REGIONAL VIEW Roanoke/new river valley

IT company serves D.C. agencies from Blacksburg by Tim Thornton


y 2005, Sonu Singh had built and sold two IT consulting com-

panies, but he was convinced there was a better way to handle IT. The new owners of his old company, however, didn’t share his point of view. “I kept telling them the busi- ness model was going to change,” he says. “They kept looking at me like I was a complete dope. “I finally said, ‘I’ve just got to stop talking about it. I’ve got to pull a team together and go do it.’” So, in 2009, the 1901

points out, was a contractor working at a government site when he downloaded docu- ments that revealed a secret National Security Agency surveillance program. Singh grew up in Blacks-

Sonu Singh says 80 percent of IT services can be handled remotely.

Group moved into about 800 square feet of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center (CRC). Singh says 170 of the company’s 250 employees work at the CRC now and he expects the Blacksburg workforce to grow to 250 within a year. The company — whose

customers range from the FOR THE RECORD

Eldor Corp. has begun production at its $75 million manufacturing facility in Botetourt County. The company makes ignition systems, electronic control units and hybrid and electric vehicle systems. In March 2016 the Italian company announced plans to locate its first North American plant in Daleville. It marked the biggest economic news in the county’s history and the largest expansion of new manufacturing jobs in the Roanoke Valley since before the Great Recession a decade ago. The company has hired about 120 people and has plans to have 350 employees in the next four to five years. (The Roanoke Times)

Photo by Stephen Gosling

U.S. Department of Agricul- ture to the Army to the Small Business Administration — is talking with the CRC about building a new facility to accommodate that growth. Singh realized IT equip- ment and infrastructure had changed drastically, but the management model hadn’t changed in 30 years, particu- larly in government circles. The government was still contracting with companies that put employees on-site to manage systems. The 1901 Group offered a different approach. “We don’t sell bodies,”

Federal regulators have approved a plan to stabilize a section of the Jefferson National Forest where construction of a natural gas pipeline began but was later halted by a lawsuit raising environmental concerns. The measures required by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission — along with a separate decision by the U.S. Forest Service to reopen two of its roads that had been closed for construction — indicate that it could be months before work on the Mountain Valley Pipeline is allowed to resume in the forest. In July, a federal appeals court invalidated an approval by the Forest Service for a 3.5-mile segment of the buried pipeline to cross public woodlands in Monroe County, W.Va., and Giles and

Singh says. “We sell services.” About 80 percent of

those services, he says, can be handled remotely — for 30 percent less than they would cost in D.C. At first, convincing the

federal government that its business and data can be securely managed from Blacksburg was a hard sell, Singh says. But, he adds, potential customers are beginning to understand that security has less to do with proximity than with infra- structure, networks and access control.

Edward Snowden, Singh

Montgomery counties. (The Roanoke Times)

As Franklin County works to bring broadband to more areas of the rural locality, it may partner with northern neighbors. A draft of what’s being called a “teaming agreement” with the Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority was presented to the Franklin County Broadband Authority, whose membership consists of the county Board of Supervisors. Steve Sandy, the county’s director of planning and community development, said the agreement would provide an opportunity for the two entities to work together. (The Roanoke Times)

LewisGale Regional Health System has acquired Virginia

burg, graduated from Virginia Tech and calls himself “a giant Hokie football fan.” But that’s not all that drew 1901 to the CRC. “We wanted to locate the business in an area that had access to talent, a good quality of life and a moder- ate cost of living,” Singh says, pointing out that with Tech, Radford University and New River Community College, about 50,000 college students are studying within 15 miles of the 1901 Group’s CRC office. “There’s massive untapped talent here.” There’s massive opportu-

nity for growth, too. The fed- eral government spends $100 billion a year on IT, Singh says. “All we have to do is bring 1 percent to Blacksburg, and we’ll be happy.”

Orthopaedic. Nine of the prac- tice’s 10 providers will remain with the new organization, Lew- isGale Physicians — Virginia Orthopedics. Virginia Orthopae- dic was formed in 1999 and is located near LewisGale Medical Center in Salem. (The Roanoke Times)

Employees of Yokohama Tire Co. in Salem have ratified a new labor contract that will be in effect through Sept. 14, 2022, according to their union, United Steelworkers Local 1023. In a Facebook post, United Steelworkers, which represents about 600 employees at the plant, said the contract won approval with a majority of the popular vote. The union’s last contract, approved in 2014, was originally set to expire

in May, but workers said an extension was agreed to while negotiations continued. (The Roanoke Times)


Retired Pulaski County adminis- trator Peter Huber is back in the municipality’s fold to take on the newly formed role of “New Com- munity Workforce Innovation Adviser.” Huber will be working with the Board of Supervisors and the county’s economic development authority. Huber retired as county administrator in January 2017 and was suc- ceeded by Jonathan Sweet. Huber will receive a yearlong $26,000 stipend to cover his functions and associated expenses such as travel, Sweet said. (The Roanoke Times)


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