Project will lead to four-lane highway between Va. Beach and I-77
A groundbreaking ceremony took place Wednesday in Patrick County to widen a 7.4-mile stretch of U.S. Route 58 in Patrick County, the first phase of a project to create a continuous four-lane highway between Virginia Beach and Interstate 77.
The project, part of the U.S. Route 58 Corridor Development Program enacted by state lawmakers in 1989, will cost approximately $300 million, according to the governor’s office. The two-lane section of the highway over Lovers Leap Mountain is currently restricted to tractor-trailers, but that will change once improvements are completed under a November 2020 agreement between the Virginia Department of Transportation and Roanoke-based Branch Civil Inc.
VDOT and Branch Civil signed their public-private partnership in 2003 to develop and widen the highway from Hillsville to Stuart, a 36-mile corridor through Carroll, Floyd and Patrick counties, as soon as state funding became available. Although earlier sections were widened before now, it took 18 years to reach this stretch of Route 58.
“Once the General Assembly prioritized funding for the project, the Virginia Department of Transportation and our partner Branch Civil used an innovative progressive design-build approach to refine the design and advance the project to construction,” state Commissioner of Highways Stephen Brich said in a statement. “This was the first time this contracting style was used in Virginia and supported a new level of engagement between the Virginia Department of Transportation and our contracting partner.”
The section set to be widened is between the Poor Farmers Farm Store in Vesta and the Route 58 Stuart Bypass, and there are two other parts of Route 58 that will be widened at a time to be determined, including a four-mile stretch in Vesta and a 7.2-mile section near Crooked Oak.
“Route 58 is a vital road for locals, tourists, and commercial traffic, connecting Southern Virginia from the beach to the mountains,” Northam said in a statement. “By widening this key section, the project will open up this part of Southwest Virginia to faster, safer travel and more economic investment.”
Governor Ralph Northam announced that Kegerreis Digital Marketing, an integrated marketing and analytics company, will invest $1.7 million to relocate its headquarters from Pennsylvania to the City of Danville. Virginia successfully competed with Pennsylvania and North Carolina for the project, which will create 62 new jobs.
“Kegerreis Digital Marketing’s relocation to Virginia is proof of the Commonwealth’s ability to attract leading companies from across a variety of industries,” said Governor Northam. “Southern Virginia’s economic resurgence is a powerful success story, driven by the region’s competitive operating costs, reliable infrastructure, and innovative workforce training programs. We look forward to the company’s future success in the City of Danville.”
The company will renovate the 7,000-square-foot former tobacco warehouse at 402 Cabell Street, which will house company executives and serve as the central meeting point for Kegerreis Digital Marketing's widespread workforce. They will occupy space at the Dan River Business Development Center until building renovations are completed.
Founded in 1979, Kegerreis Outdoor Advertising is the tenth-largest billboard company in the country, with over 2,500 billboard displays in seven states along the East Coast, including Virginia. Its subsidiary, Kegerreis Digital Marketing, provides integrated marketing services, such as brand development, billboards, online efforts, and analytics for e-commerce retailers, digital start-ups, venture firms, and local and regional businesses.
“The City of Danville offers Kegerreis Digital Marketing a central location with a strong talent pipeline and a high quality of life that a leading integrated marketing company requires, and we are excited to welcome the company’s new headquarters operation to the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “This project will create more than 60 new jobs for the hardworking citizens of Southern Virginia, and contribute to the city’s ongoing revitalization.”
“Kegerreis Digital Marketing is very pleased to locate our headquarters in the City of Danville,” said President and Chief Information Officer of Kegerreis Digital Marketing Larz Kegerreis. “The quality of life, beauty of the region, and the excellent secondary schools in Danville and Pittsylvania County provide an environment where our employees will love to live, work, and raise their families. The proximity to the Research Triangle and recent surges in economic development within the city make this an excellent time to invest. We are excited to be a part of the future of this region.”
Nation’s largest protein company to invest $300 million and construct its third production facility in Virginia
Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Tyson Foods, Inc., one of the world’s largest food companies, will invest $300 million to establish a manufacturing facility in Cane Creek Centre, an industrial park jointly owned by the City of Danville and Pittsylvania County. The company will construct a 325,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility and is committing to purchase 60 million pounds of Virginia-grown chicken over the next three years. Virginia successfully competed with North Carolina for the project, which will create 376 new jobs.
The new facility will be used primarily for the production of premium quality, fully cooked Tyson brand, which includes Any’tizer® Snacks and Chicken Nuggets.
“When corporate partners reinvest in the Commonwealth, it is a strong endorsement of the many attributes that make Virginia the best state for business,” said Governor Northam. “Tyson Foods has been a major employer in Virginia for more than five decades and continues its growth trajectory with this new operation in Danville-Pittsylvania County, creating hundreds of quality jobs for the citizens of Southern Virginia. We look forward to many years of success.”
After completing a national search for a new executive director with the help of an outside consulting firm, the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority has chosen to promote from within, naming Kristy Johnson to the post.
Johnson takes over as IDA executive director from interim director Mike Davidson, a retired Campbell County economic development official who took over leadership of the IDA after the firing of former executive director Brian Brown in the fall of 2020. In her new post, Johnson will be paid $115,000 annually.
Johnson’s hiring comes after the IDA retained Jorgenson Consulting of Greensboro, N.C. to conduct the executive search. The IDA received 28 applications for the position, winnowing that number to four by April and identifying one candidate for consideration.
On Friday, the IDA announced the hiring of Johnson, a Halifax resident who has worked for the IDA for more than ten years, most recently in the newly created role of IDA liaison to Davidson. She has held several positions within the IDA, including Operations Manager, Manager of Marketing and Business Development, Deputy Director and Interim Executive Director.
She takes over as executive director on Sept. 15.
“I look forward to the opportunity to serve Halifax County in this capacity. I am excited to continue my work with the IDA in this new role and working together to better our community,” said Johnson through an announcement of the hiring distributed by the IDA.
Robert Bates, IDA Board Chairman, said, “Assisted by Jorgenson Consulting, we had a strong pool of candidates and Mrs. Johnson impressed both the Search Committee and the IDA Board with her experience, understanding of Halifax County, and her approach to building our community through economic development. We look forward to welcoming Kristy back as a member of our organization.”
Johnson, who resides in Halifax with her husband and three children, has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Georgia Southwestern State University. Along with positions held within the IDA, she has served as the Mayor for the Town of Halifax, served as a member of the Town of Halifax Planning Commission, and has served as the Halifax Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs Committee Chair.
In her role as executive director she will be responsible for directing the operations, programs, and projects of the Halifax IDA. Her first priority will be to deploy and manage a comprehensive plan for economic development, including business recruitment, retention and expansion programs. The Executive Director’s responsibilities also include managing and marketing the IDA’s inventory of land and buildings.
Interim director Mike Davidson, who served as director of the Campbell County Economic Development Department before his retirement in August 2020, said Johnson will be a great asset to the organization and that she and IDA Operations Manager Blair Jeffress will make a great team.
Sterling Lighting LLC, a manufacturer of premium, professional-grade landscape lighting fixtures, cut the ribbon on the firm's new Danville headquarters Thursday morning. The company has relocated to the River City from Sterling after ten years of business in the Urban Crescent.
"Danville is really becoming a manufacturing hub on the East Coast and we're excited to help lead that effort and help other companies do that as well," said Co-Founder Patrick Harders.
Sterling Lighting began to seek a new facility in 2019 after the company underwent unprecedented growth. Harders, along with co-founders Damien Sanchez and Josh Palmer, considered facilities in NoVa, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana and Pennsylvania.
"We searched all over, but we kept getting drawn back to Danville," Harders said. "Every time we searched anywhere, it just kept pointing back to Danville. We knew this was going to be our home."
As of 2015, Sterling's products were fabricated in China. Installations constituted the principle revenue stream.
"We wanted to have a facility where we could manufacture our own products right here in Danville," Harders said. "It is so important for our company to manufacture products here and for our country to have a manufacturing base."
The new 24,675-square-foot facility occupies a former Dan River Mills manufacturing site at 116 Maplewood Street, right off Piney Forest Road in Danville. The facility was constructed in 1961 as a duckpin bowling alley.
"Danville has a love of good, solid buildings that can be remodeled and readapted for new use," said Linwood Wright, economic development consultant. "We now have a lighting manufacturer, which Danville has never had, operating in this facility. That is a great story – four major businesses over a period of 60 years utilizing a building that will continue to exist and play a key role in the economic health and development of Danville, Virginia."
Harders credited Danville city leaders and the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) for inspiring the metro D.C. company's HQ relocation to Danville.
"I have referred to Danville many times over the last few years as 'The Comeback City,' and I truly believe that with all my heart," said Danville City Councilman Lee Vogler. "It's no secret that, for several years, Danville went through some very tough times. We were about as low as you could possibly get, and then things began to change. I truly believe that in this decade, you're going to see an era of growth and prosperity in Danville like you haven't seen in a long, long time."
Del. Danny Marshall (R-14), who represents the City of Danville and parts of Pittsylvania County in the Virginia House of Delegates, also spoke at the ceremony.
"When Ross Perot said, 'You're going to hear that giant sucking sound,' you can hear it right here in Danville," said Marshall, alluding to the 12,000 employees who lost their jobs when Dan River Mills went under in 2007. "We have been trying to reinvent ourselves, and Sterling is just another example of what we're trying to do here – bring great companies that will bring great jobs here to our citizens."
A crowd of more than 50 attended the ribbon cutting ceremony.
"As we grow, we will continue to add employees and we will continue to bring jobs to Danville," said General Manager Jim Heim. "We are excited about that."
Marketing Coordinator Laura Harders noted that Sterling Lighting is looking forward to opportunities for support and collaboration with advanced manufacturing specialists through the IALR and Danville Community College.
"We believe manufacturing is the backbone of our freedom because it gives us the fortitude and the strength to stand independent as a country," Patrick Harders said. "It is so important to us that we lead bringing manufacturing back to America. We are so excited for this endeavor."
In 2022, the company will fully implement its brand-new line of made-in-America fixtures. Also on the horizon is Independence Audio, a line of outdoor audio systems Harders said he is extremely excited about.
"We will be the very best outdoor audio system in the world, and they will be manufactured right here in Danville, Virginia," he declared. "As people turn on their lights around America and turn on their outdoor audio around America it will forever be associated with Danville, Virginina.
Precision machining — the art of taking something away from a block of metal to create an end product — remains in high demand and Danville Community College graduates are making about $43,000 or more a year as a starting salary in the industry.
Brian Jackson, vice president of workforce services at Danville Community College, said careers in this field include aviation, defense, medical (heart catheters, knee replacement) and automotive where they will manufacture parts.
For example, if an engine in an airplane has had a part that has been worn out or is outdated, airlines may call a machining shop to create that part because that engine part is no longer being built. They will send the specs and the shop will create the items for them using precision machining.
“Precision machining is a process that will be around forever,” Jackson said. “We’re always going to need pieces and parts to be replicated. There will always be a demand.”
In the United States, as labor costs have gone up, machining shops have gone offshore, he said. In Danville, they are trying to bring back advanced technology from China, Thailand, Japan or Korea where labor is inexpensive.
VEDP was created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1995 to encourage, stimulate, and support development and expansion of the Commonwealth’s economy. In his role as board chair, Pleasant will be responsible for overseeing the 17-member board of directors, which works with VEDP staff to develop, implement, and update strategic and marketing plans for the Commonwealth and an operational plan for VEDP.
Pleasant has been with Dewberry for more than 40 years and served in a variety of capacities throughout his career. The firm employs 2,000+ staff across more than 50 offices nationwide. As COO, Pleasant is responsible for Dewberry’s acquisition strategies, including the firm’s two most recent acquisitions, Dewberry | Hydro and Dewberry | Edmonds.
“As a long-time resident of southern Virginia, I have always had a strong interest in supporting our regional clients’ economic development programs,” says Pleasant. “When the opportunity presented itself 10 years ago to be appointed to the VEDP board, I was excited to continue my advocacy for economic development at the state level. In these 10 years, I have seen a lot of changes at VEDP. Today, I am proud to say that the VEDP organization is a high-functioning organization with great leadership. Additionally, we have a very engaged board of directors that supports VEDP’s leadership and advocates for support of the organization and programs that cover the entire state, including rural Virginia, promoting economic expansion, and maps out successful strategies for businesses to find the resources they need to thrive in Virginia.”
A groundbreaking ceremony for Staunton River Plastics' new 250,000-square-foot facility in Hurt, Virginia, took place on July 14, 2021. The company has committed to investing $34 million to build and equip the new facility, which will employ more than 200 people.
Staunton River Plastics Breaks Ground on New Facility in Hurt HURT. VIRGINIA – Many local and state elected officials and community leaders joined Staunton River Plastics for a groundbreaking ceremony for its new 250,000-square-foot facility in Hurt. Staunton River Plastics has committed to investing $34 million to build and equip the new facility in Hurt, where more than 200 people will be employed.
“This important project is a testament to why Virginia continues to be recognized as the best place to do business,” said Governor Northam. “It’s great to join Staunton River Plastics to break ground on a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Hurt that will bring good-paying, full-time jobs and economic opportunity to the residents of Danville-Pittsylvania County.”
Governor Ralph Northam today announced that CNBC, a world leader in business news, has named Virginia as America’s “Top State for Business” in 2021. The Governor joined CNBC at the Port of Virginia for a live broadcast where the winner was revealed following an extensive study of 85 distinct metrics across 10 competitiveness categories. CNBC’s scorecard highlighted the Commonwealth’s education system, workforce, and commitment to equity and inclusion.
Following the announcement, Governor Northam held a press conference with leaders from the General Assembly to discuss the pragmatic, forward-looking policies that propelled the Commonwealth to reclaim the top spot in 2019 and made Virginia the first state to win back-to-back titles in CNBC’s ranking.
“Virginia continues to be the best place to do business because of our world-class education institutions, talented workforce, and shared commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion,” said Governor Northam. “I am proud of what this coveted recognition says about the policies we have put in place and how they are driving growth and innovation across our Commonwealth. Our success is a blueprint for creating a vibrant economic climate in the post-pandemic world—and proves that when you lift everyone up, when you treat people right, and when you celebrate diversity, it’s also good for business.”
With previous wins in 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2019, Virginia surpassed Texas for most years as the top state for business since CNBC debuted its ranking in 2007. This year, CNBC adapted its formulas to address the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impacts, with a new focus on areas like health care, inclusiveness, and sustainability. Information about the methodology used by CNBC to determine America’s Top States for Business in 2021 is available here.