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Hampton Roads, Virginia: An East Coast Hub For Business

Site Selectors' Port Tour Recap

This spring, the Alliance, along with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and The Port of Virginia hosted a two-day Site Selectors’ Port Tour, titled Hampton Roads, VA: An East Coast Hub for Business. In attendance were top site consultants from around the world; representations included E Smith Realty Partners, Riedel Consulting, Webster Global Site Selectors, GDL Partners, Austin Company and Global Location Strategies.

Take a look at the video below for a brief visual recap of the event. 


The tour began with dinner at Steinhilber’s, the oldest family owned restaurant in Virginia. Economic development directors from 11 of Hampton Roads' localities joined Alliance, VEDP and Port of Virginia staff for an evening of networking and discussion about the the region and its many business assets. Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade, Todd Haymore, also joined the dinner and welcomed our guests, sharing that in his 26 years of business, Virginia was the best place to work.

Their tour for the next day and a half included a full agenda of presentations and industry tours. Our guests began by hearing state and regional overviews from Stephen Moret, President/CEO of VEDP, and Rick Weddle, President/CEO of the Alliance. Guests also had the opportunity to participate in a Business Roundtable where representatives from Automatic Data Processing, Inc., Continental Automotive and Massimo Zanetti shared why their companies chose to do business in Hampton Roads and how they are thriving today.

  • Brian Effrain and Ben Young of Automatic Data Processing are two of the newest members of our business community. Ben, VP of Client Services says ADP’s Norfolk office has already hired over 800 employees in just ten months! He says they are doing so well in their new location that they are looking to expand more departments and expect to surpass their original goal of 1,800 jobs.
  • Mike Lindsey of Continental Automotive, international manufacturer with local presence in Newport News. Continental has been in Hampton Roads since 1971 and recently invested $152 million to expand their facility and create 500 new jobs. Mike says they have a strong working relationship with local colleges which helps them secure the talent they need to fill those new jobs.
  • Ali Itani, VP of Operations for Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA's shares a presentation on the company's international business presence and local facilities. Massimo has two location in Hampton Roads, a manufacturing and roasting facility in Suffolk, and a distribution plant in Portsmouth. Recently, they developed 100% compostable single serve Keurig cups, all of which are produced right here in Hampton Roads!

Following the presentations, our guests hit the road to partake in several industry tours throughout the region. Some highlights from the trip include: 

  • NASA Langley: The oldest of NASA’s field centers is located in Hampton. NASA Langley Research Center has focused primarily on aeronautical research and the Apollo lunar lander was flight-tested at the facility. In addition, a number of the earliest high-profile space missions were planned and designed on-site.
  • Huntington Ingalls Industries/ Newport News Shipbuilding: America’s largest military shipbuilding company and provider of professional services to partners in government and industry. Their headquarters, located in Newport News, has been building the most advanced ships in the world for more than 130 years. Today, Newport News Shipbuilding is the sole designer, builder, and re-fueler of U.S. Navy aircraft carriers and one of two providers of U.S. Navy submarines. With approximately $4 billion in revenues and more than 20,000 employees, they are the largest industrial employer in Virginia and the largest shipbuilding company in the United States.
  • STIHL, Inc.: A world-class manufacturer of handheld outdoor power equipment and the number one selling brand of chainsaws worldwide. The only U.S. facility, located in Virginia Beach boasts 1.6 million square feet of factory floor and employs around 2,100 people. Inside the STIHL plant’s walls, the company manufactures cranks, pistons, plastics, rope, and nearly all the parts necessary for manufacturing chainsaws. This vertical integration preserves quality, improves efficiency and allows productivity to remain fluid.
  • Green Flash Brewing Co: A leading San Diego-based brewery established by Mike and Lisa Hinkley that in 2016 opened their East Coast headquarters, a 58,000 square foot facility, in Virginia Beach. The site will produce and supply 100,000 barrels of beer a year to the eastern half of the U.S. at significantly reduced time and cost.

The Port of Virginia was the cornerstone of our guests’ visit and included a tour of one of the Port’s four terminals in Hampton Roads, Virginia International Gateway. The Port is one of the Alliance’s strongest allies in growing the state and local economies. CEO/Executive Director of Virginia Port Authority, John Reinhart, was excited to welcome guests to VIG and share recent successes, including a $320 million expansion project made possible by the signing of a 50-year lease at VIG and the Virginia General Assembly awarding a $350 million bond to expand Norfolk International Terminals. While at VIG, Governor Terry McAuliffe made an appearance to meet and speak with our guests. The Governor spent time sharing his vision for Virginia’s business community and answered several questions from the consultants. Governor McAuliffe is the most traveled Virginia governor for business with more than 24 marketing missions since 2014. Additionally, he has created over 200,000 new jobs since taking office. Following the presentation, guests participated in a crane demonstration and had the chance to be taken on top of the ship-to-shore cranes that stand more than 160ft in the air - that's about 14 stories tall!

The Site Selectors' tour also included a dinner cruise onboard the American Rover with Alliance Board of Directors and key stakeholders, and accommodations were provided by Hilton Norfolk, The Main. Overall, the tour was a huge success and our site selector guests were thrilled to learn about doing business in Hampton Roads. For many, it was their first time visiting the region and we look forward to continuing to build our relationships with them as new opportunities for projects arise. 

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