The new program will be offered on Old Dominion University’s Norfolk campus and at a satellite campus based at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville

Old Dominion University (ODU) will launch Virginia’s first four-year degree in manufacturing engineering technology (MfgET) at its Norfolk campus, as well as a satellite campus based at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR), in Danville.

The new program will be housed in Old Dominion’s Batten College of Engineering and Technology’s Engineering and Technology Department.

IALR will host third- and fourth-year undergraduate level classes for the MfgET bachelor’s degree program of ODU on its Danville campus. The classes will be offered with on-site, virtual and hybrid options, leveraging the advanced manufacturing lab space of IALR.

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Making headway | Industrial interest blossoms across region

Making headway | Industrial interest blossoms across region

Corporate investments are on the upswing in Southern Virginia, along with a desire to increase production, says Linda Green, executive director of the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance.

“People have a lot of pent-up demand, and companies are responding to that,” she says. “We have lots of interest and activity.”

Companies are choosing Southern Virginia for several reasons, including its proximity to North Carolina’s Research Triangle and surges in economic development produced by the upcoming Caesars Virginia casino.

Kegerreis Digital Marketing, which is relocating its headquarters from Pennsylvania, is investing $1.7 million to renovate a former 7,000-square-foot tobacco warehouse in the Danville River District, creating 62 jobs. Until renovations are completed in fall 2022, the company’s workforce will occupy space at the Dan River Business Development Center.

Many companies want to be closer to their supply chain needs. “The Port of Virginia has helped us with our recruitment, because you are not seeing delays at the port, where turn times are low,” Green says, referring to the amount of time it takes trucks to enter the Port of Virginia, load up, travel to Danville and go back to the port to unload goods.

Danville and Pittsylvania County

“Momentum continues to build within our community,” says Danville Economic Development Director Corrie Bobe, citing more than $480 million in new investment announced in the past year.

Although some development is related to the forthcoming Caesars Virginia casino, which increased its total investment from $400 million to $500 million, other developments include industrial ventures and expansions.

Caesars Entertainment began demolition and abatement work late last year at the former Dan River Mills industrial complex, starting to lay the groundwork for a resort casino that will include restaurants and bars, a 500-guestroom hotel, a 40,000-square-foot conference center and a 2,500-seat live entertainment venue. Caesars Virginia is set to open in late 2023.

New manufacturing facilities for Tyson Foods, Staunton River Plastics and vertical farm company AeroFarms broke ground in 2021, and the latter two projects are expected to be completed this summer.

“In addition, we have celebrated exciting milestones for companies and developers, including the completion of a 43,000-square-foot expansion for Litehouse, the opening of Sterling Lighting’s headquarters and manufacturing facility, and the addition of 54 new apartments downtown,” Bobe says. 

Work also started last year on redeveloping Danville’s White Mill, which has stood vacant for more than a decade. The 20-acre property is scheduled to reopen in summer 2023 with 110,000 square feet of commercial space and 150 housing units, with 100 more units to come later.

“We also launched the Schoolfield Master Planning process this past year, which will focus on historic, commercial and industrial areas associated with the Dan River Mills Schoolfield site,” Bobe says. “This historic district also incorporates a neighborhood plan for Mill Village of 840 residential structures, as well as a corridor study focusing on West Main Street from the border of North Carolina to the River District.”

Neighboring Pittsylvania County also saw plenty of industrial construction and site acquisitions in the past year, including at properties co-owned with Danville.

“We had a lot of building inventory before 2021, but that has been gobbled up,” says Matt Rowe, the county’s director of economic development. “We are now able to develop projects that are new buildings.”

Intertape Polymer Group is investing a total of $45 million to add 40,000 square feet to its existing building, a project that was set to be completed in the first quarter of this year. The expansion is expected to create 50 jobs over the next four years.

Also in the works are two major projects by Tyson Foods and AeroFarms, which both broke ground on large facilities last year in Cane Creek Centre, respectively investing $300 million and $53 million. Tyson is expected to bring 376 jobs to the county (See related story), and AeroFarms is creating
92 jobs, as well as the world’s largest aeroponic vertical farm.

Other economic gains include a $7.15 million investment from Netherlands-based global installation company Walraven Inc., which is relocating its U.S. headquarters and manufacturing operation from Michigan to a shell building in Cane Creek Centre, bringing 46 jobs.

United Kingdom-based plastic and metal component manufacturer MEP Ltd. is making a $6.5 million investment and hiring around 45 people over the next three to five years. The company will operate as Making Everything Possible LLC and will occupy approximately 5,500 square feet at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research while its new facility is constructed.

This year is looking equally fruitful for new economic development announcements, Rowe says. “We have secured four projects that have yet to be announced. They represent hundreds or more jobs.”

Halifax County and South Boston

Even though Halifax County didn’t have any significant economic development announcements in 2021, the year was busy, says the county’s industrial development authority director, Kristy Johnson, who adds, “I suspect that 2022 will be the same or busier.”

Johnson was promoted to lead the county IDA in September 2021, after the IDA went nearly a year without a permanent leader, but she has worked for the authority since 2009. She said last fall that her focus will be on recruiting companies that complement existing industries in Halifax.

The town of South Boston has had a “very good year,” says Town Manager Tom Raab, although its focus was more on infrastructure and housing than business projects.

Piedmont Access to Health Services, a nonprofit health care provider, is building a health center in Houghton Park. The town also added two restaurants and a brewery, and is also starting work on a new public park. Meanwhile, the town is performing lead abatement and other upgrades on the North Main Housing Project, Raab says.

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Economic development announcements in the Southern Virginia (SOVA) Region have surpassed previous trends. Over the past six years the regional and local economic development team, including the City of Danville and Patrick, Pittsylvania and Halifax Counties, has attracted 3,216 jobs and over $700 million in capital investment, recruiting 23 industries and 18 existing industry expansions. A key factor, four metropolitan areas border the SOVA region — Roanoke, Lynchburg, Greensboro and Raleigh/Durham — and the SOVA overlapping labor sheds provide 541,388 employees in a 60-mile radius. Coupled with a strong workforce program from middle school to higher education, SOVA’s talent pool provides unique recruitment opportunities.


The Environmental and Life Sciences Sector in food, beverage and wood products has attracted 10 new companies and seven expansions (1,187 jobs and $437M in capital investment). AeroFarms, Prolam, Golden Piedmont Labs and Tyson Foods have joined existing employers JTI, Ennis and Ten Oaks. Virginia is the second largest Southeastern food and beverage processor with vertical integration from farms and manufacturing to packaging, bottling, warehousing and distribution. Virginia Tech is the #2 college in the nation for Food Sciences and Nutrition, and the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) participates in research and industry support. Virginia is also located within the Southeastern “wood basket” which supplies over 60% of the total volume of timber harvested in the U.S., vertically integrated from forestry to primary wood processing.

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State awards $7M in grants to help with site readiness

State awards $7M in grants to help with site readiness

11 commercial sites across state receive VEDP funding


Eleven commercial projects across the commonwealth will get a boost to help with site readiness, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Thursday.

The Virginia Business Ready Site program, administered by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, awarded $7 million in development grants. Having project-ready sites available has been a priority for VEDP, and Northam asked for $150 million in his proposed budget to address the issue.

Although Northam leaves office Saturday, as Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin becomes the state’s 74th governor, under Virginia code, the departing governor must create a budget for General Assembly consideration. Youngkin ran on a platform of getting more undeveloped business sites ready for businesses to start construction sooner, recommending that $200 million in American Rescue Plan money go toward the program.

Jason El Koubi, interim president and CEO of VEDP, told Virginia Business in December 2021 that since 2016, Virginia has lost out on 42,000 direct jobs and over $75 billion in capital investment, due to the lack of ready sites or available buildings. Virginia often competes with states such as Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio, Alabama, Kentucky and Michigan for large manufacturing and supply chain projects.

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Governor Northam Announces $150 Million to Recruit Companies to the Commonwealth

Governor Northam Announces $150 Million to Recruit Companies to the Commonwealth

Funding develops new and existing business-ready industrial sites

DANVILLE—Governor Ralph Northam today continued his ‘Thank You, Virginia’ Tour, announcing that his proposed budget will include $150 million to expand the Virginia Business Ready Site Program. The new funding will dramatically increase the marketability of sites across the Commonwealth. These sites are designed to be move-in ready for any company, making them strategically important to securing investments and building Virginia’s economy. This is the largest amount of funding ever set aside by the Commonwealth for site development. 
“These historic investments will be felt in every corner of the Commonwealth and represent an investment in our collective economic future,” said Governor Northam. “C​​ompanies want to invest here, and we can make it easier for them by preparing these industrial sites for their use. We have an opportunity to improve Virginia’s economy and create jobs for thousands of people—so we must take full advantage of it.”
Virginia has secured 900 new or expanding projects, 101,000 new jobs, and more than $80 billion in capital investment since 2018. That is four times more capital investment secured than under any previous Governor. For three years in a row, the Commonwealth has been named CNBC’s Top State for Business. Virginia holds more “Top State” titles than any other state in the nation.
These one-time funds will be used to develop a large variety of business-ready sites. Of the $150 million, $100 million is dedicated to the development of mega sites that can accommodate the substantial needs and short timelines of businesses considering major investments in the Commonwealth. The remaining $50 million is dedicated to the development of mid-sized sites all across Virginia. The more sites that are available, the more competitive Virginia is with other states. 
“The availability of business-ready sites is one of the leading factors taken into account when companies and site selectors are deciding on a location for a new business operation, and for too long, Virginia has lagged behind in funding for site development,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “Expanding the Virginia Business Ready Site Program to this extent has the potential to create 20,000 new jobs for hardworking Virginians and enhances our already-nationally recognized business climate.”
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Governor Northam Announces Expansion of Wood Products Company in Patrick County

Governor Northam Announces Expansion of Wood Products Company in Patrick County

Flooring manufacturer to invest $9.3 million and purchase more than $18 million of Virginia forest products


Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Ten Oaks, LLC, a manufacturer of high-quality residential hardwood floors, will invest nearly $9.3 million in Patrick County to construct a state-of-the-art hardwood sorting and stacking facility. The new mill will enable the company to strengthen its supply chain, optimize yield on raw materials, and improve production quality and efficiencies, all while creating a major new market for Virginia’s hardwood sawmills. The project will create 11 high-paying jobs and lead to the purchase of more than $18 million of Virginia grown forest products over the next three years.
“Ten Oaks’ expansion and continued investment is a reflection of Virginia’s thriving forestry industry,” said Governor Northam. “I am grateful to Ten Oaks for their commitment to providing new economic opportunities and valuable high-paying jobs to Patrick County.” 
Established in 2004 in the Town of Stuart, Ten Oaks has built its reputation on its steadfast commitment to quality. In 2019, the company was acquired by Canadian-based Boa-Franc, a leading manufacturer of residential prefinished hardwood flooring, which is committed to growing its U.S.-based manufacturing operations. This new Ten Oaks facility is located less than five miles away from its manufacturing center and headquarters. Lumber will be used in the production of residential hardwood flooring at Ten Oaks, as well as commercial truck hardwood flooring for Prolam, a Canadian-based truck and trailer flooring manufacturer located next to the new Ten Oaks facility.  Governor Northam announced in June that Prolam would locate its first U.S. production operation in Patrick County.  
“Thanks to companies like Ten Oaks and Prolam, forestry is Virginia’s third-largest private industry, a critical part of the Commonwealth’s economy especially in rural areas,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “I am pleased to partner with Patrick County through the Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Program to support this important project; one that grows the market for Virginia hardwoods and supports proper management and restoration of our forests.”
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Tyson Foods Breaks Ground on New Facility in Cane Creek Centre Nearly 400 jobs to be created by $300 million project

Tyson Foods Breaks Ground on New Facility in Cane Creek Centre Nearly 400 jobs to be created by $300 million project

Tyson Foods Breaks Ground on New Facility in Cane Creek Centre Nearly 400 jobs to be created by $300 million project

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam joined many local and regional officials at the Cane Creek Centre in Ringgold to celebrate the groundbreaking of Tyson Foods' $300 million, 325,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, which is expected to be operational in early 2023. More than 376 jobs will be created at this facility, which will be used primarily for the production of fully cooked Tyson branded chicken products.

"Tyson has a deep history in rural America, and they’ve set a national example on responding to COVID. Their employees are safer for it, and we’re thrilled to see the company put down roots in southern Virginia," said Governor Northam. "The Danville-Pittsylvania County area has built a true economic development resurgence, and that continues to pay off with new jobs and investment from companies like Tyson. Tyson's continued growth and investments are a testament to Virginia's workforce and strong business environment, and we congratulate them on this new facility and look forward to many more years of success."

“It is exciting to finally break ground on such a highly anticipated project which will strengthen the Commonwealth’s long-standing partnership with Tyson Foods and provide a tremendous economic boost to Danville-Pittsylvania County and the surrounding region,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “Southern Virginia offers Tyson a highly-skilled workforce and strategic access to major U.S. markets, and we thank the company for investing in the region and creating hundreds of quality jobs for its citizens.”

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SVRA Receives Funds to Expand Inventory of Shovel-Ready Sites

SVRA Receives Funds to Expand Inventory of Shovel-Ready Sites


 SVRA Receives Funds to Expand Inventory of Shovel-Ready Sites

 DANVILLE, VIRGINIA – October 6, 2021 – The Southern Virginia Regional Alliance (SVRA) received funding from GO Virginia through Region 3 Per Capita Funds and the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission (TRRC) in support of a site development program, paralleling that of Virginia Economic Development’s Partnership’s (VEDP) site characterization program. Ten publicly owned sites have been identified across the region, inclusive of sites in the City of Danville and the counties of Halifax, Patrick and Pittsylvania, to undergo due diligence and engineering studies and elevate their tier levels to a higher ranking while reducing risks for future prospects. SVRA will manage the project with the assistance of the economic development offices of each of the respective localities and the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research will serve as the fiscal agent and administrator. 

The tier level elevations of the sites, made possible with funding from GO Virginia Region 3 in the amount of $1,534,900 and TRRC in the amount of $454,100, will strengthen the regional site rankings for ready sites in the VEDP characterization program, creating shovel-ready sites to attract companies and create jobs in the region. The region had 33 of 66 available sites evaluated as part of the VEDP site characterization program conducted in conjunction with KPMG and the McKinsey Group. This project seeks to elevate ten of these 33 publicly owned sites on the Virginia Business Ready Sites Program (VBRSP) Tier System to be more shovel-ready.  The project will raise seven (7) sites totaling 1,188 acres from a Tier 2 to Tier 4, and raise three (3) sites totaling 311 acres from a Tier 2 to Tier 3 or 4 on the VBRSP scale.  The selected sites were based on developability and sector marketing readiness, resulting from third-party architectural and engineering assessments and a developability study by KPMG. 

Without sites that have the necessary land-use approvals, environmental reviews and other work necessary to prepare them for construction within 18 months, “another state has a better shot” than Virginia at landing big economic development projects, Stephen Moret, the president and CEO of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, told the GO Virginia board at their July 12, 2021 meeting.  Moret called the study the first of its kind in the country to catalog every potential development site of 25 acres or larger, quantified by its readiness for development in a tiered evaluation system that ranks their attractiveness to national consultants who help big companies and employers find the best sites to expand or move their businesses.  Virginia lags behind other states, nationally and regionally, in readying sites for speedy development, but he said the report provides an advantage that competitors don’t have — “site intelligence.”

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$300M widening of U.S. Route 58 has started in Patrick County

$300M widening of U.S. Route 58 has started in Patrick County

Project will lead to four-lane highway between Va. Beach and I-77

A groundbreaking ceremony took place Wednesday in Patrick County to widen a 7.4-mile stretch of U.S. Route 58 in Patrick County, the first phase of a project to create a continuous four-lane highway between Virginia Beach and Interstate 77.

The project, part of the U.S. Route 58 Corridor Development Program enacted by state lawmakers in 1989, will cost approximately $300 million, according to the governor’s office. The two-lane section of the highway over Lovers Leap Mountain is currently restricted to tractor-trailers, but that will change once improvements are completed under a November 2020 agreement between the Virginia Department of Transportation and Roanoke-based Branch Civil Inc.

VDOT and Branch Civil signed their public-private partnership in 2003 to develop and widen the highway from Hillsville to Stuart, a 36-mile corridor through Carroll, Floyd and Patrick counties, as soon as state funding became available. Although earlier sections were widened before now, it took 18 years to reach this stretch of Route 58.

“Once the General Assembly prioritized funding for the project, the Virginia Department of Transportation and our partner Branch Civil used an innovative progressive design-build approach to refine the design and advance the project to construction,” state Commissioner of Highways Stephen Brich said in a statement. “This was the first time this contracting style was used in Virginia and supported a new level of engagement between the Virginia Department of Transportation and our contracting partner.”

The section set to be widened is between the Poor Farmers Farm Store in Vesta and the Route 58 Stuart Bypass, and there are two other parts of Route 58 that will be widened at a time to be determined, including a four-mile stretch in Vesta and a 7.2-mile section near Crooked Oak.

“Route 58 is a vital road for locals, tourists, and commercial traffic, connecting Southern Virginia from the beach to the mountains,” Northam said in a statement. “By widening this key section, the project will open up this part of Southwest Virginia to faster, safer travel and more economic investment.”
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Digital Marketing Company to Relocate Headquarters to City of Danville

Digital Marketing Company to Relocate Headquarters to City of Danville

Governor Ralph Northam announced that Kegerreis Digital Marketing, an integrated marketing and analytics company, will invest $1.7 million to relocate its headquarters from Pennsylvania to the City of Danville. Virginia successfully competed with Pennsylvania and North Carolina for the project, which will create 62 new jobs.

“Kegerreis Digital Marketing’s relocation to Virginia is proof of the Commonwealth’s ability to attract leading companies from across a variety of industries,” said Governor Northam. “Southern Virginia’s economic resurgence is a powerful success story, driven by the region’s competitive operating costs, reliable infrastructure, and innovative workforce training programs. We look forward to the company’s future success in the City of Danville.”

The company will renovate the 7,000-square-foot former tobacco warehouse at 402 Cabell Street, which will house company executives and serve as the central meeting point for Kegerreis Digital Marketing's widespread workforce. They will occupy space at the Dan River Business Development Center until building renovations are completed.

Founded in 1979, Kegerreis Outdoor Advertising is the tenth-largest billboard company in the country, with over 2,500 billboard displays in seven states along the East Coast, including Virginia. Its subsidiary, Kegerreis Digital Marketing, provides integrated marketing services, such as brand development, billboards, online efforts, and analytics for e-commerce retailers, digital start-ups, venture firms, and local and regional businesses. 

“The City of Danville offers Kegerreis Digital Marketing a central location with a strong talent pipeline and a high quality of life that a leading integrated marketing company requires, and we are excited to welcome the company’s new headquarters operation to the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “This project will create more than 60 new jobs for the hardworking citizens of Southern Virginia, and contribute to the city’s ongoing revitalization.”

“Kegerreis Digital Marketing is very pleased to locate our headquarters in the City of Danville,” said President and Chief Information Officer of Kegerreis Digital Marketing Larz Kegerreis. “The quality of life, beauty of the region, and the excellent secondary schools in Danville and Pittsylvania County provide an environment where our employees will love to live, work, and raise their families. The proximity to the Research Triangle and recent surges in economic development within the city make this an excellent time to invest. We are excited to be a part of the future of this region.”

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