McKee Foods Celebrates 25 Years in Virginia

Wednesday, 26 August 2015 16:14 by Info@YesVirginia.org
McKee Foods recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of its Stuarts Draft manufacturing facility in Augusta County, Va. McKee Foods is known for its Little Debbie® line of snack cakes. The family business has grown from a five-person bakery in the 1930’s to America’s No. 1 brand of snack cakes...

McKee Foods recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of its Stuarts Draft manufacturing facility in Augusta County, Va.

McKee Foods is known for its Little Debbie® line of snack cakes. The family business has grown from a five-person bakery in the 1930’s to America’s No. 1 brand of snack cakes.

The Stuarts Draft plant is one of the most advanced facilities in the baking industry. The company established the bakery in 1990 to produce oatmeal crème pies, honey buns and other bakery products.

The company’s most recent announcement in October 2014 included a $34 million investment and 54 new jobs to expand the facility.

McKee Foods employs more than 1,000 people and is the largest manufacturing employer in Augusta County. The company frequently credits the high productivity of its Virginia workforce as paramount to its success.

"We have found our Virginia workforce to be some of the most loyal and highly-skilled employees in the industry — and about 85 members of our Virginia workforce have been at the plant since it opened," said McKee Foods President and CEO Mike McKee.

In addition to a strong manufacturing workforce, Virginia provides McKee Foods with a strategic location, offering easy access to the company’s Northeastern and Canadian customers. Located in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, the Stuarts Draft location offers McKee employees a high quality of life with close proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway, Appalachian Trail and numerous national parks.

To learn why more than 580 leading food and beverage companies, like McKee Foods, have chosen to locate in Virginia, click here.

Representatives from McKee Foods, Augusta County and VEDP celebrate the company’s 25th anniversary in Stuarts Draft, Va. Photo courtesy of McKee Foods Corp.

Denbigh High School’s Aviation Academy Recognized as PRIME School for Manufacturing Education

Tuesday, 24 September 2013 16:10 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Denbigh High School’s Aviation Academy in Newport News, Va., was added to the 2013-2014 list of Partnership Response in Manufacturing Education (PRIME) programs for the upcoming school year. Only 11 schools across the country were added this year...

Denbigh High School’s Aviation Academy in Newport News, Va., was added to the 2013-2014 list of Partnership Response in Manufacturing Education (PRIME) programs for the upcoming school year. Only 11 schools across the country were added this year.

PRIME is a program developed by the SME Education Foundation to prepare students for manufacturing careers by advancing education in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subjects. It employs a community-based, real-world approach to education, forging partnerships between schools, higher education institutions, companies and the community.

To become part of the PRIME program, a school must have an exemplary manufacturing curriculum that has been in place for at least three years. The program must include both academic and hands-on fabrication instruction; access to local colleges with the opportunity to participate in postsecondary programs; and access to local manufacturing companies for company tours, job shadowing and mentoring opportunities.

PRIME is part of SME’s initiative to support the reshoring of manufacturing jobs to the U.S. and ensure we have a strong pipeline of skilled manufacturing workers to support future industry needs.

Denbigh High School’s Aviation Academy offers a four-year magnet program that prepares students for careers in engineering, aviation and electronics. Students take a number of classes at the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport, including an FAA Pilot Ground School course. The academy provides students with cutting-edge electronics and technology equipment, and students are encouraged to pursue college dual enrollment opportunities. 

Denbigh High School’s Aviation Academy is another example of Virginia’s exemplary secondary education system, preparing graduates to enter the manufacturing workforce or pursue more advanced degrees at the Commonwealth’s leading higher education institutions. To learn more, click here.

Orbital Sciences Completes Launch from Virginia to the International Space Station

Thursday, 19 September 2013 14:00 by Info@YesVirginia.org
At 10:58 a.m. yesterday morning, Orbital Sciences successfully completed the second launch of its Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft from Pad-OA of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore of Virginia...

At 10:58 a.m. yesterday morning, Orbital Sciences successfully completed the second launch of its Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft from Pad-OA of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

This mission is the first time a spacecraft launched from Virginia will visit the International Space Station.

Antares will deliver the Cygnus spacecraft along with 1,300 pounds of food, clothing and other cargo to the Expedition 37 crew on the International Space Station. 

The Cygnus spacecraft is scheduled to arrive at the International Space Station on Sunday, September 22. Prior to its arrival, Cygnus will perform a series of tests and maneuvers to demonstrate its readiness to rendezvous with the space station. On Sunday, the crew of Expedition 37 will operate the station’s 57-foot robotic arm to grapple Cygnus and maneuver it into the docking station.

The purpose of this mission is to demonstrate the capabilities and readiness of Orbital Sciences’ cargo delivery system as part of its Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program with NASA. Orbital Sciences successfully completed the inaugural test flight of Antares and Cygnus in April.

Subsequently, Orbital Sciences will carry out eight resupply missions through 2016, delivering approximately 20,000 kilograms of cargo to the International Space Station as part of its $1.9 billion Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA.

These resupply missions will aid the crews of the International Space Station in carrying out scientific experiments in a microgravity research lab.

Following the historic LADEE launch just over a week ago, Virginia’s leadership in space exploration is evident. Through the MARS facility, Virginia offers one of only four commercial sites approved by the FAA for orbital space launches.

To learn more about Virginia’s thriving aerospace industry, click here.

Orbital Sciences' Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft launch from Pad-OA of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.  Photo color-enhanced and courtesy of NASA/Bill Ingalls.

The MACH37 Cyber Accelerator Opens in Herndon, Virginia

Tuesday, 17 September 2013 16:10 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia’s new MACH37 Cyber Accelerator recently opened at the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) in Herndon, Va., just five months after the announcement of its creation...

Virginia’s new MACH37 Cyber Accelerator recently opened at the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) in Herndon, Va., just five months after the announcement of its creation.

The MACH37 accelerator program is designed to capitalize on Virginia’s expertise in the cybersecurity industry and help launch additional start-up companies developing innovative technology in this area.

The first five companies selected for this program are Cypherpath, Key Cybersecurity Inc., Pierce Global Threat Intelligence, CyberLingua, and Sikernes.

These companies will participate in two 90-day sessions. At the beginning of the first session, they will receive seed funding, followed by introductions to a network of cybersecurity experts and investors to help mentor and develop their products and technology. 

At the end of the first 90-day session, the companies will go before a professional panel on Demo Day. If the presentation is successful, selected companies will receive additional funding and be allowed to participate in the second 90-day session.

The MACH37 Cyber Accelerator is modeled after the Y-Combinator, an accelerator program in Silicon Valley that has helped develop more than 460 companies. The MACH37 program helps cybersecurity entrepreneurs bridge the gap between idea generation and commercialization. 

The program is named after the escape velocity of Mach 37, the minimum velocity needed to launch passed the earth’s gravitational field.

MACH37’s location at CIT is in the hub of the Dulles Technology Corridor, providing early stage companies access to a solid pipeline of high-tech employees.

In addition, CIT is partnering with Virginia Tech to develop a cyber test range available to MACH37 companies. This remotely-accessible test center will be located nearby at Virginia Tech’s Hume Center for National Security and Technology in Arlington, Va.

The MACH37 Cyber Accelerator is another shining example of how Virginia’s public and private institutions partner to create an innovate environment for entrepreneurs to create new products and technology. 

To learn more about Virginia’s pro-business research and development opportunities, click here.

Governor McDonnell meets with members of the cybersecurity community during the MACH37 Cyber Accelerator grand opening event at CIT in Herndon, Va.

First Deep Space Mission Launches from Virginia’s Wallops Flight Facility

Monday, 9 September 2013 17:03 by Info@YesVirginia.org
At approximately 11:27 p.m. on Friday, September 6, NASA, Orbital Sciences and the Virginia Space Flight Authority launched the LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer) Mission from Virginia’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) Pad OB at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore...

At approximately 11:27 p.m. on Friday, September 6, NASA, Orbital Sciences and the Virginia Space Flight Authority launched the LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer) Mission from Virginia’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) Pad OB at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

The LADEE Mission accomplishes a number of firsts—it is the first deep space mission to launch from the Wallops Flight Facility, as well as the first payload to launch on the U.S. Air Force’s Minotaur V rocket. The Minotaur V launch vehicle was built by Virginia company Orbital Sciences. 

The LADEE spacecraft was constructed using Modular Common Spacecraft Bus Architecture, representing a departure from custom design towards assembly production and multi-use design in order to reduce costs.

Upon completing three phasing orbits around the earth, the LADEE spacecraft will enter the moon’s orbit through a three-minute Lunar Orbit Insertion maneuver that involves firing the spacecraft’s onboard propellant for approximately three minutes.

After being captured by the moon’s gravitational field, LADEE will orbit around the moon for a 100-day science phase to collect data and study the lunar atmosphere. The moon’s atmosphere is classified as a surface boundary exosphere, a thin layer that is theorized to be the most common type of atmosphere in the universe.

Scientists hope to determine the density, composition and variability of the moon’s atmosphere, as well as learn more about the lunar dust environment. Knowledge gained through this mission can be extrapolated to the atmosphere of other planets, including Earth.

With another Antares mission expected to launch in mid-September from the MARS facility, Virginia remains at the forefront of U.S. space exploration. MARS is one of only four commercial sites authorized by the FAA for orbital space launches, and offers an ideal trajectory for earth orbit insertion.

To learn more about Virginia’s burgeoning aerospace industry, click here.

The LADEE Mission launches from Virginia’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on September 6. Photo courtesy of NASA/Carla Cioffi.

Service Center Metals Celebrates 10-year Anniversary and Expansion

Thursday, 5 September 2013 12:46 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Service Center Metals recently celebrated 10 years of doing business in Prince George County, Va. The ceremony, attended by Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, included a ground-breaking celebration for a second plant at the SouthPoint Business Park location...

Service Center Metals recently celebrated 10 years of doing business in Prince George County, Va. The ceremony, attended by Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, included a ground-breaking celebration for a second plant at the SouthPoint Business Park location.

Service Center Metals was founded in 2002 by three former Reynolds Metals executives to produce aluminum extruded products. As its name implies, Service Center Metals has chosen to focus exclusively on a unique niche—service center customers. 

After weathering the ups and downs of the last 10 years, the company now boasts more than 120 employees and $145 million in revenue. Since its opening, Service Center Metals has produced more than 635 million pounds of extrusions.

The company’s expansion includes a compact remelt plant that will be located adjacent to its extrusion plant. Currently, Service Center Metals must ship its aluminum scrap to and from a third-party provider to be remelted. Bringing this process in-house will allow the company to better recycle its scrap materials, as well as serve its customers more quickly and in an environmentally-friendly way.

As a home-grown manufacturing company, Service Center Metals is a strong example of the success entrepreneurs experience when they start a business in the Commonwealth. To learn more about Virginia’s innovative business environment, click here.

Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling (left center) joins company and local officials at the Service Center Metals ground-breaking ceremony in Prince George County, Va.

2013 ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index Ranks Virginia No. 5 in Economic Outlook

Wednesday, 21 August 2013 16:23 by Info@YesVirginia.org
In its sixth edition of Rich States, Poor States, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) recognized Virginia at No. 5 in its 2013 Economic Outlook ranking...

In its sixth edition of Rich States, Poor States, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) recognized Virginia at No. 5 in its 2013 Economic Outlook ranking.

The Economic Outlook category measures how a state is expected to perform in the future based on 15 policy areas controlled at the state level. The study points out the direct correlation between policy decisions and a state’s level of economic competitiveness.

Virginia has historically performed strongly in the Economic Outlook category—in five out of the last six years the Commonwealth has scored in the top five.

Virginia was the only state in the mid-Atlantic to break the top 10.

Rich State, Poor States highlights some of Virginia’s pro-growth policies that enabled it to achieve a top ranking. The Commonwealth’s pro-growth tax policies, fairness of its legal system, low workers’ compensation costs and right-to-work status were among the reasons Virginia’s economic outlook remains strong.

In addition, Virginia offers companies a corporate tax rate of six percent that remains unchanged since 1972, electricity costs below the national average, and the second lowest unemployment insurance tax rate in the nation.

Virginia has been providing companies with the right location and resources to succeed for more than 400 years. To learn why the Commonwealth continues to receive top accolades, click here.

VEDP Launches ‘Going Global’ Initiative for Defense Companies

Tuesday, 13 August 2013 14:45 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Today, VEDP announced the launch of its ‘Going Global’ initiative as part of its strategy to help Virginia defense companies mitigate the effects of sequestration...

Today, VEDP announced the launch of its ‘Going Global’ initiative as part of its strategy to help Virginia defense companies mitigate the effects of sequestration.

Sequestration is the name for the automatic federal spending cuts that began on March 1 as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011, enacted by Congress to resolve the U.S. debt-ceiling crisis.

The impact of Sequestration has been less severe than expected—Department of Defense contracts decreased from $56.9 billion in FY2011 to $51.5 billion in FY2012. However, the Commonwealth is the top state for DoD contracts, raising concerns that lost contracts could results in lower revenues for Virginia companies unless they can find new customers.

As part of its sequestration mitigation strategy, VEDP is working with Virginia defense companies to help them find those new customers overseas. The receipt of nearly $2 million in federal and state funds will allow VEDP to augment some of its most successful programs already underway within the International Trade division. 

For example, defense companies will be able to utilize VEDP’s Global Network team of in-country consultants from more than 55 countries. Market research services include compiling background information, identifying potential distributors, conducting due diligence, arranging matchmaking appointments with potential partners and customers, assessing competition, and helping companies understand the regulatory environment.
 
VEDP will be able to assist companies with export compliance. Virginia companies participating in this program will receive an export compliance analysis, including guidance on completing a Commodities Jurisdiction Analysis and submitting the required paperwork to the Department of State in compliance with International Traffic in Arms Regulations.

The grant will also allow companies to enhance their marketing and digital presence to target foreign markets through website translation and search engine optimization.

VEDP recently released an export guide for defense companies titled Export Opportunities for Virginia’s Defense Industry. The guide outlines regulations, processes and strategies specific to the defense industry, and contains marketing and sales best practices for both new and experienced exporters. 

VEDP’s International Trade division offers a wide variety of programs to help Virginia companies succeed in the global marketplace. To learn more, click here.

Nine Virginia Schools Make Forbes 2013 America’s Top 200 Colleges Report

Thursday, 1 August 2013 16:30 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Once again, Virginia colleges and universities made a strong showing on the Forbes 2013 America’s Top Colleges list...

Once again, Virginia colleges and universities made a strong showing on the Forbes 2013 America’s Top Colleges list.

Nine Virginia institutions were ranked in the Top 200 in the Overall Category: Washington and Lee University (No. 21), University of Virginia (No. 29), College of William and Mary (No. 44), Virginia Military Institute (No. 87), University of Richmond (No. 88), Virginia Tech (No. 110), James Madison University (No. 168), Hampden-Sydney College (No. 189), and George Mason University (No. 197).

Virginia schools also stood out in a number of categories. Washington and Lee University was ranked No. 20 on the Best Private Colleges list, and James Madison University came in at No. 21 on the Best Value Colleges List.

Three Virginia schools made the Top 25 in the Best Public Colleges category. University of Virginia was ranked No. 4, College of William and Mary was ranked No. 9, and Virginia Military Institute came in at No. 17.

What is unique about this ranking is that Forbes focuses on ROI and what students get out of their college experience. Forbes looks at five areas to determine its rankings—student satisfaction scores, post-graduate success, student debt, graduation rates and nationally recognized awards.

Virginia’s higher education system currently includes more than 450,000 students enrolled at institutions ranging from 15 comprehensive public institutions, eight of which offer doctoral programs, more than 50 private accredited four-year colleges and universities, and 23 public community colleges.

The quality of Virginia’s workforce is often cited as a critical advantage by companies in the Commonwealth, and with a world-class higher education system, Virginia is poised to maintain a strong pipeline of skilled workers.

To learn how Virginia’s premier higher education system is preparing a skilled workforce for the future, click here.

The Gateway Center for Enterprise Opens in Central Virginia

Thursday, 25 July 2013 16:43 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Today, Virginia’s Gateway Region opened The Gateway Center for Enterprise in Colonials Heights, Va., with the first of many third Thursday networking events...

Today, Virginia’s Gateway Region opened The Gateway Center for Enterprise in Colonials Heights, Va., with the first of many third Thursday networking events.

Today’s event was geared towards new entrepreneurs, with a speaker panel that provided information on how to start and grow a small business. Future third Thursday topics include how to access capital and leadership skills for innovators.

The focus of The Gateway Center is to support local entrepreneurs through a variety of programs, including training, networking events, one-on-one counseling, mentorship programs, and access to the office, library and resource center of Virginia’s Gateway Region. 

The Gateway Center was made possible through partnerships with The Center for Women's Enterprise at REDC Community Capital Group and the Crater Small Business Development Center at Longwood University. 

The center is housed within the main office of Virginia’s Gateway Region, a regional economic development group that supports the cities of Colonial Heights, Hopewell and Petersburg, and the counties of Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Prince George, Surry and Sussex.

Located in Central Virginia, the Gateway Region offers companies easy access to U.S. and international markets through Virginia’s premier transportation network. Advanced manufacturing, global logistics and food processing companies have been drawn to the area’s skilled workforce and access to top education and research institutions.

The Gateway Center is another example of the innovative environment Virginia offers to entrepreneurs. To learn more about starting a business in the Commonwealth, click here.

Virginia's Gateway Region houses The Gateway Center for Enterprise in Colonial Heights, Va.

High-tech “Fab Lab” Comes to Virginia’s Patrick Henry Community College

Monday, 22 July 2013 15:47 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) began offering tours of its Fab Lab this summer. The Fab Lab is short for digital fabrication laboratory, which gives students and local businesses access to 3D design and prototyping equipment to create new products and inventions...

Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) began offering tours of its Fab Lab this summer. The Fab Lab is short for digital fabrication laboratory, which gives students and local businesses access to 3D design and prototyping equipment to create new products and inventions.

The Fab Lab concept originated at MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms. In November 2011, PHCC, the New College Institute and Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation sponsored a two-week visit from the Mobile Fab Lab of the Carolinas. During that time the lab received more than 300 visits from interested students and community members.

Working with the same partners, PHCC was able to obtain funding from the Virginia Community College System to purchase equipment and establish its own Fab Lab.

Located at the The Artisan Center in Martinsville, the 1600-square-foot Fab Lab houses a Roland MDX 20 mini mill, Roland CAMM-1 Servo GX-24 vinyl cutter, Stratasys uPrint SE Plus FDM 3D printer, Morgan Industries Morgan Press G-100T Injection Molder, Formech 686 Vacuum Former, Universal Laser 4.60, Routermate 4’ x 4’ CNC router and Torchmate 2’ x 4’ CNC plasma cutter.

The 10 Dell workstations in the lab offer open source software, which allows entrepreneurs and students to seamlessly continue their work at home or in other locations.

The Fab Lab has generated a lot of interest among students and business partners in the community. Lab Coordinator Matthew Wade estimates the lab has seen more than 100 visitors since its soft launch in April.

The lab will host a grand-opening event this fall to coincide with its first class, a basic manufacturing class that will teach students and entrepreneurs how to use the equipment in the lab to bring their ideas to life.

“Inventors can create designs with our software, use the vinyl cutter and CNC mill to fabricate and carve out a circuit board, and then utilize our 3D printer to produce a working model of their new product idea,” said PHCC Lab Coordinator Matthew Wade.

The PHCC Fab Lab is another example of the cutting-edge technology available at Virginia’s colleges and universities, helping prepare a strong pipeline of technically-skilled workers. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s recent Enterprising States study, Virginia is the No. 1 state in STEM job concentration and has the No. 1 share of high-tech businesses.

To learn more about Virginia’s leading higher education system and workforce preparation programs, click here.

A view of the Patrick Henry Community College Fab Lab in Martinsville, Va.

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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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Mexican Company Announces First U.S. Location in Pulaski County, Va.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013 10:46 by Info@YesVirginia.org
From New River Community College last week, Governor McDonnell announced that Red Sun Farms will establish its first U.S. location in Pulaski County, Va., to produce organic, greenhouse grown tomatoes. The $30 million investment will create 205 new jobs over the next five years...

From New River Community College last week, Governor McDonnell announced that Red Sun Farms will establish its first U.S. location in Pulaski County, Va., to produce organic, greenhouse grown tomatoes. The $30 million investment will create 205 new jobs over the next five years.

Part of the Agricola El Rosal group based in Mexico, Red Sun Farms produces tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers using greenhouse hydroponics. The company’s high technology includes the use of hot water heating, carbon dioxide injection, climate control and fully-automated irrigation.

With plans to build a 45-acre greenhouse operation, Red Suns Farms will be the first tenant in the New River Valley Commerce Park, a 1,000-acre industrial site located four miles from I-81 and 30 minutes from Virginia Tech.

Virginia was able to successfully compete against Tennessee because Pulaski County offered the right mix of resources, including ideal climate conditions, a ready workforce, and a central location providing prime access to East Coast markets.

In addition, Pulaski County offers excess water capacity combined with very competitive electric rates. The region maintains its skilled workforce through access to 12 colleges and universities within a 60-mile radius, and provides a strong quality of life through two state parks, the Jefferson National Forest, and close proximity to the Appalachian Trial and Blue Ridge Parkway.

Virginia’s food and beverage industry continues to build momentum—just last week the Governor announced more than $176 million in capital investment and 265 new jobs in this growing sector. 

To learn why food and beverage companies continue to choose the Commonwealth, investing more than $1.9 billion over the last decade, click here.

Governor McDonnell presents a Virginia flag to Thierry Legros, Red Sun Farms Managing Director, during the company’s announcement event in Pulaski County, Va.

Shamrock Farms Breaks Ground in Augusta County, Virginia

Monday, 18 March 2013 17:01 by Info@YesVirginia.org
On Friday, Governor McDonnell attended a ground-breaking ceremony to announce Shamrock Farms’ plans to build a dairy manufacturing facility in Augusta County, Va., which will bring a $50 million investment and 60 new jobs to the region...

On Friday, Governor McDonnell attended a ground-breaking ceremony to announce Shamrock Farms’ plans to build a dairy manufacturing facility in Augusta County, Va., which will bring a $50 million investment and 60 new jobs to the region.

Since its founding in 1922, Shamrock Farms has grown to become one of the largest family-owned-and-operated dairies in the U.S. This is the company’s first operation in Virginia.

During the ceremony, officials broke ground on Shamrock Farms’ state-of-the-art, 130,000-square-foot facility which will be located at Mill Place Commerce Park. This investment will allow the company to better serve the East Coast market and meet growing demand for its On-the-Go mmmmilk and Rockin’ Refuel brands. 

Through its ultra-pasteurization process and airtight safety seal, Shamrock Farms’ extended shelf life products stay fresher on store shelves for longer.

Virginia successfully competed against Maryland and West Virginia because Augusta County offered the right infrastructure mix—a strong, local milk supply chain, an advanced manufacturing workforce, and a strategic location with easy access to Virginia’s premier transportation network through I-81.

Shamrock Farms is not the only food and beverage company to find success in Augusta County—McKee Foods, maker of Little Debbie® snack cakes, has operated a manufacturing plant there for more than 22 years, and credits the region’s skilled workforce with achieving significant productivity gains.

Last week alone, the Governor announced more than $176 million in capital investment and 265 new jobs in Virginia—all from the Commonwealth’s food and beverage industry.

To learn why more than 550 food and beverage manufacturing companies have established operations in the Commonwealth, including household names like Hershey Foods, Nestlé Prepared Foods, Kraft Foods, and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, click here.

Governor McDonnell (third from left) is joined by company, state and local officials, as well as Roxie, the Shamrock Farms’ mascot, at the company’s ground-breaking ceremony in Augusta County, Va.

VEDP Economist Touts Benefits of Virginia’s Offshore Wind Industry to House Committee

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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.

NCS Technologies — A Case Study of Innovation During Sequestration

Thursday, 7 May 2015 10:33 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Founded in Northern Virginia in 1996, NCS Technologies made a name for itself as a nimble and responsive small business computer manufacturer and supplier to state and federal agencies, the military, the intelligence community and commercial markets. The company operates out of a modern campus in Gainesville...

Founded in Northern Virginia in 1996, NCS Technologies made a name for itself as a nimble and responsive small business computer manufacturer and supplier to state and federal agencies, the military, the intelligence community and commercial markets. The company operates out of a modern campus in Gainesville.

The company’s products include commercial-off-the-shelf laptops and desktops for offices and schools, high-performance servers for corporate networks, and rugged tablet computers and servers for the military. Over the years, much of the company’s business depended on government.

Like many companies that found a niche serving federal agencies, the impact of sequestration created significant challenges. However, as with all great companies, NCS was able to turn those challenges into opportunities and come out successfully on the other side.

NCS has bounced back to its full pre-sequestration workforce and used the opportunity to diversify its customer base. The company realized that its experience delivering advanced computing products and services to highly demanding government customers could be translated into innovative new products for other growing markets, including healthcare, advanced manufacturing, banking and financial services.

The company kept innovating during the economic downturn and developed the industry’s only zero client laptop. Zero client computers have no operating system or data stored locally. Everything is virtually saved in the cloud, making the data more secure in the event the computer is hacked, lost or stolen.

While global competitors have developed zero client desktops, NCS Technologies is the only company able to master the engineering challenges to fit those capabilities, including patented Wi-Fi capability, into a mobile laptop product.

“Our employees are our greatest investment in innovation,” said John Callahan, vice president of marketing. “They are truly knowledge workers, including electrical engineers, sales representatives, program managers, financial analysts, highly trained assembly-line associates, technical support and customer service employees. Prince William County and surrounding Northern Virginia offers us that range of workforce that helps us excel in a complex, ultra-competitive environment.”

As part of Virginia Business Appreciation Month, NCS Technologies represents the high-growth industry and technological innovation that is alive and well in the Commonwealth. To learn why companies have found success in Virginia for more than 400 years, click here.

The Cirrus LT from NCS Technologies is the world’s first mobile zero client laptop computer. Photo courtesy of NCS Technologies.

 

 

Highground Services — A Successful Graduate of the Franklin Business Incubator

Friday, 1 May 2015 09:34 by Info@YesVirginia.org
John Warren and James Strozier, two former International Paper employees, put their experience together and became entrepreneurs when they created Highground Services in 2006. They co-founded the company with their wives, allowing it to qualify as a veteran-owned, SWAM (small, women-owned and minority) business...

John Warren and James Strozier, two former International Paper employees, put their experience together and became entrepreneurs when they created Highground Services in 2006. They co-founded the company with their wives, allowing it to qualify as a veteran-owned, SWAM (small, women-owned and minority) business.

The company provides high quality engineering services for process control, system automation and instrumentation projects.

The company was off to a fast start — they landed their first contract with International Paper in May 2007 and became a part of the Franklin Business Incubator that December.

When International Paper announced the closing of its Franklin Mill in 2009, this represented a substantial part of Highground Services’ sales.

Rather than be discouraged by the economic downturn and loss of their largest customer, Warren and Strozier seized the opportunity to hire displaced International Paper workers and expand their customer base. They also diversified their business by providing new services, including electrical construction and plant maintenance.

“We made a conscious decision to locate in a historically underutilized business zone and we really value being a part of this community,” said CEO James Strozier. “Our employees are tremendous and they worked tirelessly to help us not only survive, but thrive in what could have been a very challenging time.”

The company’s efforts have paid off in multiple ways. They received the Virginia Business Incubation Association's Donna Noble Incubator Client Award in 2009, UVA’s Darden School of Business Tayloe Murphy Resilience Awards in 2011 and the Franklin/Southampton Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year Award in 2010.

Highground Services has surpassed the $5 million revenue mark for the third straight year, and grown from four founders to 65 employees. The company is also poised to graduate from the Franklin Business Incubator and is in the process of purchasing a building across the street in downtown Franklin.

The entrepreneurial spirit and resiliency of Highground Services is a great reminder of the innovation that exists here in the Commonwealth as we celebrate Virginia Business Appreciation Month. To learn why Virginia offers the resources for entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses, click here.

Co-founders Jim and Lisa Strozier (center) are joined by local officials in front of their new property in downtown Franklin, Va.

Shenandoah Valley Partnership Launches inDEMAND Jobs Site

Tuesday, 21 April 2015 10:28 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Shenandoah Valley Partnership is partnering with WHSV-TV3 news to launch an educational campaign called “inDEMAND Local Career Opportunities...

The Shenandoah Valley Partnership is partnering with WHSV-TV3 news to launch an educational campaign called “inDEMAND Local Career Opportunities.”

The purpose of inDemand is to increase awareness about high-paying career opportunities in high-growth industries where there is a substantial demand for a qualified workforce. With the cost of higher education a concern for many families, this campaign will highlight rewarding jobs that require some additional training, but not a full four-year degree. 

Through linkage with Dream It, Do It — Virginia, the campaign will help both students and current employees match their career aspirations with programs and certifications offered through the Virginia Community College System, Career and Technical Education Centers, and four-year colleges and universities.

WHSV-TV3 is currently filming a series of three minute videos featuring 26 different careers that will be posted on their site at http://www.whsv.com/indemand. Governor McAuliffe kicked off the campaign earlier this month and his interview is included on the site.

The first video focused on high demand in the welding industry. Training to become a welder takes about six months and companies in the Shenandoah Valley are projected to hire 180 welders over the next 10 years.

Upcoming videos will discuss local demand for employees in the software development, mechatronics, accounting and trucking industries, to name just a few.

The Shenandoah Valley’s inDemand campaign highlights the premier workforce training programs that exist across the Commonwealth. To learn how Virginia is keeping its workforce up-to-date on the latest technology through its 15 public universities, 45 private institutions and 23 community colleges, click here.

Virginia Makes a Strong Showing on Kiplinger’s 2015 Best College Values List

Friday, 17 April 2015 16:00 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia universities made a strong showing on Kiplinger’s annual Best Colleges list, all the more important in the current environment where finding a quality education at an affordable price has become increasingly challenging...

Virginia universities made a strong showing on Kiplinger’s annual Best Colleges list, all the more important in the current environment where finding a quality education at an affordable price has become increasingly challenging.

In the public categories list, University of Virginia was ranked No. 2, The College of William and Mary No. 5, James Madison University No. 29, Virginia Tech No. 35, Christopher Newport University No. 83, and University of Mary Washington was No. 84.

For the liberal arts category, Washington and Lee University received a No. 2 ranking, University of Richmond No. 10, and Christendom College was No. 57.

To calculate the rankings, the editors at Kiplinger looked at a number of metrics used to determine both quality and value. The list was drawn from more than 1,200 four-year higher education institutions across the U.S.

Quality was measured through admission rates, test scores of incoming freshman, freshman retention, students per faculty and four-year graduation rates.

Value was calculated by looking at the overall cost of education, the amount of need-based and non-need-based aid, the percentage of need met and student debt at graduation.

Virginia’s strong rankings in both the public and liberal arts categories show the breadth of the Commonwealth’s premier education offerings. Virginia has more than 575,000 students enrolled in 230 campuses across the state ensuring the workforce of tomorrow is prepared to meet industry needs. To learn more click here.

A view of the Rotunda at the University of Virginia. Photo courtesy of UVA and Cassidy Girvin.

Tags:   YesVirginia Business Blog | All posts tagged 'Wise County'

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.

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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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