REGIONAL VIEW central virginia

Belle Isle crafting plans for future growth by Veronica Garabelli

the masses.

Belle Isle Craft Spirits, the maker of Belle Isle Premium Moonshine, plans to increase production capacity this year from 130,000 to 500,000 bot- tles. It also expects to expand distribution to all 50 states in the next couple of years. Belle Isle’s moonshine


c urrently is sold in seven states (includ- ing Virginia) and the District of Columbia. The product also is available in China. “Moonshine is America’s

Vince Riggi and Brian Marks plan to ramp up production of their premium moonshine.

He says Belle Isle is

original clear spirit,” says Vince Riggi, the CEO of Belle Isle who co-founded the company in 2013 with Brian Marks and Alex Wotring. Riggi says the three men

were attracted to moonshine as an opportunity to “not only provide another tool for the bartender, but also to re- educate people on a spirit that has long been forgotten and kind of relegated as a novelty.”


Richmond began renovations in November on Monroe Park, a $6 million project expected to take up to a year-and-a-half to complete. Renovation of the city’s oldest park was made possible through a multiyear, $3 million pri- vate fundraising campaign. Altria and the Dominion Foundation each provided $500,000. Also, a major gift from The Beirne Carter Foundation will support sustain- ability and safety improvements at the park. The nonprofit Monroe Park Conservancy will operate the park after the renovation, and Virginia Commonwealth Uni- versity will provide maintenance. (News release)

Virginia has moved up onthe Forbes list of “Best States for

Photos courtesy Belle Isle Craft Spirits

creating a new category, pre- mium moonshine, positioned between whiskey and vodka. In addition to plain moon- shine, Belle Isle offers flavors like “cold brew coffee” and “honey habanero.” A 750-mil- liliter bottle sells for $25 to $27, depending on the type of moonshine and store location. The company’s target demo- graphic is the vodka drinker more than the whiskey

Business.” The commonwealth ranks No. 6 on the 2016 list, up from No. 7 last year. Utah was named the top state for business for the third year in a row. Forbes noted that the commonwealth ranked as the top state for busi- ness as recently as 2013, “but higher business costs and a declining economic climate have pushed it lower.” (VirginiaBusi-

Henrico County-based Eastern Virginia Bankshares Inc., the holding company for EVB, plans to combine with Southern National Bancorp of Virginia Inc., the McLean-based holding company for Sonabank. The deal, which is valued at $178.3 million, is expected to close in the sec- ond quarter, pending regulatory and shareholder approvals. The

connoisseur. “A

whiskey drinker wants

something aged … 5 to 10 years in a barrel … most of the time [a product] with a higher price point,” Riggi says. “We really pride ourselves in the versatil- ity of the spirit, and that resonates more with the vodka

combined company will assume the Southern National Bancorp of Virginia name for the holding company and the Sonabank name for all banking operations. It will maintain its corporate headquarters in McLean and the Henrico headquarters for the bank in the Richmond area. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Stonebridge Shopping Center in Chesterfield County is under new ownership — and poised for more development. McLean- based S2 Capital Partners LLC has acquired the 8.1-acre retail center — part of the former Cloverleaf Mall property — for $12 million. The center includes two fully developed construc- tion sites on which S2 Capital Partners will build 15,600 square feet of multi-tenant retail space.

Richmond-based distillery is ready to bring moonshine to


Belle Isle was one of 42 licensed distilleries operating in Virginia as of October, says Amy Ciarametaro, execu- tive director of the Virginia Distillers Association. More than half of those distilleries produced moonshine or white whiskey.

The company plans to

continue growth with an injection of new capital. It is currently undergoing a “series B” round of funding, hoping to raise more than $2 million. The company expects to close on that series of funding by February.

That capital would allow Belle Isle to hire more employees and continue to increase production, inventory and marketing. Marketing is highly

important when you’re com- peting with major brands like Jim Beam and Jack Daniel’s, Riggi says. “We’re trying to take the

same real estate, so it’s expen- sive to get in front of people’s eyeballs,” he says.

At completion, the total retail space will be 67,416 square feet. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)


Dr. Peter F. Buck- ley has been named executive vice president for medical affairs at the Richmond- based VCU Health System and dean

of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine. The appointment is effective Jan. 17. Buckley was dean of the Medical College of Georgia and executive vice president for medical affairs and integration. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Lynchburg-based BWX Tech- nologies Inc. (BWXT) has named

Chief Operating Officer Rex D. Geveden the company’s presi- dent and CEO, effective Jan. 1. He replaces Peyton S. “Sandy” Baker, who plans to retire on May 31. Baker will serve as spe- cial adviser until his retirement. (

Elizabeth Jennings has been named SunTrust’s director of institutional investments for the foundation and endowment specialty group. She is based in Richmond. (News release)

The Charlottesville-based Uni- versity of Virginia Health System has named Jeffrey Keller its first chief innovation officer. Keller has worked in biomedical research, business and the devel- opment of early stage technolo- gies. (


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