Tuesday, May 24, 2011

City of Richmond Biennial Fiscal Budget Passed

News Release

For Immediate Release Contact: Tammy Hawley
Monday, May 23, 2011 (804) 646-3110

Mayor Comments on FY 2012-2013 Biennial Fiscal Budget Passage

Richmond, VA – Richmond City Council passed the city’s 2012-2013 Biennial Fiscal Plan and Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) during its formal meeting tonight. Mayor Dwight C. Jones has provided the following comments on the budget’s passage:

"I thank Richmond City Council for working with my team in reviewing and passing the city’s 2012-2013 biennial budget. Richmond City Council has kept changes to my proposed budget to about 1/10 of one percent for the third year in a row; representative of how we are working together to benefit City residents. This budget is sustainable and is structurally balanced. The enormous costs of the country's financial crisis and lagging economy have continued to force hard choices, but for the third consecutive year, we have not raised taxes, there have been no furloughs or layoffs, and we have not interrupted core services.

“This budget continues our commitment to education as $124 million is included for schools, plus an agreement that the School System will keep the $6 million project fund balance from this fiscal year – to use next fiscal year. Our commitment to schools also is continued in the CIP which includes $6 million for continuing our ADA compliance efforts and includes $52.5 million in School construction projects. This constitutes the greatest commitment of all in the two-year CIP.

“These have been lean times, and it is important that we provide for our hard-working employees. Using the rates calculated by the Richmond Retirement System, we fully fund the required annual contribution to the pension fund, and Council even increased that by $500,000. We have provided a consistent health insurance plan, and in our second year of combining City and School employees in a single plan, we will be fully self-insured as of July 1; which is one year faster than we projected when we combined the two systems in 2010. This budget absorbs the employees’ and retirees’ shares of the increased cost of health insurance. And, we have provided for a $1,000 bonus for each eligible full-time City employee who has been with us for at least one year and included a 1% bonus per eligible employee for RPS employees.

“The budget includes funding for a satellite one-stop job referral and workforce development site at the former Richmond Nursing Home facility on Cool Lane in the city’s East End. Year two of the budget allows for the opening of a child care facility to help parents seeking training and jobs. We have $400,000 for enterprise zones, and $200,000 for the CARE program, to make fa├žade and other improvements in several areas – and this is in the face of budget cuts from HUD.

“We are moving forward with a Mental Health docket and the electronic monitoring of non-violent offenders as we seek to reduce the inmate population at the city jail by moving individuals who don’t need to be there. We are also moving forward with construction of our new Justice Center.

“This budget allows us to assist the Virginia Treatment Center for Children with a new Children’s Mental Health Resource Center, to ensure families receive help in getting the right assessments for their needy children. Right now, too many parents struggle to get help for their children in an incredibly complex network of providers.

“Infrastructure continues to be a major priority for my administration as this budget provides funding to pave 130 lane miles of streets this year, with a cumulative total of 30 percent of City streets paved by 2014. For sidewalks, the CIP includes $1.25 million for sidewalk projects to repair hazardous conditions, and add sidewalks as requested. And, for our cyclists, we have provided $250,000 in each of the next two years for 80 miles of sharrows for sharing roads with cars and bicycles.

“And all of this has been part of a practical budget, and I think it is important to note that we are planning for the future by setting extra reserves this year to help with spike in debt service costs due to school debt coming online in FY 13. We will also see significant savings through the replacement of vehicles with cash in an effort to reduce borrowing. And, we are taking steps to reduce our debt service in the future by paying the costs of the debt issuance with cash and by re-financing higher interest rate debt.”

Monday, May 23, 2011

Greater Richmond Fortune 1000 Headquarters Grows to Eleven

The number of Fortune 1000 companies headquartered in Greater Richmond, Virginia has grown by one for a total of 11. This ranks Greater Richmond 13th best of all metros in the number of Fortune 1000 companies per 100,000 residents.

Across all U.S. metro areas, Greater Richmond ranked 19th in the number of total Fortune 1000 companies, tying with Kansas City, MO and Phoenix, AZ.

NewMarket Corporation was added this year by being ranked 943 on Fortune's list. NewMarket began in Richmond in 1887 and is the parent company of Afton Chemical Corporation and Ethyl Corporation.

Below is the list of Fortune 1000 companies in Greater Richmond*:
Altria Group Tobacco products 154
Dominion Resources Electric and gas utility 162
Genworth Financial Insurance 243
Owens and Minor Health care wholesaler 295
CarMax Automotive retailer 311
MeadWestvaco Packaging 373
Brink's Security services 645
Massey Energy Mining 662
Universal Tobacco wholesaler 749
Markel Insurance 818
NewMarket Chemicals 943

Source: www.fortune.com, May 2011.

Gregory H. Wingfield, president and CEO of the Greater Richmond Partnership, Inc., said, "For a region our size, it is impressive to have 11 Fortune 1000 companies who choose to be headquartered in Greater Richmond, of which six are ranked as Fortune 500. These are well-known companies that are obviously very successful. Having another headquartered company added to the Fortune list this year validates that businesses can thrive in Greater Richmond."

The Greater Richmond Partnership, Inc. was launched in 1994 as a pioneering regional public-private initiative to serve as the regional economic development group for the City of Richmond and the counties of Chesterfield, Hanover and Henrico. The mission is to help grow the Greater Richmond economy through the attraction of high quality jobs and new capital investment, the retention of existing businesses, and the continued improvement of the region's business climate. Since inception, the Partnership has played a key role in the attraction of more than $7.3 billion in investment by 395 new and expanding companies. This is a return on investment of $164 for every $1 in funding provided by public and private partners since 1994. For more information, please visit www.grpva.com. RSS feed: http://www.grpva.com/rss/rss-prod/


Media Contact:
Greg Wingfield
Greater Richmond Partnership, Inc.
(804) 643-3227ghw@grpva.com

Friday, May 20, 2011

VCU Set to Hire Architect for New Arts Institute

Virginia Commonwealth University's plan to build a $19.3 million gallery to showcase the works of its top-ranked arts school is about to enter the design phase.

The 32,000-square-foot arts institute will be built at the southwest corner of Broad and Belvidere streets on property owned by the VCU Real Estate Foundation that is currently used for surface parking.

To learn more, please click here for the entire Richmond Times Dispatch article.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Richmond Seeks Comment on Transportation Plan

Richmond seeks comment on transportation plan
By Times-Dispatch Staff
Published: May 16, 2011
Updated: May 17, 2011 - 12:00 AM

The city of Richmond is holding an open-house workshop today to encourage residents to help shape the city's vision, goals and policies on transportation.

The meeting will be from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Carillon, 1300 S. Blanton Ave., in Byrd Park. It's part of work to update the Richmond Strategic Multimodal Transportation Plan, known as Richmond Connects, by December.

For information, contact Phil Kempf at (804) 287-3164 or pkempf@ mbakercorp.com.

Picasso Adds His Flourish to the Bottom Line

According to a May 17, 2011 Richmond BizSense article, more than a quarter-million people came through the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to see a rare collection of Pablo Picasso works. The month-long exhibit, which ended Sunday, was a major boost to the local hospitality industry, filling hotel rooms and bringing out-of-town spenders to local restaurants and shops.

The Jefferson Hotel, for example, said it booked 1,600 guests who were heading to the museum.

Alex Nyerges, the museum’s director, said the Picasso exhibit sold more than 229,000 tickets, which was more than the 200,000 the museum expected.

Nyerges said the museum sold $2.6 million in tickets for the Picasso exhibit and sold close to a half million in memberships. Nyerges also said that the Picasso exit store, a gift shop, did $1.4 million in sales over a three-month period.

To read the full Richmond BizSense article, please click here.

All of a sudden Boomtown, USA

According to Richmond BizSense, commercial real estate firms have reported $160.6 million in sales from 34 deals for the first four months of 2011, up more than 200 percent from the $47.9 million in sales for the same period in 2010.

“The office market for sales is just beginning to pick up a little steam, and I suspect that we will see some fairly steady activity from here on out,” said Walton Makepeace, a broker with CB Richard Ellis.

Makepeace was one of the brokers involved with the second-largest deal to move forward this year: Dominion Realty Partners’ $63.7 million sale of Riverside on the James to McLean-based American Real Estate Partners.

“I think that deal will start some momentum in downtown Richmond for office building sales,” Makepeace said.

To read the full Richmond BizSense article, please click here.

Monday, May 16, 2011

University of Richmond business school has a top program in the U.S.

According to a Richmond Times Dispatch article, the University of Richmond's Robins School of Business has the top international business program in the country, according to the financial magazine Bloomberg Businessweek.

The magazine said Robins got the top spot in the international program because "of a concentration that includes seven required courses; an international cultural experience involving at least a semester of study outside the U.S., along with proficiency in a second language; and a full-time international internship."

To read the full article, please click here.

Altria Workers Expand Cleanup Effort to Richmond's Arts District

Altria workers are taking part in another event Friday to help clean up parts of the city.

The employees, who are picking up trash and planting flowers on Broad St. from 6th Street to Belvidere, are working to ensure the corridor is welcoming to visitors and residents.

Officials say the area is a crucial gateway to Richmond's Arts District, which includes CenterStage, The National, Shockoe Bottom, art galleries and restaurants.

Additionally, Altria employees will paint four new murals designed by local artists. They will also paint Richmond-inspired visuals on traffic utility boxes.

The event is part of Keep America Beautiful's Great American Cleanup program, which has been supported by Philip Morris for over 60 years.

The Great American Cleanup is the nation's largest community improvement program and takes place annually from March 1 through May 31. The event has more than three million volunteers across the country.

Click here to view the CBS 6 News video.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Steven Spielberg to film Lincoln in Richmond and Petersburg

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell announced on May 4 that Academy Award-winning filmmaker Steven Spielberg will shoot his highly anticipated major feature film Lincoln in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The film is based on the book "Team of Rivals" by Doris Kearns Goodwin and will be shot in the Richmond and Petersburg areas. Filming will begin in the Fall and the movie is slated for release in 2012.

The film will star Academy Award-winning actors Daniel Day-Lewis (My Left Foot, There Will be Blood) as Abraham Lincoln and Sally Field (Norma Rae, Places in the Heart) as Mary Todd Lincoln. The screenplay was written by Tony Kushner who last worked with Spielberg on the feature film Munich. The film will be produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Steven Spielberg for DreamWorks Studios.

"We are honored that Steven Spielberg, an award winning and visionary film maker, has chosen the Commonwealth for this important film. It is especially notable coming during the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and emancipation," said Governor Bob McDonnell. "Steven is an exceptional storyteller who brings historic themes to life on screen, resulting in such important and influential films as Saving Private Ryan, Schindler's List, Munich and the mini-series Band of Brothers. I have no doubt that Lincoln will quickly join the ranks of those famous works."

Steven Spielberg noted, "Virginia's rich historic legacy, coupled with the remarkable period architecture found in Richmond and Petersburg, make Central Virginia the ideal location for this production."

Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Jim Cheng remarked, "It would not have been possible for Virginia to attract such a prestigious film to the Commonwealth without the work of the Virginia Film Office, support of the General Assembly, and the cities of Richmond and Petersburg."

Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones commented, "Richmond played a central role in the Civil War, and we are honored that our city will be featured in a film about this important time in American history. We welcome this extraordinary opportunity to be part of this film."

The Virginia Film Office worked with the cities of Richmond and Petersburg to secure this project. The incentive package includes $1 million from the Governor's Motion Picture Opportunity Fund, $2.5 million from the Virginia Motion Picture Tax Credit program and $1.1 million in in-kind contributions. The amount of funding awarded to a project is based on Virginia workers hired and the purchase of Virginia based goods and services.

The direct and indirect impact of Virginia's motion picture and video production industry in 2009 was $346 million, representing 2,700 jobs for the state.

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German Solar Company Locates U.S. Operations in Richmond

The Greater Richmond Partnership, Inc. and the City of Richmond are pleased to announce abalus solar USA's decision to locate in Richmond to distribute solar panels and components. abakus solar has already hired four employees and has aggressive plans to grow the distribution range along the East Coast over the next few years.

abakus solar USA is a subsidiary of abakus solar AG, located in Germany.Founded in 1995, abakus solar AG engineers and operates photovoltaic turnkey plants renowned internationally with locations in Germany, Italy, Greece, Taiwan and now the U.S. The company has special competence in high-quality BIPV (building integrated photovoltaic), tailor made according to the requirements of customers and architects.

James Huff, CEO of abakus solar USA, said "With the emphasis on the need for alternative energy, now is the perfect time for abakus solar to expand in the U.S." The company imports modules to Richmond and plans to create a network of contractors for solar panel installation. Customers will be able to stop by the storefront facility, simplifying both the purchase of materials and installation process. Huff sees ample opportunities to work with existing solar businesses in the region and geographically grow distribution in increments.

On selecting Greater Richmond for its location, Huff explained: "Access to the Port and being at the crossroads of I-95 and I-64 were critical for our decision to locate in Richmond. If accessibility is what you need, why locate anywhere else?" He added, "The Greater Richmond Partnership and the City of Richmond were a tremendous help to abakus solar in making our business decision on where to locate and then supporting us as we established our facility."

Mayor Dwight C. Jones said, "abakus solar AG has chosen the right city for its first USA location! The decision by this German company reaffirms Richmond's most recent accolade as the Best Small American City of the Future by Foreign Direct Investment (fDi) Magazine. Having recently launched our own sustainability planning process, we are extremely pleased to welcome and support businesses at the cutting edge of alternative energy solutions. We welcome abakus solar USA to our city."

Gregory H Wingfield, president and CEO of the Greater Richmond Partnership, Inc., said "We are pleased to welcome another German company to the Greater Richmond community and one that is focused on the growing alternative energy market. It was a pleasure working closely with abakus solar and it's rewarding to know that our services were valued. We are very excited about their growth plans."

abakus solar USA was provided site-selection and relocation assistance by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Inc., the Greater Richmond Partnership, Inc. and the City of Richmond.

Media Contacts:
Greg Wingfield, President/CEO, Greater Richmond Partnership, Inc.
(804) 643-3227

James Huff, CEO, abakus solar USA

Monday, May 2, 2011

ECD Welcomes New Director, Lee Downey

The City of Richmond Department of Economic & Community Development welcomes Lee Downey as the new director. Click here to read the full release regarding the Mayor's announcement of Mr. Downey's appointment and here for additional information in the April ECD E-News. Welcome Lee!

City of Richmond Kicks Off Strategic Multimodal Transportation Planning

The City of Richmond is kicking off the development of the Richmond Strategic Multimodal Transportation Plan, known as Richmond Connects, with two events in early May. The first event is on Tuesday, May 3, 2011 at the Byrd Theatre from 5:30 - 8:30 PM. The second event is at Carillon in Byrd Park on Tuesday, May 17, from 5-8 PM. For more information, please click here or contact Phil Kempf at (804) 287-3164 or pkempf@mbakercorp.com.