With the changing economic landscape, companies both large and small are increasingly relying on a skilled and educated workforce. Higher technological competencies and experience with service-oriented positions are just a few of the skills employers are looking for to ensure their business’ success.
Preparing students to enter this business environment is an important task and one that Frederick County and Winchester, Virginia are taking seriously. Check out the video below on how educators, employers, and government officials are equipping students to thrive in tomorrow’s workforce.
Once again, the annual military culinary competition comes to Fort Lee, Va., from March 7-12. During this week, members of all the U.S. armed forces and military personnel from other countries compete in individual and team events to show their culinary expertise.
Fort Lee is a perfect fit for the competition — it’s home to the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence, which provides basic and advanced food service training for all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, as well as some ally countries.
Members of VEDP and the Virginia Gateway Region attended the event yesterday, where the table displays were built by the U.S Army Reserve. The whimsical presentations, all made out of food, included themes based on the Wizard of Oz, notable landmarks in Paris, a lady from a masquerade ball, and a Spanish-influenced chocolate bull and matador.
The Hot Kitchen Competition included the use of Mobile Kitchen Trailers to make a gourmet, three-course meal. The meal was all the more impressive considering the trailers are meant to be used out in the field in forward movement scenarios, and usually involve heating a pre-made meal for 50-100 soldiers.
There were numerous live cooking competitions, all judged by members of the American Culinary Federation. This allows awards to be easily translated into certificates and recognized outside of the military environment, which is important for members who later pursue a culinary career in the private sector.
One of the live cooking demos included renowned chef Robert Irvine, from the Food Network show “Restaurant: Impossible.” Robert entertained with cooking tips and joked with the many military personnel in attendance. Robert is very familiar with the impact of providing a well-cooked meal in military environments. Not only is he a former soldier, but he visits military bases around to world to cook and entertain the troops.
The importance of the event was captured by Chief Foreign Officer 3, Charles Talley Jr., “It’s great to have the opportunity to see the crop of young chefs and see their culinary evolution from day one at Fort Lee. Food involves passion, innovation, creativity and sustainment. Our food service impacts the morale of military teams during peace and wartime.”
Fort Lee’s Joint Culinary Center of Excellence and its Military Culinary Arts Competitive Training Event illustrate Virginia’s position at the center of the food industry. Food processing is one of Virginia’s largest manufacturing areas. To learn why more than 580 companies have located in the Commonwealth, click here.
The Virginia BioTechnology Research Park is at full capacity, but is still expanding its reach in the Richmond community and across the Commonwealth.
Since its founding in 1992, the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park has grown to include seven buildings on 34 acres in the heart of Richmond. This represents 1.3 million square feet of space next to the VCU Medical Center, a Top 100 life sciences research center.
The park is currently home to nearly 60 life science companies, employing more than 2,300 scientists, engineers and researchers in the Central Virginia region.
The company’s most recent physical expansion occurred last spring on its Biotech 8 building, occupied by HDL Inc., which started up in the Biotech Center. Future expansion opportunities are available on two sites in the park.
According to Executive Director Carrie Roth, “Building on the urban renewal component of the research park, to be successful we need to focus on the process not the place through infrastructure for entrepreneurial, innovation and commercialization success. We’re repositioning the park and removing our borders to define it as a part of the larger, integrated knowledge-based life sciences community.”
To that end, the park is inviting outsiders in and opening up its shared lab. The lab has equipment donated by Altria in addition to purchased equipment, including a biosafety cabinet, CO2 incubator, inverted microscope and centrifuges. This allows early stage companies access to the equipment by renting benches on a monthly basis or purchasing a daily pass to the lab. In addition, access to the shared lab equipment helps those seeking grants by being able to include this on their application.
The management team is also engaging with partners across the region. For example, the Dominion Resources Innovation Center in Ashland provides mentoring and business support services to technology-based start-ups. The team at the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park has re-engaged its partnership with the innovation center and plans are in motion to move it closer into the town of Ashland. The new facility will also have dedicated lab space.
The Virginia BioTechnology Research Park is a shining example of the burgeoning life sciences clusters across the Commonwealth. To learn why more than 800 biotech establishments have selected Virginia, click here.
Members of the Richmond Regional Planning District Commission along with Carrie Roth of the Research Park listen to L. Franklin Bost, executive associate dean at the VCU School of Engineering, discuss activities of the VCU TRIP Center located in Biotech One. Photo courtesy of Virginia BioTechnology Research Park.
The Danville region has added to its precision machining expertise with the recently announced Capstone Integrated Machining Technology program at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research.
The program provides a third year of training for students that have completed Danville Community College’s popular two-year Precision Machining Technology program.
IALR has announced two grants in February to jumpstart the program — a $1.9 million grant from the Danville Regional Foundation and a $1 million endowment from the Gene Haas Foundation.
The funding will be used to upfit portions of the Hawkins Building at IALR and construct a workflow cell training lab, allowing students to replicate real world manufacturing conditions.
This additional training will enable students to earn nationally-recognized industry credentials, such as Level II and III certifications from the National Institute for Metalworking Skills.
The Capstone program will be ready for students by the fall semester. IALR and DCC estimate 15-20 students will participate in the first class, with the program expanding to 40 students at full capacity.
With the reshoring of manufacturing jobs to America and an aging baby boomer population, Southern Virginia is quickly becoming a go-to location to meet industry needs for a skilled workforce in this sector of advanced manufacturing.
According to DCC President Bruce Scism, “DCC ‘s Precision Machining Technology program is now the largest in the mid-Atlantic region, and it’s the only one that provides as wide a range of certification options.”
The Capstone program and partnership between IALR and DCC is another example of the teamwork among Virginia’s higher education system and public and private entities to develop the most advanced workforce training solutions. To learn more, click here.
Students in DCC’s Precision Machining Technology program receive training on Haas Mini Mill 5 axis machines.
Once again, Virginia made the U.S. Green Building Council’s annual list of Top 10 States for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) in 2014.
The Commonwealth was ranked No. 4 and had 150 projects LEED-certified in 2014. This included a total of 18.6 million square feet of space, and 2.33 square feet per capita.
The report made special mention of the University of Mary Washington’s Technology Convergence Center in Fredericksburg, Va., which is LEED Silver-certified.
USGBC is made up of 12,870 member organizations and 197,000 professionals worldwide. It manages LEED, the most widely recognized green building certification program in the world. According to USGBC, LEED certifies 1.5 million square feet of space each day in 135 countries.
LEED-certified buildings are a win-win for the environment and economy. They provide healthier spaces to live, work and play, and lower energy costs in a sustainable way.
“LEED-certified building and the innovations they have driven contribute substantially to our national economic growth, create jobs and improve the quality of life in the communities where they are found,” said Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and founding chair of USGBC. “We commend the business and community leaders, policy makers and green building professionals in each of these states for making the commitment to create a healthier, more sustainable future.”
Virginia’s leadership as an innovator in this area illustrates the strong quality of life and cutting edge environment the Commonwealth offers to companies and their workforces. To learn why businesses have succeeded in Virginia for more than 400 years, click here.
The Virginia Serious Game Institute had a stellar first year that included launching six businesses and creating 70 new jobs in Prince William County.
VSGI is a business incubator that supports Virginia entrepreneurs in the modeling and simulation industry. It is the applied research arm of the Computer Game Design Program at George Mason University and is affiliated with the international Serious Game Institute. It is the only facility of its type on the East Coast and one of only a few worldwide.
VSGI provides Virginia schools, businesses and universities with hands-on training, certification, R&D assistance, incubation services, rapid prototype development and access to leading edge commercialization outputs and technologies.
Located on GMU’s Prince William Campus, VSGI operates as a public-private partnership offering entrepreneurs expertise in technology and business assistance from GMU, the Mason Enterprise Center, Prince William County and VEDP.
This location, just 26 miles south of Washington D.C., provides access to one of the top high-tech workforces in the nation. More than 60 GMU students have interned at VSGI, its resident companies or assisted in teaching.
VSGI supports Virginia’s STEM initiative by exposing younger students to careers in technology by hosting summer camps and workshops, as well as facilitating partnerships with larger IT companies that allow students to obtain hands-on learning experience.
VSGI is currently incubating five companies, and has the ability to house 10 startups at one time. To learn more, visit http://game.gmu.edu/sgi/. Be on the lookout for a call for applications in the coming weeks from the Prince William County Department of Economic Development.
Virginia has the highest concentration of high-tech workers in the nation. To learn more about the Commonwealth’s leadership in the tech sector and why innovative companies continue to choose Virginia, click here.
GMU Computer Game Design Program students provide modeling, simulation and design work for incubator companies at VSGI. Photo courtesy of Prince William County Department of Economic Development.
Virginia’s competitiveness and perception as a pro-business state remain strong. However, competition in the global economy and domestic markets continues to increase. Competing states are more aggressive in their outreach efforts, with several recently unveiling multi-million dollar advertising campaigns to promote and lure business.
Virginia has a great story and it’s imperative that it be told to the global business audience. In January, VEDP launched a new digital ad campaign, expected to deliver more than 73 million impressions through June 2015.
To maximize our limited resources, VEDP focused on digital media outlets and purchased an integrated schedule of online, mobile, tablet and pay-per-click search placements. The campaign targets VEDP’s geographic markets in the U.S, U.K., Germany and China.
The ads, promoting Virginia’s prime business location advantages, appear in Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Entrepreneur and Reuters, as well as two advertising networks — Bizo and Rocketfuel.
Search engine marketing remains a key component of our strategy. VEDP implemented pay-per-click ads on Google, Bing and Baidu. This is our first venture with Baidu, the leading search engine in China.
“VEDP’s advertising strategy continues to prove effective at generating leads and building awareness of the strengths that make the Commonwealth such a great place to work and live,” said Vince Barnett, VEDP vice president of communications & promotions. “The digital program provides unique targeting capabilities to reach key corporate decision makers, while making the most efficient use of limited advertising dollars.”
An example of a 15 second video pre-roll used as part of the campaign is below, and landing pages for the U.S., U.K., Germany and China can be found by clicking on the highlighted links.
To learn more about the opportunities for success that are waiting for you in Virginia, visit www.YesVirginia.org.
A view of the video pre-roll touting Virginia’s pro-business resources.
VEDP toured the Amazon fulfillment center in Chesterfield, Va., this week, and we were pleased to see the facility was still buzzing with activity even after the holiday rush.
The Chesterfield fulfillment center began operations in the fall of 2012, after the company’s December 2011 announcement that it would invest $85 million to establish the location and create 1,000 jobs.
Today, the 1.2 million square foot facility has 1,500 employees that help distribute more than 14 million items in the building.
The facility is an impressive maze of shelves, work stations and conveyor belts whizzing yellow bins, called “totes,” containing any type of smaller consumer good throughout the building in a blur of efficiency. Amazon’s other facility in nearby Dinwiddie County ships larger consumer goods, like kayaks and TVs.
Our tour guide took us through the massive layout and explained how departments such as receiving, stowing, packing and shipping all work together. Like any massive organization, Amazon has its own nomenclature. “Stowers” scan goods in and store them in the “library” where they are later retrieved by “pickers” who put items for a customer’s order into the “totes.”
The Chesterfield facility has more than 2,500 scanners, 1,300 carts and 40,000 yellow totes.
Extreme efficiency is a requirement for success at Amazon. On 2013’s Cyber Monday, Amazon customers ordered more than 36.8 million items, which is a record-breaking 426 items per second.
The company operates under a continuous improvement mandate, and many suggestions come from employees themselves. Last year, 4,700 employees participated in 1,100 kaizens across North America to develop new processes and solutions to solve specific problems.
One reason Amazon has found success in Virginia is because its Chesterfield fulfillment center seamlessly blends Virginia’s skilled workforce with advanced technology and sophisticated algorithms to keep the operation humming at peak efficiency.
A second reason is Virginia’s premier logistics network. Amazon’s recognition as a powerhouse distributor was furthered when Coca Cola decided to bring back its Surge soda and sell it exclusively online through Amazon. Surge is the top-selling item at the Chesterfield facility.
Due to the strength of Virginia’s logistics network, more than 380 global logistics projects have been announced over the last 10 years with capital investment of more than $1.8 billion. The Commonwealth allows companies to transport products worldwide through its six interstate highways, nine commercial airports, 11 railroads, including two Class I lines, and the International Port of Virginia, one of the only East Coast locations in the U.S. able to handle post-Panamax vessels as first and last port of call.
To learn more, click here.
A view of Amazon’s fulfillment center at Meadowville Technology Park in Chesterfield, Va. Photo Courtesy of Chesterfield Economic Development.
Formerly known as the Riverstone Energy Center, the recently rebranded Southern Virginia Product Advancement Center in South Boston, Va., functions as an incubator helping the Commonwealth’s advanced manufacturing companies develop their technology from the lab to the marketplace.
SVPAC replicates major components of the manufacturing process by offering companies assistance with modeling and simulation, prototyping, advanced manufacturing processes and applied coating development.
The center’s modeling and simulation program includes a virtual reality theater with high performance computing resources, simulation software and a fully immersive 3-D cave display that can render a one-to-one ratio in real-life scaling. This allows manufacturers to design new products and predict and test performance using virtual technology. Any mistakes are made and fixed in a virtual environment, allowing for a cost-friendly R&D approach.
SVPAC’s Carbon Fiber Composite Manufacturing Lab will allow companies to produce component parts using specialized molds. The lab is expected to be completed in the spring 2015 and augment the hub of automotive and aerospace technology companies in the area.
Through a partnership with C-CARE (Center for Coatings Application Research and Education), companies have access to a coatings technology lab that houses 12,000 square feet of environmentally-controlled space. The comprehensive range of manufactured coatings applications equipment includes advanced robotics, reciprocating spray equipment and virtual reality training systems that can test new coatings technologies and design solutions under a variety of conditions.
SVPAC also offers traditional incubation services that include business plan development, access to R&D grants, office and manufacturing space, networking opportunities and mentoring.
SVPAC already has a number of success stories, which include helping a large automobile manufacturer develop new spray coating technology, developing a virtual reality tool for robot path programming with Kawasaki, and helping TMI Autotech with modeling and simulation to develop its high performance vehicles. TMI has also worked with other automotive resources in the region, including the Global Center for Automotive Performance Simulation located nearby at the Virginia Motorsports Technology Park.
VEDP and VEDA hosted SVPAC on their most recently Third Wednesday Webinar series, available here.
SVPAC is another example of the R&D capabilities Virginia offers to advance the innovative ideas and products of the Commonwealth’s technology-driven companies. To learn more, click here.
A view of the 3-D modeling and simulation capabilities at the Southern Virginia Product Advancement Center in South Boston, Va. Photo courtesy of the Southern Virginia Product Advancement Center.
We tout Virginia’s East Coast location as both a premium tourism destination and an economic development plus. For tourists, Virginia offers beautiful beaches and an oasis for water sports enthusiasts. But Virginia’s geographic fortune, particularly in the Hampton Roads region, also lends itself to an industry that is growing in importance. Our coastal seat is a cream-of-the-crop location for offshore wind projects.
The Hampton Roads region is well positioned to become a hub for offshore wind supply. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Virginia offers a class 6 (outstanding) wind power classification within 10-15 miles of shore and within close proximity to major power demand centers. The risk of major hurricane strikes is minimal in the Commonwealth, which boasts a robust coastal transmission grid, and Virginia is one of only 10 states to possess a shallow water resource base, which is important for turbine placement.
Class 6 winds are located virtually beyond the visual horizon, so those folks who loathe the idea of a turbine view need not worry. They would barely be seen, even on the clearest of days.
Virginia and its partners are working to leverage the Commonwealth’s assets to become a leading provider of wind energy. University partners, including James Madison University, Old Dominion University, William & Mary (VIMS), the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech are engaged in wind research and development, as are corporate partners such as Dominion Power, AREVA, GE Energy, SAIC, and NASA Langley Research Center. Most recently, Dabney S. Lancaster Community College began assembling a wind energy turbine technician training curriculum that covers everything from wind safety to turbine troubleshooting and repair. The college plans to offer the curriculum in 2010.
When the companies come a knockin, we hope to be ready. The Commonwealth’s wind potential is already attracting attention from energy industry leaders such as AREVA, a major Virginia employer that is seeking a location for future wind turbine manufacturing plants. In a recent Daily Press article (http://www.dailypress.com/news/dp-local_windfarm_0904sep04,0,7182547.story) , it was estimated that construction of 100 wind turbines off of Virginia’s coast could create 8,000-10,000 new jobs. How’s that? Turbine manufacturers want to be close to their client.
Wise County in Southwest Virginia last week approved BP Wind Energy’s and Dominion’s plans to move forward with construction of a wind farm within its borders. Nearby Tazewell County is considering a similar proposal. The Southwest region of the Commonwealth provides class 4 (good) wind.
We look forward to working with energy prospects to leverage the potential of our wind—regardless of the region. For more information about VEDP’s energy industry efforts, visit www.YesVirginia.org.
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The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP), a state authority created by the Virginia General Assembly to better serve those seeking a prime business location and increased trade opportunities, provides confidential site selection and international trade services. VEDP's mission: To enhance the quality of life and raise the standard of living for all Virginians, in collaboration with Virginia communities, through aggressive business recruitment, expansion assistance, and trade development, thereby expanding the tax base and creating higher-income employment opportunities.
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In just over a month, Moonlighting has already reached thousands of users nationwide, with projections for dramatic growth.
“Charlottesville is a rich, diverse area with a solid investment community. There’s a strong constituency of experienced business people looking to finance start-up and angel companies and offer their expertise,” said Tennery.
Proximity to UVA also allowed the company to tap into a talented labor pool. “We worked with undergrads from the business school on the marketing, Darden grads helped us with the business plan, and law school students helped write our terms and conditions,” noted Tennery. “The region is rich in both business and culture, so there’s a great labor force of UVA grads who want to remain in the area.”
Highlighting the growing peer-to-peer economy and its financial impact, Moonlighting has published its first comprehensive report on how the nation is “moonlighting” through multiple financial opportunities. The monthly M.O.O.N. Report (Mobile Optimized On-Demand Network) tells the story of the American moonlighter and reveals the economic trends taking place in the new 1099 society. To download the app and report, visit the company’s website http://moonlightingapp.com/.
The fast growth of a technology-driven company like Moonlighting is another example of how Virginia provides the right resources and environment for entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses. To learn more, click here.
The Moonlighting team at the company’s October launch party.
VEDP hosted a delegation of 10 influential journalists from the People’s Republic of China on a visit to Richmond this week as part of a larger tour organized by the Global Times.
The journalists previously visited South Korea, Israel and Vietnam. While in the U.S., the group will visit Washington D.C., St. Louis and New York City to cover themes such as the U.S. representational government, freedom of the press, the future of U.S.-China relations, and Chinese foreign direct investment in the U.S.
The visit to Richmond is an extension of the D.C. portion of the tour. While here, the journalists met with Governor McAuliffe, and heard from Tranlin Inc. CEO Jerry Peng about Shandong Tranlin Paper Co.’s decision to locate its first U.S. manufacturing operation in Chesterfield County, Va.
The journalists experienced the strong cultural relationship that exists between China and Virginia. The group visited the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and toured the Forbidden City: Imperial Treasures from the Palace Museum, Beijing and Beyond the Walls exhibitions.
The group’s final stop was at the Richmond Ballet for an overview of its Road to China cultural exchange scheduled for May 2015. The Richmond Ballet will travel to China to dance their mixed repertory program, Made in the USA: Traditions & Innovations, at the Meet in Beijing Arts Festival. This past July, the Richmond Ballet performed in China as part of the U.S. Department of State’s 2014 Cultural Pillar Delegation for the U.S.-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchange.
China-Virginia relations remain solid, and Governor McAuliffe led two marketing missions to China in July and October to tell the Virginia story and build relationships with companies seeking to expand into the U.S.
Virginia is a great location for international companies seeking to enter the U.S. due to the Commonwealth’s strategic East Coast location, pro-business regulatory and cost environment, excellent logistics network, premier workforce and enjoyable quality of life. To learn more, click here.
A group of leading online journalists from China visit the Virginia State Capitol during their tour of Richmond.