Virginia Is Hungry For High Tech: Expanding The Envelope For Growth

Already at the forefront of emerging growth sectors like cloud computing and cybersecurity, Virginia continues to expand its high-tech portfolio.


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Already at the forefront of emerging growth sectors like cloud computing and cybersecurity, Virginia continues to expand its high-tech portfolio.
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Virginia: Expanding The Envelope For Growth

Already at the forefront of emerging growth sectors like cloud computing and cybersecurity, Virginia continues to expand its high-tech portfolio.

Virginia Is Hungry For High Tech: Expanding The Envelope For Growth

By the BF Staff
From the May/June 2020 Issue

Virginia stands ready to push new boundaries as a U.S. leader in information technology. Already at the forefront of emerging sectors like cloud computing and cybersecurity, Virginia is committed to technology and innovation. Virginia is the leading data center market in the U.S. and has the 2nd-highest concentration of high-tech workers in the nation. The Commonwealth is preparing for future growth for IT companies through its top-ranked higher education system to build a pipeline of technology talent.

Virginia’s depth of talent, top 10 ranking as a place to do business, and exceptional livability, make it a location of choice for companies’ corporate services functions. There are 34 Fortune 1000 companies with headquarters in Virginia, and an educated pipeline of employees ready to support additional growth in business services and operations centers of excellence. Virginia’s middle market cities and rural locations also serve as attractive options as companies look to relocate operations out of higher-cost areas.

A central location on the East Coast with convenient access to major population centers via a well-developed network of interstates makes Virginia a logical choice for food and beverage processors. Well-known companies have chosen Virginia and continually expanded in a location that provides access to raw materials and a large customer base at competitive costs. Household food and beverage brands are made and distributed daily from Virginia.

Virginia is home to many federal labs, with 11 federally funded R&D Centers and 23 FLC Laboratories and internationally recognized R&D facilities such as SRI International and Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Located in the middle of the Mid-Atlantic’s booming life sciences cluster, Virginia gives companies access to key federal agencies and policy decision-makers. Virginia’s leadership position in technology also provides a launch point for growth in emerging disciplines like health IT and personalized medicine.

Virginia’s strategic East Coast location connects companies to the U.S. and the world with exceptional road, rail, and port infrastructure, making it a desirable location for manufacturers. Virginia’s robust manufacturing sector spans a wide variety of products—from craft beer and snack cakes to steel beams and wood flooring, to semiconductors and rocket engines. Virginia’s manufacturing base is substantial, with concentrated industry populations found throughout the state supported by a skilled and dedicated talent pool.

DANVILLE, VA: BEACON OF REGIONAL COOPERATION

Danville, VA is a City in southern Virginia that sits on the North Carolina state line. With a population of about 43,000 persons, Danville has a long heritage of being a community where manufacturing provided the majority of the jobs. The workforce comes from both Virginia and North Carolina, and it is comprised of some 1,603,216 persons within less than one hour’s drive. Traditionally, Danville’s manufacturing entities were in either the primary textile business or in tobacco processing. Both of those business sectors tended to be absorbed by globalization, and by the first decade of the twenty-first century, those business had essentially disappeared from the local scene.

Virginia
Students work on precision machining technology at Danville Community College. (Photo: Economic Development, City of Danville)

Danville faced a tremendous challenge as the twenty-first century began, which made the existing private business sector and the local government leaders realize that highly creative solutions were needed.

A groundswell movement arose that insisted to both City and County governments that the time for competition had ended, and the locality simply must work cooperatively to bring a new, highly advanced economy into existence to serve the region. Essentially, this cooperation took hold and the result was a new emphasis on information technology, both with major trunk lines of fiber and with emphasis on technology in the classroom throughout the K-12 grades. A world class research organization in affiliation with Virginia Tech University was constructed and made operational. Industrial parks were created in both the City and the County, and a very unique legal Authority was established where the City and the County jointly owned and developed industrial parks and shared all expenses and tax revenues on a 50/50 basis. This structure has proven to be very valuable in overcoming limited open land inside the city limits but by combining the availability of land in the county with the more advanced governance structure of the city, both jurisdictions have benefitted significantly. The authority, known formally as the Danville Pittsylvania County Regional Industrial Facility Authority is today in the process of developing a 3500-acre megasite, which RIFA owns outright, and is the largest such facility in Virginia, and one of only two or three similar sized parks in the entire southeastern United States.

As the years have begun to move Danville’s new vision to a more mature status, it has become increasingly evident that economic development will thrive where there is a workforce that is uniquely prepared to serve modern manufacturing techniques.

Danville and Pittsylvania County’s first major effort to address workforce training was centered on metal working and metrology. The local community college had a history of providing an excellent program for tool and die making and the machinists who completed that program were hired through the bi-state region in excellent jobs.

The weakness in the program was that only about twenty-five graduates annually were being introduced into the workforce. To enhance the number of students in the program and to provide an even higher level of expertise to the graduates, a program was instituted in both the city and county secondary schools where the first year of community college instruction could be complete and the student could enter Danville Community College as a second-year student without have incurred any cost whatsoever for that first year of college training.

Upon completion of the second year’s work, the program initiated a “cap stone” program at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research where the students could get further training in a job-like atmosphere where they would be subjected to problem solving and management training. These graduates are highly sought by industry, and they are able to earn high salaries and have very little, if any, college debt to repay. We are working toward being able to attract and supply approximately 100 graduates per year who are highly trained machinists.

The enrollment is building, and the success of the graduates is bringing more students into the program. Prospective businesses are coming from near and far to take advantage of the supply of certified machinists that are truly in very scarce supply around the world.

The Danville community is committed to be a center of advanced manufacturing. It has sites; it offers incentives that are competitive with any region’s; it is committed to developing highly skilled, certified workforce personnel in a variety of disciplines; and it has local governments that welcome businesses to the region.

GLOUCESTER COUNTY, VA IS A PREMIER AGRIBUSINESS COMMUNITY

Gloucester County, Virginia is strategically located in the northeastern portion of Virginia’s Hampton Roads. The County’s industries have traditionally been associated with the abundant natural resources, primarily seafood, found in the area. With its advantageous location in the geographic center of the Eastern seaboard, the county is experiencing an increased diversification in manufacturing activities.

The state capital is located 59 miles to the west and Washington D.C. is 153 miles north. The Port of Hampton Roads is 45 miles south. Gloucester is located within the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News Metropolitan Statistical area (MSA).

Gloucester County offers a low cost of doing business, desirable quality of life, state of the art schools, a skilled labor force and affordable housing. The county provides a small business incentive program that includes rent assistance, property improvements, façade improvement, advertising and website development grants to new and existing businesses. In addition, Gloucester is one of 212 Opportunity Zones designated by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam. The Opportunity Zone offers Federal Tax Credits to new and expanding businesses. Another incentive is the new Company Incentive Program that provides the benefits of no Virginia corporate income tax on Virginia sales, and access to the Commonwealth’s Development Opportunity Fund that provides up to $2,000 per year per new job for six years. Gloucester is one of 60 Virginia localities that is an eligible locality for this program. The Gloucester County Department of Economic Development is committed to providing these benefits and more to new and expanding businesses.

Agribusiness is one of the county’s top targeted markets for new business recruitment. There are several seafood manufacturing, food processing and forestry facilities in the county. Gloucester also is home to the renowned Virginia Institute of Marine Science, a major marine research center conducting global research for the blue/green economy.

Whitley’s Peanut Factory has called Gloucester home for the past 30 years. The company has enjoyed the low cost of doing business in the county and attributes its success to the skilled workforce. In April of 2018, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, Ms. Bettina Ring, announced that the company was expanding, creating more jobs and capital investment for county.

In December 2018, Secretary Ring traveled back to Gloucester to announce Zoll Vineyards, a new farm-to-table winery, was coming to the county. The company plans to use Virginia grow-grapes, honey and apples to produce wines, meads and ciders. The owner, Frank Zoll, plans to offer food parings to winery visitors, featuring meat, fish and produce grown on site.

Over the past year, two new craft breweries have opened, providing a variety of ale for beer lovers. That Damn Mary’s Brewing Company is a restaurant-brewery. The beer is brewed for sale in the restaurant and bar. The beer is dispensed directly from the brewery’s storage tanks. The Gloucester Brewing Company, located on Main Street, is a small brewery with a hometown atmosphere. The Gloucester Brewing Company hosts local food trucks nightly for food that pairs well with the different taps of flavored ale. Both breweries are independently owned and operated.

Gloucester is pleased to be home to Canon Environmental Technologies, Inc. (CETI). Canon is the world’s largest recycling company. In 1990, Canon introduced a cartridge recycling program through its Clean Earth Campaign Program. CETI achieves zero-landfill waste by reusing parts, recycling materials and employing energy recovery. In 1996, Canon Environmental Technologies, Inc. built a 280,000-square-foot recycling plant in Gloucester. The company employees 150 people.

The county has one business park, Gloucester Business Park, with two remaining parcels ready for development. There are plans to expand the current park by mid-2020. The goal is to have at least two Tier-4 sites, prepared for shovel ready tracts over the next 12-months.

Visit www.gloucesterva.info/217/Economic-Development for more information on the community and a database with available buildings and sites. You are invited to consider Gloucester County, a premier agribusiness community, for your next site selection location.

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