merit scholarships to its students, but the Charlottesville-based Jefferson Scholars Foundation does. A private group with an endowment that totaled $357 million last year, the foundation offers extensive merit scholarships, plus a lot of add-ons, to attract outstanding students to U.Va.  In 2015, the group’s 35th year, it has an operating budget of $14.1 million. “We exist to serve the University of Virginia,” says James H. “Jimmy” Wright, the foundation’s president. This year, the program invited 4,000 high schools — many of them chosen for their diverse enrollment — in 59 regions to nominate scholarship candidates from among their most outstanding students. Other candidates, including international students, are identified when they apply to U.Va. Wright says the foundation tries to be as comprehensive as possible seeking out worthy recipients from every strata of life. “Mr. Jefferson himself wrote about the fact that he thought talent was spread throughout all segments of society. He thought that talent was not just focused in the landed gentry,” Wright says. This year’s entering class, the class of 2019, includes 35 Jefferson Scholars. There were about 300 students who made it through the last stages of the nomination process but did not get selected, along with hundreds of others who were winnowed out earlier. But the foundation points out that, for every student who becomes a Jefferson Scholar, seven or eight of the candidates who weren’t chosen also enroll. “All of them are highly motivated and are high achievers,” Wright says. He says Jefferson Scholars have a history of leadership, mentoring and heavy involvement in all aspects of U.Va.’s academic and student life while performing at the highest levels academically. For example, the Jefferson Scholar class of 2014 achieved a cumulative grade point average of 3.73 on a scale in which 4.0 is A-plus. 1693 Scholars Other Virginia schools also are searching for elite students. At the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, the 1693 Scholars Program — named for the year of the school’s founding — is the most prestigious. It pays for tuition (at the in-state level), fees, and room and board. (For out-of-state students paying higher tuition than Virginia residents, the program is essentially a partial scholarship.) The scholarship offers students an opportunity to participate in special seminars, study for a semester at Oxford University and, under the guidance of a faculty mentorship team, design an innovative cross-disciplinary major and capstone research project. All applicants for freshman admission are considered for the scholarship. During the review process, about 50 are selected as semifinalists based on their academic achievement, character, leadership, vision and commitment to service. Semifinalists are asked to write an addition to their application. Ultimately about 20 students are selected as finalists before their number, too, is trimmed. “The program has grown in the past three years with either six or seven students selected as recipients, and we anticipate adding more in the coming years,” says Timothy Wolfe, associate provost for enrollment and dean of admission. Wolfe says the program has been funded through private support and an endowment. Richmond Scholars At the University of Richmond, the most prestigious academic awards are administered through the Richmond Scholars program. Its scholarships, awarded to 45 incoming freshmen, range from full tuition to full tuition plus room and board. The full-tuition scholarship is currently valued at $181,000 over four years. The scholarships include four different designations: Artist Scholars, Boatwright Scholars, Oldham Scholars and Science Scholars, with varying criteria in each group. (Rebecca Funke, for example, is a Science Scholar.) All applicants who apply by Dec. 1 are considered for the scholarships. “We are looking for students who contribute to campus culture in exciting and tangible ways,” says Jennifer Cable, who directs the university’s vocal program as well as serving as director of the Richmond Scholars Program. Cable says these scholars can elevate the learning of everyone around them by something as simple as asking a question, or providing an insight into a discussion through an original perspective. She adds that the merit scholarship winners don’t take money away from other students, because the University of Richmond is one of the few colleges in America that offers need-blind admission and meets 100 percent of demonstrated need. In other words, a prospective student’s ability to pay for college is not considered in the admission process. Moreover, any admitted Virginia student whose total parental income is $60,000 or below qualifies for a financial aid package equal to full-time tuition, room and an unlimited meal plan, all without loans. According to Cable, one of the key benefits of the Richmond Scholars has nothing to do with money. “They each have a faculty mentor who works with them one-on-one for four years” in addition to an adviser from their major area of study, she says. “The connection is amazing,” says Cable, who serves as a mentor. Emphasis on affordability At Washington and Lee University in Lexington, the focus has shifted away from merit scholarships — although the university still offers them — to a bigger emphasis on need-based financial aid. “Our first obligation is to the capable student who can’t afford to come,” says W&L President Kenneth P. Ruscio.  “We want to make Washington and Lee available to exceptionally qualified students regardless of their economic backgrounds. Our assumption is that we will find very able students across the spectrum.” W&L recently completed a $500 million fundraising campaign that exceeded its goal by $42.5 million. The campaign included raising $160 million for need-based financial aid. Ruscio says the highly regarded university is sensitive to concerns over affordability.  Under its policy, annual tuition will not increase more than the rate of inflation plus 1 percentage point. The tuition at the private school for 2015-16 is $45,460. “The reason we’re hesitant to use your term ‘merit’ is that is creates an implication that those who are getting aid based on need are academically less strong,” Ruscio says. “Some of our very best students receive need-based financial aid.” The most prestigious scholarship at Washington and Lee is the Johnson Scholarship, awarded to about 10 percent of the entering class. Winners of the scholarship, drawn from the most highly qualified applicants, receive at least tuition, room and board.  Students with even more financial need receive additional assistance. In 2007, W&L graduate Rupert Johnson Jr., who is vice chairman of the board of Franklin Resources Inc., gave the school $100 million to establish a merit-based financial aid and curriculum enrichment program. Besides having many or all of their college expenses paid for, Johnson Scholars also receive $7,000 to support summer experiences — such as internships, volunteer programs or research projects — while at the university. Growing public-school trend Even though merit scholarships continue to be controversial, their use has been expanding at public colleges around the country. A study released this year by the New America Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-base, nonpartisan think tank, found that merit aid at U.S. four-year public colleges has increased markedly. The study was based on the use of non-need-based aid at 424 public four-year colleges and universities. In 1995-96, students who were receiving merit aid totaled 8 percent. By 2007-2008, it had risen to 18 percent. By contrast, during the same period, the share of students receiving need-based aid had risen only from 13 percent to 16 percent. The study also found that public colleges that provide substantial amounts of merit aid to students tend to enroll more out-of-state students, who pay higher tuition than in-state students. Monks at the University of Richmond says that money matters when it comes to recruiting the very best students. “It takes a meaningful amount of money to make a meaningful yield,” he says. Funke, the UR senior, says the university went the extra mile, flying her “on their own dime” to Richmond so that she could be certain the school was the right fit. The relationship has been fruitful  for the student and the school. In April, Funke, a double major in mathematics and computer science, won a Goldwater Scholarship, the country’s premier undergraduate scholarship in mathematics, science and engineering. 2015-10-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Peterson3168.png Photo by Mark Rhodes http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/novas-visionary-developer NoVa’s ‘visionary’ developer http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/novas-visionary-developer http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/novas-visionary-developer#When:10:00:00Z At 79, Milt Peterson is white-haired, energetic and happy to share the wisdom he’s gleaned after 50 years in real estate. He still reports to one of his company offices every day — perhaps for fewer hours — but don’t mistake that for retirement. For Peterson, retirement is a dirty word that conjures up someone with a slow mind. While he has a succession plan in place, this iconic Northern Virginia developer remains chairman of The Peterson Cos.  For five decades, Peterson’s Fairfax-based company has helped transform Northern Virginia as the region morphed from a sleepy bedroom community for federal workers into an international business hub.  Today, the company is expanding into new markets and has several projects in the pipeline. From master-planned subdivisions to mega mixed-use projects, Peterson is a pro when it comes to envisioning the use of land. Being a developer, he says, is akin to being a fortuneteller who looks into the future and says, “What could it be? What does the public want and need?”   That’s the philosophy behind large projects like Fair Lakes, Virginia Gateway and National Harbor, the premiere property in Peterson’s real estate empire. His company doesn’t just want to build things; it wants to create a sense of place. “Properties are like people,” says Peterson. “They have personalities.” Asked to describe the personality of National Harbor, a 350-acre, mixed-use, waterfront destination, Peterson smiles. “I would say a cross between Michael Jackson and Marilyn Monroe.” In other words, a big-name, resort-like persona. Located along prime waterfront on the banks of the Potomac River just over the Woodrow Wilson Bridge in Oxon Hill, Md., National Harbor was like a golden apple waiting for harvest.  Peterson watched while other developers tried and failed to come up with a viable plan. His idea was to build a new minicity with a vibrant town center that would serve as an extension of Washington, D.C.   National Harbor opened in 2008 with an anchor tenant, the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center.  The timing proved to be rocky with commitments for condos falling through after the start of the Great Recession in late 2007, which sparked one of the worst slumps ever for residential housing.   Still, the project continued to go up with office space, retail, hotels and a public marina. Peterson candidly admits that National Harbor lost money for years. “We’re recovering now,” he says. According to his company’s data, National Harbor employs 7,000 people and attracts more than 12 million visitors a year. They come to stay at the Gaylord or other hotels, to shop at the 340,000-square-foot Tanger Outlet Center, to ride the 180-foot-tall Capital Wheel in gondolas that offer sweeping vistas of the Potomac and the D.C. skyline, or to dine at one of the venue’s 30 restaurants. Some people also live at National Harbor in condominiums, town homes or new luxury apartments at The Esplanade that opened in May.  Soon, visitors will be able to gamble, too. MGM is opening a $1.3 billion resort and casino in fall 2016, with a 308-room hotel, 3,000-seat arena, a 26,582-square-foot spa and 12 restaurants in addition to more than 3,000 video lottery terminals and 160 table games. The decision to permit gambling at one of his projects was not easy for Peterson. A lifelong Methodist, he says his company has donated land and helped raise more than $22 million for the United Methodist Church. Yet, the company moved forward with the casino on terms that Peterson says preserved his values.  MGM builds a grand resort with amenities that appeal to more than gamblers.  There’s no question, he notes, that the MGM National Harbor Resort & Casino will draw more people and tourists to National Harbor, helping to secure its future as one of Peterson’s legacy projects. Still, Peterson says he made sure the casino was located away from the family-oriented main thoroughfare of National Harbor. Plus, his family made a decision that their company would not participate in any take from the casino’s revenues.  “We own the land. They own the building. We have no ties to their profitability,” he says. At full build out, National Harbor is expected to have 7.3 million square feet of development, including 2,500 residential units and 1 million square feet of Class A office space. Looking back, those numbers are a world away from where Peterson started in the 1960s. “We started with nothing,” he recalls. Married to his high school sweetheart, Carolyn Skyllberg Peterson, he began selling homes part time on the side with Yeonas Development and did well. By 1965, Peterson started his own residential development company and later joined John Tilghman “Til” Hazel Jr.  to create the Hazel/Peterson Cos. before forming his present day company. His companies have worked on such projects as The Burke Center and the 460,000-square-foot Tysons-McLean Office Park.  Today, 150 people work for the Peterson Cos., and it is one of the largest privately owned development companies in the region.  Over the past 50 years, it has developed more than 26,000 residential lots and built more than 34 million square feet of retail, hotel and office space. Still in the pipeline are more than 2,000 acres of land in Virginia and Maryland. The company is doing new projects in places like Virginia Beach, where it has proposed a $100 million, mixed-use entertainment district on the site of the former Dome entertainment venue.  Through the years, Peterson has received many awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Urban Land Institute, and he’s given away millions of dollars to charity. Business partners praise him for his vision. Hazel, another one of NoVa’s legendary developers, says his former business partner has two things: “Vision and drive … He’s a very aggressive guy, very dynamic. And he has the vision and the determination to carry things out. National Harbor is a good example.” The Peterson Cos. did the 262-unit Esplanade apartment project at National Harbor as a joint venture with The Bozzuto Group, based in Greenbelt, Md. Tom Bozzuto, the company’s chairman, says Peterson tried to talk him into building a larger project. “Milt felt we would be able to attract residents from NoVa as well as Maryland and, I have to tell you, he was absolutely right. We are seven minutes away from Alexandria.”  Even with the highest rents of any project in Prince Georges County — 630-square-foot studios go for $1,700 — Esplanade is 82 percent leased, says Bozzuto. “It’s a delight to work with someone who has great vision, great energy and great integrity.”   Steven B. Tanger, president and CEO of Tanger Factory Outlet Centers, says Peterson “sees opportunity at every stage of a deal and brings the best minds to the table.”  Which underscores another Peterson principle: “The boss or owner is like a coach.”  Peterson will be the first to say that every successful organization needs a coach and a talented team to execute the vision. He says he can cut back on his hours, confident that the team in place will run the business smoothly. Peterson’s son, Jon, is a principal and chairman of the company’s executive committee while Taylor Chess, former head of the retail division, was recently named as the firm’s first ever president of development. Virginia Business talked with Peterson at his company’s headquarters in the Fair Lakes development in Fairfax County. An edited transcript follows. Virginia Business: What is the secret to your company’s long-term success? Peterson:  I would say that the secret of any successful company, family, institution is getting teamwork and people working together because no one does it themselves … someone is leading the charge like a coach to bring talent together. Then, even if you have good talent, it doesn’t guarantee success.  It’s those people working well together. VB: And you’ve been the coach leading the charge? Peterson:  I have been one of the coaches.  When you get into business or any institution, academia, whatever it is, there is usually the starter, but then the starter, he or she, brings other people on that have the talents that he or she … doesn’t excel in. And what the good leader does, he or she understands that which he or she is good at, and things they are not good at. Then they supplement it or bring someone else in who has that talent. VB: Do you still come to the office every day? Peterson:  I do … what else would I do? My wife said she’d marry me for life but not for lunch. VB: So the company is still family owned in that all of your four children are working in some aspect with the company? Peterson: Yes. VB: Do you have a succession plan in place? Peterson:  That whole thing is in place, yes.  This company can operate very well without me or anyone else.  In other words, when you have a good organization, you have it such that it doesn’t stop when you lose one person … It isn’t just a matter of succession.  It’s a matter of good organization. VB: The Peterson Cos. has done many projects in Northern Virginia and suburban Maryland. Looking back, what project was the most challenging for you? What project really stretched you? Peterson: Without a doubt, National Harbor. VB: Why was it such a challenge? Peterson: It was a tremendous challenge.  It had been tried four or five times previously, and it was such a high profile property … It happens to have a mile and a quarter on the Potomac River, which is the most historic river in our country. It was so high profile when we took it on because the previous developer had tried to do a project that was sort of beyond normal or, I would say, reasonableness.  They wanted to do a Philip Johnson 54-story building.  Philip Johnson was an American architect [known for his post- modern style]. … A 54-story building incited not just attention, but alarm, and publicity and involvement by different agencies: the FAA, the federal government, the National Capital Planning Commission [the federal government’s planning agency for the capital and the surrounding region]. And then there were all the environmental issues with a mile and a quarter on the Potomac … In other words, there was now a separate layer that had to be dealt with. National Harbor had to be a very sophisticated project. It’s such a fabulous piece of property … The topography is perfect. You can see Washington. With a property like that you have a responsibility. If you aim too high, you go broke; too low, you are a bum. You have to bring out the potential of the property. You also have to be flexible. A good developer wants what the public wants.  VB:   Is it true that you secured $2 billion in financing from the Bank of America for National Harbor?  Peterson:  We borrowed a lot of money, but not $2 billion. The facts are, going into that project, we bought the land about 20 years ago. … We sold nine office buildings to get the capital.  As for the financing, there were six banks involved. Bank of America was the lead bank. Wells Fargo was involved, too.  VB:  For years, you resisted having gambling enterprises on your projects. Now MGM is investing $1.3 billion to open a hotel and casino at National Harbor. What changed your mind?  Peterson:  There was no way we were going to take a slots parlor at National Harbor. … If you have a high-end resort with all the amenities (not everyone likes to gamble) and you could get the best in the business, MGM, yes, we will do that.  There’s a big difference between a slots barn and a Bellagio [a reference to MGM’s resort and casino in Las Vegas].  We elected for it not to be in the downtown National Harbor area, which is more family oriented. It’s about a quarter of a mile away, right along the Beltway … We could have had a percentage of the take [from the resort].  The family made a decision not to participate. We own the land. They own the building. We have no ties to their profitability. VB:  How did you get the idea for National Harbor?   Peterson:  I was walking down the Las Ramblas in Barcelona, Spain, while on vacation, and I fell in love with it. I said, “I want one.” [Las Ramblas is a famous tree-lined, promenade known for its shops, restaurants, cafes, bars and street performers.] It seemed like an interesting way to get people into the area’s downtown as opposed to just the waterfront.  VB:  What prompted the decision for Peterson Cos. to get Hampton Roads?  Peterson:  It is farther away, but [the attraction was] the allure of being able to do a mixed-use development. We are place makers. We create places, not just developments. We try to put a personality into a development … Going to Virginia Beach is another opportunity for us for a public/private partnership like what we did in Silver Spring [a downtown urban renewal project in Maryland].  VB:  Has NoVa changed much in the 50 years you have lived here?  Peterson:  A lot has changed. It used to be strictly a bedroom community for government workers. There was no industry here. People worked in Washington. Seven Corners was the first shopping center.  VB:  So how did you get into the development business, anyway?  Peterson : I knew  I would get into real estate in high school. I studied economics and got started at Fort Belvoir with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. I thought, “What’s going to happen to Washington, D.C?” I compared it to other world capitals, and I thought many of them — London, Moscow — they’re huge. They’re surrounded by huge metropolitan areas.  The population of NoVa in the 1960s was about 50,000, 60,000. Now there are more than 2 million people. Plus, I had some family background in the business. My dad would buy a home; we’d fix it up and then sell it. I learned how to do some carpentry. I liked it. And I do like to make money.  While in high school … I cut lawns, had a paper route. I did anything to make money. I met my wife in high school. She was 14 or 15. (They have been married for 58 years.) VB: Tell me about your philanthropy and why it’s important to give back? I know you’ve given millions to your alma mater, Middlebury College, and your family foundation recently gave $10 million to George Mason University. Peterson: I think it’s a responsibility that you feel. Just as important as giving the money is being involved in the organization. These groups really need leadership.  That’s what makes the world tick, whether it’s a company, a religion, anything. When you give, that’s one thing; when you serve, that’s just as important. I served on the board of Middlebury College for 31 years [Peterson, his wife, three sons, two daughters-in-law, and a grandson are all graduates of the school.]  When Carolyn started with Life With Cancer more than 25 years ago [a nonprofit that focuses on cancer education and support], it had an annual budget of about $75,000. Today it has a $2.5 million annual budget. That shows what leadership can do. 2015-10-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/CVA_mediageneralbldg.png Media General now operates or services 71 television stations in 48 markets. Photo by Jay Paul http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/media-general-weighs-its-fate-in-two-deals Media General weighs its fate in two deals http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/media-general-weighs-its-fate-in-two-deals http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/media-general-weighs-its-fate-in-two-deals#When:10:00:00Z On Sept. 8, Richmond-based Media General announced plans to acquire Des Moines, Iowa-based Meredith Corp. for $3.1 billion. Just 20 days later Media General received an unsolicited $4.1 billion takeover offer from Irving, Texas-based Nexstar Broadcasting Group Inc. that would cancel the Meredith deal. By early October, two Media General major shareholders, Oppenheimer Funds Inc. and Starboard Value LP, had said they opposed the Meredith merger. As this issue went to press, Media General was reviewing Nexstar’s offer. If Media General backs out of the Meredith deal, it will owe the Iowa company $60 million. Media mergers among television station owners have become increasing common. “It’s just going to be more consolidation in the industry,” says Tracy Young, analyst for Evercore ISI in New York. With the Meredith deal, Media General would add 17 television stations and a magazine business with well-known titles such as Better Homes and Gardens, Parents and Shape. “They aren’t buying it for the magazine business,” Young says. “There are more dollars on the broadcast side.” The combined company, Meredith Media General, would become the third-largest owner of major network affiliates in the nation, initially owning 88 stations in 54 markets. The stations would reach 30 percent of U.S. television households. “There are six markets that have overlap and will have to swap or sell a station,” Young says. “The new combined company could buy more television stations.” Media General and Meredith were talking “about having two different headquarters” in Richmond and Des Moines, Young says. But that decision wasn’t set in stone. In its September bid, Nexstar offered to buy Media General for $14.50 a share. The combination would create a company with 162 stations in 99 markets, reaching 39 percent of U.S. television households. Nexstar shareholders would own 74 percent of the combined company.   Nexstar described the Meredith-Media General deal as “ill conceived” and “value destructive.” The Texas company revealed that it had been rebuffed in a previous bid for Media General in August just before it announced the Meredith deal. “Media General probably should have picked up the phone a while ago [for Nexstar’s August offer of $17 a share],” Marci Ryvicker, a senior analyst for Wells Fargo, says in a written assessment of the two deals. “We believe the Street would have been extremely happy with that.” 2015-10-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/OPower1.png Opower’s software is used by almost 100 utilities. Photo courtesy Opower http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/opower-software-encourages-energy-savings Opower software encourages energy savings http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/opower-software-encourages-energy-savings http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/opower-software-encourages-energy-savings#When:10:00:00Z Dan Yates and Alex Laskey started Opower in 2007 after recognizing that climate change was going to be a huge issue. The two thought their company could make a big impact by providing utility companies with programs helping customers understand how to manage their energy bills. “We don’t have a lot of software providers coming to the table with solutions,” says Michael Sachse, Opower’s senior vice president of marketing. “That is the niche we have been able to fill.” The Arlington-based com­­­­­­­pany’s cloud-based software enables utilities to communicate with customers and drive energy savings. “We contract with the utility companies,” Sachse says, noting his company has grown from 30 employees to 600 since 2009. “We went public in April 2014.” In August Opower was named to Fortune’s first “Change the World” list of companies that have made a sizeable impact on major social or environmental problems. The company’s software provides information on customers’ energy usage and gives them the ability to track their energy consumption. Opower also provides utility companies with analytics. “The average utility customer spends about nine minutes a year thinking about their energy use,” Sachse says. “We have made energy information sensible and actionable for customers. The information may come in the form of paper mailings, emails, text messaging or a website.” Opower’s software platform is used by almost 100 utilities worldwide. Its software reaches more than 50 million households and businesses. In September, Opower expanded its energy efficiency program for Hawaii Energy to nearly 250,000 residential customers across the state. The program has helped Hawaiian customers save more than $5 million on their energy bills, the company says. “We saw the energy bill as a huge opportunity for innovation and improvement,” says Sachse. “When people look at their energy bill, it’s hard for them to understand. We have built a platform to analyze the bill and present the analysis coupled with insights to customers through multiple channels. Customers change their behavior as a result.” In making Fortune’s first “Change the World” list,  Opower was in good company. Others on the list include Google, Facebook, Starbucks, Whole Foods, Twitter and Kickstarter. “This is an exciting company to be in,” says Sachse. “We are small compared to many other companies on this list. It’s recognition of the opportunity we at Opower have as a company but also the opportunity that software companies serving utilities have as a whole.” 2015-10-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/VAL_Rt11Chips.png Route 11 Potato Chips will invest $1.2 million and create 13 new jobs. AP Photo/Daily News-Record, Nikki Fox http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/chip-plant-expansion-will-benefit-potato-farmers Chip plant expansion will benefit potato farmers http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/chip-plant-expansion-will-benefit-potato-farmers http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/chip-plant-expansion-will-benefit-potato-farmers#When:10:00:00Z Sarah Cohen was thinking about the future when Route 11 Potato Chips built its 23,000-square-foot production facility in Shenandoah County in 2007. “We built with the thought of putting a second line in,” says Cohen, the founder and president of the company. “In the last couple of years, we have needed a second line. We are very vulnerable with just one production line. It can be precarious at times. People want their orders when they are expecting them.” Route 11 produces kettle-cooked potato chips in seven flavors as well as sweet potato chips. It will invest more than $1.2 million in an expansion and create 13 jobs — three of which already have been filled — in Mount Jackson. It will make nearly half of its new potato purchases — and all of its sweet potato purchases — from Virginia farmers. That equates to more than 1.5 million pounds of potatoes and sweet potatoes. “They can expand and get credit for sourcing Virginia products,” says Carrie Chenery, executive director of the Shenandoah Valley Partnership. “The new jobs and capital investment means a lot to our regional economic development efforts for Shenandoah County and Mount Jackson.” To help with the expansion, the state will provide a $50,000 grant from the Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund that will be matched by Shenandoah County. “The grant requires a local one-to-one match,” says Brandon Davis, the county’s director of community development. He feels that Route 11 is a company that hits several economic hot buttons — entrepreneurism, manufacturing and tourism. The Mount Jackson facility has a store on site and offers tours of the production process. “It’s a unique business that supports everything Shenandoah County stands for,” says Davis. The company’s distribution is focused on the on the mid-Atlantic states, but it also sells throughout the U.S. and exports to Indonesia, China and Japan. “I would be happy if we sold every chip we made here in Virginia, but it’s hard to convert people from their chip brands,” Cohen says. “Our niche in the market is specialty food.” One of the company’s largest customers is members-only warehouse retailer  Costco. “We just sell to them in the mid-Atlantic region,” Cohen says. “We pick and choose who we want to sell to based on keeping a simple business model — the lowest maintenance customer with the highest margins. We are so small we can’t sell to everybody.” The company, which now has 32 employees, produces potato chips six days a week. It was one of the first two potato chip companies to produce sweet potato chips in the U.S. All of its sweet potatoes come from Quail Cove Farms on the Eastern Shore. “We are not a 24-hour operation. That sets us apart,” Cohen says. “Our motto is unhurried potatoes. The kettle-style chip is a slower method than industrial-style chip.” The company is moving forward with its expansion. It plans to install the second production line at the beginning of next year. “We have to keep producing while we are in construction,” Cohen says. “Potato chips move pretty quickly.” 2015-10-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Karen_Sorber_Micronic.png Photo courtesy Larta Institute http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/wise-county-company-makes-wastewater-clean Wise County company makes wastewater clean http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/wise-county-company-makes-wastewater-clean http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/wise-county-company-makes-wastewater-clean#When:10:00:00Z Karen Sorber, the founder and CEO of Micronic Technologies in Wise County, describes participating in the AG Innovation Showcase in St. Louis as “the best experience of our company’s life.” Micronic was one of only four women-owned companies focused on renewable agricultural technology among the 19 businesses making presentations at the September event. The annual AG Innovation Showcase brings together entrepreneurs, researchers, corporations and investors involved in agriculture and agriculture technology. “I have done so many different things over the last number of years to get traction for the company,” Sorber says. “We were thrilled to participate. There was a lot of interaction and interest.” Micronic has developed a sustainable water desalination and purification technology. Its water treatment system, MicroDesal, is capable of taking water from any source and cleaning it to potable water standards, Sorber says. Sixty-nine percent of water used every day in the United States is wasted, she notes. “That equates to 90 trillion gallons of wastewater suitable for reuse. What we need to do is reuse that water. In our case, we do what no other technology can do — with one pass you have clean water.” Micronic is heavily focused on serving the agricultural market as well as targeting acid mine drainage, abandoned mine lands and community wells. The company also is working with the Office of Naval Research in designing a MicroDesal water treatment system for the U.S. Marine Corps. “Seventy to 80 percent of fresh water in the country is used by agriculture,” Sorber says. Micronic has been awarded three patents and is pursing two additional ones. It has doubled its number of employees to 10 since moving from Loudoun County to Wise County last year. The company has received $3 million in grant funding in the past seven years. It is developing three pilot projects that are expected to go into the field next year. One project is funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant while the other two will be funded by the state’s Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission. Sorber says Micronic has been well received in Southwest Virginia. “University of Virginia-Wise was the first to commit to support us,” she says. “Wise County provided phenomenal financial and infrastructure support to us. The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority introduced us to the region and then approved our lease arrangements for the building.” Sorber expects to find customers across the U.S. “Wherever there is water, there is wastewater, and wherever there is wastewater, we can clean it up,” she says. 2015-10-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/people-november-2015 People - November 2015 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/people-november-2015 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/people-november-2015#When:10:00:00Z SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA   Patrick Bartorillo  , appointed president of Branch Highways, Roanoke.  Bartorillo joined the company in 2013 and was named general manager earlier this year. (News release)   Nicole S. Butterworth   and H.S. Caudill, named to the Virginia Board of Game and Inland Fisheries. Butterworth is training sergeant at the Roanoke City Sheriff’s Department. Caudill is a retired sheriff in  Tazewell County and a member of the Tazewell County Board of Education. (News release) The Roanoke Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau announced the following new board members:   Jim Revercomb  , Roanoke Mountain Adventures;  Gretchen Weinnig , Fink’s Jewelers; and Leonard Wheeler, Wheeler Broadcasting. (The Roanoke Times)   Scott Shirley, director of wastewater operations for the Western Virginia Water Authority, received the Enslow-Hedgepeth Award from the Virginia Water Environment Association. (The Roanoke Times) Raymond Smoot, senior fellow, Virginia Tech Foundation, and chairman, Union Bank & Trust, and Michael Friedlander, founding executive director, Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, were honored with the Silver Hope Award by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Virginia-West Virginia Chapter. (The Roanoke Times) John Torget, appointed assistant vice president for leadership gifts and annual giving, Virginia Tech. Since 2012, Torget has been director of development and annual giving at Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business. (News release) SOUTHERN VIRGINIA William H. “Bill” Garrett of Garrett Studios in Danville, named a silver medalist during Professional Photographers of America’s 2015 International Photographic Competition. (Work It, SoVa) Angeline Godwin, named a member of the Council on Youth Entrepreneurship. She is president of Patrick Henry Community College. (Work It, SoVa) ReNita Patterson, named Danville Regional Medical Center’s new infection preventionist. Before coming to DRMC, Patterson served as infection preventionist at Cone Health System and Duke University Health System. (Work It, SoVa) Dr. Edward Snyder of Snyder Orthodontics in Martinsville, named host chair of the Southern Association of Orthodontics meeting, held in Orlando, Fla., in October. Snyder’s responsibilities as chair included arranging for 26 speakers to lecture at the conference. (Work It, SoVa) Jay A. Stafford, promoted to executive vice president, Kenbridge-based Benchmark Community Bank. Before the promotion, Stafford, a Fredericksburg native, was senior vice president and chief banking officer. (Free Lance-Star) SHENANDOAH VALLEY Ray and Tina Bramble of Front Royal, who have an Aire Serv franchise, received the annual Franchisee of the Year Award in September from the International Franchise Association. Franchise owner-operators representing 53 franchise systems were recognized during the IFA’s Franchise Action Network annual meeting. (The Northern Virginia Daily) Gina Hilliard, named interim president, Luray-Page County Chamber of Commerce. Hilliard is a former chamber board member who has been employed by the organization for nearly four years, most recently as director of operations and events and tourism marketing. She’ll fill the post John Robbins held for nearly two years before moving to North Carolina. (Daily News-Record) Jeff McMillan officially began as Luray Downtown Initiative’s program director in September, after being unanimously appointed by the dozen-member board. From September 2013 till September 2015 McMillan worked as a staff writer at Page News and Courier. (Page News and Courier) Uwe Weindel resigned as engineer-director for the Frederick County Sanitation Authority in September.  The reasons for his departure were unclear. The authority is searching for a replacement. (The Winchester Star) EASTERN VIRGINIA Douglas Glenn resigned in September as president and CEO of Hampton Roads Bankshares Inc., Virginia Beach. Charles Johnston, chairman of the company’s board, will serve as interim CEO while a replacement is sought. (The Virginian-Pilot) Stephanie Miller, named account executive and social media manager at Williamsburg-based MP&A Digital & Advertising. Miller most recently worked in publicity with Webster Public Relations in Nashville, Tenn. (Daily Press) Charles W. “Wick” Moorman stepped down as executive chairman of the company’s board of directors at Norfolk Southern Corp. on Oct. 1.  He was succeeded by President and CEO James A. Squires. Michael Wheeler was named executive vice president and chief operating officer, succeeding COO Mark Manion. (VirginiaBusiness.com) Joel Rhew, named senior vice president and senior client manager in Norfolk for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. He was senior vice president of commercial and corporate banking at SunTrust. (News release) Robert F. Shuford Jr., named president and CEO of Hampton-based Old Point National Bank. Shuford, who has served as the bank’s senior executive vice president and chief operating officer, succeeds Louis G. Morris, who will retire at the end of this year. (VirginiaBusiness.com) NORTHERN VIRGINIA Kevin Cole, promoted from executive vice president to CEO at Manassas-based Ennis Electric.  Former CEO John Ennis Jr. will remain chairman of the board. Steve Blankenship, former vice president of project management, has been named president. (News release) Donald E. Felsinger, named to the board of directors, Gannett Co. Inc., McLean. He is the former executive chairman and CEO of San Diego-based Sempra Energy. (VirginiaBusiness.com) Rita E. Girard, named executive director of Mental Health America, Fredericksburg. She succeeds Lynn Delamer, who retired. Girard had been office manager for the commonwealth’s attorney in Fredericksburg since 2010. (Free Lance-Star) Sanjay Gupta, named to the board of directors of Fairfax-based ICF International. Gupta is executive vice president of marketing, innovation and corporate relations for Allstate. (VirginiaBusiness.com) Greg Jay, named senior vice president/commercial lending, John Marshall Bank. He is  based in Leesburg. Jay has more than 20 years of experience in the banking industry. (VirginiaBusiness.com) Phebe Novakovic, CEO of Falls Church-based General Dynamics Corp., named the 10th most powerful woman in the U.S. by Fortune magazine. Novakovic moved up one spot from last year’s list. (VirginiaBusiness.com) Jennifer Victor, appointed to the board of directors of the Center for Responsive Politics, Washington, D.C. She is an associate professor at George Mason University. (News release) CENTRAL VIRGINIA  Kimberly R. Gregory , named CFO, Martinair, Sandston. Before joining Martinair, Gregory worked for the public accounting firm Deloitte & Touche, a publicly held media corporation and a health-care management company. (News release)  Eileen J. Kennedy  has joined Cherry Bekaert in Richmond as the client experience director. She was the founder and CEO of The Kennedy Factor. (News release)  John C. Nea l plans to retire as president of Union Bank & Trust in Richmond on Dec 31. Neal has worked for Union for nearly 25 years. He became the bank’s fifth president in 2004. G. William Beale, president and CEO of Union Bankshares Corp., will become president of the bank. (News release)  Robby Peay  has joined Kaleo Legal as a partner. Kaleo Legal, based in Hampton Roads, recently opened a Richmond office. He was general counsel of Synalloy Corp. (RichmondBizSense.com)  C atherine H. Claiborne Tazewell,  named to the Virginia Board of Game and Inland Fisheries. She is president and associate general counsel at Universal Leaf Tobacco Co. Inc. in Richmond. (News release) Scott Tolleson, named managing director of New Richmond Ventures, an early-stage venture firm. Tolleson was a partner with Newport Board Group, a CEO advisory firm. (VirginiaBusiness.com) Buck Stinson, senior vice president, small business card at Capital One, has joined the Greater Richmond Partnership’s board for the 2015-2016 fiscal year. Bobby Ukrop, president and CEO of Ukrop’s Homestyle Foods, is now chair of the GRP board for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, succeeding Henrico Supervisor Patricia S. O’Bannon, who remains on the board. (VirginiaBusiness.com) 2015-10-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/for-the-record-november-2015 For the Record - November 2015 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/for-the-record-november-2015 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/for-the-record-november-2015#When:10:00:00Z SOUTHERN VIRGINIA Research and development prospect Autonomous Marine Systems has been named the second-place energy winner of $175,000 in the first-ever Virginia Velocity Business Plan Competition. AMS earlier had received a $1.6 million Tobacco Commission grant to locate in the Southern Virginia Product Advancement Center (SVPAC) at Greens Folly.  AMS is projected to create 47 jobs in Southern Virginia. The company expects to become operational in the next quarter or so, according to SVPAC Executive Director Doug Corrigan.   (The Gazette-Virginian) Chatham-based Davenport Energy Inc. purchased two fuel oil companies from Roanoke-based Petroleum Marketers Inc. The purchase price of APB Whiting Oil Co. in Roanoke and Whiting Jamison Oil Co. in Covington was not disclosed. The acquired companies employ 20 people, who will become part of Davenport Energy. Eventually, APB and Whiting Jamison will be rebranded as Davenport Energy. (VirginiaBusiness.com) The state has awarded Martinsville Speedway a $50,000 grant to use toward boosting its marketing efforts to attract more tourists to the area and stimulate the local economy, Gov. Terry McAuliffe has announced. The grant is one of 45 local tourism initiatives statewide that will receive more than $796,000 through the Virginia Tourism Corp.’s (VTC) Marketing Leverage Program, which is designed to help tourism-related venues attract more visitors.  (Martinsville Bulletin) Chatham’s United Country Real Estate office is relocating to Danville. Owner and real estate broker Jeff Davis explained that the move from Chatham’s Old Dominion Agricultural Complex to Danville’s Forum Shopping Center was related to convenience. The new location is 625 Piney Forest Road on the third level. (Danville Register & Bee) The Walmart Neighborhood Market coming to the Nor-Dan Shopping Center in Danville is scheduled to open late summer 2016, according to company spokesman Bill Wertz. The Neighborhood Market will be about 42,000 square feet and employ about 95 people, providing groceries, a pharmacy, health and beauty supplies and some household items. (Danville Register & Bee) SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA Bristol-based Alpha Natural Resources confirmed that three underground mines in Dickenson County will cease operations as early as Nov. 20. Two other mines also will reduce operations. Ninety-six employees will be affected.  All five mines are operated by Norton-based Paramont Coal Co. The reason is an oversupply of coal, Alpha said, adding that declining demand has driven prices down to unsustainable levels, especially for Central Appalachia coal. (Bristol Herald Courier) The new Cabela’s in Bristol opened in October. The store is the first Cabela’s location in Virginia and the first tenant to open in The Falls development near Interstate 81’s Exit 5. The store’s opening ceremony was the culmination of more than three years of work by city leaders and the investment of millions of dollars to establish the center on 140 acres adjacent to Lee Highway. (Bristol Herald Courier) Homestead Creamery plans to triple the size of its facility in Burnt Chimney. The expansion will happen in stages to ensure that Homestead’s milk, butter and ice cream production will continue uninterrupted. The expansion will also allow the creamery to begin making cheese and yogurt again — something the creamery started years ago but stopped because it didn’t have enough production space. (SmithMountainLake.com) RGC Midstream LLC, a subsidiary of Roanoke-based RGC Resources Inc. has agreed to buy a 1 percent interest in the company planning to build the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Roanoke Gas Co. also will become a shipper on the pipeline to supply and expand its Southwest Virginia customer base. The Mountain Valley Pipeline is a proposed 300-mile-long, 42-inch diameter pipeline running from northwestern West Virginia to Southern Virginia. It is expected to cost $3 billion to $3.5 billion. (VirginiaBusiness.com) Tourism in the Roanoke Valley has grown for the fifth consecutive year. Economic impact data for 2014, released in September by the Virginia Tourism Corp., showed that expenditures on Virginia’s Blue Ridge region climbed to $784.5 million, an increase of more than $30 million, or 3.9 percent, over 2013. Virginia’s Blue Ridge encompasses Roanoke, Salem, and Franklin, Botetourt and Roanoke counties. (The Roanoke Times) Appalachian Technology Solutions LLC in Roanoke is one of four Virginia companies participating in the U.S. Senate Productivity and Quality Award’s Ones to Watch program. The program is designed to assist Virginia businesses with education, assessment and strategic support to help their development. Appalachian is a manufacturer and engineering service provider of structurally reinforced thermoplastic (SRTP)-based water and wastewater systems. (VirginiaBusiness.com) SHENANDOAH VALLEY A new Family Dollar store, scheduled to open in Mount Jackson Oct. 29, is the fifth location to open up in the region — with stores already located in Front Royal, Strasburg, Woodstock and Winchester.  (The Northern Virginia Daily) Pennsylvania-based Keystone Transport Solutions is taking advantage of a new lumber processing facility at the Virginia Inland Port in Front Royal.  Keystone began transferring equipment to the site in early September. The company took control of the log exports at the port last October, and has leased 5 acres on-site to expand its capacity with a new log processing gateway facility. (Northern Virginia Daily) Mathers was recently recognized for outstanding safety efforts in the workplace. The Waynesboro-based construction company received the Safety Award for 12 months without an accident claim. Mathers was one of only two mid-Atlantic businesses nominated by Amerisure Insurance Company for the policy calendar year of May 2014-May 2015.  (News release) Edinburg-based Shenandoah Telecommunications Co. (Shentel) is offering new high-speed Internet options and telephone bundles. Customers can purchase standard DSL options such as 5Mbps and 10Mbps or new Internet speeds of 15Mbps, 25Mpbs, 50Mpbs and 100Mpbs without having to also pay for telephone services. Shentel  also has upgraded its DSL network to more rural areas of Shenandoah County outside of its cable services.  (The Northern Virginia Daily) Shenandoah Valley visitors are spending more money in Virginia and Page County, based on the latest numbers announced by Gov. Terry McAuliffe. Last year, Virginia visitors generated $22.4 billion in revenue, up 4 percent from 2013. Page County also captured a bigger chunk of the tourism industry — visitors to the county generated $63.6 million in 2014, up 2.7 percent from the year before. Since 2010, tourist spending in Page has risen more than 12 percent. (Page News and Courier) A Walmart Neighborhood Market store is coming to Waynesboro. According to Cushman & Wakefield|Thalhimer, which represented Walmart Neighborhood Market in its recent land purchase in the city, the store is planned on about 5.4 acres at 1221 W. Broad St. Walmart purchased the land for $2.17 million. (VirginiaBusiness.com) EASTERN VIRGINIA Chesapeake Regional Healthcare is the new name of a collection of health-care facilities and services in the Hampton Roads city, including Chesapeake Regional Medical Center. Early next year, Chesapeake Regional Healthcare will open the Chesapeake Regional Surgery Center at Virginia Beach on the second floor of a new building constructed on the Urology of Virginia campus. (VirginiaBusiness.com) The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia has approved a new master’s degree in business analytics at the College of William & Mary. William & Mary’s Raymond A. Mason School of Business will begin offering the degree program in August 2016.  (VirginiaBusiness.com) A study commissioned by the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance finds that more than 65 percent of the region’s residents live in one locality while working in another. The study by economists James Koch and Vinod Agarwal of Old Dominion University, notes that the percentage of residents commuting outside their home city or county to work is climbing, from under 60 percent in 2005 to 61 percent in 2009. (VirginiaBusiness.com) A call center for a loan-servicing company will close, laying off 255 people, according to a state website. Home Retention Services will begin layoffs at its Chesapeake office by Nov. 23. (The Virginian-Pilot) Hampton Roads is still far behind the state and nation in terms of job growth. Its gross regional product contracted last year for the first time since 2010, and defense spending, the longtime linchpin of the local economy, will shrink to 39 percent of economic activity this year. These problems are contributing to a lackluster rebound from the recession, according to Old Dominion University’s 16th annual State of the Region report presented in October.   (The Virginian-Pilot) The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality issued a permit that will allow for the construction of an 80-megawatt solar farm in Accomack County, which will power Amazon Web Services’ data center activities. According to a news release issued by Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office, the plant is expected to be the largest solar facility in the mid-Atlantic. The developer and owner of the solar facility is Community Energy. (VirginiaBusiness.com) A Walgreens pharmacy in Virginia Beach has sold for $12 million. According to CBRE|Richmond, which brokered the sale, the buyer for the 14,200-foot store at 645 First Colonial Road was Sequoia Frankford Springs. The seller was Old Brandon First Colonial Associates LLC. The pharmacy, located at the intersection of Laskin and First Colonial roads, opened its doors in June after its construction. (VirginiaBusiness.com) NORTHERN VIRGINIA Arlington-based BAE Systems Inc. plans to lay off 650 of the 1,500 workers at its Norfolk shipyard operations. The number of surface combatant ships docked at Norfolk is expected to fall to 51 in 2016 as ships are either reassigned to other ports or decommissioned. These ship numbers are dwindling at the same time the Navy is facing spending constraints for the modernization of its vessels. (Washington Business Journal) Herndon-based LGS Innovations said in October it has acquired Dulles-based contractor Axios Inc. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Axios, which will serve as a subsidiary of LGS, provides services for the Department of Defense and the intelligence community.  It has more than 120 employees. LGS offers research and development services. It employs more than 800 workers worldwide. (VirginiaBusiness.com) Fredericksburg-based consulting firm Marstel–Day laid off 40 percent of its workforce in October. According to president and CEO Rebecca Rubin, 57 employees were laid off companywide. The firm also closed two of its offices in California. Rubin said the company, which took in $27 million in government contracts during fiscal year 2015, did not receive an expected $11 million contract from a government client. (Free Lance-Star) Sterling-based technology company Neustar plans to acquire assets from Reston-based Transaction Network Services for $173 million. The acquisition of TNS’ caller authentication assets is expected to create about $60 million in revenue for Neustar next year. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter, pending Hart-Scott-Rodino approval.   (VirginiaBusiness.com) Towers Watson announced in October it acquired Brovada, a Canadian technology provider for property and casualty insurers and brokerages. Brovada will operate as a separate unit within the company’s risk consulting and software business. Brovada’s founder and CEO, Karl Greenlaw, will continue to lead its team. Towers Watson is a professional services company. (VirginiaBusiness.com) Uber and Lyft will be operating at Reagan National and Washington Dulles International airports under a new set of regulations, scheduled to take effect Nov. 1. Under the regulations, ride-hailing services will be allowed to drop off and receive passengers at the airports only if drivers hold a permit from The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. Rides to and from the airports would also be subject to a $4 fee. (Washington Business Journal) CENTRAL VIRGINIA The Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC, led by Richmond-based Dominion, formally filed its request in September with federal regulators to build the 564-mile natural gas pipeline that would extend through three states, including 10 counties in Virginia. The company hopes to gain regulatory approval and begin construction by the second half of next year, bringing the pipeline into service by the end of 2018. (Richmond Times-Dispatch) Richmond-based CarMax Inc. said in September it was recruiting for more than 2,000 positions at its used-car locations throughout the U.S. CarMax spokeswoman Jennifer Curtis said 140 of the job openings will be in Virginia, where the company has 10 locations. The majority of the Virginia jobs, 85, will be in the Richmond area — at CarMax’s home office and its stores in Chesterfield County and western Henrico County.  (VirginiaBusiness.com) Charlotte, N.C.-based Park Sterling Corp. plans to acquire the holding company of First Capital Bank in a deal valued at $82.5 million. Glen Allen-based First Capital operates eight branches in the Richmond area. The combined bank holding company will have about $3.1 billion in total assets, $2.2 billion in total loans, $2.4 billion in total deposits and 60 offices in the Carolinas, Virginia and North Georgia. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2016. (VirginiaBusiness.com) Richmond celebrated a milestone in September with the grand opening of the $120 million Gateway Plaza. The 18-story building is the city’s first new downtown office tower in two decades. The recently completed structure’s anchor tenants include McGuireWoods and its public affairs arm, McGuireWoods Consulting LLC. About 230 lawyers and nearly 400 non-lawyer personnel moved into the building over seven weeks earlier in the year. (VirginiaBusiness.com) Performance Food Group Co., the nation’s third-largest food-service supplier, became a publicly traded company again on Oct. 1. During its first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange, the Goochland County-based company opened at $19 a share and closed at $19.20, up 1.05 percent. Performance Food was a public company until May 2008, when it was taken private in a $1.3 billion deal to Blackstone and Wellspring Capital. (Richmond Times-Dispatch) Richmond-based Avail Vapor, a retailer of electronic cigarette devices and liquids, opened a store in Nashville – its 50th – in September. The rapidly growing company, founded in 2013, plans to have 80 stores by the end of the year. Electronic cigarettes create water vapor instead of smoke by heating a liquid containing nicotine. Avail stores are in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina in addition to Tennessee. (VirginiaBusiness.com) Wal-mart plans to build a supercenter store on a site in Ladysmith in Caroline County. The 158,000-square-foot store is expected to create 300 jobs. It represents a $25 million investment.  The store is part of a broader, 36-acre retail project by Richmond-based Blackwood Development. It will be located on the southwest corner of Ladysmith Road and Route 712 (Green Road), near the Ladysmith exit off Interstate 95. (VirginiaBusiness.com) 2015-10-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/SoVA_Amthor.png Photo courtesy Amthor International http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/training-program-keeps-amthor-growing Training program keeps Amthor growing http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/training-program-keeps-amthor-growing http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/training-program-keeps-amthor-growing#When:10:00:00Z Business is booming at Gretna-based Amthor International, but growth is presenting challenges for Brian Amthor, the fourth-generation owner of the truck tank manufacturing company. “We have so much work that it’s more than we can handle at times,” he says.  “We need to have additional folks to handle the additional work that is coming in. Our growth is hindered if we don’t have enough employees.” Amthor’s tanks carry any type of fuel. Their uses range from construction to septic-system care. “We are the largest truck tank manufacturer in North America,” Amthor says. “We are constantly expanding and growing the company and our distribution channels.” The company now has more than 100 employees in Virginia and about 35 more at a smaller distribution and assembly site in upstate New York. The majority of Amthor’s customers are in the U.S., but some are overseas. “This is a growing business because it’s diverse in so many markets,” Amthor says. “It’s a niche industry. It’s very unique. Everything we do is different to a point.” When the company began pushing out the dates for deliveries as a result of its growing workload, Amthor contacted Laurie Moran, president and CEO of the Danville Pittsylvania Chamber of Commerce, asking for help in finding trained personnel. Amthor realized that hiring employees with no experience in a specific area would be counterproductive because he would have to take a seasoned employee off the floor to conduct training. “Now that person is off the job, and that affects the bottom line,” Amthor says. “Every minute and every hour is crucial.” The solution: an off-site company-specific training program. “This is probably the most comprehensive work we have done for a company to date,” says Moran of setting the project in motion. “We see this as an opportunity to not only help Amthor but to set up a model for other companies as well.” Amthor was able to partner with the Virginia Technical Institute in Altavista to put together a series of three training modules specific to the company. The modules provide training in welding, tank mounting and tank electrical work. “We offer a 160- to 200-hour training module,” Amthor says. The first module started Oct. 19 and the remaining modules start every two weeks thereafter. Classes run eight hours a day, five days a week with a minimum of 10 people per module. The company is primarily looking for second-shift employees but will be adding workers to the first shift as well. “We have grants that are covering the entire training expense and a stipend,” Amthor says. West Piedmont Workforce Investment Board and the Dan River Region Collaborative are providing the funding. “This is unique in that there are multiple partners that have come together to do this,” Moran says. “We try to be a connector and navigator through the process. It’s all about meeting the needs of the employer.” Amthor hopes to continue the modules as the company grows. “We have to see where things are as far as people after the first module,” he says. 2015-10-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Bernie_8077.png http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/millennials-build-communities-but-seem-to-eschew-politics Millennials build communities but seem to eschew politics http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/millennials-build-communities-but-seem-to-eschew-politics http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/millennials-build-communities-but-seem-to-eschew-politics#When:10:00:00Z Last month, I spent two days at the 5th Annual Cityworks (X)po in Roanoke, an event for which Virginia Business served as a sponsor.  The founder of Cityworks is Roanoke-based visionary and placemaking developer Ed Walker. For most people, “placemaking” is probably a new term.  Cityworks defines it as “the process of creating vibrant communities and quality places where people want to live, work, play and learn.” Walker and others have certainly done a lot in downtown Roanoke, renovating historic buildings into hundreds of trendy new residential spaces.  If you haven’t been to Roanoke lately, it has really come alive — a terrific example of placemaking done well. To hear Walker tell it, real estate held in the right hands is a powerful game- changing force.  Property ownership rights, passed through English common law into the American legal system, largely determine the path of change, or the lack thereof, in our cities and towns. The Cityworks crowd’s demographics are a bit different from the typical business-event audience.  They are mostly millennials, many just out of college.  They are interested in the arts.  The Cityworks (X)po actually bills itself as creating connections among social entrepreneurship, art, design, the outdoors, public health and social justice.  And, of course, like all good meetings, there is food and drink involved.  What would networking be without it? Many in the audience came from outside of Virginia — to see Roanoke!  All in all, I’d say (X)po is a pretty good advertisement for the new Virginia economy, markedly different from what’s in the history books — cool, trendy, unexpected! The placemaking that’s happening in Roanoke isn’t entirely new or unique.  Redevelopment and gentrification have been taking place for decades — think of Old Town in Alexandria. There also are entirely new livable and walkable places — think of Reston.  Historic tax credits and other programs have aided numerous locales around the commonwealth — Richmond, Danville, Staunton and others. A new generation is reaching into smaller cities, places like Buena Vista.  As tobacco, textiles, furniture and even apple growing have receded from our economy, dormant properties — factories, warehouses and retail spaces — are ripe for redevelopment.  These are opportunities for this new class of entrepreneurial placemaking developers. The ongoing evolution of a more entrepreneurial economy makes much of this possible.  Business is rebounding, and jobs lost in the recession are coming back in a different form.  There are more small businesses, many started by displaced workers reinventing themselves as business owners. Redevelopers like to talk about buildings having “good bones.”  There are lots of properties with good bones across Virginia.  The suburban lifestyle of the baby-boom generation has met its outward limits and is now on the retreat.  A new generation of millennials — looking for places to simultaneously live, work and play without a commute — is moving into urban-centric environments — cool, trendy, unexpected! One thing that seemed to be almost entirely missing from my (X)po conversations was politics.  While a handful of people in the audience had actually run for office, elections and lawmakers just didn’t seem to be on the minds of these new placemakers. Think about it — the millennial generation has never known a time when government was not dysfunctional.  Earlier generations had their Kennedys or Reagan who fomented change on both sides of the political spectrum.  But what has happened since? In the two most recent presidential elections, the youth vote has tipped heavily to Barack Obama, but promises of hope and change perhaps have given way to a jaded realization that a president without a supportive Congress only leads to partisan gridlock, rhetoric without results.  Low voter turnout in non-presidential elections has further accentuated this problem. Ironically, government programs have made much of this new placemaking possible.   Historic renovation tax credits on the state and federal level, and the Virginia Main Street community development program are examples of how government has enabled private-sector redevelopment.  If government has the power to help business, we ought to give it serious attention. This is election month.  By the time you read this column, every elected seat in Virginia’s General Assembly will likely have been decided.  Next year, we will elect a new president and in 2017 a new governor.  Making your vote count is good for business and good for our communities.  Regardless of your generation or political affiliation don’t miss this opportunity for placemaking. 2015-10-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/LETTER_VickiGardner.png http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/shooting-didnt-break-communitys-strong-bonds Shooting didn’t break community’s strong bonds http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/shooting-didnt-break-communitys-strong-bonds http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/shooting-didnt-break-communitys-strong-bonds#When:10:00:00Z To the Editor: Smith Mountain Lake is an amazing community, and I’m so proud to be recognized as one of its leaders. The tragedy on Aug. 26 that claimed the lives of talented WDBJ7 journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward thrust our community into an international spotlight. There were so many questions left unanswered. The intense media coverage — local, regional, state, national, even international — served a purpose, and that was to tell the story of how our community responded with strength and dignity. Senseless acts of violence happen all too often. While circumstances may be different, the act is always unexpected and often misunderstood. In many cases, communities are divided, destroyed and left with an unshakeable dark shadow because residents are unprepared and don’t know how else to vent their grief and frustration.  That was not the case with Smith Mountain Lake. I can say with pride that as a direct result of this horrific act, an incredible number of lake residents have reached out to meet new “neighbors” and develop new friendships. A powerful shield of respect now blankets our region, serving as a reminder of the sacrifice members of our law enforcement community and rescue crews provide 24/7.  We witnessed prompt action and support by businesses, organizations and individuals. The hashtag #SMLStrong was created and brought to life with amazing speed and pride. The Day of Remembrance on Sept. 19 at Bridgewater Plaza, the site of the shooting, was perhaps the most visible testimony to the strength of the Smith Mountain Lake community with hundreds turning out in bright blue T-shirts emblazoned with #SMLStrong to honor Adam and Alison and see a permanent memorial to them unveiled. Watching everyone join hands to embrace the plaza was truly inspirational and an important step on our road to healing. I can’t say thank you enough for the support shown to me in my recovery. Cards, flowers and gifts have arrived from all over the world and are a definite boost to my spirits. I wish I could respond to all, but the volume is overwhelming, so just know that each and every gesture is so appreciated! Generous donations also continue to arrive at the Chamber for “Vicki’s Vision,” a project I hope to be able to share more details on soon. In a nutshell, the goal is to create a much-needed gathering spot that will be not only a tremendous benefit to the region, but a lasting tribute to Alison and Adam. The healing process is slow, but I am feeling stronger each day and am eager to return to doing the job I love: promoting Smith Mountain Lake! Participating in all of the events scheduled to celebrate SML’s 50th anniversary — now just a few months away — provides a powerful incentive for me. I hope you’ll find out more about how you can be part of the excitement at http://www.VisitSmithMountainLake.com.  Senseless acts of violence will not end here. We cannot change what has happened, and there is nothing we can do that will bring Alison and Adam back to their loved ones. However, the community of Smith Mountain Lake can continue to serve as a worldwide example of how unity, leadership and vision can make a community stronger, its members closer than ever. Stay #SMLStrong, Vicki Gardner Executive director Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce 2015-10-29T10:00:00+00:00