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.

Richmond’s Legend Brewing Co. Celebrates 20 Years

Thursday, 27 February 2014 14:23 by Info@YesVirginia.org
With the craft brewery movement quickly gaining speed over the last two years, Legend Brewing Co.’s 20-year history makes it Virginia’s oldest craft brewery still in operation. It is also the largest independently-owned craft brewing company in the Commonwealth...

With the craft brewery movement quickly gaining speed over the last two years, Legend Brewing Co.’s 20-year history makes it Virginia’s oldest craft brewery still in operation. It is also the largest independently-owned craft brewing company in the Commonwealth.

In January 1994, founder Tom Martin opened a small tasting room and pub off West 7th Street, then a gravel road in Richmond’s historic Old Manchester district. He started with four beers — the quickly popular Brown Ale, Lager, Pilsner and Porter.

What began as a 10-barrel brewhouse with four fermenters and four finishing tanks has grown into a 30-barrel brewhouse with 37 fermenters and 10 finishing tanks. In addition, the small tasting room has blossomed into a full restaurant with seating for 180 inside and 200 on the deck. Its location right on the James River with unobstructed views of the city skyline quickly made this a Richmond hot spot.

The rise of the farm-to-table and locally-grown movements have made the experience of visiting a craft brewery increasingly popular. Legend beers are unpasteurized and made with simple, natural ingredients — barley malt, hops, water and yeast. In addition, beer-lovers can enjoy a tour of the brewery followed by a tasting and meal, all enjoyed within an historic setting.

Legend has become a mainstay in Virginia’s ever-growing food and beverage industry because of its focus on delivering high-quality, fresh products. It is also one of the few craft breweries that produce both lagers and ales, which require a different process and ingredients.

Virginia’s beer industry has grown by leaps and bounds over the last few years. According to the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, there were 46 breweries in 2011. That number increased to 63 in 2012 and 75 in 2013, with most of the growth coming from the craft brewery niche. Part of that growth is attributable to Senate Bill 604, signed in May 2012, which allows beer manufacturers to sell and sample beer on their premises without obtaining a second restaurant license.

With the Brewer’s Association reporting 70 more breweries in the planning stages in Virginia, the Commonwealth’s craft brewery industry is poised to continue its positive momentum. Virginia has proven to be a successful location for entrepreneurs and food and beverage companies alike, making it an ideal choice for the craft brewery market. To learn more, click here.

Virginia Entrepreneurs — Dr. Lucy’s Takes Gluten-Free Global with VALET Program

Thursday, 21 November 2013 16:44 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Ten years ago, Dr. Lucy Gibney’s experience with food allergies was fairly typical for a board-certified emergency medicine physician. That all changed when her four month old son had a life-threatening allergic reaction to infant formula...

Ten years ago, Dr. Lucy Gibney’s experience with food allergies was fairly typical for a board-certified emergency medicine physician. That all changed when her four month old son had a life-threatening allergic reaction to infant formula.

Food safety quickly became a priority; however, at the time Dr. Lucy had trouble finding allergy-free products that were both safe and tasted good. Having developed a love of baking and experimenting with recipes since childhood, she combined this with her medical training in nutrition to develop delicious, allergy-free baked goods the whole family could enjoy.

Dr. Lucy and her husband wanted to share their cookies, brownies and snacks with other families, and thus was born Dr. Lucy’s line of baked goods, free from gluten, milk, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts.

In 2007, Dr. Lucy’s opened a 2,500-square-foot bakery in Norfolk, Va. The company outgrew this space three years ago and moved into a facility that has now grown to 22,000 square feet, including a dedicated bakery, warehouse, office space and laboratory to ensure sourced ingredients have not been cross-contaminated with any allergens. 

The company has expanded to more than 100 employees and managed to double sales every year since inception. Dr. Lucy’s began selling to natural food and grocery stores in the Hampton Roads area, and expanded throughout the mid-Atlantic region on its own momentum. Within the first six months, the company established a Midwest presence through an industry trade show in Chicago and gained an introduction to a buyer at Whole Foods Market by attending the Virginia Food and Beverage Expo. Dr. Lucy’s products are now in more than 6,000 retail locations across the U.S.

Dr. Lucy’s became a member of VEDP’s Virginia Leaders in Export Trade program in July 2012 after some early growth in Canada and the U.K. VALET helped the company research which new markets to focus on, and provided introductions to international consumer products experts, banking relationships and legal consults.

According to Dr. Lucy, “VALET put everything we needed right there in front of us. We really benefitted from the research component to check our facts and feel comfortable investing resources in a particular direction. Especially as a small company, having a jump start with core competencies in the international arena makes a big difference — it could have taken us years to develop this on our own.”

Through the VALET program, Dr. Lucy’s is expanding deeper into Europe and is now shipping to Mexico. To learn more about VALET and what VEDP’s international trade program can do for you, click here.

Dr. Lucy’s develops Spanish-language packaging as it prepares to enter the Mexican market.

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.

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.

Kraft Foods Invests $25 Million to Expand Virginia Plant

Thursday, 20 December 2012 17:24 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Today, Kraft Foods Group announced plans to invest $25 million to increase production capacity at its plant in Frederick County, Va., creating 25 new jobs...

Today, Kraft Foods Group announced plans to invest $25 million to increase production capacity at its plant in Frederick County, Va., creating 25 new jobs. 

Located on 30 acres in Frederick County, the Kraft Foods plant has been producing Capri Sun juice drinks since 1991, employing 460 Virginians. The company has made multiple investments in this facility over the years, including a 2010 announcement that it would invest $40 million and create 100 jobs.

Utilizing its existing 335,000-square-foot facility, Kraft Foods plans to add a production line to increase capacity, as well as bring its packaging to the same facility by adding technology to manufacture its mylar bags onsite.

Food and beverage companies like Kraft Foods continue to select the Commonwealth for its competitive operating environment. Virginia offers competitively priced and reliable electricity, a productive and highly-skilled workforce, a corporate tax rate of 6 percent that remains unchanged since 1972, an unemployment tax burden 32 percent lower than the national average, and construction costs 16 percent lower than the national average.

Virginia’s food and beverage cluster is on the rise, with more than 550 companies calling Virginia home. Not only does the Commonwealth provide a premier transportation network with access to 55 percent of the U.S. population in a 750-mile radius; its top-ranked universities and community college system offer training programs specifically designed to meet the needs of the food and beverage industry.

To learn why Virginia has the recipe for success, receiving more than $1.9 billion in investment for food and beverage projects over the last decade, click here.

McKee Foods Expands Manufacturing Operation in Augusta County

Friday, 17 August 2012 17:01 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Secretary Cheng recently attended an event at McKee Foods’ Stuarts Draft facility in Augusta County, Va., to announce the company’s planned investment of $19 million to expand the plant, creating 78 new jobs...

Secretary Cheng recently attended an event at McKee Foods’ Stuarts Draft facility in Augusta County, Va., to announce the company’s planned investment of $19 million to expand the plant, creating 78 new jobs.

Best known for its Little Debbie® line of snack cakes, McKee Foods produces a wide range of food products under the Sunbelt®, Heartland® and Fieldstone™ Bakery brands. Increased demand for the company’s line of Little Debbie® donuts is a major driver for the additional production capacity.

Successfully operating in Augusta County for 22 years, the high productivity of the local workforce helped Virginia win this project. The plant’s productivity, measured in cases produced per employee, has improved by 24 percent over the last two years, with the same number of employees and no additional automation.

According to Randy Smith, Vice President, McKee Foods Stuarts Draft operations, “McKee Foods initially recognized the strategic advantage of building a manufacturing facility in August County more than two decades ago. A major point in that decision was seeing that the Shenandoah Valley gave us access to a highly-skilled workforce. Today we’re pleased to be able to expand our production capabilities here.”

In addition to a highly-skilled manufacturing workforce, Virginia allows companies to improve their bottom lines. With a corporate income tax rate of 6 percent, an unemployment tax burden 32 percent lower than the national average, construction costs 16 percent lower than the national average, and favorably priced utility rates, more than 550 food and beverage companies call Virginia home.

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

Water from Virginia’s Rockingham County Judged Top 5 in the Nation

Thursday, 8 March 2012 16:23 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Water from the Three Springs Water Treatment Plant in McGaheysville, Va., was ranked Top 5 in the nation at the recent Great American Water Taste Test in Washington, D.C...

Water from the Three Springs Water Treatment Plant in McGaheysville, Va., was ranked Top 5 in the nation at the recent Great American Water Taste Test in Washington, D.C.

The contest was managed by the National Rural Water Association as part of its yearly Rural Water Rally. Participants had to win both state and national competitions to be represented at the final judging panel.

Clarity, bouquet and taste were the selection criteria, with judges focusing on water samples that had no taste, no smell and perfect clarity.

The Three Springs Water Treatment Plant is located in Virginia’s picturesque Shenandoah Valley. The water quality is naturally pure as plant manager Luke Hornick stated, “We add fluorine and chlorine, but the water is of such purity that nothing else is needed.”

High water quality is important not just for individual consumption, but it also drives business decisions. Food processing and brewing companies require large amounts of high quality water, making Virginia a preferred location for those industries.

According to Rockingham County director of Community Development William Vaughn, “It’s one of the primary reasons that Coors — now MillerCoors — established East Coast operations here 25 years ago.”

Concerns over water quality and availability are receiving increased attention across the globe, making Virginia’s infrastructure resources a valuable asset for companies located in the Commonwealth. To learn more about Virginia’s world-class capabilities serving the food and beverage industry click here.

A view of Virginia's Shenandoah River

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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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