Regional Broadband Authority Sets Rates and Plans to Sign First Customers

Roanoke Valley Broadband AuthorityThe first businesses to take advantage of the new regional fiber network will come online in the coming weeks.
The Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority plans to sign its first customers to the new 50-mile regional network in April after setting rates for services last week. The regional broadband authority offers fiber-based, business-class service. The bandwidth offered through the Authority’s services is exclusive to the end user and is ideal for institutions and businesses that must move large volumes of data reliably.  
The authority will also allow customers to lease dark fiber. Dark fiber is unlit fiber strands which allow clients that wish to install their own electronics to light their own dedicated fiber strands leased from the authority. Approximately 25 percent of the regional network is devoted to dark fiber, which has been available in only limited areas of the region.  
The regional authority’s services add to a diverse set of regional telecom and fiber-based communications services. The authority’s offerings provide access to dedicated bandwidth and even dark fiber services in areas of the region where such services were not available before. This new regional fiber network will be an asset for burgeoning technology businesses.
The completion and lighting of the network in April will be a major milestone for a new regional cooperative program. The authority was created in 2013 by the Counties of Botetourt and Roanoke and the Cities of Roanoke and Salem. The authority was a direct result of both public and private efforts to better understand and to advocate for more fiber-based broadband services.   

Fuji Electric Opens Roanoke Facility

fuji electric roanokeFuji Electric recently opened a 37,000 square foot engineering and assembly facility in Roanoke.
Production at the new facility will focus on assembly of their Variable Speed Drive Custom Panels, Uninterruptible Power Systems, and Auxiliary Power Systems. The announcement is the latest move by the company to grow and expand their business activities in the U.S., as it will allow them to respond more quickly to local market conditions and reduce lead time on product shipments.

“Fuji Electric’s U.S. Engineering team has been operating out of our original Roanoke, Virginia facility since June 2007, so when we decided to open a larger facility and expand our engineering and production efforts, Roanoke was a natural fit for our business,” said Philip Charatz, President and CEO of Fuji Electric Corp. of America. “The city has a strong manufacturing presence with a large pool of qualified, skilled employees, and this new facility will give us the ability to support our increasing Drives business along with our other growing divisions.”

Located at 105 14th Street NW just outside of downtown Roanoke, Fuji Electric has begun production on custom panels for Drives customers and will conduct assembly, witness testing and sales training on their newly released Uninterruptible Power Systems. Production on APS products will begin in November. 

“Today’s manufacturing trends require flexibility and rapid responses to customer’s evolving needs,” said Larry Butkovich, General Manager of the Roanoke facility. “Fuji Electric has a worldwide reputation for our engineering and manufacturing capabilities, and we look forward to using our century of experience to strengthen our presence in the U.S. market.”

Fuji Electric held a ribbon cutting ceremony on Sept. 2 to commemorate the opening, which was attended by facility employees as well as Fuji Electric Co., Ltd. President and Chairman Michihiro Kitazawa and the Mayor of Roanoke, David Bowers. 

“The City of Roanoke is pleased to see companies like Fuji Electric growing their business activities in our community,” said Mayor David Bowers. “The economic stimulation that results from this type of expansion is essential for the city to thrive, and it has a positive effect on everything from employment to local commerce.” 
Fuji Electric Corp. of America is a wholly owned subsidiary of Fuji Electric Co., Ltd., and has been responsible for sales and distribution of the company’s products since 1970.  Fuji Electric Co., Ltd. has been developing power electronics equipment since 1923 and is a global leader in industrial products ranging from semiconductors, power supply, and power generation equipment to AC drives and uninterruptible power systems.

3 Roanoke Companies Named to Inc. 5000

Three Roanoke Region businesses have earned a place on the Inc. 5000, an annual ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in America.

This is not the first appearance on the list for Jewell Machinery, Interactive Achievement, and Alcova Mortgage. Each have been honored in past rankings as well. The Roanoke Region companies join a list that highlights some of the most recognized names in business. Companies such as Yelp, Pandora, Timberland, Dell, Domino’s Pizza, LinkedIn, and Zillow gained early exposure as members of the Inc. 5000.

inc 5000 roanoke virginia

jewell machinery inc 5000Coming in at No. 1,273 on the Inc. 5000 is Jewell Machinery, in Rocky Mount, a small heavy machinery repair business. The company offers service and repair for all brands of forestry and heavy equipment. Services include service and repair of Cummins engines, rebuilt transmissions, drive shafts, welding, fabricating, hydraulic cylinders, pumps, and valve repairs. Jewell Machinery also has an online store and sells replacement parts for numerous applications.

interactive achievement inc 5000Interactive Achievement is No. 2,431 on the 2015 list. The Inc. 5000 award comes on the heels of Interactive Achievement’s announcement of a contract with the Virginia Department of Education to provide its Instructional Improvement System, onTRAC, to districts across Virginia. Interactive Achievement creates award-winning standards-based instructional improvement systems for school districts that create positive change in student education. IA was founded in 2006 by educators searching for improved assessment and reporting tools to enable both students and teachers to achieve success. The company’s OnTRAC software is used in classrooms in 13 states. 

alcova mortgage inc 5000Alcova Mortgage is also featured at No. 4,184. Roanoke-based ALCOVA Mortgage is a direct lender that provides future homeowners with Conventional, USDA, FHA and VA home loans. Processing, underwriting and funding loans, ALCOVA also brokers and sells residential mortgages to the secondary mortgage market. The direct mortgage lender has ranked on the Inc. 5000 List for four consecutive years.

The 2015 Inc. 5000, unveiled online at and with the top 500 companies featured in the September issue of Inc. is the most competitive crop in the list’s history. The average company on the list achieved a mind-boggling three-year growth of 490%. The Inc. 5000’s aggregate revenue is $205 billion, generating 647,000 jobs over the past three years. See the complete results of the Inc. 5000, including company profiles and an interactive database that can be sorted by industry, region, and other criteria.

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Roanoke Featured as Strong Location to Start a Business

top place for business roanoke, va

Have you been thinking about starting your own business right here in Roanoke? Maybe it is time to take the plunge.

A new ranking from NerdWallet has Roanoke in the top 17 percent of best small cities to start a business. NerdWallet examined 463 U.S. cities with populations from 50,000 to 100,000 to determine where the best opportunities are for those starting a business. The ranking found that some of the fastest-growing industries have taken root in smaller metropolitan areas.

What does that mean for you and your business idea in the Roanoke Region?

Key strengths in the ranking include the fact that Roanoke has a high concentration of business per capita and area businesses have a moderate to high level of revenue per business. Roanoke’s traditional role as center for commerce for a large area of Western Virginia contributes to success as well because the market area for goods and services extends well into the rest of the region.

You can find the full breakdown from NerdWallet.