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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

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YesVirginia Business Blog | A place for news, opinions, and information regarding the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.

Virginia Receives an A+ for Small Business Friendliness

Tuesday, 17 June 2014 09:35 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia received an A+ on Thumbtack.com’s annual Small Business Friendliness Survey. The Commonwealth improved its rank to the fourth overall friendliest state in the U.S. and the top state on the East Coast...

Virginia received an A+ on Thumbtack.com’s annual Small Business Friendliness Survey. The Commonwealth improved its rank to the fourth overall friendliest state in the U.S. and the top state on the East Coast.

Virginia outshone its surrounding competition for the third year in a row. Maryland received a C- and North Carolina earned a C+. Virginia has never received less than an A since the inception of this ranking.

Thumbtack.com partnered with the Kauffman Foundation to survey more than 12,600 entrepreneurs across the country. This ranking is unique because its results come straight from the comments of small business owners.

“After a two-month survey of thousands of small business owners nationwide, business owners have reaffirmed that Virginia is a premier destination for starting and running a business,” said Jon Lieber, Chief Economist of Thumbtack.com. “Creating a business climate that is welcoming to small, dynamic businesses is more important than ever, and Virginia's A+ grade by its small businesses shows what a welcoming and friendly place the Commonwealth is for entrepreneurs.”

Highlights for Virginia include a No. 3 ranking for ease of licensing regulations, a No. 4 ranking for ease of overall regulations, and a No. 5 ranking for training and networking programs. According to Thumbtack.com, the strongest correlating factor for the perception of small business friendliness is the ease of licensing forms, requirements and fees.

In addition, the study examined 82 metropolitan regions. Richmond was ranked No. 10 overall and Virginia Beach was ranked No. 20 overall. Richmond and Virginia Beach were ranked No. 3 and No. 4, respectively, for ease of licensing regulations.

Entrepreneurs and start-ups are becoming increasingly important for economic growth and organic job creation. According to Thumbtack.com, “Virginia’s small businesses were the third most optimistic in the nation when it came to plans to hire more employees in the next twelve months.”

To learn why Virginia is a great place to start and grow a business, click here.

Center for Advanced Film Manufacturing Established in Window Film Capital of the World

Monday, 9 June 2014 14:50 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The founding of the Center for Advanced Film Manufacturing was recently announced in Martinsville-Henry County during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Patrick Henry Community College...

The founding of the Center for Advanced Film Manufacturing was recently announced in Martinsville-Henry County during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Patrick Henry Community College.

Through a public-private partnership, the center will offer a 28-credit Advanced Film Certification Program. Students will take classes at Patrick Henry Community College and New College Institute, while receiving access to hands-on training with machinery and equipment at nearby Eastman Chemical and Commonwealth Laminating & Coating. In March, Eastman Chemical announced plans to acquire Commonwealth Laminating & Coating.

Advanced film experts at Eastman Chemical and Commonwealth Laminating & Coating are advising on curriculum and will participate as part-time instructors. The companies will also offer internships and all graduates of the program are guaranteed an interview at Eastman Chemical.

The Martinsville-Henry County region has become “the window film capital of the world,” producing more than 30 percent of the global supply of coated and dyed film.

Performance or advanced films are terms used to describe any film applied to another material, such as a glass window. Films come in the form of tints, laminates, coating and composites, providing benefits such as tints on car windows to reduce glare, tints on office building windows for privacy, additional strength to industrial windows for security, and the addition of photovoltaic materials to solar panels to capture the sun’s energy.

Students can apply to the Advanced Film Certification Program on the PHCC website, and the first class will commence in fall 2014.

Virginia is home to more than 200 plastics companies, and the Center for Advanced Film Manufacturing will help ensure the Commonwealth has a well-trained workforce pipeline to maintain its leadership in this industry sector. To learn more, click here.

Two employees at Eastman Chemical stand proudly in Martinsville-Henry County, “the window film capital of the world." Photo courtesy of Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp.

RockTenn’s West Point Mill Celebrates 100 Years in Virginia

Monday, 2 June 2014 15:08 by Info@YesVirginia.org
RockTenn recently celebrated 100 years of success at its West Point mill in King William County, Va. The mill produces white top linerboard and recycled medium used in corrugated boxes and other types of packaging...

RockTenn recently celebrated 100 years of success at its West Point mill in King William County, Va. The mill produces white top linerboard and recycled medium used in corrugated boxes and other types of packaging. 

The West Point mill began operations on May 16, 1914, a little over a year after the company was first established as the Chesapeake Pulp & Paper Company. The mill began with 140 employees and a capacity of 20 tons of paper products per day.

Chesapeake Pulp & Paper Company would later become Chesapeake Corp. and the mill would change ownership a number of times before being acquired by RockTenn in 2011. RockTenn is publicly traded (NYSE: RKT) and one of the leading packaging solutions providers in North America.

In 1930, the West Point Mill acquired the first Fourdrinier machine in the South, allowing it to manufacture continuous sheets of paper.  The machine initially created a sheet 218 inches wide, running at a top speed of 1,000 feet per minute. The machine has been updated and is still running today at 2,000 feet per minute.

The mill added paper machine No. 2 in 1964 and machine No. 3 in 1985. Today, the mill employs more than 500 Virginians and produces about 900,000 tons of paper products each year.

In October 2012, RockTenn celebrated completion of an 11-mile pipeline to supply natural gas to the West Point mill, in partnership with Virginia Natural Gas, Dominion Virginia Power, New Kent County, King William County, and the Town of West Point. The company also invested in the mill to make it more efficient, reduce emissions and lessen its carbon footprint.

According to RockTenn General Manager Chris Broome, “We are very excited about the investments RockTenn is making in our West Point mill to continue providing our customers with high-quality products and to better support their needs. We are committed to being a good business partner within the community and value the relationships we have developed throughout the years.”

The West Point mill’s 100 years of success is a notable achievement and represents the longevity and prosperity companies experience in Virginia’s pro-business environment. To learn why companies keep growing in the Best State for Business, click here.

A view of RockTenn’s West Point mill on the York River in West Point, Va. Photo courtesy of RockTenn.

U.S. Foreign Affairs Security Training Center Comes to Virginia’s Fort Pickett

Wednesday, 21 May 2014 14:29 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The U.S. Department of State recently announced plans to establish its Foreign Affairs Security Training Center, known as FASTC, on 1,500 acres at Fort Pickett in Virginia’s Nottoway County...

The U.S. Department of State recently announced plans to establish its Foreign Affairs Security Training Center, known as FASTC, on 1,500 acres at Fort Pickett in Virginia’s Nottoway County.

U.S. diplomats are currently trained at multiple sites across the nation. In May 2008, Congress identified the need to consolidate training at one facility to improve efficiencies and cost savings. 

After a multi-year search, Fort Pickett was selected as the best site over 70 other properties because it met DOS’ operational requirements and offered close proximity to D.C. agencies and the intelligence community.

FASTC will train approximately 8,000 – 10,000 U.S. ambassadors and diplomats sent to foreign countries, sometimes in dangerous locations. The center will initially focus on hard skills training, which includes detecting surveillance, providing emergency medical care, identifying explosive devices, firearms training, and performing defensive driving maneuvers. The 2012 attacks in Benghazi highlight the importance of this training for the U.S. foreign affairs community.

Fort Pickett is the perfect location because the 46,000-acre campus offers plenty of land and a secure environment to build driving tracks, mock urban environments, and firing and explosive ranges. Fort Pickett was established in 1942 and currently serves as the Maneuver Training Center for the Virginia National Guard. While the land is predominantly in Nottoway County, it covers parts of Brunswick and Dinwiddie Counties.

This project is expected to be transformative for the Nottoway County region. The DOS is currently estimating a hard-skills facility will bring $461 million in investment to the area, not to mention additional jobs both onsite and in the community through the multiplier effect.

U.S. Senator Tim Kaine and a group of federal, state and local officials recently visited Fort Pickett to tour the future site of FASTC. The Administration continues to work through budgetary issues and must complete an updated master plan and environmental impact study before construction can begin.

Virginia’s selection as the site for the FASTC project illustrates how the Commonwealth provides the right location, infrastructure and workforce for both public and private entities. To learn more click here.

U.S. Senator Tim Kaine and a group of federal, state and local officials tour the future site of FASTC at Fort Pickett in Nottoway County, Va. Photo courtesy of Virginia National Guard Public Affairs/Cotton Puryear.

The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine Holds Its First Commencement Ceremony

Friday, 9 May 2014 12:07 by Info@YesVirginia.org

The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine will hold its first-ever commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 10 at 8:30 a.m. at the Jefferson Center in Roanoke.

The ceremony will be held for the school’s first 40 graduates, who are all continuing on to a residency. U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, who as a former governor of Virginia signed legislation to support the creation of the new school, will be the keynote speaker.

The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute serves as a model of collaboration between public and private partners. The institute combines Virginia Tech’s sciences, bioinformatics, and engineering with Carilion Clinic’s highly experienced medical staff. The Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute collaborates with 75 institutions around the world, and has 168 research employees.

In addition, the institute’s unique, patient-centered learning model and small class size allows students to learn through real-life situations with ample student participation. Only 15 percent of medical schools in the U.S. have a patient-centered learning curriculum.

Virginia has a number of nationally recognized medical training and research institutes around the state, including the VCU School of Medicine and the UVA Department of Biomedical Engineering and School of Medicine, and now adds another major medical school in the western part of the state.

Virginia’s nationally acclaimed universities and community colleges, ensure businesses have a knowledgeable and highly trained workforce. The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute is a great example of how Virginia is preparing for jobs of the 21st century. To learn more about Virginia’s more than 100 in-state institutions of higher education, click here.

A view of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute—located in Roanoke, Virginia.

Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre Breaks Ground in Martinsville-Henry County

Monday, 21 April 2014 15:02 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Last Thursday, a kickoff event was held marking the beginning of development at Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre.

The event at the 740-acre site attracted members of the U.S. Congress, state leaders, local officials, and citizens and neighbors from both Virginia and North Carolina. The CCBC project began in 2007 when Henry County purchased the land. Earlier this month, the grading permit was awarded by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Chairman of the Henry County Board of Supervisors H.G. Vaughn, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, U.S. Congressman Robert Hurt, U.S. Congressman Morgan Griffith, and Virginia House of Delegates member Danny Marshall delivered remarks. U.S Senator Mark Warner could not attend the event but had his remarks delivered by a member of his staff.

Henry County officials said their plan is to create about 140 to 170 acres of useable pad space for potential companies. Grading work on the site is expected to begin within two to three weeks and it could take up to 18-24 months to complete that work. The Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation will be the lead agency in marketing the property.

CCBC is a prime location for advanced manufacturing companies, including automotive and aerospace. The business park is located in an Enterprise Zone, which allows companies to apply for special zone grants and incentives. CCBC is located 33 miles from the Piedmont Triad International Airport and is adjacent to the Norfolk Southern Railway Mainline.

Funding partners for CCBC include Henry County, the City of Martinsville, the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation, the Tobacco Commission, The Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the Small Business Administration and the Mid-Atlantic Broadband.

CCBC is another example of the pipeline of premier business parks that keeps manufacturing companies coming to the Commonwealth. To learn why manufacturers have invested more than $13.7 billion in Virginia over the last decade, click here.

Federal, state and local officials celebrate the groundbreaking of CCBC, a 740-acre business park in Martinsville-Henry County.

Southern Virginia Advanced Manufacturing Center Receives Additional Funding

Monday, 14 April 2014 15:16 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Halifax County Industrial Development Authority recently announced it has received a $427,500 grant to complete Phase III renovations on the Southern Virginia Advanced Manufacturing Center...

Halifax County Industrial Development Authority recently announced it has received a $427,500 grant to complete Phase III renovations on the Southern Virginia Advanced Manufacturing Center.

SVAMC is located in South Boston, Va., at the former Daystrom Furniture manufacturing plant. Halifax County purchased the facility three years ago, which includes 34 acres and three buildings totaling 430,000 square feet. 

The county has been renovating the site, originally established in the 1960s, and recently added a new, more energy-efficient roof. Phase III renovations will extend natural gas to the site through a collaboration with Columbia Gas of Virginia.

The goal of the project is to provide a manufacturing ecosystem that will draw multiple companies to the area, as well as jobs and investment. The facility will include both advanced manufacturing and hands-on workforce training space for multiple tenants. It is expected to be ready in early 2015.

VEDP helped Halifax County identify the grant from the U.S. Community Advancement and Improvement Program. Matt Leonard, executive director of the Halifax County IDA, emphasized the importance of the funding for the region, commenting, “The USCAIP grant provides benefits beyond its dollar value.”

Advanced manufacturing continues to be a mainstay of Virginia’s economy, with 5,600 manufacturers employing almost 231,000 workers. To learn why manufacturing companies have invested more than $13.7 billion in the Commonwealth over the last 10 years, click here.

A rendering of the Southern Virginia Advanced Manufacturing Center in South Boston, Va. Photo courtesy of Halifax County Industrial Development Authority.

Bioplastics — How One Virginia Company is Making Plastic out of Feathers

Friday, 28 March 2014 11:45 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Eastern BioPlastics has successfully commercialized a process to make plastic out of chicken feathers. By using what was formerly a waste product, the company is making plastic components in a sustainable way...

Eastern BioPlastics has successfully commercialized a process to make plastic out of chicken feathers. By using what was formerly a waste product, the company is making plastic components in a sustainable way.

Co-founders Sonny Meyerhoeffer and Dr. Justin Barone established the company in Mount Crawford, Va., in 2008. They combined Meyerhoeffer’s background as an entrepreneur in the poultry industry with Barone’s engineering expertise as a professor at Virginia Tech to accomplish a difficult task — commercializing R&D into an effective process.

The company replaces up to 50 percent of the petroleum component of plastics with fiber made from chicken feathers. This chicken feather fiber, called feather fiber intermediate, has a number of advantages over petroleum. It is a renewable resource and makes use of something that was previously viewed as a waste product. In addition, the chicken feather fibers are very strong yet lightweight, making them ideal for plastic products.

Eastern BioPlastics has developed a proprietary technique that cleans and processes the chicken feathers in a cost-competitive way. The feather fiber intermediate is blended with polyolefins in a resin, and then extruded into pellet form. These pellets are then sold to original equipment manufacturers that use injection molding to form any number of end products for use in the automotive, furniture and sports equipment industries. The company is currently beta testing this product with customers.

Eastern BioPlastics has also developed a second product called Environmental BioProtector. Feathers are extremely oil absorbent; news coverage of massive oil spills illustrates how birds suffer because the oil becomes trapped in their feathers. The company has developed a product using chicken feathers to help clean up oil spills, from large-scale disasters to consumer use for car oil leaks. Environmental BioProtector is USDA certified and made of 99 percent bio-based material, making it one of the most eco-friendly and low cost oil absorbing solutions on the market today. The company has been selling this product since May 2013.

Creating an entirely new product in 2008 was no easy feat, especially during the economic downturn of 2009-2010. According to co-founder Meyerhoeffer, “Back then nobody wanted to take a chance on anything new. We had to figure out how to break in and create a market with a brand new product.”

When asked why he kept going during these early days, Meyerhoeffer responded, “I was never led to quit and we stayed at it because we knew there was something there that was better. You have to persevere through the tough times. I think a lot of entrepreneurs are that way. You know you’ve got something viable and it’s just about continuing through to the end.”

The founders of Eastern BioPlastics exemplify the entrepreneurial spirit and innovation that’s alive and well in the Commonwealth. To learn what Virginia offers and why it’s a great place to start a business, click here.

Eastern BioPlastics co-founder Sonny Meyerhoeffer displays his Bioplastic Composite Resins made from chicken feathers. 

VEDP Releases Maritime Opportunities Export Report

Thursday, 20 March 2014 14:44 by Info@YesVirginia.org
VEDP just released its Maritime Opportunities Export Report for Virginia. The report was prepared by Old Dominion University as part of VEDP’s Going Global Defense Initiative aimed at helping Virginia defense companies mitigate the impact of sequestration by increasing international sales...

VEDP just released its Maritime Opportunities Export Report for Virginia. The report was prepared by Old Dominion University as part of VEDP’s Going Global Defense Initiative aimed at helping Virginia defense companies mitigate the impact of sequestration by increasing international sales.

This report, geared towards small and medium defense contractors, is timely given current expectations for another BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) process and the possibility of the U.S. military shifting some assets to the Pacific Rim.

The Maritime Opportunities Export Report gives a high level overview of the process a company would need to follow in order to export defense products or services. For example, one of the first steps a company should take is determining if its product or service is on the U.S. Munitions List or the Commerce Control List so it can obtain the appropriate registration and license to export. The report also provides helpful links to federal resources that govern these procedures.

Recognizing that the most reliable indicator of future trade activity is current trade activity, the report utilized a mixture of historical data on defense import purchases combined with expected growth rates and political and financial stability to determine the export opportunity ranking by country.

The Top 10 markets for U.S. Maritime Exports are:

  1. Japan
  2. Australia
  3. United Kingdom
  4. South Korea
  5. Israel
  6. India
  7. Turkey
  8. United Arab Emirates
  9. Mexico
  10. South Africa

The report also outlines a number of emerging growth markets in the global maritime industry. These include anti-piracy products, services and technology; ship conversions and deactivations; privatized naval security; unmanned underwater vehicles for mining, mapping, environmental testing, route surveying and port surveillance; and C4ISTAR which stands for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, targeting acquisitions and reconnaissance.

To download the report and learn more about VEDP’s Going Global Defense Initiative, click here.

Capital One Celebrates Opening of Chesterfield County Data Center

Wednesday, 19 March 2014 09:09 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Capital One recently celebrated the opening of its newest data center in Chesterfield County. The $150 million project was first announced in June 2012...

Capital One recently celebrated the opening of its newest data center in Chesterfield County. The $150 million project was first announced in June 2012.

This investment represents part of Capital One’s efforts to streamline and automate its IT infrastructure, adding new technologies to continue its reputation for leadership and exceptional customer service.

The 242,000-square-foot facility is scalable for future growth and includes redundant power supply and substantial backup systems to ensure uninterrupted service. It is also LEED Gold certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.

“This new data center is a bold example of the value we place on having the best technology to deliver on our customer mission, and we are proud to continue our strong relationship with Virginia and expand our workforce here,” said Rob Alexander, Chief Information Officer at Capital One.

The company employs more than 15,000 associates in Virginia, drawing on the Commonwealth’s strong IT and professional services labor pool. While the company initially expected to create 50 new jobs related to this investment, Capital One now expects to double that over the next year in Central Virginia.

Capital One was founded in Virginia more than 20 years ago. The company has thrived in the Commonwealth and grown to become a Fortune 500 company (NYSE: COF) and one of the most recognized brand names in the U.S. It is the country’s largest direct bank and 7th largest bank based on deposits.

Chesterfield County was selected for this project due to its proximity to Capital One’s existing operations in the Greater Richmond area. Central Virginia has been part of Virginia’s booming data center industry because it offers abundant power, an advanced fiber-optic network, low risk of natural disaster, and a strong IT workforce.

To learn why approximately 700 data processing, hosting and related establishments have selected Virginia as their home, click here.

The Port of Virginia – the Only Port on the U.S. East Coast Ready Now for Post-Panamax Vessels

Tuesday, 11 March 2014 15:58 by Info@YesVirginia.org
While other ports along the East Coast scramble to deepen their channels in preparation for the Panama Canal expansion, the Port of Virginia stands ready as the only port on the U.S. East Coast currently capable of handling post-Panamax ships as first and last port of call...

While other ports along the East Coast scramble to deepen their channels in preparation for the Panama Canal expansion, the Port of Virginia stands ready as the only port on the U.S. East Coast currently capable of handling post-Panamax ships as first and last port of call.

With 50-foot channels and authorization up to 55 feet, the Port of Virginia offers the deepest shipping channels on the U.S. East Coast, able to accommodate ships greater than 10,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units). Even just a few feet of channel depth can have a significant impact. 45-foot channels can only accommodate up to 8,500-TEU vessels and 42-foot channels can only accommodate 4,500-TEU vessels.

The Port of Virginia offers prime, unobstructed access to the Atlantic Ocean. This saves valuable transit time and costs, and ships traveling to the Port of Virginia can avoid the hassle of traveling inland, navigating rivers and overhead obstructions like low bridges.

Served by every major shipping line, the Port of Virginia offers direct connection to more than 100 foreign ports and reach to any country in the world. Norfolk Southern and CSX offer on-dock, double-stack intermodal service to markets throughout the Northeast, Midwest and Southeast. Customers also have access to 12 short-line railroads for a total of 3,500 miles of track throughout Virginia. 

The Port of Virginia is one of the largest intermodal networks on the East Coast, handling 2.2 million TEUs in 2013. The Virginia Port Authority operates four owned terminals:  three marine terminals, Norfolk International Terminals, Portsmouth Marine Terminal, Newport News Marine Terminal, and an inland facility, the Virginia Inland Port. VPA also operates two leased marine facilities: APM Terminals and the Port of Richmond.

Norfolk International Terminals is the Port of Virginia’s largest terminal. It houses 14 Suez Class ZPMC cranes, the largest, most efficient cranes in the world. Capable of handling current and future ships, these cranes have a 245-foot reach that can offload vessels loaded 27 containers wide.

APM Terminals is known as the most technologically advanced terminal in the Americas. It automates and optimizes the flow of crane and container movements, and its advanced tracking systems can pinpoint the exact location of every container. Cargo movements are handled by eight Super Post-Panamax ship-to-shore cranes, 30 semi-automated rail-mounted gantry cranes and two rubber-tire gantry cranes with electric spreader bars.

Use the highlighted links to learn more about the capabilities of the world-class Port of Virginia and Virginia’s global logistics network.

    YesVirginia Business Blog | All posts by info@yesvirginia.org

    The Gateway Center for Enterprise Opens in Central Virginia

    Thursday, 25 July 2013 16:43 by Info@YesVirginia.org
    Today, Virginia’s Gateway Region opened The Gateway Center for Enterprise in Colonials Heights, Va., with the first of many third Thursday networking events...

    Today, Virginia’s Gateway Region opened The Gateway Center for Enterprise in Colonials Heights, Va., with the first of many third Thursday networking events.

    Today’s event was geared towards new entrepreneurs, with a speaker panel that provided information on how to start and grow a small business. Future third Thursday topics include how to access capital and leadership skills for innovators.

    The focus of The Gateway Center is to support local entrepreneurs through a variety of programs, including training, networking events, one-on-one counseling, mentorship programs, and access to the office, library and resource center of Virginia’s Gateway Region. 

    The Gateway Center was made possible through partnerships with The Center for Women's Enterprise at REDC Community Capital Group and the Crater Small Business Development Center at Longwood University. 

    The center is housed within the main office of Virginia’s Gateway Region, a regional economic development group that supports the cities of Colonial Heights, Hopewell and Petersburg, and the counties of Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Prince George, Surry and Sussex.

    Located in Central Virginia, the Gateway Region offers companies easy access to U.S. and international markets through Virginia’s premier transportation network. Advanced manufacturing, global logistics and food processing companies have been drawn to the area’s skilled workforce and access to top education and research institutions.

    The Gateway Center is another example of the innovative environment Virginia offers to entrepreneurs. To learn more about starting a business in the Commonwealth, click here.

    Virginia's Gateway Region houses The Gateway Center for Enterprise in Colonial Heights, Va.

    High-tech “Fab Lab” Comes to Virginia’s Patrick Henry Community College

    Monday, 22 July 2013 15:47 by Info@YesVirginia.org
    Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) began offering tours of its Fab Lab this summer. The Fab Lab is short for digital fabrication laboratory, which gives students and local businesses access to 3D design and prototyping equipment to create new products and inventions...

    Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) began offering tours of its Fab Lab this summer. The Fab Lab is short for digital fabrication laboratory, which gives students and local businesses access to 3D design and prototyping equipment to create new products and inventions.

    The Fab Lab concept originated at MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms. In November 2011, PHCC, the New College Institute and Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation sponsored a two-week visit from the Mobile Fab Lab of the Carolinas. During that time the lab received more than 300 visits from interested students and community members.

    Working with the same partners, PHCC was able to obtain funding from the Virginia Community College System to purchase equipment and establish its own Fab Lab.

    Located at the The Artisan Center in Martinsville, the 1600-square-foot Fab Lab houses a Roland MDX 20 mini mill, Roland CAMM-1 Servo GX-24 vinyl cutter, Stratasys uPrint SE Plus FDM 3D printer, Morgan Industries Morgan Press G-100T Injection Molder, Formech 686 Vacuum Former, Universal Laser 4.60, Routermate 4’ x 4’ CNC router and Torchmate 2’ x 4’ CNC plasma cutter.

    The 10 Dell workstations in the lab offer open source software, which allows entrepreneurs and students to seamlessly continue their work at home or in other locations.

    The Fab Lab has generated a lot of interest among students and business partners in the community. Lab Coordinator Matthew Wade estimates the lab has seen more than 100 visitors since its soft launch in April.

    The lab will host a grand-opening event this fall to coincide with its first class, a basic manufacturing class that will teach students and entrepreneurs how to use the equipment in the lab to bring their ideas to life.

    “Inventors can create designs with our software, use the vinyl cutter and CNC mill to fabricate and carve out a circuit board, and then utilize our 3D printer to produce a working model of their new product idea,” said PHCC Lab Coordinator Matthew Wade.

    The PHCC Fab Lab is another example of the cutting-edge technology available at Virginia’s colleges and universities, helping prepare a strong pipeline of technically-skilled workers. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s recent Enterprising States study, Virginia is the No. 1 state in STEM job concentration and has the No. 1 share of high-tech businesses.

    To learn more about Virginia’s leading higher education system and workforce preparation programs, click here.

    A view of the Patrick Henry Community College Fab Lab in Martinsville, Va.

    German Investment in Virginia Continues—PRUFREX Establishes First U.S. Location

    Wednesday, 17 July 2013 16:23 by Info@YesVirginia.org
    PRUFREX Innovative Power Products GmbH announced plans to establish its first U.S. location in Virginia Beach through a $7.33 million investment, which will create 60 new jobs. The project includes both a manufacturing facility as well as the company’s U.S. headquarters...

    PRUFREX Innovative Power Products GmbH announced plans to establish its first U.S. location in Virginia Beach through a $7.33 million investment, which will create 60 new jobs. The project includes both a manufacturing facility as well as the company’s U.S. headquarters.

    PRUFREX is a leading producer of digital ignition systems and electronic control systems for the small engine, marine and recreation, automotive, and electric and cordless power markets. The company’s global headquarters are in Cadolzburg, Germany.

    The benefits of supply chain for economic development are apparent in this project—PRUFREX selected Virginia Beach over Georgia to be closer to two key customers, German-based BMZ Batteries and STIHL Inc.

    STIHL opened its first U.S. plant in Virginia Beach in 1974, and has since grown to become the No. 1 brand of chain saws in the world. The company’s U.S. headquarters are now located in Virginia Beach, and since 1990 the company has announced investment of $335 million and 942 new jobs in the Commonwealth.

    BMZ Batteries followed in April 2011, also establishing its U.S. headquarters in Virginia Beach to be close to STIHL and its other international customers. 

    Germany has been in the top three for international investment and job creation in the Commonwealth over the last four years.

    PRUFREX, BMZ Batteries and STIHL have all made reference to the quality of Virginia’s workforce, particularly its engineering and advanced manufacturing capabilities, as well as the Commonwealth’s strategic East location and ability to easily reach U.S. customers through its premier logistics infrastructure.

    Virginia’s transportation network includes access to the international Port of Virginia, the only U.S. East Coast location able to handle post-Panamax vessels as first port of call, as well as an integrated system of six interstate highways, nine commercial airports and 14 railroads, including two Class I lines.

    To learn why Virginia is home to more than 700 internationally-owned companies, click here.

    Institute of Advanced Learning and Research Launches First Company—Dan River Plants

    Tuesday, 16 July 2013 15:46 by Info@YesVirginia.org
    The Institute of Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) recently announced its first commercial spin-off, Dan River Plants, LLC...

    The Institute of Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) recently announced its first commercial spin-off, Dan River Plants, LLC.

    Dan River Plants uses micropropagation technology to create, clone and grow plants at a rapid rate. The technology was developed through collaboration between IALR’s Institute for Sustainable and Renewable Resources and Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. 

    Micropropagation utilizes plant tissue cultures to grow identical plants by an order of magnitude, yielding rapid and reliable results. The company is producing both decorative plants, such as lilies, roses and azaleas, as well as biofuel crops. 

    Dan River Plants plans to invest $1.3 million and create 27 new jobs to establish a facility at Ringgold East Industrial Park in Pittsylvania County, Va.

    IALR was established in 2000 through partnerships among Virginia Tech, Averett University, Danville Community College, Pittsylvania County, City of Danville, Future of the Piedmont Foundation, Tobacco Indemnification Commission and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

    The center uniquely operates as a research and development facility, education leader, business incubator and conference center.

    We have previously blogged on some of IALR’s programs, including its STEM Mobile Learning Lab and the Virginia Polymer Coalition.

    IALR has strategically positioned itself to capitalize on the expertise found in Southern Virginia. The center focuses on four main areas of research, including sustainable and renewable resources, analytical chemistry, polymers and composites, and vehicle research.

    IALR is yet another example of the innovative research and collaboration with universities that supports Virginia businesses, from start-up to late stage. To learn more about opportunities to co-locate with Virginia’s leading universities at R&D centers across the Commonwealth, click here.

    Digital Realty Expands Campus in Loudoun County’s Data Center Alley

    Thursday, 11 July 2013 15:22 by Info@YesVirginia.org
    Digital Realty just announced a $150 million expansion to its data center campus in Virginia’s Loudoun County. The project is expected to create 50 new jobs over the next three years...

    Digital Realty just announced a $150 million expansion to its data center campus in Virginia’s Loudoun County. The project is expected to create 50 new jobs over the next three years.

    Digital Realty is the largest data center operator in Loudoun County, with more than one million square feet of space. The company’s latest building is expected to be 400,000 square feet and house 22 data centers.

    This project is a strong follow-up to the company’s announcement last May. It broke ground on its fourth building in Loudoun County, representing an $80 million investment and the anticipated creation of 12 full-time jobs and 180 temporary positions.

    Often called “Data Center Alley,” Loudoun County has become one of the top data center locations in the country. It currently maintains five million square feet of existing data center space with another three million square feet in development.

    Loudoun County also handles up to 70 percent of the world’s internet traffic each day.

    Fueled by increased customer demand for cloud computing, mobile applications and social networking, the data center industry continues to grow at a rapid pace. For calendar year 2012, data center announced investment topped $1 billion in Virginia.

    The Commonwealth remains a prime location for data centers due to its advanced fiber infrastructure, abundant power redundancy, affordable energy rates and top notch IT workforce. Virginia has the highest concentration of high-tech workers according to Cyberstates 2013.

    In addition, Virginia’s Retail Sales and Use Tax Exemption on qualified computer equipment helps data center operators lower their overall cost structure.

    Virginia is home to 700 data centers establishments and has seen $5.8 billion in announced data center investment over the last decade. To learn why leaders like Amazon, Capital One, Digital Realty, Facebook, Google and Microsoft have all chosen the Commonwealth, click here.

    Tempur Sealy International Expands in Scott County, Virginia

    Monday, 8 July 2013 15:07 by Info@YesVirginia.org
    On Wednesday, Tempur Sealy International, Inc. announced plans to expand its manufacturing facility in Scott County through a $13.3 million investment. The project will create 42 new jobs and allow the company to upgrade equipment and grow its Southwest Virginia operation...

    On Wednesday, Tempur Sealy International, Inc. announced plans to expand its manufacturing facility in Scott County through a $13.3 million investment. The project will create 42 new jobs and allow the company to upgrade equipment and grow its Southwest Virginia operation.

    The 500,000-square-foot facility has successfully operated at Duffield Industrial Park for 12 years, producing mattresses and pillows for the company’s Tempur-Pedic brand.

    Temper Sealy is the largest bedding provider in the world and changed its name in March to reflect Tempur-Pedic’s $1.3 billion acquisition of Sealy Corp., announced in the fall of 2012. The Company's portfolio of iconic brand names includes Tempur®, Tempur-Pedic®, Sealy®, Sealy Posturepedic®, Optimum™ and Stearns & Foster®.

    Virginia was chosen over New Mexico for this project due to the high quality of Southwest Virginia’s manufacturing workforce, low cost of operations and strategic location, with prime access to I-77 and I-81.

    As part of the Virginia’s e-Region, Southwest Virginia has a strong legacy of supporting leading manufacturing and technology companies through its focus on electronic information technology, energy, education and emerging manufacturing specialties.

    To learn why manufacturing companies continue to select Virginia, investing more than $13.7 billion over the last decade, click here.

    Canon Virginia Adds Toner Manufacturing Operation to Newport News Facility

    Friday, 28 June 2013 14:35 by Info@YesVirginia.org
    Canon Virginia Inc. recently announced plans to include toner manufacturing at its headquarters location in Newport News, Va., through a $27 million investment...

    Canon Virginia Inc. recently announced plans to include toner manufacturing at its headquarters location in Newport News, Va., through a $27 million investment.

    Canon Virginia has successfully operated in Newport News since 1985, serving as the manufacturing hub of Canon U.S.A., a subsidiary of Japan-based Canon Inc. The Newport News campus includes a factory service center and manufacturing operations for a variety of Canon products, including copiers, printers and cartridges.

    Governor McDonnell met with Canon Inc. officials while in Tokyo as part of his recent Asia Marketing Mission.

    By allocating 30,000 square feet of upgraded space to this project, Canon Virginia will improve efficiencies by manufacturing both the ink toner and cartridges all in one location.

    Canon Virginia employs nearly 2,000 Virginians across the Commonwealth, and the company has invested more than $371 million in its Virginia operations in the last four years.

    World-class manufacturing companies like Canon Inc. continue to invest in the Commonwealth due to its competitive operating environment, highly-skilled manufacturing workforce and premier logistics infrastructure.

    To learn why manufacturing companies have invested more than $13.7 billion in Virginia over the last decade, click here.

    Intelliject CEO Wins E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year 2013 Greater Washington Award

    Wednesday, 26 June 2013 13:16 by Info@YesVirginia.org
    Intelliject President & CEO Spencer Williamson recently won the Ernst & Young (E&Y) Entrepreneur of the Year 2013 Greater Washington award in the Health Services and Technology category...

    Intelliject President & CEO Spencer Williamson recently won the Ernst & Young (E&Y) Entrepreneur of the Year 2013 Greater Washington Award in the Health Services and Technology category.

    Based in Richmond, Va., Intelliject was founded in 2004 by twin brothers Eric and Evan Edwards in an effort to find a more user-friendly solution to administer epinephrine in the event of anaphylactic shock. Both brothers had suffered from severe allergies since childhood.

    That solution became the Auvi-Q device, the first and only epinephrine auto-injector with voice instructions. Auvi-Q provides step-by-step voice instructions along with visual cues and a five-second countdown to help ensure the medication is delivered quickly and accurately during a potentially life-threatening situation.

    After years of development, Auvi-Q is now on the fast track. The company received FDA approval for the device in August 2012 and reached a licensing agreement with Sanofi-Aventis to commercialize the product in North America.

    In January 2013, Auvi-Q became available on pharmacy shelves in the U.S., and the company is well-positioned to expand internationally.

    Intelliject is a shining example of Virginia’s growing life sciences industry and the innovative environment the Commonwealth offers to entrepreneurs. More than 800 life sciences companies have chosen to locate in Virginia for its access to top research institutions, biotech parks and a highly-trained workforce with the medical expertise to support the industry.

    To learn why Virginia was ranked the No. 2 Emerging Biotech Hub by Business Facilities magazine, click here.

    International Paper’s Franklin Mill Gains Another Tenant—Franklin Lumber

    Tuesday, 25 June 2013 16:04 by Info@YesVirginia.org
    Former International Paper (IP) Franklin Mill employees have come up with a clever solution to make use of the dormant sawmill at IP’s Franklin, Va., site—establish a new company and purchase the mill...

    Former International Paper (IP) Franklin Mill employees have come up with a clever solution to make use of the dormant sawmill at IP’s Franklin, Va., site—establish a new company and purchase the mill.

    The newly-formed company will operate under the name Franklin Lumber, and the $14.8 million investment is expected to create 72 new jobs.

    The Franklin Mill facility, located in Isle of Wight County, has seen its fair share of activity over the last year. After initially closing the paper mill in 2009, International Paper returned in the summer of 2012 and repurposed part of the facility to manufacture fluff pulp.

    Also in 2012, Tak Investments announced plans to invest $60 million and create 85 new jobs to establish ST Tissue, a recycled tissue plant, by repurposing a vacant portion of the Franklin Mill site.

    Franklin Lumber expects to produce 60 million board feet of southern yellow pine lumber each year for retail, treating and truss manufacturers. This project will benefit Virginia’s logging supply chain as 40 percent of the company’s materials will be sourced from the Commonwealth.

    Virginia was selected for this project due to the founders’ knowledge of the Franklin Mill site and familiarity with the assets of the region, which include a strong wood basket supply chain, a skilled manufacturing workforce and a premier logistics infrastructure.

    This investment also represents the first Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) grant to a forestry project.

    Franklin Lumber joins more than 6,000 manufacturing companies located in the Commonwealth and illustrates that Virginia is not only a great place for manufacturers, but a great place to start a business. Virginia recently earned an A for its small business friendliness—to learn more, click here.

    VEDP’s Digital Advertising Recognized by Richmond Ad Club

    Monday, 10 June 2013 13:36 by Info@YesVirginia.org
    VEDP’s YesVA mobile app and in-app advertisement for The Wall Street Journal were both recognized at the 2012 Richmond Ad Club’s Richmond Show...

    VEDP’s YesVA mobile app and in-app advertisement for The Wall Street Journal were both recognized at the 2012 Richmond Ad Club’s Richmond Show.

    Judged by a panel of nationally-recognized advertising and design professionals, VEDP’s advertising agency of record, Elevation, won the silver and bronze awards in the interactive category for its VEDP work.

    VEDP launched the YesVA mobile app for iPad, iPhone and Android devices in the fall of 2012. This interactive tool allows clients to perform property searches and compare Virginia to other states in major business categories.

    The app is available for free download at http://www.yesvirginia.org/App, or through the AppleApp Store and Google Play store.

    The YesVA mobile app is part of VEDP’s digital marketing campaign targeting C-level executives and site selection consultants in selected geographies across the U.S., Europe and Asia, including native language advertisements in the German and Chinese markets.

    The campaign, which began in 2012 and continues into 2013, is expected to generate more than 23 million impressions on the websites of leading business and site selection publications. The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Site Selection, Area Development, Financial Times Asia and Financial Times Germany were among the selected media outlets. The campaign also incorporated pay-per-click search engine marketing via Google AdWords.

    By helping companies make the most informed decision on business locations, the YesVA mobile app is yet another example of an innovative tool developed by VEDP to market Virginia as a top state for business.

    To learn why Virginia’s unique combination of resources has encouraged businesses to prosper here for more than 400 years, click here.

    A view of the Virginia ad from The Wall Street Journal app.

    HP Hood—Largest Investment in 30 Years by Expanding Company in Frederick County

    Thursday, 6 June 2013 16:05 by Info@YesVirginia.org
    HP Hood recently announced plans to expand its facility in Frederick County through an $84.6 million investment that will create 75 new jobs...

    HP Hood recently announced plans to expand its facility in Frederick County through an $84.6 million investment that will create 75 new jobs.

    This project represents the biggest investment in 30 years by an expanding company in Frederick County. It will allow the company to increase its ultra-high-temperature production capacity. This method of pasteurizing milk products allows a longer shelf life, and the Frederick County plant is the largest facility of its type in the U.S.

    HP Hood is one of the primary dairy producers in the country, with nearly $2 billion in sales and 15 plants across the U.S. The company’s well-known brands include Hood, Crowley, Simply Smart Milk, Heluva Good!, LACTAID®, BAILEYS® Coffee Creamers, HERSHEY’S® Milk and Milkshakes, and Blue Diamond Almond Breeze® almond milk.

    The company has successfully operated the Frederick County plant since 2001, growing to 500 employees with the help of this expansion.

    Virginia’s food and beverage industry is expanding at a rapid pace. So far in 2013, Virginia food and beverage companies have announced 12 projects, creating more than 900 jobs and bringing almost $500 million of investment into the Commonwealth.

    Food and beverage companies love Virginia because the Commonwealth provides a strategic East Coast location, premier transportation network, highly-productive advanced manufacturing workforce, favorably priced utility rates and a corporate tax rate of six percent that remains unchanged since 1972.

    To learn why leading food and beverage companies like Hershey Foods, McKee Foods, Nestlé Prepared Foods, Kraft Foods and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters have all established operations in Virginia, 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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    Plastics on the Rise — Insights from the Plastics News Forum 2014

    Friday, 7 March 2014 14:15 by Info@YesVirginia.org
    Last week, VEDP attended the Plastics News Executive Forum in Tampa, Florida. We had the opportunity to hear from Bill Wood, Founder of Mountaintop Economics & Research, and learn why he thinks the North American plastics industry is on the rise...

    Last week, VEDP attended the Plastics News Executive Forum in Tampa, Florida. We had the opportunity to hear from Bill Wood, Founder of Mountaintop Economics & Research, and learn why he thinks the North American plastics industry is on the rise.

    First, the Institute for Supply Management’s Purchasing Managers' Index has been growing for the past few years. The PMI is an economic indicator derived from monthly surveys of private sector companies. Since the PMI has been on the rise for several years, Bill predicts it should continue to increase for years to come, which is good news for Virginia’s already thriving plastics industry.

    Second, U.S. durable goods orders are on the upward trend with five percent growth in 2014. Durable goods are items from toasters to aircraft meant to last three years or more. This increase shows hopeful signs for factory activity which have slowed in recent years.

    Finally, U.S. plastic parts production has increased six percent in the past year. Low U.S. natural gas prices have helped increase domestic plastic production after a decline from the 2008 recession.

    These three factors are strong indicators that the U.S. plastics industry will continue to grow in 2014. Since 2003, Virginia plastics firms have invested more than $1 billion and created more than 4,900 jobs. To learn more about Virginia’s plastics industry, click here.

    Bill Wood, Founder of Mountaintop Economics & Research, presents at the Plastics News Executive Forum 2014.

    Virginia’s Focus on Cybersecurity Remains Strong

    Thursday, 6 March 2014 14:22 by Info@YesVirginia.org
    Governor McAuliffe recently announced the launch of Cyber Virginia, a plan to establish the Virginia Cybersecurity Commission and augment Virginia’s leadership in cybersecurity...

    Governor McAuliffe recently announced the launch of Cyber Virginia, a plan to establish the Virginia Cybersecurity Commission and augment Virginia’s leadership in cybersecurity.

    The Commonwealth has a strong legacy in cybersecurity, and is well-positioned with the infrastructure to grow this sector. Virginia has the highest concentration of high-tech workers, according to Cyberstates 2013, and up to 70 percent of the world’s Internet traffic flows through Northern Virginia every day. Growth in the Commonwealth’s data center industry remains robust — investment topped $1 billion in 2012 — positioning Virginia as the place to be for companies moving towards cloud computing.

    Virginia’s close proximity to the federal government’s cybersecurity operations also played a role in establishing its leadership position. The Commonwealth is home to the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity and Communication Integration Center, and DARPA.

    Virginia’s premier institutions of higher education are poised to maintain the Commonwealth’s leadership in technology through a healthy pipeline of skilled technology workers. Twenty-two of Virginia’s 23 community colleges offer training programs in cybersecurity.

    In addition, the NSA and U.S. Department of Homeland Security named five Virginia schools as National Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education: George Mason University, Hampton University, James Madison University, Marymount University, and Norfolk State University. Virginia Tech was named a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Research.

    To highlight a couple of these programs, Virginia Tech offers the Hume Center for National Security and Technology, which researches intelligence applications of cyberattacks and defense. The university also provides students with real world experience through its IT Security Lab. In partnership with the Naval Postgraduate School and L-3 Communications, Virginia Tech hosts the Cybersecurity Innovations Laboratory at its Arlington campus.

    In one of our recent blogs, we mentioned George Mason University’s expertise as the author of the VEDP Cybersecurity Export Market Report. GMU is home to the International Cyber Center and founded the Center for Secure Information Systems in 1990, which was the first academic center in security in the U.S. and one of the NSA’s original Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education.

    To learn more about Virginia’s leadership in cybersecurity and the overall technology industry, click here.

    A view of the Virginia Tech Research Center — Arlington, which houses the Northern Virginia location of the Hume Center for National Security and Technology.

    Richmond’s Legend Brewing Co. Celebrates 20 Years

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Virginia Ranked Top 3 in LEED Green Building Certifications

    Monday, 24 February 2014 17:05 by Info@YesVirginia.org
    The U.S. Green Building Council recently named Virginia No. 3 for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certifications as part of its annual ranking...

    The U.S. Green Building Council recently named Virginia No. 3 for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certifications as part of its annual ranking.

    LEED is one of the most well-recognized and respected green building certification programs in the world, incorporating design, construction, maintenance and operational aspects into its environmentally-friendly analysis.

    More than 57,000 commercial and institutional projects currently participate in LEED, comprised of 10.5 billion square feet of construction space in 147 countries. Each day more than 1.5 million square feet of space is LEED-certified.

    In 2013, Virginia had 160 projects LEED-certified, which encompassed 16.8 million square feet of space and 2.11 square feet per capita. The ranking is based on per capita numbers to allow for a fair comparison among different population levels.

    The office and retail space at 1776 Wilson Boulevard in Arlington, Va., received recognition as a notable project. It is the first commercial building in Arlington to earn LEED Platinum certification.

    “As the economy recovers, green buildings continue to provide for jobs at every professional level and skill set from carpenters to architects,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair, USGBC.

    Investment in green-building infrastructure creates real economic value in the form of lower energy costs up front, and the reduction in greenhouse gases ensures a sustainable future for the environment and future generations.

    Virginia’s leadership in this area is yet another example of the innovative environment the Commonwealth offers to business owners. To learn more about Virginia’s unique resources that have allowed companies to prosper here for more than 400 years, click here.

    VEDP Publishes Cybersecurity Export Market Report

    Friday, 21 February 2014 14:17 by Info@YesVirginia.org
    This week, VEDP announced the release of its Cybersecurity Export Market Report. The report was prepared by George Mason University as part of VEDP’s Going Global Defense Initiative to help Virginia defense companies mitigate the impact of sequestration by growing their sales internationally...

    This week, VEDP announced the release of its Cybersecurity Export Market Report. The report was prepared by George Mason University as part of VEDP’s Going Global Defense Initiative to help Virginia defense companies mitigate the impact of sequestration by growing their sales internationally.

    The Cybersecurity Export Market Report identifies the top 10 foreign markets that provide the best opportunities for exporting cybersecurity technologies. In-depth analysis of each market includes information on political and legal issues, market size and growth, market entry strategies, competition, trade agreements, and government programs and policies.

    The top 10 markets for U.S. Cybersecurity exports are:

    1. Saudi Arabia
    2. United Arab Emirates
    3. Qatar
    4. Kuwait
    5. South Korea
    6. Brazil
    7. Japan
    8. United Kingdom
    9. Australia
    10. Indonesia

    George Mason University is renowned for its expertise in information systems security. GMU founded the Center for Secure Information Systems in 1990, which was the first academic center in security in the U.S. and one of the NSA’s original Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education. GMU is also home to the International Cyber Center.

    With the highest concentration of high-tech workers in the nation, Virginia is a leader in technology and its companies are at the forefront of developments in cybersecurity, including cryptography, forensics, intrusion detection and firewall devices.

    In addition to an established industry base, Virginia is home to a number of federal agencies that focus on cybersecurity, including the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity and Communication Integration Center, and DARPA.

    To download the Cybersecurity Export Market Report click here, and to learn more about Virginia’s leadership in technology, click here.

    Broadband Access is Key to Economic Growth in Healthcare IT

    Tuesday, 11 February 2014 15:01 by Info@YesVirginia.org
    Access to broadband and faster internet speeds has increasingly become a catalyst for economic growth. This is especially important in high-tech sectors, such as Healthcare IT, as we move further into the knowledge economy...

    Access to broadband and faster internet speeds has increasingly become a catalyst for economic growth. This is especially important in high-tech sectors, such as Healthcare IT, as we move further into the knowledge economy.

    The Virginia Center for Innovative Technology recently released its annual 2013 Healthcare IT Assessment, which again points to Virginia’s position as a technology leader.

    First, access to broadband has increased. Since 2010, the percentage of the Virginia population with access to broadband has grown from 33 percent to 97 percent.

    Second, Virginia is a national leader in broadband speed. In 2013, the Commonwealth was able to increase its average download speed by 33 percent to 11.1 Mbps (megabits per second), moving Virginia up to a No. 3 national ranking. Virginia remains well ahead of the national average, which is 8.7 Mbps.

    Third, Virginia also improved its average peak connection speed. In 2013, the Commonwealth increased its peak connection speed to 44 Mbps, vs. the national average of 36.3 Mbps. This puts the Commonwealth at a No. 6 ranking and reflects a year-over-year improvement of 29 percent.

    These increases in broadband access and speed are helping to grow sectors, such as Healthcare IT, that require the transmission of large amounts of data. In 2013, Virginia ranked No. 3 in hospital-based adoption of Electronic Medical Records. Over the last four years, Virginia hospitals have consistently shown greater than 90 percent adoption rate of EMR. Other medical providers across the Commonwealth are also closing the gap in early adoption of EMR, with 86.5 percent of Virginia physicians participating in 2013.

    To continue improving care and offer a higher quality of service to patients, the next step for healthcare providers is participation in initiatives, such as Healthcare Information Exchanges and Telehealth Services. According to the study, 50 percent of Virginia hospitals participated in HIE and 58.6 percent offered Telehealth Services in 2013.

    The CIT study illustrates how Virginia’s leadership in building a robust broadband network has laid the groundwork for growth in high-tech sectors like Healthcare IT. To learn more about Virginia’s innovative, technology-driven environment and how the Commonwealth can help your business, click here.

    Virginia Values Veterans — Helping Employers Reenergize their Labor Pool

    Monday, 27 January 2014 14:15 by Info@YesVirginia.org
    Virginia Values Veterans, also known as V3, is an initiative to help Virginia companies better reach out to veterans as part of their talent acquisition strategy and make Virginia the most veteran-friendly state in the country...

    Virginia Values Veterans, also known as V3, is an initiative to help Virginia companies better reach out to veterans as part of their talent acquisition strategy and make Virginia the most veteran-friendly state in the country.

    More than 18,000 people exit Virginia military bases each year and enter the civilian workforce. While most programs are geared towards helping veterans navigate this change, V3 is unique because it trains the employers on how to attract and retain these valuable workers.

    V3 is managed by the Virginia Department of Veterans Services. Since the program was first announced in June 2012, 161 certified organizations have pledged 5,218 jobs to veterans and made 3,099 hires to date.

    The program offers employers access to training, coaching and networks for best-practices sharing on how to build their veteran-employment pipeline. V3 is targeting companies with less than 1,000 employees because this group represents the majority of total hiring decisions.

    Interested employers begin by taking a free online assessment test to determine their current level of vet friendliness and readiness for the V3 Certification Process. By completing milestones at each stage, employers earn V3 Certification from Bronze to Gold level.

    The program is expected to be a win-win, reducing veteran unemployment and helping companies gain access to a skilled pipeline of workers they might otherwise miss out on.

    V3 is hosting its 2014 Kick-Off Conference in Richmond on February 11. To sign up and learn more, visit http://virginiavaluesvets.com/.

    The Launch Place Brings Entrepreneurs to Virginia’s Dan River Region

    Tuesday, 14 January 2014 16:22 by Info@YesVirginia.org
    The Launch Place is bringing businesses to Southern Virginia. As the leading entity to recruit and support entrepreneurs in the Dan River Region, the organization announced its first seed fund investment in KSI Data Sciences...

    The Launch Place is bringing businesses to Southern Virginia. As the leading entity to recruit and support entrepreneurs in the Dan River Region, the organization announced its first seed fund investment in KSI Data Sciences.

    KSI will receive an initial investment of $150,000, and another $100,000 after successfully testing its prototype for video and data management solutions used in remote sensing platforms on unmanned aircrafts, vehicles and mobile devices. The KSI team plans to relocate to the Dan River District later this month.

    Formerly called the Southside Business Technology Center, the Launch Place has assisted start-ups and early stage companies since 2005. After receiving a $10 million grant from the Danville Region Foundation in 2012, the organization was able to add seed funding to its capabilities as a business incubator and rebranded itself as the Launch Place.

    What makes the Launch Place unique is its strategy of recruiting entrepreneurs, and then providing the support to allow their businesses to organically grow in the Dan River Region. Through a partnership with VT KnowledgeWorks, entrepreneurs in the program receive free mentoring through the planning, launch and growth stages of starting a business. The Launch Place team also provides a variety of business consulting services, including business plan development, market research, financial modeling and competitor analysis.

    The Launch Place helps entrepreneurs reduce start-up costs by offering residential housing and office space subsidies to entrepreneurs that commit to stay in Danville for three years. The Dan River District provides a great place to live, work and play through its historic downtown area, riverfront walking and biking trails, plentiful water sports, concerts, festivals and other recreational activities.

    The Launch Place is another example of the innovative support that Virginia offers to entrepreneurs and small business owners. To learn more, click here

    A view of the Launch Place headquarters in the historic downtown area of the Dan River District.

    Orbital Sciences Launches First Cargo Resupply Mission to the International Space Station

    Thursday, 9 January 2014 16:33 by Info@YesVirginia.org
    At 1:07 p.m. today, Orbital Sciences successfully launched its first resupply mission to the International Space Station from Pad-OA of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore...

    At 1:07 p.m. today, Orbital Sciences successfully launched its first resupply mission to the International Space Station from Pad-OA of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

    Orbital Sciences’ Antares rocket launched the Cygnus spacecraft into Earth’s orbit, where it is currently traveling towards the ISS at approximately 17,500 mph. The spacecraft is expected to rendezvous with the ISS early Sunday morning.

    Cygnus is carrying 2,780 pounds of supplies to the Expedition 38 crew, including science experiments, provisions for the crew, spare parts and experiment hardware. The payload includes 23 science experiments that will involve more than 8,600 students across the U.S. and Canada.

    Known as the Orb-1 Mission, this is the first actual resupply mission to the ISS following a successful demonstration mission to the ISS in September.

    As part of its $1.9 billion Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA, the Orb-1 Mission is the first of eight resupply missions to the ISS, expected to deliver approximately 20,000 kilograms of cargo through 2016.

    The Orb-1 Mission comes right on the heels of a positive announcement from the Obama Administration — the president approved an extension of the ISS through 2024, allowing for the possibility of more resupply missions past 2016.

    The success of today’s launch is another illustration of Virginia’s leadership in the space industry. Through MARS, Virginia offers one of only four commercial sites authorized for orbital space launches.

    To learn more about Virginia’s thriving aerospace industry, click here.

    A view of the Antares rocket ready for launch from Pad-OA of MARS at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Photo courtesy of NASA/Bill Ingalls.

    FAA Selects Virginia Tech as Test Site for Unmanned Aircrafts

    Friday, 3 January 2014 16:03 by Info@YesVirginia.org
    The FAA recently announced that Virginia Tech was selected as one of six test sites across the country to conduct research on unmanned aircraft systems...

    The FAA recently announced that Virginia Tech was selected as one of six test sites across the country to conduct research on unmanned aircraft systems.

    This initiative will help the FAA establish safety standards that will allow UAS, such as drones, to share airspace and integrate with commercial airlines. Test sites were selected for their geographic and climate diversity, as well as existing infrastructure and aviation experience.

    The test site at Virginia Tech will focus on UAS failure mode testing, and identify and evaluate operational and technical risk areas.

    Virginia Tech led the submission of a joint proposal for Virginia, New Jersey and Maryland called the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership. In order to enhance the region’s competitiveness, the governors of each state agreed to support the initiative, and Virginia Tech will partner with Rutgers University and the University of Maryland, College Park.

    Virginia has already shown its support for UAS and securing the Commonwealth’s position as an aerospace leader. In December, Governor McDonnell announced Virginia Tech would receive more than $2.6 million in Federal Action Contingency Trust funds to operate the UAS test site.

    In addition, the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership successfully completed its first flight in October with a team from the Virginia Center for Autonomous Systems, a research partnership between Virginia Tech’s Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science and the College of Engineering. The team attached sensory equipment provided by American Aerospace Advisors to an unmanned 250-pound helicopter. Using ultraviolet and infrared cameras, the group was able to gather data on the health of five acres of tobacco crops.

    This type of research could help farmers quickly survey their land to gain a better understanding of crop health, reduce pesticide use and improve yield. Agriculture is expected to be a prime growth market for UAS technology.

    This win for Virginia Tech illustrates the Commonwealth’s premier higher education system, as well as its leadership in the aerospace industry. To learn more click here.

    A team from Virginia Tech prepares to launch an unmanned 250-pound helicopter for a research mission to determine if UAS can gather meaningful data for crop management.  Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech.

    Dan River Region Launches Workforce Readiness Pilot Program for Virginia

    Thursday, 19 December 2013 14:48 by Info@YesVirginia.org
    Companies, employees and economic development professionals in the Dan River Region have been participating in a workforce readiness pilot program in Virginia since June...

    Companies, employees and economic development professionals in the Dan River Region have been participating in a workforce readiness pilot program in Virginia since June.

    This program would allow the region to be recognized by ACT as a Certified Work Ready Community by helping individuals obtain a National Career Readiness Certificate. ACT is a not-for-profit public trust dedicated to helping people achieve education and workplace success.

    ACT’s National Career Readiness Certificate includes four levels — platinum, gold, silver and bronze — that measure cognitive and behavioral abilities critical for on-the-job success. Specific skills that are measured include math, reading comprehension, problem-solving, discipline, teamwork, customer service and managerial potential.

    The individual certificate can help job-seekers distinguish themselves, as well as help companies identify training needs for their employees. The community certification assists regions in quantifying the quality of their workforce and promoting this asset to attract additional companies and investment.

    The Dan River region is located in Southern Virginia and includes the cities of Danville and Martinsville and the counties of Henry, Pittsylvania, Patrick and Halifax. The region has a strong legacy in furniture and textile manufacturing, and through workforce training programs at its numerous community colleges, offers a deep advanced manufacturing labor pool that has attracted investment from plastics, automotive, and food processing companies.

    “This initiative represents an opportunity to change our workforce story from focusing on census data around educational attainment to a story that focuses on the skills of our workforce and how those align with industry needs,” said Dr. Julie Brown, project director at DRRC.

    According to the Dan River Region Collaborative, if 2,300 residents earn certificates during the next two years, the region will be recognized as a Certified Work Ready Community. The region is well on its way with more than 1,200 certificates earned to date. The region is also actively recruiting corporate partners to join the program — almost 50 companies have signed up to date.

    To learn how to participate in the ACT program as an individual or corporation, visit http://www.danriverrc.org/work-ready-community.

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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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    YesVirginia Business Blog | A place for news, opinions, and information regarding the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.

    Fort Lee Hosts the 40th Annual Military Culinary Arts Competitive Training Event

    Tuesday, 10 March 2015 17:28 by Info@YesVirginia.org
    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...

    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.

    Virginia BioTechnology Research Park Expands Its Reach Across Virginia

    Wednesday, 25 February 2015 14:28 by Info@YesVirginia.org
    The Virginia BioTechnology Research Park is at full capacity, but is still expanding its reach in the Richmond community and across the Commonwealth...

    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.

    Capstone Integrated Machining Technology Program Comes to Danville

    Friday, 20 February 2015 16:07 by Info@YesVirginia.org
    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 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.

    Virginia Ranked a Top State for LEED Green Building Certifications in 2014

    Friday, 6 February 2015 13:55 by Info@YesVirginia.org
    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...

    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.

    Virginia Serious Game Institute Has a Banner First Year

    Wednesday, 4 February 2015 13:55 by Info@YesVirginia.org
    The Virginia Serious Game Institute had a stellar first year that included launching six businesses and creating 70 new jobs in Prince William County...

    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.

    VEDP Launches 2015 Digital Advertising Campaign

    Friday, 23 January 2015 09:34 by Info@YesVirginia.org
    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...

    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.

    Amazon Fulfillment Center in Chesterfield Still Buzzing After the Holidays

    Thursday, 8 January 2015 14:50 by Info@YesVirginia.org
    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...

    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.

    Southern Virginia Product Advancement Center Incubates Companies From the Lab to the Marketplace

    Thursday, 18 December 2014 14:39 by Info@YesVirginia.org
    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...

    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.

    VEDP Receives No. 2 State Economic Development Organization Ranking for 2014

    Wednesday, 10 December 2014 14:11 by Info@YesVirginia.org
    The American Economic Development Institute and Pollina Corporate Real Estate ranked VEDP No. 2 on its Top 10 State Economic Development Organizations list for 2014...

    The American Economic Development Institute and Pollina Corporate Real Estate ranked VEDP No. 2 on its Top 10 State Economic Development Organizations list for 2014.

    With growing competitiveness on a global scale, AEDI and Pollina wanted to put the spotlight on state economic development organizations that are excelling at their job.

    “Leaders of economic development organizations throughout the country need to do a far better job of understanding that their primary objective is to create new jobs and retain those already located in their state,” said Dr. Ronald Pollina, chairman of AEDI and president of Pollina. 

    This ranking is largely based on data from Stage II of the AEDI/Pollina Corporate Top 10 Pro-Business States 2014 report released earlier this year. The Stage II data examines the state’s incentive programs and the marketing efforts of their economic development agencies.

    More specifically on the marketing analysis, the authors of the study examined the resources devoted to the agencies, their ability to respond to new company inquiries and existing company needs, and the functionality of their website.

    Interestingly, the study found that a majority of states had few programs for existing companies and did not devote enough resources to contacting and assisting these existing companies. In contrast, VEDP has an entire team devoted to business expansion, which accounted for 86% of announced investment and 74% of new job creation in calendar year 2013. Even more impressive, the top five project announcements for both new job creation and invested capital in 2013 were made by expanding Virginia companies.

    Through our international trade division, VEDP helps existing Virginia businesses expand sales internationally. Programs such as the Global Network, VALET, Going Global Defense Initiative and trade missions provide companies with the research, introductions and export training to substantially increase sales overseas.

    The importance of an agency’s website can’t be underestimated, as this is the first point of contact for many companies and site selection consultants. VEDP offers a variety of tools through our website, including VirginiaScan, Compare Virginia, Community Profiles, and the YesVA app, which allow consultants to easily search a geographic area for available properties and obtain comparative demographic, economic and real estate information to easily narrow their search.

    According to VEDP President and CEO Martin Briley, “This ranking is a tremendous honor for all of us here at VEDP. It represents the hard work of our entire staff, our partners and our allies as we work together to augment the economic vitality of the Commonwealth and tell the Virginia story on the global stage.”

    To learn how VEDP can help your company and why businesses have prospered in Virginia for more than 400 years, click here.

    Photo courtesy of the Virginia Department of Transportation.

    Charlottesville Entrepreneurs Launch Moonlighting Mobile Marketplace App

    Monday, 8 December 2014 15:51 by Info@YesVirginia.org
    A team of Charlottesville entrepreneurs recently launched Moonlighting, a mobile company with an app that helps job seekers and people needing work done to connect...

    A team of Charlottesville entrepreneurs recently launched Moonlighting, a mobile company with an app that helps job seekers and people needing work done to connect.

    The three co-founders began brainstorming in August 2013 to find a way to parlay their expertise in payment platform development and mobile technology. According to CEO Jeff Tennery, “We wanted to do something significant that would really resonate with people. The employment market made the most sense.”

    According to the company, Moonlighting is the only marketplace that lets users engage as both a payer and earner in a mobile environment. With two simple categories —“make money now” and “get stuff done” — users can easily identify their needs and skills.

    The app is similar in functionality to Facebook and Twitter. In addition, users can easily post Moonlighting requests to their social media accounts.

    Like most entrepreneurs, the company founders kept their day jobs while moonlighting on nights and weekends to hammer out the business plan and technology. After raising an angel seed round of funding in April and testing an alpha version of the technology in August, the company officially launched its app on October 15.

    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 Host Virginia Tour for Chinese Journalists

    Friday, 21 November 2014 12:57 by Info@YesVirginia.org
    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...

    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.

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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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    © Copyright 2017

    YesVirginia Business Blog | A place for news, opinions, and information regarding the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.

    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 re