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Companies receive Port grants

Two companies with Suffolk locations recently received a boon from the Port of Virginia for continued service and growth in the commonwealth.

Seven Virginia companies received grant money from The Port of Virginia Economic and Infrastructure Development Grant program, according to an Aug. 24 press release. The program is designed to encourage investment and create jobs for Virginia port user.

Grant money is provided through Virginia general fund tax revenues. John Reinhart, chief executive officer and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority, determines which applicants receives grants. Qualified applicants must be located or have expanded within Virginia, created at least 25 qualifying positions in its first year of operations or expansion, and do business with the port.

The seven companies created 1,132 jobs in fiscal year 2017 and received $2.17 million total, according to the press release. Among the seven were two Suffolk facilities owned by Target Corp. and Friant and Associates LLC.

“Two years ago, Friant opened its distribution center in Suffolk to take advantage of The Port of Virginia, which serves as the company’s East Coast global gateway,” Reinhart stated in the press release. “The result — success — of that strategic decision is evident, and Friant’s investment has led to regional job growth and economic development. This grant, we hope, will encourage continued success for this growing port user.”

Friant and Associates received $315,000 for creating 105 jobs at its distribution and manufacturing center that opened at the CenterPoint development in June 2015. Michael Sale, vice president of manufacturing for the office furniture company, said the money could be used to invest in the facility and expand its capacity.

From June 2015 to June 2016, the facility received on average one cargo container per day from the Port of Virginia, Sale said. Staff has increased from 10 employees when it first opened to 115 full-time employees, along with 15 to 20 part-time employees.

“We are expecting growth in our business on the East Coast, and this facility is a key element for us to be able to support that growth,” he said. “We’re very excited to add these employees here in Virginia.”

One of the appeals for Friant to locate its East Coast distribution center in Suffolk was the proximity to the port, Sale said. This has allowed orders to be quickly delivered to key markets like New York, Boston, Atlanta and Washington, D.C.

Target received $500,000 for creating 463 jobs at its Suffolk location off Holland Road, which transitioned from being a warehouse to an upstream distribution center in April 2016, Kristy Welker with Target Communications stated in an email.

“The grant Target received through the Port Authority of Virginia was used to help with the expansion and transition of Target’s facility, one of only three upstream distribution centers in the country,” Welker stated in the email.