Distribution Center to Open in Gretna

Malouf Fine Linens is bringing a bedding and linen distribution center to Pittsylvania County. The company plans to move to the old TECHMA USA property in Gretna by mid-February.

The bedding manufacturer makes luxury bedsheets, Sleep Tite mattresses and pillow protectors.

MPI Group, LLC, which will lease the property at 202 E. Gretna Road to Malouf, bought the 80,000-square-foot former TECHMA building and the 37 acres of land it sits on for $322,000.

The Gretna facility will serve as a distribution center for customers in the South, Northeast and the Great Lakes region, Erickson said.

Martinsville-Henry County Approve New Shell Building

Henry County and Martinsville will help finance construction of a 75,000-square-foot shell building — which could be doubled in size — in the Patriot Centre at Beaver Creek industrial park.

New shell building will be completed by the end of 2013

The shell be located on Lot 8; a 17 acre site with an 11.4 acre graded pad. The building will be a concrete tilt up similar to the last two shell buildings Martinsville-Henry County has built and sold in recent years.

The timeline calls for the EDC to select an architectural/engineering firm in January; develop plans/bid documents in February and March; meet with local banks in February; and bid the project and select a contractor in April. Construction is to be under way around April or May, and it is to be completed around the end of 2013.

“Martinsville-Henry County’s shell building track record is positive,”  said, Mark Heath, President and CEO of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation, mentioning Owens Corning, Mehler Inc., Masterbrand Cabinets, RTI International Metals and Commonwealth Laminating as companies that have moved into local shell buildings in the past.

Henry County and Martinsville have constructed two shell buildings under the revenue sharing system that involves the IDA and EDC, according to Henry County Administrator Tim Hall. One building was sold to RTI International Metals before construction was completed, and the last one was on the market for three years before it was sold to Commonwealth Laminating.

Faneuil Expands in Martinsville

Faneuil, Inc., has announced the expansion of its partnership with the City of Martinsville and the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation, signified by the company's investment of an additional $1 million in capital improvements and the creation of 100 new jobs for local residents.

A nationally recognized leader in technology-enabled in-person and automated service delivery, Faneuil [FAN-yuhl] provides business processing solutions for an extensive client portfolio that includes both commercial and government entities. Utilizing advanced applications and a team of more than 3,300 service professionals, Faneuil delivers broad outsourcing support to several complex, highly regulated industries ranging from transportation, utilities, government services, and healthcare, to technology services, education and financial services. Headquartered in Hampton Roads, Faneuil is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Harland Clarke Holdings Corporation, Inc.

Faneuil's business operations in Martinsville, which are based in The Clocktower at Commonwealth Centre, were initially established in April 2010 when the company announced the opening of a $2.4 million facility to serve as a virtual "Welcome Center" for customers of Dominion Virginia Power, a Faneuil business client. The Martinsville "Welcome Center" was the first initiative of its kind in the utility industry, assisting customers with utility connections, disconnections and transfers; documenting reports of outages and other emergencies, escalating those notifications when necessary; and responding to inquiries regarding bills, payment plans, e-billing, etc. The world class center incorporates state of the art technology to enhance customer satisfaction, with an emphasis on first call resolution. Faneuil further broadened its presence in Virginia less than a year later by opening a second customer care center on behalf of Dominion Virginia Power in South Boston. Together, the two centers assist 2.4 million customers and process more than 3 million transactions annually.

In Phase 2, which is expected to be completed in January 2013, Faneuil is investing an additional $1 million to renovate 12,800 square feet on the Centre's fourth floor in collaboration with the Martinsville-based Lester Group to support new client programs in the transportation, utility, and healthcare industries. The company also anticipates hiring an additional 100 employees to provide customer care for those new client programs.

"Building on the highly successful partnership we initially began three years ago with Dominion Virginia Power, we are pleased to be able to further expand our relationship with the City of Martinsville and the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation to provide additional employment opportunities for qualified area residents," noted Faneuil President and CEO Anna M. Van Buren.

"Though Faneuil has a national footprint, its corporate offices are here in Virginia, so it's especially exciting for us to be able to expand our presence right here in our home state," she added.

"Faneuil's success in Martinsville is a great story," said Mark Heath, president of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation. "The substantial investment from the Lester Group to renovate the former Tultex facility was used to attract a new business from outside the community. The announcement today is another example of how investments of this type continue to make a difference as local companies expand and grow their businesses in Martinsville-Henry County. We are grateful to the Lester Group for their strong sense of community pride and support, and we appreciate Faneuil's continued commitment and confidence in our area."

"Faneuil's decision to expand in the City of Martinsville and hire an additional 100 employees reaffirms that we have a talented workforce and a highly responsive team of professionals in the City and EDC," noted Interim City Manager Leon Towarnicki. "It is exciting to see continued investment in our community, particularly in existing buildings, and to see innovative and adaptive re-uses occurring. Slowly but surely, the combined efforts of both the public and private sectors are making a significant impact in moving our community forward."

SHINE Systems & Technologies to establish a new Solutions Center in Martinsville

Their new Solutions Center will specialize in biometrics and Open Source Intelligence (OSINT), supporting law enforcement initially and then expanding to other areas based on their growing portfolio of needs in the Commonwealth and beyond. The specific location of the Center has not yet been disclosed due to the ongoing lease negotiations.

Jeff Thomas, President of SHINE and a local Fieldale-Collinsville HS alumnus said, "Our company is dedicated to helping our customers enable their mission through innovative methodologies, value pricing, and unparalleled delivery; we are not just another consulting services company. Our new Martinsville operation will allow us to grow our service offerings and support our product launches. We see this step as vital to our growth, and I look forward to a growing presence in the area. Personally, I have an opportunity to give back to the area where I grew up."

"The potential opening of the SHINE Solutions Center in Martinsville-Henry County will add important business activity and employment opportunities to our area." said Mark Heath, President/CEO of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation. "We anticipate that SHINE will find the labor they require and we are committed to assisting them in any way needed."

Initial hiring plans for SHINE require 7 to 10 immediate new hires, with at least an additional 25 employees within 2 years. The Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce will be assisting SHINE with a two-day job fair on January 21-22, at the Baymont Inn and Suites (formerly the Jameson Inn) located at 378 Commonwealth Blvd. Job fair hours are: Monday 8 am – 7 pm, and Tuesday from 8 am – 6 pm. Key open positions are: Office Manager, Administrators, Training Developers, Law Enforcement Trainers, Software Engineers, Business Analysts, and IT and Server Specialists. Resumes will be accepted prior to the job fair and should be sent to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For more information about employment opportunities, please contact Kerri Turner at (434) 220-4717.

"The Chamber is excited to welcome SHINE our newest corporate citizen. Through our business services partnership with the Virginia Workforce Center, we are pleased to assist SHINE with their job fair and employee recruitment efforts which are a critical part of their success in our community" says Chamber President Amanda Witt.

2012 Workforce Development Services Chancellor's Awards presented by Virginia Community College System

SVCC recognized four instructors who have assisted the college in program development and support of the college in its success in serving Virginia's workforce community.

The 2012 Workforce Development Services Chancellor's Awards were presented recently by the Virginia Community College System in ceremonies held throughout the state. Southside Virginia Community College recognized four instructors who have assisted the college in program development and support of the college in its success in serving Virginia's workforce community.

Virginia's Community Colleges align education and economic development to extend workforce development courses, training and programs into the community. WDS prepares the emerging workforce by providing students with greater access to career options; serves employers through flexible and customized training; and, offers portable skills and credentials to the the incumbent and displaced workforce.

Shown at the awards ceremony are (front row, left to right) Natalie Coronas, Director of the Lake Country Advanced Knowledge Center, Joan Tuck, Associate Professor of Information Technology who received the Chancellor's award being recognized for her dedication teaching for Second Chances, a program for incarcerated men at Lunenburg Correctional, Charlene Pope, adjunct faculty, receiving the award for her work teaching ServeSafe training leading to workforce credentials for students, Vincent Brown, Associate Professor of Technology, recognized for his work with dual enrollment High Performance Technology as well as his dedication as a coach with the men's basketball team and his work with youth throughout Southside Virginia, and Jeff Grant, adjunct professor, who is a welding instructor who has been instrumental in the success of the program where students earn the Welding Career Studies Certificate and was also recognized for his dedication to his students and the program. Also attending the ceremony are (Back Row, L to R) Debra Smiley, Interim Director of Workforce Development and Continuing Education and Dennis Smith, Associate Professor, Director of Workforce Development, Men's Basketball Coach.

Manufacturing Skills Institute Launches in Halifax County

Manufacturing Skills InstituteSouth Boston has been chosen as the home of the new Manufacturing Skills Institute, a public-private partnership to develop skilled workers for advanced manufacturing companies that operate in the region and across Virginia.

The new MSI, a collaboration between the Virginia Manufacturers Association and ECPI University, will be housed at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, where government, education and business leaders gathered for Friday's announcement.

"This is unique and a gem,"said Brett Vassey, president and CEO of the Virginia Manufacturers Association, who said the new center will provide education and training which in turn will spur the creation of manufacturing jobs throughout the region.

The Manufacturing Skills Institute will operate in partnership with the SVHEC, the Modeling & Simulation Center of Excellence at Riverstone Energy Center, the National Center for Coatings Application, Research and Education (C-CARE) and the National Technology Transfer at the Research & Development Center for Advanced Manufacturing & Energy Efficiency (R&D CAMEE), located at the SVHEC Innovation Center.

HanesBrands to add 50 jobs in Patrick County expansion

Hanesbrands recently announced plans to expand its Woolwine plant in Patrick County, Va., through a $1.6 million investment.

The company will upgrade the plant with high-speed manufacturing equipment that will double current capacity and allow the company to increase production of performance fabrics in the women's sports market.

The investment will bring 50 new jobs and retain 215 jobs at the Patrick County operation. In addition, HanesBrands employs a workforce of 400 at its distribution center in nearby Martinsville, Va.

National Tire Research Center Displays New Tire Testing Machine “Flat-Trac LTRe”

Dr. Tom Dingus, director of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, addresses the crowd at the National Tire Research Center ribbon-cutting event in Halifax County.This week, the National Tire Research Center (NTRC) hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the unveiling of its new tire testing machine called the "Flat Trac LTRe."

This high-performance, $11.3 million machine is the only one of its kind. It allows speeds up to 200 mph on car, truck and motorsports vehicles and tests tire performance during acceleration, brake and burnout events, as well as wheel torque capability.

Located in the Virginia Motorsports Technology Park adjacent to the Virginia International Raceway track in Halifax County, the NTRC provides easy access to real-world testing right on a premier race track.

NTRC is an applied research and testing facility established in 2010 through a public-private partnership between the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, General Motors, the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, and the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission.

By combining the industry leadership of General Motors with the research prowess of Virginia Tech, NTRC will focus on developing safer tires that are environmentally friendly, providing higher fuel economy with lower emissions.

Southern Virginia has become quite a hub for the automotive industry. NTRC has partnered with nearby Southern Virginia Vehicle Motion Lab (SoVa Motion), a facility also operated by Virginia Tech that rounds out the region's offering to automotive manufacturers by providing shock and suspension testing, on-vehicle sensing, and full-motion driving simulation.

Virginia's advanced manufacturing capabilities cover all aspects of the automotive industry. To learn why automotive companies have invested more than $1 billion in the Commonwealth over the last decade, click here.

from YesVirginia Business Blog

IT firm moving to Danville

Norhurst will bring staff from Northern Virginia and expand its operations.

“We are gathered here this morning to celebrate resurrection.”

So began the invocation offered Friday by Bob Norton, whose son Tim Norton is bringing the IT company Norhurst to Danville.

Norhurst bought the former Dan River Executive Campus at 2291 Memorial Drive and plans to bring staff from Northern Virginia and expand its operations. Norhurst held a groundbreaking celebration Friday, attended by numerous city and county officials and politicians.

Norhurst will invest $2.3 million and employ 108 people with an average salary of $67,000. The company installs and teaches the use of software such as PeopleSoft, among other services.

The Tobacco Commission has granted Norhurst $625,000 to assist with the building’s renovation. It has suffered significant neglect: The doors have been unlocked, ceilings have fallen, windows have been broken and carpeting is water-damaged. Thieves stole valuable wiring.

Michael McNeely, a Norhurst employee who is helping with the fix-up, said Dan River left behind phones, some furniture and memorabilia.

“Vandals were taking the awards and chunking them out the windows,” said Michael McNeely, a Norhurst employee who is getting the building ready for occupancy.

The announcement was celebrated Friday with a luncheon in the building’s cafeteria — in the dark.

Jason Grey, network manager for the city, worked for Dan River for five years in its executive offices. He said the building is connected to Danville’s fiber optic network, giving Norhurst access to unlimited bandwidth. The computers in the basement ran Dan River’s multiple locations.

“It’s pretty much ready to go once they get their internal renovations done,” Grey said.

Tim Norton said the mid-century modern building is a diamond in the rough.

“The footprint is absolutely perfect for our IT services company,” he said.

Norton is hoping that 60 to 70 percent of the company’s Northern Virginia workforce will make the move to Danville.

“We’d like for them all to come,” he said.

Wilkins and Co. Realtors are sending promotional packets and videos to Norhurst employees to introduce them to the area.

Norton said he hopes to set up a customer help desk center in Danville that would allow them to remotely access customers’ computers and fix them.

“We’ve never had that opportunity in the past,” he said.

He could not say, however, how many new positions would be created.

Norton says IT is the business to be in right now. After leaving the U.S. Army, he went into IT after seeing how lucrative it could be.

“Every single business, school and grocery store is using computers,” he said.

“It’s a very good business to be in,” he said. “But you have to know what you’re doing. You have to have good people. And they have to be happy.”

Daville Mayor Sherman Saunders said these are the types of jobs possible for Danville residents if they’re willing to do what it takes.

“If you are under 60 years old, go back to school,” he emphasized in his speech. “Upgrade your skills for jobs like these.”

Chinese furniture maker brings manufacturing jobs to area

Jeremy Stratton, director of Danville’s economic development department, said the IDA will prepare the shell building for GOK.

“We’re in a time crunch to get it done,” Stratton said. “They [GOK] want to get started quickly and get going by the first of the year.”

Stratton said finishing the interior of the building will take about two months.

GOK has committed to hiring 300 employees by the end of 2015, and expects to have half that number employed by the end of 2013, Stratton said. The overall average wage for employees will be $30,000 a year.

Although the news release stated the company will be “utilizing the latest advanced manufacturing techniques to assemble and finish furniture,” Stratton said very few of the jobs will require technological expertise.

“It’s a lot of hand assembly, old-style assembly; it’s not very automated at all,” Stratton said.

The company has also committed to making capital investments of $12.5 million and the Tobacco Commission provided them with a $1 million incentive to come to Danville.

“The Tobacco Commission is all about improving the economy of the regions that it serves,” Delegate Danny Marshall, also a member of the commission, said. “This project is one which the commission was able to support with a $1 million grant from its Tobacco Region Opportunity Fund, and it is just the kind of project that we need in our community to improve our local economy.”

Two people have already been hired for the Bridge Street office, Stratton said — a local woman and a woman from Los Angeles who speaks Mandarin.

Stratton said the project has been in development for about a year.

“It’s all about relationships and making them feel we’re going to do what we say we’re going to do,” Stratton said.

Chinese furniture manufacturers have been under pressure from the U.S. government to stop flooding the American market with China-made furniture, and high import taxes have been placed on Chinese furniture. By assembling the furniture here, the company will save on some of those taxes, Stratton said.

There are now about a dozen foreign companies that have found business offices and manufacturing facilities in the Dan River Region, Stratton said.

“It’s interesting; everything goes in cycles,” Stratton said of the trend for companies to move to overseas locations. “There’s a big international footprint here. It is quite impressive.”

The company’s president, Kevin Liao, said he was pleased with the location and the relationship built with local governments.

“We have a very good relationship with Pittsylvania County and Danville, which is important for us in reading a decision to make our first investment in the United States,” Liao said in a statement. “The plant’s location is only an hour and fifteen minutes from the vast furniture markets of High Point [N.C.]”

Danville Mayor Sherman Saunders, who also chairs RIFA, said he feels GOK is a first-class company.

“I am delighted that we can accommodate both their headquarters and assembly space in the city of Danville and Pittsylvania County, which demonstrates the importance of working together as a team under the auspices of RIFA.”

Tim Barber, chairman of the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors, also welcomed GOK to the region.

“We are excited to have a Chinese company agree to create new jobs and invest several million dollars in the region,” Barber said. “The assembly jobs are much needed and will help re-employ our workforce.”