Need to Know: August & September 2019
ForKids held a groundbreaking for their new Center for Children and Families location in Chesapeake. ForKids delivers quality crisis response, housing & critical services, and children’s education programs in 14 localities in Southeastern Virginia designed to achieve stability for families and a lifetime of success for children.
Chesapeake based, digital marketing company Array Digital won a Communicator Award for their podcast on entrepreneurial and marketing success titled, "Journey To $100 Million." The Communicator Awards is the leading international awards program recognizing big ideas in marketing and communications. Founded over two decades ago, The Communicator Awards receives over 6,000 entries from companies and agencies of all sizes, making it one of the largest awards of its kind in the world.
Kerstin Plarr has joined Chesapeake Economic Development as a Business Intelligence Specialist. She specializes in business attraction and marketing & research and will work alongside Chesapeake's Business Development Managers to support new business attraction and business expansion within the city of Chesapeake.
Faneuil, a Hampton-based customer service outsourcing company, recently acquired Realtime Digital Innovations, a technology partner responsible for streamlining its customer care process. Faneuil has locations throughout Virginia and across the country and employs nearly 1,200 people in Virginia.
Registrar Corp. marked a company expansion with a ribbon-cutting on Wednesday, August 28. The company is a leading provider of U.S. Food and Drug Administration compliance services to FDA-regulated facilities worldwide. Registrar Corp. was founded in Hampton in 2003 with four employees. It now employs 140 people and has outgrown its existing office space. This expansion will increase the size of the office space by 2400 sq. feet, which will allow it to continue to broaden its services to adapt to future changes in regulation and give new space for current and future employees.
Isle of Wight
The charitable arm of Isle of Wight-based global food company Smithfield Foods, Inc. donated $150,000 to support Virginia programs for homeless military veterans and their families during a ceremony held in Richmond with Governor Ralph Northam and other state dignitaries. The donation from The Smithfield Foundation to the Virginia Veterans Service Foundation, a state agency, will support the Homeless Veteran Fund, which provides gap assistance to homeless vets and those on the brink of homelessness. Smithfield previously donated $68,000 to help establish the fund in 2016.
Eagle Aviation Technologies, LLC, an industry leader in composites design and fabrication, will invest $207,500 to expand its manufacturing facility in Newport News. The company will add new production equipment at the facility and create 75 new jobs.
On August 24, the City of Newport News, Old Dominion University (ODU) and Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) officials were joined by Governor Ralph Northam, Senator Mark Warner, Senator Tim Kaine, and Congressman Bobby Scott for the opening of the Brooks Crossing Innovation and Opportunity Center in the southeast community. Located at 550 30th Street, the center makes workforce development and STEM education services readily accessible to citizens, students and businesses. The facility includes a collaborative space for innovation and new ventures, such as entrepreneurial initiatives, and is part of the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative through which the city was awarded a $30M HUD grant earlier this year.
Brooks Crossing features two elements key to the city’s ongoing community engagement efforts: The Brooks Crossing Opportunity Center (BCOC) and the STEM Digital Innovation and Fabrication Lab. BCOC is a centralized hub for services related to career awareness, skill development, wealth building, training and employment, and support services. The STEM Digital Innovation and Fabrication Lab, a partnership between the city, NNS, and ODU, serves as a resource for students, parents and citizens interested in learning about digital technologies used in design and fabrication. The Innovation and Opportunity Center occupies the first floor of the newly constructed four-story, 105,000-square-foot Brooks Crossing office building, and roughly 600 Newport News Shipbuilding information technology, engineering and design, and integrated planning and production control employees occupy the top three floors.
W. M. Jordan Company, Virginia Tech and the City of Newport News celebrated the ribbon cutting and official opening of Building One @ Tech Center, an 81,600-square-foot building, the first of 10 in the 50-acre Tech Center Research Park. The standing-room-only event was held on Friday, August 16. The facility, which was 94% leased prior to completion, features tenants including Gather, ivWatch, ITA International (and ITA Data Analytics Center), and the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center and the Virginia Tech Outreach & International Affairs division.
Three years after the shopping center lost its last major anchor tenant, Macy's, Military Circle Mall is attracting new businesses. Mall general manager Chataun Porch said that at least 22 new businesses were slated to open this year. Of those, 12 are open already and 10 more are coming soon. The new tenants go beyond standard mall fare like clothing and department stores to include businesses such as a boxing gym, a beauty spa and a car detailing service. As anchor stores were exiting Military Circle, Norfolk development leaders began to think about the future of the property and are currently working with private entities to potentially convert the former Sears and Macy's sites. The Norfolk Economic Development Authority purchased the former J.C. Penney building for $2.5 million in 2014. In 2017, Optima Health began to lease office space there and Movement Mortgage opened an operations center. They ultimately imagine the area 50 years in the future as an urban, mixed-use community with a light-rail stop and multifamily housing.
Dr. Larry “Chip” Filer, a 20-year employee of Old Dominion University, was selected to be Norfolk’s newest city manager and started his new position on September 16. Filer was formerly ODU’s Associate Vice President for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, a position in which he started ODU’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and coordinated neighborhood resiliency efforts with the city.
The Portsmouth Redevelopment & Housing Authority will be hosting its 5th Annual Career and Education fair on October 9 from 10am-2pm at the Neighborhood Facility Recreation Center on Elm Ave. This event is free and open to the public. Various career, employment services, training, and educational opportunities will be available and more than 30 companies are already confirmed to be in attendance. Participants should dress professionally, bring resumes and can register online here.
On Friday, August 2nd, the Portsmouth Economic Development team unveiled a refreshed brand and website at their new Let’s Talk Business series. With standing room only, attendees heard Director Robert D. Moore explain the innovative new approaches the office is taking, the new energy the young team is bringing and the story the refreshed brand and website tells for the city. PED staff worked with Portsmouth company SimIS to develop and launch the new site and refresh the SAIL property app. The team is excited for the platform to continue to evolve and serve as a foundation for additional resources for the business community.
Cativa CBD, a new Portsmouth CBD company, has plans for a processing facility. This facility will process products such as creams and sublingual tablets containing the non-psychoactive cannabidiol compound. The company, whose owner also founded information technology company SimIS Inc., plans to build two facilities on a vacant lot on University Boulevard next to the current headquarters of SimIS. In the works are a 45,000-square-foot building and a 15,000-square feet building to accommodate both SimIS and Cativa.
Portsmouth is hosting October's Let's Talk Business event, which will feature a panel of local manufacturing leaders to kick off National Manufacturing Day on October 4th at 8 am to celebrate the local manufacturing industry. Click here to register.
Equus Capital Partners, a Philadelphia-based private equity real estate firm, purchased five industrial sites in Suffolk and Chesapeake, including several buildings in the CenterPoint Intermodal Center. Equus also bought around 500 acres of undeveloped land in Suffolk just north of U.S. 58 and west of the CenterPoint properties, which the company plans to develop as Port of Virginia traffic grows.
LifeNet Health, a Virginia Beach organ and tissue bank, is investing close to $1.8 million in upgrades at its facility in the Lynnhaven business corridor. LifeNet also plans to create 44 new positions, with an average annual salary of more than $55,000, as part of the expansion.
After unanimous approval, Virginia Beach City Council members appointed Tom Leahy as the acting top executive for Virginia Beach, filling a role that became vacant when former City Manager Dave Hansen resigned. Leahy, who has worked for the city for about 40 years, served as a deputy city manager since 2016, overseeing the departments of public works, public utilities and information technology, among others.
The I-64 to I-264 flyover ramp has officially been opened. The 1,000-foot-long ramp, which took roughly three years to build, will relieve congestion that arose from drivers exiting from I-64 west to I-264 east having to share lanes with those exiting from I-264 west onto Newtown Road. The ramp was part of the first phase of a project to improve the interchanges at I-264 and I-64. The rest of the initial phase — which includes finishing up construction on I-264 where the new ramp connects to the highway and building a sound wall along I-64 — should be completed later this fall.
Each year, Business Facilities Magazine releases their State Ranking Report, and it's no surprise that Virginia was ranked among the best in the country for Economic Development. Virginia ranked in the following categories:
- #1 for Unmanned Aerial Systems
- #2 for Best Business Climate
- #2 for Cybersecurity Growth Potential
- #3 for Economic Growth Potential
- #5 for Workforce Training Leaders
- #6 for Tech Job Employment Leaders
CoStar, a world leader in commercial real estate information and analytics, names Norfolk/Hampton Roads, VA as #4 in the U.S. among Top 10 Cities for Industrial Real Estate Sales Growth.
Port of Virginia
The Port of Virginia saw one of its busiest months this summer with more than 265,500 containers in July, up roughly 5% from the same month last year. It marked the second busiest month in the port’s history, behind only October 2018 when it handled 270,538 containers. CEO and Executive Director John Reinhart said he “anticipates this trend to continue well into fall.” Reinhart credits the higher container volumes to the recent $320 million expansion of Virginia International Gateway, which is expected to increase overall annual container capacity by 40% by 2020.
Dominion Energy announced plans and filed a proposal to build the nation's largest offshore wind farm off Virginia's coastline. The filing comes just two days after Governor Ralph Northam signed an executive order that calls for Virginia to generate 100% of its electricity from carbon-free energy sources by 2050. If approved, the 220 turbines wind farm would generate enough electricity to power 650,000 homes. The turbines would be anchored on 112,800 acres that Dominion is leasing from the federal government, approximately 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach. Read more about this announcement and what it could mean for Hampton Roads.