For The Record May 2021


Virginia Business


Roanoke/New River Valley

A proposal under consideration by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget could redefine Blacksburg and the New River Valley area from a federal metropolitan statistical area to a micropolitan statistical area. Blacksburg is one of 144 localities nationwide that could be impacted by the potential change that would raise the population for metropolitan statistical areas to 100,000. Blacksburg has about 44,000 residents but the Blacksburg-Christiansburg metro area has a population of more than 167,500, according to census estimates. It’s unclear exactly what effect changing its metro status would have on Blacksburg, but local officials worry it could impact economic development or funding allocations for transit services and housing. (The Roanoke Times)

Munters Group AB, a Sweden-based manufacturer of air treatment and cooling systems for data centers and other industrial applications, announced in March that it will invest $36 million to relocate its Buena Vista operations to Botetourt County. Munters plans to open a 365,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in summer 2022 in the county’s Botetourt Center at Greenfield business park in Daleville. The new facility will house manufacturing, research and development, and sales for data center cooling systems and high temperature industrial process systems. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

Oransi, a Raleigh, North Carolina-based manufacturer of air purifiers, announced in April that it will invest
$5.6 million
to establish a manufacturing facility in Radford, creating 101 jobs. Founded in 2009, Oransi makes air purifiers for consumers, businesses and health care professionals. Oransi’s Radford manufacturing plant will be located at 113 Corporate Drive in the Plymouth Building. Virginia competed with North Carolina for the project. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

Radford University President Brian Hemphill told faculty in late March that the school had reduced its budget cuts from an anticipated $20 million to less than $2 million after receiving more COVID relief and financial aid funds from the state than initially expected. The university planned to make the cuts in part by offering early retirement to some staff and faculty. Hemphill also announced that a groundbreaking for the school’s $30 million, 125-room Highlander Hotel project on Tyler Avenue across from the campus is planned for May. The hotel is scheduled for completion by 2022, a year ahead of the university’s original plan. Hemphill is leaving Radford this summer to become president of Old Dominion University.
(The Roanoke Times)

In March, Virginia Tech announced it was replacing its Office of Economic Development with the new Center for Economic and Community Engagement. The university-level center will engage with internal and external partners to drive economic growth, address workforce needs and interact with people statewide. Part of the center’s mission will be to promote greater opportunities for education,
health and job creation for communities across Virginia. It will be led by John Provo, who has run
the university’s Office of Economic Development since 2010. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

PEOPLE

After 19 years as the founding leader of the Blacksburg Partnership, Diane Akers will retire on June 30 from her position as president of the private economic development group. Akers was hired as the Blacksburg Partnership’s founding director in 2002, helping launch the organization that was established as a partnership between the town of Blacksburg, Virginia Tech and the local business community. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

The Tokyo-based parent company of Roanoke’s TMEIC Corp. merged its two U.S. operations on
April 1, naming
Manmeet S. Bhatia president and CEO of the new Roanoke-headquartered entity, TMEIC Corp. Americas. The U.S. subsidiary
of Toshiba Mitsubishi-Electric Industrial Systems Corp., TMEIC designs and develops advanced automation systems, large AC and DC motors and photovoltaic inverters. It merged with TMEIC Power Electronics Products Corp. of Katy, Texas. Bhatia succeeds
Dale Guidry, TMEIC’s CEO since 2007. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

Eastern Virginia

Henrico County-based real estate investment firm Capital Square announced in March that it had acquired Streets of Greenbrier apartments in Chesapeake for $67.25 million. Located at 929 Wintercress Way, the 280-unit apartment complex sits on 13.78 acres. Constructed in 2013, the community consists of nine residential buildings and includes studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units ranging in size from 516 square feet to 1,286 square feet. The seller was Richmond- based GrayCo Inc. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

Construction began in April on Mosaic, a $68 million, six-floor mixed-use building coming to Chesapeake’s $330 million Summit Pointe development. The Mosaic tower will include 507,495 square feet of apartments, restaurants, shops and a public parking garage, encompassing a full city block at the corner of Belaire Avenue and Summit Pointe Drive. The building will offer 270 one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments. Delivery of the first residential and commercial spaces is anticipated in mid-2022. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

A new 55-foot-tall cinder-block tower at Naval Station Norfolk should cut the time Virginia class submarines are out of action because of repairs on the structure that houses their periscope, antennas and sensors. The tower means Norfolk-based sailors and skilled shipyard workers can get access to the universal modular masts on top of the sails of Virginia class attack subs. Unlike masts on older submarines, the modular masts on Virginia class boats have to be worked on when they are vertical, and the tower makes that possible. (Daily Press)

Trash from most residents of Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach is currently burned at a waste-to-energy facility in Portsmouth that creates steam purchased by the Norfolk Naval Shipyard as a power source. But a contractor recently broke ground on a natural gas-powered steam and energy plant at the shipyard. Once it’s finished — planned for 2024 — the plant will enable the shipyard to produce nearly all the steam and energy it needs, meaning hundreds of millions of pounds of additional trash could end up in a regional landfill in Suffolk within a few years. (The Virginian-Pilot)

Cleaning and hospitality crews dressed in yellow shirts have been patrolling the Virginia Beach resort area since April 1 and will continue through summer. The new “ambassador” program is part of the city’s strategy to spruce up the Oceanfront and make it a friendlier, safer place for tourists and residents. A new Resort Management Office recently opened on the corner of Arctic Avenue and 17th Street and is serving as the base for resort area zoning and code enforcement officers as well as homeless outreach efforts. (The Virginian-Pilot)

Tribune Publishing is moving forward with plans to be acquired by Alden Global Capital and has ended discussions with a Maryland hotel executive interested in purchasing the Chicago-based newspaper chain, which owns The Virginian-Pilot, the Daily Press and Richmond’s Style Weekly. On April 20, Tribune Publishing said it was notified that Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss had pulled out of a fully financed nonbinding offer of $680 million for the company made with Choice Hotels Chairman Stewart Bainum. (Chicago Tribune)

People

Former Norfolk Commissioner of Revenue C. Evans Poston Jr. has been hired by Richmond-based Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP to expand its public affairs and strategies consultancy to the Hampton Roads region, the firm announced in April. Poston will serve as the firm’s government relations director for Hampton Roads. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

Shenandoah Valley

Bridgewater College received a $5 million gift in March to establish its first named and endowed school. Donated by a 1962 alumna, the funding will establish the Bonnie Forrer and John Harvey Rhodes School of Arts and Humanities, named for the donor and her late husband. The school will combine its existing communications, fine arts and literature divisions with its division of humanities and social sciences. Bonnie Rhodes is on the college’s board of trustees and previously made a donation to support the John Kenny Forrer Learning Commons, named for her father. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

The Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority continues to chip away at its debts to reach financial independence. In late March, the EDA’s board agreed to pay off $158,592 toward a loan from United Bank, and $104,645 to pay on a loan for the Leach Run Parkway project. So far, the EDA has paid off more than $2 million in debt, and the town of Front Royal has started its own EDA while suing the cooperative authority for $15 million. In 2019, the joint authority was caught up in an embezzlement scandal allegedly involving its former director, who was indicted on misappropriating $21.3 million in EDA and town funds, but the charges were dropped last April. (The Northern Virginia Daily, VirginiaBusiness.com)

Edinburg-based telecommunications company Shentel will be laying off
340 employees, primarily in its wireless division, as part of a restructuring in conjunction with the pending sale of its wireless assets to T-Mobile. Approximately 90% of the layoffs will involve employees in the Shentel wireless division who are not transferring to T-Mobile as part of the transaction. The layoffs will follow the closing of the pending sale, which is expected in the early third quarter of 2021. Shentel will retain approximately 860 employees to support its broadband and tower segments. (Augusta Free Press)

For the first time in the Virginia Military Institute’s 181-year history, a woman will hold the highest-ranking cadet position. Kasey Meredith, a third-year cadet from Johnstown, Pennsylvania, will be regimental commander and responsible for the training, discipline, appearance and morale of the Corps of Cadets in the upcoming academic year, VMI announced in March. Meredith, who is majoring in international studies, plans to commission as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps upon graduating next year. (The Roanoke Times)

People

Spadoni
Spadoni

Former state Del. A.R. “Pete” Giesen Jr., who represented parts of the Shenandoah Valley for more than 30 years in the Virginia House of Delegates, died at the age of 88 on April 2. He also was a part-time political science professor at James Madison University. His focuses included advocating for mental health reform, and Giesen raised money for the Augusta County chapter of Mental Health America, which has long hosted an annual golf tournament bearing Giesen’s name.
(News Leader)

Longtime luxury resort executive Mark Spadoni was hired as managing director for The Omni Homestead Resort in April. He previously served for 20 years as the general manager for the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa and Club at Savannah Harbor in Georgia. Prior to that, he was a general manager for Westin properties in South Carolina, Connecticut, Louisiana, New York and Florida. He founded two Savannah, Georgia, nonprofits and served on several boards, including the local tourism council and chamber of commerce. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

 

Southwest Virginia

BEAST Trailers, which manufactures custom aluminum sport and utility trailers, will begin operations in Grundy at Paul’s Fan Co.’s location in the Southern Gap industrial development park. The creation of BEAST, an acronym for best equipment and sport trailers, was announced in April by founder and CEO Todd Elswick. BEAST is expected to create about 15 jobs. The new company will support the region’s increased interest in utility terrain vehicles and outdoor sports activities.
(Bristol Herald Courier)

Much of West Virginia-based Blackjewel’s former coal empire in Virginia remains in disarray, even as a federal judge signed off on a bankruptcy settlement in March. More than two dozen Virginia mining permits controlled by the company are in limbo. On July 1, 2020, Blackjewel’s mining operations came to a halt as the company filed for bankruptcy and claw backed workers’ paychecks. Blackjewel eventually agreed to pay about 1,100 miners in Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky $5.1 million in unpaid wages. (Virginia Mercury)

The GO Virginia state board has approved nearly $486,400 for a project that aims to create high-tech energy storage manufacturing jobs in the Southwest region. The project will provide technical assistance to existing manufacturers who have worked to diversify their businesses into energy storage and electrification markets, according to an April 6 news release. The companies are located in the Cumberland Plateau Planning District area. The funding will be matched by $245,000 in private and philanthropic dollars. (The Coalfield Progress)

On April 8, German auto parts manufacturer STS Group AG announced it will invest $39 million to establish its first U.S. manufacturing operation in Wythe County’s Progress Park industrial park, creating 120 jobs. Located near Wytheville, the facility, operating as a subsidiary of STS Group North America, will supply Volvo Trucks in Pulaski County and other truck and automotive facilities throughout the Midwest and southeastern U.S. markets. Virginia successfully competed with North Carolina for the project. Headquartered in Hallbergmoos, Germany, STS Group AG develops, manufactures and supplies products and solutions for components made of plastic or composite material for the automobile and trucking industries. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

On April 7, the General Assembly rejected Gov. Ralph Northam’s proposal to tie the loss of state coal tax credits to new funding for the University of Virginia’s College at Wise during a one-day session called to respond to Northam’s proposed changes to legislation. Northam had offered amendments to bills which would have eliminated the tax credits after tax year 2021, proposing that the state provide $300,000 each year in fiscal years 2023, 2024 and 2025, and $6.5 million in each subsequent year, to U.Va. Wise “for the expansion of course offerings in data science, computer science, cybersecurity and renewable energy.”
(The Coalfield Progress)

Three Southwest Virginia airports are receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair runways and hangars, according to the Virginia Aviation Board. On March 26, the board awarded more than $6.54 million to 27 airports across Virginia. The money will be used to improve the airports and the services they provide. In Southwest Virginia, Lonesome Pine Airport in Wise County is set to receive $480,000 for runway rehabilitation. Virginia Highlands Airport in Abingdon — which is planning the fifth phase of its runway expansion — will receive $334,000. Tazewell County Airport will receive $400,000. The airport is expected to prepare the site for a hangar. (SWVA Today)

Southern Virginia

Danville Utilities plans to spend the $8.2 million from its February sale of the Patrick County hydroelectric complex to Northbrook Energy to build a new electrical substation for the incoming Caesars casino at the former Dan River Inc. site in Schoolfield, as well as upgrading its substations at Westover and Southside. The city anticipates spending $3 million each on the updates, as well as $1 million for the new Schoolfield substation, says Danville Utilities Director Jason Grey. The remaining $1 million will go toward a fourth Appalachian Power delivery point in Brosville, set to be completed in 2023. (Danville Register & Bee)

The Halifax County Industrial Development Authority has retained a Greensboro, North Carolina-based consulting firm to help it find a new executive director, the IDA board announced in April. Jorgenson Consulting has been hired to perform a search to bring qualified candidates to the IDA, after applying to the authority’s request for proposals. The search process kicked off in mid-April and is expected to take from three to four months to complete. Brian Brown was fired by the board in October, and interim director Mike Davidson has held the position on a part-time basis since then. (SoVaNow)

Chatham-based J&J Truck Sales Inc., which rents and sells heavy-duty trucks and construction equipment, will build a 45,000-square-foot facility off U.S. Highway 29 in Pittsylvania County, Gov. Ralph Northam announced in late March. The $5.2 million project, adjacent to the company’s existing operation, is expected to create 27 jobs and increase its ability to repair, refurbish and fabricate automotive equipment. Virginia beat South Carolina for the project, the governor’s office said. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

The U.S. Department of Commerce announced in March that it has awarded $800,000 to the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corp. (MBC) in South Boston to increase broadband capacity in 14 counties in Southern and Central Virginia. Local investment will match the CARES Act grant with $200,000, MBC said. The funding will go toward expanding an existing fiber optic network and providing access to more than 4,500 acres in industrial and technology parks, health care facilities, medical research centers and existing businesses. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

The SOVA Innovation Hub in South Boston, in partnership with Longwood University, will launch a series of programs on capital access and entrepreneurship training for adults and youth via a $449,000 GO Virginia grant, Gov. Ralph Northam announced in April. The funding is part of a $6.3 million allocation supporting 15 economic development projects across the state to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The project’s total budget is $819,000, and it will benefit 15 localities in Southern and Central Virginia, training 200 entrepreneurs over two years. (News releases)

Sovah Health announced in April a $12 million renovation and expansion of its Danville emergency department, which will grow by 50%. The construction, which is expected to take more than two years to complete, will expand the department from 14,000 square feet to 21,000 square feet. Ambulance bays also will be relocated to reduce congestion and improve access. LifePoint Health, which owns the hospital, is paying for the construction, and Sovah Health-Danville Chief Operating Officer John Kent said that the upcoming Caesars Virginia casino played a role in the company’s willingness to invest in the project. (Danville Register & Bee)

Northern Virginia

In April, Reston-based Gainwell Technologies, a 6-month-old spinoff company of DXC Technology, completed its approximately $3.4 billion acquisition of HMS Holdings, a Texas-based health care technology company. The all-cash deal, announced in December and closed in April, was made for $37 per share. Gainwell, with more than 7,500 employees, was created in October and focuses on Medicaid management, immunization registry, care management and other services. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

Bethesda, Maryland-based developer JBG Smith Properties announced in late March that it has begun construction on two residential towers at 1900 Crystal Drive in National Landing near Amazon.com Inc.’s HQ2, which JBG Smith is also developing. The two towers will include 808 apartments and approximately 40,000 square feet of street-level retail. The 27-story southern tower will include 471 apartments; the 26-story northern tower will include 337 apartments. The buildings, which will be approximately 300 feet tall, were designed by architecture firm COOKFOX, in collaboration with Torti Gallas + Partners. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

Loudoun Economic Development unveiled plans in late March for Rivana at Innovation Station, a 4.4-million-square-foot mixed-use development adjacent to Metro’s Silver Line extension on a site Loudoun once proposed for Amazon.com Inc.’s HQ2 East Coast headquarters. Rivana is the first phase of the 103-acre development that is connected to the planned Innovation Center Metro station expected to open later this summer in Herndon. Rivana includes more than 1,950 apartments, 1.8 million square feet of office space, a 265-room hotel and an 11-acre park. Novais Partners, a Loudoun-based joint venture co-owned by four real estate development and investment firms, is developing the project. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

Virginia’s $3.7 billion rail expansion package, including agreements with Amtrak, CSX and Virginia Railway Express, was finalized in late March with a signing ceremony at an Amtrak/VRE station in Alexandria. According to Gov. Ralph Northam’s office, the number of Amtrak trains serving Virginia will double in the next 10 years, providing nearly hourly service, and VRE service will increase by 60%. The agreement allocates $1.9 billion for the adjacent two-track Long Bridge over the Potomac River, which will be owned by Virginia. The project also creates the possibility of statewide rail routes. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

Daniel Snyder’s purchase of his Washington Football Team co-owners’ shares was approved by his fellow NFL team owners in late March, putting control of the team entirely under Snyder and his family members. Owners ratified a resolution granting Snyder a $450 million debt waiver and approving his $875 million buyout of the ownership stakes of Dwight Schar, Fred Smith and Robert Rothman, which total about 40% of the franchise. According to a person familiar with the proceedings, the vote was unanimous, ending a dispute that produced a grievance, an NFL arbitration process and litigation. The purchase does not end the NFL’s investigation into allegations of sexual harassment in the team’s workplace, led by attorney Beth Wilkinson. (The Washington Post)

People

Teresa Carlson, the Herndon-based executive who founded Amazon Web Services’ public sector business, left Amazon.com Inc.’s cloud computing subsidiary to become president and chief growth officer of Splunk Inc., the San Francisco tech company announced in April. Carlson, a former Microsoft executive, was an influential and visible presence in the Washington, D.C., region for more than a decade as AWS’ vice president of worldwide sector and industries. Max Peterson replaced her as of April 19. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

Central Virginia

In April, Henrico County-based The Brink’s Co. purchased PAI Inc., the largest privately held ATM services provider in the nation, for $213 million. The acquisition was financed using available cash and Brink’s Co.’s existing credit facility, according to a news release. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

Goochland County-based used car giant CarMax Inc. announced in April that it had signed an agreement for full ownership of vehicle research website Edmunds.com Inc. in a cash and stock deal. In January 2020, CarMax invested $50 million to acquire a minority stake in Santa Monica, California-based Edmunds. A Fortune 500 company, CarMax will acquire the remaining shares of Edmunds for a purchase price valuing Edmunds at $404 million. The cash-and-stock deal is expected to close in June. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

After putting its plans in neutral last year amid the pandemic, online used car retailer Carvana announced in April that it plans to break ground this quarter on a $25 million, 191,000-square-foot vehicle inspection and reconditioning facility in Chesterfield County. The project could bring more than 400 jobs to the county, economic development officials said. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

Henrico County-based Fortune 500 insurer Genworth Financial Inc. announced in April that it has formally terminated its long-delayed $2.7 billion acquisition by China-based Oceanwide Holdings Group Co. Ltd. The news followed a Jan. 5 announcement by Genworth that it was putting a hold on the deal, first announced in 2016. At the same time, the company said it would be exploring a contingency plan that included a potential partial initial public offering of the company’s mortgage insurance business. That would help the business meet $1 billion in debt obligations due this year. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

The Riverside on the James office tower in downtown Richmond sold for $77 million in April. Opal Holdings, a New York-based real estate investment firm, purchased the 15-story building from McLean-based American Real Estate Partners, which had owned the building at 1001 Haxall Point overlooking the James River since 2011. The 10-story condominium building next door to the office tower that makes up the Riverside on the James mixed-use project was not part of the sale. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

The University of Richmond’s board of trustees made a conciliatory move in April amid an ongoing conflict over two campus building names associated with racism. On April 5, the board said it would reevaluate its earlier decision not to change the names of Ryland Hall and Mitchell-Freeman Hall. The buildings were named after the Rev. Robert Ryland, the school’s founding president and an enslaver, and Douglas Southall Freeman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian who supported racial segregation and eugenics. On April 2, the faculty senate censured the university’s rector, Paul B. Queally, who came under fire after faculty reported that Queally dismissed the dispute as “cancel culture” during a meeting and referred to helping “Black, brown and ‘regular students.’” Queally did not dispute specific quotes the faculty attributed to him. (Richmond Times-Dispatch, The Washington Post)

People

Farrell
Farrell

Thomas F. Farrell II, the longtime chairman, president and CEO of Dominion Energy Inc., died April 2, one day after retiring as the Richmond-based Fortune 500 utility’s executive chair and top leader. Farrell, 66, was battling cancer, which had taken a turn for the worse in recent weeks, according to a statement from Dominion. Farrell had also recently retired from Henrico County-based Altria Group Inc.’s board of directors, which he had chaired since April 2020. Robert M. Blue, who succeeded Farrell in October 2020 as president and CEO, also became Dominion’s chairman on April 1, when Farrell retired. (VirginiaBusiness.com)



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