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Manufacturing, Security, Science, and Logistics Drive Virginia's Development

Mali R. Schantz-Feld (Apr/May 08)
Virginia is focused on four targeted sectors - advanced manufacturing; security and services (data centers and back office operations); science, research, and energy; and global logistics, which includes aerospace and automotive, according to Liz Povar, director of business development at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP).

Aerospace and automotive dominated the development scene this past year. Rolls Royce announced a $100 million aeroengine facility in Prince George County with a potential for 500 new jobs. Future investment can soar to $500 million to support advanced manufacturing for new ventures in defense and civil aerospace businesses. In Fairfax County, Volkswagen of America is creating 400 jobs and investing $100 million for an 185,000-square-foot corporate headquarters facility as well as U.S. headquarters for Audi America, Inc., Audi Financial Services, Volkswagen Credit, and other affiliated operations.

Regional strengths are catalysts for developments across the state. Mead Westvaco, a packaging products company, moved its headquarters to Richmond, in Central Virginia creating 400 jobs. In Northern Virginia, bioscience is supported by higher education institutions as well as funding possibilities derived from the nearby Washington, D.C., area. To the west, advanced manufacturing projects include the expansion of the Coors Beer Brewery in Rockingham County and Merck's investment of $57 million to add a new building and equipment to its Elkton plant for the production of its new cancer vaccine Gardasil. On the eastern coast, in the Hampton Roads area, Maersk subsidiary APM Terminals opened a $450 million privately developed container terminal in Portsmouth in 2007 that is expected to encourage logistics firms as well as international commerce. Proximity to the Hampton Roads port was a factor in IKEA's $281 million plant in the Danville/Pittsylvania County area in southern Virginia.

In alternative energy, "Governor Timothy Kaine approved a plan to address commercial and individual solutions to energy problems," says Povar. Executive Order 48 sets a goal for executive branch agencies and institutions to reduce the annual cost of non-renewable energy purchases by at least 20 percent by fiscal year 2010. Institutions such as Virginia Tech and Old Dominion University are utilizing the state's assets to promote wind, solar, and nuclear energy sources. In Newport News, Northrop Grumman's shipyard is the nation's sole designer, builder, and refueler of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, and one of only two companies capable of designing and building nuclear-powered submarines.
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