Virginia Business

Roanoke/New River Valley

Three off-campus housing complexes in Blacksburg geared toward Virginia Tech students were sold for $146 million in a deal announced by Berkadia in late June. The buyer, California-based Reliant Group, added the portfolio to its earlier purchase of another student housing property near Virginia Tech. A Reliant Group-connected LLC purchased Hunters Ridge, a 72-unit property at 1401 and 1441 Seneca Drive, from University Housing Group; the entity also purchased Collegiate Suites of Blacksburg, a 210-unit property at 1310 Henry Lane, from CSB LLC III, at a total of $74 million. Another LLC acquired Maple Ridge Townhomes, a 314-unit property at 344 Red Maple Drive, for $72 million from Maple Ridge Clubhouse LLC. (

Southwest Virginia’s Cranwell family, longtime financial supporters of Virginia Tech, has given Virginia Tech $7 million to support programs and services for international students, the university announced June 23. The donation is the largest the university’s student affairs has ever received and will benefit the Cranwell International Center, which responds to the specific needs of the school’s 4,000 undergraduate and graduate international students from more than 100 countries. Bill Cranwell and his wife, Ellen, and his brother Bob Cranwell and his wife, Susie, pooled together the donation. The brothers are graduates of Virginia Tech. (The Roanoke Times)

Airborne emissions from the operation of the Mountain Valley Pipeline will be countered by the purchase of more than $150 million in carbon offsets, the company announced in mid-July. The carbon offsets — which are a reduction in greenhouse gases made in one place to compensate for releases elsewhere — will be generated by a methane abatement program at a metallurgical coal mine in far Southwest Virginia. The mine produces coal used in the manufacture of steel. It will be the world’s largest such program at a coal mine, Mountain Valley said. (The Roanoke Times)

All Virginia Tech students will be required to get a COVID-19 vaccination in order to return to campus. Virginia Tech officials stated their priority as a public institution is to ensure public health. In order to have a safe, in-person semester, they feel that means making sure all students are protected and vaccinated. The university implemented a policy in June stating all students must show proof of vaccination to return to campus in August. If not, the university will place them on interim suspension. (WSET)


Unionized Volvo workers narrowly approved a new six-year contract with the company on July 14, ending months of strikes at the Dublin plant, the largest Volvo truck manufacturing facility in the world. The new contract eliminates the two-tier wage structure, immediately raised wages for some employees, sped up progression to top pay for all employees and guaranteed no health insurance increases over the life of the agreement. Union workers had rejected three previous contracts since negotiations began this spring. UAW Local 2069 represents 2,900 of the plant’s 3,300 workers. (The Roanoke Times)


Marc B. Nelson was promoted to director of Roanoke city’s Economic Development Department, effective July 13. Nelson, who joined the department in 2011, formerly served as its manager and special projects coordinator. His selection was part of a national search, which yielded 40 applications. Prior to working for Roanoke, Nelson, who holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, worked for the city of Savannah and North Carolina state government. (News release)


Shenandoah Valley

Purcellville-based TMG Construction Corp. plans to invest $18 million to $20 million to build up to 32 private aircraft hangars at Winchester Regional Airport. The partnership between the Winchester Regional Airport Authority and TMG was formalized June 10 at a signing ceremony in the airport terminal in Frederick County. Development is expected to begin immediately, with occupancy as early as spring 2022. Hangars are available for sale now, with prices ranging from approximately $557,000 to $617,000. (The Winchester Star)

Del. Dan Helmer, D-Fairfax, says he’ll introduce a bill during the 2022 General Assembly session to repeal a provision in a state law that exempts Virginia Military Institute cadets from receiving immunity for a drug or alcohol violation if they report a sexual assault incident. A West Point graduate and Army veteran, Helmer says there is a sexual assault problem in the military, and it needs to be addressed throughout the structure, from the military colleges on up. (The Roanoke Times)

Faced with a severe shortage of affordable housing, Winchester City Council is considering the creation of an office or authority that could make it possible for more people to buy a home. Shawn Hershberger, the city’s development services director, told council’s Planning and Economic Development Committee that improved access to housing is one of the top goals that has risen to the surface during the city’s ongoing update to its three-year-old strategic plan for future growth and prosperity. Finding a house for sale in Winchester — especially one listed at or below $250,000 — has become increasingly hard over the past two years. (The Winchester Star)


The Frederick County Board of Supervisors appointed Mary Beth Price interim county administrator while the board seeks a permanent replacement for Kris Tierney, who retired as county administrator on July 1. Price, who retired as Shenandoah County’s administrator in April 2019, also served as interim city manager for Winchester from March 2020 through August 2020. (The Winchester Star)

James Madison University announced July 1 that Suzanne Bergmeister was named as executive director of JMU’s Gilliam Center for Entrepreneurship. She comes from the University of Louisville’s Forcht Center for Entrepreneurship in Kentucky, where she served as the center’s full-time entrepreneur in residence for the past 15 years and its assistant director since 2017. (

Rockingham County-based indoor agriculture company Shenandoah Growers Inc. made a slate of top leadership appointments in late June, appointing former Starbucks Inc. Chief Marketing Officer Matthew Ryan as the company’s new CEO. Mike Buckley, former senior vice president of business for Postmates, was hired as Shenandoah Growers’ chief financial officer and Tessa Pocock, formerly of Plenty Unlimited Inc., was named chief science officer. Former CEO Tim Heydon, who helmed the company for 20 years, will shift to a strategic advisory role for the company’s board of directors. (

Edinburg-based Shenandoah Telecommunications Co. — better known as Shentel — has promoted Edward “Ed” H. McKay to lead its broadband business as executive vice president and chief operating officer, effective July 3. McKay will oversee the Shentel Cable, Shentel Business, Glo Fiber and Beam brands and the Edinburg-based company’s tower portfolio. He will replace David “Dave” L. Heimbach, who announced his resignation to become president and COO of MetroNet Inc. (

Eastern Virginia

In July, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management began its two-year permitting and environmental review of Dominion Energy Inc.’s 2.6-gigawatt Costal Virginia Offshore Wind project. That’s the next step before construction starts in 2024. Gov. Ralph Northam and U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine joined U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland in Norfolk to announce the BOEM’s Notice of Intent, which opens the review of the wind energy project off the coast of Virginia Beach, which would be the nation’s largest offshore wind farm. Construction is expected to be completed by 2026 if deadlines are met. (

Surry-based Edwards Virginia Smokehouse, the specialty ham empire that spans four generations, will be sold to Missouri-based Burgers’ Smokehouse, another multigenerational family ham business. Burgers will pay Edwards for the use of its trademark and recipes, the companies announced in July. The deal for an undisclosed amount is expected to close Aug. 31. In 2016, a fire destroyed the 95-year-old company’s 50,000-square-foot building housing its smokehouses and cure rooms. A lawsuit against the insurer has dragged on for five years, which is part of the reason Sam Edwards says he decided to sell. (The Virginian-Pilot)

Newport News-based Fortune 500 military shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries will acquire McLean-based defense contractor Alion Science and Technology Corp. from Veritas Capital in a $1.65 billion, all-cash deal, HII announced in July. The deal is expected to close by the end of this year, and Alion is projected to add $1.6 billion to Huntington Ingalls’ fiscal 2022 revenue. Alion was founded in 2002 and has been a portfolio company of Veritas since 2015. (

Smithfield Foods Inc. CEO Dennis Organ stepped down in July for personal reasons after less than a year, and 18-year company veteran Shane Smith was appointed to the top role. The Smithfield-based company, which is owned by Hong Kong’s WH Group Ltd., in January unveiled a management shakeup that saw several executives retire. The world’s largest pork processing company, Smithfield also announced in July it would no longer slaughter animals or process pet food in the town where it was founded. The company will spend $5 million to reconfigure its Smithfield plant to produce packaged meat.
(Reuters, Inside Business)

The U.S. Air Force is relocating the branch’s only advanced training unit for F-22 Raptor fighter jets from Florida to Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Hampton, bringing some 2,300 people to the region, the Air Force confirmed to the Air Force Times newspaper in late June. Gov. Ralph Northam welcomed the unit, noting that he and a group of state and congressional representatives urged the Air Force to move the unit to the Virginia base after Hurricane Michael caused more than $5 billion in damages to its former Florida base in 2018. The unit has been temporarily stationed at Florida’s Eglin Air Force Base since then. (

The city of Virginia Beach’s development authority paid $2.8 million for land at the Oceanfront in July, continuing its campaign to increase the footprint of the Pharrell Williams-backed surf park project on the old dome site. An Exxon gas station was set to be torn down soon on the land at the eastern end of Virginia Beach Boulevard. Atlantic Park will include an entertainment center, commercial and residential buildings and the surf park, which is scheduled to open in summer 2023, according to developer Venture Realty Group. (The Virginian-Pilot)

Southwestern Virginia

Birmingham, Alabama-based developer Blackwater Resources LLC plans to seek approval from the city of Bristol, Virginia, to construct a large multifamily residential complex in the center of The Falls. Falls Development LLC, a division of Blackwater Resources, has submitted a special-use permit request for the project on 8.85 acres in the area between Lowe’s, Aldi and Buffalo Wild Wings. The vacant site is bordered by Falls Boulevard and Merchant Trace — formerly known as Cabela Drive. Blackwater developed the Hobby Lobby at The Falls and has had the center lot under contract for some time. (Bristol Herald Courier)

A lye spill in late June at a Bristol food manufacturing plant killed nearly 8,000 fish in Little Creek, according to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. A forklift at a facility of Shearer’s Foods punctured a 250-gallon plastic container of sodium hydroxide, or lye. The company’s director of safety and environmental quality said that about 125 gallons of lye spilled on concrete but migrated to the creek, which is next to the Ohio-based company’s parking lot. The DEQ’s enforcement wing has been handed the case. (Bristol Herald Courier)

Marvin Gilliam of Bristol, a GOP citizen member of the state’s redistricting commission, stepped down from the panel in July. No reason for the former coal executive’s departure was announced by the panel, which is tasked with redrawing the boundaries of the state’s legislative and U.S. House districts based on new census information. Gilliam was one of eight citizen members selected by a panel of retired judges after four legislative leaders — two Democrats and two Republicans — submitted names last January. Gilliam was the only member from Southwest Virginia. His replacement is expected to be named in late July. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

After years of planning, Millwald Theatre Inc. has been given the go-ahead to begin construction in Wytheville. The multimillion-dollar restoration of the 93-year-old theater is expected to last about one year. The organization closed on a New Markets Tax Credit allocation from Enhanced Capital Partners LLC and a bridge loan by Skyline National Bank. When fully restored, the Millwald will operate as a theater, cultural arts and education center, and it will have seating for 500. A capital campaign to raise $1.2 million is ongoing. (SWVA Today)


U.S. Sen. Mark Warner met with Southwest Virginia leaders in July to marshal interest in capitalizing on new federal legislation designed to spawn U.S. competition with China. More than 40 city, county, education and business leaders learned details about the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, a $250 billion bill to fund research and manufacturing. Under a provision by Warner, at least six of 18 federally funded “tech hubs” would be in small or rural communities. He told the group he thinks Southwest Virginia should have one of the hubs, which will focus on building semiconductors. (Bristol Herald Courier)


Bryan Phipps has been named the next president and CEO of Abingdon-based nonprofit People Inc., the organization announced in late June. The 17-year veteran of the community action agency will serve as senior vice president until current President and CEO Robert G. Goldsmith retires at the end of December.  People Inc.’s services include community economic development and workforce development programs, including financial assistance micrOenterprise loans, business training and technical services. (

Northern Virginia

AeroVironment Inc., a producer of drones and robotics systems, announced in June that it has relocated its corporate headquarters from Simi Valley, California, to Arlington. In February, AeroVironment acquired Manassas-based Progeny Systems Corp.’s Intelligent Systems Group (ISG) for $30 million in cash. Although at the time of the acquisition, the company said it would operate the ISG facility in Manassas as its Artificial Intelligence Innovation Center, the new headquarters is on South 18th Street in Arlington’s Crystal City area, near the Reagan Washington National Airport. (

After numerous court battles to secure its cloud services megacontract, the Department of Defense decided in July to cancel its $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract in favor of a new approach — one with multiple contractors. Defense officials said in a statement they will pursue the cloud capabilities JEDI was intended to provide under a new contract vehicle dubbed the Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability that may be jointly divided between the two competitors for the original $10 billion contract, Microsoft Corp. and Amazon Web Services, pending their proposals. (Washington Business Journal)

The Landmark Mall redevelopment deal took a major step forward in early July as Alexandria officials approved preliminary plans and key bond financing for the long-awaited, 4.2 million-square-foot project. The City Council voted unanimously
to advance plans from developer Foulger-Pratt to bring as many as 2,500 mixed-income homes, a
1 million-square-foot Inova Health System hospital and a mix of new office and retail to the 52-acre site. The vote represents the first, and perhaps most consequential, entitlement approval for the redevelopment, which Alexandria has pursued for roughly two decades. (Washington Business Journal)

In the wake of the resignations of three Black members, the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce has hired a local diversity and inclusion consulting firm to review several aspects of the chamber’s operations. The outside review, the scope of which has yet to be determined, comes after three former members of the Black Business Empowerment Committee (BBEC) and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee (DEIC) claimed they lost confidence in the chamber’s leadership for their unwillingness to address issues of racial bias and discrimination within the organization. (Loudoun Times-Mirror)

Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington announced in July that it has received a $5 million donation from longtime donor Lola ​C. ​Reinsch, CEO of Arlington-based property management firm E.G. Reinsch Co.
The gift will go toward the hospital’s campus expansion efforts, including a new seven-story outpatient pavilion, which will allow the hospital to increase its capacity by 100 beds. In 2012, Reinsch established the Reinsch Pierce Family Center for Breast Health in honor of her mother, Dolores G. Reinsch, and father, Emerson G. Reinsch, a local developer of apartment communities. (

In July, the NFL fined the Ashburn-based Washington Football Team $10 million as a result of the league’s investigation into the team’s workplace culture. All senior executives, including the Snyders, will take part in training in workplace conduct, covering topics such as bullying, diversity and inclusion, LGBTQ+ issues, microaggression and unconscious bias. In addition, Tanya Snyder, who was named the team’s co-CEO the week before the announcement, took over the team’s day-to-day duties and will be representing the franchise at league functions for the next several months. Her husband, co-CEO Dan Snyder, will focus “on a new stadium plan and other matters,” the NFL said. (ESPN)

Central Virginia

Henrico County-based Altria Group Inc. entered into an agreement to sell its Ste. Michelle Wine Estates winemaking division for $1.2 billion to New York-based private equity firm Sycamore Partners Management LP in an all-cash deal, the Fortune 500 tobacco manufacturer announced in July. Altria acquired Ste. Michelle Wine Estates in 2008 when Altria purchased U.S. Tobacco Co. Inc., a maker of smokeless tobacco products. The deal is expected to close by the end of this year. (

C4GT is no longer pursuing a proposed natural gas plant in Charles City County, it said in early July. The independent power producer’s proposed plant was backed by private investors and would have brought gas via pipeline to the county to be burned to create electricity. Opponents had said local and state officials hadn’t been transparent about the proposal and a plan for a second plant a mile away. Michigan-based NOVI Energy, the company that wanted the project, announced it is moving on. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Nine counties in Central Virginia signed a memorandum of understanding, announced in late June, with Firefly Fiber Broadband, a subsidiary of the Central Virginia Electric Cooperative; Dominion Energy Virginia; and the Rappahannock Electric Cooperative that could lead to a partnership to expand high-speed internet over the next few years to residents without access. Four additional counties have projects in the works. The MOU kicks off the possibility of bringing fiber broadband to unserved areas of Albemarle, Appomattox, Buckingham, Cumberland, Fluvanna, Goochland, Greene, Louisa and Powhatan counties. (The Daily Progress)

Henrico County-based Genetworx, a medical lab testing company, submitted filings in early July to the Virginia Employment Commission indicating it was laying off 61 positions. Genetworx did not state the exact number of jobs that were eliminated or how many employees it still has at its local operations. Genetworx had grown with the COVID-19 testing boom, going from about 60 employees to more than 1,100 in less than a year. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts announced in late June that it had hired the Detroit-based firm SmithGroup to design a new wing of the museum in a $190 million expansion and renovation project. The new wing will provide space for African art, photography and 21st-century works, according to the museum. Construction is expected to begin in 2023, with completion scheduled for 2025. According to the VMFA, the new wing will add 100,000 square feet to the current 650,000-square-foot facility, in addition to a new, 40,000-square-foot Collections Center building that will house the museum’s conservation program and art storage. The project will also include renovations to about 45,000 square feet of the current building. (


VCU Health System promoted Nina Hobcroft to chief strategy officer, effective July 1. Hobcroft was the health system’s vice president of strategy and business development since 2017. Prior to joining VCU Health, Hobcroft served as senior vice president of strategy and development for HCA Healthcare’s HCA Capital Division. ( 

Dr. Joseph R. Johnson was appointed dean of Liberty University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, effective July 1. Johnson had been serving as interim dean since December 2020. Johnson earned his doctor of chiropractic medicine degree from the National College of Chiropractic Medicine in Lombard, Illinois, and his doctor of osteopathic medicine degree from the University of Health Sciences – College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kansas City, Missouri. (

Southern Virginia

The city of Danville is preparing ahead of time for the impact of the $15-an-hour minimum wage increase expected to be implemented by the General Assembly in 2026. Less than two years after completion of a salary study, the city of Danville is planning to have another analysis done to determine how to adjust to a $15-an-hour minimum wage. The city plans to hire the same Bridgewater-based consultant, the Berkley Group, that performed the previous study completed in January 2020. (Danville Register & Bee)

The Halifax County Board of Supervisors voted in June to lend $550,000 to the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority to pay for an upfit of the old Daystrom Furniture Co. building so the IDA can lease the building to RTP Co. for storage. The building has sat mostly dormant since Daystrom shut down decades ago. The IDA is seeking the money to install a wall that would create two office sections and 10 dock doors for the loading areas. RTP will be leasing the space for $138,250 annually, with a 10-year contract. (News & Record)

Martinsville’s plan to revert from a city to a town is moving firmly forward under a “blended” agreement that established a new timeline. During the Commission on Local Governments’ meeting in Richmond in June, policy administrator David Conmy said that he expects Henry County and the city to be ready for the commission’s review by early October, after which it would go to a three-judge panel. (Martinsville Bulletin)

To attract more workers, Pittsylvania County has launched an ad campaign to draw not only qualified job candidates, “but people who are eager to learn, work and make an impact utilizing their skills and talents,” said Pittsylvania County human resources director Holly Stanfield. The county, which has nearly 500 employees, currently has about 30 open positions. Most of those vacancies are in the Pittsylvania County Department of Social Services and the sheriff’s office. (Danville Register & Bee)

Prolam LLC, a Canadian manufacturer of hardwood floors for commercial trucks and dry van trailers, will invest $12.8 million to establish its first U.S. manufacturing plant at the former Ten Oaks satellite facility in Patrick County, creating 58 jobs, Gov. Ralph Northam announced in late June. Headquartered in Quebec, Canada, the company has committed to source at least 65% of its timber from Virginia through the purchase of more than $20.5 million in Virginia-grown hardwoods during the next three years. (

In the West Piedmont Health District, which includes Martinsville and Henry, Patrick and Franklin counties, coronavirus caseloads this summer are expected to remain as low as the early days of the pandemic, but a worst-case forecast from the University of Virginia’s Biocomplexity Institute projects the area could see more than double January’s caseloads — more than 1,400 — by the week of Aug. 15. It’s unclear why the district still shows a potential for a surge, but U.Va. officials recently highlighted Patrick County among Virginia localities with the lowest vaccination rates. (Lee Newspapers)

A multimillion-dollar project to remove lead-based paint from the White Mill building will get a $500,000 boost from the state. Getting rid of toxic substances will cost roughly $3.5 million and is one of the first steps in the redevelopment of this historic building that is scheduled to begin this fall. Gov. Ralph Northam announced the grant from the Virginia Brownfields Restoration and Economic Development Assistance Fund on July 2. (Danville Register & Bee)

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