FOR THE RECORD November 2023

A roundup of regional news from across Virginia

Virginia Business


Central Virginia

Bon Secours announced Sept. 29 it had reached an agreement with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Virginia, which the health system sued in August, alleging the insurer owed Bon Secours $93 million in unpaid claims. Although details were not released due to confidentiality agreements between the two parties, Bon Secours said it would drop the lawsuit, which was filed in Henrico County Circuit Court, and all Anthem Medicare Advantage and Medicaid health plan members would again have in-network coverage at Bon Secours. The agreement also extends coverage for employer-based Anthem customers and Affordable Care
Act plan members until 2028.
(VirginiaBusiness.com)

The Advanced Technologies subsidiary of Lynchburg-based nuclear components and fuel supplier BWX Technologies and Jacksonville, Florida-based marine logistics company Crowley signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on a new ship design that will deliver small nuclear reactors to provide power in military and disaster response operations, the companies announced on Sept. 20. The 378-foot ship would carry a 5- to 50-megawatt micro-reactor to an area with damaged or otherwise unavailable power sources and use buoyed cables to connect the ship’s power plant to onshore facilities. The companies did not
have a definitive timeline for the design as of mid-September.
(Cardinal News)

Connecticut-based Collins Capital Partners, the lead developer of an estimated $80 million apartment building in Chesterfield County’s Springline at District 60 mixed-use development, broke ground at the site on Sept. 28. Scheduled for a 2025 completion, The James at Springline will have 298 apartments and 28,000 square feet of ground-level retail space, along with office pods, a conference area, fireplaces, an interior courtyard with pool and lounge areas, a roof deck with a fitness center, and garage parking. The project is part of the $210 million, 42-acre first phase of the county’s Springline at District 60 development, located on Midlothian Turnpike off Chippenham Parkway. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

Fortune 500 utility Dominion Energy is pitching the State Corporation Commission on several solar projects that could generate enough carbon-free electricity to power nearly 200,000 homes. The projects include six solar projects totaling 337 megawatts,
and 13 power purchase agreements totaling 435 megawatts with independent solar projects that were picked through competitive solicitation, Dominion said in a news release Oct. 4. If approved, the company will surpass 4,600 megawatts of solar across the state, enough to power more than 1.1 million homes at peak output.
(VirginiaBusiness.com)

President Joe Biden signed a bill on Sept. 22 that effectively ends Richmond-based United Network for Organ Sharing’s total authority. The Securing the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network Act breaks up the federal contract to oversee transplants of kidneys, livers and lungs. UNOS’ transplant network has been accused for years of poor logistics, a lack of oversight and outdated technology. UNOS intends to bid for at least one of the new contracts, spokesperson Anne Paschke said. UNOS won the first federal organ transplantation oversight contract in 1986 and every contract after that. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Virginia Commonwealth University will guarantee admission to high school students who meet its benchmarks for high academic credentials, VCU announced in early October. Applicants nationwide who have a 3.5 weighted GPA or who graduate in the top 10% of their classes will receive automatic admission this year. They will still need to pay the $70 admissions fee. Two departments, however, will not guarantee admission, as the arts school requires a portfolio and the engineering school offers guaranteed admission to students who meet set standards during their freshman years. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)


Eastern Virginia

Amazon.com will open a fulfillment center and a delivery station in Virginia Beach that are expected to create an estimated 1,000 full-time jobs, Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced in late September. Groundbreaking for the 650,000-square-foot fulfillment center, located at the intersection of Harpers and Dam Neck roads, started the day of the announcement, and Amazon anticipates launching operations at the delivery station in time for the 2024 holiday season and the fulfillment center in 2025. The e-tail giant, which opened its first fulfillment center in the state in 2006, opened a 3.8 million-square-foot robotics fulfillment center in Suffolk in 2022. It’s the second largest building in the state, after the Pentagon. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

Dominion Energy’s proposed offshore wind farm on Sept. 25 hit another major milestone, when the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management completed its environmental assessment of the $9.8 billion, 2.6-gigawatt Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project planned 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach. Completed after about two years, the nearly 700-page report starts the clock ticking on a minimum 30-day waiting period before the BOEM issues its final decision on whether to approve the project. The announcement puts Dominion on track to start construction in 2024. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

Virginia could amend its agreement with the contractor for the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel expansion to increase the state’s financial commitments after being told the project could be delayed by nearly two years. The $3.9 billion project was expected to be finished by November 2025, but contractor Hampton Roads Connector Partners requested a 600-day extension from state officials. At a Sept. 20 meeting, the Commonwealth Transportation Board voted in favor of allowing the state commissioner of highways to amend the project agreement, and as of Oct. 9, the commissioner was still reviewing the matter. (WHRO Public Media)

Lyon Shipyard, a 95-year-old family-owned ship repair facility in Norfolk, will spend $8.5 million to expand its operations and add an estimated 134 jobs, Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced Sept. 20. The shipyard plans to increase its capacity to work on commercial ships and vessels that will work on offshore wind farm operations. Virginia competed with Maryland and North Carolina for the project. Lyon has two facilities in Norfolk located on more than 30 acres along the eastern branch of the Elizabeth River. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

Visitors to Norfolk International Airport could have a new choice for overnight hotel stays in the coming years. Norfolk Airport Authority commissioners voted Sept. 28 to move forward with negotiations to build a Courtyard by Marriott hotel adjacent to the main departures terminal building. Groundbreaking could take place in summer 2024, with completion in 18 to 24 months, according to Mark Perryman, airport authority executive director and CEO. The authority selected ORF Hospitality Partners to begin negotiations on the project. Concept plans call for 168 rooms. (The Virginian-Pilot)

PEOPLE

Lisa Chandler, president and principal broker of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices RW Towne Property Management, announced her retirement Oct. 4, following more than 40 years in real estate. Berkshire Hathaway and Virginia Beach-based Rose & Womble Realty merged in March, bringing more than 750 real estate agents together. Chandler joined the realty company started by her mother-in-law, Nancy Chandler, in 1991 and served as its executive vice president. Chandler and Rose & Womble merged in 2019, and Lisa Chandler was president of Rose & Womble Property Management before moving into her current role in April. (VirginiaBusiness.com)


Northern Virginia

A group of naval engineers filed a federal class action lawsuit Oct. 6 against 20 large government contractors and shipbuilders, including Virginia-based General Dynamics and Huntington Ingalls Industries, claiming that the corporations have for decades “maintained an illegal agreement not to actively recruit, or ‘poach,’ each other’s employees,” thus depriving naval engineers of “hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation.” Among the defendants are General Dynamics Information Technology, Serco and CACI International. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

McLean cybersecurity contractor IronNet Inc., which had about 100 employees at the start of the year, ceased operations and laid off its entire staff after it was unable to secure the capital it needed to remain in business. Founded in 2014 by former National Security Agency Director and retired four-star Army Gen. Keith Alexander, IronNet shut down Sept. 29, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. IronNet said that it expects to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. IronNet’s demise comes more than two years after the company went public through a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company and raised about $267 million from investors. (Washington Business Journal)

Herndon-based federal contractor ManTech International has completed its acquisition of Arlington County-based Definitive Logic. ManTech announced the deal’s closure on Sept. 12, about six weeks after the companies agreed to it. The deal adds about 330 employees to the contractor’s workforce and expands the federal contractor’s suite of cloud, cyber, DevSecOps (development, security and operations), data engineering and artificial learning/machine learning capabilities, as well as technology partnerships. Terms were not disclosed. ManTech provides technology solutions for U.S. defense, intelligence and federal
civilian agencies.
(VirginiaBusiness.com)

One million people have used the Dulles International Airport Metro station since it opened last fall, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority announced Oct. 4. The station has been the busiest of the six new stops added as part of the $3 billion, 11.5-mile Silver Line extension, which opened in November 2022. The line serves as a Metrorail link between Washington, D.C., Loudoun County and the business hub
of Tysons.
(The Washington Post)

Alexandria-based distribution and maintenance provider VSE Corp. has called off an agreement to sell off its federal and defense segment for up to $100 million to Louisiana-based private equity firm Bernhard Capital Partners. The deal was announced in May, and the companies said Sept. 27 that they mutually agreed to terminate the sale, and no fees were required to be paid as a result. The business segment, which employs about 1,000 people, remains for sale. The deal with Bernhard Capital included $50 million cash and up to an additional $50 million if performance milestones related to federal contracts were met. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

PEOPLE

Lance Hendrix has been named Bowman Consulting Group’s inaugural chief revenue officer, the Reston-based engineering services firm announced Oct. 4. Hendrix, who will be based in Reston, has more than 30 years of engineering and construction management experience focused on the power, renewables and industrials markets. He was most recently chief operating officer for Florida-based engineering, procurement and construction firm The Desoto Group. Bowman has about 2,000 employees in more than 80 offices across the nation and provides planning, engineering, geospatial, construction management, commissioning, environmental consulting, land procurement and other technical services. (VirginiaBusiness.com)


Roanoke/New River Valley

Carilion Clinic opened a 37,000-square-foot outpatient mental illness treatment center Oct. 17 at Roanoke County’s Tanglewood Mall next to Carilion’s mall-based pediatric center. About 300 staff at the mall clinic will serve an estimated 800 Carilion patients a week, who will be rerouted from other locations. Officials touted the $11.5 million project as a timely, strategic response to increasing mental illness and the location as ideal, as it is adjacent to expansive parking lots and on the Valley Metro bus line. (The Roanoke Times)

Equitrans Midstream, operator of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, said Oct. 3 it has entered into an agreement with the federal government’s pipeline safety agency to increase transparency over completion of the pipeline’s construction. The announcement comes after the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued a Notice of Proposed Safety Order in August, saying comprehensive assessments were needed “to identify and remediate any coating deficiencies, potential corrosion issues and any potential land movement-related effects on previously installed pipe.” (Cardinal News)

Friendship, a Roanoke-area retirement community, announced Oct. 2 that it acquired Richfield Living, a former competitor in the region, for $62 million. The combined not-for-profit retirement communities will operate under the name Friendship, but will keep Richfield Living’s name and identity, and will have 1,000 employees serving 1,500 residents. After the acquisition, Friendship let go 15 of Richfield’s 300-plus employees. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

Parkland Direct, a lithographic print and custom envelope manufacturer, will invest $10 million to expand in Bedford County, creating 41 jobs, Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced Oct 10. The company will add 50,000 square feet to its facility to increase production capacity with the addition of two new converters and press machines. The family-owned business started in Virginia in 1978, and its clients include national brands in areas such as finance, insurance and travel. Parkland Direct does foiling, embossing and specialty coatings for direct-mail marketing. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

A one-time student tuition rebate and a pay increase for faculty, staff and graduate students were approved by the Virginia Tech board of visitors Oct. 4. All full-time, regular session students will receive a $275 rebate of their tuition payment, the university announced. For part-time students, the rebate is $15 per credit hour. This comes after the university board approved a 4.9% tuition increase in the spring, promising then to revisit tuition when the budget was finalized. (The Roanoke Times)

San Francisco-based Wells Fargo will spend $87 million to modernize and expand its Roanoke County customer support center, adding 1,100 jobs in a deal that will make the bank the county’s largest employer. The deal is also the largest project employment announcement in the county’s history, as well as its largest commercial office investment, Gov. Glenn Youngkin said in a news release announcing the deal Sept. 26. Wells Fargo already employs 1,650 people at the county’s customer service center. With the addition of 1,100 workers, the bank will surpass the county’s public school system, which employs between 2,000 and 2,500 people, Megan Baker, the county’s economic development director, told Virginia Business. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

PEOPLE

Linsey Marr, a university distinguished professor and the Charles P. Lunsford Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech, on Oct. 4 was named one of this year’s 20 MacArthur Fellows. A prestigious award known as the “genius grant,” the fellowship is awarded annually by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to professionals in fields ranging from writing, visual arts and music composition to scientific research. Recognizing excellence and dedication to their work, the fellowship comes with an $800,000 award that recipients can use with no strings attached. (VirginiaBusiness.com)


Shenandoah Valley

Buc-ee’s Super Center is coming to a busy stretch of Shenandoah Valley highway near Mount Crawford. Buc-ee’s Mt. Crawford LLC purchased 21.3 acres at the intersection of Interstate 81 and Friedens Church Road in Rockingham County from Lispen LLC for $6.6 million, Norfolk-based S.L. Nusbaum Realty announced Sept. 26. The second Buc-ee’s planned in Virginia, the Rockingham travel center will include up to 75,000 square feet of retail space, 120 fueling positions, electric vehicle chargers and parking for more than 650 vehicles, including buses. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

Community opposition failed to stop the Clarke County Board of Supervisors on Sept. 19 from imposing zoning restrictions on farms that produce and sell alcoholic beverages. County officials contended the restrictions are necessary to ensure the businesses don’t become nuisances to neighbors. During a public hearing, representatives of the businesses countered that the restrictions could hurt their enterprises, put people out of work and stifle the county’s agricultural economy. As part of the vote, supervisors allowed the businesses to use amplified sound systems until 7 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. (The Winchester Star)

Jon Henry General Store in Shenandoah County in late September debuted six electric vehicle charging stations. The project, in the works for more than a year, was kickstarted with a multimillion-dollar grant — the Mid-Atlantic Electrification Partnership — awarded to the Virginia Clean Cities Coalition to deploy electric vehicles within an ecosystem. Virginia Clean Cities is a statewide nonprofit based in Harrisonburg that works to reduce emissions in the transportation sector. The grant funded 400 charging stations and more than 100 electric vehicles throughout Virginia; Washington, D.C.; West Virginia; and Maryland. (The Northern Virginia Daily)

Leiber, a German manufacturer that processes brewer’s yeast into animal food, biotechnology and supplements, announced Sept. 18 that it will invest as much as $20 million to establish its first U.S. operation in Rockingham County’s Innovation Village, adding an estimated 35 jobs. Founded in 1954, Leiber works with breweries to offload yeast for further upcycling, operating five production sites in three nations and supplying products to more than 65 countries. It also conducts product research and development in company labs. Virginia competed with four other states for the project. Construction was expected to begin in October, with production beginning in the first quarter of 2025. (VirginiaBusiness.com)

Short-term rentals were a hot topic at the Shenandoah County Planning Commission’s monthly meeting Oct. 5, amid a flood of applications from property owners to rent out their homes on sites like Airbnb and Vrbo. Director of Community Development Lemuel Hancock said 44 new permits are being processed to convert homes across the county to host guests. Hancock then presented a map of 40 of the applications based on where the permitting fees were paid; locations included California, Ohio, New York and South Carolina. Only 20% were from within Shenandoah County. (The Northern Virginia Daily)

Visitor spending in Winchester-Frederick County reached a record-breaking $287.5 million in 2022, representing a 10.5% increase over the previous year and a 14.8% increase over pre-pandemic levels in 2019, according to data announced Sept. 26 by Virginia Tourism Corp. The tourism sector in Winchester-Frederick County supports 2,486 jobs and $80 million in paychecks; state and local taxes generated by tourism spending reached $21.05 million in 2022 in the region. Tourism generated $30.3 billion in visitor spending statewide in 2022, exceeding 2019 levels by 4.4%. (The Winchester Star)


Southern Virginia

Clarksville kicked off its participation in the Main Street America and Virginia Main Street programs by hosting a series of focus groups on Sept. 26 aimed at setting economic development priorities for the town. Clarksville was accepted into the programs in 2022. At each of three focus groups, business and property owners and stakeholders were asked to assess the positives of the town and what they envisioned for Clarksville in the near future. The positives included comments about the friendly and helpful nature of the people living and working around town as well as the fact that several businesses have recently undertaken efforts to improve the exterior façades of their buildings. (SoVa Now)

Construction of the Dan River Falls project continues as planned, with completion expected in late 2024. “Work is being completed on schedule, which we’re thankful for, as we know not every developer can say the same right now,” said Kendra Bishop, spokesperson for Madison, Wisconsin-based The Alexander Co. Construction of the $85 million project to convert the former White Mill building into commercial space and residential units started early this year. The White Mill is being redeveloped into a multiuse project that will initially feature 147,000 square feet of commercial space and 150 apartments. Another 56 units are planned in a future phase. (Danville Register & Bee)

The Danville Office of Economic Development & Tourism announced in late September that it awarded more than $200,000 in grants to 29 small businesses to support expansion and marketing efforts. The grant program is funded through the city’s share of money from the American Rescue Plan Act, the federal economic stimulus bill supporting small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Up to $25,000 was available for restaurants to expand, with qualifying expenses. Businesses could also apply for up to $3,000 to enhance marketing and commerce efforts, including website development, advertising, promotional materials and design services. (Danville Register & Bee)

By a 6-2 vote, the Halifax County Board of Supervisors approved the proposed 60-megawatt Hillandale Solar facility near the Staunton River at the board’s Oct. 2 monthly meeting in Halifax. Supervisors overruled the Halifax County Planning Commission, which recommended the denial of the solar project. With a total rated capacity of 102 megawatts, Hillandale Solar will be built on land in both Halifax and Pittsylvania counties in the Long Island area near the Staunton River. Pittsylvania has already approved its 42-megawatt share of the project. (SoVa Now)

Rosie’s Gaming Emporium has opened a new location in Emporia on West Atlantic Street near Interstate 95. Rosie’s Emporia location features 150 slotslike gaming machines, simulcast horse racing, a restaurant and a bar. The Emporia location will create more than 100 local jobs and generate approximately $1 million in annual tax revenue for Emporia. Since opening in Virginia, Rosie’s and Colonial Downs have invested more than $400 million in the commonwealth. (WWBT NBC12)

PEOPLE

Martinsville-based Genedge Alliance, a consultant to manufacturers statewide, has named Cheryl Valentine as its regional growth manager for the Southside region, the organization announced in early October. Valentine will lead business development efforts to support manufacturers from Lynchburg throughout Southside Virginia, working with owners and senior executives of manufacturing, engineering and technology companies. Previously, she was director of new business and underwriting for Pacific Life Insurance and before that, Valentine worked in the footwear industry for Consolidated Shoe. (VirginiaBusiness.com)


Southwest Virginia

Abingdon Town Council approved a plan during its Sept. 21 meeting to keep shops offering marijuana out of its Old and Historic District and its overlay entrance corridor. The zoning text amendment limits the locations of businesses offering recreational substances like tobacco and marijuana that can be sold or gifted in the town. Relevant shops could locate in the town’s manufacturing district or in some business districts, although they might need further approval to locate in those zones. Such stores must be at least 2,000 linear feet from any public or private school and from each other. (Bristol Herald Courier)

CNX Resources held a groundbreaking for its Virginia headquarters office in Richlands on Oct. 5. The natural gas company was leasing space in Claypool Hill and is relocating and expanding its Virginia office to the Richlands Professional building on Front Street. CNX Resources expects to complete the move in the first quarter of 2024. The company will be adding eight jobs in the expansion, for a total of 75 employees. The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority provided a $900,000 loan to the Tazewell County Industrial Development Authority to assist CNX Resources. (News release)

Coastal Crypto, a cryptocurrency mining company founded in 2021, moved from Roanoke to Buchanan County this year. In late September, the two-employee company was preparing to hire 100 employees at the new location, the former Virginia Forge steel processing plant that closed in 2016. Coastal Crypto’s former location in an industrial building in Roanoke’s Norwich neighborhood didn’t have the power the company needed, according to co-owner Mark Andersen, but the new location has more than 5 megawatts of electricity. The company is “a retail outlet for crypto mining equipment and a host provider similar to a data center for crypto mining,” Andersen said. (The Roanoke Times)

Norton City Council received an update on the Southside Comprehensive Community Development Project during its Oct. 3 meeting. Using a $1.5 million community development block grant from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, the city demolished nine dilapidated buildings, rehabilitated seven homes and reconstructed two homes. Three more homes were set to be renovated by Dec. 31. With a roughly $366,000 loan/grant package from the Virginia Department of Health and a funding package of $47,500 from the LENOWISCO Planning District Commission, the city replaced more than 4,000 feet of water lines, established 26 meter reconnections and installed eight fire hydrant assemblies. (The Coalfield Progress)

The University of Virginia’s College at Wise contributed an estimated $188 million to the state’s gross domestic product and $13 million in state tax revenues during fiscal 2021, according to a report commissioned by the Virginia Business Higher Education Council released in late September. The Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, which conducted the study, used the college’s overall expenditures and projected magnified earnings from graduates in fiscal 2021 as its sources. College expenditures alone generated $55 million in state GDP and more than $3 million in state revenues. (News release)

The new Wise Economic Development Authority has appointed its officers, established its meeting schedule and started its first initiatives, filling its remaining seats in its Sept. 28 meeting. The EDA established its regular meeting time as the second Thursday of each month at 6 p.m., although it will not meet in October. The authority granted the Wise Business Association $200 to help it advertise local businesses on billboards beside regional highways. The EDA will also create a work group for a Main Street façade improvement program initiative. (The Coalfield Progress)


 

https://www.virginiabusiness.com/article/for-the-record-november-2023/

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