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.

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.

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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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McKee Foods Celebrates 25 Years in Virginia

Wednesday, 26 August 2015 16:14 by Info@YesVirginia.org
McKee Foods recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of its Stuarts Draft manufacturing facility in Augusta County, Va. McKee Foods is known for its Little Debbie® line of snack cakes. The family business has grown from a five-person bakery in the 1930’s to America’s No. 1 brand of snack cakes...

McKee Foods recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of its Stuarts Draft manufacturing facility in Augusta County, Va.

McKee Foods is known for its Little Debbie® line of snack cakes. The family business has grown from a five-person bakery in the 1930’s to America’s No. 1 brand of snack cakes.

The Stuarts Draft plant is one of the most advanced facilities in the baking industry. The company established the bakery in 1990 to produce oatmeal crème pies, honey buns and other bakery products.

The company’s most recent announcement in October 2014 included a $34 million investment and 54 new jobs to expand the facility.

McKee Foods employs more than 1,000 people and is the largest manufacturing employer in Augusta County. The company frequently credits the high productivity of its Virginia workforce as paramount to its success.

"We have found our Virginia workforce to be some of the most loyal and highly-skilled employees in the industry — and about 85 members of our Virginia workforce have been at the plant since it opened," said McKee Foods President and CEO Mike McKee.

In addition to a strong manufacturing workforce, Virginia provides McKee Foods with a strategic location, offering easy access to the company’s Northeastern and Canadian customers. Located in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, the Stuarts Draft location offers McKee employees a high quality of life with close proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway, Appalachian Trail and numerous national parks.

To learn why more than 580 leading food and beverage companies, like McKee Foods, have chosen to locate in Virginia, click here.

Representatives from McKee Foods, Augusta County and VEDP celebrate the company’s 25th anniversary in Stuarts Draft, Va. Photo courtesy of McKee Foods Corp.

Denbigh High School’s Aviation Academy Recognized as PRIME School for Manufacturing Education

Tuesday, 24 September 2013 16:10 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Denbigh High School’s Aviation Academy in Newport News, Va., was added to the 2013-2014 list of Partnership Response in Manufacturing Education (PRIME) programs for the upcoming school year. Only 11 schools across the country were added this year...

Denbigh High School’s Aviation Academy in Newport News, Va., was added to the 2013-2014 list of Partnership Response in Manufacturing Education (PRIME) programs for the upcoming school year. Only 11 schools across the country were added this year.

PRIME is a program developed by the SME Education Foundation to prepare students for manufacturing careers by advancing education in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subjects. It employs a community-based, real-world approach to education, forging partnerships between schools, higher education institutions, companies and the community.

To become part of the PRIME program, a school must have an exemplary manufacturing curriculum that has been in place for at least three years. The program must include both academic and hands-on fabrication instruction; access to local colleges with the opportunity to participate in postsecondary programs; and access to local manufacturing companies for company tours, job shadowing and mentoring opportunities.

PRIME is part of SME’s initiative to support the reshoring of manufacturing jobs to the U.S. and ensure we have a strong pipeline of skilled manufacturing workers to support future industry needs.

Denbigh High School’s Aviation Academy offers a four-year magnet program that prepares students for careers in engineering, aviation and electronics. Students take a number of classes at the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport, including an FAA Pilot Ground School course. The academy provides students with cutting-edge electronics and technology equipment, and students are encouraged to pursue college dual enrollment opportunities. 

Denbigh High School’s Aviation Academy is another example of Virginia’s exemplary secondary education system, preparing graduates to enter the manufacturing workforce or pursue more advanced degrees at the Commonwealth’s leading higher education institutions. To learn more, click here.

Orbital Sciences Completes Launch from Virginia to the International Space Station

Thursday, 19 September 2013 14:00 by Info@YesVirginia.org
At 10:58 a.m. yesterday morning, Orbital Sciences successfully completed the second launch of its Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft from Pad-OA of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore of Virginia...

At 10:58 a.m. yesterday morning, Orbital Sciences successfully completed the second launch of its Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft from Pad-OA of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

This mission is the first time a spacecraft launched from Virginia will visit the International Space Station.

Antares will deliver the Cygnus spacecraft along with 1,300 pounds of food, clothing and other cargo to the Expedition 37 crew on the International Space Station. 

The Cygnus spacecraft is scheduled to arrive at the International Space Station on Sunday, September 22. Prior to its arrival, Cygnus will perform a series of tests and maneuvers to demonstrate its readiness to rendezvous with the space station. On Sunday, the crew of Expedition 37 will operate the station’s 57-foot robotic arm to grapple Cygnus and maneuver it into the docking station.

The purpose of this mission is to demonstrate the capabilities and readiness of Orbital Sciences’ cargo delivery system as part of its Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program with NASA. Orbital Sciences successfully completed the inaugural test flight of Antares and Cygnus in April.

Subsequently, Orbital Sciences will carry out eight resupply missions through 2016, delivering approximately 20,000 kilograms of cargo to the International Space Station as part of its $1.9 billion Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA.

These resupply missions will aid the crews of the International Space Station in carrying out scientific experiments in a microgravity research lab.

Following the historic LADEE launch just over a week ago, Virginia’s leadership in space exploration is evident. Through the MARS facility, Virginia offers one of only four commercial sites approved by the FAA for orbital space launches.

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

Orbital Sciences' Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft launch from Pad-OA of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.  Photo color-enhanced and courtesy of NASA/Bill Ingalls.

The MACH37 Cyber Accelerator Opens in Herndon, Virginia

Tuesday, 17 September 2013 16:10 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia’s new MACH37 Cyber Accelerator recently opened at the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) in Herndon, Va., just five months after the announcement of its creation...

Virginia’s new MACH37 Cyber Accelerator recently opened at the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) in Herndon, Va., just five months after the announcement of its creation.

The MACH37 accelerator program is designed to capitalize on Virginia’s expertise in the cybersecurity industry and help launch additional start-up companies developing innovative technology in this area.

The first five companies selected for this program are Cypherpath, Key Cybersecurity Inc., Pierce Global Threat Intelligence, CyberLingua, and Sikernes.

These companies will participate in two 90-day sessions. At the beginning of the first session, they will receive seed funding, followed by introductions to a network of cybersecurity experts and investors to help mentor and develop their products and technology. 

At the end of the first 90-day session, the companies will go before a professional panel on Demo Day. If the presentation is successful, selected companies will receive additional funding and be allowed to participate in the second 90-day session.

The MACH37 Cyber Accelerator is modeled after the Y-Combinator, an accelerator program in Silicon Valley that has helped develop more than 460 companies. The MACH37 program helps cybersecurity entrepreneurs bridge the gap between idea generation and commercialization. 

The program is named after the escape velocity of Mach 37, the minimum velocity needed to launch passed the earth’s gravitational field.

MACH37’s location at CIT is in the hub of the Dulles Technology Corridor, providing early stage companies access to a solid pipeline of high-tech employees.

In addition, CIT is partnering with Virginia Tech to develop a cyber test range available to MACH37 companies. This remotely-accessible test center will be located nearby at Virginia Tech’s Hume Center for National Security and Technology in Arlington, Va.

The MACH37 Cyber Accelerator is another shining example of how Virginia’s public and private institutions partner to create an innovate environment for entrepreneurs to create new products and technology. 

To learn more about Virginia’s pro-business research and development opportunities, click here.

Governor McDonnell meets with members of the cybersecurity community during the MACH37 Cyber Accelerator grand opening event at CIT in Herndon, Va.

First Deep Space Mission Launches from Virginia’s Wallops Flight Facility

Monday, 9 September 2013 17:03 by Info@YesVirginia.org
At approximately 11:27 p.m. on Friday, September 6, NASA, Orbital Sciences and the Virginia Space Flight Authority launched the LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer) Mission from Virginia’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) Pad OB at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore...

At approximately 11:27 p.m. on Friday, September 6, NASA, Orbital Sciences and the Virginia Space Flight Authority launched the LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer) Mission from Virginia’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) Pad OB at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

The LADEE Mission accomplishes a number of firsts—it is the first deep space mission to launch from the Wallops Flight Facility, as well as the first payload to launch on the U.S. Air Force’s Minotaur V rocket. The Minotaur V launch vehicle was built by Virginia company Orbital Sciences. 

The LADEE spacecraft was constructed using Modular Common Spacecraft Bus Architecture, representing a departure from custom design towards assembly production and multi-use design in order to reduce costs.

Upon completing three phasing orbits around the earth, the LADEE spacecraft will enter the moon’s orbit through a three-minute Lunar Orbit Insertion maneuver that involves firing the spacecraft’s onboard propellant for approximately three minutes.

After being captured by the moon’s gravitational field, LADEE will orbit around the moon for a 100-day science phase to collect data and study the lunar atmosphere. The moon’s atmosphere is classified as a surface boundary exosphere, a thin layer that is theorized to be the most common type of atmosphere in the universe.

Scientists hope to determine the density, composition and variability of the moon’s atmosphere, as well as learn more about the lunar dust environment. Knowledge gained through this mission can be extrapolated to the atmosphere of other planets, including Earth.

With another Antares mission expected to launch in mid-September from the MARS facility, Virginia remains at the forefront of U.S. space exploration. MARS is one of only four commercial sites authorized by the FAA for orbital space launches, and offers an ideal trajectory for earth orbit insertion.

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

The LADEE Mission launches from Virginia’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on September 6. Photo courtesy of NASA/Carla Cioffi.

Service Center Metals Celebrates 10-year Anniversary and Expansion

Thursday, 5 September 2013 12:46 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Service Center Metals recently celebrated 10 years of doing business in Prince George County, Va. The ceremony, attended by Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, included a ground-breaking celebration for a second plant at the SouthPoint Business Park location...

Service Center Metals recently celebrated 10 years of doing business in Prince George County, Va. The ceremony, attended by Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, included a ground-breaking celebration for a second plant at the SouthPoint Business Park location.

Service Center Metals was founded in 2002 by three former Reynolds Metals executives to produce aluminum extruded products. As its name implies, Service Center Metals has chosen to focus exclusively on a unique niche—service center customers. 

After weathering the ups and downs of the last 10 years, the company now boasts more than 120 employees and $145 million in revenue. Since its opening, Service Center Metals has produced more than 635 million pounds of extrusions.

The company’s expansion includes a compact remelt plant that will be located adjacent to its extrusion plant. Currently, Service Center Metals must ship its aluminum scrap to and from a third-party provider to be remelted. Bringing this process in-house will allow the company to better recycle its scrap materials, as well as serve its customers more quickly and in an environmentally-friendly way.

As a home-grown manufacturing company, Service Center Metals is a strong example of the success entrepreneurs experience when they start a business in the Commonwealth. To learn more about Virginia’s innovative business environment, click here.

Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling (left center) joins company and local officials at the Service Center Metals ground-breaking ceremony in Prince George County, Va.

2013 ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index Ranks Virginia No. 5 in Economic Outlook

Wednesday, 21 August 2013 16:23 by Info@YesVirginia.org
In its sixth edition of Rich States, Poor States, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) recognized Virginia at No. 5 in its 2013 Economic Outlook ranking...

In its sixth edition of Rich States, Poor States, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) recognized Virginia at No. 5 in its 2013 Economic Outlook ranking.

The Economic Outlook category measures how a state is expected to perform in the future based on 15 policy areas controlled at the state level. The study points out the direct correlation between policy decisions and a state’s level of economic competitiveness.

Virginia has historically performed strongly in the Economic Outlook category—in five out of the last six years the Commonwealth has scored in the top five.

Virginia was the only state in the mid-Atlantic to break the top 10.

Rich State, Poor States highlights some of Virginia’s pro-growth policies that enabled it to achieve a top ranking. The Commonwealth’s pro-growth tax policies, fairness of its legal system, low workers’ compensation costs and right-to-work status were among the reasons Virginia’s economic outlook remains strong.

In addition, Virginia offers companies a corporate tax rate of six percent that remains unchanged since 1972, electricity costs below the national average, and the second lowest unemployment insurance tax rate in the nation.

Virginia has been providing companies with the right location and resources to succeed for more than 400 years. To learn why the Commonwealth continues to receive top accolades, click here.

VEDP Launches ‘Going Global’ Initiative for Defense Companies

Tuesday, 13 August 2013 14:45 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Today, VEDP announced the launch of its ‘Going Global’ initiative as part of its strategy to help Virginia defense companies mitigate the effects of sequestration...

Today, VEDP announced the launch of its ‘Going Global’ initiative as part of its strategy to help Virginia defense companies mitigate the effects of sequestration.

Sequestration is the name for the automatic federal spending cuts that began on March 1 as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011, enacted by Congress to resolve the U.S. debt-ceiling crisis.

The impact of Sequestration has been less severe than expected—Department of Defense contracts decreased from $56.9 billion in FY2011 to $51.5 billion in FY2012. However, the Commonwealth is the top state for DoD contracts, raising concerns that lost contracts could results in lower revenues for Virginia companies unless they can find new customers.

As part of its sequestration mitigation strategy, VEDP is working with Virginia defense companies to help them find those new customers overseas. The receipt of nearly $2 million in federal and state funds will allow VEDP to augment some of its most successful programs already underway within the International Trade division. 

For example, defense companies will be able to utilize VEDP’s Global Network team of in-country consultants from more than 55 countries. Market research services include compiling background information, identifying potential distributors, conducting due diligence, arranging matchmaking appointments with potential partners and customers, assessing competition, and helping companies understand the regulatory environment.
 
VEDP will be able to assist companies with export compliance. Virginia companies participating in this program will receive an export compliance analysis, including guidance on completing a Commodities Jurisdiction Analysis and submitting the required paperwork to the Department of State in compliance with International Traffic in Arms Regulations.

The grant will also allow companies to enhance their marketing and digital presence to target foreign markets through website translation and search engine optimization.

VEDP recently released an export guide for defense companies titled Export Opportunities for Virginia’s Defense Industry. The guide outlines regulations, processes and strategies specific to the defense industry, and contains marketing and sales best practices for both new and experienced exporters. 

VEDP’s International Trade division offers a wide variety of programs to help Virginia companies succeed in the global marketplace. To learn more, click here.

Nine Virginia Schools Make Forbes 2013 America’s Top 200 Colleges Report

Thursday, 1 August 2013 16:30 by Info@YesVirginia.org