With new world of technology, biomass company grows in Danville

By Tara Bozick - Work It, SoVa

Brendon Stout shows Linda Green and Fred Shanks the Process Devloping Unit, (PDU) during a tour at SENTEC . The machines perform reaction and purifying processes, which is part of the process to convert biomass to cellulosic sugars. photo Steven Mantilla, Work It, SoVaOne wood sugar producer invested about $10 million at the Institute's Sustainable Energy and Technology Center as it works to scale up to commercial production.

Virdia recently finished construction of its automated demonstration facility at the new "Sentec" building at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research. The company, founded in Israel five years ago, is fine-tuning its process to extract plant sugars from trees so they can be used in renewable chemicals or plastics, biofuels and nutritional products. The lignin, or carbon framework of the wood, can be burned for energy or heat or used as carbon fiber to make lightweight materials.

"We're trying to make a new type of economy emerge," Virdia CEO Philippe Lavielle told attendees of the Sentec ribbon-cutting on Wednesday.

Lavielle envisions building an economy on grown renewable resources rather than on polluting fossil fuels. Virdia would produce and ship a liquid plant sugar solution to be used as feedstock for multiple applications.

Virdia already employs 34 research chemists, engineers and other staff in Danville. That number could reach 50 as the Redwood City, Calif.-based company plans to start building its first industrial-scale facility next year, Lavielle said. Virdia hasn't located a site for the manufacturing facility yet, but would place it near forestry resources.

Product samples from the Danville pilot center will be sent to Virdia's partners. Already, Virent Inc. in Wisconsin used Virdia's sugars in high-performance jet fuel.

The flagship tenant of the Sustainable Energy and Technology Center exemplifies what investors envisioned for the region, said Institute Executive Director Liam Leightley. The Virginia Tobacco Commission, City of Danville and the Higher Education Trust Fund invested $8.5 million in Sentec.

The center is poised to lead marketable research, inventions and start-up companies in Southside as it serves as a "catalyst for developing a bio-based industry that engages the agricultural community as a partner and supplier of biomass," said Virginia Secretary of Technology James Duffey.

Duffey and Mary Rae Carter, deputy secretary of commerce and trade for rural economic development, agreed the project will help fulfill the governor's mission of making Virginia the "energy capital of the East Coast." The energy sector, which employs 30,000 Virginians and has a direct economic output of $17.5 billion, shows incredible growth potential, Carter explained.

"You're seeing a whole new world of technology and capability," said Tim Manning, Virdia senior vice price of operations, during a tour.

The facility

About the Sustainable Energy and Technology Center:

  • 25,000 square feet
  • Rooftop solar panels
  • Solar thermal panels
  • Vegetated roof
  • Rainwater cistern
  • Recycled content in building products
  • Energy-saving lights and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems
  • Bio-based floor tile and cork flooring
  • Native drought-tolerant landscaping
  • Designed by Dewberry in Danville and constructed by New Atlantic Contracting Inc. of Winston-Salem, N.C.
  • Anticipates LEED Gold certification

(Source: Dewberry)

GSI to expand, add 61 jobs

Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Jim Cheng (left) shakes hands with Mike Bomba, vice president of fulfillment services for GSI, as they hold a check for $75,000 in grant funds to assist with the project.

GSI will receive state and local incentives as part of agreements company officials signed Monday. The agreements call for GSI to create 61 jobs by Dec. 31, 2014.

According to a performance agreement signed with the state, the jobs are to have an average annual wage of at least $24,315.

Some of the new positions are posted online now at jobs.ebaycareers.com, and the company will begin the interview process to fill those positions within the next two weeks, Feury said.

Training is anticipated to begin soon thereafter, and the new facility is expected "to go live by the end of April," he said.

The 400,000-square-foot facility formerly served as a distribution center for Bassett-Walker, said Henry County Administrator Benny Summerlin.

Since textile jobs went offshore, the building has represented the downside of Henry County, said Mark Heath, president and CEO of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. (EDC). But with GSI's announcement, the building "is being brought back to life," he said.

It will house GSI's fulfillment center for Hanover (called The Company Store), according to Heath and Mike Bomba, GSI's vice president of fulfillment services.

From the new location, employees will pick, pack and ship orders, said Bomba. The first product is expected to be shipped from the new facility in May, he said.

The facility also is large enough to handle any future expansion, said Bomba, who anticipates "some annual growth. ... We don't see a problem with achieving" the job creation goal outlined in the performance agreements.

The company's two facilities in the Bowles Industrial Park will remain open, Feury said. Those two facilities "are totally full," he said. "This is going into a new, start-up facility."

Heath said Kentucky was the primary competitor for the project, mainly because there is a UPS hub there, Bomba said. Bomba attributed the company's decision to expand in Henry County to Feury's capabilities and leadership.

Overall, Bomba said, he is excited about GSI's local expansion because of "the people, the work ethic and the commitment. It is phenomenal."

Gov. Bob McDonnell approved a $75,000 grant from the Governor's Opportunity Fund to help with the project, and Henry County provided a matching $75,000 grant to help offset the costs of improving the building.

The Virginia Department of Business Assistance will provide funds and services to support the company's recruitment and training activities through its Virginia Jobs Investment Program, according to a news release from McDonnell's office.

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Henry County, the EDC and the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance to secure the project for Virginia, the release said.

Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Jim Cheng said he was glad to visit the area Monday to participate in the announcement, which he said will "add to the momentum that is continuing to build here" after two companies — LamTech and Commonwealth Laminating — recently announced plans to expand or locate in the area.

GSI, with headquarters in King of Prussia, Pa., operates more than 3 million square feet of fulfillment space across seven facilities with the aim to serve customers as quickly and efficiently as possible, the release said. The company has the ability to process more than 30 million packages annually, it added.

Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade for Rural Economic Development Mary Rae Carter; Leigh Ann Cockram, director of the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance; and representatives of U.S. Rep. Robert Hurt also attended Monday's event.

The announcement followed a joint meeting of the Henry County Board of Supervisors and the Industrial Development Authority to approve the performance agreements.

Danville Supercomputer Up and Running

Danville is now home to a new Noblis supercomputer, located at the Noblis Center for Applied High Performance Computing.

LamTech to create 30 jobs

Laminate Technologies announced Monday that it will open a local plant and create 30 jobs. Above, Mary Rae Carter, deputy secretary of commerce and trade for rural economic development, presents a check for $50,000 to Henry County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jim Adams (right) to assist with the LamTech project. Fred Zoeller, co-founder, president and CEO of LamTech, is at center. (Bulletin photos by Mike Wray)

Ohio company to invest $3 million in Henry County

By GINNY WRAY - Martinsville Bulletin Staff Writer

The improving economy, the skills of Henry County-area workers and the assistance of governments and the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. were the key factors in Laminate Technologies' decision to open a plant in Henry County that will create 30 jobs.

In addition, "the people have been overwhelming ... like family," said Fred Zoeller, co-founder, president and chief executive officer of the company, which goes by "LamTech."

On Monday at the Henry County Administration Building, Zoeller announced that LamTech plans to invest more than $2 million to establish a local plant and create 30 jobs in the former Owens-Corning building in the Martinsville Industrial Park south of the city.

Mark Heath, president/CEO of the EDC, and County Administrator Benny Summerlin each said LamTech paid about $1 million for the Owens-Corning building, for a total expected investment of $3 million.

Owens-Corning closed here in 1998, resulting in a loss of 117 jobs. The plant has been used for storage at times since then.

LamTech manufactures customized laminated panels and fabricated components. It supplies many kitchen cabinet manufacturers, including MasterBrand Cabinets in Henry County, Summerlin said. LamTech also serves furniture and store-fixture customers.

This is the first supplier for MasterBrand to locate here that he knows of, Summerlin added.

Fred Zoeller, co-founder, president and CEO of LamTech, said LamTech has bought the former Owens-Corning plant (above) in the Martinsville Industrial Park. (Bulletin photos by Mike Wray)LamTech hopes to begin hiring for maintenance work immediately and hopes to be doing assembly work in late summer or early fall, according to Randy Wiser, vice president of operations.

Lisa Lyle of the EDC said LamTech will work with the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce's Business Services Department on employee recruiting.

Zoeller said in addition to maintenance workers to be hired this month, LamTech will look to add five to seven employees at the end of March and 10 more at the end of April. It will take eight people to run its line on one shift, he said, adding that support people will be added gradually.

LamTech will be looking to hire operators, mechanical, electrical and laminating staff, and others, Wiser said. Zoeller added that employees — who are called team members — need a good work ethic and little or no absenteeism.

The average annual wage will be $27,892, Summerlin said.

Workers without skills will be hired at around $11 or $12 an hour, Zoeller said. CNC (computer numerical control)-skilled employees will be hired in the $13- to $15-an-hour range, and operators can earn $18 to $20 an hour after a probationary period, he said, adding that the company tries to pay slightly above the middle level of wages in an area.

LamTech, with corporate offices in Tiffin, Ohio, conducted a three- to three-and-a-half-year search for its fourth location. The company "waited until the economy got right" to expand and spent a lot of time looking for a site in North Carolina, where it does a lot of business, Zoeller said.

Before making a final decision, Zoeller said, he told his staff to "turn over every stone" to make sure they had the right location.

"Martinsville was the one last stone," he said, praising the help the company received from the EDC and others.

Originally, Bob Elmore of MasterBrand Cabinets put LamTech in touch with Jim Frith of Frith Construction. When Frith's facility did not work for LamTech, Jim and Jay Frith suggested the company talk to Larry McDorman, who owned the Owens-Corning building, Heath said. That, he added, illustrates the community's team approach to making a deal work.

Zoeller agreed.

Butch Hamlet (center) of the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission presents a check for $110,000 to Henry County Supervisors Chairman Jim Adams (left) to assist with the LamTech project. Fred Zoeller, LamTech president, CEO and co-founder, is at right. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray) "Because of the team effort of Henry County and Virginia, LamTech is very pleased to call this home," he said, adding that the business is run like a family. "I can see that Martinsville and Henry County are our kind of folks."

LamTech also needs rail access, and it is working with local officials to find a place where it can unload product and transfer it to trucks. Henry County has agreed to pay up 50 percent of the cost of constructing a platform for a site, up to $25,000, Summerlin said. He added that constructing such a platform could cost the company $50,000 to $100,000.

Zoeller said that rail access will allow LamTech to expand its markets, which could lead to an expansion of the employment of the Henry County plant. He added that he hopes to double the plant's capacity and its number of employees in five years.

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the EDC to secure the project for Virginia. Gov. Bob McDonnell approved a $50,000 grant from the Governor's Opportunity Fund (GOF) to assist Henry County with the project, and the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission approved $110,000 in Tobacco Region Opportunity Funds for LamTech.

Through its Virginia Jobs Investment Program, the Virginia Department of Business Assistance will provide funding and services for LamTech's recruitment and training activities.

Mary Rae Carter, deputy secretary of commerce and trade for rural economic development, presented the ceremonial oversized GOF check to Zoeller, and Butch Hamlet of the tobacco commission presented its check to LamTech's president. Carter also gave him a state flag.

Carter observed that in her two years in office, she has been to more announcements in the Henry County-Martinsville area than any other area in rural Virginia. Heath also noted that in his six years at the EDC, the Governor's Opportunity Fund and tobacco commission have contributed a total of $20 million to projects here

The Henry County Board of Supervisors and Industrial Development Authority unanimously approved performance agreements for the grants earlier Monday.

Faneuil announces 150 new jobs for Dominion Virginia Power call center

Faneuil announces 150 new call center jobs for Dominion Virginia Power call center

From The News & Record

If Southside Virginia painted Gov. Bob McDonnell as a green Grinch for announcing the closing of Mecklenbrg Correctional Center last week, it surely saw Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling as bright-red Santa Claus himself today as he announced that the 150 new workers would be employed by … Dominion Virginia Power.

Bolling made the announcement at Riverstone Centre on Thursday morning before a buoyant audience of community leaders, some wearing festive touches for the season.

"What a great time," said Bolling, citing the pre-Christmas date. Halifax County has known for months about the jobs – most of the community just didn't know exactly who the employer would be, as economic developers had wanted to keep the name under wraps.

Faneuil's first South Boston VA employee, Virginia SpragginsIncoming calls will be from customers reporting an outage, paying a bill or wanting to turn on or off their electricity. The call center will be among four in Virginia (joining Martinsville, Richmond and Norfolk) and it and the Martinsville office replace one in Texas. Dominion Virginia Power has 2.4 million customers and receives about 7 million calls per year, many during major storms and other outages.

The jobs come "OUT of Texas and INTO Halifax County, Va." crowed Bolling, taking a subtle jab at Texas Gov. Rick Perry. "Just a little joke," he quipped. Bolling is the state chairman for the Mitt Romney campaign; both Perry and Romney are seeking the Republican nomination for President.

Operating the call center will be Fanueil, a Virginia-based company. Virginia Spraggins was introduced as its first local hire.

The good news also comes on the heels of Dollar General's announcement late last month that it will add 50 new jobs to its distribution center, right across U.S. 58 from Riverstone. Also this morning: Amazon.com announced two new distribution sites near Richmond that will employ about 1,400.

Recently, the Southside Economic Development Committee of the Virginia TobaccoAnna Van Buren, CEO of Faneuil, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Paul Koonce, CEO of Dominion Virginia Power Commission backed a $500,000 grant award to prepare space for a call center for the company at the Riverstone Technology Park on the upper floor of Building One.

The money will be used to prepare general office space and a call center environment with staff cubicles, equipment, training rooms and other amenities. The company asked that the space be available by the end of December in order to start operations in late January.

Fanueil CEO Anna Van Buren said she was taken with Riverstone: its exercise room and walking trails. IDA Executive Director Mike Sexton presented Van Buren and Dominion CEO Paul Koonce with a small sculptures by Vernon Hill artist Matt Stafford, who works for Carlbrook School.

The company has agreed to a five year lease in Riverstone, according to officials.

Members of the Halifax County IDA Board are recognizedThe company has indicated it will hire 100 employees initially, ramping up to 150 employees by July. It reports a starting average wage of $10 per hour plus benefits. A pre-hiring blitz took place in October, when the then-unnamed call center took applications. At the time, officials said positions require a high school diploma or equivalent, knowledge of Microsoft applications (Word, Excel, and Outlook) excellent interpersonal communications both in writing and on the telephone and proficiency in keyboarding/data entry.

A clearly delighted and unusually animated State Sen. Frank Ruff, a Clarksville Republican, also took the podium, contrasting today's news with the prison-closing of last week.

Congressman Robert Hurt, a Chatham Republican, also spoke.

Interested workers can apply on-line at the Virginia Employment Commission (http://www.vawc.virginia.gov) or in person at the South Boston One-Stop 2506 Houghton Ave, South Boston, VA 24592.

Photos: First, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling announces 150 jobs will be located at Riverstone with the relocation of Dominion Virginia Power's call center from Texas. Second, Faneuil's first local employee Virginia Spraggins. Third, From left, Anna Van Buren, CEO of Faneuil, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Paul Koonce, CEO of Dominion Virginia Power. Bolling presents a Virginia flag that had flown over the Capital. Fourth, Halifax County IDA Board members are recognized; from left, Garland Ricketts, Butch Blanks, John Cannon, Lisa Kipps-Brown, Ted Bennett, Chris Lumsden. (David Conner II photos)

SVRA Holds Second Annual Primland Resort/Martinsville Speedway Event

Linda Burns, with Burns Development Group from Dallas, Texas, who participated in the SVRA's weekend said, "I was honestly amazed at not only the venue for the weekend, but the many attributes Southern Virginia has to offer my clients. I look forward to working with the SVRA on projects in the future."

The Southern Virginia Regional Alliance's mission is to accelerate the job growth and increase the tax base for the counties of Halifax, Henry, Patrick and Pittsylvania, as well as the cities of Danville and Martinsville. The SVRA will be responsible for marketing the region globally as a great place to live, work and play. The SVRA will have a coherent message inclusive of all regional data and will be solely focused on the recruitment of new industries into the regional footprint. Hosting events such as the Primland Resort/Martinsville Speedway weekend, will help achieve the mission to bring new opportunities to our communities.

Lieutenant governor promotes area to consultants

He cited the creation of the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance, a marketing partnership between Henry, Patrick, Pittsylvania and Halifax counties and the cities of Martinsville and Danville. The alliance "is going to well-position this region for future economic growth," Bolling said.

Although he didn't name specifics, Bolling said, "We've got a number of good projects in the pipeline that I think you'll be hearing about over the next several months. We're going to have a very aggressive legislative agenda again this year to help advance some of the rural economic development strategies that we have."

Bolling also expressed satisfaction with Virginia's overall economic progress since McDonnell's term began in January 2010.

"According to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, we've created about 34,000 net new jobs in Virginia in the last two years. We've brought our (statewide) unemployment rate down from 7.2 percent to 6.5 percent. We're doing much better than almost any other state in the country right now," he said. "But unemployment's an absolute thing. If you're out there looking for a job and you can't find one, your unemployment rate's 100 percent. So we're not going to quit working until we get to where we want to be."

Bolling pointed to a pair of recent accolades for the commonwealth. About six months ago, CNBC named Virginia the "top state in America for business," he said. Roughly three months later, Helena Commercial Real Estate declared Virginia the most "pro-business state in America," he said.

"We've invested over a $100 million in proven economic development and job creation programs in the last two years alone. So I think the effort that we're making is paying off, and I'm pleased with the progress we've made, but we all realize that we have a lot of work left to be done," he said.

Unemployment rates in Southside are higher than the state average, with Martinsville's rate in August 19.4 percent.

Bolling said he believes the governor will protect economic development initiatives even if he is forced to make cuts to balance the state budget. McDonnell has directed many state agencies to submit budget reduction proposals in the amounts of 2, 4 and 6 percent.

"What I suspect will happen is that, you know, budgets are always about priorities, so what I suspect will happen is that we will choose to invest more in some areas, like economic development," Bolling said. "That may mean that we have less to spend in other areas, so we're going to have to make some difficult choices. But at this point, the 2-, 4- and 6-percent budget reduction plans we've asked for are precautionary, and we'll know better as we approach the release of the budget in December whether or not those plans will have to be implemented, and if so, to what degree they're going to have to be implemented and what agencies they might impact," he said.

Dan River Region Collaborative Awarded Grant to Strengthen Innovation to Help Local Workers, Jobseekers Build Careers

The award represents a combination of federal funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service's Social Innovation Fund and an equal amount of matching funds raised by the National Fund from private donors. Locally, the Danville Regional Foundation, The Harvest Foundation, The Community Foundation of the Dan River Region, the J.T. Minnie Maude Charitable Trust, the West Piedmont and South Central Workforce Investment Boards, and the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Revitalization Commission, along with the regional Chambers of Commerce and the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance, have joined forces with the National Fund to develop long-term employer partnerships in support of workforce improvements across the region, improving employment, training, and labor market outcomes for low-skill, low-wage individuals.

The two-year grant will allow the local Collaborative to support training, capacity building efforts, and systems change work in the advanced manufacturing, energy, healthcare, and information technology sectors. "The National Fund model is locally driven, and unique to every region and every industry sector," said Damian Thorman, National Program Director at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and Chair of the National Fund. "But all of our sites are built upon a similar strategy: implement job training and career support programs in close partnership with employers, ensuring that businesses benefit from a skilled workforce and employees get the skills and certifications that lead to sustainable careers."

The Dan River Region Collaborative (DRRC) was founded in 2008 to address workforce development in the Dan River Region of Virginia. To date, the Collaborative has raised more than $1.4 million to support its efforts. Employer partnerships in healthcare, advanced manufacturing, and energy are currently underway with plans to explore an information technology partnership. The new funds will allow the Collaborative to expand its geographic footprint into Patrick County and three North Carolina border counties.

Laurie Moran, President of the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce, serves as the current Chairperson for the Dan River Region Collaborative. "We are thrilled that our region has been recognized and awarded a Social Innovation Fund grant. As we focus on job creation, it's imperative that we find innovative solutions that advance the skills of our workforce to be competitive in a global economy," said Moran. "In times of limited resources, the public-private funding partnerships that our region has leveraged will allow us to be flexible and responsive to the workforce needs of our employers."

Leigh Cockram, Executive Director for the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance, also serves on the DRRC Steering Committee. "The Dan River Region Collaborative is an important partner in assisting with building the workforce needed to support regional economic development in Southern Virginia," said Cockram. "The best way to show new prospects our region is a viable place to do business, is to show them a strong, stable existing industry base. This Social Innovation Fund grant will help the DRRC ensure we have the workforce needed to continue to support our existing industries' needs."

Regional employers in the manufacturing, healthcare, energy or IT sectors who are interested in learning more about the Collaborative should contact Julie Brown, DRRC Project Director, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 434-836-5674.

About National Fund for Workforce Solutions:

The National Fund for Workforce Solutions is an award-winning national initiative focused on helping low-wage workers obtain good careers while at the same time ensuring that employers have the high-quality skills that will enable them to succeed in this highly competitive economy. Since 2008, the National Fund has raised nearly $24 million to support 30 communities that have contributed an additional $104 million in locally-raised resources from 216 different funding sources, including community foundations, United Ways, corporate foundations, workforce investment boards, chambers of commerce and state agencies. Each of these communities has created local funding collaboratives that are collectively investing in more than 80 sectoral workforce partnerships. The addition of these six new sites brings the total number of communities where the National Fund is working to 30.

Ten national funders lead the effort: Annie E. Casey Foundation; the California Endowment; Ford Foundation; John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; JPMorgan Chase & Co.; Microsoft; The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation; The Hitachi Foundation; the Prudential Foundation; and the Walmart Foundation.

About Jobs for the Future:

Jobs for the Future develops, implements, and promotes new education and workforce strategies that help communities, states, and the nation compete in a global economy. In 200 communities in 41 states, JFF improves the pathways leading from high school to college to family-sustaining careers.

About the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and the Social Innovation Fund:

The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America, and leads President Obama's national call to service initiative, United We Serve. The Social Innovation Fund is an initiative of the Corporation that improves the lives of people in low-income U.S. communities. Through an innovative public-private partnership, the Social Innovation Fund and selected local and national grantmakers co-invest in programs that increase the scale of community-based solutions that have evidence of real impact in the areas of youth development, economic opportunity or healthy futures.  Every federal dollar invested is matched with private funds, and all programs are rigorously evaluated. As a result, the most effective approaches can be expanded to reach more people in need and key lessons can be captured and broadly shared.  For more information, visit NationalService.gov.

Southern Virginia Welcomes Axxor Group

Axxor Group will invest $4.96 million in its first U.S. operation

IKEA supplier opens first U.S. facility in Southern Virginia

Ringgold, VA (September 30, 2011) Governor Bob McDonnell today announced that Axxor Group, a Netherlands-based company that designs, produces, and sells honeycomb made from paper and water-based glues, will invest $4.96 million to establish its first U.S. operation, Axxor N.A., in Pittsylvania County. The company, which will be located in the Ringgold East Industrial Park, will enter the U.S. market to supply honeycomb core that is used in IKEA subsidiary Swedwood North America's product line. Swedwood North America is located in nearby Cane Creek Centre, an industrial park jointly developed by Pittsylvania County and the City of Danville. The project will create 31 new jobs. Virginia successfully competed against North Carolina for the project.

Governor McDonnell met with officials at Axxor Group in the Netherlands during his European Marketing Trip in July 2010.

Speaking about the announcement, Governor McDonnell said, "Swedwood North America was a transformational project for Southern Virginia, and Axxor Group's investment in Pittsylvania County is an outgrowth of that partnership. When any company establishes a large operation in Virginia we immediately strive to use their presence to draw potential suppliers to the same area. That is what has happened here. Axxor N.A. will supply a component used in IKEA products made at nearby Swedwood. As its first U.S. operation, Axxor Group will now be able to impact the North American market. Announcement's like today's are how you, project by project, build a dynamic, interconnected and thriving regional economy. And the result is more good jobs for our citizens."

"The Governor and I met with Axxor Group in the Netherlands last summer during his European Marketing Mission, and discussed potential investment in Virginia," said Jim Cheng, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade. "It is gratifying that this announcement is a product of that meeting, and we warmly welcome Axxor N.A. to the Commonwealth."

Dutch engineer Wieger Wiegersma started Axxion Industries in 1991 in Holland. Axxor developed the continuous honeycomb production system step by step into the Single Step Core system of today, called the Axxor SSC system. This system is capable of producing honeycomb in an extremely efficient way with all means of process-controlled production. Today the Axxor Group is selling to a majority of the door industry, the furniture industry, automotive suppliers, construction material producers and packaging companies. The Axxor Group partnered with U.S. entrepreneur Robert Boerrigter, who will lead Axxor N.A.

"We at Axxor N.A. are very pleased to establish our base in Virginia," said Boerrigter. "The proximity and our commitment to Swedwood were our starting point, and the proactive and professional business environment that Virginia offered heavily influenced our final decision. In addition to Swedwood, we expect to be serving many other businesses and industries from this facility."

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Pittsylvania County to secure the project for Virginia. Governor McDonnell approved a $50,000 grant from the Governor's Opportunity Fund to assist Pittsylvania County with the project. The Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission approved $100,000 in Tobacco Region Opportunity Funds for the project. The company is eligible to receive 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, training and retraining activities.

"Pittsylvania County is extremely pleased with Axxor N.A.'s decision to locate their North American manufacturing plant in the Ringgold East Industrial Park," said Tim Barber, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors. "This project has taken almost two years, but Axxor N.A. and the Economic Development office continued to overcome the obstacles and bring it to reality. This is also a fine example of the commitment of the Board of Supervisors to economic development and job creation. The bottom line is that Axxor N.A. will add to the County's tax base, occupy a vacant building, and bring much needed employment opportunities to the citizens of Pittsylvania County and Danville."          

"This is another great day for Danville, Pittsylvania County and Virginia," said Delegate Danny Marshall, a member of the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission. "Thanks to Axxor for bringing 31 new jobs and $4.96 million in investment to our area."

"Today's announcement that Axxor Group will establish its first U.S. operation in Pittsylvania County is great news for Southside, and I want to thank Governor McDonnell for his leadership and work on this project," said U.S. Rep. Robert Hurt (VA-5).  "This investment will help create 31 new jobs in the area at a time when we need it most and is another positive step forward as we all work to get our economy back on track."

Lindstrand's World's Largest Aerostat Stars at Commonwealth Games

Lindstrand 's world larges aerostat at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India.

The star attraction of the recent Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India was not an athlete or foreign dignitary, but the world's largest aerostat - created by Lindstrand USA, located in South Boston.

The 80m by 40m and 12m high aerostat is a unique piece of technology that is mounted with cameras to provide a 360-degree viewing experience so every person in the stadium could view the entire effect of the aerostat and laser projections. The high-resolution video projection featured animation graphics, parts of the Queen's Baton Relay and much more, and was coordinated with events which took place during the ceremonies.