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Southwest Virginia

The $12.5 million

Abingdon Sports Complex

is 80% complete, town officials said during the Dec. 7, 2021, Abingdon Town Council meeting. The complex has been in the works for seven years, and its grand opening is slated for mid-April. It’s set to host 30 weeks of weekend tournaments for softball and baseball, but will be available for community use, including local schools, Mondays through Thursdays, said Abingdon Assistant Director of Recreation Kyle Pollard. The town is seeking sponsorships for the complex. (Bristol Herald Courier)

Following more than 20 months of negotiations,

Ballad Health

will buy the remaining 20% share in

Smyth County Community Hospital

from the Smyth County Community Foundation for $33.7 million, according to a

Nov. 16, 2021, announcement. Ballad Health operates the 44-bed hospital. The foundation plans to reinvest the money from the hospital’s sale into care and resources for the region’s aging population, early intervention solutions to improve health and education for youth and holistic substance abuse prevention, care and treatment. The foundation said it would begin with a $3 million investment in the newly formed Appalachian Center for Hope. (SWVAToday)

Downtown revitalization nonprofit

Believe in Bristol

’s initiative to install speakers on State Street has been postponed until spring because of the supply chain shortage. Advance Bristol Foundation, Believe in Bristol and the cities of Bristol, Virginia, and Bristol, Tennessee, are funding the project, which will cost an estimated $75,000. The speaker system will be used to play music to help revitalize the downtown area. Delivery and installment of the speakers was delayed, Believe in Bristol Executive Director Maggie Bishop said in November 2021. (Bristol Herald Courier)

The cumulative economic impact of the $3.1 billion

Coalfields Expressway (CFX)

during a 50-year span is estimated to be $12.8 billion in 2021 dollars, according to a study by Richmond-based Chmura Economics & Analytics presented on

Dec. 7, 2021, to the

Virginia CFX Authority Board

in Lebanon. The CFX is a proposed limited-access highway that would run through Southwest Virginia and southern West Virginia. West Virginia has started work on the CFX, but Virginia has no sections of the CSX under construction or funded except for a shared section with U.S. 460 in Buchanan County. The study forecasts that each dollar invested could yield $3.10 in economic impact over the highway’s lifespan. (

Construction has started on the

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Bristol

’s temporary casino, with its opening scheduled for the second quarter of this year,

Hard Rock International Inc.

announced on Dec. 9, 2021. Hard Rock will build a 30,000-square-foot casino in the former women’s Belk store in the Bristol Mall building, expected to create 600 jobs. It will have 900 gaming slots, 20 tables, a main casino floor and nonsmoking and high limit gaming areas, plus a new restaurant, grab-and-go food outlet, sports bar and lounge with entertainment and adjacent smoking sports lounge. (


VFP Inc.

will invest $7.2 million to expand in

Scott County

, creating 30 jobs, Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Nov. 22, 2021. The expansion will allow VFP to produce larger concrete shelters. Founded in 1965, VFP develops customized enclosures to protect critical infrastructure for telecommunications, public safety radio, data centers and utility projects. Products include concrete and metal shelters, secure modular data centers, utility control houses and fiber-to-the-home huts. VFP’s customers include utilities, municipalities, broadband providers and Fortune 500 companies. (


Central Virginia

Lynchburg-based nuclear components and fuel supplier

BWX Technologies Inc.

will build out and upfit a center for manufacturing, research and development adjacent to its Campbell County facility, creating 97 jobs, Gov. Ralph Northam announced in November 2021. The Fortune 1000 company plans to invest $65 million over the next three years, building the BWXT Innovation Campus on 11 acres purchased by the company last year. BWXT plans to make significant capital improvements through 2023. (

Former executives at Richmond-based

LeClairRyan PLLC

, which was Virginia’s third largest law firm until it suddenly closed in 2019, reached a settlement with the firm’s insurer and bankruptcy trustee over $10 million in pending claims. The firm’s liability insurer, Columbia Casualty, agreed to pay trustee Lynn Tavenner $9.425 million to resolve claims including conspiracy and breach of fiduciary duty, as well as $575,000 to satisfy claim expenses. Tavenner, the insurer and 26 defendants, including founder Gary LeClair, former CEO Eric Gustafson and former general counsel Lori Thompson, reached the agreement on Nov. 16, 2021. ( and The American Lawyer)   


Liberty University

President and Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. revived his defamation lawsuit against the Lynchburg-based private Christian university that is suing him for $10 million, according to court documents filed in October 2019. Falwell also seeks the return of personal property he says is being held by the university, including a .38 revolver, the URL, legal files and three horses loaned to the university’s equestrian center. After his forced resignation in August 2020, the university and Falwell have been embroiled in lawsuits in Lynchburg Circuit Court. A hearing in Liberty’s suit against Falwell, claiming breach of contract and fiduciary duty, is set for Jan. 14. (

Richmond advertising firm

The Martin Agency

was named Adweek’s U.S. agency of the year for the second time in a row, the publication announced in December 2021.

It is only the third agency to achieve consecutive wins, according to Adweek. Among the reasons for Martin’s 2021 win are its work for new accounts Terminix, Hasbro, Anheuser Busch/Busch Light, Sabra, Snapchat and Coinbase in a year when the firm saw 15% growth in net new and organic revenue. The company’s ongoing major accounts include Geico, Old Navy, UPS, Oreo, Buffalo Wild Wings and CarMax. (

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam

, in the last full month of his four-year term, announced that his administration would remove the 40-foot-tall pedestal that until September 2021 held a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee on Richmond’s Monument Avenue. The state moved to transfer ownership of the grassy island in the middle of a traffic circle to the city of Richmond. Republican Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin, who expressed less enthusiasm about the statue’s removal, is slated to be sworn in Jan. 15. The statue’s graffiti-covered pedestal was planned to go into storage until next steps were determined. (Associated Press)

After two decades of steady growth,


officials said in November 2021 that one of their biggest objectives for the next few years is an overhaul of the city’s zoning code to foster growth while preserving historic properties, leading up to Richmond’s 2037 tricentennial. The Richmond 300 master plan was finalized and adopted last year. Among the areas targeted for development are Jackson Ward, Shockoe Bottom and Arthur Ashe Boulevard. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)



Northern Virginia

The city of


officially purchased a portion of the old Landmark Mall site in November 2021 and leased it to

Inova Health System

, an important step in pushing forward the long-awaited mixed-use redevelopment of the property. The city’s industrial development authority closed on the purchase of a 10.4-acre portion of the site, putting up an initial payment of $21 million, to be followed by another $33 million at the end of 2022. The land deal, powered by a total of $140 million in city-backed bond financing, ensures that Inova will be able to move ahead with its $1 billion, 1-million-square-foot hospital planned for the property. It’s designed to serve as an anchor for the broader, 4.2-million-square-foot redevelopment of the 52-acre property. (Washington Business Journal)

Amazon Web Services

, which provides cloud support to many governments, schools and popular companies, suffered a major outage at its U.S.-East 1 data center in Northern Virginia in December 2021. Amazon said a few days later that network devices got overloaded, and that it will revamp notification and support systems, which lagged. The outage began midmorning on the East Coast and caused major disruptions not only for but Ring, Venmo, Disney+, Instacart and many other popular websites and services. Unable to go about their workday, many warehouse and delivery workers were instructed to wait in break rooms until the issues were resolved. The company was in the middle of “peak season,” when holiday shopping is at its highest. (Inside NoVa and CNBC)

JBG Smith Properties

is following through on its long-held plans to redevelop the old Americana hotel in Crystal City into a mixed-use development, pitching a building with at least 650 apartments for the site along Richmond Highway. The developer has filed preliminary plans with Arlington County that show a 20-story building on a roughly 1-acre site, which would take the place of the shuttered, 102-room hotel. JBG Smith bought the Americana for $45 million in December 2020, not long after it closed amid the pressures of the pandemic. The site plan is light on details, but it does call for an unspecified amount of retail on the new building’s ground floor. (Washington Business Journal)


, a data analytics and experience management software company based in Seattle and Provo, Utah, is expanding its presence in Fairfax County and expects to create 400 jobs in a new location in Reston, Gov. Ralph Northam announced in December 2021. The company will move from its former office in Reston to an 85,000-square-foot space at 1906 Reston Metro Plaza, investing $15.9 million. Qualtrics was set to close on the $1.1 billion all-stock purchase of Reston-based software company Clarabridge by Dec. 31, 2021. (


Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

announced in late November 2021 that Metro customers would see reduced rail service through the end of 2021 due to its 7000-series fleet still being out of service. These trains make up about 60% of Metro’s fleet but were sidelined in October after the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission ordered Metro to suspend 748 rail cars following the derailment of a Blue Line train that prompted the evacuation of 187 passengers. WMATA also had to bring about 40 old rail cars out of storage. In December 2021, the transit agency said riders should not expect the rail system to quickly return to previous service levels. ( and The Washington Post)



Roanoke/New River Valley

Land at Smith Mountain Lake owned by

Appalachian Power Co.

and separated into 37 plots was auctioned off in early December 2021. Appalachian Power has owned large swaths of land at the lake since the 1920s, when it began purchasing it for the project that ultimately created Smith Mountain Lake. It has owned the Smith Mountain Dam since it was built in the early 1960s. Russell Seneff, head auctioneer for real estate brokerage and auction firm Woltz & Associates Inc., said property at the lake was not likely to be available at this magnitude again, citing the 3.2 miles of undeveloped lake frontage as a rarity. All 356 acres that were available were sold to more than 20 bidders for just over $16.2 million. (The Roanoke Times)

Hollins University

received a $75 million donation from an anonymous alumna, the largest in its history and believed to be the largest private donation to a women’s college, the university announced on Dec. 9, 2021. The gift will fund scholarships and undergraduate financial needs. It will be given in $25 million increments to the Hollins endowment over the next three fiscal years. The first $25 million will arrive no later than June and will establish the Levavi Oculos Endowed Scholarship Fund, supporting students beginning in fall 2023. (

Radford University

’s eighth president will be

Bret S. Danilowicz

, who’s currently serving as the provost and vice president for academic affairs at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida. Radford announced his appointment on Dec. 9, 2021. Danilowicz, who starts his tenure at Radford on July 1, succeeds Brian O. Hemphill, who left in June 2021 to become president of Norfolk’s Old Dominion University. In his present role, which he’s held since 2018, Danilowicz serves as chief academic officer and administrative officer for a large public research university with a $330 million budget and 10 academic colleges. (


Virginia Council of CEOs

, a Richmond-based nonprofit serving small and midsize business owners, has expanded to Roanoke, it announced in November 2021. The council launched its first CEO peer roundtable in the Roanoke market, with plans to follow it with a second group soon. It announced plans to expand statewide in late 2020. More than 240 business owners are already part of the group, which has primarily been based in Richmond and Charlottesville. The minimum threshold for membership is to run a business with at least $1 million in annual revenue and five or more full-time equivalent employees. (

The largest single-donor gift ever made to

Virginia Tech

by an alumnus, $35 million, was made by Norris Mitchell and his wife, Wendy, the university announced on Dec. 7, 2021. It will go toward a long-awaited project to replace the 60-year-old Randolph Hall, a building primarily used by the engineering college, with a 284,000-square-foot building for the engineering college, as well as providing support for programs and activities housed within the building. The total cost of the project is $248 million, and the gift from the Mitchells satisfies the university’s obligation to provide funding for the project. (


David Rotenizer

is the new executive director of the

Montgomery County Blacksburg Christiansburg Regional Tourism Office

, the organization announced on Dec. 4, 2021. As executive director of the regional tourism program, Rotenizer reports to the Blacksburg and Christiansburg town managers and Montgomery County’s county administrator. He will be responsible for managing and initiating programs to foster and support tourism initiatives throughout both towns and the county, working closely with the Montgomery County Tourism Board. Prior to joining Montgomery County, Rotenizer worked as director of tourism with the Franklin County Office of Economic Development. (The Roanoke Times)


Shenandoah Valley

According to a report presented to the

Clarke County Board of Supervisors

on Nov. 30, 2021, two taxes that the board levied for the 2021-2022 fiscal year that began July 1 are bringing in more revenue than anticipated: a cigarette tax of 20 cents per pack and a meals tax of 2 cents per dollar. The county budgeted $100,000 from the cigarette tax but gained $105,439 by Oct. 31, 2021, and now estimates the tax may generate at least $242,239 for the entire fiscal year. The meals tax was expected to bring in $150,000 for the fiscal year but is also performing better than anticipated. If the trend continues, the meals tax could bring in between $163,924 and $204,637 for the fiscal year. (The Winchester Star)

Front Royal Town Council

voted unanimously on Nov. 22, 2021, to approve resolutions to participate in both the national and Virginia opioid settlement that states reached with McKesson, Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen and Johnson & Johnson for the companies to pay up to $26 billion. Front Royal’s share depends on how many localities choose to participate in the settlement agreement and submit required resolutions before Jan. 2. Virginia’s attorney general and participating localities also must enter into a memorandum of understanding that would create an opioid abatement fund and an authority to disburse the awarded money. (The Northern Virginia Daily)

James Madison University

’s Bluestone Seed Fund, a donor-backed investment fund managed by the Gilliam Center for Entrepreneurship, announced in December 2021 that it would provide three student- or alumni-owned startup companies with $5,000 each in its inaugural investment cycle. Class of 2021 graduate Malique Middleton founded Gewd Botanicals, which offers cruelty-free, eco-friendly products like All-Over-Ya-Body Butter moisturizer. Handicans, designed by 2021 alumnus Chris Dorr, produces ergonomic trashcans designed for accessibility. The cans have wheelchair-friendly doors and allow horizontal trash removal. Class of 2022 member Jack Oppenheim founded Tow Ninja, which uses an integrated web and mobile app to simplify communication and bookkeeping between tow companies — particularly “mom and pop shops” — and clients. (

More than 12,000 homes and businesses in Augusta County and Waynesboro will have access to


’ fiber-optic network as early as March, according to a December 2021 announcement from the company. Lumos provides nearly 200,000 homes and businesses in Virginia and North Carolina — where it’s called NorthState — with fiber internet service. Its newest expansion would reach Waynesboro, parts of Augusta County, Crozet and Bedford County, including parts of Lynchburg. The company said that construction would begin immediately. (News Leader)


Nature’s Touch Frozen Foods LLC

will spend $40.3 million to expand in Warren County, creating 67 jobs, Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Nov. 16, 2021. Harrisonburg-based InterChange Group Inc. will build a 126,000-square-foot facility for Nature’s Touch, which will import raw materials for processing and distribution. In 2014, Nature’s Touch established its Virginia production facility at Stephens Industrial Park in Warren County. The new facility will be across the street and will allow the company to integrate its product handling, bringing all parts of the process in-house. (


TFC Poultry LLC

will invest $31.5 million to establish its second U.S. production facility in Winchester, a project expected to create 111 jobs, Gov. Ralph Northam announced in early December 2021. The company will move into the former 100,000-square-foot Sunshine’s Pride Dairy Inc. facility, which closed in 2011. TFC will use the plant to debone turkey thigh meat for sale to food manufacturers. (



Southern Virginia

Bids are due in early January for proposals for construction of

Caesars Virginia

’s upcoming casino and hotel resort at the former Dan River Inc. site in Schoolfield. The goal is to select a general contractor for the project, said Caesars Entertainment senior vice president of development Robert Livingston, who spoke to Danville City Council during its Dec. 7, 2021, meeting. Caesars hopes to get the contractor on site this spring, with construction on the new buildings — including the hotel towers — to start soon thereafter, Livingston said. Caesars Virginia is slated to open in 2023, offering 500 rooms and tens of thousands of square feet of meeting and convention space. (Danville Register & Bee)

Danville Regional Airport

is getting another infusion of money — $1.48 million courtesy of the November 2021 federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act — as the facility works on a variety of upgrades for an anticipated increase in traffic after the new Caesars Virginia casino opens in the city. The money is part of nearly $400 million going to airports across Virginia, U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced. Danville’s airport — owned by the city, with Averett University as the fixed-base operator — is undergoing six upgrade projects, mainly driven by expected casino traffic.

(Danville Register & Bee)


Henry County

Board of Supervisors failed to approve an ordinance adopting a voluntary settlement agreement with


regarding reversion after a public hearing Nov. 23, 2021. The lack of a vote effectively tabled the matter, allowing the board the possibility of reviving it at a later time. At the meeting, all board members spoke about Martinsville reverting from a city to a town in Henry County but subsequently failed to respond to a request for a motion to approve the ordinance. (Martinsville Bulletin)

Solar development in

Mecklenburg County

could slow under proposed amendments to the zoning ordinance. On Dec. 9, 2021, the county planning commission endorsed amendments that aim to mitigate the impact of solar farms. The changes would prohibit utility-scale and small solar projects from being developed within an identified growth boundary, within one mile of any town limit or two miles of an existing solar array. (SoVaNow)

A permit request to construct and operate a component of the proposed

Mountain Valley Pipeline Southgate

project in Pittsylvania County was denied in December 2021 by the State Air Pollution Control Board. Discussion by the board stretched more than 13 hours over two days. The component in question was a natural-gas powered compressor station known as the Lambert Compressor Station. Such stations are necessary for pipelines to maintain proper pressure and to keep natural gas flowing. The board’s decision stemmed in part from dissatisfaction with the state Department of Environmental Quality’s outreach efforts, which did not include much in-person contact or many direct conversations with residents of the surrounding community. (Womack Publishing Service)


Regional Engagement to Advance Community Health (REACH) Partnership

, begun as the former Community Health Worker (CHW) Project, will expand resources and services to more fully address health disparities in the Dan River Region, thanks to a $6.3 million grant award from the Danville Regional Foundation. REACH’s expanded, systems-based approach will include nine partners, an increase from the original four of the CHW Project. The REACH Partnership represents the next iteration of the CHW Project. REACH will continue this work and will expand it to address the systemic barriers preventing positive health outcomes and create a system of care that provides equitable access to all residents in the region. (Cardinal News)



Eastern Virginia

Virginia Beach-based

DroneUp LLC

announced a new partnership with Walmart Inc. in late November 2021, followed a week later by DroneUp’s acquisition of Santa Monica, California-based AirMap Inc., a company specializing in air traffic management software for drones. DroneUp and Walmart will have the first multisite commercial drone delivery operations, or hubs, in northwest Arkansas. DroneUp announced the acquisition of AirMap on Dec. 7, 2021. Financial terms were not disclosed. The acquisition combines AirMap’s global airspace management with DroneUp’s network, fleet and infrastructure. (

Fort Monroe

leaders are plotting the next stage of development at the historic site. The Fort Monroe Authority, which oversees the state’s property at the fort, is looking to redevelop around 300,000 square feet at four sites and issued a request for development proposals on Nov. 17, 2021. In early December 2021, the U.S. Army transferred the final 4.97-acre piece of land it held at Fort Monroe to the state. It marked an end to 10 years of complex negotiations over various parcels of Army land at the former headquarters for the Training and Doctrine Command.

(The Virginian-Pilot and Daily Press)

With no bargaining sessions planned before the traditional Christmas break at

Newport News Shipbuilding

, United Steelworkers Local 8888 warned its members in early December 2021 to be ready for a walkout. “There is no way to sugarcoat the bruising fight ahead,” the union said in a letter distributed to members the week of

Dec. 8, 2021, while promising to “do everything possible to settle” on an acceptable contract. The union represents more than 10,000 of the shipyard’s 25,000 employees. Members rejected a tentative November 2021 contract agreement by a 1,312-684 vote. That proposed contract had a 60-month term, with annual pay increases, a $2,500 bonus and improvements to pension plans. (Daily Press)

The city of


in November settled its lawsuit over its ongoing redevelopment of the St. Paul’s area. Public housing residents and activist groups sued Norfolk nearly two years ago, arguing that the plan for redeveloping the public housing near downtown Norfolk violated the federal Fair Housing Act by failing to provide sufficient housing for those who were moved out, as well as reinforcing racial segregation in the city based on where those residents — almost entirely Black — were moving. The parties agreed on the settlement in early November 2021. The city will pay out $200,000 to the plaintiffs. (WHRO)

The planned redevelopment of Virginia Beach’s

Pembroke Mall

is leaving small businesses scrambling to find new storefronts. Mall owner Pembroke Realty Group is closing the mall interior as part of a planned $200 million redevelopment effort announced in November 2021. Smaller indoor shops at the mall will have to move or close by Jan. 31, the real estate firm said. Most of the national chains with outside-facing entrances on the mall property will not be affected. The family-owned company is doing what it can to help businesses find other locations while the redevelopment takes place, it said. (The Virginian-Pilot)


Old Dominion University


Gymama Slaughter

the founding executive director of its Frank Reidy Research Center for Bioelectronics, the university announced in December 2021. The new center, which opened July 1, 2021, allows ODU to increase its total sponsored research funding, advancing work on new cancer combinational therapy and noninvasive cancer diagnostic tools. It also helps the university’s research community connect with business, education and government partners. Slaughter, an electrical and computer engineering associate professor at ODU, will lead the center in its efforts to provide educational accessibility for predoctoral students to pursue biomedical research careers. (

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