MBC President & CEO Speaks at Telxius Northern Virginia Office Ribbon Cutting

On December 10, 2019, Telxius held an event in Northern Virginia to celebrate the opening of their new office in Tysons Corner.  Tad Deriso, MBC President and CEO, was part of a panel at the event on the Internet Ecosystem and Fiber Connectivity.

Another 1.5 million square feet of data center space eyed in White Oak

Another 1.5 million square feet of data center space eyed in White Oak


QTS’s existing facility at 6000 Technology Blvd. in White Oak Technology Park. (Photos by Jonathan Spiers)

The race to increase data center capacity in a Henrico County tech park appears to be escalating as a long-time tenant prepares to triple its footprint.

QTS Data Centers is planning an expansion on 210 acres it owns in the White Oak Technology Park at 6020 Technology Blvd. in the county’s Sandston area.

The proposed project, which was submitted to the county’s planning division this month, would involve construction of about 1.2 million square feet of new data center space to rise between QTS’ existing 1.3 million-square-foot campus to the west and the Facebook data center site under construction to the east, according to submitted site plans.

One of the many computer systems housed within the QTS facility.

Plans call for three 330,000-square-foot data center buildings, and a 165,000-square-foot data facility.

In addition to QTS’ eastern expansion on its campus, the company also updated its plans for another development, now dubbed “Project Isaac,” that’s set to rise on about 73 acres south of its campus along Portugee Road.

The firm originally submitted preliminary plans for that project in March to build a 710,000-square-foot data center building on county-owned property.

While the 710,000-square-foot building remains part of the plans, a second 355,000-square-foot data center building has been added to the mix, according to submitted site plans, bringing the total amount of new data center development assigned to Project Isaac to 1.1 million square feet.

Between its eastern campus expansion and Project Isaac, QTS is set to deliver about 2.3 million square feet of new data center space to the area, planning documents show.

The two QTS projects, while separate, are being fast-tracked by county planners.

White Oak Technology Park in eastern Henrico.

Once completed, QTS will own and operate about 3.6 million square feet of data center space in the White Oak Technology Park, becoming its largest data center tenant.

QTS’ neighbor, Facebook, will have 2.4 million square feet of data center space once it completes a $750 million expansion of three 450,000-square-foot buildings on its 172-acre campus in late 2020.

Facebook recently completed the first phase – two buildings totaling 970,000 square feet – that opened in the first half of 2019.

Kevin Snead, QTS Richmond site director, did not immediately respond to a call for comment Monday afternoon. Anthony Romanello, Henrico County Economic Development Authority executive director, forwarded a request for comment about the two projects to QTS.

Growing facility

The lobby in QTS’s main building.

QTS is a publicly traded data center operator that owns and maintains several facilities across North America and Europe, and one in Hong Kong.

QTS’s Richmond facility is one of nine mega data centers the company operates in the country, including one in Chicago and two each in Atlanta, New Jersey and Texas. The company’s data center footprint spans nine states and three continents, with centers in Amsterdam, London and Hong Kong.

Highly secured, the complex employs about 300 security cameras that monitor the property 24-7. QTS contracts with security company Allied Universal Security for those and other services. The facility is highly automated, requiring only about 30 employees across sales and operations to be on site at any given time.

The complex includes additional space for potential expansion. The site previously served as a semiconductor plant for manufacturing computer chips.

Previously used as a semiconductor plant for manufacturing computer chips, the facility now is used to store data center capacity for large financial institutions, banks, and multiple federal and regional government agencies. The company’s White Oak Technology campus caters to federal government entities, according to its website.

It also serves as a connection hub for two subsea cables, called MAREA and BRUSA, that provide enhanced international connectivity via the Virginia Beach Cable Landing Station, where the cables connecting data centers in South America and Europe come ashore.

Called the QTS Richmond Network Access Point, the hub provides connections to what the company describes as “the lowest latency and highest capacity ever deployed between continents.”

The technology is said to provide the fastest internet speeds ever, capable of transmitting all the world’s movies across the Atlantic Ocean in 42 seconds, Romanello said during a tour of the facility in June.

“We’re talking about billions and billions of bits of data that are getting moved, where even a microsecond could give somebody an advantage,” he said. “Imagine if you’re a day trader, where that fraction of a second makes a difference.”

Data center surge

Romanello and others have been making an effort in recent months to get the word out about QTS Richmond as an alternative to Ashburn and other data center hubs for businesses seeking international high-speed internet connections.

A leased tenant space that had yet to be filled.

Earlier this year, QTS hosted an inaugural summit that attracted local and regional government leaders and speakers from Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Telxius.

The overseas cables’ arrival over the past two years have helped fuel a surge in data center development in the region, coupled with lowered state and local tax rates to help attract such facilities.

The state offers a sales and use tax exemption specific to data centers, and in 2017, Henrico County approved an 88 percent reduction in its business personal property tax on data centers. Earlier this year, Chesterfield County lowered its data center tax rate to be the lowest in the state.

Romanello said such reductions, combined with Virginia’s power rate structure and Henrico’s available infrastructure, attracted the cables – driven in large part by Facebook and Microsoft – to be located here. He also credited Henrico’s investment in White Oak and the QTS site, where Infineon Technologies and later Qimonda operated before the semiconductor closed abruptly 10 years ago.

“It goes back to having a great partner in QTS – the fact that the county took over this property over 20 years ago, put $44 million into the infrastructure for roads, water and sewer. The fiber followed that,” Romanello said. “You’ve got this public-private partnership that has facilitated QTS and their investment, Facebook, and all the others that are here and that are going to be coming.”

Twyla Powell, Henrico EDA’s business attraction manager, said the cable connection makes the region an attractive alternative, particularly to international companies seeking high-speed connections with their headquarters overseas, without having to be routed through Ashburn, New York and other, busier hubs.

“It’s giving the network more options of places to go, where the traffic can be routed more efficiently and with a different path,” Powell said this summer. “Speed and latency are two key things, but also having multiple paths keeps the internet more available overall. If you can’t get into the country from New York, you can get in from Richmond. That’s all really good for the whole state.”

Powell said the hub also provides benefits to regional businesses and internet users.

“In Southside Virginia, all those people that use Mid-Atlantic Broadband, there’s a connection for Mid-Atlantic Broadband to this map,” she said. “So all those people served in the Southside of Virginia will have access to these higher-speed networks without having to travel up to Ashburn, which is the busiest internet place in the world, when all they might need is to just come to Richmond.”

BizSense reporter Jonathan Spiers contributed to this story.

Fiber-to-the-home gains toehold in county

To view this article as it originally appeared on the News & Record (SoVaNow.com) website, please click here.

Fiber-to-the-home gains toehold in county

South Boston News
MEC workers string fiber optic cable for high-speed internet service in the area.
SoVaNow.com / November 14, 2019


Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative has completed the initial stage of fiber-to-the-home internet service in Halifax County with the deployment of roughly 5.5 miles of fiber optic cable in the Clays Mill and Crystal Hill areas.

The Chase City-based cooperative, through its EMPOWER subsidiary, will soon complete a 23-mile stretch of fiber network in Halifax County, encompassing the 5.5 mile portion that has been deployed, plus an additional segment extending north on L.P. Bailey Highway and west in the vicinity of Republican Grove, on Pumping Hill Road.

Through the project, EMPOWER will soon be able to offer ultra-fast broadband internet service to an estimated 479 county homes and businesses.

“We’re continuing to build it out,” said David Lipscomb, MEC vice president of member and energy services. While more work lies ahead before the system can be activated, Lipscomb said EMPOWER will be notifying residents on the path of the fiber network that service will soon be available, and customer requests will be solicited in the next several weeks.

“Once they [technicians] light the fiber up, we can begin taking applications from the folks who live along that line for lines to their homes,” Lipscomb said.

MEC is running fiber optic cable, considered the fastest and most robust mode of internet transmission, to its electrical substations, office sites and other infrastructure in the cooperative’s six-county southern Virginia service area from Greensville to Pittsylvania counties. The cooperative’s for-profit EMPOWER subsidiary will provide retail packages to homes and businesses that lie within 1,000 feet of the “middle mile” network that links up MEC’s installations.

EMPOWER, which currently has about 60 retail customers in Mecklenburg and Charlotte counties, is offering home and business packages of varying speeds, ranging from 50 megabytes per second (Mbps) all the way up to 300 gigabytes for large industrial and business users.

The monthly rate for a base package of 50 Mbps is $69.95, said Lipscomb, while 1 gigabyte service for business and heavy household use is available for $299.00 monthly. In testing the service, the 50 Mbps speed proved to be plenty capable of handling the needs of most households, he said.

“We were able to run five TVs, streaming video, a computer, a laptop and a ring doorbell [with video feed] and everything worked flawlessly,” he said. “It stood up to the test of what was going on and took care of business without any problems. So we were excited about that.”

The already-deployed portion of the network runs from Clays Mill Elementary up Clays Mill Road to MEC’s Crystal Hill substation on Crystal Hill Road (Route 610.) In coming weeks, the middle-mile fiber backbone will be extended north along L.P. Bailey Highway (Route 501) and out towards MEC’s Hickory Grove substation on Pumping Hill Road (Route 667). The network also will run along Bradley Creek Road.

“We’re looking at getting service to those areas in the latter part of this year or the early part of next year,” said Lipscomb.

MEC’s first-stage rollout comes as Halifax County’s other plans to provide broadband service to the countryside have run into delays. Members of the Board of Supervisors have expressed displeasure with the slow pace of wireless broadband expansion by the county’s private sector partner, SCS Broadband, based in Nelson County. County Administrator Scott Simpson has since suggested that the county should engage Dominion Virginia Power to see if the utility will establish a pilot project in Halifax along the lines of what MEC is doing.

“We’ve had conversations with them on broadband projects,” said Simpson. Dominion has existing fiber links between its substations in Halifax County, but only recently has the option opened up for Dominion to become a middle-mile network provider — leasing its fiber cable to third-party internet service providers (ISPs.) This potential business model for Dominion is the result of legislation enacted this year.

The MEC/EMPOWER roll-out in Halifax County is funded in part by a $2.6 million grant from the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, also known as the Virginia Tobacco Commission. The tobacco grant provides matching funds for MEC’s investment in its network.

To carry out its plans, MEC tapped into the fiber backbone maintained by Mid-Atlantic Broadband. MBC’s backbone runs out to Clays Mill Elementary, and MEC builds out its lines from there.

“The deployment of high-speed internet is certainly a high priority for the Commission, and over the last decade we have made a considerable investment in middle mile fiber deployment through Mid-Atlantic Broadband,” said Ed Owens, one of Halifax County’s representatives on the tobacco commission.

In a statement released by MEC, Owens praised the cooperative for its investment in fiber-to-the-home service: “To deploy this long-awaited last mile segment of fiber to the doorstep of our students and businesses is a considerable and costly challenge … but Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative has stepped up to take it on and make a difference in our county’s quality of life.”

In the coming year, MEC expects to begin extending fiber optic cable — either buried underground and strung from power poles — to homes and businesses in five other areas of Halifax County: northwest Halifax County around Nathalie, lower Liberty, Meadville to Route 57 (Chatham Road), Omega to Virgilina and areas north of Crystal Hill. Once complete, the network will offer high-speed internet access to an additional 2,215 potential customers.

In tandem with Halifax County, MEC/EMPOWER has applied for $1 million in grant funding from the Virginia Telecommunications Initiative (VATI) to pay for extending fiber cable to the five areas. VATI is a program administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. A decision on the grant request is expected by late December.

MEC is planning to invest $2.9 million of its own money in the five-area project, for a total cost of roughly $4 million.

One source of funding for the cooperative’s plan is USDA Rural Development, which recently awarded a $3.8 million loan to the cooperative to build fiber network infrastructure in southern Brunswick County. The payback period on that loan is 23 years at very low interest, said Lipscomb.

“It makes it easier to do, where the business case [for repaying the loan] works out quite well” using revenue generated from future customer growth, said Lipscomb.

MEC’s grand design is to deploy 135 miles of fiber optic cable in Pittsylvania, Halifax, Charlotte, Mecklenburg, Brunswick and Greensville counties, offering ultra-high speed service to thousands of homes and businesses within 1,000 feet of the lines. While the project remains in the early stages, Lipscomb said MEC/EMPOWER plans to have the entire network completed by the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2021.

He said the cooperative has lined up funding to move forward with the full project, with MEC members making it plain that the need for high-speed service across the service area is acute.

“We’re a co-op. Our members have told us ‘we need some help,’ and when your members talk, you listen,” said Lipscomb.

Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation and Microsoft to build the SOVA Innovation Hub in Southern Virginia

Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation and Microsoft to build the SOVA Innovation Hub in Southern Virginia

The SOVA Innovation Hub in downtown South Boston will leverage community partners and programs to foster region’s innovation and economic opportunities

SOUTH BOSTON, Va. — April 29, 2019 — Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corp. (MBC) and Microsoft Corp. on Monday announced a partnership to build the SOVA Innovation Hub in Southern Virginia. MBC will invest over $5 million to build the SOVA Innovation Hub, which will be located in downtown South Boston, Va., to help meet its growing need for office space. Microsoft, through its TechSpark initiative, will use the space to encourage innovation and spur economic opportunities in the region. The facility will also bring together local nonprofit organizations from throughout Southern Virginia to offer impactful programming for digital skills education and workforce training.

“The SOVA Innovation Hub represents an investment in the future of Southern Virginia,” said Tad Deriso, MBC president and CEO. “MBC has outgrown our existing office space in the Southern Virginia Technology Park, and we’re delighted to partner with Microsoft and our regional partners to create a new office and innovation space in downtown South Boston.”

The 15,000 square foot, two-story SOVA Innovation Hub is the first new building to be built in downtown South Boston in over 40 years. The new building will be located on the site of a former tobacco warehouse built in the 1900s and destroyed by a fire in 2002. It will provide a mixture of offices, co-working spaces, collaborative work areas, event and training spaces, and technology showcase areas and will feature high-capacity wireless broadband access.

“As digital technology transforms the economy, people at all stages in their careers will need to acquire new skills, transform their businesses and launch new enterprises — and they’ll need a place to do it,” said Kate Behncken, Microsoft Philanthropies. “We are excited to play a role in MBC’s vision to create a world-class center that will enable this entire community to grow with the digital economy. MBC’s longstanding connection to this region makes it an ideal partner on the SOVA Innovation Hub.”

Microsoft will use the SOVA Innovation Hub as a base for its TechSpark Virginia efforts. In addition to offering access to technology, it will use the center as a convening space to leverage regional partnerships to offer programming, workshops and events that encourage entrepreneurism and expand digital skills and career pathways in the area. Southern Virginia is one of the six TechSpark regions across the United States chosen for the program to foster job creation and economic opportunity by focusing on computer science education and digital skills, career pathways, digital transformation, support of nonprofits, and rural broadband access.

“The Town of South Boston is proud to serve as the location for the regional SOVA Innovation Hub,” said Ed Owens, mayor of the Town of South Boston and a member of the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission. “We welcome MBC and Microsoft and are inspired by the energy and excitement they will bring to our downtown area.”

Next, MBC and Microsoft plan to announce a groundbreaking for the SOVA Innovation Hub and introduce community partners and programs at the center. Employers across all industries are increasingly seeking a skilled workforce, and Microsoft said the SOVA Innovation Hub will make it possible to facilitate and expand digital skills education for students along with training to help upskill current talent so they are better prepared to pursue good-paying job opportunities.

“I am proud to see another Microsoft investment in our region,” said Senator Frank Ruff (R-Mecklenburg), who is also vice chairman of the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission. “MBC and Microsoft are true community partners, and I am looking forward to the positive impacts the SOVA Innovation Hub will have for our business and educational communities.”

About Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities

Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation (MBC) is committed to providing economic development leadership to Southern Virginia. MBC promotes economic development in Southern Virginia through the operation of a successful advanced open access fiber optic network, providing wholesale telecommunications transport services, colocation, and tower leasing. MBC offers a state-of-the-art fiber optic network and supports the recruitment of major investments, including data centers, call center/operations centers, advanced manufacturing, research and development, and biotech industries.

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For more information, press only:

Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications for Microsoft, (425) 638-7777, rrt@we-worldwide.com 
Lauren Mathena, MBC, lauren.mathena@mbc-va.com

Governor Northam Announces Microsoft Corporation’s Sixth Expansion in Mecklenburg County


Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of Governor Ralph S. Northam

Date: January 9, 2019

Office of the Governor
Contact: Alena Yarmosky
Email: Alena.Yarmosky@governor.virginia.gov

Virginia Economic Development Partnership
Contact: Suzanne Clark
Email: sclark@vedp.org

Microsoft Media Relations
Contact: WE Communications
Email: rrt@we-worldwide.com

Governor Northam Announces Microsoft Corporation’s Sixth Expansion in Mecklenburg County

~ Microsoft investment and expansion will create more than 100 new jobs ~

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Microsoft Corporation, one of the largest and most influential companies in the world, will inject significant capital investment to expand its enterprise data center in Mecklenburg County. The project is Microsoft’s sixth expansion at the facility since 2010 and will allow the company to further enhance its ability to serve customers in the U.S. and across the globe. Virginia successfully competed against multiple states for this significant investment, which will create more than 100 new jobs.

“When Microsoft established its new enterprise data center in 2010, it represented the largest economic investment in southern Virginia history, and we have been thrilled to see the company continue expanding in the Commonwealth ever since,” said Governor Northam. “Microsoft’s sustained investment in Virginia has created hundreds of new jobs for our citizens and advanced our position as a leader in information technology. We thank Microsoft for its tremendous contribution to the economies of Mecklenburg County and to the Commonwealth as a whole.”

Microsoft is a publicly held corporation, established in 1975, and headquartered in Redmond, Washington, with revenues surpassing $100 billion and more than 134,000 employees worldwide. Microsoft enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Microsoft has created nearly 1,800 jobs in Virginia, with approximately 300 jobs at Microsoft locations in Mecklenburg County.

“Microsoft and the Commonwealth boast a rich history of successful corporate partnership, and we are thrilled that the company’s sixth expansion in Mecklenburg County will bring more than 100 new jobs to Virginia,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “Microsoft’s state-of-the-art data center is thriving due to the region’s premier assets and infrastructure, which include a density of fiber and competitively priced power. Thanks to industry leaders like Microsoft, Virginia remains the largest data center market in the U.S., and we look forward to the company’s continued growth in Mecklenburg County.”

“As demand for cloud and online services continues to grow, Microsoft is investing in Virginia as a strategic location to help us deliver for our customers,” said Noelle Walsh, corporate vice president, Cloud Operations + Innovation, Microsoft Corp. “Mecklenburg County has been a good home for Microsoft, and we’re committed to supporting the community through local partnerships to help deliver economic, social, and environmental benefits such as expanding access to high-speed broadband services and supporting skills training for positions in the information technology industry. We’ve also invested to increase the amount of renewable energy available and help others access more renewable energy. In May 2018, Microsoft announced the purchase of 315-megawatts of energy from two new solar projects in the Commonwealth of Virginia, which represented the single largest corporate purchase of solar energy in the United States.”

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Mecklenburg County and the General Assembly’s Major Employment and Investment (MEI) Project Approval Commission to secure the project for Virginia. Governor Northam approved a $1.5 million grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to assist Mecklenburg County with the project. The company is also eligible for Data Center Sales and Use tax exemptions on qualifying computer equipment and enabling software.

“Mecklenburg County is pleased that Microsoft is continuing to grow their operation in our County with their sixth expansion announcement since 2010,” said Chairman of the Mecklenburg County Board of Supervisors Glenn Barbour. “The continued expansion of the Boydton Data Center showcases our county and its assets to the world. We look forward to working with Microsoft to continue their growth of their cloud services and the opportunities it provides for our citizens and our economy.”

“Microsoft’s economic impact on Southern Virginia is invaluable, and we thank the company for its sixth major investment in Mecklenburg County since 2010,” said Senator Frank Ruff, Chairman of the MEI Commission. “State and local partners have worked tirelessly to ensure the company’s continued growth in the region, and I am pleased that the MEI Commission could play a role in securing this important expansion for the Commonwealth.”

“An additional expansion of Microsoft’s Mecklenburg County site is tremendous for the region, and is further evidence that rural Virginia can play an important role in the growth of the high-tech industry in the Commonwealth,” said Delegate Nick Rush, Vice Chair of the MEI Commission. “I am proud of VEDP, MEI, and the partners involved for continued collaboration and a strong corporate partnership with the company.”

“The announcement of Microsoft once again expanding in Mecklenburg County is welcome news not only to me but to the people I serve in the 61st district,” said Delegate Thomas Wright. “Microsoft clearly appreciates that Mecklenburg offers a thriving workforce, a business-friendly environment, and the infrastructure to support a growing operation.”

Full Release


Governor Northam Announces 500 New Jobs in the City of Danville


Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of Governor Ralph S. Northam

Date: December 20, 2018

Office of the Governor
Contact: Alena Yarmosky
Email: Alena.Yarmosky@governor.virginia.gov

Virginia Economic Development Partnership
Email: media@vedp.org

PRA Group, Inc.
Contact: Elizabeth Kersey
Email: elizabeth.kersey@pragroup.com
Phone: (757) 431-3398

Governor Northam Announces 500 New Jobs in the City of Danville
~ PRA Group, Inc. to make a capital investment of $15.1 million to establish new call center ~

 DANVILLE—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that PRA Group, Inc., a global leader in acquiring and collecting nonperforming loans, will make a capital investment of $15.1 million to establish a new call center in the City of Danville. Virginia successfully competed with multiple states for the project, which will create 500 new jobs.

“PRA Group’s multi-million-dollar investment will harness Southern Virginia’s abundant talent in the corporate services industry by creating 500 new jobs, and bring a shuttered asset in the Airside Industrial Park back into productive use,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “PRA Group is a prime example of a home-grown Virginia business developing into a valued major employer in the Commonwealth, and we look forward to the company’s next chapter in the City of Danville.”

Founded in Norfolk, Virginia as Portfolio Recovery Associates, PRA Group, Inc. is now one of the nation’s largest debt recovery firms. By returning capital to banks and other creditors, the company helps to expand financial services for consumers in the Americas and Europe. PRA Group employs more than 2,000 in its Norfolk and Hampton facilities and 5,000 worldwide.

“The City of Danville is the ideal location for a global leader such as PRA Group to provide high-quality customer service at an affordable cost,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “The company will benefit from Southern Virginia’s stable taxes, high-speed fiber network, and building costs at 20 percent below the national average. We thank PRA Group for its major investment in the Commonwealth and are confident of its continued success in Danville.”

“We are excited to open this new call center just a few hundred miles away from where we started 22 years ago,” said President and Chief Executive Officer of PRA Group Kevin Stevenson. “I am grateful to the Governor and our local and state officials, as well as the Tobacco Commission, for their support in making this new site possible. I look forward to long-term growth and success in Danville.”

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the City of Danville, the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance, and the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission to secure the project for Virginia. Governor Northam approved a $1.5 million grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to assist Danville with the project. The Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission approved a $1,665,000 million Tobacco Region Opportunity Fund grant as well as a $1,665,000 million loan for the project. PRA Group is eligible to receive state benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Funding and services to support PRA Group’s employee training activities will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.

“We are so delighted to welcome PRA to our wonderful city,” said Mayor of Danville Alonzo Jones. “This is truly a winning scenario for all involved—a win for PRA to come to a community with a quality workforce ready to help the company grow, a win for the citizens of Danville to provide quality employment opportunities, and a win for the Commonwealth of Virginia to help an existing Virginia company expand within the state!”

“I am thrilled that PRA Group has selected Danville to expand their service operations,” said U.S. Senator Mark Warner. “Their planned expansion will not only bring 500 jobs to Southside Virginia, but it will also help spur economic opportunity and development in the region.”

“I am thrilled that PRA is making this substantial investment in our region and bringing 500 new jobs,” said Tobacco Commission member Senator Bill Stanley. “The fact that we were able to successfully compete against other states to bring these jobs to Danville says a lot about our business climate and workforce. I look forward to PRA starting their hiring process and am proud that the Tobacco Commission supported this project.”

“What a great Christmas present for the Danville area,” said Tobacco Commission member Delegate Danny Marshall. “This is a big win for our region. Five hundred new jobs will have a huge impact on our local and regional economy. I am pleased that the Tobacco Commission chose to support this project and wish PRA the best as they get their operation underway here in Danville.”

Full Release


Governor Northam Announces 49 New Jobs in the City of Danville and Pittsylvania County

Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of Governor Ralph S. Northam 

Date: November 1, 2018

Office of the Governor
Contact: Ofirah Yheskel
Email: Ofirah.Yheskel@governor.virginia.gov

Virginia Economic Development Partnership
Email: media@vedp.org

Harlow Group Ltd.
Contact: Pam Gandee
Email: pam@richmondmkt.co.uk

Governor Northam Announces 49 New Jobs in the City of Danville and Pittsylvania County

~ Harlow Group to invest $8 million to establish its first U.S. manufacturing plant ~

DANVILLE—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Harlow Group Ltd., a leading provider of precision engineered, fabricated, machined and 3D printed additive components, will invest $8 million to locate its first U.S. precision sheet metal fabrication plant, to be called Harlow Fastech, in the City of Danville and Pittsylvania County. The United Kingdom-based company will also establish a U.S. Training Center of Excellence, a new facility with a focus on additive manufacturing, which will be located in the Danville-Pittsylvania County Regional Industrial Facility Authority-owned Cyber Park. Virginia successfully competed against Alabama for this project, which will create 49 new jobs.

“With its pipeline of skilled talent and unmatched infrastructure, Southern Virginia has once again attracted a leading international manufacturer, and we are thrilled to welcome Harlow Group to this region’s impressive corporate roster,” said Governor Northam. “By locating its first U.S. manufacturing facility in the City of Danville and Pittsylvania County, the company will add 49 new jobs to an existing manufacturing labor force of nearly 18,000. Southern Virginia maintains a legacy of success in this industry, and we are confident that Harlow Group will flourish from its new home in the region.”

Founded in 1975 and based in the United Kingdom, Harlow Group offers a wide variety of services ranging from product design to the full production of engineered metal products. The company’s customer base includes such industry-leaders as GE, Pitney Bowes, Raytheon Safran, Sony, BF Goodrich, and Lotus. Harlow Group has chosen Virginia as the site of its first U.S. manufacturing plant in order to accommodate its projected growth and will also invest heavily in the development of a state-of-the-art training center.

“Harlow Group’s decision to establish its first U.S. manufacturing plant and state-of-the-art training center in Southern Virginia is a major vote of confidence in this thriving region and the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “At the new facility in the Danville-Pittsylvania Cyber Park, the company’s production and training activities will benefit from close proximity to valuable partners such as the Institute for Advanced Learning and Technology and the Regional Center for Applied Technology and Training. There is no better place for an industry-leading manufacturer such as Harlow Group, and we look forward to the company’s future success in Virginia.”

“After a two-year process looking at a number of alternative possibilities to expand into the U.S., we are delighted to finally conclude our decision to invest in Danville, Virginia,” said Harlow Group CEO and Founder Alan Pearce. “Virginians have been amongst the most welcoming and friendly people and their appetite to make things work and overcome obstacles is second to none. The inspirational leadership of Troy Simpson has made the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research a world-leading education and technology center, producing highly motivated and capable students and stands as a beacon to the rest of the world to emulate. The ambition of Virginia to embrace new technology and invest in the future will keep the Commonwealth as the number one destination for expansion and business investment, and we are extremely proud to be associated with Danville and the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the City of Danville, Pittsylvania County, the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance, and the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission to secure the project for Virginia. The Harlow Group was introduced to Danville-Pittsylvania County through Invest Southern Virginia, which is funded by Mid-Atlantic Broadband as part of its economic development mission. Governor Northam approved a $147,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to assist the City of Danville and Pittsylvania County with the project. The Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission approved $315,000 in Tobacco Region Opportunity Funds for the project. Harlow Group is eligible to receive state benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Funding and services to support the company’s employee training activities will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.

“We are pleased to welcome another UK company to our cluster of high precision machining businesses,” said Chairman of the Danville-Pittsylvania Regional Industrial Facility Authority Robert W. Warren. “The community’s vision of becoming a hub of automotive and aerospace suppliers is now reality. Pittsylvania County welcomes Harlow Fastech to the Cyber Park and looks forward to its growth and success as a member of our community.”

“We are delighted that the Harlow Group has chosen Danville and Pittsylvania County for its first U.S. manufacturing facility, to be called Harlow Fastech,” added City of Danville Mayor Alonzo Jones. “When this region made the commitment to invest in a state-of-the-art workforce training program with the facilities necessary to adequately educate our students to be world-class workers, we believed we would create a magnet to draw aerospace and automotive metal working companies from around the world. Our students and residents could be employed in jobs here in our home community that would be highly paid. It is so rewarding to see this vision becoming a reality.”

“Manufacturing has always been an important part of the economy in Southside Virginia,” said Tobacco Commission member Senator William Stanley. “In choosing to locate their first U.S. manufacturing facility here in Danville and Pittsylvania County, Harlow Group shows that we have the workforce and assets to compete for the high-tech manufacturing jobs of today and tomorrow. The jobs Harlow Group is creating, as well as the training they will offer at their training center, will be a boost to our economy for years to come, and I am pleased that the Tobacco Commission chose to support this project.”

“We are excited that Harlow Group has chosen our region for its first U.S. engineered metal products plant,” stated Delegate Danny Marshall. “This is especially good news because we have been preparing for companies like theirs for several years by investing in workforce training. There is a pipeline of workers already trained and others currently enrolled in precision machining, welding, and other skills that will provide a ready workforce. We appreciate the good jobs they are bringing and the investment in our area.”

Full Release


Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation Honored for Special Achievement in GIS

Geographic Information System Provider Esri Awards MBC at Annual User Conference

SAN DIEGO, Calif.— July 12, 2018  Esri, the global leader in spatial analytics, presented Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation with Esri’s Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) Award on July 11 at the annual Esri User Conference. Selected from over 300,000 eligible candidates, MBC received the award for its innovative application of mapping, data analytics, and thought leadership in the field of telecommunications.

The SAG Awards are meant to show appreciation for organizations that are using GIS to solve some of the world’s toughest challenges. Through The Science of Where—the technology of GIS combined with the science of geography—the users honored with these awards are demonstrating the most groundbreaking and transformative possibilities of GIS software.

“Esri User Conference is a great forum for our users to come together and share the amazing ways they are implementing GIS technology,” said Jack Dangermond, Esri founder and president. “The organizations recognized here are creating maps and using spatial analytics to make a difference in the world. We are honored to present these awards.”

“We are honored to be one of this year’s SAG Award recipients.” said Chase Weddle, Senior Network Planner. “We look forward to growing our partnership with ESRI and their business partners to help continue making a positive impact in Virginia.”

MBC was one of over 180 organizations in areas such as commercial industry, defense, transportation, nonprofit work, and government to receive a SAG Award. Esri staff annually nominate hundreds of candidates from around the world for consideration, and Dangermond selects the finalists.

For more information on how MBC is changing the world through The Science of Where, visit www.mbc-va.com.

About MBC
Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation is a Virginia-based leader in creating unique public-private partnerships to build and operate open-access fiber networks. MBC has built over 1,800 route miles of fiber in Southern Virginia to bring competition and drive down costs to accelerate digital inclusiveness. MBC’s middle-mile fiber network provides affordable infrastructure and carrier-class broadband connectivity to drive economic growth. MBC has successfully partnered with regional economic development entities to attract new business and jobs to Southern Virginia with its open access fiber network.

About Esri
Esri, the global market leader in geographic information system (GIS) software, offers the most powerful mapping and spatial analytics technology available. Since 1969, Esri has helped customers unlock the full potential of data to improve operational and business results. Today, Esri software is deployed in more than 350,000 organizations including the world’s largest cities, most national governments, 75 percent of Fortune 500 companies, and more than 7,000 colleges and universities. Esri engineers the most advanced solutions for digital transformation, the Internet of Things (IoT), and location analytics to inform the most authoritative maps in the world. Visit us at esri.com.

Copyright © 2018 Esri. All rights reserved. Esri, the Esri globe logo, The Science of Where, esri.com, and @esri.com are trademarks, service marks, or registered marks of Esri in the United States, the European Community, or certain other jurisdictions. Other companies and products or services mentioned herein may be trademarks, service marks, or registered marks of their respective mark owners.


Building Blocks: Robotics teams get help in funding world championship trip

This article was published by the Martinsville Bulletin.  To view this article in its original format on the Martinsville Bulletin website, please click here.

MARTINSVILLE — Two local robotics teams received some help on Wednesday in funding their trip to the world championship.

A representative of Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corp. on Wednesday ceremonially presented checks totaling $15,000 to the Piedmont Governor’s School STAGS, Martinsville High School MADawgs and Halifax County High School Cometbots robotics teams, which will be competing at the FRC (First Robotics Competition) world championship in Detroit later this month.

Lauren Mathena, director of economic development and community engagement for Mid-Atlantic Broadband (MBC), presented a check for $10,000 to the STAGS and checks for $2,500 each to the MADawgs and the Cometbots teams. She said MBC also is offering to match the fundraising efforts for the MADawgs and the Cometbots teams dollar for dollar up to $2,500 for each team.

“I hope all of you guys do awesome,” Mathena told members of the three teams during the ceremony Wednesday at a lab for New College Institute at 31 Fayette Street.

Robotics activities encourage students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields and that will help the economy grow, Mathena said.

Depending on where they are geographically located, teams that qualified for the world championship competition will compete either in Detroit (April 25-28) or Houston (April 18-21).

The team qualified with a top-10 finish after FIRST Chesapeake district play and have been named the 2018 MBC Challenge Cup champion. The MBC Challenge Cup is a competition that rewards superior performance for FIRST FRC robotics teams in Southern Virginia. The STAGS finished the highest of the 11 MBC-sponsored FRC robotics teams. In addition to $10,000, the STAGS gain possession of the MBC Challenge Cup trophy for one year.

The Piedmont Governor’s School STAGS are in their 15th season and are based in Martinsville. This season, the STAGS team has 18 student members from Magna Vista, Bassett and Martinsville high schools, and nine adult mentors. Brian Pace — director of Piedmont Governor’s School for Science, Mathematics, and Technology – is the lead mentor of the STAGS.

So far this season, STAGS achievements have included: district finalist (second place) and the Industrial Design Award at the Central Virginia district event; a district winner (first place) and received the Team Spirit Award at the Southwest Virginia district event; and the Imagery Award at the FIRST Chesapeake District Championship event that was held at the University of Maryland.

After the check-presentation ceremony Wednesday, several members of STAGS were asked how they feel about the team’s qualifying for the world championship.

Xavon Stanley said. “I think it shows that we are making progressive moves in encouraging the STEM fields in the Martinsville-Henry County,” said Xavon Stanley.

His teammate Samantha Edwards agreed.

“I’m extremely proud to be a part of this,” Edwards said. “Something that excels as much as this team does, it’s something that I’m not used to. We had creativity… We targeted all aspects of the game instead of just one.”

Alayna Williams said she was really excited and really proud of the team.

“I thought we were going to have to pay a lot of money ourselves or do a lot fund-raising,” Alayna said. Now the STAGS can focus on strategies and working on robotics, she added.

Brian Pace said it’s been a total team effort for the STAGS.

“I’ve always stressed that everybody has a job and everybody has to do their job,” he said.

He added, “You have to know your opponents. We’ve done a lot of scouting.”

Success in the first tournament gave team members a lot of confidence, Pace said.

He said he thinks the STAGS, the MADawgs and Cometbots all can be competitive at the world championship and that it’s a proud time for Southside Virginia to have three teams going to the world championship.

Pace said in addition to the $10,000 from MBC, the STAGS raised about $7,000 through fund-raisers, and Microsoft is providing $5,000 for each of the three teams.

Todd Cassell, head mentor of the Martinsville High School MADawgs, said in an interview: “I’m super excited about the opportunity we’ve been given. This is the first time in MADawgs history, in our nine-year history, we’ve been able to attend a world championship. So we’re super, super excited about going and representing Martinsville, trying to give it our best and try to bring back a world championship. I tell the team every single day, Why not us? Why not us? We can go there and (win) as easily as the other 400 teams competing. Why not the MADawgs from Martinsville? I’m really excited about it.”

Cassell added that the program has nearly doubled since last year, in terms of membership and the number of students.

That’s based not only on the success of the program itself, but what it means to the community and the students,” Cassell said. “It’s a family atmosphere. Students are learning real-world engineering. They can actually apply it in real life and see it. They can build a robot and see it work on a field. That’s huge.”

Students participating in the FRC program are challenged in multiple fields, such as electronics, programming, pneumatics, business/marketing. Each year, a new game is presented to the teams, giving these students the opportunity to create new solutions by becoming better thinkers and problem solvers. Teams have six weeks to design, build, code, and test a robot that executes the task that was presented to them for competition.

MBC has invested more than $350,000 in support of FIRST FRC robotics programs since 2012 to help meet the work-force demands of current and future companies in the Southern Virginia region. If your high school is interested in forming an FRC robotics team, contact Lauren Mathena at lauren.mathena@mbc-va.com or (434) 570-1321.

Paul Collins reports for the Martinsville Bulletin and can be reached at paul.collins@martinsvillebulletin.com.

MBC’s Wanda Bostick Jeffress Memorial STEM Scholarship Supports Future Computer Engineers

South Boston, VA – April 18, 2018 – The Wanda Bostick Jeffress Memorial STEM Scholarship funded by Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation has been awarded to two members of the Halifax County High School class of 2018. Among 14 competitive applicants, Gordon Taylor and Kyra Scott were selected by the review committee. Each student will receive a one-time scholarship of $2,500 towards their college studies.

Taylor is attending the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia to study computer engineering. Taylor’s career goal is to become a software developer. Taylor said, “My dream is make new software and create applications that makes life easier for all people… When searching for a job, [what] will be the most important factor in my decision is: Will I be able to assist or help people in any way?”

Scott is attending North Carolina Agriculture and Technology University in Greensboro, Carolina to study computer engineering. Scott’s career goal is become a hardware engineer, computer programmer or software developer. Scott said, “My vision for my impact… includes creating an inspiration of diversity in engineering careers… The more diverse minds we have working together, the more breakthroughs we can reach because everyone has unique mindsets.”

The Wanda Bostick Jeffress Memorial STEM Scholarship was created by Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation was created to honor the legacy of Wanda Bostick Jeffress, of Halifax, who departed this life March 19, 2018. The scholarship will be offered annually to graduating seniors at Halifax County High School who are pursuing higher education in a STEM field, which may include science, technology, engineering, math, or healthcare. Qualified students have financial need and display academic achievement and a strong commitment to STEM.

A very active community leader, Jeffress served in numerous capacities including Board of Directors for Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation, Board of Trustees at Averett University, Lead Virginia (2008), the Virginia Advisory Board for American National Bank and a former board of directors’ member for Halifax County Industrial Development Authority.

Jeffress was vice-president and co-owner of Jeffress Funeral Home, South Boston and associate broker/agent with Realty Resource, Inc.

A 1981 Averett College graduate, Wanda’s employment career began as a production supervisor with the former Burlington Industries. She received her MBA degree from Averett College (University) in 1992 and later graduated from the School of Bank Management at the University of Virginia in 1994 while working as a mortgage lending specialist with the former Central Fidelity Bank (Wells Fargo).

Prior to joining her husband in the family business, she served as director of human resources at Halifax Regional Health Systems. Her passion for real estate and home ownership led her to pursue her real estate and broker licenses.

For additional information about applying for Wanda Bostick Jeffress Memorial STEM Scholarship, seniors at Halifax County High School should contact the school’s guidance department.

About Mid-Atlantic Broadband

Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation (MBC) is a non-profit 501(c)(4) organization, committed to providing economic development leadership to Southern Virginia. MBC promotes economic development in Southern Virginia through the operation of a successful advanced open access fiber optic network, providing wholesale telecommunications transport services, colocation and tower leasing.  Since its inception in 2004 and by offering a state-of-the art fiber optic network, MBC has supported the recruitment of major investments including data centers, call center/operations centers, advanced manufacturing, research and development, and bio-tech industries. For more information, visit www.mbc-va.com.


Media Contact

Lauren Mathena
Mid-Atlantic Broadband

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