Company is at halfway point of five-year Global 3.0 business plan

COLONIAL HEIGHTS – Virginia Gateway Region (VGR) announced in its annual report the fulfillment of 38 new business ventures, almost 2000 more jobs and $460 million in capital investments for the area.

This year’s annual report announced new local projects for companies like PepsiCo, Sabra Dipping Company, LLC, NVHomes and Rolls-Royce.

The Rolls-Royce expansion in Prince George created 100 new jobs, bringing the company’s total in that county to 400 jobs with the new $40 million investment.

Service Center Metals also expanded its facility in Prince George. That $45.2 million project has added 58 more jobs to the already 200 employed by SCM. The company produces many aluminum components used in machinery, transportation and other equipment.

VGR is headquartered in Colonial Heights, serving The Tri-Cities, Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Prince George, Surry and Sussex counties.

These announcements came at the halfway mark of the company’s five-year business plan, Global 3.0. That plan hinged on the goal of raising $1 million per year between 2016 and 2021. At the end of that period, VGR planned to announce 50 new business ventures, 3,000 new jobs, and $700 million in capital investments, with $150 million coming from foreign businesses.

“What we told investors is that if we can raise $1 million a year, we can meet these goals,” said Keith Boswell, President and CEO of VGR. “We didn’t raise $1 million a year. We’re doing work on about 75% of that. That’s the leverage that investors are getting.”

Without that funding, VGR has still been able to meet more half of those goals, with numbers between 63% and 79%.

A main function of VGR is facilitation, making connections between companies and the workforce. One of the organizations largest contributions in bringing Rolls-Royce and Amazon to the area, was identifying areas in these counties and developing them to fit the needs of these businesses.

The five Pillars of VGR’s Global 3.0 are designed to address those needs, by finding expansion locations for new and existing businesses, connecting those companies with workers, then proving the area has infrastructure to handle businesses and finally promoting the region’s quality of life, like shopping, leisure and amenities.

“It’s an ecosystem, economic development is,” Boswell said. “It’s, hey we got a good spot, we got good people, we have a good living place. If any of those fail along the way, and a new company is thinking of shutting down, then you have a worse problem than if you never attracted them in the first place.”

Boswell says VGR is now moving on three initiatives that will help VGR meet these pillars, and the ultimate goals set out at the beginning of the plan.

First, VGR plans to create a joint position with John Tyler, addressing workforce development.

“Total idea is to see what our workforce needs, and marry the programs. The idea is that if you are a business owner, you don’t have to make 15 calls, you don’t even have to make 3 calls. All you have to make it one call. Or you don’t even have to make any calls, if you know who this person is then they’re going to work on your behalf,” Boswell said.

The next initiative identifies sites of 10 to 25 acres that new businesses could use to move into the area, or businesses already here can use to expand.

“Homeruns happen on 100 acres. But if you’re a business and you’re looking for 30,000 square feet, or 50,000, you don’t really need more than 10 acres,” Boswell said. “That’s our sweet spot, we want more of those. The more bunts an singles, the bigger the pie gets and we don’t worry about one of those guys going out of business and we fall on the wayside. We want to spread this risk out over so many companies.”

The initiative VGR will work to address is marketing the area to businesses through outreach and events. Last year the organization did eight events, this year they’re scheduled to do 17.

By Sean Jones, Staff Writer
the Progress-Index
Sean Jones can be reached at sjones@progress-index.com or 804-722-5172.