Big announcement for Lynchburg, downtown business district
Pacific Life Insurance Company says it will invest nearly $4 million to open a business center in downtown Lynchburg, following the acquisition of the term life new business platform from Genworth Financial, located at 700 Main St.
“Pacific Life’s decision demonstrates that Lynchburg is not only a great place to live, work and play but also an excellent place to do business,” said then-current Mayor Mike Gillette.
In February, Genworth laid off 200 Lynchburg employees. As a part of this transaction, Pacific life says it has hired current and former Genworth staff.
The project is expected to create 300 new jobs over the next three years.
Governor Terry McAuliffe applauded Pacific Life for investing in “one of the best business regions on the East Coast.”
The president and CEO of the company, Jim Morris, also praised Lynchburg and says the company is looking forward to the expansion.
“The diverse and educated workforce of Virginia will allow us to continue providing superior customer service to our policy owners as we expand into new markets. And Lynchburg’s vibrant downtown is the ideal place for our employees to work,” said Morris.
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the City of Lynchburg and the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance to secure the project for Virginia. Governor McAuliffe approved a $500,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to assist Lynchburg.
Oregon-based company chooses Altavista for new regional location
Standard Insurance Company will open a satellite office in Altavista, creating 200 new jobs.
“We took a great deal of care in choosing this location…” said Dan McMillan, vice president of Employee Benefits. “In addition to the concentration of talent in the area, Altavista, Lynchburg and the surrounding communities in Campbell County are a strong match with our corporate culture.”
The company says the first priority will be to establish and build teams supporting its Life and Disability Services organization. The goal is to have the office staffed and operational in September 2016.
International Organization moves to Bedford County’s CAER
There is new life at the Center for Advanced Engineering & Research (CAER) in Bedford County.
County economic development leaders say a new international cyber security organization moved into the facility July 1. The International Critical Infrastructure Security Institute (ICISI) will offer cyber security research and workforce development support to the owners and operators of nuclear energy and other critical infrastructure firms.
“This will help organizations manage the tremendous threat of cyberattacks,” said Bob Bailey, executive director of the CAER.
According to Del. Kathy Byron, having ICISI in Bedford County “has the potential to attract firms to our region that are seeking to commercialize their products and services.”
The Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission recently authorized a $40,000 grant to assist with the project. The county’s Economic Development Authority provided a matching grant.
Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance announces move
The newly-formed Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance will soon have a new, much larger home.
In June, the Alliance Board of Directors and the Alliance Foundation’s Board of Directors unanimously voted to purchase the James River Conference Center (JRCC) on Court Street.
“Being in the downtown area not only places us in the center of the region geographically, but also ideally positions the Alliance to provide expanded economic development resources to all sectors of our economy,” said Alliance Chairman Larry Jackson.
The JRCC is also easily accessible from highways. And with over 24,000 square feet, the building offers plenty of office and meeting/conference space.
“This is an exciting and innovative decision for the Alliance—the evolution of a central idea: a location that appropriately represents a progressive, collaborative and dynamic business community,” explained Megan Lucas, Alliance CEO and Chief Economic Development Officer.
The Alliance was formed in January, a merger of the Lynchburg Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Region 2000 Business and Economic Alliance.
Currently, the Alliance works out of an office on Memorial Avenue. Before the merger, they were slated to move to a building on Border Street. The Alliance cited costly renovations as a reason to look elsewhere. The Alliance owns both properties and both will be conveyed to complete the move to JRCC.
Alliance leaders say the bid and selection process is underway, and they hope to begin renovations on the building as soon as possible.
New Region 2000 Workforce Center Opens
The Region 2000 Workforce Center has a new location that will hopefully make it even easier for those who are unemployed to find a job.
On June 27, local leaders gathered for a ribbon cutting ceremony at the center’s new location in the same building as the Virginia Employment Commission on Odd Fellows Road. Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones attended and spoke at the event.
The Region 2000 Workforce Center services include workshops, skills assessments and resume assistance. The center is free and open to the public.
HEALTH AND FITNESS
Local Company Awarded for Clinic Construction
Following the creation of the new Centra Southside Medical Center in Farmville, the Virginia Society of Healthcare Engineers (VSHE) honored Jamerson-Lewis Construction with its “Teamwork Award” in May.
Jamerson-Lewis renovated a former 52,000-square-foot big box store in Farmville’s Southgate Shopping Center, turning it into the new medical facility. The VSHE award recognized Jamerson-Lewis for “making valuable and lasting improvements to the Healthcare Physical Environment of Care.”
Centra expands PACE program to Pittsylvania County
A new Centra facility is now open in Gretna.
The building houses Centra’s Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), which provides healthcare services to people 55 or older who meet nursing-facility requirements. With PACE, these individuals are able to remain in their homes.
Verna Sellers, M.D., director of the PACE program, says the facility was needed in Gretna, citing its growing aging population.
Local Employees Take Part in 2016 100 Mile Challenge
Instead of eating lunch at your desk, why not spend part of your break taking a walk outside?
On July 1, workplace teams started participating in the Live Healthy Lynchburg 100 Mile Challenge. The goal for each individual is to run or walk 100 miles through Sept. 24. Participation is encouraged by Work Healthy, an initiative led by the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance and Genworth.
Studies show companies with worksite health programs lower sick leave absenteeism by 27 percent and health care costs by 26 percent.
Incoming City Manager Initiates New Weekly Publication
On the first day of her job, City Manager Bonnie Svrcek announced a new weekly publication called “Notes from the City Manager’s Office.”
The purpose is to highlight significant events from the city manager’s office for city council, city employees and local media. Publication items may include leadership changes within city council or the status of
The publication is also available to citizens at www.lynchburgva.gov. Read more about Bonnie Svrcek and her new role on page 24.
Stay Up-to-Date on Region’s Economy with New Talk Show
The work week doesn’t end at 5 p.m. on a Friday for the top leaders of the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance.
On Saturday at 9 a.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m., you can tune into BIZ TALK Live! on WIQO/100.9. The new radio show is produced in partnership with the Alliance and The Virginia Talk Radio Network and is hosted by Megan Lucas, Alliance CEO; Christine Kennedy, Alliance COO; and Mike Lewis, Alliance VP of Business Services.
The show, which debuted in April, focuses on local business leaders, news, trends and successes in the Central Virginia region.
HELPING THE COMMUNITY
New Dominion Solar Donates to Local Nonprofit
New Dominion Solar has announced the donation of a complete solar PV system to Concord-based Gleaning for the World. The local, veteran-owned solar company chose Gleaning for the nonprofit’s critical work in disaster relief efforts, including helping tornado victims in Appomattox and flood victims in West Virginia.
“It’s really easy to talk about helping people, so we thought we would put our money where our mouth is,” said Jim Brady, owner of New Dominion.
While this donation is a big commitment for a small company, Brady says they got into the renewable energy business to make a difference.
He emphasized that an organization like Gleaning will be able to leverage the savings from solar and put money back into their mission of disaster relief.
Appomattox, Virginia Beach businesses join forces
Two businesses with a lot in common have merged, expanding their impact in Virginia.
Appomattox-based Evergreen Basement Systems, Inc., and JES Foundation Repair (JES), based in Virginia Beach, are both privately owned, family businesses that were established in 1993.
They both specialize in residential and commercial foundation repair, crawl space moisture control and basement waterproofing.
“It’s great that we’re growing into a world class company, while retaining the personal focus to service that a small family business offers,” said Shauna Parsons, co-owner of Evergreen Basement Systems.
Evergreen is based in Appomattox but has locations throughout Southwest Virginia. JES is located throughout Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia and North Carolina.
The new Appomattox office will be added to JES’ three other locations in Virginia, including Virginia Beach, Chester and Manassas. While the merger with Evergreen extends JES’ service area throughout the entire state, the addition of JES will provide Evergreen with new capital and resources, including professional engineers on staff.
WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP
Another historic move for Lynchburg government
Following the appointment of Bonnie Svrcek to the post of city manager, for the first time in Lynchburg’s history, women are at the helm of city council. On July 1 in an organizational meeting, council elected Joan Foster to serve as mayor and Treney Tweedy to serve as vice mayor.
Foster is an at-large council member and was elected to council in 2002. She previously served as mayor from 2006 to 2012. Foster currently is the director of development at Lynchburg Beacon of Hope.
Elected in 2014, Tweedy is also an at-large council member. She is a former member of the Lynchburg School Board and currently works for Goodwill Industries of the Valleys.
Alliance Executive Begins New Role
One of the top leaders of the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance is now in charge of the Virginia Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (VACCE).
Christine Kennedy, COO and executive VP of the Alliance, began her role as president of the VACCE on June 24. As President of VACCE, Kennedy will preside over the VACCE Board meetings and will represent VACCE on the Virginia Chamber’s Board of Directors.
Kennedy has over 15 years of experience in the Chamber of Commerce industry.