By Sean CW Korsgaard, The Progress Index
CHESTERFIELD — Governor Terry McAuliffe visited the Hillphoenix manufacturing facility on Ruffin Mill Road on Tuesday afternoon.
McAuliffe toured the facility, which makes refrigerated grocery displays, shook hands with workers, operated a break press, and joked about his recent photo op with Willie Nelson.
McAuliffe hailed the successes of the New Virginia Economy, and job training and retraining programs offered by Virginia community colleges.
“I think manufacturing and advanced manufacturing is one of our sweet spots here in Virginia,” said McAuliffe. “The challenge over the next few years is making sure Virginia workers have credentialing and job training, so we can fill those jobs, and bring more of those jobs to the Commonwealth.”
Wes Smith, director of manufacturing and logistics programs with the Community College Workforce Alliance, said he felt humbled to be able to see his work praised by the governor.
“It’s one thing for everybody to see it on television advertisements, how these programs can help improve your life,” said Smith. “To see it not only recognized, but to see it play out in person, again and again, well, it’s just very rewarding.”
Hillphoenix has been a noted partner of these workforce education programs, according to Hillphoenix Human Resources Director Mike Fegter. Fegter highlighted employee Michael Pope-Bey as one of the program’s success stories.
“Mike was one of our workers who went through the apprenticeship program to get more certifications,” said Fegter. “We like to offer our workers the chance to go through these programs, to help themselves and to help us in the process.”
According to Fegter, Hillphoenix employs almost 780 people at the Ruffin Mill Road factory, and around 1,350 people throughout the region.