In, October, the Middle Peninsula Alliance hosted the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) for a familiarization (FAM) tour. In attendance were staff from the Business Investment, Research, Communications, Workforce, and Strategic Initiative departments.  Representatives from Virginia Tourism Corporation and from GO Virginia Region 6 joined the visit.

The purpose of this FAM tour was to inform these state partners about the business assets and resources that are available, and also hear and see first-hand from the localities that the Middle Peninsula Alliance represents. Each locality in the Middle Peninsula has a unique community brand, but the region as a whole represents a stronghold in agriculture and the water-based economy and is a bridge between the two industries and the rest of the state.

Tidewater Lumber Sawmill tour examining logs
Tidewater Sawmill Tour

The tour was developed by MPA partners as an experiential visit and an excellent opportunity for VEDP, GO Virginia, and local partners to connect and learn about opportunities each could leverage to grow the region.

During the tour, guests visited

  • Tidewater Lumber Corporation: Located in Tappahannock, Virginia, Tidewater Lumber is a multi-generation lumber company focused on advancing the lumber industry, while revolutionizing timber production. Guests learned first hand how technology is used from the time the timber enters the facility, is laser measured and cut by trained employees who use a computerized process, is distributed throughout the plant, and ultimately dried on-site to be packaged for distribution. Tidewater Lumber uses every piece of the timber, from the bark, to the chips, to the sawdust, and of course, the finished lumber. Currently expanding, Tidewater Lumber is the first sawmill in the area to build an electric and machine-controlled sorting machine to reduce employee risk and increase efficiency in their production line.
  • Urbanna Seafood: Located in Urbanna, Virginia, Urbanna Seafood is a family-owned and operated Seafood and Raw Bar and Oyster Aquaculture facility. Guests learned about how science and nature meet through aquaculturally grown oysters in the Rappahannock River. Oysters grown through aquaculture can be grown year-round and produce a consistent product for restaurants and wholesalers to meet market demands. Guests watched a demo on “Shucking 101” and tasted samples of raw oysters on the half shell while experiencing the wide menu Urbanna Seafood has to offer. The science of a water-based economy was presented through the lens of the Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School’s marine biologist. The guests also learned about the workforce partnerships available through Rappahannock Community College and brainstormed with Virginia Tourism about the importance of destination tourism as an economic development strategy.

    Oyster Shucking in the Bay
  • Deadrise Boat Experience: Located on Gwynn’s Island(Mathews County), participants were hosted by charter boat captains who toured guests out into the Piankatank River on the locally-produced “deadrise” boats, to learn about the methods to grow and harvest crabs and oysters in the river. Guests shucked oysters and hoisted crab pots to really experience the industries in which these watermen work.  Accompanied by representatives from Virginia SeaGrant and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, the participants also learned about the research of these institutions that are impacting the global economy.

These experiences gave members of VEDP, GO Virginia, Virginia Tourism Corporation, first-hand knowledge of the core industries of the Middle Peninsula that position it as the heart of Virginia’s blue/green economy. Ultimately, the Alliance was able to foster awareness of the region and create connections so that all partners may be better able to tell the story of the vibrant and growing Middle Peninsula.


Written By: Jennifer Morgan