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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marstel-Day — Growing a Green Business in Virginia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Performance Signs — From a Dorm Room to the Highway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

VEDP and CCAM Receive Achievement in Innovation Award from Business Facilities Magazine

Tuesday, 14 April 2015 17:07 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Business Facilities magazine recently announced its 2015 Economic Development Awards and VEDP was a recipient of one of five Achievement in Innovation Awards for the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing...

Business Facilities magazine recently announced its 2015 Economic Development Awards and VEDP was a recipient of one of five Achievement in Innovation Awards for the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing.

The Business Facilities article mentioned how difficult it was to narrow down candidates this year because best practices are being implemented across the country, making CCAM’s recognition all the more meaningful.                                                          

According to the Business Facilities’ editorial staff, “The states that are ahead of the curve have developed innovation hubs for targeted growth sectors and created an environment that makes their locations fertile ground for emerging businesses. This year, we’re focusing our spotlight on five programs that have exhibited consistent excellence in the development of innovation hubs and three successful initiatives targeting entrepreneurs.”

CCAM is an applied research center that brings together Virginia’s leading manufacturing companies and educational institutions to turn research into real-world technologies and solutions. It operates out of a 62,000-square-foot facility located adjacent to the 1,000-acre Rolls-Royce Crosspointe Campus in Prince George County, Va.

CCAM is focused on advancing and commercializing manufacturing technologies in six key areas — surface engineering, manufacturing systems, machining technologies, welding, additive manufacturing and composite materials.

Operating as a public-private partnership, its roster is made up of five university members and 33 corporate and industry members, including globally recognized leaders Aerojet Rocketdyne, Airbus, Alcoa, Canon, Chromalloy, NASA, Newport News Shipbuilding, Oerlikon Metco, Rolls-Royce, Sandvik Coromant and Siemens.

This award highlights what the more than 5,600 manufacturing companies located in Virginia already know — that the Commonwealth is a hub of advanced manufacturing and offers companies the innovative environment to grow. To learn more click here.

A view of CCAM, adjacent to Rolls-Royce’s Crosspointe Campus, in Prince George County, Va.

VEDP’s Advertising Agency Wins Best in Show for Stone Brewing Kit

Monday, 13 April 2015 15:27 by Info@YesVirginia.org
We at VEDP are proud to congratulate our advertising agency, Elevation, for winning Best in Show in the Promotional Design & Advertising category at the Richmond Ad Club’s annual awards show...

We at VEDP are proud to congratulate our advertising agency, Elevation, for winning Best in Show in the Promotional Design & Advertising category at the Richmond Ad Club’s annual awards show.

Elevation helped us develop a unique presentation for the executive team at Stone Brewing Co. as part of our marketing process to win their East Coast location for Virginia.

During a meeting among Stone Brewing Co., the Governor, his administration, and other key members of the Virginia marketing team, VEDP organized a surprise visit from a character actor portraying Thomas Jefferson.

Agriculture was one of Jefferson’s greatest passions, and at Monticello he grew the ingredients to make his own ale, continuing Virginia’s more than 400-year brewing legacy.

Elevation developed a script for Jefferson to describe Virginia’s plentiful natural resources that would make an excellent home for Stone Brewing’s East Coast location. They also developed a kit filled with Virginia brewing ingredients for Jefferson to present to the Stone executive team — pure Virginia water, wheat, hops and molasses.

As everyone knows, the pitch was successful and Stone Brewing announced their plans to invest $74 million to construct a brewery, packaging hall, restaurant, gardens, retail store and offices in Richmond this past fall.

Virginia successfully competed against more than 20 states, and winning this competitive project from the country’s 10th largest craft brewing company has furthered the Commonwealth’s position as a serious player in the craft beer industry.

Food and beverage companies continue to find Virginia has the recipe for success. To learn why food processing companies have invested more than $2.1 billion in Virginia since 2004, click here.

An actor portraying Thomas Jefferson holds the Stone Brewing kit for a marketing presentation that won Best in Show at the Richmond Ad Club awards.

Magnets USA Celebrates 25 Years and a New Facility in Virginia

Friday, 27 March 2015 16:57 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Magnets USA recently celebrated 25 years in the Roanoke Valley region of Virginia. The company also hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new building in Vinton, Va...

Magnets USA recently celebrated 25 years in the Roanoke Valley region of Virginia. The company also hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new building in Vinton, Va.

Magnets USA moved from nearby Roanoke City into the former Grumman Fire Truck Corp. location, a newly-renovated, climate-controlled, 45,000-square-foot building. The grand opening event featured fire trucks previously manufactured at the Grumman building to commemorate its history.

The new facility will provide 70 percent more production space and allow the company to add 25 new jobs to its current workforce of 60. VEDP’s Virginia Jobs Investment Program is assisting the company with training funds for the new jobs.

Founded in 1990, the company began selling adhesive materials that magnetized business cards. Today, Magnets USA produces more than 20 million magnetized marketing products each year, including calendars, sports and event schedules, banners and business cards. 

Virginia’s premier business environment has allowed the company to successfully expand its customer base to include the real estate market, Chicago Bears, Salem Red Sox, Kid Rock Enterprises, Burning Man, Floyd Fest, the American Quilter’s Society and local schools.

Magnets USA has also worked with VEDP’s international trade team to increase global sales. The company currently exports to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The company’s history and success in Virginia is another example of the pro-business environment and resources the Commonwealth provides for growing companies. To learn more, click here.

The Magnets USA team prepares to cut the ribbon at the company’s grand opening ceremony for its renovated facility in Vinton, Va. Photo courtesy of Magnets USA.

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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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UBED—Economic Gardening: William & Mary Incubates Growing Businesses

Thursday, 7 June 2012 10:01 by Info@YesVirginia.org
“William & Mary (W&M) is looking at how to grow what’s already in Virginia, as well as to help bring companies into the Commonwealth,” said Leonard Sledge, William & Mary’s Director of Economic Development...

As promised, VEDP is delving into UBED (University-Based Economic Development) in our institutions of higher learning across the Commonwealth.

“William & Mary (W&M) is looking at how to grow what’s already in Virginia, as well as to help bring companies into the Commonwealth,” said Leonard Sledge, William & Mary’s Director of Economic Development.

To that end, W&M’s Technology and Business Center has partnered with the county to run the James City County Business & Technology Incubator (JCC-BTI). The incubator provides support and advisory services to help accelerate the growth of younger companies. This support includes help setting goals and milestones, general business advice, organizational guidance, networking events, assistance locating financing and other service providers, and the use of a professional business facility.

The incubator also liaises with W&M’s Mason School of Business and Entrepreneurship Center. Business school professors are assigned to each incubator company to help determine strategy. Business school students are also engaged in problem-solving initiatives for incubator companies through project and classroom exercises.

Launched in January 2007, the JCC-BTI has worked with 10 companies, graduating three to date. One such graduate is MODU System, a Malaysian manufacturer of conveyor belt systems. The incubator helped the company enter the U.S. market, advising management on how to position the product and locate resellers in the U.S.

Another success story is Breathe Healthy, a manufacturer of antimicrobial face masks with superior comfort and filtering abilities. JCC-BTI helped the veteran-owned company locate key markets for its product, as well as launch international sales.

According to William Bean, Director of W&M’s Technology Business Center, “We’re looking for companies that are passionate and serious about the growth of their business. Our incubator clients span a variety of industries, but the one thing they have in common is a genuine excitement to use the services of our incubator for accelerating growth.”

To learn more about W&M’s Office of Economic Development or the James City County Business & Technology Incubator, click on the highlighted links.

Mail America Expands in Bedford County, Virginia

Monday, 4 June 2012 13:31 by Info@YesVirginia.org

On Tuesday, advertising company Mail America announced plans to expand operations in Bedford County through a $5 million investment. The company will maintain its current facility while adding another 42,000 square feet through a nearby location.

This expansion will create 75 new jobs over the next three years as the company seeks to hire print and mail insertion operators, maintenance staff and administrative personnel to help meet growing customer demand.

Producing nearly 400 million U.S. mail pieces each year, Mail America has operated in Bedford County since 1989 and currently employs 325 Virginians. The company’s positive experience with the region’s skilled and motivated workforce was a major deciding factor for this project.

Virginia’s competitive operative costs and pro-business environment also influenced the company’s decision to expand in the Commonwealth. According to Virginia Delegate Kathy Byron, “Our region continues to demonstrate that it is an ideal place for businesses to grow and to locate. The attributes we have here—reasonable taxes and regulations, a skilled and talented workforce, and welcoming state and local governments that are ready to work as partners—are instrumental to the success of firms like Mail America.”

This is the second expansion Bedford County has seen this year. Forestry Equipment of Virginia announced plans to expand its truck assembly business earlier in March. Both companies received assistance from the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission for their expansions.

To learn why companies continue to find success in the Commonwealth and why Virginia is ranked America’s Top State for Business, click here.

UBED — Virginia Tech Leverages Alumni Network to Develop Cyber Security Solutions

Thursday, 31 May 2012 10:51 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia Tech has developed a number of University-Based Economic Development (UBED) programs as part of its long-term strategy to help connect faculty and students with companies and communities...

Virginia Tech has developed a number of University-Based Economic Development (UBED) programs as part of its long-term strategy to help connect faculty and students with companies and communities. 

According to John Provo, Office of Economic Development Director, “The global network starts as soon as you walk out the door. We facilitate the sharing of Virginia Tech’s intellectual capital with the private sector to develop problem-solving solutions.”

One such group is VT-IDEA (Virginia Tech Intelligence and Defense Executive Alumni). Founded in January 2009, VT-IDEA is made up of alumni working in senior government and industry positions in the national security sector. The group’s mission is two-fold:  it serves as both a resource for national security professionals to better connect, and it helps Virginia Tech get even more plugged in to the national security space.

Through its efforts to build a faster pipeline from the research in Blacksburg to the cyber security needs in D.C., VT-IDEA has recently helped introduce two new ideas to industry insiders. The first is a data safeguarding device that can wipe tablets and cell phones clean, removing confidential information once the individual has left a secured area. The second technology foils radio signal eaves-droppers. The technology senses the intrusion and reconfigures the network to make it secure.

VT-IDEA not only helps spot and commercialize winning solutions; it also puts early stage entrepreneurs in touch with financing and venture capital sources. The group will be doing just that at its upcoming meeting “VT-IDEA Presents Innovation and Entrepreneurship at VTECH” on June 21 at the VT Research Center - Arlington.

To learn more about how the VT-IDEA group and Virginia Tech’s Office of Economic Development are building partnerships with the business community, click on the highlighted links.

German Manufacturer McAirlaid’s Expands in Virginia

Wednesday, 30 May 2012 13:19 by Info@YesVirginia.org
German manufacturer McAirlaid’s recently celebrated the addition of a 75,000-square-foot expansion to its existing U.S. headquarters in Rocky Mount, VA. Adding to the company’s 70,000-square-foot facility at Franklin County Commerce Center, the expansion will increase the company’s global capacity by 30 percent while creating 40 new jobs in the region...

German manufacturer McAirlaid’s recently celebrated the addition of a 75,000-square-foot expansion to its existing U.S. headquarters in Rocky Mount, Va. Adding to the company’s 70,000-square-foot facility at Franklin County Commerce Center, the expansion will increase the company’s global capacity by 30 percent while creating 40 new jobs in the region.

The expansion provides McAirlaid’s with the additional space to serve its customers in the hygiene, medical, food packaging, filtration and home décor spaces through its non-woven absorbency materials. It also allows the company to reduce imports of raw materials and rely more heavily on U.S. vendors, primarily on the East Coast.

McAirlaid’s first announced it would establish its U.S. headquarters in Virginia through an $85 million investment in 2006. In the words of CEO Alexander Maksimow, “Franklin County’s commitment to education through the public school system and job training programs, coupled with an existing workforce of highly motivated people with a strong work ethic, were key factors in McAirlaid’s site selection.”

Since opening its U.S. headquarters in Franklin County in March 2008, the company has received a warm welcome while experiencing the benefits of Virginia’s skilled workforce, education system and premier East Coast location. This additional investment allows McAirlaid’s to build on its success to date, illustrating the company’s commitment to grow in Franklin County.

To learn why companies continue to locate in Virginia due to the Commonwealth’s skilled workforce and excellent education system, click here.

Company and local officials joined Mary Rae Carter, Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade for Rural Economic Development, at McAirlaid’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.

UBED — Old Dominion University Develops A Knowledge Community

Thursday, 24 May 2012 10:08 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Universities play an essential role in developing the human capital so important to economic development, leading to the current term UBED (University-Based Economic Development). Over the coming weeks, VEDP will feature a series of blogs focusing on what universities are doing across the Commonwealth to play a more active role in reaching out to the business community...

Universities play an essential role in developing the human capital so important to economic development, leading to the current term UBED (University-Based Economic Development). Over the coming weeks, VEDP will feature a series of blogs focusing on what universities are doing across the Commonwealth to play a more active role in reaching out to the business community.

According to Tom Osha, President and CEO of Old Dominion University’s (ODU) Innovation Research Park (IRP), ODU is transitioning to a more active role in economic development by developing a 24/7 live-work-play community. IRP is capitalizing on the move away from traditional research parks to an updated model — the “knowledge community.” 

This new community caters to the next generation of researchers who desire a higher level of engagement in the neighborhood where they work. No longer satisfied with commuting home to the suburbs, this generation is looking to live, work and play all in the same location. 

IRP provides just that through its location within ODU’s University Village. Impressive on its own, IRP currently has 350 employees working in two 100,000-square-foot buildings, with plenty of room for expansion. Add to that University Village’s 10 restaurants, retail stores, hotel, theater, art gallery and the Ted Constant arena, and one can see the attractiveness of such a hub.

The economic development impact occurs when companies are drawn to communities like this, bringing with them investment and new jobs to the area. One such company is ipConfigure, which chose to locate at IRP over a location in Texas due to ODU’s multidimensional offerings.

ODU’s Computational Intelligence and Machine Vision Lab was a significant consideration for the company, as their video surveillance technology utilizes just the sort of facial recognition algorithms developed at the lab. Easy access to a qualified employee base and close proximity to amenities also clinched the deal.

"ipConfigure hires ODU graduates and interns, utilizes the ODU Business Gateway, eats in the ODU Village, puts guests up at the hotel, buys tickets to ODU football and other sporting events, and attracts its customers to come to IRP to see the research happening at the Vision Lab and elsewhere around ODU," Osha stated.

The university also put ipConfigure in touch with the Virginia Port Authority, the first customer of the company’s new Wide Area Surveillance products.

ODU is a shining example of a Virginia university that is seeking to bring the benefits of its research outside the classroom by catering to the needs of businesses. To learn more about ODU’s interaction with the business community, click here.

Blacksburg, Va. Ranked Top 5 on Forbes.com Best Small Cities for Jobs List

Tuesday, 22 May 2012 13:12 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford area was ranked Top 5 on the recently published Forbes.com Best Small Cities for Jobs list. Looking at 242 MSAs, Forbes.com calculated the ranking using employment numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the period November 2000 through January 2012...

The Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford area was ranked Top 5 on the recently published Forbes.com Best Small Cities for Jobs list. Looking at 242 MSAs, Forbes.com calculated the ranking using employment numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the period November 2000 through January 2012.

This ranking continues the positive recognition the region has received including a No. 4 rating on Site Selection magazine’s Governors Cup for metro areas with a population of less than 200,000. Blacksburg, Va. was also named the No. 1 Best Place in the U.S. to Raise Kids by Bloomberg Businessweek.

The Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford MSA continues to receive accolades for a number of reasons. Home to top-ranked Virginia Tech, the area’s workforce is highly educated, with two-thirds of residents above the age of 25 holding a bachelor’s degree or higher and 40 percent holding a graduate or professional degree.

The research capabilities of Virginia Tech combined with a highly-educated workforce have proven to be a winning combination, attracting companies and research parks to the area. The Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, located adjacent to Virginia Tech’s main campus, is home to 140 high-tech companies which employ more than 2,200 Virginians.

The Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford MSA is able to retain its highly-skilled workforce due to the strong quality of life the region offers. The family-friendly community provides residents with numerous recreational activities due to its convenient access to the Appalachian Trail, Washington-Jefferson National Forest, Smith Mountain Lake and New River.

To learn more about the Commonwealth’s plentiful resources — including a world-class workforce, top-ranked education system and strong quality of life — that make Virginia America’s Top State for Business, click here.

Virginia State University’s Business School Wins Three Awards

Monday, 21 May 2012 09:44 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Congratulations to Virginia State University’s (VSU) Reginald F. Lewis School of Business for winning three awards over the last few months...

Congratulations to Virginia State University’s (VSU) Reginald F. Lewis School of Business for winning three awards over the last few months.

Last week, VSU’s business school was awarded the RichTech Technology Innovation Deployment Award for its creative use of technology to enhance a process. RichTech honors organizations that help advance Virginia’s technology-based economy.

This win was a nice follow-up to the “Best Business Program in the Country” award received earlier this month from The Center for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). The Center for HBCU ranked VSU’s business school No. 1 for its commitment to innovation. 

Last September, VSU’s business school received the Governor’s Technology Award in the category of Innovation in Higher Education. The award was presented at the Commonwealth of Virginia Innovative Technology Symposium in recognition of the most creative initiatives in the public sector. 

All three awards recognized the business school’s “Digital at the Core” initiative. As the first school in the country to delivery its core curriculum primarily via digital format, the school launched its pilot program in the fall of 2010. Digital textbooks, MP3 audio chapters, MP3 study guides, quizzes and flashcards were all available via download for a cost-friendly licensing fee of $19.95.

Founded in 1882, VSU is an example of Virginia’s premier higher education system that partners with industries to prepare students with the technological training and skills they will utilize upon entering the workforce.

To learn more about Virginia’s highly skilled workforce as well as customized training and recruitment programs, click here.

Digital Realty Adds to Loudoun County’s Data Center Alley

Friday, 18 May 2012 09:06 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Congratulations to Loudoun County for winning another expansion from data center provider, Digital Realty. The company officially broke ground on its fourth building in what’s known as “Data Center Alley” in Loudoun County, Va...

Congratulations to Loudoun County for winning another expansion from data center provider, Digital Realty. The company officially broke ground on its fourth building in what’s known as “Data Center Alley” in Loudoun County, Va.

The two-story, 214,000-square-foot building will house 10 data centers and bring an $80 million investment along with 180 temporary positions and 12 full-time jobs to the area. With more than 50 percent of the world’s internet traffic flowing through Loudoun County each day, the region certainly has become a hub for leading data center operations. Add to that an energy rate 28 percent below the national average and 10 million square feet of data center capacity, and one can easily see why data centers are flocking to Virginia.

Data processing was actually the dominant sector across the Commonwealth in 2011, accounting for more than $960 million in capital investment and almost half of the nonmanufacturing investment. Virginia is poised to continue its growth in the sector as it has both the highest concentration of high-tech workers in the nation and the advanced telecom infrastructure across the Commonwealth to support the industry.

Virginia data centers claimed three of the top 10 spots in Southern Business & Development’s 2011 Ten Best Data Center Sites in the South list. In addition, Bristol, Va., was touted in the study Broadband at the Speed of Light as one of the first municipalities in the nation to build a citywide Fiber-To-The-Home network.

To learn why leading companies have invested more than $4.4 billion in Virginia data centers over the last ten years, click here.

State, local and company officials celebrated the opening of Digital Realty’s newest building at the groundbreaking ceremony in Loudoun County.

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.

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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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RaesWear — Pouch Pants that Solve the Storage Problem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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VIRGINIA ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PARTNERSHIP

© 2014 All rights reserved.