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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get to Know VEDP’s NEW COO Dan Gundersen

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

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

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

Q:  What has your first 75 days been like?

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

Q:  What specifically have you focused on?

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

Q:  What does VEDP do really well?

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

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

Q:  What challenges do you see ahead?

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

Q:  Where are you focusing your efforts for FY15?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pollina Awards Virginia Another Top Pro-Business State Ranking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo courtesy of the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Orbital Sciences Completes Second Launch to the International Space Station

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VEDP’s “Business Legacies Begin in Virginia” Video Wins Telly Award

Tuesday, 8 July 2014 14:20 by Info@YesVirginia.org
VEDP’s “Business Legacies Begin in Virginia” video recently won a Bronze Telly Award in the category of Recruitment, part of the larger Film/Video category...

VEDP’s “Business Legacies Begin in Virginia” video recently won a Bronze Telly Award in the category of Recruitment, part of the larger Film/Video category.

Since its founding in 1979, the Telly Awards has been honoring outstanding TV commercials and programs, video and film productions, and online commercials, videos and films.

This year’s 35th Annual Telly Awards has been one of the most competitive, with more than 12,000 entries received from all 50 states, as well as other countries.

The award was presented to VEDP and BES Studios, an agency that helped VEDP produce the video. VEDP also worked with 3 Creative on the project. 

Digital storytelling has become an increasingly important component of the marketing mix in economic development as companies and site selection consultants perform more upfront research online.

“The Business Legacies Begin in Virginia video is an important tool we’ve added to our digital marketing strategy,” said Vince Barnett, VEDP Vice President of Communications & Promotions. “We’re grateful to all our partners across the Commonwealth who helped us by providing video footage and access to film some great shots, and we’re honored to receive this award.”

A list of the corporate, regional and local partners who helped VEDP obtain video footage is displayed in the closing credits.

To view the video, visit VEDP’s website or YouTube channel.

VEDP Welcomes VJIP to the Team

Thursday, 3 July 2014 09:50 by Info@YesVirginia.org
It’s official — at the beginning of our fiscal year, July 1, the Virginia Jobs Investment Program became part of the VEDP team. House bill 932 passed by the Virginia General Assembly in in the spring 2014 special session moved the administration of VJIP to VEDP to further align Virginia’s job incentive programs...

It’s official — at the beginning of our fiscal year, July 1, the Virginia Jobs Investment Program became part of the VEDP team. House bill 932 passed by the Virginia General Assembly in in the spring 2014 special session moved the administration of VJIP to VEDP to further align Virginia’s job incentive programs.

In fiscal year 2014, VJIP was involved in 96 percent of the projects that VEDP completed.

VJIP is the second oldest incentive in the Commonwealth and was established in 1965. According to VJIP interim director Frank Strickler, “This is a homecoming for us. VEDP’s predecessor organization and ours were originally joined under the Department of Economic Development until 1996 when VEDP was formed and we were moved to the Department of Business Assistance. We have worked closely with VEDP’s business expansion and business attraction managers for years, so it’s great to be under one roof again.”

VJIP is charged with marketing and managing a state-funded grant that helps companies train their employees. Companies can qualify for the incentive in any of three categories: new and existing business expansions that create jobs, small businesses that create new jobs, and workforce retraining to upgrade the skills of existing employees.

Due to the flexibility of the three categories, a wide range of companies can qualify for the incentive. VJIP serves both large and small businesses in a variety of industries. VJIP project managers also provide free consulting services to client companies, helping them find solutions for their recruiting and training issues.

The VJIP grant is a performance-driven incentive distributed on a pay-as-you-go basis after each employee has been on the job for more than 90 days. VJIP managers work with the company to develop a training outline and budget, so that the client has skin in the game. Companies can receive up to 50 percent reimbursement for qualified recruiting and training costs. Due to the multiplier effect, the incentive usually nets a 100 percent ROI (return on investment) in six months.

VJIP is one of the longstanding examples of incentives that attract companies to Virginia’s pro-business environment. To learn more about VJIP, click here.

Members of the VJIP team include (back row) Frank Strickler, Tre Akins, (front row) Lea Lofty, Brenda Young and Debbie Melvin. 

Virginia a Top State for Private Equity Investment

Monday, 30 June 2014 15:44 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia was ranked No. 7 for private equity investment in 2013, according to the Private Equity Growth Capital Council’s fourth annual investment report...

Virginia was ranked No. 7 for private equity investment in 2013, according to the Private Equity Growth Capital Council’s fourth annual investment report.

Last year, 66 companies across the Commonwealth received $14.7 billion in private equity investment. Virginia moved up in the rankings from 16th place last year.

This signals that investors see value in Virginia’s entrepreneurs and growing companies. Private equity is typically used as growth capital to fuel expansion, as well as to assist companies in strategic turnaround situations.

“Private equity investment is long-term capital at work,” said Steve Judge, president and CEO of the Private Equity Growth Capital Council. “The companies in states across the country that receive private equity investment are able to expand their businesses, develop new innovations and hire workers, and this report highlights the important contributions of private equity in the U.S. economy.”

Virginia also saw two congressional districts break the top 20 in private equity investment. Virginia’s 4th Congressional District received $4.7 billion and Virginia’s 11th Congressional District received $4.5 billion. China-based W.H. Group’s acquisition of Smithfield Foods Inc. represents a majority of District 4's investment.

According to the PEGCC report, private equity firms have invested $129.1 billion in Virginia-based companies from 2004-2013. The report further states that there are 568 private equity-backed companies headquartered in the Commonwealth, which support more than 309,570 jobs at facilities both in and out of state.

The ability of Virginia companies to attract this amount of private equity investment is another testament to the level of innovation and success that entrepreneurs find when they locate their businesses in the Commonwealth. To learn why Virginia is a top state for business and investment, click here.

Photo courtesy of Private Equity Growth Capital Council

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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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Forbes.com Ranks Virginia #2 Best State for Business for Second Year Running

Monday, 5 December 2011 11:01 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Once again Virginia has received a podium ranking from Forbes.com as the #2 Best State for Business in 2011. Virginia claimed the number two spot for the second year running after placing number one from 2006 – 2009.

Once again Virginia has received a podium ranking from Forbes.com as the #2 Best State for Business in 2011. Virginia claimed the number two spot for the second year running after placing number one from 2006 – 2009. Forbes.com uses six categories to determine the results and Virginia scored in the top five in three of the categories, including labor supply, regulatory environment and quality of life.

According to Forbes.com, “Virginia ranks No. 2 for the second straight year after a four year run ranked first. Virginia has a strong, educated labor force and a pro-business regulatory climate. The only thing keeping it from the top spot is its outlook.”  While the article listed possible changes in federal and military spending as the reason Virginia didn’t receive the top accolade, Virginia’s strong growth story is illustrated by its recent number one ranking for Economic Potential in Business Facilities magazine 2011 Rankings Report.

2011 has been an impressive year for Virginia, with number one rankings from CNBC and Pollina Corporate Real Estate, as well as a top five ranking from Site Selection magazine. Virginia’s number one CNBC ranking was significant not only because it has held one of the top two places since 2007, but in 2011 Virginia received the highest point total in the history of the ranking. 

The factors that are used to calculate these results include energy costs, corporate tax rates, right-to-work legislation, workers compensation laws, educational opportunities, the quality and skill of the workforce, job creation, project development, the potential and viability of the state’s growth strategy and quality of life. The results are in and Virginia has shown it is open for business by consistently scoring top state rankings. 

To learn more about Virginia’s unique combination of resources that have encouraged entrepreneurs to prosper here for more than 400 years click here.

Virginia’s Renewable Energy Industry Expands

Thursday, 1 December 2011 17:24 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Yesterday, leading biomass fuel manufacturer Enviva LP announced plans to build a 454,000 metric ton wood pellet manufacturing facility in Southampton County, Va. This $75 million investment will create 64 new full-time jobs as well as additional jobs through the company’s logging supply chain.

Yesterday, leading biomass fuel manufacturer Enviva LP announced plans to build a 454,000 metric ton wood pellet manufacturing facility in Southampton County, Va. This $75 million investment will create 64 new full-time jobs as well as additional jobs through the company’s logging supply chain.

Virginia is on the fast track to lay claim to the title “Energy Capital of the East Coast,” and this is certainly another step towards that end. With an “all-of-the-above” solution to the energy crisis, the Commonwealth possesses resources across multiple sectors ranging from conventional fuel mining to natural gas and nuclear energy, all the way to renewable energy sources such as wind and biomass.

Enviva’s mission is closely aligned with the Commonwealth, as it seeks to balance energy needs with environmental concerns through a strong commitment to sustainable business practices. Recognizing that transportation is a component of a company’s total environmental impact, Enviva strategically locates its facilities within 75 miles of biomass sources. The company also selects locations in close proximity to waterways and ports for easy shipment to international customers, particularly in Europe. 

Fortunately, Southeastern Virginia is uniquely positioned to meet the company’s needs on both counts. Best summed up by Enviva Chairman and CEO John Keppler, “Southampton County has all the elements essential to our success: a rich wood basket, a strong and seasoned timber industry, a skilled and experienced labor force and is logistically advantaged to our Port of Chesapeake export terminal." Enviva invested in a terminal at the Port of Chesapeake earlier this year due to its deep water capacity and ability to accommodate a large variety of vessels.

To learn more about Virginia’s energy assets and why 385 energy companies have set up operations in the Commonwealth click here.

Alpha Natural Resources Opens Headquarters in Bristol Virginia

Tuesday, 29 November 2011 14:12 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Yesterday, leading coal supplier Alpha Natural Resources celebrated the opening of its new corporate headquarters building in Bristol, Va. Governor McDonnell was joined by state and local officials to congratulate the company at its unique ribbon-cutting ceremony where a team of coal miners cut a ribbon of miner’s belts to commemorate the new building.

Yesterday, leading coal supplier Alpha Natural Resources celebrated the opening of its new corporate headquarters building in Bristol, Va. Governor McDonnell was joined by state and local officials to congratulate the company at its unique ribbon-cutting ceremony where a team of coal miners cut a ribbon of miner’s belts to commemorate the new building. Located on 30 acres at the Sugar Hollow Business Complex, the 130,000-square-foot building was designed to meet the green building Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards.

Alpha Natural Resources announced its selection of Virginia as the site for its new headquarters building just over two years ago. The investment of more than $20 million combined with the creation of 69 new jobs and preservation of 131 jobs is a significant boon for the City of Bristol and Southwest Virginia.

Virginia can count yet another headquarters win to its all-star roster, successfully competing against Maryland and Tennessee for the business. Alpha Natural Resources is certainly an impressive company to add to this list. Commencing operations in 2002, the company has quickly grown to become the world’s third largest metallurgical coal supplier and the top metallurgical coal supplier in the U.S.

Location was a key deciding factor in Virginia’s favor. According to CEO Kevin Crutchfield, “The property is in a very attractive park-like setting and has easy Interstate access. A distinct advantage of the new location is its proximity to many of the company’s operations and its convenience for Alpha’s current corporate office work force.”  With a long history of coal mining in Southwest Virginia, the company has an experienced work force to draw upon for future growth.

To learn more about Virginia’s booming energy industry and why other energy companies have said yes to Virginia click here.

Made in America - Virginia's Plastics Industry Expands Again

Tuesday, 22 November 2011 16:02 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Made in America - Virginia's Plastics Industry Expands Again

Commonwealth Laminating & Coating, Inc. just announced plans to invest $16.5 million to expand its highly advanced manufacturing facility in Martinsville, Va. Secretary Cheng was on hand today to present President & CEO Steve Phillips with a Virginia Flag to celebrate the company’s growth as well as the 40 additional jobs this project will create.

As Southside Virginia continues its economic rebound, it is particularly good news for the region when valued employers, such as Commonwealth Laminating & Coating, choose to remain and grow in the area. Even more impressive, Virginia successfully competed against China for this project. Though the company has operations in eight locations across five countries, the Martinsville location serves as the company’s sole manufacturing facility, not to mention its corporate headquarters. With the ever present concern about manufacturing jobs migrating overseas, this expansion speaks volumes about how competitive Virginia’s business environment really is at the global level.
 
This expansion will allow the company to grow its solar control window film and high-performance coatings business serving the automotive, architectural, safety and security, and industrial markets. It also marks another win for Virginia as the Commonwealth stakes its claim as a leading polymer and film manufacturing location.

Virginia is home to more than 200 plastics companies that employ more than 20,000 residents. Since 2002, plastics and advanced materials companies have invested more than one billion and created more than 5,600 new jobs in Virginia. Recently, a number of new investments have been announced including Dupont, O’Sullivan Films and Green Mountain Coffee packaging supplier Phoenix Packaging. To learn why these plastics and advanced materials companies chose to locate their manufacturing facilities in Virginia click here.

Dulles International Airport Delivers More than Passengers

Friday, 18 November 2011 17:17 by Info@YesVirginia.org

What many commuters traveling through Dulles Airport may not know is that this airport handles a significant amount of commercial freight and is primed to handle additional air cargo capacity. From refrigerated food to flowers to pharmaceuticals and heavy equipment, Dulles Airport offers a number of competitive advantages for advanced manufacturers, freight forwarders and third-party logistics providers.

Officials from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), Loudoun County, and Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) recently hosted a group of site selection consultants to expound upon these strategic advantages – location, low operating costs and existing infrastructure.

Located at the center of the East Coast air cargo market, the Dulles Catchment Area covers 25 states and part of Canada with overnight service. Dulles has a dedicated access road providing a fast connection to I-95, and its close proximity to I-81 and I-70 provide an extensive ground transportation network to Eastern, Midwestern and Canadian markets. Due to the nature of goods being transported, timing is critical and gains in efficiencies not only deliver a better product to the end user, but save the shipper from incurring spoilage costs.

Of equal importance to its import capabilities, Dulles is also able to attract a strong market for export, which is crucial to establish cargo for the backhaul. “If exports and imports match up, it’s a huge enhancement and adds to the price-point value. Air freight carriers and manufacturers ideally want the planes to be fully loaded both coming and going,” said Warren Hammer, VEDP Business Development Manager – Logistics.

Dulles Airport can also be highly competitive from a cost standpoint. It is an industry standard to charge landing fees; however, Dulles bases its fees on the Maximum Landing Weight while many of its competitors base their fees on the Maximum Take-Off Weight. As an airplane weighs considerably less at landing, due to fuel consumption, these cost savings can add up over time. Dulles also competes favorably on other costs such as lower cargo handling and fuel fees, as well as fewer weather-related delays compared to its Northern counterparts, leading to an overall lower operational cost structure for carriers and manufacturers.

In 2010 Dulles handled almost 323,000 metric tons of freight, with more than 195,000 metric tons traveling internationally. Its 442 weekly international departures to 48 destinations around the world illustrate how Dulles has already developed a substantial infrastructure. “There’s already a critical mass for the global air cargo market, but what’s most exciting is there’s capacity to grow,” said Brent Sheffler, VEDP Managing Director - Advanced Manufacturing. Added Sheffler, “Dulles has 515,000 square feet of cargo warehouse space, nearly one million square feet of cargo ramp and hundreds of acres surrounding the airport to support highly-secured air cargo and climate-controlled distribution facilities.”  

The air cargo capabilities of Dulles International Airport add to the compelling story of why Virginia is CNBC’s Top State for Business. To learn why Virginia’s is a leading gateway to the world click here.

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Blacksburg Virginia Named Bloomberg Businessweek’s #1 Best Place in the U.S. to Raise Kids

Thursday, 17 November 2011 15:44 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Blacksburg Virginia Named Bloomberg Businessweek's #1 Best Place in the U.S. to Raise Kids

Best known as the college town surrounding Virginia Tech, Blacksburg is making a name for itself as a family-friendly community after receiving top scores on a number of factors parents consider when deciding where to live. “Excellent schools, combined with an affordable cost of living, relatively low crime, and plentiful amenities lifted Blacksburg to first place in Businessweek.com’s sixth nationwide ranking of best places in each state in the U.S. to raise kids,” according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

Blacksburg offers residents a high quality of life with a multitude of recreational activities. Located between the Blue Ridge and Alleghany Mountains, the town provides easy access to the Appalachian Trail and the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. In addition to an aquatic and community center, Blacksburg maintains more than 400 acres of parkland which houses public playgrounds, sports fields and miles of walking and biking trails.

It is no surprise that the top city to raise children has an excellent educational system, with schools that score well above average on standardized tests. The community is home to seven public schools – from elementary through high school – as well as several private schools, day-care facilities and preschools. As for higher education, Virginia Tech was ranked 28th in U.S. News & World Report’s Top Public National Universities list and its College of Engineering was ranked 15th in the nation. With more than 100 centers and institutes performing research, Virginia Tech graduates enter the workforce armed with real world, problem-solving experience. 

The Blacksburg workforce is highly educated, with two-thirds of residents above the age of 25 holding a bachelor’s degree or higher and 40 percent holding a graduate or professional degree. This type of educated workforce combined with the research capabilities of Virginia Tech is a huge draw for companies. The Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center is home to more than 140 high-tech companies and research centers and Blacksburg Industrial Park is one of several industrial and research business parks housing numerous high-tech and manufacturing companies. In fact, Blacksburg had three companies make Inc. Magazine’s 2011 500|5000 list of the fasting growing U.S. companies.

To learn more about why Blacksburg, Va. is the best place in the U.S. to raise a family click here.

 

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Virginia On Target at CoreNet Global Summit

Tuesday, 15 November 2011 10:34 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia's web-based site selection tools on target with CoreNet Global Summit show theme - Social Dynamics: Connectivity, Creativity, Relationships.

Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) exhibited at the CoreNet Global Summit in Atlanta, Ga., last week to promote Virginia’s pro-business climate and extensive assets with business leaders and site selection consultants in the hopes of drawing additional investment and jobs to the Commonwealth. CoreNet Global is a leading member association for corporate real estate executives and this year’s event drew more than 1,500 attendees.

The international presence at this year’s show continued to increase, reflecting the macro trends of globalization and the subsequent expansion of the corporate real estate industry. Also of note was an increase in real estate firms, providing a full-service approach that end-users typically had to farm out to multiple service providers. 

The theme of this year’s event was “Social Dynamics: Connectivity, Creativity, Relationships,” exploring how people are connecting in different ways with new tools and how this impacts the corporate real estate industry. Fortunately, Virginia is right on target keeping pace with technology and the demands of the industry. The Commonwealth has one of the country’s most advanced site selection tools called VirginiaScan. VirginiaScan is a web-based tool that allows companies and consultants to search a database of more than 2,100 qualified sites and buildings across the Commonwealth based on a number of criteria such as property type, square footage, logistics requirements, labor statistics and existing business data. Virginia also has another web-based tool called Compare Virginia, which allows consultants to perform a side-by-side comparison of how Virginia compares with other states in a variety of areas, including education, employment, income and wages, labor relations, population, public debt and taxes. 

Tools like those mentioned above cater to the on-the-go demands of executives and site selection consultants by allowing them to access web-based tools and get a head-start on research, while maintaining confidentiality in the early stages of a property search. To learn why CNBC has selected Virginia as the Top State for Business and how VEDP can help with your site selection search click here

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New ITT Exelis Headquarters Open for Business

Wednesday, 9 November 2011 16:15 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Yesterday, ITT Exelis celebrated the official opening of its new headquarters in Fairfax County, just a few short months after Governor McDonnell’s announcement of the company’s plans to invest up to $5 million and create 100 new jobs. This has been a busy few weeks for ITT Exelis, completing its spin-off from ITT Corporation on October 31, and ringing the bell at the New York Stock Exchange as an independent company on November 4. 

Secretary Cheng and Congressman Jim Moran were on hand to offer their congratulations to the company as ITT Exelis unveiled its logo on the newly christened headquarters building. Located on Tysons Boulevard, the new corporate headquarters is housed in the center of the bustling business community of Tysons Corner in McLean, Va., just a few miles away from the Pentagon and other key government and military customers. With expansion of the D.C. Metro’s Silver Line expected to come right through the area in a couple of years, contact with D.C. defense players will only improve.

Proximity to key customers isn’t the only reason Virginia won this deal. ITT is already well acquainted with Virginia’s pro-business climate, as it is has a strong presence across the state with operations in McLean, Herndon and Roanoke. The decision to further its presence in the Commonwealth, particularly with ITT Exelis’ headquarters location, illustrates an understanding of Virginia’s strong assets that include a highly skilled workforce and a favorable regulatory and tax environment.

Coming right on the heels of Northrop Grumman’s new headquarters opening, Virginia is establishing itself as the global hub for the defense industry. Already home to ATK, BAE Systems Inc., CACI International, Computer Sciences Corp., General Dynamics, SAIC and SRA International, the Commonwealth is in a strong position to attract additional defense players. To learn why top defense and aerospace companies said yes to Virginia click here.

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Top U.S. Construction Company Brings 625 Jobs to the Top State for Business

Monday, 7 November 2011 17:06 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Virginia wins big again – Bechtel Corporation, rated the top U.S. construction contractor by Engineering News-Record, just announced its plans to invest $18 million and bring 625 jobs to Fairfax County in Northern Virginia. The company will relocate its Global Operations headquarters from Maryland and establish its Government Services group headquarters at the Reston Town Center in Reston, Va.

Bechtel selected Virginia because it has the right combination of resources to help the company succeed in a global environment. The growth sectors of the Commonwealth closely align with Bechtel’s market focus, and the location in Fairfax County puts the company in close proximity to key customers in the government, IT, energy and transportation sectors. With the company’s corporate headquarters in San Francisco, Virginia’s central East Coast location gives Bechtel a coast-to-coast presence as well as global access through nearby Dulles International Airport.

Virginia’s ability to match the company’s workforce needs, particularly in the IT and engineering sectors, helped seal the deal. Virginia has the highest concentration of high-tech workers in the nation according to Cyberstates 2010 – 277,575 to be exact. The Commonwealth also has a strong pipeline of educated technology professionals entering the workforce with more than 18,500 students enrolled in IT programs and 3,400 degrees and certificates awarded in the 2009-2010 academic year. To learn more about Virginia’s technology assets click here.

Bechtel is part of a steady stream of companies who have recognized Virginia’s pro-business climate and selected the Commonwealth for their headquarters operations.  SAIC, CSC, Volkswagen of America, Northrop Grumman, ITT Exelis and Hilton Worldwide are just a few companies that have established headquarters in the Commonwealth. To learn why many of the world’s largest companies call Virginia home click here.

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Virginia Brews Up 800 New Jobs in Isle of Wight

Tuesday, 1 November 2011 15:59 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Isle of Wight County received some big news when leading coffeemaker Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (GMCR) announced it will invest $180 million and create 800 jobs over the next five years. The company plans to purchase a 330,000-square-foot building at Shirley T. Holland Intermodal Park that will serve as a production and distribution facility, handling the roasting, grinding, flavoring and packaging of its Keurig® single-serve product line. 

Governor McDonnell aptly described this project as “transformational for Isle of Wight County.” The county, part of the Hampton Roads region, was especially hard hit by job losses during the recent economic downturn. The 800 jobs that this project will bring are particularly meaningful to this community.

Virginia was able to attract this world class consumer products company because it was able to provide a location that aligned the company’s production facility with its supply chain, workforce and logistical needs. The Commonwealth’s central location on the Atlantic Coast allows for easy transport to the Northeast, Southeast and Midwest markets. 

GMCR referenced the appeal of Virginia’s workforce as one of the key factors in selecting this site. Virginia is home to 525 Food Processing companies that employ more than 33,000 people. A steady stream of skilled employees is provided through Virginia Tech’s Department of Food Science and Technology, the Virginia Packaging Application Center at Dabney S. Lancaster Community College, and the Center for High Performance Manufacturing, also at Virginia Tech.

The Food and Beverage cluster is growing in the Commonwealth as Food Processing companies have invested more than $2 billion since 2000, creating more than 6,900 new jobs. Hershey, Kraft Foods, Perdue, Smithfield and Tyson have all elected to locate operations in Virginia. In fact, Phoenix Packaging Operations, LLC, a company that invested $37.5 million over the last eighteen months to establish and then expand its first U.S. operations in Virginia, counts GMCR as one of its packaging customers. 

As Virginia’s Food and Beverage industry continues to grow, its education system has kept pace by expanding its offerings and including specialized training programs to support this growth. The synergies of this public-private partnership are evident, drawing additional companies to the area and furthering the positive trend. To learn more about Virginia’s thriving Food and Beverage industry click here.

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U.S. News and World Report Recognizes Virginia’s Education System

Friday, 28 October 2011 09:59 by Info@YesVirginia.org

With the Governor’s Second Annual Forum on Education and Workforce Training occurring next week, Virginians are primed to discuss our world-class workforce and ensure it remains at the top. Recently, several Virginia colleges and universities received national recognition for being among the best higher education institutions in the nation. In the prestigious U.S. News and World Report Top Public National Universities List, The University of Virginia ranked second and The College of William and Mary ranked sixth. The University of Virginia’s undergraduate business program was recognized with a fifth place ranking and its renowned law school placed ninth this year. The College of William and Mary had the eighth ranked undergraduate teaching program in the country.

Washington and Lee University ranked twelfth among the nation’s best liberal arts colleges. Virginia Commonwealth University had the number one Nursing-Anesthesia program and the number four Fine Arts Program. Virginia Tech University’s College of Engineering was rated fifteenth in the country. The University of Richmond was ranked twenty-seventh in the national liberal arts college category. It was also listed as the third up-and-coming liberal arts school and ninth for best value in the liberal arts school category. Virginia Military Institute was ranked fourth in the public liberal arts college category. George Mason University also received a nod as the number two up-and-coming school in country.

At the regional level Virginia educational institutions also showed strongly. In the category of Top Public Regional Universities in the South, James Madison University was ranked number two, the University of Mary Washington was ranked number six and Christopher Newport University was ranked number nine.   

Success at the collegiate level is grounded in a strong system of elementary and secondary education. U.S. News and World Report also released its Best Public High School List and one of Virginia’s high schools received the number one spot in the Gold Medal category. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va., was selected from more than 21,000 public high schools across the nation as the number one public high school based on proficiency standards and the degree to which it prepared students for college-level work.

In the 2010-11 academic year, 133,603 degrees from associate through doctorate were awarded at Virginia's colleges and universities. With more than 500,000 students currently enrolled in more than 100 in-state institutions of higher education, and 18,000 military personnel exiting the armed services annually, Virginia is producing a diverse pipeline of skilled workers able to meet the needs of businesses looking to expand into the Commonwealth.

Click here to learn more about Virginia’s excellent education system and workforce training programs serving a variety of industry sectors.

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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 | Virginia Rises to Second in Atlantic Region in Annual Workforce Development Rankings

Virginia Rises to Second in Atlantic Region in Annual Workforce Development Rankings

Wednesday, 1 February 2017 14:25 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Virginia rose from fourth to second in the Atlantic region in a recent analysis of state workforce development activities conducted by Site Selection Magazine.

Site Selection’s third annual state workforce development rankings provide a general sense of which states, in a given region, are devoting sufficient or superior resources to preparing their workforces for current and future employment. The analysis looked at states’ commitment to skills development as measured by their spending on workforce development, K-12 preparation and the number of working-age adults deemed “career-ready.”

Among the eight ranked states, Virginia scored ahead of highly competitive states like Florida, North Carolina, Maryland, and Delaware, and tied with South Carolina.

“Virginia’s improved ranking is further evidence that we’re making significant progress toward building a 21st century workforce,” said Governor McAuliffe. “We know that workforce is the number one factor companies evaluate when making a decision to locate a new facility or expand their existing business.  We’re pleased to see our position improve relative to our regional competitors and will continue our efforts to assure our position as a leader in workforce development and education.”

Virginia offers customized recruiting and training services through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program (VJIP). To learn more about this economic development incentive, click here.

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The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP), a state authority created by the Virginia General Assembly to better serve those seeking a prime business location and increased trade opportunities, provides confidential site selection and international trade services. VEDP's mission: To enhance the quality of life and raise the standard of living for all Virginians, in collaboration with Virginia communities, through aggressive business recruitment, expansion assistance, and trade development, thereby expanding the tax base and creating higher-income employment opportunities.

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© 2014 All rights reserved.