Ground broken on shell building; Halifax County IDA leader calls it a ‘new era in economic development’

Ground broken on shell building; Halifax County IDA leader calls it a ‘new era in economic development’

Only a small amount of dirt was unearthed Friday morning at a groundbreaking ceremony at the Southern Virginia Technology Park, but it was the beginning of something big for Halifax County.

County officials, along with Halifax County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) staff and board members and project investors, all grabbed a shovel and with a celebratory flourish broke ground at the future site of a shell building to attract businesses and industries to the county.

The real work begins this week when contractors will start construction on the shell building. The Samet Corporation, a company based in Greensboro, North Carolina, is the contractor for the construction project.

“I look forward to the dawn of the new era in economic development in this community,” said Brian Brown, Halifax County IDA executive director. “The building will provide a competitive advantage and allow Halifax County access to many of the business opportunities we were not able to compete for in the past.”

Brown added that the shell building would suit the needs of businesses in today’s fast-paced development climate.

 

“Businesses want to be able to move quickly without the uncertainties common in green field development,” Brown said. “The shell building allows a company to use the building footprint to customize the interior and meet the individual business needs without timely delays and offers an option to expand the facility for long-term development plans.”

 

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Governor Northam Announces 92 New Jobs in Danville-Pittsylvania County

Governor Northam Announces 92 New Jobs in Danville-Pittsylvania County

AeroFarms to build $42 million state-of-the art facility

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that AeroFarms® will invest $42 million to build their largest, most sophisticated indoor vertical farm to date in Cane Creek Centre, a joint industrial park for the City of Danville and Pittsylvania County. AeroFarms uses proprietary aeroponic growing technology to produce highly flavorful leafy greens at a rate 390-times more productive than field-grown plants. Virginia successfully competed with North Carolina for the 150,000-square-foot facility, which will create 92 new jobs. 

“AeroFarms is a leader in agricultural innovation with farming technologies that make high-quality, local produce available to more communities,” said Governor Northam. “We are bringing capital investment and economic opportunity to rural Virginia by recruiting innovative companies like AeroFarms. I thank the company for choosing Virginia for this important venture and commend Danville-Pittsylvania County for helping to secure this project.”

Founded in 2004 and headquartered in Newark, New Jersey, AeroFarms is a mission-driven company committed to growing the best plants possible with processes that use significantly less water and no pesticides, while offering extremely high levels of food safety. By hiring locally and creating year-round employment, AeroFarms is able to grow all year to nourish its communities with high-quality produce that delivers optimal nutrition and flavor.

“Agriculture is Virginia’s largest private sector industry, and the Commonwealth continues to be on the forefront of agricultural advancements,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring.  “I look forward to working with AeroFarms as they expand the use of agriculture technology to strengthen Virginia’s food system and provide increased access to healthy foods.”  

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Amazon Web Services, Sumitomo Electric Lightwave, and Danville Community College Collaborate on New Fusion Splicing Certificate Course

Amazon Web Services, Sumitomo Electric Lightwave, and Danville Community College Collaborate on New Fusion Splicing Certificate Course

~ Course provides training on new hyperscale-grade fusion splicing techniques and equipment, career networking opportunities ~

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Danville Community College hosted a Fusion Splicing Certificate Course, a collaborative training event with Amazon Web Services and Sumitomo Electric Lightwave that earned participants an innovative fiber optic fusion splicing certificate. Approximately 30 individuals took part in the December 9–10 course, which offered training on cutting-edge technologies and equipment and covered fiber optic installation and repair. Sumitomo Electric’s world-class experts led the instruction in fiber optic technologies. The program also includes a career networking event to connect students and potential employers.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is driving fiber optic cable innovation at a rapid pace, resulting in frequent releases of new hyperscale products and solutions, which represent the next generation of fiber optic networks and require training on state-of-the-art equipment to install and operate. Identifying this need to train workers for today and the future, AWS and Sumitomo Electric Lightwave are working together to host Fusion Splicing Certificate Courses at local community colleges across the United States.

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Appalachian Power Awards Grant To SVRA To Market The Southern Virginia Region

Appalachian Power Awards Grant To SVRA To Market The Southern Virginia Region

DANVILLE, Va., November 19, 2019 – The Southern Virginia Regional Alliance was one of nine organizations in Virginia and West Virginia awarded funding by Appalachian Power’s Economic Development Growth Enhancement (EDGE) program. The program is part of Appalachian Power’s ongoing effort to promote local and regional programs that attract industry and support business expansion in the company’s service area.

“We are thankful for the support that Appalachian Power provides to our area and for this grant funding to market the region,” said Mark Gignac, Board Chair for the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance. “We value their ongoing support of the electric infrastructure that provides high quality and cost-effective pricing to attract and retain jobs in our region.”

A total of $125,000 was recently distributed among organizations to help support local economic development efforts ranging from site development and strategic planning to marketing. The funds were provided by Appalachian Power in the form of grants to government and nonprofits that oversee programs and initiatives tied to economic development.

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Morgan Olson adding step van production facility in Virginia

Morgan Olson adding step van production facility in Virginia

Michigan-based walk-in van body manufacturer Morgan Olson is adding a new step van production facility in Danville VA.

The company said the plant, expected to be operational by June 2020, will provide an additional 925,000 square feet of manufacturing space.

“Baking and snack food, textile rental and uniform companies, city municipalities, and even the food truck industry, all rely on Morgan Olson walk-in vans for their business service. The growth of e-commerce online purchases requires efficient and fast home delivery. If you’ve bought an item online, there’s an excellent chance a Morgan Olson walk-in step van delivered it to your home or business.”

 
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Governor Northam Announces 703 New Jobs in Danville-Pittsylvania County

Governor Northam Announces 703 New Jobs in Danville-Pittsylvania County

~ Morgan Olson to invest $57.8 million to establish new walk-in step van assembly operation in former IKEA plant ~

DANVILLE—Governor Ralph Northam announced today that Morgan Olson, LLC, North America’s leading manufacturer of all-aluminum walk-in step vans, will invest $57.8 million to establish a new walk-in step van assembly operation in a 925,000-square-foot plant in

Danville-Pittsylvania County currently owned by IKEA. Virginia successfully competed against Kentucky, North Carolina, and Ohio for the project, which will create 703 new jobs.

In July, IKEA announced it would shut down its Danville-Pittsylvania County facility, the company’s only manufacturing site in the United States, resulting in an expected loss of approximately 300 jobs. Morgan Olson’s operation will be housed in the plant currently owned by IKEA, which had planned to close in December 2019. Current IKEA employees will receive priority consideration as part of Morgan Olson’s hiring process.

“Securing a project of this magnitude is a big win for Danville-Pittsylvania County, Southern Virginia, and the entire Commonwealth,” said Governor Northam. “Not only will Morgan Olson ensure the future of this plant for many years to come, they will also provide valuable new jobs to hundreds of hard-working citizens of this region. As a native of rural Virginia, I fight every day to ensure all parts of our Commonwealth can participate fully in our economic growth. I am grateful to Morgan Olson, my team, and our tremendous partners for making today possible.”

Headquartered in Sturgis, Michigan, Morgan Olson’s legacy of building their iconic step vans began in 1946 with the production of the first “all-aluminum” step van. Today, Morgan Olson step vans are used to deliver online purchases to homes and businesses throughout North America. In 2003, Morgan Olson was purchased by J.B. Poindexter & Co., Inc. (JBPCO), a diversified manufacturing company headquartered in Houston, Texas. JBPCO has eight profitable subsidiaries, with combined revenues of $1.4 billion and 6,200 employees.

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Halifax County Cattleman and Farmer Michael McDowell Named 2019 Southeastern Farmer of the Year.

Halifax County Cattleman and Farmer Michael McDowell Named 2019 Southeastern Farmer of the Year.

MOULTRIE, Ga. — Michael H. McDowell of Vernon Hill, Virginia has been selected as the overall winner of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award for 2019. He is a fourth generation Halifax County farmer and cattleman who grows mixed grass hay, annual hay, and alfalfa and raises award-winning registered Angus cattle.

At the age of sixteen, McDowell began to farm three acres on his own under a sharecropper arrangement with his father. That formative experience taught him the value of responsibility and introduced him to the rewards and challenges of working the land in order to pay for his college tuition. He obtained a B.S. degree in animal science and agronomy from Virginia Tech.

McDowell was named overall winner at the Willie B. Withers Luncheon held during the opening day of the 2019 Sunbelt Ag Expo farm show. He was chosen as Farmer of the Year over nine other state winners who were finalists for the award.

His family farm, Locust Level, historically grew tobacco and row crops. But when McDowell had garnered some experience with land management, he saw tobacco quota cuts approaching and an opportunity for future viability with purebred cattle. So he developed an Angus seedstock operation and implemented improvements that created more land with permanent grass cover and wide use of over- and inter-seeding with forage systems, along with stockpiling fescue and minimizing tillage production.

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Danville's Averett University scores in the top rankings by U.S. News & World Report

Danville's Averett University scores in the top rankings by U.S. News & World Report

Averett University continues to rank within the top 15 of the best regional liberal arts colleges in the South by U.S. News & World Report.

Ranked as No. 15, the Danville university continues to be the highest ranking of only three Virginia schools from the complete list of 63 schools on the “2020 Best Regional Colleges in the South” list.

Averett also was ranked No. 7 of best regional colleges in the South for veterans this year, as well as No. 8 for best value. Additionally, Averett was ranked No. 7 of top performers on social mobility, No. 11 of best undergraduate teaching and No. 29 of campus ethnic diversity by U.S. News.

“I am excited that Averett University has consistently earned this top ranking. When I consider that Averett was not even among those listed a decade ago, and now we’ve remained within the top 15 for several years, I could not be prouder that our strategic priorities and student focus are reflected through recognitions like these,” Averett University President Tiffany M. Franks said. “Accolades like these are a direct result of Averett’s continued successes, such as our 6% increase in the freshman-to-sophomore retention rate, and our recent increase in overall retention among traditional students.”

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Southern Virginia Showcases Next-Level Manufacturing Talent Pipeline

Southern Virginia Showcases Next-Level Manufacturing Talent Pipeline

Former textile stronghold has pivoted to fuel the future of advanced manufacturing

THE GLOBALLY LAUDED COMEBACK STORY of Southern Virginia hinged on taking on a task that many communities attempted, but few have achieved: reinventing its workforce.

For the City of Danville, Pittsylvania County, and the broader area flanking Virginia’s border with North Carolina, tobacco and textiles had long fueled a vibrant economy accessible by major four-lane highways, as well as international airports in neighboring Raleigh and Greensboro, North Carolina.

But after the busy mills that once rolled out comforters and carpeting, and Levi Strauss denim left the area in the early 2000s, the area’s economy lost its momentum.

Without skipping a beat, regional leaders gathered to write their own revival. And now, Danville is a trailblazer of note, attracting capital investment from enterprises both here and abroad. These include Overfinch North America and Harlow Fastec from the United Kingdom, Kyocera subsidiary Kyocera SGS Precision Tools from Japan, and Essel Propack from India.

“When we came to Danville, the decision was instantaneous,” said Jason Wells, Kyocera SGS president. “I can say 100% that the workforce pipeline was like nothing we’d seen in the United States.”

It adds up to Danville garnering the No. 8 ranking on the 2017-18 list of top U.S. micro cities by FDI Magazine. The momentum was also powerful enough to serve as a case study for other states. In August 2018, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson toured the region’s programs with Virginia Governor Ralph Northam.

How did Danville do it? By doubling down on its manufacturing roots. This time, it was future-proofed, led by advanced and precision manufacturing — paired with an open embrace of workforce training on Industry 4.0’s cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things, as well as both cloud and cognitive computing. In other words, it wasn’t solely infrastructure and location that would draw companies to the region. It was a high-skilled workforce, one that was methodically reverse-engineered to possess the advanced manufacturing skill sets that employers operating on the cutting edge coveted.

“This area didn’t wake up one day and just decide we wanted to be a home to manufacturing,”  said Telly Tucker, director of economic development for the City of Danville. “We have a long history and we didn’t want to lose that. It’s very much in our DNA.”

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Gefertec, LLC to Open First U.S. Facility in Danville-Pittsylvania County

Richmond, VA – It was announced today that Gefertec, LLC will open their first U.S. manufacturing facility. The project is expected to create 8 new jobs and includes $1.9 million in capital investment. The Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission is assisting this project with a $45,000 Tobacco Region Opportunity Fund (TROF) grant. Additionally, The Danville Pittsylvania Regional Industrial Facility Authority (RIFA) will cover the cost of 2 years of temporary space at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR). The company will launch at IALR before moving to a permanent space in Danville/Pittsylvania County in the future. The Tobacco Commission has also made significant investments in IALR over the years.

President of Gefertec, LLC, Andrea Clark said, “Gefertec is excited to announce the opening of our Danville - Pittsylvania County location as our first U.S. location for our 3DMP® additive manufacturing business.”

CEO of Gefertec GmbH, Tobias Roehrich, said, “This is in alignment with our long- term commitment to Danville and the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research and we are excited to expand our business to the U.S.. Danville has been chosen for its excellent business and community support and its involvement in the advanced manufacturing sector.”

Gefertec, LLC will introduce additive manufacturing technology to the United States market. Gefertec develops new methods for the production of metallic parts that extend beyond the limits of conventional production processes, thereby offering unique possibilities to designers, engineers and companies. Gefertec is the first and only company worldwide that provides the market with the revolutionary 3DMP® technology that is based on modern arc welding in the form of ready-to-use production machinery. The arc machine series offers perfect manufacturing solutions for metalworking companies as well as for research and development institutions.

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