Governor Glenn Youngkin Announces AeroFarms Expansion Creating 66 New Jobs

Governor Glenn Youngkin Announces AeroFarms Expansion Creating 66 New Jobs
RICHMOND, VA — Governor Glenn Youngkin today announced that AeroFarms, a Certified B Corporation and world leader in indoor vertical farming, will create sixty-six additional new jobs and increase production of freshly-grown leafy greens as part of a major operational expansion of its new vertical farm in Pittsylvania County. This farm, a 138,670 square-foot, state-of-the-art facility, is the world’s largest indoor vertical farm of its kind. These new hiring commitments are in addition to the 92 jobs pledged previously to be located in Cane Creek Centre, a joint industrial park owned by the City of Danville and Pittsylvania County. This expansion is being driven by the company’s decision to expand production to meet increased customer demand. Virginia successfully competed against other states for the project. 
 
“Virginia continues to be the premier location for companies using technology and innovation to become leaders in their industry by generating massive benefits to consumers and investors,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “I want to thank AeroFarms for their continued commitment to the Commonwealth and commend Danville-Pittsylvania County for their cooperative and highly-effective approach to economic development that will create new jobs and economic opportunities for Virginians.” 
 
“Technology has always been the central force driving agriculture forward. This is especially true in the fast-growing indoor agriculture industry, which has the potential to revolutionize how much of our food is produced,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Matt Lohr. “We are grateful that AeroFarms continues to choose Virginia as a partner in bringing this exciting technology to scale and look forward to their continued growth and success in the Commonwealth.”
 
“The agriculture industry continues to play a significant role in the growth of Virginia’s economy, and we congratulate AeroFarms on the expansion of its state-of-the-art facility in Pittsylvania County,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick. “The Commonwealth’s innovative corporate partners are making major technology advancements in this important sector, and we look forward to AeroFarms’ next chapter of growth.”
 
“We want to thank Governor Youngkin and the entire State of Virginia for their tremendous support in bringing AeroFarms to Danville, and Danville-Pittsylvania County,” said Co-Founder and CEO David Rosenberg. “There is an incredible spirit of partnership here that made us feel right at home as we built our latest world-class commercial indoor vertical farm to serve the community with fresh, safely grown, nutritious, and delicious leafy greens all year round.”
 
“As one of the global leaders in indoor vertical farming, AeroFarms is a truly innovative and successful company, and I am so pleased that they are continuing to grow their operations right here in Pittsylvania County,” said Vic Ingram, Chairman of the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors and Chairman of the Pittsylvania County Regional Industrial Facility Authority. “It is always special when an existing local company commits to continuing to grow and invest in our community. To have AeroFarms choose to continue expanding here is a testament to both the success and strong market position of the company and to the great business environment we have developed here in Danville and Pittsylvania County. Congratulations AeroFarms!”
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U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to support economic development planning in the Blue Ridge Parkway corridor in Virginia

U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to support economic development planning in the Blue Ridge Parkway corridor in Virginia

Read the full article here: Federal relief money coming to parkway | Local News | martinsvillebulletin.com

Almost $400,000 in federal funding is coming to the Blue Ridge Parkway earmarked to enhance tourism, outdoor recreation and overall economic development in the region.

The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation has announced that it has secured a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to support economic development planning in the Blue Ridge Parkway corridor in Virginia. The grant is part of the EDA’s American Rescue Plan Act Travel, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation program.

The Parkway includes 12 counties and nine independent cities in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Parkway corridor, including Patrick County.

“Several Patrick County leaders participated in our initial surveys and discussions for this project,” Carolyn Ward, chief executive officer of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation told the Bulletin. “We’re eager to build on their ideas and energy and work together to develop our best opportunities.”

The Foundation intends to engage all involved community leaders and using a collaborative process, the nonprofit organization’s staff will work alongside these local leaders to develop targeted strategies to enhance tourism and related economic activities.

According to a U.S. National Park Service study, the Blue Ridge Parkway had a $1.3 billion economic impact on local communities in 2020 and Ward said she sees ample potential to improve those figures. “Our initial discussions with leaders in each Parkway community confirmed widespread interest in working across various boundaries to benefit everyone involved,” Ward said. “This grant will ensure a through, inclusive and effective process.”

Patrick County Economic Development Director Sean Adkins was hired about seven months ago and says he has been busy working with Foresight HS Property Holdings—Blue Ridge, LLC, a Chicago based company that has purchased the property where the County’s only hospital used to be.

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Medical Equipment Company to Open Operation in Blairs, Investing $3.5 Million and Creating 26 New Jobs

Medical Equipment Company to Open Operation in Blairs, Investing $3.5 Million and Creating 26 New Jobs

Read the full release here: https://www.pittsylvaniacountyva.gov/DocumentCenter/View/6786/Commonwealth-Home-Health-Care-Expansion

BLAIRS, VA -- Commonwealth Home Health Care, a Joint Commission accredited medical equipment company that provides home oxygen, safety, and rehabilitation products, will open an operation in Blairs, the company and Pittsylvania County announced on June 1. With a capital investment of at least $3.5 million, Commonwealth will renovate an unoccupied industrial warehouse to be used for warehousing operations, training, equipment, and additional personnel. The company has committed to creating 26 new jobs through this project.

“I am thrilled that Commonwealth Home Health Care, Inc. is growing its business in the region and opening an operation in Pittsylvania County,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Vic Ingram. “This Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors is committed to investing in economic development so that businesses and the people they employ can thrive. Having a respected company like Commonwealth Home Health Care Inc., which already has ties in our region, choose to invest in Pittsylvania County proves that our efforts are worthwhile.”

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Governor Glenn Youngkin Announces Expansion of Paper Honeycomb Manufacturer in Pittsylvania County, Creating 21 New Jobs

Governor Glenn Youngkin Announces Expansion of Paper Honeycomb Manufacturer in Pittsylvania County, Creating 21 New Jobs

See the full release here: https://www.governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/news-releases/2022/june/name-933742-en.html

~ Axxor to invest $3.5 million to increase capacity ~

RICHMOND,VA —Governor Glenn Youngkin today announced that Axxor, a global leader in paper honeycomb development and production, will invest $3.5 million to expand its manufacturing capacity in Ringgold East Industrial Park in Pittsylvania County. Due to a partnership with a Tier 1 supplier to Ford Motor Company for the new Ford Bronco platform and demand from the packaging industry for sustainable materials to support e-commerce growth, the company will purchase new machinery to expand production capacity and meet market demand. Virginia successfully competed with Michigan for the project, which will create 21 new jobs.

“Axxor took a chance on Virginia in 2011 as an entry point into the North American market, and its continued growth in Pittsylvania County is a great success story,” said Governor Youngkin. “The company offers an innovative, sustainable product that continues to gain momentum across various industries, and we expect its trajectory to continue. We are proud to have Axxor on the Commonwealth’s corporate roster and look forward to a continued partnership.”

“Axxor established its U.S. operation in Pittsylvania County over 10 years ago with a vision for success, and it is exciting to see that dream exceed expectations as the company has outgrown its capacity and created a product that is in high demand,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick. “We thank Axxor for its continued confidence in the Commonwealth and for providing an economic boost to Southern Virginia.”

“When selecting the location for its production facility in North America in 2011, Axxor believed the support offered by the state and local leadership to be the strongest in the region,” said Axxor President and Co-owner Robert Boerrigter. “Since beginning production in 2012, the state and local communities have delivered on those promises made in 2011 and now again supported our next phase with a competitive package. For this reason, continuing its expansion in Ringgold was a logical choice. Once again, Axxor is appreciative of the continued partnership with state and local officials to support economic development and we are proud to call Danville home.” 

“I am thrilled that Axxor has chosen to expand on their success in Pittsylvania County by growing their operation in the Ringgold East Industrial Park,” said Vic Ingram, Chairman of the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors. “I am appreciative that Axxor employs many in our region and I am excited that even more jobs are being created as a result of this announcement. Quality companies like Axxor choosing to make continued investments in Pittsylvania County is the result of targeted economic development initiatives.” 

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SOVA Task Force hosts series of webinars highlighting workforce solutions from local agencies and service providers to address some of the resulting workforce problems after impact of COVID-19

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Workforce Solutions

Beginning May 3 and continuing on a weekly basis until the end of the month, the SOVA Task Force is presenting a series of webinars in which panelist from a broad array or agencies and organizations will share contact information and resources around emerging workforce problems resulting from the impacts of COVID-19. See the article below for links to recordings. 

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Tobacco Commission approves grants for 16 projects including Patrick County Business Development Center

Tobacco Commission approves grants for 16 projects including Patrick County Business Development Center

The Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission has approved funding for 16 projects across Southwest and Southside. The grants were approved at the commission’s meeting in Bristol on Thursday. The largest is $800,000 to help expand rail service at the future Blue Star medical glove manufacturing site in Wythe County; the smallest is $2,500 for a sheep wool baler in Grayson County.

Patrick County Economic Development Authority
Patrick County Business Development Center – $500,000 Grant


The Patrick County Economic Development Authority proposes to redevelop approximately 16,000 SF of blighted commercial property in the Town of Stuart, Virginia for the purpose and use as a Business Development Center. Connecting local ideas, supporting new and existing business growth, and closing the communication gap to regional resources are important goals that this space will help to meet. Creation of support services and space for ecosystem building are considered essential to the success of modern economic development efforts and have been identified as priorities to regional investment. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for flexible, innovative, and highly networked facilities in rural areas. Utilization of existing MBC fiber is important to this project as the need for high speed internet must be addressed.

See the full list of approved projects here: https://cardinalnews.org/2022/05/13/tobacco-commission-approves-grants-for-16-projects/

Danville Community College and Danville-Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce awarded $850,000 cybersecurity grant from the Department of Labor

Danville Community College and Danville-Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce awarded $850,000 cybersecurity grant from the Department of Labor

In earning this grant from the Federal government, the College will develop a virtual program, certified by the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency, providing a 16-week training program of cybersecurity experts.
 
The 16-week program would permit the College to offer 60 students the opportunity to complete a certificate program in Cybersecurity Studies.  Specifically, the program would:

  • Enable graduates to identify security risks to computing resources
  • Assess threats and develop countermeasures aimed at protecting data and assets
  • Develop networking and security solutions, 
  • Balance business concerns and design infrastructure including devices and protocols.  

Graduates of the program would be eligible for employment with the more than 400 cybersecurity positions  available within two hours of Danville, VA.

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ODU LAUNCHES VIRGINIA’S FIRST FOUR-YEAR MANUFACTURING ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY DEGREE

ODU LAUNCHES VIRGINIA’S FIRST FOUR-YEAR MANUFACTURING ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY DEGREE

 

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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SOVA REGION SEES SIX YEARS OF UNPRECEDENTED GROWTH

SOVA REGION SEES SIX YEARS OF UNPRECEDENTED GROWTH

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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