Improvement Versus Reinvention: Impressions from Virginia

Improvement Versus Reinvention: Impressions from Virginia

A three-day journey through Virginia shows advanced manufacturing’s concern with pursuing lean principles when facing challenges rooted in the past and arriving on the horizon.

Photo: An employee at TMI Autotech looks over a part drawing in the facility’s machine shop. The company is increasingly being asked to machine small batches of parts for clients such as those that supply TMI with car components.

Amid reassurances from our hosts that Virginia’s weather isn’t usually overcast, rainy and chilly in the middle of May, I and three other media guests traveled town to town for three days visiting, all in all, 10 manufacturers, industry education institutes and R&D campuses. Our ebullient hosts from the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) drove our party across the leafy (and yes, wet) hills and valleys of central and southern Virginia to meet manufacturers which, despite their various industries and end markets, nevertheless shared some common concerns: finding and training skilled labor, and pursuing lean principles in the face of challenges both rooted in the past and looming on the horizon.

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Purchase agreement signed for $100 million project at Berry Hill Industrial Park

Purchase agreement signed for $100 million project at Berry Hill Industrial Park

A second business has signed a purchase agreement for acreage in the Berry Hill Industrial Park, the Regional Industrial Facility Authority announced at a meeting Monday.

Enviva Development Holdings LLC has signed an agreement to buy a 168-acre tract along Berry Hill Road. The company will conduct due diligence on the site — investigations into the suitability of the site for the project — over the next year, with the right to extend the agreement or terminate it without penalty.

It is expected the company, founded in 2004, will invest more than $100 million in the project and create indirect and direct above-average paying jobs, according to Jesse Barksdale, vice chairman of RIFA.

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DCC ‘Cyber Team’ honored at national summit

DCC ‘Cyber Team’ honored at national summit

The Danville Community College “Cyber Team” was honored Wednesday at the National Cyber Security Summit in Huntsville, Alabama.

DCC’s cyber security and cyber crime programs were recognized for earning the Center of Academic Excellence in Two-Year Education (CAE2Y) designation from the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security earlier this year.

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Noblis renews commitment to Danville, intends to increase personnel

Noblis renews commitment to Danville, intends to increase personnel

The Noblis Center for Applied High Performance Computing — a high-tech supercomputer company at 527 Bridge St. — announced Monday it has signed a second five-year lease to continue doing business in Danville.

The company plans to install the next generation of big data processors to work alongside the Cray MXT 2 that was activated at the site in 2012.

Brent Gulick — who represented Cray Computers and helped when Noblis brought the supercomputer to Danville — said Cray and Noblis knew they needed partners to help with the project, the brainchild of Dr. H. Gilbert Miller, Noblis’s chief information officer at the time.

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Institute debuts new Inspiration Lab

Institute debuts new Inspiration Lab

Danville’s Institute for Advanced Learning and Research unveiled a new mobile lab Thursday morning, which Don Merricks, chairman of the Institute’s board of trustees, hopes will be a “game changer for the whole region.”

The mobile lab serves eight localities in the Dan River Region encompassing more than 4,000 square miles.

The Inspiration Lab will replace the old mobile lab, which will be used by Patrick Henry Community College, according to Julie Brown, director of advanced learning at the Institute. The mobile lab has travelled more than 60,000 miles over the last seven years, according to Merricks, and served more than 52,000 people.

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McAuliffe highlights solar project; urges localities to get serious about alternative energy

McAuliffe highlights solar project; urges localities to get serious about alternative energy

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe applauded a Dan River Region solar energy project and said Virginia needs to get serious about alternative energy if it wants to attract large tech companies and other employers during an energy roundtable discussion Tuesday in Danville.

“We’ve got to get our heads out of the sand on this issue,” McAuliffe said.

At the roundtable meeting — which included leaders from Danville Utilities, the city of Danville, Pittsylvania County and others — McAuliffe announced the Kentuck Solar project solar farm will begin construction in August.

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Ground broken on rural internet project in Pittsylvania County

Ground broken on rural internet project in Pittsylvania County

BLAIRS — Work has officially begun on a rural internet project in Pittsylvania County after a groundbreaking ceremony Friday morning at the base of White Oak Mountain.

Pittsylvania County Economic Development Director Matt Rowe hosted the groundbreaking next to Bojangles on U.S. 29 in Blairs.

“Rural internet availability is a priority for Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors,” Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bob Warren said. “Today’s groundbreaking is not only the beginning of fiber construction, it’s for the new jobs and investments that will be made in the rural areas of the county due to improved internet services.”

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Kyocera SGS Precision Tools Breaks Ground on Tech Hub in Virginia

The president of the company praises the hub’s access to a plethora of local advanced manufacturing and research organizations near Danville.

One year after the acquisition of SGS Tool Co. by Kyocera Corp., Kyocera SGS Precision Tools has broken ground in Danville, Virginia, beginning work on the Kyocera SGS Tech Hub. Representing a $9.5 million investment and partnership with The City of Danville and The State of Virginia, the Tech Hub is projected to create over three dozen jobs supporting next-generation engineering and manufacturing of cutting tools serving the automotive, aerospace, medical and power generation industries, among others.

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PHCC mechatronics program keeps perfect pass rate over four years

PHCC mechatronics program keeps perfect pass rate over four years

MARTINSVILLE — For the fourth consecutive year, the entire industrial electronic technology cohort at Patrick Henry Community College passed the Level 1 Siemens Mechatronic Systems Certification Program exam — a critical credential for job placement in that field. Together, the average score of the class was 82.9 percent.

“A 100 percent passing rate, especially with these high scores, is very impressive. This is an especially challenging certification exam that nationally only 85 percent of students pass,” said PHCC’s industrial electronic technology faculty member Daniel Edwards.

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Raleigh Startup TiO Lands $250K from The Launch Place to Expand its Market

Raleigh Startup TiO Lands $250K from The Launch Place to Expand its Market

The Virginia-based seed fund adds a new company to its investment portfolio: a startup making significant headway in the home automation industry.

The Launch Place, a nonprofit organization in Danville, Virginia, that provides support and funding for startups in the Dan River Region, recently announced it would be adding a new company to its portfolio. TiO, a home automation startup that has expanded to Raleigh from its headquarters in Florida, became The Launch Place’s thirteenth investment.

This $250,000 seed investment is the fund’s first partnership with a startup within the home automation industry, and it provides enough backing for TiO to expand operations in the Dan River Region (one requirement of The Launch Place investment) and bring at least five employees to the new office.

TiO, short for “Turn it On,” creates hardware and software products that allow for wireless control of the home through a single app on a homeowner’s phone or tablet.

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