The Port of Virginia Reinvests in Richmond Marine Terminal

Wednesday, 10 February 2016 09:54 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Port of Virginia signed a lease to continue operation of Richmond Marine Terminal through 2056 allowing the port to implement a long-term strategy to reinvest in RMT.

The Port of Virginia signed a lease to continue operation of Richmond Marine Terminal through 2056 allowing the port to implement a long-term strategy to reinvest in RMT.

In order to modernize the 120-acre barge terminal, a $4.2 million 350-ton crane was installed at RMT, which will speed up the loading and unloading of the container barge.

A new barge was added with 50 percent more capacity to carry containers in a single trip. Rail upgrades, regular dredging, new cargo-moving equipment and other improvements are also scheduled to occur.

RMT is strategically located along the James River and I-95, and connects Richmond and the state to global trade through The Port of Virginia’s container terminals in the Norfolk Harbor.

The Port of Virginia offers direct service to more than 45 counties worldwide. It’s the only U.S. East Coast port with congressional authorization for 55-foot depth channels, and has the ability to be the first and last port of call.

To learn more about Virginia’s port and infrastructure advantages, click here.


New crane at Richmond Marine Terminal during lease signing event in Richmond.

The Port of Virginia – the Only Port on the U.S. East Coast Ready Now for Post-Panamax Vessels

Tuesday, 11 March 2014 15:58 by Info@YesVirginia.org
While other ports along the East Coast scramble to deepen their channels in preparation for the Panama Canal expansion, the Port of Virginia stands ready as the only port on the U.S. East Coast currently capable of handling post-Panamax ships as first and last port of call...

While other ports along the East Coast scramble to deepen their channels in preparation for the Panama Canal expansion, the Port of Virginia stands ready as the only port on the U.S. East Coast currently capable of handling post-Panamax ships as first and last port of call.

With 50-foot channels and authorization up to 55 feet, the Port of Virginia offers the deepest shipping channels on the U.S. East Coast, able to accommodate ships greater than 10,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units). Even just a few feet of channel depth can have a significant impact. 45-foot channels can only accommodate up to 8,500-TEU vessels and 42-foot channels can only accommodate 4,500-TEU vessels.

The Port of Virginia offers prime, unobstructed access to the Atlantic Ocean. This saves valuable transit time and costs, and ships traveling to the Port of Virginia can avoid the hassle of traveling inland, navigating rivers and overhead obstructions like low bridges.

Served by every major shipping line, the Port of Virginia offers direct connection to more than 100 foreign ports and reach to any country in the world. Norfolk Southern and CSX offer on-dock, double-stack intermodal service to markets throughout the Northeast, Midwest and Southeast. Customers also have access to 12 short-line railroads for a total of 3,500 miles of track throughout Virginia. 

The Port of Virginia is one of the largest intermodal networks on the East Coast, handling 2.2 million TEUs in 2013. The Virginia Port Authority operates four owned terminals:  three marine terminals, Norfolk International Terminals, Portsmouth Marine Terminal, Newport News Marine Terminal, and an inland facility, the Virginia Inland Port. VPA also operates two leased marine facilities: APM Terminals and the Port of Richmond.

Norfolk International Terminals is the Port of Virginia’s largest terminal. It houses 14 Suez Class ZPMC cranes, the largest, most efficient cranes in the world. Capable of handling current and future ships, these cranes have a 245-foot reach that can offload vessels loaded 27 containers wide.

APM Terminals is known as the most technologically advanced terminal in the Americas. It automates and optimizes the flow of crane and container movements, and its advanced tracking systems can pinpoint the exact location of every container. Cargo movements are handled by eight Super Post-Panamax ship-to-shore cranes, 30 semi-automated rail-mounted gantry cranes and two rubber-tire gantry cranes with electric spreader bars.

Use the highlighted links to learn more about the capabilities of the world-class Port of Virginia and Virginia’s global logistics network.

Virginia Receives Numerous Top Rankings from Business Facilities Magazine

Friday, 9 August 2013 10:35 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Once again, Virginia received a number of top rankings in Business Facilities’ 2013 State Rankings Report. The Commonwealth was ranked No. 5 for Best Business Climate and No. 8 for Economic Growth Potential...

Once again, Virginia received a number of top rankings in Business Facilities’ 2013 State Rankings Report. The Commonwealth was ranked No. 5 for Best Business Climate and No. 8 for Economic Growth Potential.

The strength of Virginia’s workforce and education system was recognized through a No. 8 ranking for Best Education Climate and a No. 9 in the Employment Leaders category.

A number of Virginia’s key industries were also touted by the study. Virginia was ranked No. 4 in the Data Center category. Data center investment has grown at a rapid pace in the Commonwealth due to Virginia’s plentiful high-tech workforce, substantial broadband infrastructure, and low-cost environment. In 2012, Virginia saw more than $1 billion in investment in this sector.

Virginia was ranked No. 7 in the Aerospace/Defense Industry Leaders category. This comes as no surprise, as the Commonwealth is the No. 1 state for Department of Defense contracts and is home to a number of global aerospace and defense companies due to its strengths in the high-tech and manufacturing spaces, strong military presence and close proximity to federal customers. Virginia also offers one of only four commercial sites authorized by the FAA for orbital space launch.

Often referred to as the “Energy Capital of the East Coast,” Virginia was recognized as a Biofuels Leader with a No. 7 ranking. The Commonwealth has seen a number of announcements in this sector—Enviva is currently completing construction on a 454,000-metric-ton wood pellet manufacturing facility in Southampton County. The company will utilize Southern Virginia’s rich wood basket, seasoned labor force, and proximity to the Port of Chesapeake to provide biomass for its international customers.

In addition, three Virginia localities were recognized in the Business Facilities Metro Rankings Report. Prince George County was rated No. 7 for Economic Growth Potential, due in part to expansions at Ft. Lee, Rolls-Royce and the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM). 

Newport News and Norfolk were ranked No. 2 and No. 9, respectively, as Logistics Leaders (Ports) for their proximity to the international Port of Virginia. Offering access to 250 ports in more than 100 overseas locations, the Port of Virginia is the only U.S. East Coast location able to handle post-Panamax vessels as first port of call.

Virginia continues to receive top accolades because the Commonwealth offers the location and resources businesses need to succeed. To learn why companies have prospered in Virginia for more than 400 years, click here.

German Investment in Virginia Continues—PRUFREX Establishes First U.S. Location

Wednesday, 17 July 2013 16:23 by Info@YesVirginia.org
PRUFREX Innovative Power Products GmbH announced plans to establish its first U.S. location in Virginia Beach through a $7.33 million investment, which will create 60 new jobs. The project includes both a manufacturing facility as well as the company’s U.S. headquarters...

PRUFREX Innovative Power Products GmbH announced plans to establish its first U.S. location in Virginia Beach through a $7.33 million investment, which will create 60 new jobs. The project includes both a manufacturing facility as well as the company’s U.S. headquarters.

PRUFREX is a leading producer of digital ignition systems and electronic control systems for the small engine, marine and recreation, automotive, and electric and cordless power markets. The company’s global headquarters are in Cadolzburg, Germany.

The benefits of supply chain for economic development are apparent in this project—PRUFREX selected Virginia Beach over Georgia to be closer to two key customers, German-based BMZ Batteries and STIHL Inc.

STIHL opened its first U.S. plant in Virginia Beach in 1974, and has since grown to become the No. 1 brand of chain saws in the world. The company’s U.S. headquarters are now located in Virginia Beach, and since 1990 the company has announced investment of $335 million and 942 new jobs in the Commonwealth.

BMZ Batteries followed in April 2011, also establishing its U.S. headquarters in Virginia Beach to be close to STIHL and its other international customers. 

Germany has been in the top three for international investment and job creation in the Commonwealth over the last four years.

PRUFREX, BMZ Batteries and STIHL have all made reference to the quality of Virginia’s workforce, particularly its engineering and advanced manufacturing capabilities, as well as the Commonwealth’s strategic East location and ability to easily reach U.S. customers through its premier logistics infrastructure.

Virginia’s transportation network includes access to the international Port of Virginia, the only U.S. East Coast location able to handle post-Panamax vessels as first port of call, as well as an integrated system of six interstate highways, nine commercial airports and 14 railroads, including two Class I lines.

To learn why Virginia is home to more than 700 internationally-owned companies, click here.

Unilever Invests $96.2 Million in Suffolk, Va. Lipton Tea Plant

Tuesday, 12 March 2013 14:11 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Yesterday, Unilever announced plans to invest $96.2 million to upgrade its Lipton Tea Plant in Suffolk, part of the Hampton Roads region of Virginia...

Yesterday, Unilever announced plans to invest $96.2 million to upgrade its Lipton Tea Plant in Suffolk, part of the Hampton Roads region of Virginia.

The Lipton Tea plant has operated out of Suffolk since 1955 and is the largest tea processing facility in the U.S., producing nearly all the Lipton tea bags sold throughout North America. 

The investment will allow the company to increase production by both expanding and upgrading to more modern equipment. The Suffolk plant already has a reputation for efficiency and sustainability—in 2009 it became a “zero-landfill” facility through a combination of recycling, composting, and converting waste into usable energy.

Close proximity to the international Port of Virginia was a key deciding factor in the Commonwealth’s favor. Unilever already utilizes the port to bring in loose tea from all over the world for processing at its Suffolk plant. The Port of Virginia offers access to 250 ports in more than 100 overseas locations.

The strength of the Hampton Roads employee pool was another positive factor cited by the company. More than 300 highly-skilled workers currently support the Lipton plant.

This investment adds to Virginia’s growing food and beverage cluster. Home to household names such as Hershey Foods, Nestlé Prepared Foods, Kraft Foods, and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, more than 550 food and beverage manufacturing companies have established operations in the Commonwealth.

To learn why food and beverage companies have invested more than $1.9 in Virginia over the last decade, click here.

Governor McDonnell presents Bill Kelly, Suffolk Supply Chain Leader, Unilever, with a commemorative share of stock in the Virginia Company at the Lipton Tea plant announcement event in Suffolk, Va.

Liebherr Mining Equipment Co. Expands in Hampton Roads, Virginia

Monday, 25 February 2013 13:47 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Liebherr Mining Equipment Newport News Co. recently announced plans to expand its advanced manufacturing operation in Hampton Roads, Va., through a $45.4 million investment, creating 174 new jobs...

Liebherr Mining Equipment Newport News Co. recently announced plans to expand its advanced manufacturing operation in Hampton Roads, Va., through a $45.4 million investment, creating 174 new jobs. 

The Liebherr campus is located in Copeland Industrial Park, which covers two Virginia cities—Newport News and Hampton.  

Liebherr, part of the Liebherr Group based in Switzerland, is known as a leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment. The expansion will allow the company to meet demand for its mining trucks as well as develop new models.  The company expects to produce 240-ton, 320-ton, and 400-ton models.

In addition to increasing capacity and adding production equipment, this investment also enables Liebherr to expand its office and warehouse space. The company plans to add a training center as well as augment its material flow process.

Established in the Hampton Roads region in 1970, the company’s 40-year history and decision to further invest in Virginia speaks to its positive experience with the Commonwealth’s skilled workforce and pro-business climate.

The Hampton Roads location also offers close proximity to the international Port of Virginia. The company’s equipment is shipped worldwide, and the Port of Virginia offers access to 250 ports in more than 100 overseas locations. In addition, it is the only port on the U.S. East Coast able to handle post-Panamax vessels as first port of call.

With its skilled workforce, low-cost environment, and premier logistics infrastructure, Virginia is home to more than 6,000 manufacturing establishments. To learn why manufacturing companies have invested more than $13.7 billion in the Commonwealth over the last decade, click here.

Secretary Jim Cheng addresses the crowd at the Liebherrr Mining Equipment Co. announcement event in Newport News, Va.

WEIGHTPACK Moves Headquarters from Italy to Virginia

Thursday, 15 November 2012 14:47 by Info@YesVirginia.org
WEIGHTPACK Inc. recently announced plans to move its headquarters from Italy and expand its existing operation in Powhatan County, Va. The project will bring a $2.6 million investment and 35 new jobs to the Central Virginia region...

WEIGHTPACK Inc. recently announced plans to move its headquarters from Italy and expand its existing operation in Powhatan County, Va. The project will bring a $2.6 million investment and 35 new jobs to the Central Virginia region.

WEIGHTPACK is a packaging machinery company that designs and builds complete lines for the filling and capping of liquid product containers, with applications in the beverage, home care, personal care, pharmaceutical and chemical industries.

The company has operated in Powhatan since 2001, and the decision to move its global headquarters to the same location illustrates how well Virginia’s business environment, workforce, and logistics infrastructure compete at a global level.

The Powhatan location is poised to become a major production hub as the company transitions to a more vertically integrated supply chain, providing for growing customer demand in the North and South American and Asian markets.

Powhatan County’s strong quality of life and access to Virginia’s world-class transportation network make it a premier location. WEIGHTPACK has historically used the international Port of Virginia for importing component parts. With the expansion of the production facility, the company expects to increase its exports through the port to reach international markets.

As global companies continue to bring high technology, manufacturing jobs to the U.S., Virginia stands ready to fulfill industry needs with a strong pipeline of highly-skilled, advanced manufacturing employees.

To learn more about Virginia’s advanced manufacturing capabilities and why more than 6,000 manufacturing establishments have located in the Commonwealth, click here.

Backcountry.com Opens East Coast Fulfillment Center in Montgomery County, Va.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012 13:29 by Info@YesVirginia.org
On Friday, Backcountry.com celebrated the opening of its East Coast fulfillment center in Montgomery County, less than a year after the company announced it would invest $20 million and create 200 new jobs...

On Friday, Backcountry.com celebrated the opening of its East Coast fulfillment center in Montgomery County, less than a year after the company announced it would invest $20 million and create 200 new jobs. 

Secretary Cheng attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony, congratulating the company on its swift progress preparing the facility at Falling Branch Corporate Park.

As the largest online specialty retailer of premium outdoor gear, Backcountry.com is known for its fast delivery times and selected the Commonwealth for its strategic East Coast location and world-class logistics network. With 14 railroads, six major interstate highways, 9 commercial airports and the international Port of Virginia, the Commonwealth offers easy access to customers on the East Coast and beyond. 

To maintain its reputation for excellent customer service, locating near a skilled workforce was critical to Backcountry.com. With its close proximity to the Appalachian Trail and Washington-Jefferson National Forest, Montgomery County caters to outdoor enthusiasts, drawing a talented and passionate labor pool closely aligned with the company’s mission.

Virginia continues to be a leading location for fulfillment and distribution centers—Ace Hardware, Amazon.com, Home Depot, McKesson Corp, QVC, Target and Wal-Mart have all established operations in the Commonwealth.

Over the last ten years global logistics companies have announced more than 360 projects, totaling more than $1.6 billion in capital investment. To learn more about Virginia’s premier location and logistics infrastructure, click here.

Secretary Cheng (left) joins company and local officials as Co-Founder and Executive Chairman Jim Holland cuts the ribbon with one of Backcountry.com’s products.

YesVirginia Business Blog | A place for news, opinions, and information regarding the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.

Classes Commence at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center’s IT Academy

Thursday, 13 August 2015 13:32 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Classes start this Monday, August 17, at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center’s IT Academy. The IT Academy offers a fast track for students to gain the knowledge and credentials to quickly obtain employment in the technology sector...

Classes start this Monday, August 17, at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center’s IT Academy.

The IT Academy offers a fast track for students to gain the knowledge and credentials to quickly obtain employment in the technology sector.

Seventeen students are enrolled in the first cohort, with classes scheduled Monday – Thursday evenings over a four month period. Afterwards, students can test for the Computing Technology Industry Association A+, Network+ and Server+ certifications. SVHEC is a member of the CompTIA Authorized Partner Program. 

Classes will take place in the newly renovated, 5,013-square-foot lab at SVHEC in South Boston, Va. The lab includes a data center, hardware repair center, computer-based classroom and conference area to closely approximate a real-world environment.

“We are seeing what I call a market correction in education with an increasing emphasis on students earning third-party credentials. The hands-on, intensive nature of the program allows students to quickly learn the skills they need to be successful in the workplace. Initiatives like the IT Academy are critical to closing the skills gap and preparing the region with skilled workers needed for jobs available right here, right now,” said Dr. Betty Adams, executive director of the SVHEC.

SVHEC and its partners initially designed the academy’s core curriculum around the three certifications and will develop advanced training based on needs and recommendations from major employers in the region. SVHEC worked closely with the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative, ATOS/Microsoft and HP to launch the academy.

The academy was announced in September 2014 after the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification & Community Revitalization Commission approved grant funding. Governor McAuliffe gave the keynote address at the ribbon-cutting ceremony this June.

To learn more about the program or sign up for the next cohort in June, visit http://www.svhec.org/ita.

The SVHEC IT Academy is another example of the cutting-edge training programs available across the Commonwealth. To learn how Virginia’s workforce can be the advantage for your business, click here.

Governor McAuliffe, Secretary Maurice Jones and SVHEC Executive Director Dr. Betty Adams join members of SVHEC and local officials at the IT Academy ribbon-cutting ceremony in June. Photo courtesy of SVHEC/Drew Morris.

VEDP’s Dan Gundersen to Speak at White House Forum on Economic Development

Wednesday, 29 July 2015 16:00 by Info@YesVirginia.org
VEDP’s COO Dan Gundersen was selected to speak at the fourth annual White House Forum on Economic Development hosted by the International Economic Development Council and SelectUSA...

VEDP’s COO Dan Gundersen was selected to speak at the fourth annual White House Forum on Economic Development hosted by the International Economic Development Council and SelectUSA.

This one-day summit allows a select group of economic development leaders from around the country to directly engage with senior members of the Obama Administration on topics with the greatest potential to impact job creation, such as infrastructure development, international trade and attraction, and manufacturing.

Gundersen will participate on a four-person panel entitled “Targeting and Landing Prospects:  Best Practices in International Attraction,” moderated by Peggy Philbin, Deputy Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of SelectUSA. He is the only state representative and will be joined by regional economic developers from Phoenix, Minneapolis/St. Paul and southeastern Michigan.

Gundersen will highlight Virginia’s presence around the globe, the Governor’s missions and recent successes of the VEDP team. 

“The White House Forum is a tremendous opportunity to meet with senior officials and discuss ways in which federal, state and local groups can work together to advance economic development and job creation. It’s an honor to be included with such a distinguished group to discuss the challenges facing our nation and the opportunity to broaden our message globally that the U.S. is a great location for business and investment,” said Gundersen.

Virginia will be well-represented as Barry Matherly, President and CEO of the Greater Richmond Partnership, was selected to moderate a panel on the next generation of manufacturing. Matherly also serves as the Vice Chair of the IEDC.

To learn more about Virginia’s unique combination of resources and why more than 700 international companies have chosen to call the Commonwealth home, click here.

RaesWear — Pouch Pants that Solve the Storage Problem

Thursday, 23 July 2015 16:49 by Info@YesVirginia.org
When entrepreneur Leigh Cockram was traveling on business in the summer of 2012, she struggled to find a way to store her hotel key, money and phone while going for a run. She thought, “There’s gotta be a better way,” so she created one...

When entrepreneur Leigh Cockram was traveling on business in the summer of 2012, she struggled to find a way to store her hotel key, money and phone while going for a run. She thought, “There’s gotta be a better way,” so she created one.

The RaesWear concept includes a patented design with a front and back pocket along the entire length of the waistband. The runner uses one of two access points on the front and back to stow a variety of gear, without the fear that it will slip out or pull on their shorts or tights.

The company was named after Leigh’s grandfather, Ray, who was a gunner in the Army Air Corp. during World War II. Rae became a family name passed down to future generations and was a nice pun on race wear, while honoring the legacy of service established by her grandfather.

Leigh began making prototypes herself in 2012, and was directed by The Launch Place to a designer in North Carolina to make additional samples. Realizing she wanted to work closer to home and manufacture the products in Virginia, Leigh connected with Mollie’s Originals in Martinsville in 2014, and they have been manufacturing the products ever since.

RaesWear began with one pair of running tights and has grown to 13 products, including shorts, skorts, capris, tights and pants. While initially designed for athletes, customers are using the clothes for both exercise and throughout the day.

The company’s website at www.RaesWear.com was launched in December 2014, and products are sold online and at Mollie’s Originals. Leigh and her husband have used grass roots efforts, from social media YouTube videos, to appearances at marathon expos, to get the word out. They plan to start a paid advertising campaign shortly. 

They have also received requests to develop a product for men, and are currently working on a menswear line.

In true entrepreneurial fashion, Leigh has kept her day job and works on RaesWear at night and on the weekends from her home. Her husband has transitioned to support RaesWear full-time. 

“The best analogy I can give for running a business is being pregnant. You’re excited and nervous and you stay up at night wondering if things will be okay. And then you have your baby and it’s wonderful, but you’re always stressed and going through peaks and valleys, wondering if you’re doing the right things to make your child a success. It’s a true roller coaster, but very rewarding to take an idea from concept to reality all on our own,” said Leigh Cockram.

RaesWear is another strong example of the innovation and creativity of Virginia entrepreneurs. To learn why the Commonwealth is a great location to grow a business, click here.

Leigh Cockram, RaesWear owner, stands next to a display of her company’s pocketed athletic products at Mollie’s Originals in Martinsville, Va. Photo courtesy of Leigh Cockram.

Wise, Virginia is Home to First FAA Approved Drone Delivery of Medical Supplies in the U.S.

Friday, 17 July 2015 15:18 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Today’s event, called Let’s Fly Wisely, is the first FAA approved delivery of medical supplies by drone in the U.S...

Today’s event, called Let’s Fly Wisely, marked the first FAA approved delivery of medical supplies by drone in the U.S.

This research mission was overseen by the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, one of only six groups across the U.S. that won FAA approval to conduct Unmanned Aerial System research at sites across Virginia, New Jersey and Maryland. MAPP is headquartered at Virginia Tech’s Institute of Critical Technology and Applied Sciences.

The mission began when NASA Langley Research Center flew about twenty prescriptions from Tazewell County Airport to the Lonesome Pine Airport in Wise, Va., in an SR22 aircraft. The plane was operated remotely, but had a pilot on board for backup and safety purposes.

The prescriptions were then transferred into smaller packages, flown in 10-pound drones provided by Australian company Flirtey Inc. and delivered to the Remote Area Medical tent at the Wise County Fairgrounds. Remote Area Medical has served the people of Wise County for more than 15 years.

This project demonstrates one of the humanitarian outcomes of UAS technology could include delivery of medical supplies to underserved or remote areas.

Flirtey Inc. Founder and CEO Matt Sweeney called this a “Kitty Hawk moment” for Wise County and the UAS industry.

The success of this event and its location in the Commonwealth furthers Virginia’s leadership position in the aerospace industry. To learn why more than 260 aerospace companies have chosen to operate in Virginia, click here.

Governor McAuliffe holds one of the first medical prescriptions delivered by drone in the U.S. at the Let’s Fly Wisely event in Wise, Va. Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech College of Engineering.

Virginia’s Colleges and Universities Make Another Strong Showing on MONEY’s Best Colleges List

Tuesday, 14 July 2015 17:16 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Once again, Virginia’s higher education institutions made a strong showing on MONEY Magazine’s 2015 Best Colleges List...

Once again, Virginia’s higher education institutions made a strong showing on MONEY Magazine’s 2015 Best Colleges List

10 Virginia institutions made the Top 200 overall:  University of Virginia (No. 17), Washington and Lee University (No. 24), Virginia Military Institute (No. 48), Virginia Tech (also tied at No. 48), James Madison University (No. 59), College of William and Mary (No. 75), University of Richmond (No. 105), University of Mary Washington (No. 119), George Mason University (No. 127), and Hampden-Sydney College (No. 157).

The Commonwealth had seven schools make the Top 50 Best Public Colleges list:  UVA was No. 4, Virginia Tech and VMI both tied for No. 15, JMU tied with another school for No. 19, College of William and Mary was in a three-way tie for No. 26, University of Mary Washington tied with another school for No. 42, and GMU rounded out the list in a three-way tie for No. 47.

Virginia also had strong results in the Top 50 Best Liberal Arts Colleges list with four schools:  Washington and Lee was No. 4, VMI was No. 10, University of Richmond tied with another school for No. 26, and Hampden-Sydney College was No. 38.  

Bridgewater College was counted among the Top 50 Most Affordable Private Colleges and Hampton University was included in the Top 50 Colleges That Add the Most Value list.

The editors at MONEY Magazine only included the 736 schools with an above-median graduation rate from the list of 1,500 four-year colleges and universities in the U.S. The schools were then ranked on 21 factors falling into the three categories of quality of education, affordability and outcomes.

Virginia’s world-class education system is currently serving more than 575,000 students who will provide a steady pipeline to support the Commonwealth’s current industry needs. To learn why Virginia’s higher education institutions continue to be highly ranked, click here.

A view of The Rotunda at University of Virginia, ranked No. 4 on MONEY Magazine’s Top 50 Best Public Colleges list for 2015. Photo courtesy of Virginia Tourism Corp.

University of Mary Washington’s Convergence Center Joins Learning and Technology

Tuesday, 30 June 2015 16:39 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The University of Mary Washington’s energetic new learning facility, the Information and Technology Convergence Center, was completed fall 2014...

The University of Mary Washington’s energetic new learning facility, the Information and Technology Convergence Center, was completed fall 2014.

This technology-rich, four-story building offers UMW students and faculty a “commons” space that includes a digital auditorium, 10 conference rooms, four high-tech classrooms, audio/video production space, and multiple collaboration, study and meeting spaces through an open design. It also houses UMW’s speaking and writing centers, along with a café.

Visitors are greeted by a multi-story media wall in the atrium that uses laser phosphor display technology to showcase student work. The digital gallery on the third floor also features student artwork on interactive touchscreens.

The Convergence Center houses a production studio with a 180 degree green screen, high definition cameras, teleprompters, a control room and an audio recording booth. The multimedia editing lab has five iMacs loaded with a full suite of A/V editing software so students obtain real-world experience.

The center also holds a two-story digital auditorium that can seat 150 people for classes, lectures or performances. The auditorium has three screens and a full theatrical lighting system. It also opens up into a lobby and garden that can be used to host events holding up to 300 people.

Sprinkled throughout the center are collaboration spaces and conference rooms that have conferencing capabilities, projectors and flat-panel displays. There is even an incubator classroom that allows professors to experiment with the latest technology. The modular design is complemented by high definition projectors, cameras, flat screen displays and wireless microphones.

UMW’s Convergence Center has become a central gathering place for students to learn and engage with their schoolwork in an interactive, high-tech environment. It is another example of the state-of-the-art technology Virginia’s higher education institutions are using to train the 21st century workforce. To learn more about the Commonwealth’s premier educational offerings, click here.

VEDP gets a tour of the digital auditorium at UMW’s Information and Technology Convergence Center.

Virginia Western Community College Offers Cutting-Edge Mechatronics Training

Monday, 22 June 2015 15:07 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Mechatronics is a growing interdisciplinary field that incorporates mechanical and electrical engineering with computer science and looks at industrial operations from a system-wide perspective...

Mechatronics is a growing interdisciplinary field that incorporates mechanical and electrical engineering with computer science and looks at industrial operations from a system-wide perspective.

Students in this field become well-versed in electro-mechanics, computers, digital control systems, robotics and mechanical CAD, and go on to pursue careers in the automotive, aerospace, defense, consumer and manufacturing industries.

Virginia Western Community College offers three programs in mechatronics. First, students can earn a certificate that will allow them to take Level 1 of the Siemens Mechatronic Systems Certification Program. Second, students earning a two-year associate degree can sit for Level 2 of the Siemens certification. And, third, students completing the two-year program who go on to a university and earn a four-year degree can sit for Level 3 of the Siemens certification.

The Siemens Mechatronic Systems Certification is an industry standard with worldwide recognition allowing students to illustrate to employers that they are qualified and ready to work as technicians. The college began offering mechatronics courses in 2008, and now has 100 students in the program.

VWCC is one of only 35 colleges in the world that offers a certified Siemens Mechatronics program.

VWCC is actively engaged with high school students in the area. Through The Regional Academy for Advanced Technology it offers both engineering and mechatronics training for high school juniors and seniors interested in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) career. Currently, about 250 students are enrolled in The Regional Academy.

VWCC maintains an active dialogue with companies in the Roanoke Valley to ensure its training closely aligns with industry requirements. They have held two annual manufacturing summits where faculty meet with employers in the area to better understand their needs. Regional employers have also made commitments to mentor students and donate lab equipment.

“The goal of the mechatronics program at Virginia Western is to prepare students with globally, in-demand skills through local engagement to be well-educated, work-ready engineering technicians,” said Professor Dan Horine, Mechatronics Program Head at VWCC.

VWCC is a great example of the cutting-edge STEM education available through Virginia’s 23-member community college system. To learn how Virginia’s higher education institutions are preparing the workforce of tomorrow, click here.

VWCC mechatronics students commission the FESTO Modular Production System at one of the labs in the School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Specialty’s Our Name — Expanding a Family Business Through the Generations

Friday, 29 May 2015 09:19 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Butch Harrison founded Specialty’s Our Name in 1990, a precision sheet metal fabrication and machine shop based in Ashland, Va. His three sons, Brandon, Utley and Kevin, worked in the shop since high school and each found their niche, whether it was handling the finances, managing customer relationships or processing orders...

Butch Harrison founded Specialty’s Our Name in 1990, a precision sheet metal fabrication and machine shop based in Ashland, Va.

His three sons, Brandon, Utley and Kevin, worked in the shop since high school and each found their niche, whether it was handling the finances, managing customer relationships or processing orders. When their dad passed away in 2009, the brothers took ownership and proudly carried on the family name and reputation for a superior product and customer service at S.O.N. Inc.

“We do the work other people don’t want to do,” said Brandon Harrison. “Our high-end, custom sheet metal work is in the White House Visitor Center, the American Civil War Museum at Tredegar and the Virginia Historical Society, and our customers include Homeland Security, Architectural Graphics Inc., Dometic Corporation and Showbest Fixtures.”

The company has successfully grown from two people in a 2,500 square foot building to more than 30 people in a 32,000 square foot facility. The company delivers custom products and can offer consulting, drafting, welding, deburring, powder coating and precision parts, all from one location.

The Harrison brothers not only weathered the recent economic downturn, but were able to continue growing their company. “We did feel some of the effects, but we manage our finances well and purchase equipment as we need it, so we don’t carry a lot of debt.” said Harrison. “We also have a broad customer range, from the marine industry to railroads to store fixtures. Being diverse helped us stay strong and grow our company through the tough times.”

The brothers also took a calculated risk and started a sister company in 2008, Pro Powder & Paint Inc. “About 90 percent of our customers want a finish on their steel or aluminum products. We provide that and do our own powder coating and wet paint at a facility just down the street,” said Harrison.

The company just had one of its best years and has a solid plan to grow both businesses and eventually combine them into one larger building.

“We are lucky,” said Harrison. “The three of us are all equally responsible and we get to expand on what our father built. We really try to keep the family atmosphere throughout the company as we grow. We have several cousins and family members working in the shop, and we treat all of our employees like we are one big family. Without every piece of the puzzle coming together, this wouldn’t be possible.”

As we celebrate Virginia Business Appreciation Month, Specialty’s Our Name serves as another great example of the ingenuity and dedication of Virginia entrepreneurs. To learn why the Commonwealth is a great location to grow a business, click here.

Specialty’s Our Name owners Brandon, Utley and Kevin Harrison at their company headquarters in Ashland, Va.

Marstel-Day — Growing a Green Business in Virginia

Thursday, 28 May 2015 09:33 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Rebecca Rubin started Marstel-Day in 2002 with a passion to help large institutions conduct business in a way that is both effective and preserves the natural resource base...

Rebecca Rubin started Marstel-Day in 2002 with a passion to help large institutions conduct business in a way that is both effective and preserves the natural resource base.

Based out of Fredericksburg, Va., the company has grown from a one-woman desk to 160 employees nationwide. With clients ranging from government agencies to academic institutions, Marstel-Day helps organizations develop an overall strategy to be more eco-friendly.

“Our customers may have the interest and funding, but we help them with their strategies and policies,” said President and CEO Rebecca Rubin. “Whether they want to be carbon neutral or make better use of their ecosystem services or reduce water consumption or be ready for climate change, we help them get there. We look at such things as their vulnerability to drought, temperature change, responsiveness and resilience of the IT structure to climate events — and help them answer the big picture questions.”

The company’s success speaks for itself. Marstel-Day experienced 8-10 percent growth every year, including during the economic downturn. Its impressive client roster includes the Department of Defense, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, Department of Homeland Security, Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration and National Laboratories. 

Marstel-Day has also received numerous accolades, including being named to both the Inc. 5000 list and Zweigwhite’s Hot Firm list for six consecutive years, the Alliance for Workplace Excellence Eco-Leadership Award three years in a row, the Virginia Fantastic 50 list for the third time, and the UVA Darden School’s Tayloe Murphy Award for Resilience.

Rubin chose to headquarter the business in Fredericksburg for two reasons:  proximity to a rail line and access to a great park system. “We were deliberately trying to get our employees off the roads and onto public transportation,” said Rubin. “Our other Virginia offices in Richmond and Alexandria are also within a quarter of a mile of a main train line. If you translate that into hours saved, it has an enormous impact on employee morale and health.”

“Because of its battlefield history, Fredericksburg has preserved green spaces and they have a new trail system. Having a park system where our employees can jog or bike during their lunch hour or after work is tremendously important to us.”

“There’s a reason why we’re here. Historically, Virginia has done a good job of understanding and appreciating the significance of nature and ecotourism. We find Virginia’s and the Governor’s commitment to green important to us as a company.”

As we celebrate Virginia Business Appreciation Month, Marstel-Day is another great example of how entrepreneurs find a successful environment for innovation in the Commonwealth. To learn why Virginia is a great place to grow a business, click here.

Marstel-Day President and CEO Rebecca Rubin at the company’s headquarters in Fredericksburg, Va. Photo courtesy of Marstel-Day LLC.

Performance Signs — From a Dorm Room to the Highway

Thursday, 21 May 2015 10:30 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Founder Robbie Morris was an engineering student at Virginia Tech when he started making decals for his brother’s stock car racing team. Robbie actually ran the decal machine out of his dorm room in the fall of 1995...

Founder Robbie Morris was an engineering student at Virginia Tech when he started making decals for his brother’s stock car racing team. Robbie actually ran the decal machine out of his dorm room in the fall of 1995.

While out on an engineering co-op, Robbie realized he enjoyed the creativity of the sign work much more than the structure of his engineering internship and decided to pursue the sign business full-time.

Today, Performance Signs makes a variety of signs, banners, vehicle lettering, vehicle wraps, window lettering and real estate signs for commercial businesses, public safety vehicles and highways.

Self-awareness is an important trait for entrepreneurs, and surrounding oneself with the right people and skillsets is critical. Robbie found the perfect business partner in his wife Katherine. She came on board full-time in 2004 and made improvements with her ability to manage, schedule and handle the day-to-day business, allowing Robbie to focus on the creative side.

Robbie and Katherine focused on building relationships with their customers and that paid off. “We were doing work for a sign company that supported a police department in Southwest Virginia,” said Performance Signs Founder Robbie Morris. “Those decals were an exact match for the Albemarle police department near us. We were able to approach them and found that there was a need for somebody to serve the public safety vehicles in our area. There’s a tightknit community among the police, fire department and rescue squad, and our relationship with that core group has helped us grow.”

When the recession hit, Robbie and Katherine looked at everything they did in order to be more efficient, from the number of phone lines they needed to the amount of equipment. They also took a calculated risk when a property became available. 

“All indications were that it would be crazy to buy something right now, but it completely came together for us,” said Robbie. “We really felt like God was moving in our lives and the timing was right. We did an SBA 504 loan. It was a lot of work, but through that process it helped us see our business in a new way.”

Robbie and Katherine closed on their building in the fall of 2009, and continuing their quest for efficiency, installed a solar-paneled roof on the 8,000-square-foot facility. Depending upon the time of year, the solar panels generate anywhere from 55-100 percent of the building’s electricity. 

Robbie and Katherine’s tenacity allowed them to successfully bounce back from the recession. The company has doubled sales since 2010 and grown from four to 12 people.

Performance Signs was also just selected to participate in the inaugural class of Ones to Watch, a business mentoring initiative run by the U.S. Senate Productivity and Quality Award Program for Virginia.

As we celebrate Virginia Business Appreciation Month, Performance Signs stands as another great example of the innovation and creativity of Virginia entrepreneurs. To learn why Virginia is a great place to grow a business, click here.

Performance Signs CEO Katherine Morris and Founder Robert Morris outside their company headquarters in Ruckersville, Va.

Release Reels — An Entrepreneur’s Journey from Biking to Fishing

Thursday, 14 May 2015 09:50 by Info@YesVirginia.org
After a hectic career traveling all over the U.S. and Europe as a professional cyclist, all Wes Seigler wanted to do after retiring as an athlete was to relax at his parent’s home in Reedville, Va., and fish every day like he did as a kid...

After a hectic career traveling all over the U.S. and Europe as a professional cyclist,  all Wes Seigler wanted to do after retiring as an athlete was to relax at his parent’s home in Reedville, Va., and fish every day like he did as a kid.

While fishing on the Chesapeake Bay and offshore Virginia, Seigler and his friends soon encountered problems with the performance of the reels they were using. Drawing upon his experience perfecting his own bike gearing and after encouragement from contacts in the cycling industry, Seigler decided to design his own product.

Release Reels was established in 2009. Seigler quickly found himself in the world of POs, RFQs and SKUs and learning what it all meant on the go. He initially started manufacturing in China, but found his intellectual property was leaking into competitors’ products and decided to bring back the manufacturing stateside.

Release Reels makes premium saltwater fishing reels, and the tolerances are very high. The product has to perform perfectly and look sharp. In order to make sure the machining was spot on, he decided to manufacture it himself. Upon being told he couldn’t compete with Asia, Seigler responded, “We can, we just gotta be willing to work.”

The company now operates nine CNC machines and has 10 full-time employees. 100% of the assembly and machining is done in Virginia and 100% of the component parts are made in the U.S. Seigler sources specialty bearings from Florida, gears and springs from Wisconsin and screws from San Diego, all to ensure the product is made in the USA.

“We have to win all categories — that’s the mentality of our company,” said Seigler. Release Reels products outperform in every class — they are smaller and more powerful, while weighing less.

The company also maintains a lifetime warranty on all its products, which no one else in the industry does. “If you purchase a product, I believe you should be able to call somebody and talk to them,” remarked Seigler. “We can fix it inexpensively, since we do all the machining in-house. Customers love the interaction and that carries into their next purchase.”

Release Reels also works with Rappahannock Community College and hires interns with an interest in machining as a career. “Giving a chance to somebody that might not be university bound has been pretty cool. Manufacturing is not what it used to be, it’s technology driven. We run a clean shop and it’s a great environment where people can learn a lot,” said Seigler.

The company’s high standards and customer service have paid off. After beginning with production of 100 reels per month, the company is now selling almost 600 reels per month and building the infrastructure to grow beyond that. They have also expanded into international markets from Europe to Southeast Asia.  

“The international market is huge for us,” noted Seigler. “People love an American-made product. Japan has a large fishing industry with some of the top shops in the world there. Being accepted by those customers is a strong statement for the quality of our products.”

As we celebrate Virginia Business Appreciation Month, Release Reels is a great example of the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit alive in the Commonwealth. To learn more why Virginia is a great place to grow a business, click here.

Release Reels Founder and President Wes Seigler demonstrates the company’s premium saltwater fishing reels for a future customer. Photo courtesy of Release Reels.

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Virginia Economic Development Partnership is the Best State for Business

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP), a state authority created by the Virginia General Assembly to better serve those seeking a prime business location and increased trade opportunities, provides confidential site selection and international trade services. VEDP's mission: To enhance the quality of life and raise the standard of living for all Virginians, in collaboration with Virginia communities, through aggressive business recruitment, expansion assistance, and trade development, thereby expanding the tax base and creating higher-income employment opportunities.

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