Business news and intelligence for and about the Virginia business firstname.lastname@example.orgCopyright 20152015-04-17T19:31:00+00:00
Health-care system plans to acquire Dulles-based IBA Molecular North America
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/health-care-system-plans-to-acquire-dulles-based-iba-molecular-north-americ#When:19:31:00ZIllinois Health and Science (IHS), a health-care system based in Decatur, Ill., plans to acquire IBA Molecular North America (IBAM NA) in Dulles, the companies said Friday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
IBAM NA, which makes and distributes radiopharmaceuticals, will continue to operate as an independent company and remain based in Dulles. IBAM NA is the U.S. operation of IBA Molecular.
IHS is the parent company of Decatur Memorial Hospital, a hospital with more than $900 million in revenues, and Zevacor Molecular Inc., which is developing a new, high-capacity radiopharmaceutical production facility near Indianapolis. IBAM NA will work with Zevacor to produce a wide range of radionuclides for research and clinical applications.
"The acquisition of IBAM NA is highly complementary to the IHS investment in the radiopharmaceutical and molecular imaging industry and is a logical and important part of our strategic plan to be a leader in providing state-of-the-art health care,” Ken Smithmier, the CEO of IHS, Decatur Memorial Hospital and Zevacor, said in a statement.2015-04-17T19:31:00+00:00
Marilyn B. Tavenner joins the board of LifePoint Hospitals Inc.
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/marilyn-b.-tavenner-joins-the-board-of-lifepoint-hospitals-inc#When:19:30:00ZBrentwood, Tenn.-based LifePoint Hospitals Inc. has named Marilyn B. Tavenner, the former administrator of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, to its board of directors.
Before joining President Barack Obama's administration in 2010, Tavenner was Virginia secretary of health and human resources under Gov. Tim Kaine.
LifePoint has six hospitals in Virginia, including Clinch Valley Medical Center in Richlands, Danville Regional Medical Center,
Fauquier Health in Warrenton, Memorial Hospital of Martinsville and Henry County, Twin County Regional Healthcare in Galax and Wythe County Community Hospital in Wytheville.
Tavenner’s leadership roles at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services began in 2010 when she was named principal deputy administrator. She became acting administrator in 2011 and then administrator in 2013. She resigned in February.
Before becoming secretary of health and human resources, Tavenner was an executive for Hospital Corporation of America. She was president of HCA’s Outpatient Services Group from 2004 to 2006. Before that, Tavenner served as a division president, market president, hospital CEO and director of nursing for HCA.
She began her health-care career as a nurse in Richmond.2015-04-17T19:30:00+00:00
CEO pay rose 12.1 percent last year, Towers Watson says
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/ceo-pay-rose-12.1-percent-last-year-towers-wason-says#When:08:41:00ZCEOs of the country’s largest companies saw their compensation grow 12.1 percent last year, according to an analysis by Towers Watson.
That growth far outpaced the median 1.6 percent increase CEOs saw in 2013. It is the fastest annual increase since 2010.
The Arlington-based professional services firm analyzed annual proxies. Much of the compensation growth came from higher pension values, larger annual incentive payouts and higher values of long-term incentives granted last year.
Total pay includes the CEO’s base salary, cash bonuses, grant-date value of long-term incentives such as stock options, earnings from deferred compensation and the change in value of executive pensions.
Much of the pay increase, according to Towers Watson, comes from the increased value of pensions. Excluding pension growth, compensation would have grown 8.1 percent.
Towers Watson’s analysis found that CEO base salaries increased 2.9 percent in 2014, while annual bonuses increased 3.3 percent. Long-term incentives increased 7.1 percent, up from an increase of 5.9 percent in 2013.
“Last year was another strong year for CEO compensation,” Todd Lippincott, North America leader of Executive compensation at Towers Watson, said in a statement. “At the same time, the results show that companies continue to manage their executive pay programs carefully. Last year was a good year financially for many companies and their shareholders. The fact that CEO pay accelerated in a year when revenue growth, earnings and shareholder returns shined demonstrates that CEOs are being rewarded for performance.”
The survey also found that total pay grew more at small companies. Pay for small-cap CEOs grew 13.7 percent last year, while it grew 11.6 percent for large-cap companies and 10.6 percent for mid-cap companies.2015-04-17T08:41:00+00:00
Startup incubator and seed fund startup 1776 expands into Arlington’s Crystal City
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/startup-incubator-and-seed-fund-startup-1776-expands-into-arlingtons-crysta#When:20:47:00ZThe Washington, D.C. –based 1776, a startup incubator and seed fund, is expanding to Crystal City in Arlington by acquiring Disruption Corp.
Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.
The move is part of a new partnership aimed at creating a stronger regional innovation economy in the Washington Metro area.
In addition to integrating Disruption into its portfolio of offerings, 1776 also will partner with Arlington-based real estate firm Vornado/Charles E. Smith to open a new campus in Crystal City.
“This region’s growing innovation economy and its future economic growth are closely linked, which is why at 1776 we’ve focused our attention on creating new opportunities for regional innovation and unfettered access to the networks that exist across regional borders,” 1776 co-founder Donna Harris said in a statement. “Between our partnership with Vornado and the acquisition of Disruption, this exciting new venture will allow us to bring together all the tremendous assets this region has to offer, from the NIH and MedStar in Bethesda to the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin in Crystal City, and create one of the most vibrant technology communities in the country.”
Through this new relationship, Disruption founder Paul Singh will join 1776 as a managing director.
“The Washington region is poised to become a global powerhouse in the cultivation of startups driving life-changing innovations in education, energy & sustainability, smart cities and health,” Singh said in a statement.
Today’s announcement follows 1776’s announcement earlier this week of a new partnership with Montgomery County, in which 1776 startups will have access to Maryland County’s Thingstitute, a lab where startups can beta test their products.
As part of this new regional partnership, 1776 will partner similarly with Arlington County to create new pathways for startups to grow and scale locally, further enhancing the area’s growing innovation economy.2015-04-16T20:47:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/VALLEY_ntelos.png
NTELOS sells Eastern Markets wireless licenses to T-Mobile for $56 million
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/ntelos-sells-wireless-licenses-to-t-mobile-for-56-million#When:19:49:00ZWaynesboro-based NTELOS has sold its Eastern Markets wireless licenses to T-Mobile for $56 million, the company announced Thursday.
The move, announced in December, is part of NTELOS’ plans to exit the Eastern Markets and focus on its Western Markets, made up of western Virginia, West Virginia and parts of Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Kentucky.
Under the agreement, NTELOS is leasing back part of the spectrum to continue serving Eastern Markets customers until it shuts down operations there in November.
In its Western Markets, NTELOS has approximately 282,100 retail customers and is the wholesale provider of wireless network services in part of the area to Sprint Corp. NTELOS wireless network serves approximately 3.1 million residents in its Western Markets.2015-04-16T19:49:00+00:00
Virginia named one of the top 10 states for encouraging innovation
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-named-one-of-the-top-10-states-for-encouraging-innovation#When:21:29:00ZVirginia is ranked among the top 10 states in the nation on a scorecard that grades support for entrepreneurs and growing businesses.
The inaugural Innovation Scorecard developed by the Arlington-based Consumer Electronics Association examined how the legal, regulatory and business climates of the 50 states and the District of Columbia welcomed and encouraged innovation during 2014.
“The future of growth and economic prosperity in this country is most vibrant in places where policies and political climates serve to unleash the entrepreneurial spirit and can-do attitude that is part of our American DNA,” Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CEA, said in a statement. “Our hope is that states will use our Scorecard as a measurable guidepost to improve their policies supporting innovation.”
In addition to Virginia, the states receiving the highest grades are Delaware, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and the District of Columbia.
The CEA report issues grades on10 categories, including: right-to-work laws; policies that support new business models; tax friendliness; Internet speed; and size of the tech workforce.
Key findings include:
• Delaware leads the nation in providing the fastest average Internet speed, at 16,200 kbps;
• The District of Columbia leads the nation in tech jobs per capita;
• Massachusetts and California bring in the most venture capital investment dollars, more than $500 per capita, in the U.S; and
• Massachusetts, California, Washington, Connecticut and Delaware received higher R&D investment than other states.
Virginia received a grade of A+ for having right-to-work laws; A for having fast Internet; B for welcoming new business models, having a high per-capita tech workforce, attracting investment, granting STEM degrees and maintaining innovation momentum; B- for being tax friendly; and C+ for entrepreneurial activity. The commonwealth did not receive a grade for innovation-friendly sustainable policies.
CEA said the Innovation Scorecard will be annually updated to reflect states’ evolving policies and any changes in measuring innovation. The complete scorecard, featuring category rankings, state-by-state profiles and an explanation of CEA’s methodology can be found at CE.org/scorecard.
CEA is a technology trade association representing 2,000 members involved in the $223 billion U.S. consumer electronics industry.2015-04-15T21:29:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Hyatt_Regency_Tysons_Corner_Center.jpg
New Hyatt Regency Hotel opens at Tysons
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/new-hyatt-regency-hotel-opens-at-tysons#When:21:15:00ZThe new Hyatt Regency Tysons Corner Center Hotel is officially open. According to its developers, the 18-story project, which opened on April 14, is the first full-service hotel to open at Tysons Corner in more than 20 years.
The 300-room hotel is part of a mixed-use expansion underway at Tysons Corner Center by its owner, Macerich, a real estate investment trust. It joins a new Tysons Tower office building, VITA luxury apartments (expected to open later this year) and new restaurants, all built around The Plaza, an elevated, 1.5-acre public space with a stop on the Washington Metro Silver Line.
The center of the new urban hub is the 2 million-square-foot Tysons Corner Center mall, which draws millions of visitors each year. The hotel also is close to the area’s technology and corporate centers and is near the Pentagon and Defense community.
“Hyatt Regency Tysons Corner Center is a one-stop experience that puts everything at our guests' fingertips no matter their reason for visiting,” Hyatt Regency Tysons Corner General Manager Daniel Amato, said in a statement.
The hotel is designed to offer business and leisure travelers an upscale hotel experience. Guest rooms have nine-foot ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, a separate seating area, marble bathrooms and 48-inch flat panel televisions.
There’s also complimentary Wi-Fi throughout guestrooms, a 24-hour fitness center, and indoor swimming pool. The hotel also provides guests with an open workspace with computer stations and printing services, babysitting, currency exchange, and self-park or valet parking options.
For meetings and special events, there’s 15,000 square feet of meeting space and a 7,000-square-foot Regency Ballroom, which can host more than 600 guests.
Fairfax-based Ellucian acquires learning management system
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/fairfax-based-ellucian-acquires-learning-management-system#When:20:36:00ZFairfax-based Ellucian has acquired Helix Education’s competency-based education learning management system.
Details of the deal with Salt Lake City, Utah-based Helix were not announced.
Ellucian provides software, services and consulting to colleges and universities.
The company said it is investing in competency-based education programs that offer a promising new way for colleges and universities to reduce the cost and time of obtaining a degree. The company notes that non-traditional students are expected to make up the majority of learners by 2019.
Ellucian’s new learning management system will become part of its Banner and Colleague Student Information Systems.
The company serves 2,400 institutions in 40 countries.2015-04-15T20:36:00+00:00
Geico moving training facility from Tysons to Ashburn
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/geico-moving-training-facility-from-tysons-to-ashburn-baltimore-based-merri#When:20:12:00ZInsurance company Geico is moving its training facility from Tysons Corner to Ashburn, according to Baltimore-based Merritt Properties, one of the project’s developers.
Merritt said it entered into an agreement with Geico and Washington, D.C.-based Akridge for the development of a 32,675-square-foot office and training facility, which will be located at 20193 Ashbrook Place. Merritt Construction Services has broken ground on the project and expects to complete it in October.
The single-story, build-to-suit building will sit on about three acres of land within Merritt’s Ashbrook business park. Geico will own the lot and the building.
It will include classrooms for the training of Geico’s claims adjusters. The training also provides hands-on experience with accident vehicles, which will take place in the facility’s working labs and garages.
Jeff Groh and Michael Blyumin from JLL represented Geico, and Joseph Svatos represented Akridge in the real estate transaction. Akridge’s Andrei Ponomarev will represent Geico in the development and construction phase of the project.
Geico, the second-largest private passenger auto insurance company in the U.S., is based in Chevy Chase, Md.2015-04-15T20:12:00+00:00
Health Net Federal Services names president
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/health-net-federal-services-names-president#When:09:03:00ZHealth Net Federal Services LLC on Tuesday named a new president to replace retiring Thomas Carrato.
Billy Maynard will become president effective May 1. Carrato has been with Health Net for nine years, the last three as president.
Maynard was a partner at the management consulting firm InfiniTek, where he specialized in federal health-care strategy and provided support to Health Net Federal Services and its California-based parent company, Health Net Inc. Health Net Federal Services is based in Arlington.
Maynard previously held business development and strategy positions with advanced technology defense-sector services companies.
Maynard is an Army veteran and was executive assistant to NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, Europe from 1983 to 1990. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Institute of Personnel and Resource Management and studied business at the University of Maryland University College Europe.2015-04-15T09:03:00+00:00
Bristol Compressors to create 110 new jobs in Washington County
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/bristol-compressors-to-create-110-new-jobs-in-washington-county#When:01:05:00ZBristol Compressors International Inc. plans to expand its operations in Washington County, a $1 million project that is expected to create 110 jobs.
The two-phase expansion will immediately move seasonal workers into full-time roles, and the company will add employees in its machining, material, quality and assembly areas.
Based in Washington County, Bristol designs and manufactures hermetic reciprocating compressors for residential and light commercial air conditioning, heat pump and refrigeration uses.
The company supplies compressors to manufacturers and wholesale distributors on six continents and in more than 60 countries.
Funding and services to support the company’s employee training activities will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program, administered by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.2015-04-15T01:05:00+00:00
GTT Communications names CFO
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/gtt-communications-names-cfo#When:20:06:00ZCloud networking provider GTT Communications has named a new CFO.
GTT, based in McLean, announced that Mike Sicoli will lead GTT’s global finance group.
Previously, Sicoli was principal of MTS Advisors, a consulting and advisory services firm he founded in 2013. Before that, he was CEO of Sidera Networks and CFO of RCN Corp. He has held a variety of positions at Nextel Communications.
Sicoli earned an MBA from the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business and a bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary.2015-04-14T20:06:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Kip_Tindell_Businesswire_%282%29.pngKip Tindell will speak at the Founders Summit.
Tom Tom Festival underway in Charlottesville
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/tom-tom-festival-underway-in-charlottesville#When:13:50:00ZThe creators of Reddit, Gizmodo, The Container Store and other successful businesses will share their insights for how to make startups grow when the Tom Tom Founders Festival in Charlottesville holds its Founders Summit on Friday.
The summit is a new addition of the weeklong festival, which kicked off Monday and focuses on music, art and innovation. Like the festival itself, the summit has been a collaborative effort, said Tom Tom’s director, Paul Beyer.
“A lot of the festival is crowd-sourced, meaning that we have always invited community members to help plan the festival,” Beyer said. He said dozens of community members “have envisioned what the summit should be, what it should look like, the themes it should conquer.”
The Founders Summit, which will be held at Charlottesville’s Paramount Theater, will feature 19 speakers. They will each tell their story and then participate in a panel discussion on topics including the role of corporations in society, commerce vs. creativity and how to build big ideas in small towns.
Beyer noted that many of the summit’s speakers signed on because of personal ties to the Charlottesville community:
• An intern for the nonprofit Tom Tom organization invited Alexis Ohanian, founder of Reddit.
• Dale Dougherty, founder of the Maker Movement, has a connection to the Albemarle County school system.
• A member of the Tom Tom board invited Peter Rojas, founder of Gizmodo and Engadget.
• Kip Tindell, founder of The Container Store, signed on after a business professor at the University of Virginia asked Tindell to discuss conscious capitalism at the summit.
“Each one of these stakeholders in the community has sort of stepped up and sourced different parts of the programming,” Beyer said. “The Founders Summit is emblematic in some respects to how the entire festival is planned and curated.”
Reflecting collaboration and community input, this year’s festival also introduced a new art challenge. The lamppost banner competition was a statewide challenge that asked artists to design a banner based on the festival’s theme “Found Yourself.”
Banners from16 artists were selected and are being displayed throughout Charlottesville. Throughout the week, people can vote for their favorite banner. The winner, who will be announced on Sunday, will receive $1,000.
The festival will feature 60 events that will take place in 36 different venues in downtown Charlottesville throughout the week. Participants include more than 400 startups, bands, artists and chefs.
Other notable events at the festival include:
● Crowdfunded Pitch Night on Thursday. Ten individuals will pitch their business idea to the crowd for three minutes. Each member of the audience will chip in $10, and at the end of the night, the winning pitch will earn a $5,000 grant.
● Friday Night Block Party, which will feature bands, food trucks and a New Belgium craft beer garden.
● Belmont Block Party on Sunday, which will feature food, crafts, student inventions and music. The winner of the lamppost banner challenge will be announced during the party.
● A mural will be painted by artist Mickael Broth and volunteers during the festival at Garrett and Sixth streets.
In 2012, the first Tom Tom Founders Festival attracted 8,000 people. Last year, attendance exceeded 22,600, and the festival had an estimated $843,000 impact on Charlottesville’s economy.
This year, Beyer said, the festival expects up to 25,000 people. With the buzz around the new Founders Summit and banner project, it’s likely to keep expanding.
“Charlottesville is a creative place, and I think a lot of times Charlottesville can get caught up in the past,” Beyer said. “And Tom Tom is one voice that is saying it’s a dynamic place to be now, and the future is a bright place for Charlottesville.”
Conscious capitalism: Container Store CEO doesn’t see business as a zero-sum game
Analysis shows working women in Virginia earn 79 cents for every dollar paid to men.
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/analysis-shows-working-women-in-virginia-earn-79-cents-for-every-dollar-pai#When:20:19:00ZJust in time for the observation Tuesday of Equal Pay Day, a new analysis shows how the gender-based wage gap plays out in Virginia.
According to a report from the National Partnership for Women & Families released Monday, women employed full time in Virginia are paid on average of $41,545 per year, while a man who holds a full-time job is paid $52,453 per year.
Put another way women are paid 79 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to a yearly gap of $10,908.
That’s slightly above the national figure, with women working full time in the U.S. paid 78 cents for every dollar paid to men, with less money paid to women of color. The report, “An Unlevel Playing Field: America’s Gender-Based Wage Gap Binds of Discrimination and a Way Forward,” found that African-American women are paid 64 cents and Latinas are paid 56 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.
In Virginia, African American women are paid 59 cents and Latinas are paid 52 cents according to the report.
Collectively, according to the partnership, Virginia women lose more than $13.7 billion every year.
The nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy group, based in Washington, D.C., said its report is based on the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
“This analysis shows that women and families are losing thousands of dollars in critical income each year that could pay for significant amounts of food, rent, gas and other basic necessities. The effects ripple throughout our economy,” Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, said in a statement.
According to a specific analysis of Virginia, if the gap between men’s and women’s wages were eliminated, a full-time working woman could afford food for nearly two more years, mortgage and utilities for seven more months, rent for 10 more months, or more than 3,400 gallons of gas.
The report said the country’s wage gap has been closing at a rate of less than half a cent per year since passage of the Equal Pay Act in 1963. At that rate, experts say America’s women will not be paid equally to men for another 43 years.
The report outlines several measures that the partnership says would help close the wage gap, including fair and family-friendly workplace policies. Members of Congress reintroduced three proposals supported by the partnership so far this year: the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would help break patterns of pay discrimination and establish stronger workplace protections for women; the Healthy Families Act, which would establish a national paid sick days standard; and the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which would create a national paid family and medical leave insurance program.
Other measures discussed in the report include an increase in the minimum wage and protections for pregnant workers.
Equal Pay Day, which falls on April 14 this year, marks how far into the year women must work in order to catch up with what men were paid the year before. The findings for each state, state rankings, analyses specific to women of color are available at http://www.NationalPartnership.org/Gap.2015-04-13T20:19:00+00:00
March state revenues rose 11.8 percent
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/march-state-revenues-rose-11.8-percent#When:19:46:00ZVirginia’s March revenue collections increased 11.8 percent. On a fiscal year-to-date basis, total revenue collections rose 7.1 percent.
That pace is ahead of the revised annual forecast of 4.7 percent growth contained in the budget bill passed by in the last the General Assembly session, according to Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office.
Collections of payroll withholding taxes rose 10.3 percent in March, with an additional deposit day in the month as compared to last year. Because winter weather dampened retail sales, collections of sales and use taxes, reflecting February sales, rose only 0.8 percent in March.
While March is not a significant month for nonwithholding, receipts in this source were $151.1 million compared with $124.3 million in March of last year.
The Department of Taxation issued $330.3 million in refunds in March compared with $336.4 million last year, a 1.8 percent decline.
For the January-March period, the Department of Taxation ssued about 1.6 million refunds, the same amount as last year during the first three months of the year.
On a year-to-date basis, collections of payroll withholding taxes – 63 percent of General Fund revenues -- increased 4.9 percent, ahead of the revised annual forecast of 4 percent growth.
Sales tax collections - 19 percent of General Fund revenues – increased 4 percent through March, behind the annual forecast calling for a 4.9 percent increase.
Adjusting for the accelerated sales tax program and the 0.1 percent sales tax transfer to transportation as required by law, total revenues rose 7 percent through March, ahead of the adjusted forecast of 4.5 percent growth.2015-04-13T19:46:00+00:00
March volumes surge at Port of Virginia
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/march-volumes-surge-at-port-of-virginia#When:19:43:00ZIn the wake of winter storms, the Port of Virginia set a record in March for cargo handled at its terminals.
The port moved 229,000 TEUs in March, which was 16 percent ahead of March 2014. TEUs stand 20-foot equivalent units.
Some of the increase was cargo left over from February, when the port had to close four days because of winter storms. The weather compounded crowded terminals, forcing major delays for motor carriers.
“That amount of volume, some of which was carried over from February, presented a challenge to our team at every phase of the operation, and it was most acute at Virginia International Gateway, where our operational consistency was overtaken by sheer TEU volume: our delivery of service at the VIG gate for the first three weeks of March was unacceptable,” John Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority, said in a statement.
The volume forced the port’s operations team to take a series of measures to address the volume to reduce backups at its terminals. The interim remedies included steps to reduce density in the stacks, a temporary embargo on empty containers arriving by rail, the addition of more cargo handling equipment and extended operating hours at the gates. These steps did help to alleviate the congestion, Reinhart said.
In March the port’s total for truck moves was up 17 percent; rail containers, up 17 percent; Virginia Inland Port volume, up 3 percent; barge containers, down 6 percent; and vehicle units, up 148 percent. Thus far into the calendar year, the port’s TEU volume is up 10 percent compared with the same period last year.
“Our truck volumes did not let up any in March; we processed more than 81,400 truck moves despite the challenges,” Reinhart said. “We understand the hardship this period put on our motor carriers and customers, and we are grateful for their patience through what has been a very difficult period.”2015-04-13T19:43:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/16922243000_55930e4f07_z.jpgHemp plant photo courtesy Virginia Industrial Hemp Coalition.
Virginia plants seeds for new hemp industry
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-plants-seeds-for-new-hemp-industry#When:19:38:00ZWhen people think of hemp, marijuana often comes to mind – because the two plants are varieties of cannabis.
But hemp has a variety of uses, from making textiles and building materials to feeding livestock. The settlers at Jamestown grew hemp. So did George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. In the 1940s, Henry Ford reportedly built a car body of hemp fiber and ran it on hemp oil.
In the 1950s, however, the United States banned hemp because of its association with marijuana. That prohibition has remained in effect – until now.
Virginia soon will legalize the growing of industrial hemp under legislation passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
Licensed growers will be allowed to cultivate industrial hemp as part of a university-managed research program under House Bill 1277, introduced by Republican Del. Joseph Yost of Pearisburg, and Senate Bill 955, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Rosalyn Dance of Petersburg.
The new law defines industrial hemp as a species of the cannabis sativa plant with a minimal level of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. It says industrial hemp can have “a concentration of THC that is no greater than that allowed by federal law.” The state law makes it explicitly clear that industrial hemp is not marijuana.
Once the law takes effect in July, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will develop regulations for growing hemp. The industrial hemp research program will be supervised and managed by public institutions of higher education.
The law authorizes the state commissioner of agriculture and consumer to:
● “Oversee and analyze the growth of industrial hemp by licensed growers”
● “Conduct seed research on various types of industrial hemp that are best suited to be grown in Virginia”
● “Study the economic feasibility of developing an industrial hemp market in various types of industrial hemp that can be grown in the Commonwealth”
● “Report on the estimated value-added benefits, including environmental benefits, to Virginia businesses of an industrial hemp market of Virginia-grown industrial hemp varieties”
● “Promote research into the development of industrial hemp and commercial markets for Virginia industrial hemp and hemp products”
● “Study the use of industrial hemp in new energy technologies, including electricity generation, biofuels, or other forms of energy resources”
Yost represents House District 12, which includes the counties of Giles, Pulaski and Montgomery, where Virginia Tech is located. He has been contacted by farmers interested in growing hemp.
“A gentleman in southwest Virginia always had interest in bringing this crop back to Virginia,” Yost said. “When talking to him and then looking at information out there regarding hemp and the uses for it, the ease in growing it and demand, it seemed like a no-brainer to see the potential with economic growth and development.”
His colleagues in the General Assembly agreed. HB 1277 passed the House unanimously and the Senate on a 34-3 vote. The companion bill, SB 955, passed the Senate 32-5 and the House unanimously. McAuliffe signed both bills on March 16.
The new law is a victory for the Virginia Industrial Hemp Coalition, a grassroots organization that has been working to legalize the crop. But the legislation doesn’t go far enough, says Jason Amatucci, the coalition’s founder and director.
He said research is not needed to show why industrial hemp should be legalized.
“There is no reason it should not be legalized – not one good reason,” Amatucci said. “If you hold it up to facts, then their (opponents’) argument crumbles. The fact that hemp is so valuable and proven to be one of the most amazing natural resources we do have, it’s actually quite insane that it was illegal.”
Amatucci said industrial hemp will be good for the economy and environment. He said it can be used in textiles, fiber production, building materials and nutritional products.
Including Virginia, 22 states have authorized industrial hemp programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. They range from California and Colorado to Vermont and South Carolina. Congress opened the door for such programs in the 2014 federal farm bill.
With its new law, Virginia may be able to plant the seeds, literally and figuratively, for the new hemp industry in 2016. Yost is optimistic.
“My hope is once that happens, we can begin to look at the progress,” he said. “We know there are many uses for it, and I am sure there will be more when we do more research.”2015-04-13T19:38:00+00:00
DataStor Inc. renews two leases in Henrico County
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/datastor-inc.-renews-two-leases-in-henrico-county#When:15:35:00ZDataStor Inc., a document management and data storage company based out of Lincoln, Neb., has renewed two leases of more than 50,000 square feet in Henrico County.
The largest lease was for 30,921 square feet at 4200-4222 Sarellen Rd. Evan M. Magrill and Scott Douglas handled the lease negotiations.
DataStor also renewed a lease of 21,240 square feet at 4207-4209 Eubank Rd. in Henrico. Magrill and Douglas also handled those lease negotiations.
In other transactions for Thalhimer’s Richmond office:
District 5 leased 13,626 square feet at 1911 W. Main St. in Richmond. Alicia Farrell, James Ashby IV and Reilly Marchant handled the lease negotiations.
Tuesday Morning leased 12,235 square feet of retail space in Pocono Crossing at 10364 Midlothian Turnpike in Chesterfield County. Richard L. Thalhimer handled the lease negotiations.
Ashland Woodwork Inc. leased 11,788 square feet at 118 N. Thompson St. in Richmond. Pam Strieffler handled the lease negotiations.2015-04-13T15:35:00+00:00
Monroe YMCA returns to Fort Monroe in Hampton
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/monroe-ymca-returns-to-fort-monroe-in-hampton#When:15:12:00ZPeninsula Metropolitan YMCA has leased 34,020 square feet of space at Building 171 in the historic former army base at Fort Monroe.
According to Divaris Real Estate Inc. (DRE), the leasing agent for the 565-acre National Historic Landmark District in Hampton, the Fort Monroe YMCA dates to 1903 when it was the first YMCA on an Army post in the U.S. The facility closed when military personnel were transferred away from the base.
“We are extremely pleased that the building will be reopening for use as a YMCA,” Glenn Oder, executive director of the Fort Monroe Authority, said in a statement. “Having them back here at Fort Monroe is very significant for our progress as a place to live, work and enjoy recreation."
Fort Monroe was decommissioned in 2011 when many of its functions were taken over by nearby Fort Eustis. It was designated as a national monument later that year. Since then the Chamberlin Hotel on the property was transformed into senior living apartments.
DRE’s Sanford M. “Sandy” Cohen, chief operating officer, Chris Bendit and Elizabeth Greer of Divaris’ Virginia Beach office represented the landlord, Fort Monroe Authority, in the transaction.
The former base is managed by a Divaris affiliate, Old Point Comfort Real Estate Services LLC.2015-04-13T15:12:00+00:00
Waterstone Mortgage expands to Charlottesville
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/waterstone-mortgage-expands-to-charlottesville#When:15:10:00ZNational mortgage lender Waterstone Mortgage Corp. is expanding in the Virginia market with a new location in Charlottesville. The office is located at 615 Woodbrook Drive. The new branch will celebrate with a grand opening event from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 16.
“We’re very excited about this new office and our company’s expansion in the state of Virginia,” Waterstone Mortgage President and CEO Eric Egenhoefer said in a statement. “This is a vibrant community, and we are proud to be part of it.
Waterstone Mortgage offers a range of products for purchases and refinances, including FHA, VA, USDA, and conventional loans, bank portfolio lending products, jumbo products, and condo financing. As a Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae approved lender, Waterstone Mortgage is able to deliver loans directly.
Headquartered in Pewaukee, Wis., Waterstone Mortgage is a wholly owned subsidiary of WaterStone Bank SSB with assets of more than $1.8 billion.
Since it started in 2000, Waterstone Mortgage has grown to nearly 600 employees in 16 states.2015-04-13T15:10:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/0614_cover2.png
Generous Virginians 2015
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/generous-virginians-2015#When:13:46:00ZIt's that time of year again! Virginia Business is looking for the biggest donations given/received in 2014 for this year's "Generous Virginians" issue.
In June, the cover story of Virginia Business magazine will examine the growing importance of philanthropy in the commonwealth. This issue will include lists of the largest gifts made by Virginia individuals, companies and foundations.
Submit your donations by April, 21, 2015.
Access the appropriate survey below depending on your organization type:
Smith Packett Med-Com purchases Virginia Beach land for assisted living facility
Smith/Packett Med-Com LLC of Roanoke has purchased about 4.2 acres of land from the city of Virginia Beach for $1.9 million. The tract is located at the corner of Princess Anne Road and Independence Blvd.
According to Robert M. Thornton, a broker with Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer who handled sale negotiations on behalf of the city, Smith/Packett plans to put an assisted living facility on the site. The company already has a project in Suffolk and plans another one in Chespeake, Thornton said.2015-04-13T03:06:00+00:00
Summer hiring expected to be stronger
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/summer-hiring-expected-to-be-stronger#When:14:37:00ZSummer hiring is expected to grow this year, according to an annual survey by Snagajob, an hourly job site based in Richmond.
The 2015 Summer Hiring Survey found that 78 percent of employers expected to hire the same, or more, number of employees as last summer.
Hourly wages are expected to increase, too, up to $11.52 from $10.39.
The survey also found:
- Summer hiring will start early. Seventy-four percent of employers expected to have hired summer employees by May 31.
- The most important characteristics that employers looked for in summer employees were: positive attitude (40 percent), schedule flexibility (23 percent), commitment to work the entire summer (19 percent) and previous experience (18 percent.)
- Stiff competition. Eighty-five percent of employers are predicting to receive the same amount, or more job, applications as last year.
The survey included interviews with 1,000 U.S. adults responsible for hiring hourly employees. It was conducted by Wakefield Research.2015-04-12T14:37:00+00:00
Williams Mullen adds South Carolina office
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/williams-mullen-adds-south-carolina-office#When:20:39:00ZWilliams Mullen has expanded to South Carolina with the addition of four environmental attorneys from the McNair law firm in Columbia.
Williams Mullen now has more than 230 attorneys, economic developers and government relations professionals in 11 offices in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
Ethan Ware, Jessica J.O. King, A. Keith “Kip” McAlister Jr., and Ryan W. Trail will join Williams Mullen’s Environmental Law Practice Group. Ware and King will be partners in the firm and McAlister and Trail will be associates.
David F. Paulson will serve as the Carolinas Managing Partner, overseeing the new location along with the firm’s offices in Raleigh, Research Triangle Park and Wilmington, N.C.
The Columbia office’s team will focus on environmental legal issues, working with local, state and federal agencies to help clients resolve environmental regulatory matters.
They help companies obtain environmental permits, negotiate compliance issues and complex business transactions, and litigate environmental matters.2015-04-10T20:39:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/HDL_Inc_logo.jpg
HDL investigation sparked by whistleblower
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/hdl-investigation-sparked-by-whistleblower#When:22:18:00ZA federal investigation into the reimbursement practices of Health Diagnostic Laboratory Inc. (HDL) in Richmond that led to a multimillion-dollar fine apparently started with a whistleblower lawsuit filed by a South Carolina doctor who said he had concerns about the fees HDL and other blood testing labs were paying physicians who ordered the tests.
That was one of the revelations that came to light Thursday when the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and a law firm representing the doctor, Washington, D.C.-based Phillips & Cohen LLP, released statements about the federal investigation.
The South Carolina physician, Dr. Michael Mayes, was one of several whistleblowers in a case that led to the federal investigation.
HDL confirmed last week that it had reached a settlement with the Department of Justice, but a press release posted to DOJ’s website Thursday and a statement from Phillips & Cohen provided new details.
The DOJ said HDL will pay $47 million and Singulex Inc., another cardiovascular testing disease laboratory based in Alameda, Calif., will pay $1.5 million. The fines resolve allegations that the labs violated the federal False Claims Act by paying remuneration to physicians in exchange for patient referrals and billing federal health care programs for medically unnecessary testing.
Peter Chatfield, a partner with Phillips & Cohen, said in an interview with Virginia Business that HDL also will pay more than $3 million in interest to the government during the next three years. According to Chatfield, the settlement amounts were limited to HDL’s and Singulex’s ability to pay. The agreements also include contingency provisions, Chatfield added, that require each company to pay more if its ability to pay improves in the next five years.
The DOJ’s release said that the U.S. would sue two other companies and three individuals, including HDL’s former CEO and co-founder Tonya Mallory, for similar violations under the False Claims Act.
“The government also intervened in the lawsuits as to similar allegations against another blood testing laboratory, Berkeley HeartLab Inc. (in Burlingame, Calif.); a marketing company, BlueWave Healthcare Consultants Inc. (based in Hanceville, Ala.) and its owners, Floyd Calhoun Dent and J. Bradley Johnson; and former CEO Latonya Mallory of HDL,” the release said.
“Health-care providers that attempt to profit by providing illegal inducements will be held accountable,” said Benjamin C. Mizer, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “We will continue to advocate for the appropriate use of Medicare funds. ..”
According to the DOJ, the lawsuits allege that HDL, Singulex and Berkeley induced physicians to refer patients to them for blood tests by paying them processing and handling fees of between $10 and $17 per referral and by routinely waiving patient co-pays and deductibles. “In addition, HDL and Singulex allegedly conspired with BlueWave to offer these inducements on behalf of HDL and Singulex. As a result, physicians allegedly referred patients to HDL, Singulex and Berkeley for medically unnecessary tests, which were then billed to federal health care programs, including Medicare,” the release said.
An HDL spokesman could not be reached for comment, but the company did release a statement in response to DOJ's announcement Thursday. “HDL Inc. is pleased to announce that it has reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in conjunction with the government’s industry-wide investigation of the diagnostic laboratory industry. The agreement ... resolves all allegations made against our company."
The company went on to comment about the process and handling fees. “In its news release announcing the settlement, DOJ made reference to allegations that processing and handling fees were improper and that some testing was unnecessary. The payment of processing and handling fees was a longstanding practice in the diagnostic laboratory industry. In June 2014, when the government for the first time issued new guidance stating that the payments presented risk, HDL, Inc. immediately stopped paying processing and handling fees to referring providers," the statement said.
"We emphasize that reaching this agreement does not mean that HDL, Inc. engaged in any wrongdoing," the statement said. "The settlement is not an indication that any conduct was improper or unlawful. As DOJ noted in its news release announcing the settlement, ‘The claims settled by these agreements and asserted against these companies and individuals are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.’ "
The DOJ release noted that the federal Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits offering, paying, soliciting or receiving remuneration to induce referrals of items or services covered by federally funded programs. The statute is intended to ensure that a physician’s medical judgment is not compromised by improper financial incentives.
Chatfield said his client, Mayes, an internist, was the first to file a whistleblower claim in July 2011 in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina against BlueWave, a sales and marketing firm that worked with HDL. In 2012, Mayes amended his claim to include HDL and Singulex after learning that reimbursements for blood testing would be paid directly by the firms. Two nurses who worked for doctor’s offices in South Carolina and the former owner of a testing laboratory in California also filed whistleblower claims against HDL and other companies, Chatfield said.
According to the DOJ, the suits were filed by Mayes, Scarlett Lutz, Kayla Webster and Chris Reidel under whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act. Under the act, private citizens can bring suit on behalf of the government for false claims and share in any recovery. The whistleblowers’ share of the settlements has yet to be determined. The act also permits the U.S. to intervene in and take over a whistleblower suit, as it has done in part in the three actions. The United States advised the court that it would be filing its own complaint against the corporate and individual defendants against whom it has intervened within 120 days.
HDL's statement included what appeared to be an indirect reference to the whistleblowers. “We have taken the step of resolving this matter in order to put these allegations, which stemmed from historical practices once common in the industry, behind us. These allegations were made against a number of companies operating in the clinical laboratory industry by individuals who stand to personally profit by making these allegations. Reaching this agreement enables HDL Inc. to avoid the distraction of what could have been years of uncertainty associated with protracted and expensive litigation. The settlement allows us to move ahead with our important work of helping improve the health of millions of Americans."
As part of the settlements, HDL and Singulex have agreed to enter into separate corporate integrity agreements with the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG). Those agreements provide for procedures and reviews to be put in place to avoid and detect conduct similar to that which gave rise to the settlements.
“Today’s announcement that DOJ has settled in part and intervened in part in these whistleblower actions reflects the commitment by DOJ, our agency and our other law enforcement partners to ferret out alleged improper Medicare billings by health care-companies that are looking to increase their profits at the expense of taxpayers,” said Special Agent in Charge Derrick L. Jackson of the HHS-OIG Atlanta Regional Office.2015-04-09T22:18:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Quirk_Hotel%2C_A_Destination_Hotel1.jpg
Destination Hotels adds Quirk Hotel in downtown Richmond to Urban Collection
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/destination-hotels-adds-quirk-hotel-in-downtown-richmond-to-urban-collectio#When:21:59:00ZDestination Hotels & Resorts, the largest operator of independent hotels and resorts in North America, has added the soon-to-open Quirk Hotel in downtown Richmond to its urban collection.
This means the hotel, locally owned by Ted and Katie Ukrop, will be managed by Destination. As part of the deal, Destination said Quirk will undergo a transformation in keeping with Destination’s hotel flag, although the company would not divulge what that would entail at this time.
“As we are growing our urban portfolio, Richmond is an emerging destination, and we want to be part of (and help Quirk serve as the catalyst) for the renaissance,” Carrie Mosner, director of public relations for Destination Hotels and Resorts, said in an email to Virginia Business.
Mosner added that the company also was drawn to Quirk’s owners. “They are natural partners for us, entrepreneurial and passionate, similar to our culture and ethos as an organization.”
Destination, based out of Englewood, Colo., operates more than 40 upscale properties in the U.S. It said Quirk’s opening will coincide with Richmond acting as the host city for cycling’s international event, World Road Cycling Championships (Worlds) in late-September.
The hotel is an extension of the Quirk art gallery at 201 West Broad Street and Jefferson Street in the historic J.B. Mosby & Co. building in the heart of Richmond’s Arts District. The gallery hosts exhibitions of work by both established and emerging local artists.
According to Destination, the art theme will be carried over into the hotel’s 71 rooms, four suites, artisan restaurant, bar, rooftop terrace and conference rooms.
“Quirk Hotel is an exciting addition to the Destination Hotels portfolio,” Jamie Sabatier, president and chief operating officer of Destination Hotels, said in a statement.
Quirk Hotel was originally the luxury department store of J.B. Mosby Dry Goods Store. It’s located in an Italian Renaissance building that was originally built in 1916. The 60,000-square-foot property is part of the Broad Street Commercial Historic District, which contains a collection of turn-of-the-century commercial buildings in Richmond.
Destination Hotels & Resorts, a privately owned company, is a subsidiary of Lowe Enterprises, a Los Angeles-based investment, development and real estate firm.2015-04-09T21:59:00+00:00
Cosentino expanding Hampton distribution center
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/cosentino-expanding-hampton-distribution-center#When:20:55:00ZCosentino, a producer of quartz and other stone surfaces used in homes and businesses, is expanding its distribution center in Hampton.
The expansion adds more than 32,000 square feet to the company’s Northeast HUB in Copeland Industrial Park. The expansion is expected to help Cosentino to meet growing demand from regional Cosentino Centers, home improvement centers and kitchen and bath specialty stores throughout the Northeast.
“Right now, the Northeast is experiencing significant growth for us,” Brian Dubuque, general manager of the Copeland HUB, said in a statement.
The Hampton facility opened in 2013 with nearly 162,000 square feet of space. The city awarded Cosentino a $25,000 grant that was contingent upon creating a minimum of 17 full-time jobs and investing almost $2.2 million in real property improvements.
Since then, Cosentino has invested at least $3 million in the construction of the Copeland facility and $10 million in inventory. The company ended 2014 with 18 employees, with plans to have 28 employees by the end of 2015.
Based in Spain, Cosentino has offices in the U.S., Europe, Latin America, Australia and Asia.
The original 2013 Cosentino project in Hampton was completed with the assistance of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance.2015-04-09T20:55:00+00:00
Genworth: Long-term care costs continue to grow
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/genworth-long-term-care-costs-continue-to-grow#When:19:49:00ZLong-term care is expensive, and the cost continues to grow, according to an annual study by Richmond-based Genworth Financial. Genworth’s Average 2015 Cost of Care Study says the cost of home-health aides, however, has grown at a slower rate than the cost of assisted-living or nursing facilities.
In Virginia, the cost of a room in a private nursing home grew an average of 4.8 percent each year over the past five years to $92,688 a year. That compares with an average growth rate of 4 percent over the same time period nationally to $91,250 annually.
The median annual cost of care in an assisted-living facility has increased an average of 1.8 percent annually over the past five years to $47,196 in Virginia. Nationally, the annual growth rate has been 2.5 percent to $43,200.
The cost of home health aides is growing at a more moderate rate, about 1 percent each year in Virginia and nationwide. The median hourly cost of home health aide services is $19, compared with $20 nationally. Genworth’s study includes the cost of care in 440 regions in all 50 states, including nine in Virginia.2015-04-09T19:49:00+00:00
Brazilian candy company to start production in Hanover
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/brazilian-candy-company-to-start-production-in-hanover#When:16:08:00ZA Brazilian candy company announced Thursday plans to invest $5 million to establish its first operation in the U.S. in Hanover County, which is expected to create 55 jobs.
Sao Paulo-based Mavalério is the largest producer of decorative confectionary in Latin America. It currently exports to more than 20 countries.
Fernando Bettin, Mavalério’s director of operations, said the company chose Virginia because it provided access to 55 percent of the U.S. population within 750 miles.
“As a manufacturer of sugar confectionery toppings, interstate, port and airport access are critical to maintain our supply chain,” Bettin said in a statement.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe approved a $50,000 grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund for the project. Mavalério will receive benefits from the Port of Virginia Economic and Infrastructure Development Zone Grant Program and funding and services for employee training activities from the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.
Virginia competed against Delaware and Florida during the site selection process.2015-04-09T16:08:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Sabra_Classic_hummus_2010_-_Copy.jpgSabra photo.
Sabra recalls 30,000 cases of its Classic Hummus
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/sabra-recalls-30000-cases-of-its-classic-hummus#When:13:39:00ZColonial Heights-based Sabra Dipping Co. is voluntarily recalling about 30,000 cases of its Classic Hummus because of possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes.
The recall is limited to five SKUs of Classic Hummus sold nationwide. To date, no other Sabra product is affected by this recall.
Listeria monocytogenes is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.
Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.
To date, there have been no reports indicating that these products have caused any illness.
The products being recalled are listed below and were distributed to retail outlets, including food service accounts and supermarkets, in the U.S. Consumers can find code and use by dates on the top of each package.
The potential for contamination was discovered when a routine, random sample collected at a retail location on March 30 by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. Consumers who have purchased any of these products are urged to dispose of or return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with any questions may call toll free 1-888-957-2272, Monday – Friday 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Central Time.2015-04-09T13:39:00+00:00
CEO named for Inova’s heart institute
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/ceo-named-for-inovas-heart-institute#When:08:55:00ZDr. Christopher M. O’Connor has been named CEO of the Inova Heart and Vascular Institute.
In his role, O’Connor will direct the institute’s cardiovascular strategy and expand the clinical, research and education programs of the institute.
O’Connor has been at Duke for 31 years, where his research earned him worldwide recognition for his knowledge on heart failure. Most recently he was the director of the Duke Heart Center as well as chief of the hospital’s cardiology division and the Richard Stack Distinguished Professor of Medicine. He also co-owns a company named BisCarida, which holds a patent for the use of bisphosphonate, a drug commonly used to treat osteoporosis, to improve heart function.
Under his leadership, the Duke Heart Center grew 5 to 10 percent a year.
O’Connor has led more than 20 clinical trials and published at least 400 manuscripts. His work has uncovered links in how mood disorders and stress affect heart disease.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Maryland College Park and his medical degree from the University of Maryland Medical School in Baltimore. He is editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Heart Failure.2015-04-09T08:55:00+00:00
IT Employment sees steady climb in March; engineering job growth slows
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/it-employment-sees-steady-climb-in-march-engineering-job-growth-slows#When:21:16:00ZInformation Technology and engineering jobs continued to grow in March, according to Alexandria-based TechServe Alliance’s Employment Indices, but one sector fared better than the other.
The association says IT jobs grew 0.3 percent last month to 4,899,700. Engineering jobs, on the other hand, only grew 0.1 percent to 2,523,400.
On a year-over-year basis, engineering jobs increased 1.4 percent since March 2014 adding 34,200 workers. During the same time period IT employment grew 5.1 percent, adding 234,700 workers.
"Despite an anemic overall jobs report in March, IT employment continued to show resilience. While the data from a single month does not reflect a trend, engineering job growth struggled in March---falling behind the growth rate of the overall workforce, " Mark Roberts, CEO of TechServe Alliance, said in a statement.
TechServe Alliance is the national trade association of the IT and engineering staffing and solutions industry.2015-04-08T21:16:00+00:00
Urban Land Institute forecast sees three years of continued strength for commercial real estate
Three more years of favorable real estate conditions in the U.S. That's the main message in a new three-year forecast by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Center for Capital Markets and Real Estate in Washington D.C.
According to the outlook — the latest installment of the semi-annual ULI Real Estate Consensus Forecast — the commercial real estate industry is expected to remain on a course of solid growth for 2015 through 2017. The outlook is based on a survey of 43 of the industry’s economists and analysts representing 32 of the country’s real estate investment, advisory and research firms.
It was released Wednesday in conjunction with a ULI-sponsored Webinair of real estate panelists. Some of them said the “Goldilocks” outlook was deserved considering that some real estate sectors are seeing returns of as much as 10 percent on investment and that new construction has been held in check since the Great Recession of 2008-09.
“This cycle has seen much less new development than what we’ve seen in other recoveries,” said Lisa Pendergast, managing director and co-head of CMBS strategy and risk. “In some ways, that’s likely to continue given the souring outlook globally … I am in the Goldilocks campus … We’re in a better position, because we haven’t seen an excessive amount of new supply although we are starting to see some overbuilding in multifamily.”
Asked what might derail the positive environment through 2017, the panelists expressed concern over action the Federal Reserve Bank might take in raising interest rates.
“The biggest risk in my mind is the Fed,” said Tim Wang, director and head of research for Clarion Partners. “If you look at past recessions, the Fed tightens. If they tighten too fast and too steep, we have a contraction. We are watching that closely ... This recovery has been shallow, about 2.5 percent… compared to the past of 4 percent, or about half of the strength. We are in the camp that the next recession won’t happen until 2019-2020, so there’s a few more good years before we expect a downturn, and there are opportunities ahead.”
An analysis of the survey findings by ULI leader William Maher, director of North American strategy for LaSalle Investment Management in Baltimore, highlights areas of the industry and overall economy that are generating the most optimism for 2015 through 2017:
• Net job growth is expected to be 2.9 million per year, compared to a long-term average of 1.2 million. Demand for real estate, particularly office and apartments, will remain strong. Low unemployment rates should lead to healthy wage growth, although shortages of skilled workers may surface.
• The rate for 10-year U.S. Treasury notes will average 3 percent over the three-year period, lower than the long-term average of 4.1 percent, but rising significantly over the forecast period.
• Issuance of commercial mortgage-backed securities is expected to rise to $150 billion in 2017 (rising from $115 billion in 2015 and $133 billion in 2016). With banks and insurance companies also active, real estate lending will remain competitive and favorable for borrowers. “This is good news for the many borrowers with loans coming due over the next three years,” Maher notes.
• Commercial real estate prices as measured by the Moody’s/RCA Index are projected to rise by an average of 7.6 percent per year, compared to a long-term average increase of 5.3 percent, implying three very strong years of net appreciation for U.S. real estate.
• Warehouse rents and hotel revenue per available room (RevPAR) are expected to be leaders among the major property types, growing by an average of 3.6 percent and 5.3 percent over the three-year period — well ahead of their historical growth rates.
• The total return rate for core unleveraged properties as measured by the National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries (NCREIF) is projected to average 9.9 percent during 2015-2017, which is significantly higher than the expected average yield for U.S. Treasuries.
Mayer did point to some areas of concern, including the likelihood of higher short-term rates squeezing investment returns and causing an increase in capitalization rates.
Still, the findings suggest more reasons for hope than worry, he says. “In summary, almost all U.S. real estate participants would be very pleased if the future unfolded as predicted by the ULI consensus forecast,” Mayer said in a statement. “The forecast represents almost the perfect combination of strong economic and property market fundamentals, combined with an orderly wind-down of monetary stimulus.”
Although the potential exists for progress to be hampered by obstacles such as economic downturns, foreign crises, interest rate spikes, or oversupplies, "real estate pros predict three more years of smooth sailing for U.S. real estate," Maher said.
In general, the performance of most commercial property sectors, as measured by vacancy rates, rental rates, total returns, and product availability is expected to exceed or hold close to the 20-year (1995-2014) averages for each category. Key predictions by commercial property type:
• Office -- The forecast predicts a continuing decline in office vacancy rates, dropping from 13.9 percent in 2014 to 13.0 percent in 2015, 12.5 percent in 2016, and 12.0 percent by the end of 2017. Survey respondents expect rental rates to rise by 4.0 percent in 2015, 4.1 percent in 2016 and 3.5 percent in 2017.
NCREIF total annual returns for the office sector are projected to be 11.8 percent in 2015, 10.0 percent in 2016 and 9.0 percent in 2017.
• Apartments – Apartment vacancy rates are forecast to rise marginally from 4.6 percent in 2014 to 4.7 percent in 2015, 5.0 percent in 2016 and 5.3 percent in 2017. Survey respondents expect rental rates to rise by 3.5 percent in 2015, 3.0 percent in 2016 and 2.7 percent in 2017.
NCREIF total annual returns for the apartment sector are projected to be 9.0 percent in 2015, 8.3 percent in 2016 and 8.0 percent in 2017.
• Retail – Retail availability rates are forecast to drop from 11.4 percent in 2014 to 10.9 percent in 2015, 10.5 percent in 2016 and 10.2 percent in 2017. Survey respondents expect rental rates to rise by 2.0 percent in 2015, 3.0 percent in 2016 and 2.9 percent in 2017.
NCREIF total annual returns for the retail sector are projected to be 10.9 percent in 2015, 10.0 percent in 2016 and 8.4 percent in 2017.
• Industrial/warehouse – Industrial/warehouse availability rates are forecast to drop from 10.3 percent in 2014 to 9.8 percent in 2015, and to 9.6 percent for 2016 and 2017. Survey respondents expect rental rates to rise by 4.0 percent in 2015, 3.8 percent in 2016 and 3.1 percent in 2017.
NCREIF total annual returns for the industrial sector are projected to be 12.0 percent in 2015, 10.5 percent in 2016 and 9.5 percent in 2017.
• Hotel – Hotel occupancy rates are forecast to rise from 64.4 percent in 2014 to 65.2 percent in 2015, and to 65.6 percent in 2016 and 2017. RevPAR rates are expected to rise 7.0 percent in 2015, 5.0 percent in 2016 and 4.0 percent in 2017.
• Single family - Predictions for single-family housing suggest that the residential sector remains in recovery mode. Survey respondents expect housing starts to rise from 647,400 in 2014 to 700,000 in 2015, 815,000 in 2016 and 900,000 by the end of 2017. The average price for existing homes in the U.S. is expected to rise by 5.0 percent in 2015, 4.0 percent in 2016 and 4.0 percent in 2017.
The market survey, conducted last month, is the seventh in a series of polls conducted by ULI to gauge sentiment among economists and analysts about the direction of the real estate industry. The next forecast is scheduled for release during October 2015.2015-04-08T19:11:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/image001.jpg
Virginia’s Long & Foster Cos. ranked third among top brokerages
Long & Foster Real Estate, which bills itself as the largest independent residential real estate company in the U.S., said Wednesday that its parent company, The Long & Foster Cos. based in Chantilly, was ranked among the top brokerages in the nation based on a total closed sales volume in 2014 of $25.9 billion
In addition, the company was ranked as the third largest brokerage based on 72,340 closed transaction sides – the number of closed sales in which a Long & Foster sales associate represented the seller, the buyer or both parties.
REAL Trends 500, a source of statistical analysis for the residential real estate industry, published the annual ranking of top real estate brokerages. It identifies the 500 largest real estate brokerages in the U.S. ranked by closed transactions and closed sales volume.
“A large part of the continued success of the Long & Foster family is our investment in ensuring that our agents are armed with the very best tools, training and support in the industry so they can do what they do best – serve the needs of home buyers and sellers,” Jeffrey S. Detwiler, president and chief operating officer of The Long & Foster Cos, said in a statement.
Long & Foster Real Estate has more than 200 offices and represents more than 11,000 agents in seven mid-Atlantic states, plus the District of Columbia.
The company, which has a commercial business in addition to its residential side, said it sold more than $28.4 billion worth of homes and helped people buy and sell homes more than 80,000 times in 2014.
The combined sales and equivalents for The Long & Foster Cos. in 2014 were in excess of $49 billion.
The firm also is an affiliate for Christie’s International Real Estate throughout select parts of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast.
KBS REIT I signs three leases at Tysons Dulles Plaza
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/kbs-reit-i-signs-three-leases-at-tysons-dulles-plaza#When:13:54:00ZKBS Real Estate Investment Trust, a nontraded real estate investment trust based in Newport Beach, Calif., has signed three leases totaling 48,684 square feet at Tysons Dulles Plaza in McLean.
KBS renewed leases for Savant Capital Management and West Publishing and announced a new tenant, Naylor Association Solutions.
Naylor, which provides products and services for more than 1,800 associations in North America, signed a full-floor, 24,655-square-foot lease. Savant Capital Management, an independent investment advisor, expanded into 7,386 square feet of space. West Publishing, a printing, publishing services company, renewed a 16,643-square-foot lease.
Tysons Dulles Plaza is a 487,775-square-foot complex located in the Tysons Corner submarket of Northern Virginia.
Lucia Wadeson, Aaron Berkey and Mindy Saffer of KBS represented Naylor Association Solutions. Marc Balamaci of Edge Commercial represented Savant Capital, and John Henschel of Cushman & Wakefield represented West Publishing in their respective leases. Steve Hoffeditz and Ed Clark of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank represented KBS REIT I on the leases.2015-04-08T13:54:00+00:00
Old Dominion University named to list of 50 best value online colleges
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/old-dominion-university-named-to-list-of-50-best-value-online-colleges#When:20:35:00ZNorfolk-based Old Dominion University is the only Virginia school that has been named to Value Colleges’ 50 Best Value Online Colleges of 2015.
Value Colleges is an online guide to the best values in college education. ODU was No. 16 on the list. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, whose administrative offices are in Daytona Beach, Fla. took the No. 1 spot.
To compile the list, Value Colleges looked at colleges 20-year net return-on-investment; cost of attendance and national rankings. Information was compiled from PayScale.com, U.S. New & World Report, the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), and the schools' own websites. To make the ranking, each school had to be a private or public college in the U.S., regionally accredited and offer at least three online bachelor’s degree programs.
According to Value Colleges’ report, ODU’s online program is one of the largest in the country. Students in the university’s online program account for almost a third of all of its 24,000 students. “With some 70 bachelor’s programs to choose from, Old Dominion probably offers the widest variety of online degrees out there, including many majors not usually accommodated online, such as Civil Engineering, Health and Human Services, or Dental Hygiene,” says the write up on Value Colleges’ website. ODU’s online programs return on investment is $305,000, Value Colleges says.2015-04-07T20:35:00+00:00
When the government makes medium groups become small groups and what that means for dental benefits
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/when-the-government-makes-medium-groups-become-small-groups-and-what-that-m#When:20:18:00ZSmall groups and individuals in Virginia are being forced to buy insurance products that they don’t want or need. As the definition of small group changes in 2016, groups, brokers and consultants should understand the rules if they are going to make wise decisions regarding health and dental coverage.
Beginning in 2016, the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) redefines small groups as those having up to 100 employees. Prior to 2016, the small group definition was 1-50. However, all small groups are not created equal under this federal change.
Groups with 50 or fewer employees are free to offer or not offer benefits to their employees without fear of fines. Groups with 51-100 employees are not only required to offer benefits to employees as part of the ACA’s shared responsibility provisions (commonly known as the employer mandate), but since they will be defined as small groups for purposes of the ACA, they will have fewer plan options.
Why will these small groups have more limited choice? Because, while the federal ACA does not require individuals or groups to purchase specific benefits (but will bestow a tax penalty if you don’t have minimum essential coverage), it forces carriers to include certain benefits as part of plans offered in small group and individual markets.
It’s as if the government said to an individual, you are not required to purchase a car with an infant car seat, but then the government turns around and tells all car manufacturers, “You must include a car seat in every car sold to an individual.” You don’t have to buy it, you just can’t not buy it. You have to buy the car seat whether you need it or not.
From the small group and individual insurance market perspectives, there are 10 car seats — called “essential health benefits.” Half of one of those 10 car seats is pediatric dental benefits, and these benefits are treated differently from the rest — something that needs to be understood by these newly defined small groups with up to 100 employees.
If your group is lucky enough to be headquartered in Virginia (and a handful of other states), the rules are a bit friendlier when it comes to dental benefits.
In 2014, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation clarifying that a carrier offering plans in the small group or individual market is allowed to offer health plans without pediatric dental benefits so long as two conditions are met: First, there must be a qualified dental plan available for purchase and, second, the carrier must disclose that the pediatric dental benefits are not included in the health plan.
Since carriers are offering exchange-certified dental plans both on and off of the exchanges in Virginia, groups and individuals are free to shop for their dental benefits the way they always have. This applies to all small groups, those that aren’t required to purchase any benefits for employees (under 50) and those that must offer benefits (51-100).
Great news, right? Maybe not. As it turns out, almost all carriers are forcing small groups to include pediatric dental benefits in their health plans despite the fact that the carrier is not required to do so and small groups may already have a dental plan they like. Just like the car seat analogy, you don’t have to buy it, you just can’t not buy it.
In some cases, the resulting pediatric dental portion of the health plan premium is small since the dental benefits are subject to the medical deductible. Groups opting for these types of plans should most certainly purchase a separate standalone dental plan. Otherwise, employees may take a child to the dentist believing they are covered only to find that they are on the hook for 100 percent of the bill since they have not met a huge medical deductible.
Other plans are charging a bit more premium to provide what looks like a traditional dental benefit. Buyer beware. Groups, brokers and consultants should review these plans carefully. Often, even when diagnostic and preventive dental services such as exams and cleanings are covered without having to meet the medical deductible, the other categories of benefits such as basic (have you ever heard of a child needing a filling?) and major services are subject to the medical deductible.
Additionally, any orthodontia benefit must meet strict medical necessity criteria. Furthermore, the coverage levels are not as high as a typical 100/80/50 dental plan. They often look more like a 90/60/50 plan and, in reality, play-out more like a 90/0/0 plan. And keep in mind this all assumes the employee is staying in-network.
Groups and brokers considering one of these plans should do the math. Estimating the costs of treating a child who visits the dentist twice in a year and receives some pretty common procedures such as cleanings, X-rays, fluoride, sealants, a couple fillings and a pulled tooth reveals that the employee in a plan where the dental is subject to the medical deductible would owe 100 percent of the $746 bill (assuming the high medical deductible had not been met).
The employee in an embedded medical plan covering diagnostic and preventive dental services would owe $407. An employee in a traditional standalone dental plan would owe $140. Even taking into consideration the difference in the costs of premium, the employee is better off in a traditional standalone dental plan.
It’s unfortunate that big health insurance companies are forcing small groups and individuals to buy something that they don’t want or need.
Perhaps as groups and brokers understand what is and is not required market pressure will be applied and the result will be consumers having the freedom to shop for what they want and need. In the meantime, many groups and individuals will be left with having to purchase duplicative coverage in some cases and will be paying more premium than necessary.
Delta Dental of Virginia has responded to this situation by providing flexibility to small groups, allowing them to tweak benefits by removing diagnostic and preventive services from their plans or adjusting other levels of coverage. None of this is necessary from a legal and regulatory perspective, however. Carriers are free to offer plans without pediatric dental. Groups with fewer than 50 employees can purchase any dental plan or no dental plan and are not forced to provide any health benefits at all.
However, the new “small” groups of 51-100 must provide health benefits but are allowed to purchase dental plans separate from their health plan. Brokers and consultants should understand that.
Chris Pyle is vice president, marketing and government relations, for Delta Dental of Virginia.2015-04-07T20:18:00+00:00
Marc Purintun joins Williams Mullen as a partner
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/marc-purintun-joins-williams-mullen-as-a-partner#When:20:07:00ZMarc Purintun has joined Williams Mullen as a partner in its employee benefits practice in Richmond. He previously worked at Hunton & Williams.
Purintun focuses his practice on all areas of employee benefits, including qualified and nonqualified retirement plans and executive compensation arrangements. He also represents clients before the IRS, the U.S. Department of Labor and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.
Purintun serves as a board member of the Virginia Equality Bar Association and is a member of the Tax Section of the Virginia Bar Association and the Employee Benefits Committee of the American Bar Association’s Tax Section.
He earned his master of laws in taxation degree with a certificate in employee benefits at Georgetown University and his law degree at the William and Mary School of law. He also earned a bachelor’s degree from Macalester College.2015-04-07T20:07:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/2015-04-07_14-27-53_72.jpg
Sentara Leigh Hospital West Tower opens to patients on Wednesday
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/sentara-leigh-hospital-west-tower-opens-to-patients-on-wednesday#When:19:20:00ZWednesday brings the opening of a second new patient tower at Sentara Leigh Hospital in Norfolk. At about 6:00 a.m. on April 8, the first inpatients will begin transferring from the 1977-era, three-story wing at Sentara to the five-story West Tower, the hospital said in a press release.
West Tower is almost a mirror image of the East Tower, which opened in November 2013. According to Sentara, the East Tower is the site of the largest clinical trial in the world on whether copper-infused hard surfaces and linens will help prevent hospital-acquired infections. The West Tower also isoutfitted with the copper-infused materials.
After the patient move is completed, B-wing will be handed over to primary contractor Whiting-Turner for demolition and replacement with a two-story atrium lobby due for completion in 2016 with outpatient areas, education spaces and a new gift shop. The project also will provide a new entrance to a 48-year-old hospital that is being replaced and/or modernized within its own footprint.
The hospital said the project has been an engineering challenge due to the need to demolish segments of the old structures and drive hundreds of piles to build new facilities just a few feet from active patient rooms. Previous projects doubled the size of the emergency department, added new operating rooms and modernized sterile support.
Virginia Transformer invests $2.4 million to expand in Roanoke area
Virginia Transformer Corp., a manufacturer of custom power electric transformers, said Tuesday that it has invested $2.4 million in new construction and equipment in the Roanoke Valley.
Its latest expansion added a 5,400-square-foot addition to a manufacturing plant in Roanoke, boosting the company’s total square footage to 135,000 square feet.
“With annual double-digit growth, Virginia Transformer is preparing for increasing demand globally,” Prabhat Jain, president of Virginia Transformer, said in a statement. “Our recent investments will help us expand capacity and increase efficiency in order to better serve our customers while also demonstrating our commitment to the region as we continue to hire local talent.”
Under a new alliance with a Georgia-based Efacec plant, Virginia Transformer is the nation’s second-largest provider of custom-engineered power electrical transformers. It serves the utility, renewable energy, industrial, mining, oil and gas industries and commercial, institutional, specialty and export markets in power ranges from 500 kilovolts to 500 million volt amps (MVA).
Other recent projects in the Roanoke area have included new equipment such as the addition of a new cutting machine, paint booth and air-pellet system.
Work is underway now on an upgrade and expansion of the company’s final testing area, which is scheduled for completion by July.
In 2013, Virginia Transformer invested $4.5 million to complete a 39,000-square-foot facility in Troutville, a project that bumped the company’s total space there to 125,000 square feet.
“Our recent investments increase our total contribution of more than $40 million annually to the local economy through payroll, taxes, vendors and partners,” Jain said.
According to Virginia Transformer, it produces one of the broadest ranges of small and medium power transformers available from a single source. With transformers in 40 countries, it has facilities and offices in Virginia, Idaho, Mexico and India.2015-04-07T19:08:00+00:00
Frank Hardy Inc. in Charlottesville joins Sotheby’s International network
Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC announced Tuesday that Frank Hardy Inc. in Charlottesville is the newest member of its real estate network. It will operate as Frank Hardy Sotheby’s International Realty.
Started in Charlottesville in 1977, the firm is owned by Frank Hardy and has long specialized in high-end farms and estates. “During that time, the firm has served its clientele with dedicated support and specialized market knowledge,” Philip White, president and CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates, said in a statement.
As part of the network, Hardy’s firm will serve real estate markets throughout Charlottesville, Piedmont, Albemarle and Orange counties, Chesapeake Bay and the Shenandoah Valley through its two offices and 22 affiliated agents.
According to Hardy, the affiliate offers his firm a broader reach among potential clients worldwide. “We have always worked with an international client base, and we believe that with the support of this brand we can expand on that.”
Sotheby’s International Realty network has more than 16,500 associates located in about 760 offices in 60 countries and territories worldwide. Frank Hardy’s listings are marketed on Sotheby’s global website.2015-04-07T18:40:00+00:00
Virginia Tech names associate vice president for research planning
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/virginia-tech-names-associate-vice-president-for-research-planning#When:08:24:00ZVirginia Tech has named Elizabeth Tranter its associate vice president for research planning.
Tranter will work with university researchers and funding partners to expand the university’s research portfolio and its role in regional economic development.
Tranter has been chief of staff in the university’s Office of the Vice President for Research for seven years and previously was the administrative director for the Center for Power Electronics Systems. She previously taught at the University of Wisconsin and Indiana University.
Tranter received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Missouri and a master’s degree in French from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.2015-04-07T08:24:00+00:00
Maximus completes its $300 million acquisition of Acentia
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/maximus-complete-its-300-million-acquisition-of-acentia#When:21:12:00ZReston-based government-services provider Maximus has completed its $300 million all-cash acquisition of Acentia.
The deal was finished on April 1, Maximus said.
Falls Church-based Acentia is a provider of systems modernization, software development, program management, and other information technology services and solutions to U.S. federal government civilian and health agencies. The company has about 1,000 employees.
Maximus expects the acquisition to expands its U.S. federal services business through additional contract vehicles and access to federal government agencies.
Maximus funded the deal and related costs and expenses with cash on hand and $225 million borrowed under its revolving credit facility.
Maximus operates government health and human services programs in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Saudi Arabia. It has about 16,000 employees worldwide.2015-04-06T21:12:00+00:00
Kaine, Pritzker discuss trade issues with local businesses
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/kaine-pritzker-discuss-trade-issues-with-local-businesses#When:21:12:00ZVirginia business leaders told U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va) and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker on Monday about problems they face in international trade.
In a roundtable discussion at the World Art Group in Richmond, Kaine told the panelists that international trade affects all sizes of businesses, and it’s important to get policies right, “so we are here to talk to you about trade issues and how we can be helpful,” he said.
The event primarily focused on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and how , if finalized, it would affect Virginia companies and the commonwealth’s economy. The TPP is a trade agreement being negotiated by the U.S. and 11 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. According to Pritzker, the agreement seeks to create “a standard for global trade.” President Barack Obama’s administration is working to finalize the deal this year. According to Kaine’s communications director Amy Dudley, there’s a debate in U.S. Congress on how and when it will weigh in.
Lindy Fralin, who owns Richmond-based Lindy Fralin Pickups, said taxes and shipping costs are the biggest barriers in exporting his products, which are devices on electric guitars. For example, it costs him $8 to ship to California as opposed to $45 to send products to Canada.
Lonnie Lemco, owner of the World Art Group, an art publishing company, said high tariffs imposed abroad on his products represent a big issue. The company, which exports to more than 30 countries, also has run into copyright infringement problems in China. Other issues mentioned by panelists included currency fluctuations, lead times and regulatory restrictions.
Monica Nichols, an international trade manager for the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, brought up high dairy tariffs in Canada and food additives restrictions in Japan. She also said any help the U.S. can provide with exporting to Brazil would be beneficial.
“It’s a great market, it’s just a very difficult market for us to export to…” she said.2015-04-06T21:12:00+00:00
Embattled Sweet Briar named to list of top women’s colleges
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/embattled-sweet-briar-named-to-list-of-top-womens-colleges#When:21:08:00ZRaleigh, N.C.-based College Choice has named three Virginia’s schools, including embattled Sweet Briar College, to its first ranking of the best U.S. women's colleges.
Hollins University in Roanoke ranked 24th on the list of 40 colleges while Mary Baldwin College in Staunton was 29th and Sweet Briar was 30th. They are the only women’s colleges in the commonwealth.
College Choice is an online college search resource.
Sweet Briar’s board has announced plans to close the 114-year-old college this summer because of financial problems. A group of alumnae, however, have challenged the decision, and Amherst County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ellen Bowyer filed a lawsuit on behalf of the commonwealth to stop the closing.
“Sweet Briar’s campus offers an immense, peaceful and scenic landscape for students to be inspired, find their passion and grow,” College Choice says in its description of the school. “Sweet Briar ensures a student-centered approach to education with average class size at 11 students. In addition Sweet Briar’s curriculum provides a wide scope of study combining liberal arts with career preparation and individual development and offering 46 degree plan options.”
At Hollins, College Choice says students “get the best of both worlds,” being near the Blue Ridge Mountains but also having accept to Roanoke cultural amenities.
“Hollins offers a student-centered approach to a liberal arts education, giving young women opportunities to grow through exploring, creating, collaborating, and active, engaged learning, developing a strong self-concept that paves the way for their success in career and life,” the listing says.
College Choice describes Mary Baldwin as “rooted in tradition and yet committed to personal fulfillment of its students, as well as their professional success,” noting that the school’s offerings include ROTC programs.
The top school on the list was Wellesley College in Wellesley, Mass., followed by Smith College in Northampton, Mass., and Barnard College in New York.2015-04-06T21:08:00+00:00
Wheeler REIT buys first property in Alabama
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/wheeler-reit-buys-first-property-in-alabama#When:14:35:00ZVirginia Beach-based Wheeler Real Estate Investment Trust Inc. has completed its acquisition of Alex City Marketplace in Alexander City, Ala. for about $10.25 million.
The 147,791-square-foot shopping center is the company’s first in Alabama.
The property was built in 1995, and was renovated in 2001. Anchored by a Winn-Dixie supermarket, the shopping center is 98.3 percent leased to tenants such as Dollar Tree, Goody’s, Domino’s Pizza, Verizon Wireless, Advance America, Subway and Cato Fashion.
Alexander City, a city in Tallapoosa County, Ala., has a population of about 14,875.2015-04-06T14:35:00+00:00
Arlington-based Nathan Associates Inc. names new CEO
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/arlington-based-nathan-associates-inc.-names-new-ceo-susan-b.-chodakewitz-w#When:20:03:00ZArlington-based consulting firm Nathan Associates Inc. said this week it has named Susan B. Chodakewitz CEO, effective April 27. Chodakewitz will replace Lakhbir Singh, Nathan’s current CEO, who is retiring after almost 39 years with the company.
Chodakewitz currently is president of another Arlington-based consulting firm, Tetra Tech AMT, and will serve as Nathan’s first CEO from outside the firm.
She has been president of Tetra Tech AMT since 2006 and is credited with more than doubling the company’s revenue by building its human resources and market position. Tetra Tech is an international environmental and technical services consulting company, which last year, recorded $2.48 billion in revenue.
Chodakewitz began her consulting career with Booz, Allen & Hamilton. She then spent more than a decade at SAIC where she advanced to senior vice president, helping almost double revenue at the company's business consulting program. She also directed a SAIC unit that reached nearly $200 million in annual revenue.
Besides Arlington, Nathan and its subsidiaries have offices in Irvine, Calif., London and Chennai and Delhi, India. The firm, which has 192 employees, provides consulting and analysis in support of litigation, international development and trade, project financing, and numerous industries including gaming and telecommunications.2015-04-03T20:03:00+00:00
Criminal history questions removed from state job applications
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/criminal-history-questions-removed-from-state-job-applications#When:20:02:00ZGov. Terry McAuliffe signed an executive order Friday that removes questions about applicants’ criminal history on state employment forms.
The order says that an applicant’s criminal history should not be considered in the hiring process, unless his or her criminal behavior is related to the job for which he or she is being considered.
“In a new Virginia economy, people who make mistakes and pay the price should be welcomed back into society and given the opportunity to succeed,” McAuliffe said in a statement.
The order applies to all state agencies, boards and commissions within the executive branch of government and encourages similar practices among private employers and state government contractors.
The order says criminal history will be conducted once a candidate has signed an appropriate waiver and is being considered for the position.
Refusal to sign the authorization may have his or her application removed from further consideration.2015-04-03T20:02:00+00:00
American Real Estate Partners acquires office portfolio in New Jersey for $24.7 million
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/american-real-estate-partners-acquires-office-portfolio-in-new-jersey-for-2#When:20:38:00ZAmerican Real Estate Partners, based in Herndon, said Thursday that it has acquired CenterPointe at Bridgewater, a four-building, 331,846-square-foot, Class A office park in Bridgewater, N.J. for $24.7 million.
The 20-acre property and its brick and glass office buildings offers tenants flexible office space, fitness and food amenities and a conference facility in a campus setting.
"Bridgewater is one of the best performing office submarkets in New Jersey, and we intend to enhance the fundamental quality of this project and recent leasing momentum with strategically applied capital improvements … " American Real Estate Partners President Brian Katz said in a statement.
American Real Estate Partners, an institutional real estate investment manager, said it plans to invest $2.7 million in capital improvements to the office campus.
CenterPointe at Bridgewater is being acquired by a joint venture sponsored by a discretionary fund managed by American Real Estate Partners and is the Fund's fourth investment.
American Real Estate Partners concentrates on acquiring Class A office, and office flex assets, as well as real estate related financial instruments, in markets throughout the mid-Atlantic.
Since October 2003, the firm said it has completed 36 acquisitions totaling more than 12.6 million square feet.2015-04-02T20:38:00+00:00
Runnymede Corp. purchases office building in Virginia Beach for $3.3 million
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/runnymede-corp.-purchases-office-building-in-virginia-beach-for-3.3-million#When:20:08:00ZThe Runnymede Corp. has purchased a 32,444-square-foot office building at 100 Constitution Drive in Virginia Beach from 100 Constitution Drive Associates LLC for $3.3 million. Chris Zarpas of S. L. Nusbaum Realty Co. represented the buyer and Nusbaum’s John M. Profilet represented the seller.
In other transactions for S. L. Nusbaum:
Office Depot renewed its lease on 19,986 square feet of retail space at Windsor Meade Marketplace in Williamsburg. Nusbaum’s Richard Jacobson and Tyler Jacobson represented the landlord.
InnovaSystems International LLC renewed its lease on 18,790 square feet of office space at 7447 Central Business Park Drive in Norfolk. Profilet represented the landlord.2015-04-02T20:08:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/image001.jpeg
Baker Properties purchases large office/flex portfolio
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/baker-properties-purchases-large-office-flex-portfolio#When:19:52:00ZBaker Properties Richmond Limited Partnership has retained CBRE|Richmond as its exclusive listing agent for a $60 million Richmond area portfolio it recently acquired from First Potomac Realty Trust.
Baker Properties purchased the 19-building, 827,925-square-foot portfolio of office and flex properties from Maryland-based First Potomac last month. The firm is a division of The Baker Cos., based in White Plains, N.Y., which specializes in commercial real estate development and acquisitions of warehouse and flex buildings
The portfolio includes: Park Central I, II and V and Virginia Technology Center in Henrico County; Hanover Business Center in Ashland; and Chesterfield
Business Center, Airpark Business Center and Pine Glen, all in Chesterfield County.
“We are delighted to be Baker Properties’ partner in Richmond,” John Carpin, senior vice president of CBRE|Richmond, said in a statement.
Carpin, Matt Anderson, Malcolm Randolph and Jimmy Martin, all of CBRE/Richmond, will be Baker Properties’ leasing representatives.
Baker owns facilities and business parks in major distribution corridors in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.
According to the company’s website, Baker Properties has acquired and developed more than 7 million square feet of warehouse and flex product and owns and manages more than 3.5 million square feet for its own account.2015-04-02T19:52:00+00:00
Vacant office building in Henrico sells for $1.9 million
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/vacant-office-building-in-henrico-sells-for-1.9-million#When:19:36:00ZA vacant office building at the intersecton of Glenside and Broad Street in Henrico County that used to be the home of Centura College has sold for $1.9 million. The new local owner, RVA W. Broad LLC, plans to convert the three-story, 25,261-square-foot building into a medical office building, according to Tyler Miller, a broker with Colliers International in Richmond. Tyler and Bill Mattox represented the seller and Susan Jones, also of the Richmond Colliers office, represented the buyer.
In another Colliers transaction, Lumber Liquidators expanded its office space from 7,000 square feet to 25,000 square feet at 5211 W. Broad St. Scott White and Miller represented the landlord.2015-04-02T19:36:00+00:00
Lumber Liquidators March sales drop after ‘60 Minutes’ report
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/lumber-liquidators-march-sales-drop-after-60-minutes-report#When:19:07:00ZToano-based Lumber Liquidators said Thursday that its sales dropped to $89.4 million last month, down nearly 13 percent from March 2014.
The sales decline occurred after an early March “60 Minutes” report said the company’s Chinese-made laminate floors contained unsafe levels of formaldehyde. Despite the March decline, company sales for the first three months of 2015 increased to $260 million, 5.6 percent higher than the same time period last year.
Lumber Liquidators says its product is safe and has challenged “60 Minutes’” testing method. To reassure its clients, Lumber Liquidators is offering home tests kits to customers who purchased its Chinese-made laminate flooring. The company says about 10,000 customers have taken Lumber Liquidators up on the offer.
Despite its efforts to reassure the public, Lumber Liquidators’ stock has dropped sharply since Feb. 24, when it announced the “60 Minutes” report would air and said it was facing possible federal criminal charges for possible violation of the Lacey Act. The law prohibits trade in wildlife, fish, and plants that have been illegally sold. Additionally, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced late last month it was investigating the safety of Lumber Liquidators’ Chinese-made laminate flooring.
Sales at Lumber Liquidator’s stores that had been open for a year or more decreased 1.8 percent from first quarter 2014 to first quarter 2015. Comparing March 2014 with March 2015, net sales at those stores decreased 17.8 percent.
The company’s laminate floor sales also dropped from 21.2 percent of total sales in February to 16.4 percent of all sales last month. When comparing March 2015 to the first two months of the quarter, the sales of bamboo, vinyl plank and cork fell 120 basis points while the sales mix of solid and engineered hardwoods rose 470 basis points.
Lumber Liquidators’ also expects its gross margin to be 35.5 percent to 36.5 percent this quarter. During the same time period last year the gross margin was 41.1 percent. “We believe the decline in gross margin is primarily due to adverse net shifts in sales mix, lower retail prices across product categories particularly in March, and certain planned changes in the marketing of the company's value proposition,” Lumber Liquidators said in a statement.
It expected cash on hand on March 31, to range from $41.5 million to $43.5 million, including $20 million in borrowings on the company's revolving credit facility.
Lumber Liquidators now has 356 stores, four which were opened in the first quarter of 2015.2015-04-02T19:07:00+00:00
JLL reports $1.8 billion in office market investment in D.C. area in first quarter
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/jll-reports-1.8-billion-in-office-market-investment-in-d.-c.-area-in-first#When:18:09:00ZInvestment sales volume in the greater Washington, D.C., office market totaled $1.8 billion in the first quarter of 2015, helping boost average office building sales prices across the area above $500 per square foot, according to JLL's first-quarter market reports.
Core transactions in the District of Columbia represented more than three-quarters of the transaction volume, well above the historic quarterly average of 53.5 percent. JLL said that the transactions were primarily the result of foreign investment, which accounted for $1.3 billion in the first quarter, a record high.
The region also has seen three office transactions achieve the market's highest per-square-foot cost in the last 12 months. In addition the cost per square foot for trophy/Class A properties has reached an all-time high, averaging $818 per square foot, according to the report.
"The trailing 12 month appreciation in asset values for downtown trophy and Class A office buildings is 20.3 percent, more than double its historical average of 8.7 percent," JLL’s Mid-Atlantic Research Director Scott Homa said in a statement. "Overwhelming demand, low interest rates and availability of capital will continue to drive pricing for core assets located in metro D.C."
The Washington region’s economy registered employment gains of 46,300 jobs year-over-year in the month ending January 2015, well above the long-term average growth of about 38,000 jobs, according to the report. Washington, D.C.’s primary office-occupying sector — professional and business services — registered 12-month job growth of 10,400 positions, the strongest rate in nearly two years.
Leasing activity in metro D.C. was almost exclusively focused on buildings within one-half mile of an existing or planned Metro station, with 92.3 percent of overall leasing volume concentrated in these transit-accessible locations.
“We’ve seen tenants across virtually all segments of the market gravitate to walkable, amenity-rich and transit-friendly locations,” added Homa. “Employers are recognizing that to tap into today’s highly educated millennial workforce in Washington, Metro access is an absolute requirement. Adding walkable amenities creates a dynamic environment in which employees feel more connected to the workplace, and these elements are pivotal in recruitment and employee retention.”
Huntington Ingalls leases more than 500,000 square feet in Hampton
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/huntington-ingalls-leases-more-than-500000-square-feet-in-hampton#When:17:33:00ZHuntington Ingalls Industries has leased 515,486 square feet of office and warehouse space in West Park, located at 300 and 500 West Park
Lane in Hampton.
The company, which operates a shipyard in neighboring Newport News, will use this space as a warehouse. High Street Equity of Boston is the property owner.
Worth Remick, Ashton Williamson and Chamie Burroughs of CBRE|Hampton Roads represented High Street Equity, and Clay Culbreth of Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer represented Huntington Ingalls Industries in the lease negotiations.2015-04-02T17:33:00+00:00
Specialty chemical company announces $89 million expansion in Hopewell
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/specialty-chemical-company-announces-89-million-expansion-in-hopewell#When:15:24:00ZA major chemical company said Thursday it will invest more than $89 million to expand its manufacturing operation in Hopewell. The project by Covington, Ky.-based Ashland Inc. is expected to create 17 jobs and retain 237 positions.
Ashland Inc., a Fortune 500 company, provides specialty chemicals to customers in various markets, including architectural coatings, automotive, construction, energy, food and beverage, personal care and pharmaceuticals.
“This expansion will allow us to improve our competitive position, enhance service to our customers and support new growth opportunities in the marketplace,” Luis Fernandez-Moreno, senior vice president of Ashland Inc. and president, Ashland Specialty Ingredients, said in a statement.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe approved a $700,000 performance-based grant from the Virginia Investment Partnership program for the project. The company may also be eligible to receive state benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program. The Virginia Jobs Investment program will provide money and services for the company’s employee training activities.
Virginia competed against Kentucky, Texas, Brazil and China for the project.2015-04-02T15:24:00+00:00
Leidos acquires naming rights for Maryland stadium
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/leidos-acquires-naming-rights-for-maryland-stadium#When:20:42:00ZReston-based Leidos Inc. has acquired the naming rights for Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen, Md.
Newly named Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium is the home of the Aberdeen IronBirds. The team is the New York-Penn League short-season affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles.
In announcing the multiyear naming rights deal with Ripken Baseball, Leidos CEO Roger Krone said the technology solutions company has many customers in the Aberdeen Proving Ground area and noted that many of Leidos employees live there also.
"We have found sports engagements like this, and our partnership with MLS team D.C. United, to be an effective way to brand our company, while at the same time enabling us to engage with employees and the local community,” Krone said in a statement.
Leidos has annual revenue of about $5.06 billion and employs 19,000 workers.
Founded in 2001, Ripken Baseball is a Baltimore-based sports entertainment company representing the interests of former Major League players Cal Ripken Jr. and Bill Ripken.
Its chairman is Cal Ripken Jr., a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.2015-04-01T20:42:00+00:00
PREIT completes acquisition of Springfield Town Center
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/preit-completes-acquisition-of-springfield-town-center#When:20:37:00ZPhiladelphia-based Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT) has completed its acquisition of Springfield Town Center in Springfield in a deal worth $485 million.
PREIT bought the recently redeveloped, 1.35 million-square-foot shopping center from Vornado Realty Trust for $340 million in cash and debt repayments and 6.25 million units of the company’s operating partnership, valued on the closing date at $145 million.
The company said the cash portion of the purchase was funded from borrowings under its term loans and revolving credit facility. The deal also includes the purchase of rights to develop more than 3 million square feet of additional space.
The shopping center has recently undergone a $250 million renovation.
Since October, new leases involving more than 60,000 square feet of space have been executed at the shopping center, PREIT said.
Nearly 64,000 square feet of tenant space is expected to open for business during the second quarter of 2015 including the opening of a Nordstrom Rack store.
Founded in 1960, PREIT owns and operates more than 30 million square feet of space in properties in 12 states in the eastern half of the United States.2015-04-01T20:37:00+00:00
SRA International acquires part of Qbase’s government services business
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/sra-international-acquires-part-of-qbases-government-services-business#When:18:53:00ZFairfax-based SRA International Inc., an IT solutions and professional services provider, is acquiring part of the government services business of Reston-based Qbase LLC, a privately-held software products and services company.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The acquisition includes a segment of Qbase’s government services business involving IT support solutions and professional services for government agencies involved in health care, homeland security and law enforcement. The deal will add 230 new employees to SRA’s workforce.
“The acquisition of key Qbase services and programs is a natural fit for SRA,” SRA President and CEO Bill Ballhaus said in a statement. He said the deal will “further strengthen SRA’s presence in the health IT, homeland security and law enforcement markets.”
Completion of the transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions, is expected to occur in April.2015-04-01T18:53:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/GaryWallace.jpg
Lower your business’s tax burden with these incentives
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/lower-your-businesss-tax-burden-with-these-incentives#When:15:17:00ZThe U.S. corporate tax rate is one of the highest among developed nations. According to National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons, “Comprehensive tax reform for manufacturers of all sizes is essential to unleashing the economic power of manufacturing and making the United States the best place in the world to manufacture. Our outdated and uncompetitive tax system is holding us back from competing with nations that have adopted pro-growth systems.”
The tax-rate imbalance reveals that manufacturing businesses need to take advantage of applicable tax breaks when they are available to maintain profitability and stay competitive. While accelerated depreciation is frequently noted as a tax benefit, a few other incentives are available to manufacturers.
The LIFO Inventory Method
Generally, the last in, first out (LIFO) inventory method will result in a reduction of taxable income in an inflationary situation. Swings in transportation costs, weather-related matters, customs and other factors may have a significant impact on inventory pricing. This provides an opportune time to revisit a change to LIFO when calculating the company’s taxable income. For example, based on the PPI inflation within its product mix, a Virginia-based food production company obtained first-year tax savings of $40,000 by converting its inventory to the LIFO basis.
The use of government indices has significantly simplified the required accounting for a LIFO taxpayer. For example, the U.S. Producer Price Index (PPI) program measures the average inflation and may be used for LIFO analysis. To adopt LIFO, a taxpayer need only make an election and make the required calculations. The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) does require financial statement conformity, meaning that the company’s financial records are also to be maintained on a LIFO method.
Domestic Production Activities Deduction (Section 199 Deduction)
Manufacturers and certain other businesses may benefit from a specified deduction of up to 9 percent of qualifying production income.
The expense is a deduction when calculating taxable income and, unlike many other tax incentives, is not required to be recaptured in later years. The IRS recently issued additional guidance regarding the benefits and burdens considerations, so it may be an opportune time to readdress this deduction for your business. There are other limitations on the deduction, such as percentages of qualifying wages and taxable income limitations.
Repealing or trimming the Section 199 tax deduction is being closely examined as an option to increase tax revenue. It is estimated that the impact of eliminating the Section 199 deduction would cost taxpayers in excess of $190 billion over the next 10 years.
Research and experimentation tax credits
The research credit is an incentive for businesses to be innovative and conduct research. Lab coats and test tubes are not required, and often the credit is valid for innovative thinking and testing of new processes.
The requirements to qualify for the credit are generally based on U.S.-based labor and materials. Many manufacturers are conducting such qualifying activities and may be eligible for the credit but have not performed the analysis necessary to report the credit. Congress recently extended the research credit through Dec. 31, 2014, and taxpayers may also file amended returns for prior years to take the Federal credit.
Additionally, Virginia offers a refundable state credit for eligible expenditures of up to $35,100 per year. For example, a Virginia-based craft brewer was able to obtain $30,000 in federal and Virginia research credits by analyzing its new product development activities.
The IC-DISC Benefit
Interest Charge-Domestic International Sales Corp. (IC-DISC) is a federal tax benefit for businesses that participate in exporting of their products. Companies that export products outside the United States, including Canada and Mexico, can save more than 50 percent on their federal income taxes related to export sales. The IC-DISC provides U.S. exporters and their shareholders with a tax savings of up to 20 percent of net export income.
For taxable years beginning in 2014, IC-DISCs are also exempt from Virginia income tax.
While manufacturing businesses continue to seek opportunities to be competitive in today’s new economy, taking advantage of available tax breaks is a must. A thorough review of your tax situation by an accounting professional ensures you are planning appropriately.
Gary Wallace provides tax services to public and private entities and their owners in a variety of industry segments, including manufacturing, retail, real estate, and financial services. He is a leader in the firm’s Manufacturing, Distribution, and Retail industry team. Read more of Gary’s insights on our blog.
Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget: The Tax Break-Down: Section199, The Domestic Production Activities Deduction
Congressional Research Service2015-04-01T15:17:00+00:00
Cuddling salon to open in Richmond
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/cuddling-salon-to-open-in-richmond#When:04:00:00ZIt’s not an April Fools’ day joke. Richmond will get its first professional cuddling salon next week.
Cuddle RVA will open April 8 at 1805 Monument Ave., Suite 600.
For $60 per hour, clients can opt to cuddle with a staff member in bed, read together on the couch, or “enjoy a cup of tea and pleasant conversation in the quiet atmosphere of the salon,” says a news release issued by the company.
Sessions are by appointment only and must be prepaid. According to the news release, no nudity, kissing, or sexual contact will be tolerated. Video cameras will be in use during all sessions for the sake of security.
The salon will be owned by Mary Tucker and her fiancée Robert Castelvecchi. Tucker owns Wild Heaven Farm in Richmond, a company that makes and sells goat milk soap.
Tucker says she learned about the concept when she read an article about Cuddle Up to Me, a cuddle salon in Portland, Ore., “and I thought … what a wonderful thing it is to be able to offer comfort to people like that, and I figured someone in Virginia was going to be the first one to do it so it might as well be me,” Tucker says.
The service is only available for adults, but Tucker expects to see an equal number of women and men as clients. Overall, Tucker, would like to have five cuddlers on payroll.2015-04-01T04:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Neil_Narcisenfeld1.jpg
Ezra Co. names Neil Narcisenfeld senior vice president in Tysons Corner office
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/ezra-co.-names-neil-narcisenfeld-senior-vice-president-in-tysons-corner-off#When:01:34:00ZThe Ezra Co. has named Neil Narcisenfeld a senior vice president in its Tysons Corner office. The Washington, D.C.-based firm also named Pat Gioffre a senior vice president in its District of Columbia location.
Narcisenfeld, a 30-year veteran of the commercial real estate sector, most recently served as a senior director at Cushman & Wakefield. Earlier in his career, he was a managing director at tenant representation firm Studley.
According to Ezra, Narcisenfeld has completed transactions totaling more than 10 million square feet for Northern Virginia and suburban Maryland clients, including financial services firms, government contractors, technology companies, and life sciences firms.
Narcisenfeld said in a statement that he made the move to Ezra Co. because he wanted to return to a firm that only represents tenants.
Gioffre has more than three decades of real estate experience, including the construction and financing of office buildings, leasing, sales and acquisitions, and asset management. Prior to joining Ezra, Ezra he served as CFO and executive vice president of the Arlington-based National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
Thomas D. Rutherfoord Jr. announces retirement
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/thomas-d.-rutherfoord-jr.-announces-retirement#When:20:01:00ZThomas D. Rutherfoord Jr., chairman of Richmond-based Rutherfoord, has announced his retirement from the risk management and insurance brokerage firm.
Rutherfoord joined the family business as the third generation to work in the insurance industry in 1971 after studying at the University of Virginia. He led his company's Alexandria office until being named president of the firm in 1986. By 2010, Rutherfoord was the 15th largest private insurance brokerage, according to national rankings. That year, the firm was acquired by Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC.
“In my 44 years with Rutherfoord, my greatest reward has come from contributing to the growth of our firm, our clients, and the wonderful associates who make our culture so unique," Rutherfoord said in a statement. "… I look forward to the next chapter of my life, reflecting on a career fulfilled."2015-03-31T20:01:00+00:00
MeadWestvaco plans to acquire brand from International Paper Co.
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/meadwestvaco-plans-to-acquire-brand-from-international-paper-co#When:19:58:00ZRichmond-based MeadWestvaco (MWV) said Tuesday it plans to acquire the Carolina brand from International Paper Co. in April. Terms of the transaction with the Memphis, Tenn.-based company were not disclosed.
Carolina is a line of paperboard that is used for retail signage, brochures, lottery tickets, and game and greeting cards.
“This acquisition will expand our ability to serve the commercial and specialty print markets,” Bob Feeser, executive vice president, MWV, said in a statement . “We are excited to bring Carolina into our business and enhance our offerings for customers in this important market segment. In addition, we expect significant operational improvements when we integrate this business into our existing mill system.”
MWV and International Paper expect minimal disruption for customers while the transition is completed over the next several months.
The Richmond-based company also is merging with Georgia-based Rock-Tenn Co. in a $6 billion deal. The merger, announced in January, is expected to be completed in the second quarter.2015-03-31T19:58:00+00:00
JLL’s Deborah Stearns honored with two awards
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/jlls-deborah-stearns-honored-with-two-awards1#When:19:12:00ZJLL Senior Vice President Deborah Stearns has received two awards from community and business organizations in Hampton Roads.
The Hampton Roads Business Hall of Fame recognized Stearns with a lifetime achievement award. The group honors individuals whose business innovations, management and civic involvement have made a major impact and positive difference in companies and communities throughout Hampton Roads.
Stearns also was one of six community leaders to receive a Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service award from The Urban League of Hampton Roads Inc. Honorees were recognized for personal and professional efforts to help empower local communities through education, engagement and entrepreneurship.
“Deborah’s work in the local community and civic engagement are a wonderful example and inspiration for us all, and reminder of the impact we can have on the communities where we work and live,” Mike Ellis, Mid-Atlantic Market Director, JLL, said in a statement.
Stearns joined JLL in 2013 as a senior vice president to help grow the Hampton Roads office. With more than 35 years of experience in the commercial real estate industry, she is active in the community and currently serves as AAA Tidewater’s advisory board chair. She is the former chair (2012-2013) of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce.2015-03-31T19:12:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Stearns-Deborah_FULL-SQ.jpg
JLL’s Deborah Stearns honored with two awards
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/jlls-deborah-stearns-honored-with-two-awards#When:19:02:00ZJLL Senior Vice President Deborah Stearns has received two awards from community and business organizations in Hampton Roads.
The Hampton Roads Business Hall of Fame recognized Stearns with a lifetime achievement award. The group honors individuals whose business innovations, management and civic involvement have made a major impact and positive difference in companies and communities throughout Hampton Roads.
Stearns also was one of six community leaders to receive a Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service award from The Urban League of Hampton Roads Inc. Honorees were recognized for personal and professional efforts to help empower local communities through education, engagement and entrepreneurship.
“Deborah’s work in the local community and civic engagement are a wonderful example and inspiration for us all, and reminder of the impact we can have on the communities where we work and live,” Mike Ellis, Mid-Atlantic Market Director, JLL, said in a statement.
Stearns joined JLL in 2013 as a senior vice president to help grow the Hampton Roads office. With more than 35 years of experience in the commercial real estate industry, she is active in the community and currently serves as AAA Tidewater’s advisory board chair. She is the former chair (2012-2013) of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce.2015-03-31T19:02:00+00:00
State Corporation Commission tightens rules on increases in long-term care premiums
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/state-corporation-commission-tightens-rules-on-increases-in-long-term-care#When:18:29:00ZThe State Corporation Commission (SCC) has revised rules governing long-term care insurance. Effective Sept. 1, the revisions are designed to protect consumers and increase scrutiny on long-term care insurers seeking to raise premium rates.
According to the SCC, large and frequent long-term care premium rate increases have occurred during the past several years. The increases often are the result of insurers' inability to adequately anticipate future claim costs given the lack of credible experience data available when the products were originally designed and priced.
The SCC said in a news release that such increases have been a financial hardship on policyholders who are faced with difficult choices such as reducing their benefits, if given the option, or allowing coverage to lapse.
The revisions adopted by the commission are not expected to eliminate future premium increases. Nonetheless, the SCC says they strengthen the rate review process. Insurers will now be required to continuously monitor market experience, and they will undergo a more deliberate review and justification of any planned premium adjustments.
In addition, rules governing notices to policyholders of any rate adjustments have been enhanced. Consumers also will be provided greater disclosure regarding premium rate practices as well as the potential for future premium adjustments.
The revised rules, in part, incorporate recent revisions of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ model regulation regarding long-term care premium rate increases.
The majority of the rule revisions apply to all policies. Some rules apply depending on when the policy was issued – prior to Oct. 1, 2003; between Oct. 1, 2003 and Aug. 31, 2015; on or after Sept. 1, 2015. These dates coincide with previous rules governing these products.
For existing policies, future premium increase requests may be less frequent as a result of the new rules, the SCC says. When rate requests are received, the commission said they will be subjected to a strengthened review process.
For new policies issued on or after Sept 1, the rules require insurers to adopt a more conservative approach for the initial pricing of their policies. For all policies, insurers are required to be more active in managing the long-term insurance rates.2015-03-31T18:29:00+00:00
Virginia’s small businesses support the Clean Power Plan
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/virginias-small-businesses-support-the-clean-power-plan#When:17:44:00ZThere’s a lot of misinformation swirling around about clean energy policies and how they will affect our state’s economy and, in particular, small businesses. Some claim clean energy standards, including the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new Clean Power Plan, would hurt small businesses and middle-class Americans. But what do real small business owners think about the proposed EPA standards? It’s time to set the record straight.
First of all, Virginia small employers support strong clean energy standards because they realize carbon pollution is linked to climate change and extreme weather. More and more, extreme weather has been hitting small employers where it hurts the most. Our scientific polling revealed climate change and extreme weather events are causing real financial hardships for small employers in the state—so much so that the majority of entrepreneurs affected by an extreme weather event have experienced a “significant” financial impact to their companies and one in 5 had to lay off employees.
What’s more, fear mongering about increased electric rates is simply false. An analysis by PJM, the regional transmission organization that covers Virginia and 12 other states plus the District of Columbia, finds the exact opposite: power prices would actually be lower under the Clean Power Plan than without it, even as it cuts carbon pollution. How can this be? It’s simple—investing in increased energy efficiency is cheaper than the alternatives.
Additionally, Virginia would be a net seller of carbon pollution credits and would thus reap an economic gain from the Clean Power Plan. In other words, instead of being treated unfairly, as some have claimed, Virginia actually stands to benefit from energy efficiency and other measures taken to comply with the Clean Power Plan, relative to other states in the region.
On top of that, entrepreneurs believe allowing the EPA to regulate harmful carbon emissions could help stabilize the market and set clear goals for our nation's future in the clean energy economy. Small businesses—the majority of which are unaffected by the standards themselves—will benefit as they supply the services and products to help those who do have to meet them. Entrepreneurs could confidently innovate and create jobs knowing that the future would hold long-term financial returns resulting from the new standards. Our poll numbers prove that small employers are committed to this type of future: 87 percent of entrepreneurs said improving innovation and energy efficiency are good ways to increase prosperity for small businesses.
Finally, it's important to emphasize that Virginia will actually over-comply with the Clean Power Plan in 2020, assuming it simply meets its own, voluntary Renewable Portfolio Standard targets and achieves just 50 percent of the EPA's assumed level of energy efficiency gains. An analysis by the Southern Environmental Law Center found that Virginia is almost 80 percent of the way toward meeting its Clean Power Plan goal due to coal plant retirements and fuel conversions the utilities had planned before the EPA even released its proposed plan.
Thankfully, Virginia legislators made great strides toward a cleaner and more efficient future for the commonwealth when it passed a series of bills that cleared the way for increased development of solar, greater savings on power bills and more opportunities for businesses to take advantage of energy efficiency improvements.
Small business owners agree: forward-thinking policies that improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions are good for business because they help them save money, create economic opportunities and help mitigate the factors causing climate change.
Erik Rettig is the Northeast Outreach Manager for the Small Business Majority.2015-03-31T17:44:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/1427721479165.jpg
Radford University’s President Penny Kyle is retiring in 2016, two years earlier than expected
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/radford-universitys-president-penny-kyle-is-retiring-in-2016-two-years-earl#When:22:05:00ZRadford University is in the market for a new president. After nearly 10 years at the helm, President Penelope W. Kyle plans to retire on June 30, 2016, two years earlier than expected.
Kyle signed a five-year employment extension contract with the university’s board in July 2012, which took effect in July 2013. However, the university announced Monday that the contract had been amended to June 30, 2016. Kyle could not be reached for comment regarding the change in her departure date.
The university’s board of visitors approved Kyle’s plan to retire earlier at a meeting on Saturday, and a press release about the decision was posted to the school’s website Monday.
Appointed in 2005, Kyle is Radford’s sixth president and its first woman president. A corporate lawyer and former executive director of the Virginia Lottery under three governors, she is credited with having a wide range of connections in Richmond that helped the mid-size school in Southwest Virginia gain visibility and funding for new capital projects.
"Much of Radford University's achievements under President Kyle can be directly attributed to her tireless efforts to build upon and improve the university's relationships with the General Assembly and the commonwealth's elected leaders," Rector Michael A. Wray said in a statement. "Her advocacy has resulted in unprecedented support for Radford University in funding capital construction and renovation projects and introducing new degrees and programs that address the needs of the Commonwealth of Virginia."
According to the university, Radford has secured approval and funding for more than $330 million in capital projects, including new construction and renovation, since Kyle’s arrival. In 2008, Radford opened the Covington Center for Visual and Performing Arts. In fall of 2012, that was followed by a new $44 million, 110,000-square-foot building for the College of Business and Economics. A new student wellness center opened in December. Currently under construction are two academic buildings, including a $52 million, 143,600-square foot facility that will serve as the new home to the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences.
During Kyle’s tenure, Radford also beefed up its programs. It obtained state approval for the university’s first doctoral degree in counseling psychology. More recently, the university gained approval for doctorates in physical therapy and nursing practice plus a master’s degree in occupational therapy.
At an alumni appearance in Richmond two weeks ago, Kyle was her usual high-energy self, chatting up alums and wearing her trademark school color: a bright Radford red. In remarks to the group, she noted the new buildings and spoke with excitement about Radford’s expectation of hitting a fulltime enrollment of 10,000 for the first time in the school’s history this fall.
In 2014, the school had a full-time enrollment of 9,081, according to figures from the State Council of Higher Education. That was a stronger showing than in 2009, when Radford was the only public four-year institution in Virginia to post a decline in the number of freshman enrolled, which caused an overall drop in enrollment for that year.
With the announcement of Kyle’s retirement, the board said that it has begun the search process for a new leader. "The board anticipates a search process that will involve the broader RU community of faculty, staff, students and alumni," said Wray. "Today's announcement ensures ample time to identify the new president and will allow an orderly transition.”
Kyle, a native of Galax, said, “I am proud to have played a part in the transformation of Radford University …After much deliberation and looking back on the tremendous accomplishments we have achieved together for Radford University and our students, I have given consideration to identifying a good timeframe for transition of the presidency.”
Kyle’s tenure was not without bumps. A $1 million “stay” bonus approved by the school’s board of visitors in 2009, and which Kyle became eligible for in 2013, proved controversial, coming at a time when the salary of some of Radford’s faculty ranked below their peer institutions.
Kyle was entitled to the bonus on July 1, 2013, when a new five-year employment contract took effect that was supposed to run through June 30, 2018. Asked how the amended contract would affect Kyle’s financial incentives as president, Joe Carpenter, Radford’s vice president for university relations, said in an email that “my understanding in these cases is that she would not receive those incentives applicable to the president after she retires as president on June 30, 2016 (such as deferred compensation, automobile, auto allowance, university housing, annual physical, tax/financial planning, etc.).
According to a state salary database compiled by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Kyle’s total compensation for the 2013-14 state fiscal year was $309,000. Her base salary was $154,991 and her non-state funded salary was $154,009.
Several elected officials, including Gov. Terry McAuliffe, issued statements praising Kyle Monday. “President Kyle has had a remarkable career in public service as well as the private sector. As the sixth president of Radford University and the first woman to serve in that post, she has had a tangible impact on the campus and its students,” McAuliffe said.
While governor of Virginia, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner appointed Kyle director of the Virginia Lottery and supported her selection as president of Radford.
“Since 2005, President Kyle has overseen remarkable growth in Radford’s academic program, its campus facilities and in its educational reputation. Under her leadership, Radford University now is consistently ranked one of the best colleges in the Southeast,” said Warner. “The university also was an early leader in the national movement toward development of more environmentally friendly ‘green’ campuses.”
Asked what Kyle might be planning in retirement, Carpenter said, “She has not indicated any plans at this point; I think it’s too early.”
The president’s focus through the remainder of her tenure as president “will remain the many projects and tasks underway at Radford University,” he said.2015-03-30T22:05:00+00:00
Organic herb nursery expanding in Rockingham County
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/organic-herb-nursery-expanding-in-rockingham-county#When:21:17:00ZAn organic herb nursery headquartered in Rockingham County plans to grow its sales during the next couple of years.
Shenandoah Growers Inc. said Tuesday it will invest $8.7 million to increase production at its existing facility in Rockingham County and move its headquarters to a new, 78,000-square-foot space within the county. The project is expected to create 15 jobs.
The goal is for Shenandoah Growers Inc. to increase sales by an estimated $15 million over the next three years.
The company, which sells the Living Organic Herbs brand, will invest $2 million to move its headquarters to the new site, where it’ll create a finishing system. It will install a new greenhouse and other technology at its current facility to meet increased demand for its products from major grocery chains, according to a news release issued by Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office.
McAuliffe approved a $100,000 grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) fund for the project, which is being matched by Rockingham County. The Virginia Jobs Investment Program also will provide funding and services to support Shenandoah Growers Inc.’s employee training.
Bioenergy company buys industrial waterfront facility in Chesapeake
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/bioenergy-company-buys-industrial-waterfront-facility-in-chesapeake#When:16:22:00ZHampton Roads Integrated Bioenergy Complex has purchased for an undisclosed price a 64-acre industrial waterfront facility located at 5100 Bainbridge Blvd in Chesapeake.
The most recent tenant at the site was A& R Logistics. Its equity partner, 5100 Bainbridge Holdings LLC, was the seller. The site is perhaps best known as former home of the Nova Chemical Plant, a plastics manufacturer, which closed in late 2006.
According to Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer, the property consists of more than 210,000 square feet of office and industrial buildings along with deep water access and extensive rail siding.
Christine M. Kaempfe and William C. Throne of Thalhimer handled sale negotiations on behalf of the seller. Kaempfe said she didn’t know of plans by the new owner for the property, other than to hold it as an investment.2015-03-30T16:22:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Manorhouse_North_Gayton_-_Internal_Entrance_-_compressed.jpg
Manorhouse will start work on $20 million assisted living facility in Henrico this summer
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/manorhouse-will-start-work-on-20-million-assisted-living-facility-in-henric#When:15:30:00ZGayton Properties and its parent company, Manorhouse Management Inc., plan to break ground this summer on a $20 million, senior living facility in Henrico County.
The project, to be built on 10 acres at 13500 North Gayton Road, will include a senior campus with a variety of residential options: 90 units of assisted living and memory care, independent living and age-restricted single family homes. It is scheduled to open in the fall of 2016.
The company already has the required rezoning approval from the Henrico County Board of Supervisors. It will be the first project for Henrico County-based Gayton Properties since 2000.
“It’s time to grow the company again,” Jim Bonnell, COO of Manorhouse Management Inc., said in an interview. “We have been looking for the right opportunity and location in Richmond for some time, and we believe we have found it here.”
The project plans include suites for assisted living residents and a secured memory care wing for residents dealing with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. The assisted living community also will have a bistro, library, computer labs, courtyards, and wellness amenities, including a salon and spa.
Unlike some facilities, Bonnell said Manorhouse wouldn’t require large upfront costs from residents. “Many facilities require large financial commitments on the front end, but Manorhouse believes that these large entry fees introduce unnecessary complications in an already difficult process that families are navigating when it is time to find a home for their loved one,” Bonnell said in a statement.
Instead, the community will offer month-to-month contracts. A month’s notice would be required to move out. The monthly fee, which would be competitive with market rates, would depend on the unit, with a one-bedroom studio the least expensive option and the memory care unit the most expensive arrangement, Bonnell said. “There would be options for different budgets,” he said. The idea, he added, “is to allow people to age in place” by providing a continuum of care. The monthly fee would include things like utilities, transportation, dining, medication management and other residential care services.2015-03-30T15:30:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Old_Post_Office_Pavilion_-_Photograph_by_Mike_Peel1.jpgOld Post Office Pavilion photo by Mike Peel
Virginia Beach company providing support, literally, on $200 million Trump hotel project
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-beach-company-providing-support-literally-on-200-million-trump-hot#When:15:03:00ZJES Foundation Solutions, the commercial division of JES based in Virginia Beach, will provide and install structural support systems for the Trump International Hotel project on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.
The extensive $200 million redevelopment project involves renovations to the historic Old Post Office Pavilion, originally constructed in 1899 and its 109,000-square-foot annex building.
JES said it has signed a contract to install helical piles to support new foundations for an interior elevator, the annex building renovations and an exterior canopy. The company would not disclose the size of the contract, but characterized the job as a major one for its firm.
“Having the opportunity to work on a project of this magnitude for a world-class brand such as Trump International Hotel is a major gain for our commercial division and a testament to our employees’ hard work,” Jesse Waltz, the company’s owner and president, said in a statement.
JES, which also has offices in Richmond and Northern Virginia, designs foundation support systems for new construction and structural rehabilitation.
The Trump International Hotel is scheduled to open in 2016. It will be located at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue at 12th Street in the heart of the city’s Financial District. One of the most spectacular features of the Old Post Office building is a 315-foot clock tower, which houses the official United States Bells of Congress, a bicentennial gift from England celebrating the end of the Revolutionary War.2015-03-30T15:03:00+00:00
Northwestern Mutual will move office to Tysons
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/northwestern-mutual-will-move-office-to-tysons#When:14:22:00ZNorthwestern Mutual will move its McLean office to a new location at Tysons Corner on Aug. 1. The financial security company announced that it signed a 10-year lease for 11,100 square feet at 8484 Westpark Drive.
It’s currently located at 6849 Old Dominion Drive in McLean. Managing Director Tony Stanley will lead the office. The new location puts Northwestern Mutual in the middle of Tysons Corner’s business community.
“The convenience of having a Metro station in Tysons Corner is a tremendous benefit, because it enables our financial representatives to better connect with existing and prospective clients who live and work in D.C., as well as the surrounding suburbs,” Stanley said in a statement.
The McLean office plans to recruit 15 new financial representatives, part of a larger push by the Washington-area offices of Northwestern Mutual to add 61 representatives throughout this year.
The new office may accommodate about 60 representatives and support staff members.2015-03-30T14:22:00+00:00
Law firm changes its name
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/law-firm-changes-its-name#When:08:00:00ZThe Richmond-based litigation law firm Spencer LLP changes its name today (March 30) to Spencer Shuford LLP.
The name change reflects the addition of partner Mark Shuford, who joined the firm in 2013. The firm also has added two associates in recent months. Jeffrey Newhouse and Lee Floyd.
The firm, begun by founding partner Chris Spencer, said the addition of new attorneys reflects the diversification of its expertise beyond its core product- liability defense capabilities.
he firm has defended automobile manufacturers in many high-profile, high-dollar product liability cases.
Shuford has more than 28 years of broad commercial litigation experience in federal and state courts in Virginia and across the country. Shuford also adds his administrative law practice to the firm’s litigation expertise.
Shuford previously worked in Richmond with litigation groups at two other firms, LeClair Ryan and Kaufman & Canoles.
Newhouse, formerly of Winston & Strawn in New York and Latham & Watkins in Washington D.C., joined the firm in August. He focuses on complex commercial litigation, with experience in class-action defense in a variety of industries and practice areas.
Floyd, previously with Jackson Kelly in Charleston, W. Va., joined the firm in March. She has defended clients in mass tort and class-action litigation.2015-03-30T08:00:00+00:00
Credit union buys Roanoke property for $2.5 million
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/credit-union-buys-roanoke-property-for-2.5-million#When:20:35:00ZMember One Federal Credit Union has bought a 3.2 acre site in central Roanoke for $2.5 million.
Roanoke-based Poe & Cronk Real Estate Group announced the sale, adding that the property could provide additional space for the growing credit union.
The site is the longtime home of Roanoke Auto Spring Works Inc., at 401 Williamson Road NE across from the Berglund Civic Center. The property includes three brick buildings.
“We are very excited about the opportunity to expand the area around our corporate campus,” Frank Carter, the president and CEO for Member One, said in statement. “The purchase reinforces our commitment to the area — we’re from here and we are staying here.”
The credit union’s corporate campus currently includes its headquarters, main retail center, administration building and a real estate center.
Member One is a member-owned financial institution that has been in operation for more than 70 years. It has more than 80,000 members in Southwest and Central Virginia,
Member One has $700 million in assets, 12 branch locations and a national ATM network.
Roanoke Auto Spring Works property is in central Roanoke near the intersection of Interstate 581 and Route 460.2015-03-27T20:35:00+00:00
Virginia’s jobless rate remains unchanged
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginias-jobless-rate-remains-unchanged1#When:20:32:00ZVirginia’s unemployment remained unchanged in February at 4.7 percent.
February’s rate represents a drop of six-tenths of a percentage point from the same month in 2014.
The national jobless rate for February was 5.5 percent.
All of the figures have been seasonally adjusted, meaning they take into account seasonal changes in the labor market.
Virginia’s labor force expanded in February for the second consecutive month, rising by 8,438 workers.
Total nonfarm employment rose by 11,600 jobs in February to 3.798 million. The private sector expanded by 10,600 jobs while the public sector added 1,000 jobs.
Employment increased in nine major industry divisions during the month while declining in two more. The biggest jump occurred in professional and business services, up 3,700 jobs to 678,000.
The largest job loss occurred in manufacturing, down 1,000 jobs to 232,700.2015-03-27T20:32:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Virginia_Washington_Monument_2011.png
The Virginia Way leads legislators astray on ethics reform
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/the-virginia-way-leads-legislators-astray-on-ethics-reform#When:10:00:00ZAn old joke offers this explanation for the odd pose of George Washington’s statue on Richmond’s Capitol Square. Mounted on a horse, Washington’s head is cocked toward the Capitol as he points toward the South.
He is glaring at the General Assembly and pointing toward the State Penitentiary, old wags would say.
The reference to the State Pen gives you some idea of how old the joke is. A fixture in downtown Richmond for nearly 200 years, the prison was demolished in 1992. And, of course, Virginia’s elected officials aren’t sent to a state penitentiary. They face federal prison sentences instead.
In the past four years, former Del. Phil Hamilton, former Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, all have been convicted on federal charges. Hamilton is serving a 9½-year sentence for bribery and extortion while the McDonnells are free on bond as they appeal their corruption convictions to the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The McDonnells’ downfall shook the General Assembly, which can’t seem to figure out how the “Virginia Way” went wrong. An unwritten code of conduct, the Virginia Way is supposed to hold elected officials to high standards of civility and deportment. McDonnell was the first of 72 Virginia governors to be convicted of a crime.
The legislature has been reluctant to acknowledge that, in relying on officials’ sense of integrity, the Virginia Way permitted shockingly lax state ethics laws. During the past two legislative sessions, the General Assembly has made half-hearted efforts to mend those laws.
The first attempt was derided as “Swiss-cheese” reform because of its many loopholes. The legislature made a second pass this year after the McDonnells’ embarrassing trial. The resulting bill on Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s desk includes some improvements.
It reduces a cap on the value of gifts received by state and local government officials from $250 to $100, while requiring any gift worth $50 or more to be disclosed. Travel also must be preapproved by a Conflicts of Interest Advisory Council.Knowingly violating the law is a Class 5 felony while inadvertent mistakes are subject to civil penalties.
But the legislature still hasn’t gotten it right. There is no cumulative cap on gifts, for example. Legislators apparently can accept as many gifts under $100 as they like as long as they report them.
The most egregious omission in the new bill is the independent ethics commission requested by McAuliffe. This body would have investigative and subpoena powers — in other words, real teeth.
The Conflicts of Interest Advisory Council will only advise legislators on ethical issues while referring citizen complaints to the House and Senate ethics panels. In sum, the council is more of a lapdog than watchdog.
The ethics commission isn’t McAuliffe’s only unfulfilled request. He also had asked for the establishment of a bipartisan commission that would redraw legislative and congressional districts after the 2020 Census. Most states give that power to their legislatures, which are very reluctant to give it up. (In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court now is deliberating an attempt by Arizona’s legislature to abolish that state’s independent redistricting commission, which was established by a voter referendum in 2000.)
Legislators throughout the country follow a time-honored political practice in redistricting — they draw the boundaries to benefit themselves and thwart the opposing party. In essence, they choose their voters rather than take the chance that voters will choose someone else. The result is gerrymandered districts that are overstocked with voters from one party or the other.
A federal court has ruled that the Virginia congressional redistricting maps drawn by the legislature after the 2010 Census are unconstitutional. They lump too many minority voters into Virginia’s 3rd District (a seat held by Democratic Rep. Bobby Scott) while leaving too few in surrounding districts represented by Republicans.
Rather than comply with the court decision and redraw the district, the legislature is appealing the ruling. They want to keep the “safe” districts they have created.
Safe seats, however, lead to internecine warfare in low-turnout party primaries. Legislators and members of Congress are more afraid of zealots in their own party than they are of voters in a general election. They know any attempt at compromise with the opposing party will be branded as treason. The result is endless partisan bickering and gridlock, in Richmond and in Washington.
Passage of the new ethics bill leaves McAuliffe with the choice of signing it, revising it or vetoing it. Who would have guessed before last year that McAuliffe, the master fundraiser for Bill and Hillary Clinton, would be the person trying to hold the General Assembly to higher ethical standards?
If the bill becomes law without an ethics commission, the public can be reassured that there is at least one body independent of the legislature that is keenly interested in making sure that it cleans up its act: the U.S. Justice Department.
If legislators are content with the ethics law they have drawn up, they at least should reposition Washington’s statue to bring it up to date. It should be pointing west toward the federal courthouse.2015-03-27T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Stewart6404.pngCorey Stewart, chairman of Prince William County’s Board of Supervisors. Photo by Mark Rhodes
Prince William takes a leading role
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/prince-william-takes-a-leading-role#When:10:00:00ZCorey Stewart calls Prince William County a “snapshot of the future of America.”
The chairman of the county’s Board of Supervisors has watched it grow and diversify. “This community once was the red-headed stepchild of Northern Virginia, and now it has really prospered,” he says.
Prince William now is the second-largest county (trailing only Fairfax) in Virginia. It is home to about 425,900 residents and has a median household income of $97,000. “Our percentage of residents with higher degrees [38 percent] is more than double other parts of the country,” Stewart says.
Ethnic and racial minorities represent 51 percent of Prince William’s population, making it a “minority-majority” county. “As the county has become more diverse, we have become more prosperous,” Stewart says. “We’ve been moving up even as other counties in Northern Virginia have flattened out.”
The county’s attributes — accessibility; a lower cost of living in comparison with other Washington, D.C., suburbs; good schools and a high quality of life — are as much a draw to businesses prospects as they are to new residents. The county has more than 70 parks, a minor-league baseball team, a performing-arts center and top-rated golf courses. This summer the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville will host the Tiger Woods Foundation’s 2015 Quicken Loans National Golf Tournament.
The county’s economy continues to flourish. Prince William followed 2013’s $1 billion in new capital investment with more than $500 million in investment last year. “We are moving from a more traditional place as a residential community to an employment center much like Fairfax did in the 1960s and 1970s,” says Jeffrey Kaczmarek, executive director of the county’s department of economic development.
The value proposition
Business and residential development stretches across the county. The western areas historically have been perceived as more rural and agricultural, but growth has brought in a mix of industrial, retail and residential projects.
Prince William Parkway has had a huge impact on the county. “One of the biggest things the board has implemented in the past 20 years is very aggressive road construction,” Stewart says. “Better roads help build business as well as taxpayer satisfaction.”
One current road construction involves a 12-mile stretch of Route 1 in the North Woodbridge and Triangle areas. Part of the Potomac Communities Initiative, expansion of the road to six lanes, is expected to spur new development. “Prince William is soon to become perhaps the only locality on the East Coast of the U.S. that has redeveloped an entire stretch of Route 1,” Stewart says.
The board chairman says the county’s consistency and business-friendly approach over the years also have been factors in its economic growth. “We never had a board that rubber stamped every development or declined every development. The business community knows what to expect for the most part,” Stewart says. “We are about 30 percent lower than other tax bills in Northern Virginia, including Loudoun and Fairfax.”
Kaczmarek says the county’s accessibility, tax rates and available land make it a value proposition for business prospects. Only about one-third of the county is developed. “We want to make sure we have land available to attract businesses but also protect our parks and rural crescent,” he says.
Prince William’s strategic economic development plan focuses on five industry sectors — information technology, life sciences, advanced manufacturing, the federal government and logistics/distribution. Subcategories such as cybersecurity and data centers also continue to be high priorities.
Prince William has been able to attract businesses in those groups because of its dense fiber network, abundant and redundant electrical power and a tax system that is advantageous to data centers. “We have 22 data center projects, and we have crossed the 2-million-square-feet threshold for data centers,” Kaczmarek says.
One of the newest industry clusters is advanced manufacturing. Prince William is working with a number of companies involved in 3-D printing, aviation and composite materials. “We are just in the early stages of seeing where we might be advantageous to them,” Kaczmarek says.
Technology also is one of the county’s strongholds, thanks to entities such as the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory and several federal and state research institutions. Innovation Park, a 1,500-acre location for life sciences and forensic research facilities, houses firms such as American Type Culture Collection, a global bioscience resource center. It is also home to the Virginia Serious Game Institute and Prince William Science Accelerator.
The Virginia Serious Game Institute (VSGI) is the only entity of its kind in the U.S. In addition to conducting research, the institute creates simulation and game solutions for the federal government as well as the private sector. It currently hosts seven startups, three of which were founded by George Mason University graduates. “We will have 14 total startups by the end of 2015,” says Scott Martin, the institute’s founding director, who also is director of the Computer Game Design Program at GMU. “We also hope to attract companies from outside of Virginia to locate near the VSGI.”
Since its opening last year, the institute has created 70 jobs. “Our goal is to graduate two companies each year and spin them out in Prince William to create more jobs and expand our economic impact,” Martin says, adding that the institute has created its own ecosystem with student-led companies hosting GMU interns. “When they graduate, they are either hired or start their own companies.”
The neighboring Prince William Science Accelerator focuses on attracting early-stage, life-sciences companies. It bills itself as the only public/private commercially available wet lab space in Northern Virginia. “We have leased the ground floor of the building and built out nine wet labs for use by life-sciences companies,” Kaczmarek says. The facility currently is home to one firm, and the county is in final stages of negotiation with two other businesses.
GMU’s Prince William Campus is housed on 134 acres in Innovation Park. The Board of Supervisors began working with the school to establish a Prince William campus 20 years ago. “That has led to a lot of growth in the bioscience industry right around the campus,” Stewart says. “That marriage between economic development and George Mason University is really beginning to bear significant fruit at this point. It’s not unlike the Research Triangle area in North Carolina, with industry that blossoms around major universities.”
March marked the opening of a new life-sciences building on campus. The 75,000-square-foot lab building is dedicated to research. It will host companies involved in bioengineering, biochemistry, personalized medicine, and nanotechnology and cancer research. It also will house the Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine. “One of the building’s special attributes is a state-of-the-art nanotechnology clean room,” says Emanuel Petricoin, the center’s co-director. “It’s a great attractor for company collaborations and other in-state universities in the area. We are really excited by that.”
The GMU campus is also home to a university spinoff, Ceres Nanosciences, which soon will offer a high sensitivity urine test for Lyme disease. “It is commercialized nanotechnology that we developed in our lab. We licensed the technology, and we created the product,” Petricoin says.
Ceres also is working with a program funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to use its particle technology to develop a new method of detecting the Ebola virus. The company will collaborate with GMU and the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases to assess whether the technology can help create a virus detection method using saliva instead of blood.
The county’s higher-education system also includes Northern Virginia Community College, which continues to strengthen its workforce development programs. Since 2013, the college has invested more than $460 million in its Prince William campuses near Manassas and Woodbridge. Next year it will open a new 55,000-square-foot, $22 million arts and science building as well as a new workforce development center on the Woodbridge campus. That campus also is expanding its HVAC training program to include smart building technology and the recertification of technicians working in the building trades.
“If you look at typical workforce centers, they are driven by the needs of workers,” says Sam Hill, provost for the Woodbridge campus. “We want to support economic development and the workforce needs of the business sector.”
Health care also is an important economic driver for the county. Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, the sixth-largest employer in Prince William, will open a new surgical pavilion next January. The move represents a $38 million expansion of the medical center. “It will bring in nine new, modern operating rooms and a more modern and efficient support area,” says Steve Porter, corporate vice president of Sentara Northern Virginia and president of Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center.
Sentara also will complete the acquisition of Pratt Medical Group of Fredericksburg. The practice has eight offices in the Fredericksburg area as well as locations in Prince William. “They will integrate into our medical group practice,” Porter says.
Meanwhile, Novant Health Prince William Medical Center opened its new Novant Health Haymarket Medical Center last year. The four-story, 60-bed community hospital has a staff of nearly 300. The 221,000-square-foot facility brings care “where it is needed — in western Prince William County,” says Melissa L. Robson, president of the Novant Health Northern Virginia Market. Novant is also expanding its affiliations and creating additional sites of care.
“We are taking a community needs assessment and looking at how the community is growing,” Robson says.
Local officials believe all of these factors contribute to Prince William being a bright spot in the economic landscape of the commonwealth. “This is a hopeful place to be,” Stewart says.
Prince William County at a glance
Increase since 2010
Unemployment rate (Dec.)
Median household income
% adults (25+) with bachelor’s degrees
White non-Hispanic population
2015-03-27T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Eastport_VIII.pngIn January, Liberty Property Trust opened its first speculative industrial property in Richmond since 2008.
Industrial gets sexy
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/industrial-gets-sexy#When:10:00:00ZHaving a new, empty 130,000- square-foot industrial building might trouble some people, but not Craig Cope, vice president for Liberty Property Trust’s Virginia region. Not only is he confident that the Henrico County building will draw tenants, he says the firm is actively looking for new land and plans to build other speculative projects in the Richmond area. “There’s more risk with a spec building, but in the long run the return is better,” he says.
The $8.3 million building, finished in late January, is located in the Eastport Business Center, a 98-acre office/warehouse distribution park near Richmond International Airport. It’s the first spec building Liberty has done in the region since 2008. Cope says Liberty took the gamble after watching market demand rise for nearly three years. “We started to see … positive absorption in the market.” Demand picked up over the past year, he adds. “Fifteen months ago we weren’t quite sure we could get the demand” that he now thinks is there for new industrial space. “It just seems like we timed it right.”
The market for industrial space continues to improve in the Richmond region as well as in Virginia’s other major urban markets. The state’s mid-Atlantic locale is a big factor, with Richmond benefitting from its Port of Richmond facility while Hampton Roads picks up industrial clients due to its port as well. Yet other factors are at work statewide. For one thing, consumers are spending more, including more via e-commerce. Nationwide, e-commerce sales in last year’s fourth quarter were up almost 15 percent year-over-year to $79.6 billion, according to U.S. Census data. To keep up with that demand retailers have been seeking better distribution centers closer to customers.
In 2012, Amazon opened two 1 million-square-foot fulfillment centers in Chesterfield and Dinwiddie counties.
Plus, manufacturing continues to gain strength in Virginia: last year the state racked up nearly 9,800 announced manufacturing jobs, up from 6,400 in 2013, according to the Virginia Economic Development Partnership. As an industry, manufacturing leases a lot of industrial space.
With the uptick in demand, vacancy levels are dropping. For example, vacancy rates for industrial space in Northern Virginia are at 12 percent, the lowest level since the start of 2009, according to Cushman & Wakefield data. In the Roanoke region, industrial-market vacancies dropped almost 2 percentage points to 9.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014. In Hampton Roads, the rate dropped to 7.4 percent at the end of 2014, down from 9 percent at the end of 2013.
These markets mirror the national trend. JLL, a major commercial real estate services firm, puts the U.S. vacancy rate for industrial properties at 6.9 percent, reflecting 19 quarters of positive absorption. Once considered one of the least sexy of the commercial real estate sectors, industrial is on a hot streak. U.S. properties attracted total investment of $54 billion in 2014, a 13 percent increase over the previous year, according to CBRE.
Part of the reason vacancy is dropping is the lack of new space. “Nothing has been built since 2007 so the supply side has been ticking down,” says Evan Magrill, executive vice president with Cushman & Wakefield|Thalhimer in Richmond. “So we’re seeing rates firming up and actually going up.”
The Richmond region, with nearly 80 million square feet of industrial space, had some big gains in the manufacturing and distribution market. Lumber Liquidators is building a 1 million-square-foot distribution center in Henrico, and Medline recently opened a 404,000-square-foot distribution center in Chester, south of Richmond.
As the economy improves, the region is getting some big projects because of its access to transportation and to the Port of Virginia in Hampton Roads. “Richmond and Hampton Roads are a lot more tied together with the port than given credit for,” says Lang Williams, a senior vice president with CBRE’s Norfolk office. Along with big new tenants, the region also is getting a massive paper factory on 850 acres in Chesterfield County. The $2 billion project, announced last year, is by China’s Shandong Tranlin Paper Co.
Williams says his Norfolk office team did more than 600,000 square feet of leasing in just the first two months of the year. “So the activity is definitely strong.” A deal announced last fall is an example of what could happen again during the next few years, he says. California-based Friant & Associates, an office furniture maker, is opening a 357,000-square-foot distribution center in Suffolk later this year. Friant’s products are made in China and imported through Oakland. Williams says growing companies often have to establish East Coast facilities. “Virginia is well-positioned to get some of that business,” he says.
Magrill says his firm sees existing tenants renewing their leases and sometimes expanding. Businesses related to the home industry started to bulk up last year, he says. In October Magrill helped close a deal on nearly 66,000 square feet leased by Horizon Forest Products, a hardwood flooring contractor. He also worked with a firm new to the Richmond region, Murray Supply Co., which leased 24,000 square feet in June in Henrico County’s Interport Business Center. “I don’t want to sound like it’s on fire, it’s not. But we are seeing expansion,” he says.
Signs are good in Northern Virginia as well where the warehouse/distribution sector is seeing the most activity. The biggest deals were Amazon’s preleasing of 300,000 square feet at Ashburn Crossing in Loudoun County, and Quest Diagnostics’ renewal of 248,000 square feet of flex space in Chantilly. Still, Northern Virginia isn’t expected to heat up too much this year due to a lack of space. There are only a few blocks of space larger than 40,000 square feet, according to Cushman & Wakefield, and so far no speculative construction is planned for 2015.
Another trend in the industrial sector is that tenants are signing longer deals. About 18 months ago tenants wanted leases as short as a year, or maybe up to three years, Cope says. Nowadays tenants are signing deals for five years or even 10. “We’re not getting a lot of pushback on that. Now terms are better, rents are better and supply is down. There’s not a lot of good, functional space on the market,” he says.
Not surprisingly rates have been going up in many markets. In Richmond, total industrial rates are $3.31 per square foot, up 4.7 percent from a year ago. In Northern Virginia, rates finished last year at an average of $10.71 per square foot, up 4 percent from a year ago, according to Cushman & Wakefield data. In the Norfolk market, rents dropped in the fourth quarter to $4.64 per square foot, down from $4.90 a year earlier. CBRE research predicted rent increases in the first quarter of this year, though, driven by a decline in available space.
If that’s the case, others might follow Liberty and start building new space, especially if Liberty’s new building, dubbed Eastport VIII, fills up. The rental rate for the building is $5.25 per square foot, pricier than the rest of the market but not unexpected for new construction. Cope expects some new spec construction from other firms, too. “There’s enough there for a few developers to do this for a long time,” he says. “It’s a fun time to be in the business.”2015-03-27T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/containerstore.pngContainer Store workers celebrate creation of an employee assistance fund. Businesswire
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/conscious-capitalism#When:10:00:00ZWhen Kip Tindell and his college roommate, John Mackey, attended the University of Texas they never discussed business philosophies. Now, Tindell, the chairman and CEO of The Container Store Group Inc., and Mackey, the co-CEO of Whole Foods Market Inc., both are leading proponents of “conscious capitalism,” a concept they had no idea they shared in their college days. “We didn’t talk about it in college,” Tindell says. “We talked about girls.”
Tindell will discuss conscious capitalism in his keynote speech at the Tom Tom Founders Festival, which will be held in Charlottesville April 13-19. “Conscious capitalism is something I am passionate about. It’s synonymous with our principles at The Container Store. It’s our business philosophy,” he says.
Conscious capitalism centers on treating all of a company’s stakeholders — including employees, vendors, customers, shareholders — with respect.
“People are brought up to believe business is a zero-sum game, but someone else doesn’t have to lose in order for you to win,” says Tindell, whose book “Uncontainable” outlines the concept of building a business where everyone thrives. “People make the most money creating win-win-win situations with other stakeholders. We believe [that if] you take care of employees better than anyone else … they will take care of customers better than anyone else.”
Publicly traded companies such as Whole Foods, Southwest Airlines and Costco that practice conscious capitalism outperformed the S&P 14-to-1 during a 15-year period, according to the book “Firms of Endearment.” The Container Store, for example, generates about $800 million in annual revenue and pays its full-time sales associates an average salary of $50,000, much higher than the in­­dustry stan­­dard. The company sells stor­­age and or­­ganization products.
“We have single-digit turnover in an industry that has triple-digit turnover,” Tindell says. “Herb Kelleher, [co-founder and former CEO] of Southwest Airlines, told me ‘Kip, you can build a much better business based on love rather than on fear.’”
A fan of the classic holiday film “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Tindell believes everyone creates a wake in life similar to a boat’s wake. “Everything you do and don’t do impacts the world around you,” he says. “If you are mindful of this wake, you will behave differently and move from going mindlessly through life not paying attention to the people around you.”
Tindell believes leaders have a “huge moral responsibility” to make sure employees look forward to coming to work every morning. He touts a leadership style that highlights transparency and communication. “Treating employees that way and managing that way connects with the human spirit,” he says.
Belief in this concept has to come from the top. “You need a leader that leads with intellectual IQ as well as emotional and social intelligence who can be a servant leader,” says Audrey Robertson, The Container Store’s vice president of cultural programs and community relations.
When people work for companies that treat them well, they feel fulfilled. “A lot of self-worth has to do with what we do for a living. If we are nurtured and developed and allowed to succeed, our esteem goes up and we are most productive,” Tindell says.2015-03-27T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/INNOVATE_Peterson.pngCalvin Peterson and two business partners invented a wheelchair cushion that will prevent pressure sores.
A collegiate ‘Shark Tank’
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/a-collegiate-shark-tank#When:10:00:00ZA couple years ago Virginia Commonwealth University business student Calvin Peterson missed an entire semester after developing a pressure sore from sitting too long in his wheelchair without changing positions. The injury was so severe that bone protruded through his skin, requiring surgery.
“When you’re in a wheelchair, you know you’re supposed to shift every couple of hours — some doctors say every 15 minutes — but you forget. If you’re very active and busy, it completely slips your mind to remember to shift,” explains Peterson, a native New Yorker who was paralyzed from the waist down after a gunshot wound.
A graduate of VCU’s entrepreneurship program, Peterson, 31, has started a company with two fellow VCU grads, Kaitlin Taylor and Wayne Pitts. They’re in the process of filing patent papers and raising money to develop a prototype for an affordable, automated wheelchair cushion that will prevent pressure sores by periodically changing the air pressure in cells within the cushion.
The trio developed the idea to enter VCU’s Venture Creation Competition last year and won the $4,000 grand prize for undergrads.
Universities across the country are turning students into entrepreneurs through competitions that require participants to pitch their product or business to a panel of judges. Many of the contests offer cash prizes that students can then invest into a startup business.
In fact, entrepreneurship competitions are so popular that the state government has announced plans to host its first Governor’s Business Plan competition, with $1 million in prizes. Overseen by the Office of the Secretary of Commerce and Trade, the contest begins this spring, and finalists will be announced in the summer. It aims to encourage innovation in the fields of agriculture, bio-life sciences, cybersecurity, energy and social entrepreneurship.
On the university level, most entrepreneurship contests have students pitch their ideas to a panel of judges, akin to ABC’s popular “Shark Tank” TV show. The contests tend to be multidisciplinary and open to all students, undergraduate and graduate.
“Entrepreneurship is a team sport, and it connects across all disciplines,” says Ken Kahn, director of VCU’s da Vinci Center for innovation in product design and development. Developing any company takes people with a variety of skills, such as technology, marketing, engineering and graphic design. “It’s very much a group effort to bring an idea forward,” Kahn says of the entrepreneurship competitions.
Many of the university contests award cash prizes to students, but not all universities think that’s the best approach.
For instance, Virginia Tech’s Global Entrepreneurship Challenge Semifinals awards scholarship money. “The prizes … are not seed-fund money,” says Jim Flowers, executive director of VT KnowledgeWorks, which runs the contest. “It is not our purpose to create businesses out of that contest. It is to give students education in entrepreneurial behaviors and techniques … If you cast the thing as a startup contest, students tend to drop out of school and start the business. So is the point to cause that or is the point to keep them in school and learn some entrepreneurship skills so that later they can apply those in a more aggressive and effective way?”
The team that wins Virginia Tech’s student entrepreneurship contest does go on to compete in the university’s Global Entrepreneurship Challenge, which awards $40,000 in cash prizes and is open to university students worldwide. However, in the competition’s five-year history, none of the hometown teams from Virginia Tech has won the global challenge.
Joseph Linzon, 21, a senior at the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce, acknowledges that he briefly considered taking a leave of absence from school to work on his startup company, PowerSole.
A Toronto native, Linzon took second place in U.Va.’s 2011 Entrepreneurship Cup (or E-Cup) contest, winning $10,000 for his idea for PowerSole, a shoe that powers an electrical battery from the wearer’s kinetic energy. He used the money to file for initial patents. PowerSole later won U.Va.’s Galant Challenge, which connects startups with investors. That contest led to PowerSole gaining $200,000 in equity investment, as well as finding a professional to help run the company so that Linzon could focus on finishing his degree.
With PowerSole, a wearer can build enough battery power to fully charge a cellphone or GPS device after wearing the shoes for about six hours. Linzon was inspired to create PowerSole after volunteering in Peru in 2010. “I saw how society was affected by not having access to electricity. I found an individual whose business depended every day on his cell phone, but the [electrical] infrastructure was so poor he couldn’t depend on it.”
Now Linzon is seeking a company to license his product. He hopes that PowerSole will operate on the same model as Internet retailer TOMS, which donates a pair of shoes to the needy for every pair of shoes it sells.
Linzon credits the E-Cup and Galant contests with sparking his love for entrepreneurship. He’s also now a partner in a startup restaurant, Roots Natural Kitchen, in Charlottesville.
Success at an entrepreneurship competition also helped shape the future for Tumi Oredein. Oredein, 28, won VCU’s Venture Creation Competition in 2013 with an idea for a dry-erase wristband for children called SKRIBS. That led Oredein to win Wal-Mart’s 2013 Get on the Shelf competition. He later sold the licensing right for SKRIBS to a Richmond company.
Now Oredein works as assistant manager of product development for Toys R Us, overseeing global product development for the toy retailer’s Bruin line of toys for infants and preschoolers. “It’s the same thing I did with SKRIBS, just on a lot higher level,” he explains. “Every season we have like 15 or so new products we have to develop or source or figure out how to bring to market.”
A graduate of U.Va.’s mechanical engineering program, Oredein earned a master’s degree in entrepreneurship from VCU in 2014. Before attending VCU and entering the entrepreneurship competition, “I had no real background in product development,” Oredein says. “I was just doing research in biomechanical fields. I had no business sense. I had no ideas about invention and other types of innovation … Without the experience of winning the competition … I wouldn’t have been looked at by Toys R Us.”2015-03-27T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/VCU.pngVCU’s Snead Hall transformed a block of West Main Street in downtown Richmond. Photo courtesy Virginia Commonwealth University
The city’s anchor
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/the-citys-anchor#When:10:00:00ZEditor’s note: This is part of an ongoing series looking at Virginia’s colleges and universities as economic engines.
When Greg Wingfield, the outgoing president and CEO of the Greater Richmond Partnership, was studying urban planning in the 1970s, the future of American cities seemed bleak.
“The forecast was that they would become hollowed out. People would continue to move to the suburbs and beyond, leaving only the poor. Thought leaders were saying you could write off cities,” Wingfield says.
Richmond, Virginia’s capital, seemed to be on that path. From 1970 to 1990, the city lost nearly 20 percent of its population, shrinking from 250,000 to just over 203,000, according to the U.S. Census.
Meanwhile, the downtown retail core was imploding, with the closing of the city’s two legacy department stores, Thalhimers and Miller & Rhoads.
Even worse, Richmond was becoming known as a murder capital. In 1994, Richmond ranked second in the nation in per-capita homicides with 161 killings.
The city seemed on the cusp of the abyss.
Today, however, Richmond is growing again with an influx of millennials and baby boomers, among others, who are embracing an urban lifestyle. The city’s population stands at approximately 214,000, having added about 10,000 residents since 2010.
Violent crime also has declined, with 42 homicides recorded in 2014.
Crucial player in turnaround
Many circumstances and individuals have helped turn the city around. But one entity that has been singled out time and again in the city’s revival is Virginia Commonwealth University, an anchor for Richmond in good times and bad.
In 2002, for example, VCU was cited along with Columbia University by CEOs for Cities and the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City for leveraging its resources for urban economic revitalization.
In 2006, the New England Board of Education released a report, Saviors of Our Cities, in which VCU was ranked eighth in a list of the top 25 “Best Neighbor” urban colleges in the country.
For years, VCU has been the city’s biggest employer, currently with about 15,000 on the payroll at the university and its health system, according to the most recent figures.
A 2010 study by Richmond-based Chmura Economics & Analytics, placed the university’s annual economic impact in Virginia at $3.6 billion. University officials say it has climbed an additional $100 million since then.
When you consider operating expenses, capital expenditures and spending by employees, students and visitors, VCU supports more than 43,000 jobs statewide, according to Chmura.
VCU, which enrolls more than 31,000 full- and part-time students, is also the city’s biggest developer with campuses on both ends of downtown’s most expansive thoroughfare, Broad Street.
VCU has the No. 1 ranked public university arts and design program in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report, and its school of the arts has become a beacon for art and culture in the region.
The Broad Street area near the VCU arts school has blossomed with galleries and art-related events. In 2012 the city designated a portion of the Broad Street corridor as an arts and culture district, in recognition of the exploding art scene.
The VCU Medical Center, one of the focal points of local health care, is the site of the region’s only Level 1 trauma center.
Wingfield credits VCU, his alma mater, with being an indefatigable engine of economic development. “It continues to be the kind of creative hub that draws people to the city,” he says.
The story is in the numbers. Between 1990 and 2009, VCU grew from 21,000 students to more than 30,000. During that period, the university played a leading role in about $2.2 billion in new investments, according to university accounts.
Reshaping downtrodden areas
Much of that investment was poured into downtrodden or underperforming areas of the city. Along one portion of West Broad Street, for example, a campus bookstore, a new school of the arts, student dormitories and a recreation and convocation center arena replaced closed empty storefronts and parking lots.
A major grocery store soon opened in the same area along with a home improvements center and a wave of private housing to accommodate VCU’s surging student population.
VCU erected engineering and business schools in an area of the city along West Main Street that municipal planners had long labeled an eyesore.
Today, VCU is building a $35 million contemporary art center on a major gateway to the city, at the corner of Belvidere and Broad streets, adjacent to the arts district.
Along Grace Street, where biker bars and an X-rated theater reigned two decades ago, VCU is building a student-centered avenue.
Themed dormitories are pushing skyward, clustering like-minded students in the areas of community service, leadership and innovation.
In still another underperforming area further downtown, the university opened a biotechnology park. The park has grown and thrived as an incubator for startups.
On VCU’s medical campus, a new $168 million children’s outpatient clinic is under construction.
That comes on the heels of the opening in 2013 of the 12-story McGlothlin Medical Education Center, which expanded physician training and provided the impetus for the medical school’s most ambitious curriculum overhaul in three decades.
Before he left VCU’s presidency in 2009 after nearly two decades in office, Eugene P. Trani was a powerful advocate for VCU’s expansion. He was eager to show how collaborative a university could be, especially in the area of economic development.
Trani became the first VCU president to simultaneously chair the regional chamber of commerce.
During his 19 years as president, he oversaw vast infrastructure improvements. Wingfield and others regard him as a visionary leader who was able to develop a strong rapport with business interests and donors who shared his vision.
In a brief interview, Trani said that once the biotechnology park and the engineering school were established early in his tenure, support for more progress and growth followed. “The momentum really got going,” Trani says, and then it swelled beyond even the most optimistic predictions.
When Michael Rao became VCU’s president in 2009, the fortunes of the nation and the state were changing dramatically. He arrived in Richmond during one of the worst recessions in the nation’s history. He also faced about a $63 million loss in state support over the next few years.
VCU had to recalibrate its strategic plan — and about everything else — to cope with an unsteady funding landscape in higher education. The university’s change in course meant a shift from focusing on significant enrollment growth to focusing on program excellence.
“I think VCU’s building itself to a critical mass was the right thing for many years,” Rao says, with a nod toward Trani’s leadership.
Although he has been dealt a different hand, Rao believes VCU will continue to be a strong economic engine for the region.
The VCU president sees an avenue of opportunity along the Broad Street corridor that separates VCU’s two campuses. “I remember my first drive on Broad Street. I saw a beautiful street that had hit hard times that could really spark strategic growth and improvement,” Rao says.
He anticipates that VCU will seek out strategic partners to help develop the Broad Street corridor as needs evolve. Rao says retail development in the corridor would give students and employees an opportunity to buy locally and would help re-establish the downtown as a place to shop.
Completion of the Institute for Contemporary Art also is expected to further enhance the city’s Arts District and VCU’s pre-eminence in the arts.
One of Rao’s priorities has been to encourage VCU’s students to take a full load of college credits, so they can graduate sooner.
With more graduates, VCU’s value to the community increases, he says, as those graduates take jobs and add to the economy. “Back in 2008-09 we had 6,000 graduates [annually]. Today, it’s almost 7,500 graduates,” Rao says.
The updated master plan also envisions hiring about 500 more faculty members to help eliminate bottlenecks to graduation and upgrade academics across the board.
Rao says the thrust of his fundraising efforts will be focused on investing in people. “We need endowed chairs and professors more than at any time in our history … and, scholarships for our students,” he says.
Recent VCU graduates, many of whom are the first members of their family to go to college, have averaged some of the highest debt loads among public universities in Virginia, according to an annual survey by the Project on Student Debt.
The average debt per graduate in 2013, for example, was $29,462. Graduates of some private Virginia colleges carried debt loads in the low- to mid-30s.
Rao says VCU alumni who have achieved extraordinary success in life are now interested in seeing their alma mater rise in reputation, in terms of people and performance.
A culture of innovation
Rao also is set on cultivating a culture of innovation at VCU. “Fifty-one percent of our students say they want to start a business, and 15 percent of them do that,” he said.
Nicole Colomb, the university’s enterprise and economic development executive, notes that a VCU graduate student, “Tumi” Oredein Jr., won Wal-mart’s nationwide 2013 “Get on the Shelf” contest for his SKRIBS Customizable Wristbands.
She adds that an undergraduate student recently created Richmond’s first urban mushroom farm. Using technology, the student and his team created conditions that yield exotic mushrooms for local restaurants and stores.
Rao says VCU also is looking for more opportunities like the one in 2014 involving Community Memorial HealthCenter in South Hill. The VCU Health System added the facility to its operations, invested money and staff there and renamed the facility the VCU Community Memorial Hospital.
“The addition of [the South Hill hospital] confirmed our role in the state,” Rao says.
As Virginia’s largest provider of indigent care in the state, Rao says, VCU’s health system has a role to play in delivering health care across regions. The debate about expanding Medicaid in Virginia is much on Rao’s mind these days.
Statewide, many Virginia hospitals have been lobbying the General Assembly to expand Medicaid.
Doing that, they say, would help them provide better care to low-income patients and compensate for millions of dollars in Medicare payments they lost with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
Rao says he doesn’t know what the outcome of the discussions over Medicaid expansion will be, but he expressed hope that state legislators will find a path forward to provide health care to all Virginians.
Lee Downey, head of Richmond’s Department of Economic & Community Development, is bullish on VCU.
When business prospects come to Richmond looking to possibly invest, he says VCU’s presence is a confidence booster in the city’s future. “VCU is putting its own dollars down. They’re doing their own economic development,” Downey says.
Like Rao, Downey believes that the Broad Street corridor between VCU’s two campuses is ripe for development, and it’s fast becoming a nexus for future town-gown cooperation.
“It’s an area that the city has a lot of interest in revitalizing and bringing back to life. VCU also has a vested interest in that corridor. It’s something we’re working together on in lockstep,” Downey says.
VCU traces its roots to the Medical College of Virginia (begun in 1838) and the Richmond Professional Institute (1917), which merged in 1968.
National ranking: No. 1 public graduate art school, according to U.S. News & World Report
Total number of students: 31,163 (full- and part-time, fall 2014)
Total employees: 14,738 (academic and health system)
President: Michael Rao
Endowment: $1.5 billion2015-03-27T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/meetings.pngEsra Calvert and Carol Torricelli of the Virginia Tourism Corp. Photo by Jay Paul
Meet, greet, connect
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/meet-greet-connect#When:10:00:00ZPlease turn off all electronic devices. That was the norm in the not-so-distant past for attendees at a meeting or conference.
These days, people are encouraged to keep their tablets and smart phones fired up, the better to interact with the information being imparted and interested parties outside the room. Before they even arrive at meetings, some participants have downloaded an app to plan and personalize their schedule, and every nuance of their experience is often live-streamed to the folks back at the home office.
“Digital space is changing the platform,” says Carol Torricelli, director of domestic sales for the Virginia Tourism Corp. Translation: Today, meeting planners are almost as concerned about cyberspace as physical space. “Everyone wants to be interacting,” says Torricelli. “Everyone is engaged.”
“If you aren’t there [on the forefront of technology], you aren’t in the game,” says Sherrif Karamat, chief operating officer for the Professional Convention Management Association. “With the average conventioneer using two devices, the challenge is to keep up the speed. We’re living on a live stage and learning as we go along. We are seeing the digitalization of our economy.”
Meeting venues in Virginia have been scrambling to keep abreast of this burgeoning digital demand. “Everything is wired, everything [is] built-in now,” says Vicki Bendure, spokesperson for the National Conference Center in Leesburg, the largest meeting space in Northern Virginia. The center, which has 900 rooms and a 16,000-square-foot ballroom, recently has been refurbished and updated by new management and offers free Wi-Fi throughout.
At the Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center in Roanoke, which can accommodate groups as large as 1,600, public relations director Michael Quonce says the online, all-the-time agenda of groups puts his AV/technology team to the test. “We’ve increased bandwidth and have a separate pipeline for large groups so they can do their work,” he says. “This really has been a change for us.”
It’s a change worth making. Eric Terry, president of the Virginia Hospitality & Travel Association, says that the meetings and convention industry has been on the uptick nationwide for several years now. The trade organization Meetings & Conventions projects a 0.3 percent increase in the number of meetings held in North America in 2015, and a 0.2 percent increase in the number of attendees.
Virginia’s outlook also is trending positive, although not as strongly as in some parts of the country, Terry says, because it is still recovering from the loss of so much government business. Northern Virginia and the Hampton Roads area were hit hard repeatedly, first by the government hunkering down after 9/11, then by the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009. Then came “Muffin Gate.” Even though the story about how Department of Justice meeting-goers were feasting on $16 baked goodies at the taxpayers’ expense proved to be not quite as sensational as first reported in September 2011, in its aftermath government conferences became about as common as bipartisanship on Capitol Hill. The government shutdown in 2013 was the final insult. Dean Miller, national sales manager for Visit Fairfax, says the National Conference Center in next-door Loudoun saw $2 million in bookings vanish that fall, and many other venues took a big hit, too.
It was a lesson learned the hard way about putting all the eggs in one basket. Today, the meeting and convention industry in Virginia is embracing diversity, and its new favorite buzz word is “SMERF.” This acronym stands for “social, military, educational, religious, fraternal,” meaning if Uncle Sam won’t be gathering at your hotel anymore, maybe the Elks, or the romance writers or retired members of the Fifth Marine Division will.
The Washington Post recently reported that the Westfields Marriott in Chantilly keeps its 1,100-person capacity ballroom busy not just with business meetings, but by hosting lavish Indian weddings — 118 of them in the past three years, which generated $3.3 million in revenue.
Reggie Cooper, general manager at Salamander Resort & Spa, says his high-end Middleburg facility already has booked 50 weddings for 2015, along with an increasing number of meetings for nonprofit groups, lawyers and insurance executives. As the baby boomers age, medical conferences have become another growth area for the meetings industry.
Terry says that the commonwealth is expanding its capacity to meet these modest but steady increases in demand.
In Richmond, a downtown Hilton Garden Inn is being converted to a regular Hilton and will expand its meeting space from about 6,000 square feet to 15,000 square feet.
In downtown Norfolk, a 300-room Hilton will open at the end of the year. The complex, called The Main, will include a $42.5 million, 50,000-square-foot conference center, which will be built with public funds. Anthony DiFilippo, CEO of the Norfolk Convention and Visitors Bureau, says his city needs this expanded capacity.
In NoVa, Miller says that the opening of the first stage of Metro’s Silver Line has been hugely beneficial in getting groups to hold events in Fairfax County. Easy access is a critical concern for event planners, and now meeting attendees can use the Metro to go lobby on the Hill or take in a Nationals’ game. “We’re not stuck out in the middle of nowhere anymore,” he says. To help serve this expanding market, a 300-room Hyatt Regency with 15,000 square feet of meeting space should be on line by this month. The New York-based company Convene also opened 15,000 square feet of meeting space at Tysons at the end of 2014.
Those in the industry point to several other positive developments for their business. Esra Calvert, Virginia tourism’s director of research, says that in 2014, 15 percent of the 40 million visitor trips to the commonwealth were business-related. One in four of those business travelers extended his or her stay by one or more days for leisure purposes. She called this phenomenon “bleasure travel.”
Indeed, the line between business and pleasure is blurring. Blame it on the rise of the more demanding millennials, but meeting-goers expect to be able to customize their experience in much the same way leisure travelers do. “They are doing what they want to do, not what we tell them to do anymore,” Karamat says.
And what they want is to be in a greener, more socially responsible environment where they can eat local food, sample craft beers and artisan wines, and generally immerse themselves in the ambience of the particular region.
At the National Conference Center, for example, meeting-goers can indulge in a locally sourced chef’s dinner or visit a local winery. At Salamander, they can team-build by riding horses or sliding down zip lines. The Hotel Roanoke promises more vegetarian, gluten-free dining options, while Norfolk emphasizes its unique history with the U.S. Navy and its “no-chain zone” downtown. “We’re a foodie city,” DiFilippo says.
This move toward self-curated business travel, however, still has to be balanced against the need for stricter accountability — no more junkets — and not just for government gatherings, but for corporate meetings, as well.
“It must be mission critical for it to happen now,” Karamat says. Yet he doesn’t foresee meetings being replaced by video conferencing, despite how plugged-in everyone at a physical meeting site must be these days.
“Face-to-face meetings,” he says, “are here to stay.”2015-03-27T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/CCAM.pngCCAM has has attracted new members.
Face of the future
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/face-of-the-future#When:10:00:00ZAs it rises out of a 20-acre field in rural Prince George County south of Richmond, the sleek, ultramodern Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM) looks out of place, in a futuristic way.
It is the future of manufacturing in America, CCAM’s supporters say, far removed from the dirty and often boring factory jobs of a half-century ago.
Since its inception in 2011, the public-private collaborative research center has made significant gains.
CCAM has grown from seven original members to 28 members, including some of the biggest names in industry and five public universities.
Growth in membership, officials say, is the key to CCAM’s sustainability while providing a larger budget and more engineers and scientists to drive research.
“As membership increases, it allows for more research to be funded and more collaboration,” says Joseph Moody, CCAM’s president and executive director.
Research activity (in dollars) rose 116 percent in 2014, and the number of research projects jumped 60 percent.
CCAM’s staff of about 50 grew about 60 percent during the past year, and the number of university interns continues to rise, with 26 in 2014 — twice as many as 2013 — and 32 interns projected for this year.
The National Governors Association has cited CCAM as a best-practice model, and the Brookings Institution recently noted, “Consortia such as CCAM are breaking the mold and showing how new technology dynamics are motivating companies and their partners to craft creative, new innovation platforms to stay ahead.”
The plaudits and the growing numbers are music to the ears of Will Powers, executive vice president and CFO of Rolls-Royce North America, which donated the land for CCAM in Prince George. Rolls-Royce’s nearby manufacturing facilities make components for jet engines.
“I think we’re getting validation from credible institutions like Brookings and the National Governors Association that this is a good model,” Powers says.
What has surprised him is how quickly the model has taken off. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have the blessing of the president of the United States.
President Obama visited the Rolls-Royce plant three years ago as the CCAM research site was being developed, and he had nothing but praise for the concept.
“So, think of this as a place where companies can share access to cutting-edge capabilities,” Obama said of CCAM. “At the same time, students and workers are picking up new skills; they’re training on state-of-the-art equipment; they’re solving some of the most important challenges facing our manufacturers.”
The president called for creating institutes like CCAM across the country to spur a manufacturing renaissance.
Powers says there is another way you can judge CCAM’s progress so far: by the company it keeps. “The proof is in the pudding,” Powers explains. “The arrival of Airbus and Alcoa tells you this concept is valid on both sides of the Atlantic.”
Airbus, the giant France-based aircraft manufacturing company, and New York–based Alcoa, the world’s third-largest producer of aluminum, joined CCAM last year.
Seeking more members
Powers says CCAM is now in a moment of transition, moving from a startup to a more research-driven entity. It also is seeking to add more industry partners — in areas such as automotives, specialty chemicals and electronics.
The strategy is to add members who don’t compete in the marketplace with existing members but who could benefit from robust collaborative research.
In 2014 alone, 37 research projects were underway. The research agenda will expand as new members are added.
The target is for seven new members in 2015. Twelve companies are being recruited, and 27 companies are on CCAM’s list of potential members, according to center officials.
Joel P. Reuter, vice president of communications and marketing services for Rolls-Royce North America, says it’s too early in the process to talk about research breakthroughs for his company at CCAM, adding that much of the research touches on areas of protected intellectual property.
Boon for universities
Engineering schools at Virginia’s public universities have been heavily invested in CCAM and its research since the beginning, especially the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech.
Powers cites U.Va. and Virginia Tech as institutions that gave CCAM its juice. Representatives from the schools toured an advanced research center in Sheffield, England, and offered to bring that back to the U.S. “They imported a model we already loved,” Powers says.
He adds that U.Va. and Virginia Tech had experts in two areas that Rolls-Royce valued highly: surface coatings and manufacturing systems.
The University of Virginia Foundation owns the CCAM building, which was financed by $11 million from state Recovery Act bonds, a $4 million federal grant and $2.5 million from the Virginia Tobacco Commission.
Barry Johnson, senior associate dean of the U.Va. School of Engineering & Applied Science, says the money has been well invested.
“From our perspective, CCAM has already been an outstanding success. We’ve been able to grow out research as a result of the partnership. It’s generated over $12.5 million for the engineering department at U.Va.,” Johnson says.
Four departments at the engineering school have their hand in CCAM research, the U.Va. official says, with faculty members in materials science, system engineering, and mechanical and aerospace engineering all involved.
Johnson says alumni have offered support, including Raymond J. Kilmer, the executive vice president and chief technology officer of one of CCAM’s newest members, Alcoa. “He loves the CCAM model,” Johnson says of Kilmer, who has a doctorate in materials science and engineering from U.Va.
Johnson adds that recent and upcoming graduates also like the idea that universities are stepping out of their traditional model and creating alliances with industry, giving graduates opportunities for internships and possibly job offers.
“Member companies are reaching out directly to our university,” he says. “Prior to CCAM, Canon [a CCAM industry member with Virginia operations in Newport News] didn’t recruit interns at the University of Virginia. Now, they do.”
Jack Lesko, associate dean for research and graduate studies at Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering, says the university’s participation in CCAM sends an unmistakable signal. “We want industry to understand we’re open for business and we want to work with industry,” he says.
Lesko says that, from all the signals he’s seeing, federal investment in advanced manufacturing research will be substantial, as the nation works to rebuild its manufacturing base. Many of those research dollars will be going to universities that have shown an interest and an aptitude in that area.
“We need to focus our faculty hires and faculty development in areas of national needs,” Lesko says. He adds that one of the best ways to know what those needs are is by listening to industry.
Oktay Baysal, dean of the Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology at Old Dominion University, says CCAM is something like a language academy for professors and students who learn to speak the language of industry, and learn the realities of business outside the classroom and laboratory. “It’s huge,” Baysal says.
Currently, CCAM is competing for a federal grant to establish an advanced manufacturing academy to train the manufacturing workers of the future.
Last year, the General Assembly committed $25 million in matching funds for the project if it reaches fruition.
Moody, CCAM’s president, says the takeaway from CCAM is that collaboration is a way of leveraging knowledge. “Companies that produce technologies and innovations recognize that they will never have all the knowledge within their four walls to stay on the leading edge.
“They use collaborative research to increase their effective organizational knowledge and stay innovative,” he says. “That’s where CCAM helps them.”
Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing
The industry and government members:
Cool Clean Technologies
GF Machining Solutions
Hermle Machine Co.
NASA Langley Research Center
Newport News Shipbuilding
RTI International Metals
Spatial Integrated Systems
Old Dominion University
University of Virginia
Virginia Commonwealth University
Virginia State University
2015-03-27T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/IMG_20130301_170417_577.pngStephen Clock (left) and the late David Spanka of Phoenix Group, stand outside the Warsaw Fire College.
Setting a future course
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/setting-a-future-course#When:10:00:00ZPhoenix Group LLC, a service-disabled veteran-owned small business in Chesapeake, recently was awarded a $282,000 contract to provide firefighting equipment and gear to a new firefighting school in Southeast Asia.
Given that more than 80 percent of the company’s other work is for the U.S. Department of Defense, this latest contract doesn’t rank as its biggest or most prestigious. It may, however, be one of the most meaningful to its long-term viability.
Why? It’s the first major international contract that the Phoenix Group has gained since enrolling in the “Going Global” Defense Initiative (GGDI) to diversify its revenue streams. Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) began the program to help defense contractors offset the effects of federal budget cuts by finding opportunities in new markets.
Through the program, Phoenix Group has received:
legal assistance in the complex registration process required to become an export-compliant company;
money to create video and other digital marketing materials and to translate the company website into five additional languages (through services provided by two Virginia Beach firms, Studio Center and Ingenuiti); and
opportunities to travel on trade missions to Poland, Germany and other countries where company officials met with potential (and fully VEDP-vetted) customers and product resellers.
“We couldn’t have done any of this without the work and guidance from VEDP,” says Stephen Clock, Phoenix Group’s national sales director. In addition to its work with the firefighting school, the company also has sold hazmat suits, respiratory equipment and other products to customers in Europe and Taiwan.
Clock expects to hire two new employees soon to handle international sales. “Honestly, it would have taken years of work on our end just to make the connections that VEDP was able to provide to us, much less the rest of what we’ve been able to accomplish,” he states.
Program’s future uncertain
Phoenix Group is one of 224 Virginia-based defense contractors that have enrolled in GGDI since its start in mid-2013. The program began with a $2 million budget from state appropriations and a federal grant and was renewed for another year.
Its future now, however, is uncertain. No money was set aside for a third year of GGDI operations in the revised budget recently passed by the Virginia General Assembly. VEDP, however, is attempting to identify enough savings from its existing appropriations to apply for — and win — a matching federal grant.
“We’re hopeful that we’ll pull together the funds,” says Paul H. Grossman Jr., vice president of international trade for VEDP. “We wouldn’t be trying if we didn’t think it was possible.”
From the start, Virginia’s defense contractors enthusiastically signed up for GGDI, Grossman says. All of the program’s available slots were filled quickly, with 160 companies accepted in the first year (and more placed on a waiting list) and an additional 64 enrolled the second year.
“You can interpret that in one of two ways: It’s great that the program has been oversubscribed, but it’s bad because it reflects how desperate Virginia defense companies are with regard to declining federal spending,” he states.
Virginia is a leading recipient of federal dollars, and a major portion of that money involves defense spending. More than 5,000 defense contractors make their home in the Old Dominion, largely in the Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads regions. They had $41.5 billion in DoD contract awards in fiscal year 2013, according to a report from the department’s Office of Economic Adjustment.
Sequestration — automatic federal budget cuts that took effect in 2013 — hit Virginia companies and the commonwealth’s tax coffers especially hard. That is one reason many GGDI enrollees are pivoting their focus to overseas revenue opportunities — either by selling to foreign defense agencies or by developing nondefense applications for their products and technologies.
“To be a company that has never sold overseas is pretty scary, because, if you don’t conform to U.S. export law, you, as principal, can go to jail,” says Grossman. “So, through this program, we’ve been able to bring in not only our own staff, but we can contract with law firms, consultants and other experts in the field to help these defense companies feel comfortable about pursuing and doing business internationally.”
Through the end of 2014, more than 50 GGDI companies had completed the compliance requirements of U.S. export control laws, and 185 companies are now participating in VEDP’s export promotion programs. VEDP’s network of in-country consultants in 57 nations has helped GGDI members complete 315 market research projects, 25 technical translation and adaptation programs and seven international product certifications.
The 224 GGDI companies, which have 30,000 employees, now are projecting, on average, a 120 percent increase in international sales during the next two years.
One of them is Cask LLC, an economically disadvantaged-woman-owned business and technology services firm in Stafford whose customers include the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy. Thanks to a $12,000 grant through GGDI and VEDP’s guidance and advice, Cask has put together a robust export compliance program in eight months and now sells to international customers.
“We’ve gone from being able to do absolutely zero work overseas to what is now unlimited potential,” says George Judd, director at Cask. He notes that, before enrolling in GGDI, approximately 70 percent of the company’s business was with U.S. defense agencies. “It’s opened up the world to us.”
For example, Cask recently performed work in Romania, defining the requirements and technical specifications for a new legislative affairs system, and now is providing support services as part of a mergers and acquisition effort for a global shipping company in Singapore. Cask also has submitted proposals for projects in Brazil and Colombia and soon will travel to Saudi Arabia to create a joint venture with a Saudi company.
According to VEDP, the average Virginia defense contractor gets 68 percent of its revenues from U.S. defense agencies. “It’s simply not diverse enough to be a good business model,” Grossman says.
Most companies have long recogn­­ized their vulnerability to budget cuts, but they haven’t had the funds, time or resources to pursue new revenue sources, especially overseas.
GGDI has helped companies overcome that hurdle, says Matt “Race” Bannon, director of strategy and marketing for Airborne Tactical Advantage Co. (ATAC), a Newport News-based contractor that provides supersonic aircraft training and exercises to the Pentagon.
“We have such a narrow niche focus, and we knew that we had to go international if we wanted to expand our business base, so this program allowed us to go exactly where we already wanted to go with our strategic plan,” Bannon says.
ATAC used program experts to help it navigate the thorny issues of export compliance and develop a company video targeted at international markets. ATAC officials also traveled with VEDP on several trade missions.
“We’ve been able to get out in front of different markets, so potential customers can get a sense of what we do,” says Bannon, adding that the long lead times involved in ATAC’s business means that it likely won’t see any results soon. “Time will tell if this will bring any upside to our revenues, but it’s not hurting, I’ll say that much.”
Renewed U.S. engagement in the Middle East and support for the Ukrainian government in its fight with pro-Russian insurgents could spark renewed U.S. defense spending, Grossman says, but any increases likely will be targeted and temporary. “The dynamics of ever-increasing defense budgets are gone,” he says. “So defense companies need to continue their diversification efforts.”
They might have to do that without the help of GGDI, however, which will cease to exist on June 30 without further funding.
Stephen Clock at the Phoenix Group hopes that the VEDP finds the money to keep the program going. “We’re off to a great start, but we’re not where we need to be yet,” he says. “We still need help to keep growing internationally.”2015-03-27T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Garrisonville.pngThe I-95 Express Lanes opened in December. Photo courtesy Transurban.
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/road-work#When:10:00:00ZVirginia has the third-largest state road system in the country. The following list is a sample of major road projects recently completed, under construction or under contract in Virginia. A group of the state’s civil engineers recently gave Virginia an overall grade of C- when it comes to infrastructure, with roads receiving the lowest grades of D. The challenge is keeping pace with the maintenance of aging roads and bridges at a time when increasing transportation funding is hard to come by.
Interstate 95 Express Lanes
Total cost: Nearly $1 billion
Scope: The lanes stretch 29 miles, from the Edsall Road exit on I-395 to Garrisonville Road in Stafford County. Drivers can pay a variable toll that goes up as congestion increases, or they can use lanes for free in a carpool of three or more drivers. Work on the public-private project began in August 2012 and was completed by the end of last year. The average toll price during its first month of operation, which started on Dec. 29, 2014, was $4.01. The average weekday toll revenue for the lanes is nearly $103,000, and the average number of weekday trips is just over 37,000.
Completion: December 2014
Interstate 66, Prince William County
Total cost: $73 million
Scope: The state began work last spring on widening I-66 from Route 29 at Gainesville to Route 15 at Haymarket. When complete, the project will give drivers three lanes and one HOV lane for 25 miles in each direction between U.S. 15 and the Capital Beltway (Interstate 495).
Scheduled completion: August 2016
Interstate 64 widening, Goochland/Henrico Counties
Total cost: $33.2 million
Scope: The project will widen nearly five miles of I-64 from four to six lanes. Eastbound: the project runs from Route 623 (Ashland Road) in Goochland to Route 271 (Pouncey Tract Road) in Henrico. Westbound: From Route 271 to Route 622 (Rockville Road) in Goochland. The project will require various lane closures and some interchange upgrades. The design-build contract is with Corman Construction Inc.
Scheduled completion: November 2015
U.S. 29 corridor, Albemarle County
Design-build contract: $116.7 million
Scope: Lane/Corman Joint Venture of Chantilly was awarded contract for work that will improve safety and increase capacity on and near U.S. 29 in Albemarle County north of Charlottesville. The projects will build a grade-separated intersection at U.S. 29 and Rio Road, widen U.S. 29 between Polo Grounds Road and Towncenter Drive and extend Berkmar Drive from Hilton Heights Road to Towncenter Drive.
Scheduled completion: October 2017
Widen Interstate 64, Newport News
Design-build contract: $84.8 million
Scope: Shirley Contracting Co. LLC of Lorton will widen 5.6 miles of Interstate 64 in Newport News, from about a half mile east of Route 238 (Yorktown Road) to about 1.5 miles west of Route 143 (Jefferson Avenue). The project will add a lane in each direction, widening the interstate from four to six lanes. The expansion will occur in the roadway’s median.
Scheduled completion: December 2017.2015-03-27T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Cover6495.pngGreg Woodsmall, CEO of Elizabeth River Crossings, and Dallas Marlow, construction director. Photo by Mark Rhodes
The new Midtown Tunnel
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/the-new-midtown-tunnel#When:10:00:00ZPrecision is key when it comes to towing 16,000-ton concrete elements down the Chesapeake Bay be­­fore submerging them below the bottom of the Elizabeth River to create the new U.S. 58 Midtown Tunnel.
It will take 11 of these elements — each the size of a football field — to construct the centerpiece of the state’s most complex public-private transportation project to date. Still more than a year from completion, the long-awaited expansion of the tunnel — which links the cities of Portsmouth and Norfolk — already has won national acclaim because of the scope of its engineering challenges. Yet its biggest beneficiaries will probably be Hampton Roads’ motorists who have endured decades of hair-raising congestion on what is the most heavily traveled, two-lane road east of the Mississippi. During the work week, nearly 40,000 vehicles a day travel through the narrow, 23-foot tunnel.
A dry dock at Sparrow’s Point, Md., near Baltimore is the construction site for the reinforced concrete elements. The work is being done in Maryland, because no dry dock in Hampton Roads large enough to meet the construction schedule was available. That means each element, which measures 29-feet-tall by 54-feet-wide and 342-feet-long, must be individually floated 220 miles to its new underwater home. Then a special barge submerges each piece into a trench as deep as 95 feet below the river bottom — a delicate process that takes 12 hours. A hydraulic arm connects the element to an adjacent tube, forming a watertight seal. So far, six of the elements have been put in place. The final five are expected to be immersed by September. By October, construction workers should be able to walk from one end of the nearly mile-long tunnel to the other.
Scheduled to open in December 2016, the new Midtown Tunnel is the largest component of the $2.1 billion Elizabeth River Tunnels project. The state formed a public-private partnership with Elizabeth River Crossings (ERC) to build the tunnel, as well as rehab the existing Midtown Tunnel and the two tubes of the Downtown Tunnel. The overall project will improve and form an efficient network between the two tunnels.
The Virginia Department of Transportation owns and oversees the project, while ERC operates and maintains the infrastructure until 2070. A joint venture between Skanska Infrastructure Development, a global construction firm with offices in Virginia, and the New York-based firm of Macquarie Group and Real Assets, ERC was formed to design, build, maintain and operate the 51 highway miles of infrastructure.
The new Midtown Tunnel is Virginia’s largest road building project in 20 years and represents one of the most extensive public-private partnerships in the nation. The new tunnel and connecting highway extension are expected to cost $1.47 billion, with operations and maintenance totaling $2.2 billion over the life of the project. Funding sources include $675 million in private activity bonds, a $463 million Federal Highway Administration loan, $272 million in private equity, and $169 million in project revenue during construction. The state also kicked in $391 million initially to reduce the cost of the tolls and later made another contribution of $113 million to defer the commencement of tolls, which began on Feb. 1, 2014. In January of that year, Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board approved another $82.5 million over three years to further reduce the tolls amid much controversy about making motorists pay while the project was still under construction.
Some public officials expect the im­­proved transportation network to unleash an economic bonanza in a region frequently passed over for corporate headquarters in part because of highway congestion. According to figures from ERC, the project is expected to generate a $170 million to $254 million annual increase in Hampton Roads’ gross regional product. The thinking goes that improved connectivity between cities would lead to greater military readiness and additional access for trucks traveling to and from the Port of Hampton Roads. Plus, officials expect a reduction by 30 minutes in daily commute times for motorists who can expect to save $66.3 million in annual fuel costs since the tunnel will be less congested.
So far, work on the tunnel is ahead of schedule. That’s good news for Greg Woodsmall, ERC’s chief executive officer, and Dallas Marlow, the project’s construction director. These men have labored over the details of construction, especially when it comes to submerging the new tunnel. “It’s a tremendous amount of engineering technology that requires tremendous job planning,” Marlow says. “You only have a one-inch tolerance between each element to get them in place. We can’t risk being wrong.”
Designed to withstand the weight of a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, the new tunnel is only the second in the nation composed entirely of concrete, instead of a traditional steel-shell. The concrete makes the structure easier to seal and less likely to develop leaks. “We ran over 100 test batches of concrete for the tunnel tubes to ensure that they would meet the specifications and workability requirements,” Marlow says.
Built to last 120 years, the tunnel includes jet fans, a deluge system, fire sensors, motorist aid phones, video monitoring and a separate escape corridor.
At mid river, the bottom of the element reaches 95 feet below the surface of the river’s bottom, while the road deck is 90 feet below, and the top of the tube sits at 65 feet below the river’s bottom. This positioning protects the tunnel and prevents it from interfering with ship traffic.
In addition, the tunnel boasts a 10-foot-high drainage system. It’s designed to prevent flooding and protect one of the region’s major routes for hurricane evacuation. “We almost lost the Midtown Tunnel during Hurricane Sandy,” Marlow says. “The drainage system backs up at an elevation of 6½ feet. The water got up to seven feet. Water was rushing in, and we were frantically pumping it out. Luckily the river backed off at the last minute.”
Such enhancements are one reason Roads & Bridges magazine recently named the project the No. 1 Road Project in North America for 2014. The trade publication, which honors the top 10 projects for successful navigation of challenges, the scope of the work and regional impact, cited ERC not only for constructing a new tunnel, but also taking on the rehabilitation of the existing tunnels and extending the Martin Luther King Freeway Extension with minimal disruption to traffic.
Boosting safety in the tunnels was a major impetus for the long-delayed project, ranked by the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization as the region’s top priority. The overhaul gives the Downtown Tunnel a repaved road bed and new lights, ventilation and traffic control systems. “The new lights are 10 times brighter,” Woodsmall notes, adding that incidences in the westbound tube have dropped dramatically with the improved lighting. ERC will begin rehabbing the existing Midtown Tunnel once the new tunnel is opened. That work will repair leaks and tiles and bring the installation of a new ventilation system. Rehabbing all three tunnels carries a price tag of nearly $120 million.
“When that’s done, it will look very much like the westbound Downtown Tunnel,” Woodsmall says, referring to the soon-to-be rehabilitated tunnel. The project will eliminate the harrowing bi-directional traffic that motorists have put up with for years, since the new tunnel will carry westbound traffic from Norfolk to Portsmouth while eastbound traffic will use the old tunnel.
Along with improving transportation, the expansion has added to the region’s employment rolls. About 1,700 jobs have been created. Currently, between 700 and 725 people work locally on the tunnels project. They include more than 500 employed by SKW, the joint venture of Skanska, Kiewit and Weeks Marine that’s serving as the project’s design-build contractor. Also onboard are 120 ERC employees, 20 to 35 subcontractors and 75 ERC Customer Service Center employees. The remaining 1,000 jobs are positions within the community, industry and suppliers. SKW has subcontracted more than $311 million locally, while ERC has spent nearly $15 million locally to operate and maintain the infrastructures.
Then there’s the intrinsic value of the project’s on-the-job training program for about 70 carpenters, laborers, electricians, ironworkers and other craft workers. “When this project is over, the region will have a huge trained workforce for any future projects,” Marlow says.
Despite the good news, the project has not been without controversy. ERC officials hope motorists will focus on new jobs and shorter, safer commutes instead of tolls and tunnel closures. While there’s no dispute that an overhaul of the 52-year-old tunnel is long overdue, many motorists decried the tolls placed on the Midtown and Downtown tunnels in February 2014 before the project’s completion.
At that time, motorists with an E-ZPass paid $1 to drive through the tunnels during peak travel periods and seventy-five cents during off-peak times. Tolls went up 25 cents this January — to $1 and $1.25 — and will go up another 25 cents in 2016. Yet, it could have been worse. Until the state stepped in, the tolls were supposed to be $1.59 per trip for cars during off peak hours and $1.84 for peak drive-time hours (from 5:30 to 9 a.m. and from 2:30 to 7 p.m). These were the rates with an E-ZPass. They were higher if drivers opted for another payment method.
Compounding motorists’ frustration has been the regular nightly and weekend closures of the downtown tubes. Portsmouth business and political leaders have been especially incensed, fearing that the tolls could cause drivers from Norfolk and beyond to avoid the city.
“None of us, if we had our druthers, wants tolls anywhere,” says Portsmouth Economic Development Director Charles Rigney. “But we need to make transportation enhancements in the region to do a better job of linking communities together, and they do cost money.” Rigney adds that while some drivers may have shied away from using the tunnels when the tolls were first imposed, many have determined that taking alternative routes is just as costly in fuel or additional travel time.
Instead, Rigney says businesses have been more affected by weekend closures of the Downtown Tunnel’s eastbound tube. “It needs to be clearly understood when the tunnels are open and closed. If you miss that message and come to Portsmouth, you need to understand how to get to a secondary route.”
Olde Towne Business Association members in Portsmouth had tried to persuade ERC and VDOT to make one tube bi-directional during the weekend closures. “They said it couldn’t be done, that it was unsafe,” says Tony Goodwin, the association’s president. “But the things were designed to travel two-way traffic per tunnel.”
Combine periodic closures with the tolls, and frustration ensues for businesses and motorists. “Tolls only grease the skids to toll more facilities in the region,” Goodwin adds. “Eventually, people’s personal budgets won’t be able to justify paying tolls.”
On the flip side, Goodwin believes that as tolls increase, people living on the Norfolk side of the tunnels but working in Portsmouth will reconsider housing arrangements. “I can guarantee it will make people think twice about living in Virginia Beach and driving to and from work on the Portsmouth side. They’ll say why spend an extra $600 a year just to get to work.”
Goodwin says that situation will benefit new apartment complexes springing up in Portsmouth and northern Suffolk. “We’ve needed market-rate apartments for decades,” he adds. “We can obviously use this as a way to bank those apartments.”
Motorists hoped they had seen the last of the tolls on the Elizabeth River Tunnels when 25-cent fees were removed in 1986, 34 years after the Downtown Tunnel opened. Goodwin thinks it was a mistake to jettison tolls. “What the quarter toll could have done from 1986 to this point — we probably could have had another tunnel around 2000,” he says. “Now we’re playing catch up.”
Calling VDOT’s contract with ERC, which sanctioned tolls, the “worst deal I’ve ever seen,” Gov. Terry McAuliffe stepped into the fray shortly after taking office last year. He authorized the state to pay ERC $82.5 million to lower the tolls. Still, the tolls, along with annual increases, are destined to remain in effect until ERC hands operations over to VDOT in 2070. ERC’s contract with VDOT allows for annual toll hikes of 3.5 percent after year 2017 or the rate of the Consumer Price Index, whichever is higher, meaning that motorists could pay $21 to cross the Elizabeth River by 2070.
ERC has shouldered much of the criticism for the tolls, both for the amount and collection methods. Woodsmall, however, disputes the notion that ERC is lining its pockets with toll revenues. “Tolling is the funding source,” he says. “Without tolling, this project would not have been built. If we waited until the end of construction to put tolls on it, the toll would have been over $2.”
Depending on traffic, expenses and toll collection, ERC stands to accrue a 13 percent return on its $272 million equity contribution to the project. “That doesn’t occur until 2021 at the earliest,” Woodsmall notes. Meanwhile, the company must fund its operations, including maintaining the tunnel infrastructures. “The public doesn’t understand why we have to raise tolls, but going forward, it’s tolling that pays the debt and the operation and maintenance costs.”
Hampton Roads motorists likely will find it hard to escape tolls as the state tackles substantial highway projects throughout the region. They include the construction of a new eight-lane, high rise bridge in Chesapeake. “Those are very expensive projects,” says Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne. “All are in the billions of dollars, and it will be a long time unless additional revenue sources are considered. That’s something we have to come to grips with.”
Nonetheless, Layne believes that pre-tolls should be taken off the table. “That’s a bad policy,” he says. “Motorists in Hampton Roads are paying for a facility that’s not expanded. Never again should we see pre-tolling of facilities.” Layne adds that motorists should always have the option to use either the tolled lane or a “free” lane, similar to those found in Northern Virginia. “If you want to pay, you join the HOT (high occupancy toll) lanes. If you don’t want to pay, you stay in the free lanes.”
Aside from tolls, the public-private partnership added another wrinkle to the public’s perception of the funding process, Woodsmall says. “It’s a new mechanism to this region, and there have been a number of challenges with all the entities to understand their role and responsibilities. But, I think we’ve finally overcome those challenges.”
Layne believes public-private partnerships are a viable procurement method, although he adds that the state should have initially invested more money in the tunnels project. “We’ve already done that in buying tolls down. It would have been much better to put the money in upfront and kept the tolls lower.”
Del. Chris Jones (R-Suffolk) agrees that tolls would have been much lower if the state had invested additional funding before the project got underway. Addressing the unpopular toll structure and the derailed project to build a new, tolled 55-mile leg of U.S. Route 460, Jones sponsored a bill during the recent legislative session that establishes new oversight and accountability for public-private partnerships in transportation projects. An advisory committee would review highway deals and determine if they serve the public interest, while VDOT would be required to identify high-risk projects and mitigate risks before significant funds are dispersed. “If this law had been in effect, the general terms of the tunnel toll agreement would have been released to the public before it was signed and certified to be in the public’s best interest,” Jones says. “Those terms of agreement should never have been signed. At the end of the day, they did a disservice to the region with those terms and conditions.”
Still, Jones believes the project will be a plus for the region. “The new tunnel will double capacity at the Midtown Tunnel,” he notes. “This is certainly going to be significant at peak traffic hours.”
In the end, ERC hopes that will be enough to dissolve any lingering animosity motorists have toward tolls and closures. “Our message is Elizabeth River Crossings is here to deliver,” Woodsmall says. “We’re doing our best to deliver and live up to the expectations of the project.”2015-03-27T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/INTERVIEW_Shepard.pngBrian Shepard, CEO, United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS)
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/mission-minded#When:10:00:00ZA Chicago woman with kidney failure was on a waiting list for 11 years because her body’s chemistry made it difficult to find the right match for a transplant. The Richmond-based United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), however, was able to locate the right kidney for her only a few weeks after a new allocation policy went into effect in December.
Brian Shepard, the CEO of UNOS, says the new system gives such difficult-to-match patients a better shot at finding the donated kidneys they need anywhere in the U.S. “For some of those folks, if they don’t get this kidney, the next one that matches them might be years from now,” he says.
Since 1984, UNOS, a private nonprofit organization, has managed the nation’s organ transplant system under contract with the federal government. With a workforce of about 330 people, UNOS handles the U.S. transplant waiting list, matching donors to recipients 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. About 123,000 patients need transplants annually, but only about 28,000 receive them. Nearly 80 transplants take place daily, but about 18 people waiting for transplants die each day.
Shepard became CEO of UNOS in late 2013 after serving as its chief operating officer and interim CEO. Before joining UNOS in 2010, he was director of policy under Gov. Tim Kaine (now a U.S. senator).
In deciding his next move when Kaine’s tenure ended, Shepard considered a number of options. “When I looked at them, I kind of realized they all had a public-service aspect — the work was meaningful — but they also had real intellectual, complicated challenges.”
Complicated challenges at UNOS include developing policies governing the allocation of donated organs after extensive deliberations. In addition to revising its policy on kidney transplants, which represent about 80 percent of all transplanted organs, UNOS is considering changes to its policy on liver transplants and is initiating rules for hand and face transplants, which remain relatively rare in the U.S.
While UNOS holds a contract with the federal government, the majority of its revenue comes from fees paid by transplant centers. In fiscal year 2013, for example, UNOS had revenue of $46 million, of which the federal contract represented $3.2 million, or nearly 7 percent.
April is National Donate Life Month, during which many events across the country are planned to focus on organ donations. In marking its 30 years of operation, UNOS is unveiling a new logo this month while collaborating with the Richmond-based Retail Merchants Association on an educational campaign and holding the inaugural United for UNOS 5K and Fun Run at Innsbrook in Glen Allen.
Away from UNOS’ headquarters, Shepard is an avid baseball fan who coaches his sons’ Little League teams. A long-range project has been taking the boys, ages 9 and 11, to all of the Major League Baseball parks during summer vacations. “We’re a little over half way through the list,” Shepard says.
A native of Roanoke, Shepard is a graduate of Virginia Tech who is now studying for an MBA at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.
Virginia Business interviewed Shep­ard on Feb. 16 at his office in Richmond. The following is an edited transcript.
Virginia Business: How did UNOS wind up being in Richmond?
Shepard: The allocation system [for donated organs] … was a ground-up, a grass-roots effort. This really comes from the transplant community … Individual transplant centers would start to do transplants with donors that had come through their own hospitals. As technology evolved, people realized, if you put the kidney in a box of ice, you could probably get from VCU to Henrico Doctors’ [Hospital]. Then as the technology got better, they started to say, “We could get all the way to Washington, so I’ll call you if I can’t use the [donated organ], if you’ll call me when you can’t use it.” Individual, voluntary networks sort of grew up all over the country.
They started to get a little larger, and we ended up with multistate networks. By 1984, the federal government said, “Look ... it’s time we had a single, national system.” The Democrats had control of the House, and the Republicans controlled the Senate at the time, and so the compromise was, “Yes, it’s going to be a government-mandated, national system, but it’s going to be run in the private sector, and we’re going to contract with somebody.”
It was the regional group based in Richmond called the Southeastern Organ Procurement Foundation that took the lead in calling other regional groups and saying, “Look, if somebody is going to do it, it ought to be us; it ought to be the transplant community. Let’s put together our own organization to bid for this contract.” We won that contract in 1984 and have held it through multiple rebids.
VB: When the contract comes up for rebid, do you have other competing bids?
Shepard: Other folks have bid before, [but] it’s difficult to find the collection of skill sets that we have developed in order to do the contract. We’ve got a very large IT team, but we’ve also got nurses in the site survey department that go out and check on hospitals. We’ve got a group of policy writers. We’ve got the 24/7 organ center. We’ve got a department full of biostatisticians. It’s hard for somebody to put all those pieces together.
VB: You’ve recently implemented a new policy on allocating kidney donations. How is it different from what was in place before?
Shepard: There are a couple of big differences … There are some folks who are just chemically very difficult to match [for transplanted organs]. If we can find a kidney that matches those folks, regardless of where it is in the country … the new system gives them even more priority. For some of those folks, if they don’t get this kidney, the next one that matches them might be years from now … In the first six weeks of using the system, [the new policy] seems to be delivering kidneys to those folks.
The other [change] is that we are attempting to give the kidneys that are likely to last the longest to the candidates who are likely to survive the longest. So the best 20 percent of kidneys are offered first to the 20 percent of candidates who are likely to live the longest based on medical data and their age and other things like that.
VB: What’s the general wait time for somebody needing a kidney?
Shepard: Nationally, it’s probably around four years. And in some of the large, urban areas, it’s longer than that … There was a woman in Chicago … who had been waiting 11 years because she’s just almost impossible to find the right chemistry [in a donated kidney]. With the new system, we found one for her in just a few weeks. Some of that is luck, but she had a much bigger pool to draw from. It was not a local kidney that matched up.
VB: You are about to embark on a new branding effort. What’s your goal there?
Shepard: This is mostly about our communication with the transplant community. And it’s to tell the transplant community … we are building on 30 years of history here, and so it’s not a complete overhaul from what we used to look like, but we’re not exactly the same as we have been. There are some things we’re going to do differently moving forward from here. …
We’ll keep tuning up the allocation system. We’ll keep watching out for patient safety. But we’re really putting an increased emphasis on how the community works with our system …
How should we deliver information? How do we get them what they need to make the decisions? How do we make sure they’re not wasting time and money in the hospital setting that should otherwise be spent on patients, just because our system is not adapted for a new way they do business? ...
We’re making those adjustments to be connected to the transplant community in a way that I think will ultimately make them better able to take care of their patients.
VB: And by transplant community, we’re talking about transplant centers …
Shepard: Transplant centers, the docs who work there, the organ procurement organizations that go out and recover the organs, those folks.
VB: How about visibility as far as recruitment of employees?
Shepard: That is a big deal for us, especially right now as we’re looking for IT [people]. We’re a nonprofit, so we don’t have shareholders banging on us, but also we’re running the IT infrastructure that connects all the nations’ hospitals and matches donor organs and recipients. So it matters whether we can get the right people.
VB: Is that hard? You’re competing with major companies for IT people.
Shepard: Sure. We don’t compete with Capital One for market share, but we sure compete with them for IT staff. But I think our mission-driven focus really helps us. We’re salary and benefit competitive, but the mission really is what sets us apart. A lot of times we’re able to attract folks from other jobs that don’t give that sense of fulfillment that comes from working here.
VB: [UNOS is] talking about policies for hands and face transplants. Have there been any policies before? Is this something totally new?
Shepard: This is completely new. The federal government changed the regulation around transplants last July to clarify that these were, in fact, organs …
We have now some basic membership requirements. We have some basic tiebreaker rules in place if an organ were to be provided and two candidates were actually good fits for it. But at this stage, that doesn’t happen … we don’t have those kinds of volumes [for these types of transplants] going on in the United States. There are a dozen [face transplants] total, and maybe two dozen hand transplants in the history of the United States …
We want to make sure that we’re able to provide sort of enough infrastructure around [these transplants] so that it is safe and that it is fair ... These are pretty exciting medical discoveries; we want to let that unfold.
VB: One of the things that we mentioned in the story a couple of years ago was that … the number of organs offered for transplants was relatively flat while the demand keeps rising. Is that still the case?
Shepard: It is. We’re actually in the middle of a strategic planning process now ... We’re going to adopt the next three-year strategic plan starting in June … We really touch so many pieces of the puzzle [in the transplant community] that it’s time we took an active role in seeing what we can do to increase the number [of donations].
And as the infrastructure folks [in allocating organs], that might mean something different than just advocating for more donors. We can look at: Does the way that we measure performance outcomes cause some centers not to use organs on the margins because they’re afraid their overall score will go down? And if that’s true, can we change the metric? Can we make the offer system work faster so that if you do have an organ that’s hard to place, it’s not eight hours later, it’s only two hours later? ... Can we provide education to transplant centers about the benefits of using organs donated by older donors?
We’re about to release a study on deceased donor potential that suggests that, given the demographic trends in the United States, the organic growth in donors [is] just not going to be there. If we want more donors, we will have to do something different. We can’t wait for that to come to us … So we’ll need to be looking at using older donors. We’ll need to be more creative in some of the stuff we’re doing if we want more organs to be transplanted.
VB: I’m told that in some countries like Spain and Belgium they have an opt-out system where it’s automatically assumed that you’re going to be a donor when you get your driver’s license … whereas it’s an opt-in system here. Is there any opportunity or possibility of going to a system like they have overseas?
Shepard: I doubt it, and I’m not sure that it would help. They have a different sort of cultural baseline to work from. There are 58 organ procurement organizations [OPOs] in the United States. They each have a territory, so they’re roughly the size of a state … Some of them perform better than Spain. Some of them perform worse. So really it’s about the underlying demographics. It’s about the way the [organ procurement organization] goes about doing its job. It’s about the people that live in the area. It’s not as simple as saying, “Well if everybody opted in …” because OPOs are regularly able to get families to consent to donation even if the [deceased] persons hadn’t clearly made that decision in their lifetime. So it’s not just the number that [do commit to donating organs] in advance. It’s helpful to do it in advance. It makes it easier on the family ... But it’s not the only way to get through a process. It’s not a magic bullet. And it’s not something I anticipate the United States would do anytime soon.
VB: Now, one issue that has been advanced a couple of times is the idea of compensating donors or the family of donors. Is that in the same realm of “never going to happen”?
Shepard: I think it’s unlikely. I think it’s an emotional decision for people to make. I don’t think that people’s reasons to [donate organs] or not really revolve around a few dollars. I do think, particularly with living donors, that there are some efforts that have been useful and some more that we can do to make sure that [making a donation] doesn’t cost them money — from replacing their lost wages to making sure their health insurance covers [the procedure allowing a donation] to making sure they’re not paying for their own tests, follow-up tests or something like that … I do think there are probably some additional things that we could do in that area. We don’t do any of it directly, but the transplant community does. But I don’t think direct payments, particularly for deceased donors, are on the table in the near future.
VB: Do you think there will ever be a time that organs are bought and sold?
Shepard: If we ever got to incentives, I would think you would have a single national standard of some kind, and it would happen through the system. Because the idea of some people being able to bid more for an organ than other people is really contrary to the values of the entire system. I wouldn’t see anything like that happen. I think even a regulated system of incentives is unlikely. But I certainly don’t think sort of an open market is ever going to happen.
VB: Is there anything that we haven’t touched upon that you wanted to bring up?
Shepard: I think we’ve got 30 years’ worth of history, and it’s an exciting time because we’re figuring out how to honor that history while we creatively look to the future. And the folks here couldn’t be any better to work with. It’s just a fabulous team of people.2015-03-27T10:00:00+00:00
For the Record - April 2015
Bank of America announced the layoff of 202 workers in downtown Norfolk because the number of delinquent home loans the bank services has decreased to one-seventh of its peak level. March 29 was expected to be the last day for employees in the Legacy Asset Servicing division, which handles delinquent mortgages, said Jumana Bauwens, Bank of America’s senior vice president of communications, in an emailed statement. (The Virginian-Pilot)
Haulotte North America plans to move its North American headquarters from Frederick, Md., to Virginia Beach. The firm is a subsidiary of Haulotte Group based in L’Horme, France. It’s the third-largest manufacturer of aerial work platforms, such as industrial scaffolding and lift systems. The move is expected to create 66 jobs in Virginia Beach within 36 months, with average salaries of more than $70,000. Haulotte plans to open its new facility by mid-June.
The Navy awarded Huntington Ingalls Industries a $224 million modification to a previously awarded contract for advanced planning for the midlife overhaul of the carrier George Washington. The funds will allow for continued planning for the overhaul – known as a “refueling and complex overhaul” or “RCOH” – as well as the procurement of “long-lead materials” such as pumps, breakers, valves and steel for the fabrication of structural units. (The Virginian-Pilot)
Waltham, Mass.-based Raytheon confirmed in March that its “depot work” performed in Norfolk and Chula Vista, Calif., is being consolidated to the company’s operations in Indianapolis. According to Michael Doble, a Raytheon spokesman, about 250 jobs will be added in Indianapolis. The company will maintain a smaller operation in Chula Vista and Norfolk, where it reportedly has about 300 employees. How many of them will be affected is not known at this time, Doble said. (The Virginian-Pilot)
Recreational Equipment Inc. plans to open a store at Pembroke Mall in Virginia Beach in the spring 2016. The store will span more than 27,400 square feet, REI says. According to the company, the first REI in Virginia opened in 1990 at Bailey’s Crossroads. Today, the nearest REI is more than 100 miles away in the Richmond-Short Pump area. The store will feature gear for camping, climbing, cycling, fitness, hiking, paddling, snow sports and travel. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
The Artisans Center of Virginia announced the development of the Artisan Trail Network program in Winchester‐Frederick County. The Artisans Center of Virginia, together with a management team of local artisan‐related hospitality and cultural businesses, will develop a new regional artisan trail that will highlight a wide range of visitor experience attractions in Winchester‐Frederick County. The trail system is a public‐private initiative to further strengthen the relationships and connectivity of local businesses while emphasizing unique experiences, special places and locally made products in the area. (News release)
Three wines in the Shenandoah Valley made the Virginia Wineries Association 2015 Governor’s Case: Cross Keys Vineyards’ 2013 Touriga; RockBridge Vineyards’ 2010 V d’or and Muse Vineyards’ 2009 Clio, which was awarded the Governor’s Cup. The Governor’s Cup award winner and the other 11 wines that make up the 2015 Governor’s Cup Case are the top 12 highest scoring wines chosen from 390 entries of both red and white wines, from 94 wineries. (News release)
Strasburg-based First Bank is one step closer to acquiring six bank branches in Virginia from Bank of America. First Bank received approval to acquire the branches from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond and the Bureau of Financial Institutions, a regulatory division of the Virginia State Corporation Commission. The acquisition is expected to go through April 17. The bank plans to obtain retail branches in Woodstock, Staunton, Waynesboro, Elkton, Farmville and Dillwyn. First Bank expects to be the largest bank headquartered in the Shenandoah Valley after the transaction closes, with 16 branches and more than $750 million in total assets. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
Lumos cut a total of 31 employees— 16 in West Virginia and the rest in Waynesboro. “We have products that are growing in the business and we are reducing the focus in resale business,” said James Nester, the spokesman for the Waynesboro-based telecommunications company. “This reflects the focus on our data segment.” The layoffs come in the wake of the news of Waynesboro-based Ntelos laying off 48 corporate employees. Ntelos said it needed to “streamline and right size the organization” in January. Lumos split off from NTelos in 2011. (The News Leader)
Dan River Plants — a commercial venture in Ringgold launched by the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research — has suspended operations. Dan River Plants, formerly known as the Dan River Plant Propagation Center, moved from the institute to Ringgold East Industrial Park. The facility employed 11 people. Dan River Plants was a tissue culture business that “cloned” plants for a variety of clients throughout the U.S. (Work It, SoVa)
The former corporate headquarters building for the Peebles department store chain in South Hill has been sold for $1.5 million. S.L. Nusbaum Realty Co., a Norfolk-based commercial real estate firm, reported that the 29,600-square-foot office building on 7.87 acres was bought by WBS Investments LLC, owned by South Hill entrepreneur Willie Bob Smith. Houston-based Stage Stores bought Peebles in 2003 for $167 million. Stage Stores operates 850 stores in 40 states under the Bealls, Palais Royal, Peebles, Stage and Goody’s names. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
The Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to look into legal action against Duke Energy for reparations for last year’s coal ash spill on the Dan River. In February 2014, a metal pipe under a coal ash storage basin in Eden, N.C., failed, releasing 39,000 tons of ash into the river. Concerns about wildlife and drinking water quickly gave way to a publicity crisis for a city and county hoping to attract jobs and visitors to the area, said Westover Supervisor Coy Harville. (Danville Register & Bee)
Supply Resources, a custom packaging and logistics company, has moved its headquarters to a new location in Danville’s River District. The 21,000-square-foot historic building at 554 Craghead St. has been redeveloped to house office space. The second and third floors, totaling 14,000 square feet, will be available for redevelopment and lease as office space. The building also will house administrative and sales work of Supply Resources and its affiliated companies, which are SRI Global, Lynchburg Public Warehouse and Ricker Barker Properties. (Work It, SoVa)
San Francisco-based Bechtel Corp. will invest $10 million to move its Frederick, Md., operation to Northern Virginia. The move is expected to bring 700 new jobs to Fairfax County. Bechtel, a major engineering, construction and project management company, said the decision to relocate is due to global restructuring. Gov. Terry McAuliffe approved a $500,000 grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund for the project. He also permitted the use of $4 million in funds from the Virginia Economic Development Incentive Grant. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
Arlington-based Graham Holdings, the former owner of The Washington Post, is selling the physical campuses that comprise Kaplan College, a division of its Kaplan education business. Birmingham, Ala.-based Education Corporation of America, an operator of private U.S.-accredited colleges, will buy all 38 campuses in an all-stock transaction, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Financial terms were not disclosed. When announced in February, the deal was expected to close within 180 days. (Washington Business Journal)
Florida-based government contractor Harris agreed to purchase McLean-based Exelis Inc. in a $4.75 billion deal. The agreement, subject to regulatory approvals and approval by Exelis shareholders, is expected to close in June. Executives have not said where the firm will be headquartered after the acquisition. Harris is a communications and information technology company that serves both government and commercial markets. Exelis is a global aerospace, defense and information and services company. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
U.S. Federal Communications Commission staff recommended that the agency drop Sterling-based Neustar Inc. in favor of Ericsson AB subsidiary Telcordia Technologies as a contractor that helps telephone carriers route calls and text messages. The exclusive government contract, which expires on June 30, accounts for about half of the company’s revenues. Since 1997, Neustar has managed the world’s largest local number portability registry that allows consumers and businesses to keep their telephone numbers when switching among providers. (Reuters)
The University of Mary Washington’s unique approach to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing has been approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and will begin this fall. In the program, students will be able to live on UMW’s Fredericksburg campus while taking courses at both the university and Germanna Community College campuses. The academic partnership recently received approval from SACS, the accreditation body for degree-granting higher education institutions in the southern United States. (The Free Lance-Star)
Arlington-based Accenture Federal Services plans to acquire digital solutions company Agilex Technologies Inc. Accenture said the acquisition of the privately held company will boost its digital capabilities in analytics, cloud and mobility for federal agencies. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Chantilly-based Agilex focuses on the IT requirements of federal agencies. Accenture Federal Services is a subsidiary of Accenture LLP, a management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with approximately 319,000 employees in more than 120 countries. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
McLean-based Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) is acquiring intelligence services provider Scitor Corp. for $790 million in cash. The seller is the Los Angeles-based private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners. The SAIC board of directors has approved the deal, which is expected to close in May and is subject to customary closing conditions. Founded in 1979, Scitor is based in Reston and operates in Herndon, Chantilly, Charlottesville, Hampton and Arlington. Scitor has annual revenue of about $600 million and has 1,500 employees. SAIC has about 13,000 employees and annual revenues of about $4 billion. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
Henrico County-based used-car retailer CarMax Inc. announced plans in February to hire more than 2,500 employees at dealerships across the country. The majority of open positions are in sales, with additional positions in service, purchasing and the business office. Openings include full- and part-time permanent positions. Some of the areas with a large number of sales job openings include Denver, Cincinnati, Salt Lake City, Miami and Atlanta. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
Dominion Virginia Power plans to build solar power plants generating 400 megawatts of electricity in the state, with the energy coming online by 2020. The Richmond-based company expects to invest $700 million in the large-scale solar photovoltaic projects in a number of locations. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Henrico County-based GPM Investments LLC agreed to buy the Midwestern division of VPS Convenience Store Group LLC. In 2013, GPM acquired VPS’ Southeast operations. The acquisition of VPS Midwest division adds 116 stores in Indiana; the remaining stores are in Ohio, Michigan and Illinois. The stores operate under the Village Pantry and Next Door Store names. GPM owns Fas Mart stores and hundreds of other convenience stores. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Henrico County-based PBMares LLP, one of the largest Virginia-based accounting firms, is merging with TMDG LLC, an accounting firm based in Baltimore. TMDG will become a subsidiary of PBMares, which will retain Alan S. Witt as its CEO. TMDG will continue to be run by Matt Dubnansky, the firm’s managing director. The combined company will have about 220 full-time employees. That number should grow to about 250 people during tax preparation season. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Richmond-based Union Bankshares Corp. changed its bank’s legal name from Union First Market Bank to Union Bank & Trust. The bank has 131 branches and more than 200 ATMs throughout Virginia. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
James C. Justice II, a billionaire coal and agriculture magnate, has sold Nelson County’s Wintergreen Resort. EPR Properties, a real estate investment trust based in Kansas City, Mo., purchased the property from James C. Justice Cos. Inc. The financial terms of the deal, which closed in February, were not disclosed. Justice, who also owns the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia, acquired the financially troubled property in 2012 for $16.5 million. (The Daily Progress)2015-03-27T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/CVA_Blue-Crump-Uvest-Solar.pngBlue Crump is the founder of Uvest Solar.
Startup participates in Google pitch competition
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/startup-participates-in-google-pitch-competition#When:10:00:00ZBlue Crump’s voice was a little hoarse one morning in February for a good reason.
He had been practicing his elevator speech for Google’s Startup Next Demo Day. At that event, held in late February in Silicon Valley, he and 14 other entrepreneurs pitched their business plans in four minutes or less to more than 100 investors.
Crump’s startup, Richmond-based Uvest Solar, was picked from 100 around the world to participate in the event. Uvest also was an exhibitor at the Launch Festival, an event held March 2-4 in San Francisco, which bills itself as the largest startup conference in the world.
Uvest plans to create a crowdfunding platform to raise money for solar energy projects at schools and nonprofits. When the site begins operation, users will choose a project, decide how much they want to invest and receive a return on their investment of 5 to 7 percent.
Crump says the company will initially work with accredited investors (aka. high-net worth individuals), but plans to open investment opportunities to a broader audience as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission continues to redefine accreditation.
“What we are trying to do at Uvest is to bring Wall Street knowledge to Main Street morals,” says Crump.
His business partners are Michael Edgar, a Wells Fargo Securities associate, and Zach Axelrod, CEO at Washington, D.C.-based energy company Nextility. They already have identified three schools where they would like to begin solar energy projects using money raised through the portal (two of the schools are in Puerto Rico and the other is in Washington, D.C.).
This isn’t Crump’s first foray into startups. He calls himself a “bit of a serial entrepreneur,” having founded Surface, a green building firm in San Francisco, and Richmond-based Urban Grid Solar, a solar energy project installer. Crump sold both companies but still heads Lumen Energy, a firm with offices in Richmond and Kill Devil Hills, N.C., that develops energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
To be eligible for Startup Next Demo Day, Uvest had to participate in Google’s Startup Next pre-accelerator program, which took place last fall in 21 cities (including Richmond).
When Crump learned he had been picked to participate in Demo Day, he felt that his hard work was beginning to pay off. “I’ve been working on this idea for two years, and I have sat in front of other investment groups, and I have not been able to secure an investment,” he says.
Each time, however, he used feedback from investors to refine Uvest’s business model. With the recent opportunities he has had because of the Google program, Crump may be a little bit closer to turning his vision into a reality. The day after Demo Day, for example, Uvest was invited to talk with Blake Byers, a general partner at Google Ventures, the company’s venture-capital investment firm. At Launch Fest, Crump says he also started other conversations that are scheduled to continue in the coming weeks.
“The future of UVest is bright,” Crump concludes in an email.2015-03-27T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/NOVA_Hopworks.pngGov. Terry McAuliffe announces that Lucketts Mill & Hopworks will open in Loudoun County.
Loudoun boosting breweries as well as wineries
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/loudoun-boosting-breweries-as-well-as-wineries#When:10:00:00ZLoudoun County may be known as a destination for wineries — it has more than 40 — but it has taken a significant step in developing another alcoholic beverage industry, craft beer.
The mid-Atlantic’s first commercial hops-processing operation will open in Loudoun’s Lucketts community in October. Lucketts Mill & Hopworks will harvest and process hops, a key ingredient used in beer and other alcoholic beverages.
“Right now there’s not really a market for hops in a large-scale production model [in Virginia] because, if you can’t get dried hops that can be shelf stable, you can’t produce a consistent beer year round,” says Jonathan Staples, the owner of the 53-acre farm where Lucketts Mill will locate. He is also the co-owner of James River Distillery in Richmond.
Lucketts Mill initially will produce hops for gin made at James River Distillery. The processing facility eventually will supply other local breweries and distilleries, most of which now get dried hops from Washington state.
Staples is collaborating with the founders of a Maryland-based organic hops farm, Organarchy, to run Lucketts Mill.
Another Maryland hops farm, Pleasant Valley Hops, is investing more than $60,000 and expanding its acreage from three to 13 acres to grow hops for Lucketts Mill.
“This is the mission for Lucketts Mill & Hopworks, retain more areas for production while lowering the farmers’ overall investment,” Solomon Rose, co-owner of Organarchy, says in an email.
Staples is investing roughly $1 million in Lucketts Mill. To aid the venture, Gov. Terry McAuliffe approved a $40,000 grant from the commonwealth’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund, which is being matched by Loudoun County.
This summer, the Maryland-based brewery Flying Dog plans to open a location on Staples’ farm. Flying Dog is investing $1 million in the new operation, which will be known as Farmworks Brewery.
Buddy Rizer, Loudoun’s economic development director, says the development of Lucketts Mill is crucial in creating an infrastructure for the county’s farm-brewery industry. Loudoun has seen an increase in applications from people planning to start farm breweries since a new state law eased regulations on the industry.
Staples points out that within 10 miles of his farm, there now are eight breweries. “I think Loudoun is going to be a really exciting place beer-wise,” he says.2015-03-27T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/SOVA_Luna.pngMy E. Chung will head the combined company.
Luna Innovations merging with Michigan firm
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/luna-innovations-merging-with-michigan-firm#When:10:00:00ZRoanoke-based Luna Innovations plans to more than double its size this spring when it merges with Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Advanced Photonix Inc. (API).
My E. Chung, Luna’s CEO, says the deal will be transformational. He will serve as CEO of the combined company, which on a pro-forma basis would have had revenue of about $50 million for the 12 months ending Sept. 30. Luna had revenue of $23.5 million during the same period.
Luna and API are both in the fiber-optics industry. Luna develops and makes fiber-optic sensing and test and measurement products for the telecommunications, aerospace, automotive, energy and defense industries. API supplies optoelectronic sensors, devices and instrumentation for the telecommunications, defense, medical and industrial markets.
API stockholders will receive shares of Luna common stock at a ratio of 0.31782 shares of Luna common stock for each API common stock share. At the time the deal was announced, it was worth roughly $20.5 million. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including the approval of the deal by both companies’ stockholders.
In its latest financial results, Luna posted a net income of $5.9 million for 2014, as opposed to a net loss of $900,000 the previous year. API’s most recent financial results show a net loss of $1.3 million for the nine months ended Dec. 26, as opposed to a loss of $3.1 million during the same time period in 2013.
The merged company will keep the Luna Innovations name and be based in Roanoke. It also will double Luna’s workforce from about 100 employees to 200. Once the merger goes through, Luna’s board of directors will increase to seven seats, including Chung and three directors each from API and Luna. API’s CEO, Rick Kurtz, and its CFO, Jeffrey Anderson, will not be part of the new company.
“We look forward to working with Luna to create a dynamic company with greater potential,” Donald Pastor, chairman of the board for API, said in a statement at the time of the announcement. “We are very proud of the technology, products and markets that we’ve developed at API and are excited at the prospect of what we may be able to do together with the talented team at Luna.”
Another benefit will be the cost savings the merger is expected to bring. For example, the new company will be dealing the expenses associated with running only one public firm instead of two. Chung says Luna also sees an opportunity to maximize sales and create other potential operating synergies.
Chung says that, since he took over as CEO of Luna in 2011, he has worked to make the firm a meaningful, public company with a single, strategic focus. (Luna started out as a research firm in 1990, a division it still has today). Luna especially sees growth in its fiber-optic technology, which Chung says provides a cheap way to find defects in composite materials often used in the spacecraft and automobile markets.2015-03-27T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/SOVA_WISKO.pngWISKO Race Engineering sells the Radical racecar out of its new location in Halifax County.
Racecar-services firm opens new site near VIR
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/racecar-services-firm-opens-new-site-near-vir#When:10:00:00ZA Dulles-based racecar-services provider and car dealership has opened a new location at the VIRginia Motorsport Technology Park in Halifax County.
WISKO Race Engineering sells the Radical racecar at its 10,000-square-foot site at the industrial park, adjacent to Virginia International Raceway (VIR).
“The Radical is a race-purpose vehicle that is built and manufactured in England,” says Daniel Torres Delgado, WISKO’s general manager. “It is one of the largest racecar manufacturers in the world.”
WISKO’s Dulles location, on the other hand, is an exotic car dealership and services and repairs Ferrari racecars.
Delgado says a new Radical can cost from $80,000 to $220,000, depending on the model. In addition to selling new and used racecars and providing racecar services, WISKO offers customers an “arrive-and-drive” program, which allows them to drive a Radical without purchasing it.
WISKO considered lo­­cating at other racetracks but was ultimately drawn to VIR, a racetrack and resort that attracts thousands of visitors each year. WISKO has a race team that has competed at the racetrack. “VIR was definitely our top pick,” Delgado says.
The company, founded in 2012, initially focused on developing professional racecar drivers. Its business now also targets customers who want to own and drive racecars as a hobby. WISKO has six full-time employees at its two locations.
VIR has five racetrack configurations, a kart track, skeet and rifle ranges, a spa and a restaurant. The resort has 250-full time members, which can nearly double on a race weekend.
Other tenants at VIR’s business park include TMI Autotech Inc., which makes racecars; SascoSports Inc., a racecar shop; and Virginia Tech Transportation Institute’s SoVA Vehicle Motion Lab and the National Tire Research Center, which provide research and testing for the automotive industry.2015-03-27T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/VALLEY_Chenery.png
Shenandoah Valley Partnership picks new director
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/shenandoah-valley-partnership-picks-new-director#When:10:00:00ZThe new head of the Shenandoah Valley Partnership (SVP) may be young, but she’s not green in terms of economic development experience.
Carrie Chenery, who turns 29 in April, was assistant secretary of agriculture and forestry in Richmond before becoming executive director of the SVP, an economic development organization serving seven counties and five cities in the Valley. Chenery succeeds Dennis Burnett, who died unexpectedly in October.
In her previous role, Chenery oversaw the economic development efforts for the office of Secretary of Agriculture & Forestry led by Todd Haymore. Her responsibilities included administration of the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) fund, which provides grants to agricultural and forestry companies.
Before joining Haymore’s office, Chenery was manager of legislation and policy at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and director of government affairs with Williams Mullen, a law firm based in Richmond. She is no stranger to the Valley, having grown up on a Rockbridge County cattle farm.
“I feel like everything I’ve done has kind of refined itself to this point,” she says. “You know, it was government relations funneling into economic development, funneling into agriculture and now funneling back home for me. So … I feel like it’s been a nice trajectory to this point.”
Greg Godsey, chair of the partnership’s board, says it selected Chenery from a strong applicant pool. He doesn’t think her age will be an issue in her new position.
“I think her … track record speaks for itself, so I think she’s ready for this next role and will do an excellent job for the partnership based on … her experience to date and her connections in Richmond and throughout the state for that matter,” says Godsey, who is senior vice president and commercial market executive at Union Bank & Trust.
As head of the partnership, Chenery would like to enhance existing initiatives and collaborations and move them forward. Those plans include continuing to market the region alongside the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and advancing workforce efforts with the area’s higher-education institutions. She’d also like to add a young professionals committee to the partnership to give that group a voice and help attract more talent to the Valley.
Chenery and her hus­­band, Taylor, have settled in Staunton, which she says is halfway between her family’s home in Rockbridge and SVP’s office in Harrisonburg. When away from the office, Chenery enjoys hiking, camping and live music.2015-03-27T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/LumberLiqlogo.png
Lumber Liquidators defends itself against critical report
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/lumber-liquidators-defends-itself-against-critical-report#When:10:00:00ZToano-based Lumber Liquidators staunchly defended the safety of its flooring products in the face of a scathing report on “60 Minutes” and a senator’s request for a federal investigation.
Lumber Liquidators’ stock dropped 26 percent on Feb. 25 when the company said it was expecting an unflattering report on “60 Minutes” the following Sunday. After the segment aired, trading on the stock was stopped for two hours the next day before the price fell another 25 percent.
“We stand by every single plank of wood and laminate we sell all around the country and will continue to deliver the best product at the best price to our growing base of valued customers,” Lumber Liquidators said in a statement responding to the report, which said the company’s Chinese-made laminate flooring contained amounts of formaldehyde that may violate health and safety standards.
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Florida) has asked three federal agencies to test Lumber Liquidator’s laminate flooring for public health risks.
Lumber Liquidators al­­ready is embroiled in a separate federal investigation. The company said in a regulatory filing in February that it was facing possible criminal charges regarding violations of the Lacey Act, which forbids trade in wildlife, fish and plants that have been illegally sold.
In its report, “60 Minutes” commissioned tests on the Lumber Liquidators’ Chinese-made laminate flooring, which the program said failed to meet California’s standards for formaldehyde emissions. A federal law setting limits on formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products is currently being finalized.
Undercover reporters for “60 Minutes” also traveled to Chinese mills that it said sold laminate flooring to Lumber Liquidators. Mill employees were videotaped saying that their laminate flooring was falsely labeled as complying with California’s composite wood regulation.
Lumber Liquidators, however, maintains that its product is safe. The company says “60 Minutes” used a test method not required by California’s regulation.
The retailer also says the TV show’s tests did not measure the product according to how it is used by consumers. Although the company provided “60 Minutes” with its own random tests and explained its stance on the test methodology, the show’s producers did not include that information in the report.
Lumber Liquidators also said it randomly checks its products from Chinese suppliers and has found them to be safe. However, the company is offering concerned clients free air quality test kits, which will be analyzed by a third-party laboratory.
“As ‘60 Minutes’ noted, these attacks are driven by a small group of short-selling investors who are working together for the purpose of making money by lowering our stock price. Their motives and methods are wrong, and we will fight these false attacks on all fronts,” the company said in its statement.2015-03-27T10:00:00+00:00
Followups - April 2015
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/followups-april-2015#When:10:00:00ZSweet Briar scheduled to close this summer
The board of directors of Sweet Briar College announced at the end of February the 114-year-old women’s college will close this summer. Sweet Briar faced “insurmountable financial challenges,” according to a statement released by the college.
A group of angry alumnae, however, hired attorneys and created a nonprofit corporation to fight the move. Troutman Sanders LLP will represent Saving Sweet Briar Inc., which also is raising money for the school.
Many observers speculated that rapidly growing Liberty University in Lynchburg might want to buy the Sweet Briar campus. However, Jerry Falwell Jr., Liberty’s president, told The Washington Post he had no immediate interest in the property.
Sweet Briar would be the third Virginia private college to close in the past three years. St. Paul’s College, a historically black school in Lawrenceville, closed in 2013, and Virginia Intermont College in Bristol shut down last year.
Sweet Briar’s demise would leave Virginia with just two women’s colleges, Mary Baldwin College in Staunton and Hollins University in Roanoke. Hampden-Sydney College near Farmville is one of only four men’s colleges remaining in the U.S.
Virginia Business looked at the fortunes of Virginia’s same-sex colleges in its November 2013 issue.
Stone Brewing project clears hurdle
A unanimous vote by Richmond City Council in early March removed a potential hurdle in Stone Brewing Co.’s plan to build a brewery and restaurant in the city.
Stone, a California-based craft brewer, announced last year that Richmond would be the site of its highly sought-after East Coast brewery. But the city’s assistance in the second phase of the project, the restaurant, drew opposition from Richmond restaurant and brewery owners.
The March vote transferred control of the vacant city-owned Intermediate Terminal Building on the James River to the Richmond Economic Development Authority. Stone plans to open its restaurant and beer garden on the property.
Virginia Business looked at the Stone restaurant controversy in a review of last year’s major economic development deals in the March issue.
In the March issue, an article on the state’s colleges and universities referred to Virginia Tech as Virginia’s largest school in terms of full-time students. Tech is Virginia’s largest public, four-year university. However, based on full-time students, Liberty University, a private, nonprofit school in Lynchburg, is Virginia’s largest school with 38,258 students.2015-03-27T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Bernie1481.png
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/hows-business#When:10:00:00ZHow’s business? That’s a question I hear a lot these days. Not so much as in asking about magazine publishing (going just fine, thank you), but as in, “Do you think the economy is getting better?”
Why is anyone even thinking about this question anymore? Should success be so falling-off-a-log easy that there’s no risk? I don’t think so.
Let’s look at the economics: The Great Recession met its technical end almost six years ago. On Wall Street, we’re experiencing the fourth-longest bull market in history. The dollar is at an all-time high against the euro. Unemployment in the U.S. is running half the rate of most of Western Europe.
In Virginia, unemployment in December was 4.8 percent, well below the U.S. rate of 5.6 percent for the month. Nearby states all had higher unemployment: North Carolina, 5.4 percent; Maryland, 5.5 percent; West Virginia 5.9 percent; and Tennessee; 6.6 percent.
The Port of Virginia, a bellwether of our economy, posted six months of consecutive profits in the second half of last year and is setting records for container volumes in 2015.
If you don’t think things are better, just what exactly are you expecting?
The lingering suspension of belief in a positive business climate has at least two probable causes. First, the depth and length of the recession forced painful cuts, putting many people out of work, as well as causing the closing or consolidation of many companies.
A new generation of middle- and top-level managers has risen to prominence on the basis of their ability to cut expenses with little or no orientation toward building revenue. Today, this generation of leaders, promoted for their skepticism rather than their optimism, is at the helm.
Secondly, we are in a protracted period of negativity in our political arena. Despite much evidence to the contrary, people associate the state of our politics with the state of our economy.
Ironically, there is likely a negative correlation between the politics and business. How about that big recession during the Reagan years or the boom cycle during the Clinton administration? Both were caused, not by politics, but by economic cycles longer than the time either president spent in office.
Unfortunately, economic truths are frequently overwritten by a revisionist history concocted by those seeking increased political clout.
This political grandstanding disproportionately affects Virginia because of our historic dependence on government spending.
There are few better examples of a state whose attitude — at best quietly cautious, at worst outright negative — toward federal initiatives belies its dependence on such spending programs for prosperity. Thirteen of the commonwealth’s top 20 employers are in the public sector or are public-sector contractors. Sequestration has hit Virginia hard.
Still, despite these unproductive headwinds, business is better.
Not long ago, I had the pleasure of speaking in Manassas at the Prince William Chamber of Commerce’s 2015 Excellence in Business Awards. The requested topic: “The Future of Business Excellence in Virginia.” I thought to myself, “Now, that’s a pretty big topic!” Here are a few thoughts recycled from that evening’s remarks:
Virginia’s prosperity as a result of federal spending dates back to the New Deal of the 1930s. Not surprisingly, the business model for government contract work is similar to winning military conflicts — define the mission, build the capabilities and execute on command. It is no wonder that many retired military officers are successful executives in government contracting companies.
Diversifying into the private sector demands a new set of capabilities. Creating a brand and marketing it successfully requires longer-term investments than bidding on pre-set contract requirements. To thrive in the private economy, a company must establish itself outside of the bidding process. Great marketing is more than an affordable luxury; it is mission critical.
Being successful in the private sector also requires the assumption of more risk. It’s not enough to simply say, “We have the capability to build your product, give us the contract and we’ll get the job done.”
In the private sector, a company takes all the risk, building its product first and entering the market carrying all the cost on its own balance sheet — without a defined customer demand or the safety net of government contract payments.
The equation for success going forward also depends heavily on people. It takes innovative talent to create high-quality products that go beyond giving the customers just what they asked for or contracted to receive. Attracting talent necessitates clear and authentic leadership values; these always start to the top.
So, if you are uncertain about how business is going don’t be fooled or distracted by politics. Take a look around. Lots of companies are getting these things right, and yours just might be one of them.2015-03-27T10:00:00+00:00
Mining equipment company to expand in Tazewell County
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/mining-equipment-company-to-expand-in-tazewell-county#When:23:25:00ZSimmons Equipment Co., a manufacturer of battery-powered mining equipment, plans to invest $1 million to expand its Tazewell County operation.
The project is projected to create more than 30 jobs in the coming years.
S & S Machinery introduced its first battery-powered coal-mining scoop in 1968. The company’s market share in battery-powered scoops is about 80 percent.
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Tazewell County, the Tazewell County Industrial Development Authority, and the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority to secure the project.
The Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission approved up to $1.14 million in funding. That money will be invested over time through the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center Foundation in Abingdon for use in the company’s planned R&D and commercialization activities.
Additional funding and services to support the company’s employee training activities will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.2015-03-26T23:25:00+00:00