Business news and intelligence for and about the Virginia business firstname.lastname@example.orgCopyright 20152015-09-04T17:24:00+00:00
HDL reaches agreement setting floor price for auction of its assets
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/hdl-reaches-deal-setting-floor-price-for-auction-of-its-assets#When:17:24:00ZHealth Diagnostic Laboratory Inc. said on Friday that it has reached an agreement with Texas-based diagnostics company to set the floor price in an upcoming auction of HDL assets.
Richmond-based HDL filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after reaching a $47 million settlement with the Justice Department over the company’s practice of paying doctors a $20 fee processing and handling fee for each blood sample it received. The company admitted no wrongdoing in agreeing to the settlement.
HDL announced in June that it would put itself up for sale in a court-supervised auction.The company said Friday that True Health Diagnostics LLC, based in Frisco, Texas, will serve as the “stalking-horse bidder” in the sale, offering a first bid to buy substantially all of HDL’s assets for $32 million.
The ultimately successful bidder for HD will be determined at the auction, scheduled to occur next Thursday (Sept. 10) at the Richmond office of Hunton & Williams. The law firm is HDL’s restructuring counsel.
“We are pleased to reach this agreement with True Health,” Douglas Sbertoli, HFL’s executive vice president and general counsel, said in a statment. “This is the latest positive step in the ongoing bankruptcy process and is intended to help maximize the value of HDL Inc. and to facilitate a swift exit from the Chapter 11 proceedings for HDL Inc.’s core business."
Sbertoli said HDL has been “encouraged by the widespread interest shown by numerous possible bidders for the company.” He added that the company’s normal operations would continue while the auction process takes place.
True Health, a privately held company, specializes in advanced clinical laboratory testing, designed to help health-care providers in diagnosing, managing and preventing a number of medical conditions.2015-09-04T17:24:00+00:00
Richmond Fed president builds case for interest rate increase
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/richmond-fed-president-builds-case-for-interest-rate-increase#When:15:21:00ZThe president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond said on Friday that the case for raising interest rates for the first time in more than six years remains strong despite recent volatility in the stock market.
Jeffrey M. Lacker, however, stopped short of committing to vote for a rate hike when the central bank’s Federal Open Market Committee meets Sept. 16-17. Fed Chairman Janet Yellen said earlier this year that the Fed intends to begin raising rates before the end of 2015.
“I am not arguing that the economy is perfect, but nor is it on the ropes, requiring zero interest rates to get it back into the ring,” Lacker said at the Retail Merchants Association Economic Forecast Breakfast in Richmond. “It’s time to align our monetary policy with the significant progress we have made.”
Lacker ticked off a variety of economic indicators that he says show that the Fed does not need to keep its benchmark federal funds rate at zero as it has since late 2008. The list included rising consumer spending, a tightening labor market, a relatively steady inflation rate and falling unemployment.
He acknowledged that recent wide fluctuations in the stock market have caused some observers to worry that a rate hike at this time would be a bad move.
Lacker, however, argues that economic problems in China causing market jitters have “only limited implications” for the U.S. economy. Therefore “recent market developments will have only limited implications for the appropriate path of monetary policy,” he said.
Lacker noted that the Fed has overreacted in the past to market swings that were unconnected to economic fundamentals. The central bank cut rates three times in 1998-99, he notes, but wound up taking back those actions the following year.
Lacker also discounted concerns about declining worker participation in the labor market. He conceded that, if part-time workers and people who have left the workforce are included, the July unemployment rate would have been 10.4 percent, well above the official rate of 5.3 percent.
“But most of the people who have left the labor force are not currently looking for work. The decline in labor force participation has been driven mainly by structural and demographic factors, such as the growing number of people enrolling in college and the large baby boom generation reaching retirement age. In addition, research indicates that not all people without a job have the same propensity to return to work,” he said. “Overall, I believe the evidence indicates that labor market conditions no longer warrant continuation of exceptionally low interest rates.”
While the Richmond Fed president was making his speech, the Labor Department reported that the economy added 173,000 jobs in August while the unemployment rate fell to 5.1 percent. He later described the report as “good, right down the middle of the fairway.”
Lacker, known as an inflation “hawk,” believes there is a danger in waiting too long to begin raising rates. Delay “could require a more dramatic increase in rates to restrain inflation pressures once they have become apparent in the data,” he said.
Lacker said the Fed’s reluctance to raise rates in the mid-1960s set off the period of “Great Inflation” that lasted until the early 1980s.
Despite the evidence of a strengthening economy that he put forth, Lacker made no commitment Friday to push for a rate increase at the FOMC meeting.
“I will not make a final decision on the question until I have had the benefit of discussions with my colleagues at the upcoming meeting and have reviewed the additional data we will receive between now and then,” he said.2015-09-04T15:21:00+00:00
Woodlake Commons Shopping Center to be sold at auction on Sept. 8
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/woodlake-commons-shopping-center-to-be-sold-at-auction-on-sept.-8#When:20:09:00ZWhile The Breeden Cos. is going full steam ahead with apartment projects in Virginia, one of its shopping centers in Chesterfield County is heading for the auction block.
On Sept. 8, two days before the Virginia Beach-based commercial real estate developer celebrates the grand opening of a 420-unit apartment complex in Henrico County that is almost totally leased, the Woodlake Commons Shopping Center in Chesterfield County is scheduled to be sold at a foreclosure auction at 10 a.m. at the front entrance to the Chesterfield County Circuit Court.
The 47,000-square-foot center, located close to the main entrance of the Woodlake residential subdivision off of U.S. 360, was built in 2006. The mortgage loan on the 14-acre property went to a special servicer, C-III Asset Management LLC, in late January, according to a property report from Trepp. The New York-based company provides information, analytics and technology to the CMBS, commercial real estate and banking markets.
The report says the $8.7 million loan was transferred due to a written statement from the borrower, that said “it is unable to remit future required payments due to low occupancy/cash flow.” Breeden owns the property through an entity called Woodlake Retail, LLC, according to court records.
Since then, the company has defaulted on the loan, which currently has a balance of $7.9 million. Wells Fargo holds the note.
A spokeswoman for the Breeden Co. said, “We are unable to comment on the transaction.”
Woodlake Commons’ largest tenant is Spotlight Studio of Dance Inc. It occupies 12,600 square feet of space, with a lease that comes up for renewal in June of 2017. Other tenants in the three-building center include an ABC store and Shogun Japanese Steak & Sushi.
According to Trepp, Breeden said it struggled to fully lease the center because of low rental rates offered by competitive properties in the area.
Jay Kepley of Kepley Broscious & Biggs, a law firm in Henrico County, is the trustee handling the auction.
On Sept. 10, the Breeden Co. celebrates the grand opening of one of its largest apartment projects in the Richmond region. The $70 million Marshall Springs at Gayton West, located in the Short Pump area of Henrico, has leased 306 of its 420 units, according to the company.2015-09-03T20:09:00+00:00
David Bernd to retire as CEO of Sentara Healthcare
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/david-bernd-to-retire-as-ceo-of-sentara-healthcare#When:16:20:00ZDavid L. Bernd, the CEO of Norfolk-based Sentara Healthcare, will retire in March and be succeeded by Howard P. Kern, the health system's president and chief operating officer.
Bernd became Sentara’s CEO in 1995. At that time, the nonprofit health system Sentara had annual revenue of $600 million, four Hampton Roads hospitals, a newly formed 63-physician medical group and a 143,000-member health plan. Sentara now has revenue of $4.7 billion. It is an integrated system, including 12 hospitals in Virginia and North Carolina, four medical groups more than 900 health-care providers, a health plan with more than 450,000 members, and life care and home care services.
“Since Dave Bernd became chief executive officer of Sentara Health System (now Sentara Healthcare) in 1995, he has built a quality health-care system focused on clinical best practices, advanced technology and exceptional patient care,” Bob Fort, chairman of the Sentara board, said in a statement. “His commitment to excellence has positioned Sentara to be recognized for 15 years as one of the nation’s top integrated healthcare systems, including three times as #1, according to an independent study published in Modern Healthcare [magazine].
Bernd has been on Virginia Business’ list of 50 Most Influential Virginians every year since the list began in 2013.
Kern has been COO for the past 18 years. He is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and a member of many professional and community organizations. He was chairman of the board of the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association in 2012.
Kern received a master’s degree in health administration from the Medical College of Virginia (now the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine) in 1981 after earning an undergraduate degree from the State University of New York.2015-09-03T16:20:00+00:00
Lydia Pettis Patton begins term as city manager in Portsmouth
Portsmouth’s new city manager, Lydia Pettis Patton, is a former employee who has returned home.
Patton, who is the Portsmouth’s first female city manager, started her job on Sept. 1.
Patton held numerous positions with Portsmouth after beginning her local government career in 1986 and working for the city for 22 years.
During that time, she served as department head for Parks, Recreation and Leisure Services for about seven years and was later promoted to deputy city manager, a position she held for six years.
More recently, Patton served as an associate director at the Chicago-based Illinois Institute of Technology focusing on international outreach and engagement at the university’s Office of Student Access, Success and Diversity Initiatives.2015-09-02T19:14:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/APAH_Photo.jpg
S.L. Nusbaum Realty Co. to manage 14 housing properties in Arlington
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/s.l.-nusbaum-realty-co.-to-manage-14-housing-properties-in-arlington#When:17:41:00ZThe Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) has named S.L. Nusbaum Realty Co. in Norfolk as the new property management partner at 14 of its Arlington properties.
“After an extensive search process, we were pleased to select S. L. Nusbaum Realty Co. to provide property management services to the more than 1,200 households living at APAH properties,” Nina Janopaul, APAH president and CEO, said in a statement.
Nusbaum manages a wide range of apartment communities throughout Virginia and the Carolinas, including income-restricted affordable apartments as well as high-end, market rate apartments.
The company currently manages and/or leases 120 apartment communities with approximately 17,000 residential apartments, more than 5 million square feet of shopping center space and dozens of commercial buildings.
APAH, a nonprofit that works exclusively in Arlington, develops, preserves, owns, and advocates for rental housing that is affordable to low and moderate-income families.2015-09-02T17:41:00+00:00
VCU to launch co-working space for student entrepreneurs
Student entrepreneurs at Virginia Commonwealth University will soon be able to work in a new co-working office space in the University Student Commons, giving theman on-campus spot to launch and grow startups.
The 656-square-foot space, called Founder’s Corner, will be available to all undergraduate and graduate student entrepreneurs at VCU, regardless of major. To gain access, participants must apply and go through an interview process.
“The goal with creating Founder’s Corner was to provide student entrepreneurs with a space to grow and scale their startups,” Dominic Costanzo, program manager with VCU Innovation Gateway, said in a statement “It gives them a place to call their own and the ability to work in a collaborative setting among other student entrepreneurs.”
The new co-working space will open in October. “Entrepreneurship and innovation spaces are popping up across the U.S., and schools recognize the importance of student-created businesses. And VCU is no different. Our students have amazing ideas for innovative and creative businesses that can have a real impact on the workforce here in RVA, and we’re excited to see these come to fruition,” said Carrie Hawes, assistant director, employer and experiential development, for VCU Career Services.
Besides providing office space to VCU student entrepreneurs, Founder’s Corner also will serve as a hub where they can network, attend professional development events and receive support from Innovation Gateway and University Career Center staff members.2015-09-01T19:27:00+00:00
July jobless rates fell in Virginia metro areas
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/july-jobless-rates-fell-in-virginia-metro-areas#When:19:27:00ZUnemployment rates fell in Virginia’s metropolitan areas in July, according to the Virginia Employment Commission.
The VEC reported on Tuesday that jobless rates in the 11 metro areas decreased by between one-tenth of a percentage point to half a point during the month.
All of the metro area rates were lower than 5.4 percent in July. By contrast, the highest rate in June was 5.8 percent.
The unemployment number are not seasonally adjusted, meaning they do not take into account seasonal fluctuations in the labor market.
The comparable July figures for Virginia and the U.S. during July were 4.7 percent and 5.6 percent, respectively.
Northern Virginia continued to record the lowest unemployment figure, 3.8 percent in July.
Four other metro areas — Charlottesville, Roanoke, Staunton-Waynesboro and Winchester — had rates of under 5 percent.
Bristol and Lynchburg tied for the highest jobless rate, 5.3 percent.
A rundown on the 11 metro areas shows:
Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford: 5.1 percent in July, down from 5.6 percent in June.
Bristol: 5.3 percent, down from 5.4 percent.
Charlottesville: 4.3 percent, down from 4.6 percent.
Hampton Roads: 5.2 percent, down from 5.5 percent.
Harrisonburg: 5 percent, down from 5.5 percent.
Lynchburg: 5.3 percent, down from 5.8 percent.
Northern Virginia: 3.8 percent, down from 4.1 percent.
Richmond: 5.1 percent, down from 5.3 percent.
Roanoke: 4.8 percent, down from 5.1 percent.
Staunton-Waynesboro: 4.5 percent, down from 4.8 percent.
Winchester: 4.1 percent, down from 4.5 percent.2015-09-01T19:27:00+00:00
Group of Richmond apartment communities sells for $7.5 million
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/group-of-richmond-apartment-communities-sells-for-7.5-million#When:18:14:00ZA group of apartment communities in Richmond’s North Side has sold for $7.5 million.
Marcus & Millichap, a California-based commercial real estate investment services firm, said the Chamberlayne Multifamily Portfolio, which includes nine buildings and 212 apartments, has been bought by a New York-based equity company. The buyer’s name was not disclosed.
Ross Cos., based in Bethesda, Md., has been hired to manage the properties, which include The Alexandria Group, The Fredericksburg, Gas Light, and 4828 Chamberlayne Avenue apartment communities.
They offer a mix of studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units along the Chamberlayne Avenue corridor in Richmond’s Ginter Park neighborhood.
Virginia Multifamily Group of Marcus & Millichap represented the seller and recruited the buyer. The company said the buyer views Richmond as a strong secondary market with growth potential.
Marcus & Millichap received offers from half of the prospective buyers who toured the buildings, including four offers from out-of-the area investors.
“The positive out-of-area interest that we saw in this transaction is indicative of the current out-of-state demand for Virginia real estate,” Altay Uzun of Marcus & Millichap’s Washington, D.C. office said in a statement. “We are seeing more and more core-market investors wanting to break into Virginia as they chase yield in secondary markets.”2015-09-01T18:14:00+00:00
Chesterfield County’s triple A bond rating reaffirmed by three credit rating agencies
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/chesterfield-countys-triple-a-bond-rating-reaffirmed-by-three-credit-rating#When:21:20:00ZChesterfield County has maintained its AAA bond rating – the highest credit rating available – from each of the nation’s top three rating agencies — Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s Investors Services and Fitch Ratings.
Following meetings last week with county leaders, the county said that each of the agencies reaffirmed the county’s AAA rating on general obligation bonds, with each agency providing a “stable outlook” indicator.
This means Chesterfield remains in the top 1 percent of counties in the country to carry three, AAA bond ratings.
Standard & Poor’s noted that “Chesterfield County’s general obligation bonds are eligible to be rated above the sovereign because we believe the county can maintain better credit characteristics than the U.S. in a stress scenario.”
Moody’s concluded “the AAA bond rating reflects the county’s strong credit characteristics including a sizeable and diversifying tax base, its carefully managed financial operations with sound reserves and conservative budget management and moderate debt position with manageable future borrowing needs.”
Allan Carmody, director of the county’s department of budget and management, said that maintaining the triple-AAA status “not only ensures access to capital markets at the lowest available rates but is also a strong endorsement of the Board of Supervisors oversight of the county’s financial and management practices and the community’s outlook moving forward.
The rating agencies reviewed the county’s financial position ahead of a bond sale in August that generated $33 million in proceeds to support ongoing school renovation projects. The bonds were sold at an overall interest rate of 2.46 percent.2015-08-31T21:20:00+00:00
Giant Food plans major renovations to Eagle Village store in Fredericksburg
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/giant-food-plans-major-renovations-to-eagle-village-store-in-fredericksburg#When:19:17:00ZGiant Food of Landover, Md. said Monday that it will renovate its Eagle Village Shopping Center store beginning this fall.
The store, which will remain open during renovations, is located at 1245 Jefferson Davis Highway in Fredericksburg.
The grocery retailer said the major renovation will provide shoppers with a more contemporary shopping experience through upgraded store amenities and expanded food departments.
The renovated Eagle Village Giant will offer a newly designed market-style produce section, fincluding an expanded selection of organic produce. The store also will have a new natural food department with fnatural and organic foods, in addition to a frozen natural food section.
The company also is expanding domestic and international wine selections and adding an assortment of craft, domestic and imported beer. New interior decor and shelving is planned throughout the store along with six new self-checkouts.
“We take great pride in our partnership with Giant Food and Ahold USA, and look forward to offering the public a new and refreshed shopping experience at Eagle Village for generations to come," Jeff Rountree, CEO for the UMW Foundation and president of Eagle Property Holdings LLC, said in a statement.
Rountree said that working with Giant Food on a complete renovation of the store has been a goal since the Foundation purchased the old Park & Shop in 2007.
“We always knew that Giant would play a major role in the revitalization of what is now Eagle Village and for the broader urban renewal we all seek along the U.S. 1 corridor,” he said.
Eagle Village, owned by the UMW Foundation, is a 23-acre, pedestrian-friendly residential, retail mixed-use village located adjacent to the University of Mary Washington’s Fredericksburg campus. The UMW Foundation is a non-stock, nonprofit corporation that manages and administers private resources that support the mission of University.
Giant Food operates 168 supermarkets in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia, and employs about 20,000 people.2015-08-31T19:17:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/900_Princess_Anne_St-4.jpg
National Bank Building in Fredericksburg sells for $1.6 million
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/national-bank-building-in-fredericksburg-sells-for-1.6-million#When:15:54:00ZThe National Bank Building in the historic area of downtown Fredericksburg has sold for $1.6 million.
According to Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer, NBB LLC purchased the 6,400-square-foot property at 900 Princess Anne St. from PNC as an investment for redevelopment.
The property, situated in the professional district, includes two parcels totaling a little more than a half an acre along with 22 parking spaces.
One parcel is located on the corner of Princess Anne Street and George Street. The other is at the corner of George and Charles streets.
Thalhimer’s Jamie A. Scully and Wilson H. Greenlaw handled the sale negotiations on behalf of the seller.2015-08-31T15:54:00+00:00
Ground-leased Wawa in Henrico County sells for $3.8 million
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/ground-leased-wawa-in-henrico-county-sells-for-3.8-million#When:15:33:00ZGround leased properties with a long-term tenant continue to attract investors.
The Kerlin Corp., a Cincinnati-Ohio based company that designs and installs professional lawn irrigation systems, purchased a ground-leased Wawa at 2415 Staples Mill Road in Henrico County from GGC — Staples Mill Road LLC for $3.8 million.
According to Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer, which brokered the deal, the company bought the property as an investment. Thalhimer’s Catharine Spangler and Kenneth Penrose, Jr. handled the sale negotiations.2015-08-31T15:33:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Marshall_Deck1.png
The Breeden Co. to celebrate grand opening of Short Pump project
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/breeden-co.-to-celebrate-grand-opening-of-short-pump-project#When:15:27:00ZThe Breeden Co., a commercial real estate developer based in Virginia Beach, has set Sept. 10 as the date for a grand opening of one of its largest apartment projects in the Richmond region.
The $70 million Marshall Springs at Gayton West, located in the Short Pump area of Henrico County, will offer 420 units, 306 of which already are leased, according to Peyton Tata, director of marketing and public relations for Breeden. The property has one-, two- and three-bedrooms with rents ranging from $1210 - $1570 per month. Amenities at the gated community include a picnic pavilion, outdoor cabanas with fireplaces, furniture and plasma televisions, , a dog park with watering station, pool and media center.
The community is located at 4501 Marshall Run Circle on 30 acres on the north side of Interstate 64 across from Short Pump Town Center. The site is near Gayton Road, which recently saw the opening of the North Gayton Road Extension, including a bridge over I-64.
Breeden also has several other apartment projects under construction or in the works across the state. In July, the company broke ground on Harbor Vista at Crawford Street on Portsmouth’s waterfront.
The five-story, $17 million project is scheduled be ready by the summer 2016. The community will offer a roof deck lounge that overlooks the marina.
Breeden also plans a community at the North Pier site in Portsmouth that’s adjacent to the nTelos Pavilion.
Harbor Vista is one of several additions to the Breeden Co.’s Enriched Lifestyle brand planned for 2015. The MARQ. in Virginia Beach (264 units), The Village at Westlake in Richmond (252 units) and Eagle Harbor West in Carrollton (208 units) are all scheduled to break ground in 2015.
Aqua on 25th Street in Virginia Beach (147 units) and Parkside at Charles Street in Newport News (148 units) broke ground in January.
The projects total more than 1,100 units. Breeden Construction will serve as the general contractor on the projects.2015-08-31T15:27:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Madouyrk2351.pngManassas City Schools Superintendent Catherine Magouyrk. Photo by Mark Rhodes
Improving the pipeline
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/improving-the-pipeline#When:10:00:00ZVirginia spends about $78 million a year on students who must repeat a year between kindergarten and the third grade because they simply weren’t ready for school.
That statistic, however, reveals only part of the problem when children aren’t prepared to enter kindergarten. In its efforts to recruit and maintain a skilled workforce, Virginia’s business community has identified early childhood education as an important issue. The Virginia Chamber of Commerce, in fact, has made early childhood education a key element of its Blueprint Virginia, a comprehensive economic development plan for the state.
“We have an educational system that is broken in preparing a worker for our manufacturing companies,” says Ben Davenport, a Chatham businessman who is a former chairman of the Virginia Chamber. “While we’re beginning to address it, it will take a considerable matter of time for a result.”
Davenport owns three businesses in Southern Virginia, including a waste and recycling company, First Piedmont Corp., as well as energy and communication companies.
He is finding it increasingly difficult to hire the skilled workers he needs. “We have seen a real decline in the quality of education in new hires,” Davenport says.
Employment in Davenport’s region once came primarily from textile and furniture industries, which required only a ninth-grade education. Now the region is reaping a bitter harvest. Those industries largely have moved production overseas, leaving behind former employees and their children.
“In the Danville area, 30 percent of the population was entering kindergarten unprepared” for school, Davenport says. The slow start could put children behind for the rest of their lives, he says.
About five years ago, the Danville Regional Foundation, established in 2005 to invest $200 million from the sale of Danville Regional Medical Center, began investing $5 million in pre-K education in the region.
The foundation works with Smart Beginnings, a group that connects private and public resources, including business, higher education and the faith community for the benefit of young children.
“We made an aggressive effort to turn around [the preparation of children entering school in the Danville area], and it worked,” Davenport says.
Today, he says less than 15 percent of the children showing up for kindergarten in the region are unprepared, as measured by testing and other methodologies. “So we know that the right kind of interaction with children has a profound effect,” Davenport says.
Kathy Glazer, president of the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation, which provides funding and technical assistance for the Smart Beginnings network, says the beginning of the organization a decade ago was a business-led initiative. “It showed early-on recognition by the business community that this was not a partisan issue, but a workforce investment.”
Support from the business community has helped wring the politics out of early childhood education, she says.
“To me, that has been really a sea change, and a very significant help to overcoming some of the barriers or some of the challenges that we face.”
Glazer adds that Smart Beginnings works in communities with federal programs such as Head Start, as well as state programs such as the Virginia Preschool Initiative that serves at-risk 4-year-olds who are not served by existing preschool programs.
Private efforts, such as programs operated by faith-based and community groups, also are part of the mix.
The Early Childhood Foundation receives $1.5 million annually in state funding for its operations and also raises money from corporations and other private sources in support of an annual budget of $3 million to $4 million.
Glazer says the group also recently helped the state secure a federal grant that will bring the state about $70 million during the next four years. The grant is administered by the Virginia Department of Education.
In another effort, the Hampton Roads public broadcasting outlet WHRO last year gave “teachable moment” training workshops to more than 2,000 parents and 435 teachers.
Summer reading camps and other activities were provided for 5,150 children. Campers showed gains in all of the literacy skills presented in the program, including an 84 percent gain in phonics skills and a 139 percent gain in word recognition skills.
WHRO’s Raising Readers Reading Van also toured the region visiting 57 preschools, elementary schools and daycare centers, distributing over 6,380 books to children most in need.
WHRO is owned by 19 Southeastern Virginia school divisions. Under contract with the Virginia Department of Education, it also delivers statewide online and digital educational services to 286,000 students and 25,000 educators per month.
One of Virginia’s boldest efforts to improve early childhood education is occurring in Manassas City Schools.
School Superintendent Catherine Magouyrk wants to develop a network of parents — working with the business community and others — focused on helping young children learn in the pre-K environment.
One-third of Manassas students are classified as English-language learners, the highest proportion of any school system in the state.
“In elementary school, 60 to 90 percent [of students] could be a second-language learner. We have challenging, but wonderful, schools,” Magouyrk says.
Like many school divisions in Virginia, Manassas doesn’t have enough classrooms for all the pupils who need pre-K instruction. In the 2014-15 school year, there were 140 children on the waiting list.
This year, Manassas schools will implement a program to provide pre-school to every qualifying 4-year-old. There will be three models employed, ranging from a traditional in-school, full-day pre-K program to an accelerated learning program connecting home and school through mobile technology. That model includes four hours of direct parent training every other week in the school with a certified teacher.
The heart of the program will be a software program called Footsteps2- Brilliance, which can be used on a variety of devices, including computers and smart phones. The program features a library of interactive children’s books offered in English and Spanish.
Officials hope the software program will help parents, as well as their children, learn English. Also, English speakers can learn Spanish through the program.
To participate, parents must sign contracts pledging to work with their children. Teachers will be available to assist families along the way and help them learn how to use the software. If they can’t afford a device to use the software, businesses have agreed to help out.
“The first year, we’re leaving the pavement and hitting the dirt road,” Magouyrk says, referring to the experimental nature of the effort. “All I’ve thought about is doing this right. I don’t want to let the families and children down.”2015-08-28T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Healthmergers.pngGraphic by Adrienne R. Watson
Fewer players in the game
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/fewer-players-in-the-game#When:10:00:00ZThese days the old adage that change is the only constant is a good fit for the health insurance business.
Big mergers by major insurance companies, announced in July and driven in part by the impact of the Affordable Care Act, are remaking the industry in ways that aren’t yet clear. For now, though, it seems like bigger is considered better.
In July Humana and Aetna announced merger plans that would create a company with 33 million customers. Later that month Anthem and Cigna announced a proposed merger that would provide coverage for 53 million patients. If the deals go through, there would be just three major insurers, with United Healthcare being the third with 45 million members.
That’s the kind of trend that puts fear into business and individual insurance customers, because fewer competitors often means less competition and thus higher prices. Maybe that will prove correct, but the insurance business is different in some key ways. For one thing, insurers don’t always compete directly against each other.
“When I look at the mergers in Virginia and what lines of business they’re in and where they overlap, the conclusion I come to is these are really complementary mergers,” says Doug Gray, executive director of the Virginia Association of Health Plans. “They’re not really earthshaking developments. There’re ways the [insurers] can diversify their business portfolios and possibly have a little bit more leverage” when negotiating with hospitals and doctors. “But it’s not a big collapse of competition … because the two parts weren’t competing anyway.”
In Virginia and elsewhere, Cigna’s focus is on national accounts and the large-group market in Virginia, businesses with 100 or more full-time-equivalent (FTE) employees. Anthem is very much the opposite, insuring state employees, individuals and small groups. It is the biggest insurer in Virginia and a number of other states. “So Anthem sees a chance to expand enrollment, gain some efficiency and to serve national accounts they might not have gotten before. It helps them compete with United Healthcare and Aetna,” Gray says.
Scott Golden, a spokesman for Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield in Virginia, says wait and see. “We’re excited about it; we think it’s going to bring exciting new products for our members,” he says. But those details haven’t been developed yet. The merger isn’t supposed to close until the second half of 2016, he says. “It’s too early to tell.”
The uncertain response to the merger proposals suggests investors and regulators aren’t sure what to make of the deals either. A month after Aetna’s proposed $33 billion takeover, Humana’s stock was trading at about $185, well below Aetna’s offer of $223 per share. The proposed $48.4 billion sale of Cigna to Anthem fared better, with both companies reporting increased earnings and revenue in the second quarter. Of course, both deals still have to get past the antitrust regulators.
Beyond the usual upbeat press statements, the companies involved in these mergers are offering few details about how the deals will affect the market. Anthem launched a website (betterhealthcaretogether.com), telling employers and individual customers that the combined company “will expand access to an unmatched network of hospitals, physicians, and health-care professionals. No company will be better positioned to deal with the challenges of a fast-changing health-care market,” the company says.
There is good reason to think that the businesses most threatened by the mergers are the hospital networks and other health-care providers who will now have to negotiate prices with even more powerful insurers. Sean Connaughton, president and CEO of the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association, would like regulators to keep that in mind. “Given current and pending federal health-care cuts, we urge federal regulators to carefully examine whether the proposed mergers will give the insurers more leverage to negotiate lower reimbursements from hospitals and providers that can hurt the continued viability of these critical community and economic assets.”
A key reason that hospitals and insurers are making moves to improve their positions is the controls put in place by the Affordable Care Act. Under its rules insurers have to meet a minimum “medical loss ratio” of 80 percent, meaning they have to spend 80 percent of their premium dollars on medical care. That’s a big deal, because the requirement steers insurers to find more profit in efficient operations through economies of scale that are supposed to come with big mergers.
Many agreements in place
The premise that bigger insurers will have more leverage with health-care providers may not pan out in all markets. For one thing, hospital groups often already have agreements in place with major insurers. Anthem has ongoing agreements, for example, with Bon Secours Virginia Health System in the Hampton Roads and Richmond regions. It also has an agreement, announced in September 2013, to make HCA Virginia Health System a “preferred provider” for insurance coverage bought through the federal exchange.
Gray with the health plan association says hospitals can’t complain too much, because in many areas they are the only game in town. Inova Health System, for example, has hospitals and other health-care facilities all over Northern Virginia. So any insurer who wants customers there has to do business with Inova. And, some hospital groups are going for vertical integration. Sentara Healthcare, for example, owns Optima Health, an insurance plan with about 444,000 members in Virginia.
Sentara Healthcare continues to expand its footprint in Virginia as well. In July it closed on a deal to acquire Pratt Medical Center in the Fredericksburg region. Pratt, a multispecialty physician group, has about 66,000 patients in the region served through seven locations. It solicited bids more than a year ago before entering into negotiations with Sentara.
So the key competition in the insurance and health-care industries is often between different models of doing business and not companies competing on a level playing field. The coming months will bring more changes to that field as the mergers undergo scrutiny from regulators and investors, and health-care providers continue staking out new turf.2015-08-28T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/INNOVATE_Grisham.pngMike Grisham is CEO of The Catalyst, which offers grants to encourage cooperative biotech projects. Photo by Rick DeBerry
From mapping brains to modeling diseases
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/from-mapping-brains-to-modeling-diseases#When:10:00:00ZTwo years ago, the General Assembly established the Virginia Biosciences Health Research Corp. with one major goal: To encourage cooperative biotech projects involving researchers from different Virginia universities and partner them with industry. There was just one hitch: That kind of cooperation wasn’t really happening.
Mike Grisham, CEO of the Richmond-based nonprofit corporation that’s now known as The Catalyst, recalls that when he’d tell Virginia university researchers that he had grants to offer them for collaborating with other state universities, “They would say, ‘Well, I don’t really know anyone at any of our other universities.’ … In Virginia the universities are fiercely independent. …We set out to change that culture.”
And Catalyst has made progress: In less than two years, it’s provided more than $4.4 million in seed money to a dozen collaborative bioscience research projects between universities and private companies, resulting in $10.5 million in matching funds and $22 million in additional investment.
One Virginia success story is Charlottesville-based biotech company HemoShear Therapeutics, which was spun out of research at U.Va. as a private company. HemoShear manufactures platforms that model human tissue systems and disease behaviors with the hope of developing new pharmaceutical treatments. The University of Virginia, George Mason University and HemoShear received a $450,000 matching grant from Catalyst to fund research for the National Cancer Institute that created a tumor model platform that mimics the biology of human tumors for lung cancer and pancreatic cancer.
“We’ve done a lot with that $450,000, and we’re proud of it,” says HemoShear’s co-founder and Vice President of Research and Development Brian Wamhoff. “We’ll be developing new drugs for patients with uncurable cancers. … We’re able to re-create those patients’ diseases outside of their body and develop new therapies for them. It’s almost science fiction.”
Biotech is a hot, fast-growing sector and “it can be a big driver for Virginia over the next decade,” Grisham says, noting that companies collaborating with Virginia universities range from startups and university spinoffs to global corporations such as Pfizer and AstraZeneca.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s administration is focused on making Virginia known as “the brain state” because of cutting-edge research by universities and private industry in the neurosciences.
For example, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Research Campus in Loudoun County, which opened in 2006, is focused on pioneering neuroscience research and developing advanced imaging technologies. So is the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute in Roanoke, which is recruiting 5,000 volunteers for its Roanoke Brain Study, a longitudinal research project using genetics and behavior studies and neuroimaging to examine how people make decisions.
Virginia has a great advantage in biosciences because of the strength of its research universities, McAuliffe says. “To me, we’ve got the assets here. Now it’s time to take it to the next level. … We need to get more aggressive. … We now need to create a statewide entity to drive this growth in biosciences.”
In December 2014, McAuliffe announced the creation of a new Virginia Bioscience Initiative to promote and expand the state’s biosciences industry. Since then, the state has hosted a technology roundtable focused on commercializing university research, and in April the state government hosted the state’s first bioscience conference, THRiVE.
“I promise you this is going to yield long-term, sustainable results,” says McAuliffe. Biosciences jobs are high-paying and stable, he says, and will “continue to drive innovation … and will spawn entirely new industries down the road.”
“We think Virginia is extremely well placed” to be a biosciences success on many fronts, says Jeff Gallagher, CEO of Virginia BIO, the nonprofit trade association representing the life sciences industry in the commonwealth.
North Carolina and Maryland have larger, more established biosciences industries, but that’s really an asset for Virginia, Gallagher says, because it means biosciences companies here have skilled talent pools nearby.
Northern Virginia, long a bastion for IT and tech businesses, is particularly well suited for working in biosciences. “It is my belief we can become a global leader where data science meets bioscience and health,” Gallagher says. As many large Virginia research corporations such as Northrop Grumman, MITRE and Noblis have seen federal contracts dry up, they’ve been pivoting resources into biomedical and bioscience research, he notes.
Health providers such as Inova also are entering the research field. As an example, Gallagher cites, the Inova Translational Medicine Institute in Falls Church, which focused on genomic research and medical research to improve patient care, particularly in oncology.
Virginia also has a plethora of innovative bioscience startups and university researchers, and that number is constantly growing, says Gallagher, noting that his association has about 300 member companies.
Richmond-based Health Diagnostic Laboratory had been a standard bearer for bioscience in Virginia in recent years. Yet with its fall from grace amid a federal settlement of Medicaid fraud charges, there hasn’t been a single voice advocating for the industry, Gallagher says. He hopes the McAuliffe administration will change that by creating a state office or advocate devoted solely to biosciences. In the past, he says, state economic development efforts to promote entrepreneurship and innovation have been “sector agnostic.”
B. Frank Gupton, chair of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Engineering’s Department of Chemical and Life Science Engineering, is one of the state’s key innovators. He served on McAuliffe’s biosciences technology roundtable last year and recently helped form the Virginia Drug Development Consortium, a collaboration involving VCU, the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech. “We’re trying to take the innovations that are occurring at the different universities in drug discovery [and] move them down the pipeline and increase the intellectual property value of them,” he explains.
Gupton has received more than $10 million in research grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as a principal investigator working on the foundation’s Medicines for All initiative. It is aimed at finding quicker and cheaper ways to manufacture drugs treating diseases such as AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
Utilizing nanotechnology, Gupton helps pharmaceutical companies develop new catalysts to create drugs more efficiently. “We’ve taken reactions that take the pharmaceutical industry about eight to 10 hours to run, and we can do them in about 10 seconds,” he says.
The nation hasn’t yet recognized Virginia as a bioscience center, “but we’re working really hard on that,” Gupton says. “Part of the problem is we’ve been working individually in pockets of excellence, but I think Governor McAuliffe has worked really hard to coalesce a lot of the university resources around his initiatives, and it’s starting to get traction.”2015-08-28T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/The_Diamond%2C_home_of_the_Richmond_Braves.pngThe Diamond’s site is targeted for development. Photo courtesy Wikipedia
The endless at-bat over ballpark
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/the-endless-at-bat-over-ballpark#When:10:00:00ZWhile Richmond’s foray as host of the Road World Cycling Championships seems to be on track, the direction of its effort to replace a 30-year-old baseball stadium — The Diamond, home of the Flying Squirrels, a Double-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants — remains unclear.
Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones proposed a plan to build a new baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom, a historic area near a slave burial ground. That idea drew the ire of critics who described the site as “sacred ground.”
Under the Shockoe Bottom plan, which was paired with commercial development at the site of the city’s current baseball stadium on the Boulevard, Richmond would be on the hook for $79.6 million, including infrastructure upgrades and a slavery memorial.
The mayor withdrew his proposal from council consideration last year when it appeared the measure would be voted down. After that, little movement on the stadium issue took place.
For many observers, the standoff recalled the situation faced by the Richmond Braves, the city’s Triple-A team for 42 years. The Braves departed for Gwinnett County, Ga., in 2009 after repeated pleas for a new ballpark went unmet.
Finally in June Lou DiBella, the Squirrels’ president and managing general partner, revealed his frustration in an open letter to the community. “Not only is our future uncertain, but efforts toward consensus have been replaced by political paralysis by analysis,” DiBella says in the letter.
In July, Jones made a new pitch. After consulting leaders in Chesterfield and Henrico counties, he invited the Squirrels to look at potential sites for a new home throughout the Richmond area. While setting a December deadline for finding a stadium site, he offered to extend the team’s lease at The Diamond through 2017.
The only place that Jones does not want considered is the Boulevard property where the current stadium now sits. The mayor believes the land has great potential for tax-generating development.
One possibility for the 60-acre property is a standalone children’s hospital, a cause championed by many area physicians. Richmond philanthropist William H. Goodwin Jr. and his wife, Alice, have offered to contribute $150 million toward the construction of the hospital. However, two early partners in the project, the Bon Secours and VCU health systems, have dropped out for financial reasons.2015-08-28T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/RICHMOND_cycling.pngThe Road World Cycling Championships in Richmond will include a series of 12 races. AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza
A moment on the world stage
That is the message on the website of Richmond 2015 as it counts down the days, hours and seconds to Sept. 19.
That is the day the Road World Cycling Championships begin in the capital city. Preparation for the nine-day event (Sept. 19-27) has prompted activities ranging from widespread street repaving to the training of a small army of volunteers to guide visitors around Richmond.
The “Worlds,” as the championships are called, represent a pinnacle event for cycling. Richmond aggressively sought the races — it will be the first U.S. host of the event since 1986. The competition is supervised by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the world governing body for cycling.
Nearly half a million spectators are expected to watch the event in person, along with a worldwide TV audience estimated to number in the hundreds of millions.
Their eyes will be trained on 1,000 superbly chiseled athletes with lightning in their legs as they zip along city streets and other roads throughout the region in a series of 12 races.
Richmond 2015, the umbrella organization pulling together the various pieces of the race event, has projected a rosy economic impact: $129 million in visitor spending in the region, along with $3.8 million in local tax revenue.
The rush is on to tie the bow on race-related projects before the crowds start arriving. A safe ride for the contestants is critical. City paving projects were expected to be completed by mid-August.
Once the races are complete, local residents will have not only better streets but legacy reminders, such as the restoration of cobblestone streets in various parts of the city, says Allen Rothert, Richmond’s special events coordinator.
“They are artists,” Rothert said of the workers who have preserved the old skills of laying cobblestones. He adds that Richmond has been collecting cobblestones over decades of street work and putting them aside in a warehouse for times when they are needed for restoration projects.
Rothert says the World Championships will be the biggest event the city has ever staged.
If plans unfold in the way they’re supposed to, Richmond will be one of the few cities in the country to have successfully hosted an international competition of this scale. “For me, it’s all about reputation,” says Rothert, who has been employed by the city for 45 years. “This will be our crowning achievement.”
Businesses along the path of the various races have mixed emotions about what to expect, according to Greg Johnson, owner of Citizen Restaurant in downtown Richmond and a spokesman for the group. “Some are looking forward to it,” he says. “Some are closing for the week.”
The ones who are temporarily closing, he says, are those who either think their products don’t lend themselves to an international sports crowd or they are concerned that their employees might not be able to get to work because of the crowds and street closures.
Johnson, on the other hand, believes that restaurant owners like him stand to benefit. “I hope we’ll be so incredibly busy, we’ll be able to take the next week off,” he says.
Johnson says some downtown businesses have expressed doubt whether adequate transportation plans would be in place, not only to deliver employees to the workplace but also to provide needed services.
But Johnson credits officials at Richmond 2015 with trying to work with downtown merchants to explain the full scope of the races and what to expect as events began. “They told us what 450,000 people really means,” he says, and it means crowds.
Ed Jones, owner of Cycles Ed in Ashland, says many small bike shop owners like him will not benefit from the races, as they initially hoped they would. “Most of the local shops will not be involved. The teams will be bringing their own mechanics and their own equipment,” Jones says.
But he believes that the attention brought to cycling by the World Championships will add momentum to a cycling resurgence that is already underway. “We’ll be affected residually,” Jones says.
Officials organizing the races say that at every turn, they’re trying to involve local businesses and merchants as partners, and they have tried to be sure that small, women-owned and minority businesses have an opportunity to participate.
Army of volunteers
Katherine O’Donnell, vice president of community relations for Richmond Region Tourism, says the organization has revved up its “I Am Tourism Ambassador Training” program.
“We are overseeing the Ambassador volunteers that are a part of the 3,000-plus volunteer shifts being organized by Richmond 2015,” O’Donnell says. “These will be volunteers stationed at visitor info desks as well as roamers in high-traffic areas such as the FanFest in the Greater Richmond Convention Center.”
FanFest, only a few steps from the start and finish lines for races at Fifth and East Broad streets, will be the hub for fans to gather autographs and photos of their favorite riders.
More than vendors and exhibitors also will be there. Richmond-based CarMax, the largest used-car retailer in the country, is sponsoring a “Kid Zone” for young cycling fans.
Richmond also has a who’s who of corporate and regional partners to help shoulder some of the fundraising responsibilities. Among the corporate sponsors are Genworth, WestRock (formerly MeadWestvaco), Altria Group, Hunton & Williams and Dominion Resources.
Richmond 2015 officials set a goal of raising $21 million to put on the races. “We’re very much on track,” says Lee Kallman, vice president of marketing and business development.
In addition, Virginia Tourism Corp. (VTC) is planning to air at least 500 commercials across the country during the championships.
The 30-second commercials will be aired on Universal Sports, NBC Sports Network, CNBC, and NBC. The spots will feature Virginia travel experiences, such as outdoor recreation, beaches, mountains and culinary scenes before a large audience tuning in to see the bike race.
The commercials are part of a $2 million partnership between the VTC and Richmond 2015.
Fees from television broadcasts of the races, royalties from the official travel program, as well as concession and merchandise sales also will help bolster the bottom line.
Kallman says that in Europe the World Championships are regarded almost strictly as a big race. “For us it’s more of an international festival, an international party,” he says. “It provides a stage to showcase the region to the world.”
The Richmond area is getting that international exposure at a time when an increasing number of foreign companies are showing an interest in the region.
“About 74 percent of the projects we’re working on are international,” says Barry Matherly, the CEO of the Greater Richmond Partnership, a regional economic development marketing group. “Over the past three years, it’s been climbing steadily.”
Last year, for example, Tranlin Inc., a subsidiary of a Chinese pulp and paper company, announced it would spend $2 billion during the next five years to build its first advanced manufacturing facility in the U.S., which will be located on an 850-acre site in Chesterfield County.
Perhaps one of the reasons for increased international attention in the region was a change in the partnership’s strategy two years ago.
Matherly says the organization closed its international offices and focused on a rapid-response effort to send representatives to emerging markets or to any country where prospect activity was hot. “It made us much more flexible,” Matherly says. “We ramped up internationally.”
Downtown population rising
The cycling event will spotlight Richmond at a pivotal time in its history. Downtown apartment development in the city continues at a blistering pace, as millennials, empty nesters and others flow into the city.
The advocacy group Venture Richmond reports that about 20,000 people now live in downtown Richmond, nearly double the 10,244 residents counted in 2010. That means that the number of downtown residents is nearly equivalent to the population of Waynesboro.
Integra Realty Resources, Richmond, a real estate consulting and valuation firm in Henrico County, says that 2,250 apartments were completed in downtown Richmond from the second half of 2012 through the second half of 2014, and an additional 2,400 units were in the pipeline.
Developers have been adapting old office buildings and former corporate headquarters buildings as multifamily dwellings.
Among recent examples of the trend have been conversions of the 23-story former Central Fidelity Bank headquarters on East Broad Street (an ongoing project) and the 14-story (with a seven-story annex) former Virginia Power headquarters at Seventh and East Franklin streets.
Scott’s Addition blossoms
The newest hotspot in Richmond’s housing scene is Scott’s Addition, a former gritty industrial area that has been the focus of intense development activity during the past few years.
The Scott’s Addition Boulevard Association has reported that 1,200 apartments either have opened in the past year or are expected to open this year.
The neighborhood is bounded on the south by Broad Street, on the east by The Boulevard, on the north by the railroad tracks and on the west by Interstate 195.
It was declared a historic district in 2005, making it eligible for historic tax credits and real estate abatements from the city.
Louis Salomonsky, a 76-year-old developer who has been building housing in Richmond for half a century, says Scott’s Addition is on fire. “We built 134 apartments, and they rented overnight,” says Salomonsky, a principal in Historic Housing.
He added that the median income of those who are renting from his company has gone up significantly during the past few years.
“There is increasing affluence,” Salomonsky says, but he adds that increased development in the area has gone hand-in-hand with increased gentrification, as households with lower incomes have moved out.
‘Reversal of fortune’
Gentrification in Richmond’s historic areas and other forces, such as increased immigration from Mexico and Central America, has produced what urban planner John Moeser calls “a reversal of fortunes” in the Richmond region.
Pockets of poverty have shifted from the city into suburban counties, as low-income residents seek less expensive housing.
Moeser, who taught urban planning at Virginia Commonwealth University, now is a senior fellow at Bonner Center for Community Engagement at the University of Richmond. He says that for the first time in American history the majority of poor now live in the suburbs, and the Richmond region is no exception.
In a recent report, Moeser notes that, from 2000 to 2012, the number of people living below the poverty line rose 70 percent in Henrico County and increased 41 percent in Chesterfield County, Richmond’s two biggest suburban neighbors. By contrast, Richmond’s increase was 25 percent.
“The reversal of fortune between the city and county is becoming the new normal,” Moeser recently wrote.
In an interview, he observes that gentrification in various sections of Richmond undergoing rapid development will continue.
“I don’t see that stopping anytime soon,” he says. “My prediction is that the counties are going to have a much more serious time with poverty as time goes on, concentrated, high density poverty.”2015-08-28T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Alexandria1592.pngThe dock area at the foot of King Street is a popular tourism site. Photo by Mark Rhodes
Old and new mix in Alexandria
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/old-and-new-mix-in-alexandria#When:10:00:00ZAlexandria is a patchwork quilt of a city, with the distinctive fabric of each of its neighborhoods central to the planning of commercial and residential development.
Old Town, with its many blocks of handsome historic architecture, can be likened to fragile old velvet that needs to be sensitively handled and preserved to maintain its beauty, while funky Del Ray is more like well-worn denim — informal, comfortable, low key.
Potomac Yard is the equivalent of one of those new-age materials that are all about convenience and practicality. Yet tough times along the Interstate 395 corridor have left its no-nonsense fabric quite frayed.
Alexandria counts 18 such neighborhoods. “We divide the city into small areas and do comprehensive plans for each,” says Stephanie Landrum, president and CEO of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership.
Old Town is perhaps the site of the city’s most ambitious agenda. The area always has been a steady performer, and in the second quarter of this year it had one of the lowest commercial vacancy rates in the Washington metropolitan market — 14.5 percent for Class A space, according to CoStar, a commercial real estate data company. The average rate for the region was 16.4 percent.
“Old Town doesn’t have pendulum swings,” says Eric Berlin, senior director of investor services for Cushman & Wakefield. One stabilizer has been the presence of many nonprofits and associations, which are suited to its inventory of generally smaller buildings.
Melissa O. Webb, executive director of brokerage for Rappaport, says Old Town’s main drag, King Street, also is a magnet for retail. National sellers such as Lululemon, an athletic and yoga apparel retailer, mix with local boutique businesses, such as Sonoma Cellars, a recently opened wine tasting room.
Old Town, however, never has made optimal use of its prime location on the Potomac River, although the potential is clear. On a recent steamy afternoon, for example, the attractive dock area at the foot of King Street was swarming with people browsing the gift shop at the Torpedo Factory art center, lining up for tickets for the ferry that runs to Mount Vernon, Washington, D.C., and National Harbor in Maryland, and lunching at the newest trend spot, the Blackwall Hitch. The sidewalks were packed, and parking was impossible.
Yet a few blocks away in either direction along the river, almost no one was around. That’s because two former industrial sites cut off all access to the water. The Robinson Terminals, North and South, where paper once was offloaded for presses of The Washington Post, bookend the Old Town waterfront, and both have been empty for years. They are enclosed by chain-link fences plastered with unfriendly warnings to keep out.
This lack of access will soon change. Robinson South will be the site of a project that will include town houses, condos, restaurants and limited retail. Construction should begin this fall with an opening projected for late 2017. Adjacent to that development, a 5-story, 110-room Hotel Indigo is expected to open the same year.
Robinson North will become a second mixed-use development. It will include a hotel with about 100 rooms, Landrum says. Construction should begin next year with the project expected to open in 2017. “Old Town has long been regarded as a tourist destination, even though plenty of people live there, too,” notes Webb.
The city is investing its own money in the riverfront upgrade by doing extensive flood mitigation work to be followed by a new park with a centerpiece fountain and a 1.5-mile river walk. A revamped, much more aesthetic and accessible riverfront should help Alexandria increase the already satisfying stream of day visitors who ferry across the Potomac from National Harbor, a massive mixed-use project on the Maryland shoreline. When the MGM Casino opens at the complex next year, that tourist flow is expected to become even heavier.
Another area, about a block off the river close to the Braddock Metro and within walking distance of Old Town amenities, is an object of special attention from the city as well. Alexandria has crafted a new development plan for Old Town North with the aim of finding a better balance between commercial and residential uses. Landrum says the 2015 “small-area” plan for the neighborhood includes mostly in-fill development, such as hotels and mixed-use projects.
Until just recently, Old Town North residents were underserved, Webb says. However, eateries such as Mason Social, Bastille, the Lost Dog Café, and doughnut purveyor the Sugar Shack have arrived in the past couple of years. A Harris Teeter supermarket opened there in 2014, joining new high-end town houses and apartments.
A luxury condo building called the Oronoco, which opened last year, was built from the foundations of the former home of the Sheet Metal Workers International Association. Rusting railroad tracks leading to the derelict Robinson North terminal still run through the park in front of it.
On the other side of Old Town in Carlyle, Alexandria looks forward to the 2017 arrival of about 2,100 employees of the National Science Foundation. They will occupy a 660,000-square-foot, LEED-certified building across from the Eisenhower Metro. Mixed-use development should follow. “It won’t have huge coattails,” Berlin predicts, “but there will be some.”
Last month, the city learned that another major federal agency, the Transportation Security Administration, also is relocating its headquarters to Alexandria. The TSA is going to the Victory Center Building in 2018, a move that will bring 3,400 employees.
Away from the river in down-home Del Ray, lots of growth is not really the goal. Instead, Alexandria is focusing on a “pattern book,” which offers owners, architects and builders nonbinding guidance for making alterations and additions to historic buildings.
Just a few blocks from quiet Del Ray, yet a world apart, is the booming Potomac Yard, where hundreds of units of new housing are going up. “Certainly, a lot is going on residentially everywhere,” Berlin says, but Potomac Yard is “huge.”
The city expects 5.8 million square feet of residential development in that neighborhood in the next 25 years. The projected arrival of Metrorail in 2018 is anticipated to bring another 5.6 million square feet of commercial development.
The station’s tax revenues are expected to generate more than $1.5 billion over 30 years for the city. The project will be funded with $69 million from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, a $50 million Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Bank loan and a $143 million general obligation bond. The debt will be paid by a contribution of up to $72 million from a developer and revenue from two special tax districts around the station.
One commercial tenant that will be moving in is the Institute for Defense Analysis. That is good-news/bad-news for Alexandria, because the institute is now located at the Mark Center on the city’s struggling Interstate 395 corridor, where the commercial vacancy rate in the first quarter of this year reached 24.3 percent. Another Mark Center tenant, the American Diabetes Association, also is decamping for a location in Crystal City in Arlington with the access to Metro that the Mark Center lacks.
“The traffic scared people away,” Berlin says. “The 395 corridor’s future as an office market is questionable.”
The downturn in that part of Alexandria is partly the fault of the recession, of course, but also of changing attitudes. More and more, people want to live and work in areas that are diverse and that have access to public transportation, such as Old Town or Potomac Yard. Alexandria’s best and most promising neighborhoods may be a patchwork, but Metro provides the stitching that holds their future together.2015-08-28T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/3_July_2015_-_Boxing_-_Palenscar_Will_-_36.pngBoxing was held at The Center for the Arts Concert Hall at George Mason University. Photo courtesy fairfax2015.com
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/knockout-performances#When:10:00:00ZGeorge Mason University’s Center for the Arts hosted five days of boxing matches on its flagship Fairfax campus this summer. Hardly a typical booking, but it was a special occasion: Northern Virginia was hosting the World Police and Fire Games.
“The ring looked good up there,” says Rick Davis, the dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts and the executive director of Mason’s other arts complex, the Hylton Performing Arts Center on the Prince William campus.
Hosting an athletic event might have been outside the box for a performing arts center, but it was in line with Mason’s commitment to serving the region. The university’s arts centers, for example, provide venues for the Fairfax Symphony and the Manassas Ballet.
For 25 years, the nearly 2,000-seat GMU Center for the Arts has provided Northern Virginians with a convenient alternative to driving to Washington, D.C., to see nationally known performers.
The GMU Center was joined five years ago by the 1,100-seat Hylton Center, a joint project of the university, Prince William County, the city of Manassas and the commonwealth. The Hylton has a 240-seat family theater, too, which is available for special events. “We’re a friendly rental,” Davis says. “We view ourselves as partners.”
Most of the arts centers’ patrons live within a 10-mile radius of the venues, Davis says, and about 350,000 come through the doors annually.
In the latest available figures compiled in a 2010 study by the nonprofit Americans for the Arts, direct spending by nonprofit arts and culture organizations and their audiences in Fairfax County alone totaled almost $80 million, bringing $1.65 million into local government coffers. Mason’s share in those statistics wasn’t quantified, but, obviously, art centers are doing their part to punch up the local economy.2015-08-28T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/121206100.pngStudents walk by the George Mason statue on the university’s Fairfax campus. Photo by Evan Cantwell, GMU
An ‘extroverted campus’
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/an-extroverted-campus#When:10:00:00ZGeorge Mason University does not believe in the ivory tower. The old image of a lofty institution of higher learning isolated from the practical realities of life is contrary to its mission. Its goal is to be not only a “comprehensive research university” but also “an innovative and inclusive academic community committed to creating a more just, free and prosperous world” — with emphasis, perhaps, on the “prosperous.”
From its beginnings in 1957, as a branch of the University of Virginia with 17 students attending classes in a renovated elementary school in Arlington County, and its subsequent founding as an independent state university in 1972, GMU has transformed itself beyond recognition. It now has about 33,000 full- and part-time students — more than any other four-year public Virginia school — and campuses in Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties. Last year, GMU went international and opened a fifth campus in South Korea (see story).
Much of its remarkable expansion can be attributed to its adamantly outgoing attitude. “We are an extroverted campus,” says economist Stephen S. Fuller, director of the university’s Center for Regional Analysis. “The university set out to be connected to the various communities, and it uses the real world in the classroom.”
That connection has been mutually beneficial to Mason and Northern Virginia. In the latest available figures from a study done by Fuller’s center, the university had a $1.14 billion economic impact on Northern Virginia in fiscal year 2012 and employed the equivalent of 7,119 full-time workers. Indirectly that year, it produced another $440 million in economic activity and supported an additional 5,897 jobs. In Virginia overall, it had a $1.56 billion impact and was responsible for more than 16,000 jobs.
The university’s development is due largely to dynamic longtime presidents George W. Johnson (1978-1996) and Alan Merten (1996-2012). Both sought to entwine GMU with Northern Virginia’s economy by forging lasting partnerships with business leaders. Under the presidents’ consecutive tenures, the student body and the physical infrastructure of the university expanded. Mason, once considered a commuter school, became a well-regarded institution, no small feat for an upstart university.
The two presidents brought about these changes, in part, by pursuing A-list faculty. The university wasn’t shy about “stealing” talent from the likes of Harvard, MIT and Stanford, Fuller says. And these scholastic stars were willing to be recruited because GMU gave them freedom to pursue their interests. “[GMU] didn’t tell them what to do,” Fuller says. The university “took a facilitating approach and got out of their way.”
The university’s biggest gets included James M. Buchanan, a 1986 Nobel Prize winner in economics, and Vernon Smith, who would win the same award in 2002 after being recruited by GMU. Smith would go on to be an influential fellow at the Mercatus Center, the university’s free-market economic think tank in Arlington. That center’s raison d’etre is, not surprisingly, in perfect keeping with Mason’s overall mission: to narrow “the gap between academic ideas and real-world problems.”
Angel Cabrera, who became GMU president in 2012, is committed to building on the framework erected by his predecessors by continuing the push for quality and the furthering of Mason’s relationships with the business sector. He has put the creation of a roadmap to guide the region’s economic growth at the top of his agenda, and a little more than a year ago, he brought in David Wu as provost to assist him. Wu is clear on where to put his energies. “First,” Wu says, “we see ourselves as a magnet for and a producer of human capital.”
Landing Northrop Grumman
Northern Virginia’s prosperity is driven by white-collar and high-tech companies and government contractors, including an enviable number of Fortune 500 corporations. Wu intends to further strengthen academic programs that best align with the needs of these businesses, with a special concentration on IT, the biosciences, law and economics. Cybersecurity also is a potentially huge market for Mason. Right now, positions in that field are going unfilled because companies can’t find qualified personnel.
Northrop Grumman’s decision to locate its headquarters in Fairfax County five years ago showed just how important the synergy between higher education and the local economy can be. In 2010, the corporate giant wanted to relocate to the East Coast, and it was being courted by a number of eager jurisdictions.
Gerald L. Gordon, president and CEO of the Fairfax Economic Development Authority, contacted GMU’s Merten for help in pleading the county’s case. Merten arranged for Wes Bush, Northrop Grumman’s CEO, to visit GMU so that he could see that the university could support the company’s recruitment needs.
The effect of the visit? “Enormous,” Gordon says. Northrop Grumman is now headquartered in Fairfax County near Falls Church.
Half in graduate school
Undoubtedly, thanks to Merten’s help, some Mason graduates now work for the giant defense contractor, which has 65,000 employees worldwide. Mason graduates, in general, do well in finding employment. Christine Cruzvergara, the assistant dean and deputy director for University Career Services, says that within six months of graduation, 74 percent of the class of 2014 had either snagged jobs, at an average annual starting salary of $40,000-$50,000, or were in grad school. More than 75 percent stayed in the metro area, a testament to how well their schooling fit the available job opportunities.
Fully half of Mason students are enrolled in graduate programs, an unusually high ratio compared with, say, the University of Virginia, where undergraduates outnumber graduate student by more than 2-1. That’s because so many GMU students are older — the average age is over 30 — and already working. Many return to school to “upskill” their credentials in order to stay current and advance in their fields. “The ability to process knowledge is rapidly changing,” Fuller says, and George Mason is there to help them keep pace.
SWAT team for businesses
Wu says his second priority for Mason is to reinforce its role as “a convener, an honest broker in pursuit of the greater good of the region.” Fuller calls it “being a SWAT team for local businesses.”
Since Cabrera became president, the university has stepped up its interactions with area businesses, interviewing CEOs and holding workshops with venture capitalists and other players in the Northern Virginia economy. The emphasis is on “what innovations are needed to fill the vacuum left by federal cuts and to develop entrepreneurship,” Wu says. The university’s last business forum drew 200 to 300 attendees.
Wu’s final priority is probably the most visible one of late: “to become an innovation and development engine for the region.”
To further that end, in April the university rebranded its Prince William campus as a science and technology center, and in conjunction with the name change opened the $40 million Institute for Advanced Biomedical Research on the campus.
The Mason Enterprise Center in the Fairfax campus has been helping to incubate a variety of businesses for years and now operates in several locations, and the new institute will play a parallel role for scientific startups.
Mason, in partnership with area hospitals and medical centers, intends for the institute to speed the development of medical devices and diagnostic and therapeutic procedures to the marketplace, Wu says.
Inova Health System is one such partner. “The economic benefit of joint investment is substantial,” says Brian Hays, director of the Inova Center for Personalized Medicine. “People don’t realize the extent of cooperation. It’s actually very broad, and we anticipate a giant increase in that relationship.”
The new biomedical research institute joins other advanced research facilities on the Prince William campus that focus on personalized medicine, including the Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine and the Center for the Study of Genomic Liver Diseases. The campus is also the site of other high-tech research facilities such as the Serious Games Institute.
GMU’s Volgenau School of Engineering’s 6,000 students specialize not only in traditional fields such as civil and mechanical engineering, but in 21st-century technologies such as bio-engineering and cybersecurity.
“Engineers don’t just design cars anymore,” says Dean Kenneth Ball. Instead, they do cancer research using lasers and learn how to testify in court about computer fraud. “The old boundaries between disciplines are starting to become irrelevant,” he says.
Each of the school of engineering’s eight departments has an industrial advisory board to help shape curricula. Northrop Grumman, for example, was heavily involved in the creation of a new bachelor’s degree program in cybersecurity engineering, which began in January with 100 students. GMU offers 13 specialties in cybersecurity, and its Center for Secure Information Systems, the nation’s first such academic center, works on dozens of joint research projects with the Navy, the Marines, the Army and the Department of Defense.
“Having a university willing to embrace an entrepreneurial way of thinking can’t be underestimated or understated,” says Jeff Kaczmarek, executive director of the Prince William Department of Economic Development.
See related story about GMU's Center for the Arts2015-08-28T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/air-view2-re.pngGeorge Mason University's South Korea campus. Photo courtesy George Mason University
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/international-presence#When:10:00:00ZA couple of years ago, George Mason University received a by-invitation-only opportunity to expand its operations overseas when Songdo Global University came a-courting.
Songdo is a new and growing conglomerate of institutes of higher learning located about 35 miles from Seoul, South Korea. So far, the State University of New York, the University of Utah and Ghent University, along with South Korea’s Yonsei and Incheon universities all have branches on the campus. The well-regarded music school, the St. Petersburg Conservatory, is expected to be the next to arrive.
“Songdo is bigger than any particular institution,” says Solon J. Simmons, GMU’s vice president for global strategy. “It is like a luxury department store where Korean students can find all the best offerings in one place.”
Mason Korea, at least for now, is small and self-sustaining and uses no Virginia money. Courses are limited to global affairs, management and economics. Its first class was offered just last spring. All of its students will spend a year abroad at one of Mason’s Northern Virginia campuses.
Mason is taking it slow at Songdo, perhaps keeping in mind its previous attempt at an overseas operation in the United Arab Emirates. That effort was unsuccessful in attracting students and closed in 2009 after just three years.
Mason’s first Songdo class has only 34, mostly Korean, undergraduates, though this fall semester’s class is expected to reach 200. Simmons envisions as many as 1,000 students at Mason Korea in five to 10 years.
Songdo Global University is one element of an ambitious work in progress called the Incheon Free Economic Zone, which hopes to become a hub of world commerce and technology. The zone is located about 20 minutes from an international airport, which is expected to help Mason Korea draw students from across Asia and the globe. “We haven’t cracked the China market yet,” Simmons admits, “but we have American students and Korean ex-pats.”
Songdo is “an opportunity to get the Mason brand recognized worldwide in ways that are disproportionate to GMU’s name recognition back home,” Simmons says. “It is Mason’s high-profile adventure in Korea.”2015-08-28T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/VaBiz_HealthCarePaths_v1-final_Artboard-w-bleed.png
No easy path
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/no-easy-path#When:10:00:00ZIf insurance brokers seem to have a bounce in their step these days, it might be that they’re feeling very much in demand.
For the next few months, anyone who can help small businesses and individuals with the task of picking health insurance is going to be pretty popular.
Choosing coverage in the individual and small-group markets is never easy, but this year it is especially complicated. For one thing, starting in January the Affordable Care Act will require more businesses to offer insurance coverage to their employees. The threshold for 2015 is 100 or more full-time equivalent (FTE) employees, but next year the employer coverage mandate will include any business with 50 FTEs.
Planning for 2016 is a new challenge for insurers, too — the policies they wrote last year for 2015 were based on guestimates of what kind of claims they would have to pay. This year’s proposed policies for 2016 are based on a year of actual experience. So that means that their premiums and underwriting rules are changing a lot.
“It’s such a complicated decision that we’re finding that employers are really leaning on us to help them,” says David Blanchard, principal with Digital Benefit Advisors in Richmond.
Insurance carriers are farther along in figuring out what next year will bring. They submitted their proposed premiums to the State Corporation Commission’s Bureau of Insurance (BOI) back in April. The ACA rules require insurers proposing plans with rate increases of 10 percent or more to present those plans for a public rate review. Nineteen plans from 10 insurers met that requirement. Overall, the proposed rate increases in Virginia are lower than in many states, where increases above 20 percent are common.
Enrollment begins Nov. 1
The selection process for businesses and individuals begins with the start of the open enrollment period, which runs from Nov. 1 of this year through Jan. 31, 2016. In late August, the BOI submitted its recommendations to the federal Department of Health and Human Services. The approved rates won’t be available until the fall, in time for the open enrollment period.
In July, the BOI asked insurers to present details of their most popular plans based on statewide enrollment, as well as rate details on plans with average, minimum and maximum rate changes. It’s not yet clear how many Virginia plans will be offered by carriers participating in the federal exchange (HealthCare.gov), but last year there were 172, with 90 individual plans and 82 small-group plans, says Ken Schrad, spokesman for the State Corporation Commission.
Even with the public presentations and other details available online, it’s nearly impossible to make comparisons. There are different levels of federal subsidies, plus local trends in health costs, morbidity and tobacco use to consider.
Plans also can change significantly from one year to the next, with no immediate clues to help consumers figure out why. One of Aetna’s small-group plans, for example, showed a proposed maximum premium increase of 64 percent for 2016 over 2015. Seems outrageous, right? When asked, Aetna explained that much of that increase is based on the fact that the plan is changing from a bronze-level plan on the ACA exchange to a silver-level plan for 2016, which would offer better coverage.
What’s also true is that insurers and health-care providers come to the market in a variety of ways. Aetna, for example, has four different companies offering small-group business insurance for next year. Its Innovation Health Plan and Innovation Health Insurance Company are joint ventures with Inova Health System in Northern Virginia. Then there’s Aetna Health, which offers health-maintenance organization (HMO) plans across the state, and Aetna Life Insurance, which offers preferred-provider organizations (PPOs).
Plus, not all plans are available in all areas, and even plans that are offered statewide are priced differently depending on location and other factors. Anthem’s popular Healthkeepers plan, for example, has just a 4.8 percent premium increase for 2016 for all ages of enrollees. But while a 25-year-old in Richmond would pay $217 a month for a silver-level plan, he or she would face a higher price in almost any other part of the commonwealth.
Even the available data about average increases proposed for an insurance plan aren’t particularly helpful, Blanchard says. “While the general average [rate increase] from Anthem or some other insurer might be 8 percent or 13 percent, that doesn’t mean some client doesn’t get a decrease, or that they won’t get an increase of 80 percent,” he says. There are simply too many variables and options.
Blanchard also notes there are new reporting requirements for employers to learn, such as how to count your employees to determine what the law requires. “In many ways, the [50- to 99-employee] market segment is the most complicated segment for insurance right now across the country,” he says. “There’s significant pressure on the pricing as well as pressure on the coverage.”
There is pressure on regulators, too. Back in July, as state-level regulators like the Bureau of Insurance were reviewing the proposed rate increases, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) sent a letter urging them to keep premiums affordable. The letter, from Kevin Counihan, director of the CMS Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, pointed to data showing that more recent enrollees are healthier and thus making fewer claims.
The letter also said there has been a recent decline in the “pent-up demand for services” that produced more claims in the ACA’s first few years, as previously uninsured people got coverage and started to use it. In addition, Counihan said that recent medical costs were showing “moderate” cost increases. “Because recent trend experience can often provide a useful guide to the near future, these data may be relevant when evaluating the reasonableness of trend assumptions for 2016,” he wrote.
When Virginia’s BOI held its public review session the day after Counihan’s letter was released, insurance commissioner Jacqueline Cunningham made clear at the start of that three-hour meeting that the rules by which the premium increases would be measured were already set.
“You can’t disapprove a rate just because you do not like it, is that correct?” she asked David Shea, the BOI actuary. Shea said yes. “As long as the data and the assumptions are actuarially supportable and justifiable, then Virginia will approve the rate,” he said.
The new rates, though, aren’t necessarily the only option on the exchange. Carriers also are offering to let customers renew policies under the existing 2015 rates, Blanchard says. So that option is at least more specific than the 2016 options, which won’t be known until the rate-approval process is completed this fall. “We’re starting conversations [with clients] now, but they’re not substantive … because we don’t have all the options,” he says.
Consumers can see some details of what carriers are proposing at a website run by the CMS, ratereview.healthcare.gov. Insurers who are proposing rate increases at 10 percent or higher must go through a public rate review, and the website has some details and explanations for the increases. The explanations, though, generally don’t bring the clarity that individuals or businesses want.
The reasons given for a rate increase vary, but they often cite the increase in health-care services, or a rise in the medical claims made. Doug Gray, executive director of the Virginia Association of Health Plans, says consumers and business owners should take some comfort, because Virginia’s insurance marketplace has rate increases being proposed that are lower than many other states. “Our market is relatively stable, and we have more [providers] competing in our market than in some of the others. And frankly that’s what it’s supposed to do.”2015-08-28T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/LAW_ODBA.pngPaulette Brown (left), president, ABA; Helivi L. Holland, Beverly Burton and Vinceretta Chiles of ODBA.
Old Dominion Bar Association celebrates its 75th anniversary
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/old-dominion-bar-association-celebrates-its-75th-anniversary#When:10:00:00ZThe Old Dominion Bar Association, a group formed to serve African-American lawyers in Virginia, marked its 75th anniversary this year.
The association was founded in response to the treatment of Frederic Charles Carter, a black attorney, received in 1940 at the then-segregated library of the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. Carter and other African-American attorneys organized the bar association to advocate for equal justice and promote professional growth.
The Old Dominion Bar Association (ODBA) held its 75th Anniversary Annual Meeting and Conference in May at the Wyndham Virginia Crossings Hotel and Conference Center in Glen Allen.
At its 125th summer meeting at The Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, the Virginia Bar Association presented the ODBA with its LexisNexis Award. The award is given for extraordinary leadership and dedication to the legal profession and public service.
Helivi L. Holland, president of the ODBA and city attorney for Suffolk, accepted the award on behalf of the bar association.
Previous recipients of the VBA LexisNexis Award include justices of the Supreme Court of Virginia, judges of the Virginia Court of Appeals, deans of law schools, presidents of the American Bar Association, U.S. attorneys, a governor and a U.S. senator. In 2014, the honor recognized the leadership of George K. Martin, managing partner at the Richmond office of McGuireWoods LLP.2015-08-28T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/LAW_Fowler.pngWoody Fowler was immersed in a high-profile case when he became CEO of Williams Mullen. Photo by Rick DeBerry
Lawyer or boss?
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/lawyer-or-boss#When:10:00:00ZCalvin “Woody” Fowler took over as president and CEO of the Richmond-based law firm Williams Mullen on April 1, literally two days after the first of several lawsuits was filed seeking to keep his client, Sweet Briar College, from shuttering its doors.
Instead of spending his first few months as CEO focusing on strategic plans and his vision for the firm, Fowler was working seven days a week, sometimes as long as 16 hours a day. As lead trial and appellate attorney on the case, Fowler argued before the Supreme Court of Virginia.
While representing the college, he made time to visit a few of Williams Mullen’s 11 offices, dine with clients and speak at a youth awards banquet for the nonprofit Richmond Sports Backers. (The Sweet Briar case ended with a settlement that will allow the school to remain open through at least next another year with a new president and board of directors and a badly needed infusion of money.)
Fowler’s experience is an example of how managing partners and CEOs of law firms must balance the demands of practicing law with their leadership roles. “It was just a matter of spending a lot of time at the office, frankly,” Fowler says. Most law-firm leaders split their time almost evenly between duties related to managing their firms and taking on busy caseloads, representing their own clients.
“I wouldn’t have taken the job if it had meant giving up my practice for management,” says Monica Monday, managing partner of Roanoke-based law firm Gentry Locke. “I love to practice law … That’s just an important part of who I am.”
Monday, who became managing partner in 2013, heads the firm’s appellate practice group. She estimates that she’s argued five cases in the past year and filed numerous briefs.
“It’s very difficult to tell other people to stroke if you’re not raising the paddle yourself,” says William “Bill” Van Buren III, managing partner of Norfolk-based Kaufman & Canoles. “That really puts a lot of strain on most law firm leaders because many times you feel like you have to work just as hard and bill just as promptly and market just as effectively as you ask anybody else to do in the firm all while you’re dealing with complex business and management issues that are constantly challenging you and demanding your attention.”
Former Virginia Attorney General Richard Cullen is chairman of McGuireWoods, one of the state’s largest law firms. Since being tapped as chairman in 2006, he has represented a Who’s Who list of high-profile clients, including former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay; Tiger Woods’ ex-wife, Elin Norgren; and most recently (according to news reports) embattled FIFA President Sepp Blatter.
“It’s important at McGuireWoods for our chairman to be a practicing lawyer. That’s been our tradition,” Cullen says. “The partners expect us to continue being real lawyers so that means that managing the firm is done through specific, delegated managerial roles … A firm the size of McGuireWoods, with about 980 lawyers in 20 cities, really one person by himself can’t run it, and I don’t pretend that I do.”
Instead, Cullen works very closely with McGuireWoods’ managing partner, Thomas E. Cabaniss, a lawyer who is completely devoted to day-to-day firm management, and Executive Director Robert J. Couture, who oversees all the firm’s operational departments, including information technology, finance, marketing and human resources.
Even a smaller firm such as Gentry Locke, which has about 55 attorneys, employs an executive director to run day-to-day operations. “That leaves me free to deal with some of the broader issues and the direction of the firm’s overall management, but it doesn’t mean that I’m having to pay the light bill,” Monday says.
Oblon, McClelland, Maier & Neustadt, an intellectual property law firm of 130 attorneys based in Alexandria, hired its first chief operating officer to oversee administrative functions two years ago. “That was a big relief for me,” says Oblon’s managing partner, Bradley Lytle. “It helped get a lot of the day-to-day-type things off my plate, and we collaborate very closely.”
The irony of being a law firm’s managing partner or chairman while maintaining one’s own practice, Lytle says, is that “you end up getting to be a managing partner because you did a good job, and you earn the respect of your partners and also your clients. You build a good client following, but then, to do the managing partner job, you’ve got to spend a lot of time and energy and resources looking out for the firm’s best interests,” not your own.
Lytle says his firm has cracked that problem in a variety of ways.
For one thing, Oblon’s managing partner is elected to a three-year term and receives a bonus for management work to offset the loss of billable client hours. But perhaps more important, Oblon’s leadership decided a couple of years ago that their clients would be represented by the entire firm, not individual attorneys. Lytle might act as the firm’s point person for clients such as Sony Corp., Broadcom Corp. or the Saudi government, but potentially any attorney could be called in to work on a case. That ensures a smooth continuity for clients if an attorney retires or leaves.
And that also means that his firm is more invested in bringing up its next generation of leaders, so they strive to provide younger attorneys with a variety of internal leadership roles, he adds.
That’s not uncommon at firms — less common are firms that provide formalized training and leadership programs. Nationally there’s been a debate in legal circles over which is more important to a lawyer’s development: billable hours or actual training.
Virginia firms for the most part encourage their up-and-coming attorneys to seek leadership opportunities within their firms’ committees and subcommittees as well as through the State Bar and by volunteering on the boards of charitable organizations. But few provide regular leadership training by outside consultants, as Williams Mullen does.
As for the dilemma created when managing partners must divide their time between management duties and clients, the client comes first, but so does putting out fires, Van Buren says. And dealing with simultaneous issues means law firm leaders wind up working more than other partners, even if they’re not logging the same billable hours.
“There’s no way you can bill as much as a full-time lawyer who’s not charged with management responsibility, but I’m billing about 75 percent of what a typical partner does,” Van Buren says.
“The biggest challenge is that every now and then you run into things that only the chairman of the firm can deal with, that require some delicacy or some influence in order to resolve it … Say a lawyer in the firm’s gone off the reservation … they don’t wait for you to close a big [client] deal you’re working on in order to deal with it.”2015-08-28T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Tug1708.pngThe Northern Javelin heads toward a Maersk-operated ship. Photo by Mark Rhodes
A wave of larger ships
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/a-wave-of-larger-ships#When:10:00:00ZOn a warm, calm morning in late July, Capt. Dave Culbertson steered his 93-foot tugboat alongside the massive Northern Javelin, a container ship longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall, as it neared the Port of Virginia’s marine terminals. The ship slid slowly though the Elizabeth River, traveling no more than 8 or 9 knots per hour to minimize the draft under its massive hull.
Culbertson’s tug, the Payton Grace Moran, and its sister tug, the George T. Moran, had been chosen to help dock the behemoth vessel at the Virginia International Gateway in Portsmouth, a Port of Virginia-operated marine terminal. These tugboats had a big job to do — pushing and pulling the ship to help the bridge team turn it 180 degrees in the Elizabeth River and dock at its assigned berth.
Culbertson’s calm demeanor reflected his 28-year career spent on tugboats, which are designed to help ships dock in all types of weather and conditions. As he guided his tug to his assigned position toward the stern of the ship, he handled several tasks at once: listening on the radio to instructions from the ship’s docking pilot, controlling the tension on the winch line attached to the huge vessel, navigating the channel and steering the ship against the strong pull of the Northern Javelin’s draft.
Although these tugs look like toy boats compared with the Northern Javelin, they are some of the largest and most technologically advanced tugboats available, capable of docking the largest ships in the world. Both boats, part of Moran Towing’s fleet, have 6,000-horsepower engines — more than 20 times the power of large SUVs. “Not many tugs around in the U.S. are bigger than this,” says Culbertson.
This is just one example of how the increased use of mammoth vessels is changing the maritime industry. From the increased precision required to steer these ships into port to the handling of their vast cargos, the effects of these larger vessels are rippling throughout the industry.
The Northern Javelin is a Post-Panamax vessel, the name for ships too large to travel through the Panama Canal. The port is now seeing visits from these massive ships almost daily.
While the ships strain the supply chain, they offer Virginia an opportunity to become a pre-eminent East Coast port. The shipping industry continues to use larger and larger ships, and other East Coast ports are rushing to match Virginia’s 50-foot-deep channel.
As the ships get larger, the maritime community is pushing forward with an initiative to dredge the channel to 55 feet — giving the port more leverage over others on the East Coast in handling these vessels when fully laden. “That’s the most significant thing for the Port of Virginia when you compare us with the U.S. East Coast ports,” says Art Moye, executive vice president of the Virginia Maritime Association. “It’s what will set this port apart from the other East Coast ports. It’s the game changer.”
The surge in larger ships
As ocean carriers look for greater economies of scale, container ships are getting bigger at a quickening pace. Today, the world’s largest ships can carry twice the number of containers that the big ships did just 10 years ago.
Ships larger than 5,000 TEUs — a vessel size that can fit through the Panama Canal — make up one-fourth of the worldwide container fleet, according to June stats from Lloyd’s List, a London-based maritime and shipping news journal. Nonetheless, these huge ships represent 59.7 percent of the total shipping cargo capacity — and even larger ships have been ordered. (A TEU is a standard shipping measurement that stands for 20-foot equivalent unit. Most shipping containers today are two TEUs.)
Lloyd’s stats showed that, of the container ships on order, 55.3 percent are bigger than 5,000 TEUs. (The largest ships in service now measure over 19,000 TEUs, which travel Asia-Europe service lines. None of the ships now visiting the U.S. approach that size.)
Leaders in Virginia’s maritime community anticipated the trend toward larger vessels, digging its channel deeper than any other East Coast port 10 years ago and adding modern cranes that could reach across these massive ships.
Post-Panamax vessels started visiting the East Coast three or four years before they were anticipated — and well before the completion of the Panama Canal expansion, which is scheduled to occur next year. Traveling through the Suez Canal, these ships carry containers between the East Coast and Asia.
Now vessels nearly 1,100 feet long, with the ability to carry 8,000 or 9,000 TEUs, are visiting the port almost daily. When fully laden, ships such as the MSC Bruxelles with a 9,700-TEU maximum capacity, require more than a 48-foot draft as they leave the port — getting pretty close to the channel’s 50-foot bottom.
And so, the maritime community is putting renewed efforts into a project to widen the Norfolk channel on the Elizabeth River, dredge the channel to 55 feet and dig the channel on the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River to 45 feet.
The Port of Virginia and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District have signed a cost-sharing agreement to study the benefits of the dredging projects. The Virginia Maritime Association hopes construction can begin on the project by 2020.
Steering the ships
The Hampton Roads maritime community has had to adjust rapidly to the introduction of these big ships. For example, they require more precision in their handling and scheduling.
“They’re definitely a challenge,” says Capt. Bill Cofer, president of the Virginia Pilot Association. “The size of these vessels is such that our channels weren’t completely prepared for two-way navigation of these big ships.”
That means that the communication between the harbor pilots, docking pilots and port terminals has to be done well in advance. Any error in scheduling could end up blocking the shipping channel. “The coordination between the terminals and the pilots has got to be stronger than ever,” says Cofer.
The Hampton Roads’ harbor pilots climb aboard these ships at Cape Henry, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Chesapeake Bay, and then guide them through the local waterways.
The steering of these ships is more difficult because of the amount of water being displaced, and therefore the ships must travel more slowly.
Before they reach their assigned berth at one of the marine terminals, ships are met by tugboats with docking pilots. They instruct the tugs in helping dock the ships.
The larger the ships, the tighter the turns, says docking pilot John Guess, who was assigned to dock the Northern Javelin. He notes that — while every job is different depending on the type of ship, the weather and the wind — the largest ships “[have] slowed everything down a little,” Guess says. “You can’t make a turn like you used to.”
Moran Towing, the owner of Payton Grace Moran and the George T. Moran, uses modern, clean-burning tugs to help move the big ships. “We’ve been seeing larger ships consistently for the last few years, and they’re going to get bigger still,” says Mark Vanty, vice president and general manager of Moran’s Virginia division. “We have the flexibility to respond to our customer demands.”
Experienced tugboat captains and docking pilots are essential to keeping ships from running into trouble while docking. These ships don’t operate like a car: They can’t stop or turn on the dime.
For example, a few weeks ago a small ski boat that had lost its power was anchored in the middle of the channel overnight. It took last-minute maneuvering by the pilots and the tugs to avoid the boat.
Effects continue on shore
Once docked, the effects of these big ships also are felt on shore.
With more boxes on board a ship, it takes longer for longshoremen to load or discharge them. “The bigger ships mean longer hours,” says George Brown, president and CEO of CP&O, a stevedore at the port terminals.
Previously, longshoreman could work a vessel in nine to 10 hours. Today’s larger ships can require anywhere from 15 to 24 hours to work, says Brown.
Longshoremen’s average workday is 10 hours, but if a vessel requires 15 hours, they often stay to finish the job.
More cargo at terminals means ample opportunities for work. “People can get up to 70 or 80 hours of work a week if they want to work outside of their own gang,” says Brown.
About six or eight months ago, the maritime industry had to add more than 200 longshoremen to handle the increased cargo traffic.
Terminal congestion earlier this year sometimes left truckers with eight-hour waits to drop off or collect cargo. That situation, however, was caused more by an influx of cargo rather than the introduction of the larger vessels, port officials say. In fiscal year 2015, the Port of Virginia’s cargo volume grew 8.9 percent to a record 2.5 million TEUs.
The West Coast, however, has seen delays because of the visits of mammoth vessels that haven’t yet visited the Port of Virginia. Some of these ships require a week of work by longshoremen before they could leave port.
“There have been a lot of issues impacting congestion,” says Katie Carney, director, international and customs compliance in Livingston International’s Norfolk office. “Larger vessels, vessel bunching and equipment imbalance. The East Coast took on additional vessels from the West Coast coupled by some larger vessels that impacted the congestion on the East Coast. I do not think our infrastructure is prepared to take on this additional work.”
This past winter, the Port of Virginia terminals were especially congested because of labor disputes on the West Coast and a snowy winter in the East that closed the Virginia port for several days. But the West Coast’s issues could be a warning sign for the Virginia port.
The port has taken a number of steps to try to avoid tie-ups, including the purchase of additional equipment, tweaks to operations and the reopening of Portsmouth Marine Terminal to container traffic. “The vessels are getting bigger, and more and more are taking advantage of Virginia’s deep water,” says port spokesman Joe Harris. “So we are assessing all areas of our operation to ensure that we are prepared for volume increases that will be brought by a number of factors.”
The effects of larger vessels are making freight forwarders busier than ever.
The larger ships require companies handling the logistics of international shipping to begin their planning earlier, track shipments more closely and often scramble to find an available motor carrier.
“We really are doing our planning much earlier than we used to,” says Carney. “There’s a lot more communication. It takes a lot more staff to do this work, a lot more talented staff.”
The larger ships, coupled with shipping alliances that allow ocean carriers to use each other’s vessels on certain trade routes, make planning more difficult for manufacturers. Their shipments may end up bunched together rather than spread out, affecting trucking schedules as well. “That becomes a logistics problem also down the road because then you have importers and shippers that tend to get everything on one vessel instead of getting everything spread out,” says Carney.
The situation also is affecting truck drivers’ schedules. “In the past, a trucking company may have a customer that had containers coming in dispersed throughout the week,” says Ed O’Callaghan, who owns Audax Transportation, an agent of Century Express. Now they are bunching up, and motor carriers are requiring earlier and earlier planning.
The increased cargo volumes at ports also are making it more difficult for shippers and motor carriers to avoid detention fees and demurrage charges — which are charged for having a shipping container out too long or on a port terminal.
Some of the shipping lines have begun to charge as much as $175 to $275 per day. Demurrage charges and detention fees have been so high that the Federal Maritime Commission is investigating them.
To handle larger ships, O’Callaghan says, the schedules of truck drivers, warehouses and distribution facilities should match the maritime community’s 24-hour routine. “With that vessel being in the port longer, it’s going to require people to change their behavior in work days. We need the warehouse and distribution facilities to adjust to the timing to coincide with the operation of these big ships.” O’Callaghan adds this already is the practice on the West Coast.
He notes that his drivers are starting to see improvements at Virginia’s marine terminals because of recent equipment purchases, but he believes new procedures and operations now in place will be tested when volume likely picks up this fall.
Jeffrey Heller, vice president of intermodal and automotive of Norfolk Southern Corp., agrees. He says the railroad wants containers to get from ship to train in less than 24 hours. “It’s not as easy as it sounds,” says Heller. “The matter of fact is that, as the business grows, the port will need to ramp up and lift more boxes in a 24-hour time period. I think we’re going to get tested this fall.”
Rail freight continues to grow for Norfolk Southern, which along with CSX Corp. is one of the two primary railroads serving the Port of Virginia’s terminals. In 2010, the railroad completed The Heartland Corridor, which raised tunnels and removed other obstacles along a route to the Midwest, cutting off 250 miles for double-stacked container trains to reach Chicago.
“The good news is [the Heartland Corridor] is really being tested,” says Heller. Norfolk Southern serves both Norfolk International Terminals and Virginia International Gateway in Portsmouth. Freight in Virginia is up 3.5 percent over last year, and much of that comes from traffic along the Heartland Corridor, he says.
Opportunity amid growing pains
Despite its ripple effects through the supply chain, the larger ships present an opportunity for Virginia. Virginia is the only East Coast port with authorization to dredge to 55 feet.
The largest ships visiting the Port of Virginia today are about 9,700 TEUs, and port officials expect to see 12,500-TEU ships in a year. But local maritime experts don’t expect next year’s completion of the Panama Canal’s expansion to bring a bonanza of larger ships.
A more significant event for Virginia could be the raising of the Bayonne Bridge at the Port of New York, which is scheduled to be completed in 2017. “At that point the carriers could employ even larger ships for the U.S. East Coast,” says Moye of the Virginia Maritime Association. “They’re not going to put a ship in service just for Norfolk.”
And as these ships continue to get larger, at 55 feet, Virginia could be the only port able to accommodate these massive ships when fully laden.
As it moves through its current growing pains the port has the potential to be a major East Coast player in international trade.
“What the 55 feet allows Virginia to do,” says Cofer of the Pilot Association, “is to be the only Port of Virginia on the East Coast of the United States that can bring in the global fleets, not just of today, but clearly the future will be these gigantic ships.”2015-08-28T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/CVA_HDL.pngHDL filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June. AP Photo/Steve Helber
Health Diagnostic Laboratory seeking bidders
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/health-diagnostic-laboratory-seeking-bidders#When:10:00:00ZWhat was once one of Richmond’s fastest-growing companies now is up for sale.
Blood-testing company Health Diagnostic Laboratory (HDL) plans to receive bids from companies that want to buy it until Sept. 4 and then hold an auction Sept. 10. A hearing to gain approval of a federal bankruptcy court judge will be held Sept. 16.
HDL filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June, saying its sales had greatly decreased since it came under fire last year for paying doctors a $20 processing and handling fee for each blood sample it received. HDL stopped the payments, which it described as an industry-wide practice, after federal officials said they might violate federal anti-kickback laws. HDL eventually settled a U.S. Department of Justice investigation by agreeing to pay $49.5 million but admitting no wrongdoing.
HDL once employed nearly 900 people. That number had fallen to 570 employees by mid-August. According to its bankruptcy filing, the company’s net revenue fell from $375 million in 2013 to $320 million in 2014. It had more than 200 creditors and assets and liabilities each were listed at between $100 million to $500 million, the filing said.
In early August, the Justice Department sued Tonya Mallory, HDL’s co-founder and former CEO, accusing her of participating in an $80 million kickback scheme that caused the federal government to pay $500 million in false claims for tests conducted by HDL and two California-based laboratories, Berkeley Heartlab Inc. and Singulex Inc.
Besides Mallory, the suit names four other defendants: Alabama-based BlueWave Health Consultants Inc., HDL’s former outside sales contractor; BlueWave’s owners, Floyd Calhoun Dent III and Robert Bradford Johnson; and Berkeley Heartlab, where Mallory, Dent and Johnson once worked.
The suit says the defendants “knowingly and willfully offered and/or paid kickbacks, primarily in the form of $80 million dollars in improper process and handling fees to induce physicians to refer blood samples,” to the labs for large panels of tests “that included a significant number of medically unnecessary tests.”
Mallory declined to comment on the suit. She resigned from HDL in September 2014.2015-08-28T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/PeteJobse.png“Cybersecurity is an enormous growth area,” says Peter Jobse.
Competition increases for cybersecurity program
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/competition-increases-for-cybersecurity-program#When:10:00:00ZThe demand for cybersecurity products is at an all-time high as alarming data breaches continue.
In June, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced that it had been the target of a cyberattack. At first, federal officials thought the breach affected the records of about 4 million federal employees. FBI Director James Comey later raised that number to 18 million, making it one of the largest breaches of government data in the nation’s history.
No one understands the need for heightened cybersecurity better than Pete Jobse, president and CEO of the Center for Innovative Technology, who also serves as executive chairman of the 2-year-old MACH37 Cyber Accelerator.
Since it began in 2013, the program has had 22 graduates who are now developing products in Virginia. Jobse expects to have six to seven companies participate in the fall session, which begins in September.
“Cyberattacks are a pervasive problem. Cybersecurity is an enormous growth area. It was very apparent to us after about 20 months of research that we had this huge density of cybersecurity expertise in Virginia, but it was untapped,” Jobse says of the idea for the accelerator, which helps information security entrepreneurs and startups ramp up their plans.
Entrepreneurs and startups must apply to MACH37, and acceptance has become increasingly competitive. In each 14-week session — there are two a year — five to eight companies are accepted. About 10 companies apply for each slot. “The number of applicants continues to increase,” Jobse says, noting that accepted companies each receive a $50,000 investment.
The accelerator accepts companies from the United States and foreign countries. “We have applicants from London, Turkey and North Africa,” Jobse says. “We are now recognized globally.”
All of the applicants are thoroughly vetted. If a company is less than stellar, “we move on,” Jobse says. “There are certainly areas we are leery of right now.”
The intensive program helps businesses evolve their ideas for cybersecurity products by “vetting it with corporations and organizations that would likely buy it and also vetting it with investors who would invest in it. In addition we link the companies to cybersecurity leaders who serve as mentors,” Jobse says.
The Commonwealth of Virginia underwrote the accelerator’s operations for the past two years, but going forward it will be supported by its platinum sponsors, a group of 14 companies that are national leaders in cybersecurity.
“The extent of cybercrime has reached the level that requires industry leaders to pursue all innovative channels to protect private and public assets,” Jobse says. “The platinum sponsor program bridges the innovation and creativity of the startup community with the market presence and growth objectives of industry leaders.”
Jobse says the accelerator was begun with the ambition of making it a destination for the next generation of cybersecurity product companies. “We believe Virginia can be the epicenter of cybersecurity creation,” he says.2015-08-28T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/modfealogo.png
Blacksburg-based Modea changes its course
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/blacksburg-based-modea-changes-its-course#When:10:00:00ZBlacksburg-based Modea has a new look and a new focus. The company has shifted from being a digital advertising agency to a digital consultancy. It also spun out one of its divisions so it can focus on the expansion of its software tool for the wireless industry.
“We started transitioning away from being a full-service digital advertising agency about three years ago,” says CEO Ted Boezaart, who joined the company in July. “The advertising agency wasn’t the right fit for us. We were starting to run up against multi-conglomerate agencies. We looked at our core competency and asked ourselves: What do we do that is unique? We wanted to shift our focus to where we provide value.”
Moving forward, the company will focus on large transformational technology solutions for health-care and wireless providers. Its clients include Duke Medicine and Verizon Wireless.
“The health-care and wireless industries are a few years behind the technology curve from the client interaction perspective,” Boezaart says. “We really want to help solve user problems with technology. We will work with them to create more meaningful interactions with their customers.”
The company recently helped a large academic health-care organization create a technological solution that gives patients the ability to find the right doctor.
“There are thousands of doctors to choose from,” Boezaart says. “We built a tool where patients can go online and list their problems and preferences. They get a small list of doctors with short bios. We helped the health-care system restructure the way data is entered online.”
The company’s clients are located throughout the U.S. “We have a lot of interactions on the East Coast,” Boezaart says.
The former Modea division, which hasn’t been named yet, has been functioning independently for almost a year. It will be led by Modea co-founders Aaron Herrington and David Catalano. It is focusing on a product for the wireless telephone industry. “We provide tools that empower users to self troubleshoot online,” says Boezaart.
Sixty percent of Modea’s 96 employees work in the division. The remaining 40 percent work for the consultancy. Both are located in the same building in Kent Square.
Modea’s new logo with three triangles pays homage to its Blacksburg heritage as well as the assets of the region, such as a large technology university and community in addition to like-minded tech companies. “We wanted to communicate the fact that being here in the mountains of Virginia affords us a perspective, both physically and intellectually, that you can’t get anywhere else,” Boezaart says.2015-08-28T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/ImperialBuilding.pngThe Imperial Mill is one of the buildings acquired by Watershed Ventures. Photo by Steven Mantilla
Foundation to redevelop Danville buildings
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/foundation-to-redevelop-danville-buildings#When:10:00:00ZDanville’s River District has quickly become an appealing place to live, growing from a population of 400 to more than 2,000 in the last 3½ years.
New residents have been attracted by the revitalization of the area. In the past four years, public and nonprofit organizations have invested approximately $30 million in the River District while private investment has totaled more than $100 million.
The Danville Regional Foundation wants to continue this momentum. In January it launched a real estate investment fund aimed at redeveloping underutilized buildings in the area.
The $10 million fund will acquire property in the River District, which “has within it about 4 million square feet of underutilized space, much of it sitting in old warehouses,” says Karl Stauber, the foundation’s president and CEO.
The foundation is partnering with Danville-based Watershed Ventures, a real estate development and investment firm, to manage the fund.
The idea for the fund originated about four years ago when the foundation began looking at new opportunities for its $217 million endowment. It decided having its own real estate fund made sense.
The foundation previously had invested in a national distressed real estate fund focused on the large metro areas around the country. “We worked on the idea for four years. We looked at models around the country,” Stauber says. “We wanted to make sure it was legal and prudent from an investment standpoint.”
The foundation decided that Watershed would be able to provide the “vision, innovation and experience” needed to advance the revitalization project, Stauber says. As part of its responsibility, Watershed will identify and secure properties, plan for their development and attract developers.
“They will bring us a proposal about making an investment, and we will review it,” Stauber says. “Unless we disagree, the investment will be made. We look forward to seeing the ideas they bring to the table.”
About half of the $10 million fund during the next 10 years will be used in acquiring properties. “It will probably take Watershed about a year to do the property acquisition component,” Stauber says.
The remaining $5 million is allocated to short-term, high-interest-rate mezzanine loans (similar to a bridge loan) to developers who want to “come into the market to help move their projects forward,” Stauber says.
During the past nine months, Watershed has secured about 475,000 square feet of space in the River District, including the Belk Leggett Building and the Imperial Mill.
“By investing in local real estate we believe we can generate market-rate returns and help drive the redevelopment of the River District,” Stauber says.2015-08-28T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/turkeys.pngThe new facility is expected to increase turkey-processing production in Rockingham by more than 44 percent.
New facility expected to boost turkey processing
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/new-facility-expected-to-boost-turkey-processing#When:10:00:00ZThe Virginia Poultry Growers Cooperative Inc. expects to be on the technological forefront of food processing when it completes its 80,000-square-foot, turkey processing facility, expanding its existing operations in Rockingham County.
In July the Cooperative announced it would invest almost $62 million during the next three years to construct the facility, which is tentatively scheduled for completion by the fourth quarter of 2016. The project is expected to create six new jobs.
The new facility in Hinton is expected to increase turkey-processing production in Rockingham by more than 44 percent. The cooperative began considering an expansion about four years ago. During the past two years, in fact, the organization, which includes 165 member-growers, has been turning down business because of a lack of capacity. The new facility will allow the cooperative to take advantage of new processing technology.
“We had some limitations with our current processing setups,” says John King II, the cooperative’s general manager. “We only process large tom turkeys [about 41 pounds each] and that makes us unique in the country. Our equipment can’t handle much beyond that.”
Established in 2004, the cooperative is the eighth-largest turkey processor in the U.S. and one of the largest processors of organic and antibiotic-free turkeys. It handles about 7 million turkeys a year at its existing 143,000-square-foot Hinton processing plant, which will connect to the new facility.
Agriculture remains Virginia’s largest industry, with an annual economic impact of $52 billion. “Within that overall industry, poultry is the largest individual sector, representing more than $6 billion in revenue and over 15,000 jobs,” says Todd Haymore, the state’s secretary of agriculture and forestry. “Shenandoah Valley is the leader in that.”
Rockingham County is the largest agricultural producer of in Virginia, with more than $1.5 billion in annual revenue from poultry, dairy, beef, eggs and grain. “Our agricultural roots run deep,” says George Anas, assistant county administrator and director of economic development.
Virginia competed against Pennsylvania for the turkey-processing project. The cooperative has an extensive bird-growing operation in Pennsylvania, but it eventually decided that the Rockingham site made more sense.
State incentives included a $500,000 performance-based grant from the Virginia Investment Partnership as well as a $250,000 grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund, which will be matched by Rockingham County over the life of the project.
The importance of the project is “not just the expansion of the plant but also the ripple effect for the member growers in the region,” says Carrie Chenery, executive director of the Shenandoah Valley Partnership. “It hits a lot of important points for our economy.”2015-08-28T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/JES1684.pngStella and Jesse Waltz own KBH Business Management Systems, which developed Bizwiz. Photo by Mark Rhodes
Bizwiz program attracts awards, customers
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/bizwiz-program-attracts-awards-customers#When:10:00:00ZJesse Waltz spent some time searching for software that would help him better handle the day-to-day operation of his foundation repair business when he was traveling. When he couldn’t find anything suitable, he decided to create his own.
Today more than 225 companies in the United States and Canada are using his Web-based software product, Bizwiz.
KBH Business Management Systems, a Virginia Beach-based company Waltz and his wife, Stella, started in 2007, developed Bizwiz. The couple also own JES Foundation Repair, which they founded in 1993. “The software was born out of the need for up-to-the-minute reporting on everything associated with JES, from marketing for generating a sales lead to completing the installation of a job and collecting a check,” says Waltz.
The program provides information and also tracks the entire “cradle-to- grave process for each customer, from the time the customer asks about a product or service to the time of final payment,” Waltz says.
KBH, of which Bizwiz is a part of, now has about 35 employees and JES has a workforce of 240.
The Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce named Bizwiz its Small Business of the Year for Virginia Beach in April and then in June named it Small Business of the Year for the Hampton Roads region.
Bizwiz is used by a variety of businesses, including contractors, painters and service companies.
“It’s for anyone who markets their service and schedules appointments for sales, installation and service,” Waltz says. “It lets people grow their business by knowing their business, because it gives them information on which to make sound business decisions, such as where to put advertising dollars, whether or not to hire more sales staff and whether or not to expand the installation team.”
Mobile apps have been developed for salespeople, installers, service techs and owners, making the process paperless.
Waltz conducts annual Bizwiz Summits at his Virginia Beach headquarters for new users of the software and established customers. He also offers private business coaching for owners.
Waltz says the software has helped him learn more about his business. “I can approach the business decisions I have to make with more confidence than I ever imagined,” he says. “The big picture with all of this is that Bizwiz helps other business grow, too. That, in turn, grows KBH and allows us to do more for even more contractors.”2015-08-28T10:00:00+00:00
People - September 2015
Devon Arendosh , named chief information security officer, PRA Group, Norfolk. She was director of IT security at Markel Corp. in Richmond. (News release)
John R. Broderick , president of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, renamed to the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority. (News release)
Sandi DuVall , named portfolio manager, The Franklin Johnston Group, Virginia Beach. She was a regional manager at Harbour Group. (Daily Press)
J. Andrew Hansz , named the Robert M. Stanton Chair of Real Estate and director of the E.V. Williams Center for Real Estate and Economic Development, Old Dominion University, Norfolk. Hansz ran the Gazarian Real Estate Center at the Craig School of Business at California State University, Fresno. (News release)
Douglas Headley , appointed senior vice president and wealth management adviser, Old Point Trust, Hampton. He was senior vice president/trust and estate administrator with SunTrust Bank. (Daily Press)
David Williams , named business banking senior client manager for Hampton Roads, Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Williams was senior commercial relationship manager at Fulton Bank. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
Michael Witynski , named COO, Dollar Tree, Chesapeake. Witynski has been senior vice president of stores since 2010. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
Col. Jeffrey Boobar , named inspector general and Title IX coordinator, Virginia Military Institute, Lexington. Boobar served 23 years as a special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) He replaces Col. Bill Grace, who recently retired and was honored with the Uncommon Ally Award, given by the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance. (News release)
Dennis A. Dysa rt, named presid ent and chief operating officer, First Bank, Strasburg. Dysart has held a number of executive level positions at the bank, including chief credit officer, chief operating officer and interim CEO. (News release)
The Bank of Clarke County hired Greg Price as vice president/commercial lender at the Old Town Center branch in Winchester. Price was a senior commercial banker for Union Bank and Trust and area executive for BB&T. (NVDaily.com)
Kristina Reed joined the investment/financial consultant team of Eagle Investment Group at the Bank of Clarke County. Reed is a former financial consultant with Middleburg Investment in Leesburg and has more than 20 years of experience in banking and investment consulting. (NVDaily.com)
Pat Trice, named superintendent, The Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind, Staunton. Trice has been serving as interim superintendent for a year. (News release)
Brian Luckett , named the corporate and donor relations coordinator at Patrick Henry Community College in Martinsville. Luckett comes to PHCC after working in the University of Virginia Athletic Department while earning his bachelor’s degree in government and master’s degree in higher education administration. (Work It, SoVa)
Ronda Pen n, CFO of Plexus Capital LLC, named to the boards of directors of Danville-based American National Bankshares Inc. and its subsidiary bank, American National Bank and Trust Co. (News release)
Joy Cabarrus Speakes, of Cullen, named to the Brown v. Board of Education Scholarship Awards Committee. Speakes is a member of the Moton Council and board of trustees and president and owner of Friends Inc.
Ellen Connelly Taaffe, named to the board of directors, Hooker Furniture Corp., Martinsville. Taaffe is a consumer marketing and strategy specialist who has worked with companies such as PepsiCo, Quaker Oats, Whirlpool and Royal Caribbean Cruises. (News release)
Roger Dalton, vice president of government affairs for American National University in Roanoke, elected chairman of the board of directors of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities. (The Roanoke Times)
Charlie Jewell, named executive director for the New River Valley Economic Development Alliance. He was a project manager for Montgomery County’s economic development office. (The Roanoke Times)
Robert Parker, the L.S. Randolph Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech, is the recipient of the 2015 American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ N.O. Myklestad Award for “innovative contributions to vibration engineering and research” throughout his career. (News release)
Melissa C. Stanley joined Brown Edwards & Co. LLP’s Roanoke office. Stanley was a partner in one of the top 20 firms in the nation. (News release)
Charles Steger, the former president of Virginia Tech, joined the Focused Ultrasound Foundation’s Council. The Charlottesville-based foundation aims to accelerate the development and adoption of focused ultrasound treatment for a variety of serious medical disorders. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
Mary Kaye Willis, promoted to director, property services. by Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer’s Property Services Group. She will oversee the western part of Virginia. Jenny Perkins also has been promoted to portfolio manager. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
Kevin Gentzel, named chief revenue officer, Gannett Co. Inc., McLean. Gentzel was head of advertising sales, North America at Yahoo! Gannett recently was spun off as a separate unit from the company’s former broadcasting division, now called Tegna. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
Sirena Johnson , named to the board of directors of The Small and Emerging Contractors Advisory Forum, a McLean-based nonprofit. She is a principal at Thompson Greenspon, Fairfax. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
Phong Le , named CFO, MicroStrategy Inc., Tysons Corner. He was CFO at XO Communications. Le succeeds Douglas Thede, who in March announced plans to retire after serving as CFO since 2009. (Washington Business Journal)
Ken Nason , named vice president of revenue optimization, Salamander Hotels & Resorts, Middleburg. Nason joins Salamander from Remington Hotels where he served as vice president of sales and marketing for six hotels in the company’s Independent & Luxury Division. (News release)
Varun K. Niko re, of Arlingto n, named to the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority. He is president, Banyan Global, Washington, D.C. (News release)
Jane Whitfield stepped down as president and CEO of the Alexandria-based PenFed Foundation. Whitfield will continue to work closely with the foundation as a fundraising consultant. (News release)
Craig Carper, named news director for Richmond Public Radio. He was WCVE’s capitol correspondent. (RichmondBizSense.com)
Carthan F. Currin III, named chairman of the board of directors, and Christine M. Slate, named vice chairwoman, The Virginia College Fund, Richmond. Currin is with The Oxford Group, and Slate is with Barrett Capital Management. (RichmondBizSense.com)
John M. Ramey III, named general counsel at Allegiancy, a Richmond-based commercial real estate asset manager. Ramey was a principal at Goodman Allen & Filetti. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
Ryan Schilling, named senior sales manager, Quirk Hotel, Richmond. Schilling was national sales manager at The Boar’s Head Inn in Charlottesville. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
Joseph R. Schmuckler, named CEO, Cary Street Partners, a Richmond-based financial firm. Schmuckler has held executive and senior management roles at financial companies such as MUFG and Nomura Holding. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
James Taylor, a nonprofit executive from Indiana, named CEO of the United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg. He took over from Barry Taylor, who has served on an interim basis since February. (RichmondBizSense.com)
Christopher C. Wallace, promoted to senior vice president, the Richmond office of Colliers International. He was director of office brokerage. (VirginiaBusiness.com)2015-08-28T10:00:00+00:00
For the Record - September 2015
The Hampton Roads area logged record exports last year, a nearly 41 percent increase year-over-year, according to a recent U.S. Commerce Department report. The region exported goods worth $3.6 billion in 2014, up $1 billion from the previous year, an all-time high, according to the International Trade Administration’s “2014 Metropolitan Area Export Overview.” (The Virginian-Pilot)
Newport News Shipbuilding told employees that layoffs will begin this fall and extend into 2016, likely affecting more than 1,500 employees, about 7 percent of its workforce. Matt Mulherin, president of Newport News Shipbuilding, said the actions were being driven by the shipyard’s completion of work on three carriers over the next 18 months. The layoffs will be part of other steps the shipyard plans to cut costs. (The Virginian-Pilot)
Regulus Global LLC will expand its Virginia Beach headquarters. The company plans to purchase a 3-acre site across the street from its current location at 1528 Taylor Farms Road in the Taylor Farms Commerce Park. It will build a 30,000-square-foot facility, boosting its current footprint of 7,500 square feet of leased space. The company will make a capital investment of $3.45 million and plans to add 25 employees in the next year. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
Norfolk-based Sentara Healthcare announced in July it is partnering with a Fredericksburg-based medical center that serves 66,000 patients. The Pratt Medical Center has seven locations in Fredericksburg, Stafford, King George and Dahlgren. About 40 health providers will join Sentara Medical Group under the name of Sentara Pratt Medical Group. (The Virginian-Pilot)
Norfolk and Baltimore-based The Cordish Cos. held a groundbreaking ceremony for Waterside Live! in August. The project is expected to provide 800 new jobs, $93 million in direct revenue over 30 years and $850,000 in parking revenue. Waterside Live! is set to open in spring 2017. It will be a key structure in Town Point Park, an urban waterfront park, located on the Elizabeth River in downtown Norfolk. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
Fort Eustis dodged a major blow in July when the Army announced it would cut fewer than 100 people from the Newport News post during the next two years in an overall effort to trim the Army’s ranks by 40,000. Other installations in the state were hit deeper. Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County will lose about 250 soldiers, and another 127 soldiers are being cut at Fort Lee in Prince George County. (Daily Press)
Marathon Consulting LLC announced an expansion that will nearly double its size. The company, founded in 2006 and currently located at 505 S. Independence Blvd. in Virginia Beach, will move to the Virginia Beach Town Center. The company plans to add 34 full-time employees to the existing staff of 59. Marathon also will invest more than $200,000 in business property with the expansion. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
Six entrepreneurs in Staunton are among 14 who were awarded grants to open or expand their businesses through the Virginia Community Business Launch initiative. The local grant recipients were: Anna Schoenduby, Latitudes Fair Trade Store; Wavley Groves, EccoHollow Art and Sound; Patty Brower, 3 Snugbugs Studios; Tom DuMontier, 106.3FM WQSV Community Radio; Michelle Gallaugher, Staunton Olive Oil Co; and Darren Smith, Traipse. (News release)
Front Royal broke ground in June on a $53.3 million project aimed at improving its wastewater treatment plant. Tighter environmental regulations forced the town to upgrade the facility. The project has an expected completion date of October or November 2017. Parts of the upgrade will be put into use as they are completed. (NVDaily.com)
Virginia’s oldest operating bowling alley changed ownership July 1. Shannon Freeze and Jane Rosser, co-founders of ShanJann LLC, purchased Shenandoah Bowling Lan es in Mount Jackson. Shenandoah Bowling Lanes opened in 1948 as a duckpin alley. While the new owners don’t intend to alter the alley’s look, they do plan to upgra de the food menu and make more time for open bowl scheduling. (NVDaily.com)
Strasburg town officials are considering participating in a business development program through the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Through the community development organization People Inc., Strasburg applied for the department’s Virginia Community Business Launch program. Community Business Launch is a seven-month, grant-based program through the department that is centered on giving entrepreneurs a chance to open a business. (NVDaily.com)
The Warren County Board of Supervisors approved the sharing of meals and lodging tax revenue from the Route 340/522 corridor with the town of Front Royal. Tax collection in the corridor has been a source of friction between the two governments since 2007, when the two shopping centers opened just north of Interstate 66. (The Warren Sentinel)
Washington & Lee University was named to Forbes’ 2015 list of America’s Top Colleges. The Lexington-based school was No. 29 on the list and one of four Virginia-based schools that made it to the Top 100. Washington & Lee also made it on two other Forbes lists: Top 25 Southern Schools and Top 25 Liberal Arts Schools, where it ranked No. 2 and No. 11, respectively. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
The Community Foundation of the Dan River Region has awarded $850,000 to The Arc of Southside to move the group’s employment services from Blairs to more accessible locations. The Arc of Southside serves people with developmental disabilities. (GoDanRiver.com)
Commonwealth Home Health Inc. in July marked its 30th anniversary of operation in Halifax County and surrounding areas. Commonwealth Home Health is a skilled agency that provides care in a patient’s home. The company got its start in 1985 when A.L. Burkholder decided to open a home health care business after retiring as administrator at Halifax Community Hospital (now known as Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital). (The Gazette-Virginian)
David Hobson, owner and president of Docusystems in Danville, started a new business called 3-D Printing Solutions. The new business will sell two styles of printers. The 3-D printing industry is growing rapidly. Hobson said the industry is valued at $2 billion now but is expected to reach $14 billion within the next 10 years. (Danville Register & Bee)
The Goodyear Tire & Rubber plant in Danville is planning $3.5 million in renovations that will give the main building a new mezzanine and more room for equipment, according to a building permit issued by the city July 24. Charles Fulcher, the city’s inspections supervisor, said the plan does not call for adding square footage, but includes renovations to existing space. (Danville Register & Bee)
Chatham-based Virginia Uranium Inc. filed a lawsuit in federal court in Danville in August asking that a 33-year-old state law imposing uranium mining moratorium be nullified. The company wants to mine a 119-million-pound uranium ore deposit in the Coles Hill area near Chatham in Pittsylvania County. Virginia Uranium, which owns about 3,500 acres atop the deposit, said that the uranium ore would have a market value of about $6 billion if it could be mined and sold to U.S. nuclear plants. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
The West Piedmont Workforce Investment Board is getting more than $1 million in extra federal funding to help people out of work for three months or longer receive training they need to earn educational credentials and find jobs. The Job Driven National Emergency Grant (NEG) also will help workers to be placed in subsidized employment arrangements with local businesses, said WIB Executive Director Lisa Fultz. The NEG lasts for 18 months. (Martinsville Bulletin)
Bristol-based Alpha Natural Resources Inc., one the nation’s largest coal companies, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy court protection, blaming low coal prices, competition from natural gas and increasing government regulations. Alpha is the fourth major coal company in the U.S. to file for bankruptcy in the past 15 months. The list includes Richmond-based James River Coal. Alpha operates more than 50 mines and more than 20 coal preparation facilities in Virginia, Kentucky, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Wyoming. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
The Blue Ridge Marathon and its associated races in Roanoke continue to grow their economic footprint, according to a post-race survey from the Roanoke Regional Partnership and the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission. This year, 1,677 runners participated in the Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon, half marathon or the Anthem Star 10K. The races, which were held in April, generated an economic impact of $556,000, up 6.7 percent over 2014. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
Jefferson College of Health Sciences has been awarded a $1 million grant to develop a nursing degree program tailored for veterans. The three-year grant comes from the Nurse Education, Practice, Quality and Retention Program, run by the Health Resources and Services Administration Bureau of Health Professions, which prepares veterans as they transition from the military into the practice of civilian nursing. (The Roanoke Times)
TORC Robotics expects its groundbreaking work on self-driving vehicles to get even smoother from now on. The Blacksburg company, previously located at Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, has begun working out of a new 20,000-square-foot facility at 405 Partnership Drive. While TORC’s work is geared toward the passenger car and defense industries, the firm also has done work in mining and agriculture. (The Roanoke Times)
For the first time, some Virginia Tech fans will be able to buy a beer while watching a football game at Lane Stadium this season. Tech plans to introduce beer and wine sales in the west side club seats at Lane Stadium this season, multiple sources said, following an emerging nationwide trend in college athletics as athletic departments look to generate more revenue to cover the rising cost of doing business, including cost of attendance. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
McLean-based Capital One Financial Corp. plans to pay about $9 billion to buy the health-care lending business of General Electric Capital Corp. Capital One is acquiring about $8.5 billion in health care-related loans — paying a 6 percent premium on the par value of the GE unit’s receivables as of June 30. The deal also includes GE Capital’s health-care financial services business, which provides financing to companies such as hospitals and medical-device makers. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Waltham, Mass.-based CounterTack acquired ManTech Cyber Solutions International (MCSI), a commercial software division of Fairfax-based ManTech International Corp. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed. ManTech will become an equity investor in CounterTack as well as a global distribution partner. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
EY (formerly Ernst & Young LLP) will expand its operations in Fairfax County, creating 462 jobs over three years. The company plans to invest about $12 million as it relocates its offices to The Corporate Office Centre at Tysons II in Tysons Corner. The company’s office is currently located at 8484 Westpark Drive. Gov. Terry McAuliffe approved a $1.3 million grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to assist with the project. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
Alexandria-based Fishbowl, a restaurant industry marketing analytics company, has acquired Czar Metrics. Financial details on the deal were not disclosed. New York-based Czar Metrics uses proprietary models and historical data to guide customers in decisions for menu and price engineering, promotions performance, site selection, loyalty program economics and sales forecasting. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
Inovvo, a wireless network analytics company, completed its acquisition of comScore’s wireless solutions division. The deal includes comScore’s Subscriber Analytix platform. Both Inovvo and comScore are based in Reston. Financial details about the transaction were not disclosed. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
Sterling-based technology company Neustar said in July it bought Bombora Technologies Pty Ltd., an Australian domain registration company, for $118.5 million. Bombora provides registration services for a number of top-level domains [TLD], including .au, .melbourne and .sydney. Neustar said the acquisition expands Neustar’s registry services, which operates the .biz, .us, and .co domains, among others. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
The University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg signed an agreement with George Washington University that is expected to guarantee UMW honors program students early acceptance to the GWU School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, D.C. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
Vienna-based cloud services provider Cetrom Information Technology Inc. reinvested $1 million in the company for planned growth. The money mostly will be used for hardware upgrades. Cetrom plans to use the capital to set up and implement storage area networks and servers. The move to the new networks and servers will be completed over the next quarter. Client’s existing service will not be disrupted. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
Henrico County-based insurance giant Genworth Financial Inc. plans to sell its lifestyle protection insurance business to French insurer Axa S.A. for $520 million. Genworth said it is in “exclusive negotiations” with Axa and expects to accept the offer after required regulatory approval in France. The sale is expected to close by the end of this year. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Richmond-based Hardywood Park Craft Brewery plans to expand and open a brewery in Goochland County. The company plans to invest $28 million and create 56 jobs during the next five years in the new venture. State government officials offered more than $1 million in incentives for the project. Goochland County has committed up to $1 million in matching funds during a period of up to 10 years. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
The Liberty University School of Law plans to offer online master’s degrees this fall, according to an announcement from the school. The plan is for juris master degrees in American legal studies and international legal studies, as well as a master of laws degree in international legal studies. The typical qualifying degree for lawyers in the United States is the juris doctorate, which Liberty offers on-campus.
(The News & Advance)
John Adams, former longtime CEO of The Martin Agency in Richmond, plans to bow out as chairman and migrate to emeritus status in January. He is handing over the reins of an ad industry powerhouse that is celebrating its 50th anniversary and pondering a vision of further global expansion. The agency hasn’t named a successor. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
New York-based McGraw Hill Financial signed an agreement to acquire Charlottesville-based SNL Financial for $2.2 billion. SNL provides data, news and analysis on financial institutions and other business sectors. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
VCU Medical Center in Richmond is the best hospital in the state, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2015-16 hospital rankings. The annual report also ranked Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Hampton Roads as No. 2 and Inova Fairfax Hospital in Northern Virginia as third. The news magazine ranks hospitals based on their performance in 16 medical specialties. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Henrico County-based Snagajob announced in July the opening of its Arlington County office. The new location is the firm’s first outside of the Richmond area. Snagajob, a website that connects workers with hourly jobs and vice versa, says the office was opened to tap into the D.C. metro-area talent pool and grow brand awareness about hourly paid work from Richmond to Baltimore. (VirginiaBusiness.com)2015-08-28T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Kaine0147.pngSen. Timothy Kaine, photo by Mark Rhodes
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/speaking-up#When:10:00:00ZVirginia’s junior senator has been able to call his congressional colleagues “cowardly” without alienating them.
His thoughtful approach to government and his ability to navigate thorny issues with his Senate colleagues has earned him a lot of respect, says Sen. Mark Warner, a fellow Virginia Democrat, who has known Tim Kaine since they both attended Harvard Law School. Kaine served as lieutenant governor when Warner was Virginia’s governor.
“[His optimism] and intelligence and good humor he brings to every issue earns him a lot of respect on both sides of the issues,” says Warner. “He’s able to push a point in a non-in-your-face way….there are many times I wish I could do it his way.”
Kaine became governor in 2006 and was elected to the Senate in 2012. Since he took office in 2013, Kaine perhaps has been most vocal on his insistence that Congress vote on whether to authorize military force against the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (called ISIS or ISIL). He hasn’t been afraid to criticize the Obama administration on the issue.
“His lead on the use of military force in the Middle East against the administration’s plan earned him tremendous credibility,” says Warner.
Kaine says that, if Congress is asking the country’s service men and women to risk their lives, then it should be willing to face the political ramifications of an open debate about the use of military force. “I think we ought to authorize military action against ISIL with some conditions, but I don’t think we ought to be asking people to risk their lives without Congress doing our job,” Kaine says.
The senator also has been outspoken about the need for reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, which lends money to U.S. exporters and their foreign customers. The bank, created during the Great Depression, has been opposed fiercely by tea party-leaning Republicans, who view it as corporate welfare. The bank’s charter expired June 30, meaning it can make no new loans.
Since this interview, the Senate voted in favor of reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank as part of a larger highway-funding bill, but that provision was removed from the legislation by the House of Representatives.
Kaine also has been a proponent of a bill designed to give President Obama a better chance to negotiate global trade deals. The U.S. is involved in ongoing discussions surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would include 12 countries on both sides of the Pacific Ocean, such as Japan, Malaysia, Australia, Canada and Mexico.
The “fast-track” authorization means that, when the trade deal is presented to Congress, it will be required to make an up-or-down vote and cannot amend the treaty. Kaine long pushed for this authorization for the president, but that position has pitted him against many House Democrats who almost derailed the legislation in June.
Kaine has said the trade deal could help Virginia exporters but adds that determining any positive or negative effects on the commonwealth will have to wait until the terms of the treaty are presented to lawmakers.
Because of its large military presence and abundance of defense contractors, Virginia’s economy could take a major blow if Congress doesn’t find a way to avoid sequestration by Sept. 30. Kaine has been at the forefront of efforts to prevent another round of sequestration, automatic federal spending cuts that will be triggered if a budget deal is not reached. A compromise budget bill passed in 2013 lessened the impact of the first round of sequestration cuts, but state leaders fear the second round could be even more damaging.
“As of today, 95 of the 100 senators are on the record saying the budget gaps imposed by sequester are bad for the country, and we ought to find an alternative,” says Kaine.
Virginia Business discussed these and other issues with the senator in early July in his Washington, D.C., office.
Virginia Business: You’ve been on the forefront of efforts to avoid the expiration of the Export-Import Bank’s charter. Now that the [Export-Import Bank] has expired, do you see a way forward for that and what are you hearing from Virginia businesses on how this will affect them?
Kaine: Well, Virginia businesses have been very helpful in getting us stories and ammo we can use with our colleagues, and sadly, this one is a weird partisan issue. Who would have believed it? The Democrats all support Ex-Im Bank reauthorization…I mean it’s overwhelming support. So, why do Republicans oppose this very pro-business tool to help businesses find export customers? I just don’t get it. It’s not because it takes money out of the Treasury, because it puts money into the Treasury. It’s not because it replaces private lending because the private lending institutions are coming in and saying, “Do this.”
It’s a mystifying issue to me. Now, the Virginia businesses have been really good. I mean I’ve got agricultural businesses in the Shenandoah Valley. I’ve got manufacturing firms like Bristol Compressors down in the southwest and all over the state. You know, Boeing has a huge presence in Northern Virginia…So, we’ve got a lot of good business support for Ex-Im Bank reauthorization…
The key is we’ve just got to get it done. There’s just no reason to let this go, this great institution that has been in place since the 1930s that other nations have. They have their versions of the Ex-Im Bank. Why would we want to unilaterally disarm in this quest for export markets? I’m going to do all I can. I’ve written op-eds about this and been strongly supportive of Ex-Im Bank authorization since I came into office, and I’m going to continue to do it.
VB: Also important for Virginia businesses could be the Trans-Pacific Partnership. How do you think a trade deal like this could help Virginia businesses, and is there concern as to how it might affect Virginia manufacturers?
Kaine: I think the real issue is you’ve got to see the deal. I voted for a Trade Promotion Authority to give the president the maximum leverage to negotiate the best deal for American businesses, workers and farmers. Because I think Virginia agriculture has a lot of potential upside in the deal. But the bill that we voted on, the Trade Promotion Authority, just gives basically the president tools to negotiate the deal, requires him to bring it back, and then when it comes back, there will be a period of somewhere between 90 and 120 days where the deal will be on the table.
[Under the law, it can’t be amended], so everybody gets a chance to look at it: the press, the public, labor, environmentalists, businesses, members of Congress. We all get a chance to look at it and debate it. We have to decide: Does it do the right thing to promote Virginia jobs and American jobs?
I think that the key for us, and the reason why deals like this can make sense, is that trade is going to happen. It is going to happen, and it’s already happening. The only issue is whether the rules surrounding trade will be rules that will be favorable to us. That will require elevated standards for environment, worker safety, labor protections, intellectual-property protection. And if we are helping write the rules, they’re more likely to have those higher standards. If we don’t, trade will still happen. It will just be according to lowest common denominator rules that are much more likely to hurt Virginia manufacturers. And hurt others.
I do think, in Virginia, we have some unique assets that enable us to really take advantage of global trade [like the Port of Virginia and Washington Dulles International Airport]. But I think Virginia has benefited tremendously in my lifetime by trade. Trade has cost us jobs, too. You know, we’ve lost jobs because of trade, in textile and furniture, especially, but in some other manufacturing areas, too. But while we’ve lost jobs, we’ve also seen industry sectors in Virginia that have dramatically expanded because of trade.
VB: One thing we’re concerned about is sequestration cuts. I was wondering how likely you think it is that we could avoid the next round [of sequestration.] Looks like it could be especially difficult for Virginia.
Kaine: Sequestration affects Virginia more than virtually any other state. Between federal employees who live in Virginia [and] defense contractors who are part of the defense-side budget, we get affected very dramatically.
I worked very hard on the Murray-Ryan [budget deal that avoided about half of sequestration cuts in 2014 and 2015], a two-year deal that runs out on Sept. 30. We need to find a budget alternative to sequester, and I’m with working with a small group of Democrats and Republicans right now to do that.
You know, the Murray-Ryan budget deal was a classic compromise. Democrats didn’t get everything they wanted. Republicans didn’t get everything they wanted, but we found a compromise, and it was the right thing for the country, the right thing for our national defense and the right thing for other key priorities.
We need to do the same thing this year, so between now and Sept. 30, that’s a task that we have. Because I’m a member of both the Budget and Armed Services committees, I’m very engaged in that effort to find the alternative to sequester. As of today, 95 of the 100 senators are on the record saying the budget gaps imposed by sequester are bad for the country, and we ought to find an alternative. There is significant support for the general proposition, but finding the alternative itself that will get 60 votes in the Senate is what we’re working on now.
VB: You mentioned that you sit on the Armed Services Committee. We talked about sequestration, is there anything else that you think Virginia should be concerned about or excited about?
Kaine: I would say a concern is sequestration, and that’s a huge one, but there are some real opportunities. There are huge opportunities in the unmanned aircraft space that a number of Virginia companies … have been doing some of the real pioneering work. Those innovations have civilian uses, not just military usages.
There are some new military platforms that could be built in Virginia. As an example, we will do, within the defense budget, a replacement for the Ohio-class submarine. Ohio is an attack-class submarine…The Ohio-class submarines have not been built at the shipyard down at Huntington Ingalls [in Newport News]. They build the Virginia-class subs and [nuclear-powered aircraft] carriers, but because of the success of Huntington Ingalls with Virginia-class subs, there is a significant chance in the future when we build Ohio-class replacements that that could be a new line of work for the shipyard…
We’ve got a tremendous need to up our game when it comes to cyber. We’ve got a lot of expertise in Virginia. You might see more of the military budget moving over into the cyber side, and I think Virginia has some prospects there.
VB: You’ve taken a tough leadership stance on military authorization fighting the Islamic State. Have you been able to gain any traction?
Kaine: The only vote that has been held really on an authorization was in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that was held on my bills and others that were voted out of committee, but it got no floor action, and, when the Congress changed hands in January, that expired. Now I’m pushing this in this Congress…
We are now really engaging on the discussion on authorization. We’ve had a series of closed-door committee meetings after a series of open-door hearings…exploring: Can we come up with a bipartisan authorization?
Above all else, we need to authorize it. We shouldn’t let presidents start wars without votes of Congress. But, second, the authorization, to be really successful, should be as bipartisan as possible. And since both Democrats and Republicans support military action against ISIL, we ought to be able to find a bipartisan path forward.
There are some important points on which there are legitimate differences of opinion. Should you use American ground troops or not?…I am working with my committee colleagues. You know, it’s always better to try to work within and get your colleagues to do it, but I’m also frankly raising hell about it in speeches on the floor and in the public to try to say this is Congress’ job. …
[This morning] there was an Armed Services hearing about the strategy against ISIL and all these people were criticizing the administration, all the senators were. When it got to me, I said, “Hey, I’ve got some criticisms, too, but let’s be honest. My criticisms of the administration’s strategy are small compared to my criticisms of this institution, because it’s the Congress that’s supposed to be authorizing war.”
But what Congress seems to want to do is not have the debate, so we don’t own it. We’re not responsible. We don’t have to have the backbone to cast a vote. Then we can just sit back and criticize…We’re not that legitimate as critics when we aren’t providing a meaningful budget because of sequester, and we won’t even do the job of authorizing war…
VB: And you were in the Middle East?
Kaine: Yes, I just got back. I went with six members to Iraq and Turkey. In Turkey we really were right on the border of Syria….And I came back even more convinced that Congress needs to engage, especially because of our troops. We’ve got troops overseas from Virginia, who are over fighting against ISIL. There are many Virginians in this 3,500 that are there. And they deserve to know that Congress cares…If they’re risking their lives, then we ought to at least be able to have a debate and vote on whether the mission is worth it. Because if we’re not willing to say the mission’s worth it, then how dare we ask them to go risk their lives to fight this enemy. I think the mission is worth it. I think we ought to authorize military action against ISIL with some conditions, but I don’t think we ought to be asking people to risk their lives without Congress doing our job.
VB: [What’s the environment in the Senate like?] I mean from the outside it appears like it’s just partisan vitriol all the time. Is that how you feel?
Kaine: You know, I actually….I’ll be kind of blunt. I think the interpersonal relationships are warmer and friendlier in the Senate than they are in the General Assembly right now.
VB: Really? Interesting.
Kaine: Yeah, I do. I worked on the [Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which allows Congress to review a nuclear agreement with Iran]. Very tough issue [about] under what conditions would a diplomatic deal with Iran be a good deal in terms of their nuclear program. But I worked with Senator Bob Corker, [R-Tennessee], on a bill that we got through the Senate 98-1…
And I mean from the very first day I got here, even though there are some really hard issues and things that I find mystifying — like why would Democrats support Ex-Im Bank reauthorization and Republicans be all opposed to it. I just don’t get that. So there are frustrations here, but I actually think the warmth of the personal relationships in the Senate, I think that my observation is that they’re probably a little warmer and a little closer than in the General Assembly.
VB: And that’s from when you were there or now?
Kaine: From when I was there. I don’t know it so well now, but what I’ve seen from afar doesn’t suggest to me that it’s changed that much.2015-08-28T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/JES1700.pngPhoto by Mark Rhodes
JES Foundation Repair, KBH Business Management Systems
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/jes-foundation-repair-kbh-business-management-systems#When:10:00:00ZJES Foundation Repair, KBH Business Management Systems
Address: 1741 Corporate Landing Parkway, Virginia Beach
Business: Construction and construction software
New construction: 45,000 square feet
On-site employees: 75
Interior design furniture: Image Business Interiors
Design goals/amenities: What was an empty shell of a one-story building is now a three-story home for two companies.
The first floor houses the company’s corporate offices. A marble lobby floor and statement chandelier help create a grand entrance.
The second floor is dedicated to a 250-seat training center, cafeteria and company store. In-house operations reside on the third floor, with a fully stocked coffee bar.
The open floor plan is designed to boost collaboration among employees of both companies. There are write-on walls for jotting down ideas and screens with real-time business data.
While employees still have personal spaces, “There are no hard lines between any areas. You can walk through and feel like everyone is connected,” says Kimberly McDonald, chief operating officer for KBH.
Windows line the walls, and nearly everyone has a view of the 12-acre site’s lake, trees, and scenic walking trails. McDonald calls the design a marriage between “technology and a peaceful environment.” Employees have access to a fitness center, and some of them decompress after work by heading to the lake to fish.2015-08-28T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/CustomInk_Opening_Stairs_story.pngPhoto courtesy CustomInk
Address: 2910 District Ave., Fairfax
Business: Online custom design T-shirts
New construction: 75,000 square feet
On-site employees: 512
Interior designer: Davis Carter Scott (DCS)
Design goals/amenities: This fast-growing company wanted a corporate headquarters office that created a sense of community.
From the octopus logo on the building’s exterior to a lobby festooned with 1,000 colorful origami cranes (a symbol of good luck) made by employees, there’s an “inker” stamp on everything. Employees are referred to as “inkers,” and gallery areas showcase their creative talent.
The three-story building is open and collaborative with winding staircases, lots of natural light, and colorful nooks for private meetings. To encourage employee engagement, there’s a communal table in the cafeteria, a foosball table in the game room and an outdoor patio with space for corn hole tournaments.
Other perks include bars for coffee, trail mix and yogurt. To bring the outdoors in, the company recently added a living green wall and it uses barn doors on some of the offices.
CustomInk is the anchor tenant at Mosaic, a mixed-use project that’s striving for a live-work-play community. “That attracted us. It’s a really cool environment,” says Darcy Smith, vice president of team development.
Overall, she describes the space as “uplifting, fun, friendly,” a fitting environment for a 29-year-old, the average age of employees.CustomInk2015-08-28T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/8_re_MG_7013.pngColorful fabric sculptures that resemble kites hang in the atrium at the headquarters of Allianz Global Assistance.
Allianz Global Assistance
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/allianz-global-assistance#When:10:00:00ZAllianz Global Assistance
Address: 9950 Mayland Drive, Henrico County
Business: Travel and other specialty insurance
Renovation: 320,000 square feet
On-site employees: 900
Interior design: Evolve Architecture
Design goals/amenities: Allianz renovated the former vacant headquarters of the now defunct Circuit City Stores into its North American corporate headquarters. Down came drab gray paint and up went colorful two-tone combinations for each floor.
Each of the five floors is named for a continent, an appropriate touch since Allianz sells travel insurance around the world. The colors are representative of each continent’s cultures and help employees find their way around. A huge aluminum globe on a curved drive outside the main entrance sets the tone for the international feel throughout the space.
“There’s a big push for branding. Something that tells you what a company does,” says Randy Blankenship, a principal with Evolve Architecture in Richmond.
The transformation into a light, bright collaborative space came with lots of employee goodies. There’s a Starbucks off the lobby and full-service cafeteria with a chef who changes the menu monthly. Employees can try out an adjustable-height desk in the coffee café area, or just take a break under a dramatic glass-ceiling atrium adorned with fabric sculptures that resemble kites.
Also on the first floor is a fitness center with custom-made screens of faraway places. A terrace with red umbrellas allows for outside dining. There’s plenty of green space and walking trails for a mid-day exercise break.
On the upper floors, Allianz offers wellness rooms, appreciated by nursing mothers. Large, open spaces with mobile furniture accommodate the company’s call center area.
Allianz is open 24-7, with employees working in shifts. No matter the hour, they can always grab a cup of coffee, brewed from fresh beans, in their break rooms.2015-08-28T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/15-0007406.pngGiving employees more privacy at their work stations is a growing trend in open designs. Courtesy Image Business Interiors
Office of the future
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/office-of-the-future#When:10:00:00ZFewer walls, more windows. Work stations that can adjust for sitting down or standing up. More bars for employees, as in coffee bars, yogurt bars, trail mix bars. And don’t forget free address — the ability to plug in and work wherever you want in an office.
These are some of the trends in the workplace of the future. Some already are in place in offices across Virginia as companies move to replace drab cubicles with colorful spaces designed to foster teamwork and collaboration.
According to interior designers, technology and flexible environments are key drivers in office design. “Traditionally, the thinking was, ‘How many people can we cram into a space?’” says Robert DeLille, CEO of Creative in Ashland. That’s because a company expected the space to stay the same for 10 years or so.
Today, the thinking has migrated to: “How can we make it flexible?” As the needs of a company evolve, so can the space, meaning companies can stay put longer. “Today we outfit a space with a variety of settings so people can work in collaborative space, private space, team space,” says DeLille.
Here’s another reason spaces must have multiple uses: There’s not as much of it. CoreNet Global, a commercial real estate association, reports that the average amount of space per office worker in North America dropped to 176 square feet in 2012, down from 225 square feet in 2010.
Just because the space is smaller, though, doesn’t mean workers want to spend their days sitting at a desk. With a growing emphasis on wellness, sit-to-stand tables are becoming popular. These adjustable-height, mobile workstations, which retail for about $1,500 each, allow workers to set the table to various heights. “You can stand, sit, have whatever posture you want instead of being forced to sit in a chair all day,” says DeLille.
The tables might be placed in long rows alongside each other, in a “benching” configuration, just one of many new terms in today’s lexicon of office décor. At CustomInk in Fairfax, an online company that sells custom T-shirts, the first thing employees see when they enter from a parking garage is a “wordle.” That’s a wall of words, which in this case are ones used frequently in CustomInk’s conversations with customers.
White boards for sharing ideas also are prevalent, as are “Zen” rooms — private employee spaces — and “touch-down” rooms, where workers can hold a quick, informal meeting as they move through a space as opposed to reserving a conference room.
Branding also is big. Companies want to incorporate their mission and corporate culture in office design. They want spaces that are light, bright and fun but that also convey a sense of identity, like the “wordle” at CustomInk.
At Allianz Global Assistance in Henrico County, a media wall in the lobby shows places around the world where customers are traveling. That’s a nice touch for the company’s travel insurance product, and, “it helps set the international feel of the company,” says Randy Blankenship, a principal for Evolve Architecture in Richmond.
Employers say a modern, collaborative space helps in recruiting new workers and retaining old ones. Jesse Waltz, owner of JES Foundation Repair and KBH Business Management Systems in Virginia Beach, invested $5 million in a new building for his employees. Situated on a 12-acre site with a lake and scenic trails, the building has an open floor plan with modern finishes and furniture. Amenities include a cafeteria with pizza ovens and microwaves for employee use and a fitness center.
“When people come in for an interview, we are proud of where we work,” says Kimberly McDonald, chief operating officer for KBH, a construction software company. “You see people here all weekend. They come to work out … People will bring their kids to walk around, go fishing on the lake and maybe they might be up here getting a few things done, so it’s helped our productivity.”
Amenities are a big part of modern workplaces. “The office of the future pays attention to the employee needs, where the employee is not just a number but a contributor to the success of the company,” says Greg Waters, director of corporate services, USA, for Allianz. As a result of employee feedback, Waters says, he added stability balls to the office and the use of credit cards at vending machines.
Another challenge in today’s office design is serving multiple generations. “Right now you can have four or five generations in the workplace. The younger generation is used to technology and collaboration,” says Carrie Setliff, managing partner for Image Business Interiors (IBI) in Virginia Beach. “The older generation is used to working in an office from 8 to 5, so you’re trying to create a work space that’s conducive to all the generations.”
Even with a small group of people, it isn’t easy finding a design that works for everyone. Andrew Cohill, president of WideOpen Networks in Blacksburg, says his five employees worked in an open, bullpen-type environment for five years before he returned to a more closed design.
Cohill’s company designs and builds broadband networks primarily for local governments. The work requires a lot of videoconferencing, and clients frequently are on speaker, so everyone in the office could hear both sides of the conversation. “I used to get a lot of complaints. The office is noisy. I don’t have any privacy. I can’t concentrate.”
Another drawback? “Sometimes as the boss, I needed to talk about personnel matters. It’s one thing to be sitting out in the open and to be accessible to your employees, but every time you had a call that needed some privacy, I had to go down the hall and find a conference room, and that was inconvenient.”
A year ago, he reconfigured the office and each employee now has a private office. “Everyone is much happier,” says Cohill.
To his way of thinking, the real revolution in office design is occurring on the desktop. Cohill’s company makes use of multiple monitors to increase efficiency. It also uses an HD webcam, so employees can run Skype all day, communicating with clients via video. WideOpen also has installed a Fujitsu ScanSnap on most desks. They convert paper documents to a PDF, reducing the use of paper.
As the office environment continues to evolve, this much seems clear: one size doesn’t fit all. Companies must learn what works best for their employees and what showcases their mission.
Allianz Global Assistance, Henrico County
CustomInk, Fairfax County
JES Foundation Repair, KBH Business Management Systems, Virginia Beach
To demonstrate modern trends, Virginia Business selected three offices to showcase from about 20 submissions from around the state. See below for a photo gallery of submissions.
Out & About - September 2015
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/out-about-september-2015#When:10:00:00ZThis month's Out & About features photos from the Virginia Bar Association's summer meeting at the Homestead in Hot Springs.
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.2015-08-28T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Bernie_0915.pngPhoto by Adrienne R. Watson
It takes a bike race
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/it-takes-a-bike-race#When:10:00:00ZBack in the way-back machine — back to those late summer childhood days — bike riding was how we explored the neighborhood and had our fun.
My mother told my older brother that he and his friend had to let me ride with them, but when they passed the end of the driveway, their bicycles sped away, leaving me behind. In some ways, maybe I’ve been chasing the big kids ever since.
Back to real time, I’ve been riding my (bigger) bike for exercise before breakfast most mornings. I live just a few blocks from the Virginia Capital Trail, which ultimately will stretch 55 paved miles, connecting the state capital of Richmond to Virginia’s Colonial capital, Williamsburg.
Portions of this trail opened in 2005, but since then it has remained a hodge-podge of mostly uncompleted sections, especially in Richmond, where until recently less than a mile of the route was paved.
No longer. In anticipation of the UCI Road World Championships coming to Richmond in September, the Capital Trail is now a veritable beehive of construction activity. Finally, after 10 years, the bike path is being completed.
In fact, much of Richmond, at least where the various bike race events will be held, is seeing asphalt laid and potholes filled like crazy.
Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones was quoted in the Richmond Times-Dispatch recently saying, “One of the good things about all the improvements that we have made is that we will allow those who are coming to visit us for the ‘Worlds’ to see and enjoy the improvements, but when they’re gone and the races are over, we’ll still have the beautiful infrastructure that’s been put in place and we’ll be able to enjoy it.”
Umhum … I thought we were paying taxes to keep the roads paved? Shouldn’t that have been happening all along anyway?
Much of the Capital Trail follows state Route 5, in many places using the highway easement to cut right through the front yards of homes that face the highway. This is much like what might have happened (and perhaps still could happen) with the expansion of U.S. 460 between Suffolk and Petersburg or with the addition of an intermodal rail yard at Elliston in Montgomery County. Nobody likes having their lawn taken over, but this time, where are the protests?
You’d think with an estimated 450,000 tourists descending on Richmond for this month’s bike race, that somebody might be concerned. Heck, where’s the Sierra Club? You’d think that 450,000 more people putting pressure on the capital city’s aging infrastructure ought to be enough to endanger groundwater in Virginia Beach — that’s the basic objection raised for every other project from uranium mining in
Pittsylvania County to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. There’s no way that the city of Richmond’s sewer system can handle an additional 450,000 near simultaneous early morning flushes. Not to worry. They’ll bring out the porta-potties, everything will be fine — just like the Redskins training camp.
Back to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, here’s the answer: Put a bike trail on top of it! Nobody will object. Dominion gets its pipeline, Virginia gets its energy infrastructure, and the landowners get a new scenic byway. That’s a triple-win if there ever was one. Somebody should be thinking about that — you heard it here first!
Seriously, it is puzzling that seemingly insurmountable obstacles to upgrading Virginia’s transportation or energy infrastructure aren’t at all problematic for a bike trail. Maybe it’s that it took 10 years. Maybe it’s the urgency of a looming deadline for the bike race — go figure.
Maybe it is that Virginia’s General Assembly wasn’t involved. The city of Richmond only needed to put together a coalition of the willing — local businesses without state support — to bid on and win the UCI Road World Championships. The process didn’t involve any gerrymandering or voter identification laws, no education spending cuts or health-care expansion, no federal court appeals, not even any judicial selection or special sessions. Sometimes, maybe all it takes is a bike race.2015-08-28T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/coal.png
Bankruptcy filing outlines coal industry’s decline
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/bankruptcy-filing-outlines-coal-industrys-decline#When:10:00:00ZIn 2011, Bristol-based Alpha Natural Resources became the second-largest coal company in the U.S. It had annual revenue of $7 billion, operated 145 mines and employed 14,500 people.
Since then, the company has idled or closed more than 80 mines, laying off about 7,000 workers. Its stock, which hit a peak of $45 a share in June 2011, has been delisted by the New York Stock Exchange after trading for months at under $1. In the past three years, the company has posted losses of $2.4 billion, $1.1 billion and $875 million.
In early August, Alpha became the fourth major U.S. coal company in recent months to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, listing assets of $10.1 billion and liabilities of $7.1 billion. To help it through reorganization, the company has debtor in possession financing of $681 million.
In announcing its Chapter 11 filing, Alpha said that the U.S. coal industry is in an “unprecedented period of distress.”
“The change and challenges the U.S. coal industry has experienced over the last several years are greater than any in the past three decades,” Alpha’s Chairman and CEO Kevin Crutchfield said in a news release. “There is no doubt more uncertainty ahead, but also transformational opportunity in the coal sector for those who make proactive, strategic decisions.”
Alpha says coal’s decline began soon after the company completed a $6.7 billion acquisition of Richmond-based Massey Energy, a deal that had special significance in the industry.
In April 2010, 29 Massey workers died in an explosion at a West Virginia mine, the worst coal mining disaster in 40 years. In sharp contrast to the many safety violations found at the Massey mine, Alpha has a reputation for putting safety first and giving miners a say in improving working conditions. “Running Right” is the company motto. Alpha paid $209 million in a settlement with the Justice Department over the tragedy.
In a declaration submitted with the bankruptcy petition, Crutchfield outlined the coal industry’s downward spiral since the Massey deal. By coincidence, Alpha filed for Chapter 11 on the same day that the Environmental Protection Agency released its Clean Power Plan, setting standards to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. Crutchfield cites increasingly stringent federal regulations as a big factor in the industry’s predicament, but there are many others.
The list includes: rapidly falling coal prices caused in part by an abundance of natural gas extracted from shale; weak demand for coal because of slower than expected economic growth in the U.S. and overseas, especially China; the increasing use of renewable energy sources, often with the encouragement of government subsidies; and the “imposition of restrictive federal regulations” on coal producers and the operators of coal-fired power plants.
Crutchfield’s filing says that the price of metallurgical (or met) coal has fallen 72 percent since 2011 while thermal coal, used in electric power plants, has fallen 44 percent. The production of coal in the Central Appalachian region is down 37 percent from 2011 and 50 percent from 2008.
EPA regulations, especially new mercury and air toxin standards, the filing says, have contributed to the retirement of 400 coal-fired power plants in recent years, representing 62,000 megawatts of generating capacity. Another 468 coal-fired plants are expected to be retired in coming years.
Stronger regulations and inexpensive natural gas (down 75 percent in price since 2008) are contributing to a fundamental shift in the way power is generated in the U.S., the filing points out. In 2010, 47 percent of the domestic electricity generated in the U.S. came from coal. That portion fell to an annual share of 39 percent last year and is expected to decrease to 37.2 percent this year and to 36.6 percent in 2016. On a monthly basis, natural gas actually overtook coal as the leading source for power generation for the first time last April, with 31 percent for natural gas, a 21 percent increase from April 2014, compared with 30 percent for coal, a 19 percent decrease from 12 months before.
(Virginia Business reported in its August issue that Dominion Virginia Power, the commonwealth’s largest utility, expects 54 percent of its electricity to be generated by natural gas-fired plants by 2030, up from 30 percent last year. At the same time, the percentage of power generated by coal-fired plants will drop from 22 percent in 2014 to 15 percent in 2030.)
“The unprecedented changes facing the coal industry run deep and are occurring at a frenetic and unpredictable pace,” the filing says, but the company sees a light at the end of the tunnel. The business conditions needed “for profitable coal mining and production will ultimately materialize,” it predicts.
Seventy percent of the global steel industry depends on met coal, the filing notes, and thermal coal is expected to supply a sizeable share of electric generation for some time to come, despite the shift to natural gas and renewable energy sources.
“Following the adaptation to necessary structural changes within the industry, there will be survivors once pricing turns favorable,” and Alpha is confident it will be one of them.2015-08-28T10:00:00+00:00
Followup: EPA announces its Clean Power Plan
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/followup-epa-announces-its-clean-power-plan#When:10:00:00ZThe Environmental Protection Agency unveiled in August its Clean Power Plan, seeking reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. power plants.
While the plan made reductions more stringent overall, it relaxed requirements for Virginia power plants. Gov. Terry McAuliffe had appealed to the agency after proposals were released last year, saying that they did not take in account efforts already mounted in the commonwealth to reduce emissions.
The plan announced in August gives states more time to come up with emission reduction plans and meet initial targets.
The plan’s goal is to cut carbon emissions from power plants by 32 percent by the year 2030, compared with 2005 levels. The plan rewards states and utilities companies that promptly expand their use of wind and solar power in generating electricity.
While applauding some revisions in the plan, Dominion Virginia Power said it does not take into account that nuclear reactors generate about 40 percent of its power. Dominion Virginia Power is the state’s largest electric utility.
The Wall Street Journal reported that energy industry groups and some states are expected to challenge the plan in court.
Virginia Business reviewed the commonwealth’s changing mix of power generating sources in its August issue. The state’s utilities are moving more toward natural gas and renewable sources instead of coal-fired power plants.2015-08-28T10:00:00+00:00
Two officials named at senior living community
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/two-officials-named-at-senior-living-community#When:20:44:00ZAmber Printz has been named executive director and Doris “Dee” Grimmett appointed the resident care director at
Commonwealth Assisted Living at Front Royal.
Printz was executive director of Commonwealth Assisted Living at Farnham. She had served in a variety of positions at the Commonwealth Assisted Living at Front Royal for 13 years, including assistant executive director.
She also holds degrees in business management and business administration from Lord Fairfax Community College.
Grimmett, a Registered Nurse for 24 years, has held a number of positions in the local senior care and health sectors, including work as a staff nurse at Warren Memorial Hospital for 14 years. She has also worked at the Grafton School’s Berryville campus, home health companies, health and rehabilitation centers, and other assisted living communities. She holds a degree in nursing from Shenandoah College.
Commonwealth Assisted Living at Front Royal is one of 21 senior living communities throughout Virginia operated by Charlottesville-based Commonwealth Assisted Living.2015-08-27T20:44:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/PAULAPICAUCTION.jpg
Former home of vice president goes to the auction block
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/former-home-of-vice-president-goes-to-the-auction-block#When:20:43:00ZThe five-bedroom home once owned by former Vice President Dan Quayle and his wife Marilyn will be auctioned on Sept. 16. The event is one of several held in Virginia recently by various firms to auction off high-dollar and historic properties.
During President George H.W. Bush’s term, the Quayle family lived at 1013 Union Church Road, a 4,500-square-house located on a secluded 1.8-acre corner lot.
After Quayle purchased the house, he added a great room with glass walls and an in-ground pool.
The residence was recently listed at $1.5 million. It will be available for public bidding at a live event on the property with an opening bid of $850,000.
The home sits just over a mile off Route 7, 2.5 miles from Wolf Trap, 15 minutes from I-495 at Tysons Corner and 30 minutes from the U.S Capitol.
Interested buyers and spectators can tour the home during open houses on Saturday, Aug. 29, and Saturday, Sept. 12, from 1 to 3 p.m. To participate in the auction, buyers must bring funds for a deposit of 10 percent of the purchase price.2015-08-27T20:43:00+00:00
CBS Corp. and McLean-based Tegna renew station affiliate agreements
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/cbs-corp.-and-mclean-based-tegna-renew-station-affiliate-agreements#When:19:48:00ZCBS Corp. and McLean-based Tegna Inc. have announced a deal renewing station affiliation agreements for 10 markets nationwide.
The new deal includes Tegna’s participation in CBS All Access, the company’s video streaming service.
Financial details on the agreements were not announced.
“This agreement will benefit both companies in the near and long-term,” Dave Lougee, the president of Tegna Media, said in a statement.
The agreement includes renewals for Tegna-owned CBS affiliates: WUSA in Washington, D.C.; WTSP in Tampa, Fla.; WFMY in Greensboro, N.C.; KTHV in Little Rock, Ark.; WLTX in Columbia, S.C.; WMAZ in Macon, Ga.; KREM in Spokane, Wash.; KHOU in Houston; KENS in San Antonio; and WWL in New Orleans.
Tegna Media includes 46 television stations. It is the largest independent station group of major network affiliates in the top 25 markets, reaching approximately one-third of all television households nationwide.2015-08-27T19:48:00+00:00
Reston-based Synthos Technologies changes its name
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/reston-based-synthos-technologies-changes-its-name#When:19:09:00ZReston-based Synthos Technologies, a division of Qbase LLC, is rebranding both the division and its product offerings under a single brand.
Synthos has become Finch Computing, and the company's products will carry the names FinchDB, Finch for Text and Finch Analyst.
"In an effort to simplify and streamline our product portfolio, we are bringing our new and legacy products under one umbrella," Finch Computing CEO, Steve Baldwin, said in a statement.
Baldwin said that “Finch” in the new name combines the beginning of the word “find” and the end of the word “search.”
Combined with “Computing,” the name “represents our commitment to delivering software solutions that allow customers to interact with information in entirely new ways; to find meaning and insight from data like never before,” he said.
Finch products include:
• FinchDB, an in-memory computing platform with embedded analytics.
• Finch for Text, an entity extraction and disambiguation engine that reads free-form text as a human would.
• Finch Analyst, a customizable, end-to-end data discovery solution.
Qbase is based in Beavercreek, Ohio.2015-08-27T19:09:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Untitled.png
Pizza Hut to expand in Virginia with three new locations
Over the next year, Pizza Hut plans to open new restaurants in Charlottesville, Orange and Harrisonburg, creating more than 90 new jobs.
Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer, which spearheaded lease negotiations for the three spaces, announced the expansion Thursday.
The new locations include: 2,400 square feet of space in The Orange Town Center, 12393 James Madison Highway in Orange; 3,519 square feet at 1001 W. Main St. in Charlottesville, and 1,940 square feet at 1550 E. Market Street in Harrisonburg.
MUY Pizza Southeast LLC, a franchisee of Pizza Hut, Inc., will operate the new restaurants. The first store is expected to open in spring of 2016.2015-08-27T18:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/paulapicroanoke.jpg
Binswanger named exclusive agent for Roanoke County building that now houses Home Shopping Network
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/binswanger-named-exclusive-agent-for-roanoke-county-building-that-now-house#When:17:49:00ZBlue Ridge Partners LLC has named Binswanger, a Philadelphia-based real estate firm, as the exclusive agent for the sale or lease of a 359,125-square-foot industrial facility on 28 acres in Roanoke County that now houses a Home Shopping Network Distribution Center.
The property, located at One Avery Row, includes a 28,433-square-foot, second-story office space. Constructed in 1990 and 2000, the facility has overhead dock-high doors and parking for 450 cars.
It’s located about five miles east of Interstate 81 via a four-lane 220 connector and sits adjacent to four-lane U. S. 460, which travels between Roanoke and Lynchburg.
Binswanger, an international full-service real estate organization with offices throughout the U.S., Canada, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, said it is aggressively marketing the property to national and international prospects.
Florida-based retailer HSN, which leases the facility, said in June that it planned to close the order fulfillment facility in Roanoke and move the operations to Piney Flats, Tenn.
The facility employs about 350 people. HSN said it couldn’t accommodate the expanding needs of the home shopping distribution network or its plans for automation. The closure is expected to be conducted in phases, beginning in April 2016.2015-08-27T17:49:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/image003.jpeg
Department of Homeland Security renews 120,000-square-foot lease in Arlington
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/department-of-homeland-security-renews-120000-square-foot-lease-in-arlingto#When:17:42:00ZThe U.S. General Services Administration, on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security’s National Protection and Programs Directorate, has renewed a 120,435-square-foot lease at Two Ballston Plaza in Arlington.
That’s just more than half of the space in the 234,000-square-foot, Class A office building at 1110 North Glebe Road. Colliers International Government Solutions team represented the landlord, Brookfield Property Partners.
The National Protection and Programs Directorate focuses on the department’s mission of risk-reduction. NPPD works with government and the private and non-private sectors to share information that secures cyber and physical infrastructure.
Colliers Government Solutions is a services platform focused on government real estate. The platform consists of six services: real estate: leasing, investment sales, property management, project management, appraisal and tax appeal.2015-08-27T17:42:00+00:00
Young Virginia journalists mourned throughout the world
The sun is coming up now, just about a minute later than it did yesterday. And about this time yesterday, Alison Parker and Adam Ward were sending a live shot of an interview with Vicki Gardner, executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, back to the control room at WDBJ in Roanoke, where Ward’s fiancée was monitoring the feed.
Gardner was talking about tourism and the 50th anniversary of Smith Mountain Lake’s creation. As Parker smiled and Gardner talked, gunshots exploded just off camera. Parker screamed and ran. Ward fell, the last bit of video he shot catching the gunman in the edge of the frame. Viewers saw it live with their morning coffee.
As much of the world knows by now, Vester Lee Flanagan II, who went by the name Bryce Williams when he reported for WDBJ, waited for the on-air interview to begin, then shot and killed his former co-workers. He shot Gardner, too, though she apparently wasn’t intended to be a victim.
As much of the world knows by now, Flanagan filmed the shooting and posted it on Facebook. He sent what’s been reported as a 23-page fax to ABC News, praising mass murders and claiming he was acting in revenge for the killing of nine people in a Charleston, S.C., church and for insults he felt he’d suffered. All kinds of media reported Flanagan’s claim that the accumulation had turned him into a human powder keg. Yesterday, that keg exploded, killing Parker and Ward, wounding Gardner and, eventually, killing Flanagan himself.
The shooting and the chase that ended with Flanagan’s capture and then his death took over the news cycle. People who watched the abomination live – and others who followed the events throughout the day – spread news and rumors and sympathy through social media. They shared – and then argued about the sharing of – the killer’s video. They posted tributes and photos and calls for prayers. In the real world, people came to the station with food and flowers and a desire to somehow comfort the suffering and express their own grief.
Matthew Teague, writing in The Guardian, described it well. “When Flanagan shot through the barrier that separates news and consumers, it ruptured in both directions,” he wrote. “The killings turned regular people into broadcasters, but it also made broadcasters into regular people.”
If they hadn’t before, people realized Parker and Ward were more than journalists, more than television personalities. They were two young people with plans and dreams and families. Ward was engaged to that producer who saw his death as it happened. Parker was in love with an anchor at the station. He appeared on national newscasts beside her father, who pledged to make his daughter’s legacy his drive to keep guns out of the hands of crazy people.
Throughout the day and night and into this morning, Parker and Ward’s colleagues reported the story of a former co-worker killing two co-workers and friends. For people who’ve never been part of a small newsroom – particularly a small newsroom full of young journalists, young people, full of zeal and ambition – it may be difficult to understand the closeness of that kind of group.
So it’s difficult to explain how impressive Parker and Ward’s colleagues have been though all this. They’re clearly suffering and grieving, but they’re also doing their jobs well and professionally. That’s a powerful tribute not only to the people who’ve worked at WDBJ during this tragedy, but also to Parker and Ward and to the careers and the lives they’ll never have.
Tim Thornton is the editor of Roanoke Business.2015-08-27T13:58:00+00:00
Huntington Ingalls Industries names corporate vice president
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/huntington-ingalls-industries-names-corporate-vice-president1#When:20:44:00ZNewport News-based Huntington Ingalls Industries has promoted Karen Velkey to corporate vice president, benefits and compensation. She reports to Corporate Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Bill Ermatinger.
In her new position, Velkey has responsibility for formulating and maintaining competitive benefit and compensation programs for HII,including executive compensation, salary and wage administration,incentives, deferred compensation, health and welfare insurance, and retirement benefits.
Velkey joined HII in April 2011 and has more than 20 years of experience in human resources. She most recently served as director,corporate compensation.
She holds a bachelor's degree from Millsaps College and an MBA from the University of Montana.2015-08-26T20:44:00+00:00
Sheetz adds Stuarts Draft location
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/sheetz-adds-stuarts-draft-location#When:20:21:00ZSheetz has announced it is opening a new location in Stuarts Draft on Thursday. The convenience store is expected to employ 30 full and part-time employees.
Sheetz said it will hold a grand opening celebration Thursday at 11. a.m. at the store at 2870 Stuarts Draft Highway.
The new Sheetz will include made-to-order food, a 24/7 drive through and drink menu.
Sheetz had $6.9 billion in revenue in 2014. The company has more than 16,000 employees and operates more than 500 locations in six states.2015-08-26T20:21:00+00:00
Washington area drivers are stuck in traffic 82 hours a year
Two workweeks stuck in traffic. A new report by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) finds that drivers in the Washington, D.C., area face annual congestion delays of 82 hours in comparison to 67 hours in 2013.
“Washington, D.C., tops the list of gridlock-plagued cities, with 82 hours of delay per commuter, followed by Los Angeles (80 hours), San Francisco (78 hours), New York (74 hours), and San Jose (67 hours),” according to TTI’s 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard.
In 2011, the TTI ranked the Washington metro area as first in the nation in terms of suffering from the worst traffic congestion from coast to coast. Back then, the average driver was stuck in traffic for 74 hours.
“Year after year, the Washington area reigns as the worst area in the nation for congestion,” John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s manager of public and government affairs, said in a statement. “We are actually losing ground, despite billions of dollars in transportation projections, including the Springfield Mixing Bowl or interchange (costing $676 million), the new Wilson Bridge (costing $2.357 billion), the ICC (costing $2.56 billion), the 395 Express Lanes (costing $1.4 billion), the 95 Express Lanes (costing $925 million), and the Silver Line (costing $3.14 billion for the first phase only).
“We are now losing two entire workweeks, $1,834 and 32 gallons of fuel annually due to congestion as compared to 15 fewer hours in 2013. The nation is driving at historic levels thanks to an improving economy and low gas prices.”
The TTI’s study says congestion has become so bad in major urban areas “that drivers have to plan more than twice as much travel time as they would need to arrive on time in light traffic just to account for the effects of irregular delays such as bad weather, collisions, and construction zones.”
The 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard also reports that congestion costs in the Washington metro area have increased to $1,834 per auto commuter, up from $1,398 in 2013.
The average area driver in the Washington metro area also wastes 35 gallons of gasoline each year in traffic delays, up from 32 gallons in 2013.
As for what causes all the traffic, as of July 1, 2014, there were 3.9 million registered vehicles in the metro area of Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia, an increase of 2.9 percent over 2011, according to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.
While other parts of the country lost population during the economic downturn, the 2010 Census showed the area gained 30,000 people. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, D.C.’s daytime population increases by nearly 80 percent.
The region is also home to mega commuters with 27.4 percent of District workers traveling more than 60 minutes to get to their jobs, reports the Census Bureau.
Overall in 2014, congestion caused urban Americans to travel an extra 6.9 billion hours and purchase an extra 3.1 billion gallons of fuel for a congestion cost of $160 billion, the report said. Trucks account for $28 billion (17 percent) of that cost, much more than their 7 percent share of traffic,” notes the TTI.
Even so, “From 2013 to 2014, 95 of America’s 100 largest metro areas saw increased congestion, from 2012 to 2013 only 61 cities experienced increases,” warns the TTI.
And things are expected to get worse with lower gasoline prices pushing up U. S. driving.
In June 2015 alone, Virginia motorists racked up 7.2 billion miles on their odometers, compared to 7 billion last June, comprising a 1.6 percent increase, according to Vehicle Miles of Travel (VMT) estimates by the Federal Highway Administration.2015-08-26T19:54:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Waterside-Live%21_RenderingSMALL3.jpg
Norfolk breaks ground on new Waterside project
Public officials, representatives from the Baltimore-based Cordish Cos. and the curious turned out Wednesday for a long awaited groundbreaking on a $40 million renovation of Norfolk’s Waterside, a city-owned waterfront mall.
About 200 people attended the 11:30 a.m. ceremony on Waterside Drive. Cordish Cos. officials have spelled out their new vision for the site: a family friendly destination for restaurants and entertainment.
Based on feedback from the community, the developer decided to keep Waterside in the project’s new name. It is among several major projects, including The Main Hilton Hotel and Conference Center, scheduled to open in early 2017, changing the skyline of the port city.
The groundbreaking comes two years after the development’s approval.
“Norfolk is moving forward to become one of the most dynamic and authentic urban waterfront communities in America,” Mayor Paul D. Fraim, said in a statement. “Major projects are developing that will diversify our economy and bring hundreds of jobs to our residents. We are delivering 21st century learning environments to our children, investing in small business growth, and creating innovative and visionary methods for land use and water management. All of this is part of what cities should do to become resilient and sustainable. We are excited about what our future holds.”
Cordish officials announced the project’s new name on Aug. 17. At that time, they said, the “annex” building added to the project in the 1990s would be demolished, returning the building to its original footprint and creating a future site for an expansion of the new Waterside District site.
Blake Cordish, vice president of The Cordish Cos., said in a statement, “We are extremely honored to have the opportunity to bring Waterside back to life, and transform it into a vibrant regional destination that will be a source of pride for the community.”2015-08-26T17:59:00+00:00
Fahrenheit hires COO
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/fahrenheit-hires-coo#When:08:41:00ZThe Fahrenheit Group, a full-service advisory firm headquartered in Richmond, has hired Michelle Cann as chief operating officer.
In the new position for the firm, Cann will be responsible for operations of the firm, including coordination across its practice areas. She also will have a leadership role with the firm's fractional finance and accounting practice and provide technical and project support to finance and advisory initiatives.
Cann previously was a partner, internal relations at Gallagher, Flynn and Co. LLP, a 70-employee CPA firm located in South Burlington, Vermont.
Vonage to acquire McLean-based iCore for $92 million
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/vonage-to-acquire-mclean-based-icore-for-92-million#When:21:43:00ZNew Jersey-based Vonage Holdings Corp., a major provider of cloud communications services, has agreed to acquire privately-held iCore Networks, Inc. for $92 million.
McLean-based iCore is a provider of unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) for businesses.
“This acquisition will deepen our penetration at the higher end of the business market and further strengthen our industry leadership,” Alan Masarek, Vonage CEO said in a statement. “iCore has a proven track record of delivering the innovative UCaaS solutions required by mid- market and enterprise companies, and has been particularly successful combining hosted communications with complementary cloud services to create a robust unified communications experience.”
The Virginia company sells its solutions primarily through its large, direct field sales force. It supports more than 85,000 customer seats, and derives more than 60 percent of its revenue from customers with 100 or more seats.
Vonnage said iCore offers a broad range of voice, video, mobile and collaboration services to address the evolving needs of businesses.
Under the terms of the merger agreement, which has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of Vonage and iCore, shareholders of iCore will receive $92 million in cash, subject to customary closing adjustments.
The purchase price represents approximately 1.3 times estimated 2015 iCore revenues. The transaction is expected to close by the end of the third quarter, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals.
Given the similarities of the businesses and their common technology, Vonage expects to achieve cost savings in network operations, technology used to service customers and various operating expenses. Annual recurring cost synergies are expected to exceed $5 million in 2016.
Vonage is updating its 2015 revenue guidance to include the impact of the iCore acquisition. Vonage expects total 2015 revenue to be in the range of $885 million to $892 million. This revenue guidance assumes that the transaction closes by Sept. 30 and excludes iCore’s deferred revenue due to purchase accounting rules.2015-08-25T21:43:00+00:00
Gannett, Ancestry.com to digitally archive more than 80 U.S. newspapers
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/gannett-ancestry.com-to-digitally-archive-more-than-80-u.s.-newspapers#When:21:43:00ZMcLean-based Gannett Co. Inc. has teamed up with Ancestry.com to digitize more than 80 daily newspapers across the nation.
Gannett and Newspapers.com, one of Ancestry’s websites, expect to deliver more than 100 million images of newspapers in an online archive through each newspaper’s website and app.
“We’re thrilled to partner with Gannett to deliver newspapers from the past directly to subscribers’ devices, allowing them to step back in time and experience the news as it was happening on that day, from new babies and marriages to war updates and other major news events,” Brent Carter, senior director of business development at Newspapers.com, said in a statement.
Through this collaboration, more than 4 million pages of The Cincinnati Enquirer are available online. Newspapers.com and Gannett plan to start rolling out the other archives.
Gannett digital subscribers will have access to the most recent two years of content included in full-access subscriptions. Complete archives will be available to everyone with an monthly or annual subscription.
Ancestry.com is an online family history resource with more than 2 million subscribers across all its websites.
Gannett Co. Inc. is a media company whose publications include USA Today, Detroit Free Press and The Tennessean.2015-08-25T21:43:00+00:00
Commonwealth formally transfers Fort Monroe land to National Park Service
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/commonwealth-formally-transfers-fort-monroe-land-to-national-park-service#When:21:35:00ZGov. Terry McAuliffe on Tuesday signed a deed that transfers land at Fort Monroe from the commonwealth to the National Park Service, one step in a process under which the fort will become a national monument.
The deed was signed in a public ceremony at the fort’s main gate by McAuliffe and Peggy O’Dell, the deputy director of the National Park Service. The document legally finalizes the transfer of land at Fort Monroe to the park service.
The land transfer preserves a group of significant landmarks at Fort Monroe. Robert E. Lee lived at the fort and helped design and construct the stone fortification. Jefferson Davis was imprisoned in a fort casemate after the Civil War. Harriet Tubman also spent time at the fort, and Edgar Allen Poe was stationed there as a young soldier.
The fort also tells the significant story of the beginning and the end of slavery in the U.S. In the 1600s, a ship bearing the first African slaves to the Virginia colony arrived at Old Point Comfort.
Early in the Civil War, three men — Frank Baker, James Townsend and Sheppard Mallory — escaped enslavement and rowed a skiff to Union-held Fort Monroe to seek asylum. Union Gen. Benjamin Butler declared the men "contraband of war." The event inspired tens of thousands of slaves throughout the South to seek freedom during the war by crossing Union lines.2015-08-25T21:35:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Monument-Corporate-Center-CoStarWEB1.jpg
Henrico County office building sells for $1.4 million
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/henrico-county-office-building-sells-for-1.4-million#When:17:25:00ZBuckhill Partners LLC purchased a 15,000-square-foot office building within the Monument Corporate Center in Henrico County from Blue Chip Properties LLC for $1.4 million.
According to Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer, which brokered the sale of 5000 Monument Avenue, the new buyer bought it as an investment.
Thalhimer’s James Ashby IV handled sale negotiations on behalf of the buyer.2015-08-25T17:25:00+00:00
Dennis R. Irvin joins board of Richmond-based Allegiancy in advisory role.
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/dennis-r.-irvin-joins-board-of-richmond-based-allegiancy-in-advisory-role#When:20:36:00ZAllegiancy, a Richmond-based commercial real estate asset management firm with a billion-dollar portfolio, announced Monday the appointment of Dennis R. Irvin as an advisory member to its board. Irvin is the former president and CEO of Rockefeller Group Investment Management in New York City.
His appointment comes during an expansion of Allegiancy’s operations to include a $30 million capital raise from investors under new Reg A+ rules adopted in June by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Allegiancy said it expects to be among the first firms in the U.S. to use the new regulations to raise capital that the company will use to double a 19-member staff and expand assets under management to $5 billion.
“Allegiancy is thrilled to announce that Dennis Irvin has joined our board in an advisory role,” Allegiancy CEO Steve Sadler said in a statement. “Dennis is an internationally recognized commercial real estate leader with an unparalleled track record of delivering outstanding returns to investors.”
Irvin joins Allegiancy after more than seven years leading Rockefeller Group Investment Management where he oversaw the company’s global investment management activities. Since 2011, RGIM has acquired ownership interests in more than 1.3 million square feet of class-A office properties in U.S. gateway markets including Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Boston.
In addition to the $30 million capital raise, Allegiancy’s expansion has included the June 1 acquisition of TriStone Realty Management, based in Houston, that increased the commercial real estate portfolio under the firm’s management to $1 billion.2015-08-24T20:36:00+00:00
JBG Cos. gets $145 million to refinance two-hotel portfolio in Arlington
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/jbg-cos.-gets-145-million-to-refinance-two-hotel-portfolio-in-arlington#When:20:05:00ZMesa West Capital and AEW Capital Management said Monday that they provided the JBG Cos. with $145 million in debt to refinance a two-hotel portfolio in the Potomac Yard neighborhood of Arlington.
Mesa West, a Los Angeles-headquartered portfolio lender, originated the financing at its New York office, providing the first mortgage for the transaction, while Boston-based AEW provided mezzanine debt. Both loans closed simultaneously.
The JBG Cos., a private real estate investment and development firm in the Washington, D.C., area, developed the 300-room Renaissance Arlington Capital View and 325-suite, extended-stay Residence Inn Arlington Capital View in 2011.
The properties are connected and share amenities, including the Italian restaurant SOCCi, a health club and heated indoor pool, and more than 20,000 square-feet of combined meeting space.
The hotels are located in Crystal City’s dining and business district and are close to the Potomac Yard development, Reagan National Airport and downtown D.C.
“Since opening, both hotels have performed extremely well against the competition, which is a testament to the quality of the product,” Mesa West Capital Assistant Vice President Daniel Tanner said in a statement. “The properties performed well despite being delivered into a tough environment, and our loan will allow them to continue to improve their performance as the market strengthens.”
Mesa West’s nonrecourse, floating-rate, interest only loan features an initial term of three years with extension options.
Since the beginning of the year, Mesa West said it has deployed more than $300 million in first mortgage debt in the Washington, D.C., area.2015-08-24T20:05:00+00:00
Two Virginia cities named to Redfin’s ‘Most Walkable Mid-Sized Cities’ list
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/two-virginia-cities-named-to-redfins-most-walkable-mid-sized-cities-list#When:19:48:00ZRedfin, an online real estate brokerage, has named Arlington and Richmond to its list of Top 10 Most Walkable Mid-Sized Cities.
Arlington ranked No. 3 on the list, while Richmond was No. 9. The most walkable mid-sized city according to Redfin was Jersey City, N.J., which had a Walk Score of 84.4.
To calculate the rankings, Walk Score (a Redfin-affiliated company) ranked mid-sized cities with populations between 200,000 and 300,000. The ranking looked at factors like walking routes, pedestrian-friendliness, population and neighborhood data.
Arlington received a score of 67.1 on Redfin’s list, with Ballston being hailed as the most walkable area of Arlington. “While the D.C. area is notorious for traffic, communities like Arlington are wonderful for buyers who want the ‘live, work, play’ lifestyle,” Jim Sandidge, a Redfin agent in Arlington, said on a write-up on the county’s walkability on Redfin’s website.
Richmond’s Walk Score was 49.2. The city was highlighted for the walkability of neighborhoods like Carytown and The Fan and places like Monroe Ward, Jackson Ward and Shockoe Bottom, which are drawing new residents.2015-08-24T19:48:00+00:00
State program helping defense contractors to be continued
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/state-program-helping-defense-contractors-to-be-continued#When:19:07:00ZThe commonwealth will continue a program aimed at helping Virginia defense contractors find new markets for their products and services.
The Going Global Defense Initiative (GGDI), run by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, has received $1.8 million in grant funding for a third year of operation. The GGDI was created to mitigate the negative effects of defense spending cuts on Virginia’s economy.
“As federal budget cuts and sequestration continue to hamper Virginia’s economy, the Going Global Defense Initiative is a vital tool to help Virginia’s defense companies offset the loss of defense revenue,” Gov. Terry McAuliffe said in a statement. “The GGDI, which is the first program of its kind in the U.S., helps Virginia defense companies diversify their revenue streams by identifying new business in international markets.”
Virginia leads the nation in federal defense contracts and is home to about 5,000 defense-related companies.
Facing Department of Defense cuts of more than $300 billion in the next five-plus years, Virginia stands to lose many high-paying jobs.
In its first two years, more than 250 companies participated in GGDI program. More than 100 participants travelled to an international market in pursuit of new business.
Virginia’s support of the GGDI is made possible by McAuliffe’s funding of the Virginia International Trade Alliance (VITAL), announced last month. VITAL’s goals are to increase Virginia’s exports by $1.6 billion and to create 14,000 trade-supported jobs during the next 5 years.
The GGDI generates international sales for Virginia’s defense companies by providing:
• Research on international markets.
• Export compliance.
• Digital localization.
• Technical translation and adaptation.
• Events with U.S. Combatant Commands and partner nations.
• Export training.
• An online portal of GGDI resources.
• Going Global training courses.2015-08-24T19:07:00+00:00
State program helping defense contractors to be continued
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/state-program-helping-defense-contractors-to-be-continued#When:19:02:00ZThe commonwealth will continue a program aimed at helping Virginia defense contractors find new markets for their products and services.
The Going Global Defense Initiative (GGDI), run by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, has received $1.8 million in grant funding for a third year of operation. The GGDI was created to mitigate the negative effects of defense spending cuts on Virginia’s economy.
“As federal budget cuts and sequestration continue to hamper Virginia’s economy, the Going Global Defense Initiative is a vital tool to help Virginia’s defense companies offset the loss of defense revenue,” Gov. Terry McAuliffe said in a statement. “The GGDI, which is the first program of its kind in the U.S., helps Virginia defense companies diversify their revenue streams by identifying new business in international markets.”
Virginia leads the nation in federal defense contracts and is home to about 5,000 defense-related companies.
Facing Department of Defense cuts of more than $300 billion in the next five-plus years, Virginia stands to lose many high-paying jobs.
In its first two years, more than 250 companies participated in GGDI program. More than 100 participants travelled to an international market in pursuit of new business.
Virginia’s support of the GGDI is made possible by McAuliffe’s funding of the Virginia International Trade Alliance (VITAL), announced last month. VITAL’s goals are to increase Virginia’s exports by $1.6 billion and to create 14,000 trade-supported jobs during the next 5 years.
The GGDI generates international sales for Virginia’s defense companies by providing:
• Research on international markets.
• Export compliance.
• Digital localization.
• Technical translation and adaptation.
• Events with U.S. Combatant Commands and partner nations.
• Export training.
• An online portal of GGDI resources.
• Going Global training courses.2015-08-24T19:02:00+00:00
Richmond lawyer re-elected to solar energy group board
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/richmond-lawyer-re-elected-to-solar-energy-group-board#When:18:43:00ZEric W. Hurlocker, co-managing partner of the Richmond-based GreeneHurlocker law firm, has been elected to a second term on the board of the Maryland, District of Columbia and Virginia Solar Energy Industry Association (MDV-SEIA).
Hurlocker joined the MDV-SEIA board of directors in 2013 and also serves as general counsel to the association. His work for the MDV-SEIA Board includes identifying and addressing issues in Virginia and the other states served by MDV-SEIA that may affect solar and other renewable power development.
MDV-SEIA members design, sell, integrate, install, maintain and finance solar energy equipment for residential, commercial and institutional customers throughout the region. The membership includes accountants, attorneys, builders, architects, electricians, plumbers and consultants that support solar industries.2015-08-24T18:43:00+00:00
Hunton & Williams partner leads national taxation group
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/hunton-williams-partner-leads-national-taxation-group#When:18:40:00ZGeorge C. Howell III, a partner with Hunton & Williams LLP in Richmond, has begun a one-year term as chair of the American Bar Association’s Section of Taxation.
With a membership of 19,000 lawyers, the Section of Taxation is the nation’s largest professional association of tax lawyers.
Howell, who is head of Hunton’s tax and employee benefits practice, will lead the section through August 2016.
Howell’s practice focuses on the tax aspects of REITs, REMICs, securitizations, master limited partnerships, private investment funds, and other financial products and transactions.2015-08-24T18:40:00+00:00
Economic impact of Civil War anniversary events estimated at $290 million
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/economic-impact-of-civil-war-anniversary-events-estimated-at-290-million#When:16:06:00ZVirginia’s observance of the Civil War’s 150th anniversary had an economic impact of $290 million, according to study released on Monday.
The economic impact study conducted by Richmond-based Chmura Economics & Analytics found that sesquicentennial events and programs brought 3.7 million people to Virginia, generating $8.4 million in state tax revenue and nearly $5 million in local tax revenue.
The report estimates the total economic impact of Civil War programs and events, including commemoration expenditures and visitor spending, was $290.3 million, an amount that supported 3,488 jobs.
Visitors’ direct spending at anniversary events is estimated at $165.7 million.
The study was requested by the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission, headed by Speaker of the House of Delegates William J. Howell.
The General Assembly created the commission in 2006 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, which occurred from 2011 through this year.2015-08-24T16:06:00+00:00
Partnership acquires five-story office building in Ballston
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/partnership-acquires-five-story-office-building-in-ballston#When:15:36:00ZWashington Capitol Partners LLC, Kettler Inc. and JB Properties, an affiliate of Bognet Construction, have acquired a recently renovated class A office building in the Ballston submarket of Arlington. The seller was the JBG Cos., and the purchase price was not disclosed.
The five-story, 57,496-square-foot office building at 4420 N. Fairfax Drive is located on Ballston’s main corridor, two blocks from the existing Ballston Metro Station. When construction on a new entrance to the station begins in 2017, the western entrance will be located adjacent to the building.
According to a statement from the companies, the building is 98 percent leased. The property underwent extensive renovations totaling $3 million in 2010 and has the potential for future mixed-used development.
“The acquisition of 4420 N. Fairfax Drive represents an exceptional opportunity for Kettler,” Robert C. Kettler, the company’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “The redevelopment opportunities for this asset are immense, and we’re excited to have had the opportunity to work with Washington Capitol Partners on this joint venture.”
Washington Capitol Partners is real estate investment firm with a portfolio of properties including core office, warehouse/industrial and retail assets located in and around the Washington, D. C. area. The purchase is the company’s third acquisition in the area in the past six months.
Kettler and Kettler Management are owners, operators, and developers of apartments, condominiums and mixed-use projects throughout the Washington, D.C., area and surrounding mid-Atlantic region. The company’s headquarters are located at Tysons. Kettler focuses on urban and suburban revitalization with an emphasis on transit-oriented and mixed-use development. The company’s development pipeline includes 12 projects totaling nearly 4,300 units. Kettler Management manages more than 28,000 apartments for Kettler and third-party clients from New York to North Carolina.
JB Properties LLC is Bognet’s real estate acquisition and asset management organization and is an affiliate of Bognet Construction. The purchase represents Bognet's third area acquisition in the past six months.2015-08-24T15:36:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Wheeler_1.jpg
Wheeler Real Estate Investment Trust acquires three North Carolina properties for $15.3 million
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/wheeler-real-estate-investment-trust-acquires-three-north-carolina-properti#When:15:09:00ZVirginia Beach-based Wheeler Real Estate Investment Trust Inc. said Monday that the company has acquired three North Carolina retail centers from a family-owned group.
The grocery-anchored properties total 171,466 square feet. The deal involved a combination of cash and debt for a combined acquisition value of $15.3 million, or $89.38 per square foot.
The transaction expands Wheeler’s footprint in North Carolina. The REIT acquires and manages income-producing retail properties with a primary focus on grocery-anchored centers.
“We believe these properties have upside potential as a result of the efforts of our experienced leasing and management teams. Each location is leased by national tenants that we have long-standing business relationships with, such as Food Lion and Family Dollar. We expect the properties to be immediately accretive to the company’s earnings,” Jon S. Wheeler, the company’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement.
According to Wheeler, the occupancy for the combined properties is 91 percent. The deal boosts the total of Wheeler-owned retail shopping centers to 41.
The new properties are:
Cardinal Plaza — The 50,000 square-foot center in Henderson, N.C., was built in 2000. The property is 84 percent leased, and key tenants include Food Lion and Family Dollar. The company purchased the property from Cardinal Plaza LLC. The acquisition value was about $4.4 million, or $88 per leasable square foot.
Franklinton Square —The center, which opened in 1999, is a 65,336-square-foot center in Franklinton, N.C. The property is 88 percent leased, and key tenants again include Food Lion and Family Dollar. The company purchased the property from Franklinton Square LLC. The acquisition value was about $5 million, or $76.87 per leasable square foot.
Nashville Commons — The 56,100-square-foot center, built in 1998, is located in Nashville, N.C. The property is 100 percent leased, with Food Lion as an anchor tenant Wheeler purchased the property from Nashville Commons Square LLC. The acquisition value was about $5.9 million, or $105.17 per leasable square foot.2015-08-24T15:09:00+00:00
Land sold for multi-family development in Chesterfield County
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/land-sold-for-multi-family-development-in-chesterfield-county#When:15:00:00ZCushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer has announced the sale of about eight acres of land along Iron Bridge Parkway in Chesterfield County. Ironbridge Road Apartments Va. LLC purchased the land from Ironbridge Corner LC for $920,000 with plans for a future multifamily development.
According to Thalhimer, the multi-family property is part of Ironbridge Corner, a mixed-use commercial and residential project developed by Thalhimer Realty Partners, Inc.
Jeff Cooke and Isaac DeRegibus of Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer handled sale negotiations on behalf of the seller.
In another retail sale for Thalhimer in Chesterfield, Milkin Family Investments purchased an 11,000-square-foot freestanding retail property from 8013 LC for $1.16 million as an investment.
Thalhimer’s Michael A. Shaia handled sale negotiations on behalf of the seller.2015-08-24T15:00:00+00:00
Two Virginia regions picked for economic initiative
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/two-virginia-regions-picked-for-economic-initiative#When:21:21:00ZTwo Virginia regions, Eastern Shore and Mount Rogers Planning District, have been picked for a program aimed at improving their economies.
The Stronger Economies Together (SET) initiative is expected to explore the economic advantages of each region and help them formulate economic blueprints.
Partners in the program include Virginia’s U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development office, the Virginia Cooperative Extension, the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development and the Virginia Tech Department of Agriculture and Applied Economics
“The regions' economic blueprints will strategically build on the current and emerging economic strengths," Basil Gooden, state director of USDA Rural Development for Virginia, said in a statement. "Both Virginia regions have tremendous potential for economic growth. The SET planning process will facilitate key discussions resulting in a high-quality economic plan that works in partnership with the great natural resources of both areas."
The Eastern Shore includes Accomack and Northampton counties and Tangier Island. The Mount Rogers Planning District is made up of Bland, Carroll, Grayson, Smyth, Washington, and Wythe counties and the cities of Bristol and Galax.
The Eastern Shore and the Mount Rogers Planning District were selected from among seven regions that submitted applications earlier this year. They will join 21 other regions across 13 states that were selected for SET in 2015.
Begun in 2010, SET is now in place in more than 70 regions in 31 states. The program is intended to help strengthen the capacity of communities and counties in rural America to work together to develop and implement an economic development blueprint.2015-08-21T21:21:00+00:00
FreightCar America reaches $32.8 million settlement with union
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/freightcar-america-reaches-32.8-million-settlement-with-union#When:20:09:00ZChicago-based FreightCar America Inc. has agreed to pay $32.8 million to settle a lawsuit over the termination of retiree medical coverage and life insurance benefits.
The company, which has operations in Roanoke, makes, leases and repairs railroad freight cars.
The company said Friday that it has reached a preliminary agreement to settle a lawsuit filed by the United Steelworkers International Union and other plaintiffs. The deal is subject to court approval, which is expected to take place in early 2016.
“We are pleased to have reached this preliminary settlement, which will allow us to put this matter behind us and keep us focused on the continued execution of our strategic priorities, including railcar diversification and further productivity improvements across the organization,” Joe McNeely, the company’s president and CEO, said in a statement.
The steelworkers union said the lawsuit was scheduled to go to trial next week in Johnstown, Pa. The union said that the company will contribute more than $31 million to a fund to provide ongoing contributions toward insurance benefits. The settlement is expected to affect 650 retirees.
After the settlement, FreightCar America expects to realize an after-tax gain of approximately $11 million, based on associated recorded liabilities of approximately $67 million on June 30.
In addition to Chicago and Roanoke, the company has facilities in Alabama, Illinois, Nebraska and Pennsylvania.2015-08-21T20:09:00+00:00
Virginia unemployment fell in July
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-unemployment-fell-in-july#When:18:26:00ZVirginia’s unemployment rate fell one-tenth of a percentage point in July to 4.8 percent.
The Virginia Employment Commission released the seasonally adjusted jobless figure on Friday, noting that rate was three-tenths of a percentage point higher in July 2014. The national unemployment rate in July was 5.3 percent.
Seasonally adjusted unemployment numbers take into account the seasonal fluctuations in the labor market.
The VEC reported that Virginia’s labor force, household employment and number of unemployed declined in July for the second consecutive month. The labor force had expanded during the first five months of the year.
Virginia’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment in July fell by 2,500 jobs, less than 0.1 percent, to 3.8 million. The slight decrease flowed three consecutive months of increases totaling 34,000 jobs.
June’s initially reported jobs gain of 13,400 jobs was revised downward to 8,900 jobs in Friday’s report.
Employment increased in six major industry divisions in July, decreased in four and remained unchanged in construction at 187,100 jobs.
The largest jobs increase occurred in the total government category, up 2,800 jobs to 709,700.
The biggest decrease took place in leisure and hospitality, down 4,100 jobs to 373,100.2015-08-21T18:26:00+00:00
CCALS and Port of Virginia to partner to improve efficiencies
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/ccals-and-port-of-virginia-to-partner-to-improve-efficiencies#When:08:45:00ZThe Commonwealth for Advanced Logistics System (CCALS) and the Port of Virginia are joining together on a research project to find operational efficiencies.
Under the agreement, a CCALS researcher will be located at the port this fall and will first focus on vessel berthing and scheduling processes. Additional projects are expected.
“The Port of Virginia is one of the few East Coast ports ready today to handle larger vessels expected to utilize the newly expanded Panama Canal,” John F. Reinhart, CEO and executive director for the Virginia Port Authority, said in a statement. “As such, we expect a significant increase in traffic and volume. In order to meet these demands now and in the future, we have to pursue every avenue to operate our terminals as efficiently, effectively, and as safely as possible. Connecting with the knowledge-base and experience at CCALS is an innovative solution that will help steer our efforts to further refine our berthing and scheduling processes.”
CCALS’ recent initiatives include a renewable energy evaluation for government consulting firm LMI and an aviation biofuel supply chain study for the Center for Innovative Technology.2015-08-21T08:45:00+00:00
Opower named to Fortune’s ‘Change the World’ list
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/opower-named-to-fortunes-change-the-world-list#When:21:18:00ZVirginia-based Opower has been named to Fortune’s first “Change the World” list, which recognizes 51 companies that have made a major impact on global social or environmental problems as part of their strategy.
The Arlington-based energy management company ranked No. 45 on the list. It joins companies like Google, Facebook, Starbucks, Whole Foods, CVS Health, Nike and Twitter. The No. 1 companies on Fortune’s list were U.K.-based Vodafone and Kenyan telecom Safaricom.
Opower is a publicly traded company whose software helps utilities and their customers reduce energy consumption. “Smiley faces are stamped on specially delivered energy reports, and data from neighbors are pooled together for comparison, adding an element of pride (or shame) to your power usage,” Fortune says about Opower’s product.
Opower’s software is used by more than 95 utilities. According to Opower, it has helped customers save more than $1 billion and enough energy to power all of the homes in New Mexico for a year. Fortune says the company had revenues of $128 million last year.
To compile the “Change the World” list, Fortune received 200 recommendations from dozens of business, academic, and nonprofit experts around the world. Companies were vetted on four criteria: the degree of business innovation involved, the measurable impact at scale on an important social challenge, the contribution of the shared value activities to the company’s profitability and competitive advantage, and the significance of the shared value effort to the overall business.2015-08-20T21:18:00+00:00
Dollar Tree Distribution leases 30,000 square feet in Chesapeake
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/dollar-tree-distribution-leases-30000-square-feet-in-chesapeake#When:20:33:00ZDollar Tree Distribution Inc. has leased 30,000 square feet of industrial space at 2626 Indian River Road in Chesapeake. Glenn Gibson of Harvey Lindsay Commercial Real Estate handled the lease negotiations.
In other deals for Norfolk-based Harvey Lindsay:
Preferred Direct Marketing Inc. leased 21,816 square feet of industrial space at 5935 Thurston Ave. in Virginia Beach. Chip Worley handled the lease negotiations.
C & F Enterprises leased 19,836 square feet at 301 West Park Lane in Hampton. Clark Baldwin handled lease negotiations.
Atlantic Heating and Cooling renewed a 9,600-square-foot lease for industrial space at 553 Central Drive in Virginia Beach. Billy King handled lease negotiations.2015-08-20T20:33:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Martinsville%2C_VA_-_173%2C200_-_220_Mehler_Lane.JPG
Monogram Food Solutions buys 173,200-square-foot industrial building in Martinsville
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/monogram-food-solutions-buys-173200-square-foot-industrial-building-in-mart#When:20:21:00ZMonogram Food Solutions LLC has acquired a 173,200-square-foot industrial building on 31 acres in the Patriot Centre Industrial Park in Martinsville. The price was not disclosed.
According to Binswanger Brokers, which represented the company in the transaction, the Memphis, Tenn.-based manufacturer of value-added processed meats bought the building to expand its existing Martinsville production facility.
The company plans to use the building, formerly the Masterbrand Cabinets property, to establish a warehouse and logistics operation, creating 50 jobs. The expansion will bring Monogram Food Solutions’ total job creation in the region to more than 300 in less than one year.
Doug Faris, senior vice president, and Derek Anderson, vice president in Binswanger’s Charlotte, N.C., office, handled the transaction.
Binswanger is an international full-service real estate organization based in Philadelphia that has offices in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.2015-08-20T20:21:00+00:00
Leesburg-based Theragen acquires Neurotech North America
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/leesburg-based-theragen-acquires-neurotech-north-america#When:19:07:00ZLeesburg-based Theragen LLC, a privately owned medical device company, has acquired Neurotech North America, a manufacturer of noninvasive stimulation products for orthopedic and spinal indications.
Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.
Theragen is focused on developing noninvasive therapeutics for the treatment of disease and pain. The company said this acquisition marks its commercial entry into the noninvasive therapeutics industry.
Neurotech NA was a subsidiary of an Irish company, BioMedical Research Inc. Its primary products include Kneehab XP, cleared for quadriceps strengthening; and Neurotech Recovery Back, a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) and neuromuscular electrical nerve stimulation (NMES) technologycleared for treatment of the lower back.
“Neurotech’s products are proven and possess an exceptional safety record,” Gary Grenter, the president and CEO of Theragen, said in a statement. “After focusing the past 18 months on our R&D efforts, we are excited about entering the non-invasive therapeutics industry with these excellent products.”
“Theragen’s mission is to develop non-invasive therapeutic solutions using electrical, mechanical and other forms of energy that will provide relief for sufferers” before and after survey, Kimball Chen, Theragen’s chairman of the board, said in a statement.
Theragen LLC is focused on developing non-invasive therapeutics for the treatment of disease and pain. To learn more about Theragen, including the Neurotech NA product lines, visit: http://www.theragen.com.2015-08-20T19:07:00+00:00
Smithfield Foods names new president and COO
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/smithfield-foods-names-new-president-and-coo#When:18:23:00ZSmithfield Foods Inc. on Thursday named Kenneth M. Sullivan its president and chief operating officer, effective Oct 1.
C. Larry Pope, Smithfield’s president and chief executive officer, will remain CEO of the Smithfield-based company.
Sullivan, who has been with the company since 2003, currently is executive vice president and chief financial officer.
Glenn T. Nunziata, a partner at Ernst & Young, will succeed Sullivan as CFO.
As president and chief operating officer, Sullivan will assume the day-to-day operating responsibility for the company's fresh pork, packaged meats and hog production divisions in the United States, as well as international sales/exports, among other responsibilities.
Sullivan was named executive vice president earlier this year in addition to his role as chief financial officer. He has held a number of financial positions in the company, including vice president of finance from 2010 to 2013 and chief accounting officer from 2007 to 2013.
Before joining Smithfield, Sullivan spent 12 years at large public accounting and consulting firms.
As chief financial officer, Nunziata will assume leadership of Smithfield's finance, treasury, risk management, accounting and IT functions. He has been with Ernst & Young for 19 years.
Smithfield Foods, which has annual revenues of $15 billion, is the world's largest pork processor and hog producer. It is owned by Shuanghui International in China.2015-08-20T18:23:00+00:00
Richmond ranks third in survey of business-friendly cities
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/richmond-ranks-third-in-survey-of-business-friendly-cities#When:20:53:00ZRichmond ranked third in the nation in a survey on the friendliest cities for small businesses.
The survey, by the consumer services website Thumbtack, ranked 95 U.S. cities on 11 metrics, including ease of starting a business, tax codes, and training and network programs.
Nearly 18,000 small businesses across the U.S. were surveyed to determine the rankings.
The survey described Richmond as “a city on the rise. It has seen an exponential rise in confidence for job creation and training programs since 2013 and shows few signs of slowing down.”
The city’s best rankings in the 11 categories were: health and safety: No. 1; ease of hiring: No. 2; and training and networking: No. 4. Richmond’s biggest weakness was zoning where it ranked No. 19.
Manchester, N.H., was the top city in the survey, coming in first on licensing and regulations and second on easing of starting a business and business-friendly tax codes. The city was 28th, however, in training and networking.
The other cities in the top 10 were: Dallas, No. 2; Austin, Texas, No. 4; Knoxville, Tenn., No. 5; Nashville, Tenn., No. 6; Houston, No. 7; Fort Collins, Colo., No. 8; Boulder, Colo., No. 9; and San Antonio, No. 10.
Former CEO to continue leading Tredegar Corp.
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/former-ceo-to-continue-leading-tredegar-corp#When:20:46:00ZJohn D. Gottwald, Tredegar Corp.’s CEO for 17 years, has agreed to return to the job permanently for the next 18 to 24 months.
He has served as the company’s interim president and CEO since June 26 following the abrupt resignation of Nancy Taylor.
The company said its board of directors wants Gottwald to continue leading the company because of his “deep knowledge of our businesses and our customers’ needs, as well as his steady leadership and strategic insight.”
“The key leaders of the company approached John and requested that he consider serving as CEO through the next 18 to 24 months, which the board supports. We are very pleased to announce that he has agreed to accept the role,” William M. Gottwald, chairman of the board, said in a statement.
John and William Gottwald are brothers. Together with their father, Floyd Gottwald Jr.,, they own more than 22 percent of the company’s stock, according to the most recent Tredegar proxy statement.
Taylor, the previous president and CEO, and Kevin O’Leary, the company’s chief financial officer and treasurer, resigned on June 26. Taylor also stepped down from her seat on the board of directors.
The company did not give any reason for the resignations but praised both executives for their service to the corporation.
Tredegar had 2014 net sales of $945 million, down 1.6 percent from 2013. The company reported revenue of $221.4 million in the second quarter, down 2 percent from $226.8 million during the same quarter last year.
Net income from continuing operations for the quarter were 2 cents per diluted share, down from 11 cents during the second quarter in 2014.
Tredegar has about 2,700 employees. Its manufacturing facilities are in North America, South America, Europe and Asia.2015-08-19T20:46:00+00:00
Roanoke lawyer to head international labor law group
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/roanoke-lawyer-to-head-international-labor-law-group#When:20:43:00ZDavid Paxton, a partner with Roanoke-based law firm Gentry Locke, has been named chair of the Labor and Employment Law Group for ALFA International, a global network of more than 150 independent law firms.
ALFA International's 80 U.S. firms maintain offices in 95 of the top 100 largest metropolitan areas, and its 70 international firms are located throughout Canada, Mexico, Europe, Asia, India, South America and Australia.
Paxton chairs Gentry Locke’s labor and employment practice.2015-08-19T20:43:00+00:00
Smithfield Foods creates two new innovation roles
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/smithfield-foods-creates-two-new-innovation-roles#When:20:37:00ZHampton Roads-based Smithfield Foods announced Wednesday it has created two new leadership roles focused on innovation.
William Brunt has been named senior vice president and chief innovation officer, effective Aug. 31, while Jeff Warner has been brought on as vice president of innovation for the packaged meats division, effective Aug. 24.
Brunt will oversee Smithfield's Innovation Center and be responsible for new product development. He will also continue his past role as senior vice president of marketing.
As vice president of innovation for the packaged meats division, Warner will report to Brunt and will oversee the Innovation Center team. Warner brings more than 20 years of experience to this new role, including 18 years with Heinz North America, where he held research & development, marketing and engineering roles.
Smithfield is a $15 billion global food company and the world's largest pork processor and hog producer.2015-08-19T20:37:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/APL_WINDSOR_7-2104_15_JC_WEB.jpg
New independent living apartments open at Ashby Ponds
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/new-independent-living-apartments-open-at-ashby-ponds#When:19:00:00ZMagnolia Place, a new independent living residential building at Ashby Ponds, has added 83 apartments to the senior-living community in Ashburn.
The four-floor, 161,000-square-foot building offers one- and two-bedroom floor plans. According to Holly Henderson, director of sales at Ashby Ponds, “Over 90 percent of the apartment homes at Magnolia Place are reserved and will be home to new residents by the end of the summer. “
Amenities include covered, underground parking, a large courtyard, open floor plans, and side-by-side washers and dryers. Many of the apartments also have an outdoor living space with a screened-in porch or a patio.
The building is located between two community clubhouses, providing access to dining venues, events and services.
Ashby Ponds is one of 18 retirement communities managed by Erickson Living. It’s situated on a 132-acre campus and is home to more than 1,000 residents. The community offers an indoor pool, a fitness club, transportation services, 24-hour security and flexible dining options.2015-08-19T19:00:00+00:00
Allianz offering tuition insurance in Virginia
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/allianz-offering-tuition-insurance-in-virginia#When:20:21:00ZRichmond-based Allianz Global Assistance has begun offering tuition insurance in Virginia.
The commonwealth is one of eight states in which the product has been introduced.
Allianz Tuition Insurance covers nonrefundable college costs for Virginia residents in the event a student must withdraw from school for a reason covered by the plan, such as an illness, injury or psychological issues. The covered costs would include in-state and out-of-state tuition and fees, including room and board.
The tuition insurance must be purchased before the first day of the college term. Allianz offers three plans, which start at $29.95 per term. The plans include a 24/7 service that assists families in the event that a student becomes ill or injured.
In addition to Virginia, the insurance is being offered in North Carolina, Arizona, Georgia, New Jersey, California, Pennsylvania and Michigan.2015-08-18T20:21:00+00:00
American Systems acquires EM Business Holdings Inc.
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/american-systems-acquires-em-business-holdings-inc#When:19:18:00ZAmerican Systems, a Chantilly-based government IT services provider, said Tuesday that it has acquired EM Business Holdings Inc. (EMBH) in Arlington.
The transaction closed Monday, and terms of the deal were not disclosed. Bluestone Capital Partners represented EMBH, a company that provides engineering, IT and professional services.
American Systems said the acquisition would add more than 160 employees to its workforce, complement its existing capabilities and expand the company’s footprint in key areas.
"Acquisitions are an important element of our growth strategy. Having said that, we work hard to ensure that we select companies that are a good fit for us, both culturally and strategically,” Peter Smith, American System’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “EMBH will mesh well with our culture and our current capabilities, and their support of national priority programs is aligned with our strategic plan.”
EMBH has been providing engineering, science and advanced technology solutions for the defense, security and intelligence markets since 2000. The company’s services include program management, systems engineering, logistics, and modeling and simulation.
Under the terms of the agreement, EMBH will join American Systems’ Human Capital & Managed Services group (HCMS), led by Vice President and General Manager Jason Frye.
Founded in 1975, American Systems is one of the largest employee-owned companies in the U.S., with about 1,300 employees nationwide. The company provides test and evaluation, systems engineering, technical and managed services to government customers.2015-08-18T19:18:00+00:00
Hilb Group acquires Wilmington, N.C.-based insurance agency
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/hilb-group-acquires-wilmington-n.c.-based-insurance-agency#When:19:10:00ZThe Hilb Group LLC, a rapidly growing, middle-market insurance agency based in Henrico County, has acquired Wilmington, N.C.-based JWB Insurance Group.
Financial details on the acquisition were not disclosed.
JWB provides specialty services in employee benefits and commercial insurance, with expanded offerings in individual and personal lines. The company is in its 19th year of business.
JWB is Hilb’s seventh acquisition this year. It will continue operating under its current leadership.
The acquisition continues Hilb’s national expansion plan and is expected to strengthen its East Coast presence.
Hilb is a portfolio company of ABRY Partners, a Boston-based private-equity firm.
Hilb now has 35 offices in Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia2015-08-18T19:10:00+00:00
Lumber Liquidators hires chief compliance and legal officer
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/lumber-liquidators-hires-chief-compliance-and-legal-officer#When:19:08:00ZToano-based Lumber Liquidators announced Tuesday it has named Jill Witter chief compliance and legal officer.
Witter has served as a consultant and adviser to the hardwood-floor retailer since early July. In her new role, Witter will direct the company’s legal matters, including litigation management, compliance, quality assurance and public affairs.
According to Lumber Liquidators, Witter has a background in compliance and legal experience in forest products. Most recently she was the general counsel and ethics and compliance officer at Novation LLC. During her tenure, the company earned the Ethics Inside Certification from the Ethisphere Institute and was named to Ethisphere's lists of the World's Most Ethical Companies for three years.
Witter’s past experience also includes serving as general counsel at Rayonier Inc. and the Forest Resources Division of the International Paper Co.
She will report directly to Thomas D. Sullivan, Lumber Liquidators’ founder and acting CEO.2015-08-18T19:08:00+00:00
Gumenick Properties can build a taller building at Libbie Mill-Midtown
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/gumenick-properties-can-build-a-taller-building-at-libbie-mill-midtown#When:20:42:00ZIf Gumenick Properties moves forward with plans for another building at Libbie Mill-Midtown in Henrico County, it can be taller than originally anticipated.
The company said Monday that it has received approval from the Henrico County Board of Supervisors on zoning revisions that would allow a 250-foot, mixed-use building at the mixed-use project the company is developing off Staples Mill Road.
As part of the approval, the board modified height restrictions placed on buildings during the original zoning case in 2007. Libbie Mill-Midtown now will be able to construct one building up to 250 feet in height and two buildings up to 175 feet in height.
Based on current planning, these buildings would be designed for a mix of uses possibly including retail, offices, a hotel, parking and condominium homes. The company said plans would depend on market conditions, with no date set for construction on the new buildings.
Gumenick also agreed to restrict the location of these mixed-use buildings to specific locations concentrated toward the core of the 80-acre development.
Remaining buildings to be constructed at Libbie Mill-Midtown, other than townhomes, are restricted to 100 feet or less in height.
“The addition of high-rise and mid-rise, mixed-use buildings reflects strong demand in Central Virginia for office space,” Shane Finnegan, Gumenick’s vice president-construction and development, said in a statement.
Several offices and a Southern Season grocery store already have located to the development, which is close to Interstates 64 and 95. A new Henrico County library, with 60,000 square feet of space, is scheduled to open in late October. Gumenick Properties, which moved its headquarters office to the property, donated the land for the library.
The community, which is expected to take ten years to build out, is approved for up to 994 homes and 1,096 apartments.
Gumenick Properties has applied for building permits to construct 327 apartment homes in another, separate five-story building. If final plans are approved, construction is expected to begin in the fourth quarter of this year or the first quarter of 2016.
That building, located near the community’s entrance, would have apartments on four floors over a single floor of about 40,000 square feet of retail space.
Dixon Hughes Goodman adds health-care principal
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/dixon-hughes-goodman-adds-health-care-principal#When:20:13:00ZDixon Hughes Goodman has named Nolie Barnes principal in its health-care group, DHG Healthcare.
Barnes held several leadership positions at HCA, most recently vice president of clinical integration and business health. She also is a registered nurse. Barnes will join DHG’s Richmond office.
Brad Benton, managing partner, DHG Healthcare, said in a statement: “Nolie’s clinical and business acumen provide DHG Healthcare and our clients with the emotional intelligence to align multiple key stakeholders and the credibility to help healthcare organizations embrace innovative opportunities and solutions.”2015-08-17T20:13:00+00:00
Octo Consulting Group names president, chief operating officer
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/octo-consulting-group-names-president-chief-operating-officer#When:19:52:00ZTysons Corner-based Octo Consulting Group has named Robert “Bob” McCord as its president and COO.
He will oversee all operations, business development and delivery activities at the firm, a provider of digital services to the federal government. McCord will report to Octo CEO Mehul Sanghani, who founded the company in 2006.
Prior to joining Octo, McCord spent more than six years as president and chief operating officer at Acentia and 2020 Company LLC before they were acquired.
Besides its Tysons Corner headquarters, Octo has offices in Alexandria and Atlanta.2015-08-17T19:52:00+00:00
Las Vegas-based resort company to buy Gold Key Resorts vacation ownership business for $167 million
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/las-vegas-based-resort-company-buys-gold-key-resorts-vacation-ownership-bus#When:15:54:00ZThere's a new owner of timeshare properties coming to the boardwalk in Virginia Beach. Diamond Resorts International Inc., a Las Vegas manager and owner of vacation ownership resorts, said Monday that it has executed an agreement to purchase the vacation ownership business of Gold Key Resorts, a Virginia Beach company headed by Bruce Thompson, for $167.5 million.
The deal is expected to close following a two-month transition period. The portfolio includes five vacation ownership resorts in Virginia Beach and one on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It will give Diamond Resorts, a company that incorporated in 2013, a new market position in Virginia Beach.
“This is an exciting acquisition that provides us with a platform to expand into a new, complementary geography and owner base,” David Palmer, president and CEO of Diamond Resorts International, said in a statement.
Gold Key Resorts is a hospitality leader in Virginia Beach, and Thompson is a well-known regional developer. He heads Gold Key | PHR Hotels & Resorts, which employs 2,400 to 3,000 people in its hotel and timeshare properties, with the flunctuation in workforce depending on the season. Gold Key is a subsidiary of the parent company that employs 1,000 employees on the timeshare resort side of the business. The company said in a statement to Virginia Business that it does not expect "any material reductions in the workforce that currently service the Gold Key timeshare properties ..."
The company also said it will begin working immediately with Diamond Resorts on the transition, with the goal to transition 95 percent to 100 percent of the workers to either the new company or Gold Key PHR.
On the hotel side, Thompson’s company manages the Ramada Virginia Beach Oceanfront, Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront and Hilton Garden Inn Virginia Beach Oceanfront along with restaurants, retail and residential developments.
Gold Key | PHR Hotels & Resorts purchased and is renovating the historic Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach and also is developing The Main, soon to be downtown Norfolk’s newest restaurant, meeting and hotel destination.
“We are excited to enter into this agreement,” Thompson, CEO of Gold Key Resorts, said in a statement. “I look forward to working with Diamond Resorts during the transition phase and on an ongoing basis. The company was attracted to our world-class resorts on the East Coast and the professional team who have managed these properties .... This acquisition positions these properties for future growth within a very prestigious international portfolio with extensive offerings. Our owners will benefit from this tremendously.”
Asked what the company might do with proceeds from the sale, Thompson indicated that it would actively pursue hotel and commercial development to broaden its portfolio. "Gold Key | PHR fully expects to continue with its development efforts in the hospitality industry including hotels, resorts and restaurants. We are also exploring potential mixed-use developments. And, we are beginning to discuss joint efforts with Diamond Resorts International in developing new vacation-ownership properties in the region and the East Coast," Thompson said.
The five Gold Key properties in Virginia Beach are Beach Quarters Resort, Turtle Cay Resort, Boardwalk Resort and Villas, Ocean Beach Club Resort and Oceanaire Resort Hotel in Virginia Beach.
The property in Kitty Hawk is Beachwoods. Gold Key purchased it in 2014, and the company said it had been making extensive improvements to reposition the property as a four-season resort.
Diamond Resorts International operates in the hospitality and vacation ownership industries. It has a network of more than 330 vacation destinations located in 34 countries. The company manages timeshare resorts and sells vacation ownership points that provide members and owners with vacations at Diamond Resort’s properties and affiliated properties and cruise itineraries.2015-08-17T15:54:00+00:00
BWX Technologies subsidiary awarded contracts for Chinese nuclear plant
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/bwx-technologies-subsidiary-awarded-contracts-for-chinese-nuclear-plant#When:15:18:00ZBWXT Canada Ltd., a subsidiary of Lynchburg-based BWX Technologies Inc., has been awarded major contracts for steam generator design and component manufacturing for a nuclear plant in Guangxi, China.
The steam generator design contract for Guangxi Fangchenggang Nuclear Power Co. Ltd.’s (GFNP) Units 3 and 4 was awarded by China Nuclear Power Engineering Co. Ltd. and China Nuclear Power Design Co. Ltd., which are subsidiaries of China General Nuclear Power Corp.
Contracts for the manufacture of steam generator components for GFNP’s Unit 3 and manufacturing support for GFNP’s Unit 4 were awarded by Dongfang Electric Corp. Ltd. and Dongfang(Guangzhou) Heavy Machinery Corp. Ltd.
Delivery of the steam generator components is scheduled for 2018.
BWX Technologies Inc.is a major supplier of nuclear components and fuel. It has more than 5,200 employees and significant operations in Lynchburg; Erwin, Tenn.; Mount Vernon, Ind.; Euclid, Ohio; Barberton, Ohio; and Cambridge, Ontario, as well as more than a dozen U.S. Department of Energy sites around the country.2015-08-17T15:18:00+00:00
LeClairRyan expands to Delaware
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/leclairryan-expands-to-delaware#When:14:48:00ZThe law firm LeClairRyan has expanded into Delaware, opening an office in Wilmington.
Founded in Virginia, LeClairRyan now has offices in 14 states and the District of Columbia, employing approximately 380 attorneys nationwide.
The Wilmington office will be led by partner Andrew Cole. He practices primarily in the areas of business bankruptcy, corporate and commercial litigation, corporate governance, and business transactions.
Before joining LeClairRyan, he practiced in the Baltimore and Wilmington offices of Franklin & Prokopik.2015-08-17T14:48:00+00:00
A touch of California comes to Old Town Alexandria
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/a-touch-of-california-comes-to-old-town-alexandria#When:14:45:00ZA touch of California can be found in Old Town Alexandria with today’s opening of Sonoma Cellar. Owners Rick and Elizabeth Myllenbeck decided to bring their passion for Sonoma County Wine to the heart of Alexandria with a wine tasting room and bistro at 207 King Street.
Sonoma Cellar will offer wines from more than 180 Sonoma County boutique wineries and more than 20 Virginia-based wineries. The bistro menu will feature California-inspired craft-foods that are designed to pair with the wines. A gift shop also will carry wine-related merchandise.2015-08-17T14:45:00+00:00
Vibrant Spaces program receives 97 submissions
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/vibrant-spaces-program-receives-97-submissions#When:21:08:00ZDowntown Norfolk Council’s Vibrant Spaces program has received 97 submissions, a number that group says is more than triple the proposals it anticipated.
The Vibrant Spaces initiative, begun in May, is designed to accelerate neighborhood-defining businesses in Downtown Norfolk. Interested parties were asked to submit online proposals outlining ideas to create vibrant and exciting new businesses in Downtown. Applications were accepted through July 12.
Phase one of program offered six available spaces in Downtown Norfolk. Property owners agreed to lease the spaces at 50 percent of market rates for two years to selected businesses. The new business owners will also receive a $20,000 kick-start grant. The council says 85 new businesses are vying for this opportunity.
Existing Downtown businesses submitted ideas for funding to make their businesses more vibrant. The program offers $60,000 in matching grants. Twelve businesses submitted ideas. Selected ideas will receive up to 50 percent of the project costs or up to $10,000 per business.
A selection committee is reviewing the submissions and will determine the business ideas that most effectively align with the goals of the program.
Applicants will be notified if they are selected or not in early September. The new businesses will have three weeks to negotiate the leases with the landlords.
Downtown Norfolk Council (DNC) is a private, not-for-profit membership organization. It manages the Downtown Norfolk Improvement District, a 48-block special services district.
Ellucian is getting two new majority owners
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/ellucian-is-getting-two-new-majority-owners#When:21:06:00ZFairfax-based software provider Ellucian is getting new majority owners, the company said Friday.
TPG Capital and Leonard Green Partners have entered into an agreement to acquire a majority interest in Ellucian from Hellman & Friedman and co-investor JMI Equity. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“Ellucian has established itself as a leader in helping institutions support student success in the rapidly-evolving higher education landscape,” John Danhakl, managing partner of Leonard Green, said in a statement. “We look forward to supporting this mission in the coming years.”
The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals. It is expected to close before the end of 2015.
Ellucian provides higher education software, services and analytics. It serves 2,400 institutions in 40 countries.
TPG is a major private investment firm with over $74 billion in assets. According to TPG’s website, its portfolio of companies includes Airbnb, Chobani and J. Crew.
Los Angeles-based Leonard Green also is a major private equity firms with over $15 billion of private equity capital. The firm has invested in 76 companies, including Petco, BJ’s Wholesale Club Inc. and The Container Store.2015-08-14T21:06:00+00:00
DSW to open stores in Newport News and Leesburg
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/dsw-to-open-stores-in-newport-news-and-leesburg#When:21:04:00ZColumbus, Ohio-based DSW Inc., a major footwear retailer, plans to open two stores in Virginia this fall.
The Virginia stores, planned for Newport News and Leesburg, are among 22 new DSW stores scheduled to open by November.
The company said the Newport News store will open in September while the Leesburg store is scheduled to open in October. DSW did not provide details on the stores’ locations.
The company plans to open stores in 15 states. Six of the stores will be in new markets for the retailer.
DSW currently operates 449 stores in 42 states.2015-08-14T21:04:00+00:00