Tech powers the Shenandoah Valley agricultural manufacturing renaissance
Central Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley are seeing a resurgence in manufacturing output and investment. The recent $1.25 million expansion plans outlined by Winchester firm Evolve are a clear indicator of the interest and potential in the region, and serve as a reminder of where the region is going. Underlying these recent developments is the increasing role that tech must play in what was historically an old-school industrial environment. These technological changes are forming the basis for a resurgent manufacturing industry that is leading the region.
Old business, new tools
National manufacturing is on the up as consumers look to buy local. This has led to local businesses, like CAVA, opening up new packaging plants – including in the Shenandoah Valley. A new facility near Staunton will bring together classic manufacturing facility processes with the use of technology to give it a modern slant. Technology has always played an important part in factories and the manufacturing industry, from automated production lines to robot inputs. Bringing these technological lessons to the table in conjunction with manufacturing experience will help to expand businesses and make the valley an industrial powerhouse.
The use of technology is also allowing small companies to expand their operations. CBS 19 highlights the expansion of Shenandoah Valley Organic in the Harrisonburg area, a move which has allowed a small company to spread their products to a wider audience. Once again, the use of technology in packaging enables companies with a lower turnover to become more deeply involved with manufacturing innovation and changes in the state. This, in conjunction with a general freedom of technological expertise being shared from academic partners in-state, is driving forward change.
That agricultural upscaling is at the heart of much of the good going on in Shenandoah Valley, and that’s being seen in collaborative efforts between the Virginia Agricultural Research and Extension Centers and industry. Most recently, the academic institution closed off a series of events for Virginia Agriculture Week that brought together innovations in testing environments with the factory-scale work conducted by local partners. The work of the Shenandoah Valley arm of the organization has had a positive impact elsewhere in the state, raising the reputation of local manufacturing and agricultural work to a much greater audience. This has not been at the expense of bottom lines for businesses, either; a lot of research is concentrated in improving cattle efficiency and production lines without doing any damage to ethical standards – or, in many cases, trying to improve standards along the way.
Bringing technology to the warehouse and manufacturing floor is key to this approach becoming reality. Technology is providing the tools for a manufacturing revival in the Shenandoah Valley. Adding more strings to the bow of the regional economy can only be a good thing. By tying together manufacturing with technological change, a brighter future for state-wide manufacturing and agricultural efficiency can be secured.
Story by Emilie Watson