Business Spotlight: Continental Automotive Systems
Imagine sitting down in your car, pressing a few buttons, your car pulls away and safely delivers you to your destination automatically while you simply enjoy the ride. What was science fiction just a few short years ago is quickly becoming reality. And some of the components transforming fiction into fact are being developed right here at Culpeper’s own Continental Automotive Systems.
Continental’s Culpeper location is part of Continental Global, one of the world’s leading automotive suppliers of brake systems, powertrains and chassis systems and components, instrumentation, infotainment solutions, vehicle electronics and tires. Headquartered in Hanover, Germany, Continental Global was founded in 1871 as a rubber fabric and tire manufacturer. The company employs 182,000 people in 49 different countries. Continental’s Culpeper plant, which manufactures braking and stability control components, is part of the Chassis and Safety division of the Automotive Group. Continental Automotive Group develops and produces innovative products and systems for the modern automotive future in which cars provide individual mobility and driving pleasure consistent with driver safety and environmental responsibility.
Continental joined the Culpeper community in 1998 when the organization purchased the Alfred Teves Company to become Continental Teves. Today, Continental Automotive Systems of Culpeper is an excellent example of how American manufacturing can compete successfully in the global market. Through process improvement, workforce enhancement, machining and equipment upgrades and good old fashioned teamwork, Continental’s Culpeper location is one of the most proficient and efficient plants in the global Continental network. In fact, every third car produced in America today has braking components manufactured in Culpeper.
The company has achieved this feat by maximizing the relationship between man and machine. The workforce today is slightly smaller than it was during its days as Alfred Teves Company and Continental Teves, but the job classifications and pay are considerably higher. Employees perform more as engineers than operators. And to keep all employees engaged and informed, flat-screen monitors located throughout the plant provide up-to-date details of plant operations such as production levels for every machine in the plant, whether or not a machine is producing expected results, and the status of current production levels relative to established target goals.
From our agricultural heritage, to our proud tradition of quality manufacturing and craftsmanship, to our growing position in high-technology, Culpeper blends technology and hard work, inspiration and innovation. What better place to craft science fiction into science fact. And who better to produce the systems behind the automobile of the future than the men and woman of Culpeper’s Continental Automotive Systems.
State of the County – Business Incentives Programs
State of the County – Business Incentives Programs Culpeper County through its Department of Economic Development offers cash incentives to private businesses that have invested in our county. There are two different county incentive programs. The first is the Partnership for Economic Development and Job Training established in 2004. This incentive program is county-wide and businesses in and out of the Town of Culpeper can qualify to participate. To receive county incentives, a business must invest at least $500,000 in the county in any one year and be listed by the program guidelines as an eligible type of business. Eligible businesses include agriculture, manufacturing, telecommunications warehousing, certain financial institutions, air transportation, engineering and computer software and hardware makers.
The second incentive program is the Technology Zone program established in 2006. All businesses, except for retail businesses that sell primarily to the Culpeper market, that are located in designated Technology Zones are eligible to receive these incentives. There are five Technology Zones in Culpeper located along the US 15/29 corridor – each zone contains several hundred acres of land. Four of the five zones are largely vacant with commercial zoning in place or easily attainable.
There are two over-riding premises for both incentive programs. First, existing businesses that invest in the county receive the same amount of incentives as a new business that is coming into the county and investing the same amount of money. Second, the incentives are 100% derived from the taxes that are paid on a new investment by the company that is receiving the incentives. In other words, no one else is directly contributing to the incentives except the business that is receiving the incentives.
All county incentives are derived from the taxes that have been paid by the participating business, but the amount of an incentive is calculated differently for each of the county’s incentive programs. Under the Partnership for Economic Development and Job Training, a participating manufacturing business would receive three annual incentive payments equal to the Machinery and Tool taxes paid by the business on a new manufacturing equipment investment. Eligible manufacturing and non-manufacturing business also qualify for five annual incentives payments equal to 50% of the new Real Estate tax on improvements such as new building construction or building expansion and improvements. A non-manufacturing eligible business may also receive five annual incentive payments equal to 50% of the Business Personal Property tax paid on non-manufacturing equipment. The incentives provided under the Real Estate tax and Business Personal Property tax, however, can only be used to reimburse the business for employee training expenses that the business has incurred. The employee training aspect of this incentive program is an important component of workforce development and helps ensure the quality and stability of our workforce.
The Technology Zone program calculates the amount of incentive based on a sliding scale indicating the depth of the economic impact the new business’s investment will have on Culpeper County. That impact is measured by four variables – each having its own scale of impact. The four variables are: the number of jobs created; the median salary of the jobs created; the amount of private investment and the size of the building the business occupies. Each year for three years, each of these variables are measured, reviewed and certified for any business participating in the Technology Zone program. These variables are combined and a total score is generated. Based on the total score, a participating business will receive incentive payments between 20% and 80% of the total taxes paid to the county for three years. The county will also reimburse the business for all county fees (building, zoning) it incurred in making its new investment.
Both of the county’s incentive programs are self-correcting and the county will never have to seek reimbursement its incentives if the business does not perform as advertised. The incentives are based on taxes already paid by the business. If the business does not invest as much as it said it would, that business would pay less tax than anticipated which would result in a lower incentive payment. It should be noted that the sliding scale of the percent of taxes does not go below 20%.
Over the past ten years, Culpeper County has provided business incentives to new and existing businesses that have invested in Culpeper on 17 different occasions. In each of these 17 different occasions the private investment exceeded one million dollars.
The Town of Culpeper has its own incentive programs that include its a Partnership for Economic Development and Job Training program also established in 2004 that mirrors the county’s program. While the town does not currently have a Technology Zone program, it has recently developed a Tourism Zone program that will allow the Town to offer incentives of its own design to Town businesses.
Culpeper Chamber of Commerce; Celebrating a Century of Helping Culpeper Businesses Connect, Grow and Prosper
In 1768 the United States’ first chamber of commerce was established in New York City. Ever since, chambers of commerce – known originally as “Boards of Trade” – have played key roles in economic development. Some have even been instrumental in crafting remarkable historical events. For example, the Atlantic City chamber created the Miss America pageant. The St Louis chamber helped pay for Charles Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic Ocean, hence the plane’s name; the Spirit of St. Louis. The 1969 music festival, Woodstock Music & Art Fair, happened because the White Lake-Bethal, NY Chamber of Commerce held the permit for the right to have a festival. And, the Chicago Association of Commerce collected financial information that ultimately led to the arrest and downfall of gangster Al Capone.
While chambers of commerce are sometimes portrayed in popular culture simply as a small-town social club, they are in reality a vital business resource, a cornerstone of the community, and an essential economic development engine. Formed by businesses to help businesses, local chambers of commerce nurture a vibrant business community, discover emerging leaders and support small business.
There are two primary functions of a chamber; first, as a spokesman for the business and professional community and second, has a vehicle to promote products or services that can be used by the business members or community as a whole. Most chambers are private, membership-funded organizations and not governmental groups or institutions. However, chambers can provide support to the local government in a variety of ways, especially in the areas of economic development.
Culpeper’s Chamber of Commerce was established in 1914 and will be celebrating its 100th year anniversary this November. The Chamber has been instrumental in developing and assisting in a number of economic development driven activities. According to the President and CEO of the Culpeper Chamber, Jim Charapich, “Our mission is to be the voice of the business community working to promote, build and support the most effective climate for economic development.“ The Culpeper Chamber has 576 members and Mr. Charapich is particularly proud of it being a member-led organization. “Our leadership is a reason for our durability as an organization. Many of the names of the Presidents (now Chairman of the Board) are familiar even today in the business network.”
With the guidance of the Board of Directors, The Culpeper Chamber has established a variety of committees focused on the initiatives of the organization. The committee programs – which include Events, Networking, Advocacy, Education, Services, Publications and Workforce Development – create and oversee anything from small networking groups, to large events, to educational seminars. In addition, the Chamber recognizes the importance of the not for profit community and has an established the Non-Profit Council. Each committee is fundamental to creating an environment in which businesses can prosper. During challenging economic times, the Culpeper Chamber of Commerce role in the economy is even more essential than usual.
Networking initiatives include programs like LeadShare, which is a referral networking group. A LeadShare group is comprised of a group of individuals representing a variety of professional specialties, with only one person per specialty participating in any given group. There are currently five LeadShare groups within the Chamber. The members meet weekly and discuss leads or referral types they are seeking, networking opportunities, and often have guest speakers and team building activities scheduled. As Sophie Kash, leader of the Tuesday Lunch LeadShare group and owner of Kash Design.com explained, “LeadShare helps new and established businesses develop and maintain positive relationships and helps to keep our dollars local.”
To be the voice of the business community, the Advocacy committee component is vital. Mr. Bruce Clark, an attorney with FRAY, HUDSON, CLARK & WALKER, LLP, who are members of the Chamber, explained how the Business and Development Assistance sub-committee arose out of the Chamber’s Advocacy initiative. “Over the past years the issues facing Culpeper have become exponentially more complex and at the same time the need for rapid response to such issues has become more critical. The Chamber’s size and governing structure made it increasingly difficult to provide its members with timely, accurate information concerning local developments and hindered the Chamber’s ability to formulate effective and timely responses to changing circumstances. The idea for a focus committee grew out of the recognition that we needed to streamline how the Chamber interfaced with our local governing bodies on the issues most affecting its members. The committee has become a valuable tool acting as the principal conduit between the local business community and their governmental counterparts.” The committee is comprised of businessmen and women who are employed by the many companies in the county.
Workforce Development is another key chamber initiative. Ken Greenfield, President of Cintas and a member of the Chamber explains the goal of the Workforce Development committee. “The Culpeper Chamber has worked regionally to help connect employers and job seekers through the resources of the Piedmont Workforce Network One Stop facilities in Culpeper, Orange, and Fauquier counties. The services provided at the One Stops link jobseekers that are unemployed, underemployed, veterans, individuals that have disabilities and other groups with special needs in their job search. The Culpeper Chamber, along with Culpeper Career Resource Center staff, has led the way in helping employers to understand the resources available through the Piedmont Workforce Network.”
The Chamber also enjoys a strong partnership with education. For example, every August, prior to the start of the school year, the Chamber partners with the Culpeper County Public School (CCPS) system for Business Industry and Education Day. At last year’s event, representatives from nearly 90 businesses met with over 800 CCPS employees. This is an excellent way for new and veteran Culpeper teachers to learn about Culpeper businesses, and for Culpeper business leaders to get acquainted with the county’s educators.
In addition, twice a year the Chamber, CCPS, and Career Partners, Inc. team up to host the Culpeper Career Expo. This event provides approximately 1400 middle and high school students the opportunity to explore career opportunities with local business professionals.
For the businesses of Culpeper, the Chamber of Commerce is a supportive and crucial element to economic growth. Best said by current Chairman of the Board, Ms. Sharon Clark, a member since moving to the community in 2005 and opening her retail shop Pepperberries in Downtown Culpeper, “Being a member of the Chamber has offered me many networking opportunities. I have been able to develop relationships with so many business professionals. The Chamber has also allowed my staff members and me to participate in classes, meetings and programs furthering our knowledge in many areas of business. As the 2014 Chairman I have realized how many individuals it takes to make a successful Chamber of Commerce. We have a very engaged board and extremely productive committees. The staff holds it all together and continues to move us forward. It is rewarding to see so many individuals coming together to form an amazing team for the good of the Chamber.”
Congratulations and thank you to the Culpeper Chamber of Commerce for 100 years of helping Culpeper businesses connect, grow and prosper!
Happenings: The Culpeper Downtown Farmers Market – The Sweet ‘Stickiness’ of Buying Fresh and Local
The popularity of farmers markets has increased significantly over the last ten years. And while farmers markets possess a quaint atmosphere and nostalgic quality, they also serve as a vibrant local economic engine. The direct sales from farmer to shopper produce economic spillover effects because the money circulates within the region. Producers sell directly to the final consumer, bypassing market middlemen. This helps the small farmers by directly connecting them with the final consumer and it is also beneficial to the consumer, providing them access to fresh, high quality products that may otherwise not be available.
Farmers markets also act as an important “place” for consumers to gather and cultivate connections with others in the community. It is a place where buyers reach out to the farmers who has grown their selections. Farmers markets are also good for the environment. Since the food travels fewer miles to reach the consumer, transportation costs and vehicle emissions are greatly reduced.
As with many events in Culpeper, The Culpeper Downtown Farmers Market provides an excellent economic benefit to the community: Sticky dollars. Sticky dollars are dollars that tend to “stick” to the local economy - rather than being exported outside the county. Brought to the community by Culpeper Renaissance, Inc., the market’s sticky dollars generate economic benefits to its vendors, the downtown area and the surrounding county.
Established in the late 1950’s by Raymond Kite at the Culpeper Agricultural Enterprises location, the market moved to town along Main Street in the 1990’s and then relocated to its current location at the Davis Street parking lot located in the Depot district.
Held every Saturday – from the last in April through the Saturday before Thanksgiving – the market is open from 7:30 am until noon. The market features over 30 vendors this year, offering everything from locally grown fruit, vegetables, herbs, and gorgeous flowers to farm fresh eggs, locally raised beef, pork, lamb, and poultry, as well as tasty baked goods.
This year the 4-H Family Nutritional Program, the Culpeper Department of Human Services, Culpeper Renaissance and the Culpeper Downtown Farmers Market are partnering in a special nutritional program during the market hours throughout the summer months. Georgette Yates, family nutritional educator, designed a FREE educational opportunity for area children called “I’m SOW Healthy.” Ms. Yates will host cooking activities the 4th Saturday of May through September. There are three 30-minute sessions from which to choose. The goal of the program is to promote healthy eating to area youth, the local farmers market and the use of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits at the market.
Tom Hennaman, market manager for the last seven years, has created just that “place” with local musicians playing in the background and local artists displaying handmade arts and crafts for all to enjoy. As CRI President Kelsey Carlson said, “Culpeper Renaissance’s goal is to enhance community life in downtown Culpeper by bringing residents and local growers together in a market setting that is friendly, fun, and packed full of quality local products.”
For more information and to learn more about the “I’m SOW Healthy” program visit http://www.culpeperdowntown.com/farmers-market.html or visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CulpeperFarmersMarket
Featured Property – Fischback Tract
McDevitt Drive Technology Zone
McDevitt Drive Technology Zone
|Available:||Moderately sloped, mostly cleared land|
Zoned Light Industrial which allows for a broad array of site uses
- Prime for development with both water & sewer on the property.
- Extraordinary development potential within the County Technology Overlay Zone
- High visibility from US 29 and strategically located between two major interchanges
- Primary access will be developed from secondary roads that are along the rear of the property boundary
- Additional property is available; the adjoining tract to the immediate north is available to be sold together
- Neighboring are the Library of Congress, a major data center, a world-wide monetary funds transfer organization, and a community college
- Only minutes from the center of the vibrant heart of Culpeper
- Less than 70 miles from the center of Washington, DC with easy access to Dulles International Airport
- Full IFR equipped 5,000 ft. runway at Culpeper Airport, 13 miles north
Contact: Tom Boyd, Re/Max Crossroads/Commercial Division at: 540.812.9033 or firstname.lastname@example.org