In February 2020, Navien, Inc., a leader in condensing technology for water heaters and boilers, announced it would invest $77.5 million to establish its first U.S. manufacturing and assembly operation in the former Lumber Liquidators facility in James City County, which will create 180 new jobs. The company is tripling the footprint of the existing building, bringing it to nearly 900,000 sq. ft. Virginia successfully competed with Illinois, Maryland, and Pennsylvania for the project. Navien, Inc., a U.S. subsidiary of Seoul-based KD Navien, is one of the fastest growing companies in the home comfort sector in North America.
“The close proximity of this property to the Port of Virginia and the flexibility to expand and allow for Navien’s continued investment over time helped us make this decision,” said Navien CEO Sangkyu Lee. “Establishing an East Coast facility will support Navien’s growth and allow for faster delivery to primary eastern markets while balancing current shipments coming into California. We look forward to working with the Virginia Talent Accelerator Program as we grow this facility and its importance to Navien’s overall leadership position in North America.”
The latter point is central to Virginia’s strategy to attracting more foreign direct investment. Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) President and CEO Stephen Moret explains: “Already home to over 800 international firms from over 40 countries, Virginia is building on the strength of its workforce to attract international firms whose location decisions are increasingly talent-driven. In 2019, VEDP launched the Virginia Talent Accelerator Program, a world-class, turnkey, custom workforce recruitment and training incentive program executed in collaboration with the Virginia Community College System. Recent announcements from British multinational healthcare leader GSK and Seoul-based KD Navien illustrate that the program is catalyzing additional investment from both new and expanding global companies across varying industries.”
Moret says the Virginia Talent Accelerator Program accelerates facility start-ups through the direct delivery of recruitment and training services that are fully customized to a company’s unique jobs, processes, equipment and culture. “All program services are provided at no cost to qualified new and expanding companies as an incentive for job creation,” he tells Site Selection. Navien is the fourth company to benefit from the Virginia Talent Accelerator Program.
More Virginia FDI Projects
Danish company Rose Holm, a leading manufacturer of threaded bolts for the food and beverage, wind power, and heat exchanger industries in Northern Europe, will invest $1.35 million to establish its first U.S. manufacturing facility in Henrico County. Virginia competed with Indiana for the project, which will create 10 new jobs.
In addition to proximity to a long-time customer, said Factory Manager Matthew Barnes, “Rose Holm aims to play a significant role as a key component supplier in offshore wind energy generation, and the impressive access to a strong and diverse workforce also made Virginia shine as an excellent place to launch our U.S. operations and service our customers in the wind and plate heat exchanger industries.”
Hitachi ABB Power Grids, headquartered in Switzerland, will invest $6.2 million to upgrade equipment and increase manufacturing capacity at its Bland County operation, the largest private-sector employer in the county (employing 332 of the company’s 800 Virginia workers) and the leading producer of dry-type transformers in North America. The project will create 40 new jobs.
“With its proximity to key markets and range of transportation options, Virginia provides the right combination of location and access that makes it easy to get our products where they need to be,” said Steve McKinney, Hitachi ABB Power Grids senior vice president and hub manager for transformer business in North America. “Perhaps most importantly, the Commonwealth has a skilled workforce and is able to meet our advanced manufacturing needs.”
Energix Renewable Energies Ltd., one of Israel’s largest renewable energy companies, will invest $1.1 million to establish its U.S. subsidiary headquarters in Arlington County. Virginia competed with North Carolina and South Carolina for the project, which will create 33 new jobs. Though it has projects in other states, in Virginia alone, Energix has three projects in commercial operation that represent approximately $130 million in investment, six projects ready for construction, and more in development.