Growth and development: Southern Virginia weathers pandemic with economic boosts

Growth and development: Southern Virginia weathers pandemic with economic boosts

"We are staying busy," with activity in the food and beverage and automotive sectors, says Pittsylvania County Economic Development Director Matt Rowe. Photo by Mark Rhodes

Despite dealing with the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, Southern Virginia is celebrating the development of a resort casino, new investments in the area and several company expansions.

The pandemic has presented localities in the region like Danville with a number of challenges they haven’t seen before, but the city continues to look for opportunities to bring in new companies. Prospect “activity is still strong,” says Corrie Bobe, Danville’s economic development director. “We are seeing projects that have strong financial and aggressive timelines for announcements.”

The new Caesars-branded resort casino that will be built in Danville is expected to bring in a minimum of $400 million in capital investment and the creation of 1,300 jobs. The project includes multiple restaurants and bars, a hotel with 300 four-star guest rooms, a 35,000-square-foot conference center, a 2,500-seat live-entertainment venue, a pool and a spa. It is expected to open in 2023. 

Working together, the city, the town of Hurt and Pittsylvania County landed the manufacturing facility Staunton River Plastics LLC, which will be located in the Southern Virginia Multimodal Park in Hurt. It will be the first tenant at the industrial park, once the site of a Burlington Industries textile mill. The company is investing $34 million to build and equip the approximately 250,000-square-foot plant. The project is expected to create more than 200 jobs over four years and adds to the company’s existing presence in Altavista.

Upholding the commitment it made last October to have its new Virginia plant — formerly occupied by Ikea — in operation by this summer, Morgan Olson LLC started production at its 925,000-square-foot automotive manufacturing facility, where it produces step vans.

Morgan Olson currently employs more than 400 people, and it expects to have 703 employees by the end of 2021.

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On the move: People taking on new leadership roles throughout Virginia

On the move: People taking on new leadership roles throughout Virginia

Corrie Bobe, director, Danville Office of Economic Development, Danville

In July 2020, Danville native Bobe was picked to lead the city’s economic development office after serving as its interim leader since January 2020. With one of the state’s first casinos headed to the city, there is a lot of development in the cards for Danville. An updated master plan incorporating the Caesars Virginia casino is in the works, and the city’s Industrial Development Authority allocated funding in January for the continuation of an environmental study of the casino’s Schoolfield site, as well as the White Mill and Long Mill properties — all in preparation for future development, Bobe says.

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