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president, Pete Diakun. “As the power plants that Westinghouse is selling worldwide are procured by different countries and sales grow, so does our growth.” Newport News Industrial could


expand its reach into partnerships with other nuclear power plant providers. “We’re excited about these opportunities,” Diakun adds. “It’s a mechanism by which we can diversify into the commercial nuclear space. For us, it’s a way to show the industry that we have a lot to offer.” Another major Newport News


employer, Ferguson Enterprises Inc., continues to grow. In fiscal year 2016, it bought 13 companies in markets that showed high potential or where the company had limited presence. Ferguson, which has annual revenue of $13 billion, employs 22,000 people, including 2,500 in Virginia.


Career pathways program New businesses and corporate expan-


sions require highly skilled workers, a need Newport News Public Schools strives to meet through the district’s Career Path-


ways program, which introduces students as young as kindergartners to a variety of careers. Students learn about job fields throughout elementary and middle school. The program culminates in high school with job shadowing or hands-on training in areas such as architecture and construc- tion, arts, education, government, health science, aviation, business, and audio- visual technology and communication. Career fields are selected based on student interest and regional job needs. “You’ve got options in Newport News


schools,” says Chief Academic Officer Brian Nichols. “Whatever your interest is, we’ve got something for you.” Since launching Career Pathways,


Newport News’ graduation rate has jumped from 72.9 percent in 2008 to 89.5 percent last year. Many students graduate with either college credits or industry certifications. “That’s nothing short of amazing,” Nichols adds. “The kids are being engaged.” Local companies, including Newport


News Shipbuilding, Langley Federal Credit Union and Riverside Regional Medical Center, have partnered with the


SUCCESS FEELS GOOD WHEN YOUR BANK SETS THE STAGE.


Nichols


school system, providing students with internships and networking opportuni- ties. “Our community has really stepped up to be partners,” Nichols says. “It shows our kids that we have jobs right here in our com-


munity. They don’t have to go anywhere else.”


Popular career pathways include


health sciences and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) areas. The aviation academy at Denbigh High School attracts students seeking to follow in the flight paths of astronauts who trained at the nearby Langley Air Force Base, which recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. “Students are building real planes that will fly someday,” Nichols notes. “They will be able to go to a job interview and say that as a junior or senior they built a plane.” Just one more reason that the Shop-


ping Center Group’s Ramey emphasizes the growing momentum in Newport News. “I get excited,” she says. “So much can happen. This is the place to be.”


Located in Orange County, Virginia, Gibson Rental offers premier event rentals ranging from tents and staging to linens. The Gibson brothers know how to help clients set the stage for success – just like their Union banker, Jerry Raines. For five years, Jerry has guided the Gibsons to the best solutions for the company – from choosing a mortgage to setting up a revocable trust. Gibson Rental knows that doing business with Union is always a successful event. Visit bankatunion.com to learn more.


1.800.990.4828 Union Bank & Trust


www.VirginiaBusiness.com VIRGINIA BUSINESS 79


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