1435889056 Virginia Business http://www.virginiabusiness.com/ Business news and intelligence for and about the Virginia business community en jsabbath@va-business.com Copyright 2015 2015-07-02T18:03:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/wheeler-purchases-redevelopment-property-in-columbia-s.c Wheeler purchases redevelopment property in Columbia, S.C. http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/wheeler-purchases-redevelopment-property-in-columbia-s.c http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/wheeler-purchases-redevelopment-property-in-columbia-s.c#When:18:03:00Z Wheeler purchases redevelopment property in Columbia, S.C. Wheeler Real Estate Investment Trust Inc. has purchased a historic property in Columbia, S.C. for $2.4 million. The Columbia Fire House property includes one acre of land and two vacant buildings that were used as the Columbia Fire Departments headquarters from 1950 to 1995. Virginia Beach-based Wheeler plans to launch the first phase of redevelopment later this year on the property. The buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the company could receive tax adjustments for renovations of the historic structures. Columbia Fire House is located in Columbia’s Congaree Vista district, which has attracted commercial, residential, shopping, dining and art venues. The district is anchored by the Hilton Columbia Center Hotel and also is home to the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, a 142,500-square-foot facility. “We first began pursuing this property over three years ago, and I am very pleased to have the opportunity to acquire this historic and centrally located asset,” Jon S. Wheeler, chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “Columbia Station is in a prime location where retail is thriving and the area is rich in historic and cultural offerings that attract local residents and visitors. We view Columbia Fire House as one of the best opportunities in the city for its location and visibility in the Vista.” 2015-07-02T18:03:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/economic-impact-of-blue-ridge-marathon-continues-to-grow Economic impact of Blue Ridge Marathon continues to grow http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/economic-impact-of-blue-ridge-marathon-continues-to-grow http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/economic-impact-of-blue-ridge-marathon-continues-to-grow#When:18:02:00Z The Blue Ridge Marathon and its associated races in Roanoke continue to grow their economic footprint, according to a post race survey from the Roanoke Regional Partnership and the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission. This year, 1,677 runners participated in the Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon, half marathon or the Anthem Star 10K. The races, which were held in April, generated an economic impact of $556,000, up 6.7 percent over 2014. That includes $340,693 in direct new sales activity and $215,482 in indirect and induced spending, according to the survey. The races’ impact grew with an increase in the number of participants and an increase in the length of time runners spent in the city. More than 43 percent of survey respondents stayed in the area at least one night, and 37 percent stayed one or two nights. The races drew runners from 37 different states and six countries. The race has attracted long distance runners intrigued by the tough elevation climbs. The marathon has been nicknamed “America’s toughest road marathon.” The marathon climbs Mill Mountain and Roanoke Mountain for a total elevation change of 7,430 feet. 2015-07-02T18:02:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/meadwestvaco-merger-complete MeadWestvaco merger complete http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/meadwestvaco-merger-complete http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/meadwestvaco-merger-complete#When:19:54:00Z The merger of paper and packaging companies MeadWestvaco Corp. and Rock-Tenn Co. has been completed. The combined company, now known as WestRock Co., began operations Wednesday. Its headquarters is in Richmond. Steve C. Voorhees, who was CEO of Rock-Tenn, is CEO of WestRock. John A. Luke Jr., who was chairman and CEO of MeadWestvaco, has become non-executive chairman. WestRock now has $15 billion in annual revenue and 42,000 employees in 30 countries. It has more than 275 operating and business locations around the world. The company announced the merger in January.   2015-07-01T19:54:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/capital-square-realty-advisors-says-investors-support-healthcare-building-p Capital Square Realty Advisors says investors support healthcare building portfolio. http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/capital-square-realty-advisors-says-investors-support-healthcare-building-p http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/capital-square-realty-advisors-says-investors-support-healthcare-building-p#When:18:22:00Z   Capital Square Realty Advisors in Richmond said Wednesday that investors have fully subscribed its Delaware Statutory Trust investment offering, comprised of two healthcare-related buildings in Mechanicsville and Hartford, Wis. "Demand for healthcare services continues to grow at a historic pace, making healthcare real estate assets such as these, both fully leased to strong tenants in excellent locations, especially attractive," Louis Rogers, Capital SquareRealty Advisor’s founder and CEO, said in a statement. The portfolio includes a built-to-suit, 20,066-square-foot, single-story medical office building that is 100 percent leased to Virginia Women's Center. It’s located at 7515 Right Flank Road, within a mile of Richmond's Memorial Regional Medical Center. The 2.1-acre property, constructed in 2013, is situated within The Shoppes at Bell Creek, a mixed-use project of office condominiums, office buildings, a veterinary hospital and retail stores. The portfolio also includes a 73,756-square-foot building in Wisconsin that’s 100 percent leased to API Healthcare Inc., a GE Healthcare company. 2015-07-01T18:22:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/craft-distillery-to-open-in-newport-news Craft distillery to open in Newport News http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/craft-distillery-to-open-in-newport-news http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/craft-distillery-to-open-in-newport-news#When:18:03:00Z Newport News is getting its first craft distillery. Ironclad Distillery announced Wednesday plans to open a small-batch bourbon distillery and tasting room in a revitalized warehouse district on the James River. The company will invest $100,000 in the venture and expects to create eight jobs. Gov. Terry McAuliffe approved a $12,000 grant from the Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund to assist Newport News with the project. The company has committed to purchasing more than 675,000 pounds of Virginia corn, wheat, and rye over three years. 2015-07-01T18:03:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/bw-completes-spin-off B&W completes spin off http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/bw-completes-spin-off http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/bw-completes-spin-off#When:17:58:00Z Babcock and Wilcox Co. has completed the separation of its companies, leaving Lynchburg as the headquarters of nuclear company BWX Technologies Inc. (BWXT). BWXT began trading on the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday under the ticker symbol BWXT. Charlotte-based The Babcock & Wilcox Co. (B&W) announced in 2014 its plans to spin off its power generation business, which is now known as Babcock & Wilcox Enterprises Inc. That business has remained headquartered in Charlotte. BWXT will include the remaining four operating segments of the business, focused on the nuclear power industry. Those segments had revenue of about $1.5 billion, according to the company’s prospectus. The company has more than 5,000 employees at operations in Lynchburg, Erwin, Tenn., Mount Vernon, Ind., Euclid, Ohio and Cambridge, Ontario and U.S. Department of Energy sites throughout the country. BWXT is led by Executive Chairman John A. Fees, who was chairman of B&W, and President and CEO Peyton S. “Sandy” Baker, who was president of B&W’s Government and Nuclear Operations Group. “As a standalone company, BWXT will have greater management focus on the distinct business of government and nuclear operations,” Fees said in a statement. “We will also have greater ability to attract an investor base suited to our company’s specific operational and financial characteristics.” 2015-07-01T17:58:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/inova-names-ceo-for-center-for-personalized-health Inova names CEO for Center for Personalized Health http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/inova-names-ceo-for-center-for-personalized-health http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/inova-names-ceo-for-center-for-personalized-health#When:21:17:00Z Falls Church-based Inova has named a local business leader head of the recently established Inova Center for Personalized Health (ICPH). Todd Stottlemyer, the former CEO of Falls Church-based Acentia, will become CEO of ICPH on July 6. Acentia provides software, IT and management solutions. In his new role, Stottlemyer will be responsible for developing and growing all activities on the 117-acre ICPH campus (formerly the ExxonMobil site in Falls Church) which includes the Inova Dwight and Martha Schar Cancer Institute and the Inova Translational Medicine Institute (ITMI). He returns to Inova after five years when he served as an executive vice president. During his tenure at Inova, Stottlemyer co-chaired the strategic initiative to build the ITMI. 2015-06-30T21:17:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/cww-conveyor-systems-llc-plans-to-add-20-jobs-in-carroll-county CWW Conveyor Systems LLC plans to add 20 jobs in Carroll County http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/cww-conveyor-systems-llc-plans-to-add-20-jobs-in-carroll-county http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/cww-conveyor-systems-llc-plans-to-add-20-jobs-in-carroll-county#When:20:14:00Z CWW Conveyor Systems announced Friday plans to add 20 jobs and invest $2 million to expand its operation in Carroll County. The Hillsville-based company, which supplies conveyor systems for the mining industry, currently has 80 employees. The firm was part of Caterpillar Global Mining America LLC until March, when CWW was created as a new company to serve the United States, Mexico and Canada.             The new jobs are expected to pay an above average wage for the region. Gov. Terry McAuliffe approved a $65,000 grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund for the project. The Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission approved $85,000 in Tobacco Region Opportunity Funds. The Virginia Jobs Investment Program will provide funding and services for employee training. Virginia competed against Pennsylvania for the project.   2015-06-30T20:14:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Davis_Ford_Crossing_I1.jpg http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/hff-secures-33.75-million-refinancing-for-manassas-shopping-center HFF secures $33.75 million refinancing for Manassas shopping center http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/hff-secures-33.75-million-refinancing-for-manassas-shopping-center http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/hff-secures-33.75-million-refinancing-for-manassas-shopping-center#When:19:11:00Z Holliday Fenoglio Fowler L.P. (HFF) said Tuesday that it has secured $33.7 million in refinancing for Davis Ford Crossing, a 152,391-square-foot neighborhood shopping center with multiple national anchors in Manassas.  HFF worked on behalf of the borrower, Rappaport, to secure the 10-year, 4.3-percent, fixed-rate loan with Principal Real Estate Investors.  HFF said it would service the securitized loan. Between 2013 and 2014, Rappaport, a commercial real estate services company based in McLean, completed nearly $2 million in renovations and enhancements to Davis Ford Crossing and secured  LA Fitness as a new anchor tenant. The center, which is 97.5-pecent-leased, also is home to three other anchors, Staples, Petco and CVS. McDonald’s, United Bank, Arby’s and Exxon occupy outparcel pads, and an additional 2,670-square-foot pad site is available for future development. The center is located on 21 acres at 9890 Liberia Ave at the intersection of Liberia and Prince William Parkway. The HFF debt placement team representing the borrower was led by Managing Director Mark Remington and senior real estate analyst Robert Carey. “This transaction created a win for both parties, allowing Rappaport to buy out its capital partner while creating a valuable loan asset for Principal,” Remington said in a statement. 2015-06-30T19:11:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/cybersecurity-firm-to-expand-in-harrisonburg Cybersecurity firm to expand in Harrisonburg http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/cybersecurity-firm-to-expand-in-harrisonburg http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/cybersecurity-firm-to-expand-in-harrisonburg#When:15:28:00Z A Harrisonburg-based cybersecurity firm is expanding in the city, expecting to create 29 jobs. AXON Ghost Sentinel Inc. (AGS), a portfolio company of AXON Connected LLC, will spend $1.5 million on the expansion. AXON Ghost Sentinel provides cybersecurity formobile devices, government and corporate networks and the Internet-of-Things. Virginia competed against Michigan and New Jersey for the expansion. “We want to thank Governor McAuliffe and the City of Harrisonburg for the opportunity to develop our innovative cybersecurity solutions in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley,” Michael Markulec, president & CEO of AXON Ghost Sentinel, said in a statement. “We are honored to work with this incredible team of professionals and look forward to partnering with the local business community and academic institutions as we expand our operations.” Gov. Terry McAuliffe approved a $75,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund (formerly the Governor’s Opportunity Fund) to help Harrisonburg with the project. 2015-06-30T15:28:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/hdl-inc.-seeks-court-approval-to-sell-the-company HDL Inc. seeks court approval to sell the company http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/hdl-inc.-seeks-court-approval-to-sell-the-company http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/hdl-inc.-seeks-court-approval-to-sell-the-company#When:16:31:00Z Health Diagnostics Laboratory Inc. (HDL) wants to put the company up for sale amid what is says is interest from “numerous” unnamed parties. The Richmond-based blood testing laboratory filed a motion with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia Monday seeking the court’s authorization to conduct a sale of its business under Section 363 of the Bankruptcy Code. HDL Inc. said in a statement that it intends to continue normal operations throughout the sale process, which is expected to maximize the value of the company and provide a platform for future growth. “We are taking this step because we are convinced that a successful sale would be in the best interests of all HDL Inc. public and private stakeholders, including our secured and unsecured creditors, our employees, and the physicians and patients who rely on our advanced diagnostic testing,” HDL President and CEO Joseph McConnell said in a statement. According to McConnell, “Numerous parties have expressed considerable interest in acquiring and operating HDL Inc.’s business, and many have already invested significant resources in evaluating the opportunity. “ The capital investment that would come from a successful sale would help ensure the company’s long-term viability, he added. Under the proposed sale procedures, the company would give notice of the pending sale and solicit bids from potential bidders. HDL would supervise the bidding process, qualify and evaluate competing bids and would expect to seek approval from the Bankruptcy Court of the highest and best qualifying bid. According to the court filing, the deadline for receiving bids would be Sept. 4,  with an official auction held on Sept. 10, and a sale hearing in court on Sept. 16. HDL filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code on June 7. The action came about two months after the company agreed to a $47 million settlement with the U. S. Department of Justice to settle allegations of violating anti-kickback laws by paying fees to doctors and healthcare providers who sent blood samples to its labs.  Since then, it has been gearing up to sell excess equipment, lease out additional space at its downtown headquarters and find debtor-in-possession financing. The company said the bankruptcy court is expected to consider approval of the sale procedures at a July 14 hearing. If those procedures are approved, it said a successful bidder is expected to be identified in early September with a closing anticipated later that month. 2015-06-29T16:31:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/gannett-separates-into-two-public-companies Gannett separates into two public companies http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/gannett-separates-into-two-public-companies http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/gannett-separates-into-two-public-companies#When:16:30:00Z It’s official. McLean-based Gannett has separated into two public companies. Gannett announced in August that it planned to separate into two firms: a broadcasting and digital company that will operate under the name Tegna and a publishing company that will keep the Gannett name. Both firms still are based in McLean. Tegna will begin trading today on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol TGNA. New Gannett shares also begin “regular way” trading today on the NYSE under the symbol GCI. Under the terms of the deal, Gannett shareholders retained their shares of Gannett, now TEGNA, and also received one share of new Gannett for every two shares of Gannett stock they owned on June 22, 2015. 2015-06-29T16:30:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/evatran-receives-1.6-million-investment-to-expand-to-china Evatran receives $1.6 million investment to expand to China http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/evatran-receives-1.6-million-investment-to-expand-to-china http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/evatran-receives-1.6-million-investment-to-expand-to-china#When:15:36:00Z Evatran Group Inc. announced Monday it has received a $1.6 million investment from a Chinese automotive  manufacturer. The investment will be used to introduce Richmond-based Evatran’s wireless electric vehicle charging product in China. Evatran began conversations with Zhejiang VIE Science and Technology Co. in early 2015 and closed this initial investment in early June. VIE will expand an additional investment in Evatran’s Series B investment round later this year, according to the companies. China last year passed the United States as the largest electric vehicle market in the world by sales volume. Evatran has been selling directly to electric vehicle owners in the U.S. and Canada since March 2014. Currently, its technology is available for Chevy Volt, Nissan LEAF and Cadillac ELR vehicles. It plans to support Tesla and BMW EV (electric vehicles) later this year. 2015-06-29T15:36:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/pennoni-relocates-chantilly-office-to-herndon Pennoni relocates Chantilly office to Herndon http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/pennoni-relocates-chantilly-office-to-herndon http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/pennoni-relocates-chantilly-office-to-herndon#When:15:30:00Z Pennoni, a multidiscipline engineering, science, and design consulting firm, has reloated its Chantilly office to a 10,000-square-foot space in  Herndon.  The company moved to 13880 Dulles Corner Lane, and cited location as the primary reason. “We wanted to be in a more centralized location allowing for easier access to transportation options for employees and clients. We will now have easy access to the future Innovation Center Metro Station along the Silver Line, making our office more accessible to clients and employees. We will also be closer to the growing commercial centers of Tysons Corner and Reston,” Vice Chairman Thomas D. Rust said in a statement. Fifty employees will work in the office, including administrative staff, planners and engineers. The new space provides open and shared work spaces while the office campus includes amenities, such as walking trails, and fitness facilities. 2015-06-29T15:30:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/The-Boro-cinema_SMALL.jpg http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/new-15-screen-theatre-development-coming-to-the-boro-at-tysons New 15-screen theatre development coming to The Boro at Tysons http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/new-15-screen-theatre-development-coming-to-the-boro-at-tysons http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/new-15-screen-theatre-development-coming-to-the-boro-at-tysons#When:15:27:00Z   Kerasotes Showplace Theatres, based in Chicago, plans to open a luxurious new cinema at The Boro, a growing development in Tysons near the Greensboro Metro station in Fairfax County. Showplace ICON will offer 15 screens, dining options and reserved seating. Geoffrey Mackler of H&R Retail represented Kerosotes in the transaction. “We're thrilled to be a part of The Boro development," Tony Kerasotes, chairman and CEO of Kerasotes Showplace Theatres, said in a statement. The Meridian Group, based in Bethesda, Md., is developing the Boro, which is a redevelopment of SAIC’s corporate campus in Tysons.  Whole Foods also has agreed to serve as an anchor tenant in the development and has signed a 70,000-square-foot lease for a flagship store. Showplace ICON will open in the summer of 2018. It will have 109,000 square feet of space, including auditoriums with large screens and leather recliners. A lobby lounge will offer a bistro and bar, with seating for more than 150. Showplace Icon also will have rentable space for corporate meetings and events, with satellite-conferencing capability and the ability to project multiple formats onto the large screens. The Boro’s first phase, scheduled to break ground in summer 2016, will consist of 1.4 million square feet of mixed-use development. It will include 626 apartments, 124 condominiums, 223,000 square feet of retail, 400,000 square feet of office space and a one-acre public park. When complete, the development will include 1.8 million square feet of residential space, 1.3 million square feet of office, 316,000 square feet of retail, and 250,000 square feet of hotel space. 2015-06-29T15:27:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/PREVIEW_math.png File photo http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/learning-with-time-the-wisdom-of-economic-literacy Learning, with time, the wisdom of economic literacy http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/learning-with-time-the-wisdom-of-economic-literacy http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/learning-with-time-the-wisdom-of-economic-literacy#When:10:00:00Z I was not much of a math student in high school and college. Actually, that’s a gross understatement. I avoided math like the plague. I blamed my math phobia on a young middle-school teacher whose techniques were unconventional, even at a boys’ school in the mid-1960s.Each week, he rearranged the students’ desks in the order of the grades we had made on the last test.  Those with the lowest grades sat on the last row. I was a frequent resident. During class, the teacher would call on students to solve problems on the blackboard while he retreated to the back of the room with a piece of chalk in one hand and an eraser in the other. If you messed up, the chalk and eraser would come flying at the blackboard. Years later, while cleaning out a desk at my parents’ house I found an unfinished letter that I had written in middle school. “Dear President Johnson,” it said. “Please draft my math teacher.” I thought about my adolescent issues with numbers when I saw that this year’s Virginia high school graduates represented the first class in which all students passed a required, full-credit course in economics and personal finance. The economic literacy course was the result of the efforts of a public/private partnership, which included the Virginia Council on Economic Education, the state Department of Education, the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Virginia Bankers Association, Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants and many businesses throughout the commonwealth. In my opinion, the course is important for many reasons. Much has been said, for example, about the need to prepare a state workforce for STEM jobs (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).  One way to interest students in these fields is to show them how the mastery of numbers makes a difference in their lives. Math is more appealing when it deals with the dollars and cents in your pocket.  Also, high school graduates will need to have a familiarity with budgets if they want to land supervisory or management jobs. It would not hurt to understand as well the difference between costs and investments and the concept of return on investment. An understanding of economics is also important in the roles we play as involved citizens. This year’s high school graduates likely will be able to vote in November’s legislative contests and next year’s presidential election. A lot of discussion will take place during the next 16 months about the proper role of government. Should spending on state and federal programs be expanded or curtailed? Should taxes be raised or lowered? What are the long-term payoffs of more money for schools and transportation or financial incentives for new businesses promising to create more jobs? Finally, economic literacy should help these students manage the financial challenges they soon will face.  Many will confront the burdens of student loans as they enroll in college. Do they understand the amount of debt they may accumulate over four years of college and perhaps more years of study in graduate school? Will student debt, in fact, dictate the careers they choose? In addition, students will learn that they need to establish a record of credit that will allow them to purchase a car or a home. Soon after starting their careers, they will have to begin planning for their retirements because company pensions have become a thing of the past. You might think these observations are ironic coming from someone who spent so many years avoiding any entanglement with math, but I mended my ways after college. A career in journalism doesn’t free you from dealing with numbers. I quickly had to learn the fundamentals of budgets to cover countless city council, county commission and school board meetings. I also realized that I was more intrigued with business than I was with government. So I began taking business classes at a local community college and plodded my way through years of economics, accounting, marketing and management courses until earning an MBA at age 35 at the University of Richmond. The path might have been simpler if I had taken a course in economics and personal finance in high school.  That makes a lot more sense than trying to get your teacher shipped to Vietnam. 2015-06-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/MetrtoSV9433.png Metro officials say ridership in Phase I of the Silver Line is outperforming expectations. Photo by Mark Rhodes http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/the-silver-bullet The Silver bullet http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/the-silver-bullet http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/the-silver-bullet#When:10:00:00Z Phase I of Metro’s Silver Line marks its first anniversary in July, and that is a cause for celebration in Northern Virginia. Since rail arrived, the fortunes of Tysons Corner and Reston have been building — literally — and the silhouette most common to their skylines has become the construction crane. Even in western Fairfax and eastern Loudoun counties, where Phase II of the Silver Line probably won’t open until 2020, growth is on a fast track. Developers and planners see how the first phase of the line is altering the neighboring landscape, and they are all aboard for the change that is coming. This spring, Metro had to share some less than great news about the Silver Line: Design modifications would be adding $76 million to the cost of Phase I, bringing the final price tag to $2.98 billion, and the opening of the $2.7 billion Phase II, originally to be in 2019, would be delayed 13 months because of weather problems, design modifications and new stormwater management requirements. Despite these setbacks, Phase I of the system is performing better than expected, and it is acting as a catalyst for a surge in growth. Shyam Kannan, managing director of planning for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, says Phase I — which consists of the McLean, Tysons Corner, Greensboro, Spring Hill and Wiehle-Reston East stations — is outperforming ridership projections. Wiehle, the station at the end of the line, is the busiest of the five stations, logging more than 8,000 daily entries. Greensboro, the quietest stop, has been averaging 943 entries. Commuter traffic is flowing in both directions on the railway, with a reverse commuting market that Kannan terms “pretty significant.” Almost two-thirds of Silver Line riders cross the Potomac, and 17 percent travel to and from Maryland. About 1,500 rides a day are confined solely to the new railway. Weekend use of the Silver Line has been even stronger than weekday use. On “Black Friday,” the traditionally heavy shopping day after Thanksgiving, for example, the Tysons Corner stop “was through the roof,” Kannan says, with 11,000 entries. In general, that station, which serves the Tysons Corner Center and Tysons Galleria shopping malls, posts weekend ridership numbers second only to the Woodley Park stop in the District, which provides access to the National Zoo. Unlike two other recent transportation additions to the Washington area, the Intercounty Connector in Maryland and the hot lanes on the Beltway, the Silver Line has not had to be sold to an unconvinced public, Kannan says. The demand was there. And with 20 million square feet of construction taking place at Tysons, the Metro planner says that usage surely will grow. Michael Caplin, president of the Tysons Partnership, a coalition of business, government and community leaders, concurs.  “It’s go, go, go at Tysons,” he says. “Ridership is exceeding expectations, construction is proceeding with gusto, and retail sales are strong.” Fairfax County’s master plan permits unlimited density within a quarter mile of the new Metro stops, with the result that during this spring alone, more than 400 units of luxury housing have opened near the Spring Hill station and more than 800 units close to the Tysons Corner stop. Hundreds more units are planned. Capital One Financial Corp. is putting up a 34-story office tower near the Mclean station, which, after the Pentagon, will be the second-largest building in the region. Tech companies are moving in at Tysons, as well.  One recent arrival is Cvent, a software company that does logistical support for major events. Last year, Cvent relocated from a site about a mile away to be adjacent to the Greensboro station, saying specifically that it wanted its 400-plus employees to have access to Metro.  In April, the 300-room Hyatt Regency became the first new hotel to open at Tysons in 20 years, and it pointedly touts its location just 200 yards from the Tysons Corner station. In May, Whole Foods announced it will open a 70,000-square-foot store at a planned 3.7-million-square-foot mixed-use development called The Boro near the Greensboro station. With that amount of development in the works nearby, the Greensboro station is unlikely to remain the quietest on the line for long. In Reston, a 1.5-million-square-foot, mixed-use public-private development called Reston Station is going up around the Wiehle station, which has become a regional transit hub. With 2,300 parking spaces, Wiehle is the only station on Phase I that has designated parking. It also has a 10-bay bus terminal that serves Fairfax and Loudoun as well as Washington Dulles International Airport. Mark Ingrao, president and CEO of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, says the coming of Phase II of the Silver Line to Reston Town Center in five years has increased the number of applications for construction permits there. Several luxury apartment buildings within walking distance of the planned railway stop already have opened. “There’s a lot of interest in residential units,” Ingrao says. Reston Town Center will be the first of six stations on Phase II of the Silver Line. The other stops heading west will be Herndon and the Innovation Center, also in Fairfax County, and Dulles Airport, Route 606 and Route 772 in Loudoun. The Herndon station, Route 606 and Route 772 all will have designated parking. In Loudoun, “lots of folks are getting prepared for Metro,” says Tony Howard, president of the county’s Chamber of Commerce. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, an opportunity to shape our future.” Loudoun has the advantage of still having plenty of green space that can be developed, Howard says, which makes it attractive to commercial developers. Its challenge will be to provide the cultural amenities to leverage that investment and foster a sense of place. “The market is going toward an urban, workable environment,” Howard  notes,  which precisely describes the Loudoun Station complex that is coming out of the ground near the Route 772 Metro stop. Loudoun Station advertises itself as a “downtown community,” featuring offices, residences, restaurants, retail and entertainment options. An 11-screen movie theater opened there this spring. Herndon, too, envisions a citylike environment around its Metro station — as much as 3.2 million square feet of commercial space and 2,400 housing units by 2035. All of this current and future development will transform a landscape that was decidedly rural just 30 years ago into a network of suburban cities, all connected by rail. As Caplin points out, “Access to Metro will be the differentiator.” 2015-06-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Landrum9415.png Stephanie Landrum, president of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership. Photo by Mark Rhodes http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/time-for-a-changeover Time for a changeover http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/time-for-a-changeover http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/time-for-a-changeover#When:10:00:00Z Northern Virginia is in the middle of a metamorphosis. “The region is moving from being a company town to becoming a global business center,” says Stephen S. Fuller, director of George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis. The move, he says, is not really an optional change. If Northern Virginia hopes to maintain its enviable perch at the top of almost every measure of local success, the metamorphosis is a must. Sequestration was a brutal lesson for NoVa about the dangers of depending too heavily on the federal government as a driver of the local economy. In the past five years, cuts in federal spending have meant the loss of 9,000 federal jobs in the region — jobs that no one seriously expects to get back.  Gone, too, with sequestration, is $9 billion in federal contracts, with the predicable effect of many government contractors having to downsize or go out of business. The collateral damage has been office vacancies stuck at all-time high rates and a stagnant employment market. Office vacancy rates in the Washington area rose from 14.6 percent in the last quarter of 2014 to 15 percent in the first quarter this year, according to Costar, the commercial real estate research firm. Southeast Fairfax County had the worst vacancy rate in the region, a whopping 37.5 percent. These rates, in part, reflect a new reality in the commercial real estate market: Many businesses are reducing their footprint by using space-reduction measures such as bench seating and hoteling and allowing their employees to work remotely. A Bureau of Labor Statistics study in 2013-14 shows the depth of the employment problem. It found that the Washington region as a whole ranked 14th out of the nation’s 15 largest metropolitan areas for job growth during that period — worse even than Detroit.  And, Fuller says, the jobs that NoVa has been adding, which have kept its unemployment numbers in the 4 percent range, are mostly in food services, hospitality and retail, and they pay far less than the jobs that have vanished. Obviously, the past few years haven’t been the best of times for a region used to years of ever-increasing prosperity, but business leaders believe that their recent pain can be turned into eventual gain. Northern Virginia has the necessary positives in place to allow it to transform itself into an international business center: top-notch schools, a highly educated and enviably wealthy populace, and a sophisticated and expanding transportation network, including Metro’s Silver line. Redirecting those resources will just take patience and planning. “This kind of change doesn’t happen overnight,” Fuller says. “It takes a while to reposition.” The economist’s best guess on when Northern Virginia once again will outpace the national economy? 2018. But the overall picture already is brightening, if slowly. A better year than 2014 In Alexandria, Stephanie Landrum, president and CEO of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, predicts this year will be better than last year. Applications to build have increased along with the volume of leasing, she says, and the office vacancy rate has dropped at least a little, from 17.3 percent last year to 16.2 percent in the first quarter of 2015. The city’s three major markets, Old Town, Carlyle and Potomac Yard, are all logging promising activity. In Old Town, where the office vacancy rate is only 10 percent, three waterfront projects are underway. The Hotel Indigo should open in the summer of 2016; work on the mostly residential development at Robinson South is expected to begin this fall; and the residential and retail Robinson North project is slated to get underway next year with delivery the following year. In Carlyle, the 2,100 employees of the National Science Foundation should arrive in 2017 and occupy a 660,000-square-foot LEED-certified build­­­­ing across from the Eisenhower Metro stop, with mixed-use development expected to follow. (LEED stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design.) Residential development around all four of Alexandria’s Metro stations is strong, Landrum says, but especially at Potomac Yard, which is slated to get a Metro station in 2018. The station on the Blue and Yellow lines will be funded with $50 million from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority and $50 million from a developer. The remaining $140 million will be generated by a special tax district surrounding the station.  Alexandria projects that — once it is built out with a mix of residential, commercial and retail space — the area will produce $98 million in annual revenue for the city. Millennial mecca Arlington, too, is “definitely better off than last year,” says Christina Winn, the county’s director of business investment.  “We are moving into a new world of technology companies, entrepreneurs and millennials.” Unfortunately, that new world includes about 4 million square feet of empty office space, much of it in Crystal City, where the vacancy rate remains at an uncomfortable 21 percent for Class A space, according to Costar. Still, Winn is bullish about the transformation of the high-rise neighborhood into an innovative technology hub, and activity does seem to be picking up there. In April, the D.C.-based business incubator 1776 announced it was acquiring Disruption Corp., an asset management and financial services firm, and expanding into Crystal City. It joins Eastern Foundry, an incubator for small government contractors; LiftOff Health, which focuses on identifying and fostering ideas for innovation in health care; TechShop, which helps entrepreneurs with 3-D printing; and the Crystal Tech Fund, a co-working space for startups.  Another co-working space company, WeWork, is partnering with the biggest landlord in Crystal City, Vornado Realty Trust, to turn an empty office building into micro apartments and retail space. The WeLive concept will target millennials by creating two-floor “neighborhoods” with shared common space and amenities. “We have the highest concentration of millennials in the region,” Winn says. Lidl, a Germany-based discount supermarket chain, announced in June plans to spend $77 million in creating a U.S. headquarters in Arlington where it will employ 500 people. The company also will create a $125 million regional headquarters and distribution center in Spotsylvania County, employing 200. In Arlington’s Rosslyn area, the business advisory company CEB will help anchor a new 31-story office building expected to open in 2018. CEB will add 800 employees to the 1,200 it already has in Arlington. A TargetExpress store will open in the same neighborhood this fall. Still, Costar reports that the office vacancy rate in the Rossyln-Ballston corridor is little better than in Crystal City — about 20 percent in the first quarter of 2015 for Class A space. One reason is 1812 N. Moore St., a 530,000-square-foot, 35-story office tower. It is still vacant more than a year after completion. Developer Monday Properties built on spec and has yet to find a marquee tenant; it recently refinanced a $140 million construction loan. Overall, the county’s economy is “gaining traction and momentum with every success,” Winn says. “The high vacancy rate remains our biggest challenge.” Sequestration’s toll Of all the NoVa jurisdictions, Fairfax probably was hurt the most by the federal budget cutbacks. “We lost 10 percent of government contracting dollars from the sequestration,” says Gerald L. Gordon, president and chief executive officer of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. Costar reports that the county continues to have a painfully high office vacancy rate as a result — 18.9 percent in the first quarter of the year. Gordon doesn’t expect any great changes for 2015. “This year will be pretty flat, maybe creeping up a little,” he says. The county does look forward to a one-time boost of $60 million to $80 million from being the primary host of the World Police and Fire Games, which began on June 23 and will end on July 5. Otherwise, any rise in the county’s fortunes probably will come from the burgeoning businesses of cybersecurity and translational medicine and the ongoing emergence of Tysons Corner as a business center. Especially good news for Fairfax was the recent decision by Inova Health System to buy for $180 million the former Exxon Mobil Corp. campus across the street from its Inova Fairfax hospital. Once Exxon has fully vacated the premises in about a year, Inova will begin renovations to accommodate centers for genomics, cancer research and personalized medicine. In May, Dwight C. Schar, chairman of the home building company NVR, announced that he and his wife, Martha, will donate $50 million to the launch of the cancer research institute there. Eventually, the Merrifield campus may accommodate 3,200 employees. The site has 1.2 million square feet of office and conference space, and two pads there are zoned for another 465,000 square feet of office space, Gordon says. He scoffs at the notion that George Mason University’s plan to dive into personalized medicine at its Prince William campus will represent competition for Inova. He sees “crossovers,” instead. Both institutions also hope to open medical schools eventually. Tysons, of course, is the county’s biggest story. The opening of Metro’s Silver line a year ago is spurring a frenzy of residential and office building there, despite an office vacancy rate of about 15 percent. (See related story, Page 66.) New hospital in Loudoun Loudoun County, being farther from Washington, was not hit as hard by the cutbacks as closer-in jurisdictions. “We are in better shape than a year ago, and we are diversifying rapidly,” says Matt Letourneau, a Republican supervisor representing the Dulles District and chair of the board’s economic development committee. The hottest part of Loudoun is the Route 50 corridor, where hundreds of bulldozers can be seen working on housing and retail projects. In a nod to that exploding demographic, HCA will open its 124-bed StoneSprings Hospital Center along Route 50 in December. It will join a medical cluster in that part of the county, which includes a hospice, a rehab hospital and Waltonwood, a memory-care center that will open next year. The county also plans to build a senior center at South Riding in the next couple of years. Along the Route 7 corridor, the office vacancy rate was a better-than-average 12.8 percent for Class A space in the first quarter of this year, Costar reports. One Loudoun, a mixed-use development in Ashburn, continues to expand, adding restaurants and retail, even though plans for a minor-league baseball stadium at the site appear dead in the water. And, despite a flurry of press about Gov. Terry McAuliffe wanting to have a Redskins stadium in NoVa, the county’s business leaders say nothing concrete has emerged about any location in Loudoun. As is true throughout NoVa, office space leasing has been slow, and that caused a rethink by the Peterson Cos., developer of the 205-acre Commonwealth Center office development park near Route 7. By this date, a 65,000-square-foot TopGolf entertainment complex should have opened at the site, and Peterson wants to build an indoor skydiving facility at the center next. A few miles away, high-end rental apartments, restaurants and entertainment facilities are going up around  what will be the last stop of  the second phase of Metro’s Silver line at Route 772. All this building activity is taking place almost exclusively east of Route 15. West of that unofficial dividing line, Loudoun’s rural economy is thriving.  In 1998, for example, the county had five wineries. It now has 40, and in a nod to Virginia’s up-and-coming reputation as a producer of fine wines, the county will host the national Wine Tourism Conference next year, the first time that gathering has ever been held outside of Napa Valley. Breweries “are multiplying like rabbits,” as well, say Tony Howard, president of the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce.  Eight are now operating, with more on the way, including Victory Brewing of Philadelphia, which will open a brewpub at the courthouse square project in downtown Leesburg next year. Maryland-based Flying Dog Brewery, however, canceled plans to open Farmworks Brewery in the northern part of the county on the site of a new $1 million hops-processing operation. That facility, called Lucketts Mill & Hopworks, expects to begin operations in October.  Washington Dulles International Airport continues to be “a concern” for Loudoun, Letourneau admits. Air traffic there is down 2 percent, but international travel is growing, he says, and the bargain carrier Frontier Air has expanded its domestic flights from the airport and is doing well. The Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority’s decision to shift money from Reagan National to Dulles is another “positive sign.” All in all, “it’s hard to complain” about the state of the economy in Loudoun,” Howard says. His statement is accompanied by a caveat, though.  In September, he points out, the federal budget will expire without timely action in Washington. That means it could be déjà vu all over again for Northern Virginia with still another sequestration possible. Northern Virginia at a glance Source: Virginia Employment Commission, Virginia Economic Development Partnership Unemployment rate (April) 3.8 percent Population (2013) 2.86 million Increase since 2010 6.7 percent Average weekly wage $1,270 Percentage of adults (25+) with bachelor’s degree or higher 52.5 percent Median family income $116,615   2015-06-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Grubs9280.png Kathy Grubbs, Harvey Lindsay Commercial Real Estate Photo by Mark Rhodes http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/a-rising-tide-of-concern A rising tide of concern http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/a-rising-tide-of-concern http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/a-rising-tide-of-concern#When:10:00:00Z The tide is rising in Hampton Roads, and the commercial real estate industry is getting a wakeup call. Accelerating sea levels combined with sinking terrain potentially threaten property, infrastructure and ultimately, the region’s economic vitality. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says Hampton Roads is second only to New Orleans as the U.S. area most affected by sea-level rise. Sea levels in the region have risen more than 14 inches in the past 85 years, compared with the global average of 5 to 8 inches. Recent studies by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and the Sierra Club also paint a sobering picture. By 2100, Norfolk’s sea level is projected to be between 3.6 and 5 feet above the level it was in 1992, averaging an increase of more than half a foot a decade. Meanwhile, land across the region is sinking about one foot per century. Then there’s the increased necessity for and increasing costs of flood insurance and structural changes to buttress buildings against rising waters. Municipal bond ratings also could be downgraded.  Moody’s Investors Service, a credit-rating group, recently surveyed city halls in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Hampton and Virginia Beach about the effects of sea rise, flooding and storms on infrastructure, budgets and tax bases. Standard & Poor’s has followed the economic impact of sea-level rise for nearly a decade. Still, sea-level rise has yet to become a priority for the commercial real estate industry. “It’s not on anybody’s radar on the property management side,” says Kathy Grubbs, senior vice president for property management at Harvey Lindsay Commercial Real Estate in Norfolk. “They’re not seeing the effects of it. What you can’t see, you don’t worry about.”  Grubbs, however, does not think the industry should bury its head in the region’s proverbial sinking sand. A member of the Hampton Roads Green Building Council, she has attended conferences focusing on coastal flooding and is seeing a slow uptick in concern. “I think it will be, in the future, a very hot topic,” she says. “It’s starting to be more prevalent because we’re seeing more seminars about it. The more people start to talk about it, the more our industry starts to realize it.” The Center for Sea Level Rise at Old Dominion University is trying to jumpstart the conversation. One of four regional pilot projects in the U.S. charged with addressing sea-level rise, the center wants government, business and community stakeholders to help craft plans for dealing with land use and municipal and economic impacts. “We need to start making better planning and investment decisions, and we need the commercial real estate community to be participants in this project,” says Ray Toll, director of coastal resilience research at ODU and a member of the Governor’s Climate Change and Resiliency Update Commission. “We don’t have to immediately jump, but we need to start thinking how all this can work together.”  State and local governments already have picked up the mantle, developing strategies to mitigate the effects of sea-level rise and increased coastal flooding. During the 2015 legislative session, the General Assembly approved a bill requiring localities in the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission to come up with comprehensive plans addressing sea-level rise and recurrent flooding. The assembly also passed measures directing the Department of Conservation and Recreation to update the state’s flood protection plan every five years and authorizing a study on groundwater and surface water consumption and sustainability. Localities also are enacting new regulations. In Norfolk, where heavy rains regularly foreshadow flooding, city leaders are considering expanding the sea wall from downtown toward Old Dominion University. “If localities implement things like that, it could create value in a lot of real estate,” says David France. He’s a vice president with Kimley Horn and Associates in Virginia Beach, a design consulting firm that has worked with Hampton Roads cities, including Norfolk, Portsmouth and Hampton. The commercial real estate industry, he adds, is slowly realizing the effect sea-level rise could have on property throughout the region. “We’re still on the cusp of this. It’s not been tremendously impactful to commercial real estate as of yet, but it’s headed in that direction.” Industry leaders for the most part are paying attention, with the Hampton Roads Association for Commercial Real Estate leading the clarion call as it lobbies the General Assembly and local governments to address recurrent flooding. “We’re becoming more aware that we’ve got problems,” says Ann Crenshaw, an attorney with Kaufman & Canoles and president of HRACRE. “The more we find out, the question is how bad is it going to get and how fast?” The urgency grows when the prospect of companies bypassing Hampton Roads for areas less impacted by rising waters is factored into the equation. “There’s an awareness that we need to tackle this issue to have successful economic competitiveness with other areas.” For now, though, concerns about potential flooding have not prevented businesses from venturing into Hampton Roads. “I’ve not heard about outside companies changing their plans,” Crenshaw says. “I like to think that because the federal government, the state and localities are addressing the issues head on, there will not be reluctance to move here.” Robert Kerr, president of Kerr Environmental Services Corp., adds that state and municipal pre-emptive moves help allay companies’ fears.  “Businesses feel comfortable locating here because they know that localities are reacting proactively rather than reactively, and can accommodate new development,” he says. “Localities in Hampton Roads get very positive feedback from businesses looking to expand in the area because they’ve been proactive.” The hitch comes when the costs to mitigate flooding are tabulated. “You can do the planning, but implementing it requires much more money,” Kerr says. “That’s where the urgency is — trying to figure out how to finance infrastructure improvements.” Michael Divaris, president of Divaris Real Estate Inc. in Virginia Beach, says his clients have not avoided the region because of flood concerns. “I don’t think it has risen to the forefront of the selection process.” He adds that developers do pay close attention to the proximity of potential sites to flood zones. “It’s starting to play an important part in the decision making. More and more due diligence will be done on properties that are impacted.” William King, president and CEO of Harvey Lindsay’s industrial sales and leasing division, adds that flood concerns have hampered deals with firms seeking to locate data centers in the region. “Some of the data center companies have written off Hampton Roads because we’re in a hurricane-prone area,” he notes. Overall, most of Harvey Lindsay’s commercial projects are not in flood-prone areas. “I don’t see it as one of the top two or three challenges we face,” King adds. “It’s really not been that big of a factor of the average type of development.” But that could change as more people in the industry understand the potential long-term threats of rising sea levels. “It’s a matter of trying to educate people and let them know what the projections are for Hampton Roads,” Grubbs says. “We have to learn how to live with sea-level rise.” 2015-06-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/INNOVATE_Michael_Teri_Heather.png Michael Pirron of Impact Makers and Terri Lovelace of Virginia Community Capital. http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/a-double-bottom-line A double bottom line http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/a-double-bottom-line http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/a-double-bottom-line#When:10:00:00Z These days, doing well and doing good don’t have to be mutually exclusive concepts in the world of social entrepreneurship. In the mid-2000s, Michael Pirron was a well-paid, but unhappy IT professional. “I was good at what I did, but I really didn’t like the clients or the people I was working for. Our values didn’t align. I also wasn’t independently wealthy, and I couldn’t afford to go work for the nonprofit world because I still had to pay my mortgage.” So eight years ago Pirron founded Richmond-based Impact Makers, a company he calls “the Newman’s Own of IT consulting.” Like the food company founded by late movie star Paul Newman, Impact Makers’ ultimate goal is to give away all of its proceeds to nonprofit charities. What started out as a kitchen-table enterprise now employs more than 100 workers. Pirron serves as CEO for the company, which is governed by a nonprofit board of directors. This year Impact Makers made the unusual move of giving away ownership of the business to two nonprofits: The Community Foundation Serving Richmond & Central Virginia and Virginia Community Capital. When the company eventually liquidates its assets, the two charities will reap the proceeds. Also as of this year, Impact Makers has given away more than $1 million in cash contributions and pro bono work to local charities and has plans to give away more than $100 million in cash and in-kind contributions by 2024. Like Pirron, a growing number of entrepreneurs are entering the burgeoning field of social enterprise or social entrepreneurship, eschewing more familiar models for startups. Distilled to its simplest concept, “A social entrepreneur is someone who is committed to make a difference in the community and to be the difference in someone’s life. They’re people who lead by example,” says Bob Mooney, interim chair for the newly formed Virginia chapter of the Social Enterprise Alliance. Make no mistake, though, Pirron says: “We are a business first. We are an IT consulting business — period. We are a for-profit business in every way.” Impact Makers has made the Inc. 500 list of the nation’s fastest-growing companies for the last three years. The company’s workers are paid at attractive, competitive market rates. “By sheer capitalist metrics, we’ve been a successful business,” he says. “Our clients do not buy our services because of our social impact mission. They buy our work because of our capabilities.” However, Pirron says Impact Makers’ mission might influence a prospective client to choose to give its business to Impact Makers over a comparable IT company. And that also proves true for attracting workers to Impact Makers, who appreciate being able to simultaneously make a good living and support their community. “A lot of social entrepreneurs do draw salaries, and they are for-profit organizations,” Mooney says. However, they also “do something that is meaningful for the betterment of society, whether it’s a product or a service.” “I love the idea of using business as a force for good,” Pirron says. “I often say it was a selfish decision because I wanted to go work in the nonprofit world, but I couldn’t afford to make a living. I wanted to do well and do good at the same time.” Teri Lovelace, senior vice president of community investments and impact manager for Christiansburg-based Virginia Community Capital, says her organization is “very fortunate to have been one of the two recipients of [Impact Makers’] truly transformational gift.” Like Impact Makers, VCC is also a social enterprise. The nonprofit foundation runs a for-profit commercial lending bank that makes loans only “to entities that are promoting social good and community projects … Everything we do is mission-related.” Not all social enterprise ventures are for-profit, though. Some are nonprofit or even government ventures, says Christine Mahoney, who directs the Social Entrepreneurship@UVA Initiative at the University of Virginia’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. What matters, Mahoney says, is that “social entrepreneurs are committed to solving a problem. They’re kind of agnostic as to the form that takes. So it could be a nonprofit with a really innovative earned income stream or it could be a for-profit social business or a hybrid in between. And just like all good entrepreneurs, they pivot along the way.” U.Va., which is launching a minor in social entrepreneurship this fall, has several students and recent graduates who are working on social enterprise startups. Last year, for example, a group of student Peace Corps volunteers won the university’s Entrepreneurship Cup competition with a concept for eco-friendly, reusable sanitary pads to be distributed in Africa, where girls miss significant school time during menstruation. John Kluge Jr., son of the late Albemarle County billionaire, is a visiting fellow at the school, talking to students about his New York City-based nonprofit, Toilet Hackers, which promotes improved sanitation in third-world nations. Like Impact Makers and VCC, there are 33 companies in Virginia that are classified as benefit corporations, those with a social mission in addition to the business mission. In addition to starting the Virginia chapter of the Social Enterprise Alliance, Mooney is one of the leaders of New Richmond Ventures, a venture capital company supporting innovative, social enterprise startups such as these. One such company is the for-profit Evatran, which has developed a wireless battery-charging system for electric cars in order to reduce fossil-fuel emissions and dependence on gasoline-powered cars. Companies with a double bottom line (meaning profit isn’t the only motivator) are more attractive to the millennial workforce, Mooney says. “They’re seeking a balance between success and significance. Right from the start, they’re committed to doing something more meaningful that makes a greater difference to the community than many people of my generation did when we first got out of college.” Other board members of the new state chapter of the Social Enterprise Alliance include former state Secretary of Commerce and Trade Jim Cheng and former state Delegate Larry Wilder, who also serves as Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s adviser for social entrepreneurism. The group will be holding educational events about social entrepreneurship and innovation at college campuses and corporations and will also be promoting opportunities for synergy between social enterprise ventures. Says Mooney, “We’re committed to companies that are making a difference in the community as well as helping the businesses they’ve created.” 2015-06-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/ODU_Broderick9573.png ODU President John R. Broderick Photo by Mark Rhodes http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/plugged-in Plugged in http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/plugged-in http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/plugged-in#When:10:00:00Z In a region brimming with military installations, federal laboratories, a major East Coast port and shipyards, Old Dominion University does not have to look far for opportunities to impact Hampton Roads’ economy. With nearly 25,000 students and $96.2 million in research and development expenditures, the university contributes more than $2.1 billion annually to Hampton Roads’ economy. Not bad for an institution launched during the Great Depression. Opened in 1930 as the two-year Norfolk Division of the College of William & Mary, the school became independent and took on the moniker Old Dominion College in 1962, attaining university status seven years later. “This region gives us significant niches that very few colleges or universities have,” says ODU President John R. Broderick. “There’s a good mix of opportunities to teach, study and find avenues where economic development is a natural spinoff.” The university’s role in the region’s economy has surged in recent years with the development of programs that assist not only students preparing for careers in the marketplace but also local businesses and industries. ODU’s Business Gateway is the university’s front door to local companies seeking research assistance, technological assistance and research partnerships. “If you’re a startup, we’ll help you think about your ideas and put together a plan to execute your business,” says its executive director, Martin Kaszubowski. “We try to add value to a client wherever we think we can.” The Business Gateway includes Launch Hampton Roads for aspiring entrepreneurs, the Veterans Business Outreach Center (funded with a grant from the Small Business Administration), the Women’s Business Center for women-owned companies, the Technology Applications Center offering engineering support to businesses and the Hampton Roads Procurement Assistance Center, which helps companies compete for government contracts. “Whoever walks in the door, we try to serve with a variety of services for whatever they need,” Kaszubowski says. “We’ve got a bunch of happy clients.” One of them is Arizone Hollins Brown, co-founder of ASJ IT Services, an information technology management firm that set up shop in Chesapeake last year. Seminars and mentoring sessions with Launch Hampton Roads, the veterans’ and women’s business centers and the Procurement Assistance Center helped Brown get up to speed on her venture.  “As a new business owner, you’ve got lots and lots of questions, and having those resources in one location really helps,” she says. “These centers have given us credibility and helped us build relationships.” The Business Gateway is housed in ODU’s Innovation Research Park, one of the few research parks in the U.S. based on the campus of its institution. Located in the 75-acre University Village, the 5-year-old park is a business-friendly entry to university resources. “Sometimes navigating colleges and universities for particular resources is difficult,” Broderick says. “We want to take all that difficulty out of that and help people identify those they need to work with.” Businesses outside ODU also have located in the park because of relationships with ongoing university research or teaching. Entrepreneurial center Those relationships are strengthened by Old Dominion’s emphasis on entrepreneurialism. Last year, ODU alumnus Mark Strome and his wife, Tammy, gave the university $11 million to create a student-focused entrepreneurial center. Strome is the founder, chairman and chief investment officer of Santa Monica, Calif.-based Strome Investment Management LP.  “Entrepreneurs create jobs,” Strome said at the dedication of the Strome Entrepreneurial Center last September.  “And when a person has a job, he’s empowered.”  While a previous entrepreneurial center based at the university primarily assisted outside startups, the Strome Center focuses on student entrepreneurs.  “It gives the students a significant edge, a place to share ideas and work together and take those ideas to business and industry leaders in Hampton Roads,” Broderick says. That, adds Nancy Grden, the center’s executive director, galvanizes students in all academic disciplines to develop ideas that will create economic and social value in Hampton Roads and beyond. The center’s staff offers free consultations on business ideas to students and faculty and puts would-be entrepreneurs in touch with potential investors. “When you look at the demographics of people in their 20s and 30s, there’s a strong desire to be independent and create their own destiny,” Grden says. “It’s easier than it has ever been to create a business.” The center is also the nucleus of the Entsminger Fellows Program, a clearinghouse for handpicked faculty members to infuse entrepreneurism in academic departments and courses throughout the university.  A $100,000 gift from alumnus Lee Entsminger funds the annual program. “Innovation is everywhere,” Grden says. “An engineer might have a great idea for a problem-solving product. Someone in biotechnology has a scientific discovery. An educator has an idea for a new school.”  Meanwhile, ODU opened a new school last year at its Virginia Beach Higher Education Center for nontraditional learners. Working with Old Dominion’s business and military partners, the College of Continuing Education and Professional Development offers classes in areas such as public procurement, engineering and education. “It makes us more flexible to serve the needs of business and industry,” Broderick says. “A lot of companies we work with are looking for very specific skill sets.” ODU recently crossed the $40 million threshold in annual federal research expenditures for the first time in the school’s history. That’s especially significant, says Morris Foster, the university’s vice president of research, in the face of flat or declining federal research disbursements. The uptick reflects the volume of Department of Defense research performed at ODU as well as faculty doggedness in submitting research proposals. “We’re a relatively young institution and haven’t had time to establish a unique identity as a research institution, but we’re clearly moving there,” Foster adds. Sea-level research ODU research teams generate about  $67 million annually through more than 400 ongoing projects. That includes the university’s research in climate change and sea-level rise, a focus Broderick began with the Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Initiative five years ago. A byproduct is the Mitigation and Adaptation Research Institute which conducts research to help coastal communities cope with the impacts of sea level rise and climate change. “This issue directly involves the military and major employers,” Broderick says. “Everyone is in agreement that we have to work together because it impacts all of us.” He hopes this endeavor will lead to the university’s designation as a federal center for the study of sea level. “The great upside for us is it’s created an entrepreneurial culture where people will look for ways to mitigate and adapt to sea level rise.” ODU is taking advantage of its coastal location to perform innovative research in sea-level rise, Foster notes. “We can do something that’s regionally relevant and benefits the economy but in a way that enhances ODU’s national and international reputation.” University research includes infrastructure vulnerability, technology that could lead to more resilient construction in coastal regions, and the public health implications of sea level rise. “We are just beginning sea level research, but we can develop and produce things in Hampton Roads and take them elsewhere as our intellectual property that can be licensed.”  And ultimately bring new businesses and jobs to Hampton Roads, he adds.  “Economic development is not based on this region going to California and taking 500 jobs and bringing them here,” Broderick says. “We have the place to make inroads and trigger new and different jobs.” Old Dominion University at a glance Source: Old Dominion University Location Norfolk History 1930: Norfolk Division of The College of William and Mary 1962: Independent institution 1969: University status Enrollment 24,670 total 19,612 undergraduate; 5,058 graduate International: 1,092 from 105 countries Alumni More than 124,000 in all 50 states and 67 countries President John R. Broderick Faculty Full-time: 722      Part-time: 502 Accolades U.S. News & World Report listed online graduate programs in ODU's Darden College of Education as eighth among the nation's graduate education programs for student services and technology and 10th for admissions selectivity.   2015-06-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/ENG_Dumas2.png Stefan Duma at Virginia Tech where testing of hockey helmets recently was completed. Photo courtesy Virginia Tech http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/innovative-research Innovative research http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/innovative-research http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/innovative-research#When:10:00:00Z Virginia’s engineering schools are involved in research projects ranging from measuring the safety of football helmets to creating thinner, more efficient solar panels to fuel the world’s increasing appetite for renewable energy. The diversity of the research makes you wonder: What’s next? For inquiring minds, every aspect of human endeavor seems to be fair game. For example, Virginia Tech’s School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences has become widely influential for groundbreaking efforts to rank football helmets on their ability to reduce concussion risks. The school’s STAR (Summation of Tests for the Analysis of Risk) rating system grades helmets based on how well they absorb impacts. Five stars protect the best, one star the least. The system has become the gold standard for companies making football helmets, as well as for an untold number of fans and families who want players protected from head injuries. “Five or six years ago, nobody was talking about this stuff,” says Stefan Duma, the school’s director.  Now, he says, organizations ranging from the National Football League to organized youth football teams — basically any group in which someone straps on a helmet — have become interested in protecting players from concussions. Virginia Tech’s efforts to gather head-impact data began more than a decade ago.  Duma and his team were working on an automobile safety project and compiling head impact data using sensors placed in the helmets of Virginia Tech’s football squads. During that period, a university equipment manager asked Duma if he could recommend the best helmet for players on the team. That question helped put Duma on a journey that has brought Virginia Tech widespread acclaim and attention in the area of helmet safety. In the testing program, helmets are dropped from various heights ranging from a few inches to several feet. The results have often been startling. Among the findings: “Moving from a 1-star to a 4-star can reduce risk by 50 percent,” Duma says. He says a helmet’s star rating now is the first question most coaches and parents ask before making a purchase. Tech also recently completed testing of a variety of hockey helmets. “We’re going on to lacrosse, baseball, bicycling, all kinds of helmeting sports,” Duma says. Transferring knowledge When Peter Beling starts talking about the Microsoft Kinect, you might be tempted to think he is explaining a new video game. Kinect, after all, is a motion-sensing device used in video games. But Beling, an associate professor of systems and information engineering at the University of Virginia, has a much more serious intent. He’s using the Kinect to track workers’ movements, especially in manufacturing, in an effort to correlate specific actions with performance and quality. As part of a project sponsored by the Prince George-based Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM), Beling’s efforts are focused on a nagging industry problem: “How do you transfer knowledge to a new generation from an old generation before you lose them to retirement?” Beling explains. The difference between how really good workers do a job and how average workers do the same job can be determined only by observation, he says.  “You can only understand what’s happening if you’re prepared to watch all the time,” Beling says. “And you can only watch all the time with a sensor and a computer.” If his project yields the data he is hoping for, Beling says, it will bring companies one step closer to understanding how to improve the quality of their products and processes, as well as how to pass on those skills to a new generation. Better health through big data Why do some people heal faster than others? That may not sound like the job for a computer scientist, but it is at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Engineering. Tomasz Arodz, a computer scientist with a background in biotechnology, is using computational models and algorithms in the pursuit of better medical treatments. “I have ongoing collaboration [at the VCU Medical Center that includes Dr. Robert Diegelmann in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology] that is focused on healing of wounds. Some heal very quickly. Some take longer to heal. What are the molecular differences?” Arodz asks. That’s what he’s trying to find out by collecting huge amounts of data and then analyzing that information with the aid of computers. Arodz’s work with the wound specialist is part of an expanding collaboration between VCU’s engineering and medical schools. Arodz uses big data not only to find sets of genes altered by disease but also to discover pathways to help biologists understand what underlies various pathologies. He adds that computer scientists increasingly collaborate in the biological and medical fields because of the incredible increase in the amount of information becoming available in those areas. “If you want to know what is going on, you have to have algorithmic methods,” he says. Sunny outlook for solar Sylvain X. Marsillac, director of the Virginia Institute for Photovoltaics at Old Dominion University, believes he is in the right field at the right time. “The solar market has had continuous growth by more than 40 percent for the last 20 years, even during the recession,” says Marsillac, who has a 5-kilowatt array of solar panels on his house. He believes that solar energy has helped change the landscape of renewable energy worldwide. And now, he says, the cost per watt of solar has fallen enough to compete with several forms of fossil fuels. “The price of solar has dramatically decreased, with modules going from more than five dollars 20 years go to less than one dollar today,” Marsillac says. His particular focus is the creation of ultra-thin-film solar cells, the ones that can provide portable solar power to military units, or for satellites whose solar cells must be as light and flexible as possible. Marsillac notes that the efficiency of solar cells has increased even as their cost has dropped.  “These two main parameters, cost and efficiency, are the ones we focus our research on,” he says. On a scale of 100 percent, efficiency has jumped on average from 13 percent when he entered the field to 21 percent today. Some solar panels provide even higher efficiencies, in the 40-plus percent range, but they tend to be complicated and too costly for residential installation. “Another potential paradigm is the rise of cheaper storage systems, via Tesla’s new battery plant [being built near Reno, Nev.], for example, which will then allow for the solar energy to be stored during the day and used at night,” Marsillac adds. Tesla, a company best known for its electric vehicles, recently introduced a line of stackable batteries for home and industry. Its new Powerwall, a wall-mounted storage unit, can hold 10 kilowatt hours of electric energy. Solar panels can’t produce energy at night, and that has been one of their drawbacks, Marsillac says. But as more effective ways of storing the energy of sunlight come to the market, solar energy could gain momentum. “It’s an exciting time to be in solar energy research,” Marsillac says. 2015-06-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/women-are-seeing-slow-gains-on-virginia-boards Women are seeing slow gains on Virginia boards http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/women-are-seeing-slow-gains-on-virginia-boards http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/women-are-seeing-slow-gains-on-virginia-boards#When:10:00:00Z The needle is moving slowly on the diversity of corporate boards in Virginia, at least in terms of increased representation by women. Women hold 65 seats, or 16.9 percent, of 383 board member positions at 40 publicly traded companies in Virginia with annual revenue of at least $1 billion, according to a study done for Virginia Business by Equilar Inc. of the companies most recent fiscal year proxies. Equilar is an executive compensation firm based in Redwood, Calif.  In 2008 when Virginia Business commissioned a similar study by another company, women held 11 percent of more than 400 seats on 38 boards of large public companies.  At that time, 32 of the companies, or 84.2 percent, had at least one woman on their boards. Today, 37 of the 40 companies, or 92.5 percent, have women directors. Only three companies, whose proxy statements were examined by Equilar, showed no female board members. They are CACI International, a defense contractor in Arlington; ePlus, a provider of technology solutions in Herndon; and NVR, a Reston-based company that operates in homebuilding and mortgages.  According to Equilar’s current study, these companies were among eight of Virginia’s largest publics that had no women on their boards in 2008.  Of the 40 companies, 23, or 57.5 percent (for which information also was available in 2008), had boosted their percentage of women board members during that time period.  When compared with national numbers, Virginia is a little behind the curve. Depending on the source, national percentages range from 18 to 20 percent of corporate board seats held by women at Fortune 500 companies. In Virginia, the company with the highest percentage of women members is Fairfax-based ICF International, which provides consulting and technology services to government and commercial clients. Three of its seven board members, or 43 percent, are women. Coming in at No. 2 is media giant Gannett in McLean. Gannett’s board has four women, 40 percent of its 10 directors.  (Gannett was scheduled to split into two publicly traded companies in late June:  Tegna, a broadcasting and digital company, and Gannett, a publishing company.  Tegna’s 10-member board will have five women directors, including President and CEO Gracia Martore. Gannett’s eight-member board will include three women.) A 2014 survey by Pricewaterhouse­Coopers of more than 860 directors at the nation’s largest companies showed the average age of all women directors at Fortune 50 companies was about 60, compared with an average of 63 for male directors. In Virginia, the average for women board members is 61.4. The survey also says that women accounted for 24 percent of all new board members appointed in this group between 2012 and 2014. Such trends bode well for the future. “Given the facts that current female board members are younger and less tenured than their male counterparts and that a higher percentage of new directors are women, it is reasonable to project that the board of the future will include a higher proportion of women than is seen today,” said PwC analysts. 2015-06-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/DSC_1190.png Allen C. Goolsby, a veteran lawyer who specializes in corporate law. Photo by Rick DeBerry http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/corporate-boards Corporate boards http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/corporate-boards http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/corporate-boards#When:10:00:00Z What are the major challenges facing Virginia’s corporate boards? To find out, Virginia Business interviewed several board directors and corporate counsel in Virginia and consulted national surveys to get a feel for the top priorities. The consensus: Board composition, diversity and oversight remain key issues. Yet several new challenges have emerged in a corporate world that’s much different from 15 years ago — a world before investors and criminal prosecutors discovered abuses at the former Enron Corp. and the subsequent collapse of the once-venerated Arthur Andersen accounting firm. Today’s board cauldron includes a volatile swirl of reputational risk, cybersecurity threats and growing shareholder support for proxy access, a mechanism that allows shareholders to place their nominees for director on a company’s proxy card. “Boards themselves are much more in the spotlight than  they used to be, which makes reputational risk greater,” says Allen C. Goolsby, a veteran lawyer for Hunton & Williams in Richmond whose practice focuses on corporate law. “It’s there for a variety of different exposures, not just cybersecurity … If you go back and think of the pre-Enron days, any services on boards were typically as decision-makers.  What Enron brought to the fore and what the 2008 financial crisis queued was not so much the decision making role of the board, but the oversight role of the board.” Today, if a company suffers an adverse development and it catches fire on social media and then in more traditional media, “somehow it’s perceived as an insufficiency of the board and its risk controls,” adds Goolsby. “Reputational risk has become a significant concern.” Norfolk Southern Corp.’s 13-person board is “very interested” in the growing importance of reputational risk, says James A. Hixon, the company’s executive vice president of law and corporate relations. “We have discussions about transporting crude oil and disaster scenarios involving the transportation of crude oil. That’s a financial and a reputational risk, and the board wants to know what are the consequences and the rewards of moving it, and that’s a business decision,” he says. Recent data breaches also have driven home the vulnerability of companies when it comes to cybersecurity. “It is now clear to C-suite executives and boards that no company is 100 percent cyber-safe,” says Jacqueline Hedblom, a partner at Hirschler Fleischer in Richmond and a member of the firm’s data privacy and security practice. “Corporate boards are beginning to get involved in addressing cybersecurity as an enterprise risk, not just the IT department’s concern.” According to Hedblom, her law firm is seeing increased interest in breach response and insurance advice from companies of all sizes, which was one of the drivers behind the firm’s decision to create a new security unit. In this regard, Virginia seems to be ahead of the curve with a recent national survey showing that most U.S. boards are largely unprepared. Worker safety and consumer protection concerns are other sources of possible risks to a company’s brand, sales and profits. At Altria’s annual meeting in Richmond in May, a handful of audience members asked the company to do more to stop its U.S. tobacco suppliers from hiring undocumented immigrant workers. Some people also expressed concerns about child labor.  According to news accounts of the meeting, Altria Chairman, President and CEO Martin J. Barrington said that the company opposes the use of forced and exploited labor and its supplier code of conduct reflects those values. Later the company’s board and its shareholders rejected two stockholder proposals related to improving the health and financial welfare of the agricultural workers that suppliers hire. It also rejected a third proposal to spend more on smoking cessation materials aimed at poor and less educated tobacco users. That same month across town news reports estimated that nearly half the questions from the audience of shareholders to Dominion Resources Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Farrell II during the energy company’s annual meeting expressed opposition to the company’s proposed, 550-mile natural gas pipeline that would run from West Virginia to power plants in Virginia and North Carolina. Board composition Some would argue that board effectiveness starts with composition. Longtime Virginia educator and company director Eddie N. Moore Jr. says he and fellow board members at Owens & Minor Inc. and Universal Corp. are looking at how increased diversity can deliver fresh perspectives to management in the short and medium term — and help succession plans. The president of Virginia State University in Petersburg for 17 years (he retired in 2010) and currently the interim president and CEO of Norfolk State University, Moore began his corporate governance career in 2000 with Universal. He joined Owens & Minor as a director in 2005. During his tenure, he says, the definition of boardroom diversity has evolved. It’s not simply about being male or female any longer. It’s about how accumulated work experiences and the special skill sets of each director — male or female — complement those of his or her colleagues. “While gender diversity is still and should remain very important on corporate boards, what is being discussed more and more on the boards I serve is the diversity of board members’ experiences,” says Moore.  “This type of diversity tends to generate innovative ideas and solutions.  Board members still need to have a certain maturity in their approach to problem solving; however, skills and experiences are the most important characteristics.” Shareholders press for diversity Under the rubric of “board composition,” more and more large shareholders are pressing the companies whose equity they own to add current or recently retired C-Suite veterans with different ages, professional backgrounds, opinions and technical expertise to supply senior management with fresh perspectives. Earlier this year, with an eye toward the upcoming calendar of annual shareholder meetings, the EY Board Center, a unit of the Ernst & Young LLP business advisory firm, said increased diversity in the boardroom has become a key concern of the 50 institutional investors it had surveyed. The EY analysts said in a statement that some of the nation’s most sophisticated investors held the widespread belief that a board with “a balanced level of institutional knowledge and fresh perspectives may help defend against activist investors that attempt to exploit perceived weakness in board composition.” Hunton & Williams’ Goolsby sees growing support for the proxy access movement, which has the potential to force new faces onto a board. During the 2014 proxy season, he saw 15 proposals calling for proxy access. By 2015, Goolsby says that number was up to 100, and about 50 percent of the proposals passed. Approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2010, the rule allows any shareholder or group of shareholders holding at least 3 percent of a company’s voting stock for at least three years the right to use a company’s proxy materials to nominate up to 25 percent of the board. A U.S. Court of Appeals vacated the rule in 2011. Yet proxy access bylaws are authorized by statute in some states, including Virginia and Delaware. This means shareholders may seek bylaw amendments allowing proxy access on a company-by-company basis. According to Goolsby, some large public companies including General Electric, CitiGroup and Prudential, adopted proxy access bylaws this year. But he notes that requiring a company to make the process available is easier than actually nominating qualified board members. According to Goolsby, TIAA-CREF, one of the nation’s largest and most powerful pension funds, sent out a letter in February to the top 100 companies whose shares it owns, asking them to adopt a proxy access bylaw. Several large Virginia corporations were on the mailing list, he says. While it’s too early to tell how much of an impact the movement could have, “If directors start losing re-election campaigns in significant numbers, it will have a big effect,” says Goolsby.  A PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP survey of more than 860 directors of the nation’s largest corporations released last year revealed that there’s still a heavy bias among U.S. boards in favor of current and prospective directors who possess financial services expertise (93 percent), followed by directors with long experience in the same industry (72 percent). Next in line were candidates with operational experience (68 percent), followed by those with risk management expertise (65 percent). Surprisingly, given the increased importance that exports, foreign operations, electronic commerce and technology issues play in the success of U.S. companies, less than half of the directors surveyed by PwC said that international experience (45 percent) or digital expertise (41 percent) were “very important” skills needed in their boardrooms. And in spite of the push in recent years by activist investors and civil rights groups to remake U.S. corporate boards to reflect the rising importance of women, blacks, Latinos and Asians in their customer populations, only 37 percent of those directors surveyed by PwC thought having women on their boards was “very important” to the success of a company, while only 28 percent said racial diversity would be “very important” to their board’s success. Carter L. Burgess, Jr., a managing director at RSR Partners in Greenwich, Conn., advises companies who hire him to find qualified candidates for board seats to focus first on potential directors who possess the valuable work experience and skill sets boards lack, and secondly on things like gender, race and ethnic origin. “While boards welcome diversity, it is my belief that it has to be relevant [to a company’s performance] to be effective and helpful,” he says. “Diversity for diversity’s sake can be problematic.” The graying of corporate boards Another aspect of diversity in the boardroom is age. Some activist shareholder groups like Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) often criticize the average age of directors and the length of their tenure as reasons why an underperforming company may need new blood. Critics posit that many older directors — typically the longest tenured directors — can no longer keep current with respect to industrial or technological developments and are unable to offer new insights into corporate issues. Some also say long-serving board members can become, over time, too cozy with senior management and don’t provide the independent oversight that minority shareholders expect. One of the more definitive industry sources on the subject, the annual Spencer Stuart Board Index, reported last November that the average age of board directors at S&P 500 companies now stands at 63, up from 60 in 2004, and that 45 percent of S&P boards now have an average age of 64, up from 16 percent in 2004. The report also said that of 361 companies that specify a retirement age, 30 percent now set that age at 75, up from just 5 percent in 2004. (See story on page 42 for more data on the gender of board members at Virginia’s largest public companies.) Among Virginia’s 22 representatives in the 2014 Fortune 500 list of companies, 16 had boards of directors younger than the national average. Hilton Worldwide Holdings, headquartered in McLean, had the youngest board in this group, with its nine members averaging 52.8 years of age, according to Bloomberg Research. The second youngest was  NII Holdings, at 53.8 years. The oldest board among Virginia’s Fortune 500 companies last year was Dollar Tree, based in Chesapeake. According to Bloomberg, its 11 directors averaged 66.4 years of age. The second oldest was Altria’s board, with the average age of its 11 members 64.9 years.  Seventy-six-year-old Al Broaddus, the former head of the Richmond Federal Reserve, has been serving on public company boards since 2004. He once belonged to four. Now, his only directorship is with the Markel Corp. “Some of the reasons I’m not on the other boards is that they all had age limits. Markel at this point does not have age limits,” he says. Broaddus, understandably, disagrees with critics who say more companies should impose age limits on directors. “I’m biased,” he says. “I don’t think you lose your value at that age.  I’ve been on boards with a lot of younger directors with less tenure, and we all get exposure to what they’re thinking. By the same token, while you don’t want an atrophied board, you don’t want a board where everybody is fairly new and young and inexperienced. That’s not a great thing, either … Older board members bring huge experience to these things. They’ve been through the wars and have a lot to add.”    Managing Editor Paula C. Squires contributed to this story. 2015-06-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/RISK_Bolling.png Bill Bolling, managing director of Virginia operations for RCM&D. Photo by Rick DeBerry http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/insuring-your-good-name Insuring your good name http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/insuring-your-good-name http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/insuring-your-good-name#When:10:00:00Z AT&T, Accenture and Gillette dropped their sponsorships with pro golfer Tiger Woods after his string of extramarital affairs was revealed in 2009 and 2010. Around the same time, Toyota recalled up to 10 million cars because of problems with “unintended acceleration.” Those events might seem very different, but both reflect the fallout that can take place when a brand’s reputation is tarnished. Over time companies can suffer significant financial damage when people or products connected to their brand go awry. That’s one reason an increasing number of companies are searching for ways to mitigate reputational risk. Last year, reputational risk landed on the Allianz Risk Barometer’s list of the 10 biggest risk concerns in the U.S. It’s one of the “top risks that worry corporate risk managers” the most, says Bill Bolling, a former Virginia lieutenant governor who is managing director of Virginia operations for Baltimore-based RCM&D. “Ten years ago people weren’t talking about it. Now it’s a hot topic in 2015.” In March, the Risk & Insurance Study Center at Virginia Commonwealth University sponsored a conference taking an in-depth look at reputational risk. “We pick a different topic each year, and we try to pick something in the way of an emerging risk, something that is new that insurance companies are responding to,” says Tim Cook, the center’s director. More than 200 people registered for the event, making it “one of the most attended conferences we have had,” Cook says. Bad publicity’s cost Bad publicity can hurt a company’s bottom line and its share price. For example, Tiger Woods’ affairs cost eight of his sponsors about $12 billion in shareholder value, according to a study by researchers at University of California, Davis.  After Toyota’s recalls, its sales dropped 20 percent and its stock price fell about the same percentage. Events like these tarnish a company’s brand as well as its reputation. “A brand is who you are and what you have established in the marketplace. It’s very important,” says Cook. “You have to have a brand before you have a reputation.” Once a brand is established, a company has to rely on its reputation to keep the brand intact, he says. Threats to a company’s reputation can be the result of events ranging from data breaches and product recalls to the behavior of spokespeople and class-action lawsuits. Social media can add fuel to the fire. “That can blow everything out of proportion,” says Roy Bucher, president of Chas. Lunsford Sons & Associates Inc., an insurance brokerage based in Roanoke. “Just about everybody is a candidate for this because of the way social media works.” An embarrassing cyberattack at Sony Pictures Entertainment last year disclosed on social media employees’ salaries and disparaging email comments about some of the studio’s biggest movie stars. “That was about as dramatic as I have seen,” says David Schaefer, president and CEO of Leesburg-based AHT Insurance. “The damage to Sony is incalculable. They are still dealing with the fallout from the bad press, and they continue to see information released months after it happened.” Coverage hard to find Companies looking for insurance that specifically covers reputational risk may have a difficult time finding it. Cyber liability, employment practices liability and directors and officers liability coverage, however, can include crisis-response components that are “designed to aid in the reconstruction of a company’s reputation,” Schaefer says. “Crisis management support can help a company manage its message and minimize the effects of the negative event.” Few insurance products are solely focused on reputational risk partly because “it’s hard to quantify what that reputational value is and what that means in terms of coverage,” says Chandra Seymour, senior vice president with Marsh Risk Consulting in Washington, D.C. “When we look at reputation, you have to ask the question: What is the basis of your reputation?” A company’s brand is an intangible asset but “a very important asset,” says Schaefer. “We trade on our good name every day. If your name is damaged in a way that causes people to lose faith in a product or the organization, that can be a category killer for you in terms of implications for the business. Over time companies have become more sensitive about protecting and defending their brand.” A company’s reputation can be based on many things, including its products or social responsibility or the vision of its leadership. “When we talk with clients, we take a look at the organization and try to identify what it’s built on and make sure the company can protect those things as best they can,” Seymour says. A company doesn’t have to be a multimillion dollar corporation to have its reputation damaged. Any size company can be affected. The cost of handling a crisis can run from up to a half  million dollars to hundreds of millions of dollars, depending on the size of the company and the scope of the incident. “No matter what, it’s going to have a cost impact on the company,” says Jeanmarie Giordano, chief underwriting officer for professional liability at AIG in New York. A hit to a company’s reputation can be catastrophic “particularly to a small company that could lose its customer base, or it could result in layoffs of employees. It can bring regulatory scrutiny or loss of public trust.” Help during a crisis AIG is one of the few insurance companies that offer a product — ReputationGuard — specifically targeting reputational risk. If there is a crisis, the insured company can reach out to one of two crisis management firms that can help manage the event. “They have access to all their services such as crisis preparedness and media coaching. They can help make sure there is a plan in place,” Giordano says. “It’s designed to address the events you never expect to happen.” Other insurance companies also are designing products that can provide “longer-term management and public relations support management to a business,” Bolling says. “I see that becoming more and more standard.” Premiums for this type of coverage depend on a number of factors, including the type of industry, and can start at $2,500. “It’s a very wide range,” says Giordano. There isn’t any coverage available that can fix a company’s reputation, however. “There is no amount of money that can do that or any magic bullet that can put you back to where you were before your loss,” Schaefer says. “But it can help you mitigate and attenuate the damage.” Perhaps Warren Buffett summed it up best: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” 2015-06-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/_MG_1097.png Tyrone Sedgwick, a warehouse team member at Quantum Silicones LLC loads two containers. Photo by Jay Paul http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/a-shipments-sea-journey A shipment’s sea journey http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/a-shipments-sea-journey http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/a-shipments-sea-journey#When:10:00:00Z Using a forklift, it took Tyrone Sedgwick less than an hour to load more than 42,000 pounds of silicone products into two steel shipping containers destined for Bridgwater, England. That short burst of manpower provides only a glimpse into the intricate long-term planning behind international shipping. Sedgwick, a warehouse employee with Chesterfield County-based Quantum Sili­cones LLC (QSi), arranged 55-gallon drums of silicone, placed on pallets and bound in groups of three or four, in rows on the bottom of the containers. With the drums and pails used to hold the silicone, the total shipment weighed almost 48,000 pounds. Twenty-three pallets were braced against the sides of the containers to protect the products from the road vibrations and the ocean’s waves on their journey from Norfolk to QSi’s sister company, ACC Silicones Ltd., in Bridgwater. Jerry Pifer, warehouse supervisor with QSi, had to ensure the weights were distributed between the two trucks to meet weight limits on Virginia roads. The size of the purchase order required the use of one standard 40-foot container and one 20-foot container. Let’s call them SUDU and SUDU Jr., respectively — nicknames derived from the 11-digit unique alphabet and number identifier found in all ocean containers. SUDU and SUDU Jr. were hauled via truck from Chesterfield County to Norfolk. Then they were loaded onto an ocean carrier and shipped to the Port of Southampton in England. From there, the pallets were transferred to a lorry (the British term for a truck), which took them to Bridgwater.  There, ACC Silicones will re-blend and decant the products, distributing it to the high-end European automotive industry. The shipment’s journey illustrates the agility required by companies handling international logistics. But also it highlights the financial enormity of an industry that is out of the limelight but heavily used to transport commonplace goods. At least 14 different businesses,  ranging from the motor carriers to the shipping lines to the sea pilots guiding the vessels into ports, were involved in the shipment. At any given time, there are 5 million to 6 million colorful containers traversing the oceans on massive ships. This is the story of two of them, which made the trip across the Atlantic in May. Planning for the trip Shipping ocean freight takes a lot of forethought and some guesswork. Typically, containers will spend about two weeks at sea heading to Europe and four weeks heading to Asia. Then of course there’s the planning and hauling required to get to and from the ports. In this case, ACC Silicones in England was supplying needs of high-end European automakers, which use silicone elastomers to protect cars’ electronic components from vibrations, heat and water. ACC Silicones filed a purchase order with QSi, its American counterpart, on March 18.  The silicone was delivered to ACC Silicones in Bridgwater on May 21 — a nine-week turnaround. “These containers are coming a very long way,” says Chris Hayden, purchasing and planning manager with ACC Silicones. That requires importers to do a little guessing as to how much product they will need to meet their customers’ demands. Although the journey of SUDU and SUDU Jr. was delayed just a few days (more on that later), ACC Silicones’ planning made the delay inconsequential. ACC Silicones said in May that it had enough stock to last two to three weeks before the shipment would be used. The travel agents of ocean freight Companies exporting and importing goods turn to freight forwarders to help them navigate the complexities of international shipping. Much like travel agents, freight forwarders handle travel plans for cargo. They research potential ship schedules and availability based on service agreements with shipping lines, and they provide a handful of options to the customer. In choosing routes, businesses typically are weighing cost versus time. “They’re looking at the transit time and the cost, and they’re weighing their business needs and the commercial needs that they’re trying to satisfy for their customer,” says Ryan Eaves, sales executive of CV International (CVI). More often than not, businesses need to choose a faster route rather than a cheaper one, says Ann Cummings, export manager at CVI. “In today’s market, ‘Just in Time’ [JIT] is the buzz word,” she says. “They’re paying to get [their products] out the door. So we’re moving extremely fast 90 percent of the time.” Norfolk-based CVI, which also has offices in Atlanta, Charlotte, Baltimore and Wilmingon, Del., is the freight forwarder that arranges QSi’s international shipments. Once QSi in Chesterfield received the purchase order from ACC Silicones, it asked CVI to investigate its options. In just a couple hours, CVI’s Michele Sutton, who handles QSi’s account, sent quotes to QSi, which booked SUDU and SUDU Jr. on Hapag-Lloyd’s Philadelphia Express. The ship was scheduled to sail from Norfolk on April 28. A motor carrier then was scheduled to bring two containers to QSi to be loaded with the drums of silicone and transported to the port on April 22. Vessel delayed Increases in cargo volumes are taxing port terminals around the country, causing  more frequent delays in the supply chain.  It was no surprise then that delays affected the journey of SUDU and SUDU Jr. To reduce the number of containers waiting to be shipped at its terminals, the Port of Virginia earlier this year narrowed the time a loaded container can sit on the port. The tighter timeframe therefore requires more meticulous planning. When Sutton checked in with Sharon Deans, agent for motor carrier Freightmaster USA in Portsmouth,  a few days before the trucks were scheduled to visit QSi, they realized the vessel’s schedule had slipped. Vessel delays are common in international shipping and constantly cause scheduling changes. This delay meant the containers couldn’t be loaded until April 28.  Logistics experts cope with obstacles like these on a daily basis.  Every day is replete with unexpected challenges. Maybe a truck broke down. Or a ship was delayed because of port congestion. Maybe a vessel skipped a scheduled port of call to make up for lost time or changed its course based on bad weather. Labor strikes could close a port. The possibilities are almost endless. For myriad reasons — such as weight limits and hazardous cargo or even a simple mistake — a container simply could get left behind. These hurdles require freight forwarders to react. The situation could require finding a new sailing, working with government agencies, or negotiating with marine terminals to allow a container that was left to remain at a port until its new ship arrives. In this case study, what if the motor carrier hadn’t noticed a change in the vessel schedule? If the containers already had been loaded “they couldn’t have turned [them] into the port,” says Sutton of CVI. The shipper could have faced fees for the extended use of chassis (the carriage trucks use to haul containers), “detention demurrage” charges from having containers out longer than a certain period of the time, storage fees and other costs for having motor carriers take the containers to and from the port terminal again. “International shipping can be very chaotic,” says Mike Coleman, CVI’s president, “and the chaos is difficult to predict. What a client is asking us to do … is to navigate them through that chaos, take on that responsibility, and get them through it as quickly and cost efficiently as possible.” Logistics managers also deal with an avalanche of paperwork.  To get a product from point A to point Z, there are commercial invoices, bills of lading, export declarations or special declarations required by government agencies, such as Customs and Border Protection. For imports, logistics companies employ licensed customs brokers and compliance officers to help customers understand any special customs requirements, informing them if the container has been detained for examination. If a container is pulled out for one of these searches — requiring removal of all goods at a special warehouse — the cost of this inspection is borne by the importer. “We work with accounts to know the rules about what they’re bringing in,” says Coleman of CVI. “Containers can be held for inspection … where they pull the container for an examination … It can be very difficult to predict costs, but we’re here to anticipate all we can.” Loading SUDU and SUDU Jr. Deans, the agent with Freightmaster USA, handles schedules for 45 to 50 drivers who are owner-operators and have a contract with the company. Like the freight forwarders, Deans handles hurdles as they arise. On any given day, she could be tracking 50 shipments, making sure there are enough chassis, evaluating changing vessel schedules, ensuring truck drivers don’t reach the legal limits on how long they can work and checking whether the right container inventory is available. It was during this process — checking on inventory at the port’s yards for empty containers — that Deans figured out that the Philadelphia Express’ schedule had changed. “I do have to be on top of [the vessel] schedule,” says Deans. “I have to pay attention because there’s nothing worse than the driver getting to the port and being turned away.” Congestion at port terminals is making the journey more complicated. Truckers can be waiting hours for chassis or the right-size containers, or they can get stuck for hours waiting to be serviced at port terminals. Before retrieving SUDU and SUDU Jr., Deans was concerned about the available inventory of empty containers from Hamburg Sud — the shipping line booked for this shipment. On a Friday, four days before the containers were scheduled to be loaded, Deans, using the Port of Virginia’s online inventory system, saw that only one standard Hamburg Sud 40-foot container was available. She recommended to CVI that the booking order be changed to a “high cube” 40-foot container — a foot higher than standard containers — of which there were plenty. On Monday, Deans checked the vessel’s sailing schedule again. She found it the same, and dispatched her drivers to pick up the chassis and two containers  — SUDU and SUDU Jr. — to prepare for the drive to the Richmond area the next morning. Port terminal congestion The congestion plaguing marine terminals throughout the country affects the entire logistics chain, but no one is affected as badly as the truckers, who are paid by the load. Record-level container cargo volume at the Port of Virginia (it handled 2.3 million TEUs, or 20-foot equivalent containers, in 2014) has taxed the capacity of its marine terminals. That situation has left some truckers with hours-long line waits and unpredictability. A common trend today is for bigger and bigger vessels, to visit the port, and anywhere from 800 upward to 4,000 containers can be loaded and discharged at each port of call. Congestion also has made it difficult to ensure enough equipment is available, and truckers are often left waiting for chassis. The drivers who hauled SUDU and SUDU Jr., Kirk Armistead and Cornelius Kee, respectively, experience these difficulties frequently. “Bottom line is that if the wheels aren’t turning, we’re not earning,” says Armistead. To ensure chassis are available, sometimes Armistead picks up one for a Monday delivery over the weekend.  “Sometimes I come on Saturday to get a chassis, and you hope and pray it’s ok,” he says. Even though they don’t own the chassis, drivers are legally responsible to ensure they are in good condition. The port is taking a number of steps to relieve congestion. It has extended hours for its truck gates, purchased more container-handling equipment and chassis, and is planning projects to expand the terminals’ capacity. “We are refining our operation every day,” says Joe Harris, spokesman for the Port of Virginia. “Our focus is on providing better service to  motor carriers. We have done so, but we have not done that with consistency. That is the effort right now.” The Virginia Port Authority Board of Commissioners recently approved its fiscal year 2016 budget, which includes $70 million to increase truck flow throughout the port, including $44.6 million for more container-handling equipment. For all the potential hurdles, SUDU and SUDU Jr.’s 100-mile trip from Chesterfield to Norfolk International Terminals went smoothly. With a heavy load — 45,401 pounds including both the container and his portion of the silicone — Armistead needed to stop for fuel along the way. The drivers rolled into the gates at the Port of Virginia shortly before 1 p.m. Port of Virginia Marine terminals are the epicenter of international shipping. Containers are loaded and offloaded constantly. Trucks and rail cars bring containers to and from the port. All containers must be organized and stacked so that they can be found easily. Terminal congestion wasn’t a problem for this shipment. It took Armistead and Kee less than an hour to drop off SUDU and SUDU Jr. on April 28. After they came through the gate, straddle carriers, which move containers around the terminals, removed SUDU and SUDU Jr. from their chassis and took them to the export yard. They remained there for the next four days. “We are constantly grooming the stacks, making sure the containers that are scheduled to go the next day are in an easy position to move to the berth,” says Harris. The port also must handle vessels’ constantly changing schedules to ensure there is a berth ready for its ships. Philadelphia Express and ocean carriers SUDU and SUDU Jr. now must prepare their sea legs. They’ll spend the next two weeks on their ocean journey to England. So, first of all, why are two Hamburg Sud containers riding on a Hapag-Lloyd-operated ship? Because of the increasing use of vessel-sharing agreements, SUDU and SUDU Jr. are able to catch a ride on another shipping line’s vessel. For example, this AX3 service, which visits ports in the U.S. and Europe, allows Hapag-Lloyd, Atlantic Container Lines and Hamburg Sud, to book containers on each other’s vessels. Agreements vary on each service or trade route. Hapag-Lloyd’s Philadelphia Express carries 3,237 TEUs, making it smaller than some of the new massive ships calling from Asia, which reach above 10,000 TEUs. The Philadelphia Express was built in 2003 and sails under the U.S. flag. Before its arrival in Norfolk, a Hapag-Lloyd planner labored over specific cell positions on the ship for SUDU and SUDU Jr.  Cell positions are arranged in multiple hatches, which protect the containers underneath. There are spaces both under and on top of the deck. Planners are busy weighing a variety of competing factors when assigning cell positions. First of all, they must take into account what containers are coming off and going on in Norfolk, as well as the containers’ final destinations. Containers aren’t moved once loaded, so containers being offloaded in Antwerp, Belgium, for example, must be loaded on top of containers heading to Southampton, England, a later port on the service route. The goal is to open as few hatches as possible at each port. Other factors include weight of the vessel — which needs to be especially even for its trip across the ocean — and whether “dangerous cargos” are loaded near each other. “Everything has to be looked at from the planner’s perspective,” says Raymond Newlon, senior manager for Hapag-Lloyd’s port/terminal operations for Baltimore and Norfolk. “The planner has worked it all out so we’re not moving containers to get to containers.” The Philadelphia Express arrived at the Port of Virginia at 6 a.m. Saturday, May 2. Even its arrival was an exercise in logistics and an indicator of how many industries are involved in the industry, says Newlon. It takes about two to 2½ hours for a cargo ship to enter a harbor and dock at a berth. A sea pilot guides a ship until it almost reaches the terminal. Then a tugboat operator takes hold of the ship, and a docking pilot boards and brings the vessel to its assigned berth, where line handlers employed by the Port of Virginia will moor the ship beside the pier. That’s when the stevedores take over — the companies that employ longshoremen to off load some containers and load others onto the vessel based on cell positions provided by the planner. When finished, line handlers, tugboat operators and sea pilots help the vessel leave the port. The Philadelphia Express left Norfolk at 7 p.m. headed to the Atlantic. From Norfolk, the ship crossed the ocean, reaching Antwerp nine days later. From there it visited the Port of Bremerhaven in Germany before reaching the Port of Southampton on Saturday, May 16.   The journey continues in England ACC Shipping, a customs broker in the United Kingdom, handled the customs clearance and final delivery for ACC Silicones. (The similarity in name is a coincidence.) The process reversed itself there: the containers were offloaded and moved to a container yard where they waited to be transported by truck. According to ACC Shipping, on May 19 SUDU and SUDU Jr. were taken from the port by truck to a warehouse, where the 48,000 pounds of silicone and its packaging were transferred to a curtain-sided lorry. “We can’t handle the containers directly on site,” says Hayden with ACC Silicones. “We don’t have a ramp, so we have to transfer them to a truck to get the materials into our warehouse.” Despite the complexities in the logistics chain, ACC Silicones has found international shipping to be smooth from the customer’s perspective. The lessons they’ve learned? Use agents who can work together for all their delivery needs. “If there’s good communication between all parts of the supply chain,” says Keith Jones, finance director for ACC Silicones, “then it’s never a problem.” SUDU and SUDU Jr.’s story continues Where are the containers SUDU and SUDU Jr. now? Their destinies are now separate and neither spent much time at the Port of Southampton. SUDU was quickly refilled with another product and was loaded onto the  vessel CPO Miami. In early June, SUDU was heading for the Port of New York and New Jersey. SUDU Jr. was filled by an importer but returned to the Port of London, where the container was loaded onto PUCON, a vessel owned by Greece-based Diana Containerships Inc., heading to Port of Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates, where it was scheduled to be offloaded June 22.  Of course by now, they’re probably carrying another load, heading to another part of the world, carrying another story in international commerce.       2015-06-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Katz9024.png Katz’s advice to other entrepreneurs is to be “patient and tenacious.” Photo by Mark Rhodes http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/more-than-t-shirts More than T-shirts http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/more-than-t-shirts http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/more-than-t-shirts#When:10:00:00Z Before CustomInk’s employees moved into its new headquarters in Fairfax last year, Marc Katz, the company’s co-founder and CEO, wanted to make sure they would be comfortable in their new digs. So he visited  many of their workstations, sitting in the chairs and adjusting the furniture.   Attention to details like that make Katz popular among employees, partners and customers, says Ted Leonsis, a founder and partner in the Washington, D.C.-based investment fund Revolution Growth, which invested $40 million in CustomInk in 2013. CustomInk doesn’t just have Leonsis, who also owns the Washington Wizards basketball team and the Washington Capitals hockey team, on his side. The online company, which sells custom T-shirts and other apparel, has been included on several workplace excellence lists, like those  compiled by Fortune, Washingtonian, Entrepreneur and Virginia Business. CustomInk has seen tremendous growth since Katz developed the idea for the company in 1999 with two former college classmates. Since its founding in 2000, CustomInk has been on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies in the U.S. many times, most recently in 2010. During the past three years, its sales have tripled, with 2014 revenues exceeding $200 million. The number of CustomInk employees has grown from 10 in its early years to more than 1,300 today. The company plans to add another 300 jobs at its Reno, Nev., locations within five years and hire up to 150 more employees in Charlottesville, where it recently tripled the size of its facility. The firm also has expanded beyond selling custom T-shirts. In 2013, it added two new platforms, Boston-based Booster and Chicago-based Pear.  Booster is a crowdfunding enterprise that allows customers to create custom T-shirts and collect donations for their causes, while Pear enables brand sponsorship of groups and occasions on a grass-roots level. Leonsis sees even more growth coming CustomInk’s way, through international expansions and acquisitions of other companies. “There’s a lot of blue sky left in front of this company,” he says, but he adds that Katz would rather build a long-lasting company than one that’s focused on fast growth. Leonsis agrees with that strategy. Katz, 38, plans to continue the company’s upward trajectory but says he has tapped the brakes when he felt the company was expanding too quickly. Virginia Business interviewed Katz in May at CustomInk’s 72,000-square-foot headquarters in Fairfax’s Mosaic District. Below is an edited transcript of the conversation.     Virginia Business:  [CustomInk has been on several best workplaces lists.] What makes CustomInk such a great place to work? Katz: The company has been concerned about that, caring about that and successful in that regard for a long time. If you went back in time and went into the company in 2006, it was not only in a different office, it felt nothing like this. It looked nothing like this. And obviously we were much, much smaller, and there are a lot of cultural differences.  If you really spent time at the company, what you would figure out pretty quickly is that kind of the values of the people, and the values of the company, were the same then as they are now.  And probably three, four years into the business, 2003 or so, we really thought about and figured out what our core values were.  We identified ownership and innovation as our core values.  And as we grew, we really made a conscious effort to hire people who shared those values.  And we look for it in partners and, I think, we even may be bringing it out in customers a little bit. As an organization, we’ve really tried to keep that strong and with those values over time.  So, I would say that it’s people sincerely, feeling, doing the best, [living up to those values] that make it a great place to work.  There’s a lot of fun stuff that falls out of that, too. We have a lot of great events and a nice work environment.  A lot of food. But, actually, I hate when workplace excellence gets dumbed down to perks. It’s not about perks. It’s about people really being proud of the team they’re part of and enjoying each other. VB:  Are you ever afraid the company is growing too quickly? Katz:  There have been times when we’ve actually tapped the brakes on growth drivers to ensure that we’re only adding people that we really wanted, that we were giving people time to  come up to speed and bake into the team.  And so, I guess, the answer is, yes, I do get scared some times that it’s grown too fast.  Especially in such a people business where — we’re so service oriented — it’s such an important part of not only who we are internally but the value proposition for our customers.  But in response to that fear, we’ve throttled growth when necessary to make sure that we’re doing a good job.  VB: I wanted to talk a little bit about the Revolution investment.  I read that you were reluctant initially to take the investment.  Is that true? Katz:  I wouldn’t say reluctant.  We grew without institutional capital for a long, long time.  So, I would say I was very thoughtful about taking institutional capital from an investment fund but really, we saw so much potential for CustomInk to evolve into a special kind of company, and we thought, in particular, that Ted Leonsis and the team at Revolution, could be really helpful in flushing that out and kind of charting, pursuing  that course, so we were very enthusiastic about them as a partner and getting the deal done.  I just wasn’t in a rush to just raise money for the sake of money. VB:  [Did] Ted Leonsis contact you one day or what?  Did he just call you? Katz: Yeah, yeah.  Email. VB:  He emailed you?  Katz:  Yeah.  Yeah.  And said, “I keep hearing good things about CustomInk,” and, “Can I come visit?”  And I said, “Sure, of course,” and we spent a few hours together, and he really got it. A lot of people think that, we’re like just a T-shirt company because we do a lot of shirts.  We’re probably up to [selling] 60-70 million shirts, something like that, in the lifetime [of the company.]  And that obviously is a big part of what we do and who we are, but we’ve discovered over time that it’s not really about the shirts themselves.  It’s about how people feel about the group or occasion that they’re memorializing with the shirt. People are nuts about their shirts.  They hold on to them for 20 years, 30 years … We actually did a survey once and found that nine out of 10 Americans have at least one shirt that they won’t part with for purely sentimental reasons.  And most people have like a dozen. So we’ve tuned into that over time and have really started thinking about the business and our opportunity set through that lens. People coming together as groups and strengthening that sense of community.  And when you think about the business that way, there are all sorts of exciting opportunities. … Ted got that immediately.  He got that we’re not really an apparel business.  We’re kind of a unity business.  And given that he sort of intuitively got that — that reinforced that he and Revolution would be great partners going forward. VB:  So did that funding really help you launch Booster and Pear? Katz:  Yeah, we were pursuing those businesses, Booster for fundraising and Pear for sponsorship, anyway, but this certainly put us in a better position, financially, to really go after those opportunities. VB:  Speaking of Booster and Pear, how is that going? Katz:  Good.  Good.  Booster is helping people raise over a million dollars a month now for their various good causes and loved ones and things like that.  And Pear, while significantly smaller, has really made a lot of really great progress, over the last year or so and has some really cool, really exciting sponsorship programs running.  And that’s really a whole new sort of category of advertising. It’s grass-roots community sponsorship at a massive scale, and it’s super exciting, but it’s also very new, so we have some innovative, early-adopter kind of brands that are scaling up programs on a platform now. Ritz Bits is running a nationwide sponsorship of youth soccer, and it actually has the program featured on the back of all of their boxes, so if you went into any supermarket now and looked at the back of a Ritz Bits box, you’ll see the program featured,   but it’s still sort of a leading edge  kind of thing.  … We’re determined obviously to make this a significant category of marketing because it’s so positive, as compared to other forms of advertising for brands to connect with people about the sort of groups and teams and causes that they actually care about and become a part of that. It’s awesome for the advertiser, and it’s a huge support for the little micro communities that we’re helping.  So, we’re very excited, very determined to build that business and popularize this new kind of marketing. VB:  [You recently] split your job in two.  Was that a hard decision for you or was it something you knew you had to do? [Katz served as CustomInk’s president and CEO until 2014, when Nick Braden, the former head of a Swedish bed-making company and general manager at Mars and L’Occitane, was brought on as president.]  Katz: I felt really good about that. For one thing, I was so excited about Nick Braden who came on as president of our core business and felt like his skill set and experiences and track record, running and growing businesses of decent scale is really what our core business needed to continue to reach its potential. That was a win, and at the same time, it is giving me more capacity to look at and develop new opportunities, like Booster and Pear, but other opportunities as well, so it wasn’t too tough of a decision. VB:  Do you plan to go public any time soon or do you ever see that in the future of the company? Katz:  It’s a possibility.  We’re really focused on creating value and think that, if we succeed with our plans, we’ll have lots of good alternatives. VB:  What advice could you pass on to other entrepreneurs? Katz:  I think to be patient and tenacious.  God, it sounds so cliché, but it’s really important.  Most successful entrepreneurs that I know, it took them at least a few years to really break through and sometimes the startups, the young companies that get covered a lot in the press and get celebrated, are ones that at least look like overnight successes.  And maybe some of them are, but those are really exceptional cases, and most of the time it takes years of trial-and-error and determination to keep working at things in the face of criticism to get to something that works and that you’re proud of, and that can scale to be something even meaningful.  So, number one piece of advice is to be tenacious. I guess the second piece of advice is to have a comfort level with uncertainty.  Everyone thinks that entrepreneurship is so risky and relative to other things you can do professionally; it’s not necessarily that it’s so risky; it’s just uncertain what the outcome is going to be, and there’s a difference between uncertainty and risk. Uncertainty is not necessarily a bad thing as long as you can tolerate it. I think drawing that distinction and asking yourself, “Is this risky?” or “Is it just uncertain?” is a good thing to do. VB:  You’ve said in the past that entrepreneurs have kind of this pay-it-forward system.  Are you paying it forward at all? Katz:  I am.  There’s a couple of entrepreneurs, a handful of entrepreneurs, mostly local, who are at just earlier stages than CustomInk is, and I love sharing my experiences with them.  Being a sounding board, whatever I can do to help them build good businesses so that’s my little opportunity to pay it forward. VB:  What is the key to CustomInk’s success? Katz:  Good question.  I think it’s the enthusiasm of our customers.   We figured out, I think intuitively, before we even put words to it, that the orders people were doing with us were really important and meaningful to them, and that appreciation is reflected in pretty much all aspects of our customer experience.  And that sincere desire to do a great job has built a very loyal customer base over time, so now, on any given day, three-quarters of our business is from repeat and referral customers.  And, that, over the years now that we’ve been in business, has built to be a really important part of our company and market position and all. VB: Do you have anything else in the works that you want to share? Katz:   Actually we do have one new thing I can share that’s new within the last couple of months or so.  We call this our group order form, which I realize is not the sexiest name ever.  Maybe we’ll come up with something better for it at some point, but it’s a new tool that lets someone create a design and then share it with their group. So, rather than chasing everyone down for their size and money, the order form does the work for you.  And everyone can come and choose their own product and size and pay, and you, as the organizer, can just sit back and let all that happen, and then when you’re ready, kind of pull the trigger on turning it into an order.  So, that’s a really cool feature that just uses the Internet in a cool way.  [It] works on your mobile phone, and the early feedback from customers on that is awesome. VB: What are the biggest challenges you’re facing today as opposed to when you started? Katz: The biggest challenge and the biggest opportunity is adapting to the pace of change. Mobile, in particular, opens up really cool opportunities for us, but it also demands that we keep up.   Our mobile traffic has skyrocketed over the last couple of years, and, for most of our life as a company, we were almost entirely focused on the PC experience, so we already see on a Booster campaign or a Pear campaign, or a group order form as I mentioned, most of the traffic is mobile, and none of those sort of business extensions would work as well if not for the proliferation of mobile.  So that’s a really cool opportunity but it also demands that we keep pace. VB:  What direction do you see the company going in the future? You’re not on the [Inc. 5000] fastest-growing companies anymore. You can only grow so fast for so long, I figure, right? Katz:  I don’t know.  I think we can grow fast for a long time. We’ve about tripled over the last three years.  Not each year but in total over the last three years. I certainly intend that we continue to achieve that kind of growth. I think the future of the business really lies in this insight that, we’re not so much an apparel company as a community-building, community-strengthening company. By community, I mean, people coming together, being a part of something that’s bigger than themselves. Feeling a sense of unity and common purpose. You should take a look around the office, if you haven’t already, at some of our customer photos. What they’re capturing is that sense of community and camaraderie, whether its sponsorship or fundraising or numerous other activities that groups and communities engage in to rally support to cement that bond. There’s just a huge opportunity set, and, we, of course, already connect with a very large number of group organizers who really play a critical role in activating those communities.  We serve hundreds of thousands of them a year, and I think that opens up a lot of opportunity. VB:  What do you do to relax? Katz:  I’m thinking hanging out with my kids, but it’s not always that relaxing, so I would say probably my number one thing to relax is to take long walks. VB:  Walks? Katz:  Yeah, walks.  I like to just walk and think and listen to music, and I can go out on an evening or a Saturday and literally just wander for a couple of hours and really enjoy that. VB:  Like on a bike trail or something? Katz:  Yeah, really anywhere. I’ll wander around McLean, in the neighborhoods near where we live or find a bike trail or something.  Occasionally I’ll actually drive to like a park or something and walk around there.  I’ve done that around Great Falls before.  That’s cool. 2015-06-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/EVA_Hostel.png Hostels typically offer beds in dormitory-style rooms. Photo by Rick DeBerry http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/richmond-hostel-prepares-for-august-debut Richmond hostel prepares for August debut http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/richmond-hostel-prepares-for-august-debut http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/richmond-hostel-prepares-for-august-debut#When:10:00:00Z After years of planning, Richmond soon will have its first hostel. “It’s beginning to look real,” says Jennifer Burnett, the regional engagement manager for Hostelling International-USA (HI-USA), a nonprofit that operates about 55 U.S. hostels and is affiliated with thousands more worldwide. The 13,000-square-foot Richmond hostel, dubbed HI-Richmond, is scheduled to open downtown across North Second Street from the city’s main library  Aug. 28. Hostels offer inexpensive accommodations, renting to travelers beds in dormitory-style rooms. But hostels provide more than a cheap place to sleep, say the volunteers working on the $2.9 million Richmond project.  “They changed my life,” says Emily Parlove, a Richmond resident who spent a year staying in hostels while traveling in Australia. “It gave me so many opportunities I never would have had as far as traveling goes.” Bernie LaRoy stayed in his first hostel in the Washington, D.C. area in the 1960s. He says the hostel experience gave him a different view of the world, beyond the midsize Michigan town were he was raised. “It was an education for me, really,” says LaRoy, who with his wife, Charlotte, has been involved in the seven-year effort to bring a hostel to Richmond.  HI-Richmond guests can expect to rent a bed for about $30 a night, says Katie Zacherle, HI-USA’s director of development for Richmond. The hostel will offer private and dorm-style rooms, a kitchen, dining room, Wi-Fi and a covered veranda. Zacherle believes the hostel will boost Richmond’s economy. She cites a study by the Suffolk University Center for Public Management that found that 32,800 guests at a Boston hostel in 2007 had an impact of $12.5 million on the local economy. Within six years, HI-Richmond is expected to accommodate 10,000 guests annually while employing 10 full- and part-time employees. Hi-Richmond already has received inquiries from people wanting to book rooms for the UCI Road World Championships, which are being held in the city Sept. 19-27. The hostel building was bought in 2011 by the Potomac Area Council for $525,000. The council was one of several volunteer councils across the U.S. that oversaw U.S. hostels. Since then, the councils have dissolved, and HI-USA now operates the hostels. “This is the very, very first hostel that HI-USA will have built sort of from the ground up as a national entity,” Zacherle says. 2015-06-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Sheila_Ryba.png Photo courtesy Trailways Transportation System http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/former-consultant-takes-the-wheel-at-trailways Former consultant takes the wheel at Trailways http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/former-consultant-takes-the-wheel-at-trailways http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/former-consultant-takes-the-wheel-at-trailways#When:10:00:00Z Sheila Ryba stepped into her role as president and CEO of Fairfax-based Trailways Transportation System in March with respect for the bus company’s history and an eye toward the future. “Trailways had a great name, a great brand and a great reputation. To be able to take it to the next level is quite a challenge but also quite a lot of fun,” she says. The company is solidifying its strategic plan. “We are re-evaluating now, talking about what our goals look like,” she says. “I’m coming in as a new CEO with an organization that has been around for a long time. I hope I can bring fresh ideas and perspectives to how Trailways is currently operating and will be operating in the future.” Before accepting the position, Ryba owned a consulting firm in Durham, N.C., specializing in business development, lobbying, fund development and strategic planning. She also had led several nonprofit organizations, including the John Avery Boys & Girls Club in Durham and the San Diego County (California) chapter of the American Heart Association. The Trailways position offered Ryba an opportunity to work in a for-profit environment. “It also gave me the opportunity to continue to grow and learn things, and that’s important to me,” she says. “Transportation has always been an interest of mine. It’s an economic generator. It plays a vital role in the growth of cities and communities.” Trailways, founded in 1936 in Chicago, will celebrate its 80th anniversary next February. In the early days, the company provided bus service  to rural areas that had limited means of transportation. Today it serves more than 1,000 destinations through North America and parts of Europe, carrying more than 16 million passengers annually. It is also a charter bus company as well. Trailways buses actually are operated by 70 independently owned and operated motorcoach companies, which pay licenses to use the name in North America and Europe. Trailways does not disclose its revenue figures. All of the companies under the Trailways umbrella are safety certified by the Department of Defense. “There are over 4,000 motorcoach companies around the country, but only 400-plus are DOD safety certified,” Ryba says. “We are the safest motorcoach company on the road. We don’t take just any bus company. We really take a look at the organization’s safety record, how they are operating their business and see if it’s a good fit for us.” Ryba’s goal for the company is straightforward. “I would like for Trailways to be the leader in the bus and travel industry in all areas, from technology to safety,” she says. “It all starts with providing the best experience possible. A lot of people prefer not to fly, and we are an affordable option. I think more and more people are turning to the bus industry.” 2015-06-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/logo_rail2020.png http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/new-river-valley-group-seeks-train-service New River Valley group seeks train service http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/new-river-valley-group-seeks-train-service http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/new-river-valley-group-seeks-train-service#When:10:00:00Z In the 1960s, a half dozen passenger trains passed through the New River Valley daily, but none have made the trip in recent decades. That situation could change if a group called New River Valley Rail 2020 achieves its goal. With Amtrak trains scheduled to arrive in Roanoke in 2017, the group hopes the commonwealth will support service to the New River Valley, which includes the city of Radford and the counties of Montgomery (including the towns of Blacksburg and Christiansburg), Floyd, Pulaski and Giles. The first phase of construction enabling passenger rail service to Roanoke is underway. Amtrak service there will be an extension of the successful Northeast regional train already serving Lynchburg. It will provide a same-seat trip from Roanoke to Lynchburg, Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and other cities up to Boston.   Driving the push for passenger rail service is the region’s growth and its large number of college students. “There are over 100,000 people in Montgomery County,” says Ray Smoot, co-chair of the steering committee, who is a retired chief executive of the Virginia Tech Foundation. “It’s one of the fastest-growing counties in the state.” In the last census, Montgomery became the most populated Virginia county west of Albemarle County. Smoot also notes that the region has the highest college student per-capita rate in the state. “There are approximately 30,000 students at Virginia Tech and approximately 10,000 at Radford,” he says. “We estimate that about 70 percent of those students live within 30 miles of the Northeast corridor between here and New York or Boston.” Currently many students drive to and from school on Interstate 81. “There is so much congestion on that road,” Smoot says. “It’s a real challenge for them. Amtrak would be an alternative means of transportation.” The railroad infrastructure, owned by Norfolk Southern Corp., is currently in place in the New River Valley. “The tough part is already done,” Smoot says. “The railroad will have to determine what kind of improvements will be needed to re-establish passenger service. We will need one or two station facilities to board the trains.” A planning committee, made up of senior officials from the region along with Radford University and Virginia Tech, has gained support from Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (both Democrats), U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-9th District), state Sens. John Edwards (D-Roanoke) and Ben Chafin (R-Lebanon) and Delegates Joseph Yost (R-Pearisburg), Nick Rush (R-Christiansburg) and Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke). “We have had good bipartisan support from elected officials,” Smoot says. 2015-06-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/SOVA_eBay.png Photo by Steven Mantilla http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/expansion-to-create-190-jobs-in-henry-county Expansion to create 190 jobs in Henry County http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/expansion-to-create-190-jobs-in-henry-county http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/expansion-to-create-190-jobs-in-henry-county#When:10:00:00Z Clients of eBay Enterprise are expected to see faster delivery across North America when the company completes a 400,000-square-foot expansion in Henry County. The company expects to invest $5.8 million in the project, creating more than 190 full-time jobs. “As eBay Enterprise continues to grow, they are adding jobs, which is helpful to our community,” says Mark Heath, president and CEO of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation. “They have found a sweet spot with labor here, and that is one of the reasons they are growing.” The expansion will provide automated fulfillment services as well as warehouse management and freight solutions for eBay Enterprise clients, including Bath & Body Works, Stein Mart and The Company Store.  The company receives merchandise from client companies, fills orders and ships goods to customers. The addition of 190 employees will take the company’s full-time workforce to more than 500, according to Heath. “That makes them the largest nonmanufacturing company here, employment-wise,” he says. Once a hub for furniture and textile manufacturing, Martinsville frequently has recorded the highest unemployment rate in Virginia in recent years. In March, Martinsville’s jobless rate stood at 9.8 percent while Henry’s rate was 7.4 percent. The March unemployment rate for the entire commonwealth was 4.9 percent. The incentive package offered to eBay Enterprise includes assistance from the Virginia Jobs Investment Program and a $710,000 grant from the state Tobacco Commission.  In addition, Henry County will provide Enterprise Zone incentives in the form of rebates on county taxes — 100 percent in the first year and 50 percent for four years thereafter. The company will take over the second of two buildings — it already occupies the first — on a former textile site known as Rich Acres in Ridgeway. The new facility will expand eBay Enterprise’s local presence to six buildings and increase its total footprint to 1.3 million square feet. “We will add material handling equipment and some automation to ensure our success,” says Kim Smith Glisson, the company’s director of operations. 2015-06-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/heifetz_campusaerial_large.png Photo courtesy Mary Baldwin College http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/mary-baldwin-to-become-university-in-2016 Mary Baldwin to become university in 2016 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/mary-baldwin-to-become-university-in-2016 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/mary-baldwin-to-become-university-in-2016#When:10:00:00Z There is nothing simple about changing an organization’s name, especially when it has been in business since 1842. Just ask the administrators at Mary Baldwin College. On Aug. 31, 2016, the institution will become Mary Baldwin University. “It reflects who we are today,” says Crista Cabe, the school’s vice president for communication, marketing and public affairs.  Mary Baldwin is working on a plan that will include updating highway and campus signage, establishing a new URL along with website and email addresses, amending key documents, creating a new logo, updating its official seal and developing branded merchandise. “There is an awful lot to do,” Cabe says. The school has changed its name before at several points of its evolution. Founded as Augusta Female Seminary in 1842, it became Mary Baldwin Seminary in 1895 and then Mary Baldwin College in 1923 when baccalaureate degrees were first granted. Now, Mary Baldwin has two campuses (in Staunton and Fishersville) and 12 other regional locations throughout Virginia. Its five programmatic components include a residential women’s college, the Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences and master’s and doctoral degree programs. “This isn’t just a discreet liberal arts college. It’s a complex institution,” Cabe says. “In many people’s minds, colleges and universities are the same.” But there are differences. Colleges typically offer only four-year bachelor’s degrees. Universities generally also offer a variety of graduate degrees and include more than one major academic unit.  Mary Baldwin falls into the small university category, offering several niche programs in addition to a traditional residential college, Cabe says. “There are a host of institutions such as Mary Baldwin and Washington & Lee that fall in between a small college and big university.” Before deciding to change the name, the school surveyed segments of the Mary Baldwin community, including students, faculty, staff and alumni. Seventy percent of the faculty and staff and 68 percent of current students were in favor of the name change. “Most of the students I have spoken with are very excited about it,” Cabe says. Students graduating after the vote to change the name but before it is legally adopted (those graduating in 2015 and 2016) will be offered the opportunity to order replacement diplomas bearing the name “Mary Baldwin University” free of charge. The school’s four-year, undergraduate residential col­­l­­­­­­ege for women will be called Mary Baldwin College for Women. The name pays tribute to an early graduate who later led the institution through the Civil War. “Mary Baldwin as a person, leader and historical figure means a great deal to our community,” Cabe says. “We thought it was important to keep the historic name.” 2015-06-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/EVA_Dessasco9606.png Aazia Mickens-Dessaso is the co-founder of Hampton-based FreePing. Photo by Mark Rhodes http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/entrepreneur-makes-a-pitch-at-the-white-house Entrepreneur makes a pitch at the White House http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/entrepreneur-makes-a-pitch-at-the-white-house http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/entrepreneur-makes-a-pitch-at-the-white-house#When:10:00:00Z Entrepreneurs are used to giving their elevator speeches to potential investors. Few startup founders, however, get the chance to explain their businesses at the White House. Aazia Mickens-Dessaso, the co-founder of Hampton-based FreePing, was invited to attend a White House conference in May, “Start The Spark: Emerging Global Entrepreneurs.” The event brought together entrepreneurs from around the world, highlighting the importance of startups in finding innovative solutions to issues such as poverty and climate change. “It’s one thing to visit the White House and quite another to be a guest of the president,” says Mickens-Dessaso, 27. “I got to shake the president’s hand and have conversations with him about youth and women.” She started FreePing last year with business partner Britni Jones. The software company provides free streams of information to prepaid mobile phone subscribers in emerging markets. “It’s mostly utility information, such as bus schedules and emergency alerts,” she says. The free content is provided using a “missed-call” practice Mickens-Dessaso observed in Brazil as a foreign languages and area studies fellow with U.S. Department of Education. “It’s an intentionally dropped phone call that people with prepaid cards use so they don’t use their data,” she says. “They call, let it ring and then hang up.” The callers can then get information texted to them. “Incoming text messages for prepaid users are typically free,” she says She is introducing Free-Ping in Brazil, South Africa and Kenya. The company’s customers include international nonprofit organizations and retailers that pay a monthly fee. After her fellowship, Mickens-Dessaso pitched the idea for her company at the startup competition in Hampton, “Start! Peninsula 2.0,” in 2013. “We were one of the top three winners of that competition, and we received a small investment amount,” she says. “Last year we started the company at the Peninsula Technology Incubator.” Mickens-Dessaso and the other entrepreneurs at the White House were questioned by investors from the ABC television series “Shark Tank.” “We received questions from all of them,” she says. “The most vocal was Mark Cuban [the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks pro basketball team].” Cuban told her that Free-Ping was a great idea. “He also commented on the usability of the product and that we were in the right markets,” she says. “He discussed a few partnerships we should pursue, like Facebook.” Mickens-Dessaso and Jones hope to expand their staff, which currently has only three employees. “We are looking to hire a few more developers,” she says, She would like to expand her customer base as well. “Retailers have picked up on the value of this for the distribution of their content,” she says. She has seen added interest from investors and potential customers since the White House conference. “I am optimistic,” she says. 2015-06-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/for-the-record-july-2015 For the Record - July 2015 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/for-the-record-july-2015 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/for-the-record-july-2015#When:10:00:00Z EASTERN VIRGINIA Virginia Beach-based  LifeNet Health  plans to hire more than 160 workers this year. That will bring its workforce to nearly 900 people, a 54 percent increase since 2010. The organization says its growth is being fueled by increased demand in its bio-implants, which are being made more widely available domestically and internationally. Almost all the new positions will be in the organization’s three Virginia Beach facilities. (VirginiaBusiness.com) Toano-based  Lumber Liquidators  announced in May that its president and CEO, Robert M. Lynch, had unexpectedly resigned. Thomas D. Sullivan, the company’s founder, will serve as the acting CEO until a replacement is found. The flooring retailer has come under fire since a March report by CBS’ “60 Minutes” questioned the safety of its Chinese-made laminate floors. (VirginiaBusiness.com)  NASA Langley Research Center  in Hampton broke ground on a 40,000-square-foot computational research facility on May 22. The $23 million facility will “allow the kind of advanced research and development that will put the first human on Mars and also provide data to address rising seas,” said Col. Paul Olsen, Norfolk district commander of the Army Corps of Engineers. The facility is scheduled for completion in 2016. (Daily Press) Hampton Roads-based  TowneBan k plans to locate its Richmon d headquarters in the 19-story Gateway Plaza building being completed in the city’s downtown business district. TowneBank will occupy about 26,000 square feet of space in the first-floor lobby. The bank’s executive offices and a boardroom will be on the seventh floor, which has a 1,400-square-foot terrace overlooking the James River. (VirginiaBusiness.com) Virginia Beach-based Valkyrie Enterprises LLC plans to add 100 jobs to its 193-person workforce and expand its headquarters by 35,000 square feet. The Virginia Beach Economic Development Authority approved a $100,000 grant for the company. Zero Point Inc., also based in Virginia Beach, plans to move its headquarters and add 89 jobs over the next five years. (The Virginian-Pilot) SHENANDOAH VALLEY The Artisans Center of Virginia announces the development of the Artisan Trail Network program in Rockingham County and Harrisonburg. The Artisans Center of Virginia, together with a management team of local artisan-related, hospitality and cultural businesses will develop a new trail that will highlight attractions in the Harrisonburg/Rockingham County region. (News release) Blue Ridge Cancer Care announced in June the opening of a new cancer center in Lexington, its 10th location in the state. BRCC is a private practice specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The firm offers medical oncology, hematology, genetic risk assessment and clinical research services. The company offers Phase II, III and IV clinical trials through its affiliation with US Oncology Research. (VirginiaBusiness.com) Gamma Broadcasting LLC plans to sell 96.9 WSIG radio station in Mount Jackson to Saga Communications. The closing date of the sale of WSIG and a second radio station, AC WBOP/Buffalo Gap in Harrisonburg, will take place in late summer for $1.3 million. Saga also recently acquired five Harrisonburg radio stations owned by VerStandig Broadcasting. (The Northern Virginia Daily) Long & Foster Real Estate opened an office in Staunton at 16 Gosnell Crossing. Max Hirtriter has been named managing broker of this office, which serves the Shenandoah Valley and nearby areas, including Staunton, Waynesboro, Fishersville and the surrounding counties and towns. Chantilly-based Long & Foster is the largest independent residential real estate company in the United States. (News release) The Natural Bridge Zoo opened its doors May 30, several days after learning that its state permit — suspended since March after reports of animal mistreatment and neglect — has been reinstated. Although animal rights groups continue to be concerned about the zoo, owner Karl Mogensen says all of the problems cited in state and federal inspections have been fixed. (The Roanoke Times) SOUTHERN VIRGINIA Allergease closed its office in Danville. The firm moved its headquarters to Danville from Northern Virginia two years ago, promising to invest $7.5 million and to hire 150 workers to distribute the company’s allergy relief lozenges in exchange for a $1.125 million grant from the Virginia Tobacco Commission. The grant must be repaid since Allergease did not meet its requirements. The firm has been in communication with the city to set up a repayment plan. (Danville Register & Bee)  Georgia-based Lendmark Financial Services LLC held a ribbon cutting and grand opening in May at its branch at 4126 Halifax Road in South Boston. The office provides financial services including personal loans, automobile loans, debt consolidation loans and merchant retail sales financing services. Lendmark has more than 130 branch locations throughout the United States. (The Gazette-Virginian) Memphis, Tenn.-based Monogram Foods is expanding for the fourth time in Henry County since coming to the area in 2009.The food products company said it will invest $7.2 million to establish a warehousing and logistics operation in the Southern Virginia county. The project is expected to create 101 jobs. Incentives included a $200,000 grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund and $370,000 in Tobacco Region Opportunity Funds. (VirginiaBusiness.com) The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) a three-year, $250,000 Wood Innovations Grant award. The award was granted for the SVHEC’s R&D Center for Advanced Manufacturing & Energy Efficiency project, which will use several undervalued wood species to produce a reusable, recyclable wood barrel for aging wine and other spirits. (News release) Evan Feinman, most recently Virginia’s deputy secretary of natural resources, appointed executive director of the renamed Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission (formerly known as the Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission). Legislation, signed this year by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, aims to revamp the organization, which provides formerly tobacco-dependent communities with money to promote economic development. (VirginiaBusiness.com) Danville is poised to get its first Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market next year, a move that’s expected to create approximately 95 jobs. Phillips Edison & Co. said that Wal-Mart signed a lease to open the 42,000-square-foot Wal-Mart at Nor-Dan Shopping Center. Wal-Mart Neighborhood Markets are smaller stores for communities in need of a pharmacy, affordable fresh groceries and select household merchandise. (VirginiaBusiness.com)   SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA Carilion Clinic recently opened a Cosmetic Center along Rosalind Avenue in Roanoke to consolidate its cosmetic surgery services and to expand a line of skin treatments. Three board-certified plastic surgeons will see patients at the new facility. They will perform surgery in an onsite operating room, eliminating the need to schedule procedures in the hospital. (The Roanoke Times) Work has begun on the first phase of a $20 million renovation of the former Smyth County Community Hospital building that will eventually house the Emory & Henry College School of Health Sciences. The renovations will enable a dramatic expansion of the school, which is expected to add occupational therapy to its curriculum in 2016 and physician assistant studies the next year. (Smyth County News & Messenger) The Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council annual TechNite Awards were presented to: Michael Collver, Darrell Roberts and Skip Larrington (STEM educators);  Jonathan Hagmaier (Entrepreneur); Rafael Davalos (Innovator); Michael Friedlander (Regional Leadership); ORIGO (Rising Star); Card Isle (People’s Choice); Doug Juanarena (Ruby); and Dr. Mary Miller and Leon Harris (Technology Hall of Fame). (News release)  The Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce endorsed the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline project in June. A statement from the chamber said the pipeline could fuel economic growth. The pipeline would transport natural gas from Wetzel County, W.Va., to another transmission pipeline in Pittsylvania County. It could pass through Giles, Craig, Montgomery, Roanoke and Franklin counties. (The Roanoke Times) The Virginia Intercollegiate Anatomy Laboratory opened in May at the Carilion Roanoke Community Hospital in Roanoke. The laboratory is a collaboration of Radford University, the Jefferson College of Health Sciences at Carilion Clinic and the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. The venture will provide a shared space for use by students from the partners’ health care-related disciplines. (News release) The Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Human and Agricultural Biosciences Building 1 has received the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design gold certification. It is the tenth university building to receive LEED certification and the fifth to earn gold. LEED certification is the recognized standard for measuring building sustainability. (News release) NORTHERN VIRGINIA Falls Church-based  Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC)  plans to split itself into two publicly traded companies by October. One company will serve commercial and government clients around the world while the other will serve public-sector clients in the U.S. CSC provides information technology services and solutions. The company has approximately 70,000 employees and reported revenue of $12.2 billion for the 12 months ended April 3. (VirginiaBusiness.com) Frederick, Md.-based  Flying Dog Brewery  announced in May that it will be stepping away from a farm brewery project it was planning to operate in Lucketts. A hops facility on the same farmland is not affected by the change and will go ahead as planned. (Loudoun Times-Mirror) Texas-based  GameStop Corp . plans to acquire Fairfax-based Geeknet Inc. in a deal valued at $140 million. Geeknet terminated a previously announced merger deal with Hot Topic and will pay a 3 percent termination fee required by that agreement. Geeknet said GameStop will reimburse it for the cost of the fee. GameStop is a video game, consumer electronics and wireless services retailer. (VirginiaBusiness.com)  Harris Corp.  completed in May its $4.75 billion acquisition of McLean-based Exelis Inc., creating one of the nation’s defense and government-contracting companies that — for the time being at least — will be headquartered in Melbourne, Fla. The deal, which concluded weeks ahead of schedule, means Harris will have about 23,000 employees. (Florida Today)  Lidl , a Germany-based discount supermarket chain, will invest $202 million in Virginia, creating 700 jobs as it expands into the U.S.  Lidl currently operates nearly 10,000 stores in 26 European countries. The deal includes a $77 million U.S. corporate headquarters in Arlington County and a $125 million regional headquarters and distribution center in Spotsylvania County. The company will create 500 jobs in Arlington and 200 in Spotsylvania.  (VirginiaBusiness.com)  Dwight C. Schar , founder and chairman of homebuilding and mortgage giant NVR, and his wife, Martha, are giving Inova $50 million to develop a cancer research institute that will bear their names as part of a 117-acre medical campus in Merrifield. Schar’s company, based in Reston, is one of the largest homebuilders by revenue in the country. (The Washington Post) Reston-based  WashingtonFirst Bankshares Inc.  plans to take over 1st Portfolio Holding Corp. in a $7.7 million stock merger. Fairfax-based 1st Portfolio is the holding company for 1st Portfolio Lending Corp. and 1st Portfolio Wealth Advisors. The deal is expected to close early in the third quarter of 2015. WashingtonFirst is the parent company of WashingtonFirst Bank. (VirginiaBusiness.com) A luxury movie theater is set to make its debut in Virginia next year, employing more than 100 people. Fairfax-based  The Peterson Cos.  announced that Cinépolis USA, a 39,000-square-foot, luxury movie theater will anchor its $70 million Avonlea Town Center in Loudoun County. Avonlea Town Center, a  30-acre, mixed-use development near the intersection of Route 50 and Loudoun County Parkway, is set to break ground this year. (VirginiaBusiness.com) CENTRAL  VIRGINIA    Apple Hospitality REIT Inc.    made its debut on the New York Stock Exchange in May, under the “APLE” ticker symbol. Apple Hospitality owns 173 Hilton and Marriott hotel properties in 32 states, including 14 in Virginia. In addition to the Richmond Marriott, the company owns the recently opened Courtyard by Marriott and Residence Inn by Marriott hotels in Shockoe Slip. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)    Elephant Auto Insurance    plans to create 1,173 jobs in the Richmond area as part of a $2 million expansion of its U.S. headquarters in Henrico County. The company now has almost 400 employees in the area. Elephant, a subsidiary of U.K.-based Admiral Group plc, established its headquarters in Henrico in 2009 and recently moved to the Deep Run I office building. (VirginiaBusiness.com)    WestRock Co   . will be the name of the company formed in the merger of Richmond-based MeadWestvaco Corp. and Georgia-based Rock-Tenn Co. The companies have received antitrust approval and were awaiting regulatory and shareholder approvals that were expected in June. WestRock’s principal offices will be located in Richmond, while its operating offices will be located in Norcross, Ga. (VirginiaBusiness.com)    The University of Virginia      board of visito   rs  voted in May to  extend  the contract of President Teresa A. Sullivan through July 2018. But the board will have the option to replace her in October 2017 — just 15 months from the date of the extension — or to give her a further extension, allowing her to stay on until October 2019. (The Daily Progress)  VCU Medical Center  and Bon Secours Richmond Health System have pulled out of  efforts to develop a free-standing, independently operated children’s hospital, leaving on the table a philanthropic offer of more than $150 million from businessman William H. Goodwin Jr. and his wife, Alice. Officials at the health systems said they concluded it would be financially too risky to pursue the project in a time of uncertainty over issues such as Medicaid expansion and federal funds for training new doctors.(Richmond Times-Dispatch) Virginia State University has been placed on six-month warning by its accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. In June, the agency’s board cited five areas of concern with VSU’s compliance with accreditation standards: faculty numbers, academic program coordination, financial-aid audits, student complaints and the federal Title IV financial-aid program. The university must submit a monitoring report to the commission by September.(Richmond Times-Dispatch) 2015-06-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/people-july-2015 People - July 2015 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/people-july-2015 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/people-july-2015#When:10:00:00Z EASTERN VIRGINIA      Ann A. Adams     ,     Kenneth W. Crowder     and     Michael  Helpinstill    , named to the board of visitors, Norfolk State University. Adams is assistant vice president, human resources, Norfolk Southern Corp.; Crowder is presiding elder, Norfolk District, Virginia Conference, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church; and Helpinstill is vice president and CFO, Newport News Shipbuilding. (VirginiaBusiness.com)      Yvonne Toms Allmond    ,    Donna Scassera Fischer    and   Mike Henry  , nam  ed to the board of visitors, Old Dominion University. Allmond is senior vice president, private banking, TowneBank; Fischer is president of DLS Engineering Assoc. Inc.; and Henry is chief of staff to U.S. Senator Tim Kaine. Frank Reidy was reappointed to the board. He is director of Pennsylvania General Energy. (VirginiaBusiness.com)   Robert R. Hatten   and  Steven S. Kast , named to the b oard of visitors, Christopher Newport University. Hatten is managing partner of Patten, Wornom, Hatten & Diamonstein, and Kast is president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of the Virginia Peninsula and Southeast Virginia. N. Scott Millar was reappointed to the board. He is senior director, Canon Virginia Inc. (VirginiaBusiness.com)  James Hixon  and Karen Kennedy Schultz, named to  the board of visitors, College of William and Mary. Hixon is executive vice president of Norfolk Southern Corp., and Schultz is professor and director, Center for Public Service and Scholarship, Shenandoah University. Thomas R. Frantz and Todd A. Stottlemyer were reappointed to the board. Frantz is chairman, Williams Mullen, and Stottlemyer is former CEO, Acentia LLC. (VirginiaBusiness.com) Newport News-based Basic Construction Co. promoted Kevin Morello to manager of its site and utility divisions. Morello joined Basic as a project manager in 1994. (VirginiaBusiness.com) Jennifer Hill joined Virginia Beach-based Rubin Communications Group as an account manager. She previously worked for a health-care public relations agency in New York City. (Daily Press) SHENANDOAH VALLEY    Lara Tyler Chambers   ,   Brian R. Detter  ,  David L. Miller  a  nd  Gene Sc ott, named to  the board of visitors, Virginia Military Institute, Lexington. Chambers is co-owner and financial manager, Tyler Development Group LLC; Detter is executive vice president, Artis LLC; and Scott is retired regional vice president, Verizon. (VirginiaBusiness.com)    Matthew A. Gray   ,   Jeffrey Grass  ,   Maria D. Jank owski  ,  Deborah Tompkins Johnson ,  Joh n C. Rothenberger  and Craig Brendan Welburn, named to the bo ard of visitors, James Madison University, Harrisonburg. Gray is Virginia state director of The Humane Society of the United States; Grass is executive chairman of LiveSafe Inc. and chairman and CEO, buySAFE Inc.; Jankowski is deputy director, Virginia Indigent Defense Commission; Johnson is manager-regional state and local affairs, Dominion Virginia Power; Rothenberger is CEO of SE Solutions; and Welburn is CEO of ECC Enterprises Holding Co. LLC. (VirginiaBusiness.com) Washington and Lee University President Kenneth Ruscio plans to step down at the end of the 2016 academic year to return to the university’s faculty. (The Roanoke Times) Norman C.  “Butch” Smiley III joined Strasburg-based First Bank as regional president of the newly formed South region. Smiley most recently served as the president and CEO of Community Bank in Staunton. (VirginiaBusiness.com) SOUTHERN VIRGINIA Ernecia Coles, named executive director, River District Association, Danville. She is a Chatham native who has spent the past 20 years in St. Louis, where she worked in various community development-related jobs. (Danville Register & Bee)  Sue B. Hair, named vice president and retail banking manager at American National Bank & Trust Co. She will be responsible for managing five retail branches in Danville and one retail branch in Yanceyville, N.C. She has been with American National for 12 years and served in various roles, such as branch manager and director of branch administration. (News release) Aaron D. Howell, named vice president for business and finance, Averett University, Danville. Howell has been assistant vice president and controller at Oregon State University. (Work It, SoVa) Alan Larson, named the South Central Virginia market president for LifePoint Health and CEO of Danville Regional Medical Center, effective Aug. 1. Larson was CEO and founder of TD HealthCare. He replaces Jerry Dooley, who has served as interim market president and CEO of DRMC since November. (News release) LeAnne Clem Roller, named Danville Regional Medical Center’s new marketing director. Roller has been employed with DRMC since 2010, most recently serving as transitional care liaison. (Work It, SoVa) SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA    Charles T. Hill    and   Mehmood S. Kazmi  , named to the  board of visitors, Virginia Tech. Hill is retired chairman, president and CEO, SunTrust Mid-Atlantic, and Kazmi is chief operating officer of Share Investment Co. LLC. Deborah Petrine, chairman and CEO of CCR Inc., was reappointed to the board. (VirginiaBusiness.com)   Mary Ann Hovis   and  Mark S. Lawrence , named to the  board of visitors, Radford University. Hovis is a retired business executive from Oakton, and Lawrence is vice president, Carilion Clinic. Randolph J. Marcus, senior adviser for policy to Gov. Terry McAuliffe, was renamed to the board. (VirginiaBusiness.com)  Michael W. Leigh , a retired U.S. Navy commander, named the 2014 Virginia Small Business Veteran of the Year, by the Virginia Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) Network. Leigh is CEO of Roanoke-based OpX Solutions and co-owner of Kaizen Healthcare Innovations. (The Roanoke Star)  Minnis E. Ridenour , named to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. Ridenour is senior fellow and executive vice president and COO, emeritus, Virginia Tech. (VirginiaBusiness.com)  Thanassis Rikaki s, named Virginia  Tech’s executive vice president and provost, effective Aug. 16. He is vice provost for design, arts and technology at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Rikakis  will succeed Mark McNamee, senior vice president and provost,  who will retire on Oct. 1. (VirginiaBusiness.com) Roanoke County Budget and Management Director Brent Robertson resigned in June to accept the position of administrator in Franklin County where he was born and raised. (News release)   NORTHERN VIRGINIA   Matt Chun  , named vice president, digital strategy, PCI, Alexandria. Chun was head of digital and social media strategy at RedPeg. (News release)   Heather Mullins Crislip  , Davis Rennolds and Rhonda S. VanLowe, named to the board of visitors, University of Mary Washington. Crislip is president and CEO, Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia; Rennolds is vice president, McGuireWoods Consulting; and  VanLowe is legal counsel, Rolls-Royce North America Inc. (VirginiaBusiness.com)   Stephen M. Cumbie  ,  David T. Petersen  and  Shawn N. Pur vi s,  named to the board of visitors, George Mason University. Cumbie is CEO of NVCommercial Inc.; Petersen is a retired Accenture executive director; Purvis is vice president and general manager, cyber division, Northrop Grumman Information Systems. Karen Alcalde, a GMU alumna, was renamed to the board. (VirginiaBusiness.com) Eric Gavin, named chief sales and marketing officer, Salamander Hotels & Resorts, Middleburg. He joins the company from Benchmark Hospitality International, where he served as regional director of sales and marketing. (VirginiaBusiness.com) Jonathan Scholl, named health and engineering sector president, Leidos Holdings Inc., Reston. He served for five years as the chief strategy officer for Texas Health Resources. (VirginiaBusiness.com) Peter Whitfield, named chief financial officer, American Systems, Chantilly. Whitfield was CFO of Vienna-based Shared Spectrum Co.(VirginiaBusiness.com) CENTRAL VIRGINIA Whittington W. Clement, named to the board of visitors of the University of Virginia and its affiliated schools. He is a partner at Hunton & Williams, Richmond. (VirginiaBusiness.com) Michael A. Evans, named to the Longwood University board of visitors. David H. Halleck Jr. and Marianne M. Radcliff were reappointed. Evans is a retired human resources administrator in Hanover County, Halleck, from Richmond, is chief of staff to Sen. Mark Warner, and Radcliff is vice president of Kemper Consulting in Richmond.  (VirginiaBusiness.com) Michael D. Flemming, named to the Virginia State University board of visitors. Flemming is vice president and corporate general counsel, Smithfield Foods Inc., Smithfield. (VirginiaBusiness.com) P.  Tulane Patterson, owner of Generation Solutions Holdings Inc. in Lynchburg and Roanoke, named Virginia’s 2015 Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Richmond District Office. (News release) Dr. Carol S. Shapiro, named to the Virginia Commonwealth University board of visitors. Shapiro, a plastic surgeon, is medical director of Wound Healing Center, Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center. Sudhakar Shenoy and Jacquelyn E. Stone were reappointed. Shenoy is CEO, IMC Inc., Reston and Stone is partner, McGuireWoods LLP, Richmond. (VirginiaBusiness.com) P. Cody Phipps, named president and CEO of Owens & Minor Inc., Mechanicsville. Phipps was president and CEO of United Stationers Inc. in Deerfield, Ill.  (Richmond Times-Dispatch) William C. Hall Jr., of Richmond, renamed to the State Board for Community Colleges. He is a retired Dominion Resources executive.(VirginiaBusiness.com) Jeff Stroburg, named president and CEO, Southern States Cooperative, Richmond. Stroburg recently retired as CEO of West Central Cooperative. (News release) Katharine M. Webb, named to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. She is the former senior vice president, Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association. (VirginiaBusiness.com) 2015-06-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Bernie_july2015.png Photo by Adrienne R. Watson http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/voting-districts-in-play Voting districts in play http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/voting-districts-in-play http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/voting-districts-in-play#When:10:00:00Z In late May, the Supreme Court of the United States agreed to hear Evenwel v. Abbott, a Texas case that challenges the practice of creating legislative districts based on total population, rather than the number of eligible voters. If successful, the effect of the appellants’ case would be to shift voting power from typically liberal, densely populated urban centers with more children and non-citizens, to more sparsely populated rural areas with a higher percentage of older, mostly white and more likely conservative voters. The argument against using a total population approach in redistricting is that this method creates more districts in areas with higher populations but fewer eligible voters. That situation, the critics say, distorts the one-person, one-vote principle set by the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Larger numbers of voters, the reasoning goes, wind up being represented by fewer elected officials. There is a thread of logic in that argument, but elected officials always have represented the interests of more than just the voting public. Children and other non-voting persons have always been included in redistricting calculations throughout our history.  The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States begins with “We the People,” not we the voters. It is worth mentioning that those bringing this case are backed by the Project on Fair Representation, a Texas-based conservative group whose leadership has also been involved in cases attacking affirmative action and elements of the Voting Rights Act. In defending the state’s voting districts, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, argued that the plaintiffs, cite “no case where the Constitution compels states to apportion districts based on voter population… and multiple cases confirm that total population is a permissible apportionment base under the Equal Protection Clause.”  Nevertheless, the Supremes are scheduled to hear the case in October. So, what does this have to do with Virginia?  In June, a three judge panel of the 4th U.S. Court of Appeals ruled by a 2-1 margin that Virginia’s congressional boundaries are unconstitutional because race was a predominant consideration, specifically packing black voters into the 3rd District to minimize black voting power in surrounding districts.  The court gave the General Assembly until Sept. 1 to come up with new boundaries. Redistricting has been a hot-button topic with voters, less so with politicians.  Nonpartisan redistricting might eliminate the perception of foxes in the henhouse, with politicians picking their voters, but it might do little to change election results.  Much like the Texas case, geography is destiny in politics.  Regardless of how voting districts are drawn, rural areas generally tend to be more conservative and urban areas are more liberal.  Getting the foxes out of the henhouse won’t change how people vote. Racial disparities draw much attention and rightfully so.  Still an equal or perhaps even more powerful political dynamic is the interplay between rural and urban interests.  Rural areas long have been losing population to metro areas.  For decades, rural Virginia has been clinging to the remnants of its political power. Population shifts may be the first step, but politics are played out, not just in voting booths but also in the statehouse.  Virginia distributes much of its general fund revenue to the localities based on formulas set by statute, in many cases unchanged for decades. State funding for transportation, education and health is distributed in ways that are always complex and often arcane.  Among other things, the various formulas account for local income or ability to pay, highway miles, congestion and ability to provide matching funds.  In most cases, the result is a shift of tax dollars from higher-income, more densely populated urban areas to rural localities where less tax revenue is raised. Other than their complexity, there’s little to argue with.  These formulas do what taxes are supposed to do by allocating funds based on local needs.  Still, in the political horse-trading that goes on to pass all kinds of legislation, keeping these formulas unchanged can be a prerequisite for rural legislative support.  The urban/rural dynamic also plays out in other areas such as the composition of the 18-member Commonwealth Transportation Board, which distributes funds for highway projects. Going back to the redistricting issue, this magazine has long favored nonpartisan redistricting. The federal appeals court’s recent ruling only puts the question back to the General Assembly. OneVirginia2021, an organization promoting nonpartisan redistricting, plans to file suit soon in state court to compel lawmakers to follow the requirement set by Virginia’s constitution that voting districts be compact and contiguous. Depending on the outcome of the Texas case before the U.S. Supreme Court, virtually everything we know about the composition of voting districts soon may come into play. In politics, a chance to get things right is an increasing rarity.  Let’s hope this goes well. 2015-06-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/AP264058776958.png Photo by Richmond Times-Dispatch via Associated Press http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/health-diagnostic-laboratory-files-for-chapter-11-bankruptcy Health Diagnostic Laboratory files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/health-diagnostic-laboratory-files-for-chapter-11-bankruptcy http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/health-diagnostic-laboratory-files-for-chapter-11-bankruptcy#When:10:00:00Z Two months after settling a federal investigation of its reimbursement practices, Richmond-based Health Diagnostic Laboratory filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June, listing the $49.5 million settlement payment as its biggest debt. Overall, the company said it has more than 200 creditors, and its assets and liabilities both were listed in the range of $100 million to $500 million. One of the biggest short-term challenges facing HDL could be keeping its talent, says Richard Coughlan, senior associate dean for the Robins School of Business at the University of Richmond.  “Because of the uncertainty surrounding the bankruptcy declaration, many of their most capable employees will seek positions elsewhere.  This is likely to hamper the company’s ability to carry out operations at recent levels of productivity and could lead physicians to find other options for testing.” In its bankruptcy petition, HDL said its revenues fell sharply after it came under federal scrutiny for paying doctors a $20 process and handling fee for each blood sample sent to the company. HDL discontinued the payments, which it called an industry-wide practice, after the government issued an alert in June 2014 saying they could violate the federal anti-kickback laws. The company admitted no wrongdoing in its April settlement. In the filing, HDL said that, because of its reduced revenue, it was unable to comply with loan facility covenants with North Carolina-based BB&T. HDL said it has had difficulty making payments to suppliers and conducting its operations since late May when the bank discontinued the company’s ability to borrow under a loan facility and froze its accounts. At press time, HDL was waiting for a bankruptcy judge to approve an agreement it reached with the U.S. government to protect $2.6 million in Medicare reimbursements owed to the company. HDL said in a court filing that a freeze on these payments would severely hurt its revenue stream and ability to continue operating. 2015-06-29T10:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/july-out-about-2015 July Out & About http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/july-out-about-2015 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/july-out-about-2015#When:17:31:00Z This month's Out & About features photos from heck presentation to Virginia Early Childhood Foundation and the LEAD Virginia Founders Day and 2015 Opening Session in Williamsburg. To share photos of special events at your company with Virginia Business, e-mail your high resolution images to or mail them to 1207 East Main Street, Suite 100, Richmond, VA  23219. Photos not used in the magazine may be posted on our online photo gallery. 2015-06-28T17:31:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/cushman-wakefield-thalhimer-will-provide-leasing-services-for-new-goochland Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer will provide leasing services for new Goochland project http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/cushman-wakefield-thalhimer-will-provide-leasing-services-for-new-goochland http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/cushman-wakefield-thalhimer-will-provide-leasing-services-for-new-goochland#When:17:26:00Z     Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer has been selected by West Creek Associates to provide exclusive retail leasing services for The Notch, a new mixed-use project  located on the southeast corner of West Broad Street and Route 288 in Goochland County. Located at the entrance of the West Creek Business Park, the site offers exposure for up to 40,000 square feet of inline retail space, along with additional pad sites available for restaurants, banks, and other retail services. A high-end 130-room hotel will soon be constructed nearby, and the site is also close to West Broad Marketplace, which will be anchored by Cabela’s and Wegman’s. The Thalhimer team will consist of retail leasing representatives Jim Ashby and Richard Thalhimer. 2015-06-28T17:26:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/four-national-retailers-to-join-hampton-roads-crossing-in-suffolk Four national retailers to join Hampton Roads Crossing in Suffolk http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/four-national-retailers-to-join-hampton-roads-crossing-in-suffolk http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/four-national-retailers-to-join-hampton-roads-crossing-in-suffolk#When:17:23:00Z   Fur national retailers, and an additional Zaxby’s restaurant, are coming to Hampton Roads Crossing, a newly developed Kroger Marketplace-anchored shopping center in Suffolk. The 40-acre, mixed-use retail center is located in the Harbour View area, which spans the Suffolk-Portsmouth city lines.    According to Divaris Real Estate Inc., RLB Realty Investment purchased 1.1 acres of land at College Drive and Hampton Roads Crossing, which will be developed into the area’s sixth Zaxby’s location. The national restaurant chain serves chicken fingers, wings and sandwiches. Levi Thomson of DRE’s Virginia Beach office handled the transaction on behalf of the seller, Terry/Peterson Investment Thirty LLC. Thomson also handled the following lease negotiations on behalf of the landlord, HRC Retail: Petco, has leased a 12,500 square feet, and the space will include grooming and dog training. DSW Shoe Warehouse will occupy 12,000 square feet. The deal marks DSW’s fifth location in Hampton Roads. DRE’s Mary McGovern and Sezin Cortinas handled the lease negotiations for the tenant. ULTA will locate to the center, although details of the lease were not disclosed.  McGovern and Cortinas represented the tenant on the transaction. Five Below has leased 7,500 square feet in what will be its fifth location for the discount retailer in Hampton Roads. McGovern handled the lease negotiations on behalf of the tenant. 2015-06-28T17:23:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/abnb-federal-credit-plans-a-new-bank-location-in-virginia-beach ABNB Federal credit plans a new bank location in Virginia Beach http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/abnb-federal-credit-plans-a-new-bank-location-in-virginia-beach http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/abnb-federal-credit-plans-a-new-bank-location-in-virginia-beach#When:17:20:00Z ABNB Federal Credit Union has purchased a 2.2-acre site from TowneBank for $3.5 million and plans to construct a new bank location in the Little Neck area of Virginia Beach. The land is located on Virginia Beach Blvd. Ted Levin of Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer handled the sale negotiations on behalf of the seller. In another transaction for Thalhimer in Hampton Roads, Whittaker’s Mill Associates LLC purchased 77 acres from U.S. Bank National Association Corp. for $3.1 million. According to Thalhimer, the new owner plans to develop the site at Penniman Road and Route 199 in York County into a residential and multi-family project.   Clay Culbreth of Thalhimer’s Virginia Beach office handled the sale negotiations on behalf of the seller. 2015-06-28T17:20:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/11403142_891072834292392_5561373136155235437_n.jpg The Virginia Business team at the AABP awards in Charlotte, N.C. http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-business-wins-two-awards Virginia Business wins two national awards http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-business-wins-two-awards http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-business-wins-two-awards#When:15:31:00Z Virginia Business has won two national journalism awards. Special Projects Editor Jessica Sabbath won a silver award and Managing Editor Paula Squires won a bronze award in a competition sponsored by the Alliance of Area Business Publishers. Sabbath received her award in the magazine personality profile category for a December 2014 cover story on Chris Nassetta, CEO of Hilton Worldwide. Nassetta was named the magazine’s Virginia Business Person of the Year for 2014. Squires won for headline writing in a competition open to both magazines and newspapers. The awards were presented Saturday night at the association’s summer conference at the Hilton Charlotte Center City in Charlotte, N.C. AABP is an group with more than 70 member business publications in the U.S., Canada and Australia. 2015-06-28T15:31:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/nii-holdings-emerges-from-chapter-11-bankruptcy NII Holdings emerges from Chapter 11 bankruptcy http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/nii-holdings-emerges-from-chapter-11-bankruptcy http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/nii-holdings-emerges-from-chapter-11-bankruptcy#When:19:44:00Z Reston-based NII Holdings announced Friday it has emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company filed for bankruptcy in September.  "This is an important day for NII Holdings and all of our creditors, employees and customers," Steve Shindler, NII's CEO, said in a statement. "Working through the reorganization process has been challenging for all of our stakeholders, but we have emerged as a more streamlined and focused organization with a strong balance sheet and a healthy liquidity position.” Under the Plan, approximately 100 million shares of NII's new common stock and $745 million in cash will be distributed to holders of senior notes. The Company has applied to list the shares of NII's new common stock on the NASDAQ Stock Exchange. NII provides mobile communication services in Latin America under the Nextel brand. 2015-06-26T19:44:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/tredegar-ceo-cfo-resign Tredegar CEO, CFO resign http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/tredegar-ceo-cfo-resign http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/tredegar-ceo-cfo-resign#When:15:43:00Z Chesterfield-based Tredegar Corp. announced Friday that its CEO, Nancy M. Taylor, and CFO, vice president and treasurer, Kevin A. O’Leary, have resigned from the company. Taylor also resigned from Tredegar's board of directors. The company did not provide a reason for their resignation. Brent King, Tredegar's general counsel and corporate secretary, said he could not share much beyond the firm's initial statement, but said the company is focused on improving return on investments it has made over the past few years.  Tredegar board member John D. Gottwald, who served for 17 years as Tredegar’s president and CEO, will serve as the company’s interim president and CEO until a replacement is found. D. Andrew Edwards, Tredegar’s vice president, CFO and treasurer from 2003 to 2009, will serve as the firm’s vice president, CFO and treasurer, effective the end of July. William M. Gottwald, chairman of Tredegar‘s board of directors, thanked Taylor for her 23 years of service at the company. “We are extremely grateful for her tireless efforts, especially the dedication she has shown which has enabled us to grow the company and build on our strengths,” he said in a statement. Tredegar’s board also expressed gratitude to O’Leary. “Today Tredegar continues to be in a strong financial position due in no small part to Kevin’s leadership,” Gottwald said. “We want to express our sincere gratitude for his service to this company and we wish him well in the future.” Tredegar had 2014 net sales of $923 million, as opposed to net sales of $931 million in 2013. The company has approximately 2,700 employees and operates manufacturing facilities in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. 2015-06-26T15:43:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Twin_Hickory_Land_Close_In_Aerial.jpg http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/short-pump-land-sells-for-8.1-million-and-is-earmarked-for-a-shopping-cente Short Pump land sells for $8.1 million and is earmarked for a shopping center http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/short-pump-land-sells-for-8.1-million-and-is-earmarked-for-a-shopping-cente http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/short-pump-land-sells-for-8.1-million-and-is-earmarked-for-a-shopping-cente#When:21:52:00Z Ukrop’s Super Markets Inc.  has sold a 15-acre parcel in the Short Pump area for $8.1 million to Nuckols Place VFI, L.C. According to Cushman & Wakefield |Thalhimer, the new owner plans to develop a 90,000-square-foot shopping center on land located at Nuckols and Twin Hickory Roads that would be known as NuckolsPlace.  Thalhimer represented the buyer in the purchase. Construction of the new center is scheduled to begin in August, with completion of the first phase slated for spring 2016. Nuckols Place VFI, L.C., in partnership with The Peterson Cos., based out of Fairfax County, and Virginia Financial Investors, has selected Thalhimer to exclusively represent the leasing efforts for the new center. The location is close to Innsbrook Office Park, the Wyndham Office district, the Twin Hickory and Wyndham neighborhoods and Interstates 64 and 295. According to Thalhimer, the developers were attracted to the site by the daytime density and demographics, with annual income in the area of nearly $150,000 and nearly 70 percent of the population having a college education. The project represents The Peterson Cos. first project in the Richmond market. The company has been behind many major commercial projects in Northern Virginia including National Harbor, a massive mixed-use project on the banks of the Potomac River, just over the Woodrow Wilson Bridge in Maryland. Connie Jordan Nielsen and Alicia Farrell will serve as the representatives on Thalhimer’s retail leasing team. Representing Ukrops in the sale were two brokers from S.L. Nusbaum Realty's Richmond office: Jim Gresock, senior vice president, and Nathan Shor, vice president, regional director. Nusbaum's main office is Norfolk. 2015-06-25T21:52:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/new-business-oriented-group-sponsored-by-pipeline-developers-supports-atlan New business-oriented group sponsored by pipeline developers supports Atlantic Coast Pipeline http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/new-business-oriented-group-sponsored-by-pipeline-developers-supports-atlan http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/new-business-oriented-group-sponsored-by-pipeline-developers-supports-atlan#When:16:49:00Z The battle for public opinion for a proposed 550-mile natural gas pipeline is heating up. Opposition to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline that would pass through Virginia and two other states has been well organized and vocal. On Wednesday, supporters of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline fought back. They’re cranking up their voices and strategy via a new coalition sponsored by the companies that want to develop the pipeline:  Dominion, Duke Energy, Piedmont, and AGL Resources. A group of more than 100 businesses joined labor organizations, and other local, state and national groups to announce the formation of EnergySure – Standing Up for Reliable Energy. According to the group, the founding members represent millions of employees, leading employers and business organizations across Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina. The Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Virginia State Building & Construction Trades, MeadWestvaco and Huntington Ingalls Industries are among 50 businesses and organizations in Virginia to join EnergySure. The coalition said in a press release that  formed to "stand up" for reliable energy and demonstrate the broad support for the pipeline, designed to meet growing energy needs in Virginia and North Carolina. Other Virginia members include:  Appalachian Power Co., Virginia Coal and Energy Alliance, Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Virginia Manufacturers Association, Virginia Natural Gas, Columbia Gas of Virginia, Virginia Oil & Gas Association, Virginia Port Authority and many economic development groups and chambers of commerce. Among that latter group is Virginia's Gateway Region , Franklin Southampton Economic Development, Inc. and  Franklin-Southampton Area Chamber of Commerce,  the Fredericksburg Regional Alliance, Greater Richmond Partnership, Greater Smithfield-Selma Chamber of Commerce  the Halifax County Economic Development Commission, the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce and the Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe. Over the next 20 years, the group said demand for natural gas as a fuel for power generation in Virginia and North Carolina is projected to more than triple. Meanwhile, older coal-fired power plants are scheduled for retirement – reducing capacity to generate electricity. “Increased access to cleaner-burning natural gas is needed to make our region energy sure,” the group said.  According to studies commissioned by the project’s developers, the pipeline is expected to generate significant economic benefits across the three-state region, including more than 17,000 jobs, $2.7 billion in economic activity and $4.2 million in average annual local tax revenue during construction. The studies have said that in Virginia alone, construction will support 8,800 jobs and result in $1.4 billion in economic activity. Once in operation, the pipeline is expected to result in nearly $38 million in economic activity, support 1,300 jobs and, by 2022, generate $10.4 million in local tax revenue in 13 counties and cities along the route. “It’s going to create approximately 17,000 construction jobs,” Matt Yonka, president of the Virginia State Building and Construction Trades, said in a statement. “It will open the door to bringing new industry to the state of Virginia. If you have the power source, you have the ability to build more and bring more industry.” Pipeline opponents, such as Friends of Nelson, have countered the economic studies, saying they don’t address an array of possible losses. In a recent salvo against the pipeline, Friends of Nelson listed things such as loss of property values to landowners, the loss of natural scenic value, the costs to water, soil and personal property in the event of an explosion or accident, the costs of repairing roads damaged by heavy truck traffic during construction and the loss of property rights through possible exercise of eminent domain should the project win approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.   EnergySure pointed out that a recent poll commissioned by the Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) showed registered voters in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina overwhelmingly support construction of the pipeline by more than a 2-to-1 margin. Supporters cited jobs and the economy, the increased use of natural gas, energy independence, and lower natural gas prices as key reasons for their support. Dominion, Duke Energy, Piedmont, and AGL Resources said they are sponsoring the coalition to provide a platform for informed discussions about the project. 2015-06-25T16:49:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/vencore-inc.-names-new-chief-financial-officer Vencore Inc. names new chief financial officer http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/vencore-inc.-names-new-chief-financial-officer http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/vencore-inc.-names-new-chief-financial-officer#When:16:23:00Z Chantilly-based government contractor Vencore Inc. said Thursday it has hired Jennifer Felix as its senior vice president and CFO, effective July 20. Felix has been the CFO of Herndon-based Sotera Defense Solutions for almost three years. In her new position, Felix’s responsibilities will include accounting, compliance, tax, treasury, reporting, planning and analysis.  She also will help manage relationships with Vencore's Strategic Advisory Council and its investors. Before Sotera, Felix held financial leadership positions for various government contracting and technology companies, including General Dynamics, Vangent Inc., Deltek and American Management Systems. She spent the first eight years of her career as an auditor with Deloitte. Felix earned a bachelor's degree in accounting from the University of Maryland. Vencore, formerly known as the SI Organization, has 4,000 employees. 2015-06-25T16:23:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/hand-sanitizer-producer-to-relocate-to-southwest-virginia Hand sanitizer producer to relocate to Southwest Virginia http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/hand-sanitizer-producer-to-relocate-to-southwest-virginia http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/hand-sanitizer-producer-to-relocate-to-southwest-virginia#When:01:57:00Z A manufacturer of hand sanitizer is relocating to Highlands Business Park in Glade Spring, creating 140 new jobs. Qore Systems LLC is spending $12.8 million to relocate from Arizona to the 300-acre business park, which is co-owned and operated by Smyth and Washington counties. The company manufacturers Qore-24, an antimicrobial hand purifier that is designed to kill germs for up to 24 hours.   “We are very excited for the big changes associated with our relocation from the West to East Coast,” Bob Newberry, managing member of Qore Systems LLC, said in a statement. “Once the new facility is fully operational, Qore Systems will have all business operations performed under one roof." Gov. Terry McAuliffe approved a $500,000 grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund to help with the project. The Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission approved $420,000 in Tobacco Region Opportunity Funds. 2015-06-25T01:57:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-drops-to-no.-12-on-cnbcs-top-states-for-business-ranking Virginia drops to No. 12 on CNBC’s ‘Top States for Business’ ranking http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-drops-to-no.-12-on-cnbcs-top-states-for-business-ranking http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-drops-to-no.-12-on-cnbcs-top-states-for-business-ranking#When:21:36:00Z Virginia continues its fall from grace on CNBC’s ‘Top States for Business’ ranking, dropping to No. 12 on this year’s list. In 2011, the commonwealth was named the top state for business by CNBC, but has continuously dropped in rank on the annual list since then. To compile the list, CNBC scores states in 10 categories, including infrastructure, economy and education. CNBC named Minnesota the No. 1 state for business this year. “The Old Dominion is an old favorite of business, with friendly regulations. But job creation has slowed in recent years,” CNBC said about Virginia’s 2015 ranking on its website. The commonwealth received high marks for its business friendliness, education and workforce, but poorer scores on infrastructure, economy, quality of life, and cost of living and doing business. Virginia’s overall rank on the list for the past five years was as follows: 2014 (No. 8); 2013 (No. 5); 2012 (No. 3); 2011 (No.1) and 2010 (No.2). States in the top five this year were: Texas (No.2); Utah (No.3); Colorado (No.4) and Georgia (No.5). 2015-06-24T21:36:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/retirement-community-to-conduct-study-on-dementia Retirement community to conduct study on dementia http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/retirement-community-to-conduct-study-on-dementia http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/retirement-community-to-conduct-study-on-dementia#When:19:49:00Z Virginia Beach-based Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay is conducting research aimed at finding ways to handle the needs of a surging population of older people. The first project, conducted in conjunction with Eastern Virginia Medical School and Virginia Wesleyan College, will examine whether customized technology can positively affect the behavior and moods of people with dementia. Funding for the project, called The Birdsong Initiative, comes from a $228,000 donation by Sue Birdsong, a  Westminster-Canterbury Foundation board member, and her husband, George. It is named “The Birdsong Initiative” in their honor. Westminster-Canterbury notes that 20 percent of Americans will be 65 or above by 2030, compared with about 14 percent in 2012. In Virginia, people 60 and above will represent almost 24 percent of the population in 2030, an increase of 30 percent from 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The Alzheimer’s Association projects that the number of Americans with memory-impairing disease will rise by 40 percent in the coming decade; in Virginia, it is expected to increase by 46 percent. The Birdsong Initiative will run for 24 weeks. Thirty-one Westminster-Canterbury residents whose dementia makes it difficult to participate in social activities will use computers to regularly access content customized to their personal interests and cognitive ability. The touchscreen technology is designed to be easy for seniors to utilize and offers Skype, social networking and a spectrum of content. It was developed by Colorado-based It’s Never Too Late and is referred to as IN2L. Another 31 residents with dementia will take part in personalized therapeutic recreation programs that are non-computerized.  Twelve weeks into the initiative, the two groups will switch roles, so that by the time the study concludes, all of the residents will have used the IN2L computers. At the finish of the program, researchers will measure whether the technology led to higher engagement levels, well-being and emotional function for the participants and if caregiver satisfaction improves. Eastern Virginia Medical School students and Virginia Wesleyan College therapeutic recreation interns will carry out the daily tasks of the study. 2015-06-24T19:49:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/tips-to-improve-your-odds-of-securing-insurance-coverage Tips to improve your odds of securing insurance coverage http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/tips-to-improve-your-odds-of-securing-insurance-coverage http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/tips-to-improve-your-odds-of-securing-insurance-coverage#When:19:25:00Z As the saying goes, “a dollar saved is a dollar earned.”  What more appropriate industry could this saying describe than insurance?  Every dollar not paid on an insurance claim can drop to the bottom line.  Policyholders must be proactive in seeking and securing their insurance coverage.  Never accept an initial denial and leave money on the table.  Here are a few tips to improve your chances of getting that claim paid: First, you must possess a deep understanding of your insurance program and coverage.  Without the right insurance, you cannot get the claim paid.  This may sound simple, but a surprising number of insureds do not understand — truly understand — their insurance.  It is not enough to tell your broker that you need insurance and then have some policies placed.  In insurance coverage disputes, the devil is almost always in the details.  A policyholder must review the policies and ask lots of questions about what may or may not be covered in different loss scenarios.  Do your best to know how a particular policy will respond to a particular type of loss.  Also, make sure you have the appropriate limits and sublimits for the risks being covered.  Having the right insurance in place is step one; having the right amount of coverage is step two.  Do not find yourself with the correct coverage but underinsured. Next, when you have a loss, do not forget about your insurer.  Many policyholders get so wrapped up in the loss (or lawsuit) and its impact on operations that they forget to loop in the insurer.  Insurance policies contain terms and conditions that a policyholder must comply with in order to invoke the coverage, such as timely notice of the loss or claim to the carrier.  Failure to comply with the policy’s terms and conditions may lead to a denial of coverage.  When your company sustains a possibly covered loss, you should immediately involve your broker and/or coverage counsel for guidance in complying with your policy’s terms and conditions.  Some of these conditions can be time sensitive.  Third, never accept an initial denial of coverage by your insurance carrier.  You paid a premium for the insurance, and now you will have to press to get it.  When you receive a denial letter, your broker should spring into action, immediately advocating for coverage.  If the broker cannot obtain coverage, persist.  If you have not already done so, take the issue to a coverage attorney and try again.  If your coverage attorney cannot get results informally, but likes your odds, keep calm and litigate the coverage claim.  In this economy, securing coverage from your carrier is all about leverage. This next point follows a similar line to the third one, but with respect to those pesky reservation-of-rights letters.  Any company that has been sued and defended by its insurer has likely received such a letter.  These mind-numbing communications may quote, at length, numerous portions of the insurance policy, identifying what may or may not be covered.  Insurers now send out letters as a matter of routine in almost any third-party loss scenario, as well as first-party losses.  Do not simply put a reservation-of-rights letter in your file and forget it.  A reservation-of-rights letter is a red flag: Stop and consider coverage issues.  An informed policyholder should always carefully review such letters and, at a minimum, respond to them by informing the insurer that you do not accept its premise and that you reserve your own rights for coverage.  Coverage counsel can assist in preparing such a communication, which can be critical in a subsequent coverage dispute.  In some jurisdictions a reservation-of-rights letter can provide the insured a right to independent counsel.  Additionally, work with your broker and coverage counsel to develop a response and strategy to monitor coverage issues when there is a reservation of rights being asserted by your carrier.  Remember, when your insurer pays for your defense attorney, he or she is usually barred from getting involved in your coverage issues due to the “tripartite relationship doctrine.” Insurance coverage disputes are like a chess match.  Policyholders must look ahead and consider their moves in order to develop the best opportunity to secure coverage for the loss or claim.  Working with your broker and coverage counsel early in the process can dramatically increase the odds of obtaining coverage from your insurer. Collin Hite is the practice leader of the Insurance Recovery team in Hirschler Fleischer’s Richmond office.  He can be contacted at (804) 771-9595 or chite@hf-law.com. 2015-06-24T19:25:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/mid-atlantic-broadband-acquires-tower-services-division Mid-Atlantic Broadband acquires tower services division http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/mid-atlantic-broadband-acquires-tower-services-division http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/mid-atlantic-broadband-acquires-tower-services-division#When:19:13:00Z South Boston-based Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corp. (MBC) has acquired the Tower Services Division of Gamewood Technology Group Inc.  As a result, MBC will establish a new subsidiary, MBC Towers Inc. Established in 2004, the nonprofit MBC operates an open-access, fiber-optic network in Southern Virginia, providing wholesale telecommunications services, colocation and tower leasing. “This acquisition is a major step in our mission to build a long-term and sustainable telecommunications ecosystem in rural Virginia,”  Tad Deriso, the president and CEO of MBC, said in a statement. “We look forward to additional acquisitions and partnerships that will continue to enhance our mission of bridging the digital divide and expanding advanced broadband infrastructure in Virginia.”   MBC said that, as the use of mobile devices and demand for wireless broadband continue to grow, a key component of expanding broadband coverage in rural Virginia is access to more tower sites.  MBC currently owns six tower sites and is building another seven sites in Virginia. MBC Towers will be headed by general manager John Wolchko, the former director of tower construction and services for Danville-based Gamewood Technology.  Alfredo Echeverria will serve as the director of business development for MBC Towers. 2015-06-24T19:13:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/2015-06-17-optical-cable.jpg Optical Cable http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/optical-cable-leases-36000-square-feet-in-roanoke Optical Cable leases 36,000 square feet in Roanoke http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/optical-cable-leases-36000-square-feet-in-roanoke http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/optical-cable-leases-36000-square-feet-in-roanoke#When:18:29:00Z Optical Cable has leased 36,000 square feet at 3030 Nicholas Ave. in Roanoke. Dennis Cronk and Matt Huff of Poe and Cronk Real Estate Group were the leasing agents for the transaction. In another deal for the pair, Tire Centers Inc. signed a new long-term net lease for 28,000 square feet of industrial warehouse and distribution space at 3030 Nicholas Ave. in Roanoke. Also, Apptech Solutions LLC leased 27,000 square feet at 3993 Daugherty Road in Salem. Jessica Gauldin of Poe and Cronk secured the tenant and was the leasing agent for the transaction. 2015-06-24T18:29:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Lakefront_Plaza1.jpg The 75,915-square-foot Lakefront Plaza building in Hampton courtesy of Lingerfelt Commonwealth Partners http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/lingerfelt-commonwealth-partners-pays-110-million-for-liberty-property-trus Lingerfelt Commonwealth Partners pays $110 million for Liberty Property Trust portfolio http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/lingerfelt-commonwealth-partners-pays-110-million-for-liberty-property-trus http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/lingerfelt-commonwealth-partners-pays-110-million-for-liberty-property-trus#When:17:58:00Z In a return to the Hampton Roads market, Richmond area-based Lingerfelt CommonWealth Partners has acquired a 1.3 million-square-foot office/flex portfolio from Liberty Property Trust for $110.3  million. Both companies released press statements on the deal, which includes three acres of land. The portfolio, comprised of 20 office buildings and 2 office/flex buildings, is spread across six major submarkets in Hampton Roads, including Hampton, Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Chesapeake. According to Liberty, a Malvern, Pa.-based real estate investment trust that has had a commanding presence in Hampton Roads, the properties were 89.1 percent leased. A spokesperson for Liberty said the REIT will retain its warehouse properties in the region, including Bridgeway Commerce Center in Suffolk. Citing a confidientiality agreement, J. Ryan Lingerfelt, Lingerfelt’s president and chief investment officer, said he could not disclose details of the transaction, except to say that it does represent a return to the Hampton Roads region for Lingerfelt.  The real estate investment and development company has been on a buying spree. It recently acquired seven properties of 195,881 square feet at the Innsbrook Corporate Center from Highwoods Properties, and it bought the 242-room Richmond Marriott West, also located in Innsbrook, a block from Lingerfelt’s headquarters. Lingerfelt said it will serve the new Hampton Roads portfolio with leasing, property management and asset management services in-house via its vertically integrated operating platform. Commonwealth Commercial Partners, its property management affiliate, will handle the day-to-day property management. Commonwealth Commercial Partners has retained many of the existing leasing and property management personnel who currently service the properties. The Hampton Roads portfolio includes: Greenbrier Submarket , Chesapeake, (five properties): 1301, 1305, 1309, 1313 and 1317 Executive Boulevard.  Battlefield Submarket, Chesapeake, (six properties): 500, 501,505, 510, 676 and 700 Independence Parkway. Lynnhaven Submarket, Virginia Beach, (six properties): 200 and 208 Golden Oak Court, 1457 Miller Store Road, 2809 South Lynnhaven Road, 484 Viking Drive and 629 Phoenix Drive. Hampton Roads Center/Airport Industrial/Coliseum Center Submarkets, Hampton,  (five properties) : 1, 21 and 22 Enterprise Parkway, 5 Manhattan Square and 521 Butler Farm Road. The acquisition brings Lingerfelt’s holdings to 5.5 million square feet across the Southeastern United States, encompassing 84 office, medical office, industrial and hotel properties. 2015-06-24T17:58:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/_Schillebeeckx_SW.jpg http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/virginia-transformer-corp.-names-executive-vice-president Virginia Transformer Corp. names executive vice president http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/virginia-transformer-corp.-names-executive-vice-president http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/virginia-transformer-corp.-names-executive-vice-president#When:17:47:00Z Roanoke-based Virginia Transformer Corp. has named a new executive vice president of sales, services and marketing. Marc Schillebeeckx joins VTC from CG Americas, where he served as regional president. He has more than 30 years in the power generation sector. Schillebeeckx has been employed as sales and marketing management with Pauwels International N.V. (Belgium), Pauwels Transformers Inc. (USA) and CG Power Systems (USA). Virginia Transformer Corp. is the nation’s second-largest provider of custom engineered power electrical transformers. The company has locations in Virginia, Georgia, Idaho, Mexico and India. 2015-06-24T17:47:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/CFOWinners.png Charles R. “Chip” Bowman, George P. Kite III, Lori J. Overholt, James F. Woodward, and Steven G. McAllister http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-business-presents-virginia-cfo-awards Virginia Business presents Virginia CFO Awards http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-business-presents-virginia-cfo-awards http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-business-presents-virginia-cfo-awards#When:02:00:00Z Virginia Business presented awards on Tuesday night to chief financial officers in five categories. The awards recognize outstanding performance by CFOs in for-profit and nonprofit organizations. The winners of the 10th Annual Virginia CFO Awards are: Small Nonprofit Organization: George P. Kite III, Call Federal Credit Union, Richmond Large Nonprofit Organization: Steven G. McAllister, Washington and Lee University, Lexington Small Private Company: Lori J. Overholt, CPA, VSA Resorts, Virginia Beach Large Private Company: Charles R. “Chip” Bowman, T. Parker Host and Host Terminals Inc., Norfolk Publicly Traded Companies: James F. Woodward, Media General Inc., Richmond The winners were selected from 45 nominations. Previous winners Joseph Cheely, formerly with LeClairRyan; Clyde Cornett of Virginia Community Capital; Farrell Hanzaker of Virginia Beach City Public Schools and Robin Ransom of Commonwealth Commercial Partners served as this year’s judges. #vacfoawards Tweets !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+"://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); 2015-06-24T02:00:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/2015-legal-elite-ballots-are-open 2015 Legal Elite ballots are open http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/2015-legal-elite-ballots-are-open http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/2015-legal-elite-ballots-are-open#When:20:27:00Z Voting for Virginia Business’ 2015 Legal Elite project has begun. For the 16th year, Virginia Business, in partnership with the Virginia Bar Association, is holding its annual Legal Elite nominations project. The Virginia Business Legal Elite recognizes the top Virginia lawyers in 18 specialties as voted by their peers. This year, the magazine has added two new legal categories, corporate counsel and environmental law. Ballots are open to lawyers licensed to practice in Virginia. The deadline is July 31. If your information in our database is out of date, please contact Jessica Sabbath at jsabbath@va-business.com with your changes. 2015-06-23T20:27:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/reltima-gps-north-america-to-be-acquired-by-skybitz Reltima, GPS North America to be acquired by SkyBitz http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/reltima-gps-north-america-to-be-acquired-by-skybitz http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/reltima-gps-north-america-to-be-acquired-by-skybitz#When:19:19:00Z Herndon-based SkyBitz, which offers GPS tracking services, announced Tuesday plans to acquire two out-of-state fleet management companies. Terms of the deal were not released. Woburn, Mass.-based Reltima is a GPS fleet tracking provider. Langhorne, Pa.-based GPS North America is Reltima’s largest distribution partner. “By bringing Reltima and GPS North America together, we will be able to rapidly expand our footprint in the growing commercial telematics market,” Doug Milner, CEO of SkyBitz’ parent company Telular Corp., said in a statement. Reltima provides location-based services, driver/vehicle performance data, route management and cargo status tracking to allow fleet managers to optimize their fleet performance and reduce fleet operating costs. GPS North America offers fleet asset tracking, vehicle/driver dispatch and fleet reporting under the SignalTrack brand. The deal, which is expected to close July 8, is subject to customary closing conditions. 2015-06-23T19:19:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Bennett_.png http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/boars-head-in-charlottesville-names-new-national-sales-manager Boar’s Head in Charlottesville names new national sales manager http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/boars-head-in-charlottesville-names-new-national-sales-manager http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/boars-head-in-charlottesville-names-new-national-sales-manager#When:17:03:00Z The Boar’s Head resort in Charlottesville has named Cynthia C. Bennett national sales manager for its Richmond and Southeast territories. Bennett will be responsible for building on the four-star resort’s growth within the corporate and association meetings and events markets in Richmond, Tidewater and throughout Virginia and the Southeast. She began her hospitality career in 1988 at The Greenbrier where she worked in many capacities, including food and beverage operations, the management-training program, as hotel assistant manager, and conference services manager. She went on to become director of national sales for the national association market. Between 2006 and 2013 Bennett worked as director of association sales for La Costa Resort and Spa. Most recently, she was director of sales for Associated Luxury Hotels International. Bennett is a member of PMPI (Potomac Meeting Planners International) and ASAE (American Society of Association Executives). 2015-06-23T17:03:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/calendar/article/virginia-cfo-awards Virginia CFO Awards http://www.virginiabusiness.com/calendar/article/virginia-cfo-awards http://www.virginiabusiness.com/calendar/article/virginia-cfo-awards#When:16:44:00Z 2015-06-23T16:44:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-retirement-system-names-news-director Virginia Retirement System names new director http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-retirement-system-names-news-director http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-retirement-system-names-news-director#When:18:38:00Z Patricia S. Bishop has been named director of the Virginia Retirement System. Bishop, who had served as the agency's acting director, succeeds Robert P. Schultze, who left the agency Feb. 16 to take a position in the private sector. As director, Bishop will oversee the administrative functions of the retirement system, which has 185,000 retirees and 343,000 active members.  Before becoming acting director, Bishop was deputy director at VRS, responsible for implementation of benefit policy and legislation, benefit processing, retirement counseling, call center services, employer and member training and insurance programs. Previously, Bishop served as the VRS director of policy, planning and compliance, where she provided legislative liaison support with the executive branch and the General Assembly, worked with the system's actuary and approved agency policy and procedures. Before joining VRS, she was a principal legislative analyst with the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) and worked for the Virginia Senate and in the executive branch. With assets of about $68 billion, VRS is the 22nd largest pension system in the United States. 2015-06-22T18:38:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Settlers_Market_Email.jpg http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/settlers-market-retail-center-in-williamsburg-sells-for-61.2-million-to-a-g Settlers Market retail center in Williamsburg sells for $61.2 million to a global player http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/settlers-market-retail-center-in-williamsburg-sells-for-61.2-million-to-a-g http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/settlers-market-retail-center-in-williamsburg-sells-for-61.2-million-to-a-g#When:15:55:00Z Holliday Fenoglio Fowler L.P. (HFF) said Monday that it has closed the $61.2 million sale of Settlers Market, a 239,464-square-foot retail power center anchored by Trader Joe’s in Williamsburg.  The buyer is AEW Capital Management L.P, a global real estate investment and management company. According to HFF, based in Washington, D.C., the center is 97 percent leased. HFF marketed the property on behalf of the seller, a partnership between Federal Capital Partners and Westmoreland Partners LLC.  Built in phases between 2009 and 2014, Settlers Market is the commercial anchor of the 395-acre New Town planned development, a live-work-shop community. In addition to Trader Joe’s and an adjacent Walmart Neighborhood Market, other tenants include Michaels, HomeGoods, ULTA Beauty, Stein Mart, Cost Plus World Market, Pier 1 Imports, and several restaurants including Which Wich and Noodles & Co. Situated on 36 acres on Settlers Market Boulevard, the center is located at the mid-point of Route 199, which connects north and south to Interstate 64 and provides access from Williamsburg, James City County and the Peninsula region. HFF’s team was led by Director Jordan Lex, Senior Managing Director Danny Finkle, Managing Director John Owendoff and real estate analyst Christopher Horning. “Settlers Market represents a best-in-class shopping center in an affluent community, which drove both retailer and investor demand for the asset,” Lex said in a statement. AEW Capital Management LP (AEW) provides real estate investment management services to investors worldwide.  As of March 31, of this year, the company and its affiliates managed more than $47 billion of property and securities in North America, Europe and Asia. 2015-06-22T15:55:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/cort-furniture-moving-to-scotts-addition-area Cort Furniture moving to Scotts’ Addition area http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/cort-furniture-moving-to-scotts-addition-area http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/cort-furniture-moving-to-scotts-addition-area#When:15:34:00Z Cort Furniture has leased 11,422 square feet at 1207 North Blvd. According to Divaris Real Estate Inc., the firm that brokered the deal, it represents a relocation, with Cort’s moving from a smaller store on West Broad Street to serve the growing community of Scotts’ Addition. Cort offers a variety of services including office, student, home and international furniture rentals, relocation services and apartment searches. Brett McNamee handled lease negotiations on behalf of the landlord, BHL LLC. In another transaction for Divaris in the Richmond region, AutoZone renewed a 12,935-square-foot lease at the Divaris-leased and –managed 360 West Shopping Center, at 7222 Hull Street Road in Richmond. AutoZone is the second-largest retailer of aftermarket automotive parts and accessories in the U. S.  Other tenants in the center include Rite Aid, Dollar General, Jackson Hewitt and Subway. Sara Goodall of Divaris handled lease negotiations. 2015-06-22T15:34:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/its-still-a-tenants-market-in-washington-d.c.-and-northern-virginia It’s still a tenant’s market in Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/its-still-a-tenants-market-in-washington-d.c.-and-northern-virginia http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/its-still-a-tenants-market-in-washington-d.c.-and-northern-virginia#When:15:23:00Z Tenants are still in the driver’s seat in the Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., commercial real estate markets. In fact, companies willing to commit to long-term leases can lock in some of the most favorable terms in the last three real estate cycles in Northern Virginia, according to a report released Monday. The Savills Effective Rent Index (SERI) looks at rental rate trends for prime Class A office properties in the nation’s major central business districts and selected suburban markets. Using completed transactions, it tracks what tenants truly pay, (the tenant effective rent) for top-tier office space. Savills figures reflect negotiated terms, including lease concessions and operating-expense information. Some of the key takeaways from this year’s study: Washington, D.C. Tenant effective rent rose by 3.2 percent to $47.33 per square foot in 2014. This is below the peak of $55.47 per square foot in 2008 and the weakest growth for a major U.S. central business district last year. The report blamed what it called “anemic” private-sector, office-using employment and a decline in federal government employment growth that curbed demand for office space. Landlords, in turn, were willing to entertain early lease restructures that involved tenants giving back unneeded space and/ or rental rate adjustments in exchange for extended lease terms. 2015 outlook: Zero to 5 percent increase Northern Virginia Tenant effective rent averaged $28.57 per square foot, a year-on-year increase of 12.5 percent, but still below the peak of $31.23 per square foot in 2011. Leasing volume during 2014 was driven primarily by early renewals and lease restructures. Northern Virginia still has a lot of excess space, so tenants considering relocations have options. 2015 outlook: Zero to 5 percent growth 2015-06-22T15:23:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/state-renews-lease-for-more-than-160000-square-feet-in-henrico-county State renews lease for more than 160,000 square feet in Henrico County. http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/state-renews-lease-for-more-than-160000-square-feet-in-henrico-county http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/state-renews-lease-for-more-than-160000-square-feet-in-henrico-county#When:14:14:00Z The Commonwealth of Virginia has renewed its lease of 164,153 square feet in Perimeter Center at 9960 Mayland Drive in Henrico County.  N. Dean Meyer and Mac Wilson of Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer handled the lease negotiations. In other Richmond-area deals for Thalhimer: Electronic Systems of Richmond Inc. renewed a 27,600-square-foot lease in Crescent Business Center III at 10406 Lakeridge Parkway in Hanover County.  Scott Douglas and Franklin Bell handled the lease negotiations.  Crunch Fitness leased 23,287 square feet in Gleneagles Shopping Center at 10426 Ridgefield Parkway in Henrico. Nicki Jassy and Allyson Petty handled the lease negotiations. Johnson Mirmiran & Thompson expanded in its current space and now lease a total of 12,864 square feet in Aboretum IX at 9201 Arboretum Parkway in Chesterfield County.  Austin H. Newman, Brian K. Berkey and Mark E. Douglas handled the lease negotiations. 2015-06-22T14:14:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/williamsburg-lodging-reit-announces-offering-of-common-stock Williamsburg lodging REIT announces offering of common stock http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/williamsburg-lodging-reit-announces-offering-of-common-stock http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/williamsburg-lodging-reit-announces-offering-of-common-stock#When:14:07:00Z Sotherly Hotels Inc. announced Monday that it has begun an underwritten public offering of up to 3 million shares of its common stock, at 1 cent par value per share. The Williamsburg-based lodging real estate income trust (REIT) plans to grant underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 450,000 shares of its common stock. The company said in a news release that it plans for the net proceeds from the offering to be used by Sotherly Hotels LP, its operating partnership, to fund the cash portion of its acquisition of the 75 percent interest in the Crowne Plaza Hollywood Beach Resort near Hollywood, Fla., that the company does not own. If the acquisition does not occur, the proceeds would be used to fund other potential acquisitions, for repayment of existing debt and/or for general corporate purposes, including capital expenditures. Sandler O'Neill + Partners, L.P. and JMP Securities LLC are acting as joint book-runners for the offering. Ladenburg Thalmann & Co. Inc. is acting as lead manager and Boenning & Scattergood Inc. and J.J.B. Hilliard, W.L. Lyons LLC are acting as co-managers. Sotherly Hotels trades on the Nasdaq exchange under the ticker symbol of SOHO. It is a self-managed and self-administered lodging REIT focused on the acquisition, renovation and repositioning of upscale hotels in the Southern U.S. Currently, the company’s portfolio includes investments in 12 hotel properties, 11 of which are wholly-owned and have 2,698 rooms.  The company also has a 25 percent interest in the Crowne Plaza Hollywood Beach Resort. Most of its properties operate under the Hilton Worldwide, InterContinental Hotels Group and Starwood Hotels and Resorts brands. 2015-06-22T14:07:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/ey-entrepreneur-of-the-year-award-winners-announced EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Award winners announced http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/ey-entrepreneur-of-the-year-award-winners-announced http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/ey-entrepreneur-of-the-year-award-winners-announced#When:20:02:00Z The winners of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Award in the Greater Washington region were announced Thursday at a gala at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner They were selected by a panel made up of previous award winners, leading CEOs, private capital investors and other regional business leaders. The winners of the Entrepreneur Of The Year 2015 Greater Washington Award include: • Anthony Bruce, Applied Predictive Technologies • Greg Baroni, Attain • Craig P. Abod, Carahsoft Technology Corp. • Ike Grigoropoulos, Dimitri Moshovitis and Ted Xenohristos, Cava Mezze Restaurant Group • Abhi Shah, Clutch Group • Y. Michele Kang, Cognosante • Tobin Moore and Adam Vitarello, Optoro • Mark Segal, Shady Grove Fertility A special Master Entrepreneur award was presented to Jose Andres, Chef/Owner of ThinkFoodGroup. Now in its 29th year, the program recognizes business leaders in more than 145 cities in 60 countries. Regional award winners are eligible for consideration for the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year national program. 2015-06-19T20:02:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/state-agency-names-rail-transportation-programs-administrator State agency names rail transportation programs administrator http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/state-agency-names-rail-transportation-programs-administrator http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/state-agency-names-rail-transportation-programs-administrator#When:19:57:00Z Jeremy Latimer has been promoted to rail transportation programs administrator for the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT). Before his promotion, Latimer managed the Intercity Passenger Operating and Capital Fund Program, the Shortline Railroad Preservation Program, and the Rail Industrial Access Program for DRPT’s rail division. In his new role, Latimer is responsible for managing all aspects of the agency’s rail funding programs and the development of major rail transportation initiatives funded by the commonwealth. During his five years at DRPT, he has managed numerous projects in partnership with freight and passenger railroads, including new Amtrak service extensions to Virginia markets.  Latimer has a master’s degree in urban and environmental planning from the University of Virginia and an undergraduate background in economics from the University of Richmond. 2015-06-19T19:57:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/NOVA__WorldPoliceFireGames.png AP Photo/Peter Morrison http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/world-police-fire-games-kick-off-next-friday-in-washington-d.c.-area World Police & Fire Games kick off next Friday in Washington, D.C.-area http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/world-police-fire-games-kick-off-next-friday-in-washington-d.c.-area http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/world-police-fire-games-kick-off-next-friday-in-washington-d.c.-area#When:18:57:00Z The Washington, D.C.-area is readying to host the World Police & Fire Games June 26 through July 5. The athletic event, in which police, fire and public-safety personnel compete in 60 competitions, will mostly be held in Fairfax County, It is expected to draw 30,000 visitors. Admission is free and open to the public. Project organizers say the event is the second-largest, global multi-sport competition, surpassed only by the Summer Olympics. The games will take place at 52 venues throughout the Washington metro area. Seventy percent of the activities will be held in Fairfax. The opening ceremony is June 26 at 6 p.m. at RFK Stadium in Washington. Competitions throughout the 10-day event include track and field, hockey and ultimate firefighter, a timed event showcasing skills often needed on a fire scene. To see the full schedule, visit http://fairfax2015.com/schedule. 2015-06-19T18:57:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginias-unemployment-rose-slightly-in-may Virginia’s unemployment rose slightly in May http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginias-unemployment-rose-slightly-in-may http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginias-unemployment-rose-slightly-in-may#When:15:49:00Z Virginia’s seasonally adjusted employment rate rose one-tenth of a percentage point in May to 4.9 percent. The Virginia Employment Commission said Friday that, despite the increase, the jobless rate in May still was down three-tenths of a percentage point from the same month last year. May’s unemployment rate also was lower than the national jobless rate for the month, 5.5 percent. The figures are seasonally adjusted, meaning they take into account seasonable fluctuations in the labor market. The VEC said labor force growth in Virginia during May exceeded household employment growth, an indication that more people are entering the workforce seeking employment. The labor force has expanded for five consecutive months while household employment has risen in 11 of the past 12 months. Virginia’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment increased by 5,900 jobs in May to 3.8 million, the second consecutive monthly gain. Employment during the month rose in six industry divisions and fell in five others. The biggest gain occurred in two sectors: professional and business services and leisure and hospitality. Each category rose by 5,400 jobs, to 686,600 and 375,000, respectively. The biggest decrease during May occurred in private education and health services, down 4,400 jobs to 504,400. 2015-06-19T15:49:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/hilb-group-acquires-texas-company Hilb Group acquires Texas company http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/hilb-group-acquires-texas-company http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/hilb-group-acquires-texas-company#When:09:37:00Z Richmond-based insurance agency The Hilb Group has acquired Texas-based Walker Myers Insurance & Risk Management LLC. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The transaction became effective on June 1. Walker Myers offers insurance and consulting services in the areas of commercial insurance, transportation, employee benefits and personal insurance services. The acquisition is The Hilb Group’s fourth in 2015 and its first in Texas. Walker Myers has offices in Houston, San Antonio, Austin and Corpus Christi. The Hilb Group is a middle-market insurance agency headquartered in Richmond. The company has 29 offices in Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. 2015-06-19T09:37:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/heritage-bankshares-begins-trading-on-otcqx Heritage Bankshares begins trading on OTCQX http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/heritage-bankshares-begins-trading-on-otcqx http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/heritage-bankshares-begins-trading-on-otcqx#When:19:57:00Z The stock of Heritage Bankshares Inc., the holding company for Heritage Bank in Hampton Roads, has begun trading on the OTCQX marketplace. Heritage is the 73rd bank nationwide and the eighth Virginia-based bank to join OTCQX since last spring. Other Virginia banks with stock traded on OTCQX include Pinnacle Bankshares Corp. in Altavista, Eagle Financial Services in Berryville and F&M Bank Corp. in Timberville. OTCQX is operated by OTC Markets Group Inc.Heritage is trading under the symbol HBKS. Raymond James & Associates Inc. serves as Heritage’s corporate broker on OTCQX. Heritage Bank has two full-service branches in the Norfolk, two more in Virginia Beach, and one full-service branch in Chesapeake. The company had net income of $519,000 for the first quarter of 2015, an increase of $102,000, or 24.5 percent, over $417,000 for the first quarter of 2014. First-quarter profits resulted in earnings per diluted share of common stock of 21 cents compared with 17 cents per diluted common share for the first quarter of 2014. Heritage Bankshares’ total assets on March 31 were $330.3 million, a $5.5 million decrease from $335.8 million at March 31, 2014. Average total deposits for the first quarter were $275.1 million on March 31, up $12.4 million from $262.7 million on March 31, 2014 for the same three-month period. 2015-06-18T19:57:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/bank-redeems-the-last-of-the-preferred-stock-shares-issued-under-tarp-progr Bank redeems preferred stock shares issued under TARP program http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/bank-redeems-the-last-of-the-preferred-stock-shares-issued-under-tarp-progr http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/bank-redeems-the-last-of-the-preferred-stock-shares-issued-under-tarp-progr#When:19:49:00Z Tappahannock-based Eastern Virginia Bankshares Inc., the holding company of EVB, said Thursday that it paid $9.1 million to redeem the final 9,000 shares of preferred stock originally issued to the Treasury Department. The shares were issued as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program Capital Purchase Program (TARP), which was designed to boost the capital of banks throughout the country after the 2008 financial crisis. In October, the Treasury Department sold to private investors all 24,000 shares of the company’s Series A preferred stock held by the government. The $9.1 million paid by the company for the final 9,000 preferred shares included $1,000 per share, plus accrued and unpaid dividends. The company previously had redeemed 15,000 shares of the preferred stock in two other transactions, 10,000 shares in October and 5,000 shares in January.  With the latest redemption, no shares of the Series A preferred stock remain outstanding. Last month, Eastern Virginia Bankshares paid $115,000 to repurchase from the Treasury a TARP warrant allowing the government to purchase 384,041 shares of the company’s common stock at a set price. “This announcement, along with our repurchase of the TARP warrants from Treasury last month, eliminates the company's TARP financing and represents great progress in implementing our strategic plan,” Joe A. Shearin, the president and CEO of the holding company and the bank, said in a statement on Thursday.  “This repayment fully eliminates a high cost source of capital and will improve our future financial results for our common shareholders,” he said.  “We are very pleased with the progress we have made over the past few years and look forward to continuing to build and strengthen our banking franchise."  The company said the final redemption will result in estimated annual savings of $810,000, or 4 cents per fully diluted common share, because of the elimination of dividend payments on the Series A preferred stock. Eastern Virginia Bankshares in April reported first-quarter earnings of $1.6 million, or 8 cents per diluted share, down from $1.99 million, or 9 cents per diluted share, during the same period last year. The company had total assets of $1.18 billion on March 31, up from $1.05 billion on the same date in 2014. 2015-06-18T19:49:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/u.va.-tech-make-list-of-top-patent-producers U.Va., Tech make list of top patent producers http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/u.va.-tech-make-list-of-top-patent-producers http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/u.va.-tech-make-list-of-top-patent-producers#When:19:15:00Z The University of Virginia and Virginia Tech have been named to a list of the 100 top U.S. utility patent-producing colleges and universities in 2014. Utility patents, the most common patents issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, cover the way an invention is used and how it works. The list, which was based on data from the U.S Patent and Trademark Office, was put together by the National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association. With 32 patents, the University of Virginia was tied for 65th place with the University of Arkansas, University of Kentucky, Yale University and Ohio State University.  Virginia Tech, which receives its patents through the Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties Inc., was ranked 93rd, with 23 patents. It tied the University of Connecticut, Wake Forest University and Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan. The top-ranked universities on the list were University of California System, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tsinghua University of China, Stanford University and the University of Texas. The full U.S. patent ranking is available here. 2015-06-18T19:15:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/regency-square-names-new-staff Regency Square names new staff http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/regency-square-names-new-staff http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/regency-square-names-new-staff#When:16:33:00Z Regency Square in Richmond has hired Julie Gordon as marketing director and Mary Warren as specialty leasing manager. Regency is a shopping center managed by Glen Allen-based Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer. Gordon has been the marketing and center manager at Westchester Commons in Midlothian since 2011.  Other past experience includes marketing responsibilities at Stony Point Fashion Park and Chesterfield Towne Center in Richmond.  She has over 20 years of experience in the retail industry and began her career working at Regency Square. Warren has more than 15 years of experience in the specialty leasing and business development arena. Most recently, she was member relations advisor with Richmond Retail Merchants Association. Warren is an industry veteran who has created both interior and exterior merchandising programs for international shopping center developers Taubman and Macerich, who owned and operated Regency Square and Chesterfield Towne Center, respectively. 2015-06-18T16:33:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/new-co-working-space-coming-to-scotts-addition New co-working space coming to Scott’s Addition http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/new-co-working-space-coming-to-scotts-addition http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/new-co-working-space-coming-to-scotts-addition#When:15:32:00Z Small businesses soon will have access to a new co-working space in Scotts Addition. Hudson Century LLC has purchased a 26,500-square-foot building from Richmond Urban Developers for $1 million and plans to redevelop some of the space into an second location for Gather, which operates a co-working space at 409 East Main Street in Richmond. Gather offers space for rent that typically appeals to freelancers, entrepreneurs and small businesses who don’t want to operate out of their homes, preferring instead the community of a space where other business people work. Birck Turnbull, a senior vice president for Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer, who handled sale negations for the buyer in Scotts Addition said that Gather plans to open another location in 16,000 square feet of the building at 2930 W. Broad St. The rest of the space will be available to lease either in its entirety or in sections. According to Turnbull, the building, formerly known as the Century Centre, is the former home of a Hudson Automotive dealership that dates back to the 1950s.  In the 1980s, the state used the site for office space, he said.  “The new owner wants to give it a facelift within the context of a historic tax credit renovation,” added Turnbull. The building has 18-foot ceilings with exposed metal trusses and comprises about a half a block at the gateway to Scott’s Addition - an area near the Boulevard and Broad Street that has that drawn many redevelopment projects in recent years, including apartments, a brewery and a coffee shop. Another brewery is on the way. According to Turnbull, a partnership between Hudson Century, the owners of Gather and High Summit Partners (of which Turnbull is a joint venture partner), is developing The Veil Brewing Co.  It has signed a lease for 11,000 square feet of space at 1301 Roseneath Road. The brew master and one of the co-owners for the new brewery will be Matt Tarpey. He has worked previously at The Alchemist in Vermont and Hill Farmstead, also in Vermont. The brewery plans to open in November. 2015-06-18T15:32:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/why-american-companies-are-moving-downtown Why American companies are moving downtown http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/why-american-companies-are-moving-downtown http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/why-american-companies-are-moving-downtown#When:13:19:00Z There’s a structural shift taking place today in corporate America with companies seeing competitive advantages in having a downtown address. In recent years, hundreds of companies have moved to a walkable downtown neighborhood, according to a national survey of 500 companies released Thursday. These urban locations are helping companies attract and retain talented workers, build their brand, consolidate operations and support business outcomes. Those are the conclusions of “Core Values: Why American Companies are Moving Downtown,” a new report from a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, Smart Growth America. It was done in partnership with Cushman & Wakefield and the George Washington University School of Business’ Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis. The report surveyed nearly 500 companies that made a change in office space between 2010 and 2015. Of this group, 247 relocated from a suburban location (either within the metro area or from a different region), 92 opened a new downtown location, 74 relocated within downtown, 41 expanded existing downtown space, 20 consolidated a suburban or downtown location, 10 moved from a different downtown and nine were brand new companies. “These companies chose a walkable downtown location to help them better compete for talent and resources,” Geoff Anderson, president and CEO of Smart Growth America, said in a statement. Anderson elaborated on the report’s findings during a press briefing Wednesday before its release. “What companies are realizing, “he said, “is that they are competing on the value of place, the quality of place and how good a place a community is in which to live.” For a growing number of workers, that value goes up when an employer is located in an urban environment close to public transit and amenities such as restaurants, shops, and housing and entertainment options. Paula Munger, director of Business Line Research at Cushman & Wakefield, said her company sees the trend occurring across the country, in cities large and small. Her firm noticed the trend in fall 2011, she said during the briefing, when central business districts began outperforming suburban markets. This represented a reversal of what happened in the 1960s and 70s, when companies began leaving downtown cores for suburban office campus. “Four years later and we are seeing no let up in this trend. There are so many prongs … One is the millenials, “she said, referring to workers who in 2015 are between the ages of 18 to 34. “But it’s not just the millenials. Some employers are surprised by the mid-career level of employees who want to move downtown. “ Cities also are drawing retiring baby boomers looking to downsize their space and move closer to amenities, she added. “It’s where the creative class wants to be,” said Christopher B. Leinberger, with George Washington University. “This is where ideas happen. Deals happen in walkable urban places, not in isolated business parks.”  The study represented over 170 specific industries. They included 15 software developers, 29 information technology companies, 45 manufacturers, 11 universities and colleges, 7 food production companies, 6 advertising agencies, and 6 oil and gas companies.  The companies ranged in size from a few employees to thousands. Some of the locations to which companies moved included Biogen to Weston, Mass.; Avison Young and Dakota Software to Cleveland; Bumblebee Seafood to San Diego; and PNC Bank to Tampa, Fla. No Virginia locations were highlighted in the report although Richmond recently drew a suburban company when Dixon Hughes Goodman (DHG) — one of the nation’s top 20 CPA and advisory firms —announced in March that it would move its office from the Innsbrook Corporate Center in Henrico County to the James Center in downtown Richmond. The move, which will affect more than 80 of the firm’s 1,800 employees,  is set for October. The firm will occupy about 21,000 square feet on the 10th floor of One James Center. The study also includes  interviews with 45 senior-level staff who shed light on the reasons behind their companies’ moves. Adam Klein, chief strategist for American Underground in Durham, N.C., is quoted as saying:  “We wanted to be in an amenity-rich environment where our employees could walk to get a cup of coffee and participate in arts, music, and the excitement of downtown. We’re able to show potential employees a cool office in the middle of downtown and that has definitely helped us recruit people.” The full report, along with a list of companies included in the survey, is available on Smart Growth America’s website at http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/core-values. 2015-06-18T13:19:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/ColiseumLofts1.jpg http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/richmonds-coliseum-lofts-sell-for-12.3-million Richmond’s Coliseum Lofts sell for $12.3 million http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/richmonds-coliseum-lofts-sell-for-12.3-million http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/richmonds-coliseum-lofts-sell-for-12.3-million#When:21:27:00Z Coliseum Lofts, a 90,720-square-foot, multifamily apartment building in Richmond, has sold for $12.3 million to the Jerneb Acquisition Corp. In announcing the sale Monday, Divaris Real Estate Inc., the broker for the transaction, said the project includes 107 units over retail shops and restaurants. Located at 1343 West Broad St., the property is not far from Virginia Commonwealth University. Zach Means and Larry Agnew of Divaris’ Richmond office handled the sale negotiations on behalf of Jerneb, which is based out of New York City. Divaris Real Estate has its headquarters office in Virginia Beach. 2015-06-17T21:27:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/new-transportation-formula-approved New transportation formula approved http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/new-transportation-formula-approved http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/new-transportation-formula-approved#When:20:05:00Z The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) approved on Wednesday a new scoring formula for how Virginia spends its money on transportation projects. The new rules, which were outlined in a General Assembly-passed transportation law, score projects on six main factors: Safety Congestion Accessibility (increased access to jobs and travel options) Economic development Environmental quality (improved air quality and avoiding impacts to the natural environment) Land use (supporting efficient land-use patterns) Projects in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads will score higher if they reduce congestion. Projects elsewhere in the state will score higher if they increase economic development. Transportation projects will be scored through early next week, and the CTB first will use the new system when updating the state’s Six-Year Improvement Program, which will be adopted in June 2016. The new scoring system applies to projects that improve transportation on “corridors of statewide significance,” such as interstates and major primary roads. Projects funded with federal safety money, and those that rehabilitate aging pavements and bridges are exempt from scoring. 2015-06-17T20:05:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/danville-city-manager-announces-plans-to-retire Danville city manager announces plans to retire http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/danville-city-manager-announces-plans-to-retire http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/danville-city-manager-announces-plans-to-retire#When:18:12:00Z After five years as Danville’s city manager, Joe King has announced plans to retire. King intends to retire Nov. 30, according to a statement on Danville’s website. The city says it plans to use a search firm to find his successor. “I agree with those who believe that Danville’s greatest days are ahead of us, not in the past,” King said in his retirement notification letter. “After 13 years working for the City of Danville, I look forward to doing what I can to support Danville as a private citizen.” In a news release, Danville Mayor Sherman Saunders said King’s influence will remain on the city long after his retirement. As examples, Saunders noted the city’s financial stability and the city’s award-winning Safe and Sound Neighborhood Program and the River District Development Project. King’s local government career spans 40 years. He has worked in six local governments located in five states. Before joining Danville’s staff 13 years ago as the assistant city manager for utilities, he served two years in Indonesia as a local government consultant. He holds bachelors and masters degrees in urban affairs from Virginia Tech. 2015-06-17T18:12:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/leidos-names-new-chief-financial-officer Leidos names new chief financial officer http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/leidos-names-new-chief-financial-officer http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/leidos-names-new-chief-financial-officer#When:21:11:00Z Reston-based Leidos Holdings Inc.  has named James C. Reagan executive vice president and chief financial officer. The appointment takes effect on July 6. Reagan will oversee all financial activities of the company, including accounting and financial reporting, treasury, tax, planning and analysis, and investor relations. Reagan served as senior vice president and CFO of Vencore Inc. (formerly The SI Organization Inc.) since 2012. The company provides information solutions and engineering and analysis services to the U.S. intelligence community, Department of Defense, and federal and civilian agencies. He is a certified public accountant who  began his career at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. Reagan received a bachelor's degree in business administration from the College of William and Mary and a master's degree in business administration from Loyola College in Baltimore.  Leidos provides science and technology solutions in national security, health and engineering. The company has 19,000 employees and reported annual revenues of about $5.06 billion for its fiscal year ending Jan. 30. 2015-06-16T21:11:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/mantech-completes-acquisition-of-knowledge-consulting-group ManTech completes acquisition of Knowledge Consulting Group http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/mantech-completes-acquisition-of-knowledge-consulting-group http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/mantech-completes-acquisition-of-knowledge-consulting-group#When:21:09:00Z Fairfax-based ManTech International Corp.  has completed its acquisition of Knowledge Consulting Group (KCG),  a cybersecurity advisory firm. Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed. Founded in 2000 and based in Reston, KCG focuses on anticipating threats and implementing defensive countermeasures. The acquisition adds more than 200 cybersecurity employees to ManTech's Mission, Cyber and Intelligence Solutions Group. The acquisition will be slightly accretive to 2015 financial results. ManTech said it will fund the acquisition from cash on hand with additional funding from its existing line of credit. ManTech provides support to national security programs for about 50 federal agencies through approximately 1,100 current contracts. 2015-06-16T21:09:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/media-organizations-and-virginia-tech-launch-drone-testing-program Media organizations and Virginia Tech launch drone-testing program http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/media-organizations-and-virginia-tech-launch-drone-testing-program http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/media-organizations-and-virginia-tech-launch-drone-testing-program#When:19:52:00Z A group of 15 media organizations wants to study how drones can be used safely in news gathering. The coalition is partners in a study with Virginia Tech, one of the Federal Aviation Administration-designated test sites for research on unmanned aircraft systems. The project will include controlled flight tests on real-life scenarios that simulate news events.  The research testing began Tuesday at a facility in Bealeton. Testing will include a variety of locations, including both urban and rural environments. “This program will allow us to use these new tools safely and efficiently while also benefiting from the many new angles of visual newsgathering,” Sandy MacIntyre, an Associated Press vice president, said in a statement. The 15 companies involved in the research include: American Broadcasting Cos Inc., Advance  Publications Inc., A. H. Belo Corp., The Associated Press, Capitol Broadcasting Co., The E.W. Scripps Co., Fusion, Gannett Co. Inc., Getty Images Inc., NBCUniversal, The New York Times Co., Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. Thomson Reuters LLC, Univision and The Washington Post.  The coalition has worked with law firm Holland & Knight LLP since mid-2014 to consult with Virginia Tech and the FAA. 2015-06-16T19:52:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/image001.png http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-beach-gives-developer-for-entertainment-complex-more-time Virginia Beach gives developer for entertainment complex more time http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-beach-gives-developer-for-entertainment-complex-more-time http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-beach-gives-developer-for-entertainment-complex-more-time#When:19:23:00Z The Virginia Beach Development Authority has approved an extension of up to one year for exclusive negotiations with the Northern-Virginia based Peterson Cos. on a 230,000-square-foot entertainment project in the resort area. The city and the company plan to use the extra time to develop terms that would move the VA ViBe! project forward. VA ViBe! would be located on the former Dome site on 9.6 acres between 18th and 20th streets. Pacific and Arctic avenues border the site, with an additional parcel between Arctic and Baltic avenues. For more than 35 years, the Dome was a well-known entertainment venue in Virginia Beach, hosting acts such as Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones and Ray Charles. Named for its golf ball-like appearance, the Dome existed on the site until 1994 when it was demolished to make way for a bigger entertainment complex. VA ViBe! is envisioned as a mixed-use development with 125,000 square feet of entertainment  space that could include a movie theater, bowling alley, live music or theater venue or exhibition hall. It calls for a dining area of about 65,000 square feet restaurants that could include range from fine dining to fast casual to a craft brewery or wine tasting room. Plans also include about 40,000 square feet of destination retail, such as art studios, unique apparel shops and jewelry boutiques. “We’ve waited for exactly the right product, and Peterson Cos. has delivered a transformative, multi-use development that will enhance all of the growth and opportunities in this area of the resort district,” Virginia Beach Mayor William D. Sessoms Jr. said in a statement. Warren D. Harris, director of the city’s Department of Economic Development, added, “The development team at Peterson Companies has taken the time to evaluate the site and refine the concept. They have completed research and made modifications so that we are now in a very strong position to move forward with the terms to negotiate based on facts and accurate projections.” The Peterson Cos. will design, construct, lease and manage the project. It is estimated that 2,380 full-time and part-time jobs will be created, while the total capital investment is estimated to be $100 million. 2015-06-16T19:23:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Rappley%2C_Marsha-sm_CV.png http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/vcu-health-system-names-new-ceo VCU Health System names new CEO http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/vcu-health-system-names-new-ceo http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/vcu-health-system-names-new-ceo#When:19:22:00Z Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Health System has named a new CEO. Dr. Marsha D. Rappley will serve as VCU’s vice president for health sciences and CEO of the VCU Health System  beginning Aug. 15. She serves as dean of the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. Rappley replaces Dr. Sheldon Retchin, who left VCU earlier this year to lead Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center. The Michigan State University College of Human Medicine spans six campuses throughout the state and is affiliated with nine health systems and other health care providers. During Rappley’s tenure at the school, its research funding from the National Institutes of Health and other federal entities doubled. Endowments also have grown by 80 percent during the past four years. Rappley was recently elected as chair of the Association of American Medical Colleges board of directors and currently serves as chair of the council of deans.  She also serves on the Research Advisory Panel of the Association of American Medical Colleges. Rappley previously served on the board of the Association for Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs, American Board of Pediatrics sub-board for developmental and behavioral pediatrics, and chair of U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s pediatric advisory committee. She recently completed six years on the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, which accredits U.S., Puerto Rican and Canadian medical schools. Rappley, also a tenured professor of pediatrics and human development, has consistently been named a Top Doc and Best Doctors in America by her peers. She has been recognized for distinguished service by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Her research has focused on children with ADHD, learning problems and other serious mental health challenges. Rappley began her administrative career at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, rising through the ranks as director of various clinics, interim chair of the pediatrics and human development department, associate dean for academic affairs and then dean. She earned a nursing degree from the University of Michigan and her medical degree from Michigan State. 2015-06-16T19:22:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/peterson-family-foundation-donates-10-million-to-gmu Peterson Family Foundation donates $10 million to GMU http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/peterson-family-foundation-donates-10-million-to-gmu http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/peterson-family-foundation-donates-10-million-to-gmu#When:21:35:00Z   George Mason University has received a $10 million gift from the Peterson Family Foundation to be used for scholarships in the arts and to complete the construction of a health-sciences building. The gift was announced Monday at a groundbreaking ceremony for the health-sciences building that will be named in honor of the Peterson family. The 160,000-square-foot building will be the new home for the College of Health and Human Services, which is currently spread across seven locations. The facility will include a health clinic that will be open to the public, a kitchen where students can practice nutrition science and labs for nursing, health-care data and rehabilitation studies. It is expected to open in 2017. “The Peterson family’s gift is truly transformational. It creates tremendous academic opportunities for our students and faculty and will enrich our community through the work we will do in health care and the arts,” George Mason University President Ángel Cabrera said in a statement.  “I am so grateful for their vision, their friendship, and the example they continue to set. The Petersons’ endorsement shows that investing in Mason is one of the most effective ways to help our community thrive.” The Petersons have been longtime donors to Mason. In the past, they have given $2.5 million for academic programs, the arts and athletics. The latest gift includes $8 million for the College of Health and Human Services that will complement more than $65 million in funding approved by the state of Virginia for the health-sciences building. The other $2 million will go to the College of Visual and Performing Arts to set up scholarships: $1 million to create the Peterson Family Scholarship Endowment in the Vocal Arts and $1 million to establish the Peterson Excellence Fund. The college plans to honor the family’s generosity with a named space in their facilities. “Our family believes strongly in giving back to the communities we serve, and we view this gift as another strategic investment in Mason and in our region,” said Jon Peterson, principal at Peterson Companies and a current member of Mason’s Board of Visitors. The health-sciences facility is part of the university’s ongoing plan to make Mason the premiere research university in the Washington, D.C., region, Cabrera said. Two months ago, Mason opened the Institute for Advanced Biomedical Research, which draws upon talent from across the university, and renamed the campus in Prince William County to the Science and Technology Campus to better reflect the focus of the work being done there. As the backbone of Mason’s health sciences, the College of Health and Human Services notably educates nurses, but also economists, global and public health specialists, social workers, and those involved in health-care policy, rehabilitation, and nutrition sciences, among other key areas. Milt Peterson, the founder of Peterson Companies, is well known in the region for several high-profile real estate ventures, including Fairfax Corner, the revitalization of downtown Silver Spring, and National Harbor. His wife, Carolyn Peterson, an avid arts patron, has served on several committees and boards at the university, including the Mason Foundation Board of Trustees. Their son is Jon Peterson. George Mason is Virginia’s largest public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., it enrolls nearly 34,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states. 2015-06-15T21:35:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/lumber-liquidators-combines-chief-merchandising-marketing-roles Lumber Liquidators combines chief merchandising, marketing roles http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/lumber-liquidators-combines-chief-merchandising-marketing-roles http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/lumber-liquidators-combines-chief-merchandising-marketing-roles#When:19:16:00Z Toano-based Lumber Liquidators has combined the roles of its chief marketing and merchandising officers. Marco Q. Pescara, the company's chief marketing officer since 2006, will serve as the firm’s chief merchandising and marketing officer, effective June 19. At that time, the employment of William K. Schlegel, Lumber Liquidator’s chief merchandising officer, will end. As chief marketing officer, Pescara developed Lumber Liquidator’s brand and customer strategy. In his new position, he will lead the company's marketing and merchandising functions. “By coordinating the merchandising and marketing departments under his leadership, I believe we will be better situated to identify and satisfy customer demand for our assortment of flooring products and accessories,” Thomas D. Sullivan, Lumber Liquidators’ founder and acting CEO, said in a statement. The announcement is one of several executive-level changes at the company lately. Last month CEO Robert M. Lynch resigned. The firm’s chief financial officer Daniel E. Terrell also stepped down in June. Gregory A. Whirley Jr. took over as interim CFO and senior vice president, finance. The hardwood foor retailer has come under fire after a March report by CBS’ “60 Minutes” questioned the safety of its Chinese-made laminate floors. The report alleged that the Chinese floors contained unsafe levels of formaldehyde. Lumber Liquidators said last month it would stop selling laminate floors sourced from China as it investigates the practices of its suppliers. 2015-06-15T19:16:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/breeden.png http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/the-breeden-co.-closes-on-land-for-luxury-apartment-project-in-portsmouth The Breeden Co. closes on land for luxury apartment project in Portsmouth http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/the-breeden-co.-closes-on-land-for-luxury-apartment-project-in-portsmouth http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/the-breeden-co.-closes-on-land-for-luxury-apartment-project-in-portsmouth#When:18:30:00Z The Breeden Co. said Monday that it has closed on 2.5 acres at 800 Crawford St. in Portsmouth where it plans to build a 134-unit luxury apartment community. According to Breeden, the contract to purchase the land had been in the works for nearly three years with Portsmouth’s Economic Development Authority. Now that the transaction has closed, the Virginia Beach-based real estate services company said it plans invest $17 million  in a five-story project that will be called Harbor Vista at Crawford Street. The company expects the project to be ready to rent by the summer 2016. The community will feature a fitness facility and a roof-deck lounge that overlooks a marina. The one- and two-bedroom apartments will offer amenities such as 9-foot ceilings, granite countertops, and pendant and recessed lighting. Breeden estimates average rents to be $1,150 for one-bedroom apartments and $1,450 for two-bedroom units. The company said it expects to follow the project with another luxury apartment community at the North Pier site that sits adjacent to the nTelos Pavilion. It plans to purchase the North Pier site for $2 million in summer 2017, investing $25 million in the second project. According to the company, the combined real estate taxes on the sites would eventually add $475,707 in annual revenue to city coffers. Harbor Vista will be one of several additions to The Breeden Co.’s Enriched Lifestyle brand. The MARQ in Virginia Beach (264 units), The Village at Westlake in Richmond (252 units) and Eagle Harbor West in Carrollton (208 units) are all Enriched Lifestyle Communities scheduled to break ground this year. Aqua on 25th Street in Virginia Beach (147 units) and Parkside at Charles Street in Newport News (148 units) broke ground in January. The projects combine for over 1,100 units. Breeden Construction will be the general contractor for all projects. Breeden Property Management, Breeden Realty and Breeden Construction are the three major subsidiaries of The Breeden Co. Together they have a combined portfolio of nearly 10,000 apartments, more than 2 million square feet of retail and office space, and an additional 1,700 residential homes. 2015-06-15T18:30:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/sentara-life-will-invest-1.8-million-to-build-out-new-space-for-senior-pace Sentara Life will invest $1.8 million to build out new space for senior PACE program http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/sentara-life-will-invest-1.8-million-to-build-out-new-space-for-senior-pace http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/sentara-life-will-invest-1.8-million-to-build-out-new-space-for-senior-pace#When:18:18:00Z Sentara Life Care plans to relocate its PACE program for seniors from the current site on Newtown Road in Virginia Beach to larger quarters at the JANAF Shopping Yard in Norfolk.  The Norfolk-based health care system said Monday that it would invest $1.8 million to build out and equip the new location with an anticipated move-in date around Oct. 1. PACE is an acronym for the federally supported Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly. Sentara opened the first PACE site in Virginia at the Newtown Road location in 1996. “This is an opportunity to modernize our facilities and add new participants,” Suzanne Coyner, director of PACE for Sentara Life Care said in a statement. “The central location at JANAF offers families from across the region easier access for their seniors.” The current 10,000-square-foot site is limited to 150 participants due to its size. The new 14,000-square-foot site will be able to accommodate up to 200 participants, not all of whom attend every day. Average daily attendance could be about 100. Most PACE participants qualify for nursing home care and live at home with their families, but need support during the day when caregivers are at work. According to Sentara Life Care, PACE provides a cost-effective alternative to nursing homes, including transportation to and from the site, therapeutic recreation, meals and socialization. PACE also manages medical care, including an on-site clinic and therapy space.  Sentara PACE is qualified to accept participants under Medicare and Medicaid. The programs accept a monthly stipend for each participant and provide services within that budget. Sentara operates two PACE sites in Hampton Roads. The second is at Churchland Shopping Center in Portsmouth and is open to residents of Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Norfolk and Virginia Beach.   2015-06-15T18:18:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/friant-to-celebrate-new-office-furniture-manufacturing-facility-in-suffolk Friant to celebrate new office furniture manufacturing facility in Suffolk on Thursday http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/friant-to-celebrate-new-office-furniture-manufacturing-facility-in-suffolk http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/friant-to-celebrate-new-office-furniture-manufacturing-facility-in-suffolk#When:15:52:00Z   Officials from Friant and Associates, an Oakland, Calif.-based office-furniture maker, and the city of Suffolk will gather Thursday for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate Friant’s first Virginia manufacturing operation at the city’s Center Point Intermodal facility.  The ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. and is not open to the public. The new 357,000-square-foot facility is expected to create 166 jobs. Paul Friant, the company’s founder and CEO, is expected to announce a donation to the Paul D. Camp Community College Workforce Logistics Scholarship Fund as part of the ceremony. Friant has invested $17.4 million in the facility.  Ace Hardware and Nexcom also have large distribution centers at Center Point, which is located off U.S. 58 near the Port of Virginia. 2015-06-15T15:52:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/jbg-cos.-buys-three-building-warehouse-complex-in-alexandria JBG Cos. buys three-building warehouse complex in Alexandria http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/jbg-cos.-buys-three-building-warehouse-complex-in-alexandria http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/jbg-cos.-buys-three-building-warehouse-complex-in-alexandria#When:15:51:00Z Holliday Fenoglio Fowler L.P. (HFF) said Monday that it has arranged the sale of a 100-percent-leased, three-building warehouse complex totaling 246,145 square feet in Pickett Industrial Park in Alexandria. HFF marketed the property on behalf of the seller, a partnership between funds managed by Ares Management LP and Adler Group.  The JBG Cos., based in Chevy Chase, Md., purchased the property for an undisclosed price.   Situated on 10.8 acres on South Pickett Street inside the Capital Beltway, Pickett Industrial Park is less than a mile and a half from Interstate 395.  It also is less than 10 miles away from The Pentagon, Fort Belvoir and Reagan Washington National Airport. According to HFF, the one-story buildings are leased to six tenants, including the General Services Administration, Commercial Carpets of America, Michael Baker Corp. and Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia. The HFF investment sales team representing the seller was led by Senior Managing Director Bruce Strasburg, Associate Director Mike Stuart and Senior Real estate analyst Samuel Fagelson. The JBG Cos. is a private real estate investment firm that develops, owns and manages office, residential, hotel and retail properties.  The company has more than $10 billion in assets under management and development in the Washington, D.C., area. 2015-06-15T15:51:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/orbital-atk-names-president-of-the-companys-flight-systems-group Orbital ATK names president of the company’s Flight Systems Group http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/orbital-atk-names-president-of-the-companys-flight-systems-group http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/orbital-atk-names-president-of-the-companys-flight-systems-group#When:20:13:00Z Dulles-based Orbital ATK Inc. has named Scott Lehr president of the company’s Flight Systems Group. The promotion takes effect on July 1. Lehr succeeds Ron Grabe, who will continue to serve in a senior advisory capacity. The Flight Systems Group provides systems and products for  the space launch, strategic missile and missile defense and aerospace structures markets. Lehr has been senior vice president and Grabe’s deputy since the merger of Orbital Sciences Corp. and Alliant Techsystems (ATK) in February. Before the merger, Lehr served with ATK and a predecessor company for 31 years, most recently as general manager of the company’s Commercial and Defense Propulsion Systems Division. Orbital ATK makes defense and aviation systems for customers, a prime contractor and merchant supplier. Its main products include launch vehicles and related propulsion systems; missile products, subsystems and defense electronics; precision weapons, armament systems and ammunition; satellites and associated space components and services; and advanced aerospace structures. The company has more than 12,000 employees in 20 states and several international locations. 2015-06-12T20:13:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/business-plan-contest-will-award-850000-in-prizes Business plan contest will award $850,000 in prizes http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/business-plan-contest-will-award-850000-in-prizes http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/business-plan-contest-will-award-850000-in-prizes#When:19:57:00Z McAuliffe Administration has announced a business plan contest that will award $850,000 in prizes for winners. At least four winners will be chosen in the Virginia Velocity business plan competition, which opened for applications on Friday. The deadline for submitting an application is July 10. The governor’s office said the competition will focus on entrepreneurs in two key growth sectors, bioscience and energy. The contest is open to all companies in these sectors, including those based outside of Virginia.  Applicants must be for-profit companies that have been engaged in their current business for at least 24 consecutive months.  The minimum age for participating entrepreneurs is 18. Winning companies must be willing to locate in Virginia for at least two years and are expected to have an office operating in Virginia by January 1. More detailed information and rules about applying for the competition are available on the Virginia Velocity website at http://www.virginiavelocity.org. 2015-06-12T19:57:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/ensuring-our-common-wealth-reaches-virginias-rural-horeshoe Ensuring our commonwealth reaches Virginia’s Rural Horseshoe http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/ensuring-our-common-wealth-reaches-virginias-rural-horeshoe http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/ensuring-our-common-wealth-reaches-virginias-rural-horeshoe#When:19:30:00Z As a native of rural Patrick County, I can tell you that though my feet have taken me to plenty of places across the country and around the world, my heart has never left rural Virginia. During my years as a legislator, attorney general and governor, and more recently as an international trade and aviation lawyer, and as a director of a public policy center at the University of Virginia, I have witnessed how trade, technology and globalization can affect our lives, our economy and our country. Increasingly, education is the engine that drives the American economy. Education is the “coin of the realm,” and it will determine the quality of our lives and our economic future. So, the challenge for us — our country, our commonwealth and especially our rural areas — is how to respond? Cheap wages, low taxes and physical labor no longer guarantee economic growth and development. If so, Bangladesh would be an economic giant, and rural areas everywhere would be thriving. So, let me put it simply: a rural area’s inability or indifference to improving its educational level will insure its own demise. A cultural challenge Education is no longer for just the children. Learning must be lifelong for all of us. Education must become part of every public discussion and decision. It must permeate the consciousness of the citizenry at large. It must be seen for what it is — the key to our future. In rural Virginia, it will take a while to prepare for that future, unfortunately. Here’s why: Too many rural counties have too many people who lack a high school education. That was once understandable, even acceptable, especially in the rural economies of agriculture or mining, or timber, tobacco and textiles, and even fishing, but not today. Too many rural communities do not send enough of their high school graduates to college or create coherent and comprehensible workforce programs for those who choose not to go to college but want to pursue a vocation with marketable skills. These things are important. They make a difference in getting the attention of major employers looking for rural areas and small towns in which to locate a business. They make a difference in determining the future viability of many of our charming and historic towns and villages scattered across our countryside. Our prosperity requires a sweeping change in the way education is viewed, lifelong in scope for all of us, even though that requires politically difficult decisions and requires significant financial investments often beyond the comfort levels of those in public life. A call to action That is why the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education is working with — and supporting the efforts of — Virginia’s Community Colleges to improve the high school education rates in rural areas and to increase the number of people attaining a community college’s associate’s degree or a postsecondary credential. For far too long, rural Virginia’s educational numbers have been moving in the wrong direction. There is an arc that begins on and sweeps down Virginia’s Eastern Shore, across Southern and Southwest Virginia, and up the mountain range towards Winchester. It is a stylized horseshoe area that comprises 75 percent of our geography and contains more than 2 million people. If it were a separate state, it would rank 50th in the nation in educational attainment, tied for dead last with Mississippi and West Virginia. That may surprise some people. It should be cause for alarm, a call to action, especially since the rest of Virginia would rank number two in the country. Leveraging what works There is a growing number of us who are committed to this foundation, our community colleges and our shared Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative. It is a 10-year plan with two goals: cut in half the number of Virginians without a high school education and double the number of Virginians with a postsecondary credential. Straightforward and simple to grasp, don’t you think? So, why not do something? Virginia’s Community Colleges are uniquely poised and capable to confront this challenge in a way no other organization can. Fourteen of Virginia’s 23 community colleges are located within the footprint of the Rural Horseshoe. Seven of those 14 now are engaged in the first wave of this program, the pilot project. The rest will follow soon behind. The strategies engaged to pursue our goals have a history of success. One of the keys includes full-time career coaches, community college employees who work inside high schools to help students and their parents create personal career and college plans and who will help market local GED or adult education programs to those who have not finished their high school work. So, we need you to join us and help Virginia’s Community Colleges and the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education meet their 10 year goals. Already, individuals and companies far and wide are stepping forward to support the financial challenges of implementing this plan, including the Dominion Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Dominion Resources; Valley Proteins Inc.; the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission; Newport News Shipbuilding; and others who recently donated significant dollars to the program. We need more for this important work of ensuring that Virginia lives up to the promise implied in the name commonwealth! The Honorable Gerald Baliles was the 65th governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. He is also the chair of the Virginia Foundation for Community Colleges Education, which is leading the Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative. He can be reached at glbvirginia@gmail.com. 2015-06-12T19:30:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-unmanned-systems-commission-established Virginia Unmanned Systems Commission established http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-unmanned-systems-commission-established http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-unmanned-systems-commission-established#When:17:51:00Z Gov. Terry McAuliffe has signed an executive order establishing the Virginia Unmanned Systems Commission. The commission’s intent is to bring public- and private-sector experts together to make recommendations on how to make the commonwealth a leader in unmanned systems. The executive order, No. 43, notes that Virginia has the eighth largest concentration of unmanned system firms in the nation and that the commonwealth was picked as a test-site designation by the Federal Aviation Administration to develop unmanned aerial technologies, commonly called drones. The commission will include the secretaries of technology, commerce and trade, education, veterans and defense affairs, two representatives from the Virginia congressional delegation, and 11 citizen members appointed by the governor.   2015-06-12T17:51:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/german-supermarket-chain-to-create-700-jobs-in-virginia German supermarket chain to create 700 jobs in Virginia http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/german-supermarket-chain-to-create-700-jobs-in-virginia http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/german-supermarket-chain-to-create-700-jobs-in-virginia#When:15:49:00Z Lidl, a Germany-based discount supermarket chain, will invest $202 million in Virginia, creating 700 jobs as it expands into the U.S. Lidl  currently operates nearly 10,000 stores in 26 European countries The deal includes a $77 million U.S. corporate headquarters in Arlington County and a $125 million regional headquarters and distribution center in Spotsylvania County. The company will create 500 jobs in Arlington and 200 in Spotsylvania. Gov. Terry McAuliffe made the announcement after meeting company officials at Lidl’s international headquarters in Neckarsulm, Germany. McAuliffe is on a European marketing trip. “This is a significant win for Arlington County and Spotsylvania County, and the jobs and economic activity it will generate will contribute directly to my administration’s work building a new Virginia economy,” the governor said in a statement. “Lidl’s investment demonstrates Virginia’s ability to attract companies from all over the globe.” The state’s incentive package includes $5 million in grants from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund and $2 million in Virginia Economic Development Incentive Grant (VEDIG) funds, a performance-based incentives program for  projects promising to create large numbers of jobs with wages. Additional funding and services for Lidl employee training will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program. Brendan Proctor, president and CEO of Lidl US, said in a statement that Virginia’s strategic location and the depth of its workforce were key factors in the company’s decision. Lidl is part of the Schwarz Group, one of the largest retailers in the world. 2015-06-12T15:49:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/govloop-acquires-alexandria-based-tmgov GovLoop acquires Alexandria-based TMGov http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/govloop-acquires-alexandria-based-tmgov http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/govloop-acquires-alexandria-based-tmgov#When:20:37:00Z Washington, D.C.-based GovLoop has acquired Alexandria-based TMGov, an association of more than 100,000 government talent management leaders, and its TMGovU online university. Financial details were not disclosed. GovLoop said the deal will expand the scope of its GovLoop Academy, a free, virtual training program created for government employees. The acquisition of TMGov expands GovLoop Academy's offerings to more than 100 free courses geared towards public- sector workers. 2015-06-11T20:37:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/port-of-virginia-has-another-record-month Port of Virginia has another record month http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/port-of-virginia-has-another-record-month http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/port-of-virginia-has-another-record-month#When:19:40:00Z The Port of Virginia hit another cargo-handling record in May. The Port of Virginia’s terminals handled 230,511 TEUs, or 20-foot equivalent units, during the month, 13 percent more cargo than the year before. That was the largest volume the port has handled in a single month, eclipsing its previous record set in March. The port is on track to handle a record level of containers for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, and the calendar year. For the calendar year, the port’s TEU volume is up 9.5 percent compared with the same period last year. Truck moves are up 12 percent, vessel calls are up 2 percent, rail containers are up 8 percent, Virginia Inland Port volume is down 3.8 percent, barge containers are down 5 percent and vehicle units are up 48 percent. Vehicle units soared in May as the port handled 8,675 import vehicles from Nissan and Chrysler at Newport News Marine Terminal. That is the largest number of vehicles to move through the terminal since January 1988. May’s numbers included Chrysler automobiles that were diverted from another East Coast port. 2015-06-11T19:40:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/virginia-early-childhood-foundation-elects-new-chairman Virginia Early Childhood Foundation elects new chairman http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/virginia-early-childhood-foundation-elects-new-chairman http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/virginia-early-childhood-foundation-elects-new-chairman#When:19:26:00Z Reginald “Reggie” Jones, a partner at Williams Mullen in Richmond, has been elected chairman of the board of the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation (VECF). Jones succeeds Ben Davenport, chairman of Davenport Energy and First Piedmont Corp. in Chatham, had been chairman since 2013. The Virginia Early Childhood Foundation is a public-private partnership established 10 years ago to advance school readiness initiatives and early learning efforts across the commonwealth. Jones was a founding member of the VECF’s board of directors and has served since 2006. 2015-06-11T19:26:00+00:00 http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/greater-richmond-arc-names-new-president Greater Richmond ARC names new president http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/greater-richmond-arc-names-new-president http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/greater-richmond-arc-names-new-president#When:19:23:00Z John B. Walker has been named president of the Greater Richmond ARC. He succeeds  Marshall Butler, who is stepping down after 37 years. Butler will remain in an advisory role with ARC for several months. The Greater Richmond ARC, based in Richmond, serves more than 1,400 individuals of all ages with developmental disabilities and their families. Walker was president and CEO of QubicaAMF Bowling Worldwide, and before that, president and COO of AMF Bowling Products.   In his new role, Walker will oversee a staff of over 400 ARC employees in multiple locations throughout Central Virginia. 2015-06-11T19:23:00+00:00