Secretary Merrick Tours the Gateway Region’s Authentic Communities and Companies

On October 19th, Virginia’s Gateway Region hosted Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick for a 12-hour tour showcasing the region’s assets and business advantages. 

The VGR Team was joined by economic development partners across the entire region including Colonial Heights, Dinwiddie County, Hopewell, Petersburg, Prince George County, Surry County and Sussex County. Representatives from the Virginia Economic Development Partnership also participated in the tour. The group visited several companies in the region, participated in two Q&A sessions with the Secretary, and the VGR Business Council attended an exclusive reception hosted by VGR Board Member Sandy Graham at the historic Mcllwaine House in Petersburg.  


Regional Tour 

Accompanied by VGR and others, Secretary Merrick visited: 

  • The Virginia Diner in Sussex County, which first opened its doors in 1929 out of a railroad dining car and started serving up meals and local peanuts. Today, it offers a variety of delectable treats, from classic salted and unsalted Virginia Peanuts to nut mixes, seasoned peanuts, gift sets, and specialty foods.  
  • Restoration Bioproducts in Sussex County, a private-sector conservation company that provides custom-engineered, environmentally sustainable business solutions for companies dealing with agricultural or forestry waste. The company deploys pyrolysis-based solutions to sustainably produce biochar, bio-oil, and power. 
  • Armed Global Solutions in Hopewell, a specialty recycler/remanufacturing company who serves the plastic film and pellet industry. The business has developed a process to reclaim the special shipping materials used to ship large plastic film rolls and recondition them for reuse by the plastic film manufacturers. 
  • legacy R&D building in Hopewell that is undergoing major renovations for multiple uses including office and industrial space.  
  • Richard Bland College in Dinwiddie where the pioneering Virginia company DroneUp gave a demonstration of their innovative drone flight training center.  
  • Keystone Truck & Tractor Museum in Colonial Heights, a popular tourist attraction in this retail center where the Secretary held a business roundtable discussion.  
  • VSP Technologies in Prince George County, a supplier of gaskets and fluid sealing products as well as customized solutions. The company offers expansion joints, compression packing, non-metallic bearing, specialty fasteners, mechanical seals, hydraulic seals, fluid sealing programs and design and engineering. 
  • Civica Rx in Petersburg, an advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing facility that will produce a broad range of different medicines, most notably the three most-used insulins in the U.S., creating substantial savings for the eight million Americans who need insulin every day. 




Looking Ahead as Partners 

During the tour, participants had the chance to talk with Secretary Merrick about local highlights and future opportunities for the Gateway Region. She was extremely grateful for the opportunity to learn more about the advantages of each community. 


“It is not often that our region gets the opportunity to host the Secretary of Commerce and Trade in such an intimate setting,” said VGR President & CEO Keith Boswell. “I am confident that we made an excellent impression on Security Merrick and her team, and they will remember this experience for years to come as we make our mark as a thriving and authentic region for economic development.” 

Thank you to all seven VGR communities, as well as the participating companies and organizations that joined the VGR Team to make the day a huge success. See photos from Secretary’s Merrick’s tour here.