Ready for a comeback?

In 2006, a joint subcommittee of the Virginia legislature studying the needs of the manufacturing sector and the future of manufacturing in the commonwealth found disturbing statistics.

Since peaking at 432,500 in 1989, Virginia's manufacturing employment had fallen to 296,600 by June 2004.

The numbers haven't improved since then.

In June, the Virginia Employment Commission reported Virginia's manufacturing employment at 229,100, a more than 20 percent dip in a decade.

Despite those statistics, the outlook for manufacturing in Virginia seems to be improving.

You have to look no further than a recent announcement by China's Shandong Tranlin Paper Co. Ltd., which says it will invest $2 billion in an advanced manufacturing operation in Chesterfield County. It is expected to employ 2,000 workers by the end of the decade.

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Natural and organic food producer moving to Danville

Sky Valley Foods logoSky Valley Foods, a North Carolina-based maker of natural and organic sauces and salad dressings, announced today that it is relocating to Airside Industrial Park in Danville, where the company expects to expand its business and add new product lines.

The new location at 145 Cane Creek Blvd., formerly occupied by Amcor Tobacco Packaging and Shorewood Packaging Corp., will provide added space for expansion.

"This project brings a wonderful addition of new jobs to our region," Mayor Sherman Saunders said." We have a major food processing company just down the street, and now a second food processor joins Nestle in Airside Industrial Park. Sky Valley Foods will be a significant contributor to our local economy, and I welcome them with a hungry appetite."

The company produces salad dressings and specialty sauces, including condiments, marinades, salsa and pasta sauce, for the natural and organic food consumer. Its branded products are Bella's, Organicville, Sky Valley and Simply Delicious.

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Patrick Henry Community College, Eastman, Commonwealth Laminating, and New College Institute partner to launch the Center for Advanced Film Manufacturing

Keister Richardson, a marketing technical services representative with Eastman Chemical, installs window film Thursday on a vehicle at Patrick Henry Community College. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)The Center for Advanced Film Manufacturing offers a renaissance for Martinsville and Henry County, according to local educational leaders.

The center represents a partnership and collaboration between Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC), New College Institute (NCI), Eastman Chemical and Commonwealth Laminating and Coating.

Students who enroll in the program will be able to take a new 28-credit Advanced Film Certification program offered through PHCC; take classes at PHCC and NCI; access equipment at Eastman and Commonwealth Laminating; have potential hands-on internship opportunities; and have a leg-up when seeking employment at area advanced manufacturing facilities.

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Governor McAuliffe Announces 155 New Jobs for Henry County

Kilgour Industries Ltd to invest $27.3 million in first U.S. operation

RICHMOND - Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today that Kilgour Industries Ltd, a United Kingdom-based supplier of aircraft airframe and engine machined products will invest $27.3 million in its first U.S. operation in Henry County and create 155 new jobs. Kilgour specializes in computerized numerical control (CNC) machining, wet chemical surface treatments and sub-assemblies of aerospace components. Virginia successfully competed against Florida, Michigan, North Carolina and South Carolina for the project.

Speaking about today's announcement in Martinsville, Governor McAuliffe said, "Securing an investment of this magnitude and 155 new jobs for a region that is continuing to rebound economically is a tremendous win for Virginia and a major step towards growing and diversifying our economy. This competitive project is another illustration of the Commonwealth's leadership in the aerospace industry. We are thrilled that Henry County will be home to Kilgour Industries' first U.S. operation, which will enable the company to meet increased demands and expand its customer base."

"More than 236 aerospace firms call Virginia home, and today we celebrate the addition of Kilgour Industries to the roster," said Maurice Jones, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade. "This high-tech manufacturing company is an excellent fit for Henry County to continue to diversify its economy, and we look forward to Kilgour's future success in the Commonwealth."

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Dan River Region Launches Workforce Readiness Pilot Program for Virginia

Companies, employees and economic development professionals in the Dan River Region have been participating in a workforce readiness pilot program in Virginia since June.

This program would allow the region to be recognized by ACT as a Certified Work Ready Community by helping individuals obtain a National Career Readiness Certificate. ACT is a not-for-profit public trust dedicated to helping people achieve education and workplace success.

ACT's National Career Readiness Certificate includes four levels — platinum, gold, silver and bronze — that measure cognitive and behavioral abilities critical for on-the-job success. Specific skills that are measured include math, reading comprehension, problem-solving, discipline, teamwork, customer service and managerial potential.

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Governor McDonnell Announces $40 million investment in Henry County

Eastman Chemical Company to expand and add 25 new jobs

Governor Bob McDonnell today announced that Eastman Chemical Company will invest $40 million over the next three years to expand its manufacturing operation in Henry County. Eastman acquired the site in 2012 and became the leading global manufacturer of window films for the automotive and architectural markets. The company's facility in Henry County is one of the largest and most integrated window and performance-coated film manufacturing sites in the world. The investment in Henry County is expected to create 25 new jobs. Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling joined company officials, business and government leaders today on the Governor's behalf to announce the project.

Speaking about today's announcement, Governor McDonnell said, "An investment of this caliber from a major employer in Henry County is significant for Southern Virginia. Eastman's Henry County operations are unique in their ability to take the manufacturing process from raw materials all the way to a finished product. The decision to invest will not only bring new jobs, but will help support the development of innovative, energy-saving product applications to grow Eastman's performance films business. Eastman's commitment is a great testament to the company's long-term success in Virginia.

"For more than 50 years, this film manufacturing plant has been a vital corporation in Henry County," said Jim Cheng, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade. "The support Eastman Chemical Company receives from the local community, Patrick Henry Community College and the New College Institute is vital to developing a more skilled workforce to support manufacturing. We are confident that with this investment and expansion, Eastman's operation that employs approximately 500 will continue to thrive in Southern Virginia."

Eastman is a global specialty chemical company that produces a broad range of products found in items people use every day. With a portfolio of specialty businesses, Eastman works with customers to deliver innovative products and solutions while maintaining a commitment to safety and sustainability. Its market-driven approaches take advantage of world-class technology platforms and leading positions in attractive and end-markets such as transportation, building and construction, and consumables. Eastman focuses on creating consistent, superior value for all stakeholders. As a globally diverse company, Eastman serves customers in approximately 100 countries and had 2012 pro forma revenues, giving effect to the Solutia acquisition, of approximately $9 billion. The company is based in Kingsport, Tennessee, and employs approximately 14,000 people around the world.

Mark Costa, president of Eastman stated, “Eastman’s investment in Henry County will target specific initiatives and include infrastructure and technology upgrades, warehousing improvements, environmental, safety and reliability enhancements and production capacity expansions to support growth. To enable each of these, Eastman anticipates an increased need for skilled employees. The partnerships with Patrick Henry Community College and New College Institute are critical for successful workforce development.”

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation to secure the project for Virginia. Governor McDonnell approved a $75,000 grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund to assist Henry County with the project. The Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission approved $230,000 in Tobacco Region Opportunity Funds. The company is eligible to receive state benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Through its Virginia Jobs Investment Program, the Virginia Department of Business Assistance will provide funding and services to support the company’s recruitment and training activities.

“Henry County is thrilled to have Eastman here and we are excited about the possibilities that today’s announcement represents,” said Jim Adams, Chairman of the Henry County Board of Supervisors. “This is a great day for all of us.”

"Many thanks to the Eastman management team for choosing their Henry County location for a $40 million expansion, creating 25 new advanced manufacturing jobs with above average pay,” said Delegate Danny Marshall, a Commissioner of the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and community Revitalization Commission. “This is a win-win. The new capital investment will create new local taxes that will help pay for K-12 education and public safety. But the most important result is that 25 citizens will be hired for advanced jobs with above average pay. These new employees will be able to provide for their families and have a better life. This is the American dream. This is why the Virginia Tobacco Commission invested $230,000 for the project.”

from official news releases

Danville Community College Prepares Virginia's Advanced Manufacturing Workforce

With the U.S. seeing a resurgence of manufacturing jobs, Danville Community College (DCC) has launched a new initiative, the Southern Virginia Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing (SVCAM), to ensure Virginia, and especially the Dan River region, is well-positioned to capitalize on this trend.

One of the goals of SVCAM is to expand DCC’s advanced manufacturing training programs. The manufacturing jobs that have been reshored tend to be higher tech jobs that require a strong STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) background.

DCC has already increased the size of its popular Precision Machining Technology program. Graduates are in high demand from businesses in the region, and DCC has doubled enrollment capacity and added two new machining instructors.

With additional funding from the Virginia General Assembly and other industry partners, DCC plans to renovate its Charles Hawkins Engineering and Industrial Technology building and expand machining lab and classroom space from 6,500 to more than 20,000 square feet. SVCAM funding will also be used to expand DCC’s welding, robotics, industrial maintenance, electronics, polymer manufacturing, engineering technology, additive manufacturing and nanotechnology programs.

Another benefit of the SVCAM program is increased outreach to younger students. DCC has partnered with area high schools to establish a 33-hour dual enrollment program that allows juniors and seniors to earn credit towards an Advanced Manufacturing Certificate and gain valuable skills in one of four areas:  precision machining technology, electronics, industrial maintenance or welding.

The benefits of the SVCAM program are already paying off. North American Mold Technology recently announced plans to establish a new operation in Danville and create 120 new jobs. DCC’s ability to supply and train a high-tech manufacturing workforce was cited by the company as a key factor in their location decision and helped Virginia successfully compete against Ohio for the project.

from Business Blog

Governor McDonnell Announces 120 New Jobs in City of Danville

North American Mold Technology to invest $4.35 million to establish manufacturing operation

Governor Bob McDonnell today announced that North American Mold Technology (NAMT) will invest $4.35 million to establish a manufacturing operation in the City of Danville. The company will produce and refurbish the molds used in the manufacture of tires, creating 120 new jobs. Its customer base will include almost all major tire manufacturers in the U.S. Virginia successfully competed against Ohio for the project.

Speaking about today's announcement, Governor McDonnell said, "North American Mold Technology's new manufacturing operation is tremendous news for the City of Danville and Southern Virginia as the region recovers from an economic downturn. Danville offered many advantages that put Virginia ahead of the competition, including an available facility that can be quickly retrofitted, and workforce training resources available through Danville Community College's precision machining program. I am confident that the skilled, plentiful labor pool and access to the company's primary customer base throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest will ensure success for this new operation."

"Gaining a new corporate citizen and 120 jobs is significant for the City of Danville," said Jim Cheng, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade. "As North American Mold Technology serves major tire manufacturers across the U.S., the company will have key access to a trained and ready workforce, and the advantage of Virginia's business environment that is second to none. We thank NAMT for its investment in the Commonwealth and look forward to future growth in Danville."

North American Mold Technology is a new company that will assemble and repair tire molds and provide other tire mold support services to the tire manufacturers in the United States and several other countries. The company's state-of-the-art equipment to service the tire industry will enable conventional servicing, as well as re-cuts, lettering and sidewall manufacturing. NAMT will be establishing its operation in a 260,000-square-foot facility.

"Senior management at North American Mold Technology has been servicing the tire industry for over 40 years," said William Gentry, President, North American Mold Technology. "With technology changes of late, we decided to make a commitment to start a new stand-alone company specifically to service the tire industry needs all over North America, and to provide high-tech solutions to the problems facing the industry. As we explored potential locations, we realized Danville was where we wanted to be since it is more centrally located to the industry we will serve. The local and state economic development teams, as well as the Tobacco Commission and the Governor's Office have been diligent in working with us to make this happen and bring this new industry to Danville, Virginia. We are excited to be part of the Danville community and look forward to growing quickly in support of our tire industry clients.

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the City of Danville and the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance to secure the project for Virginia. Governor McDonnell approved a $250,000 grant from the Governor's Opportunity Fund to assist Danville with the project. The Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission approved $520,000 in Tobacco Region Opportunity Funds. The company is eligible to receive state benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Through its Virginia Jobs Investment Program, the Virginia Department of Business Assistance will provide funding and services to support the company's recruitment and training activities.

"This project shows a great partnership between state and local organizations, and we are thrilled to welcome this company to Danville," said Joe King, Danville City Manager. "North American Mold Technology will be a great asset to our existing employers and businesses."

"Thanks to William Gentry with NAMT for choosing Danville over Ohio," said Delegate Danny Marshall, a member of the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission. "The Tobacco Commission was pleased to help with funding. The Virginia General Assembly approved $3.7 million for the Advanced Machining Program at Danville Community College (DCC) to provide capacities that can double the student graduation rate for the machining program. And, the Tobacco Commission approved $700,000 for a machining program in Pittsylvania County Schools. NAMT will hire more than 120 machinists, so the men and women who go through the DCC and Pittsylvania County programs will be able to find good jobs in our area."

from official news releases

Southern Virginia Higher Education Center named Dream It. Do It. Virginia Partner of the Year

RICHMOND, VA — The Dream It. Do It. Virginia (DIDIVA) network is pleased to recognize the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) as its 2013 Partner of the Year. This honor is the first of its kind and was awarded during the 2nd Annual DIDIVA Symposium held in Charlottesville on October 17. The award was accepted on behalf of SVHEC by Dr. Nettie Simon-Owens, SVHEC Director of Workforce Services.

"Receiving the Partner of the Year Award was quite a nice surprise," said Dr. Simon-Owens. "We have worked collaboratively with VMA for several years on various initiatives focused on meeting some of the workforce needs of manufacturers. Our relationship and efforts are forward thinking and allow us to maximize the strengths of both organizations to identify innovative and appropriate opportunities to offer employers and other workforce stakeholders."

Katherine DeRosear, Director of Workforce Development for the Virginia Manufacturers Association (VMA) described the partnership, "The Southern Virginia Higher Education Center has been an innovative partner with the Dream It. Do It. Virginia Network and its efforts towards achieving the workforce development goals of the Virginia Manufacturers Association. Dr. Betty Adams [SVHEC Executive Director] and her team quickly move from talk to action when responding to the needs of the region and its manufacturers."

"The SVHEC team is doing remarkable work by bringing together innovative industry-recognized, competency-based and stackable middle skills credentials, like the Manufacturing Skills Institute's Manufacturing Technician Level 1 and Manufacturing Specialist (MT1/MS) certifications, to build a world-class manufacturing workforce in the Southern Virginia region," said Brett Vassey, President & CEO of the Virginia Manufacturers Association.

For more about SVHEC, visit

Click here for the complete release. (PDF will open in a new browser window.)

New partnership looks to market region

The Institute for Advanced Learning & Research (IALR)The Southern Virginia Regional Alliance and the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research are forming a partnership to market Southside.

The organizations will share an economic development director, a position which will be filled by the alliances' executive director, Leigh Cockram.

"This opportunity has come at a perfect time, for the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance needs to stretch funding long term in order to be sustainable and Institute needs someone who understands our regional assets and can market Institute's facilities for regional economic development purposes," Cockram said in a release.

The two-year-old alliance has been a one-person shop funded by the Tobacco Commission, with Cockram marketing the region through a virtual office and contracting support services as needed.

The new partnership will give the alliance a better presence through an office at the Institute and access to Institute staff and resources. It will also provide sustained funding for the alliance — the Tobacco Commission's commitment ends in the 2014 fiscal year. Localities will contribute to the partnership and have their monies matched by the Institute, enlarging the alliances' budget.

The alliance markets a region that includes Patrick, Henry, Pittsylvania and Halifax counties. Cockram will be working with site consultants to draw attention to the whole region, then direct consultants to local economic development directors as they have interest. The position will have hefty travel requirements.

Jerry Gwaltney, interim director of the Institute, said the partnership helps the Institute, which was always intended to serve the region, to better branch out. He admits the Institute has not met that regional mission, and wants to do better.

"It cannot be a building sitting on a hill for Danville and Pittsylvania County," he said. "It was envisioned and set up for the whole region."

Danville's economic development director, Jeremy Stratton, said the move was a long time coming.

"We were the only area that didn't have this regional effort," he said.

from The News & Advance