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Vytal Studios to relocate its headquarters

2/11/2021, 6 p.m.
Richmond has snagged an Austin, Texas, developer of cutting-edge educational and training films and materials that expects to create 155 ...

Richmond has snagged an Austin, Texas, developer of cutting-edge educational and training films and materials that expects to create 155 jobs when it opens its new home in South Side.

The company, Vytal Studios, plans to invest $6.8 million to refurbish a vacant building at 1802 Semmes Ave. for its new headquarters, studio and post-production functions, Gov. Ralph S. Northam announced Tuesday.

The building is expected to open in a year or so, adding to the growing base of video and film production companies that have sprung up in recent years, officials said.

Gov. Northam said that Richmond beat out sites in North Carolina and Florida to land the high-tech studio that incorporates virtual reality and simulated environ- ments into its offerings. He noted that the Richmond area’s skilled tech services workforce was key.

“Our tech talent was a major driver in Vytal Studios’ decision to relocate from Austin to Richmond and continue its fast-growing momentum,” said state Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball.

“Virginia, specifically Richmond, has everything an emerging creative technology company wants,” said Jim Smith, chief executive officer of the company that was launched in 2018.

He said the city offers “access to talent and higher education institutions, a vibrant entrepreneurial culture, local and state governments that get it and just a super cool vibe that reminds me of Austin 10 years ago.

“I feel we can be a ‘Vytal’ member of the community and drive growth that draws the extended reality industry as a whole to a home in Virginia,” Mr. Smith said.

Mr. Smith said Vytal Studios intends to engage the local community and collaborate with Virginia Commonwealth University and local stakeholders to develop an extended reality cluster in Richmond through a nonprofit organization called One Vytal Difference.

Mayor Levar M. Stoney said the company’s decision to move here from Texas shows that Richmond’s “emerging extended reality industry cluster” is attracting increased interest and is becoming a significant job-creator.

He also cited the company’s decision to retrofit an existing building as “another example of older industrial buildings in the city being transformed into unique 21st century work environments.”

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the city and the Greater Richmond Partnership to secure Vytal Studios, and Gov. Northam has approved a $500,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to assist the city.

Vytal Studios, which will take over a building once part of the Alleghany Warehouse complex, also is eligible to receive state benefits for locating its studio in a designated enterprise zone.