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Econ Focus

Third/Fourth Quarter 2016

Regional News at a Glance


In October, at the 2016 Innovation Showcase in Baltimore, grants totaling $200,000 were awarded to local startups and to researchers from Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland, Baltimore. The Maryland Department of Commerce awarded four grants, while the Abell Foundation handed out two. The grants are focused on early-stage medical research and development and aim to help with commercialization. Among the recipients were researchers working on projects that include a kidney injury prevention system and a 3D gamma imaging system for medical applications.


In November, former Gov. Pat McCrory announced that Mill Spring, N.C., will host the 2018 World Equestrian Games at the Tryon International Equestrian Center — only the second time the international championship event has been held outside of Europe. The two-year-old Tryon Center has 12 riding arenas and hundreds of miles of equestrian trails. Based on past events, it is estimated the games could draw 500,000 spectators to the region over a two-week period.


Nutritional supplement manufacturer Thorne Research will build a $35 million, 240,000-square-foot facility near Summerville, in addition to relocating its corporate headquarters to the area. The new facility is expected to create 330 research, manufacturing, distribution, and support jobs and will be operational by mid-2018. Job development credits have been approved by the Coordinating Council for Economic Development as an incentive for the project.


Gov. Terry McAuliffe launched Cyber Vets Virginia in November. The initiative aims to link veterans who want to live and work in Virginia with cybersecurity training and skill development programs, including a free 12- to 15-week training course slotted to begin in April 2017. The initiative will also provide information on financial support and career tools. Cyber Vets Virginia is a collaboration involving the state, private-sector leaders, and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families' Onward to Opportunity program. McAuliffe estimated that there are 17,000 cybersecurity job openings in Virginia.


In late October, Vornado Realty Trust announced it was merging its D.C. operations with Maryland-based developer JBG Companies. The tax-free merger will create D.C.'s largest commercial real estate company — to be called JBG SMITH Properties — and is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2017. The $8.4 billion deal includes 11.8 million square feet and more than 4,400 multifamily units in the District as well as some areas in Virginia and Maryland. The new company also has a number of projects already under construction that could result in an additional 20 million square feet of development.


In November, West Virginia University announced a partnership with China's Shenhua Energy Co., one of the world's largest energy companies. The partnership builds on previous research collaborations between the two organizations. The new partnership will focus on clean energy technologies and will promote technology innovation through education and training exchanges, with the hope that discoveries could lead to cleaner, cheaper energy being available around the world. It will involve WVU's colleges of engineering, business, agriculture, arts and sciences, and law.

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