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Company Move Mirrors Trend

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This could help connect key professionals, valued for their contacts, to city revitalization.

Take the Timmons Group, for instance.

The Chesterfield County-based civil engineering and technology firm announced last week it would move its technology services group to newly renovated offices in the Watkins Cottrell Building at 117 S. 14th St.

The 50-year-old firm, whose original office was located downtown, currently has offices in Virginia, North Carolina and West Virginia.

A move back into the city is as significant as it is symbolic, says David Lucado, the company's president and CEO. More than a year ago, Lucado expressed to his friend Jim Ukrop an interest in opening an office downtown near the Turning Basin.

"His advice to me was to first concentrate on building a world-class business, and allow the rest to flow naturally," Lucado says.

A return, at least in part, to downtown is culmination of this, he says.

"Our new presence on the Turning Basin is a tangible expression of our promise to continually mature in our role as community builders."

It's easy to see why the city wants Timmons, and similar businesses back.

As "community builders," the company pledges to forge partnerships with such groups as minority business enterprises, and area schools and universities. And in addition to boasting a more visible presence, Timmons plans to use the move to launch what it calls its Urban and Economic Development Services Group that will focus on various revitalization projects throughout the state.

City officials predict many companies will follow Timmons' lead, especially in high-profile places like along the Canal.

Richmond Economic Development Director John Woodward says such moves are pioneering — and profitable.

"This is precisely the kind of company and civic-minded business we want to reclaim," he says. — Brandon

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