JMU Extends Collaboration to the Community with the Ice House

Tuesday, 30 September 2014 16:59 by Info@YesVirginia.org
James Madison University and partners have joined together to create the Ice House, a revitalized building complex in downtown Harrisonburg that will serve as a center of collaboration and engagement for JMU students, entrepreneurs and citizens in the local community...

James Madison University and partners have joined together to create the Ice House, a revitalized building complex in downtown Harrisonburg that will serve as a center of collaboration and engagement for JMU students, entrepreneurs and citizens in the local community.

Formerly known as the Cassco Ice House complex, the building was constructed in 1934 for ice and cold storage to support the region’s distribution of agricultural products. Operations were discontinued in 2004 and the building was unused until the recent revitalization plans rechristened it the Ice House.

The name references both the building’s history as well as a JMU initiative called ICE, an acronym for Innovation-Collaboration-Entrepreneurship. JMU seeks to become a model of engagement that mobilizes resources from the university and community to launch new businesses and commercialize technology.

Phase one of the project is complete and JMU has occupied 30,000 of the 80,000-square-foot building with departments such as Outreach and Engagement, the Office of Technology Innovation, Communications and Marketing, the JMU Small Business Development Center, the Center for Entrepreneurship and the Lifelong Learning Institute.

The principal developers of the Ice House project are both JMU alumni and the furniture was designed and built by JMU’s Industrial Design students.

The building currently offers space available for rent that includes offices, event space, a kitchen, and classrooms and conference rooms fit with touchscreen A/V equipment and web conferencing capabilities.

Phase two of the project includes plans to make the Ice House a center of the downtown community with restaurants, a brewery, yoga studio, retail space and loft apartments.

The project is a win-win for the university and the community. Small business owners and entrepreneurs gain better access to JMU’s resources, and JMU students benefit from working on live projects with real businesses.

JMU and its programs at the Ice House are another example of how the Commonwealth’s premier colleges and universities provide real-world experience to Virginia students and innovative ways to collaborate with the local community. To learn more, click here.

A view of the open office and collaborative space at the Ice House in downtown Harrisonburg, Va. Photo courtesy of James Madison University.

Mary Baldwin College Gives Tour of New College of Health Sciences Building

Tuesday, 23 September 2014 12:59 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Recently, a group of economic development professionals toured the new Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences building at Mary Baldwin College in Fishersvillle, Va...

Recently, a group of economic development professionals toured the new Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences building at Mary Baldwin College in Fishersvillle, Va.

Classes are well underway — the school officially opened this past June and welcomed its inaugural class of 70 occupational therapy and physical therapy students.

The state-of-the-art building is 55,000 square feet, with a central atrium that encompasses all three stories. The tech-rich environment incorporates multimedia with cameras that allow students to see a close-up demonstration during class, as well as view a recording of the session.

The nine clinical laboratories include a neurological lab room, simulation lab, multiple skills labs, a human anatomy and a virtual anatomy lab. The multimedia environment also includes four large classrooms and six seminar rooms. 

The building was designed as a place where students can congregate after class to continue learning. The open architecture allows for multiple collaboration spaces, and the building includes a café and break room with lockers. The myriad of windows lets in natural light, making it a place where students want to be.

The Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences is currently training doctoral students in both physical therapy and occupational therapy, with plans to add a master’s degree for physician assistants and a degree-completion program for nurses in 2015.

The school is located in the center of the Augusta County medical corridor. Adjacent to the Augusta Health hospital complex, it offers easy access to I-64 and is just seven miles from Mary Baldwin’s main campus.

The Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences is another example of how Virginia’s higher education institutions are using cutting edge technology to prepare a workforce ready to add value as soon as they enter the employment pipeline. To learn more about Virginia’s world-class education system, click here.

Mary Baldwin College welcomes its inaugural class of occupational and physical therapy students at the Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences new building in Fishersville, Va. Photo courtesy of Mary Baldwin College.

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.

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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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Backcountry.com Opens East Coast Fulfillment Center in Montgomery County, Va.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012 13:29 by Info@YesVirginia.org
On Friday, Backcountry.com celebrated the opening of its East Coast fulfillment center in Montgomery County, less than a year after the company announced it would invest $20 million and create 200 new jobs...

On Friday, Backcountry.com celebrated the opening of its East Coast fulfillment center in Montgomery County, less than a year after the company announced it would invest $20 million and create 200 new jobs. 

Secretary Cheng attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony, congratulating the company on its swift progress preparing the facility at Falling Branch Corporate Park.

As the largest online specialty retailer of premium outdoor gear, Backcountry.com is known for its fast delivery times and selected the Commonwealth for its strategic East Coast location and world-class logistics network. With 14 railroads, six major interstate highways, 9 commercial airports and the international Port of Virginia, the Commonwealth offers easy access to customers on the East Coast and beyond. 

To maintain its reputation for excellent customer service, locating near a skilled workforce was critical to Backcountry.com. With its close proximity to the Appalachian Trail and Washington-Jefferson National Forest, Montgomery County caters to outdoor enthusiasts, drawing a talented and passionate labor pool closely aligned with the company’s mission.

Virginia continues to be a leading location for fulfillment and distribution centers—Ace Hardware, Amazon.com, Home Depot, McKesson Corp, QVC, Target and Wal-Mart have all established operations in the Commonwealth.

Over the last ten years global logistics companies have announced more than 360 projects, totaling more than $1.6 billion in capital investment. To learn more about Virginia’s premier location and logistics infrastructure, click here.

Secretary Cheng (left) joins company and local officials as Co-Founder and Executive Chairman Jim Holland cuts the ribbon with one of Backcountry.com’s products.

Global Tech Leader iGATE Expands U.S. Presence in Loudoun County

Wednesday, 22 August 2012 16:16 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Technology leader iGATE recently announced plans to invest more than $1 million to establish a new facility in Loudoun County, bringing 250 new jobs to the area over the next few years...

Technology leader iGATE recently announced plans to invest more than $1 million to establish a new facility in Loudoun County, bringing 250 new jobs to the area over the next few years.

The location in Loudoun County will allow iGATE to further the expansion of its technology consulting services into the U.S. market, particularly with nearby Washington D.C. government agencies and businesses.

Close proximity to the Washington Dulles International Airport was a key advantage, giving a global company like iGATE access to 80 percent of the world’s economies.

The ability to draw upon a highly-skilled, tech-savvy workforce also factored into Virginia’s favor. Due to the consultative nature of the company’s custom technology products, human capital is a critical driver of the company’s success.

Fortunately the Commonwealth has the employee pool to match companies’ workforce needs, with the highest concentration of high-tech workers according to Cyberstates 2011. Companies are taking notice of Virginia’s world-class employee base. Professional, scientific and technical services—a category dependent on a quality workforce—was the top sector for job creation in Virginia last year, announcing almost 13,000 new jobs in 2011.

iGATE Chief Delivery Officer Sean Narayanan recognized the many attributes Virginia offers companies, stating, “We have been impressed with the business and government leaders in Virginia, the high caliber of the workforce, the excellent quality of life, and we look forward to positive, long-term growth and involvement in this area.”

To learn more about Virginia’s unique combination of assets and why companies have been prospering here for more than 400 years, click here.

Commonwealth Laminating & Coating Announces Second Expansion in Nine Months

Tuesday, 21 August 2012 15:00 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Secretary Cheng visited Commonwealth Laminating & Coating’s (CLC) headquarters last week to announce the company’s second expansion in less than nine months.

The company plans to invest $5.45 million to establish a national distribution center in the same business park as its headquarters and manufacturing operation in Martinsville, Va. The project is expected to create 60 new jobs—welcome news as Henry County and Southern Virginia continue to make positive progress towards economic recovery.

This project is further testament to CLC’s success in Virginia, as just last November the company announced its plans to invest $16.5 million to expand its manufacturing facility, creating 40 new jobs. 

With eight locations across five countries, CLC certainly has its pick of locations. Choosing to invest further in Virginia is a compelling endorsement of the Commonwealth’s excellent business environment. In addition, the Henry County location is the company’ sole manufacturing facility, illustrating how Virginia’s manufacturing capabilities can compete on a global level.

Virginia has successfully competed against China, Arizona and North Carolina for CLC’s projects over the last year.

The success of CLC’s solar control window film and high-performance coatings business adds to Virginia’s reputation as a leading location for polymer and film manufacturing companies.

Home to more than 200 plastics companies, over the last decade Virginia has seen more than $1 billion invested by plastics firms in new and expanding facilities. 

Virginia offers the skilled workforce, competitive operating environment and world-class logistics network so important to plastics manufacturing companies. To learn why companies like DuPont, Honeywell, Phoenix Packaging, Rubbermaid, and O’Sullivan Films have all invested in Virginia, click here.

McKee Foods Expands Manufacturing Operation in Augusta County

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Virginia is Top 3 Again in Business Facilities’ 2012 State Rankings Report

Wednesday, 15 August 2012 16:46 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia again received a top three ranking in two coveted categories—the Commonwealth was ranked No. 3 in Best Business Climate and No. 2 for Economic Growth Potential. Virginia also received top ten recognition in the categories of Employment Leaders, Credit Quality, Per Capita Income, and Workforce Health and Safety...

Virginia again received a top three ranking in two coveted categories—the Commonwealth was ranked No. 3 in Best Business Climate and No. 2 for Economic Growth Potential. Virginia also received top ten recognition in the categories of Employment Leaders, Credit Quality, Per Capita Income, and Workforce Health and Safety.

As part of its eighth annual ranking, Business Facilities magazine weighed factors such as educational climate, the availability of workforce training, cost of labor, infrastructure, utility costs, credit rating and business tax climate. The magazine gave extra credit to states that have established pro-business policies.

According to Business Facilities magazine, “As the Commonwealth continues to rack up an impressive tally of corporate headquarters relocations, Virginia also has established itself as a high-tech hub with its new Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing, anchored by jet-engine maker Rolls-Royce.”

Virginia also received recognition for its leadership in two industry sectors— Aerospace and Biotech.

The Commonwealth was ranked No. 7 in the category of Aerospace/Defense Industry Leaders. With more than 230 aerospace companies calling Virginia home, the Commonwealth continues to attract industry leaders such as Alcoa Howmet, Cobham Composite Products, Dynamic Aviation, Northrop Grumman, Dynamic Aviation, Orbital Sciences, Rockwell Collins and Rolls-Royce. First in the nation for Department of Defense Prime Contracts in 2011, companies have invested more than $1.5 billion in relocating or expanding in Virginia over the last 10 years.

Virginia was also ranked No. 2 as an Emerging Biotech Hub. Located in the heart of the Mid-Atlantic life sciences cluster, Virginia offers biotech companies access to 11 federally-funded R&D centers as well as leading private institutions, such as SRI International and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. With the highest concentration of high-tech workers according to Cyberstates 2011, it’s easy to see why nearly 800 life science companies have chosen to locate operations in the Commonwealth.

To learn why companies have prospered in the Commonwealth for more than 400 years, click here.

World’s Largest Credit Union Expands Virginia Footprint

Monday, 13 August 2012 15:53 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Navy Federal Credit Union recently announced plans to expand its member service operation in Winchester, Va. The multi-million dollar investment will bring 400 new jobs to Frederick County...

Navy Federal Credit Union recently announced plans to expand its member service operation in Winchester, Va. The multi-million dollar investment will bring 400 new jobs to Frederick County.

Virginia successfully competed against Florida, as Navy Federal elected to construct an additional building on its Winchester campus.

Headquartered in Fairfax County, Va., Navy Federal’s additional investment in nearby Frederick County is further testament to the success the company has found in Virginia. Navy Federal has operated its member service center in Frederick County for six years, growing to more than 500 employees at the existing facility.

As the world’s largest credit union with $50 billion in assets, Navy Federal has successfully grown from seven members in 1933 to four million members today. The company serves Department of Defense personnel and their families through a full range of financial products and services.

Member service operations are dependent upon skilled employees to provide excellent customer services critical to their success. The company’s continued growth in Virginia illustrates the high quality and motivation of its premier workforce.

As Navy Federal President and CEO Cutler Dawson said, “We have tremendous team members that work at our Winchester facility. This expansion will allow us to bring aboard even more in the future.”

To learn more about Virginia’s skilled workforce and why companies keep coming to the Commonwealth for its pro-business environment, click here.

Cadence Inc. Celebrates Growth in Virginia—Expansion is Ahead of Schedule

Friday, 10 August 2012 13:57 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Secretary Cheng visited Cadence headquarters in Staunton, Va., to announce the company was well ahead of schedule in both job creation and capital investment for the expansion announced in May 2011...

Secretary Cheng visited Cadence headquarters in Staunton, Va., to announce the company was well ahead of schedule in both job creation and capital investment for the expansion announced in May 2011.

In just over a year, Cadence has filled 55 of the 65 jobs the company announced it would create over a three-year period, and the company expects to create 50 additional jobs by the end of the year. Cadence has already put to work $11 million of the $15 million the company announced it would invest over the same three-year period.

A medical instrument components manufacturer, Cadence’s impressive growth is being fueled by strong demand in the medical device industry. The company manufactures high-performance, custom-made cutting blades used in in surgical devices and scientific applications. As a premier contract manufacturer, the company is a sought-after partner for its manufacturing knowledge and high performance solutions.

With options as far away as Costa Rica, Cadence decided to expand at its existing headquarters location at Green Hills Industry and Technology Park in Staunton, Va. Founded in the Commonwealth in 1985, the company has thrived due to Virginia’s pro-business climate, competitive operating costs, and highly-skilled manufacturing workforce.

“Our impressive job creation story is really a story about great employees doing amazing things that open the door for more employees to join our team,” said Cadence CEO Peter Harris. “So as Virginians and Americans, we should all thank the hard work of many individual Cadence employees for their success in creating jobs during this period of economic challenge for the country.”

To learn why manufacturing companies like Cadence continue to find success in the Commonwealth, investing more than $13.7 billion over the last 10 years, click here.

Secretary Cheng congratulates Cadence employees on their tremendous growth at company headquarters in Staunton, Va.

Morooka America Establishes its First U.S. Track Carrier Manufacturing Plant

Tuesday, 7 August 2012 12:45 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Following Governor McDonnell’s announcement in July, last week Morooka America celebrated the opening of its first U.S. track carrier manufacturing plant in Hanover County. The project will bring 50 new jobs to the Central Virginia region...

Following Governor McDonnell’s announcement in July, last week Morooka America celebrated the opening of its first U.S. track carrier manufacturing plant in Hanover County. The project will bring 50 new jobs to the Central Virginia region.

Morooka America will operate under a license agreement with Japan-based Morooka Company Ltd., a leading manufacturer of rubber track carriers used in the construction, pipeline installation and agricultural industries. Using its specialized rubber tracks, the Morooka Carrier offers the additional traction needed to transport heavy materials through challenging terrain.

With the U.S. as the leading export destination for Morooka products, the Virginia facility will allow the company to optimize its supply chain and more efficiently serve and grow its North and South American markets. 

Virginia offers a strategic location for both the manufacturing and distribution of Morooka’s products. With nearly 240,000 workers employed in the manufacturing industry, Virginia’s workforce stands ready to support the industry’s needs.

In addition, Virginia’s central East Coast location and premier logistics network offer easy access to U.S. and international markets. With 14 railroads, six major interstate highways, nine commercial airports, the international Port of Virginia, and the Virginia Inland Port, the Commonwealth’s substantial logistics infrastructure is a major advantage for companies.

To learn why global manufacturing companies continue to establish operations in Virginia, investing more than $13.7 billion over the last 10 years, click here.

Secretary Cheng addresses the crowd at the Morooka America ribbon-cutting event in Hanover County, Va.

International Paper’s Franklin Mill Finds a New Tenant in Tak Investments

Thursday, 2 August 2012 10:10 by Info@YesVirginia.org
This week, Tak Investments Inc. announced it will invest $60 million and create 85 new jobs to establish a recycled tissue plant for its subsidiary, ST Tissue, in Isle of Wight County...

This week, Tak Investments Inc. announced it will invest $60 million and create 85 new jobs to establish a recycled tissue plant for its subsidiary, ST Tissue, in Isle of Wight County.

A win-win for the company and county, this project will repurpose a vacant portion of the International Paper mill in Franklin, Va., making use of machinery already in place.

This news comes within a month of International Paper’s announcement that it recommenced operations at its formerly-closed Franklin Mill. After closing the mill in 2009, International Paper upfit a portion of the mill to manufacture fluff pulp, bringing more than 200 new jobs to the region.

Location and existing infrastructure were key factors in Virginia’s favor, allowing the Commonwealth to successfully compete against Wisconsin. The Franklin Mill location allows the company to take advantage of an existing facility with paper-making machinery and a trained workforce already in place.

In addition, the location not only aligns with the company’s supply chain, but Virginia’s strategic East Coast location and premier transportation infrastructure will allow the company to capture additional market share. 

This project builds on the success Isle of Wight County has experienced on its way towards economic recovery. Recent announcements from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and International Paper are expected to bring more than 1,000 jobs to the area.

To learn why leading manufacturers continue to select the Commonwealth, investing more than $13.8 billion from 2002 to 2010, click here.

Ace Hardware Celebrates Grand Opening of East Coast Import Center in Virginia

Tuesday, 31 July 2012 15:08 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Last Thursday, Ace Hardware held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the grand opening of its East Coast import center at the Centerpoint Intermodal Center in Suffolk, Va...

Last Thursday, Ace Hardware held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the grand opening of its East Coast import center at the Centerpoint Intermodal Center in Suffolk, Va.

The project, which includes a 336,000-square-foot facility, was announced last fall and is expected to bring a $14 million investment and 75 new jobs to the Hampton Roads region. 

The East Coast import center builds upon the company’s existing Virginia presence, which includes 275 employees at its regional distribution center in Prince George County, and many more Virginia employees at the 54 independently-owned stores located across the Commonwealth.

As Ace Hardware’s first and only import center on the East Coast, the facility will allow the company to optimize its supply chain to retail locations. It also validates the Hampton Roads region as a center of international trade.

Virginia was selected for its strategic location and premier transportation system, which includes access to the international Port of Virginia, one of the largest intermodal facilities on the East Coast and the only U.S. East Coast location able to handle post-Panamax vessels as first port of call. Virginia also offers 14 railroads, an inland port, six major interstate highways and nine commercial airports.

To learn more about Virginia’s burgeoning logistics industry and why companies have invested more than $1.6 billion in logistics projects across the Commonwealth over the last 10 years, click here.

Representatives from Ace Hardware Corporation, the City of Suffolk and the Commonwealth of Virginia celebrate the grand opening of the company’s new East Coast import center.