VCU’s da Vinci Center Offers Real-World Interdisciplinary Training

Tuesday, 16 September 2014 09:10 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Where can a student work on a live project alongside classmates from the Schools of Arts, Business, Engineering, and the Humanities and Sciences? VCU’s da Vinci Center...

Where can a student work on a live project alongside classmates from the Schools of Arts, Business, Engineering, and the Humanities and Sciences? VCU’s da Vinci Center.

Companies in the greater Richmond area submit a product innovation problem to the da Vinci Center. Art, design, business and engineering students then work on cross-functional teams to develop an innovative solution, sponsored by the company.

The da Vinci Center prepares Virginia students to enter the workforce and hit the ground running, armed with the innovative and entrepreneurial thinking they will need to tackle everyday problems on the job. While students major in one area of study, the program allows them to see through the lens of multiple disciplines. It also emulates the way different departments work together to solve problems in a corporate environment.

Housed in the Pauley Pavilion, part of the School of Engineering, the center offers a multi-use space that facilitates product development from idea generation to market validation. Students have access to rapid prototyping machines and computer modeling and 3D object scanning equipment.

VEDP’s own economist, Michael Gilbert, was a da Vinci Center participant during his time at VCU. He worked on a minimally-invasive surgery trainer for physicians at MCV.

“The experience gained was invaluable,” said Gilbert. “Working on a cross-functional team with students from the School of the Arts, School of Engineering, and School of Business provided me insight and skills I still use today. Developing intellectual property on the team and through the course as an undergraduate is something I will never forget.”

The center offers two programs — an Undergraduate Certificate in Product Innovation and a Master of Product Innovation. The center is currently accepting applications for its spring 2015 class.

The da Vinci Center is yet another example of the cutting edge programs Virginia’s colleges and universities offer to prepare the workforce of tomorrow. To learn more about the Commonwealth’s premier higher education system, click here.

A group of students at VCU’s da Vinci Center develop a surgery trainer for MCV physicians. Photo courtesy of VCU da Vinci Center project team.

VEDP Receives Six Communications Awards at the 2014 SEDC Annual Conference

Wednesday, 3 September 2014 10:06 by Info@YesVirginia.org
VEDP received six communications awards for its marketing collateral at the SEDC (Southern Economic Development Council) Communication Awards Ceremony...

VEDP received six communications awards for its marketing collateral at the SEDC (Southern Economic Development Council) Communication Awards Ceremony.

The ceremony was held this August in conjunction with the 2014 SEDC Annual Conference in Atlanta, where more than 350 economic development professionals gathered for three days to learn about current economic development trends and strategies.

The six awards presented to VEDP included:

  • Special Judges Award for Online Content and Mobile Access recognizing VEDP’s website
  • Award of SUPERIOR for VEDP’s website relaunch
  • Award of EXCELLENCE for VEDP’s pocket brochure Map Out Success for Your Business in Virginia
  • Award of MERIT for VEDP’s annual report Results 2013
  • Award of MERIT for the VEDP marketing video Business Legacies Begin in Virginia
  • Award of MERIT in Thinking Outside the Box for VEDP’s webinar Innovation in Virginia: Live from the National Innovation Summit

“VEDP hit the mark this year with their marketing campaigns,” said SEDC President Gene Stinson. “These campaigns not only show creativity, but also solid messaging and effectiveness at reaching their target audiences. We were wowed by all the entries we received this year, and were impressed with the high level of marketing work being done in economic development by SEDC members.

The judging panel consisted of economic development consultants, practitioners and design professionals from across the southern U.S. Criteria included graphic appeal, clarity of message, quality of information, positioning, differentiation and format.

VEDP markets the Commonwealth of Virginia to companies seeking new business locations, expansion and international trade opportunities. To see examples of VEDP’s award-winning marketing materials and learn why Virginia is the Best State for Business, click here.

VEDP Vice President of Business Attraction Mike Lehmkuhler accepts the Special Judges Award for Online Content and Mobile access on behalf of VEDP from SEDC Chairman Hal Johnson.

Volvo Trucks Opens New Customer Experience Track in New River Valley

Thursday, 21 August 2014 15:54 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Last week, Governor McAuliffe celebrated the opening of Volvo Trucks’ new Customer Experience Track with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Dublin, Va...

Last week, Governor McAuliffe celebrated the opening of Volvo Trucks’ new Customer Experience Track with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Dublin, Va.

The 1.1 mile track features two paved lanes, straight-a-ways and eight percent super-elevated curves to simulate highway conditions. There is also an off-road portion to replicate more challenging conditions, showcasing the range of the company’s Class 8 vehicles.

The track is located on the company’s nearly 300-acre New River Valley campus, which contains the largest Volvo Truck manufacturing facility in the world at 1.6 million square feet. The plant is certified to ISO 500001 energy, ISO 9001 quality and ISO 14001 environmental standards.

The company drew from the expertise of its advanced manufacturing workforce to design and build the track. Employees even had a role in naming it the Twin Oaks Track after deciding to keep two oak trees in the center of the course.

Market demand has made significant strides since the recession, with the plant employing more than 2,500 workers. Earlier this summer, the company invested $69 million to add state-of-the-art equipment and redesign the facility to further improve efficiency and product quality, creating 200 new jobs in the process.

The track will likely draw additional customers to the New River Valley region to visit the plant and test drive potential Volvo Truck purchases.

It also augments Virginia’s thriving automotive industry which includes assets like the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, National Tire Research Center, SoVA Motion, National Crash Analysis Center, CCAM, C-CARE and the Virginia Modeling and Simulation Center, to name a few.

To learn why more than 150 automotive companies call Virginia home and have announced $1.1 billion in capital investment over the last 10 years, click here.

Governor McAuliffe takes a test drive on Volvo Trucks’ new Customer Experience Track in Dublin, Va.

MAAP Unmanned Aerial Test Site at Virginia Tech Declared Fully Operational by FAA

Monday, 18 August 2014 15:57 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Last week, a group of government, academic and business leaders gathered at Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute to celebrate the FAA declaring the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems test site program fully operational...

Last week, a group of government, academic and business leaders gathered at Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute to celebrate the FAA declaring the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems test site program fully operational.

In December 2013, the FAA announced that Virginia Tech was selected as one of six test sites across the country to conduct research as part of an initiative to establish safety standards for integrating UAS, such as drones, with commercial aircrafts.

Virginia Tech led the submission of a joint proposal for Virginia, New Jersey and Maryland, along with Rutgers University and the University of Maryland, called the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership. MAAP is headquartered at Virginia Tech’s Institute of Critical Technology and Applied Sciences, with test sites located across Virginia, New Jersey and Maryland.

The ceremony included a simulation flight involving an unmanned, multi-rotor helicopter called the Smart Road Flyer. It was modified for transportation research by Dr. Kevin Kochersberger, a professor with the College of Engineering and the Virginia Center for Autonomous Systems, and engineering students from the Unmanned Systems Laboratory at Virginia Tech. The simulation gathered information from a mock accident scene on an interstate highway.

This scenario illustrates the wide-ranging future capabilities of UAS. Potential uses of this technology include disaster response, search and rescue missions, utility and pipeline inspections, agricultural monitoring, wildlife management, cargo delivery and weather observation.

This is another win for Virginia’s burgeoning aerospace industry. With flights to the International Space Station taking off from MARS/NASA Wallops Flight Facility and UAS launched from MAAP at Virginia Tech, the Commonwealth has the assets to stake its claim as a national aerospace leader. 

To learn why more than 250 aerospace companies have chosen to call Virginia home, click here.

Dr. Kevin Kochersberger (right) describes a UAS simulation flight at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute during the MAAP First Flight Ceremony. University President Timothy Sands, Virginia Delegate Joseph Yost, Governor Terry McAuliffe, and MAAP Executive Director Rose Mooney (left to right) discuss the future of unmanned and autonomous aviation at the event. Photo Courtesy of Virginia Tech.

Get to Know VEDP’s NEW COO Dan Gundersen

Wednesday, 13 August 2014 13:21 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Dan Gundersen joined VEDP as Chief Operating Officer this May, where his focus is on running the day-to-day operations of VEDP. Dan’s full profile is available in the summer issue of Commerce Quarterly. To help you get to know Dan, here’s an interview we recently did to see how his first few months are going...

Dan Gundersen joined VEDP as Chief Operating Officer this May, where his focus is on running the day-to-day operations of VEDP. Dan’s full profile is available in the summer issue of Commerce Quarterly

To help you get to know Dan, here’s an interview we recently did to see how his first few months are going.

Q:  What has your first 75 days been like?

A:  It’s been focused entirely on the internal operations of VEDP. For many years now, VEDP has operated as a flat organization with the different department heads reporting directly to the CEO. With the recent reorganization and refocusing of VEDP’s initiatives, it became clear that there was a need for a coordinating role to help bring the operations into better alignment and to provide a more targeted and strategic focus for our efforts. And that’s really what my job is all about.

Q:  What specifically have you focused on?

A:  Performance metrics for the economic development profession has been something that I’ve focused on for years now. I’ve served on the board of the International Economic Development Council for a long time and have championed this cause. Recently I co-chaired the first ever performance metric analysis for the economic development profession with the IEDC called Making It Count:  Metrics for High Performing EDOs. The goal there was to be able to identify those metrics that can help us better tell the story of what we do and why we do it. Today it’s not just about jobs created and leveraging public sector dollars. The IEDC report provides more than 200 new measures that economic development groups can use. We’re taking a couple pages out of that book to help VEDP better describe the impact of its work. At the September VEDP board meeting we will introduce several new metrics to be able to assess our progress.

Q:  What does VEDP do really well?

A: In one word — deals. Martin Briley has an incredible ability to focus on the deal pipeline and knows the nuances of every single deal inside and out. He’s living and breathing our Salesforce database, and I think that has helped drive productivity to a very high level. 

Of course, exceeding goals is possible only if you have really good talent among staff, terrific esprit de corps, effective partnerships, and an incredible devotion to what I would call a “cause.” VEDP staff represents one of the most committed organizations that I’ve ever had the privilege of working for. In a way, that makes my job so much easier.

Q:  What challenges do you see ahead?

A:  The world of economic development is changing so quickly and we’re expected to be so many things to so many people. One of our biggest challenges is going to be keeping our focus on those things that we do well, while also being a thought leader and an advocate for the business community, a catalyst for launching new ideas, and even at times a broker of resources for others so that together we can bring about greater economic gain for the state. That’s why it’s important that VEDP develop its own strategic operating plan that builds on regional assets and that aligns seamlessly with the overall economic strategy that the Administration will be producing later this year. Right now, that’s probably my top priority.

Q:  Where are you focusing your efforts for FY15?

A:  The new strategic operating plan will highlight a few areas where we believe we can focus more of our attention and resources. One of those will be with identifying and assisting high growth firms. Research shows that high growth firms in any regional economy account for upwards of 70-80 percent of the net new jobs, and yet, these firms account for less than one percent of all business establishments. You’re going to see VEDP develop a very sophisticated strategy for making sure we are meeting the needs of these businesses better than any other state.

Another area will be an intense focus targeting foreign direct investment and assisting firms that wish to conduct trade in emerging markets around the world.

Finally, VEDP is going to be aggressively positioning itself with brand development and targeted marketing to be able to identify firms that could and should be in Virginia. It’s all about sustained and profitable growth and Virginia has all of those fundamentals to make it happen.

Keep an eye out — this fall we’ll be distributing a live podcast that Dan did for the Atlanta and St. Louis Federal Reserve Banks on the future of economic development.

Virginia Schools Rank High on the Forbes and Money Top Colleges Lists

Tuesday, 12 August 2014 09:46 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia’s higher education institutions once again ranked high on the Forbes America’s Top Colleges 2014 list. Forbes partnered with the Center for College Affordability and Productivity on its seventh annual ranking.

Virginia’s higher education institutions once again ranked high on the Forbes America’s Top Colleges 2014 list. Forbes partnered with the Center for College Affordability and Productivity on its seventh annual ranking.

Three Virginia schools made the Top 25 in the Best Public Colleges category:  University of Virginia was No. 5, College of William and Mary was No. 6, and Virginia Tech was No. 23.

In the Overall category, eight Virginia colleges made the Top 200 list: Washington and Lee University (No. 33), UVA (No. 40), College of William and Mary (No. 41), University of Richmond (No. 96), Virginia Tech (No. 117), Virginia Military Institute (No. 129), Hampden-Sydney College (No. 171), and James Madison University (No. 188).

Washington and Lee University was also ranked No. 15 on the Best Liberal Arts Colleges list.

Forbes is a unique ranking because instead of focusing on the metrics of how competitive an institution is to get in to, it focuses on what students get out of college in terms of ROI. The five factors that determine the ranking include student satisfaction, post-graduate success, graduation rates, academic success and student debt.

Money also gave Virginia high marks on its Best Colleges for Your Money 2014 ranking. The Commonwealth scored well in the Best Public Colleges category with UVA at No. 3, VMI at No. 4, Virginia Tech at No. 12, JMU at No. 17 and the College of William and Mary at No. 20.

In the Overall category, 10 Virginia institutions made the Top 200:  UVA (No. 16), VMI (No. 18), Washington and Lee University (No. 39), Virginia Tech (No. 42), JMU (No. 53), College of William and Mary (No. 60), George Mason University (No. 101), University of Mary Washington (No. 107), University of Richmond (No. 120), and Hampden-Sydney College (No. 156).

Money only included schools with an above-average six-year graduation rate, and then based the ranking on a number of factors in three main categories — quality of education, affordability and outcomes.

Virginia’s substantial higher education system includes more than 100 in-state institutions that are preparing 450,000 students to enter the workforce. From large universities, to small private colleges, to the 23-member Virginia Community College System, the Commonwealth’s world-class education system stands ready to support industry demand with a strong pipeline of highly skilled workers.

To learn more about Virginia’s premier education system, click here.

A view of the Rotunda at the University of Virginia. UVA was ranked No. 3 on Money’s Best Public Colleges list. Photo courtesy of Virginia Tourism Corp.

Dream It, Do It – Virginia Hosts Seven Manufacturing Technology Camps This Summer

Thursday, 31 July 2014 14:33 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Dream It, Do It – Virginia hosted seven Manufacturing Technology Camps across the Commonwealth this summer. The camps are designed to reach out to high school students who are considering a career in manufacturing...

Dream It, Do It – Virginia hosted seven Manufacturing Technology Camps across the Commonwealth this summer. The camps are designed to reach out to high school students who are considering a career in manufacturing.       

The three-and-a-half-day camps allow students to experience all levels of production, from raw materials to finished goods. Students also participate in tours, lectures and manufacturing demonstrations where they get to see the latest in automation and robotics from Virginia’s leading manufacturers.

Students in the Manufacturing Technology Camps also participate in a competition where they work with a team to complete an assignment that involves designing, building and running a manufacturing system. During the competition, students receive training and mentoring from industry experts. Students on the winning team receive scholarships to pursue STEM education tracks.

This summer, two camps were offered at Southside Virginia Community College in Keysville, two at Lake Country Advanced Knowledge Center in South Hill, and one each at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center in South Boston, at STIHL Inc. in Virginia Beach, and at ITAC in Chester. Halifax County posted a video from their Manufacturing Technology Camp here.

Dream It, Do It – Virginia is part of a national organization that provides access to on-the-job training and certifications to keep the existing manufacturing workforce up-to-date on the latest technology, as well as build awareness among youth about the many options and rewards a manufacturing career can offer.

The manufacturing jobs of today are very different from what manufacturing jobs in the past may have entailed. Virginia’s advanced manufacturing takes place in a clean, safe environment and requires high skill and high levels of education. Manual labor has largely been replaced with automation. An advanced manufacturing career today often involves managing the technical process to improve efficiencies and product throughput. The work is interesting and employees are rewarded with a competitive salary.

The Dream It, Do It – Virginia website provides a number of valuable tools for investigating a career in the Commonwealth’s advanced manufacturing industry. It allows students to assess their interests and skills to determine an area of focus, as well as view the educational requirements and career track for that specialty. You can also watch the recent Dream It, Do It – Virginia Third Wednesday Webinar by clicking here.

Businesses in the Commonwealth praise the experience and dedication of their Virginia workforce as one of their prime factors for success. Dream It, Do It – Virginia is one example of the many educational groups across the Commonwealth ensuring that Virginia’s workforce has the skills and training to match industry demand. To learn more, click here.

Students get hands on experience at one of the Manufacturing Technology Camps at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center in Halifax County, Va. Photo courtesy of Halifax County Industrial Development Authority.

VSU Small Farm Outreach Program Helps Sabra Grow First Crop of Chickpeas in Virginia

Wednesday, 30 July 2014 09:05 by Info@YesVirginia.org
It’s harvest time and good news for Sabra Dipping Co. Virginia State University’s College of Agriculture is about to gather one of Virginia’s first ever crop of chickpeas...

It’s harvest time and good news for Sabra Dipping Co. Virginia State University’s College of Agriculture is about to gather one of Virginia’s first crop of chickpeas.

Sabra has partnered with VSU to research the possibility of sourcing chickpeas, the main ingredient in its top-selling hummus, closer to the company’s 49-acre campus in Chesterfield County. Sabra is the No. 1 brand of hummus in the U.S. and has established both a manufacturing operation and R&D Center of Excellence on its campus at Ruffin Mill Industrial Park in Chesterfield County.

Sabra first announced plans to establish a facility in Virginia in November 2008. Part of the company’s decision to locate in Chesterfield County was the proximity to VSU’s College of Agriculture. “During the company’s decision-making process, we arranged several meetings with the College of Agriculture to explore opportunities to grow chickpeas in Virginia and enhance the profitability of the company,” said Renee Chapline, president and CEO at Virginia Gateway Region.

Over the last two years, Sabra and VSU have implemented Dr. Harbans Bhardwaj’s chickpea research through the university’s Small Farms Outreach Program. Cliff Somerville, a VSU Small Farm Outreach agent, has worked with a number of farms across Virginia to test the growth of different varieties of chickpeas.

According to Somerville, while last year’s crops were largely a washout due to weather conditions (excessive rain) and a problem with worms, VSU and Sabra discovered that one type of chickpea seed worked well in Virginia — the “Billy Bean” variety.

This year, VSU only planted the “Billy Bean” variety and Somerville supervised one of those test sites – three acres on a farm in Halifax County.

“The plants got up to around 30 inches and it’s a good population with about 32-34 pods per stalk,” said Somerville. “It’s a successful crop. We’ve done a test run with the combine to check moisture levels, and we’re getting ready to do a full harvest in the next week or so. This will be one of the first crops of chickpeas grown in Virginia.”

The success of Virginia’s first group of chickpea crops has the potential to be a win-win for both Sabra and Virginia farmers. It would allow Sabra to shorten its supply chain and reduce risk by sourcing one of its main ingredients closer to the company’s manufacturing facility. It also would provide diversification for Virginia farmers, particularly those in the tobacco region.

To learn about Virginia’s plentiful resources, and how the Commonwealth’s higher education institutions partner with businesses to innovate, click here.

VSU Small  Farm Outreach agents Cliff Somerville and Derrick Cladd, program director William Crutchfield and cooperating farmer Mr. James Brown (left to right) examine plants in Halifax County, part of Virginia’s first successful group of chickpea crops. Photo courtesy of Virginia State University.

Richmond, Hampton Roads and Charlottesville are Top Happiest Metro Areas in the U.S.

Friday, 25 July 2014 15:53 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Richmond/Petersburg was ranked No. 1 and Hampton Roads (Norfolk/Virginia Beach/Newport News) was ranked No. 2 on the National Bureau of Economic Research list of Top 10 Happiest Metropolitan Areas with a Population Greater Than One Million. Charlottesville was ranked No. 1 as the U.S. Metropolitan Area with the Highest Reported Happiness...

Richmond/Petersburg was ranked No. 1 and Hampton Roads (Norfolk/Virginia Beach/Newport News) was ranked No. 2 on the National Bureau of Economic Research list of Top 10 Happiest Metropolitan Areas with a Population Greater Than One Million. Charlottesville was ranked No. 1 as the U.S. Metropolitan Area with the Highest Reported Happiness.

Economists at Harvard University and the University of British Columbia published a working paper called “Unhappy Cities” through the National Bureau of Economic Research. NBER is the nation’s leading nonprofit economic research organization, with more than 1,300 economics and business professors teaching across North America.

The authors of the study, Edward Glaeser, Joshua Gottlieb and Oren Ziv, used the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a self-reported study on happiness conducted by the CDC, as their primary data source. Because the BRFSS data reports the county where a respondent lives, the authors were able to link responses with location.

They then performed a series of regression analyses to control for individual factors, such as education, income and race, to come up with an adjusted life satisfaction estimate for each MSA.

The authors discovered there is indeed a correlation between happiness and location. They also found that self-reported unhappiness is highest in declining cities, areas linked with lower levels of population and income growth.

It comes as no surprise that multiple regions in Virginia received top marks in this study. With more than 400 years of rich history, the Commonwealth offers employers and citizens an affordable cost of living, access to parks and natural resources ranging from the mountains to the ocean, and recreational opportunities from historical sites to modern sports, entertainment and cultural venues. To learn why reports like this give Virginia a top ranking on quality of life, click here.

A map of the U.S. which shows each metropolitan and rural areas' adjusted life satisfaction. Photo courtesy of the University of British Columbia.

Pollina Awards Virginia Another Top Pro-Business State Ranking

Tuesday, 15 July 2014 10:40 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Once again, Virginia received a leading ranking on Pollina Corporate Real Estate’s Top 10 Pro-Business States 2014 report. The Commonwealth was ranked fourth, taking the same slot as last year. Virginia has consistently received top marks in this report, taking one of the top two spots from 2005-2012...

Once again, Virginia received a leading ranking on Pollina Corporate Real Estate’s Top 10 Pro-Business States 2014 report.

The Commonwealth was ranked fourth, taking the same slot as last year. Virginia has consistently received top marks in this report, taking one of the top three spots from 2005-2012.

“Clearly a national leader in the 11 years of this study, no other state comes close to Virginia when it comes to being a consistent pro-business state,” said Brent Pollina, vice president of Pollina Corporate Real Estate, Inc. and co-author of the study.

Virginia was the top ranked state on the East Coast this year and has received an overall grade of “A” in each of the last five years.

“Virginia has consistently remained at the top of the list because Virginia’s state and local leaders are innovative and aggressive in attracting and retaining jobs and investment. Key to Virginia’s success is its ability to balance low taxes, a good labor force and a strong economic development program. With a Stage I rank of No. 6 and a Stage II rank of No. 3, Virginia has one of the most well-rounded business climates in the nation,” added Pollina.

The ranking is based on 32 factors controlled at the state level, including taxes, human resources, right-to-work legislation, energy costs, infrastructure spending, workers' compensation legislation, jobs gained, financial incentives and state economic development evaluations. The report was co-published with the American Economic Development Institute.

The ranking also reflected positively at the agency level of economic development. Virginia received an “A” in both incentives and marketing/website/response to new and existing employers.

As the report alluded to — consistency is key. Corporations making large investment and employment decisions want to feel confident that the location they select will maintain its positive attributes years down the line. The Commonwealth’s solid track record and stellar resources make it easy for companies to say “Yes” to Virginia. To learn more, click here.

Photo courtesy of the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Orbital Sciences Completes Second Launch to the International Space Station

Monday, 14 July 2014 15:33 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Yesterday at 12:52 p.m., Orbital Sciences completed its second launch to the International Space Station from Pad-OA of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore...

Yesterday at 12:52 p.m., Orbital Sciences completed its second launch to the International Space Station from Pad-OA of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

The Orb-2 mission is Orbital Sciences’ second of eight resupply missions to the ISS, part of Orbital Sciences’ $1.9 billion Commercial Resupply Service contract with NASA. Orbital Sciences will deliver more than 40,000 pounds of cargo to the ISS through 2016.

The Antares rocket launched the Cygnus spacecraft, carrying more than 3,600 pounds of research materials, hardware, science experiments and provisions for the crew of Expedition 40 aboard the ISS. The experiments include nanosatellites to take images of earth, satellites to allow 3-D mapping and robotic navigation inside the space station, and student projects from the Student Spaceflight Experiment Program.

Cygnus is expected to reach ISS Wednesday morning. Over the next two days Cygnus will complete a series of thruster burns to bring it close to the ISS, at which point the crew will use the ISS robotic arm to grapple and rendezvous with the spacecraft.

Cygnus will remain berthed with ISS for approximately 30 days so that the Expedition 40 crew can unload the cargo and reload it with trash. Upon completion of the mission, Cygnus will be burned up during reentry to Earth’s atmosphere.

Yesterday’s successful second launch to the ISS illustrates Virginia’s continued leadership in the aerospace industry. Through MARS, Virginia is one of only a few sites across the U.S. authorized for orbital space launches. To learn why more than 250 aerospace companies call Virginia home, click here.

Orbital Sciences’ Antares rocket takes off from Pad-OA of MARS at NASA Wallops Flight Facility on its second mission to the International Space Station. Photo courtesy of NASA/Bill Ingalls.

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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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ICF International Opens Business Process Management Center in Henry County, Va.

Monday, 14 May 2012 16:58 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Governor McDonnell and Lieutenant Governor Bolling attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony in Henry County, Va., to celebrate the opening of ICF International’s Business Process Management operations center. The opening of the facility comes just over a year after the Governor announced the project would bring 539 new jobs and a $15 million investment to Southern Virginia.

As a global professional and technology services firm, locating near a skilled workforce is critical. Following the company’s $20 million expansion of its Fairfax County headquarters in 2010, this project is further validation of the strength of Virginia’s workforce across the state. 

This victory also illustrates the breadth of Virginia’s technology infrastructure, another key deciding factor that helped the Commonwealth compete against Georgia, Maryland, Tennessee and West Virginia. Companies in Southern Virginia can take advantage of Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative’s 800 mile open-access, fiber optic broadband network.

In the words of ICF International Chairman and CEO Sudhakar Kesavan, “ICF is proud to expand its operations in Virginia and to call the Commonwealth its home. As a professional services firm, ICF International maintains its global headquarters here, which offers the best combination of a robust economy, a pro-business climate, a high-quality workforce, and an outstanding quality of life for ICF employees. We are pleased to open this new operations center in Henry County and to build our workforce from local residents.”

With the highest concentration of technology workers in the country, Virginia continues to attract world-class companies and gain recognition as the Top State for Business. To learn more, click here.

Governor McDonnell addresses the crowd at ICF International’s ribbon-cutting ceremony in Martinsville, Va.

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Virginia Wins Site Selection Magazine’s 2011 Competitiveness Award

Monday, 7 May 2012 09:49 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Site Selection Magazine named Virginia the winner of its annual Competitiveness Award, which recognizes excellence on the part of a state-level economic development group...

Site Selection magazine named Virginia the winner of its annual Competitiveness Award, which recognizes excellence on the part of a state-level economic development group. The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) accepted the award at the Industrial Asset Management Council’s Spring Professional Forum held in Austin, Texas.

The Competitiveness Award was based on a 10-factor index using Conway Data Inc.’s New Plant database. The number of new and expanded facilities, capital invested in new and expanded facilities, total jobs created, the individual state tax climate and state unemployment rate were a few of the factors used in selecting the Commonwealth as the winner.

Virginia’s low-tax business climate, right to work status and competitive operating costs were just some of the benefits touted by Site Selection. Add to that a world-class transportation infrastructure, robust telecommunications network, and a tech-savvy workforce, and it’s easy to see why Virginia is the clear winner.

This award continues the positive recognition the Commonwealth has seen in 2012. Virginia has already been recognized with a Top 3 Economic Outlook Ranking from the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Rich States, Poor States study, a Top 5 ranking in Site Selection’s Governor’s Cup, a Top 3 ranking on Gallup’s Job Creation Index, and a Top 10 ranking on Chief Executive’s Best States for Business.

To learn why Virginia continues to garner attention as a top state for business, click here.

Mark Arend, Site Selection Editor in Chief, presents VEDP representative Brent Sheffler with the Competitiveness Award.

Balchem Corp. Opens First Operation in Virginia

Wednesday, 2 May 2012 12:53 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Alleghany County won a new manufacturing operation when Balchem Corporation decided to locate its first operation in the Commonwealth there. The project will bring an initial investment of approximately $10 million and 55 new jobs to the region over the next 2-3 years...

Alleghany County won a new manufacturing operation when Balchem Corporation decided to locate its first operation in the Commonwealth there. The project will bring an initial investment of approximately $10 million and 55 new jobs to the region over the next 2-3 years.

As a leading producer of encapsulated ingredients for the animal nutrition and health market, Balchem’s growing portfolio of products has gained strong market acceptance at a global level. The manufacturing facility in Covington, Va., will allow Balchem to build on this success by more than doubling its output capacity for this market.

Virginia’s strong manufacturing workforce, rich raw material supply and competitive overall cost structure weren't the only reasons the Commonwealth was selected for this project. Alleghany County’s strategic location was also a critical factor in the selection process. Direct access to Interstates 64 and 81 will provide the company with convenient access to customers in the Northeast and Midwest markets, and close proximity to Virginia’s world-class port system will allow Balchem to easily serve its international customers.

A 45-year-old, publicly-traded company, Balchem was ranked #29 on Forbes.com’s 2011 America’s Best Small Companies list. To learn more about Virginia’s extensive manufacturing capabilities and why the Commonwealth continues to attract top companies like Balchem, click here.

Virginia Wins Another Defense Company's Corporate Headquarters

Tuesday, 1 May 2012 15:02 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Yesterday, DRS Technologies announced it would relocate its corporate headquarters from New Jersey to Arlington County, Va. The company will expand its Virginia presence to more than 100 employees, bringing a capital investment in excess of $10 million to the region...

Yesterday, DRS Technologies announced it would relocate its corporate headquarters from New Jersey to Arlington County, Va. The company will expand its Virginia presence to more than 100 employees, bringing a capital investment in excess of $10 million to the region.

The defense technology leader is a subsidiary of Italian conglomerate Finmeccanica S.p.A., a top ten global defense and aerospace leader. DRS Technologies develops a wide range of mission-critical systems for homeland security and military needs.

The Governor met with company officials at the Farnborough International Air Show in summer 2010.

Virginia was chosen for the company’s new headquarters location due to its proximity to key customers in the D.C. area, as well as the company’s positive experience with Virginia’s pro-business regulatory environment and tech-savvy workforce. Virginia has the highest concentration of high-tech workers according to Cyberstates 2011.

To learn why major defense companies such as DRS Technologies, Northrop Grumman, ITT Exelis and ATK have all recently selected the Commonwealth for their headquarters location, click here.

Engility Corp. Establishes Global Headquarters in Virginia

Friday, 27 April 2012 15:30 by Info@YesVirginia.org
L-3 Communications spin-off Engility Corp. announced yesterday that it would establish its new corporate headquarters in Fairfax County, Va. The project, a positive result of the Governor’s recent marketing mission to New York and Canada, will bring 50 new jobs and a $6.5 million investment to Northern Virginia...

L-3 Communications spin-off Engility Corp. announced yesterday that it would establish its new corporate headquarters in Fairfax County, Va. The project, a positive result of the Governor’s recent marketing mission to New York and Canada, will bring 50 new jobs and a $6.5 million investment to Northern Virginia.

With more than $2 billion in sales and 9,200 employees worldwide, Engility Corp. is a leading professional services firm providing systems engineering and technical assistance support services to numerous government agencies, including the Department of Defense. Virginia’s proximity to the company’s key markets and customers was a deciding factor for this headquarters location.

L-3 Communications’ existing presence in the Commonwealth and positive experience with Virginia’s highly-skilled workforce and pro-business tax structure led Engility to choose Virginia over its competition in Maryland.

As part of the professional services industry, Engility’s new headquarters location builds upon the success Virginia has shown in the sector. Professional services was the Commonwealth’s top sector for job creation in 2011, announcing 12,769 new jobs. With human capital as the major input, the sector’s 108 percent growth over the last year illustrates the driving force of Virginia’s world-class workforce.

To learn more why companies continue to select the Commonwealth for their headquarters locations, click here.

Bristol, Virginia’s NextGen Broadband Network Recognized in National Study

Wednesday, 25 April 2012 16:10 by Info@YesVirginia.org
New industry study Broadband at the Speed of Light details how three communities, including Bristol, Va., took matters into their own hands to develop some of the top broadband networks in the country...

New industry study Broadband at the Speed of Light details how three communities, including Bristol, Va., took matters into their own hands to develop some of the top broadband networks in the country.

Published by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) and the Benton Foundation, the study details a growing trend — rather than relying on the slower pace of private sector telecommunications expansion, community leaders are successfully designing and implementing their own public broadband networks.

Bristol is touted as one of the first municipalities in the nation to build a citywide Fiber-To-The-Home (FTTH) network that offers telephone, cable television and Internet broadband access. The local power utility, Bristol Virginia Utilities, launched its fiber optic network in 2003 under the name OptiNet.

Study author Christopher Mitchell noted that Bristol’s residents have “faster and lower cost access to the Internet than anyone in San Francisco, Seattle or any other major city.”

With a take rate above 70 percent, OptiNet has since expanded outside of Bristol to nearby businesses and industrial parks, helping to create hundreds of jobs for Virginians. Named the 2009 Community Broadband Fiber Network of the Year by the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisers, the network has also been praised in The Economist and in the FCC’s National Broadband Plan for America.

OptiNet is not the only technology investment Southern Virginia has seen. Several years ago the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative established an 800 mile open-access, fiber-optic broadband network, attracting Gigaparks and technology companies to the former tobacco region.

High-speed broadband infrastructure has become an increasingly important component to business expansion decisions, allowing Virginia to remain competitive on a global level. The expansions of companies such as Microsoft, Northrop Grumman, CGI and Alpha Natural Resources in the region are due in part to the availability of a high-speed network.

To learn more about Virginia’s strength as a technology leader and why companies continue to locate in the Top State for Business, click here.

Healthcare Leader McKesson Corp. Expands Footprint in the Commonwealth

Friday, 20 April 2012 16:40 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Earlier this week, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling joined McKesson officials to celebrate the grand opening of the company’s new medical distribution center in Caroline County. Initially announced in August 2010, the new, state-of-the-art distribution center will allow McKesson to better serve its domestic and international customers, bringing 150 new jobs and a $50 million investment to Virginia.

Ranked 15th on the Fortune 500, McKesson is the largest pharmaceutical wholesaler in North America, distributing one-third of all medicines used each day. McKesson’s selection of Virginia over Maryland and Pennsylvania confirms the Commonwealth’s strong advantages for companies vested in global logistics.

The new distribution center will enhance McKesson’s total supply chain efficiency as well as extend the company’s footprint in Virginia. Building off the McKesson Medical Surgical corporate office in Richmond, this new distribution center will bring the company’s employee base in Virginia to more than 600.

Virginia offers several advantages for distribution centers, including easy rail access, six major highways, one of the largest container ports on the East Coast, and the third largest state-maintained transportation network in the country.

To learn more about why the nation’s leading distributors are locating in Virginia, click here.

American Legislative Exchange Council Gives Virginia a Top 3 Ranking For Economic Outlook

Friday, 13 April 2012 13:23 by Info@YesVirginia.org
In its fifth edition of Rich States, Poor States the American Legislative Exchange Council rated Virginia in the top three for its 2012 Economic Outlook Ranking...

In its fifth edition of Rich States, Poor States the American Legislative Exchange Council rated Virginia in the top three for its 2012 Economic Outlook Ranking. This forward-looking ranking comprises 15 equally weighted state policy variables, including personal and corporate tax rates, as well as worker’s compensation costs, right-to-work status and even the quality of the state legislature.

As the highest ranked state in the region, Virginia definitively outshined its competition. With a corporate tax rate of six percent that remains unchanged since 1972, a right-to-work regulatory environment, and an unemployment tax burden that is 32 percent lower than the national average, it is easy to see why this is the second consecutive year the Commonwealth has made the top three in this study.

Virginia’s pro-growth economic policies offer companies long-term incentives to invest in the Commonwealth. For example, Virginia was able to successfully compete against nearby Maryland on a number of recent headquarters relocation announcements, including Northrop Grumman, ITT Exelis, Bechtel Corp. (divisional headquarters), Acentia and Alpha Natural Resources.

To learn why Virginia is consistently ranked America’s Top State for Business click here.

31 Virginia Professors Make The Princeton Review’s Best 300 Professors List

Thursday, 5 April 2012 14:40 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia professors represented more than 10% of The Princeton’s Reviews inaugural Best 300 Professors list. Teaming up with RateMyProfessors.com, the organizations reviewed data on more than 42,000 professors to create their first ranking of America’s top undergraduate professors...

Virginia professors represented more than 10% of The Princeton Review's inaugural Best 300 Professors list. Teaming up with RateMyProfessors.com, the organizations reviewed data on more than 42,000 professors to create their first ranking of America’s top undergraduate professors.

The Best 300 Professors list includes professors from five Virginia schools:  University of Mary Washington, James Madison University, Sweet Briar College, University of Richmond and the College of William & Mary. A broad range of departments was represented, including computer science, mathematics, economics, chemistry, biology, accounting, political science, english and psychology, among others.

The ranking was based on survey data from college students, using both quantitative and qualitative statistics to evaluate factors such as the student’s overall experience in the classroom, the professor’s teaching ability and the professor’s accessibility.

Virginia’s strong performance on The Best 300 Professors list is yet another validation of the Commonwealth’s excellent higher education system. Virginia’s colleges and universities have achieved national recognition on a number of the prestigious U.S. News and World Report college rankings.

Last year, Virginia’s colleges and universities awarded 133,603 degrees ranging from associate through doctorate levels. With more than 500,000 students currently enrolled in more than 100 in-state institutions, Virginia’s strong pipeline of skilled workers is ready to meet the needs of businesses expanding across the Commonwealth. 

To learn more about Virginia’s outstanding education system and workforce training programs, click here.

Richmond, Virginia Receives a Top 3 Ranking on Gallup’s Job Creation Index

Tuesday, 3 April 2012 13:26 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Richmond, Va., was recently ranked No. 3 on Gallup’s Job Creation Index. Comparing the 50 largest metro areas across the U.S., the index looks at net job creation — contrasting percentage of companies hiring against companies letting employees go...

Richmond, Va., was recently ranked No. 3 on Gallup’s Job Creation Index. Comparing the 50 largest metro areas across the U.S., the index looks at net job creation — contrasting percentage of companies hiring against companies letting employees go.

What makes this ranking unique is that it reflects the perception of the local workforce regarding job creation in their city. Gallup performed a survey over calendar year 2011, interviewing employees in each metro area about whether their employers were expanding or downsizing.

Thirty-six percent of Richmond’s workforce stated that their employer was expanding while only 14 percent said their company was decreasing its workforce, yielding a net job creation index score of 22.

Richmond’s No. 3 ranking illustrates the positive job creation momentum in Virginia, and the workforce survey correlates with actual results. Governor McDonnell recently announced that January’s seasonally adjusted unemployment in Virginia fell to 5.8 percent, a three-year low.

Coming shortly after Virginia was named the 2012 Best State to Make a Living by MoneyRates.com, Gallup’s Job Creation ranking illustrates the high quality of life and career opportunities employees find in Virginia, as well as why the Commonwealth is able to attract a world-class workforce. New and established companies alike continually praise the skill and productivity of Virginia’s workforce.

To learn more about Virginia’s stellar employee base and why the Commonwealth is continually ranked America’s Top State for Business, click here.

4G Wireless Comes to Southwestern Virginia

Monday, 26 March 2012 17:06 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Businesses and residents in Southwestern Virginia will soon enjoy faster, more consistent wireless network access. Over the next three years, The Virginia Coalfield Coalition will partner with Verizon Wireless to install the network that will reach 95,000 households and 2,600 businesses in seven counties.

Businesses and residents in Southwestern Virginia will soon enjoy faster, more consistent wireless network access. Over the next three years, The Virginia Coalfield Coalition will partner with Verizon Wireless to install the network that will reach 95,000 households and 2,600 businesses in seven counties.

The Virginia Tobacco Commission committed $7.5 million in grants to implement the Fourth Generation Long Term Evolution (4G LTE) wireless network. The 4G LTE network is the most advanced technology currently available and is up to 10 times faster than 3G service, according to Verizon. The project will be completed in three phases, upgrading many existing towers and building at least 11 new towers in 2013-2014. Officials expect the first towers to be operational as soon as October 2012. 

This investment will improve cellular phone service and also bring high-speed internet access to new areas, making Southwestern Virginia an even more appealing location for all businesses, particularly the high-tech industry. Global leaders such as Northrop Grumman, CGI and AT&T have all chosen to locate operations in the region. Southwestern Virginia also offers tech businesses access to high-speed broadband networks, a skilled workforce with tech-tailored training programs and low operational costs.

These easily accessible resources mirror a statewide trend, making Virginia an even more attractive place to do business. With the highest concentration of high-tech workers according to Cyberstates 2011, the Commonwealth has the workforce to support its expanding tech industry.

To learn why leading technology companies have invested more than $9 billion over the last ten years to grow their operations in Virginia, click here.