1422090231 Virginia Business http://www.virginiabusiness.com/ Business news and intelligence for and about the Virginia business community en vgarabelli@virginiabusiness.com Copyright 2015 2015-01-23T22:59:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/TOUR_RichmondBreweryTours.png Photo by Sarah Hauser, courtesy Virginia Tourism Corp. http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/happy-trails Happy trails http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/happy-trails http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/happy-trails#When:23:00:00Z Tourism, once mostly grounded by the recession, is taking off again in Virginia and across the country. With new hotels in the pipeline and the state’s rising profile as a destination for culinary experiences that include visits to wineries and breweries, Virginia is positioning itself for a strong 2015. “Culinary tourism has become huge,” says Caroline Logan, director of corporate communications for the Virginia Tourism Corp. With food usually comes lodging, and that’s trending in a positive direction as well.  “Viewed from the 50,000-foot level, the lodging industry is in a really good place,” says Bobby Bowers, senior vice president of operations for Smith Travel Research, which tracks hotel room supply and demand around the world. As of the end of October, the revenue per available room, a combined measurement of occupancy and room prices, was up 8.4 percent nationwide to $70.70 a night compared with 2013, representing what is projected to be the fifth consecutive year of growth.  “Most people expect 2015 to be a smidgen lower, but I am not convinced that it will be lower at all,” Bowers says. In Virginia, the news has been good, too, though more earthbound. The lingering effect of sequestration on Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads has suppressed government and corporate travel, which only now are in recovery.  The result, as of October, has been an increase in revenue per available room of 6.4 percent to $58.72 compared with 2013 — numbers that were good enough to make tourism one of the few expansion areas in the commonwealth’s economy. While figures for 2014 aren’t in yet, the state saw $21.5 billion in revenue from tourists in 2013, a 14 percent increase from 2012. Even though demand for lodging was on the increase last year, only modest numbers of new rooms came on line during 2014. As of mid-November, Virginia had expanded its hotel room numbers by just 0.1 percent in 2014, while the national rate was 0.8 percent. Slow growth is expected to continue in 2015, Bowers says, with about 2,170 new rooms in the pipeline for the commonwealth for a growth rate of about 1.5 percent (see story on Page 57). Most of the visitors who occupy those rooms — 58 percent in 2013, the last year for which figures were available — come to the commonwealth by car to visit family and friends, according to the research firm TNS Travels. These visitors will continue to be the mainstay of the Virginia tourism and hospitality business. Yet two major sporting events (see story on Page 57) and several travel trends, including culinary tourism, should help the state’s tourism industry gain altitude in 2015. One factor in Virginia’s favor is a surging millennial market. Logan says many younger tourists are attracted not only by the state’s varied opportunities for outdoor recreation, but by the chance to have authentic local experiences at reasonable rates. That quest dovetails nicely with another trend: the exponential expansion of wineries, breweries and locally sourced restaurants. Virginia now has more than 250 wineries and counting, and so many craft breweries (more than 60) that the state tourism website offers itineraries for beer tours. Stone Brewing Co., the 10th largest craft brewery in the country, is getting into the act, promising to invest $74 million in a brewery that will open in Richmond next year. Restaurants are paralleling that development by drawing diners with their locavore credentials. In a coup for the state, Esquire magazine recently announced that Virginia was not just about ham anymore in naming it the Food Region of 2014. Increasingly, hotels and bed-and-breakfasts are partnering with chefs for cross-over events and promotions, says Logan, using last November’s Wine & Brine festivities along the Eastern Shore as an example. Under development in that region now is an oyster trail that will celebrate the waterman culture of the Chesapeake Bay. Logan says the self-guided route should be ready in the next 12 to 18 months. The southwestern section of Virginia likewise is trending.  The popular Crooked Road, a 300-mile route through the region’s folk and country music heritage, now is supplemented by the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, which opened in August in Bristol. The nonprofit museum’s executive director, Leah Ross, expects it to average 90,000 visitors a year with revenues projected at $2.5 million by the museum’s second year of operations. The three-day Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion festival has become another big draw for Bristol. In its first year, the three-day festival drew 7,500 people; last year, on its 15th anniversary, 60,000 people showed up to hear  more than 1,000 artists. New outdoor attractions in the region are sprouting up too, most notably the Spearhead Trails project, an ambitious network of 500 miles of ATV and equestrian trails near Saint Paul. The 70-mile Mountain View trail there already is open, and completion of the rest of the trails is promised by next year. Near Pocahontas in Tazewell County, Spearhead will add 20 miles of ATV trails this year to augment the 30-mile Pocahontas trail already in operation. Another significant development for tourism in the region includes the return of the Virginia Museum of Transportation’s Norfolk and Western Class J 611 steam engine to Roanoke. The engine, built in that city, has been undergoing a $3.5 million restoration in North Carolina, but it will return home under its own steam in April, says the museum’s executive director, Beverly T. Fitzpatrick Jr. The engine, pulling eight to 15 cars, then will make four weekend excursions a year on Norfolk Southern tracks, west toward Radford and east to Lynchburg at dates yet to be determined. Once in operation, Fitzpatrick says, the Class J 611 will offer the only steam engine excursion in the commonwealth. “It’s an exciting time for the state,” says Eric Terry, president of the Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association, of the prospects for tourism in Virginia this year and into the foreseeable future. “We really have turned the corner.” 2014-12-30T23:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/legislation-introduced-to-improve-virginia-tobacco-commission Legislation introduced to improve Virginia Tobacco Commission http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/legislation-introduced-to-improve-virginia-tobacco-commission http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/legislation-introduced-to-improve-virginia-tobacco-commission#When:22:59:00Z Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced his support Friday for legislation introduced in the Virginia General Assembly, which would aim to improve the Virginia Tobacco Commission. The commision provides formerly tobacco-dependent communities with money to promote economic development. The bipartisan legislation is sponsored by Commission Chairman Terry Kilgore (R-Gate City) and Commission Vice-Chairman Frank Ruff (R-Clarksville). “The Tobacco Region as a whole, and especially Southern Virginia, faces more significant economic, educational, healthcare and workforce challenges than any other part of the commonwealth,” Ruff said in a statement.  “The Commission has made substantial positive investments to address these challenges, and this legislation will help us in our efforts to diversify the economy and position the region for economic growth.”  The legislation would reduce the number of commission members from 31 to 25; establish an online database of commission awards with project goals and increase accountability for outcomes from commission investments. The proposal also aims to: •    Create the Tobacco Region Revolving Loan Fund to make loans to local governments to finance or refinance the cost of a project with an identifiable revenue stream from which the loan may be repaid. •    Lower the cap on annual corpus invasion. Require a dollar for dollar match for economic development grant awards.  Performance bonds are acceptable matching funds. •    Codify a biannual comprehensive strategic plan process with specific priorities, measureable goals and quantifiable outcomes including input from local and regional economic developers, planning commissions, VEDP, DHCD, VTC, VRA and the Center for Rural Virginia. •    Establish a viability manager to determine financial viability and review project feasibility for distribution of monies from the Commission Fund. •    Require 60 percent of members to have expertise in business, economic development, investment banking, finance or education. 2015-01-23T22:59:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/vcu-poll-finds-strong-support-for-protecting-public-school-funding VCU poll finds strong support for protecting public-school funding http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/vcu-poll-finds-strong-support-for-protecting-public-school-funding http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/vcu-poll-finds-strong-support-for-protecting-public-school-funding#When:22:22:00Z Virginians are willing to pay more in taxes to support school funding, according to the results of a Virginia Commonwealth University Commonwealth Education Poll released Friday The poll, conducted annually by the Commonwealth Educational Policy Institute in VCU’s  L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, found more than two-thirds of Virginians (68 percent) said that Virginia schools do not have enough funds to meet their needs, while only 26 percent say schools have enough funding now. A majority of respondents (70 percent) said they would be willing to pay more in taxes to keep public schools funded at the current level, and 53 percent are willing to pay more so that school funding can be increased. Of those willing to pay more to increase funding for public schools, 44 percent favored a sales tax as the best way to implement a tax increase, while 22 percent preferred an increased income tax. The General Assembly currently is coping with a revenue shortfall, which already has required budget cuts. More than three-quarters of respondents (78 percent) said the amount of funding affects the quality of schools a great deal or quite a lot. School employees/retirees (at 60 percent) and parents of public school students (at 59 percent) were more likely to say funding mattered a great deal when compared to nonemployee/retiree (50 percent) and nonparent respondents (49 percent). Likewise, 58 percent of minorities said funding mattered a great deal compared to 48 percent of whites. Larger proportions of Virginians are willing to pay more in taxes to protect funding for public schools (70 percent) and mental health services (72 percent) than would do so to keep programs for aid to low-income families (56 percent), funding for higher education (48 percent) and transportation (46 percent) at current level. Only about a quarter of state residents (27 percent) are willing to pay more to keep funding for prisons at current levels. “The gap in relative support between mental health services and public education on one extreme and prisons on the other may well explain why the governor and General Assembly leaders in October cut more than 500 state jobs in the Department of Corrections while sparing K-12 education,” Robyn McDougle, associate professor and interim executive director of the Commonwealth Educational Policy Institute, said in a statement. “While those cuts are no less painful for the people laid off, it appears the decision was aligned with the public’s sense of priorities.” The Commonwealth Education Poll was conducted by landline and cell telephone from Dec. 27  to Jan. 3, with a random sample of 806 adults in Virginia. The margin of error for the poll is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points. 2015-01-23T22:22:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/vendors-sought-for-international-cycling-races-in-richmond Vendors sought for international cycling races in Richmond http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/vendors-sought-for-international-cycling-races-in-richmond http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/vendors-sought-for-international-cycling-races-in-richmond#When:22:14:00Z Richmond 2015, the organizing committee for the 2015 UCI Road World Championships, will host a symposium next month for potential vendors of the nine-day cycling event that will be held in September. The vendor symposium will take place 10 a.m. Feb. 10 at the Richmond International Raceway complex, Richmond Room, 600 E. Laburnum Ave. In addition to outlining vendor opportunities, Richmond 2015 organizers will outline the Richmond 2015 Request for Proposal (RFP) process. Richmond 2015 is seeking a variety of vendor partners in specialties ranging from temporary infrastructure, such as tents and fencing, to catering and audiovisual services.  Interested parties are encouraged to RSVP no later than Feb. 3, to Joshua Griffin at Joshua@Richmond2015.com. Vendor categories for the symposium include: Audio/visual services Barricades/fencing Large format video screens Catering Security Temporary event staffing payroll service Power generators Print material Signage Stage/truss/grandstands Tents/tableschairs Restroom facilities 2015-01-23T22:14:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/noblis-inc.-will-move-headquarters-to-reston Noblis Inc. will move headquarters to Reston http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/noblis-inc.-will-move-headquarters-to-reston http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/noblis-inc.-will-move-headquarters-to-reston#When:22:11:00Z Noblis Inc., a nonprofit science, technology and strategy organization, plans to move headquarters to Reston next year. Noblis has signed a lease with property owner The JBG Companies for a 160,000-square-foot building on Edmund Halley Drive  adjacent to the future Reston Town Center Metro. The move will take place in fall 2016. “We will take this opportunity to build an open and collaborative workspace for our employees and clients,” Mark Smith, Noblis’ director of operations, said in a statement. “We are excited about the building features, great location, and easy access to transit and roadways for our clients.” Noblis has been based in Falls Church since 2007 and has nine other locations in Washington D.C., Virginia, Maryland, West Virginianand Texas.  These other locations include subsidiary companies Noblis ESI in Chantilly and Noblis NSP in Annapolis Junction, Md. Noblis provides expert technical and advisory services in systems engineering, science and technology, program management, and acquisition services to government and industry.  Customers include the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Aviation Administration, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Labor, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 2015-01-23T22:11:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/roanoke-office-market-occupancy-remained-at-86-percent-last-year Roanoke office market occupancy remained at 86 percent last year http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/roanoke-office-market-occupancy-remained-at-86-percent-last-year http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/roanoke-office-market-occupancy-remained-at-86-percent-last-year#When:22:06:00Z An survey released Friday by Poe & Cronk Real Estate Group shows the overall Roanoke office market occupancy rate remained at 86 percent in 2014, the same percentage as the year before. The Roanoke-based company’s 28th annual office market survey found occupancy and rental rates in all three of the area's major office sub-markets also remain unchanged. Poe & Cronk said its data could signal a relative floor for occupancy and rental rates in the area and added that the economic outlook for this year is optimistic As job growth continues to improve in the Roanoke Valley, many employers have limited room in their existing space for new employees, the company said. As this capacity is absorbed and the business environment continues to improve, Poe & Cronk expects employers to seek new office space this year. “If this growth persists, it should be strong enough that we should see office occupancy rates increase,” Poe & Cronk associate Bryan Musselwhite said in a statement. About 57,000 square feet of office space was absorbed by new owners last year. Roanoke’s 86 percent occupancy rate was higher than the national average of 83 percent reported by the national real estate research firm REIS Inc. REIS believes rents grew nationally by roughly 2.6 percent last year, and it expects rent growth to rise this year. Poe & Cronk has conducted its office market survey annually since 1987. The latest survey includess data covering more than 100 nongovernmental office buildings measuring 10,000 square feet or more. 2015-01-23T22:06:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/vbch-foundation-names-leaders VBCH Foundation names leaders http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/vbch-foundation-names-leaders http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/vbch-foundation-names-leaders#When:21:20:00Z The Virginia Beach-based Virginia Business Coalition on Health announced on Friday the leadership of its recently formed charity arm, the VBCH Foundation. Jim Brown, vice president of sales and marketing for the Williamsburg-based media research firm Borrell Associates, is chair of the foundation board of directors. Eileen Ciccotelli, vice president of the Virginia Business Coalition on Health, was appointed president of the foundation. Founded last year, the VBCH Foundation will support school readiness (literacy), work to ensure a healthy workforce, foster and reward excellence in health care, and will educate, aid and memorialize patients and caregivers harmed by preventable medical mistakes and early elective deliveries. 2015-01-23T21:20:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/american-diabetes-association-moving-from-alexandria-to-arlington American Diabetes Association moving from Alexandria to Arlington http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/american-diabetes-association-moving-from-alexandria-to-arlington http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/american-diabetes-association-moving-from-alexandria-to-arlington#When:21:17:00Z The American Diabetes Association plans to relocate its headquarters from Alexandria to Arlington County's Crystal City later this year. The association will move more than 300 employees to 70,000 square feet of space it is leasing at 2451 Crystal Drive. The relocation is expected to be completed by the third quarter of this year. The building is owned and managed by Vornado/Charles E. Smith. “Crystal City offers us the kind of location that is good for our staff and good for our mission — an amenity-rich location, with healthy-eating options, easy access to public transportation, and access to health and fitness facilities. It’s also very accessible to our out-of-town guests”, Suzanne Berry, the association’s interim CEO said in a statement.  Crystal City is home to one of the largest clusters of association and nonprofit organizations in Washington area, with more than 40 organizations, including the Consumer Electronics Association, Conservation International, PBS, AMA and Food Marketing Institute. Manny Fitzgerald of CBRE represented association in this transaction. 2015-01-23T21:17:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/ridley-scott-produced-television-show-to-film-in-central-virginia Ridley Scott-produced television show to film in Central Virginia http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/ridley-scott-produced-television-show-to-film-in-central-virginia http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/ridley-scott-produced-television-show-to-film-in-central-virginia#When:18:21:00Z A television show co-produced by Ridley Scott has selected Central Virginia as its filming location. The Civil War drama will film its first season in the Richmond and Petersburg areas in the late spring and premiere on PBS in the winter 2016. The series will be eligible for state incentive funding, which will be based on expenditures in Virginia and certain deliverables to promote tourism in the state. The show will be executive produced by Scott (“Gladiator,” “Thelma & Louise”), David W. Zucker (“The Good Wife”) and Lisa Q. Wolfinger (“Desperate Crossing, The untold story of the Mayflower”) and written by David Zabel (“ER”). The show is inspired by the memoirs and letters of doctors and female nurse volunteers at Mansion House Hospital, a luxury hotel in Alexandria that was converted into a Union Army hospital during the Civil War.  The title of the series and cast will be announced later. Several Hollywood productions have filmed in Central Virginia in recent years, including Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln.”  Currently, “Turn,” a historical drama that airs on AMC, is filming its second season in the area. According to a statement by Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones, “Turn’s” first season, which also was filmed in Central Virginia, had an economic impact in the state of $58 million and provided $19 million in wages.                 The commonwealth’s film industry had an economic impact of $382.5 million in 2013, providing $19.4 million in state and local tax revenues, according to Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office. 2015-01-23T18:21:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/matherly_barry_9938web.jpg Matherly joined GRP in 2012. | Photo courtesy GRP http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/greater-richmond-partnership-names-new-president-ceo Greater Richmond Partnership names next president, CEO http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/greater-richmond-partnership-names-new-president-ceo http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/greater-richmond-partnership-names-new-president-ceo#When:09:00:00Z The Greater Richmond Partnership (GRP) has named its next president and CEO. Barry I. Matherly, GRP’s current senior vice president, will lead the economic development group starting July 1. He’ll succeed Greg H. Wingfield, the 20-year old organization’s founding president and CEO who is retiring June 30. According to a statement from GRP Board of Directors Chair Patricia O’Bannon, the hiring committee performed a nation-wide search to find Wingfield’s replacement and interviewed candidates from several other states. “In the end, the best candidate was already a part of the organization. Barry’s track record speaks for itself as he’s helped manage several large projects since coming on board three years ago,” said O’Bannon, who also is on the Henrico County Board of Supervisors. Matherly joined GRP in 2012. He is a certified economic developer with more than 20 years of experience. Before joining GRP, he was the executive director of the Lincoln Economic Development Association in North Carolina and the director of economic development in Goochland and Pulaski. He also serves as the vice chair on the board of directors of the International Economic Development Council. The nonprofit GRP serves Richmond and the counties of Chesterfield, Hanover and Henrico. In 20 years, the group has helped more than 450 companies make $10.7 billion in capital investments in the Richmond area. 2015-01-23T09:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/monday-properties-signs-three-new-tenants-in-rosslyn Monday Properties signs three new tenants in Rosslyn http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/monday-properties-signs-three-new-tenants-in-rosslyn http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/monday-properties-signs-three-new-tenants-in-rosslyn#When:22:12:00Z Monday Properties has completed three new leases for one of Rosslyn’s Twin Towers buildings at 1000 Wilson Blvd. Cobro Ventures, an innovative management firm of a portfolio of companies, leased 5,808 square feet of headquarters office space and plans to relocate to Rosslyn from Bethesda, Md. Occupancy is scheduled for June 2015. Monday also signed a new 10-year lease with Riveron Consulting. The Dallas-based financial firm doubled its space to 10,000 square feet. Also coming to the building is the Washington Free Beacon, an online political media company, which will occupy 7,000 square feet on the 26th floor.  The company plans to move this spring from another part of Arlington.   This transaction follows Monday Properties’ new lease with Politico, which took 70,000 square feet at 1100 Wilson Blvd. The Twin Towers project offers more than a million square feet of Class A trophy office space and has two of the tallest commercial towers in the region. 2015-01-22T22:12:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/heliosage-to-develop-solar-projects-on-military-bases HelioSage to develop solar projects on military bases http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/heliosage-to-develop-solar-projects-on-military-bases http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/heliosage-to-develop-solar-projects-on-military-bases#When:22:02:00Z Chatlottesville-based HelioSage Energy is collaborating with Gulf Power Co. on the development of three solar projects totaling 120 megawatts on three military bases in Florida. The companies are working with the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy on the solar facilities, which will be located along the Gulf Coast in Northwest Florida. “These projects serve as another example that large-scale solar has become a cost-effective, proven technology, and one that will play a major role in the energy future of not only the Sunshine State, but the nation,”  Chris Quarterman, HelioSage’s vice president of strategy, said in a statement. “We congratulate Gulf Power and the military for their leadership and vision, and look forward to working together on this collaborative effort.” HelioSage is a developer of utility-scale solar projects, with executed purchase agreements and projects representing more than 400 megawatts of power in 20 states. Gulf Power is a Florida electric utility, which is owned by Atlanta-based Southern Co. After it gains approval by the Florida Public Service Commission, HelioSage will develop, finance and operate the solar projects, whose power will be sold to Gulf Power. The solar facilities will be built at Eglin Air Force Base in Fort Walton Beach (30 megawatts), Holley Naval Outlying Landing Field in Navarre (40 megawatts) and Saufley Naval Outlying Landing Field in Pensacola (50 megawatts). Construction is expected to begin early next year, with the projects reaching commercial operation by the fourth quarter of 2016. Together, the solar facilities will produce enough energy to power over 18,000 homes each year. 2015-01-22T22:02:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/volkswagen-collaborating-on-network-of-express-charging-stations Volkswagen collaborating on network of express-charging stations http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/volkswagen-collaborating-on-network-of-express-charging-stations http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/volkswagen-collaborating-on-network-of-express-charging-stations#When:21:43:00Z Herndon-based Volkswagen of America is partnering with BMW of North America and ChargePoint, an electric-vehicle charging network, on a plan to create express-charging corridors along heavily-traveled routes along the East and West coasts. The initiative would place fast-charging stations about 50 miles apart, with the intent of encouraging the adoption of electric vehicles. The East Coast route for the charging stations will be on Interstate 95 from the Washington, D.C., area to Boston. “Volkswagen believes in a holistic approach to e-mobility in order to create a seamless experience for the consumer,” Jörg Sommer, vice president, product marketing and strategy at Volkswagen of America, said in a statement. “The investment in the express charging corridor will provide e-Golf and other electric vehicle owners with the added support to travel their day-to-day and popular long distance routes.” The goal is to install a total of nearly 100 direct-current chargers on the coasts, with plans to later expand the program across the country. The new installed chargers will be added to ChargePoint’s existing network of more than 20,000 charging spots in North America. “A robust network of conveniently located DC Fast charging stations will go a long way toward increasing electric vehicle adoption and making electric vehicle ownership even more enjoyable,” Robert Healey, head of EV Infrastructure at BMW of North America, said in a statement. Currently, more than 280,000 electric vehicles are sold in the United States. The West Coast charging station route will extend from San Diego to Portland, Ore. West Coast installations already have begun, with the first taking place in California’s San Diego County. The chargers will be available at a variety of locations, including restaurants, shopping centers and rest stops. 2015-01-22T21:43:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/coatings-manufacturer-plans-to-create-29-jobs-in-henry-county Coatings manufacturer plans to create 29 jobs in Henry County http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/coatings-manufacturer-plans-to-create-29-jobs-in-henry-county http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/coatings-manufacturer-plans-to-create-29-jobs-in-henry-county#When:13:22:00Z Hardide Coatings Inc., an English advanced surface coatings manufacturer plans to invest $7.25 million to establish its first Virginia operation in Henry County. The venture is expected to create 29 jobs with an average salary of $50,000. “I am thrilled to announce these new jobs, which pay well above the average prevailing wage for the region,” Gov. Terry McAuliffe said in a statement.  “I had the opportunity to meet with company officials last summer in the U.K. about this project, and we are honored to welcome Hardide Coatings to the Commonwealth’s growing roster of international companies.” Hardide Coatings provides advanced tungsten carbide-based coatings, which increase the life of metal parts operating in abrasive, erosive, corrosive and chemically aggressive environments. The new facility will serve customers in the oil and gas, aerospace, flow control and advanced engineering industries. Its clients are located around the world, including the U.K., Europe, U.S., Canada, the Far East and Australia. A $150,000 Governor’s Opportunity Fund grant was approved for the project, as well as $170,000 in Tobacco Commission funds. The company is eligible for the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program, and to receive sales and use tax exemptions on manufacturing equipment.  The Virginia Jobs Investment Program will support the company’s employee training activities. Organizations that helped land the deal include the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp., The Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corp., and the Center for Advanced Manufacturing, which worked with Hardide Coatings for two years to secure the project. The commonwealth competed against Oklahoma and Texas during the site selection process. 2015-01-22T13:22:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/eighty-percent-of-construction-firms-in-u.s.-plan-to-expand-in-2015 Eighty percent of construction firms in U.S. plan to expand in 2015 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/eighty-percent-of-construction-firms-in-u.s.-plan-to-expand-in-2015 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/eighty-percent-of-construction-firms-in-u.s.-plan-to-expand-in-2015#When:22:56:00Z Eighty percent of U.S. construction firms plan to expand their payrolls in 2015 while only 7 percent expect to reduce headcounts, according to survey results released Wednesday by the Associated General Contractors of America. In its report, “Ready to Hire Again: The 2015 Construction Hiring and Business Outlook,” the Arlington-based trade group found that many contractors are optimistic but still worry about regulatory burdens and their ability to find enough skilled workers. "Contractors are extremely optimistic about the outlook for 2015,” Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's CEO said in a statement.  "Indeed, if their predictions prove true, industry employment could expand this year by the most in a decade." Of the 23 states with large enough survey sample sizes, 95 percent of the firms polled from Virginia said they plan to expand payrolls in 2015, more than in any other state, the report said. Sandherr noted that the number of firms planning to add employees in 2015 is significantly higher than in 2014, when only 57 percent of firms expected to add workers. Growing demand for private-sector construction should drive growth in 2015. Contractors expressed the most optimism about the retail/warehouse/lodging segment. They also reported positive opportunities for the manufacturing, private office and energy construction segments. Contractors also are looking some public sector construction, especially segments that aren't entirely dependent on federal funding. Seventy-nine percent of the firms said they plan to purchase new construction equipment in 2015, and 81 percent plan to lease new equipment. However, the scope of those investments is likely to be limited, with roughly two-thirds of firms reporting they will invest $250,000 or less. "Despite the overall optimism, some challenges remain for the industry," Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist, said in a statement. "In particular, as construction firms continue to expand, they will continue to have a difficult time finding enough skilled construction workers." Simonson noted that as the supply of construction workers tightens, compensation levels appear to be rising. Fifty-one percent of firms report they have increased base pay rates to retain construction professionals, and 46 percent have done the same to retain skilled craft workers. The firms also said that they have improved benefits packages to retain workers. Even as firms struggle with growing worker shortages, they anticipate paying more to provide health care. Eighty-one percent of firms report they expect the cost of providing health-care insurance for their employees will increase in 2015, while only 1 percent expect to pay less. Large numbers of contractors are worried about the potential impact a number of proposed new federal regulations will have on their business operations, Sandherr said. Thirty-seven percent of respondents report they are concerned about the Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to expand its jurisdiction over wetlands. Thirty-six percent of contractors worry that new regulations forcing contractors to keep detailed records of all job applicants will have a negative impact. The outlook was based on survey results from more than 900 construction firms from 48 states and the District of Columbia. 2015-01-21T22:56:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/columbia-gas-of-virginia-names-vice-president-and-general-manager-of-operat Columbia Gas of Virginia names vice president and general manager of operations http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/columbia-gas-of-virginia-names-vice-president-and-general-manager-of-operat http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/columbia-gas-of-virginia-names-vice-president-and-general-manager-of-operat#When:21:40:00Z Chester-based Columbia Gas of Virginia has named Phil Wilson vice president and general manager of operations. The appointment is effective on Feb. 1. Wilson has been operations center manager responsible for the day-to-day operations in the 22 communities the company serves in South Central Virginia,. He has more than 32 years of experience in the natural gas industry, starting with Lynchburg Gas Co. in 1982. Columbia Gas of Virginia serves portions of Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads, suburban Richmond, Central Virginia, plus the Shenandoah Valley, the Lynchburg region and parts of Western Virginia. 2015-01-21T21:40:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/hunton-williams-forms-energy-sector-security-team Hunton & Williams forms energy sector security team http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/hunton-williams-forms-energy-sector-security-team http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/hunton-williams-forms-energy-sector-security-team#When:20:07:00Z Hunton & Williams LLP has formed a multidisciplinary energy sector security team to assist clients with the legal complexities associated with growing cyber and physical threats facing energy companies. The team is being led by cybersecurity partner Paul Tiao, energy partner Kevin Jones, and energy regulatory partner Linda Walsh, and includes lawyers from a wide range of practice groups within the firm. Tiao and Walsh are based in Washington, D.C. Jones has offices in Richmond and New York. Tiao is a former assistant U.S. attorney and served as senior counselor for cybersecurity and technology to the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Hunton & Williams will advise energy companies on legal and regulatory compliance, physical and cyber security risk minimization, strategic engagement with key government agencies, comprehensive incident response, insurance coverage, and dispute resolution arising from law enforcement investigations, government enforcement actions, and private litigation. 2015-01-21T20:07:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/bill-denying-in-state-tuition-to-immigrants-fails Bill denying in-state tuition to ‘DREAM-er’ college students fails http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/bill-denying-in-state-tuition-to-immigrants-fails http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/bill-denying-in-state-tuition-to-immigrants-fails#When:14:21:00Z The Virginia Senate this week narrowly defeated a bill to deny in-state tuition to so-called “DREAM-ers” – young adults who immigrated illegally to the U.S. as children. Senate Bill 722 failed by a vote of 19-20 after Republican Sen. John Watkins of Midlothian joined with the 19 Democratic senators in opposing the measure. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Dick Black, R-Leesburg, would have added language to state law to deny in-state tuition to college students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status. These are young people who as children were brought to the United States illegally by their parents. Last year, Attorney General Mark Herring announced that DREAM-ers were eligible for in-state tuition in Virginia. The Senate is made up of 21 Republicans and 19 Democrats. Republican Sen. Jill Vogel of Winchester left the floor and abstained from the vote. A number of Democrats spoke in opposition of the bill, including Sen. Barbara Favola of Arlington. She said DACA-approved students make up less than 1 in 1,000 students receiving in-state tuition. “What this bill does is establish a class of citizens who do not have access to higher education,” Favola said. “These are citizens who are lawfully present in our country and in the commonwealth, and these are citizens who have worked very, very hard.” Sen. Dick Saslaw, D-Springfield, said that of the more than 350,000 undergraduates in Virginia public colleges and universities, only 81 have DACA status and pay in-state tuition. Saslaw said all of their families are paying taxes to Virginia. “Let me tell you, we don’t want to go on record as a state Senate putting a bill like this on the books,” Saslaw said. Republican Sen. Tom Garrett from Lynchburg spoke in favor of Black’s bill, saying the root of the problem is the federal decision to create DACA status. Garrett said because of the federal government’s “abdication” of responsibility to immigration reform, all Virginians, including DACA students, become the victims. “The federal government owes every one of us on both sides of the aisle a cohesive, coherent, meaningful immigration plan that will work and is sustainable,” Garrett said. “Then we won’t be having this fight.  But right now, in the interim, our duty is to look out for the commonwealth of Virginia and the budget of the commonwealth of Virginia.” Defending his bill, Black compared the legality of the DACA students to a speeder on the highway going 1 mile per hour over the limit.  They are technically acting illegally, but a trooper wouldn’t pull them over and try to get a conviction. “You cannot bootstrap prosecutorial discretion, and turn that into a lawful act,” Black said. The DACA-approved students are sometimes called DREAM-ers because they would have benefited from a proposed federal law called the DREAM Act. That stands for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors. 2015-01-21T14:21:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/four-projects-announced-in-virginia-beach Four projects announced in Virginia Beach http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/four-projects-announced-in-virginia-beach http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/four-projects-announced-in-virginia-beach#When:22:33:00Z Four economic development projects totaling more than $9.4 million in capital investment were announced Tuesday in Virginia Beach. The projects include: •         An expansion by Expert Global Solutions Inc. expected to create 175 new jobs •         The consolidation of several VT Milcom Inc. locations in Hampton Roads at a site on International Parkway. •         Tidewater Valve and Fitting’s plans to buy a 2.94-acre site on Crusader Circle. •         Chesapeake Bay Distillery’s plans to expand its small-craft distillery and relocate to the resort district. EGS, based in Plano, Texas, is expanding to support increased national customer and technical services in the pharmaceutical sector. The company provides business process outsourcing through its two subsidiaries – APAC Customer Services Inc. and NCO Financial Systems Inc. APAC offers customer-care services, and NCO offers financial-care services.  As part of its expansion, EGS will co-locate a new APAC division in Virginia Beach with its existing NCO operations at Baxter Road. The 30,000-square-foot office currently has 245 employees and will add 175 more during the next year. The expansion will result in $600,000 of new capital investment. The Virginia Beach Development Authority has awarded an Economic Development Investment Program grant of $50,000 based on the number of jobs created. The grant will be used to support workforce development services. The company is also eligible for the Virginia Major Business Facility Job Tax Credit Program for job creation. Meanwhile, VT Milcom, a subsidiary of VT Group, will maintain its regional headquarters on Viking Drive in Virginia Beach while consolidating several other locations at 2505 International Parkway. The new site will merge two locations in Chesapeake and one on Avenger Drive in Virginia Beach. The International Parkway facility was purchased by 2505 International LLC as an investment, and VT Milcom will be the exclusive tenant. A 89,445-square-foot industrial building sits on a 14-acre site, which can accommodate an additional 180,000-square-foot expansion. VT Milcom expects to complete the consolidation in February. VT Milcom is a technology integrator, specializing in turnkey engineering design and technical services for advanced electronics and communications systems. John M. Lee of John Lee and Associates, represented the buyer, and Lang Williams of CBRE | Hampton Roads, represented the tenant. The seller was represented by Tony Weiss, Patrick L. Mumey and Geoff Poston of Cushman & Wakefield-Thalhimer. The Virginia Beach Development Authority has awarded an APZ-1 Economic Development Investment Program grant in the amount of $110,000 based on the capital investment of $6.5 million in property, improvements and machinery and tools.  The third company, Tidewater Valve and Fitting, is a wholesale plumbing supplier primarily serving industrial, government and commercial business segments, It will relocate operations to its new facility next year. The company, a certified small, woman-owned business, has been leasing property on London Bridge Road in Virginia Beach since 2011. The facility on Crusader Circle will be 9,797 square feet when complete. The Virginia Beach Development Authority has awarded an APZ-1 EDIP grant in the amount of $40,000 based on the company’s capital investment of $1.1 million. Gresh Wall of CB Richard Ellis is representing the company. Finally, Virginia Beach-based Chesapeake Bay Distillery, established in 2005 by Chris Richeson, makes Blue Ridge Vodka, Beach Vodka and Chicks Beach Rum. Chesapeake Bay will open a 5,180-square-foot manufacturing facility and tasting room on Virginia Beach Boulevard near Baltic Avenue, The company, founded in 2005 by Chris Richeson, started making Blue Ridge Vodka at a 1,450-square-foot facility in the city’s Lynnhaven corridor. The new location is expected to allow the distillery to greatly expand its operations.  Chesapeake Bay will be one of the first businesses in the city's new creative district in the resort area. This move is expected to help attract other businesses. The Virginia Beach Development Authority has awarded an Economic Development Investment Program grant in the amount of $15,000 based on the capital investment of $1.2 million in the property and improvements. 2015-01-20T22:33:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/L_012015-unirel-larryhincker2.jpg Larry Hincker http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/virginia-tech-spokesman-larry-hincker-to-retire Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker to retire http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/virginia-tech-spokesman-larry-hincker-to-retire http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/virginia-tech-spokesman-larry-hincker-to-retire#When:21:30:00Z Lawrence "Larry" Hincker, Virginia Tech’s longtime spokesman, plans to retire  later this year. Hincker, the associate vice president for university relations at Tech, has served as the university’s senior communications officer under four presidents. He will continue working at his position until his replacement begins work. Hincker was Tech’s public face during intense media coverage after April 16, 2007 when a deranged student killed 32 people and wounded 17 others at Tech before taking his own life. "In our darkest hour, Larry's leadership, resolve, and compassion helped to hold our devastated community together," President Emeritus Charles W. Steger said in a statement. "He represented all of the Hokie Nation as he sought to do the impossible — explain the unexplainable to millions of people watching all over the world. Yet, beyond that, over the decades I had the opportunity to work with him, Larry has been an ambassador for the university and a strategic thinker and valued colleague to the university's leadership." Hired as director of educational communications in 1988, Hincker, a Virginia Tech graduate, was named head of University Relations  the next year. Since then, he has been responsible for all communication activities of the university. "Most gratifying to me are the changing and improved perceptions of Virginia Tech's reputation," Hincker said in a statement. "As communicators, we don't create the brand; we simply put a spotlight on it. I am pleased to know that University Relations had some role in helping cement our place among higher education leaders." Before coming to work at Virginia Tech, Hincker spend 14 years in corporate communications positions including manager of public information for a division of Westinghouse in Washington state and employee communications manager for a division of Rockwell International. He also was visual communications manager for a Washington state utility. 2015-01-20T21:30:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/dominion-proposes-large-scale-solar-facility-in-fauquier Dominion proposes large-scale solar facility in Fauquier http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/dominion-proposes-large-scale-solar-facility-in-fauquier http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/dominion-proposes-large-scale-solar-facility-in-fauquier#When:20:59:00Z Dominion Virginia Power is proposing to build a 20-megawatt solar facility in Fauquier County. The power company is seeking approval from the State Corporation Commission for the 125-acre project, which would include 90,000 photovoltaic panels that would generate enough electricity at peak capacity to power 5,000 homes. Dominion says the project would be Virginia’s first large-scale solar generation facility. The 20-megawatt project would be built on property near the Remington Power Station. The estimated in-service date for the facility is October 2016. "The Remington Solar Facility marks the beginning of an exciting process with large scale solar technology that adds emission-free generation in the commonwealth," Thomas F. Farrell II, chairman, president and CEO of Dominion Resources, said in a statement. Dominion is also seeking SCC approval of a Community Solar pilot program in Virginia. This project would allow customers to voluntarily purchase solar energy output from a Virginia-based 2-megawatt Dominion solar facility. "I am pleased to have worked with Dominion Virginia Power to make solar an option for residents who live in condominiums or homes that have excessive tree cover and are impractical for solar installations," Del. Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax, said in a statement. 2015-01-20T20:59:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/civil-engineers-give-virginia-a-grade-of-c-on-infrastructure Civil engineers give Virginia a grade of C- on infrastructure http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/civil-engineers-give-virginia-a-grade-of-c-on-infrastructure http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/civil-engineers-give-virginia-a-grade-of-c-on-infrastructure#When:20:17:00Z Virginia’s infrastructure is aging and, in some cases, is close to failing, according to a new report from some of the state’s civil engineers. The Virginia Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) released a report Tuesday, the 2015 Report Card for Virginia’s Infrastructure, that assessed ten infrastructure categories. Overall, Virginia came in with a grade of C-. The state’s roads received the lowest grades, with a D, while solid waste earned the highest grade of B-.  Bridges got a grade of C, with 1,186 of Virginia’s 13,765 bridges, or 8.6 percent considered structurally deficient while 2,402, or 17.4 percent, are considered functionally obsolete. While this year’s cumulative grade represents a slight improvement from the 2009 report’s “D+” average, the findings show that Virginia is barely keeping pace with maintaining aging infrastructure. Among the report’s key findings: ·         Virginia has the third largest state roadway system in the nation, with the system growing by 14 percent over the last 35 years. However in the Washington, D.C./Va./Md. Region -- considered the second worst for traffic congestion in the country -- the average motorist experienced 74 hours of travel delay annually. ·         More than 30 percent of the commonwealth’s bridges are more than 50 years old. By comparison, the national average age for bridges is 42 years. ·         About 45 percent of the state’s high-hazard dams, or 141, if breeched, could result in loss-of-life or property damage. ·         Virginia’s water systems will require nearly a $6.1 billion investment over the next 20 years as many of the drinking water systems are approaching 70 years old.  The wastewater systems will require an even larger investment of $6.8 billion. ·         By 2020, an estimated 45 percent of the water and sewer pipes in Virginia may need major renovation or replacement. ·         More than 60 percent of school facilities are older than 40 years,  and estimated renovation costs have more than doubled in recent years, exceeding $18 billion. “Safe roads and bridges, schools and parks that are well maintained, and modernized water and wastewater systems all contribute to the economy and make Virginia such a great place to live, raise a family, or own a business,” Don Rissmeyer, report card chair for the Virginia section of ASCE, said in a statement.  “Upgrading our infrastructure will prepare us for future growth, and create jobs in the process, further strengthening Virginia’s economy.” Using publicly available data, a team of engineers assessed the 10 sectors of infrastructure. They looked at the reported condition of existing assets, expected service life, current functionality and level of service, future growth needs and anticipated level of funding required to maintain structures. The grades for the categories were: Bridges (C), dams (C), drinking water (C), parks and recreation (C+), roads (D), rail and transit (C-), schools (C-), solid Waste (B-), stormwater (C-), and wastewater (D+). The engineers’ group created the Virginia Report Card as a public service for citizens and elected officials to help inform them of Virginia’s infrastructure needs and to continue a dialogue that began with the first ASCE Virginia Infrastructure Report Card in 2009. State level report cards are modeled after the national 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, which gave America’s infrastructure a grade of D+. To view the full Virginia report card, visit http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/virginia. 2015-01-20T20:17:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/panel-oks-bills-aimed-at-college-affordability Panel OKs bills aimed at college affordability http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/panel-oks-bills-aimed-at-college-affordability http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/panel-oks-bills-aimed-at-college-affordability#When:18:11:00Z Two bills aimed at making college more affordable were approved unanimously this week by the House Appropriations Committee. The bills, both introduced by Majority Leader Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, would cap student athletic fees and give certain schools more administrative flexibility. The measures won endorsements Monday from the Appropriations Committee’s Higher Education Subcommittee and then from the full panel. They now go to the entire House of Delegates for consideration. House Bill 1895 would grant several of Virginia’s smaller and mid-sized public colleges and universities additional administrative authority regarding information technology, procurement, and capital projects. House Bill 1897 would limit the amount of athletic revenue that colleges and universities collect from mandatory student fees. The caps would apply differently to Virginia’s Division I, Division II and Division III schools. Institutions would have five years to incrementally reduce mandatory student fees as a percentage of overall athletic revenue. “Making college more affordable is a central focus of our agenda this year, and these two bills are first steps towards doing that,” Cox said in a statement. “We cannot continue to saddle our young people with massive student debt.” Speaker William J. Howell of Stafford agreed. “Virginia students are borrowing over $1 billion per year to pay for college, and that’s going to hurt their long-term prosperity,” he said in a news release. “These are good bills to help make college more affordable for families and students. I look forward to their final passage later this week.” 2015-01-20T18:11:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/franklin-johnston-group-will-manage-marina-shores-in-virginia-beach Franklin Johnston Group will manage Marina Shores in Virginia Beach http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/franklin-johnston-group-will-manage-marina-shores-in-virginia-beach http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/franklin-johnston-group-will-manage-marina-shores-in-virginia-beach#When:17:40:00Z Marina Shores Apartments in Virginia Beach has turned to a local company for its site management. The Franklin Johnston Group, based at the beach, said Tuesday that it has been selected to manage the 392-unit complex on Great Neck Road. The property was formerly managed by Mckinley Inc., based in Ann Arbor, Mich. Marina Shores was built in 1991. Rents range from $1,060 to $1,615, depending on a unit’s size. Amenities include a pool, tennis courts, playground, fitness center, clubhouse and business center. The property is within a short walk to the beach and is close to three major military bases.            The Franklin Johnston Group develops and manages multifamily rental residences in the senior, luxury and affordable housing sectors. The company owns and manages more than 10,000 units and 53 properties throughout the eastern U.S. The portfolio includes its own properties as well as those owned in partnership with individual and institutional investors. 2015-01-20T17:40:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Hyatt_Regency_Tysons_Corner_Center.jpg http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/new-hyatt-regency-at-tysons-corner-expects-to-hire-more-than-100-employees New Hyatt Regency at Tysons Corner expects to hire more than 100 employees http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/new-hyatt-regency-at-tysons-corner-expects-to-hire-more-than-100-employees http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/new-hyatt-regency-at-tysons-corner-expects-to-hire-more-than-100-employees#When:21:24:00Z The Hyatt Regency at Tysons Corner Center in Tysons said Monday that it expects to hire more than 100 employees.  The property, slated to open this winter or spring, is accepting online applications for a wide range of positions, from sales to engineering. People interested in applying can visit http://www.tysonscornercenter.regency.hyatt.com to see a list of open positions. As the newest Hyatt Regency branded hotel in the Washington D.C.-Northern Virginia area in more than 20 years, the 300-room, 18-story property will cater to business and leisure travelers. Hyatt Regency Tysons Corner Center is connected to the Tysons Corner Center shopping mall and provides access to the nation’s capital, Northern Virginia’s technology and corporate center, two major airports and the Silver Line Metrorail Station. 2015-01-19T21:24:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/alexandria-one-stop-closing-to-building-a-new-metrorail-station Alexandria one step closer to building a new Metrorail station http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/alexandria-one-stop-closing-to-building-a-new-metrorail-station http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/alexandria-one-stop-closing-to-building-a-new-metrorail-station#When:16:58:00Z Alexandria is one step closer to getting a new a new Metrorail station in the Potomac Yard area, a project expected to generate billions of dollars in new private sector investment.  The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) has approved a $50 million, low-interest loan from the state’s Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Bank to assist Alexandria in building the station. The Potomac Yard Metrorail Station would be built on Metro's Yellow and Blue lines, in between the Braddock Road and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport stations, with a specific location yet to be decided. According to the city of Alexandria, new development around the station is expected to generate private sector investment supporting up to 26,000 jobs within a quarter mile of the station and 13,000 new residents within one half mile. The project is part of Alexandria's strategy to focus development on areas served by public transit. The total cost of the project is expected to be between $209 million and $268 million. The loan from the VTIB provides up-front construction funds at lower interest rates than municipal bonds, 2.17 percent over 30 years, and would be repaid in part with revenues from new development at Potomac Yard. The remaining financing would come from private developer contributions, two already created tax districts, the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority and federal funding. Alexandria is in the process of completing an environmental impact as a part of applying for federal funds. The city is expected to chose a final location for the station in April. If it receives funding, the station is expected to open in late 2018. 2015-01-19T16:58:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/ethics-is-a-key-issue-for-2015-assembly Ethics is a key issue for 2015 assembly http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/ethics-is-a-key-issue-for-2015-assembly http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/ethics-is-a-key-issue-for-2015-assembly#When:15:56:00Z With a former governor heading to prison for corruption and his successor calling for a cap on gifts to politicians, ethics reform is high on the agenda for the Virginia General Assembly’s 2015 session. Lawmakers have filed at least 15 bills dealing with gifts, conflicts of interest and other ethical issues. That follows the assembly’s creation of the Virginia Conflict of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council in 2014 to oversee legislators’ activities. The council hasn’t been appointed yet, but it will include five retired lawmakers, four citizens and a retired judge. “Important parts of the debate will include what kinds of teeth any new rules should have,” said Bob Gibson, executive director of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia. He expects the debate also will address “how full and frequent reporting requirements should be.” The debate is driven in part by the conviction of former Gov. Bob McDonnell for corruption. On Jan. 6, he was sentenced to two years in prison for accepting more than $177,000 in gifts and loans in exchange for helping a businessman promote a health supplement. At the sentencing, Republican House Speaker William Howell said there will be “significant amendments on gifts in session.” When the General Assembly convened last Wednesday, Gov. Terry McAuliffe also weighed in. In his State of the Commonwealth speech, McAuliffe, a Democrat, called for putting a $100 cap on the gifts that public officials in Virginia can receive. Virginia law currently says public officials cannot accept “tangible gifts” worth more than $250 from lobbyists or from individuals or entities seeking state contracts. A tangible gift means money or something that can easily be sold. The law does not limit “intangible gifts,” such as meals, trips or tickets to events. A half-dozen bills introduced this legislation session address the issue of gifts. Senate Bill 696, sponsored by Sens. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax, and Richard Stuart, R-Westmoreland, would prohibit state and local government officers and employees, including legislators and legislative candidates, from accepting “tangible gifts” worth more than $100. That ban also would apply to the public official’s immediate family. Under SB 696, government employees could accept an “intangible gift” worth more than $100, but only with written approval from the ethics council. “The Council may approve those requests that provide a public benefit and do not raise the appearance of impropriety,” the measure says. Other bills addressing gifts include: • House Bill 1598, sponsored by Delegate Vivian Watts, D-Annandale. Under this measure, any limits on gifts to public officials would also apply to their immediate family members. Violations of this legislation would draw a minimum fine of $2,500. • HB 1667, filed by Delegate David Bulova, D-Fairfax. It would prohibit public officials from receiving a gift or a combination of gifts “with a value exceeding $100 from any person.” The measure includes an exception for events that are sponsored by a nonprofit or government entity and are open to the public. • SB 777, introduced by Sen. Stephen Newman, R-Forest. It would allow legislators to identify themselves as “gift-free,” so lobbyists and the general public would know. An ethical issue related to gifts involves travel. SB 924, filed by Sen. Jennifer Wexton, D-Leesburg, states that “a member of the assembly shall not be entitled to compensation or reimbursement for expenses for attendance or services performed at a conference for which the conference agenda or materials are not readily available to the public.” Under SB 735, sponsored by Sen. David Marsden, D-Burke, legislators would need the ethics council’s approval before accepting more than $250 in lodging, transportation, hospitality or other travel-related services from a lobbyist or someone hoping for a state contract. Approval would be given when “at least 90 percent of the travel is dedicated to the purpose of economic development, diplomacy, trade relations, or education or is in furtherance of carrying out duties imposed by statute or the work of any standing committee of the General Assembly or legislative interim study commission or committee.” HB 1305, proposed by Delegate Peter Farrell, R-Henrico, deals with a different issue: lawmakers who leave office to work for a government agency. This became an issue last year when Republicans allegedly offered Sen. Phillip Puckett, D-Tazewell, a position with the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission if he would resign from the Senate. (Puckett resigned, giving Republicans control of the Senate, but he did not take a job with the Tobacco Commission.) Farrell’s bill would prohibit “any legislator, during the one year following his termination of service as a legislator, from accepting an appointment to or employment with a governmental agency. The bill exempts appointments by the Governor to serve as a Governor’s Secretary from this one-year prohibition.” HB 1479, sponsored by Democratic Dels. Kaye Kory of Falls Church and Scott Surovell of Mount Vernon, has a similar goal. However, it would allow recently retired legislators to serve as court-appointed counsel. 2015-01-19T15:56:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/breeden-co.-breaks-ground-on-20-million-apartment-project-in-newport-news Breeden Co. breaks ground on $20 million apartment project in Newport News http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/breeden-co.-breaks-ground-on-20-million-apartment-project-in-newport-news http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/breeden-co.-breaks-ground-on-20-million-apartment-project-in-newport-news#When:15:55:00Z The Breeden Co. has broken ground on a new $20 million apartment project in Newport News. According to the Virginia Beach-based company, Parkside at Charles Street will include 148 one-, two- and three-bedroom units and 32 garages. The project includes seven garden apartment buildings, a fitness center and a swimming pool. The first of the units are scheduled to be available for rent by the fourth quarter of 2015, with full project completion planned by summer of 2016. Parkside is the Breeden’s second apartment project to break ground this year. The first one was Aqua on 25th in Virginia Beach, which will have 147 units. Also on the company’s schedule for this year is Harbor Vista at Crawford Street in Portsmouth (134 units), Eagle Harbor West in Carrollton (208 units), THE MARQ in Virginia Beach (264 units) and The Village at Westlake in Richmond (252 units Altogether, the six projects would bring more than 1,100 units to the market. Breeden Construction said it would serve as the general contractor for all projects. 2015-01-19T15:55:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/lawmakers-seek-to-restrict-drones Lawmakers seek to restrict drones http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/lawmakers-seek-to-restrict-drones http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/lawmakers-seek-to-restrict-drones#When:15:20:00Z Five bills before the General Assembly would restrict the use of drones in Virginia, including two that would let localities prohibit even hobbyists from flying small unmanned aircraft. Bills proposed by Del. Scott Surovell, D-Mount Vernon, and Sen. Jennifer Wexton, D-Leesburg, would allow local governments to ban individuals from flying drones under 55 pounds. Currently, the Federal Aviation Administration allows hobbyists to fly such model aircraft as long as they follow safety guidelines. The bans authorized by Surovell’s House Bill 2017and Wexton’s Senate Bill 937 could apply to widely available quadcopters like the DJI Phantom and Parrot AR Drone, which are sold at hobby shops and do not require a license to fly for personal use. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, a nonprofit advocacy group with more than 7,000 members, worries that outright bans on the use of drones by individuals could stifle the personal liberties of pilots. The group also fears that such bans could prevent businesses from flying model aircraft if the FAA opens the door to commercial use of drones. The association wants to expand the use of unmanned aircraft nationwide by private individuals, businesses, government agencies and first-responders while addressing privacy and safety issues. Virginia already restricts the use of drones by government and law enforcement agencies. In 2013, the General Assembly passed a two-year moratorium regulating government drones, making Virginia the first state to do so. The moratorium banned the use of drones for warrantless surveillance and for carrying weapons, but it allowed their deployment in National Guard training and emergency situations like the search for University of Virginia student Hannah Graham, who went missing in September and was later found dead. When the moratorium expires in July, lawmakers hope to have new regulations in place. One proposal, HB 2125, was submitted by Del. Ben Cline, R-Rockbridge County, the sponsor of the moratorium. It would let law enforcement agencies use drones for surveillance as long as they obtain a warrant for each flight. The bill contains an exception for specific emergencies. No warrant would be needed, for example, to use a drone during an Amber Alert, when police are searching for a missing child. Cline’s bill also would allow colleges and universities to use drones for research. Bills submitted by Del. C. Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah County, and Sen. Donald McEachin, D-Richmond, also would require governments to secure warrants to use drones, with exemptions for emergencies and institutions of higher education. But the proposals by Gilbert (HB 2077) and McEachin (SB 1301) would restrict the ways data from drones can be used in court to safeguard against potential privacy infringements. Privacy advocates ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia to the Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation worry that without oversight, law enforcement and government agencies could abuse drones to expand surveillance. Many businesses, from farms to advertising agencies, would like to use drones – something the Federal Aviation Administration is drafting regulations for now. The FAA has authorized research on commercial drone use at six test sites nationwide, including one at Virginia Tech. Last week, 10 news agencies, including The Washington Post and The New York Times, announced a partnership with Virginia Tech to research the use of drones in journalism. The partnership allows researchers at Virginia Tech to fly simulated tests for newsgathering drones. It does not permit any of the news organizations to use drones in their current reporting. Many officials say the use of drones by the private sector could have a lot of benefits and create jobs. “Early in this process, the commonwealth of Virginia realized how vital unmanned aircraft systems testing is for building a new Virginia economy focused on innovation, diversification and new technology that will enable Virginia to compete on a global scale,” Gov. Terry McAuliffe said at the opening of the Virginia Tech test site in August. “We publicly pledged support to this effort and then backed up those words with funding.” According to a report by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, if drones are allowed for commercial use in the U.S., in three years they could generate up to 70,000 jobs and $13.6 billion in economic activity. The FAA is expected to propose rules governing the commercial use of small unmanned aircraft sometime this year. Then there would be a lengthy comment period for pilots, privacy advocates, regulators and others to weigh in on the proposals. To track or comment on the bills restricting drones, visit the Richmond Sunlight website: ·         https://www.richmondsunlight.com/bill/2015/hb2017/ ·         https://www.richmondsunlight.com/bill/2015/hb2077/ ·         https://www.richmondsunlight.com/bill/2015/hb2125/ ·         https://www.richmondsunlight.com/bill/2015/sb937/ ·         https://www.richmondsunlight.com/bill/2015/sb1301/ NOTE: This article has been updated to include bill numbers and links to how readers can track and comment on the bills. 2015-01-19T15:20:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/hracre-elects-new-officers HRACRE elects new officers http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/hracre-elects-new-officers http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/hracre-elects-new-officers#When:14:46:00Z The Hampton Roads Association for Commercial Real Estate (HRACRE), a multi-disciplined organization of 600 executives and professionals active in the commercial real estate industry in the Hampton Roads region, has elected its slate of officers for 2015. Ann K. Crenshaw, a partner in the law firm of Kaufman & Canoles, will serve as president. The other officers are: President-elect, Jeremy R. Starkey, president- Commercial Real Estate Finance Group, Monarch Bank; and Secretary/Treasurer, Robert Orlando, general manager, Patrick Henry Mall. 2015-01-19T14:46:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/wheeler-acquired-eight-shopping-centers-in-2014 Wheeler acquired eight shopping centers in 2014 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/wheeler-acquired-eight-shopping-centers-in-2014 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/wheeler-acquired-eight-shopping-centers-in-2014#When:20:54:00Z Virginia Beach-based Wheeler Real Estate Investment Trust Inc. acquired eight shopping centers for $58 million last year, according to a company overview. The real estate deals, which occurred during the second half of 2014, added 622,792 square feet of gross leasable area to the company’s property portfolio and expanded its geographic footprint. Wheeler now has 37 properties in 11 states, which includes five undeveloped properties and Pierpont Centre, a 122,259-square-foot shopping center in Morgantown, W.Va. that the company acquired on Jan 14. Jon S. Wheeler, the company’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement that the company has focused on “acquiring ‘necessity-based,’ retail-focus properties located in secondary and tertiary markets with high occupancy rates and strong tenants mixes.” 2015-01-16T20:54:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Shunde-Admin-Entrance2.jpg A Rainbow Station school in China. http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/rainbow-station-signs-first-franchise-partner-in-china Rainbow Station signs first franchise partner in China http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/rainbow-station-signs-first-franchise-partner-in-china http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/rainbow-station-signs-first-franchise-partner-in-china#When:20:44:00Z Rainbow Station schools has signed its first franchise partner in China, the Glen Allen-based company announced this week. Yuanbiao Song, of Shenzhen Yuanhengjia Education Co. Ltd., plans to open six Rainbow Station schools in China by the end of 2016. The school plans to grow quickly abroad through franchises, with a goal of opening 110 Rainbow Station schools in China over the next five years. (China is already home to two company-owned Rainbow Stations.) A school in Indonesia, originally slated to open last August, is also in the pipeline.  In the U.S., Rainbow Station offerings include nursery, preschool, kindergarten and after-school programs. Song is aiming to open three Rainbow Stations in China this year and three in 2016. In the last decade, Song has opened 12 kindergartens, two primary schools and a high school in China. “Rainbow Station provides a tremendous opportunity for Chinese children, and its program is a valuable asset to the international education system as a whole,” Song said in a statement. “I look forward to providing an early education learning experience of the highest standard that will enable the children of China to be successful and competitive in the 21st century.” Rainbow Station has 10 locations in the U.S., including franchises in Virginia, North Carolina and Texas. 2015-01-16T20:44:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/columbia-gas-of-virginia-names-new-president Columbia Gas of Virginia names new president http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/columbia-gas-of-virginia-names-new-president http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/columbia-gas-of-virginia-names-new-president#When:19:00:00Z Brent Archer has been named president of Chester-based Columbia Gas of Virginia, effective April 1. Carl Levander, who has been president of Columbia Gas of Virginia since 2006, will become chief regulatory officer for NiSource Gas Distribution based in Columbus, Ohio. Columbia Gas of Virginia is a NiSource subsidiary. Archer is director of business policy at Columbia Gas of Virginia where he oversees the company’s legislative, regulatory and customer energy efficiency programs. He has nearly 30 years of experience in the natural gas industry in communications, government and regulatory affairs. He joined Columbia Gas in 1986. Archer holds a bachelor’s degree from Marshall University, and an MBA from the West Virginia University Graduate College.  He is president of the Virginia Oil & Gas Association, which represents natural gas producers, transporters and distributors in the commonwealth. In addition, he is a 2009 graduate of LEAD Virginia and is a board member-elect of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce Columbia Gas of Virginia serves more than 250,000 residential, commercial and industrial natural gas customers in 84 communities in Virginia. 2015-01-16T19:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-to-explore-solar-energy-development-near-state-property Virginia to explore solar energy development near state property http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-to-explore-solar-energy-development-near-state-property http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-to-explore-solar-energy-development-near-state-property#When:09:56:00Z Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced Thursday that VAP3 had issued a Request for Information to study whether solar energy development at, around or on top of state-owned property would make business sense and benefit the public. The RFI is seeking responses from individuals, firms and organizations with experience in solar energy development that might have interest in developing a public-private partnership project with Virginia. “Existing state assets have great potential to generate new revenues and reduce energy costs from solar energy,” VAP3 Director J. Douglas Koelemay said in a statement. “Responses to our RFI will help unlock this potential and help us keep our facilities in a state of good repair.” More information on the project can be found at: http://www.p3virginia.org/projects/solar-energy-development/. 2015-01-16T09:56:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/poll-colleges-should-report-assaults-to-police Poll: colleges should report assaults to police http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/poll-colleges-should-report-assaults-to-police http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/poll-colleges-should-report-assaults-to-police#When:00:27:00Z More than nine out of 10 Virginians think colleges and universities should be required to report campus sexual assaults to police, according to a statewide poll released Thursday. The Commonwealth Education Poll, conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University, found that 92 percent of respondents said sexual assaults involving college students should be referred to police, not simply handled by school officials. That number surprised Dr. Robyn McDougle, interim executive director of VCU’s Commonwealth Educational Policy Institute. “Rarely is there such a strong consensus on any issue in our public discourse about such a charged issue,” says McDougle, an associate professor at the Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs. “Lawmakers in an election year will pay close attention to this type of overwhelming sentiment.” Campus rapes and other sexual assaults have been the focus of concern in Virginia and across the country. Two bills before the General Assembly would require campus police to alert the commonwealth’s attorney about sexual assaults within 48 hours: House Bill 1343, sponsored by Del. Eileen Filler-Corn. D-Fairfax; and HB 1785, introduced by Del. Jimmie Massie, R-Richmond. According to the Commonwealth Education Poll, 61 percent of Virginians believe that actions available to college administrators can significantly decrease the number of sexual assaults. However, 35 percent of those polled said that sexual assaults of college students would happen regardless of administrative action. “College campuses are known to have many unsupervised activities,” McDougle said in explaining why some may feel that way. “There are lots of risk factors.” State officials are pushing college administrators to address sexual assaults. In his State of the Commonwealth speech on Wednesday, Gov. Terry McAuliffe said he wants all of Virginia’s public colleges and universities to develop a sexual misconduct policy by July 31. The Commonwealth Education Poll also asked Virginians how safe they think college and university campuses are in Virginia. Statewide, 32 percent of respondents characterized campuses as “not very safe” or “not at all safe.” The perception of safety varied significantly by gender: 40 percent of women said campuses were “not very safe” or “not at all safe”; only 22 percent of men felt that way. McDougle said she believes the disparity was due in part to the fact that the poll was taken at the end of December and beginning of January. That was shortly after extensive media coverage about Hannah Graham, a University of Virginia student who was abducted and killed; and about a much-disputed Rolling Stone article that alleged there was a “culture of rape” at U.Va. “It definitely impacted decisions and responses, but in general, women are always going to feel more like a victim of sexual assault than men, especially in urban areas,” McDougle said. “We have conducted many surveys prior to this one and have seen that women are usually more fearful and fear themselves to be a victim more than men.” Perceptions of campus safety also varied by region. In South Central Virginia, 42 percent of respondents said campuses were “not very safe” or “not at all safe;” only 19 percent of people in Northern Virginia responded that way. The Commonwealth Education Poll was based on telephone interviews with 806 adults, age 18 and older, in Virginia. The poll had a margin of error of 4.1 percentage points. To view more details on this and previous polls, visit http://cepi.vcu.edu/publications/polls/. How safe are college campuses in Virginia? | Create infographics 2015-01-16T00:27:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/BillyKing_5x71.jpg http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/billy-king-is-new-president-and-ceo-for-harvey-lindsay-commercial-real-esta Billy King is new president and CEO for Harvey Lindsay Commercial Real Estate http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/billy-king-is-new-president-and-ceo-for-harvey-lindsay-commercial-real-esta http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/billy-king-is-new-president-and-ceo-for-harvey-lindsay-commercial-real-esta#When:21:35:00Z Harvey Lindsay Commercial Real Estate has named William E. King as president and CEO. The appointment took effect on Jan. 1. Known to colleagues and friends as Billy, King assumes the top job with a 31-year career in the industry. “He holds many leadership roles in our community and is dedicated to making Hampton Roads a better place to live and work. His values are an extension of our firm, and we look forward to working with him,” Dawna L. Ellis, the company’s chief financial officer, said in a statement. King joined Norfolk-based Harvey Lindsay in 1983 after three years of practicing law with Hofheimer, Nusbaum (now Williams Mullen). He developed his career in office leasing and since 1990 has worked in industrial brokerage. King has served as the firm’s vice president of industrial brokerage, team leader of industrial brokerage, senior vice president and member of the board of directors. He also has been active in industry and community groups. After achieving his SIOR designation (Society of Industrial and Office Realtors) in 1990, King served as president of the Virginia Chapter of SIOR in 1999 – 2000. He was a board member with the Norfolk division of the Commercial Real Estate Council of HRAA, and past chairman of the advisory board of Old Dominion Center for Real Estate and Economic Development. In 2014, he served as chairman of the Norfolk division of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce. He currently serves as a member of the executive committee of the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance. The company cited his appointment as a key element in the growth strategy of Harvey Lindsay Commercial Real Estate, which has operated in the Hampton Roads’ region for 70 years. 2015-01-15T21:35:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/gumenick-properties-is-moving-to-new-richmond-headquarters Gumenick Properties is moving to new Richmond headquarters http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/gumenick-properties-is-moving-to-new-richmond-headquarters http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/gumenick-properties-is-moving-to-new-richmond-headquarters#When:15:49:00Z Gumenick Properties will move its headquarters this week to Libbie Mill-Midtown, a new 80-acre, mixed-use community under development by the company. Gumenick plans to begin operations at the new location on Monday, Jan. 19. Libbie Mill-Midtown is located between West Broad Street and Staples Mill Road near Libbie Avenue. According to Gumenick, the move marks two milestones. It is the first time in nearly 70 years of operation that the company has owned its own offices. In addition, the company is the second firm to operate from office spaces at Libbie Mill-Midtown.  The first group to open an office there was the Richmond Memorial Health Foundation, a regional, private health foundation that moved in last fall. Gumenick Properties will occupy about 15,000 square feet of space on the second floor of the same two-story, mixed-use retail and office building. The structure is located near one of the community’s entrances on Staples Mill Road. Gumenick Properties’ new Richmond address is 4901 Libbie Mill East Blvd., Suite 200. “Our new location puts us in the heart of the Midtown District, the most dynamic area in Central Virginia,” Wayne Chasen, Gumenick Properties’ president, said in a statement. When complete, Libbie Mill--Midtown is projected to have 994 homes and 1,096 apartments. The community also will have a total of about 160,000 square feet of retail space. Development of the neighborhood is estimated to take about 10 years. Southern Season, based in Chapel Hill, N.C., was the first retail tenant at Libbie Mill-Midtown. It opened a 53,000-square foot gourmet food store last summer. Currently, construction is underway on the Libbie Mill–Midtown Library, which will replace the county’s existing Dumbarton Library. The new three-story library will be located next to a two-acre lake, creating a gathering place surrounded by residences and shops. The library, which will have approximately 60,000 square feet of floor space, is slated to open in November 2015. Gumenick Properties donated the land for the library. CBRE|Richmond represents Gumenick Properties for leasing of retail and office portions of Libbie Mill--Midtown. Based in Henrico County, Gumenick Properties is a real estate development and management company with investment properties in Florida and Virginia. In addition, the company currently is engaged in the creation of two new home communities, Grayson Hill and Monument Square in Henrico. 2015-01-15T15:49:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/appraised-value-of-james-center-in-downtown-richmond-drops-below-amount-of Appraised value of James Center in downtown Richmond drops below amount of its CMBS debt http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/appraised-value-of-james-center-in-downtown-richmond-drops-below-amount-of http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/appraised-value-of-james-center-in-downtown-richmond-drops-below-amount-of#When:22:29:00Z The appraised value of the James Center office complex in downtown Richmond has fallen below the total of its commercial mortgage backed securities (CMBS) debt, according to Trepp LLC, a real estate analytics company. Trepp, based out of New York, reported in an email newsletter today that the appraised value of the 22-story, 975,000-square-foot complex at 901, 1021 and 1051 East Cary Street came in at $136 million in September, down from a $192.5 million appraisal done in 2005 and below the $150 million in securitized CMBS debt still owed on the building. According to Trepp documents, the James Center debt is structured in two pieces, for $100 million and $50 million. The $100 million loan was transferred to a special servicer, CW Capital Asset Management, in June while the $50 million piece went to another special servicer, LNR Partners I, in August. The reason given in Trepp’s documents is “imminent default due to major tenant leaving the premises upon lease expiration on 8/31/15.” The major tenant is the law firm of McGuire Woods. It’s moving to Gateway Plaza next year, a high-rise currently under construction across the street from the James Center. With the move, the law firm is downsizing a bit to 205,000 square feet compared to the 250,000 square feet it leases at James Center One, about 24 percent of the center’s gross leasable space. Also leaving One James Center for Gateway Plaza is CCA Industries, a company with several resort properties in its portfolio. It signed a 25,000-square-foot lease for the building’s top floor. Other major tenants at the James Center are Wells Fargo with 144,815 square feet.  Its lease expires in February 2020, and Davenport and Co., with a 79,836-square-foot lease that ends in January 2022. According to Trepp, the Class A property had an occupancy of 88.6 percent in June. “There’s no reason to hit the panic button yet, but there’s still cause for concern,” said Sean Barrie, a research analyst for Trepp. “If they can fill the vacancies, that would be a huge step. Once you lose a large tenant, if you can’t fill the space, if can drop the financials for a while.” Overall, though, the fact that the appraisal is just a little below the current balance “isn’t as bad at it could be,” Barrie added. Plus, the current appraisal of the James Center complex comes nearly 10 years since another appraisal, done shortly after a renovation. JEMB Realty Corp. in New York, the building's owner, selected Jll as the leasing agent for the office space at the James Center last February. A spokeswoman for JLL said the firm could not comment in terms of how leasing efforts are going. The buildings are owned and operated by James Center Property LLC, an affiliate of JEMB Realty. Tenant amenities include a fitness center and a 50,000-square-foot retail atrium that connects to the Omni Hotel. The center is well known in the business district for its annual display of thousands of lights on reindeers and a large holiday tree during the holiday season. 2015-01-14T22:29:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/WBM_-_JAN_20141.jpg http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/nv-retail-breaks-ground-on-west-broad-marketplace-in-henrico-county NV Retail breaks ground on West Broad Marketplace in Henrico County http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/nv-retail-breaks-ground-on-west-broad-marketplace-in-henrico-county http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/nv-retail-breaks-ground-on-west-broad-marketplace-in-henrico-county#When:22:26:00Z Richmond’s icy weather didn’t stop representatives from NV Retail and Excel Trust, the principal developers of West Broad Marketplace in Henrico County, from officially breaking ground Wednesday on their 440,000-square-foot, multi-use project. County officials joined their out-of-town guests during a brief ceremony to commemorate the official launch of the project. The site will be home to anchor tenants Cabela’s and Wegman’s. Construction is expected to continue through 2016, with a projected opening of Cabela’s in April of 2016, followed closely by Wegman’s.  The local general contractor, J.E. Liesfeld Contractor Inc. of Rockville,  started site work in December.  The center is located on West Broad Street just west of Short Pump Town Center near the Goochland County line. Cabela’s, a retailer of outdoor gear, plans an 82,000-square-foot store, and Wegmans has said it will build a 140,000-square-foot store, along with another store in Midlothian. NV Retail, based out of Vienna, and Excel, a real estate investment trust with a headquarters in San Diego, Calif., also plan retail shops, restaurants, office and medical space. 2015-01-14T22:26:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/alexandria-receives-state-loan-to-build-new-metorail-station Alexandria receives state loan to build new Metrorail Station http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/alexandria-receives-state-loan-to-build-new-metorail-station http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/alexandria-receives-state-loan-to-build-new-metorail-station#When:20:52:00Z Alexandria will receive a $50 million loan to build a new Metrorail station in the Potomac Yard area. The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) approved the loan from the Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Bank (VTIB), Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced Wednesday. The Potomac Yard Metrorail Station will be built on Metro's Yellow and Blue lines, in between the Braddock Road and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport stations. The station is expected to generate private sector investment that would support up to 26,000 jobs and 13,000 new residents in the area surrounding the station. The station is part of Alexandria's strategy to focus development on areas served by public transit. The cost of the project is expected to be between $209 million and $268 million. The loan from the VTIB provides up-front construction funds at lower interest rates than municipal bonds and will be repaid with revenues from development at Potomac Yard and two special tax districts surrounding the station. The remaining costs will be paid by private developers, the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority and federal funding. Alexandria is currently completing an environmental impact for federal funds. The city is expected to chose a final location for the station in April, and the station is expected to open in late 2018. 2015-01-14T20:52:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/chicago-real-estate-company-buys-midlands-townhomes-in-williamsburg Chicago real estate company buys Midlands Townhomes units in Williamsburg http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/chicago-real-estate-company-buys-midlands-townhomes-in-williamsburg http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/chicago-real-estate-company-buys-midlands-townhomes-in-williamsburg#When:20:10:00Z Chicago-based Growth Equity Group has acquired 32 Midlands Townhomes units in Williamsburg. Growth Equity will sell units  to individual investors interested in owning rental property. The property has a total of 145 units. Financial details of the deal were not announced. Growth Equity also recently had acquired the Timberwoods development in Newport News “Located in one of the strongest rental markets in Virginia, we believe the Midlands Townhomes development provides individuals with a compelling opportunity to add income-producing assets to their investment portfolio,”  Brett Immel, senior partner and co-founder of Growth Equity Group, said in a statement. “Given the strong demand for properties that Growth Equity Group experienced with the Timberwoods development, we encourage interested parties to contact us immediately.” The Midlands Townhomes, which are near the College of William and Mary campus, feature 1,020- to 1,189-square-foot properties with two to three bedrooms and 1.5 to 2 bathrooms. 2015-01-14T20:10:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/hampton-roads-economic-development-alliance-ceo-leaving Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance CEO leaving http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/hampton-roads-economic-development-alliance-ceo-leaving http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/hampton-roads-economic-development-alliance-ceo-leaving#When:19:59:00Z Darryl Gosnell is leaving his position president and CEO of the Norfolk-based Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance (HREDA). A statement released by HREDA said Gosnell will depart at the end of the month to pursue new opportunities. HREDA's immediate past Chairman Bob Boyd said, that since Gosnell joined the organization in 2008, it has announced more than 30 projects representing more than $272 million in capital investment, utilizing more than 2 million square feet of commercial real estate and creating more than 2,300 new jobs. “On behalf of the board of directors, executive committee and officers, we wish Darryl the very best going forward, and we appreciate his efforts to attract new capital investment and jobs to the Hampton Roads economy” Boyd said in a statement.  “Several recent announcements helped create a positive finish to 2014, and we are optimistic about the potential for 2015 to be a banner year for business attraction in Hampton Roads.” The search for a new president and CEO will begin immediately, HREDA said.  In the interim, Tom Elder, its executive vice president, will be the main point of contact. 2015-01-14T19:59:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/richmond-based-hilb-group-acquires-insurance-operation Richmond-based Hilb Group acquires insurance operation http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/richmond-based-hilb-group-acquires-insurance-operation http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/richmond-based-hilb-group-acquires-insurance-operation#When:15:27:00Z Richmond-based insurance broker The Hilb Group said Wednesday it has acquired  CityInsurance, the insurance operations of City National Bank of Charleston,  W. Va. James Myers will continue to lead CityInsurance , which will still operate from City National's offices in West Virginia. CityInsurance also will continue to provide personal insurance from other City National Bank branches. "We are thrilled to have CityInsurance as a part of the Hilb Group,” Robert J. Hilb, president and CEO of The Hilb Group,  said in a statement. “We believe this transition will create enormous opportunity for all CityInsurance employees as they will now be a part of a dynamic and growing insurance organization. With our combined resources we can expand the product offering and expertise available to all CityInsurance customers." The Hilb Group, founded in 2009, aims to grow through targeted acquisitions in the middle-market insurance brokerage space. The company has offices in Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. 2015-01-14T15:27:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/taking-a-long-view-on-virginias-health Taking a long view on Virginia’s health http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/taking-a-long-view-on-virginias-health http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/taking-a-long-view-on-virginias-health#When:15:25:00Z The year 1990 marked the release of the very first America’s Health Rankings report — when we first learned where Virginia ranks relative to every other state in overall health and wellness. As UnitedHealthcare’s CEO in the Mid-Atlantic region, I always look forward to this annual report because it provides an overview of where we stand in health compared with our peer states. As they say, we can’t improve what we don’t measure. That’s as true for health as it is for anything else. The special 25th anniversary report provides a reflection of Virginia’s health that is at once sobering and encouraging. Areas of the public health such as infant mortality rate, cardiovascular deaths and preventable hospitalizations have steadily decreased since the report launched in 25 years ago. Binge drinking, infectious disease and smoking are down across the nation — especially here in Virginia. But there is still more work to be done. Not nearly enough children and teens in our state are receiving proper immunizations. Nearly 30 percent of children and 40 percent of adolescents haven’t received immunizations — which unfortunately puts Virginia below the national average in that area. Plus, even though infant mortality has indeed decreased, the state still reported 6.6 deaths per 1,000 live births — a number that many will agree is still too high. Taking a long view on health and wellness in Virginia, it’s clear we need to focus our energy on encouraging healthy decision-making. We’ve already made strong strides, but we still have more to do. When it comes to the future of Virginia’s health, we are all in it together. I look forward to continuing progress where we do well and galvanizing energy to address areas where we need improvement. At this important moment, let’s commit to making the changes necessary today to ensure that, 25 years from now, we can celebrate a quarter century of meaningful health improvement. Christopher J. Mullins is CEO of UnitedHealthcare of the Mid-Atlantic. 2015-01-14T15:25:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/mcauliffe-proposes-transportation-reforms McAuliffe proposes transportation reforms http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/mcauliffe-proposes-transportation-reforms http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/mcauliffe-proposes-transportation-reforms#When:21:29:00Z Gov. Terry McAuliffe proposed Tuesday transportation legislation designed to better prioritize transportation spending in Virginia and prevent another debacle like the construction of a new U.S. 460. The proposals would change the state’s transportation funding formula and change the way in which the state delivers projects under its Public-Private Transportation Act. Virginia wasted $300 million in taxpayer money on U.S. 460, when contractors began design work on the road without having secured environmental permits. On Monday, Virginia and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced they had reached agreement on a new alternative route for the 460 highway project. “This legislation maximizes limited resources by providing the right funding structure to restore aging roads and bridges and make other critical improvements to Virginia’s transportation network,” Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne said in a statement.   The legislative package, sponsored by Republican Del. S. Chris Jones, R-Newport News, and Del. Tom Rust, R-Herndon, includes the following proposals: Highway formula changes "Current highway funding formulas do not meet today’s needs,” McAuliffe said. “The outdated formulas result in a lack of funding for local needs, including replacing aging bridges and pavements.  The bill greatly simplifies the myriad of rules governing the distribution of transportation funding, which will make funding more reliable and consistent.” Changes to the formula The bill provides a new transportation funding formula.  Under the old system, funds were given directly to the localities, which made it difficult to use for big projects.  Proposed changes include: 40 percent of the money would go to the rehabilitation of structurally deficient bridges and deteriorating pavement. 30 percent of funding would go to projects of statewide importance, which will be completed under House Bill Two (HB2). HB2, signed into law last year, requires the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) to score projects based on an objective analysis.  Once projects are scored, the CTB will then select projects for funding. 30 percent will go to a construction district grant program. Under this third category, localities will be able to compete for funds under a regional version of HB2, providing an incentive for localities to work together.  Additional support for transit capital projects In total, changes will provide an additional $50 million annually for transit projects  (based on fiscal year 2021).  Funding will be shifted from the Rail Enhancement Fund, the Port and Aviation shares of the Transportation Trust Fund, as well as multiple highway funding sources. Making CTB more independent •  The bill also removes the governor’s authority to terminate CTB members without cause in order to improve integrity and independence of the process. P3 reforms   •  Private partners would be required to disclose risk that is transferred to the commonwealth in P3 proposals. •  The transportation secretary will be accountable by signing a finding of public interest before a P3 deal is finalized, certifying that the risk transfer and all other findings are still valid.  This would be designed to prevent situations like the U.S. 460 P3 deal, where procurement changed over the course of the project, yet no one was held accountable. Representatives from the General Assembly would be on the P3 steering committee that determined whether or not a project should move ahead as a P3 project. 2015-01-13T21:29:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/transactional-volume-is-up-by-34-percent-for-thalhimer-in-2014 Transactional volume is up by 34 percent for Thalhimer in 2014 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/transactional-volume-is-up-by-34-percent-for-thalhimer-in-2014 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/transactional-volume-is-up-by-34-percent-for-thalhimer-in-2014#When:20:56:00Z Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer said Tuesday that its 2014 transactional volume exceeded $2 billion, a 34 percent increase from an overall volume in 2013 of nearly $1.5 billion. The commercial real estate firm, based out of Richmond, credited robust activity in December for pushing volume over $2 billion, with more than 3.7 million square feet of sales and lease transactions for the month. In December, the firm’s ten Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina offices completed 126 lease transactions totaling more than 1.6 million square feet with a transactional value of over $119 million.  Industrial building transactions of over 863,000 square feet accounted for the largest amount of space leased.  Office and retail leases totaled more than 472,000 and 264,000 square feet respectively. In addition, Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer reported 55 sale transactions for the month of December totaling over 2.1 million square feet and over $147 million in sales volume. 2015-01-13T20:56:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Sentara_Williamsburg.jpg http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/sentara-medial-office-building-in-williamsburg-sells-for-15.4-million Sentara medial office building in Williamsburg sells for $15.4 million http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/sentara-medial-office-building-in-williamsburg-sells-for-15.4-million http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/sentara-medial-office-building-in-williamsburg-sells-for-15.4-million#When:20:52:00Z Armada Hoffler Properties has sold the Sentara New Town Medical Office Building in Williamsburg to an undisclosed purchaser for $15.45 million, or about  $314 per square foot. According to Divaris Real Estate Inc., broker for the deal, the 49,200-square-foot office building is fully occupied by Sentara Medical Group.  It was a build-to-suite project that Armada Hoffler constructed for Sentara in 2008, and it was under a long-term lease to the group at the time of the recent sale. The building is located at 4374 New Town Ave., within the New Town mixed-use complex. Alex Divaris, vice president, and Jason Oliver, senior associate, of Divaris Real Estate's Investment Sales Group, together with Michael Divaris, represented Armada Hoffler Properties. Based in Virginia Beach, Armada Hoffler Properties is a real estate investment trust that develops, builds, owns and manages office, retail and multifamily properties in markets throughout the Mid-Atlantic states. Sentara Medical Group is a division of Sentara Healthcare, a not-for-profit healthcare system with a 3,800 provider medical staff, and more than 100 sites of care in Virginia and North Carolina. 2015-01-13T20:52:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/elevation-acquires-scalability-project Elevation acquires Scalability Project http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/elevation-acquires-scalability-project http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/elevation-acquires-scalability-project#When:17:59:00Z Richmond-based advertising agency Elevation has acquired Scalability Project, a Richmond digital marketing firm. No financial details about the transaction were announced. Scalability’s founder, Shade Wilson, has been named Elevation’s new director of digital strategy, and other Scalability employees have joined the Elevation staff, “We continue to expand our digital capabilities for both direct-to-consumer and business-to-business clients, and Shade will bring new leadership to this growing department,” Aaron Dotson, Elevation’s principal and creative director, said in a statement. “Digital is tightly integrated into everything we do, and this addition will ensure that we remain on the leading edge of both digital content development and lead generation for our clients.”   The acquisition is the second for Elevation, which was founded in 2001 by Aaron Dotson and Frank Gilliam. The ad agency acquired Fultz + Associates in 2011. Elevation’s clients include Allegis Global Solutions, Duke’s Mayonnaise, MeadWestvaco, McKesson, Tridium, Ukrop’s Homestyle Foods, Virginia 529, Virginia Economic Development Partnership and Virginia Credit Union. 2015-01-13T17:59:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/five-virginia-schools-ranked-among-best-online-mba-programs Five Virginia schools ranked among best online MBA programs http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/five-virginia-schools-ranked-among-best-online-mba-programs http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/five-virginia-schools-ranked-among-best-online-mba-programs#When:17:55:00Z Five Virginia schools are ranked by U.S. News and World Report among the top 100 colleges offering online MBA programs. The group includes James Madison University in Harrisonburg, which tied with three schools at No. 12; George Mason University in Fairfax also tied with three others at No. 36; Longwood University in Farmville and Regent University in Virginia tied with two other colleges at No. 78; and Liberty University in Lynchburg tied with three other schools at No. 93. Overall, schools' ranks are based on five general categories: student engagement, admissions selectivity, peer reputation, faculty credentials and training, student services and technology. U.S. News sent statistical questionnaires to regionally accredited public, private and for-profit institutions that granted master's degrees in business. 2015-01-13T17:55:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/alpha-natural-resources-president-resigning-to-take-new-job Alpha Natural Resources president resigning to take new job http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/alpha-natural-resources-president-resigning-to-take-new-job http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/alpha-natural-resources-president-resigning-to-take-new-job#When:14:41:00Z Bristol-based coal supplier Alpha Natural Resources announced this week that its president, Paul Vining, is resigning Jan. 31 to become CEO of a Cline Group affiliate, which is focused on the acquisition and operation of coal mines outside the United States. When Vining departs Alpha Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer Brian Sullivan, and newly appointed Executive Vice President, Mining Operations Keith Hainer, will take on expanded roles within the company. "Paul has been an asset and leader for a number of coal companies throughout his career and the same was true at Alpha.  We are grateful for Paul's three and-a-half years of service and wish him success in his new international venture," Crutchfield said in a statement. Sullivan will continue in his current role, but with additional management responsibilities over Alpha's expanding natural gas commercial enterprise and extensive land holdings. He has been part of the company’s management committee since 2012. Hainer has been promoted to executive vice president, mining operations and will oversee operational management of Alpha's 60 affiliated coal mines throughout Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Wyoming.  Hainer was most recently Alpha’s senior vice president, operations excellence and idle mines for an Alpha subsidiary, a position he has held since 2012. Earlier this month, Alpha announced that Chief Financial Officer Frank Wood was retiring Feb. 28. Alpha’s Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer Philip J. Cavatoni, will then take an expanded role as CFO. 2015-01-13T14:41:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/state-and-federal-officials-agree-on-alternative-route-for-u.s.-460 State and federal officials agree on alternative route for U.S. 460. http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/state-and-federal-officials-agree-on-alternative-route-for-u.s.-460 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/state-and-federal-officials-agree-on-alternative-route-for-u.s.-460#When:22:52:00Z The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have identified an alternative for the much-maligned U.S. Route 460 highway project. The state spent $300 million on what was proposed as a 55-mile highway from Suffolk to Petersburg before Gov. Terry McAuliffe stopped work on it last year after learning that the project did not have required environmental permits.   On its website Monday, VDOT said in a press release that the parties have agreed on a route that appears to be the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative -- a Corps requirement -- to improve the U.S. 460 corridor in southeastern Virginia. It would improve 17 miles of 460 from Suffolk to west of Zuni.  A new four-lane divided highway would be built from the U.S. 460/58 interchange in Suffolk to west of Windsor.  From west of Windsor to west of Zuni, the existing 460 would be upgraded to a four-lane divided highway and include a new bridge across the Blackwater River to eliminate long standing flooding problems. The plan would displace 15 residential properties, three commercial properties, three farms and one non-profit property.  In the event of a hurricane, it would have the capacity to evacuate 13,400 vehicles per hour with seven lanes, versus a no-build alternative that also had been under consideration. "Secretary Layne has clearly stated his commitment to finding effective transportation solutions that minimize impacts to wetlands," Colonel Paul Olsen, commander of the Corps' Norfolk District, said in the statement. "The Federal Highway Administration, VDOT and the Corps cooperatively developed a draft Supplemental EIS that ensures environmental resources are identified and fully evaluated against a full range of alternatives. I am confident that with the additional analysis and upcoming public comment periods required by law, VDOT will develop a project that balances the economic and transportation needs of the region with our responsibility to protect our natural and aquatic resources." Virginia's Transportation Secretary, Aubrey Layne, added, “We still have a lot of work to do, but it is important that we continue to work together to improve safety and hurricane evacuation with an alternative that impacts the fewest possible acres of wetlands.” Unlike the $1.4 billion toll road originally envisioned for 460 by former Gov. Bob McDonnell and his administration, the cost of the alternative is estimated to be between $375 million and $425 million. Its impact on wetlands would be much less – 52 acres compared to as many as 486 acres under the old plan. VDOT will present the recommended alternative to the Commonwealth Transportation Board on Tuesday, Jan. 13, during its workshop in Richmond. 2015-01-12T22:52:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/columbia-property-trust-buys-five-story-building-in-reston Columbia Property Trust buys five-story building in Reston http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/columbia-property-trust-buys-five-story-building-in-reston http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/columbia-property-trust-buys-five-story-building-in-reston#When:16:56:00Z Atlanta-based Columbia Property Trust Inc. has acquired a Reston office building as part of a two-property $436 million deal. Columbia bought a 244,565-square-foot, Class-A office building at 1881 Campus Commons Drive in Reston as part of a deal with Spear Street Capital. The company said the multi-tenant, transit-oriented, five-story building was built in 1999 and has been renovated significantly during the past two years. The other property in the deal is 315 Park Avenue South, a newly-renovated, 341,330-square-foot, historic Class-A office building in Manhattan’s Gramercy Park submarket. Separately, Columbia acquired the 274,218-square-foot, Class-A office building at 116 Huntington Ave. in Boston’s Back Bay district from Broadway Partners for $152 million. Columbia said it financed the acquisitions with a $300 million bridge loan, a $140 million draw under Columbia’s unsecured credit facility, and $148 million of cash on hand, primarily generated by 2014 disposition activity. Columbia is a publicly traded real estate investment trust. As of Jan 8, its portfolio consisted of 38 office properties and one hotel, including  55 buildings and approximately 16.3 million square feet, located in 15 U.S. metropolitan statistical areas. 2015-01-12T16:56:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/jcpenney-to-close-two-virginia-stores JCPenney to close two Virginia stores http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/jcpenney-to-close-two-virginia-stores http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/jcpenney-to-close-two-virginia-stores#When:16:18:00Z Retailer JCPenney plans to close two stores in Virginia as part of a cost-cutting planning announced last week. The stories are in the Manassas Mall in Manassas and The Marquis shopping center in Williamsburg. In a Security and Exchange Commission filing on Thursday, the Plano, Texas-based company said it will close nearly 40 underperforming stores around the country by April. The closings are expected to eliminate about 2,250 jobs. The company is expected to incur pre-tax charges of about $21 million in the fourth quarter and $17 million in future periods in connection with the closings. 2015-01-12T16:18:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/richmond-based-hg-landscape-architects-merges-with-north-carolina-firm Richmond-based H&G Landscape Architects merges with North Carolina firm http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/richmond-based-hg-landscape-architects-merges-with-north-carolina-firm http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/richmond-based-hg-landscape-architects-merges-with-north-carolina-firm#When:16:16:00Z Richmond-based H&G Landscape Architects has merged with Stewart, a Raleigh, N.C.-based engineering, design and planning firm. H&G has adopted the Stewart name, creating the firm’s first office in Virginia. “We are very excited about establishing our first office in Virginia,” Willy Stewart, the CEO of Stewart, said in a statement. “This merger will continue to enhance our landscape architecture and land planning service offerings as we can now tap even greater resources and experience brought by the H&G team." The deal took effect on Jan. 6. No financial details of the transaction were announced. Stewart was founded in 1994 and has North Carolina offices in Durham and Charlotte in addition to Raleigh. Its clients are involved in education, health care, architecture, transportation, local and federal government as well as commercial, retail, residential and mixed-use developers. H&G Landscape Architects has worked with clients in the public and private sectors across Virginia. Meril Gerstenmaier, the CEO at H&G will serve as vice president of operations, Virginia, in the combined firm. Dave Gerstenmaier, senior principal at H&G will be vice president and director of design, Virginia. Both will be shareholders in the combined firm. The Richmond office is located at 5701 Grove Ave. 2015-01-12T16:16:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/bank-of-the-james-buys-harrisonburg-branch-bank-building-for-830000 Bank of the James buys Harrisonburg branch bank building for $830,000 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/bank-of-the-james-buys-harrisonburg-branch-bank-building-for-830000 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/bank-of-the-james-buys-harrisonburg-branch-bank-building-for-830000#When:15:47:00Z Bank of the James has bought a former Union First Market Bank branch building in Harrisonburg. Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer said Bank of the James, based in Lynchburg, paid $830,000 for the 3,090-square-foot building at 1391 S. High St. in Harrisonburg. The property sits on 1.03 acres. Union First Market Bank is based in Richmond. After a merger with StellarOne Bank last year, it had more than 140 branches. Kent Roberts, Austin H. Newman and Will McGoogan of Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer handled the sale negotiations on behalf of the seller.  Barry L. Ward, also with Thalhimer, represented the buyer. 2015-01-12T15:47:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/cbrehampton-roads-named-leasing-agent-for-17-story-office-tower CBRE|Hampton Roads named leasing agent for 17-story office tower http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/cbrehampton-roads-named-leasing-agent-for-17-story-office-tower http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/cbrehampton-roads-named-leasing-agent-for-17-story-office-tower#When:15:44:00Z Harbor Group Management Co. a property management company, has picked the commercial real estate firm CBRE|Hampton Roads  as the exclusive leasing agent for 555 E. Main St. in Norfolk. The 17-story, 292,208-square-foot office tower is located across from the Circuit Court Building in downtown Norfolk. Since its construction in 1977, the building has had many upgrades including an energy management system, new roof, elevators and HVAC system. PNC Bank, one of the building’s major tenants, has a retail branch and drive-thru there. Perry Frazer and Matt Wilbricht  of CBRE|Hampton Roads will handle the leasing and marketing of the property. 2015-01-12T15:44:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/employment-rises-for-u.s.-construction-workers Employment rises for U.S. construction workers http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/employment-rises-for-u.s.-construction-workers http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/employment-rises-for-u.s.-construction-workers#When:15:40:00Z The number of U.S. construction jobs rose by 290,000 last year, the highest number since 2005, according to the Arlington-based Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said many construction companies are hiring to keep pace with growing demand but are having a hard time finding qualified workers to fill key positions. "Construction firms are clearly ramping up their hiring to keep up with swelling demand for construction," Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist, said in a statement. "Demand for workers to construct apartments, pipelines and huge industrial projects is likely to remain robust in 2015." Construction employers added 48,000 jobs in December as the sector's jobless rate fell to 8.3 percent, the association said. Total construction employment stood at 6.17 million in December, the highest level since March 2009. Residential building and specialty trade contractors added a combined 13,500 employees since November and 132,100 (6 percent) over 12 months. Nonresidential contractors hired a net of 34,400 workers for the month and 158,200 (up 4.3 percent) since December 2013. The heavy and civil engineering construction segment, which includes pipelines, petrochemical and power plants, and public works construction, added 11,600 jobs in December and 57,900 (6.6 percent) over the year. The number of workers who said they looked for work in the past month and had last worked in construction fell to 680,000 from 958,000 a year earlier. 2015-01-12T15:40:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/newmark-grubb-knight-frank-takes-space-at-tysons-dulles-plaza Newmark Grubb Knight Frank expands space at Tysons Dulles Plaza http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/newmark-grubb-knight-frank-takes-space-at-tysons-dulles-plaza http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/newmark-grubb-knight-frank-takes-space-at-tysons-dulles-plaza#When:21:03:00Z   In a move to position the company for more growth in Northern Virginia, Newmark Grubb Knight Frank (NGKF), a commercial real estate advisory firm, has leased 13,369 square feet at Tysons Dulles Plaza in McLean. Previously it had a 7,398-square-foot lease at 1420 Spring Hill Rd. and will be moving into its larger space at 1410 Spring Hill Rd. in February. The company expects to be more active within the multi-housing capital markets space following its parent company's acquisition of Apartment Realty Advisors (ARA), which has offices in Richmond, Norfolk and Washington. D.C. BGC Partners entered into an agreement to buy ARA, which did more than $10 billion in volume in 2013, in December. KBS Real Estate Investment Trust, a non-traded real estate investment trust based in Newport Beach, Calif., announced the deal for NGKF in  the Plaza development, a 487,775-square-foot complex located in the Tysons Corner submarket. The buildings offer access to several major arteries including the I-495 (Capital Beltway) and its HOT Lanes, I-66, Route 123, the Dulles Toll Road and the new Spring Hill Silver Line Metro station. “Beyond its proximity to major highways and airports, Tysons Dulles Plaza tenants benefit from upgraded onsite amenities and numerous nearby amenities,” said KBS Senior Vice President Stephen Close. “We’re excited to welcome Newmark Grubb Knight Frank as a tenant and as our leasing representative for this property.” Brendan Owen, NGKF chairman of assets services in the Washington, D.C., area, termed the move “the next phase of NGKF’s continued growth and development in the Northern Virginia market.“ With newly renovated lobbies and common areas, Tysons Dulles Plaza has amenities that include a private Mercedes Sprinter shuttle to the metro, an on-site fitness studio, conference center, and café and balconies for tenants on floors three through six. NGKF's Stephen Hoffeditz, Edwin Clark III and Wes Evans represented KBS REIT I, and NGKF's Junius Tillery, Chet Rao and Brian Liss represented NGKF in the transaction. 2015-01-11T21:03:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/retail-strip-center-sells-for-2.2-million-in-henrico-county Retail strip center sells for $2.2 million in Henrico County http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/retail-strip-center-sells-for-2.2-million-in-henrico-county http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/retail-strip-center-sells-for-2.2-million-in-henrico-county#When:21:00:00Z   Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer's Capital Markets Group reports that Gardco LLC has purchased a 12,800-square-foot retail strip shopping center at 8818 W. Broad Street in Henrico County for $2.2 million. According to Thalhimer, which represented the seller, Conte Acquisitions  LLC, the new owner purchased the property as an investment. At the time of acquisition, the property was was 100% leased.  Catharine Spangler of Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer handled sale negotiations on behalf of the seller. 2015-01-11T21:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-state-park-sees-new-attendance-record Virginia State Park sees new attendance record http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-state-park-sees-new-attendance-record http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-state-park-sees-new-attendance-record#When:20:59:00Z Virginia State Parks saw record visitor numbers in 2014. Last year 8.9 million people visited the state’s parks, a 1.4 increase since 2013’s record of 8.8 million visitors. According to a news release issued by Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office, Virginia State Parks had an economic impact of $208 million in 2014, an increase over the previous record of $206 million in 2013. “State parks help local economies generate more than $12 for every $1 of general fund money allocated to state parks in the state budget,” McAuliffe said in a statement.“Tourism is a major economic stimulus in Virginia, and our state parks provide jobs and help spur spending in rural areas of the state.” For the first time in 2014, half of all state park cabin and campsite reservations were made online, Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward said in a statement .Day use attendance in 2014 also reached a record level, increasing to 7.9 million visitors from 7.7 million attendees in 2013. 2015-01-09T20:59:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Finley_Tammy.jpg http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/advance-auto-parts-promotes-attorney Advance Auto Parts promotes attorney http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/advance-auto-parts-promotes-attorney http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/advance-auto-parts-promotes-attorney#When:20:48:00Z Roanoke-based Advance Auto Parts has promoted Tammy Finley to executive vice president, human resources and general counsel. She was senior vice president, human resources. In her new role, Finley will continue to lead the company’s human resources while also assuming responsibility for Advance Auto’s legal, risk services and government affairs functions. She also will serve as corporate secretary for the organization. Finley began working at Advance in 1998. Prior to joining Advance, Finley was a labor and employment attorney with The Center for Employment Law PC and served as a staff attorney with the Virginia Supreme Court. She currently serves on several community and professional boards, including the Virginia Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and executive committee, the Taubman Museum of Art Board of Trustees and executive committee and the Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation Board of Directors. Finley received her law degree from the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William and Mary and her undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech. 2015-01-09T20:48:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/glass-recycling-company-to-open-operation-in-bristol Glass recycling company to open operation in Bristol http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/glass-recycling-company-to-open-operation-in-bristol http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/glass-recycling-company-to-open-operation-in-bristol#When:20:26:00Z A company that recycles the glass found in televisions and computer monitors announced Friday it is establishing its first Virginia operation in Bristol, creating 46 new jobs. Nulife Glass, based in Machester, England, will invest $5.9 million to repurpose the vacant former Crowley Foods plant in the city, according to Gov. Terry McAuliffe. Nulife recycles cathode ray tube (CRT) glass, which is found in televisions and computer monitors. Nulife's solution extracts sellable lead from the glass. The company uses a pyro chemical technology that allows it to recover lead and glass from CRT glass for resale. Nulife opened its first North American facility in Buffalo, New York in 2013. McAuliffe approved a $110,000 grant from the Governor's Opportunity Fund to help Bristol with the project. The Tobacco ndemnification and Community Revitalization Commission approved $190,000 in Tobacco Region Opportunity Funds for the project. Virginia competed against Ohio and Pennsylvania for the project. 2015-01-09T20:26:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/colonialwilliamsburg3.jpg http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/colonial-williamsburg-foundation-names-new-trustees Colonial Williamsburg Foundation names new trustees http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/colonial-williamsburg-foundation-names-new-trustees http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/colonial-williamsburg-foundation-names-new-trustees#When:20:11:00Z Management consulting executive Joseph Christopher “Chris” Simmons and university representative Y. Ping Sun have been elected to the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation board of trustees. Simmons, who lives in McLean, is a former managing partner of the Washington, D.C., metro region for PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC). Sun, an attorney and Houston resident, serves as university representative for Rice University and is of counsel at Yetter Coleman LLP. Simmons and Sun occupy seats vacated by senior trustees Antoinette Cook Bush andPamela P. Flaherty, whose terms ended last year. Before to his retirement, Simmons served as a member of the PwC U.S. Governing Board from 2009 until 2013, as president of the PwC U.S. Charitable Foundation and as vice president of membership of the Economic Club of Washington, D.C.  Currently, he is a board member and chair of the membership selection committee of the Executive Leadership Council and the advisory board of the Association of Latino Professionals. Sun specialized in corporate and international transactions for the New York law firm of Sidley Austin Brown & Wood LLP from 1993 until assuming her current positions in 2004. Sun is chair of the Houston Mayor’s International Trade and Development Council’s Asia and Australia Sub-council and honorary co-chair of Rice’s Baker Institute Roundtable. She is board member of the Asia Society Texas Center and a trustee of Texas Children’s Hospital and of the United Way of Greater Houston, where she also serves as an executive committee member. 2015-01-09T20:11:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/WilliamsMullen_-Woody_Fowler.jpg Calvin W. "Woody" Fowler Jr. http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/williams-mullen-names-new-ceo-and-president Williams Mullen names new CEO and president http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/williams-mullen-names-new-ceo-and-president http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/williams-mullen-names-new-ceo-and-president#When:18:40:00Z Calvin W. “Woody” Fowler Jr. has been elected the next CEO and president of the law firm Williams Mullen. Fowler, who serves as practice group chair and chair of the firm’s litigation section, will succeed Thomas R. Frantz as CEO on April 1. Frantz will continue to serve as chairman of the board and expand his legal practice focused on business planning, succession and corporate transactions. He also will continue to promote Williams Mullen’s leadership role in regional and statewide economic growth initiatives. “During the last five years, we have seen unprecedented disruption in the practice of law,” Frantz said in a statement. “Woody represents our next generation of leadership and is the perfect person to help our firm continue to adapt to our clients’ rapidly changing needs in today’s economy.” Frantz became CEO in 2010 and chairman last year. Founded in Richmond, Williams Mullen has more than  225 attorneys, economic developers and government relations professionals in 10 offices in Virginia, North Carolina  and Washington, D.C. Fowler has led the firm’s litigation section for 11 years., one of the firm’s two largest practice groups. About two years ago, he was appointed practice group chair, a position that oversees all of the firm’s practices. The firm said Fowler also has been the driving force behind firm initiatives designed to improve the efficiency, cost effectiveness and quality of services to clients.Fowler will continue to be a practicing litigator when he becomes CEO.. “I am honored to take on this new leadership role,” Fowler said in a statement. “It is both a challenging and exciting time for the legal industry.  At Williams Mullen, we will continue to understand our clients’ businesses, anticipate our clients’ needs, and deliver quality services in ways that provide outstanding value.” 2015-01-09T18:40:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/cvent-acquires-california-based-hospitality-marketing-company Cvent acquires California-based hospitality marketing company http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/cvent-acquires-california-based-hospitality-marketing-company http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/cvent-acquires-california-based-hospitality-marketing-company#When:22:27:00Z Tysons Corner-based event management company Cvent Inc. has acquired Elite Meetings International, a Santa Barbara, Calif.-based hospitality marketing company. Terms of the deal were not released. Elite Meetings’ online venue-sourcing tools for meeting planners — EliteMeetings.com and SpeedRFP.com — will be integrated into Cvent’s hospitality offerings. Cvent expects the financial impact of the transaction to be immaterial to revenue in 2015 and to be dilutive to this year’s adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) by about $3.5 million. Cvent is a publicly traded  company with more than 1,450 employees and more than 12,600 customers worldwide. Cvent offers software solutions to event planners for online event registration, venue selection, event management, mobile apps for events, email marketing and web surveys. Cvent provides hotels with a targeted advertising platform designed to reach event planners looking for suitable venues. 2015-01-08T22:27:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/meadwestvaco-plans-to-spin-off-specialty-chemicals-business MeadWestvaco plans to spin off specialty chemicals business http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/meadwestvaco-plans-to-spin-off-specialty-chemicals-business http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/meadwestvaco-plans-to-spin-off-specialty-chemicals-business#When:21:15:00Z Richmond-based packaging company MeadWestvaco Corp. (MWV) announced Thursday plans to spin off its specialty chemicals business by the end of 2015. “Following a thorough strategic review process, MWV’s board and leadership team determined that a tax-free spinoff of Specialty Chemicals presents the best opportunity to create the greatest value for our shareholders,” John A. Luke Jr., MWV’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement. MWV said in a news release its open to “other value-creating alternatives” for the specialty chemicals business, which among other things, makes chemicals used in printing inks, asphalt paving and adhesives, as well as in the agricultural, paper and petroleum industries. MWV will receive cash from the spinoff that will mostly be used to pay down debt to maintain its investment-grade credit rating. The company says it will to continue to pay a dividend, with the final rate to be determined after the spin off. In the third quarter ended Sept. 30, 2014, MWV’s specialty chemical unit had sales of $283 million, up 9 percent from the same quarter in 2013.  The unit’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) increased 4 percent to $77 million in the third quarter 2014, compared to $74 million in the third quarter of 2013. 2015-01-08T21:15:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/mckinsey-co-executive-named-next-dean-of-darden McKinsey & Co. executive named next dean of Darden http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/mckinsey-co-executive-named-next-dean-of-darden http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/mckinsey-co-executive-named-next-dean-of-darden#When:20:56:00Z U.Va. has named a senior partner at McKinsey & Co. the ninth dean of its Darden School of Business. Scott C. Beardsley will take the role on Aug. 1, when Darden's current dean, Robert F. Bruner, returns to the faculty after finishing his 10th year as dean of the graduate business school. Beardsley served on McKinsey's board of directors from 2011 to 2014 and has spent most of his 26-year career with the management consulting firm in its Brussels, Belgium, office. He leads learning and development for all McKinsey professionals and is a top adviser to some of the world's largest companies. Beardsley joined  the company in 1989, was elected partner in 1995 and senior partner four-and-a-half years later. Before his current role, Beardsley led the firm's strategy practice.A global strategy and regulation expert, Beardsley has served leading clients in the telecom, technology, public, nonprofit and professional services arenas. A frequent author, speaker and media commentator, Beardsley has presented at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, and teaches as a faculty member in McKinsey's programs. Previously, he lectured in the MBA program of the Belgian business school Institut d'Administration et de Gestion. He chairs the board of directors of the American Chamber of Commerce in Belgium. 2015-01-08T20:56:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/appalachian-railcar-services-division-acquires-lynchburg-based-brc-rail Appalachian Railcar Services division acquires Lynchburg-based BRC Rail http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/appalachian-railcar-services-division-acquires-lynchburg-based-brc-rail http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/appalachian-railcar-services-division-acquires-lynchburg-based-brc-rail#When:22:32:00Z The Appalachian Tank Car Division of Appalachian Railcar Services Inc. has acquired  BRC Rail, which is based in Lynchburg. BRC Rail, which provides tank car services to Fortune 500 companies, operates in a number of sites, including Hinton, W.Va., and Elk Mills, Md. This combined business will double the size of Eleanor, W. Va.-based ARS to more than 300 employees. During the next three years, ARS/BRC Rail is projected to expand the number of employees by an additional 100 employees. Founded in 2000  by Kurt Higginbotham, ARS has expanded to 34 operations around the United States to serve the coal and railroad industries while also handling major government and military contracts. While the coal industry remains a major customer,  ARS said it is diversifying into other areas such as tank cars. 2015-01-07T22:32:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/online-holiday-spending-grew-15-percent Online holiday spending grew 15 percent http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/online-holiday-spending-grew-15-percent http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/online-holiday-spending-grew-15-percent#When:20:53:00Z U.S. e-commerce retail spending from desktop computers grew 15 percent this past holiday season, according to Reston-basd comScore. During the holiday season, which included November and December 2014, $53.3 billion was spent. The heaviest online shopping day again was Cyber Monday (the Monday following Thanksgiving) with spending of more than $2 billion, a 17 percent increase from last year. The day after Cyber Monday ranked second for the season at $1.796 billion, followed by Green Monday (Dec. 8) with $1.615 billion and Black Friday with $1.505 billion. The comScore report also revealed that online shopping on Thanksgiving Day grew 32 percent over last year, to a little over $1 billion. "The 2014 online holiday shopping season was very strong overall as spending slightly exceeded our fairly optimistic forecast heading into the season," comScore chairman emeritus Gian Fulgoni said in a statement. "Despite a shortened holiday calendar between Thanksgiving and Christmas and erroneous reports of flagging holiday sales, the American consumer proved resilient and flexed their spending muscle online this year." 2015-01-07T20:53:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Dale_Batten_edited.jpg Dale Batten http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/deputy-director-named-at-division-of-rehabilitative-services Deputy director named at Division of Rehabilitative Services http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/deputy-director-named-at-division-of-rehabilitative-services http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/deputy-director-named-at-division-of-rehabilitative-services#When:20:52:00Z Dale S. Batten has been promoted to deputy director for workforce development at the Division of Rehabilitative Services (DRS) in the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services. Batten had been central regional director for Richmond-based DRS for the past seven years. She has been with the department and its forerunner, the Department for Rehabilitative Services, for 30 years. In her new position, she will oversee a business development strategy for matching employers and DRS job candidates as well as the agency’s Self Employment Enterprise Program. Batten holds a master’s degree in vocational rehabilitation counseling from Virginia Commonwealth University and a bachelor’s degree in rehabilitation services, also from VCU. 2015-01-07T20:52:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/canon-virginia-plans-to-invest-100-million-in-newport-news-facility Canon Virginia plans to invest $100 million in Newport News facility http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/canon-virginia-plans-to-invest-100-million-in-newport-news-facility http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/canon-virginia-plans-to-invest-100-million-in-newport-news-facility#When:19:25:00Z Canon Virginia announced Wednesday plans to invest $100 million to expand its operation in Newport News. Newport News-based Canon Virginia will add more printer cartridge production lines and increase its toner manufacturing and filling. The company makes new Canon products and provides customer service in the repair and refurbishment of Canon cameras and office products. Canon Virginia also participates in research and development activities. It is a subsidiary of Canon USA Inc., whose parent company is  Japan-based Canon Inc. In December, Gov. Terry McAuliffe met with Canon Inc. in Tokyo to discuss the project.  "An investment of this magnitude will further grow the impressive Newport News operation to increase production and secure its viability for years to come," McAuliffe said in a statement. McAuliffe approved a $3 million performance-based grant from the Virginia Investment Partnership program for the project. The Virginia Jobs Investment Program will provide funding and services for the firm’s employee training. 2015-01-07T19:25:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/15594756174_2e9050fbca_z.jpg Michael Melkonian Photo/ Capital News Service http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/reaction-to-mcdonnells-two-year-prison-sentence-ranges-from-sadness-to-reli Reaction to McDonnell’s two-year prison sentence ranges from sadness to relief http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/reaction-to-mcdonnells-two-year-prison-sentence-ranges-from-sadness-to-reli http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/reaction-to-mcdonnells-two-year-prison-sentence-ranges-from-sadness-to-reli#When:18:19:00Z Sadness and relief were among reactions to Tuesday’s two-year prison sentence for former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell during the sentencing outcome to his corruptions trial. Longer range, politicians and political analysts wonder what impact the first felony conviction for a Virginia governor along with a jail term will have on ethics reform when the General Assembly convenes next week on Jan. 15. Supporters and people who described themselves as “concerned citizens” packed into the U.S. District courthouse in Richmond yesterday to hear Judge James R. Spencer deliver the punishment for a man who was once a rising Republican star expected to make the short list for a vice presidential or even a presidential shot. Virginia Hickey of Midlothian was the first person in line at 6:30 a.m. at the courthouse, which didn’t open to the public until 8 a.m., two hours before McDonnell’s 10 a.m. sentence hearing. “I’ve been to this trial many times as a concerned citizen and business owner,” said Hickey of Tonda Enterprises, a company that sells products for automobiles. “It’s history in the making. It’s a sad time for our state  … The man is basically a good man with a good heart who made poor judgments.” Her reaction to the sentence: “It was fair and just. I think the judge did a remarkable job. “ Deborah Munoz, who traveled from Woodbridge, described herself as a McDonnell supporter and friend.  While he was in office, the former governor had appointed Munoz to serve on the Virginia Latino Advisory Board. McDonnell also was friends with her husband, Tito, the owner of DeBorn Construction Inc., and worked with him on issues important to Hispanic Republican leaders in Northern Virginia. “It could have been worse,” Munoz said of the sentence, referring to the longer prison term, six and a half years, sought by federal prosecutors. Federal sentencing guidelines called for as many as eight years and one month. “It was good to be reduced, but I prayed through the whole thing that the judge would give him community service.” The state’s sitting governor weighed in as well.  Democratic Terry McAuliffe said in a statement that the sentencing “brings an end to one of the most difficult periods in the history of Virginia state government. Like many Virginians, I am saddened by the effect this trial has had on our commonwealth’s reputation for clean, effective government. As we put this period behind us, I look forward to working with Virginia leaders on both sides of the aisle to restore public trust in our government." Other politicians, including House of Delegates Speaker Bill Howell, R-Stafford County, were among more than 400 people who sent letters of support for McDonnell to Judge Spencer. Included in those ranks were Terrie Suit, McDonnell’s former secretary of veterans affairs and homeland security; Janet Kelly, McDonnell’s former secretary of the commonwealth; and state Sens. Jeff McWaters, R-Virginia Beach and Frank Ruff, R-Clarksville. Many public officials attended yesterday’s hearing along with Dominion CEO Tom Farrell, McDonnell’s classmate at Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria. McDonnell remains free until Feb. 9 when Spencer ordered him to report to prison. McDonnell’s defense team has requested that he be sent to a federal facility in nearby Petersburg, and they have asked the court to allow McDonnell to remain free on bond pending an appeal of his conviction. Fallout from his corruption trail will continue when his wife, Maureen, is sentenced by Spencer on Feb. 20. Speculation already has begun on whether she will receive the same leniency given her husband, since she is not an elected public official. Mrs. McDonnell was convicted on nine counts in September, with the judge later overturning one of the convictions. Following a six-week trial, a jury found the couple guilty of selling the influence of the governor’s office to a wealthy businessman pushing a dietary supplement who showered the first couple with $177,000 in gifts and loans. Speaker Howell, one of 11 character witnesses who spoke on behalf of McDonnell during Tuesday’s sentencing hearing, said he thinks legislators have gotten the message from federal prosecutors. “It most certainly has had a deterrent effect,” he said of the McDonnell’s case. “Both the Senate and House caucuses have had people come to talk with them about what the case means to them as legislators. We need to dot all our I’s and cross all our T’s and be very careful.” Last year, following the McDonnell’s’ indictment, the legislature passed what was viewed as a weak ethics package. It limited tangible gifts from a lobbyist or person seeking government contracts to $250 a year, but left no limits on nontangible gifts such as tickets, entertainment or travel. McAuliffe and other legislators have promised major reform this year.  McAuliffe, who has created an ethics panel and wants an ethics review commission with the authority to investigate political wrongdoing, is pushing for a $100 gift ban. 2015-01-07T18:19:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/long-foster-hires-chief-information-officer Long & Foster hires chief information officer http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/long-foster-hires-chief-information-officer http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/long-foster-hires-chief-information-officer#When:09:34:00Z The Long & Foster Cos. Announced Tuesday that it has named Terrence Dwyer as its new senior vice president and chief information officer. Dwyer previously ran his own IT consulting firm, Dwyer & Associates, where he helped clients in IT planning, organization transportation and operations. Prior to that he was chief information officer of Realogy Corp., a global provider of real estate and relocation services. He served in the save role at NRT, a subsidiary of Realogy that owns and operates hundreds of real estate brokerages. Dwyer received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida. Dwyer has served as an advisory board member mentoring technology start-up firms with the National Association of Realtors (NAR) REach, and he has served as a member of NAR’s Data Privacy & Security Committee. 2015-01-07T09:34:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/mcdonnell_sentencing.jpg Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell arrives at federal court for sentencing. AP Photo/Steve Helber http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/mcdonnell-sentenced-to-two-years-in-prison McDonnell gets two-year prison term http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/mcdonnell-sentenced-to-two-years-in-prison http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/mcdonnell-sentenced-to-two-years-in-prison#When:19:56:00Z Saying “a price must be paid” in a case he described as “tragic from beginning to end,” U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer sentenced former Gov. Bob McDonnell Tuesday to two years in federal prison for his earlier conviction on 11 counts of corruption.  The sentence was much lighter than the range of 10 to 12 years sought by federal prosecutors in conjunction with federal sentencing guidelines. McDonnell is the first Virginia governor ever to be convicted of a felony. In the historic case, a jury found the governor and his wife, Maureen, guilty in Federal District Court in September in connection with more than $177,000 in gifts and loans they received from Virginia businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr. The judge’s decision followed a more than four-hour hearing in Richmond, which saw a parade of 11 character witnesses, including former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, extol McDonnell as a decent and honorable man who had done much good for the commonwealth during his long years of public service.  In comments to the judge before his sentencing, McDonnell asked for leniency and the chance to receive a sentence of 6,000 hours of community service instead of prison time.  This alternative sentence sought by McDonnell’s legal team included community service with faith-based ministries in Haiti and Bristol, Va. “I stand before you as a heartbroken and humble man,” he told Spencer with a bowed head. “… Whatever mercy the court can extend, I would ask that you consider granting it first to my wife,” he added. Mrs. McDonnell, who sat with her family during the hearing, is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 20. After the judge’s pronouncement, some of McDonnell’s family members, wept. As he made his way out of the courtroom, McDonnell hugged and kissed family members and supporters who attended the hearing. Outside the courthouse, McDonnell spoke briefly with the media, thanking Spencer “for the mercy he dispensed to me today. “ He added that he continues to disagree with the jury’s guilty verdict and said his legal defense team planned to file for an appeal by later today or tomorrow. While he said he was “deeply sorry” for some of his actions, “I have never betrayed my sacred oath of office. ‘’ Spencer said McDonnell needs to report to a yet-to-be designated federal prison at 2 p.m. on Feb. 9 to begin serving his sentence. However, one of McDonnell’s lead defense attorneys, Henry Asbill from the law firm Jones Day, said during a news conference outside the courthouse that McDonnell may not have to report to prison if the court approves a motion for him to be free on bond pending his appeal.  Another member of the team, John Brownlee of Holland & Knight, credited Wilder, a Democrat, as one of McDonnell’s’ most effective character witnesses. Wilder, the last to speak, testified to the pressures of the governor’s office. “People are always calling upon you to do things and to fix things, and sometimes you can’t do that …” He credited McDonnell with reaching across the aisle to get things done as governor. Noting that McDonnell was once considered on short lists for higher public office, Wilder said McDonnell’s conviction resulted in the end of his political career.  “He’s been punished indelibly forever... There’s no magic wand that can take away the taint to his reputation and what could have been.” Wilder asked Spencer to look “at the totality of the circumstances and then decide on an appropriate sentence…” The prosecution team left the courthouse in Richmond in stony silence, refusing to comment on the two-year sentence. Earlier during the hearing, Spencer revised the sentencing guidelines downward from 10 years to a range of six and a half years to eight years. In closing comments, assistant U.S. Attorney Michael S. Dry, the lead prosecutor, asked Spencer to consider a 78-month term. At one point, Dry called the plea for community service over a period of 33 to 41 months  “ridiculous” in light of McDonnell’s conviction on 11 counts of corruption, which involved loans of as much of $120,000 and gifts to the first family, including a Rolex watch for McDonnell and a New York shopping spree for the first lady — gifts McDonnell said during his trial he did not know came from Williams. Williams testified that he showered the first family with financial largess in hopes of gaining support from the governor’s office for a dietary supplement, Anatabloc, his company produced. He cooperated with the prosecution in the case and was granted immunity. Dry cross-examined Wilder, asking if he would have accepted a Rolex watch while he was governor from someone who wanted to do business with the state.  “No, I would have bought my own,” Wilder quipped, in one of the hearing’s lighter moments. Dry made several references to a sentence by another Federal District Court judge, in the 2011 corruption trial of former Del. Phil Hamilton, R-Newport News. Hamilton was sentenced to nine and half years in prison for bribery and extortion. In that case Hamilton was found guilty of steering $1 million in state money, via a budget amendment,  to a new teacher training center at Old Dominion University in exchange for a $40,000-a-year, part-time job as the center's director. Despite the more than 400 letters sent to the judge and the supportive comments from character witnesses, Dry reminded Spencer that McDonnell had been found guilty on multiple counts by the jury. “He sold the power of his office... He not only accepted gifts, he accepted bribes.”  To not sentence McDonnell to the fullest degree “futher erodes the public trust in government officials and that trust is the bedrock of our democratic society.” In addition to prison time, Spencer said McDonnell would remain on supervised probation for two years following his release. Spencer said he did not assess a fine because McDonnell’s finances do not give him the capacity to pay one. However, he did add a $100 special assessment charge for each of the eleven counts for a total of $1,100. Asked by reporters after the hearing if the judge’s sentence was too light, U. S. Attorney Dana Boente and FBI Special Agent Adam Lee refused to comment. Sometimes the judge and the prosecution see things differently, they noted. Still, said Lee, “Any prison time for an elected official sends a message.” Boente credited Spencer with giving ”a good explanation” for his reasoning behind the sentence.  The judge said he read all of the letters sent on McDonnell’s behalf and found them “moving and honest” in their support. “The overall theme was that this defendant was a good and decent man who had done a lot of good during his time in the public arena,” Spencer said. The judge also said he had a “great respect” for those with prior military service and that McDonnell, who served in the U.S. Army and the reserves, would get credit for that.   However, he noted that McDonnell’s staff  “saw Jonnie Williams for what he was and sounded the alarm,” but the former governor did not heed their concerns. “While Mrs. McDonnell might have allowed the serpent into the mansion, it was McDonnell who brought him into the family’s financial dealings,” Spencer said. In one of the most dramatic moments of the day, McDonnell expanded upon previous testimony during his trial as to his state of mind during the family’s entanglement with Williams.  “I allowed my life to get out of balance,” McDonnell said in comments during the hearing. “I focused too much on politics, and I neglected my personal responsibilities. I hold myself accountable for all of the actions I took while governor. I know my actions have caused suffering to many.” 2015-01-06T19:56:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/vrs-director-resigns VRS director resigns http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/vrs-director-resigns http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/vrs-director-resigns#When:19:46:00Z The director of the Virginia Retirement System has resigned to become president and CEO of ICMA-Retirement Corp. The resignation of Robert P. Schultze will become effective on Feb. 16. He joined VRS as director in 2005. ICMA-Retirement, based in Washington, D.C., is a provider of public-sector retirement plans and related services. Before his career with VRS, Schultze served as executive commissioner of the Virginia Department of Taxation, staff director of the Virginia House Appropriations Committee, director of the Virginia Education Loan Authority and deputy chief of staff in the administration of Gov. L. Douglas Wilder. The VRS board of directors said it will retain a consultant to conduct a national search for a new director. 2015-01-06T19:46:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/roanoke-office-building-sells-for-2.88-million Roanoke office building sells for $2.88 million http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/roanoke-office-building-sells-for-2.88-million http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/roanoke-office-building-sells-for-2.88-million#When:19:30:00Z Metis Holdings LLC has bought a 36,000-square-foot office building in Roanoke for $2.88 million. Poe & Cronk Real Estate Group said the four-story, Class A building at 1315 Franklin Road had housed the Roanoke offices of the Los Angeles-based engineering design firm AECOM. AECOM has consolidated its local operations at the Wells Fargo building in downtown Roanoke. The structure, which sits on 1.7 acres, originally was built as the corporate headquarters of the architecture and engineering firm Hayes, Seay, Mattern and Mattern (HSMM), which merged with AECOM in 2007. Bryan Musselwhite and Dennis Cronk of Poe & Cronk represented the seller in the deal, a group related to the former owners of HSMM. 2015-01-06T19:30:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/image003.jpeg http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/norfolk-broker-plays-lead-role-in-sale-of-extended-stay-hotel-portfolio Norfolk broker plays lead role in sale of extended-stay hotel portfolio http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/norfolk-broker-plays-lead-role-in-sale-of-extended-stay-hotel-portfolio http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/norfolk-broker-plays-lead-role-in-sale-of-extended-stay-hotel-portfolio#When:22:43:00Z McKibbon Hotel Group Inc. has sold an 11-property, extended- stay hotel portfolio located through the Southeast to Noble Investment Group, and a Norfolk commercial real estate broker played a lead role in the deal. The hotels will continue to be managed by McKibbon Hotel Management Inc.  based in Gainesville, Ga. Henkel is an executive vice president with CBRE/MidSouth who leads the company’s hotel brokerage practice out of its Norfolk office. He led a team of Lew Miller, Andy Wimsatt, Lisa Zaranek, Ron Danko and Kym Halsted of CBRE Hotels, who represented McKibbon Hotel Group. CBRE Capital Markets arranged the financing for the transaction. The sales price was not disclosed. Located in seven cities in five states, the portfolio includes a total of 1,308 rooms with Marriott and Hilton brand affiliations. The hotels have an average age of eight years. 2015-01-05T22:43:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/mcguirewoods-promotes-five-virginia-lawyers-to-partner McGuireWoods promotes five Virginia lawyers to partner http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/mcguirewoods-promotes-five-virginia-lawyers-to-partner http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/mcguirewoods-promotes-five-virginia-lawyers-to-partner#When:22:22:00Z McGuireWoods LLP has promoted 15 lawyers to the partner. The new partners are located in seven U.S. offices and represent 10 litigation and corporate practice areas. Five of the 15 are based in Virginia: In Richmond, Benjamin Candland is in tax and employee benefits. Katherine DeLuca is in securities, and Bethany Lukitsch is in antitrust and trade regulation. In Tysons Corner, Kenneth Wire is in real estate and land use, and Melissa Taylormoore is in labor and employment. The promotions were effective on Jan. 1. 2015-01-05T22:22:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/abc-imaging-buys-former-lockheed-martin-building-for-6.1-million ABC Imaging buys former Lockheed Martin building for $6.1 million http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/abc-imaging-buys-former-lockheed-martin-building-for-6.1-million http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/abc-imaging-buys-former-lockheed-martin-building-for-6.1-million#When:21:56:00Z ABC Imagining closed Monday on the purchase of a 48,000-square-foot, three-story office building in Alexandria for $6.1 million. The 3.4-acre property at 5290 Shawnee Road was formerly occupied by Lockheed Martin, which vacated the building last fall. Cafferty Commercial Real Estate Services in McLean said in a press release that it built the office building Lockheed for $ 9.1 million and that the construction loan was paid off years ago. President Thomas D. Cafferty said in a statement that the sales price is evidence of “the continued challenges in the Virginia commercial real estate markets.”  According to Cafferty, ABC plans to relocate from Washington D.C., to Fairfax County, a move that will bring about 150 new jobs to the county. ABC Imaging provides print and digital document management services.  It has about 35 hubs nationwide including Atlanta, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Seattle and Tysons Corner. 2015-01-05T21:56:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/bar-association-subsidiary-expands-insurance-products Bar association subsidiary expands insurance products http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/bar-association-subsidiary-expands-insurance-products http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/bar-association-subsidiary-expands-insurance-products#When:21:18:00Z Virginia Barristers Alliance Inc., a subsidiary of the Richmond-based Virginia Bar Association, has expanded its range of insurance products for lawyers. VBAI, which has operated since 2001, now offers malpractice insurance and a variety business lines that include cyber liability, workers’ compensation and employment practices coverage. The additional insurance categories is the result of a partnership involving VBAI, the bar association and the Medical Society of Virginia Insurance Agency, an arm of the Medical Society of Virginia. Customers do not need to be members of the bar associaton to use VBAI’s insurance brokerage services. In connection with these changes,  VBAI has a new website, http://www.virginiabarristersalliance.com. 2015-01-05T21:18:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/danville-accounting-firm-changes-its-name Danville accounting firm changes its name http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/danville-accounting-firm-changes-its-name http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/danville-accounting-firm-changes-its-name#When:20:17:00Z Snead & Williams PLLC, a Danville-based business advisory and certified public accounting firm, has changed its name to Snead, Williams and Mayhew. In addition, Ronnie L. Johnson has been named a principal of the firm. Charles W. Snead Jr., the firm’s managing director, said the name was changed to reflect the contributions of Michael Mayhew. Mayhew serves as a client service director for small to midsize businesses, employee benefit plans, nonprofit organization, local government units, individuals and partnerships in the areas of audit accountancy and taxation. Mayhew, a native of Gretna, is a graduate of Lynchburg College. Johnson will be involved in the coordination of professional services in the areas of accountancy, auditing and taxation as well as business consulting. A Danville native, Johnson is a graduate of Radford University and has attended Averett University. 2015-01-05T20:17:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/12685_McManus_Blvd-NN.jpg http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/office-warehouse-property-in-newport-news-sells-for-1-million Office/warehouse property in Newport News sells for $1 million http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/office-warehouse-property-in-newport-news-sells-for-1-million http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/office-warehouse-property-in-newport-news-sells-for-1-million#When:16:44:00Z RJK Investments LLC has purchased a19,000-square-foot office/warehouse property in Newport News from William W. Old and Tajiman N. Old (trustees) for $1 million. According to Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer, the new owners plans to use the 1.88-acre site at 12685 McManus Blvd. for their business. Clay Culbreth and Christine M. Kaempfe of Thalhimer handled the sale negotiations on behalf of the seller. 2015-01-05T16:44:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/nasdaq-to-buy-richmond-based-dorsey-wright-associates-for-225-million Nasdaq to buy Richmond-based Dorsey, Wright & Associates for $225 million http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/nasdaq-to-buy-richmond-based-dorsey-wright-associates-for-225-million http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/nasdaq-to-buy-richmond-based-dorsey-wright-associates-for-225-million#When:16:31:00Z Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. said Monday that it will buy Richmond-based Dorsey, Wright & Associates LLC, a data analytics and passive indexing firm, for $225 million. Nasdaq said the deal will enhance it capacity for growth in the index business, offering substantial opportunities in index licensing. The company will offer Dorsey Wright's 17 exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and Nasdaq's 69 licensed smart-beta ETFs focused primarily on dividend and income strategies. The company’s indexes will have nearly $45 billion in assets tied to smart-beta ETFs and more than $105 billion benchmarked to all Nasdaq indexes. In contrast to conventional indexes weighted to market capitalization, smart-beta strategies are weighted to alternative measurements.. “Our index business has been a strong growth area for Nasdaq over the last decade, and the acquisition of Dorsey Wright & Associates will further cement our position as a major player and industry innovator," Adena Friedman, the president of Nasdaq, said in a statement. "We are always looking for opportunities  to expand Nasdaq's index offering with quality products that deepen our relationships with the investing community." The deal is expected to close in the first quarter. Dorsey, Wright  is an independent, privately owned registered investment advisory firm. It was founded in 1987 by Tom Dorsey and Watson Wright. Dorsey Wright provides three main services for clients: investment research and analysis, professional money management for financial advisers and individuals, and subadvisory and licensing services to mutual funds and ETF providers. “Smart Beta represents one of the fastest growing sectors within the ETF market," Dorsey, the president of Dorsey Wright said in statement. "This deal will allow us to grow significantly, while continuing to create products  and strategies that meet the needs of our clients." The deal  will be financed through a mix of debt and cash on hand. Nasdaq said it plans to develop Dorsey Wright’s  growth strategy by accelerating product development, raising awareness of the its indexes and increasing the base of potential market participants through its global  distribution network. Nasdaq expects the acquisition will be accretive to the company's earnings at closing. 2015-01-05T16:31:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/HFpartners.jpg Jones (left) and Geiger have been elected partners. http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/hirschler-fleischer-promotes-two-attorneys Hirschler Fleischer promotes two attorneys http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/hirschler-fleischer-promotes-two-attorneys http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/hirschler-fleischer-promotes-two-attorneys#When:15:55:00Z   Hirschler Fleischer announced Monday the promotion of two attorneys from the firm’s real estate section. Jeffrey P. Geiger and Marshall L. Jones have been elected partners of the firm. “Our firm is proud to be involved in real estate projects reshaping the state’s economy. Jeff and Marshall have contributed significantly to these efforts, providing clients with strategic guidance and trusted legal advice,” Jim Weinberg, president of Richmond-based Hirschler Fleischer, said in a statement. Geiger’s work includes several influential projects across Virginia. Most recently, he assisted in the rezoning efforts of the Jahnke Road residential project, a 55-acre development on a tract of land along the Jahnke Road corridor in Richmond. A developer has proposed a 252-unit apartment complex on the property’s southern edge and 125 single-family homes on its northern side. Geiger currently serves as a board member of the Urban Land Institute’s Richmond District and as a legislative committee member of the Home Building Association of Richmond. He earned his undergraduate and law degrees from the College of William and Mary. Jones works with clients in commercial leasing matters, the purchase and sale of commercial real estate, HUD insured financing for multifamily and health-care facilities and condominium project development. He has assisted in the development of numerous commercial and residential condominium projects. Jones currently serves on the Virginia State Bar committee for Community Associations.   2015-01-05T15:55:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/fourth-quarter-data-provides-snapshot-of-states-major-commercial-real-estat Fourth-quarter data provide snapshot of state’s major commercial real estate markets http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/fourth-quarter-data-provides-snapshot-of-states-major-commercial-real-estat http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/fourth-quarter-data-provides-snapshot-of-states-major-commercial-real-estat#When:15:51:00Z Relocations, expansions and government incentives gave commercial real estate a boost in the fourth quarter in Virginia, according to market reports of JLL. In its year-end review, the commercial real estate services firm reports on vacancy rates and the major trends in office markets.  Here are a few highlights: Northern Virginia While large contractors continue to shed space in response to reduced government spending, some tenants are beginning to grow. Of the 23 largest leases signed in the fourth quarter, 12 were by growing mid-size tenants. The majority of these deals involved 20,000 to 30,000 square feet. Overall, Northern Virginia’s total office vacancy rate stood at 19.9 percent in the fourth quarter.  According to JLL, incentives are driving the region’s largest leasing decisions. K2M, for example, received $850,000 from the commonwealth for its new 145,819-square-foot Leesburg headquarters. It was the second quarter in a row where the largest lease included a government incentive. Metropolitan D.C. Expansionary leasing activity and subdued new construction helped lead a turnaround in District of Columbia. Growth among tech tenants — including Amazon.com, Google, Evolent Health and Cvent — contributed to more than 800,000 square feet of positive net absorption during the fourth quarter, the market's largest gain since early 2011. The overall office vacancy rate was 12 percent.  At year's end, investment sales volume totaled $6 billion, also the highest amount since 2011 and proof that investors still are attracted to the nation’s capital city. Richmond Approaching vacancies in the Class A inventory are putting pressure on landlords to lower market rates and provide more aggressive concession packages. The relocation of law firm McGuireWoods to the Gateway Plaza now under construction in downtown Richmond has been well known for the past four quarters. However, the announcement by another major law firm, LeClairRyan, to move its operations from Riverfront Plaza, a Class A office building, to SunTrust Tower, a Class B property in downtown’s central business district, put more Class A space on the market.  Plus, LeClairRyan’s relocation is set to occur in the same quarter next year as the delivery of Gateway Plaza, when McGuireWoods plans to vacate more than 240,000 square feet from One James Center, another Class A property. At year-end, Richmond’s total office vacancy rate stood at 14.4 percent.   Relocations dominated leasing volume in 2014, totaling 522,974 square feet. One of the largest was McKesson’s decision to relocate from its headquarters in the Parham East submarket in Henrico County to one of the last remaining large blocks in the Innsbrook submarket in western Henrico. This move will absorb 156,333 square feet of Class A inventory in the Northwest quadrant. However, SunTrust’s decision to close operations at Westmark One and shift personnel to other facilities will open an 80,000-square-foot block, a welcome development for large tenants seeking space in Richmond’s most popular suburban office market. Hampton Roads The region’s total office vacancy rate was 15.4 percent at the end of the fourth quarter. After completion of the Wells Fargo Center in 2010, which pushed vacancy to peak rates in 2011, occupancy levels have slowly recovered. To improve competitiveness, developers and Norfolk officials began construction on a Hyatt Hotel and convention center last spring.  Plus, Norfolk is moving forward with updated streetscapes and the new Waterside Live redevelopment. Limited blocks of Class A office space brought a slight uptick in suburban construction, with 242,700 square feet delivered year-to-date and another 50,000 square feet breaking ground during the first quarter. Projects have shifted from fully preleased, build-to-suits to smaller speculative developments, a signal that demand for high-quality space still exists in Hampton Roads’ core submarkets. 2015-01-05T15:51:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/american-national-completes-24.2-million-merger-with-mainstreet-bankshares American National completes $24.2 million merger with MainStreet BankShares http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/american-national-completes-24.2-million-merger-with-mainstreet-bankshares http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/american-national-completes-24.2-million-merger-with-mainstreet-bankshares#When:16:33:00Z Danville-based American National Bankshares Inc. has completed its $24.2 million merger with MainStreet BankShares Inc., the parent company of Franklin Community Bank. The merger, effective Jan. 1, expands American National’s footprint into the Roanoke metro area, adding three bank branches in Franklin County and the Smith Mountain Lake area. With the merger, American National now has about $1.5 billion in assets.      Under the terms of the agreement, shareholders of MainStreet common stock will receive 0.482 shares of American National common stock and $3.46 in cash for each MainStreet share they owned immediately before the merger. Franklin Community has merged into American National Bank and Trust Co. Plans call for the three Franklin Community banking offices to continue operating under that name as a division of American National until early to mid-2015. Brenda H. Smith, former president and chief executive officer of Franklin Community, has joined American Bank as senior vice president. Todd S. Hammock, formerly senior lender for Franklin Community, has joined the bank as senior vice president and market president for the Franklin County region. Joel R. Shepherd, formerly chairman of the board for MainStreet, was named to the American National board. A new Franklin County advisory board will include members of the boards of MainStreet and Franklin Community. 2015-01-02T16:33:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/roanoke-law-firm-promotes-five-attorneys Roanoke law firm promotes five attorneys http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/roanoke-law-firm-promotes-five-attorneys http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/roanoke-law-firm-promotes-five-attorneys#When:15:48:00Z Roanoke-based firm Gentry Locke Rakes & Moore LLP has promoted five attorneys to partner — Les Bowers, Benjamin Byrd, Christen Church, Peter Irot and Justin Lugar. Bowers focuses his practice on medical malpractice, personal injury and products liability matters but also assists clients in complex commercial litigation and white-collar criminal matters.  He earned his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law and his undergraduate degree from U.Va.’s McIntire School of Commerce. Byrd represents injured people in medical malpractice, wrongful death and personal injury cases. He graduated cum laude with a law degree from Washington and Lee University School of Law and is a magna cum laude graduate of the Charleston of Charleston. Church is an attorney in the firm’s General Commercial practice group with a transactional and advisory practice focusing on mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property, commercial financings, health-care regulation and compliance, data privacy and security, as well as structuring both state and federal tax credit financings/transactions. She earned her law degree from Washington and Lee University School of Law and her undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia. Irot is an attorney in the firm’s Insurance practice group, and has wide-ranging experience in handling personal injury, workers' compensation, and commercial litigation matters. He received his law degree with honors from the University of Texas School of Law and earned his undergraduate degree from Rice University. Lugar is an attorney in Gentry Locke’s Criminal and Government Investigations Practice Group where he recently defended a former company president in an eight-week jury trial in the Middle District of Georgia.  Before joining Gentry Locke, he was an associate at WilmerHale in London. He received his undergraduate degree at the University of Virginia, earned his degree from Liberty University School of Law and graduated with distinction from the University of London with a master of laws degree in dispute and conflict resolution, with distinction. 2015-01-02T15:48:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/media-general-announces-scholarship-program Media General announces scholarship program http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/media-general-announces-scholarship-program http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/media-general-announces-scholarship-program#When:16:38:00Z Richmond-based Media General Inc. is accepting applications for its Minority Scholarship and Training Program. The deadline for applications is Jan. 30. Media General will award two scholarships/internships that will begin next summer. The program is designed to aid college sophomores or juniors focused on careers in broadcast television or digital media. Each student will receive a one-year or two-year scholarship for up to $10,000 per year, which can be used toward tuition, fees, books, and room and board. In addition, Media General will provide each student with through a paid internship program at one of its television stations or digital businesses. The scholarship recipients will be assigned full-time positions at Media General upon graduation and successful completion of the training program. The application and criteria for the program can be found on the company’s website, http://www.mediageneral.com/careers/scholarship.html. Media General perates or services 71 television stations in 48 markets . 2014-12-31T16:38:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/washingtonfirst-bankshares-raises-about-20-million-in-equity WashingtonFirst Bankshares raises about $20 million in equity http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/washingtonfirst-bankshares-raises-about-20-million-in-equity http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/washingtonfirst-bankshares-raises-about-20-million-in-equity#When:16:31:00Z Reston-based WashingtonFirst Bankshares Inc. has raised about $20 million in equity through a private placement of 1.38 million shares of common stock. The newly issued shares, sold at $15 per share, includes voting and non-voting common stock. Buyers in the private placement were described as institutional investors who are existing stockholders. “We are delighted that a number of our existing institutional shareholders have confidence in the company and were interested in participating in this private placement. This new capital will help the company continue to grow and realize our goals,” Shaza L. Andersen, the company’s president and CEO, said in a statement. The private placement increases the company’s total outstanding shares to 9.57 million. The company intends to use the new capital primarily to support the continued growth of its subsidiary, WashingtonFirst Bank. The bank recently opened its 17th branch in McLean. During the first nine months of 2014, the bank’s loan portfolio grew by 22 percent to $184.4 million. WashingtonFirst Bankshares reported third-quarter net income of $2.8 million (33 cents per diluted common share) compared to $2.1 million (26 cents per diluted common share) for the three months ending Sept. 30, 2013. For the nine months ending Sept. 30, net income was $6.7 million (81 cents per diluted common share) compared to $5 million (62 cents per common share) for the same nine months in 2013. The company’s total assets stood at $1.3 billion on Sept. 30, compared to $1.1 billion as of Dec. 31, 2013. 2014-12-31T16:31:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Bernie1395.png Photo by Mark Rhodes http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/double-down-add-broadband-to-the-gas-pipeline Double down, add broadband to the gas pipeline http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/double-down-add-broadband-to-the-gas-pipeline http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/double-down-add-broadband-to-the-gas-pipeline#When:23:00:00Z A bill authorizing construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline was narrowly defeated in the U.S. Senate last November.  It should have passed and likely will once the new Republican majority convenes this year.  Our country needs to improve its infrastructure. In Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina, a joint venture led by Dominion Resources — with Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and AGL Resources as partners — is seeking to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  This, too, should be approved. Tight public budgets are often the culprit when funding fails to materialize for infrastructure projects.  However, zoning and land use, along with environmental concerns, can be even greater barriers to growth.  In the case of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, it is solely these non-financial concerns that are under consideration, as the joint venture would bear all costs. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a $4.5 billion to $5 billion project, starting in Harrison County, W.Va., and running southeast through Virginia to Chesapeake and then south through central North Carolina for a total of 550 miles. One analysis by Chmura Economics and Analytics puts the economic impact during the construction phase at $456.3 million, supporting 2,873 jobs across the three-state region. When the pipeline reaches full operation,   Chmura estimates, an annual impact in the three-state region of $69.2 million, supporting  271 jobs. The pipeline would connect Virginia with abundant sources of natural gas in the Marcellus and Utica shale basins in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Natural gas is a lower cost and lower emission energy source, which reduces reliance on coal and other more carbon-intensive feedstock and delivers lower cost energy to households. In order to move forward, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline needs approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).  The FERC review process involves input from numerous local, state and federal entities, as well as state residents.  Dominion submitted a request to begin the prefiling process in October.  Informational open houses with stakeholders along the proposed pipeline route begin this month. Opposition has been swift.  Soon after the project was announced, blue placards reading “No Pipeline” began to appear up and down Interstate 81. The Southern Environmental Law Center is concerned about 30 miles of the proposed route that would go through national forest land.  Landowners opposing the pipeline in Augusta, Nelson and other counties have sought to block project surveyors from access to their land.  The Sierra Club also opposes the pipeline. Gov. Terry McAuliffe, however, supports it, citing job creation, lower energy costs and reduced carbon emissions as benefits to the commonwealth.  He’s also made the suggestion that broadband could be laid along the same path, doubling its economic development value.  Though Dominion’s joint venture may not currently be in the broadband business, this is well worth considering. Much of Virginia, especially its rural areas, still lacks  high-speed connectivity.  Even in Roanoke, the commonwealth’s fourth-largest metro area, inadequate or nonexistent broadband at many developable sites hampers the region’s competitiveness. It’s ironic that the desire for greater broadband access seems to meet little opposition, yet energy projects are generally met with a firm “No thanks, not here, not now, not ever.”  Apparently connecting our home electronics, cable TVs, laptops, tablets and the Internet is of more value than the energy required to power all these devices, not to mention lighting and heating our homes.  When the day comes that we wake up in a cold brownout, who’ll be to blame? Sure, there are big differences between Keystone XL, carrying crude oil, and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which will carry natural gas.  Both have their hazards.  Still, in the case of oil, the alternative has been to use rail lines and outdated tanker cars as a less safe and less controlled alternative for moving product to market.  I’m sure the folks in Lynchburg don’t need to be reminded of the crude oil train derailment and tanker car fires in their community just last April. Opponents to the gas pipeline cite a familiar set of arguments, trampled property rights, potential groundwater contamination, disruption of fragile ecosystems, effects on communities hundreds of miles downstream, and inadequate development of alternative and sustainable energy sources.  These objections have been raised with every energy project — coal, nuclear, gas, even wind and hydro-energy. Pragmatists talk of an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy.  One of the great success stories of the United States’ recovering economy has been its movement away from dependence on imported energy.  Globally, this is an economic game changer.  Let’s not change this strategy to “none of the above.” 2014-12-30T23:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/NVIEW_elderlyhealth.png http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/getting-a-discussion-started-on-end-of-life-care Getting a discussion started on end-of-life care http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/getting-a-discussion-started-on-end-of-life-care http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/getting-a-discussion-started-on-end-of-life-care#When:23:00:00Z In the national debate over how health care should be reformed, one critical question appears to be overlooked. How should patients be cared for at the end of their lives? A recent national study also suggests that a system dedicated to saving lives is often ill-prepared for helping patients and their families when death approaches. In September, a panel ap­­pointed by the Institute of Medicine, a research arm of the National Academy of Sciences, found that the nation’s system for handing end-of-life care needs sweeping change. “The current system is geared towards doing more, more, more, and that system by definition is not necessarily consistent with what patients want, and is also more costly,” David M. Walker, the committee’s chairman, told The New York Times. The group’s 507-page report called “Dying in America” encourages health-care providers to talk with their patients about advance care planning. That involves patients stating their wishes in writing on how they wish to be cared for in their final days. For many, those wishes include going home — rather than staying in a hospital — and having medical care that will allow them to be comfortable. Without an advance care directive, families can face agonizing medical choices when their loved ones are unable to speak for themselves. This type of discussion about end-of-life care led to the recent launch of two Virginia programs aimed at promoting advance care planning. Notably, both initiatives involve competing regional health systems collaborating in a common cause. Neither project involves any cost to consumers. In late November, the Advance Care Planning Coalition of Eastern Virginia unveiled “As You Wish,” a program designed to promote advance care planning in Hampton Roads and the Eastern Shore. The coalition includes four regional health systems — Bon Secours Hampton Roads, Chesapeake Regional Medical Center, Riverside Health System and Sentara Healthcare. Their founding partners in the project are four area agencies on aging — the Peninsula Agency on Aging, Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia, Bay Aging and Eastern Shore Area Agency on Aging. They are leading the community awareness effort for the program, which offers an advance care directive form on its website http://www.asyouwishvirginia.org along with frequently asked questions and answers. “Our goal is to educate the public about the value of completing and signing an Advance Directive for Health Care while you are still capable of doing so,” David Murray, the executive director of the coalition, said in statement announcing the program. “Individuals may want to have a conversation with family members, friends, doctors, attorneys or even their ministers or rabbis so they can make the right decision for themselves.”  In December, the Richmond Academy of Medicine (RAM) launched Honoring Choices, a program designed to train health-care providers in starting a discussion with patients about end-of-life choices. RAM has contributed $100,000 to the program, which also has the financial backing and participation of three Richmond-area health-care systems: Bon Secours Richmond Health System, HCA Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University Health System. Thirty-two facilitators from the health systems began training last fall using Respecting Choices, a curriculum developed by Bernard “Bud” Hammes at the Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, Wis. In January, the facilitators will begin discussions on advance-care planning with patients at three sites in each health system. The “Dying in America” report notes that people involved in a medical crisis often are treated by a number of health-care providers who don’t know them. Hammes, who attended the Richmond news conference unveiling Honoring Choices, said advance care plans help medical personnel understand patients who are unable to speak for themselves. “What this program can do is really transform the health care system from one that focuses on diseases — because we don’t know who this person is — [to one that] focuses on people with diseases,” he said. “This makes care personalized and individualized.” Hammes said families as well as patients  “suffer when we provide treatment they don’t want.” “When families don’t know what the patient wants but are required by the circumstance to make decisions, they emotionally suffer and that suffering is quite considerable,” he said. “These are lifelong scars that family members bear. Sometimes these decisions tear families apart. These are all preventable problems.”  In “Having Your Own Way: Getting the Right Care When It Matters Most,” a book published in 2012 about innovative approaches to end-of-life care, Sen. Mark Warner reveals his regrets that his family did not talk with his mother about her end-of-life wishes. She died in 2010 after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for more than 10 years. “When she was first diagnosed … my family didn’t take the opportunity to talk in a frank and fully informed way with her and her health-care providers about the full array of care options,” Warner said. “I was an informed citizen at the time, the governor of Virginia, and yet my family and I did not have a full understanding of all that could be before us.” He wishes that his family had been able to craft a care plan that truly reflected his mother’s wishes. “As scary as it may be, we must be honest about care options, treatment settings and the planning that may dramatically improve the quality of life of patients and their family caregivers,” the senator said. The As You Wish and Honoring Choices initiatives may help many Virginia families begin that difficult but sorely needed conversation. 2014-12-30T23:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Brown4070.png Ted Brown of Network Alliance Photo by Mark http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/attacks-are-ubiquitous ‘Attacks are ubiquitous’ http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/attacks-are-ubiquitous http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/attacks-are-ubiquitous#When:23:00:00Z What do Home Depot, Target, the White House, the State Department and Sony Pictures have in common? They’ve all been the targets of high-profile cybersecurity attacks over the last year. Nonetheless, while it makes headlines when the hackers hit big companies, the bad guys are far more likely to attack small businesses — and those businesses may not even be aware they’ve been hacked, experts say. “Attacks are ubiquitous whether you’re big or small,” says Danyetta Fleming Magana, president of McLean-based Covenant Security Solutions, an information security and cyber solutions company. Ted Brown, vice president of IT operations for Reston-based Network Alliance, an information technology consulting and management firm, says “Small businesses kind of feel that they’re too small to worry about, that they’re not really targets of these kind of attacks. … [They] seem to think that … they may not need the same kind of protection, or they’re not vulnerable, but it’s quite the opposite.” In fact, according to Verizon’s annual Data Breach Investigations Report, in recent months as many as 71 percent of cyber attacks have been waged against small businesses with fewer than 100 employees. “First and foremost, don’t be naïve,” says Harvey Johnson, a senior manager with Richmond-based accounting and business consulting firm PBMares. “All of the security experts say it’s not a matter of if you’ll be attacked; it’s when and by who.” The first thing to understand is that hackers aren’t necessarily targeting specific businesses — they may be running automated attacks looking for Internet-connected networks that are easy to attack, experts say. Small businesses often think they don’t have data worth stealing, but that’s not the case, he says. Hackers are seeking credit card data, Social Security numbers, user names, passwords — anything that can be used in identity theft. Small law firms, health clinics, accounting and financial firms, and other businesses may routinely keep such records on their clients and employees. “This is going on the black market for anywhere from $25 to $125 per record depending on how much information you have,” Johnson says. “The more data a hacker gets on a single individual or business, the more valuable it is.” It’s also likely that criminals may be hacking into a small business in order to strike at a bigger target, namely that small business’s clients, Magana says. In the Home Depot and Target cases, hackers used stolen credentials from small third-party vendors to access the big retailers’ networks. Hacking is a low-risk, high-reward crime because most of the hackers are working overseas, and they rarely face prosecution. And because of a lack of resources, it can often take six months to a year before a small business even realizes they’ve had a security breach. During that time, identity thieves can take out lines of credit and establish aliases with the stolen data. “I’ve heard stories about people who have had entire homes purchased [using their stolen personal data], and they had no idea about it,” Magana says. So what can businesses do to protect themselves? One step is to conduct an information security risk assessment and establish data security policies such as requiring employees to regularly change passwords, Brown says. Training employees in data security basics such as how to identify possible phishing attempts is also essential, Johnson says. Some hackers may employ fake email addresses to impersonate company officials, such as board members or CEOs, in order to request passwords or data from employees. Johnson also suggests being prepared for the worst-case scenario and taking out additional insurance coverage against loss from data theft. Adding such coverage is relatively inexpensive for small businesses, he says, but it can be the difference between a small business staying in business or closing its doors, he says, as the financial fallout from a data breach can be ruinous. Brown recommends that companies strengthen their network security by installing real-time intrusion prevention systems (IPS) and intrusion detection systems (IDS), which can range from roughly $8,000 to $20,000 for a small business. “You wouldn’t let a stranger walk past your front-desk person and start rummaging through peoples’ desks without raising an eyebrow, so why are you letting people do that on your network?” he asks. “Having a firewall in place is no longer the maximum,” Brown adds. “A lot of people, when they get a new network, they get a firewall in place, and they put an antivirus program on their computer, and they wipe their hands and say, ‘We’re good,’ but that’s the bare minimum of what’s needed.” Bringing in an IT person once in a while when something’s broken isn’t a good strategy, says Brown, who urges small businesses to instead invest in installing a 24/7 system that can monitor intrusions and send remote alerts such as hardware systems created by computer security firm Kansas-based RiskAnalytics. The systems are installed onto a business’s existing network. Anti-virus and anti-spyware software are great, Brown says, but they have limitations. Intrusion prevention and detection systems are more robust than software and can better detect communications anomalies in your network and shut down the connection before data can be stolen, he says. Because most attacks are coming from overseas, there is a good chance those attacks will happen after office hours when it’s daytime in Europe and Asia, he says. That’s why it’s important to have a 24/7 monitoring system that can send you alerts in real time. Good cybersecurity systems can block network traffic from some or all foreign nations. “We have a litany of countries we block right off the bat” for clients, Brown says. While hackers come from across the globe and can hide their locations or make it appear as if they are coming from somewhere else, most don’t bother. The hotspots for hackers tend to be Russia, China, Turkey, former Eastern Bloc republics and Saudi Arabia, but hackers also strike from the United States, France and Germany. “It’s not just one country, but you can really see who the big hitters are and isolate your network from them,” Brown says, and if you don’t need to do business with foreign companies, you may want to completely cut off network access to all foreign IP addresses. Other good tips, Johnson says, include restricting employees’ abilities to download programs and files onto their computers and keeping sensitive data such as payroll information on an internal network that isn’t connected to the Internet if possible. It’s also critical to change default passwords on routers and servers; keeping default passwords is like leaving one’s door unlocked, he says. If you do all this, you may avoid data breaches, but it’s not a given. A determined hacker may succeed no matter what, experts say. However, hackers are “going to look for the path of least resistance,” Johnson says. “If you’ve got your guard up, they’ll probably move on from you and go on to the next small business.” 2014-12-30T23:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/big-employers Big employers http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/big-employers http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/big-employers#When:23:00:00Z The Lynchburg region’s largest employment sectors, health care and higher education, continued to grow in 2014. In January, the regional health-care system Centra Health announced that it would purchase Carilion Clinic’s stake in Bedford Memorial Hospital, which the two organizations had operated in partnership for 11 years. The deal, completed in July, allows Centra to develop its services there. “We wanted the Bedford community to have an opportunity to be part of a regional health system with the services and specialists that community needed,” Centra spokeswoman Diane Riley says in an email. Centra plans to spend $1.5 million to $2 million per year to upgrade and develop the hospital in the next three to five years, Riley says. In 2014, Centra continued to experience a decrease in inpatient care volume, but volume has shifted to the system’s outpatient care centers, she says. Despite concerns about falling enrollment and the rising price of college nationwide, several of the Lynchburg region’s private colleges have shown strides of growth. In 2014, Randolph College finished renovating an apartment complex across the street from its campus to provide a new housing option for its growing student population. In October, Lynchburg College opened a $12 million expansion of its student center. The most significant growth, however, has been at Liberty University, the evangelical Christian college started by the late Jerry Falwell. By expanding its online programs and on-campus offerings, the university’s student body has grown from 64,000 in 2010 to more than 100,000 today, including nearly 14,000 who study on campus in Lynchburg. In the past year, Liberty has opened a new, state-of-the-art library; a renovated student center; a high-rise dorm building; and a medical school, the Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine. The medical school began holding classes in August 2014 with 160 students and 62 employees. The university anticipates the college will reach an enrollment of 640 students and have 90 full time and 30 part-time employees by August 2017, according to Ronnie Martin, dean of the medical school. As early as February, the medical school will open a health clinic in Lynchburg that will offer health services for rates that vary depending on the patients’ income. The growth at Liberty has led to increased spending and financial impact in the Lynchburg area, according to a study that the university recently commissioned from Richmond-based Mangum Economic Consulting LLC. According to that study, Liberty stands as the region’s largest employer with 6,000 local employees. Together, the university and its students, visitors, employees, and tenants spent a combined $567.3 million in the region in the 2013-2014 fiscal year. 2014-12-30T23:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Taylor4027.png Jeff Taylor photo by Mark Rhodes http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/a-turning-point A turning point http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/a-turning-point http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/a-turning-point#When:23:00:00Z Jeff Taylor faced an uphill battle when he became Appomattox County’s economic development director in 2011. Thomasville Furniture was closing its local factory, eliminating more than 170 jobs. The plant closing left many more residents in Appomattox, a county of about 15,000 near Lynchburg, feeling discouraged about the local economy’s prospects. For more than two years, Taylor reached out to manufacturers and developers who were willing to look at the 800,000-square-foot property. “We knew we had to find the right client for that facility,” says Taylor. The search officially ended in November. Taking advantage of nearly $4 million in incentives, China-based Lindenburg Industry announced it will make pollution control devices at the plant, creating about 350 jobs. Lynchburg-area officials see the Appomattox deal as a sign of a changing tide in the regional economy. For a variety of reasons, a growing number of companies like Lindenburg are producing their goods in the U.S. instead of China, and some area manufacturers are now winning back some contracts they once lost to foreign competition. Leaders in the Lynchburg region believe the momentum will keep growing. To help it along, they are preparing to recruit targeted businesses that would diversify the economy. “The future looks really great for our regional economy, and I mean that in the short term,” says Megan Lucas, CEO of the Lynchburg-based Region 2000 Business and Economic Development Alliance. Beyond the nuclear option Seven years ago, the Lynchburg region was poised for rapid job growth in the nuclear power industry. Local employers Areva and Babcock & Wilcox announced they each would develop their Lynchburg-area workforces to prepare designs for new nuclear reactors. The Great Recession, low natural gas prices and the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster in Japan in 2011, however, caused electric companies to postpone most plans for new nuclear plants, sidelining both Lynchburg projects. Whereas Areva once planned to have its pressurized water reactors, called EPRs, operating in the U.S. by 2015, it now expects to have the design finalized by 2018, says Gary Mignogna, CEO of Areva Inc. The company does not need to boost its headcount in Lynchburg to meet that later deadline, he says. “We have the resources we need to do that.” Areva has continued to invest in Lynchburg, recently spending $500,000 to install new reactor mockups to train service employees. But the company now has about 1,800 Central Virginia employees, fewer than it did when the major expansion was announced seven years ago. It recently laid off 22 workers, and had 83 leave voluntarily in exchange for severance incentives, in a workforce reduction designed to adjust to changing needs in the post-Fukushima nuclear market. Mignogna says he sees potential for increased hiring in Lynchburg if power companies decide to increase the generation capacity of their existing nuclear plants — a decision that becomes economically feasible if natural gas prices rise 30 percent from recent levels. The delay in nuclear expansion also impacted B&W’s mPower program, which was developing a modular nuclear reactor. In 2014, the company slashed its spending on mPower and laid off 100 Lynchburg-area employees. B&W’s initial mPower customer, the Tennessee Valley Authority, has indicated that the new reactor will not be needed immediately, says Bob Bailey, executive director of the Center for Advanced Engineering and Research, a research facility in Bedford County where B&W has built an mPower prototype for testing. “We’re watching very closely,” Bailey says. “That’s a big part of our economy. For the next couple of years at least, it’s very slow.” “We continue to have discussions with stakeholders, including the U.S. Department of Energy, TVA and Bechtel [a partner in the mPower project], on the path forward for the mPower program,” B&W spokeswoman Aimee Mills says in an e-mail. In November, B&W announced a plan to split off its nuclear business lines into a separate publicly traded company named BWX Technologies this summer. BWXT would be based in Lynchburg, and the mPower program would continue under BWXT, Mills says. Lucas, the CEO of Region 2000, says that the local economy may have grown too dependent on nuclear. “We have allowed the region to put the majority of its eggs in a particular sector,” she says. “As such, when that sector contracts, we don’t have any jobs that can utilize those skill sets at that level.” Region 2000, a partnership of several organizations focused on Lynchburg-region development, is planning to market the region and recruit new employers. Lucas is collaborating with local economic development officers to determine which industries would yield prime candidates. She mentions energy, pharmaceuticals, insurance and health care as possibilities. Identifying exactly which businesses would fit well in Lynchburg will allow her to work more effectively, Lucas says. “If we don’t define our sectors, then I’m just out there casting an unbaited hook.” Working together One year ago, there was upheaval at Region 2000 as a drop in donations forced the organization to reduce its staff and consolidate two top leadership jobs to create the post Lucas now holds. At the same time, the Lynchburg Regional Chamber of Commerce shed its president’s position when the city did not renew a contract to operate its tourism marketing program. Since then, these organizations have been exploring ways to work together. “We felt that there was a real opportunity with new leadership here, as well as new leadership coming to Region 2000, to have a different conversation … to talk about what are our unique, individual roles and strengths that we can bring to the table to move the region forward,” says Christine Kennedy, the chamber’s interim president. Discussions between the chamber and Region 2000 officials have reached a point where they now are exploring formal partnership. In January, leaders from both organizations, along with regional stakeholders such as government officials and business leaders, will travel to Lexington, Ky., to learn about an organization that formed in 2004 with the merger of several business and economic development groups. After the trip, the boards of each organization will decide how to collaborate.  While the outcome of the process remains unknown, Marjette Upshur, Lynchburg’s director of economic development, says it makes sense to have all local organizations focused on economic development working together. “The business community doesn’t need to be choosing sides,” she says. “All of us need to be working to support them.” Homegrown business Lynchburg-area economic developers also have focused on helping existing businesses grow. In Lynchburg, Upshur instituted a program about two years ago when Virginia raised the requirements for receiving enterprise zone grants. The minimum $100,000 investment put the grants outside the reach of many small businesses, so Lynchburg created its own incentives for capital improvements. “There is no barrier to entry,” says Upshur. Under the program, a business in Lynchburg’s two enterprise zones can get a grant to cover some costs in expanding a building or repainting the facade. These facility improvements result in a more attractive city and increased tax revenue, Upshur says. Lynchburg also recently followed the lead of Marion by conducting a business contest. With the help of a Virginia Main Street grant, Lynchburg’s INOV8 contest gave $10,000 prizes to three downtown businesses with expansion plans. As part of the contest, 11 companies went through a series of classes that helped them develop business plans. Anna Bentson, assistant director of economic development in Lynchburg, says the project met its goal because it helped business owners pause and find out what would take them to the next level. Altavista, about 25 miles south of Lynchburg, is sponsoring a similar contest called Pop Up Altavista. The development organization Altavista On Track hopes to have several businesses competing for $20,000 in prizes beginning in January, says Linda Rodriguez, the executive director. Altavista recently finished improvements to make the streetscapes and sidewalks more inviting, and Rodriguez says building new businesses is the logical next step for the town’s economy. “It’s time to work on the businesses and bringing people here,” Rodriguez says. Looking ahead Back when Taylor was trying to find a company to utilize the former Thomasville Furniture plant in Appomattox, he reached out to retailers about an empty grocery store building in town. He suggested the location to Tractor Supply and to Dollar Tree, among others. All told him that Appomattox was not in their expansion plans. But today, there is a Tractor Supply store on the main highway through town. Not far from that store is a Dollar Tree. “Sometimes it’s a matter of planting a seed, giving folks options ... and letting them determine something on their own,” Taylor says. “We don’t have things that we want a lot of times, but things that we want do show up.” 2014-12-30T23:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/CRE_FriendshiprehapSouth.png New health-care facilities, like Friendship Retirement Community in Roanoke County, are going up around the state. http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/forecast-fluffy-clouds Forecast: fluffy clouds http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/forecast-fluffy-clouds http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/forecast-fluffy-clouds#When:23:00:00Z By late last year, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe categorized Virginia’s economic outlook for 2015 as “very perilous.” Federal budget cuts and sequestration continue to cast an aura of uncertainty. Plus, the state closed out the third quarter of 2014 with fewer new jobs than the national average, a slowdown based in part on the slump in federal spending. Yet despite the economic woes, the new year is shaping up as a good one for commercial real estate. Some sectors, such as retail and health care, are seeing lots of new development as the economy slowly shifts from the effects of the recession into a more normal trajectory. “This is a state that has weathered the Great Recession quite well,” says Anirban Basu, chief economist for Associated Builders and Contractors Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based trade association. Yet some areas of the state haven’t fared as well as others. Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads have been feeling pain from federal budget cuts since 2011 and especially since sequestration took effect in early 2013, says Basu. As a result, “Northern Virginia is now staring at more vacant office space than has been witnessed in a quarter century.” The vacancy looms despite the fact that Northern Virginia has seen some growth in the technology sector among businesses that aren’t federal contractors, as well as lots of commercial development along the Dulles corridor driven by the construction of Metrorail’s new Silver Line. Meanwhile, Roanoke’s economy is growing at its fastest rate since the recession, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. And Richmond, which also is racking up numbers not seen since before the 2008 crash, has been rebounding strongest of all Virginia localities. Basu attributes the good showing to the region’s “shockingly diverse” economy and a major retail construction boom, being led by “a significant rebound in consumer confidence.” During the past 18 months some secondary markets such as Richmond have picked up in terms of market fundamentals and investor interest, says Steve Sadler, CEO of Richmond-based Allegiancy, a commercial real estate management firm overseeing more than $300 million in assets stretching from Pennsylvania to Texas. “Of all the areas where we’re active, Richmond is one of the more interesting and upbeat,” he says.  Because the region isn’t dependent on any one industry,“that stability is attractive to investment capital,” he adds. “We’re finally feeling very healthy,” says Brett McNamee, a senior vice president with Divaris Real Estate Inc. in Richmond. Grocery store wars McNamee says retail is leading Richmond’s commercial market, with vacancy rates down to 6.3 percent, the lowest since 2008. Much of the new retail development is being driven by what brokers are calling the “Grocery War.” A slew of grocery-anchored projects are in the pipeline. Leading the way is the New York-based, family-owned supermarket chain Wegmans, which McNamee jokingly calls “the 500-pound gorilla.” Wegmans is entering the Richmond market with two 100,000-plus-square-foot stores in the Short Pump area and Midlothian, which will begin construction this year and open by summer 2016. Wegmans also will open its first Charlottesville location next year. All three stores will anchor shopping complexes. Meanwhile Martin’s Food Markets already opened its own super-sized, 74,000-square-foot location in Midlothian in November and is said to be scouting other locations for expansion. Kroger also is adding new locations in the state, including a new Kroger Marketplace that opened in December in Suffolk. North Carolina-based gourmet food store Southern Season opened in Henrico this past summer, and Whole Foods Market announced plans to build a second store in the Richmond area, anchoring Sauer Center, a planned mixed-use development on Broad Street near Richmond’s Fan District. At the West Broad Marketplace complex in Henrico County’s affluent Short Pump area, Wegmans and Cabela’s, a retailer of upscale outdoor recreation gear, will be the anchor tenants. Mixed-use, live-work-play developments that combine retail, residential and office are also a hot trend, as evidenced by several recent projects in Henrico County (Staples Mill Centre and West Broad Village) and Roanoke, where Richmond-based WVS Companies is developing The Bridges. The $150 million riverfront project will combine offices, apartments and retail with a kayak launch and promenade along the Roanoke River. The project is expected to be completed in the early 2020s. Health care drives development Health care is one of the drivers in mixed-use development around the state.Early this year Henrico-based developer Stanley Shield Partnership plans to open the first medical office buildings in its $50 million, 160,000-square-foot Short Pump Medical Center complex in Henrico County. Bon Secours is working with Henrico-based Atack Properties to build Bon Secours Short Pump, a $50 million, 115,000-square-foot “medical village,” and Henrico developer The Lingerfelt Cos. just completed the 6,000-square-foot Medarva Stony Point Surgery Center at the Notch at West Creek, a mixed-use development near the Henrico-Goochland line. In Hampton Roads, Virginia Beach is looking to develop 1,100 acres of unused city land in Virginia Beach’s Princess Anne Commons into a medical park containing health-care providers and medical researchers. “We continue to see an increase in patient demand for medical space and aging demographics support that. We see a demand from doctors … to participate in ownership of the real estate and we see a demand from investors wanting to invest in medical development particularly because the average medical tenant is a relatively loyal tenant,” says Brian Witthoefft, a principal with Lingerfelt. The growing numbers of aging baby boomers also are driving construction of assisted-living communities and nursing homes. For example Friendship Retirement Community in Roanoke County is building a $13 million, 73,000-square-foot patient rehabilitation center that will open this fall. The retirement community has been expanding quickly, adding a new, independent living apartment building last summer. In Virginia Beach, Roanoke-based Medical Facilities of America is building the $17 million, 69,883-square-foot, 120-bed Princess Anne Health and Rehabilitation Center, which will open this spring. In the industrial sector, Virginia continues to draw distribution centers. The Richmond region is a hotspot for development because of its central shipping location on the Eastern seaboard.  During the past few years, centers have been built or announced by a number of major players, including Amazon, Medline, Philip Morris USA, Lumber Liquidators and The Vitamin Shoppe. Data centers represent another sector expected to see continued rapid growth in 2015. The Ashburn area of Loudoun County is home to 56 data centers, totaling about 5.9 million square feet. Up to 70 percent of all Internet traffic flows through Loudoun’s “Data Center Alley,” which could become the world’s largest data center hub this year, possibly as soon as March, according to county economic development officials. Major players such as Digital Realty, RagingWire and DuPont Fabros all have expanded operations there in recent months. Data centers, though, are the exception in Northern Virginia’s office market, which “is very slow right now,” says Scott Homa, a director of research with JLL. Northern Virginia’s economy is largely driven by federal spending and contract work. “We’ve had gridlocked government for a long period of time. We’ve had sequestration and cuts in defense spending.” The outlook for federal spending going into 2015 still is very uncertain, adds Homa. “The tenant base has been totally handcuffed due to the current political state.” Demand for office space in Northern Virginia remains subdued, and rents are mostly stagnant. In the third quarter of 2014, vacancies increased to 19.7 percent, the highest point since 2003. Contractors such as McLean-based Booz Allen Hamilton and Falls Church-based Northrop Grumman have been reducing their workforces and their real estate portfolios in recent years. Even federal agencies are downsizing; the Fish and Wildlife Service moved from a 250,000 square-foot space in Arlington to an 182,721-square-foot space in Falls Church. “There’s real stress in Northern Virginia,” agrees Sadler, adding that companies are now seeking one- and two-year leasing agreements, not decade-long deals as in the past. “That’s very difficult for the property owners,” he says. “You don’t have pricing power.” The office story is brighter in Richmond where the overall vacancy rate stood at 10.1 percent at the end of the third quarter. There’s just over a million square feet of vacant space now, about two-thirds less than in 2011, says Mark Douglas, senior vice president with Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer. Tenants in need of a large footprint will find slim pickings since several recent transactions have gobbled up large, Class A spaces.  One of the deals involved Henrico-based McKesson Medical-Surgical Inc. In November it announced plans for  a $10 million relocation and expansion in a 168,500-square-foot space that was formerly part of the corporate headquarters for the now-defunct electronics retailer Circuit City.  Looking ahead, Basu notes that a rising tide lifts all boats. “The U.S. economy appears to be gaining momentum,” he says. “It certainly helps that gasoline prices have fallen, which further bolsters consumer and industry confidence. It’s also likely that federal government rightsizing won’t have quite as much as impact on the state in 2015 as it did in 2013 and 2014. 2015 should be a better economy in Virginia and that should spell better times for commercial real estate.” 2014-12-30T23:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/HistPhoto_VPI_Campus_Aerial_1941.png http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/true-to-its-roots True to its roots http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/true-to-its-roots http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/true-to-its-roots#When:23:00:00Z Editor’s note: This is the beginning of a new monthly series looking at Virginia’s universities as economic engines. What began in October 1872 as Virginia’s first land-grant college for men, attracting just 30 students its first month, now has more than 31,000 full- and part-time students — 42.3 percent of whom are women.  What began as a school for rural Southwest Virginia now has more international students than any other public university in a state that ranks 14th nationally for international student population. And what began as Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College is now Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, better known as Virginia Tech. Established on a large country estate in Blacksburg, Virginia Tech’s original mandate as a land-grant school was to focus on agriculture and the mechanical arts, and for decades it was known primarily for agricultural research and engineering. Virginia Tech and Virginia State University oversee the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service, which has offices throughout the commonwealth. Still acclaimed for those disciplines — its College of Engineering is ranked among the nation’s Top 25 — Tech now is an economic driver for the region and the commonwealth. Not only is it the New River Valley’s largest employer with 8,000-plus employees, but Tech and its related organizations also manage more than $1.5 billion in assets. Montgomery County, a major beneficiary of the impact, has seen employment jump 6 percent and wages rise 5.3 percent since 2010, according to the U.S. Census.  Since 2000, county population has grown nearly 13 percent. “The university by its mere presence is a huge economic engine,” says Tech spokesman Larry Hincker. “We ran a standard input-output study a few years ago and discovered that we account for 25 percent of all jobs and 33 percent of all payroll in Montgomery County. Conservatively, our economic impact on the region is about $1.5 billion.” John Dooley, CEO of the nonprofit Virginia Tech Foundation, believes Tech’s prosperity relates to its humble start. “Virginia Tech was conceived with an unusual mandate as a land-grant university,” he says. “Virginia Tech was from its very beginning about economic development and the translation of research for economic benefit. We were to take knowledge and translate it for the greater good of the people of the commonwealth.” “We have been true to that,” he adds. “We’ve had an aggressive statewide presence, and we continue to look at ways in which we can advance that position.” Pinpointing Tech’s greatest asset as “the talent that exists within the university,” Dooley defines the foundation’s role as “helping provide strategic investments that attract and retain that talent for economic impact.” Real estate holdings Those strategic investments include substantial real estate holdings — from the Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center in Roanoke to Tech’s Center for European Studies and Architecture in Switzerland. The foundation’s diverse properties include a 10,000-square-foot Chesapeake Bay seafood research facility, the Hampton Seafood Lab, as well as the 4,000-square-foot Reynolds Homestead educational facility in Patrick County. A variety of properties in the New River Valley range from a Pulaski County golf course to a 47-acre Blacksburg quarry where Tech processes its signature “Hokie stone,” a native limestone adorning most campus buildings. Although owned by developer W.M. Jordan, the $250 million 100-acre Tech Center at Oyster Point — an office, residential, retail and research complex under construction in Newport News — is a joint venture by the foundation and its for-profit subsidiary, the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center (CRC). Dooley says the research park at the complex will be managed by the CRC. The grand opening for Tech Center at  Oyster Point is set for July. Additionally, the university’s vast research profile includes the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute in Blacksburg and its affiliated Global Center for Automotive Performance Simulation in Halifax County, a recently combined and newly renamed laboratory devoted to tire and new vehicle testing for highway and motorsport usage. In Prince George County, Tech is one of five state universities involved in the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing, a collaborative research organization working with 21 industrial and governmental partners. CCAM is designed to bridge the gap between research and commercialization, making it faster to bring developments to market. Other major research initiatives include the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research in Roanoke (a joint venture with Carilion Clinic, which opened in 2010 and graduated its first medical students last May), and the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, which opened in 2000. The institute has offices in Blacksburg and Washington, D.C. In October, Tech signed a new five-year contract with Danville’s Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, a self-described “regional catalyst for economic transformation,” after entering into a partnership with the commonwealth and five others to form the institute in 2000. The foundation opened its Virginia Tech Research Center in Arlington in 2011, providing space for other already established university institutes in Northern Virginia. Research there involves medical technology, cybersecurity and alternative energy, among other areas. Northern Virginia also is home to Tech’s Marion DuPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg and the Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center, operating since 1980 as an extension of the School of Architecture and Design. Corporate Research Center In Blacksburg, university leaders point to the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, established by the foundation in 1985 with a $4.2 million initial commitment, as the starting point for much of the university’s economic impact during the past 30 years. Originally built on 120 acres of pasture adjacent to the university, the research park opened in 1988 with a handful of tenants. Today, 230 acres have been developed with 29 buildings housing more than 160 companies employing 2,700 people. An expansion to add 19 buildings on 95 acres is underway, and planning for a third phase is in the works. Joe Meredith, the center’s president since 1993, is a native of Henrico County and 1969 Tech graduate. He says he chose Tech when college boards revealed “my math skills were so high and my English skills were so low that I was told I couldn’t be anything but an engineer.” “I fell in love with the campus,” he recalls, noting that he was one of 8,000 students in 1965. “When we graduated, it had grown to 12,000.”  Meredith points to the tenure of former President T. Marshall Hahn Jr. as a turning point in Tech’s progress: “In the 1960s, he had the vision that we should be a university, not a college. His vision fueled enormous growth.” Growth at the CRC, Hincker says, can be attributed to Meredith’s approach, one that “entails a lot of support for companies, large and small.” Many startups concur, including TechLab, a medical diagnostics company built by retired Tech professor Tracy Wilkins with co-founder David Lyerly. The two started the company after getting a patent in 1985 for a life-saving test that determines the cause of a virulent, infectious form of diarrhea called clostridium difficile (C.diff) toxin. TechLab began with a $50,000 investment and now has $25 million in sales and 125 employees. “We did it the old-fashioned way,” says Wilkins. “We made money and didn’t take it out of the company for many, many years.” In 2013, TechLab expanded with a manufacturing plant in nearby Radford. “If we hadn’t had the CRC,” Wilkins says, “we wouldn’t have a company. The CRC built our lab for us, and we paid back through increased rent … You start companies where you are. You don’t move somewhere to start a company. “The university couldn’t have been more helpful. Virginia Tech has the entrepreneurial spirit,” he adds. “Virginia Tech hires the right people.” Innovative projects Hincker says the university and its foundation have fostered that spirit in multiple ways: providing early backing for the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council (which, he points out, “is now the second-largest in the state”), working with Blacksburg to start the Blacksburg Partnership (a nonprofit, independent economic development organization), opening the Innovate House residence hall for students interested in entrepreneurism and forming VT KnowledgeWorks, a business accelerator that encourages worldwide entrepreneurship. Just last year Tech’s Pamplin College of Business started the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, a resource that teaches students about entrepreneurship and involves them in collaborations with the business community. John Provo, Tech’s economic development director, notes that the university already has renamed the center — now the Apex Systems Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship — after receiving a $5 million donation from four university alumni who started their successful Richmond IT staffing company, Apex Systems Inc., in 1995. California-based On Assignment bought Apex in 2012 for $600 million, according to Bloomberg.com. In giving the donation, Apex CFO and Tech alumnus Ted Hanson praised Tech for “preparing students for a successful future and cultivating job creation.” Provo also points with pride to the fact that last year Tech was named by the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities as an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University, one of only 14 schools nationwide honored with the award for contributions to local and regional economies. He says the message delivered by new Tech President Timothy Sands in his installation speech last October greatly “reaffirmed our commitment to all stages of economic development, our distributed locations around the state, and especially a new approach to IP policy.” In that speech, Sands called for lowering barriers to commercialization and company formation by “focusing on unleashing talent rather than on licensing revenue.” Indeed, Tech’s start as a land-grant school — rooted in inquisitiveness — is perceived by its leaders as a legacy that continues to inspire its influence on the regional and state economy. Meredith, in particular, believes that the CRC’s success is another reflection of that early value system. “Look at the Cooperative Extension Service. It began as an attempt to take problem solving to the public,” he notes. “I think it’s cultural. I think the problem-solving culture at the university creates people who are looking for problems to solve. It creates entrepreneurs.” Founded:  1872 Original name:  Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College Full name: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Total number of students: 31,000+ Total employees: 8,000+ President: Timothy Sands Virginia Tech Foundation endowment: $800 million Value of foundation assets:   $1.5  billion 2014-12-30T23:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/TOURSIDE_marriott.png New Residence Inn in downtown Richmond. Photo by Adrienne R. Watson http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/new-hotel-openings New hotel openings http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/new-hotel-openings http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/new-hotel-openings#When:23:00:00Z Several new hotels have opened in Virginia recently or are in the pipeline. They include: In Richmond: A Courtyard by Marriott and a Residence Inn , both of which opened in December at the First Freedom Center complex. The hotels add nearly 200 rooms to the downtown inventory and were developed by Apple REIT Cos. as part of an unusual joint venture with the nonprofit First Freedom Center museum. The museum itself is slated to open on Jan. 16. A Hampton Inn & Suites/Homewood Suites at 700 E. Main St., opening sometime this summer. These Shamin hotels will add 244 rooms to downtown. A hotel at 201 W. Broad St., potentially opening in time for the UCI Road World Championships cycling event in September (see story above). Local businessman Ted Ukrop is converting a six-story 100-year-old, 43,855-square-foot former department store into a boutique hotel. In Northern Virginia:  Tysons will be getting an 18-story, 300-room Hyatt Regency. According to the general manager, Dan Amato, the hotel — scheduled to open in March — will include 15,000 square feet of meeting space and ready access to an elevated plaza, 300 stores at Tysons shopping center and a Silver line Metro stop. “It’s the best location in Tysons,” he says. A 159-room Hampton Inn & Suites in Falls Church, opening in November. Several other hotels are part of the plans for mixed-use projects in and around the new Metro silver line stations that opened in July. In Hampton Roads: A $40-plus million renovation of the Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach, to be completed in 2016. A 274-room Hilton in Norfolk, scheduled to open in spring 2017. The hotel is part of a $126 million convention center hotel project, which broke ground last spring. A 94-room Hampton Inn in Suffolk, to open in spring. Elsewhere: A $4 million renovation of the 156-room Natural Bridge Hotel, to be completed in 2016. A new 117-room Hilton Garden Inn opened in Roanoke County at the South Peak development in November. The $15 million property offers a conference space, a fitness center, business center and pool. 2014-12-30T23:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/TOUR_games.png The World Police and Fire Games were held in Belfast in 2013. AP photo http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/winning-combination Winning combination http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/winning-combination http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/winning-combination#When:23:00:00Z Virginia is hosting two major athletic events this year, both expected to give the state economy a substantial boost. The World Police and Fire Games will be held in Northern Virginia June 26-July 5, and the UCI Road World Championships will dominate downtown Richmond Sept. 19-27. Barry Biggar, president and CEO of Visit Fairfax, anticipates that 12,000 active and retired first responders will participate in the police and fire games. They will compete in 61 different sports at venues scattered throughout NoVa, but primarily in Fairfax County. All the events — which range from shooting and soccer, to darts and Dragon boats, to ultimate firefighter and SWAT team competitions  — will be open to the public at no cost. Because many of the athletes will bring family and friends, about 30,000 people are expected. The games are budgeted at $20 million in public- and private-sector money and are forecast to generate $60 million to $80 million in revenue.  Meanwhile in Richmond, Tim Miller, executive director of Richmond 2015, which is managing the UCI Road World Championships, calls the race “the superbowl of cycling.”  The 12 races, which will be held across nine days, are expected to attract 1,500 top-tier athletes and 400,000 spectators. The projected budget of $21 million potentially will produce an $86 million economic impact on the capital city and a $135 million impact statewide. The start and finish line for many of the races will be at Fifth and Broad streets in downtown Richmond. Grandstands will line that area while fan zones with jumbo screens to follow the action will be sited around the courses. The plan is for lots of vendors, many based in the convention center, and live entertainment. Satellite parking and shuttles will supposedly keep the downtown from gridlock. “This is going to be much more than a bike race,” Miller says. 2014-12-30T23:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/directory-of-business-schools-in-virginia2 Directory of business schools in Virginia http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/directory-of-business-schools-in-virginia2 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/directory-of-business-schools-in-virginia2#When:23:00:00Z Editor’s note: listings with descriptions are paid listings from display advertisers Public Colleges & Universities (based in Virginia) Christopher Newport University Luter School of Business Location: Newport News Phone: 757-594-7000 Business programs: Bachelor’s degrees in accounting, finance, management and marketing. College of William & Mary Mason School of Business Location: Williamsburg Phone: 757-221-4100 Business programs: MBAs, Master of Accounting, Bachelor of Business degree. George Mason University School of Business Location: Fairfax Phone: 703-993-1880 Business programs: Bachelor of Science in accounting, finance, management, marketing, and information systems and operations management. Master of Science in accounting, management and real estate development. MBA and Executive MBA. James Madison University College of Business Location: Harrisonburg Phone: 540-568-3254 Business programs: Bachelor’s degrees in accounting, computer information systems and business analytics, economics, finance and business law, international business, management, marketing and quantitative finance. MBAs, master’s degree in accounting. Longwood University College of Business & Economics Location: Farmville Phone: 434-395-2045 Business programs: BSBA with concentrations in accounting, economics, finance, information systems and security, management, marketing, and real estate.  bs in economics. Online mba with concentrations in general business, retail management, and real estate. Longwood’s Cyber Security Center is the first Virginia institute designated a National Center of Digital Forensics Academic Excellence by the Defense Cyber Crime Center.  Accredited by AACSB International, the College is characterized by excellence in classroom knowledge combined with real world experience gained through required internships. Coupled with our “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” focused Leadership Institute, Longwood provides tomorrow’s leaders with profitable decision-making tools based on values and ethics. For information call 434-395-2045 or visit http://www.Longwood.edu/business. Norfolk State University School of Business Location: Norfolk Phone: 757-823-8396 Business programs: B.S. in accounting, tourism and hospitality management and entrepreneurship; B.S. in business with concentrations in finance, information management, management and marketing. Old Dominion University Strome College of Business Location: Norfolk Phone: 757-683-3520 Business programs: Bachelors degrees in accounting, business, economics, finance, information systems and technology, management and marketing. Master’s degrees in accounting, business/public administration and economics. Doctorate’s in business administration and public administration and urban policy. Radford University College of Business & Economics Location: Radford Phone: 540-831-5187 Business programs: Bachelor’s degrees in accounting, finance, economics, management and marketing; MBA. University of Mary Washington College of Business Location: Fredericksburg Phone: 540-654-1000 Business programs:  Bachelor’s degree in business administration; MBA. University of Virginia Darden School of Business Location: Charlottesville Phone: 434-924-3900 Business programs: MBAs, Ph.D. University of Virginia McIntire School of Commerce Location: Charlottesville Phone: 434-924-3865 Business programs: B.S. in commerce with five concentrations, M.S. in accounting, commerce, management of information technology. University of Virginia’s College at Wise Department of Business and Economics Location: Wise Phone: 276-328-0100 Business programs: Bachelor’s degrees in accounting, business administration and economics. Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business Location: Richmond Phone: 804-828-1595 Business programs: B.S. in accounting, business, financial technology, economics, financial technology, information systems, business administration and management, marketing and real estate. MBAs, including dual-degree options that combine MBA with M.S. in information systems, PharmD, MED in sport leadership.  Master’s degrees in accounting, business, product innovation, information systems, decision analytics, economics, supply chain management and finance. Doctor of Philosophy in business. Virginia Military Institute Department of Economics and Business Location: Lexington Phone: 540-464-7234 Business programs: Bachelor’s degree in economics and business with concentrations in financial management and global management. Virginia State University Reginald F. Lewis College of Business Location: Petersburg Phone: 804-524-5166 Business programs: B.S. in accounting, management and marketing. Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business Location: Blacksburg Phone: 540-231-6601 Business programs: Bachelor’s degrees in a variety of majors, graduate/MBA/Ph.D. programs, post-doctoral program. All MBA programs are geared towards working professionals.  Professional MBA: This affordable 24-month program offers once monthly classes for working professionals from all industries and from all around Virginia. Classes alternate between locations in Richmond (off Parham Road) and Roanoke.  Evening MBA: located in Falls Church, VA provides a flexible schedule and customized tracks. Can be paired with the fully-online MIT program.  Executive MBA: located in Arlington, VA is an 18-month program with three residencies. Private Colleges & Universities (nonprofit, based in Virginia) Averett University Locations: Danville Phone: 434-791-5600 Business programs: MBA, Master of Accountancy; bachelor’s degree in business administration. Bluefield College Department of Business Locations: Bluefield Phone: 800-872-0176 Business programs: Bachelor’s degree in business administration with concentrations in accounting, information technology, management and web and mobile development. Online bachelor’s degrees in e-business and entrepreneurship; management and leadership.   Bridgewater College George S. Aldhizer II Department of Economics and Business Administration Location: Bridgewater Phone: 540-828-8000 Business programs: Undergraduate majors in economics and business administration. Eastern Mennonite University Department of Business and Economics Location: Harrisonburg Phone: 540-432-4150 Business programs: Undergraduate degrees in accounting, business administration, economics and international business. MBA program. Master’s degrees in biomedical leadership, organizational leadership.  Emory & Henry College Department of Business Administration Location: Emory Phone: 276-944-4121 Business programs: Bachelor’s degrees in accounting, management, international studies and business, and business teacher preparation. Master’s in community and organizational leadership. Ferrum College School of Social Sciences and Professional Studies Location: Ferrum Phone: 800-868-9797 Business programs: Bachelor’s degrees in accounting and business administration. The George Washington University Virginia Science & Technology Campus Location: Ashburn Phone: 703-726-8200 Business programs: Master’s degree in information systems technology. Hampden-Sydney College Department of Economics and Business Location: Hampden-Sydney Phone: 434-223-6000 Business programs: Bachelor’s degree in economics and business. Hampton University School of Business Location: Hampton Phone: 757-727-5000 Business programs: MBA; Ph.D. in business administration; bachelor’s degrees in accounting, business administration, investment banking, management, finance, marketing, economics and entrepreneurship. Hollins University Location: Roanoke Phone: 540-362-6401 Business programs: Bachelor’s degrees in business, economics. Liberty University School of Business Location: Lynchburg Phone: 434-592-7321 Business programs: Bachelor’s degrees in accounting, business administration,  business management information systems, informatics and information technology. Master’s degrees in accounting, information systems, management and leadership, business administration and marketing. Doctor of Business Administration. Lynchburg College School of Business and Economics Location: Lynchburg Phone: 434-544-8100 Business programs: MBA; undergraduate degrees in accounting, business administration, economics, management and marketing. Mary Baldwin College Locations: Staunton, Charlottesville, Emporia, Glenns, Kilmarnock, Richmond, Roanoke, South Boston, South Hill, Warsaw, Weyers Cave, Williamsburg Phone: 540-887-7019 Business programs: Bachelor’s degrees in business, economics, health-care administration, international economics and business, marketing and communication. Marymount University School of Business Administration Locations: Arlington Phone: 703-284-5910 Business programs: Bachelor’s degrees in business administration, economics, health information management, information technology and paralegal studies. Graduate degrees in business administration, management and information technology as well as a number of graduate dual-degree programs. Randolph-Macon College Economics, Business and Accounting Location: Ashland Phone: 800-888-1762 Business programs: Undergraduate degrees in accounting, business and economics. Randolph College Economics and Business Location: Lynchburg Phone: 434-947-8000 Business programs: Bachelor’s degrees in business and economics. Regent University School of Business & Leadership Location: Virginia Beach Phone: 757-352-4400 Business programs: Bachelor’s degrees in business and leadership studies. Master’s degrees in business administration, organizational leadership. Doctoral degrees in leadership. Regent University equips students with knowledge to excel in their career and life. Since its establishment in 1978, Regent has become a top-ranked university, with eight prestigious accreditations, and accolades that include U.S. News & World Report 2013 #1 Online MBA for Faculty Credentials & Training, Top 25 Best for Online Bachelor’s Programs and #8 Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans. Regent’s School of Business & Leadership (SBL) innovatively blends excellent academics and practical application with Judeo-Christian values. The school’s faculty is comprised of published scholars, researchers and skilled practitioners who prepare students to lead in public and private sectors. Online and on-campus degree programs include: MBA, M.A. in Organizational Leadership, Doctorate in Strategic Leadership and Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership. Regent’s vibrant and accomplished community includes 6,000 students and more than 19,000 graduates from 112 countries who are changing lives for good and the world for the better. Roanoke College Department of Business and Economics Location: Salem Phone: 540-375-2500 Business programs: Bachelor’s degrees in business administration. Shenandoah University Harry F. Byrd Jr. School of Business Locations: Winchester Phone: 540-665-4572 Business programs: Bachelor’s degrees in business administration. MBA, dual PHARMD/MBA program. Sweet Briar College Location: Sweet Briar Phone: 434-381-6100 Business programs: Bachelor’s degrees in business, economics. University of Richmond The Robins School of Business Location: Richmond Phone: 804-289-8550 Business programs: Bachelor’s degrees with majors in accounting, economics, leadership studies or business administration; MBA. Virginia Union University Sydney Lewis School of Business Location: Richmond Phone: 804-257-5600 Business programs: Bachelor’s degrees in accounting, business and information technology, education, entrepreneurial management, marketing, and finance and banking. Virginia Wesleyan College Location: Norfolk Phone: 757-455-3200 Business programs: Undergraduate major in business. Washington and Lee University The Williams School of Commerce,  Economics and Politics Location: Lexington Phone: 540-458-8602 Business programs: Bachelor’s degrees in accounting, business administration, economics and politics. Two-year, residential college Richard Bland College Location: Petersburg Phone: 804-862-6100, x 6249 Business programs: Associate degree in business administration. Community colleges Blue Ridge Community College Locations: Weyers Cave Phone: 540-234-9261 Business programs: Associate degrees in accounting, business management and information technology for business. Central Virginia Community College Location: Lynchburg Phone: 434-832-7600 Business programs: Associate degrees in business administration, management and accounting. Dabney S. Lancaster Community College Location: Clifton Forge Phone: 540-863-2800 Business programs: Associate degrees in business administration, business management. Danville Community College Location: Danville Phone: 434-797-2222 Business programs: Associate degrees in accounting, business administration, business management and marketing. Eastern Shore Community College Location: Melfa Phone: 757-789-1789 Business programs: Associate degree in business administration, management. Germanna Community College Location: Culpeper, Fredericksburg, Locust Grove, Stafford  Phone: 540-891-3000 Business program: Associate degrees in business administration, business management. J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College School of Business Locations: Richmond, Henrico, Goochland Phone: 804-371-3000 Business programs: Associate degrees in accounting, business administration (transfer program) and management. John Tyler Community College Locations: Chester, Midlothian Phone: 804-796-4000 Business programs: Associate degrees in accounting, business administration and business management. Lord Fairfax Community College Locations: Middletown, Warrenton, Luray Phone: 540-351-1505 Business programs: Associate of Applied Science degrees in business, health information management and business administration. Mountain Empire Community College Location: Big Stone Gap Phone: 276-523-2400 Business programs: Associate degrees in accounting, business administration and management. The college also offers business-related degrees through a partnership with Old Dominion University. New River Community College Location: Dublin Phone: 540-674-3600 Business programs: Associate degrees in accounting, business management. Northern Virginia Community College Locations: Annandale, Alexandria, Loudoun, Manassas, Woodbridge Phone: 703-323-3000 Business programs: Associate degrees in accounting, business administration, management and marketing. Patrick Henry Community College Location: Martinsville Phone: 276-638-8777 Business programs: Associate degrees in business administration and business technology. Paul D. Camp Community College Locations: Franklin, Suffolk, Smithfield Phone: 757-569-6700 Business programs: Associate degrees in business administration and management. Piedmont Virginia Community College Locations: Charlottesville, Stanardsville Phone: 434-977-3900 Business programs: Associate degrees in accounting, business administration, management. Rappahannock Community College Locations: Glenns, Warsaw Phone: 804-758-6700 Business programs: Associate degrees in business management, business administration. Southside Virginia Community College Locations: Alberta, Keysville, centers throughout Southern Virginia Phone: 434-949-1000 Business programs: Associate degrees in business administration, business management, administrative support technology. Southwest Virginia Community College Location: Cedar Bluff Phone: 276-964-2555 Business programs: Associate degrees in business administration, accounting, management, administrative support technology. Thomas Nelson Community College Locations: Hampton, Williamsburg, Newport News Phone: 757-825-2700 Business programs: Associate degrees in accounting, administrative support technology, business administration and management. Tidewater Community College Locations: Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach Phone: 757-822-1122 Business programs: Associate degrees in accounting, administrative support technology, business administration, management. Virginia Highlands Community College Location: Abingdon Phone: 276-739-2400 Business programs: Associate degrees in business administration, accounting, administrative support technology and management. Virginia Western Community College Location: Roanoke Phone: 540-857-8922 Business programs: Associate degrees in accounting, administrative management technology, business administration and management. Wytheville Community College Location: Wytheville Phone: 276-223-4700 Business programs: Associate degrees in accounting, administrative support technology, business administration and business management and leadership. Other schools (offering undergraduate or graduate degrees) Cambridge College School of Management Virginia locations: Chesapeake Phone: 757-424-0333 Business programs: Master of Management. ECPI University Virginia locations:  Virginia Beach, Newport News, Manassas, Richmond Phone: 844-334-4466 Business programs: Business and criminal justice department offers bachelor’s degrees in accounting, business administration and management.  American National University  Virginia locations: Charlottesville, Lynchburg, Danville, Martinsville, Harrisonburg, Salem Phone: (888) 956-2732 Business programs: Degrees through associate to master’s level in business administration. Associate degree in tourism and hospitality management. Central Michigan University Virginia locations: Richmond, Arlington, Fort Belvoir, Fort Lee, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Phone: 877-268-4636 Business programs: Master’s in administration. DeVry University College of Business & Management Virginia locations: Arlington, Chesapeake, Manassas Phone: 866-338-7955 Business programs: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting, business administration and management. Master of Public Administration. South University Virginia Locations: Richmond, Virginia Beach Phone: 800-688-0932 Business programs: Bachelor’s degrees in business administration, management. MBA, Master of Science in Leadership.  Stratford University Virginia location: Alexandria, Falls Church, Newport News, Richmond, Woodbridge, Virginia Beach Phone: 800-444-0804 Business programs: Associate degrees in business administration, accounting and hotel and restaurant management. Bachelor’s degrees in business administration, accounting and management. MBA. Master’s degrees in accounting, management and health-care administration.  Strayer University Virginia Locations: Arlington, Alexandria, Chesapeake, Midlothian, Fredericksburg, Ashburn, Manassas, Newport News, Woodbridge, Glen Allen, Virginia Beach. Phone: 888-311-0355 Business programs: Associate degrees in accounting, economics, management, business administration and marketing; bachelor’s degrees in accounting, economics, business administration; MBA; Master’s degrees in accounting, management, public administration and health services administration. Troy University Sorrell College of Business Virginia locations: Arlington and Chesapeake Phone: 800-414-5756 Business programs: Bachelor’s degrees in business administration, management, hospitality. MBA. Master’s degrees in management, public administration. University of Phoenix Virginia locations: Arlington, Glen Allen, Virginia Beach Phone: 866-766-0766  Business programs: Associate and bachelor’s degrees in business, accounting, management. MBA, Master’s degrees in management, science in accountancy. Doctorates in business administration, management. 2014-12-30T23:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/URQ-camp.png Q-camp at the University of Richmond http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/finishing-touches Finishing touches http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/finishing-touches http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/finishing-touches#When:23:00:00Z In early 2013, José Bustillos, a sophomore accounting major at the University of Richmond, was struggling to navigate college life challenges when Shelley Olds Burns stopped by one of his classes. Burns, director of the Center for Professional Skills and Development at UR’s Robins School of Business, invited students to an upcoming program known as Q-camp. Bustillos wasn’t enthusiastic. “To be honest, I had enough on my plate just starting to dive into business school,” recalls the Tucson, Ariz., native. “The only reason I went was because my professor strongly suggested that I go.” The Q-camp process, the brainchild of Paul B. Queally, a UR alumnus who heads a New York private-equity firm, is a 3-year-long series of events designed to give undergraduate business students opportunities to meet with business professionals and learn real-world career skills. Bustillos, now a senior, is glad he tried the program. The experience motivated him to think well beyond his academic load, gave him new confidence and over time directly led to a job offer from a top accounting firm. “I didn’t understand at first how it would help me, but when I got there and started to meet all these professionals doing what I love, well, it gave me a lot of motivation to improve myself in these areas and learn what was necessary to make me a better candidate and eventually a better employee,” he says. Preparing students for the nuances of the business world is not a new endeavor, but school officials have intensified their offerings in recent years as the recruiting process has become more competitive. Employers no longer base hiring decisions on top grades and well-written résumés. They expect business school graduates to have professional polish and the ability to communicate, negotiate, network, collaborate and be team players. Hitting the ground running In a 2014 survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder, 77 percent of responding employers said these “soft” skills are just as important as the technical skills an employee needs to perform a job. Sixteen percent of respondents said soft skills are actually more important. “Employers are getting to the point that they expect students to be able to hit the ground running, unlike in the past where it was more acceptable to learn a lot of this on the job,” says Tom Fitch, associate dean for career services and employer relations at the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce, which offers etiquette dinners, networking events and workshops. “They expect this type of skill set to be well-established. They look for evidence of it in interviews, and they look to see what experience students have had to prove that they can communicate effectively with clients and interact with peers and work in a group setting.” Other driving factors in this approach are the general loosening of the social structure and the trend toward less personal, electronic communication. Compared with previous generations, millennials spend more time texting and less time in face-to-face conversation. They also have had fewer opportunities to attend functions or classes where manners and etiquette are taught. By contrast, the business culture remains highly structured, with its own set of social rules and etiquette standards, clear expectations of what is and is not professional behavior, and a strong reliance on personal interaction and relationship building. “In the end, networking is still what gets the deal closed,” says Takeisha Brown, director of career services at Virginia Union University in Richmond. “And millennials who have grown up in the technology age and are used to texting and emailing will go into this environment facing a new barrier because this type of face-to-face networking is just not what normal communication looks like for them.” To prepare students to enter the work world, Virginia business schools are teaching a variety of non-academic skills. They include the basics of playing golf, crafting and using a LinkedIn profile, and strategically entering and exiting a conversation. Jordan Young, a UR senior, says his Q-camp experience helped him differentiate himself during a summer internship as an equities investment analyst at Guggenheim Global Trading in Purchase, N.Y. Young, who played golf competitively in high school, was advised to play up that fact on his résumé, and during his internship he ended up hitting the links with some of the firm’s senior executives. “Because of the Q-camp experience and all the interaction I’d had before this, I understood that success was going to be as much about how I managed relationships as it would be about knowing how to pitch a stock or value a company,” he says. “I felt really comfortable in that environment because I had a much deeper understanding of how to network and knew a lot of the unwritten rules, like what’s appropriate to talk about and what’s not appropriate and how to keep in contact with people.” Same goal, different approach Virginia schools, by virtue of their demographics and size, are taking different approaches to bringing students up to speed on the realities of life in the work world. Brown’s team, for example, puts on etiquette dinners and leadership training programs while inviting students to personalized sessions with career counselors. Networking events with local employers also are held on a regular basis. “Everything is happening much earlier than it did before, when the first interaction with an employer was likely to be that first job interview,” Brown says. “Employers want to meet potential recruits even before they hire for internships, and students have to be prepared for that. They have to know how to present themselves with confidence, they have to know how to shake someone’s hand and look them in the face and have a conversation with that person on the spot.” Kathleen I. Powell, assistant vice president of student affairs and executive director of career development in the Cohen Career Center at the College of William & Mary, agrees, noting that schools are able to put on intensive programs because outside forces are more willing to get involved. These include alumni, employers and even parents. “The way we do career services has definitely shifted to more of an engagement model as opposed to the old placement model where an employer came and did on-campus recruiting, offered a student a job, and that was it,” Powell explains, pointing out that the Mason School of Business surveys employers each year to find out what soft skills they’re looking for in candidates. “Now, it’s all about those touch points with our external constituents and partners who are champions for our students and giving students opportunities to practice and make mistakes with those champions rather than just going out there and stubbing their toe on the real deal.” Mason students can interact with these participants in etiquette dinners, mock interviews and “work the room” events. Powell’s team also puts on quick, informal “meet-ups” and “connect” opportunities with employers and business professionals that are pushed out using the school’s Twitter feed, Facebook page and other social media tools. “We have a lot of what look like ‘one-offs’ but on the backside, it’s all part of this program schedule that reinforces what we’re constantly teaching about career etiquette and the business culture they’re going to be entering,” she says. Virginia Tech’s Pamplin School of Business also offers cultural and etiquette training, though it can’t be quite as programmatic as other schools, largely because it has over 4,000 enrollees. “It’s a little bit different level of service: We have to kind of shepherd the flock, moving them from one direction to the other, as opposed to maybe taking the staff and reeling them in,” says Stuart Mease, the school’s director of undergraduate career services, explaining that he visits at least 100 classes a year as part of his efforts to recruit participants. “Sometimes we have to hit them with several messages before they really get how important this is.” Students get out of the program what they put into it, Mease says. “It’s a little bit like Virginia Tech as a whole: They can make it as big or as small as they want it,” he explains. “We’re here, and we try to help them as much as we can, but they’ve got to really make the effort.” Getting students to understand how important these less tangible, less academic skills are to business success remains a hurdle for business schools, Powell admits. “A lot of students want to prepare for the business world like they have college with a check-the-box list, and we’ll go over the soft skills that employers want and students will say, ‘I got that skill and that skill,’” she says. “And my response is: It’s one thing to ‘have’ them, but you need to be able to talk about them and demonstrate them in a job interview and on the job. And to do that, you have to practice while you’re in school — and practice a lot.” The softer side of learning Virginia’s business schools offer a range of programs and opportunities for business school students to refine their soft skills and business etiquette. The following is a sampling of what’s available: University of Virginia — The McIntire School of Commerce’s Career Services and Employer Relations Department offers etiquette dinners, structured events around networking, an employer-in-residence program and a variety of workshops, including some geared to introverts who are less comfortable in social situations. Third- and fourth-year students also have a chance to immerse themselves in the business culture during New York networking trips. Virginia Tech — The Pamplin College of Business offers mock interviews, résumé workshops, branding strategy sessions, networking events with company officials and one-on-one counseling. Virginia Tech’s Division of Student Affairs also holds an annual etiquette dinner. University of Richmond — Q-camp is a 3-year-long soft skills program that gives UR’s Robins School of Business students an opportunity to learn how to: develop a professional network, assess organizational culture, use LinkedIn effectively, create a personal brand, adopt dining and workplace etiquette and network during a golf game. The sessions are designed to work in concert with mentoring and executive-in-residence programs. Virginia Union University — The Career Services Department provides a number of events designed to prepare all university students for the work world, including etiquette dinners, leadership training programs, networking events and one-on-one counseling. Old Dominion University — ODU’s College of Business and Public Administration’s Executive Mentor Program partners high-achieving undergraduate business students with executives, entrepreneurs and public-sector leaders to help them practice networking, communications and other soft skills. Virginia Commonwealth University — VCU’s School of Business Career Services offers students the opportunity to attend etiquette dinners with faculty and local employers, participate in mock interviews and interact with company representatives at employer information sessions. James Madison University — JMU’s Career and Academic Planning Department provides career-related workshops on a number of soft-skill topics, including speed networking, interview and dining etiquette and career attire, as well as practice interview sessions and networking opportunities with employers. George Mason University — The School of Business offers an “Ask the Professional” Career Panel and Networking series, as well as practice interview sessions with local businesses. The George Mason Alumni Association also holds an annual etiquette dinner that provides networking opportunities. College of William & Mary — The Cohen Career Center works with the Mason School of Business to help students learn soft skills such as networking, self-branding and face-to-face communications through programs such as a five-course etiquette dinner, weekly networking events, mock interviews and various employer-student connection opportunities, including “Meet the Firms Friday” and “From DoG Street to Wall Street.” Directory of Business Schools in Virginia 2014-12-30T23:00:00+00:00