The Southern Virginia Mega Site at Berry Hill has been certified by the Commonwealth of Virginia as infrastructure ready, announced Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball and Stephen Moret, President and CEO of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP). Ball and Moret joined Southern Virginia economic developers and community leaders Aug. 30-31 to share this significant update and to participate in tours regarding workforce development and revitalization efforts.

“We are proud to have all of the current pad in compliance with shovel-ready standards and the recognition that the entire mega site is infrastructure ready,” said Matthew Rowe, Director of Economic Development for Pittsylvania County.

The “infrastructure ready” certification is the fourth of five tiers required to ultimately reach “shovel ready,” or tier five, status in the industrial park. According to the tier four requirements of VEDP’s Virginia Business Ready Sites Program, all infrastructure is in place or will be delivered within 12 months, and all permit issues have been identified and quantified. Tier five will be completed as the last step when industry site occupants are identified and permits are in place. There are several active projects currently considering the site, Danville Economic Development Director Telly Tucker shared.

“Virginia is aggressively seeking to maintain its position as the preferred state for business, and today’s achievement is an illustration of the support our area is receiving as another step toward meeting this goal,” said Linda Green, Executive Director of the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance. “We are proud to earn certification of the mega site as ‘infrastructure ready’ and thank the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and Secretary of Trade and Commerce for their integral roles in helping us achieve this significant milestone. Countless other partners helped us through the process; just some include: the Regional Industrial Authority, Pittsylvania County, the City of Danville, Danville Industrial Development Authority, our elected officials and other key leaders.”

The Southern Virginia Mega Site at Berry Hill includes 3,528 acres and boasts 12 industrial lots ready to accommodate a single user or ready for subdivision to suit, with the largest contiguous lot acreage exceeding 2,000 acres. The mega site hails as the largest such industrial park in the Commonwealth of Virginia and is one of only seven to achieve tier four certification. Currently, there are no tier five sites in Virginia. With proximity to major transportation routes, partners with temporary rapid launch space, potential suppliers and a sought-after advanced manufacturing talent pipeline, the industrial park clearly rises as a viable, leading option for top industry contenders and Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) operations, particularly within the automotive and aerospace sectors.

“The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research proudly celebrates this noteworthy break-through with fellow economic developers united with our mission to foster economic transformation in the Southern Virginia region,” said Mark Gignac, Executive Director of the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR). “A continued regional approach is paramount to ensure sustained progress and industrial revitalization, securing jobs and growth for our area.”

Ball, Moret, members of their staff and Southern Virginia leaders toured Danville Community College’s (DCC) Engineering and Industrial Technologies (EIT) building on Thursday as well as the Gene Haas Center for Integrated Machining at IALR. IALR’s Director of Advanced Manufacturing Troy Simpson and DCC President Dr. Bruce Scism debriefed the group on the nationally recognized machining workforce pipeline model, which has attracted multiple leading companies like Unison Tube, Overfinch and Kyocera SGS Tech Hub. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson toured the model earlier in the year and noted it as a benchmark program, and just last month, Danville—selected from a group of national contenders—hosted the Haas Technical Education Center Americas CNC Educators Conference, attended by 270 people from 29 U.S. states and Canada. Pittsylvania County Schools Superintendent Dr. Mark Jones shared information on their middle and high school career and technical education programs, which, like Danville Public Schools, serve as a feeder to DCC’s and IALR’s advanced manufacturing program.

Ball, Moret, members of their staff and economic developers also toured the Danville River District on Friday to showcase revitalization efforts completed to date. Tucker shared the work accomplished as part of a redevelopment project to benefit the downtown Danville area known as the River District, which has served as the commercial and administrative heart of the city since the 1790s. Improvements include streetscape enhancements like new sidewalks, brick pavers, streetlight poles, benches and landscaping; public, outdoor Wi-Fi hotspots; wayfinding signage; utilities upgrades; additional parking; and new amenities like the JTI Fountain, Main Street Plaza and a new trailhead and connector for the Riverwalk Trail. Public seeding has resulted in the purchase of once vacant, deteriorating buildings. The district has attracted its first brewpub, Ballad Brewing, as well as several other newer businesses like Cottontail Weddings and Events, Mucho Taqueria, Cotton at Riverside Mill and others.