Business news and intelligence for and about the Virginia business firstname.lastname@example.orgCopyright 20162016-07-26T19:43:00+00:00
McCann Realty Partners acquires Henrico apartment community
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/mccann-realty-partners-acquires-henrico-apartment-community#When:19:43:00ZMcCann Realty Partners and its joint venture partner, Artemis Real Estate Partners, have acquired Hickory Creek, a 294-unit apartment community located in Henrico County.
The purchase price was not disclosed.
Built in 1984, the three-story garden-style complex at 2344 Hickory Creek Drive is in Henrico’s West End. Hickory Creek is situated on about 20 acres.
"We really like the property's proximity to Innsbrook, the primary suburban office node in Richmond. By investing significant capital in this property we will be able to enhance our residents living experience and create value for our partnership," Thomas Upson, McCann's vice president of acquisitions, said in a statement.
The location provides access to I-64 and is near retail destinations, including West Broad Village and Short Pump Town Center,
The property will be managed by Pegasus Residential.
Richmond-based McCann is seeking acquisition and development opportunities in the mid-Atlantic, Southeast and Texas. Since its inception, McCann has acquired 27 apartment communities totaling more than 7,200 homes in transactions valued at approximately $615 million. McCann has also completed or has under development nine communities totaling 2,688 homes with an estimated completed value of $350 million.2016-07-26T19:43:00+00:00
Vandeventer Black names chief information officer
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/vandeventer-black-names-chief-information-officer#When:19:39:00ZAndrea Sykora has joined the Norfolk-based law firm Vandeventer Black LLP as chief information officer and assistant executive director.
Sykora will provide leadership and guidance in procuring and maintaining firm technology and information systems.
She also will assist in addressing client cybersecurity and data privacy issues.
Before joining Vandeventer Black, Sykora was the senior director of information technology for Norfolk Public Schools.
Founded in 1883, Vandeventer Black has offices in Virginia, North Carolina and Germany.2016-07-26T19:39:00+00:00
Anne Holton steps down as secretary of education
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/anne-holton-steps-down-as-secretary-of-education#When:19:33:00ZGov. Terry McAuliffe announced Tuesday that Anne Holton has stepped down as secretary of education following the selection of her husband, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, as Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential running mate.
The resignation was effective July 25. McAuliffe has appointed Deputy Secretary of Education Dietra Trent to serve as Virginia’s new secretary of education, effective immediately.
“I wish Anne the very best, and I know she will take her passion for education to the national stage and continue to make the commonwealth proud,” the governor said in a statement.
Trent has served as the deputy secretary of education since 2014. She also served as deputy secretary of education for Kaine when he was governor and as director of constituent services and director of the council on human rights under then-governor and current Sen. Mark Warner.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and criminal justice from Hampton University, and completed her master’s and doctoral degrees in public administration and policy from Virginia Commonwealth University.2016-07-26T19:33:00+00:00
The Motley Fool plans to upgrade its Alexandria facilities and add 60 jobs
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/the-motley-fool-plans-to-upgrade-its-alexandria-facilities-and-add-60-jobs#When:19:53:00ZThe Motley Fool, a financial-services company, plans to invest $5 million to upgrade its Alexandria facilities and expand recruitment efforts.
The project will retain 282 jobs while creating 60 new positions, according to the governor’s office.
Founded in 1993, the company provides financial information to investors through its website, podcasts, books, newspaper column, radio show and premium investing services. The Motley Fool has offices in Australia, Canada, Germany, Singapore and the United Kingdom.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe approved a $350,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to assist Alexandria with the project. The company is also eligible for up to $60,000 in funding and services to support employee training activities, which are provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.
Virginia competed with Washington, D.C., for the Motley Fool project.2016-07-25T19:53:00+00:00
Innovative Refrigeration Systems adding 100 jobs in Augusta County
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/innovative-refrigeration-systems-adding-100-jobs-in-augusta-county#When:19:43:00ZLyndhurst-based Innovative Refrigeration Systems announced Monday a $1.6 million expansion, which is expected to create 100 jobs during the next three years.
The company currently employs 94 workers at its Lyndhurst plant.
Innovative Refrigeration Systems Inc. makes industrial refrigeration systems. The company, founded in 1993, has grown from a family-owned garage shop to a nationwide company, which employs 235 workers throughout the U.S.
The state is providing a $93,500 Virginia Jobs Investment Program funds, which are being matched by Augusta County.2016-07-25T19:43:00+00:00
Co-founder resigns as comScore’s executive chairman
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/co-founder-resigns-as-comscores-executive-chairman#When:19:21:00ZMagid Abraham, a co-founder of Reston-based comScore, has resigned as executive chairman of the company’s board of directors.
He will remain on the board through the remainder of his term, which expires in 2018.
Abraham said he will focus his efforts as the recently appointed executive chairman of Herndon-based APX Labs and his work as a visiting scholar at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
He is also an angel investor for technology startups.
Abraham co-founded comScore with Gian Fulgoni, its chairman emeritus. The company is a cross-platform firm that precisely measures audiences, brands and consumer behavior.
The company completed a merger with Portland, Ore.-based Rentrak Corp. in January.2016-07-25T19:21:00+00:00
Specialty food retailer buys new headquarters site for $1.85 million
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/specialty-food-retailer-buys-new-headquarters-site-for-1.85-million#When:19:19:00ZTaste, a specialty food retailer, paid $1.85 million for its recently announced new corporate headquarters in Virginia Beach.
The commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer said Taste is acquiring the Bayside Commerce Center in Airport Industrial Park at 1391 Air Rail Avenue.
The 27,766-square-foot, light industrial property is situated on 2.456 acres. In addition to housing the company's corporate offices, the facility also will be the site for a warehouse and catering kitchen.
Taste expects to complete its move to the Virginia Beach building by November. The company’s current office and warehouse is in Norfolk.
John P. Duffy and Patrick L. Mumey of Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer handled the property marketing and sale negotiations on behalf of the seller.
Taste’s acquisition was one of two corporate headquarters moves announced last week in Virginia Beach. BN Media Associates LLC also is moving its headquarters from Norfolk to Virginia Beach.2016-07-25T19:19:00+00:00
Investment group acquires nine-building portfolio in Newport News
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/investment-group-acquires-nine-building-portfolio-in-newport-news#When:19:17:00ZAn investment group that includes former Mayor Joseph Ritchie has acquired a nine-building office and retail portfolio in City Center at Oyster Point in Newport News for $64 million.
The city announced on Monday that the investment group, Pointe Hope LLC, includes many of City Center’s founding partners, such as Ritchie, and several local entrepreneurs who are new investors.
The Peninsula Division of TowneBank and Union Bank & Trust provided financing as a part of the acquisition.
City Center’s 574,466-square-foot office and retail portfolio was developed as a master-planned, public-private partnership involving the city and nine founding partners. Northwestern Mutual was its joint venture equity partner.
The city and its economic development authority remain participants in the project, providing business development support, special events, more than 2,700 parking spaces in three publicly-owned garages and a 50,000 square-foot Marriott conference center.
Office tenants include PNC Bank, Riverside Health System, The Daily Press, Morgan Stanley, City of Newport News, The Boeing Co., Siemens, and Progressive Casualty.
The city said Pointe Hope’s principals plan to expand the entertainment and retail venues of City Center.2016-07-25T19:17:00+00:00
MACH37 accelerator, UVA Wise announce partnership
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/mach37-accelerator-uva-wise-announced-partnership#When:19:03:00ZThe University of Virginia’s College at Wise and the MACH37 Cyber Accelerator at the Center for Innovative Technology announced a new partnership Friday that aims to create cybersecurity employment and education opportunities in Southwest Virginia.
According to a statement by Virginia Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson, the Memorandum of Understanding will have a major impact.
“UVa-Wise has a growing pipeline of well-educated technology students who will be joining the workforce over the next few years. This relationship with the accelerator will provide them with a stream of internship and employment opportunities with companies in MACH37’s growing portfolio,” she said. “The agreement will also provide MACH37 with access to the University’s outstanding research expertise and will allow both sides to leverage each other’s valuable stakeholder relationships.”
Founded by the Herndon-based Center for Innovative Technology (CIT), the MACH37 Cyber Accelerator has launched 35 innovative cybersecurity product companies in Virginia since 2013.
The accelerator runs a 90-day program, twice a year, in which competitively selected startups are coached in the aspects of creating a business. Upon the completion of each session, the startups participate in a Demo Day when they pitch to a crowd of external mentors, investors and industry experts.
The University of Virginia’s College at Wise is a public, four-year liberal arts college located in Southwest Virginia.2016-07-22T19:03:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Kaine0147.pngU.S. Sen. Tim Kaine in his Washington, D.C. office in 2015.
Clinton picks Kaine as her running mate
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/clinton-picks-kaine-as-her-running-mate#When:15:50:00ZHillary Clinton announced Friday evening she has picked U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine to be her vice presidential running mate.
Kaine, who was elected to the Senate in 2012, is expected to benefit Clinton’s campaign with his low-key campaigning style, honest reputation and fluency in Spanish. When he was a student at Harvard Law School, he took a year off to attend a Catholic mission in the Honduras.
He also hails from Virginia, which has become a key battleground state in presidential contests.
Kaine started his political career as a Richmond City councilman. He later served as mayor of Richmond, lieutenant governor of Virginia and was governor of Virginia from 2006 until 2010.
Kaine was chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2009 until 2011, giving him national exposure.
He defeated George Allen, a former Virginia governor and a former U.S. senator, for Kaine’s current Senate seat in 2012.
Kaine, an early supporter of Barack Obama’s presidential bid, was vetted by Obama as a potential running mate before he picked Vice President Joe Biden.
Virginia Business has covered Kaine throughout his political career, including a Q&A interview with him last year.
Here’s some other coverage of Kaine over the years:
· In a 2015 opinion column Editor Robert Powell reflects on the possibility that Kaine could become vice president (and who could fill his Senate seat);
· Special Projects Editor Veronica Garabelli attended an April 2015 roundtable with Kaine on the potential benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership for Virginia businesses;
· Powell’s 2014 column focuses on an entrepreneurship roundtable Kaine attended;
Virginia Business interviews the governor of Virginia each year. Here are just some of the stories we published during Kaine's governorship:
· January 2009 interview with Kaine, where he talks about budget cuts and reflections on his future;
· A story in our January 2009 issue included comments from Kaine about the historic shift in Virginia’s voting pattern following Obama’s election.
· 2008 interview with Kaine:
· A 2007 interview with Kaine, a year after he took office:
· The 2006 cover story took a look as Kaine started his governorship.2016-07-22T15:50:00+00:00
JLL reports on transactions in Hampton Roads
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/jll-reports-on-transactions-in-hampton-roads#When:20:36:00ZJLL has completed several transactions in the Hampton Roads market totaling 502,285 square feet. The transactions include the following:
· U.S. Port Services Inc. leased 120,000 square feet at 3050 and 3100 A Elmhurst Lane in Portsmouth. Gregg Christoffersen and Landon Hinton of JLL represented the tenant.
· U.S. Port Services Inc. also leased 100,000 square feet at 2235 Barraud Ave. in Norfolk. Christoffersen and Hinton represented the tenant.
· Health Net Federal Services LLC extended its lease of 54,836 square feet at 514 Butler Farm Road and 1000 Lucas Way in Hampton. Wesley Edwards, Jason Goff, Micki Strain and Scott Panzer of JLL represented the tenant. Deborah Stearns and Gregg Christofferson of JLL represented the building owner.
· Health Net Federal Services LLC also extended a 21,100-square-foot lease at 241 Enterprise Drive in Newport News. Edwards, Goff, Strain and Panzer represented the tenant.2016-07-21T20:36:00+00:00
Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer mid-year report
Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer reports that the Richmond based firm’s eight Virginia and South Carolina offices completed 795 lease transactions totaling more than 7 million square feet with a transactional value of nearly $410 million during the first half of 2016.
Industrial building transactions of more than 4.1 million square feet accounted for the largest amount of space leased. Office and retail leases were over 1.5 million square feet and 1.3 million square feet respectively.
In addition, Thalhimer reported141 sale transactions in the first half of the year that totaled more than $255.9 million in sales volume. The sales included industrial, office and retail buildings, as well as land transactions. Overall, year-to-date volume exceeds $665 million.2016-07-21T20:26:00+00:00
Virginia to hold business plan competition in September
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-to-hold-business-plan-competition-in-september#When:20:24:00ZThe Commonwealth of Virginia and Village Capital announced Thursday that they will hold the weeklong Virginia Velocity Tour the week of Sept. 19.
The business plan competitions will provide a total of $125,000 to five startups across Virginia in the biotechnology, health, energy, agriculture and security sectors.
Applications for businesses are now being accepted at http://www.virginiavelocitytour.org
Each stop will highlight a region’s strength ending with public pitch competitions in Roanoke, Richmond, Hampton Roads, Northern Virginia and Charlottesville. In each competition, eight entrepreneurs will pitch their business plans to local judges for $25,000 in equity-free grant prizes.
Each stop will focus on a specific industry that highlights a regional strength, including energy, STEM, biotechnology/health, cybersecurity and agriculture.
Each day the entrepreneurs will participate in public and private events, including roundtables and visits to local incubators.
“We believe that the future of entrepreneurship will be more aligned with the Chesapeake Bay than the San Francisco Bay,” Ross Baird, CEO of Village Capital, said in a statement. "Over 75 percent of venture capital goes to California, Massachusetts and New York, and the entrepreneurs who get funding are likely to be solving problems that make the lives of well-off people a little easier. When you look at the industries that really matter for our society in the long term - agriculture, energy, health and others - Virginia is leading the way.”
Village Capital, which is partnering with Virginia to plan the tour, is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that trains and invests in seed-stage companies providing business solutions in agriculture, energy, education, financial inclusion and health.2016-07-21T20:24:00+00:00
The Hilb Group LLC acquires NPB Insurance Services Inc.
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/the-hilb-group-llc-acquires-npb-insurance-services-inc#When:19:10:00ZRichmond-based The Hilb Group announced Thursday it has acquired NPB Insurance Services Inc. in Bristol. Financial terms of the deal, which were finalized July 1, were not disclosed.
NPB Insurance Services Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of New Peoples Bank Inc., a bank that has offices in Southwest Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee.
NPB Insurance Services Inc. sells personal, business, disability and life insurance to individual and commercial clients throughout Southwest Virginia, Northeast Tennessee and surrounding states.
As a part of the deal, current customers of NPB Insurance Services Inc. will be serviced by The Hilb Group. New Peoples Bank will refer future insurance customers to The Hilb Group’s Abingdon operations.2016-07-21T19:10:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/2810_Parham_BBB2.jpg
Three-story office building in Henrico County sells for $10.4 million
Premier Tech Center has purchased 2810 Centre, a 142,015-square-foot office building in Henrico County, for $10.4 million.
The seller of the building at 2810 North Parham Road was North Parham Road LLC.
The three story-building is located in Richmond’s largest suburban Northwest Quadrant and is close to many amenities. It also has access to Interstate 64.
According to CBRE/Richmond, Premier Tech Center is an entity of Maryland-based Premier Cos. led by Jonathan Cutler. The new owner plans to make capital improvements.
At the time of sale, CBRE said the building was 86.5 percent occupied. Major tenants include Xerox, Va. Tech, U. Va, and UnitedLex.
CBRE’s Will Bradley represented the seller. John Carpin and Malcolm Randolph will continue to handle marketing and leasing of the property. Premier Management Services will manage the property.2016-07-21T01:01:00+00:00
Solid Stone Fabrics adding more jobs in Henry County
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/solid-stone-fabrics-adding-more-jobs-in-henry-county#When:21:48:00ZSolid Stone Fabrics announced Wednesday a $1.5 million expansion that’s expected to create 22 jobs in Henry County.
Solid Stone Fabrics, which makes and distributes stretch fabrics, will add new equipment and upgrades to its Henry County facility.
The company, founded in 2003, currently employs 60 people, according to a statement from Gov. Terry McAuliffe. Solid Stone Fabrics embellishes fabrics with custom images, creating merchandise ranging from dance wear to costumes to swimsuits.
McAuliffe approved a $50,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund for the project.
The company also is eligible to receive state benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.
Solid Stone Fabrics will also be eligible to receive sales and use tax exemptions on manufacturing equipment and up to $17,600 in funding and services to support the company’s employee training activities through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.
Virginia competed against California, Florida and New Jersey for the project.2016-07-20T21:48:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/John-Mason.jpgJohn E. Mason
Commonwealth Commercial Partners announces promotion
Commonwealth Commercial Partners said Wednesday that John E. Mason has been promoted to managing director of StreamCo LLC, the firm’s asset management subsidiary (formed in 2008). Before that his title was senior vice president and asset manager.
Mason will be responsible for the management, supervision and growth of the firm’s asset management team and for strategic oversight of the firm’s commercial real estate portfolio and business development in the mid-Atlantic and Southeastern U.S.
He brings more than 16 years of experience in acquisitions, development, and asset/property management. Before joining StreamCo, he spent seven years with Robinson Development Group. As its director of property acquisitions, he was responsible for sourcing new acquisitions and development opportunities and structuring debt and equity for commercial real estate syndications.
In addition, he oversaw the asset management of 1 million square feet of commercial office properties, multifamily communities and grocery-anchored retail centers. Mason has also worked as a senior real estate manager at CB Richard Ellis.
He has a Bachelor of Science in business and managerial economics from Hampden-Sydney College, and holds the Certified Property Manager designation.
According to Commonwealth Commercial, StreamCo has assets under management in excess of 9.3 million square feet across 10 states.
Like Commonwealth, it is headquartered in Richmond with regional offices in Hampton Roads, Raleigh, Charlotte, and Greensboro, N.C. Philadelphia, Pa., Nashville, Tenn., and Tampa and Jacksonville, Fla.2016-07-20T19:28:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Mike_Early_cropped_200res.jpgMichael J. Early
Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer makes additions to Capital Markets Group
Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer has hired several new people for its Capital Markets Group.
Michael J. Early joins as first vice president. He is an industry veteran specializing in the representation of investment properties throughout Virginia and the Carolinas with experience handling the disposition of shopping centers, single-tenant net-leased assets, mixed-use buildings, as well as properties occupied by state and federal governments. Early has represented national companies such as the Hunt Cos. Inc. and Cedar Realty Trust as well as regional companies including Blackwood Development, Mid-Atlantic Resources and Morgan Management. He is a graduate of San Diego State University.
Another new staffer, Joe Kennedy, will focus on representation of retail investment properties while working with existing team member Cathy Spangler on Thalhimer’s net leased services efforts.
C. Calvin Griffith joins as the team’s second financial analyst. Calvin was most recently a project manager with UrbanCore Construction where he managed the construction process from inception to completion of commercial, multifamily, mixed-use, and historic rehabilitation projects.
Thalhimer’s Capital Markets Group focuses solely on capital markets and the sale of income producing properties throughout Virginia and the Carolinas. The team is experienced in office, industrial, retail and multi-family dispositions and since 2012 has completed 101 transactions totaling nearly $2.3 billion and more than 27 million square feet of space.2016-07-20T19:25:00+00:00
Norfolk’s Janaf Shopping Center is for sale
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/norfolks-janaf-shopping-center-is-for-sale#When:19:23:00ZJanaf Shopping Center in Norfolk, a well-known shopping destination with more than 147 retailers, is for sale.
The CBRE National Retail Investment Group (NRIG) announced that it has been selected as the exclusive representatives for the sale of the property located since 1959 at 5900 E. Virginia Beach Blvd.
What CBRE referred to in a press release as an “ iconic super regional power center” includes anchor stores such as TJ Maxx, BJ’s Wholesale, Office Max and Petco. The center, at the intersection of Virginia Beach Boulevard and Military Highway, occupies more than 80 acres and encompasses more than 880,000 square feet.
According to NRIG, the name JANAF came from the original investment group that was composed of retired and active duty military. J.A.N.A.F. is an acronym for Joint Army Navy Air Force.
The shopping center hasn’t changed ownership hands since 1991.
R. William Kent, Ryan Sciullo and Kris Knepper will represent the seller.2016-07-20T19:23:00+00:00
Three corporate headquarters announcements for Virginia Beach
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/three-corporate-headquarters-announcements-for-virginia-beach#When:01:24:00ZVirginia Beach was surfing on good news Tuesday. Hill Investment Group LLC is expanding in Virginia Beach while two other companies are relocating their corporate headquarters to the resort city.
Taste, a family-owned specialty food retailer with seven locations in Hampton Roads, has purchased a 27,766-square foot, light industrial building that will be used for a corporate headquarters office, catering kitchen and warehouse. Located at 1391 Air Rail Ave., the building is scheduled to open by November. The company’s current office and warehouse is located in Norfolk.
The new location will support the company’s seven locations at Bayville Farms, Hilltop and the oceanfront in Virginia Beach, Greenbrier in Chesapeake, City Center in Newport News, Harbour View in Suffolk and Larchmont in Norfolk where the company also operates Borjo Coffeehouse in the Old Dominion University Village. New TASTE locations are planned for 21st Street in Norfolk in the spring of 2017 and at Libbie and Grove in Richmond in the spring of 2018.
“Peter Coe founded our company in Virginia Beach in 1973, so this really feels like coming home again. The new headquarters location offers us much needed room for growth and a location that is central to our existing footprint. We’re excited about all the opportunities this brings for our business and employees,” TASTE President Jon Pruden said in a statement.
The relocation will bring about 40 jobs to the city of Virginia Beach, at least eight of which will be new, including company executives and a culinary staff with a $1.25 million plus payroll.
The Virginia Beach Development Authority has approved a grant in the amount of $85,000 based on the company’s capital investment of $4.1 million that includes real estate, improvements and business property.
The capital investment will allow TASTE to embark on a seven-year growth plan that includes nearly doubling the number of existing store locations, including two more stores in Virginia Beach, doubling company revenues and increasing the company’s total number of employees to nearly 500.
BN Media Associates LLC also is moving its corporate headquarters from Norfolk to Virginia Beach. The company has purchased a 10,056-square-foot building on 1.4 acres at 2037 Laskin Road for $1.8 million. According to a city press release, the company plans to make a capital investment of $553,000 in business property at the new location.
BN Media is a for profit online media company with two divisions. Beliefnet.com, which was acquired from Fox in 2010, is a lifestyle site dedicated to faith and inspiration. Affinity4 is the company’s sales portal for a variety of products such as phone service, gift cards, restaurant and grocery coupons, health products and services and insurance. Affinity4 donates 10 percent of the proceeds back to a customer’s favorite charity or ministry. To date, the company has donated nearly $100 million through its GiveBack Program.
Currently BN Media has more than 40 employees. The expansion will create 15 new positions in Virginia Beach, including management, web and software developers.
The Virginia Beach Economic Development Authority has approved a grant in the amount of $45,000 based on BN Media’s capital investment of $2.3 million in real estate and business property. "BN Media brings very valuable high-tech jobs to the city of Virginia Beach,” Virginia Beach Economic Development Director Warren D. Harris, said in a statement.
Hill Investment Group LLC, established in 2015, has purchased an additional 14,000 square feet of space at 1253 Jensen Drive in Virginia Beach to expand its corporate headquarters. The expansion will allow the company to hire 30 new positions for the two companies that operate at the location, ProLog and Top Ink, LLC.
ProLog, currently has 315 employees and plans to add 20 with the expansion. A nationwide technical services provider, its clients include Naval Station Norfolk, Naval Air Station Oceana and Norfolk Naval Shipyard.
Top Ink LLC is a newly formed t-shirt and custom printed apparel company that will create 10 new jobs."We are so pleased to see another small business expand in Virginia Beach,” said Harris. “Small businesses are a significant part of our success in creating new jobs and investment.
The Virginia Beach Economic Development Authority approved a grant in the amount of $20,000 based on Hill Investment’s capital investment of $1.4 million in real estate, furniture and equipment.2016-07-20T01:24:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/IMG_2486.jpg
Peterson Cos. begins work on 150,000-square-foot office building at Fairfax Corner
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/peterson-cos.-begins-work-on-150000-square-foot-office-building-at-fairfax#When:18:22:00ZThe Peterson Cos. has broken ground on a six-story, 150,000-square-foot Class A office building at Fairfax Corner, a mixed-use development in Fairfax. The new building will serve as the corporate headquarters for Apple Federal Credit Union.
Started in 1956 by teachers, Apple FCU has grown into a $2.1 billion asset, member-owned financial cooperative that ranks in the top 100 credit unions nationwide. It serves more than 180,000 members throughout Northern Virginia.
“The new facility will provide the capacity required to serve the evolving needs of our members in a highly-desired location … We’re working hard to ensure a more modern workplace, one that supports collaboration and productivity, ultimately benefiting the membership at large. We’ve been fortunate to grow the Apple family in every way; a new headquarters is a testament to that success,” Larry Kelly, Apple’s president and CEO, said in a statement.
The headquarters will include an Apple FCU bank branch, conference and training areas, and a fitness center for employees. Apple FCU said it plans to occupy three floors initially, and will lease the remaining Class A office space to businesses.
The building is expected to be complete in Fall 2017, when Apple FCU plans to relocate 225 employees from its current headquarters at 4029 Ridge Top Rd. in Fair Oaks in Fairfax.
The building’s construction coincides with the nearing completion of a new seven-level parking garage at Fairfax Corner that will add more than 900 parking spaces to the center.
Robert Shue, Jeff Groh and Chuck LaRock of Jones Lang LaSalle represented Apple FCU in the transaction.2016-07-19T18:22:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Emporia_Marketplace.jpeg
NorthMarq Capital arranges a $4.1 million refinance for Emporia Marketplace
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/northmarq-capital-arranges-a-4.1-million-refinance-for-emporia-marketplace#When:18:18:00ZMike Lowry, senior vice president of NorthMarq Capital’s Richmond-based regional office, has arranged the $4.1 million refinance of Emporia Marketplace, a 79,370-square-foot shopping center in Emporia.
According to NorthMarq, the transaction was structured with a 10-year term and 30-year amortization schedule. NorthMarq said it arranged financing for the borrower through its relationship with a CMBS lender. Food Lion, Peebles and Family Dollar represent the property’s major tenants.
NorthMarq, the largest privately held commercial real estate financial intermediary in the U.S., provides debt, equity and commercial loan servicing through 36 offices across the U.S.2016-07-19T18:18:00+00:00
Slide show: “Images of Danville, Past and Present”
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/slide-show-images-of-danville-past-and-present#When:16:48:00ZCommercial lending and leasing services provider CIT has commissioned a collection of historic and new photography of the Danville-area, which are permanently on display at its Danville office.
The collection, entitled “Images of Danville, Past and Present,” was curated by Danville photographer Bobby Carlsen. It features restored historic images and new photography by Carlsen.The Danville Historical Society and the Schoolfield Museum contributed the historic photographs, which were digitally restored by Carlsen.
“CIT recently undertook a comprehensive renovation of the Danville facility as part of our lease renewal,” Rita Fletcher, executive vice president and chief operating officer of CIT Commercial Services, said in a statement. “As part of the renovation, we sought new artwork for the facility. Rather than use mass-market images, we partnered with local photographer Bobby Carlsen to showcase the Danville area’s rich history and vibrant present-day community, as well as CIT’s presence in the region throughout the years…”
The company, which has been at its Danville location since 1989, employs more than 180 people in the area.2016-07-19T16:48:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Medarva_1A8_corrected.jpg
Medical Park in Goochland County continues to draw new tenants
A first building in a medical office park in Goochland County, that's billed as a regional destination for physician groups, continues to fill up.
Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer and Lingerfelt CommonWealth Partners said Monday that Richmond Plastic Surgeons has leased 6,252 square feet of medical office space in the MEDARVA Building. The 62,000-square-foot building is part of a planned 180,000-square-foot, three building complex.
The project developers are Lingerfelt CommonWealth Partners in partnership with MEDARVA Healthcare.
Richmond Plastic Surgeons is relocating from its current offices at St. Mary’s Hospital in Richmond. The practice is the largest plastic surgical group in Virginia. The group’s surgeons will operate in a private surgical center, which will be built in the MEDARVA Building.
Tenants currently located in the medical park include: Dr. Jeffrey J. Zuravleff, who specializes in oculoplastic surgery, Virginia Physicians for Women (VPFW), which leases about 7,000 square feet, and MEDARVA Healthcare, which has a 40,000-square-foot master lease in the building. MEDARVA is a Richmond non-profit healthcare system that also owns and operates Stony Point Surgery Center, which is located in Richmond.
David M. Smith of Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer handled the lease negotiations on behalf of Lingerfelt CommonWealth Partners.
“While not fully leased, we are well on our way,” he said.
The park’s regional location with close access to Interstates 95, 295 and St. 288, make it a strong regional location for physician groups, Smith added.2016-07-18T21:36:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Interior_building_-_MC_Dean_lease_signing.jpgInterior of Greensboro Station, courtesy of the Meridian Group
M.C. Dean will move headquarters to Greensboro Station at The Boro
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/m.c.-dean-will-move-headquarters-to-greensboro-station-at-the-boro#When:20:11:00ZThe Meridian Group announced Monday that M.C. Dean Inc. is moving its headquarters to Greensboro Station, joining other companies heading to the three-building Class A office complex at The Boro in Tysons.
M.C. Dean, an electrical design-build and systems integration firm, will lease 85,807 square feet of space.
“Company leaders are seeing the ongoing transformation of Tysons -- with a host of new amenities and easy access to the Metro. They know this will help them to attract and retain the best employees, and better service their clients,” Gary Block, a partner at The Meridian Group, said in a statement.
Meridian owns Greensboro Station and is developing The Boro.
M.C. Dean is currently located at 22980 Indian Creek Drive in Dulles. The move marks another milestone for the company, which began as a small electrical firm in 1949 and has grown to 3,000 employees worldwide.
Greensboro Station, with three interconnected towers totaling 630,000 square feet, is steps from the Greensboro Metro station.
The complex is a part of The Boro, a new 4.2-million-square-foot development that will feature a mix of offices, apartments, condominiums, stores, restaurants, entertainment and open park space. Scheduled to break ground later this summer, The Boro will be the newest Metro-oriented, mixed-use destination in Tysons.
CBRE’s Terry Reiley and Dan Grimes handled the leasing for the Meridian Group. CBRE’s Erik McLaughlin, Malcolm Schweiker and John Redeker represented M. C. Dean.
Meridian, a real estate investment and development firm based in Bethesda, Md., acquired Greensboro Station from Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) in 2013. The firm renovated the complex, investing more than $30 million.
The improvements include renovated lobbies, an enhanced fitness facility, a new Starbucks coffee shop, a café, and a new conference center. The work seems to be paying off. Cvent was the first new tenant and leased 128,000 square feet for its headquarters. With M.C. Dean’s signing, Greensboro Station is now 91 percent leased, compared to 25 percent when Meridian acquired the complex, the company said.
“We’ve successfully transformed what was once a single-tenant complex that had no identity to a vibrant multi-tenant complex with several companies headquartered there,” said David Gelfond, senior vice president at The Meridian Group.
M.C. Dean is the second major company to select The Boro for its new headquarters in recent weeks. On June 17, TEGNA announced it was moving its headquarters to Boro Tower, a new 20-story trophy office building to be constructed as part of The Boro’s 1.7-million-square-foot first phase.2016-07-18T20:11:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/University_Crossroads_Residence_Close_%287-30-15%29.jpeg
Phillips Realty Capital secures financing for new Marriott Residence Inn in Blacksburg
Phillips Realty Capital, based in Bethesda, Md., said Monday that it has secured an $18.6 million construction loan on behalf of Newport Hospitality Group Inc. and
Collegiate Inn of Blacksburg LLC for the development of a new Marriott Residence Inn adjacent to the campus of Virginia Tech.
The six-story, 126-room extended stay hotel will offer suites with fully equipped kitchens and living rooms, an indoor pool, and a 24/7 workout room.
The hotel will be part of the newly constructed University Crossroads, a mixed-use redevelopment center at the corner of University City Boulevard and Prices For Road. University Crossroads sits diagonally across from Virginia Tech’s new visitors center and the main entrance to the university.
The opening of the new Marriott Residence Inn is anticipated in mid-2018.
Phillips Realty Capital Managing Director Brian Boland structured the financing with a regional bank. “Phillips leveraged their hospitality sector expertise and relationships with key capital sources to structure an attractive financing package in a tightening market,” Andrew Carey of Newport Hospitality Group, said in a statement.
Phillips Realty Capital is aactive in Washington, D.C. commercial real estate finance, structuring about $1.2 billion in debt and equity transactions a year and servicing a $2 billion loan portfolio on behalf of 25 institutional investors. The company has offices in Bethesda, Richmond and Charlottesville.2016-07-18T20:01:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/IMG_13231.JPG
Phase one of Lovettsville Square is completed
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/phase-one-of-lovettsville-square-is-completed#When:15:59:00ZA ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the completion of Phase 1 of Lovettsville Square will be held under the development’s clock tower on Friday, July 22, at 7:30 p.m.
Lovettsville Square is located at the intersection of Berlin Turnpike (Route 287) and West Broad Way (Route 673) in Lovettsville in Northern Virginia, near the town of Purcellville.
The opening of the 18,000-square-foot Lovettsville Square will bring local retail options to residents who often have a 15- to 20-minute drive to other retailers, including restaurants.
Lovettsville Square, an NVRetail development, says it has signed leases with two tenants, Leesburg-Sterling Family Practice and Palmercare Chiropractic. The developer, based out of Vienna, also says it has two additional signed letters of intent for the project and is negotiating an additional two at this time.
NVRetail develops, owns and operates commercial real estate in the mid-Atlantic region.2016-07-18T15:59:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/image002.jpeg
Marco’s Pizza announces growth plans for Virginia
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/marcos-pizza-announces-growth-plans-for-virginia#When:15:42:00ZMarco’s Pizza, based in Toledo, Ohio, is eyeing Virginia for expansion. The Italian pizza chain already has opened two locations in Richmond and Chesapeake and has plans for six more.
According to the company, the six new franchise partnerships, expected to create more than 150 new jobs, are projected to be open and operating within the next six months
The Marco’s Pizza locations will open under the leadership of Joe Walker, a military veteran who joined the company’s team five years ago. Walker, who lives in South Carolina, owns a total of 16 Marco’s Pizza stores.
Targeted development markets in Virginia, in which Walker and other area representatives are actively seeking franchise partners, include Charlottesville and Richmond. Currently there is one lease signed in Mechanicsville.
“With a supportive pro-business climate and a large, highly skilled labor force, Virginia is a prime location for growth in local communities,” Cameron Cummins, chief development officer at Marco’s Pizza, said in a statement. “We are still at the ground floor of our development in Virginia, making it an exciting expansion region for us. “
Marco’s is the only national franchise chain founded by a native Italian. Pasquale (“Pat”) Giammarco started the company in 1978. It now operates 700 stores in 35 states, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and India. The company says it is poised to reach 1,000 locations in 2017.2016-07-18T15:42:00+00:00
New study ranks Virginia No. 9 in the country for retail real estate development in 2015
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/new-study-ranks-virginia-ranked-no.-9-in-the-country-for-retail-real-estate#When:15:38:00ZDevelopment and construction of new commercial real estate, including office, industrial, warehouse and retail, continues to be a powerful contributor to the U.S. and state economies, supporting about 3.2 million American jobs and contributing $450 billion to U.S. GDP in 2015, according to a new report released by the NAIOP (Commercial Real Estate Development Association) Research Foundation.
According to the report, 429.4 million square feet of commercial real estate space was built in 2015. Retail and warehouse construction both saw strong gains. Warehouse construction saw a fifth strong year of increased expenditures in 2015, gaining 10.8 percent, while retail expenditures were up 8.2 percent from 2014.
According to the report, Virginia is the No. 9 ranked state in the country last year for retail real estate development with just under $1 billion of new development in 2015 that supported 13,281 jobs. Overall, commercial real estate development in the state supported 34,482 related jobs in 2015 and contributed $2.5 billion to the state’s economy.
“Commercial real estate continues to bring new jobs, improve infrastructure, and create places to live, work and play,” Thomas Bisacquino, NAIOP president and CEO, said in a statement. “This is positive news both for the industry and the nation, but clarity on budget policy and tax reform following the presidential election will provide more certainty and add to the confidence of developers and investors.”
Looking ahead, the report forecasts accelerating construction spending in 2016, with gains in fixed investment in commercial structures, such as office, retail, health-care and distribution facilities being partially offset by cutbacks in energy-related construction.
The report’s author is well known Virginia economist Stephen S. Fuller. He’s the Dwight Schar Faculty Chair university professor, and senior adviser and director for special projects of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University.
In the report, Fuller says, “With the direct and indirect impact of construction spending on the U.S. economy (GDP) in 2015 totaling $3.2 trillion and accounting for 17.8 percent of GDP, the continuing growth of construction spending that began in 2011 will provide continuing support to the economy’s growth rate during the next several years. That is, the growth rate for construction spending will exceed the GDP growth rate annually for at least the next five years.”
The 2015 U.S. GDP contribution of $450 billion is down slightly from the 2014 contribution. The report attributed the drop to a decline in energy prices that deterred the construction of new energy facilities.
In terms of office construction, expenditures increased by 3 percent in 2015, building on a strong gain of 29.8 percent in 2014.
Yet industrial construction spending decreased sharply, falling 46.2 percent, following a strong gain in 2014, when it increased 74.2 percent. The pullback in industrial/manufacturing construction was attributed to the downturn in the energy sector and a slowdown in global demand for U.S. manufactured goods.
NAIOP, an 18,000-member industry trade association based out of Herndon, has conducted its study since 2008. The mission is to estimate the annual economic contribution of commercial real estate development to the U.S. economy.
The study uses key data sets from the U.S. Census Bureau and Dodge Data & Analytics (formerly McGraw-Hill Construction).2016-07-18T15:38:00+00:00
Local investors acquire City Center for $64 million
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/local-investors-acquire-city-center-for-64-million#When:14:32:00ZPoint Hope LLC, a local group of investors from Newport News, has acquired City Center at Oyster Point for $64 million. The nine building, 574,466-square-foot, mixed-use center is Newport News’ version of a downtown, serving as a location for leaders in accounting, banking, finance, law, architecture, technology, defense government and healthcare.
In an announcement, Pointe Hope LLC said its purchase brings ownership into the hands of local leaders “who are committed to sustaining City Center as a Class A business and residential community. “
The center broke ground in 2000 as a public/private partnership, master planned development among nine founding partners with Northwestern Mutual as the group's joint venture equity partner along with the city of Newport News, which remains active in the project.
Leading Pointe Hope LLC is Joseph C. Ritchie, a former mayor of Newport News and one of the center’s original founding partners, and Robert E. Long, a Hampton attorney. They have assembled an ownership group that includes many of the center’s original partners as well as several local entrepreneurs who are new investors.
The Peninsula Division of TowneBank and Union Bank & Trust financed the acquisition.
Newport News through its Economic Development Authority, is an active participant in the center, providing business development support and over 2,700 parking spaces in three publicly owned garages as well as a 50,000-square-foot conference center, managed by Marriott. The project incudes restaurants, retail, entertainment and hospitality amenities.
Known for its five-acre fountain, City Center is home to many tenants. Among the roster are PNC Bank, Riverside Health System, Morgan Stanley, the Boeing Co., Siemens and Progressive Casualty.
Point Hope said in a press release that the fountain would remain a gathering place for community events, with the group hoping to sponsor new events that expand the center’s draw across Hampton Roads.
Savills Studley represented the seller, the joint venture ownership of Northwestern Mutual Real Estate and nine founding local partners in the sale.
Patricia Earnest, who led the Savills Studley team in the sale, said in a statement, “Although there were several competitive national and regional investors bidding for this exceptional portfolio, this local investor group, Pointe Hope LLC, brings the vision, the breath of fresh air and staying power to elevate City Center to the next level of success and to continue building its vibrancy for the future.”2016-07-18T14:32:00+00:00
Suffolk gets its first Ross Dress for Less store
Ross Dress for Less has opened its first Suffolk location at 1011 University Boulevard in Harbour View, a $20 million mixed-use development.
The store is about 25,000 square feet and represents a capital investment of just under $1 million dollars. The company said in a press release that it plans to hire approximately 50 full and part-time employees at the location.
According to Ross, shoppers will find merchandise, including men’s, women’s and children’s name-brand clothing, at prices typically 20 percent to 60 percent lower than those at department and specialty stores. The store also stocks small furnishings, toys and games, luggage and jewelry.
The opening of the Suffolk store is part of a 2016 expansion program that is expected to result in about 70 new Ross locations during the year. Ross, together with dd’s DISCOUNTS, operates about 1,500 off-price apparel and home fashion stores in 34 states, Washington D.C., and Guam.
“Suffolk’s growing retail tenant mix has transformed Harbour View into a shopping destination that our community is proud of,” Suffolk Mayor Linda T. Johnson, said in a statement.2016-07-18T14:25:00+00:00
Apex Clean Energy sells majority ownership of renewable energy portfolio
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/apex-clean-energy-sells-majority-ownership-of-renewable-energy-portfolio#When:23:24:00ZCharlottesville-based Apex Clean Energy has sold a majority ownership stake in a 217 megawatt renewable energy portfolio to Canada-based Northleaf Capital Partners.
Northleaf is a global private markets manager, with more than $7 billion in infrastructure and private equity investments under management.
The sales price was not disclosed.
The portfolio consists of the Cotton Plains Wind and Old Settler Wind facilities in Floyd County, Texas; and the Phantom Solar facility now under construction at U.S. Army Garrison Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas.
In a deal announced in January, the Defense Logistics Agency, on behalf of the Army, will purchase the power from Cotton Plains Wind and Phantom Solar to supply energy to Fort Hood. Old Settler Wind will generate enough electricity to power an additional 51,000 average U.S. homes. Apex will provide asset management services for all three facilities.
In separate transactions, Apex and Northleaf arranged debt financing and tax equity commitments for the projects. CohnReznick Capital Markets served as financial adviser to Apex.
Apex Clean Energy builds, owns, and operates utility-scale wind and solar power facilities. Last year, Apex completed 1,042 megawatts of new wind capacity.2016-07-15T23:24:00+00:00
Neustar names chief data and analytics officer
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/neustar-names-chief-data-and-analytics-officer#When:21:09:00ZSterling-based information services provider Neustar has named Venkat Achanta chief data and analytics officer. He will be based in San Francisco.
Achanta was most recently Walmart’s chief data officer where he was responsible for the company’s data and analytics delivery platforms.
He also has served as senior vice president, global head of analytics and big data at AIG; vice president, enterprise data services at Capital One and vice president, global product development and delivery at Experian.
Last month, Neustar announced plans to split in two. One company will consist of the majority of Neustar’s information services, and the other will focus on providing order management and numbering services.
Neustar provides cloud-based information services and analytics.2016-07-15T21:09:00+00:00
Evatran to enter Chinese market
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/evatran-to-enter-chinese-market#When:08:42:00ZEvatran Group Inc. is entering the Chinese market.
The Richmond-based company announced Thursday it is forming a joint partnership with Zhejiang VIE Science and Technology to integrate its Plugless power system into electric vehicles in China.
The joint venture, created with an initial investment of $5 million, expects the Plugless EV charging to be in series production and commercially available with a China-based manufacturer in 2017.
“China is the fastest growing EV market in the world, and we see tremendous opportunities in bringing Plugless technology to the market,” Evatran CEO Rebecca Hough said in a statement.
Plugless is the first and only wireless electric vehicle charger available for purchase by electric vehicle drivers. In March 2014 Plugless EV charging became available to electric vehicle owners across the United States and Canada.
Currently, Plugless supports 3.3kW charging for Chevy Volt, Nissan LEAF and Cadillac ELR electric vehicles.2016-07-15T08:42:00+00:00
Grocery stores in demand as anchor tenants
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/grocery-stores-in-demand-as-anchor-tenants#When:21:17:00ZIn recent years, as major department stores have faltered as a result of increased online shopping, the grocery store has grown in demand as an anchor tenant.
All across Virginia, higher-end grocery stores, including Kroger, Wegmans, Whole Foods and now Publix, are sought out as tenants in mixed-use projects. As a result, these supermarket chains are investing millions to open new stores and renovate old ones.
Not only do they help generate traffic at retail centers, grocery stores also haven’t been as hard hit by internet shopping as department stores have.
“They help develop shopping patterns, which also helps other merchants,” says Connie Jordan Nielsen, a senior vice president and retail specialist for Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer in Richmond. “Say the UPS store is next to a Kroger where a shopper goes three times as week, and they need something from UPS. Chances are they will stop at that one as opposed to someplace where the shopper might go every couple of months.”
From a development standpoint, grocery stores are a home run, agrees Carl F. Blackwell, a senior vice president with Commonwealth Commercial Partners in Henrico County. “They bring cars to the parking lot, and that’s what the other tenants want. “
Another reason grocery stores are seen as tenant drivers is they have not been as hard hit by digital shopping — at least not yet.
“A lot of retailers are being affected by internet shopping,” says Nielsen. “Although there are internet offerings for grocery products, it’s not as prevalent … The department stores, they’re being hit by that competition. “
“When landlords start investing in redeveloping or building new stores, they want tenants that will be around for the long haul. Grocery stores are seen as reliable. Lenders love grocers for these same reasons,” says Nielsen.
When it comes to digital shopping, some supermarkets are dipping their toes in the online water. Kroger recently began offering ClickList at some of its stores — a service the company continues to roll out. For a fee, the service allows customers to order groceries online. Then they can drive to a store, pick up and pay for groceries, which are bagged and ready to go.
Wegmans, which has opened one store in Midlothian and will open a second in the Short Pump area of Henrico County on Aug. 7, offers digital coupons to Richmond- area shoppers who are members of the store’s Shoppers Club. Customers can visit the company’s website or use the Wegmans app to get coupons, which can be redeemed at checkout with a club card, the store app or phone number.
The newest player to enter the already crowded Richmond grocery store market as a potential anchor tenant is Publix, a Florida-based, high-end supermarket chain. It announced late Wednesday that it’s buying 10 Martin’s grocery stores. The deal is part of an agreement to pave the way for a merger between Ahold, a Dutch company that owns Martin’s, and the Delhaize Group, the Belgian parent company of Food Lion. It’s contingent on the Federal Trade Commission’s approval and clearance of the merger.
The 10 stores will add to a Virginia footprint that Publix began building with a store currently in the works at the Nuckols Place Shopping Center in Henrico. “What Publix will mean to the market is a more variety in terms of a high-quality grocery buyer,” says Nielsen.
Among the 10 stores, it chose to buy are several considered to be anchors in local retail centers including in Carytown in Richmond, the West Park Shopping Center in the Shops at While Oak Village in Henrico and in the Village Shopping Center on Pump Road near Short Pump Town Center.
Publix plans to close the stores it is buying on a rolling schedule so it can renovate and overhaul them, before hiring new employees and reopening reopen them. “Acquiring these 10 locations aligns with Publix’s aggressive growth plan for the commonwealth of Virginia,” Publix CEO and President Todd Jones said in a statement.
While Publix did not release figures on how much it expects to spend on the Virginia renovations, other chains such as Kroger already have spruced up their spaces.
Of the 63 stores Kroger operates in Virginia, 49 are anchor tenants. According to Allison McGee, customer communications specialist for the company’s mid-Atlantic region headquarters in Roanoke, Kroger is projecting to spend about $230 million on stores and fuel centers in its major Virginia markets during 2016-18. That includes new stores, expansions and remodels.
In particular, the chain has been investing heavily in the Richmond and Hampton Roads markets. Kroger entered Richmond in 2000, much like Publix did, with the acquisition of 10 Hannaford stores.
In Richmond, Kroger reports that it has spent $325 million from 2001 to 2016. This money was invested in 17 interior remodels, seven expansions, 12 new stores and the opening of 16 fuel centers. Overall, Kroger increased its store count from 10 to 18, including four of its larger Marketplace stores. It increased square footage in the area from 500,000 square feet to 1.4 million square feet.
Kroger also entered Hampton Roads in 2000 with the acquisition of 10 Hannaford stores. From 2011 to 2016, McGee said the company invested $156 million in the area. This amount included four interior remodels, the opening of five new stores, four of which are Marketplace stores, including a new one in Chesapeake scheduled to open later this month. The company also opened nine fuel centers.
It doubled its square footage to about 1 million square feet.
In the Roanoke, Lynchburg, Charlottesville, New River Valley areas, Kroger operates 26 stores. From 2011-15 McGee said Kroger spent $44.8 million on six interior remodels, one store expansion and the opening of two fuel centers.2016-07-14T21:17:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/CBFBrockEnvironmentalCenter36.jpgPhoto courtesy Brock Environmental Center
Environmental education center in Virginia Beach recognized with major sustainability award
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/environmental-education-center-in-virginia-beach-recognized-with-major-sust#When:17:45:00ZA commercial building in Virginia Beach has won the distinction of being the first in the U.S. with a permit to capture rainwater and treat it onsite to meet federal drinking water quality standards.
And that’s not all. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Brock Environmental Center has raised the bar for sustainable architecture in other ways.
It received a Living Building Challenge certification that recognizes its adherence to one of the toughest and most prestigious building standards in the world. Administered by the International Living Future Institute, these certified buildings – there are only 11 in the world -- must have “net zero” impact on the surrounding land, air and water.
Completed in November 2014, the 10,500-square-foot center has produced 83 percent more power than it has consumed, qualifying it as a net-positive building. Its 168-rooftop solar panels generate about 60 percent of the building’s energy needs, with two 10-kilowatt wind turbines producing the remaining 40 percent.
The building also incorporates green features such as residential wind turbines, geothermal wells, composting toilets and passive solar.
In a region increasingly prone to flooding, the building’s elevation comes in at 14 feet above sea level.
“Environmental impact goals that once seemed impossible have been easily incorporated into this beautiful and sustainable building that serves as a guidepost for projects committed to benefit both the community and the environment,” Curtis Elswick, vice president, Skanska USA Building, Program Management Services group, said in a statement.
Skanska served as the owner’s representative and project manager guiding a team through the facility's design and construction.
Located on a site where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean, the building allows the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to implement its bay advocacy, restoration and education efforts in one location.
To create the center, Skanska partnered with the foundation and other team members including SmithGroupJJR, Hourigan Construction, A&F Engineers, WPL Site Design and J. Harrison, Architects. The Brock Environmental Center is designed as an international model for energy and water efficiency and climate change resiliency.
The award was presented at the 2016 Living Future Conference in Seattle.2016-07-14T17:45:00+00:00
Xenith-Hampton Roads Bankshares merger to close in late July
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/xenith-hampton-roads-bankshares-merger-to-close-in-late-july#When:21:10:00ZThe merger of Richmond-based Xenith Bankshares Inc. and Virginia Beach-based Hampton Roads Bankshares Inc. is expected to close later this month.
The expected closing date is July 29. The banking companies announced yesterday that the meger has received regulatory approval from the Federal Reserve. The companies’ shareholders are scheduled to vote on the deal on July 28.
The combined company will be called Xenith Bankshares and be based in Richmond. When the deal was announced in February, it was valued at $107.2 million. The company is expected to have total assets of almost $3 billion and combined deposits of $2.5 billion.
T. Gaylon Layfield III, the president and CEO of Xenith, will become CEO of the combined company while Donna Richards, president of the Bank of Hampton Roads, will become president and chief operating officer.2016-07-13T21:10:00+00:00
Health officials prepare to deal with Zika
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/health-officials-prepare-to-deal-with-zika#When:20:54:00ZThe Virginia Department of Health and Virginia hospitals say they are ready to respond to the Zika virus, using procedures they honed during another health threat, the deadly Ebola outbreak.
State Health Commissioner Dr. Marissa J. Levine, however, says the public’s cooperation is key to preventing the spread of the mosquito-borne virus in Virginia.
“We are concerned about the Zika virus because people do not know everything they need to know,” Levine said at a Richmond news conference on Wednesday.
The health commissioner said 38 Zika cases have been reported in Virginia while more than 1,100 patients with the virus have been seen throughout the U.S. There is no vaccine for Zika, which is relatively new to the Western Hemisphere.
In addition to being transmitted by mosquito bites, the virus also can be contracted through sexual intercourse.
All of the cases in Virginia involve people who have traveled to areas south of the U.S. where Zika virus is present, Levine said.
With many people traveling during the summer, Levine urged Virginians to take precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. While symptoms of the illness are relatively mild for adults, Zika infection poses a serious threat to pregnant women. The virus can cause microcephaly and other birth defects in babies. Babies with microcephaly have small heads and often have brains that might not have developed properly.
Never before have mosquito bites caused birth defects, Levine said.
Travelers headed to the Caribbean, Central America and South America are asked to check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website to see where Zika is present. The CDC cautions pregnant women to avoid travel to these countries.
“I think it is just a matter of time before the Zika virus is in the mosquitoes in Virginia, but I don’t know exactly when that would happen,” Levine said.
Virginia's Department of General Services’ Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services said on Wednesday it will begin testing mosquitoes in targeted areas across Virginia for Zika.
Only two types of mosquitos carry the virus and they tend to travel only 150 to 200 yards from where they lay their eggs, typically in containers with water.
Precautions to prevent the spread of Zika include: using EPA-registered insect repellent; wearing long sleeves and pants; tipping standing water containers where eggs can be laid; tossing debris where it collects; using prophylactics during sexual intercourse; and seeking immediate attention if you have Zika symptoms.
Those symptoms include: a fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis, also known as pinkeye.
At the news conference, Mary N. Mannix, president and CEO of Augusta Health in Fishersville and chair of the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, said her association and the Virginia Department of Health have worked together to prepare for emerging health threats since 2002.
The Hospital Preparedness Program is coordinated throughregional hospital hubs. In addition to planning health care for affected patients in an emergency, the program also involves supplies, training and equipment.
Mannix said the system was readied during the Ebola crisis and it “can be called upon to respond to Zika.” A primary focus of that response will be helping mothers and their babies who have contracted the virus. There is a possibility, however, that Zika can cause other diseases, Levine said.
Robin Manke, director of emergency management at VCU Health System, said she saw this system swing into action early last year when she became violently ill after returning from West Africa. She was treated for a possible Ebola infection at VCU. Tests, however, revealed she did not have the disease.
Heart of Appalachia Tourism Authority gets its own theme song
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/heart-of-appalachia-tourism-authority-gets-its-own-theme-song#When:17:19:00ZKaitlyn Baker, a singer/songwriter who lives in Wise County, wants to help her native Appalachia. So she penned a theme song, “Heart of Appalachia,” and will donate 10 percent of her royalties from digital downloads of the song to the Heart of Appalachia Tourism Authority, a nonprofit organization that represents several counties in the far southwest corner of Virginia where Baker grew up.
The tourism authority has adopted “Heart of Appalachia” as its official theme song. Kitty Barker, the authority’s executive director, says the song and music video produced along with it will be a boon to the region’s marketing efforts.
“It gives us a new tool in digital marketing with the video and the music. Now we can do radio spots, public service announcements and TV spots. When we start working with community shows that are on TV, now we have some beautiful footage to show,” she said.
The two-member staff authority, which receives some funding from localities, represents eight jurisdictions in what is now a depressed area economically.
Like many coal-mining areas, the region has been hard hit by job losses. Baker decided to create an uplifting song about the natural beauty and cultural heritage of her home to encourage more tourism, a new and developing industry for the region.
“Southwest Virginia has lost thousands of coal jobs in the past couple of years,” Barker said. “I hope ‘Heart of Appalachia’ will encourage more tourism, which could help the local economy. This area has spectacular scenery, and there’s so much to do here.”
Baker wrote “Heart of Appalachia” with Scott Arnold, a musician and songwriter from East Tennessee with whom she had collaborated on previous songs, including “Coal Train,” which was included in the 2015 ACM Awards ZinePak, a 2-CD album that debuted at #4 on Billboard.
Arnold produced the music track on “Heart of Appalachia,” while songwriter and singer Larry Cordle produced the vocal track. Cordle also sang background vocals, along with Val Storey, a singer who has worked with many other artists in Nashville.
Baker and her team shot the music video for “Heart of Appalachia” on a shoestring budget at locations throughout Southwest Virginia. The video can be viewed on the tourism authority’s website at http://www.HeartOfAppalachia.com
Cordle appears briefly in the music video, performing the song with Baker at the Ralph Stanley Bluegrass Festival. Ralph Stanley II, the son of the late Ralph Stanley, a southwest Virginia bluegrass legend who died on June 23, also makes a cameo appearance in a shot on the front porch of the Ralph Stanley Museum.2016-07-13T17:19:00+00:00
Dominion says three new solar facilities will create 800 construction jobs in Virginia
Dominion Virginia Power said Tuesday that 800 local jobs in the construction trades will be created as it prepares to build three separate large-scale solar energy facilities in Virginia.However, once construction is done, there would be no permanent jobs.
To fill the positions, Dominion’s construction contractor, Tucker, Ga.-based Amec Foster Wheeler, plans to hold job fairs in July and August in Powhatan County and Charlottesville.
The State Corporation Commission approved the projects in Isle of Wight, Louisa and Powhatan counties on June 30. They are part of a commitment by Dominion Virginia Power to develop 400 megawatts of solar energy in Virginia by 2020.
The state is expected to see a cumulative economic impact of $74 million from the 2015 planning phase to the 2017 completion of the projects.
Amec Foster Wheeler is seeking electricians, general laborers, carpenters, solar panel installers and heavy equipment operators. General construction experience is required, but on-the-job training will be offered, the company said in a news release.
Job fairs will be held at Powhatan County Public Library on Friday, July 22, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and at the Charlottesville Workforce Center on Wed. Aug. 24 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Economic development group names new chair
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/economic-development-group-names-new-chair#When:20:25:00ZC. Daniel Clemente of McLean has been named chair of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP).
Vince Mastracco of Norfolk was elected vice chair of the 24-member board.
Clemente, chairman and CEO of Clemente Development Co. Inc., succeeds Chris Lumsden, CEO of Halifax Regional Health System in South Boston. Clemente was appointed to the VEDP board in 2014.
Mastracco, a partner at the law firm Kaufman & Canoles PC, succeeds Clemente as vice chair. Michael Ligon of Richmond also joined the board.
VEDP is an economic development marketing organization created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1995. Board members are appointed by the governor and General Assembly.
VEDP has offices in Virginia, China, Germany, Mexico, Japan, India and the United Kingdom.2016-07-12T20:25:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Southpark_Shopping_Center.jpg
Southpark Shopping Center in Colonial Heights sells for $9.5 million
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/southpark-shopping-center-in-colonial-heights-sells-for-9.5-million#When:19:52:00ZMCB Real Estate, a private commercial real estate firm based in Morris Plains, N.J., has purchased the Southpark Shopping Center in Colonial Heights for $9.5 million.
Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer’s Capital Markets Group represented McCormick Realty Limited Partnership in the sale of the 71,509-square-foot regional center.
Built in 1989 and renovated in 2013, the property is adjacent to Southpark Mall.
According to Thalhimer, the center was 100 percent leased at the time of the sale. Tenants include Ashley Home Furniture, Books-A-Million, Chipotle and Jimmy John’s.
Catharine Spangler and Eric Robison of Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer completed the sale with leasing adviser Connie Jordan Nielsen assisting in the transaction.2016-07-12T19:52:00+00:00
Southern Air Inc. names president
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/southern-air-inc.-names-president#When:21:29:00ZPaul Denham has been named president of Lynchburg-based Southern Air Inc. mechanical/electrical contractor.
Founded in 1946, Southern Air is a mechanical/electrical contractor and service provider with 10 offices and 750 employees.
Denham previously was executive vice president at Southern Air. He has been a member of the company’s board of directors since 1996.
Denham has more than 25 years of experience in the industry. Before joining Southern Air, he was a project engineer for BWXT.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Virginia and a master’s in engineering administration from George Washington University.2016-07-11T21:29:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Will_Powers_12.jpg
Capital Square 1031 names senior vice president of sales
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/capital-square-1031-names-senior-vice-president-of-sales#When:20:08:00ZCapital Square 1031 LLC announced Monday that Will Powers has joined the firm as senior vice president of sales, responsible for the Northeast.
Before joining Richmond-based Capital Square, Powers was a regional vice president with PTX Securities, a managing broker-dealer assisting sponsors in the design and engineering of securities programs.
Prior to that, he was a regional vice president of sales with Preferred Apartment Communities, representing the New England territory.
During his career, Powers has worked with several sponsors of non-traded real estate investment trusts, Delaware-statutory trusts and private-placement programs. He also founded a broker-dealer specializing in 1031 transactions. Powers earned a bachelor’s degree from Emmanuel College.
Capital Square specializes in the creation and management of commercial real estate investment programs for Section 1031 exchange and other investors using the Delaware Statutory Trust structure.
As of June 30, the company reports that it oversaw a national portfolio of 50 real estate assets valued at over $485 million, based on investment cost.2016-07-11T20:08:00+00:00
Norfolk Premium Outlets Mall dooms Peterson Cos. vision for the Dome
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/norfolk-premium-outlets-mall-dooms-peterson-cos.-vision-for-the-dome#When:14:37:00ZThe Norfolk Premium Outlets mall apparently has doomed a developer’s vision for the long awaited Dome project in Virginia Beach.
After missing a deadline on plans to develop the 11-acre Dome site at the Virginia Beach oceanfront, the president of development for the Peterson Cos. said in a statement that its plans for a multi-entertainment venue with retail are now “unrealistic.”
"Our goal from the beginning was to deliver on the community's desire for entertainment options, appeal to prospective entertainment and dining concepts and serve as a catalyst for additional economic development,” said Taylor Chess.
While the Fairfax-based Peterson Cos. said it delivered on that vision with its proposal for VA ViBE!. However, for the $100 million project to be economically viable year-round, Chess said it requires a mix of uses including destination retail and experiential restaurants. Proposed uses included a movie theater, upscale bowling alley, restaurants and shops.
Work onNorfolk Premium Outlets began on July 2, with a groundbreaking ceremonty. The project, on the site of the old Lake Wright Golf Court, will be turned into an 85-store outlet mall.
“The recent announcement that traffic and access issues related to the Norfolk Outlets have been resolved, makes a project the scale of which we proposed for VA ViBE unrealistic. Moving forward with VA ViBE could potentially dilute both projects and would be a disservice to both Virginia Beach and Norfolk. As a result, we are revisiting the scale of the project with our partners and the negotiated term sheet will need to be modified,” said Chess.
Virginia Beach demolished the old Dome shaped building that once stood on the site on Pacific Avenue and 19th street more than 20 years ago. Since then, several developers have proposed projects. The Peterson Cos., which entered into an exclusive agreement with the city in 2014 that prevented Virginia Beach from entertaining other development offers, was the latest. The site is blocks from an 18,000-seat sports and entertainment arena project that recently received financing. It's being done by a private developer on city land.
CBRE|Richmond to lease 384,090-square-foot portfolio near Innsbrook Corporate Center
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/cbrerichmond-to-lease-384090-square-foot-portfolio-near-innsbrook-corporate#When:13:56:00ZCBRE|Richmond has been selected by Dallas-based Westdale Real Estate Investment and Management as the exclusive leasing
agent for its 7-building, 384,090 square-foot-portfolio near the Innsbrook Corporate Center in Henrico County.
The portfolio includes: Eastshore I, II, and III, West Shore I, II, and III and Grove Park located
about a mile from Innsbrook. The buildings are a mixture of Class A and B
buildings in close proximity within the Twin Hickory and Wyndham neighborhoods.
“We are thrilled to partner with Westdale in Richmond,” David Wilkins, senior vice
president with CBRE|Richmond, said in a statement. “The portfolio represents some of the highest quality assets in
the Innsbrook area.”
Wilkins and Megan Sullivan will represent Westdale in marketing and leasing for the
portfolio.2016-07-11T13:56:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Elephant_Auto_Insurance_Parental-Leave-Policy.jpgPhoto courtesy Elephant Auto Insurance.
Elephant Auto Insurance announces major changes to parental leave policy
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/elephant-auto-insurance-announces-major-changes-to-parental-leave-policy#When:20:16:00ZRichmond-based Elephant Auto Insurance has announced significant changes to its parental leave policy, including three months paid maternity leave and two weeks paid paternity leave.
“We know that the demands on new mothers don’t stop after 12 weeks, so we’re also granting an additional week of paid time off in the child’s first year to help with doctor appointments and other needed activities,” Louisa Scadden, head of people services at Elephant, said in a statement. “We’d also like to reward those mothers that do return to work by giving them an extra two weeks of full pay six months after they return from work. We also know that dads or partners need time off too – and so we are giving them two weeks of paid leave as well.”
Elephant currently employs over 500 staff in the Richmond area and continues to grow rapidly. Last year, the company was named to Virginia Business’ Best Places to Work list.
Founded in 2009, Elephant offers auto, home, motorcycle, and life insurance to customers in the United States. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Admiral Group plc, a major insurance company based in the United Kingdom.2016-07-08T20:16:00+00:00
McAuliffe leads trade mission to Israel and the United Kingdom
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/mcauliffe-leads-trade-mission-to-israel-and-the-united-kingdom#When:20:14:00ZGov. Terry McAuliffe is leading a marketing and trade mission that left Friday for Israel and the United Kingdom.
The July 8-13 trip is expected to include an economic development announcement on Tuesday involving Southern Virginia.
The trade mission delegation will spend two days in Israel before leaving for London to attend the Farnborough International Airshow, an event that annually attracts more than 100,000 visitors and more than 1,500 corporate exhibitors from all over the world.
Pittsylvania County and the city of Danville said Thursday that the governor will announce an economic development project on July 12.
McAuliffe also is expected to host an executive roundtable, in partnership with the Aerospace Industries Association, at the airshow.
The governor is being accompanied by Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore and representatives of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Virginia Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services, Virginia Tourism Corp. and Virginia Israel Advisory Board.
More than 50 meetings for the delegation have been scheduled during the trip.2016-07-08T20:14:00+00:00
C.F. Sauer Co. to sell its Duke’s mayonnaise in Colombia
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/c.f.-sauer-co.-to-sell-its-dukes-mayonnaise-in-colombia#When:20:18:00ZThe Richmond-based C.F. Sauer Co. has entered into an agreement to distribute its Duke’s mayonnaise in Colombia.
Sauer manufactures and sells mayonnaise, spices, and extracts in the U.S. and overseas.
Its export agreement is with KB International, a family-owned company that sells grocery products in Colombia, Chile, and Peru.
The Richmond company graduated from the Virginia Economic Development Partnership’s Virginia Leaders in Export Trade (VALET) program in July 2014.
Sauer participated in a 2014 trade mission trip to Colombia sponsored by VEDP and participated in several matchmaking appointments.
The company expects its first shipment of Duke’s mayonnaise into Colombia by the end of 2016 or early 2017.
Sauer said its Colombia agreement will position it for additional growth in Chile and Peru.
The company says its first shipment to Colombia will take place by the end of 2016 or early 2017.2016-07-07T20:18:00+00:00
Basil I. Gooden selected as Virginia’s next Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/basil-i.-gooden-selected-as-virginias-next-secretary-of-agriculture-and-for#When:20:14:00ZGov. Terry McAuliffe announced the appointment Thursday of Basil I. Gooden as Virginia’s next secretary of agriculture and forestry in Virginia.
He will succeed current secretary, Todd Haymore, who will become secretary of commerce and trade in September.
Gooden was appointed by President Obama as state director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development for Virginia in May 2014. Before that position, he served for 12 years as the chief deputy director of the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.
Gooden received his bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech, earned master’s degrees in social work and public health and his doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.2016-07-07T20:14:00+00:00
Focused Ultrasound Foundation names director of operations
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/focused-ultrasound-foundation-names-director-of-operations#When:20:06:00ZDr. Emily White has joined Charlottesville-based Focused Ultrasound Foundation as director of operations.
Before joining the foundation, White was a private consultant working in operations and business development support. Her clients have ranged from a 4,000-plus employee, publically traded, health-care company to a startup with two employees.
Her background includes training in general surgery, leadership positions in several startup companies with federal clients, nonprofit executive management and more than 25 years of grant writing experience.
She completed her undergraduate degree at Smith College, holds certification for community conflict resolution from Loyola Law School and is a University of Virginia School of Medicine graduate.2016-07-07T20:06:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Allstate_Bldg_13_reduced1.jpg
Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer will manage and lease former Allstate Building
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/cushman-wakefield-thalhimer-will-manage-and-lease-former-allstate-building#When:19:41:00ZCushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer will provide exclusive leasing and property management services for the former Allstate Building located at 1819 Electric Road in Roanoke. The two-story office building is comprised of 165,808 square feet and is available for lease.
Serving as portfolio manager is Jenny Perkins, while Thalhimer’s Price Gutshall and Barry Ward are the leasing representatives.
Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer, based in Richmond, manages over 20 million square feet of commercial real estate properties in Virginia and South Carolina, as well more than 6,100 multifamily units.2016-07-07T19:41:00+00:00
JLL recognizes Hampton Roads in national report
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/jll-recognizes-hampton-roads-in-national-report#When:19:06:00ZThe Class A office towers in the downtown Norfolk and Virginia Beach Central Business Districts have caught the eye of a national commercial real estate company.
In JLL’s 2016 Skyline report, which focuses on the top end of the office leasing market in 52 major cities nationwide, eight buildings in Hampton Roads get a mention for the first time. They include 150 West Main Street, the World Trade Center, Dominion Enterprise building, Wells Fargo Center, Norfolk Southern Tower, and Dominion Tower in Norfolk and the Armada Hoffler Tower and 4525 Main Street in Virginia Beach.
The report notes that Hampton Roads is improving with a steady stream of absorption. Direct vacancy is down to 10.3 percent in 2016 as compared with 12.1 percent in 2015.
In terms of vacancy, Hampton Roads outperformed other markets around Virginia, including Northern Virginia where vacancy stood at 21.6 percent at the end of the second quarter, primarily because of the completion of a large new office tower at Tysons corner.
Trophy assets in Hampton Roads have been built or significantly renovated since1988 and offer strong locations and higher-quality finishes compared with other buildings in the area. Major attractions for these buildinss include the ability for tenants to walk to restaurants, shops, hotels and entertainment venues and, in downtown Norfolk, access to The Tide, Hampton Roads' light rail system.
“Our office recovery started in the suburbs, but is now filtering up to our urban core where you are seeing companies such as ADP relocate 1,800 people to downtown Norfolk, reenergizing the downtown economy,” Deborah Stearns, a senior vice president for JLL in Norfolk, said in a statement.
While the region's two central business districts are increasingly popular with millennials as the conversion of many older office buildings to multifamily housing continues in downtown Norfolk and development of new multifamily options continue at Virginia Beach Town Center, most office absorption during the recovery has been in value-priced, low-A to high-B suburban space.
“The inclusion of Hampton Roads in JLL’s Skyline report is a recognition of the quality and maturity of this market and a major signal to site selection specialists that this market has arrived,” added Stearns. “The number of multifamily units in downtown Norfolk is close to 5,000, with the conversion of old class B and C buildings to apartments. This is creating a sustainable live, work, play environment and offers the kind of quality of life major corporations are seeking for their employees but at a greatly reduced cost.”
According to the report, the Hampton Roads Skyline market is currently tenant-favorable, but it is not expected to last long. “There is no new Skyline-grade inventory planned, and while we are currently in a tenant-favorable market, the general trend of market indicators is leaning to landlords over the next 24 months, “said Gregg Christoffersen, a vice president with JLL.2016-07-07T19:06:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Carriage-at-The-Greenbrier-Front-Entrance.jpg
The Greenbrier will reopen on July 12
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/the-greenbrier-will-reopen-on-july-12#When:18:10:00ZThe Greenbrier resort announced Thursday that it will reopen to guests on Tuesday, July 12, after being forced to close for more than two weeks because of flooding that damaged parts of the historic resort.
“We had some major damage in different parts of the hotel, and it’s taken a lot of work to get The Greenbrier back to the standard that our guests expect,” Jim Justice, the hotel’s owner and CEO, said in a statement. The resort said that it suffered tens of millions of dollars worth of damage, although a final estimate is still being tallied.
As a result of the June 23 torrential rains and flooding, which left 15 people dead in Greenbrier County and 23 across the state, the resort canceled a major event, The Greenbrier Classic, an annual PGA golf tournament that had been scheduled for July 7-10 on its Old White TPC course.
With nearly 2,000 workers during the summer, The Greenbrier’s peak season, the resort is one of the the largest employers in southern West Virginia and also is a major driver for the area’s economy. “For this region and this state to get back on its feet, the people need to be working,” said Justice, the Democratic nominee for governor in West Virginia. “A number of team members at The Greenbrier lost everything, and they can’t rebuild if they don’t have a place to work. “
Since the flooding that swept through the region, The Greenbrier has housed and fed more than 700 flood victims. It plans to continue to help the community rebuild, and Justice is asking guests to do the same.
The 710-room Greenbrier is located in the Allegheny Mountains in White Sulphur Springs. The 11,000-acre resort first opened in 1778. Justice purchased the resort in 2009 for $20 million saving it from bankruptcy. He then invested $350 million in a restoration that included new amenities such as a casino.2016-07-07T18:10:00+00:00
CSC completes acquisition of European technology company
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/csc-completes-acquisition-of-european-technology-company#When:21:19:00ZFalls Church-based IT services company CSC has completed its acquisition of Aspediens, a European technology solutions provider.
Aspediens will join Fruition Partners, a CSC company. CSC said the deal enhances its reach, industry penetration and skill portfolio in the fast-growing enterprise software-as-a-service (SaaS) market.
Based in Switzerland, Aspediens has operations in Germany, France and Spain. The company was founded in 2008.2016-07-06T21:19:00+00:00
American National names executive vice president
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/american-national-names-executive-vice-president#When:20:45:00ZDanville-based American National Bankshares Inc., the parent company of American National Bank and Trust Co., has named Ramsey K. Hamadi executive vice president of the holding company and the bank.
Hamadi has 23 years of financial industry and accounting experience with 14 of those years spent as a chief financial officer of regional community banks.
He most recently was with NewBridge Bank, a community bank based in Greensboro, N.C. His expertise ranges from cost management, business development and accretive acquisitions to acute financial modeling and capital planning.
An alumnus of Maryville University and the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Hamadi served for six years in the U.S. Marine Corps during which time he was named staff sergeant. He is a member of the North Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants and the Financial Managers Society.
American National Bankshares has total assets of approximately $1.6 billion. American National Bank and Trust has 25 banking offices and two loan production offices.2016-07-06T20:45:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Store_Mgr_Todd_Strassner.jpgStore Manager Todd Strassner
Wegmans announces leadership team for Short Pump store
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/wegmans-announces-leadership-team-for-short-pump-store#When:20:31:00ZWegmans Food Markets announced on Wednesday the leadership team that will manage its new Short Pump store, the company’s second in the Richmond market.
The store opens on Aug. 7 at West Broad Marketplace, a shopping center at 12300 W. Broad St. near North Gayton Road in Henrico County.
The Short Pump leadership team includes the store manager, executive chef, pharmacy area manager and three area managers who each supervise several departments.
The team members are: Store Manager Todd Strassner, who began his career at Wegmans as a meat clerk in 1981; Executive Chef James Orr, who will oversee a culinary team of 130; Pharmacy Area Manager Frank Mayosky, who joined Wegmans in 1996 as a pharmacist in Syracuse, N.Y., and later became a pharmacy area manager; Perishable Area Manager D.J. Baroody, who will oversee product quality, sales and employee development for the produce, floral, bakery, seafood, meat, cheese and deli departments; Merchandising Area Manager Kathy Simmons, who has been with the company since 1990, and Service Area Manager David Trott, a Wegmans employee since 1997. He will oversee customer service and local community giving.
The 120,000-square-foot store is expected to employ about 500 people. Hiring and training continue for full-time culinary positions, such as line cooks, as well as part-time positions in departments throughout the store. Those interested in applying can visit http://www.wegmans.com/careers for more information.
Wegmans Food Markets Inc., based in Rochester, N.Y., is a family-owned, 89-store supermarket chain with stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts.2016-07-06T20:31:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/126_Garrett_St_Cover_Photo.JPG
Gleason building in downtown Charlottesville sells for $5 million
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/gleason-building-in-downtown-charlottesville-sells-for-5-million#When:20:28:00ZThe Gleason Building in downtown Charlottesville has sold for $5 million.
According to Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer, which announced the sale, MELCP LLC purchased the 24,000-square-foot, historic office/retail building at 126 Garrett St. from HM Gleason’s Holdings as an investment.
Thalhimer’s John Pritzlaff handled sale negotiations on behalf of the seller.2016-07-06T20:28:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/TamworthFarmAerial.jpgAerial view of Tamworth Farm courtesy Long & Foster Real Estate
Prime site in Loudoun County listed for $25 million
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/prime-site-in-loudoun-county-listed-for-25-million#When:20:22:00ZIn fast-growing Loudoun County vast expanses of open space are becoming increasingly hard to find. That’s why developers are expected to take notice of Tamworth Farm, a 511-acre site that has been listed for sale for $25 million by Long & Foster Real Estate’s Leesburg and Purcellville Gateway offices.
Located off Route 15 near Aldie between Leesburg and Gilberts Corner, the country estate comprises 16 individual parcels.
“Tamworth Farm offers long-term opportunities, whether purchased by a global investor, a local executive or a residential builder,” Linda Culbert of Long & Foster, said in a statement. “The expansive acreage offers unmatched privacy, yet the location’s proximity to Dulles Airport and the many businesses and attractions in Loudoun and Fairfax counties make it appealing to homebuyers throughout the Washington, D.C., metro area.”
Opportunities exist for residential, hospitality and recreational development, she added.
Tamworth Farm gets its name from one of the parcels in the combined development, a 32-acre farm with barns, paddocks, run-in sheds, two guest residences and a manor home. Originally constructed in the 1820s, the main residence was reportedly burned down during the Civil War and was rebuilt with the original stone and a slate tile roof in the 1940s.In addition to the residences and buildings, Tamworth Farm includes a renovated historic farmhouse overlooking a pool. The property’s location falls along The Journey Through Hallowed Ground, a National Heritage Area stretching from Monticello, Va., to Gettysburg, Pa.
Preliminary engineering suggests that up to 70 luxury residences could be constructed on Tamworth Farm, which is adjacent to Creighton Farms, a private residential community with a golf course.2016-07-06T20:22:00+00:00
Spanish company establishing North American headquarters in Virginia Beach
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/spanish-company-establishing-north-american-headquarters-in-virginia-beach#When:17:24:00ZA Spanish metal components manufacturer announced plans Wednesday to establish its North American headquarters in Virginia Beach.
The $17.5 million project is expected to create 85 jobs over three years.
SANJO will supply specialty metal components to Stihl Inc., also based in Virginia Beach, as well as to automotive suppliers throughout North America.
SANJO designs and constructs progressive dies and stamping parts, assembles stamping parts, produces components with fineblanking and heat treatment processes, and performs final machining. (Fineblanking is a hybrid metal-forming process combining the technologies of stamping and cold extrusion.) The company, founded in 1967, currently exports to 27 countries.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe approved a $250,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund for project.
The company also will receive benefits from the Port of Virginia Economic and Infrastructure Development Zone Grant Program and be eligible to receive sales and use tax exemptions on manufacturing equipment.
Funding and services to support the company’s employee training activities will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.
The Virginia Beach Development Authority will take action on a local Economic Development Investment Program grant request in July.
Virginia competed against Kentucky for the project.2016-07-06T17:24:00+00:00
S.L. Nusbaum reports sales transactions totaling $4.3 million
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/s.l.-nusbaum-reports-sales-transactions-totaling-4.3-million#When:20:40:00ZThe commercial real estate firm S.L. Nusbaum Realty Co. has announced two recent sales transactions in Hampton Roads totaling $4.3 million.
Cres-EG Development has purchased 58 acres of land at Edinburgh Parkway and Edwin Drive in Chesapeake for $3 million. The seller was the David Fred Thrasher Revocable Trust.
Christopher Zarpas and Seth Norman of S.L. Nusbaum represented the seller.
Also, EOS Surfaces LLC has purchased a 28,597-square-foot industrial building on nearly two acres at 301 E. 20th Street in Norfolk. Robert S. Rostov, Ellen R. Hundley and Jane R. Rostov sold the building for $1.3 million.
Stephanie Sanker and Bill Overman of S.L. Nusbaum represented the buyer, and Michael Myers, also with the commercial real estate company, represented the seller.2016-07-05T20:40:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/BOA_-_VIEW_2_-_RENDERING.png
Renovation begins on Bank of America Center in Richmond
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/renovation-begins-on-bank-of-america-center-in-richmond#When:20:38:00ZA multimillion-dollar exterior renovation has begun on the Bank of America Center building in downtown Richmond.
The project is being conducted by a joint venture involving Washington, D.C.- based District Bay Realty Advisors and developer Joe Ersek.
District Bay and Ersek purchased the building in February and intend the renovation to be the first of many cosmetic improvements.
The current project represents the first major exterior renovation since the building’s construction in 1973.
The exterior façade is being recoated with a masonry product that is designed to give the building a smooth, granite-like finish that will brighten its appearance.
“This is an important project for both us and Joe,” Michael Wheeler, a managing partner with District Bay, said in a statement. “We plan to continue this momentum with a new courtyard and other improvements that we are excited to announce in the near future.”
The Bank of America Center is District Bay’s second project in Richmond after the purchase of Stony Point Shopping Center under a separate partnership.
“This is a market we continue to find very attractive and I think our improvements will be very well received,” Wheeler said.
District Bay Realty Advisors is an investment, development and management firm with offices in Washington and the San Francisco Bay Area. The firm was launched in 2016 by Verris Capital principals Michael Wheeler & Kelly Cooper.2016-07-05T20:38:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/9aLoriOverholt-89341.jpg
You see numbers. We see opportunities.
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/you-see-numbers.-we-see-opportunities#When:19:47:00ZMany years ago, I was on a Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants committee to help spread the word that CPAs are more than “number crunchers.” We chose the slogan: “You See Numbers. We See Opportunities.”
I think, especially in the CFO role, these words are spot on. The CFO position is a true business partner, providing a valuable strategic role and insight and often, CPAs are uniquely qualified to be that partner.
Throughout my career, whether performing financial audits or maximizing tax deductions, it was always important for me to understand the business inside and out. I needed to get to know the business’s processes, strengths and weaknesses in order to complete the audit or tax return to the best of my ability. That understanding became a natural transition into the CFO role where it is vital to provide financial performance transparency across all departments in an organization.
With the regulatory environment businesses are facing today, it is more important than ever to have a CFO who knows how to gather and analyze large amounts of data. This means strategic decisions can be made and accountability systems can be put in place. In a good economy or a bad one, the CFO role is essential to understanding the company’s cost drivers so that arbitrary cuts are not made that could end up harming in the long run and to managing growth so that investment dollars are used wisely and growing pains can be minimized.
There are opportunities in the numbers, and the CFO, with insight into what drives the numbers, can provide the analysis needed for insightful decisions on allocating resources to value adding projects.
Attend any American Institute of Certified Public Accountants CFO Conference and it is clear to see the wide variety of areas of the company that a CFO touches. Sessions like “The New Era in Healthcare”, “Transforming Technologies”, “Is Your Organization Global Ready?” and “Business Continuity Planning” show that CFOs are involved in all facets of the business. It’s about seeing the opportunities, and in a small business, the CFO is a hands-on advocate for the company, helping to communicate important information, both financial and nonfinancial, to owners, banks, employees, insurance companies and brokers, vendors and customers.
Last year, I had the honor of winning the Virginia CFO Award for small private companies from this magazine. I confess that before my friend, Virginia Beach City Councilwoman Shannon Kane, nominated me for the award, I didn’t know much about it. I had seen the cover of Virginia Business highlighting the winners in the past, but didn’t think too much about the impact of winning such an award.
I went to the awards ceremony at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond with Shannon, Del. Glenn Davis, VSA Resorts Vice President of Sales and Marketing Nadine Paniccia and my mother, Donna, with no expectations. In fact, as we sat at the table, Shannon asked me what I planned to say if I won and I remember saying, “Do you think I would need to make a speech?” I must have said something intelligible, although I don’t quite remember what it was. I did remember to thank Shannon for nominating me and I continue to be thankful.
Since receiving the beautiful trophy, the recognition has been surprising and humbling. I received congratulatory letters from Sen. Mark Warner and Del. Barry Knight. I got personal emails and notes, Facebook posts and tweets, even flowers from business associates and people in the community. Just last week, one of my neighbors yelled out a “congratulations” to me. He just saw the information, a year later, when the magazine announced this year’s nominees. At networking events, I’ve met past winners who make a point of seeking me out to congratulate me. Recently, I was appointed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe to the Common Interest Community Board and the board chair, Pia Trigiani, made a point of highlighting the award in my introduction.
As a past winner, I was asked to be a judge for 2016. I enjoyed reading all the accomplishments of the nominees and thought about how lucky we are in Virginia to have so many different types of businesses and so many talented CFOs.
I see opportunities.
Lori Overholt, CPA is President and CFO of VSA Resorts and President of VSA Association Management in Virginia Beach. She is also a member of the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants.
Related link: http://www.virginiabusiness.com/reports/article/making-people-feel-good-is-executives-primary-goal2016-07-05T19:47:00+00:00
Sera-Brynn expands with an office in Newport News
Sera-Brynn, a Suffolk-based cyber risk management firm, has expanded with the opening of a second office in the Oyster Point area of Newport News.
Sera-Brynn cited rapid growth, a more than 200 percent year-over-year growth rate, as the reason behind adding another office.
“This new office location will help us better directly serve our Peninsula, Richmond and northern Virginia clients,” Heather Engel, the company’s executive vice president, said in a statement.
“We have clients all over the country, and our Peninsula office will also provide an additional geographic `jumping off point’ to support our clients in the Northeast and Midwest.”
Operations in Sera-Brynn’s Peninsula office at 1 Old Oyster Point Road began in late June. The company anticipates another expansion later this year to further enlarge its geographic footprint.
With an international client base, Sera-Brynn helps clients secure their computing environments, pre- and post-breach, and meet applicable mandatory industry and government compliance requirements. Clients include Fortune 1000 companies, health-care and financial institutions, insurance carriers and re-insurers, higher education, municipalities and state governments, and other businesses.2016-06-30T20:35:00+00:00
SCC approves three solar projects in Richmond
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/scc-approves-three-solar-projects-in-richmond#When:20:18:00ZThe State Corporation Commission (SCC) has given the okay for Dominion Virginia Power to construct and operate three solar generation facilities. Combined, the three projects
will contribute 56 megawatts of new renewable energy to the company’s fleet of electric generation.
Over the course of a year, the facilities will produce about 14 megawatts of electricity which equates to an equivalent capacity factor of 25 percent.
According to the SCC, the total cost of the three projects is about $129.5 million, excluding financing costs. Dominion Virginia Power will begin collecting construction costs on September 1, with the addition of a rate rider
to electric bills. For the average residential customer, the new rider will add seven cents to the monthly bill.
Construction of the solar facilities is expected to be completed in December 2016.
The three projects are:
Scott Solar: a 17–megawatt facility on a 165–acre site in Powhatan County
Whitehouse Solar: a 20–megawatt facility on a 250–acre site in Louisa County
Woodland Solar: a 19-megawatt facility on a 200–acre site in Isle of Wight County
In its final orderm the SCC recognized public policy favoring certain solar projects and stated that, “... the proposed costs of the solar projects are reasonable
under the applicable statutes.
Aspen Station Apartments in Richmond sell for $22.9 million
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/aspen-station-apartments-in-richmond-sell-for-22.9-million#When:19:20:00ZA partnership between L5 Investments and BH Equities has acquired Aspen Station Apartments, a 232-unit apartment community in Richmond, for $22.9 million.
Built in 1980, the property is located on 17.1 acres at 1500 Forest Run Drive near E. Parham Road and Interstate 95.
Aspen Station is a garden-style community with a swimming pool, clubhouse and other amenities. Its unit mix includes 98 one-bedroom units, 116 two-bedroom units and 18 three-bedroom units.
The new ownership said it plans on investing more than $2.6 million for an extensive renovation and repositioning of the asset. This will include a complete remodel of the leasing and business center and the fitness center to nearly double its size.
The owners also plan upgrades to flooring, cabinets, counters, lighting, fixtures and appliances. They will add a new sport court, dog park and directional signage.
BH Equities, a division of BH Cos., based out of Des Moines, Iowa, will manage the property through BH Management Services, its property management arm.
“BH has a long lasting relationship with L5 Investments, and we’re very excited to expand that relationship in the Richmond, Va., market where we currently manage six properties and close to 2,000 units,” BH Equities Director of Acquisitions Mike Baker said in a statement.
Aspen Station represents L5 Investments first acquisition in the Richmond.
Laura Cathlina with Berkadia Commercial Mortgage provided the debt for the transaction. Wink Ewing with ARA Newmark represented both the buyer and the seller.2016-06-30T19:20:00+00:00
Telvista Inc. adding 150 jobs in Danville
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/telvista-inc.-adding-150-jobs-in-danville#When:18:45:00ZDallas-based Telvista Inc. is bringing 150 new jobs to Danville, where it has operated a facility since 2005.
"One hundred fifty jobs in Danville is a tremendous boost to our region’s economy and continues to build on the tremendous growth we’ve seen at Telvista since its location in our city,” Danville Mayor Sherman Saunders said in a statement.
Telvista provides bilingual contact center solutions for companies that want to enhance their customer relationships.
“This is the second expansion that Telvista has announced in the past 18 months, and we are thrilled when our existing businesses are successful and participating in the growth we are seeing across Virginia,” Gov. Terry McAuliffe said in a statement.
Interested applicants may apply at http://www.telvista.com.2016-06-30T18:45:00+00:00
Frontier Secure to bring 500 jobs to Wise
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/frontier-secure-to-bring-500-jobs-to-wise#When:20:10:00ZFrontier Secure is planning to open a customer care center in Wise County, creating up to 500 new jobs.
Frontier Secure is a division of Stamford, Conn.-based Frontier Communications Corp., which provides communications services to customers in 29 states. Frontier Secure helps home and small business customers with a variety of digital communications services, including high-tech products, identity protection, computer security and new applications for the “Internet of Things.”
The customer care center will provide customer and technical support for its clients.
Virginia competed against Connecticut, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia for the project.
The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority approved a $5.6 million loan to the Wise County Industrial Development Authority to secure the deal. The Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission approved $2 million for the deal.
The center will be located at 10431 Pinnacle Drive, and the company's first training class will begin August 14 with 50 employees.2016-06-29T20:10:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/HYATTLOBBY.pngLobby at Hyatt Place Richmond Innsbrook courtesy of the hotel
A new hotel to open in Richmond while Hyatt Place Richmond Innsbrook completes renovation
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/a-new-hotel-to-open-in-richmond-while-hyatt-place-richmond-innsbrook-comple#When:18:57:00ZJust in time for the July 4th holiday, a 91-room Fairfield Inn & Suites Richmond/Midlothian will open on Friday, July 1.
Located at 150 North Pinetta Drive in Chesterfield County, the hotel will operate as a Marriott franchise. It is owned by Sina Hospitality of South Chesterfield and is managed by Newport Hospitality Group of Williamsburg.
It’s the newest of the Fairfield Inn & Suites in the area, offering the brand’s new design and décor. The updated exterior has a signature tower and curved covered entrance where guests can be dropped off. In the lobby is a “connect and print” area that offers both standing and seated Internet stations.
The hotel is located about 18 miles from Richmond International Airport, 15 minutes from downtown and is a few minutes drive from Chesterfield Towne Center.
Other amenities include an indoor swimming pool, exercise room, complimentary Wi-Fi, and fax and copy services. The hotel also offers more than 1,600 square feet of space to accommodate functions of up to 80 people.
In Henrico County, the Hyatt Place Richmond Innsbrook has completed a major renovation that began in December 2015.
The project included a renovation of the lobby and front desk, 124 guestrooms, meeting and conference space, public computer room swimming pool and fitness center.
Located at 4100 Cox Road inside the Innsbrook Corporate Center, the hotel includes 1,225 square feet of meeting space.
Additional amenities include complimentary Wi-Fi, an Odds & Ends program for forgotten items that guests can buy, borrow or enjoy for free and a 24-hour fitness center with free ear buds.
The Hyatt Place Richmond Innsbrook is located 22 minutes from Richmond International Airport and is accessible from Interstate 64, Interstate 295 and West Broad Street.
Crestline Hotels & Resorts LLC, one of the nation's largest independent hospitality management companies, manages the property.2016-06-29T18:57:00+00:00
Out & About - July 2016
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/out-about-july-2016#When:10:00:00ZThis month's Out & About features photos from the Virginia Chamber of Commerce , the Virginia Association of Counties and the Virginia Living Museum.
To share photos of your company's special events with Virginia Business, e-mail your high resolution images along with photo ids to .2016-06-29T10:00:00+00:00
First journalism job was a labor of love
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/first-journalism-job-was-a-labor-of-love#When:10:00:00ZI had a lot to learn in my first journalism job, which I started in July 1976.
My employer was The Blackshear Times, a weekly newspaper in rural Southeast Georgia where tobacco was the cash crop. I am a Georgia native but grew up 300 miles away in an industrial city that made cannons during the Civil War. I had summer jobs at a carpet mill and an aluminum plant, but I knew almost nothing about farming.
Less than two weeks after I arrived, a huge local tobacco warehouse, The Big Z, burned to the ground. Even though Blackshear was a small town (about 3,000 people), I didn’t know where the warehouse was. Nonetheless, I got a crash course on tobacco economics that day, and the newspaper put out a special edition.
In 1976, The Blackshear Times had a tight-knit staff of six. Robert Williams, the publisher, editor and owner of the paper, was 26. The oldest person on the payroll probably was under 35.
The paper was regularly the top winner of state journalism awards in its circulation category. That was a big reason I came to Blackshear. The newspaper’s motto is “Liked by Many, Cussed by Some, Read by Them All.”
Despite its feisty reputation, The Times has a heart. One day, an elderly woman driving her husband to the doctor took a wrong turn. The husband was killed in the collision. We took a dramatic photo of the wreck that I wanted to put on page one. Williams said no. This woman has been devastated by what happened, he explained, we are not going to add to her grief.
The Times exposed me to every aspect of newspaper operations, including printing and distribution. On production day, in addition to helping paste up pages, my job included making the trip back and forth to the printer about 30 miles away. The entire press run fit nicely in the back of Williams’ Ford station wagon.
Most of the papers were mailed to subscribers. I delivered the rest to local stores. I often would be greeted by a group of men milling about the cashier’s counter waiting for the paper. They fussed at me if I was running late, but that didn’t bother me. I was thrilled that they were anxious to get their hands on the latest issue.
Blackshear is the seat of Pierce County, which had a population of about 10,000 in 1976. Everyone was on a first-name basis. Sometimes in local government meetings, I struggled to decipher cryptic discussions about longstanding disputes that were never explained. “When that guy came into the room and said, ‘You know why I’m here,’ what exactly was that about?” I asked a clerk after one meeting.
Being a reflection of a local community means that a weekly often publishes things a daily paper wouldn’t. These extras include “locals,” long streams of tidbits about the goings and comings of neighbors. Weeklies also publish photos of nearly every event in the community, from the installation of civic club officers to the big fish someone caught down at the river.
Blackshear had one type of photo I haven’t seen anywhere else: dead rattlesnakes. The prevailing custom was for the paper to take your photo if you killed a big snake. While I was in Blackshear, I took pictures of three men holding dead snakes and another (shot with a telephoto lens) of a fellow with a live snake in a trash can. Williams ran a note in The Times, saying that while the paper was happy to publish photos of any snakes that readers caught, “please be sure they are dead first” before bringing them to the office.
I called Williams the other day to find out how much things have changed in 40 years. The tobacco industry there is very different today. There were more than 250 Pierce County tobacco farmers in 1976. Now there are seven. Their farms are large and produce a lot of
tobacco, but the auctions and warehouses that had been a big part of the local economy have disappeared. Pierce remains an agricultural county, but farmers have moved on to other crops including blueberries, cotton and peanuts.
The decline of the tobacco market, however, has not interfered with the county’s growth. Now with more than 20,000 people, Pierce has become an increasingly affluent bedroom community for Waycross, a regional commercial hub about nine miles from Blackshear. A big factor in this development, Williams says, has been the county’s focus on the quality of its schools, resulting in higher standardized test scores than many surrounding counties.
Williams’ business has changed as well. He now owns five weekly newspapers employing more than 20 people. Earlier this year, he celebrated 45 years as the owner of The Blackshear Times. During that period, he served as president of the Georgia Press Association at age 30 and became president of the National Newspaper Association in 2013-14.
A few weeks ago, the Georgia Press Association presented The Times with 12 journalism awards. Williams says that, after 45 years, he has run out of room to display all the plaques.
“It’s not like the way it used to be, but community newspapers are kind of in a niche that is going to be around for awhile,” he says.
Amen to that.2016-06-29T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/ScienceFound-8959.pngThe National Science Foundation is a catalyst for office development and retail projects in Alexandria. Photo by Mark Rhodes
Diversifying the economy
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/diversifying-the-economy#When:10:00:00ZNorthern Virginia, which once put its faith in the federal government to provide almost unparalleled prosperity, has become a true believer in the power of the private sector.
Curtailed government spending and the unlikelihood that Uncle Sam will ever return to his once open-handed ways made this conversion a necessity, of course, but the push toward a more diversified workforce is paying off.
NoVa’s economy picked up momentum late in 2014 and throughout 2015, says Terry Clower, director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University. This year it is on track to being better still.
The most optimistic statistic for Northern Virginia is the unemployment rate. According to GMU’s analysis center, the rate dropped from just under 4 percent in the first quarter of last year to 3.4 percent in the first quarter of 2016. That bests the most recent unemployment rate of 4.7 percent nationally and 3.9 percent in Virginia overall.
Direct federal employment had next to nothing to do with the improvement. Instead, the addition of about 10,000 jobs in professional and business services during the past year delivered the economic boost, with IT, cybersecurity, and bio health particularly hot sectors.
Alexandria’s bright spots
In Alexandria, the commercial vacancy rate has stayed stubbornly high — 24.2 percent for Class A space, according to Costar, a commercial real estate research firm — but select areas are blossoming.
Stephanie Landrum, director of the city’s Economic Development Partnership, says that the reconfigurement of the waterfront in Old Town is a bright spot. Work has begun on the Indigo Hotel, and developers of the Robinson South Terminal are getting together site plans and permits.
At Eisenhower Avenue, next year’s arrival of the National Science Foundation is acting as a catalyst for office development and retail projects, plans that include a supermarket and a hotel. The area also is in contention to be the new home of the Transportation Security Administration.
And at Potomac Yard, where residential building has been ongoing, the city has been working with the owner of a former industrial park to facilitate the transformation of the 20-acre Oakville Triangle site into 1.5 million square feet of mixed-use development.
Landrum says that while the federal government always will be an anchor for Alexandria, the city is trying to attract more private businesses and nonprofits by making sure that old and new buildings alike are tailored to their rising demand for smaller, boutique spaces. Office tenants now expect the same amenities that residents seek, she says, and millennial workers, in particular, want to be in neighborhoods — preferably “authentic” ones as opposed to office parks.
Arlington’s ‘new way forward’
Like Alexandria, nearby Arlington County was heavily impacted by federal pullbacks, consolidations and relocations, and the effects of those actions will continue to be felt for some time. In the first quarter of 2016, the vacancy rate in Class A office space along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor was 20.7 percent.
Christina Winn, director of business investment for Arlington Economic Development, acknowledges that with more leases set to expire, office vacancies will remain “a bumpy road.” Still, she is optimistic that the pursuit of a “new way forward” will reap benefits. “We are going to be doing more national branding,” she says.
Arlington had a presence at the SXSW technology conference in Austin, Texas, this March, and it also showcased itself as a location for IT businesses at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.
“A lot of tech companies are gaining traction [in the county],” Winn says. The shopping app Basket recently announced that it would move from the District to Clarendon. Silicon Valley’s Shift Technologies is bringing its East Coast operations to the county, and the clean energy company OPower is expanding its local operations.
At GMU’s law school in Arlington, the thinking is not just national — it’s international. The new dean, Henry N. Butler, says the school is developing a master’s degree program in global anti-trust law and has state approval for a similar program in U.S. law aimed at foreign students. Also on the dean’s agenda is seeking permission from the state for a global degree program with classes to be held abroad. No doubt helpful to those expansion plans is the recent announcement of two gifts worth a total of $30 million to the law school. One gift, for $20 million, included the somewhat controversial request that the school be renamed in honor of recently deceased Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
‘No one has tried harder’
Like Alexandria and Arlington, Fairfax County, with its legion of government contractors, hasn’t shaken off the consequences of federal cutbacks. Office vacancy rate for Class A space stands at 18.6 percent in Greater Fairfax, although development near the new Silver line Metro stations in Reston and Tysons has been brisk. Two of NoVa’s biggest projects, the Capital One Campus and the Corporate Office Centre, for example, are under construction at the latter location.
Still, Fairfax has learned a hard lesson, and, of all of the Northern Virginia jurisdictions, it is perhaps the most proactive in trying to diversify.
“No one has to try harder, and we are not waiting until there are dramatic problems to act,” says Gerald L. Gordon, president and CEO of the Fairfax Economic Development Authority.
He cites Fairfax’s facilitation of the arrival of the Inova Center for Personalized Health (ICPH) at the former ExxonMobil campus near Inova Fairfax Hospital as a prime example of the county’s can-change spirit.
Inova took possession of the 117-acre campus in December, and it is working on reconfiguring the 1.2 million square feet of space in the five buildings that already are there. A clinic will open next year, and the Schar Cancer Institute will open in 2018. Also planned at the site are the Inova Translational Medicine Institute, a bioinformatics research center, a biotech innovation incubator, and a wellness and education center.
“It will be a whole ecosystem based around personalized medicine,” says the center’s CEO Todd Stottlemyer. “We want it to be a destination location for the smartest people.”
Research at ICPM will be conducted with the intent to commercialize discoveries, and job recruitment for the center has begun. Stottlemyer expects that 3,000 people eventually will work there.
Mach37 is another example of the new future envisioned by Fairfax. The cybersecurity accelerator, which takes its name from the velocity that rockets must attain to escape Earth’s atmosphere, is located at the Center for Innovative Technology in Herndon. It uses state and private funding to provide seed money, advice and even physical space to fledgling entrepreneurs. Just three years after its founding, managing partner Rick Gordon says Mach37 has helped 35 startups raise capital, find talent and develop business skills.
“The deal is that they have to have a significant presence in Virginia within two years,” he says.
Prince William County is pursuing a similar strategy of encouraging startups. Jeff Kaczmarek, executive director of the county’s Department of Economic Development, says that at Innovation Park, adjacent to George Mason University’s science and technology campus in Manassas, seven of nine wet labs are active at a new science accelerator. The county is considering building similar facilities.
The Virginia Serious Game Institute on the GMU campus also works with entrepreneurs to develop IT products with applications in areas such as health care and defense. Its establishment was a joint effort of the university, the county and the state. Additionally this year, the county opened its Regional Center for Workforce Education and Training in Woodbridge to promote the training of technicians in the fields of IT management, health care and cybersecurity.
Prince William is less dependent on the federal government than jurisdictions closer to the capital, and, perhaps, as a result, the Class A vacancy rate in Manassas and along the Route 29 and I-66 corridor was 7 percent in the first quarter. Just the same, Kaczmarek says, “We continue to pivot away from the feds.”
Data centers are “big capital generators” for his county, he says, and Prince William is pursuing more small and midsize companies, too. The insurer BerkleyNet will open a 70,000-square-foot facility at Innovation Park next year, and Virginia Railway Express plans three new stations in Prince William that should spur development.
“We want to get above the noise of D.C.,” Kaczmarek says.
Data center hub
In adjacent Loudoun County, the story is much the same. It has the largest concentration of data centers in the country — more than 60 — with more on the way. These data centers generated $104 million in tax revenue in fiscal 2015, says Buddy Rizer, director of the county’s Department of Economic Development. He expects that number to swell to $120 million this fiscal year.
Like Prince William, Loudoun’s well-being is less dependent on the federal government, and, along the Leesburg/Route 7 corridor, its Class A vacancy rate of 12.3 percent in the first quarter reflected that. Still, Rizer says, economic development in Loudoun “is all about diversity.”
That means more aviation and logistics centers near Washington Dulles International Airport, more farm breweries in western Loudoun and more light industrial facilities along the Route 50 corridor. Loudoun is pursuing international business as well, and, in May, Rizer traveled to Germany where the county had a booth at a tech show.
The arrival of Metro’s Silver line in the eastern part of the county in 2020 provides another opportunity to diversify by building more housing attractive to younger segments of the workforce. “We want to have an 18-hour economy rather than an eight-hour one,” Rizer says.
Traffic, housing issues
Unfortunately, like all the other NoVa jurisdictions, Rizer’s county has yet to resolve two problems that affect its future prospects. First, infrastructure improvements such as the widening of the Beltway and the opening of Phase 1 of the Silver line have hardly dented the region’s terrible traffic: The only part of the country with worse congestion is Los Angeles.
Second, the housing market throughout Northern Virginia remains spotty. The Northern Virginia Association of Realtors reports that sales were up 9 percent in April over March, however, only properties closer to Washington or with access to mass transit are selling well; those without those assets, are not. And even with prices suppressed in some markets, housing overall remains expensive. George Mason’s Clower says that companies contemplating locations in Northern Virginia can be put off by the prospect of their employees being unable to afford to live near where they work.
Nevertheless, these negatives aside, the region is in a far better place than it was just a few years ago.
“I’m not running down the street singing happy, happy, joy, joy — not yet,” Clower says, “but Northern Virginia is performing very well, with no particular winners or losers.”
He believes, however, that NoVa could be doing even better if, amid its rush to diversify, it thought more about the potential benefits of unity as well. Rather than poaching business from one another, Clower would like to see its jurisdictions present a “united economic story.”
“We are a world capital,” he says. “Why couldn’t we become a global business capital, too?”2016-06-29T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Laroussi-8900.pngA plasma pencil developed by Mounir Laroussi is used to kill bacteria and sterilize surfaces. Photo by Mark Rhodes
Local focus, global standing
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/local-focus-global-standing#When:10:00:00ZLocated within minutes of the world’s largest naval base, the Atlantic coast, the Port of Virginia and the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, Old Dominion University parlays its setting into a variety of research activities.
Research that brings acclaim and additional funding to the Norfolk-based university, while transcending the boundaries of Hampton Roads, reflects the mantra of the university’s Office of Research. It urges the more than 700 ODU researchers to “Innovate Locally, Transform Globally.”
“We take advantage of our proximity to physical things like the Jefferson Lab or our location near the coast,” says Morris Foster, ODU’s vice president of research. He points to the university’s studies on port and logistics and coastal resilience, as well as its two-decade collaboration with the Jefferson Lab, a relationship that has attracted Old Dominion faculty involved in accelerator physics. “We’re looking for unique things that allow the university to focus on a particular area and make it ODU’s niche.”
Research has long played a prominent role at Old Dominion, which gained university status in 1969. The stakes were raised when John R. Broderick became president in 2008. Broderick set a goal of transforming the university into a research-intensive incubator known worldwide for “innovative discoveries, insightful scholarship and inspiring action over a range of disciplines.”
Today, ODU researchers generate $88 million in annual funding through more than 400 projects at the university’s 26 research centers. Foster believes Broderick’s goal is close to being met. “In some areas, we’re already there,” he says, noting research in modeling and simulation, physics, bioelectrical engineering and oceanography.
Faculty members initiate much of ODU’s research by bringing their projects — and funding dollars — to the university. “We hire them because they have very good scholarship and are very good faculty who create their own research paths,” Foster says. In addition to time in the laboratory or in the field, all faculty researchers maintain course loads in their departments.
Their research assistants include master’s and doctoral candidates as well as a growing number of undergraduates. “It enriches their education and has a halo effect on their degrees,” Foster says of the undergraduates. “Research gives them the real-world experience many companies are looking for.”
As founding director of ODU’s Naval Engineering and Marine Systems Institute (NEMSI), Jennifer Michaeli conducts pioneering research while whetting engineering students’ appetites for careers in marine engineering, currently offered as a minor in ODU’s Batten College of Engineering and Technology. “There’s a strong demand for marine engineering,” she says, noting that only 15 universities in the U.S. produce graduates in the field. “That’s only a fraction of what’s demanded for the engineering profession.”
Michaeli’s research focuses on shipboard power systems. She was one of 225 university researchers in the U.S. and the only one from ODU to receive $67.8 million in research instrumentation awards from the U.S. Department of Defense, which supports the purchase of equipment for defense-related research. Using a grant from the Office of Naval Research, Michaeli and her colleagues, Paul Moses, assistant professor of engineering technology, and Gene Hou, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, study shipboard power systems as they develop a real-time, power-hardware-in-the-loop simulator for naval power systems.
The shipboard environment is replicated in ODU’s marine dynamics and marine electrical power systems labs. “That allows us to be in a safe environment to simulate the entire electrical system on a ship to do cutting-edge research for the Navy and teach students,” Michaeli says, adding that in the future, ships will have more sophisticated electrical demands. “We can bring in physical hardware, including pump generators and electronic weapons such as lasers. We have to be the best we can be to produce students that are well qualified, because we really need the next generation of engineers to be very competent in their ability to work with electrical systems.”
Late last year, the university signed a memorandum of understanding with Newport News Shipbuilding to collaborate on research, design, testing and experimentation. “Through this partnership, we can bring our faculty and research capabilities to them, and it allows our faculty to better understand the needs of the shipyard,” Michaeli says.
Marine engineering and shipbuilding are natural fits for Michaeli. Her great-grandfather came to Hampton Roads from England to build ships at Newport News Shipbuilding, while her grandfather rose through the ranks at the shipyard to become vice president of operations. Her father, uncles and cousins also worked at Newport News Shipbuilding. “It’s in my blood,” she says. Michaeli received her doctorate in mechanical engineering from ODU in 2010 and returned to the university two years later as a faculty member. “I saw a great faculty here who are doing innovative research.”
Plasma’s effects on cancer
Resembling a miniature version of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Star Wars light saber, a plasma pencil developed by Mounir Laroussi is used to kill bacteria and sterilize surfaces and could one day become the go-to treatment to kill cancer cells. In 2005, Laroussi, director of ODU’s Plasma Engineering and Medicine Institute and professor of electrical and computer engineering, designed the hand-held device that emits a stream of cool plasma. An ODU faculty member since 1999, Laroussi specializes in plasma that can be created at room temperature and used for medicinal purposes, including dental and wound treatment.
Known as one of the four states of matter along with solids, liquids and gases, plasma is produced when gas is heated or subjected to a strong electromagnetic field. “Plasma is usually generated inside an enclosed chamber,” Laroussi explains. “We wanted to get it in the air, and this [pencil] design allowed for that. We can shoot a beam of plasma that’s safe to the touch and apply it on tissues, wounds and use it to sterilize surfaces.”
Laroussi began investigating plasma’s effects on cancer cells in 2010. It’s a brand-new field, with most researchers building scientific knowledge, while a group in Germany has begun doing clinical trials on head and neck cancer patients. “We’re trying to understand what plasma does to cancer cells so we can optimize the process and make it more efficient,” he says. “We’re getting very, very encouraging results where plasma kills cancer cells without hurting healthy cells.” Laroussi and his research team found that more than 90 percent of leukemia cells were wiped out when they came in contact with plasma. “It’s still in the scientific development stage, but hopefully in the future, plasma will be one of the therapies people use for cancer.”
With the local sea level rising nearly two inches each decade, ODU researchers are looking at how Hampton Roads can adapt to increased flooding, as well as the impact of climate change on public health and disaster preparedness. Joshua Behr, research associate professor at ODU’s Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center, is studying the socioeconomic impacts of sea-level rise and how vulnerable populations can prepare for and respond to severe storms.
“If we can understand the hurdles people have, we will be able to design interventions for some of the most vulnerable populations,” says Behr, a political scientist. “People think recurrent flooding is a nuisance, but the accumulated impacts are huge. Everyone feels the impact of recurrent flooding in Hampton Roads, but low- to moderate-income levels feel the brunt of it. The economic burden falls more heavily upon them in terms of missed work, missed school, missed doctors’ appointments, and vehicle and home damage.”
Earlier this year, Behr’s work helped Virginia and three Hampton Roads localities win a $120.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help combat the effects of recurrent flooding in the region. ODU coordinated the proposal, which was submitted to HUD by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development on behalf of Norfolk, Chesapeake and Newport News.
Behr is developing models for HUD that project storm recovery using Portsmouth and Norfolk as prototypes. “We want to generate tools that provide decisive support for planners and help them make better policy decisions by generating a bigger picture view of things,” he says. “That gives planners a better perspective of how policy choices ripple.”
Behr’s background is in voting rights litigation, but for the past dozen years, he has used spatial mapping to measure disparities in health conditions and access among cities and neighborhoods in Hampton Roads. “It was eye opening,” he says. “I couldn’t believe there were such disparities and chasms between populations.”
Finding ways to combat sea-level rise and recurrent flooding while redefining land uses will make Hampton Roads more resilient and livable, Behr says. Characterizing the region as a “system of systems” including transportation, communications and water infrastructures, as well as social, economic and health systems, he builds models of those systems, testing where localities can get the most bang for their bucks.
“Municipalities should invest in their systems before disaster strikes,” he adds. “If you put $1 million in this system versus somewhere else, what gives you the biggest return as far as pain, suffering, longevity. That information helps guide planners and decision makers in prioritizing certain policies.”
During the past decade, Hampton Roads cities and counties have begun seeing themselves as part of a broader regional system, Behr says. Ultimately, the region could export lessons learned to other areas dealing with similar climate issues. “It’s been gradual, but we’re headed in the right direction. We’re ahead of the curve, and we’re in the right place in Hampton Roads to be leading the pack.”2016-06-29T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/IMG_3181.pngThrough outreach programs Vanessa Dyce learned engineering “is very expansive, and you can do a lot with it.”
The STEM effect
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/the-stem-effect#When:10:00:00ZAfter Vanessa Dyce graduated in May with a degree in computer science from the University of Virginia’s School of Engineering & Applied Science, she started a job as a software engineer for Microsoft in Seattle.
As a child, Dyce was good at math and science but says she didn’t really have a clear idea of what engineering was all about until she attended the Introduction to Engineering summer camp, an outreach program of U.Va.’s Center for Diversity in Engineering aimed at reaching minority high school students like Dyce, who is African-American.
Dyce later attended the center’s BRIDGE summer camp, which eases the transition from high school for incoming U.Va. freshman engineering students. In both programs, Dyce, a Loudoun County native, got a taste of what college work is like, as well as engaging in hands-on projects ranging from chemistry labs and computer coding to flight simulations and 3-D printing.
“I came out of that [first] camp realizing that engineering isn’t just one word that means one thing. … It’s very expansive, and you can do a lot with it,” says Dyce.
With a growing national emphasis on interesting high school students in pursuing STEM careers, enrollment in university engineering schools has been on the rise during the past several years.
“We can’t train them fast enough,” says Barbara D. Boyan, dean of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Engineering, whose undergraduate enrollment has grown 24 percent in the past four years. “There are way more jobs than there are students that we are graduating. … All of the engineering schools are ramping up for this. It’s been an amazing explosion; we all feel the excitement of it but we also feel the pressure of it.”
Engineering schools would like to have more students like Dyce. Despite the explosion in enrollment at engineering schools, recruitment of African-American and female students remains a challenge in Virginia and across the country. Nonetheless, several Virginia schools have fared well in national rankings examining engineering education diversity.
Like the outreach programs Dyce participated in, there are dozens of initiatives to interest Virginia elementary, middle and high school students in engineering.
In May U.Va.’s School of Engineering & Applied Science conducted its first internal survey of such initiatives and found that the school has more than 40 K-12 outreach programs, ranging from individual faculty efforts to national programs such as the FIRST Robotics Competition.
“I don’t think anyone at U.Va. Engineering knew that we had as many programs as we actually have until we did the assessment,” says John Fitzgerald Gates, the school’s associate dean and chief officer for diversity and inclusion. “Our impact is just over 2,000 students a year. We have 2,662 students in our undergrad programs in engineering. … We’re reaching almost as many students in outreach [annually] as we educate here on the Grounds.”
What U.Va. can’t say, though, is how many of those students go on to pursue STEM or engineering degrees at University of Virginia or any other college because that data isn’t being tracked. And the story’s the same at Virginia Tech and VCU.
Nevertheless, Gates and others say that engagement efforts are clearly working, pointing to rising enrollment numbers. “Although we don’t have hard data on it, the anecdotal data is that … the [K-12] students’ exposure to engineering is increasing their interest in all STEM fields,” Gates says. “So, whether they wind up thinking about engineering or not, they are deeply interested in STEM vocations and that really meets a need for the nation.”
Nationally, the number of undergraduates earning bachelor’s degrees in engineering increased by 26 percent between 2005 and 2014, according to the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). Between 2006 and 2016, enrollment in U.Va.’s School of Engineering increased by more than 30 percent, from 2,036 students to 2,662 students.
While overall enrollment in university engineering programs is growing, the percentage of female and African-American students is showing little change nationwide. Female students accounted for 19.9 percent of graduating engineering undergrads nationally in 2014, up from 17.8 percent in 2009. Just 3.5 percent of U.S. engineering students earning bachelor’s degrees in 2014 were African-American, down from 4.3 percent in 2013. ASEE says it is “committed to increasing the participation, inclusion and empowerment of historically under-represented segments of society” in all aspects of engineering.
Of the 7,802 undergraduate engineering students enrolled at Virginia Tech in fall 2015, 1,669 students (or 21.4 percent) were women and 224 (or 2.9 percent) were African-American. At U.Va.’s School of Engineering, women make up about 32 percent of undergraduates and African-American enrollment is about 3 percent. At VCU’s School of Engineering, the school’s 492 female undergrads represent 28.7 percent of the school’s 1,714 undergrads and the 188 African-Americans account for 11 percent of the school’s enrollment.
In tracking diversity, ASEE ranks Virginia Tech No. 11 among schools awarding bachelor’s degrees to women in the 2014-15 academic year with 278. Virginia was 19th with 205 degrees.
VCU ranked 13th nationally in terms of percentage of master’s degrees awarded to women (32.1 percent).
George Mason University meanwhile, ranked 18th among schools awarding bachelor’s degrees to Asian-Americans, with 171.
Ladies in the Lab
One effort to increase female engineering enrollment is U.Va.’s Ladies in the Lab, a one-day annual event started last year by U.Va. engineering students Trisha Hajela and Grace Wusk, who both graduated this May. Through Ladies in the Lab, female undergrad engineering students volunteer to give high school girls demonstrations in everything from 3-D printing to DNA extraction and project management fundamentals.
“I think engineering is seen as a boys’ club … that it may not be cool to do engineering if you’re a girl … and I think that’s a huge issue,” says Hajela, adding that K-12 schools and teachers need to do more to encourage girls to pursue STEM studies and combat social stigmas by increasing awareness of female role models in engineering and other STEM fields.
Dyce agrees and says that schools should also consider hiring more female and minority science teachers. “My math and science teachers were primarily male. A lot of the engineers I knew of were primarily male. I guess as far as looking for role models, that was definitely lacking,” she says. “Even in our classes … you might be the only girl. … In a class you might be five out of 50. It’s very common.”
As for increasing African-American enrollment, universities are “having a hard time recruiting students,” says Bevlee Watford, associate dean for academic affairs at Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering. Some of that difficulty may be due to the rapidly changing demographics of the United States, she says. The number of students who self-identify as multicultural or belonging to two or more racial identities is growing. And college marketing strategies may not be changing fast enough to keep up, she says.
“While there might be things that appeal to a black student or help you recruit an African-American or Hispanic student, those same things might not help you recruit a multicultural student,” Watford says.
Gates, who oversees diversity and inclusion programs at U.Va.’s School of Engineering, believes part of the answer for improving the enrollment numbers of underrepresented students could be found in adding more merit-based scholarships.
Another issue is early outreach. Last year, the Virginia Tech College of Engineering hired Kim Lester as its coordinator of pre-college programs. Lester has instituted a pilot program in Montgomery County Public Schools using volunteer Tech engineering undergrad students to conduct lessons with fifth-graders at Auburn Elementary School in an effort to interest them in STEM studies.
“Ideally what we’re looking for is a pipeline from the youngest to the oldest,” Lester says. “It’s getting to the point now that [academic] decisions students make in middle school are going to affect their possibilities later on. If they don’t have the math prerequisites, it may narrow their possibilities they have later on in terms of colleges.”
Dyce, the recent U.Va. grad, also thinks colleges need to do a better job of reaching out to younger students — and casting a wider net. “By high school … students have already decided if they’re turned off by math and science,” she says, and the outreach programs that do exist tend to focus on either high-performing students or those naturally inclined to like STEM courses. “If we were able to catch them earlier, they would perhaps give math and science a better eye.”
Like almost every other state, Virginia has no high school curriculum for engineering. And advanced placement engineering tests for high school tests are still being piloted on the national level.
One possible model for increasing engineering studies in Virginia public schools is Project Lead the Way, a nonprofit founded in 1997 that offers curriculums in engineering, computer science and biomedical engineering to more than 8,000 schools in all 50 states. Many universities, such as the University of Maryland, offer preferential admission policies for students who complete Project Lead the Way programs. However, it’s a fairly new concept in Virginia, clustered mainly in Northern Virginia, and no Virginia university offers preferential admission for its participants yet.
Another testbed for engineering education in public schools is U.Va’s Laboratory School for Advanced Manufacturing Technologies. A joint K-12 education initiative involving U.Va.’s School of Engineering and Curry School of Education with local school systems, it offers students at some middle schools and high schools in Charlottesville and Albemarle County a contextual process for learning about engineering.
“Some of these new technologies like 3-D printers give kids the opportunity to be more engaged. … Almost everything has a micro-controller in it now. You can make things that do things in the world,” says Glen L. Bull, a U.Va. education professor. “In many cases, if you do it the right way, this is more interesting than sitting in your chair with your hands neatly folded, listening to a lecture.”
The first students to enter the program will graduate from high school in two years, and U.Va. has guaranteed them third-year enrollment in U.Va.’s School of Engineering if they maintain a minimum 3.2 GPA in a dual-enrollment associate degree program.
“Nationally, the workforce and even colleges don’t look like a snapshot of America” in terms of demographics, Bull notes. That’s why it’s crucial to give all children encouragement and exposure to STEM disciplines, he says, not just the high performers.
U.Va’s Laboratory School for Advanced Manufacturing “is not a magnet school. It’s not a charter school. It’s just an ordinary school and every kid gets a shot at this. Some will be interested and some, will not, but we’re trying to level the playing field,” Bull says. “You have to start when all of the kids can have a shot at finding out if this is interesting to them.”2016-06-29T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Sunrnr-9093.pngThe three-person team behind SUNRNR of Virginia Inc., Alan Mattichak, Jenny French and Scott French. Photo by Mark Rhodes
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/exporting-push#When:10:00:00ZIn 2008, the founders of SUNRNR of Virginia Inc. began a business in the Shenandoah Valley selling portable, solar-powered generators.
The three executives believed Americans’ growing appetite for clean energy would fuel demand for the generators, which can be used as backup power or as off-grid energy sources.
What the founders didn’t foresee at first was the product’s potential market abroad — particularly on islands or in rural areas where power sources can be unpredictable.
“It’s not that Africa is necessarily looking for green products, but they just need power,” says Jenny French, president of SUNRNR, who leads the business with her husband, Scott, and Alan Mattichak, the inventor of the generators.
Today, the Shenandoah-based company sells generators in countries such as Angola, Ghana, Morocco and Japan. In the Republic of Palau, an island nation in the western Pacific Ocean, the generators are used to power circulation pumps for a fish hatchery. Last year, the company’s generators arrived in the Bahamas just days before Hurricane Joaquin struck. One generator was sent to power a health clinic in a region that had been without power for seven days.
French has used a range of local, state and federal export-assistance programs to build overseas sales for SUNRNR. She has even served on an exporters roundtable at the White House.
All along the way, she’s received help from the International Trade division of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP), including a recent grant she used for a trade mission to the Canary Islands and the translation of company documents into Spanish.
Business leaders and government officials believe thousands of Virginia companies also could find potential markets abroad — a move which could be particularly helpful to the state economy in the face of federal budget cuts.
“We cannot make ourselves as vulnerable as we were four or five years ago when we lost about $9.8 billion in direct spending from the Department of Defense,” Gov. Terry McAuliffe said during a May speech to the Virginia International Business Council in Richmond. “We’ve got to become less reliant [on federal spending], and we can only do that through international trade.”
And so the commonwealth is putting an emphasis on developing exports with new programs, additional funding and the creation of an entity dedicated to international trade — the Virginia International Trade Corp. (VITC).
A new focus on trade
For years, Virginia’s business community has sought ways to increase exporting opportunities. “We have been looking at international trade as an important feature of transitioning into a new Virginia economy,” says Barry DuVal, president and CEO of the Richmond-based Virginia Chamber of Commerce. “We recognize that 95 percent of the world’s population lives outside the U.S., and providing more tools for businesses to export their products and services will provide more opportunities in the world market.”
VEDP’s International Trade division now houses Virginia’s export-assistance programs, which have received rave reviews from many companies. “I haven’t run into another government organization that acts more like a consulting firm than VEDP,” says Joe Fluet, CEO of Momentum Aerospace Group, a firm that provides aerial surveillance to the U.S. government. The company recently expanded internationally, exporting to the United Arab Emirates, the Philippines, Canada, NATO and the United Nations.
The Woodbridge-based company graduated earlier this year from VEDP’s Virginia Leaders in Export Trade (VALET), a two-year program designed to increase participants’ international sales. “We were treated like clients. They were responsive and tried to go above and beyond and cared a lot about whether I was happy or satisfied with their services,” says Fluet.
The effectiveness of state export programs encouraged some of Virginia’s largest business associations to lobby this year for the creation of a separate group dedicated to developing trade.
VITC, they believe, will provide additional exposure to the state programs, encouraging more companies to explore foreign markets and allowing easier integration with local and federal trade programs. “When we looked out into the future, we thought that the most important economic development resource that would help the largest number of small and medium-sized manufacturers that the state would play a role in was trade,” says Brett Vassey, president and CEO of the Virginia Manufacturers Association. “We thought the best way was to develop a trade corporation around a very practiced and proven model [with] a laser focus on trade.”
The VITC, approved by the General Assembly this year, is scheduled to officially become a separate entity next April. Until then, business groups are helping Maurice Jones, Virginia’s secretary of commerce and trade, develop a business plan. The agency will be governed by a 17-member board of directors, including five cabinet secretaries and 12 citizens appointed by the governor.
After Senate Finance and House Appropriation committees review and approve the business plan, the governor and board will appoint VITC ‘s CEO by Dec. 1.
Investments in trade
The General Assembly also is giving the state’s trade programs a financial boost, which is especially important as some federal grants expire.
The state budget includes $1.5 million each year to continue Virginia’s Going Global Defense Initiative. That program, originally supported by a federal grant, is designed to help defense contractors hampered by lower federal spending find new markets abroad.
The state money will allow the popular program to continue, says Paul Grossman, VEDP’s vice president of international trade. Typically, funding is “sold out” within 60 to 90 days after the start of each fiscal year.
Another $400,000 from the state will double to $30,000 the money each company in the state’s VALET program can use to help with exporting expenses. The increase reflects the growing cost of doing business, says Grossman, and the desire of many companies to market their products in more than one country.
The budget also provides $250,000 a year to help companies market their products at international trade shows.
Another $1 million each year will support the Virginia International Trade Alliance (VITAL), which began in July 2015. The program encourages trade associations to promote Virginia’s export programs to their members. The partnership already is bringing in more clients to the VEDP, including some small craft breweries looking at export opportunities.
VITAL also includes Virginia’s public universities, which work with companies to develop international market research. In just a year, about 30 companies have been paired with colleges’ research teams.
That collaboration provides an ancillary benefit, says Grossman. “Now you have kids who are coming through college who have developed the skillsets so they are prepared to work for a company doing business internationally.”
Investment in the Port of Virginia also is expected to be a major boon to international trade efforts. The General Assembly this year approved a $350 million bond issue to increase the capacity of Norfolk International Terminals, the port’s largest marine terminal.
David White, vice president of the Virginia Maritime Association, says this commitment, combined with the creation of a dedicated state marketing arm for exports, will reverberate in overseas markets. “Elevating the stature of trade activities in the commonwealth, I think, sends a message to the global marketplace that Virginia is trade friendly,” White says. “Anything we can do to move more cargo through those facilities only hastens the return on investment coming through the port.”
In addition to state programs, local export-assistance programs are being promoted by cities such as Norfolk and regional development groups such as the Virginia Coalfields Economic Development Authority and the Greater Richmond Partnership. “All of this is converging at the same time, and it’s not by accident,” says Vassey. “It’s really a group of us that have been working in earnest to develop a multi-tier export development network.”
Virginia also is making a major export push for agricultural and forestry products. Today, 30 to 35 percent of Virginia’s farm income results from exports.
Virginia began marketing its agricultural products aggressively under former Gov. Bob McDonnell, says Todd Haymore, Virginia secretary of agriculture and forestry, who has served two governors in that post. Since 2010, Virginia has moved up from fifth to second among the East Coast’s largest agricultural exporting states.
Haymore says McAuliffe wants Virginia to overtake Georgia to become No. 1 on that list. “[This year] the governor was as aggressive as we’ve ever been in providing even more resources and manpower to provide export enhancement,” says Haymore.
To that end, this year’s budget includes $850,000 in new funds to develop agricultural exports, including two additional export representatives in Richmond and two new trade representatives in North Africa and Southeast Asia. New money also is available for “reverse trade” missions, bringing potential customers to Virginia.
While new initiatives remain under the agriculture department’s purview, Haymore will be required in November 2017 to explain how and whether VITC will integrate any of its exporting services.
The case for trade
In the current presidential campaign, trade is getting much different play. Presumptive nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both have denounced the current Trans-Pacific
Partnership (TPP) as a potential job killer for the U.S. TPP is a trade agreement supported by President Obama involving 12 Pacific Rim nations. Congress still must ratify the deal.
Virginia’s business leaders support the TPP. “[TPP] includes the elimination of 18,000 taxes on exports,” says DuVal with the Virginia Chamber. “It will level the playing field for American companies to compete in the markets, and it supports good-paying jobs in America and Virginia.”
To boost its state and federal lobbying efforts, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce last year commissioned a study highlighting exports’ effects in the commonwealth.
The first-of-its kind analysis shows that exports made up 30 percent of Virginia’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth between 2009 and 2014. It also reveals that exports generated almost 320,000 jobs (about 8.5 percent of state employment) with an average annual income of $58,333. “The importance of exports to Virginia and America is often overlooked,” says DuVal. “At the state and national level, we want policymakers to understand the facts, and we think our study helps underscore the importance of exports to the Virginia business community and the sub-regions outside the metro areas.”
The study, conducted by McDearman Associates LLC and the Raymond A. Mason School of Business at the College of William & Mary, highlights the importance of international trade in Virginia’s less-populated regions.
While Virginia’s urban areas are involved in 60 percent of the commonwealth’s total exports, international trade made up a greater share of local economies in areas with smaller populations. For example, Bristol’s “export intensity” was 17.2 percent in 2014, while exports made up 6.2 percent of Northern Virginia’s economy.
“Virginia has two great problems that it constantly has to work on,” says Jones, the secretary of trade and commerce. “One, it is too dependent on public-sector growth, and two, the need for more balance and growth among its regions.
“The international trade space is the one solution to both of those problems,” he says.2016-06-29T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/rutherfoords.pngContributed photos
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/major-milestone#When:10:00:00ZOne hundred years of business is a major achievement for any company, but it’s also a family anniversary for Virginia-based insurance brokerage Rutherfoord, a Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC Company.
The Rutherfoord family has been involved continuously with the company since Thomas Rutherfoord founded it on Feb. 1, 1916, in Roanoke.
“When the company first started it was an insurance agency with offices in Roanoke, New York City and Welch, W.Va.,” says Thomas Rutherfoord Brown, the founder’s grandson, who is the company’s chairman.
Brown attributes Rutherfoord’s long-term success to its strategic planning process, which brought about a focus on risk management.
“Through the strategic planning process, we evolved into a resource-rich brokerage firm that was bringing tremendous value to our customers for claims mitigation, risk prevention and other areas of specialization,” he says. “We have significantly enhanced our capabilities. It is our desire to become an integral part of our customers’ professional team.”
Today Rutherfoord is part of the Marsh & McLennan Agency network. Rutherfoord serves a region that includes 11 states — Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky and West Virginia — and the District of Columbia. New York-based Marsh & McLennan Agency, a global leader in insurance brokerage and risk management services, acquired Rutherfoord in 2010.
“We don’t have a flag in all of those places, but part of our goal is to build out that footprint,” Brown says.
During the past century, Rutherfoord grew and changed under the family’s guidance.
After the death of the firm’s founder in 1952, his brother, Julian Rutherfoord, and Julian’s two sons, Julian Rutherfoord Jr. and Thomas D. Rutherfoord, ran the company.
The brothers split the company in 1963, with Thomas focusing on the commercial side of the business.
“It was Thomas D. Rutherfoord that focused on the construction industry,” Brown says. “The firm became recognized as a specialist in the construction industry for surety and insurance. Construction is still one of our top industry segments.”
By 1971, Thomas D. Rutherfoord Jr., the founder’s grandnephew, was managing the Alexandria office. He became president of the company when his father retired in 1986. The younger Rutherfoord took on the roles of CEO in 1998 and chairman in 2004. He retired last year.
Brown joined the firm in 1979 as a producer in Roanoke. He became president in 1998, CEO in 2004 and vice chairman in 2010 before becoming chairman earlier this year. His son, Thomas Rutherfoord Brown Jr., now working as a producer, represents the fourth generation in the business.
The company’s growing presence in the Southeast and mid-Atlantic regions caught the eye of Marsh & McLennan. When it was acquired six years ago, Rutherfoord had 350 employees and annual revenue of $83 million.
“What attracted them to us was the quality of the firm and the geographic footprint,” Brown says. “We were one of the first acquisitions they made.”
Rutherfoord now has offices in Richmond, Roanoke, Alexandria and Hampton Roads; Raleigh, Charlotte, Greensboro, High Point and Wilmington, N.C.; Greenville, S.C.; Atlanta; King of Prussia, Pa.; and Mobile, Ala.
Over the years, Rutherfoord has continuously broadened its expertise. For example, international risk management, which includes Defense Base Act coverage, has become a big component of the company’s offerings. The coverage provides workers’ compensation to certain governmental entities working outside the United States on American military bases or under a contract with the U.S. government.
“If you were working for one of the agencies that endorsed the program, you had to go through us to get Defense Base Act coverage,” Brown says. “When the war in Iraq broke out, demand for our services increased exponentially. We are still in that business today.”
The industries the company serves range from real estate and construction to technology and health sciences. “There isn’t anything we can’t do,” Brown says. “We have the expertise to do a lot of things.”
Rutherfoord President and CEO John Stanchina, who joined the firm in 1994 as a producer, has found it personally satisfying to watch as the company innovates and expands. “It’s been a great first 100 years, and it should be an even more rewarding next 100 years,” he says.
The company has created an atmosphere where associates “have no ceiling on where they can take their careers,” Stanchina says.2016-06-29T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/VaBiz_TechRisk_v1.pngIllustration by Matt Brown
New technologies, new concerns
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/new-technologies-new-concerns#When:10:00:00ZTechnologies that seemed futuristic a few decades ago now are commonplace. Computers, the internet and smart devices are business necessities, and it won’t be long before drones and driverless vehicles also will play prominent roles in the economy.
All of these technologies, however, have risks associated with them. Those potential problems, in turn, will affect risk management strategies.
“The problem with futuristic technology is that it is unpredictable,” says Hutch Mauck, president of Lynchburg-based Scott Insurance. “From my perspective, we at Scott completely buy into an exponential acceleration of technology. We know that, in 10 to 20 years, there will be all sorts of advancements and changes that in many cases we are not even thinking about today.”
This unpredictability will create a “greater need for smart, inquisitive risk managers that can see what’s going on in the world around us,” Mauck adds.
851 million records exposed
In terms of technology, the most prevalent risk management threat to companies comes from the “overall connectivity of employees and businesses with devices around the world,” says John Middleton, president of property and casualty insurance for Richmond, Newport News and Norfolk at New York-based USI Insurance Services.
Since 2005 the California-based nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center has seen a 397 percent increase in data exposure incidents across financial services, business, education, government and health-care sectors. More than 851 million records have been exposed over the last decade.
The bad news is that the threat of cyber risks is evolving continuously. “The minute you think you understand all the exposures, cyber criminals come up with a unique way to attack businesses,” Middleton says.
New threats include social engineering schemes. One example is the cyber criminal who steals money and information by impersonating a high-level executive. Hacking the executive’s email, the crook instructs an employee to transfer money to a certain account. “How this [criminal trend] evolves is really important, and underwriters need to continue to respond, offering greater depth and breadth of coverages to respond to new developments from cyber criminals,” Middleton says of cyber crimes.
Most companies, however, don’t think they are vulnerable, mistakenly believing that most cyber attacks are aimed at large corporations. The reality is that the vast majority of attacks are aimed at middle-market companies “with less than $50 million of revenue and less than 500 employees,” Middleton says.
Cyber and privacy liability have to be considered one of the “greatest risks to a company or an individual,” says John Stanchina, president and CEO of Rutherfoord, a Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC Co. “Businesses have an enormous amount of exposures. They need to protect their business, their employees and their customers.”
Even though more companies are looking at cyber and privacy liability coverage, it is still not a coverage that is commonly purchased. “About 80 percent of companies are thinking about it, but less than 50 percent get it,” says Walter Smith, state insurance president of BB&T Insurance Services Inc.
In other areas, companies such as Airbnb and Uber are using technology to change the travel habits of businesses and consumers.
“Uber doesn’t own any cars. It’s not a taxi service, but it is disrupting the traditional taxi service and limo service in an enormous way,” Stanchina says. “Airbnb is doing the same thing to the lodging industry. Companies using technology and big data in the insurance industry have the ability to be disruptors in the same way. It gives them the opportunity to create products and delivery innovations for clients such as 24-hour, seven-day-a-week access. It will give the client a better experience as well as new products and services.”
Coverage for drones
Technology also plays a role in the popularity of drones. These unmanned aerial vehicles are being used by a growing number of industries, ranging from mining and contracting to surveying and engineering. “In 10 years, they will represent 10 percent of the global civil aviation field,” says Stanchina. “Today there are more than 1 million drones operating commercially. It represents a growth segment over the next 10 to 20 years.”
A few years ago “getting coverage for drones was a Herculean task. Now it’s out there, and it can be obtained,” says Paul Fleming, senior vice president for Henrico County-based Bankers Insurance. “Percentage-wise, there is a big increase in interest in drone coverage. There are not a big number of businesses buying the liability coverage, but there is interest.”
Often businesses will hire a third-party company to take aerial footage with a drone. “We are seeing that with country clubs, large resorts and commercial real estate,” Fleming says. “If you bring in a third party, you want to make sure they have coverage, particularly liability coverage.”
Property, privacy and security coverage also is available for drones. “Any company that is using a drone should be considering all of those coverages in order to adequately protect themselves,” says Mauck.
Currently businesses and state governments are gearing up for one of the newest technologies — driverless vehicles. Companies such as Google, Volvo, Ford and Tesla Motors have been testing driverless vehicles for a couple of years.
“There is a dire prediction that people will get away from cars, but I don’t see that realistically occurring,” says Smith of BB&T. “I am told that driverless vehicles are going to be in regular use in five years. There will be companies that buy driverless cars and also rent them like Uber.”
There also is speculation that driverless vehicles will reduce accidents because they eliminate human error. “The insurance industry believes that driverless vehicles will be the biggest safety revolution in the industry since the seat belt,” Stanchina says. “Automobile insurance is the largest segment in the insurance industry, and it has been the worst-performing segment in the industry. Driverless cars will reduce losses, which will ultimately reduce premiums.”
That’s a reminder that technological innovations can offer benefits as well as risks.2016-06-29T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Madison-Cornman-9004.pngCarol Cornman says Prism has hired more than 75 veterans since 2013, including Russ Madison. Photo by Mark Rhodes
Deepening the applicant pool
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/deepening-the-applicant-pool#When:10:00:00ZCarol Cornman is not a veteran. But her father was, and she says his work ethic helped mold hers.
So, it was not a big leap for her to decide to implement a program, From Deployment to Employment, in 2013 when she heard the difficulty veterans were having getting jobs once they completed their military service.
As executive vice president and a founder of Prism, a Reston-based IT services company focused on technological innovation, cybersecurity and modernization, she was in a position to put her inspiration into practice.
“Our program has been highly successful,” Cornman says. “Currently, about 13 percent of our workforce are veterans, and we’ve employed more than 75 veterans since we started our program in November 2013.”
Prism competes in a highly competitive market for government contracts and other work. Although she didn’t wish to disclose the number of employees the company has, Cornman says it is a certified small business.
Its program to hire veterans helps the company widen its pool of prospective employees, Cornman says.
A plus in hiring veterans, she adds, is that many of those coming out of the military already have active security clearances. Those clearances help enormously in competing for government contracts where classified information needs to be protected.
“Many of the [veterans] we have understand the missions of the different contracts we employ them on,” she says, adding veterans also have a wide range of experiences with various government agencies.
She says Prism has an equally wide range of jobs, from “stepping-stone positions” to those with more senior-level technical skills.
Prism finds the veterans with the skill sets it needs through a variety of means: career fairs and references from other veterans, as well as the Virginia Values Veterans (V3) program.
Russ Madison, a recently hired veteran at Prism, spent 20 years in the Air Force, working at various posts, including embassies. His assignments ranged from sophisticated communications to anti-terrorism protection. He said those skills have been assets in his current position, although he would not go into detail about what his current duties are.
“I spent 17 years out of 20 years overseas,” Madison said, explaining that he had an urge to travel and see the world, and the military accommodated him.
But when it came time for him to retire and re-enter civilian life, Madison found that working overseas so many years made the transition more difficult because he didn’t have a lot of stateside connections.
His wife suggested that they relocate to the Washington, D.C., area, home to a lot of government contracting firms where he might put his military skills to work.
Madison says he strived aggressively to find a job by attending as many career fairs as he could, and it was at a career fair that Prism found him.
“They looked at my résumé, and they had some positions and they saw some similarities. It’s been a good opportunity for me,” he says.
Madison urges veterans who are preparing to enter civilian life to do a lot of planning. They should not trust to luck that they’ll be able to find a job.
“I would say get as many degrees and certifications as you can before you get out. Have a backup plan and think about a worse-case scenario,” Madison says.
Madison says he’s proud to have served his country. He says walking through Arlington Cemetery makes him realize the sacrifices that military personnel, generations of them, have made for the country.
Cornman says her company, and many others like it, are doing what they can to ensure that veterans can make a dignified return to civilian life with a good job waiting for them.
“We have a passion for the mission,” Cornman says.2016-06-29T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/VETS_Adams.pngMatt Adams is an energy assistance outreach administrator at Dominion Resources. Photo by Mark Rhodes
A journey of persistence
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/a-journey-of-persistence#When:10:00:00ZMatt Adams was a Marine rifleman in Iraq.
He was a machine gunner in Afghanistan.
Today, he’s a Dominion Resources employee.
For Adams, a 32-year-old Suffolk resident, it has been a long climb from dodging bullets in two American wars to a suit-and-tie position with a major energy company.
He is part of a stepped-up effort by Dominion and other Virginia-based companies, to employ qualified veterans.
Adams has been with Dominion since May 2012, soon after his deployment to Afghanistan ended.
His has been a journey of persistence and opportunity.
Today, he is an energy assistance outreach administrator, talking with various groups and individuals and providing customer service over a range of Dominion’s offerings.
He first applied to Dominion through its Troops to Energy Jobs program. But he didn’t have a lock on a job just because he was a veteran.
“First time I applied, I didn’t get the position. I applied for the security forces at [a] power station,” says Adams, who had been working with a construction company building bridges.
Then he applied to be a groundsman, who helps with line workers. He made it through a phone interview, and everything seemed to be going well. Then, an existing Dominion employee did an internal transfer and took the job.
“They were taking care of their own, and I respected that,” he says.
Adams finally got an entry-level position, and in 2014 he started taking courses toward an associate degree in business administration at Tidewater Community College. He hopes to graduate in December.
As a Marine reservist, Adams, who is married with three children, says he is sometimes activated for temporary duty assignments and other obligations with his unit.
He says that, when he is on active duty, Dominion makes up the difference between his military pay and what he earns at the company.
As a Reserve staff sergeant, Adams has commanded up to 30 Marines, often under very difficult circumstances.
He says it’s important for him to remember to not be authoritative in his civilian job, because military culture and corporate life are so different.
Adams also is careful about what he says about his combat experiences. People with no exposure in frontline combat often don’t understand what he has seen.
“It’s not like I’m trying to censor myself,” he says. “It’s just out of respect for those who may not have similar viewpoints. The company wants to have a diverse but inclusive environment.”2016-06-29T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/VETS_DOM_Saddiq.pngSaddiq Holliday of Dominion Resources (left) discusses job openings at a jobs fair in Virginia Beach. Courtesy Dominion
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/deliberate-strategy#When:10:00:00ZOne out of every five new hires at Richmond-based energy company Dominion Resources is a veteran. That’s not by chance.
Dominion, a V3-cerfitied company with 15,000 workers in more than half a dozen states, has a deliberate strategy for attracting qualified veterans.
One element in Dominion’s efforts is a sophisticated website, troopstoenergyjobs.com, that it spent several years developing and testing in conjunction with other energy companies.
Saddiq Holliday, a staffing specialist and military programs coordinator for Dominion, says the website — which is continually being tweaked — tries to make it as simple as possible for veterans to find jobs.
“Now when we launch specific jobs, we put military occupation codes on certain jobs that we know fit right with the military. So veterans can look at a job posting, and they can see this MOS [military occupational specialty] on the job posting, and they can say, ‘That’s for me,’” says Holliday, a veteran who is an aircraft technician with the Air National Guard.
He says that most job descriptions are stripped of industry jargon and are written in ways that veterans can easily understand.
The website also helps veterans determine whether they need more education and training to be eligible for certain jobs. If so, there are tips about getting financial help and finding the right school. There’s also a virtual career coach for online help.
In seeking qualified veterans, Dominion representatives rely on everything from holding career fairs to soliciting recommendations from other veterans.
Company representatives also go to military installations and work with transitioning officers, so they can better prepare veterans leaving the military about what to expect.
“We’re finding that, if veterans who are looking for jobs have a better idea how to align their skills and education with what we’re looking for, they’re a lot more competitive in their job search,” Holliday says.
Daisy Pridgen, a media relations representative for Dominion, says veterans who are transitioning into the civilian workforce sometimes think only about linemen in reference to energy jobs.
But Pridgen says “the people who keep the lights on are backed up by a whole range of corporate functions from IT to accounting” and all things in between.
In March, the energy company staged its first Dominion-only job fair at Tidewater Community College in Norfolk. Dominion had an immediate need for veterans who had a background in nuclear operations. More than 200 veterans with related experience showed up, and Dominion was able to identify those who could start work almost immediately.
Holliday says that although good job candidates can come from any walk of life, qualified applicants who have served in the military tend to have core values that dovetail with Dominion’s.
“We come ready to work every single day with the mindset that we’re going to do the job safe, that we’re going to have good pre-job briefings on everything we do, and that there is going to be a wingman or buddy looking out for the person next us,” Holliday says.
Although Dominion has been working with the Virginia Values Veterans program since 2012, it has been recruiting transitioning military personnel for much longer than that. “We’ve been hiring veterans for a hundred years,” Holliday says.2016-06-29T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Jordon-8907.png“Companies need talent, and this provides another recourse,” says Steve Jordon of the Veterans Employment Initiative.
Monster employment effort
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/monster-employment-effort#When:10:00:00ZTechnology jobs, some with high-pay potential, are among the most sought after in the commonwealth, and Northern Virginia is the state’s technology hub.
The Herndon-based Northern Virginia Technology Council, the largest regional tech group in the U.S., wants qualified veterans to know — please apply.
Since 2013, the council has led an innovative business-driven Veterans Employment Initiative (VEI). The program is designed to help veterans find jobs and to assist technology companies in filling vacancies with veterans who are already qualified or can be trained.
Seven hundred to 1,000 service members from military bases and installations in the D.C. area transition into civilian life every month. That tide of veterans is not going to get any smaller, says Steve Jordon, VEI’s program manager.
“Companies need talent, and this provides another recourse,” says Jordon, a former Navy captain who retired after 30 years of service.
Stephen Fuller of George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis has forecast that during the current decade (ending in 2020), 41 percent of the more than 124,000 new jobs in Northern Virginia will be created in the professional, scientific and technical-services sectors.
The technology council says that finding qualified employees for those new jobs is difficult, adding that workforce development is one of the biggest long-term challenges facing the industry.
The council and Monster.com, one of the most visited employment websites in the world, have formed an online community. It includes a vast, searchable database of jobs at council member firms.
Every council member — about 1,000 companies — can post jobs for free on NoVaTechVets.org and related sites. They also can access Monster’s database of thousands of veterans’ résumés.
NoVaTechVets.org also has “a military skills translator” that can help veterans match their skills with civilian jobs.
Other tools on the site help vets build their résumés and review opportunities for further education. All of these features are designed to help veterans make the sometimes bumpy transition to the civilian workforce a little smoother.
Jordon says that VEI and Virginia Values Veterans began about the same time, and they have close links. “We’re mutually supportive,” he says. “It’s a symbiotic relationship.”
Tech council companies that also are V3-certified have reported hiring 4,000 veterans since VEI began.
But Jordon says that number probably underestimates the number of veterans who have actually found employment, because not every company is V3-certified and reports its hires.
A series of special events established by VEI is called “recruiting days.”
Unlike traditional job fairs where applicants looking for jobs circulate between tables, recruiting days allow employers to pre-screen veterans’ résumés before speaking with them in small groups.
Jordon says an applicant can get up to 20 minutes of face time with a potential employer. “Career speed-dating,” he says.
To aid companies, monthly VEI webinars also provide tips on best practices in hiring, training and retaining veterans.
Although Jordon describes the VEI as “philanthropic and patriotic,” that’s not the bottom line.
“At the end of the day, the decision to bring a veteran on board is a business decision,” he says.2016-06-29T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/VETS_Scwartz_open.pngAndrew Schwartz heads the Virginia Values Veterans (V3) program. Photo by Rick DeBerry
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/workforce-recruits#When:10:00:00Z“We have [approximately] 800,000 veterans in Virginia, the highest percentage of female veterans, the highest percentage of veterans under the age of 25 and the fastest-growing veteran population of any state in America. You want to talk about building a dynamic workforce, these veterans are highly motivated, disciplined, dedicated.”
— Gov. Terry McAuliffe in a December interview with Virginia Business
In 2014, when Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed executive order 23 establishing The New Virginia Economy Workforce Initiative, he also unveiled “The Patriot Pledge,” asking 10,000 businesses to commit to hiring more veterans.
McAuliffe said then, and he says now, that the participation of Virginia’s veteran population in its labor force is important to the commonwealth’s economic prosperity.
Citing economic forecasts, state leaders have said that about 500,000 jobs will be created in Virginia by 2022. In addition, 930,000 workers will be needed to replace Virginia’s retiring workers.
Veterans could help fill these new jobs and replace workers who are retiring.
During the next three years, an estimated 30,000 military personnel now serving in Virginia are expected to transition to civilian life. Thousands more who have served in Virginia at some time might be interested in returning and putting down roots, if employment opportunities exist.
Those dynamics have set the stage for a potential windfall of new workers. State officials say the tide of veterans moving into the civilian workforce would not only help fill jobs but also entice businesses to locate in Virginia.
“No matter how many tax incentives you give to a company, they’re not going to come to Virginia unless it has a good workforce,” says Andrew Schwartz, a veteran with 12 years’ service who served as a patrol leader in Ramadi, Iraq, with the 2nd Marine Division.
Schwartz heads the Virginia Values Veterans (V3) program. V3 is a free training and certification program for employers, designed to help them implement best practices in recruiting, hiring and retaining highly skilled veterans.
John Newby, commissioner of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services, says many states have programs to help veterans transition into civilian life and find a job. Virginia has that, too, he says.
“But Virginia was the first state to approach this issue from the employers’ side,” Newby adds. “We said, ‘Hey, we need to help employers hire and retain veterans.’ ”
From the outset, V3 was hailed as an economic development program, rather than a jobs program. V3 has experienced huge growth since its founding in 2012 when representatives from more than 50 companies came to its first conference.
Today, about 300 companies have joined the effort, becoming V3-certified and hiring more than 16,000 veterans in recent years. Another 200 companies are undergoing V3 training.
Schwartz says one of the biggest challenges facing transitioning veterans and prospective employers is communication. “You really are entering into a foreign culture when you pass from the military world to the civilian world,” he says.
Schwartz explains that many service members do not elaborate on the full breadth of their training and experience. They mistakenly assume that employers already know those details.
On the other side, Schwartz says, employers often trip over a service member’s military occupational specialty (MOS), seeing only the headline for the veteran’s job.
He has a great personal story about that.
Schwartz had been selected for officer training in the Marine Corps and was earning a bachelor’s degree in history at Old Dominion University. However, he suffered a shoulder injury during physical training and received a medical discharge.
Schwartz was fortunate to have a network of friends and associates at Old Dominion, who helped him bridge the gap between military and civilian life.
In the Marine Corps, he had built databases, performed a variety of administrative duties, been project manager on numerous tasks and served in a variety of leadership positions.
But Schwartz says that if a prospective employer looked solely at his military occupational specialty, he might have had a turbulent transition into civilian life. His MOS: clarinet player.
“It doesn’t take into account all the leadership training you gained in the military, all the collateral duties you had in the military, all the program management experience you had in the military,” Schwartz says.
He, for example, led dozens of combat patrols in Ramadi, Iraq., His unit was deployed as an infantry platoon, performing perimeter and interior security, conducting combat patrols and serving as a quick-reaction force. “Every Marine a rifleman,” he notes, quoting the Marine slogan.
Schwartz had no plans to be a professional musician after his military career, and that situation is not unique. Up to a third of service members moving into civilian jobs are not interested in continuing the jobs they handled in the military. They want to try something new.
Schwartz, who today uses his musical talents to play the organ at his church, says that if he can move from being a Marine Corps musician to running a state government program, then he can help other veterans make successful transitions, too.
Schwartz credits former Gov. Bob McDonnell, an Army veteran, with being a driving force behind the V3 program, starting in late 2010. He says McDonnell feared that, with the military downsizing and the economy still recovering from a crippling recession, transitioning veterans might face a hard time finding jobs in the civilian workforce.
As part of his efforts, McDonnell charged the Virginia Department of Veterans Services with finding ways to head off the problem. Veterans Services reported back that, while the military had programs for service members moving into civilian life, there was no program on the other side of the equation for potential employers.
“There was nothing to educate civilians — especially employers — on what a veteran is, what their culture is, what their mindset is, and how can they be an asset to [their] organizations,” Schwartz says.
Hiring veterans is a nonpartisan issue, Schwartz emphasizes, pointing out that McDonnell, a Republican, and McAuliffe, a Democrat, both have been enthusiastic boosters of V3 and the Veterans Transition Assistance Program, which aids veterans as they leave the service.
Virginia’s veterans have a strong appetite for work. “Virginia has the highest per-capita labor participation rate among veterans in the nation. Seventy percent of veterans are working or looking for work,” Schwartz says.
During 2009-2014, Virginia added 80,000 veterans to its civilian workforce, a number that state officials say is higher than the combined results of all other states.
Virginia has tried to make it easy for companies to become V3-certified and veteran friendly. V3 training is free, as is state certification and recertification.
The training includes best practices for companies to use in recruiting, hiring and training veterans. These recommended procedures include having human resources staff identify how certain military skills might meet the company’s needs and reviewing job descriptions to ensure that they can be easily understood by veterans.
Discussions about the biggest obstacles to hiring veterans also are part of the training for companies seeking the V3 certification.
Among those obstacles is overcoming “veteran myths” regarding post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says that PTSD — which can occur after exposure to traumatic or stressful events — occurs in 11 to 20 percent of the veterans involved in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom (the global war on terrorism) and in 30 percent of Vietnam veterans. About 7 to 8 percent of the general population will have PTSD sometime in their lifetimes.
“You are 17 times more likely to hire a civilian with PTSD than you are a veteran,” Schwartz says, referencing other findings.
He says that one of the biggest values V3 provides to companies is providing a pipeline of veterans that they can consider.
Last year, the Virginia General Assembly created a program under which companies with 300 or fewer employees can qualify for grants to assist in hiring and retaining veterans. Because funding is limited, the grants are available on a first-come, first-served basis. “It’s to help these small businesses with just a little bit more incentive to think outside the box and get them to hire veterans,” Schwartz says.
V3 employers may apply for a $1,000 grant for each veteran that they have hired and retained for one year, up to a maximum of $10,000 per company per year. Veterans must have been out of the military for one year or less when hired and must be paid at least the prevailing average wage for the locality in which they work.
Cape Henry Associates, a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business in Virginia Beach, was one of the first grant recipients. Cape Henry Associates provides the military with professional services, including training and manpower analysis. About 75 percent of its employees are veterans, with about 45 percent being disabled vets.
The company, started in 2004 with three employees, now has about 150 employees, a company spokeswoman says.
“We hire a lot of Navy subject-matter experts. People who have done it in the military are the best candidates for our services. It gives us a competitive edge because they are the experts in their field,” says Dawn Dikun, a Navy veteran, who is Cape Henry Associates’ human resources director.
Dikun says some of the company’s employees retired from the military service on one day and reported for work at the company the next day.
In March, Cape Henry Associates and five other companies were awarded a nearly $152 million contract to provide curriculum analyses and planning services for the Naval Education Training Command’s Naval Training Products and Services Program.
Another company that has hired many veterans is Dynamic Aviation Group in Bridgewater. It has about 600 aviation employees worldwide, with veterans representing 20 to 25 percent of the workforce.
Before becoming involved with V3, human resources director Joel Shank says, the company largely relied on word of mouth in recruiting veterans. “V3 helped us get more structure,” Shank says. Now the company has a more focused approach in finding and recruiting veterans.
While small companies such as Cape Henry Associates and Dynamic Aviation are part of the V3 story, so are large companies such as Norfolk-based Sentara Healthcare. It has more than 28,000 employees and a network of 12 hospitals.
Terry Bond, a Sentara recruitment specialist, is a 23-year Navy veteran, who worked in cryptology, the creation and deciphering of messages in secret code.
Bond says that, like many veterans, he had to further his education (obtaining training in human resources) in making the move to civilian life.
When he’s interviewing veterans, he also looks at the background of their spouses, who also might make good candidates for jobs at Sentara.
Bond says many veterans he has talked with have never considered health care as a second career because they’re not doctors or nurses. “Some can’t stand the sight of blood,” Bond says with a laugh. “But there are as many jobs in health care as there are in a big city: accounting, finance, distribution. There are a lot of transferable skills.”
As a V3-certified company, Sentara has an opportunity to connect with a large number of veterans who eventually may find employment in the health-care field.
At any given time, Bond says, Sentara has nearly a thousand jobs posted.
Goochland County-based CarMax, the nation’s largest retailer of used cars, is a V3-certified company that also supports other veteran-oriented endeavors.
In April, the company announced that it was pledging $1.4 million to provide career opportunities and community support to military veterans and their families.
CarMax has committed: $100,000 to the Hiring Our Heroes effort; $300,000 during the next two years to The Mission Continues, a national nonprofit that helps veterans adjust to life at home through projects that impact their communities; and $1 million to KaBoom, a program funding playgrounds and other projects in military communities.
Schwartz of V3 says the military hiring program is, at its core, all about helping veterans find jobs and helping companies find talent. “It’s not just the patriotic thing to do,” Schwartz says. “Hiring veterans based on their knowledge, skills and abilities they learned in the military is a good business decision.”
Monster employment effort: Technology council program is aimed at finding talent, by Gary Robertson
Deliberate strategy: Dominion puts extra effort into hiring veterans, by Gary Robertson
A journey of persistence: Combat veteran learns the ropes in a corporate world, by Gary Robertson
Deepening the applicant pool: Security clearances help small business compete for contracts, by Gary Robertson2016-06-29T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/VT116572_2016004507.pngPhotos courtesy Virginia Tech
‘Science as a public good’
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/science-as-a-public-good1#When:10:00:00ZLast spring Marc Edwards got a call from a mother in Flint, Mich., who said the city’s water supply was poisoning her children. It was the second time in his life that he had gotten such a call. And this time the municipal water safety expert knew exactly what to do.
Call in a student research team. Use a crowdfunding campaign to buy water filters for Flint residents. File freedom of information requests that would reveal mismanagement in the midst of a dangerous public-health crisis.
Edwards had been seasoned by an earlier lead-poisoning crusade in the early 2000s in Washington, D.C., that also began with a call from a concerned mother. His work there helped spark a congressional probe that in 2010 concluded that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had knowingly used flawed data in claiming that the district’s drinking water posed no health risk.
So the Virginia Tech professor of civil and environmental engineering lost no time in exposing what he says was “a clear example of environmental injustice” in Flint.
“It’s probably the clearest example of a failure by government civil servants in our country’s history, where both federal and state public health agencies, engineers and civil servants, betrayed a city. They broke the law; they covered it up. They would have continued to let the kids drink the water and destroy the city’s vital infrastructure.”
Flint is a poor city. Its population has dwindled from 200,000 to fewer than 100,000 as auto jobs have gone away. More than half of the city’s population is African-American, and more than 40 percent of the residents live in poverty.
The city’s water problem began in April 2014 when a state-appointed emergency manager authorized switching Flint’s water supply from Detroit’s municipal system to the Flint River, as a cost-saving measure. The switch was supposed to be temporary until a new pipeline could be completed that would have drawn water from Lake Huron. The river water was more corrosive than Detroit’s system, and state regulators did not require the use of an anti-corrosive chemical. So lead leached into Flint’s water supply from aging lead pipes.
While state and federal officials assured residents that the water was safe, LeeAnne Walters, a Flint mother of four, claimed that the city’s rust-colored water was making her children sick.
She was right. Nearly 9,000 children in Flint are believed to have been exposed during an 18-month window — from April 2014 to October 2015 — to lead levels that far exceeded safe limits. According to Edwards’ tests from Walters’ home, the highest lead level was more than 13,000 parts per billion (ppb). The level considered actionable by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is 15 ppb. The safe lead level is zero ppb. That’s because lead is a toxic metal considered hazardous to children, potentially causing long-term, irreversible neurological damage.
When Edwards decided to help Flint, he made it a teachable moment by involving his students. A 25-member student research team made four trips to Flint where they met with residents, tested water samples and warned against drinking unfiltered water.
In October 2015 — six weeks after Edwards’ Tech team first visited Flint — Michigan officials declared a public health emergency and switched Flint’s supply back to Detroit. The fallout continues, with the crisis prompting a criminal probe, lawsuits and calls for the resignation of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. In April, Michigan’s attorney general filed criminal charges against two state environmental regulators and a Flint water plant supervisor that include allegations of tampering with water-monitoring reports.
For Siddhartha Roy, a 27-year-old graduate student, the experience has been “life changing.” Roy led the student team and created a website, FlintWaterStudy.org, to keep residents informed, applying what he had learned in the classroom to a real-world situation. “It has taught us the value of listening to the public, to the voices of those who are disenfranchised.”
Instead of making him cynical, Roy says, the crisis creates hope. “Now we are having national conversations on what it means to have safe water.”
Tech’s Flint Water Study Team continues to test for lead in the water. The city is receiving federal disaster relief funds and other help to rebuild its aging water system and to mitigate the health harm to children.
Throughout the crisis, Edwards played a high-profile role. He testified before Congress on his findings and is serving on a governor-appointed task force that’s devising a long-term strategy to address Flint’s water system.
With all the publicity, many accolades have come his way. Time magazine recently included Edwards and Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a Flint pediatrician who also sounded the alarm after seeing elevated lead levels in children, on its list of the world’s “100 Most Influential People.” Edwards also appears on Forbes 2016 list of “World’s Greatest Leaders.”
The 51-year-old professor shakes off the celebrity. “I’m just a regular guy,” he insists, who feels “lucky” that he hasn’t been fired by Tech because of all the time he has spent on the D.C. and Flint water cases.
“The horror of this injustice — you don’t feel like celebrating or that you won anything,” he says. “You just desperately try to prevent it from happening again. The EPA to this day has not apologized, has not acknowledged its role in what happened in D.C. or Flint. Until that happens there is no hope that another Flint will not occur. It will occur. The miracle in Flint was they got caught.”
Flint may well be a watershed moment for the country. It offers an opportunity to carve out a new model not only for cities with old infrastructure but also for fast-growing, water-conserving cities. In both cases, notes Edwards, water is sitting around longer in pipes, which increases the risk that something will go wrong.
He plans to take a sabbatical next year to write a book about Flint, which he envisions as a case study about what went wrong.
Virginia Business interviewed Edwards in May in Blacksburg. He also gave an interview to VB’s sister publication, Roanoke Business.
VB: When you were invited to Flint in May to hear President Barack Obama’s remarks, what was that like for you?
Edwards: It was good. I’m glad he went to Flint because I think it sent a statement. Hopefully an example of environmental injustice really speaks to all Americans, and it bothers everybody. I think everyone’s trying to sort out how and why this could happen in the United States, and he gave his perspective on that, but the key point was it was historic. He went and said that Flint counted.
VB: So is the water safe now?
Edwards: The water is still not meeting federal standards. We tested in March, and the lead levels are too high. What’s happened is pieces of lead are still falling off the plumbing into the water at random intervals more so than in other cities. Nowadays everyone knows existing federal standards are not very protective, so to be exceeding that is a real problem.
VB: Should we change the standard?
Edwards: That’s a cost-benefit analysis debate that people have to make. I would argue it should be tightened, but there’s no magic pot of money to fix all these problems … I think a consensus has emerged that we need a tougher law, but what makes me upset is we’re not following existing law. If we followed the existing law, these tragedies that I’ve been working on never would have happened.
VB: What about the 9,000 children who were exposed? Will they suffer irreversible damage?
Edwards: Some kids are going to suffer the consequences for their whole life, but I think that’s the minority of children, thankfully. This was caught early on. I shudder to think what would have happened if we hadn’t intervened because the lead was just starting to fall off into the water at high levels. The incidence of blood lead poisoning was skyrocketing in the months that we got involved, and kids would still be drinking that water to this day. So, it could have been another Washington, D.C., type tragedy. Washington, D.C., [had] about 30 times more lead-poisoned children, 30 times worse than Flint.
VB: Will someone follow the children to see how they’re doing?
Edwards: Yes, they’re getting help. There’s roughly $150 million being invested to mitigate the health concerns, provide extra health services, expand Medicare and Medicaid. Dr. Mona [Hanna-Attisha] has a Flint Children’s Fund; it’s privately overseen money of $10 million or so. This is quite a big contribution to the future of the children of Flint … The D.C. kids got nothing. Their families got not one penny. Having lived through that makes the D.C. story a little bit more tragic to me, but the point is we showed kids [in Flint] were getting hurt. The agencies and the state, normal people, stepped up to help them. That was heartening, and we got kids protected. We avoided the worst of the harm.
VB: At this point, what do you think is the ideal resolution for Flint?
Edwards: There’s really no precedent. We’re going to have to ask society to debate and decide what kind of behavior we’re going to tolerate in government officials … They not only allow it to occur, they enable it to occur, actively covering this problem up … Certainly the state -- the state agency employees, engineers and scientists whose job it is to make sure that this never happened -- you know they’re primarily responsible for what happened, but without EPA they would have never been able to take it as far as they did.
VB: So should we do away with the EPA and, if so, what is the alternative?
Edwards: I get criticized by both sides because the two options most commonly put on the table are, one, get rid of the EPA; or two, give EPA more money. I’m sorry neither of those is reasonable. There’s a corrupt culture throughout our government agencies. We see it in the Veterans Administration. We see it at the IRS. We see it at the Centers for Disease Control. They covered up the lead crisis in D.C. with a falsified scientific report. [In 2010, a House investigative inquiry into D.C.’s lead water problems earlier in the decade determined that the CDC made “scientifically indefensible” claims in 2004 when it said that children were not being harmed by high levels of lead in the water.] We see it at EPA. Good people are not leading these agencies. Good people are getting fired for doing their job. Unethical, lying cowards seem to rise to the top of these agencies. So when something like Flint happens people are shocked and I say, “if this is how you run your agency, destroying good people and promoting bad people, what do you expect?”
VB: What should we do to prevent another Flint?
Edwards: You have to fire some bad people. When EPA testified to Congress and said they had nothing to do with Flint, under oath, that they were strong-armed by the state … You know, it’s Orwellian, it’s absurd. Why do we allow them to get away with this? … If the only way we fire a bad actor is after they poison a city, 12 people die, they destroy the vital infrastructure and then you become an international embarrassment, that’s what it takes to lose your job?
VB: You’ve been appointed by Michigan’s governor to serve on the Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee. Could you tell me about that?
Edwards: We’re trying to find our way through mitigating an unprecedented manmade disasters. There is no blueprint. It’s not like a hurricane where you can do what you did during the last hurricane. What are the appropriate steps to help the city get back on its feet? How can we best invest the money?
VB: How much money has been allocated?
Edwards: There’s been like a few hundred million, and that’s half of what’s needed. There’s no way the people in Flint can pay to fix what happened. The damage is just too great. The water bills are already the highest in the U.S. … [The water crisis] put the city in a death spiral because you’ve got people leaving, and they don’t have enough people to pay for the water system as it is. Plus, you’ve got $100 million dollars in damage to the water system. So, the city is not financially sustainable. It was on life support before this, and this was like pulling the plug. Without outside help, there’s no way the city and its residents can ever hope to get a financially sustainable water system.
VB: Is the job of the committee to develop a sustainable model?
Edwards: That’s an infrastructure question. How can we fix the infrastructure where the current residents can afford to pay their water bill and get healthy water? This is no small task. This is a major challenge because the water system was designed for a population 2½ to 3 times higher than it is now and, the more oversized the system, the harder it is to keep the water healthy because it sits around a long time. It’s got old pipes, and dirt is getting in. I mean they’re having 500 main breaks a year. It’s very cost ineffective. They’re working overtime just to repair breaking water systems.
VB: It sounds like you’re talking about a major investment in the infrastructure, or do you just get rid of it and start from scratch?
Edwards: There’s like four or five different approaches. Someone has to sit down and say, “What are the cost/benefits, detriments of each approach?” I’m hoping we get enough money to give Flint a fighting chance.
VB: Could the work of the committee become a model for other cities?
Edwards: Yes, we hopefully can learn from this tragedy. It’s an extreme case, but you learn the most in extreme cases in science and engineering. Flint was ahead of the curve in terms of going bankrupt. Cutting the water infrastructure is the first place you cut when you’ve got to make hard decisions. But the other sides of this are two extremes that Flint can help us understand. One is the whole decaying bankrupt path, in which the parallels are obvious, but also there are newer cities, particularly California. They are undergoing very, very stringent conservation [because of an extended drought.] What this does is create the same oversized system. When you have green buildings, and you have everyone conserving, it takes a very long time for the water -- from the time it leaves the treatment plant -- to get to where you use it.
VB: It takes a very long time for what?
Edwards: If you’re using less water, and you’ve got your old water system, it takes a longer time for the water to move from the treatment plant to your tap … So, if you use half the water, it takes twice as long to get there.
VB: So it’s just sitting in the pipes?
Edwards: Yes. It’s kind of like milk. Milk sits around, it goes bad. When water takes longer to move from one place to another, it tends to go bad. The pipes degrade its quality. You can get diseases, you know, things like Legionnaires can grow more easily. We’re arguing that what we can learn from Flint can help cities of the future. So, part of fixing Flint is maybe changing the pipe size so the water moves faster, getting smaller pipes. That’s just one example.
VB: What a teaching moment for a professor. What do you hope your students took away from this?
Edwards: I have this class on engineering ethics that I co-teach. We teach students to plan how they will react when, not if, but when they encounter nonethical behavior. We teach them the high cost that you will pay if you speak out. … The students come through the class, and most of them say it was a transformative experience for them because we taught them to see where they would have been willfully blind. In school and in our institutions, we really do teach people to be willfully blind, to look the other way … So, the fascinating thing was that, [in] the five years that I taught this class, in my mind I was refighting the D.C. lead crisis. That took me 12 years, 25 hours a week, pretty much on my own. So, I was thinking, how would I refight the D.C. lead crisis if I could? And then it [Flint] came up. I mean the parallels are just unbelievable.
So I said, “This is our class project.” Not only will we teach ethics and talk about the D.C. lead crisis; we’re going to have this Flint water crisis experience. Plus, I had students from three prior years of class, and I said this is like your practicum… Again it was like refighting D.C. and actually winning, not that you can win.
VB: How did that feel this time around?
Edwards: It was a totally different experience because 12 years versus six weeks is a whole lot easier. Plus, you protect the kids in the end, because in D.C., the kids got hurt right in front of you … You couldn’t counter the power of those agencies to lie and do harm. The interesting part for me was, when I tell the D.C. story in class, I [always say] that I know this is depressing … and then, when we went to Flint, I’m telling them it never happens this way. Do not think that this is how it works because you do not overcome the power of the state and the federal government in six weeks and live to tell the tale the vast majority of the time.
VB: Is Flint a warning sign of things to come?
Edwards: Lead in water is a problem all over the U.S. because EPA has allowed the water companies to cheat for 10 years. So, if you look in the paper, you’ll see about problems in Philadelphia; Chicago; Jackson, Miss.; Sebring, Ohio. In every major urban center, if people look at what’s going on, they’re going to be shocked at what they see because people have been told their water is safe when it’s not.
We have a law that’s not being followed. It’s an example of the agency dysfunction and the lack of trustworthiness I think that’s destroying trust in science and engineering in America. It’s destroying people’s trust in government. That’s the huge problem. The thing we have to do is change the culture of these agencies so they are worthy of the public trust. It’s not an alternative to just throw more money at them or to get rid of them. You have to get these agencies fixed.
VB: Let’s switch gears to Virginia. Is the drinking water in Virginia safe? Are there places here where water should be a concern?
Edwards: I haven’t encountered this kind of unethical behavior in Virginia agencies. When the D.C. lead crisis occurred, for example, Montgomery County schools decided to go out and test every tap, and they fixed the problem. I was like, “Wow, this is how it should work.”
VB: And that was 10 or 12 years ago?
Edwards: Yes. Now they’re testing it again … I’m just saying by comparison to what I’m running into in these other places, Virginia looks like a good place to live.
VB: Do you feel battle worn at this point? You have been involved in some type of a lead water controversy for a long time.
Edwards: There have been times it’s been very, very hard. I have everything going for me, an amazing family, great students, great colleagues. Virginia Tech has been great. They didn’t fire me, but even so … the financial repercussions are hard to deal with. At the same time, I feel that I’m the most optimistic person on the planet. I really feel we’re going to get this fixed because failure is not an option.
VB: So you haven’t given up?
Edwards: You know, as I say many times, to wake up every day with such a sense of purpose and feel like you’re doing the job you’re born to do, I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but I wouldn’t wish it on anyone either.
VB: What kind of an impact has the publicity from Flint had on Va. Tech?
Edwards: I don’t think there’s been a science story like this ever. I think it’s been viewed very positively … There’s something in Flint that makes every American angry. There’s no one that will defend what happened in Flint … I think it’s been good for the school. In some ways it does define what Virginia Tech aspires to … This is a model for a modern land-grant [university] as an institution where you can do science as a public good, serving people, correcting injustices. Now, that can never be your bread and butter, but if everyone devotes a small percent of their time to something, that can make a huge difference.
VB: Is this still your perfect job?
Edwards: Yes. I’ve got the best job in the world. I love what I do. It doesn’t mean, I’m blindly optimistic, a Pollyanna, because, you know, I call it like I see it, but I really feel I’ve got the best job. Virginia Tech has been amazing to me. I’ve got great students, great friends. I wouldn’t change a thing.
VB: Are you being recruited by other schools?
Edwards: I know I would have options if I wanted to go other places, but Virginia Tech suits me. I’m a blue-collar guy. I love our students. Virginia Tech has stood by me, so it would be really, really hard to leave.
VB: What happened in Flint seems like a story made for Hollywood. Has anyone called you?
Edwards: We’ve already had about 25 documentaries go through Virginia Tech.
VB: You mean people have come and interviewed you all about this?
Edwards: Yes. This is going to be one of the best-documented things in history. I can’t even keep track of them all, but we accommodate anyone who wants to go through.
VB: Has anyone from Hollywood called to say we want to make a movie about you?
Edwards: Oh yeah, they’ve called. Once a week someone’s calling about a movie or a book.
VB: What do you think about that?
Edwards: Well, I’m writing an imaginary book right now. Everyone thinks they’re going to write a book, so that’s why I call them imaginary books. I’m thinking of just pulling out the highlights and the lowlights of this journey. Whether it’s just a really lousy case study that I write up, I haven’t decided. I’m focused right now on helping Flint recover. That’s got to be my highest priority. My next highest priority is to try to start doing my job, which you know I haven’t really done in a year. I was going to write a book about D.C., and I probably would have been writing that had Flint not happened. It’s interesting because the problem with writing the D.C. book was I didn’t have an ending. I obviously have an ending now. Whether I ever get around to doing that… I tell myself I will. There are not enough hours in the day because I'm helping with these disasters.
VB: You describe yourself as a normal guy trying to do your job, but you have been hailed as a national hero. What do you think of all the celebrity? Do you still feel like a regular guy?
Edwards: I am a regular guy. I don’t believe any of it. I mean after you survive something like D.C., and you saw what happened to so many people who did the right thing and lost their careers … Five people who kind of alerted the public lost their jobs. That’s why I say, good people, heroic people, are getting fired for doing the right thing. So in time you learn that for every thousand people that go this path only one comes out of it whole to the extent that I am whole. So you don’t really feel like -- what you feel like is you’re honoring the sacrifice of all the people that did not make it, all the kids.
VB: Why do you think you came out whole?
Edwards: Well, I’m world class stubborn. If there was a gold medal for stubbornness … I was lucky. I was smart. I had everything going for me. I mean the MacArthur money, [a $500,000 genius grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation] that was a big deal. So I really did have everything imaginable … The betrayal of these agencies of the public trust is so profound and disturbing … The horror of this injustice, you don’t’ feel like celebrating or that you won anything. You just desperately try to prevent it from happening again. The EPA to this day has not apologized, has not acknowledged its role in what happened in D.C. or Flint. Until that happens there is no hope that another Flint will not occur. It will occur. The miracle in Flint was they got caught.
VB: And they got caught because a mother picked up the phone?
Edwards: Yes, and we were here ready to do the unthinkable. In a billion years they never thought someone would do what we did. You know we’re not in a position to do it again. This costs a lot of money …
VB: I read that you spent a quarter of million dollars (from his discretionary research funds at Virginia Tech) helping to expose the Flint water crisis? Did you get some of that back?
Edwards: We got back about $160,000 [ from a crowdfunding initiative] … The total we paid as of February amounts to six person years of effort for Flint. I haven’t written a grant in a year basically. It’s not just what you paid, and what you didn’t get back. It’s also how much time you’re spending on it without your cash flows drying up. Again, I’ve got no complaints. It was priceless. It had to be done. There’s so much more work to be done and so, you know, the whole celebrity thing, it’s kind of interesting how many people are fascinated by it.
VB: Because so many people stumble and fall when they become celebrities?
Edwards: Well, maybe yeah. That will never happen. If you’re a survivor …
VB: That’s how you see yourself, as a survivor?
Edwards: Absolutely. If you read about the Greatest Generation, those guys that survived World War II, they didn’t think they were heroes. They just felt lucky they came home. I’ve seen some really horrible things. It’s not hard to stay grounded, especially when you’re surrounded by good people.2016-06-29T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/NOVA_CapitolSouthpmrush030911-201.pngMetro’s maintenance plan includes track outages.Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority photo by Larry Levine
Metro maintenance creates rush-hour headaches
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/metro-maintenance-creates-rush-hour-headaches#When:10:00:00ZNorthern Virginia residents are adjusting their travel schedules as the 118-mile Metrorail transit system undergoes a maintenance overhaul.
In May, Metro began warning travelers that its maintenance schedule will have a significant effect on rush-hour commutes. In many cases, the work will reduce the frequency of trains.
Metro’s 11-month SafeTrack maintenance plan includes 15 “safety surges,” long-duration track outages for key parts of the system. The first surge started June 4 between the East Falls Church and Ballston stations.
In addition, the transit system is closing at midnight every night and expanding weekday maintenance operations by starting some jobs at 8 p.m.
Diana Sun, Arlington’s assistant county manager and director of communications, knows that this is just the beginning of a long year of inconvenience. “We are trying to figure out every possible way we can to get people to where they need to go,” she says.
In March, Metro had an emergency one-day shutdown, and many people had to find alternatives in getting to work. “That day went well,” Sun says. “What it says to me is that we can do it. It’s possible. It gives us hope.”
The county is encouraging businesses to offer employees alternatives, such as allowing them to telework or shift their schedules. “For those people who can telework, we want to encourage them to do so,” she says, noting that Arlington is making these adjustments for its employees. “Anything that will help to alleviate traffic.”
Other options include carpooling and bus transportation. “If you look at the sheer numbers, there are not enough buses to handle the Metro traffic,” Sun says, adding that the number of commuters riding bicycles to work increased during the Metro shutdown in March. “People that don’t live so far from work can take advantage of that. Also Uber expanded its carpooling that day as well.”
Sun hopes that commuters and businesses will find creative solutions. “The worst thing is to have one person in one car,” she says.
Arlington has a variety of options for commuters, including buses, Uber, Zipcar, Lyft, Car2Go, Capital Bikeshare and ART (Arlington Transit). Commuters can find a variety of options on the county’s CommuterPage.com where a section is devoted to SafeTrack information.
The shutdowns, of course, will include much more than Arlington. “This whole region is entirely interlinked,” Sun says. “It’s all connected. It has to be everybody pulling together.”2016-06-29T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/IMG_8655.pngJim Fitzgerald is CEO of Taradel, which has made the Inc. 5000 list eight times. Courtesy Taradel
Marketing firm Taradel is on a high-growth run
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/marketing-firm-taradel-is-on-a-high-growth-run#When:10:00:00ZWhen Taradel founder and CEO Jim Fitzgerald says the company is “growing like crazy,” that’s not an understatement.
The Richmond-based marketing company has been on the Inc. 5000 list of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies for the past eight years. Taradel ranked No. 2,126 on the 2015 list with 2014 revenue of $7.8 million and a 3-year growth rate of 184 percent.
Last year, revenue rose to $10.9 million, and Taradel is on target to hit $20 million this year, Fitzgerald says. The company currently has 31 employees and expects to add more.
Begun in 2003 under the name Print & Deliver, Taradel today has more than 10,000 customers in the U.S. and Canada, providing direct-mail, printing and integrated-marketing services. Most of its customers are small business owners, including health professionals such as doctors, dentists and chiropractors.
The majority of Taradel’s revenue comes from its direct-mail business, but it’s ramping up its integrated marketing business, Fitzgerald says.
“Even though direct mail can be complicated, [most small business owners] intuitively understand how it works. But many of them struggle with the nuisance associated with digital, so we think we’ve got a perfect opportunity to build a bridge from direct mail and hold their hands through the digital process,” Fitzgerald says.
Taradel is building a dashboard where customers can see results from an integrated marketing campaign, including phone calls received from print advertising and impression, click-through and conversion rates for digital campaigns. The company also is putting together a psychographic segmentation system, which will provide customers with reports detailing consumers’ attitudes, values and opinions. Both services are expected to begin this summer.
Taradel’s rapid growth hasn’t come without challenges. Fitzgerald says the company’s biggest obstacle is finding web programmers and engineers.
“Growth isn’t a problem,” he says. “We could grow faster still if we could find … acquire and train more people to build out the solutions I’ve talked to you about.”2016-06-29T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/DNP_1525.pngMaureen Best is executive director of LEAP, which opened The Kitchen. Photo by Don Petersen
What’s cooking at The Kitchen in Roanoke?
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/whats-cooking-at-the-kitchen-in-roanoke#When:10:00:00ZThe Kitchen may sound like the catchy name for a restaurant. The recently opened Roanoke facility, however, is designed to create food-related businesses, not meals.
The 769-square-foot facility includes two kitchens that can be rented out separately. They are available 24 hours a day, seven days week.
“We don’t have any limits on the number of businesses that can use it. It depends on space usage,” says Maureen Best, executive director of the Roanoke-based nonprofit Local Environmental Agriculture Project (LEAP), which opened The Kitchen. “One company might need it for three hours a day, and another might need it for five hours.”
One of the aims of The Kitchen is to help prospective business owners network and find the resources they need to get started.
“We already have relationships established in the community, and we have a lot of strong programs that already exist,” Best says. “We will help with the regulatory side. We are versed in that. We run two farmers markets in Roanoke where they could sell their products. We have permanent vendors and some flex booths, and that is a test market option for tenants.”
The Kitchen is located in Roanoke’s West End neighborhood, an area of the city considered a “food desert,” with little access to grocery stores. The project received a $25,000 grant from U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Local Food Promotion Program and a $100,000 grant from the Roanoke Women’s Foundation.
The facility also received a $20,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services with matching funds from Roanoke’s Economic Development Authority as well as other funding.
“There’s a huge interest,” says Best, noting that she has received several applications from companies. “One is starting a food truck business. They will be doing food prep. Other companies interested include a salsa company, a doughnut company, a company that makes a specialty sauce and people making ethnic cuisine.”2016-06-29T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/DSC_9099.pngPHCC student Chris Wagoner demonstrates the 3-D doodler pen. Photo courtesy Patrick Henry Community College
Martinsville facility promotes entrepreneurship
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/martinsville-facility-promotes-entrepreneurship#When:10:00:00ZA community college facility promoting entrepreneurship in Southern Virginia has opened in Martinsville.
The Thomas P. Dalton IDEA Center officially opened in May in a three-story building in Martinsville’s Uptown neighborhood bought by the Patrick Henry Community College Real Estate Foundation.
The 20,520-square-foot facility is the result of a donation by the family of the late Thomas P. Dalton, who graduated from the community college in 1982 and earned a degree from Averett University in 1984. He died in 2012.
“His family wanted more of a presence of the college in our Uptown area,” says Jim Bove, the community college’s public relations and marketing manager. “It was a booming area for local businesses several decades ago. It fell on hard times and now a lot of the space in that area has been revitalized by local entrepreneurs.”
The building formerly housed Solid Stone Fabrics, which recently relocated to accommodate an expansion.
The IDEA center’s name stands for “Innovate, Design, Engineer, Accelerate.” The facility houses the Fab Lab, a collaboration venture involving Patrick Henry Community College, the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. and New College Institute. The program started in a 1,400-square-foot space in 2012.
“Now the lab has around 14,000 square feet in the IDEA Center,” says Matthew Wade, the program’s coordinator.
The Martinsville Fab Lab is part of a network of around 60 facilities around the country, which offer digital fabrication opportunities to companies trying to develop new products and technologies. The lab also is connected to other facilities worldwide through a system provided by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the originator of the Fab Lab concept.
The Martinsville lab’s equipment includes vinyl and laser cutters, a desktop mill, a computer numerically controlled router, 3-D printers and electronic workstations.
“You teach people how to use the equipment, and they can create something to solve a problem,” Wade says. “They can make prototypes and start something before they go to manufacturing.”
The lab’s 3-D printers work with a variety of materials and substances that include metal, powder, plastic filament and resin. “But the Fab Lab is more than just 3-D printers because they have limitations,” Wade says. “We can fabricate projects in the lab with many different materials using other machines.”2016-06-29T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/PJJ_9213.pngThe trail features a dozen breweries. Photo courtesy Moore Public Relations
Beerwerks Trail aims to boost valley tourism
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/beerwerks-trail-aims-to-boost-valley-tourism#When:10:00:00ZThe valley has crafted its first beer trail.
The Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail, unveiled in May, features a dozen breweries in the central and southern areas of the valley.
Sheryl Wagner, director of tourism for Staunton, one of six localities involved in the project, says the trail is designed to highlight the region’s attractions as well as its breweries. The website promoting the trail, http://www.beerwerkstrail.com refer,s to local restaurants, farmers markets and festivals as well as listing opportunities for hiking, fishing and biking.
“I think this has tremendous potential not only for the breweries but for local hotels … restaurants and … retail,” Wagner says.
The participating breweries include: Brothers Craft Brewing, Pale Fire Brewing Co., Three Notch’d Brewing Co. and Wolfe Street Brewing Co. in Harrisonburg; Seven Arrows Brewing in Fishersville; Devils Backbone in Rockbridge County; Stable Craft Brewing in Augusta County; Redbeard Brewing Co., Shenandoah Valley Brewing Co. and Queen City Brewing in Staunton; Blue Lab Brewing Co. in Lexington; and Basic City Beer Co. in Waynesboro, which will open in August.
The trail’s marketing budget is $80,000 for the first year, Wagner says. Marketing efforts will include a print and online ad campaign, signage at the breweries and promotional information distributed at welcome centers across the state.
Tourism officials in the region have been thinking about the creation of a beer trail since 2014. While the project now includes breweries in the central and southern parts of the valley, there’s room for growth, Wagner says. “We are definitely open to including the entire valley, all the way up to Winchester.”
Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail joins five other beer trails in Virginia: The Brew Ridge Trail; the LoCo Ale Trail; Virginia’s Blue Ridge Beerway and the Red, White and Brew and Nelson 151 trails which include breweries, wineries, a cidery and distillery.
The number of craft breweries in Virginia has soared in recent years and now totals more than 140. Virginia Tourism Corp. says the craft beer industry supports 8,900 jobs in the commonwealth and has an estimated annual economic impact of more than $1 billion.2016-06-29T10:00:00+00:00
People - July 2016
Julie Richardson Agnew has been named to the board of directors of West Point-based C&F Financial Corp. Agnew is an associate professor of finance and economics and director of the Boehly Center for Excellence in Finance at the College of William and Mary. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
Teresa L. ‘Terrie’ Edwards, president of Sentara Leigh Hospital in Norfolk, has been promoted to corporate vice president for the Sentara Peninsula and Western Tidewater regions. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
Newport News-based PBMares LLP has named Rob Klingensmith director of wealth management at PBMares Wealth Management LLC. Klingensmith was CEO of Pilatus Bank in Ta’Xbiex, Malta. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
Reeves W. Mahoney has been named to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel Commission. He is senior managing member at Mahoney Nashatka Richmond PLLC in Virginia Beach. (News release)
Lisa Paw has joined Timmons Group in Hampton Roads as a project engineer in the office’s land development group. (Daily Press)
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has named James “Jim” Thomas vice president of development. Thomas was vice president for development and alumni relations and executive director of the Western Michigan University Foundation. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
Robert DiCenzo will serve as the new dean of Shenandoah University’s Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy in Winchester. DiCenzo replaces Alan McKay, who retired in May after 21 years with the university. DiCenzo was professor of pharmacy practice and interim dean of the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in New York. (The Winchester Star)
Mitch Moore has been promoted to senior vice president at Shenandoah University. Moore will continue his duties as vice president for advancement. The last person to hold the senior vice president position was Bryon Grigsby, who left Shenandoah in June 2013 to assume the presidency at his alma mater, Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary in Bethlehem, Pa. (The Winchester Star)
The United Way of Front Royal-Warren County has announced that Lee Smith-Osina has retired as executive director. Merry-Lynn Sheetz has stepped in to run the day-to-day operations until a new executive directo r is hired. Sheetz currently serves as the executive administrative assistant. (News release)
Brian Carlton has been named editor of the Martinsville Bulletin. He takes over from former editor Brandon Walker, who left in March. Carlton, 35, was managing editor of the News Virginian in Waynesboro. Both papers are part of BH Media. (Martinsville Bulletin)
Marc Crouse has been named executive director of STEP Inc., a community action agency that provides services in Franklin, Patrick, Henry, Pittsylvania and Bedford counties and the cities of Martinsville and Danville. He assumes the position after the retirement of Bill Loope, who had led the agency since late 2013. Crouse was director of administration, compliance and human resources for the Martinsville-Henry County Coalition for Health and Wellness. (Martinsville Bulletin)
The Pittsylvania County Community Action Inc.’s board of directors has appointed Everlena Ross as permanent executive director. Ross has worked for PCCA since 1988 in various positions, including interim executive director after the retirement of Sherman Saunders. (Danville Register & Bee)
David W. Stafford of Danville has joined Martinsville Smiles family dental practice. Stafford has practiced dentistry in Danville for the past three years. (Martinsville Bulletin)
Beth Doughty was named one of North America’s top 50 economic developers of 2016 by Consultant Connect. Doughty returned to the Roanoke Regional Partnership in March 2008 after nine years as president of the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce. (The Roanoke Times)
James Chapman has been elected as rector of the board of visitors at Virginia Tech for the 2016-2017 academic and fiscal years. Chapman is a senior partner in the law firm of Crenshaw, Ware & Martin in Norfolk. (The Roanoke Times)
The Roanoke Higher Education Center’s first and only leader is retiring after nearly 17 years. Tom McKeon will work through the end of the year. A successor will be named before he retires. (The Roanoke Times)
Maria Belen Cassera has been appointed to the National Institutes of Health Center for Scientific Review. She is an assistant professor of biochemistry in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech. (News release)
Larry D. Yates named to the Breaks Interstate Park Commission. He is the mayor of Haysi in Dickenson County. (News release)
The Bank of Fincastle in Botetourt County has hired four new managers, Cindy T. Bailey , marketing specialist; Peter C. Sackett , special assets manager; Natalie T. Sigmon, director of human resources; and Lisa C. Abbatello, assistant vice president and loan operations manager. (News release)
Sweet Briar College has named William Allen Jr. vice president for enrollment management. Allen was dean of enrollment services at West Virginia University Institute. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
Charlie Brennan and Dara Day have joined Ri chmond-based Davenport & Co. Brennan, a first vice president and retirement and investment consultant, was with RidgeWorth Investments. Day, vice president and national account manager, has extensive experience with distribution partners. (News release)
Kim Kacani and George Moore have been named senior vice presidents at HHHunt Communities in Glen Allen. Kacani has worked for HHHunt Communities for more than two decades. Moore has worked with the company for nearly two decades. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
Paige Mudd has been named executive editor and vice president of news at the Richmond Times-Dispatch a year after becoming the newspaper’s first female editor in its 166-year history. Michael Polucci, the newspaper’s outside advertising sales manager, was promoted to chief marketing and product development officer. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Former Virginia Tech President Charles Steger has been elected to the board of directors of Charlottesville-based Focused Ultrasound Foundation. (News release)
Commonwealth Commercial Partners LLC has named Kenneth S. Strickler president of the Richmond-based company. Mark Claud will continue to be CEO. Strickler helped found Commonwealth Commercial’s asset management division (StreamCo LLC) in 2008. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
Ashburn-based government services firm FCi Federal has promoted its president, Scott Miller, to CEO. Miller joined FCi Federal in 2012. The company’s founder and former CEO, Sharon Virts, will become executive chairman. (Washington Business Journal)
Tom Pageler has been named chief risk officer and chief information security officer at Neustar in Sterling. Pageler was chief risk officer and chief information security officer at DocuSign in San Francisco. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
Alexandria-based Dominion Dental Services has named Michael Brashears director of sales. He was Delta Dental’s sales executive for the Baltimore area. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
Alexandria-based PenFed Credit Union announced that its chairman of the board, Ed Cody, has been selected for induction into the Defense Credit Union Council’s Hall of Honor. (News release)
Richard Sellers named to the Virginia Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services. He is senior vice president, public policy and education for the American Feed Industry Association in Arlington. (News release)2016-06-29T10:00:00+00:00
For the Record - July 2016
Virginia Beach is gearing up to become a major high-speed data hub. Facebook and Microsoft plan to build an underwater cable to transmit large amounts of data from Bilbao, Spain, to Virginia Beach. Construction of the cable will start in August, with completion expected in October 2017. (The Virginian-Pilot)
Newport News-based Ferguson has acquired Bruce-Rogers Co. for an undisclosed amount. Bruce-Rogers Co. is a plumbing and HVAC equipment supply house in Fort Smith, Ark., that serves contractors in western Arkansas, eastern Oklahoma and southern Missouri. (Daily Press)
Newport News Shipbuilding is calling back 210 of the workers it laid off in early February. The recall follows another in early April, when 75 employees who had been laid off were called back. The 285 recalled employees were among 738 laid off on Feb. 3. Matt Mulherin, president of Newport News Shipbuilding, said the recall was due “to updated workload manning plans and growth work on several programs.” (The Virginian-Pilot)
Virginia Beach-based SwimWays Corp. is suing Aqua Leisure Industries and Bestway Global Holding Co. on allegations they infringed on several patents. The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Norfolk, lists examples of products that Aqua Leisure and Bestways have sold and continue to sell that constitute patent infringement, according to SwimWays. (Southside Daily)
Telefónica International Wholesale Services USA Inc. plans to build a data center in Virginia Beach that will house the first transoceanic fiber cable station in the mid-Atlantic. Telefónica, based in Madrid, is one of the 10 largest telecommunications companies in the world, with more than 320 million clients. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
The Williamsburg Lodge will join Autograph Collection Hotels, Marriott International’s portfolio of nearly 100 independent hotels worldwide, in January 2017. The Colonial Williamsburg Co., the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s for-profit subsidiary, will continue to own and operate the Williamsburg Lodge after the strategic alliance with Autograph Collection. (News release)
Augusta County School Board will receive more than $1 million in federal grant funding for its Head Start program, which promotes school readiness of children under 5 from low-income families through education, health, social and other services. It is one of six areas in Virginia receiving more than $17 million in funding. (News release)
Cargill is investing roughly $4 million in its equipment at its poultry processing plant in Harrisonburg including adding three robots used to stack boxes of turkey products onto pallets. Randy Batson, the plant’s general manager, said the company also is automating the plant’s ice-making equipment. Work on the upgrades is expected to be completed by the end of July. (Daily News-Record)
F&M Corp. has completed the first step of its Timberville shuffle. Farmers & Merchants Bank, a subsidiary of the company, has purchased the former Carilion Family Medicine building at 165 New Market Road and plans to move its in-town retail banking operations to that location. That move will open up space at 205 S. Main St. — now doubling as the Timberville branch and F&M Corp.’s offices — to expand its headquarters. (Daily News-Record)
Edinburg-based Shenandoah Telecommunications Co. has been named on Forbes 2016 list of 100 Most Trustworthy Companies in America. The company, known as Shentel, also was named to this list in 2013 and 2014. The list recognizes companies that consistently demonstrate trustworthy accounting and governance practices over the previous year, a release said. (News Leader)
The United Way of Greater Augusta recognized local companies, organizations and individuals at its annual awards ceremony held at the Frontier Culture Museum in May. There were three individual awards given out — Volunteer of the Year (Delia Zimmerman), Company of the Year (McKee Foods) and Nonprofit of the Year (Blue Ridge Legal Services). (News Leader)
The Valley Health System board of trustees announced that the boards of its four Virginia hospitals — Page Memorial Hospital, Shenandoah Memorial Hospital, Warren Memorial Hospital and Winchester Medical Center — will be consolidated with the Valley Health Board into one governing body. The governance and management of Valley Health’s two West Virginia hospitals, Hampshire Memorial Hospital and War Memorial Hospital, were consolidated under one board in 2014 and will not be affected. (Shenandoah Valley Now)
David Downes plans to establish the Virginia Beer Museum at 16 Chester St. in Front Royal. He said the objective is to represent the heritage of Virginia beer, stretching from Jamestown to the current craft beer renaissance. Downes said the museum hopes to have a soft opening sometime in July and plans to have a grand opening on Sept. 24 to coincide with the Brew and Blues Festival. (The Warren Sentinel)
Danville Regional Medical Center will soon add about 20 third-year medical students from Liberty University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine in Lynchburg to its roster of educational training programs. In August, Danville Regional Medical Center — in partnership with Memorial Hospital of Martinsville and Henry County and local physician practices — will begin training the Liberty University students. They will live in Danville and do the majority of their clinical rotations locally. (Danville Register & Bee)
Danville and Duke Energy official s held a reopening ceremony at the three-acre Abreu-Grogan Park in May after a $500,000 renovation. Duke had made a commitment with Danville to improve Abreu-Grogan Park recreation amenities in recognition of the city allowing the company to use the park while removing coal ash from the Dan River. In February 2014, coal ash spilled into the river from Duke’s old Dan River Steam Station in Eden, N.C. (Danville Register & Bee)
Patrick Henry Community College in Martinsville has announced a $100,000 endowment established by Kim and David Darnell in honor of Kim’s parents, retired Judge Kenneth M. Covington and his wife, Norma. Covington served as Henry County commonwealth’s attorney for 12 years and retired as a Henry County Circuit Court judge. (Work It, SoVa)
Raju Kosuri, his wife and four other defendants face federal visa fraud-related charges. The charges accuses Kosuri and his co-defendants of amassing more than $20 million by falsely acquiring visas for about 800 Indian immigrants, lying about what those immigrants would be doing — often claiming they would work for EcomNets in Danville — and charging the immigrants illegal fees for the service. Kosuri was the founder and CEO of EcomNets in Danville, which is no longer in operation. (Danville Register & Bee)
The West Piedmont Workforce Board has received $150,000 for a new program for small businesses designed to increase the skills of current employees. The funds — part of a $1 million statewide investment — will immediately be available to state workforce boards for the Incumbent Workforce Training program. Danville Community College is one of nine schools that will provide training and assignments, Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office announced. (Work It, SoVa)
Advance Auto Parts moved up one spot on this year’s Fortune 500 list to No. 293. Advance Auto is the only Fortune 500 company headquartered in Roanoke. It recorded $9.7 billion in revenue in 2015, down 1.1 percent from the previous year. The list, compiled by Fortune magazine, ranks the top publicly traded companies in the U.S. based on gross revenue. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
Crews will build downtown Roanoke’s Amtrak platform starting this fall, one year before the expected start of passenger train service. Officials have said the $9.9 million platform will sit level with the train car’s floor to permit level boarding. Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation spokeswoman Bethany Wolfe said Amtrak plans to begin service in the “fall of 2017” between Roanoke and all its Northeast corridor stops. (The Roanoke Times)
State environmental regulators have cited Norfolk-based Norfolk Southern Corp. for an oil spill that happened when two trains collided last summer in Pulaski County. The railroad agreed to pay a fine of $25,000 as part of an agreement with the Department of Environmental Quality. Another $5,232 will go to reimburse the agency for its investigation of the spill. (The Roanoke Times)
Radford University was expected to lose its Small Business Development Center in June. The decision to close the center, operated by Radford’s College of Business and Economics, was to shift that college’s funds in ways that “would more substantially benefit [the college’s] 1,500 students,” Radford spokesman Joe Carpenter said in an email. The center received half of its funding from the Virginia Small Business Development Network and federal funds and half from the university. (The Roanoke Times)
More workers are facing layoffs at the Dublin Volvo plant. Volvo’s only North American truck-making plant plans to enact layoffs at some time in August, adding to the hundreds of regional jobs the company already cut earlier this year. Volvo spokesman John Mies confirmed the latest rounds of layoffs via email, explaining that the latest announced round of layoffs is tied to more expected drops in truck production. (The Roanoke Times)
Abbott, a nutritional-products manufacturing company, is planning a $34 million expansion, a move expected to create 56 new jobs in Campbell County. Paid for in part by the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, Abbott’s expansion will take place during the next three years. The company now has 500 employees in Altavista. (The Lynchburg News & Advance)
Blue Ridge Optics has invested $1 million in real estate and equipment to expand its operations in Bedford County, a move expected to create 15 jobs during the next three years. Blue Ridge Optics produces high-tech optic lenses used in aerospace engineering, medicine, surveillance and other military uses around the world. The company now has 22 employees in Bedford. (Work It, Lynchburg)
Bon Secours Richmond Health System has launched its Bon Secours Value Network, a self-insured program for small and medium-sized businesses in Central Virginia. Self-funded plans are usually reserved for large companies with hundreds of employees. Value Network expects to make these plans available to companies with 10 to 100 employees. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Richmond-based Dominion Virginia Power is reassessing options for its offshore research project after being dropped from a Department of Energy program, making it ineligible for $40 million in funding. Dominion said the DOE withdrew the funding because the company could not guarantee the project would be in service by 2020. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
Atlanta-based consulting firm Thought Logic has opened an office in Richmond. The 2-year-old consulting firm has leased 3,600 square feet in Shockoe Slip. It plans to start hiring this summer, with a goal of having 100 Richmond-area employees in three to five years. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Richmond-based Union Bank & Trust has completed its acquisition of Old Dominion Capital Management Inc., a Charlottesville-based registered investment advisory firm with nearly $300 million in assets under management. Old Dominion will operate as a subsidiary of the bank from its offices in Charlottesville and Alexandria. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Richmond-based menswear brand Ledbury is relocating its downtown headquarters and store from Shockoe Bottom to 315 W. Broad St. in the city’s Arts District. Ledbury will move into the three-floor, 11,700-square-foot space in August. At street level, the first-floor storefront will open to a 2,000-square-foot retail store, slated to open in September. The second and third floors will be reserved for the Ledbury offices. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
CSC plans to merge with Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s Enterprise Services segment, creating a $26 billion IT services company. The merger is expected to be complete by the end of March 2017, subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals. The combined company will serve more than 5,000 clients in 70 countries. The company expects its headquarters to remain in Tysons, according to a CSC spokesman. It has not been determined whether the merger will affect employment levels at the two companies. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. named its real estate investment trust Park Hotels & Resorts as the McLean hospitality giant’s board approved spinning off its real estate and timeshare businesses. The timeshare business will be called Hilton Grand Vacations. The company now is a step closer to splitting into three publicly traded companies. The new entities expected to begin trading by the end of the year. (Washington Business Journal)
Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced in June that a site in Fauquier County has been selected for a planned 120-bed veterans care center . Construction of the new facility is planned to start in late 2017 a nd be completed in late 2019. The Northern Virginia Veterans Care Center will be the commonwealth’s third veterans care center, joining ones in Richmond and Roanoke. A fourth center also is planned for Hampton Roads. (News release)
Baltimore-based Segall Group , a retail re al estate firm, is opening a Washington, D.C., regional office in Ros slyn. Segall Group, which was established in 2008, has also promoted Joe Fleischmann to principal and lead of the Rosslyn office. He will be responsible for the company’s growth in the region and the expansion of its brand. Fleischmann plans to recruit several retail brokers and support staff for the office. (VirginiaBusiness.com)
Walmart is seeking approval for an employee training center adjacent to its store in Fredericksburg’s Central Park. The site plan, submitted to the city by architecture and engineering firm Harrison French and Associates on behalf of Walmart Stores Inc., is undergoing internal evaluation. Walmart spokesman Kory Lundberg said three centers — in Dallas, Fort Smith, Ark., and Fayetteville, Ark. — have already opened. Walmart plans 200 of the centers in or near existing stores by the end of 2017. (The Free Lance-Star)2016-06-29T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/ECPI-9221.pngECPI has just over 10,000 students. Photo by Mark Rhodes
ECPI University observes its 50th anniversary
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/ecpi-university-observes-its-50th-anniversary#When:10:00:00ZDuring the past 50 years, more than 60,000 students have graduated from Virginia Beach-based ECPI University, a private, for-profit school.
Mark Dreyfus is president of ECPI, which was started by his father, Alfred, in 1966. “His focus was always on student success, and that hasn’t changed,” Dreyfus says. “We focus on the skills that employers want.”
Alfred Dreyfus came to the U.S. from Switzerland in 1947 and found work repairing electronic equipment. He started ECPI, which stands for East Coast Polytechnic Institute, because he knew there would be a shortage of workers with technical skills, especially in the area of computer technology.
ECPI’s first class in Norfolk had about a dozen students. “By the early 1980s, we had students coming from Richmond and North Carolina,” Dreyfus says.
ECPI now has locations in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Newport News, Richmond, Roanoke and Manassas. The school has six more campuses in North Carolina and South Carolina. Online it has students in about 45 states.
ECPI has slightly more than 10,000 students, an enrollment level that has been consistent for the past five years. Average annual tuition is $14,290, with most students carrying student loans.
The school’s accelerated, year-round schedule gives students the chance to earn bachelor’s degrees in 2½ years or an associate degree in 1½ years. Day and night classes are offered with some Saturday classes as well.
ECPI has schools specializing in technology, health science, nursing, business, criminal justice and culinary arts. It offers students internship and externship programs with local employers.
Mike Morgan, executive director of information technology for the VCU School of Dentistry in Richmond, has two ECPI graduates working for him. “We have had a really good experience hiring from ECPI,” he says. “Most of the folks we hire are right out of the bachelor’s program. Within two months they are operating pretty independently. ECPI is my first recruiting source for help-desk consultants.”
ECPI says its curriculum focuses on areas that offer career opportunities leading to higher wages. In one of its biggest programs, network security, which has 1,413 students, average starting salaries are in the mid-$40,000 range. Electronics engineering technology graduates start around $50,000. The school has 1,057 students enrolled in that program.
ECPI’s current student employment rate is 83.6 percent within six months of graduation. That percentage relates to students now employed in the field in which they studied.2016-06-29T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Bernie-5871.pngPhoto by Mark Rhodes
Work and play, is there a difference?
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/opinion/article/work-and-play-is-there-a-difference#When:10:00:00ZWe are all familiar with the phrase, “Work hard — play hard!” Often it’s a rallying cry for another round of cocktails with your team in the lobby bar or soaking up late-night drinks in a hospitality suite while “networking.” The laughs may be big, though not terribly productive; hopefully fewer problems were created than solved. There’s nothing wrong with esprit de corps, but that’s not what I’m thinking of right now.
What I am thinking of is the relationship between our success at work and what we learned about life, playing and competing in childhood. Did these experiences make you better later in life and is competitiveness really the same thing as success?
I grew up in the Neolithic pre-electronics era, so my earliest memories of play have to do with climbing trees and trying to roller skate. My earliest experience with competition involved racing homemade toy boats on Richmond’s Reedy Creek. Some boats had sails and others were powered by rubber-band engines. I always felt accomplished as a tree climber but was less successful with roller skates. My toy boats did pretty well. Overall, these are pleasant memories.
My first experience with organized sports came with Pee Wee football. The league had a 100-pound weight limit. In seventh grade, I topped the scales on weigh-in day at 98 pounds. That was a good weight for being an offensive lineman or a linebacker but, at that age, was maybe too much for a ball-handling position. That was something I always wanted to do — be one of the cool kids, scoring points for the team. Nuts!
Our football team made it all the way to the city championships, played at Richmond’s City Stadium. We were the Westover Devils, a Parks and Rec team from the city’s South Side, ironically pitted against the St. Christopher’s Saints, a private school team from across the James River. While there may not be a lesson — theological, social, economic or otherwise — in the Saints winning 7-0, I’ll always remember that score.
In high school, things were a bit different. Gym class was pretty competitive. A boy named Harold wasn’t the tallest guy in the class, but he was certainly the fastest. I remember watching Harold run the quarter-mile on the track and wishing I could be that fast.
Another day while playing baseball, a classmate jumped in front of me in the batting line. He threatened me with the bat when I tried to assert that it really was my turn — so much for fairness!
We all probably learned some life lessons in early play and participation in sports, some helpful, others perhaps less so.
Dr. Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play, has researched the impact of play on cognitive development. Brown’s work shows that, much like sleep and dreams, play is an essential activity. Time spent at play helps with the development of important skills for humans and animals. This is true for both children and adults.
Brown asserts that thinking back to early experiences with play — or the lack thereof — can provide insights into adult behavior.
When it comes to competing in sports, some people are highly motivated by the joy of winning; others are motivated by a fear of losing. In the workplace, these different experience-based play styles suggest that varying management styles can be helpful.
It’s doubtful that competitiveness is the same as success. This is especially true with regard to individual rather than team-based competitiveness. No doubt many of us can recall scenarios where personal ambition was destructive to company results.
To a large degree, collaboration has gained standing versus competition in today’s business culture. Yes, teams must still be competitive, but individuals are more often collaborative in achieving success.
Leaders of companies consistently recognized as best places to work (see last February’s Virginia Business) often lament that too much emphasis is put on office perks. Creating a great place to work is a lot more difficult than just putting a pingpong table and yoga mats in the break room. Yes, employees need fun, but they also need to have fun together.
The Gallup organization has led a multi-year study of workplace culture. Interestingly, one of its key questions concerns agreement with this statement: “I have a best friend at work.” Companies with employees scoring high on this statement have higher employee retention, productivity, customer satisfaction and profitability. Importantly, it’s not just any friend at work — it’s a best friend.
When you think back to your earliest memories of play, more than likely they involved a best friend, maybe a neighbor, a sibling or a parent. What was learned in those early experiences may have had a profound impact on how you are working today.
So here we are mid-summer. I hope you are getting in some time for play. It is easy to be impatient for success, but it is never too late to learn. Go have some fun!2016-06-29T10:00:00+00:00
Followups - July 2016
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/followups-july-2016#When:10:00:00ZShareholders approve the merger of Nexstar and Media General
The merger of Richmond-based Media General Inc. and Texas-based Nexstar Broadcasting Group Inc. moved closer to completion in June when shareholders from both companies approved the $4.6 billion deal.
The combined company would be based in Irving, Texas, and have 171 television stations across the country. The merger is expected to close later this year.
Virginia Business reported in its June issue that Media General has made a $100,000 gift to the Virginia Historical Society in honor of its late chairman, J. Stewart Bryan III, who died in January. The company also donated many of its records to the VHS Reynolds Business History Center.
VHS has used the Media General gift to establish an endowment fund for research, scholarship and programming on the history of American journalism and freedom of the press.
Old Dominion to use $35 million gift to build a new art museum
Old Dominion University plans to create a new art museum with donations valued at $35 million from benefactors Richard and Carolyn Barry.
The gift is the largest in ODU’s history. The museum is expected to hold its grand opening in 2018.
Richard Barry had a 40-year career at Landmark Media Enterprises and its predecessor, Landmark Communications, where he was vice chairman. He was rector of ODU’s board of visitors in the 1980s. Carolyn Barry is a master docent at the Chrysler Museum of Art and serves on the museum’s board of trustees.
June’s issue included lists of major donations made by individuals, corporations and foundations in 2015. An extensive list of this year’s donations will be included in next June’s issue.2016-06-29T10:00:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/Karavatakis_jpg.jpg
Carter Bank & Trust promotes longtime employee to president
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/companies/article/carter-bank-trust-promotes-longtime-employee-to-president#When:20:06:00ZCarter Bank & Trust has promoted a longtime employee to become president of the Martinsville bank.
Phyllis Q. Karavatakis, who has been employed with Carter Bank & Trust for 38 years, most recently served as executive vice president and chief lending officer.
She received an associate degree from Ferrum College and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Richmond. She also is a graduate of the Virginia Bankers Association School of Bank Management at the University of Virginia.
Karavatakis currently serves on several boards, including The Launch Place in Danville, Ferrum College and the Virginia Bankers Association School of Bank Management. She also is a former chair of the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce and is a founding member of the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber’s Partnership for Economic Growth.2016-06-28T20:06:00+00:00
Dollar Bank to acquire Bank @lantec of Virginia Beach
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/dollar-bank-to-acquire-bank-lantec-of-virginia-beach#When:19:42:00ZPittsburgh-based Dollar Bank announced Tuesday it will acquire Virginia Beach-based Bank @Lantec.
Both banks are mutual banks, owned by depositors rather than shareholders. The boards of directors at both banks have approved the merger, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2016.
Dollar Bank will retain all Bank @lantec employees and will continue to operate all four of Virginia’s branch offices. Susan Ralston, president and CEO of Bank @Lantec, will lead Dollar Bank’s Virginia operations as senior vice president and chief operating officer.
“This merger will further advance the position of having a stronger mutual institution available as an option to compete with national stock-based banks in this region,” Ralston said in a statement.
Dollar Bank is the largest independent mutual bank in the country with assets of more than $7.4 billion. Post merger, its assets would growth to more than $7.5 billion. The bank currently has more than 60 locations in the Pittsburg and Cleveland metropolitan areas.
Jim McQuade, president and CEO of Dollar Bank, said Dollar Bank is looking to acquire smaller mutual banks.
“We want to use our significant financial strength to expand our footprint in both markets we currently serve as well as new markets, when appropriate to offer customers what we believe is the purest form of community banking,” McQuade said.2016-06-28T19:42:00+00:00http://www.virginiabusiness.com/uploads2/VOLKSWAGEN_LOGO.pngPhoto courtesy Volkswagen Group of America Inc.
Volkswagen emission fraud settlement will provide state with more than $100 million
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/volkswagen-settlement-will-provide-state-with-more-than-100-million-for-emi#When:16:38:00ZConsumers who bought or leased VW or Audi vehicles in the state may be eligible for compensation due to a $14.7 billion federal settlement addressing Volkswagen's emissions cheating.
“The compensation in this case is extraordinary, but so was the scale and brazenness of VW's violations,” Attorney General Mark R. Herring said Tuesday in a news release. “This settlement sends a clear message that we are on duty and on guard to defend the rights of Virginians when businesses try to lie, or cheat, or falsely market their products."
The German automaker, whose North American headquarters are in Herndon, has acknowledged equipping certain vehicles with illegal and undisclosed software designed to skirt emissions laws.
As part of the settlement, Virginia will receive more than $100 million and qualified Virginia VW owners will receive tens of millions more in direct compensation.
VW will fix affected vehicles, provide millions in compensation directly to the local owners of the more than 20,000 affected vehicles, compensate the state for violations of consumer protection laws, and establish a trust fund for use on projects to improve the environment by reducing air pollution in the transportation sector.
The affected vehicles include 2009 through 2015 Volkswagen TDI diesel models of Jettas, Passats, Golfs and Beetles as well as the TDI Audi A3. For more information, visit https://www.vwcourtsettlement.com.2016-06-28T16:38:00+00:00
Virginia Hotel Partners to build a 117-room Fairfield Inn & Suites in Charlottesville
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/virginia-hotel-partners-to-build-a-117-room-fairfield-inn-suites-in-charlot#When:14:34:00ZVirginia Hotel Partners LP has purchased 2.4 acres of land in Charlottesville for $1.4 million for the development of a 117-room Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott.
The company, a limited partnership based out of Kingston, Pa., expects to open the hotel in 2017. It would be part of a 100,000-square-foot, mixed-use William Taylor Plaza project that has been proposed by Southern Development.
According to CBRE|Charlottesville, the seller of the land was Cherry Avenue Investments LLC.
The site is located at the intersection of Cherry Avenue and Ridge Street.
CBRE’s Cass Kawecki and Carolyn Shears represented the seller while Leigh Hughes and Mason Graham represented the purchaser.
TowneBank acquires Monarch Financial Holdings Inc.
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/townebank-acquires-monarch-financial-holdings-inc#When:16:25:00ZThe merger of two Hampton Roads-based community banks is officially complete.
Suffolk-based TowneBank announced Monday that it has completed the previously announced acquisition of Chesapeake-based Monarch Financial Holdings Inc., and its bank subsidiary.
Monarch stockholders received 0.8830 shares of TowneBank common stock for each share of Monarch common stock.
TowneBank has grown to $6.37 billion in assets as of March 31, and is one of the largest banks headquartered in Virginia. With the Monarch acquisition, total assets for the combined companies, on a pro forma basis as of March 31, were $7.58 billion.
In connection with the merger, seven Monarch directors, Jeffrey F. Benson, E. Neal Crawford, Jr., William T. Morrison, Robert M. Oman, Elizabeth T. Patterson, Dwight C. Schaubach and Brad E. Schwartz, will join the board of directors of TowneBank.
In addition, TowneBank appointed three new executive officers who will transition from their previous positions at Monarch:
Brad E. Schwartz, will serve as senior executive vice president and chief operating officer of TowneBank. Schwartz had served as CEO of Monarch Bank since 2009 and CEO of Monarch since 2010, having previously served as executive vice president and chief operating and financial officer.
E. Neal Crawford Jr., will serve as president of Towne Financial Services LLC. Crawford had served as president of Monarch Bank since 2009 and president of Monarch since 2010.
William T. Morrison, will serve as chairman and CEO of TowneBank Mortgage and Realty Group, a division of TowneBank. Morrison had served as CEO of Monarch Mortgage since 2011 after having previously served as executive vice president and COO of Monarch Mortgage.2016-06-27T16:25:00+00:00
Countryside Classics is relocating from downtown Salem to Roanoke
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/countryside-classics-is-relocating-from-downtown-salem-to-roanoke#When:15:34:00ZCountryside Classics is relocating from its downtown Salem location to the Hunting Hills Shopping Center in Roanoke.
According to Waldvogel Commercial Properties, the company has signed a 6,000-square-foot lease in the 166,000-square-foot center, which is anchored by Kohl’s and owned by an entity related to Brixmor Property Group, a real estate investment trust with national holdings.
Countryside Classics, which opened for business in 1991, has been located in Salem at 120 E. Main Street for 20 years. The store carries a broad range of gifts and other inventory including cigars, wine, beer, clothes, infant and children’s clothing and a year-round Christmas shop.
Michael Waldvogel and Krista Vannoy represented the tenant in the transaction.2016-06-27T15:34:00+00:00
Huntington Ingalls Industries to expand industrial facility in Newport News
http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/huntington-ingalls-industries-to-expand-industrial-facility-in-newport-news#When:14:51:00ZHuntington Ingalls Industries said Monday that its Newport News Industrial subsidiary would undergo a 52,000-square-foot expansion at its headquarters facility in Newport News.
The facility, at 182 Enterprise Drive, will be expanded to house production areas, heavy cranes and plate-forming equipment. The expansion will support the company’s heavy steel fabrication in the commercial nuclear power industry and will create at least 120 new skilled trades jobs. Additional parking also will also be added to support the larger workforce.
“We at Newport News Industrial are excited to see this expansion come to life because it will support our work in the nuclear power industry and support our community through job creation,” Pete Diakun, vice president of energy programs at HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding division, said in a statement. “With this expansion, NNI will be better equipped to serve its commercial and government customers in the nuclear energy space.”
The expansion is scheduled to be completed in fall 2017.
Huntington Ingalls Industries is America’s largest military shipbuilding company and a provider of engineering, manufacturing and management services to the nuclear energy, oil and gas markets.2016-06-27T14:51:00+00:00