AeroFarms Breaks Ground on World’s Largest and Most Technologically Advanced Aeroponic Indoor Vertical Farm

AeroFarms Breaks Ground on World’s Largest and Most Technologically Advanced Aeroponic Indoor Vertical Farm

Gov. Ralph Northam announced Thursday that AeroFarms will invest $53 million to build an indoor vertical farm in Cane Creek Centre, a joint industrial park for the City of Danville and Pittsylvania County.

AeroFarms uses proprietary aeroponic growing technology to produce highly flavorful leafy greens at a rate 390-times more productive than field-grown plants.

"AeroFarms fits perfectly in this region because agriculture has been our number one industry forever," said Bob Warren, the chairman of the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors.

The farm will bring 92 new jobs to the area.

"This is a project that is incredibly simple," said Danville Mayor Alonzo Jones. "It's got food. It's got jobs. It makes use of a great location. And from Danville to Richmond and beyond, we worked together to make it happen."


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Danville Utilities Receives National Recognition

Danville Utilities has earned a “Platinum” level designation as a Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3®) from the American Public Power Association for providing customers with reliable and safe electric service.

 The “Platinum” level is the second highest a public power entity can achieve. Danville Utilities has received the RP3 designation multiple times, but this year is the first time it has reached the “Platinum” level.

“I think over the last year or so, we’ve seen the vital importance of running a reliable and safe utility,” says Aaron Haderle, chair of APPA’s RP3 Review Panel and manager of transmission and distribution operations at ‎the Kissimmee Utility Authority in Kissimmee, Fla. “The utilities receiving the RP3 designation have proven that they are committed to running a top-notch public power utility by implementing industry best practices.” 

The RP3 designation recognizes public power utilities that demonstrate proficiency in four key disciplines: reliability, safety, workforce development, and system improvement.

Criteria include sound business practices and a utility-wide commitment to safe and reliable delivery of electricity. 

Danville Utilities will retain the RP3 designation for three years. Of the 2,000 public power communities in the nation, Danville Utilities is one of only 275 utilities that hold the RP3 designation.

“We couldn’t be prouder to be honored with this designation,” said Jason Grey, director of Danville Utilities. “This is the culmination of a lot of work from a lot of people who really care about powering our community. But this designation is not a final destination. We are committed to continuing to look for ways to improve our operations and service to our customers.”

The American Public Power Association has offered the RP3 designation for 15 years now. APPA is the voice of not-for-profit, community-owned utilities that power 49 million people in 2,000 towns and cities nationwide. APPA advocates and advises on electricity policy, technology, trends, training, and operations.

Danville Utilities provides natural gas, water, wastewater and telecommunications services in Danville and distributes electricity to approximately 42,000 customer locations in a 500-square-mile service territory covering Danville, the southern third of Pittsylvania County, and small portions of Henry and Halifax counties. 


J&J Truck Sales, Inc. in Chatham to expand, create new jobs

Governor Ralph Northam today announced that J&J Truck Sales, Inc., a leading heavy duty truck sales and construction equipment sales and rental firm, will invest $5.2 million to expand its operation in Pittsylvania County. The company will establish a new 45,000-square-foot facility adjacent to its existing operation at 11453 U.S. Highway 29, increasing its automotive-based equipment repair, refurbishment, and fabrication capacity to better serve the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast construction markets. Virginia successfully competed with South Carolina for the project, which will create 27 new jobs.

“This expansion by J&J Truck Sales reaffirms its continued confidence in Pittsylvania County and our Commonwealth,” said Governor Northam. “Well-established companies choosing to reinvest and create new jobs is what helps communities like Chatham flourish. We thank J&J Truck Sales for its commitment to Southside Virginia and look forward to supporting the company in this next phase of growth.”

Headquartered in the Town of Chatham in Pittsylvania County, J&J Truck Sales, Inc. is one of the nation’s leading dealers in used dump trucks and a leading construction equipment sales and rental firm. In addition to truck sales, the company buys, refurbishes, and rents equipment for the construction, industrial, agricultural, and excavating industries. J&J Truck Sales specializes in heavy duty trucks, including service, mechanic, tank, utility, and bucket trucks, and all types of dirt-moving and aerial construction equipment. With two locations in Virginia, the Chatham facility focuses on the sale of trucks and heavy equipment, and the Danville facility focuses on the company’s rental business.

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U.S. Department of Commerce Invests $2.5 Million to Enhance Workforce Competitiveness and Manufacturing Resiliency in Virginia

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $2.5 million grant to the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR), Danville, Virginia, to purchase equipment needed to support advanced manufacturing workforce training initiatives. This EDA grant, to be matched with more than $2.5 million in local investment, is expected to create more than 400 jobs, retain 800 jobs, and spur $83.5 million in private investment.

“President Biden is committed to revitalizing our domestic manufacturing capacity to keep our nation competitive and create good-paying jobs for the American people,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “This EDA investment in the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research will equip their Center for Manufacturing Advancement to boost their capacity to build a work-ready pipeline of highly skilled workers.”

“The Economic Development Administration is pleased to support the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research as they continue to support the region’s economic development needs and objectives,” said Dennis Alvord, Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “This project will allow for the growth of a more highly-skilled regional workforce that will be able to retool and integrate modern strategies into factories to automate systems and operations to include digital factories monitored and controlled remotely.”

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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.

From Virginia Business

Intertape Polymer Group to create 50 new jobs in Pittsylvania County

Intertape Polymer Group to create 50 new jobs in Pittsylvania County

Gov. Ralph Northam today announced that Intertape Polymer Group Inc. (IPG), a packaging products and systems company that supplies to retailers and manufacturers, will expand its manufacturing operation in Pittsylvania County to increase production for its e-retail packaging, coatings and films.

The company will add 30,000 square feet to its facility at 1101 Eagle Springs Road and act on a series of investments in production, operations, and capacity, totaling approximately $45 million over the next four years.

Virginia successfully competed with Colorado, North Carolina, and Utah for the project, which will create 50 new jobs. 

“Intertape Polymer Group has a long and successful history in Pittsylvania County, and we are thrilled to see the company continue to thrive in our Commonwealth,” Northam said. “This significant investment and the creation of high-quality jobs is a win for our diverse advanced manufacturing industry and represents an important step forward in our efforts to ensure Virginia has a sustainable economic recovery.”

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SVRA and VGA Approve over $300,000 of Funding to Suppliers in GO Virginia Region 3 and Release Economic Dashboards

SVRA and VGA Approve over $300,000 of Funding to Suppliers in GO Virginia Region 3 and Release Economic Dashboards

The Southern Virginia Regional Alliance (SVRA) and Virginia’s Growth Alliance (VGA) joined forces with the chambers of commerce and economic development organizations and launched the Bridge to Recovery program to support the GO Virginia Region 3 service area. The program provides support to businesses and local suppliers as they maneuver through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

To assist with local and regional economic recovery tracking, the Bridge to Recovery team has launched three economic recovery dashboards to track the region’s recovery from COVID-19. Recovery dashboards are available for the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance, Virginia’s Growth Alliance, and the GO Virginia Region 3. These regions encompass the cities of Emporia, Danville and Martinsville; and the counties of Amelia, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Greensville, Halifax, Henry, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, Patrick, Pittsylvania, and Prince Edward.

Economic and business activity help gauge the pace of Southern Virginia’s economic recovery from the pandemic.  The dashboards serve as an economic tool for the business community and are focused on three main areas: economy, labor market, and health and wellness.

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IALR breaks ground on $25.5M Center for Manufacturing Advancement

IALR breaks ground on $25.5M Center for Manufacturing Advancement

51,250-square-foot Center to enhance Southern Virginia’s advanced manufacturing sector

The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) has broken ground to build a 51,250-square-foot Center for Manufacturing Advancement (CMA) on the IALR campus. The innovative CMA will offer a platform for leading-edge business success specifically targeted at manufacturing companies establishing or expanding their presence in Southern Virginia. The $25.5 million project, funded by the Commonwealth and the Danville Regional Foundation, is being built in cooperation with Virginia’s Division of Engineering and Buildings.

“Southern Virginia is a top location for advanced manufacturers from across the globe, and the Center for Manufacturing Advancement will undoubtedly help attract more of them to the region,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “This state-of-the-art facility will play an important role in driving economic development and innovation in Virginia, while also helping the existing Danville-Pittsylvania business community grow and thrive.”

“Southern Virginia has a rich legacy workforce development program in place to support the hiring needs of top advanced manufacturers across the region and state,” said Mark Gignac, Executive Director of IALR. “The new Center for Manufacturing Advancement is a natural next step in positioning our area as a leader in this sector, and as an expert resource for those companies wishing to establish a location here locally.”

“As technology exponentially advances, it is critical we stay at the forefront of integrating these innovations into training and manufacturing processes,” said Troy Simpson, Director of Advanced Manufacturing at IALR. “Our new Center for Manufacturing Advancement will do just that – allow companies to interface with one another, technology providers and students to leverage space, collaboration and equipment opportunities for their own growth and advancement.”

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Gov. Northam announces new manufacturing operation to bring nearly 200 jobs to Pittsylvania Co.

AXTON — Gov. Ralph Northam Monday announced that Ison Furniture Manufacturing, Inc., a North Carolina-based furniture manufacturer, will invest $3.5 million to acquire and renovate the recently closed A.C. Furniture Company, Inc. facility in Pittsylvania County, creating 150 new jobs.

The company is also purchasing new equipment for the assembly and full production of its upholstered furniture products.

Virginia successfully won the project after a competition with North Carolina.

The company’s supplier, Dogwood Global, LLC, will locate to a vacant 30,000-square-foot building onsite, investing $500,000 in new equipment and adding 45 new jobs to manufacture high-end wood tables and custom furniture frames that will be upholstered by Ison Furniture, according to a press statement.

Pittsylvania County Director of Economic Development Matthew Rowe said Monday evening that it is "always a great sign, a strong gesture when a company goes in and purchases a facility upfront," which Ison has done, recently closing on the 30,000-square-foot building.

"This facility is no more than 2 miles form the Pittsylvania County/Henry County line," Rowe continued. "Historically, A.C. furniture, which was there previously, employed numerous residents from Marttinsville all the way to Danville and Chatham. The same base of employment will still be in play."

The availability of the work force is the biggest driving factor for this industry to enter Pittsylvania County, Rowe said.

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