|Issue 15||March 2011|
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Development Partnership, Inc.
Governor Bob McDonnell announced
in December that Guardian Industries will invest $2.1 million to expand
at its Consolidated Glass & Mirror facility in the City of Galax.
The project, which involves a new solar energy product line, will create
40 new jobs. The expansion in Galax will enable the company to produce
specially coated mirrors used in the technology of concentrating solar
power (CSP), a type of solar thermal power. The mirrors track the sun
and radiate its energy onto a central receiver, creating the power equivalent
of hundreds of suns. That power is used to vaporize water into steam to
power a turbine for the generation of electricity.
Independence Homes, LLC, a new company in Grayson County, announced in December it will invest $1 million to begin manufacturing of modular cabins and cottages at its new facility in Independence. Joining the new company in making the announcement were the Grayson County Board of Supervisors, along with the Grayson County Industrial Development Authority, the Independence Industrial Development Authority and the Blue Ridge Crossroads Small Business Development Center. The project involves the construction of park-model homes and modular cabins and cottages and is expected to create 42 new jobs.
The Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission approved $75,000 in Tobacco Region Opportunity Funds to assist Grayson County with the project, $125,000 was received from the Independence IDA in a low-interest loan and business planning assistance was provided through the SBDC. The Virginia Department of Business Assistance will provide funding and services to support the company's recruitment and training activities through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.
Mary Rae Carter, Virginia's first Deputy Secretary of Commerce & Trade for Rural Economic Development, was the special guest at the aCorridor's February Board of Directors meeting. Ms. Carter spoke to the group about her role, the Administration's focus on economic development, and the Governor's Opportunity at Work initiative. She stressed the importance of regional organizations like Virginia's aCorridor, saying, “When a prospect identifies a region to look at, they want a single point of contact, and that should be him,” pointing to Tom Elliott, the aCorridor's Executive Director. The Deputy Secretary also voiced her support of the aCorridor 2011- 2012 Marketing Strategy, which Tom had presented earlier, and emphasized her commitment to work with the region to land more prospects in the days ahead.
The Virginia Tobacco Commission announced in early January the awarding of grants for megasite development. The Commission says: "The Megasite Grant Program is intended to advance the readiness of large sites with which communities and the Commonwealth can successfully compete for significant private industry investments."
Three aCorridor counties received megasite grants: The Blue Ridge Crossroads Economic Development Authority (BRCEDA) was awarded $3.8 million for site development and build-out at Wildwood Commerce Park in Carroll County. The Smyth County Board of Supervisors received a grant of $130,500 for planning and study of a megasite in Smyth County. The Washington County Industrial Development Authority received a grant of $1,526,490 for access roads, utilities and site grading for Phase IV at Oak Park Center for Business and Industry.
Last summer, the Tobacco Commission awarded the Joint Industrial Development Authority of Wythe County, Wytheville, and Rural Retreat a Southwest Economic Development grant of $1 million for the rail site development project of Lot 24, a 232-acre site at Progress Park in Wytheville. In November, the Joint IDA was awarded a $3 million grant announced by Governor Bob McDonnell as one of the first recipients of Virginia's Major Employment and Investment (MEI) Project Site Planning Grant Fund program. This grant will also be used for site development at Progress Park.
In addition to the Megasite Grant
Program award for Wildwood Commerce Park, which will be used for engineering
and related costs, funding the construction of water and sewer, an access
road and fiber optic communications, in 2010 the Tobacco Commission also
awarded $1 million for BRCEDA's acquisition of the 167-acre site
off Interstate 77's Exit 19. The Commonwealth of Virginia also
has recommended a federal Appalachian Regional Commission grant of $500,000
for water and wastewater extensions to the Wildwood Commerce Park site.
The Bland County Economic Development Authority and American Mine Research, Inc. (“AMR”) anounced in late 2010 they were awarded a research and development grant of $800,000 from the Virginia Tobacco Commission. Eleven new jobs are associated with this grant. Founded in 1975, AMR is a leading manufacturer of monitoring and control electronics for the underground and surface mining industries.
The Tobacco Commission's grant will be used to hire and train new technical and production personnel over the next two years. The new personnel will aid in the development of AMR's next generation underground wireless tracking and communications system, Mine Net™ Mesh. All new personnel will work from AMR's Rocky Gap facility. The new Mine Net™ Mesh system will combine tracking, voice and text communications, atmospheric gas monitoring and other monitoring and control capabilities all in one completely wireless system. Currently, AMR has over 60 Mine Net™ Systems installed throughout the country.
2010 Report Card
14 Expansions, 327 Jobs, $38.55 Million capital investment
3 New Industries, 125 Jobs, $2.25 Million capital investment
A Total of 17 Announcements, 452 Jobs, $40.8 Million capital investment
Since our last newsletter, we have wrapped up the year 2010. By all accounts, it was another tough year, but we had some fair results, with 3 of our announcements coming in mid-December. Not surprisingly, existing industry expansions led the way. Typically, these account for the greatest job creation year in and year out. In 2010, they also chalked up the greatest capital investment. Case in point - you have to pay attention to your existing industries, and our localities do that!
Alpha Natural Resources announced in late January plans to buy Massey Energy Company in an $8.5 billion cash and stock transaction. According to an Alpha Natural Resources news release, the merger will bring together Alpha's and Massey's highly complementary assets, which include more than 110 mines and combined coal reserves of approximately 5 billion tons, including one of the world's largest and highest-quality metallurgical coal reserve bases. "Alpha and Massey believe the new entity will be well positioned to capitalize on strong global demand trends for coal including the metallurgical coal used in the steel manufacturing process. Further, the combination is expected to permit Alpha and Massey to benefit from geographical and asset diversification, including operations and reserves in Central and Northern Appalachia , the Illinois Basin and the Powder River Basin in Wyoming." Currently headquartered in Abingdon, Alpha is building a new facility in Bristol, Va. and is expected to move its employees to that location later this year. Alpha recently announced it was establishing offices in Australia and India.
According to an article in The Galax Gazette, the quality of the workforce at the Hillsville Bucyrus plant has contributed to the expansion of jobs at the Carroll County facility. Heavy equipment maker Bucyrus, an international company headquartered in Milwaukee, has decided to shift two of its products to the Hillsville plant in a consolidation, according to Sonny Beckham, plant manager, who was quoted in the news article. The products are a polymer plastic and pulleys that can be up to four feet in diameter.
The Abingdon Farmers Market announced in January it would start operating year round, with dates announced for January, February and March. According to the market's manager, Sara Cardinale, said the winter market will help keep the interest of customers who generally have to wait until the market is in full swing the end of April to shop for local produce. Some vendors will use the winter market as an opportunity to deliver items pre-ordered by customers. Cardinale encourages customers to sign-up for the Abingdon Farmers Market newsletter at http://www.abingdonfarmersmarket.net for up-to-date information on participating vendors.
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