Well Noted: Moving Up and Southern Hospitality

By David Feder, R.D.

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Those of you who also subscribe to the print version of Wellness Foods will notice some changes, beginning with the upcoming issue. The first will be obvious: Wellness will now come stapled into Food Processing. Why? A couple of reasons. As mentioned in earlier editorials, we've been on a mission to make the magazine more reader-friendly, more useable.

When we surveyed readers, one recurring complaint was that by the time some subscribers got their combo of Food Processing and Wellness Foods, Wellness had long since gone its separate way from Food Processing. Now Wellness can still be detached, but not before the subscriber gets his or her chance to read it.

But here's the big news: We've grown! Wellness Foods is increasing circulation by more than 30 percent. With more food and beverage companies moving into the health and wellness arena, our expanded circulation will help us be there for them and continue our mission of providing them up-to-date news and information on the biggest growth trend in the food and beverage industry. For our new readers — and our long-time readers too — feel free to drop a line with any feedback or questions you might have.

Meanwhile, every state has its share of boosters, but a recent Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) tour of the central part of the state, especially the Shenandoah Valley, showed me why processors seeking new plant locations should consider saying, "Yes, Virginia."

Some already have. Our tour included several food and beverage giants, such as Coors Brewing Co., Maple Leaf Bakeries Inc. and Pepsi Co.s' Gatorade. They caught Virginia fever a few years ago, recognizing the benefit of the unbeatable combo of inexpensive costs of living and doing business, safe pastoral communities and wide-open corridors to the eastern seaboard.

Coors had been taking advantage of the state's positioning with a distribution center built 20 years ago. The surgically clean brewery in Elkton was built in 2005 on the same property to take advantage of one of the largest and purest aquifers in the country. According to brewmaster (a.k.a. "Director of Process Operations") Andy Pickerell, the water is so pristine it needs no treatment whatsoever, going right from the half-mile-deep aquifer to the brewery tanks. (Don't worry: it's still strictly monitored for safety and purity.)

Last year, Forbes.com voted Virginia at the top of its Best State for Business ranking. The business communications group also placed Richmond and Virginia Beach in the top ten of its "Top 25 Best American Cities to get a Job."

"The Shenandoah Valley is progressing rapidly as it becomes more sophisticated and able to offer increased amenities to serve firms from more urban areas," says Don Sullenberger, CEO of the regional economic development group, Shenandoah Valley Partnership. "What we're seeing now is an emergence of high-quality, small companies following the larger companies. This is indicative of the growth we seek and encourage. These larger companies help make the perfect business mix because they're well connected from a global marketing perspective and provide a stable environment across the entire region for those smaller companies."

"Virginia offers a low cost of doing business," says Christie Miller, communications manager for the VEDP. "Companies enjoy a 6 percent corporate income tax that hasn't increased since 1972; no unitary tax on worldwide profits; access to investment capital and property tax exemptions; and one of the lowest combined state/local/use taxes at 5 percent." Miller also explains that businesses also benefit from lower employee-related costs and Virginia's Workforce Service programs designed to help expanding companies meet staffing needs.

Another perk of establishing a business partnership with Virginia is the state's global access, thanks to Washington Dulles International Airport and the Port of Virginia. All that not to mention the physical beauty of the landscape and temperate climate. Learn more here.

Finally, Food Processing is conducting its annual salary survey. The survey allows our readers to compare their positions and salaries with their colleagues throughout the country, while giving us more insight into the industry. The survey takes only a few minutes to complete, and all answers are completely and utterly confidential. Click here to take the survey.

We'll publish the results in the July issue of Food Processing. Thanks!

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