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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

STIHL Accepts Economic Impact Award from ODU Economics Club

By Brendan O'Hallarn

The latest winner of the Economic Impact Award, presented by Old Dominion University's Economics Club of Hampton Roads, has revved up the local economy for years.

"STIHL makes power tools, but it's not an exaggeration to say they have been a powerhouse in the local economy," said Bruce Rubin, associate professor of finance and executive director of the ODU Economics Club of Hampton Roads.

At a luncheon March 30 in downtown Norfolk, STIHL Inc. president Bjoern Fischer accepted the Economic Impact award on behalf of the company, which was lauded for its role as one of the region's largest employers, with nearly 2,000 employees based at its U.S. headquarters in Virginia Beach.

During his acceptance speech, Fischer referenced the growth of the company in Hampton Roads, crediting the role the company's employees have played in its success.

"Of course we are proud that we build quality products, but it's the people that make us great," he said. "At STIHL, we strive to create careers not just jobs. It is essential for us to have well-qualified, committed employees and so we invest heavily in their development and well-being."

Fischer, who is a member of the executive advisory committee of Old Dominion's Strome College of Business, added that the company's growth is also due to ongoing support from the region's leaders, associations and other companies.

"We know that a robust local economy that makes the region an attractive home for our employees is essential for our own growth. We all benefit when new jobs and talent are attracted to Hampton Roads, because our cities then aren't just a place to visit, but vibrant places to work and to raise our families."

A native of South Africa, Fischer has been with STIHL since 2012. When appointed president on Jan. 1, Fischer succeeded Fred Whyte, a member and former rector of Old Dominion's Board of Visitors.

STIHL joins an esteemed list of winners of the Economic Impact Award, which was established in 2008 and recognizes outstanding practitioners of sound economic and financial policy. Other winners of the award include Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.), co-sponsor of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002; Elizabeth Duke, former governor of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors; former Gov. Gerald Baliles, who is also a former director of the Miller Center at the University of Virginia; and the founders of Eastern Virginia Medical School.

The ODU Economics Club of Hampton Roads is an organization for business and government executives and community leaders who share an interest in the practical implications of economic principles, trends and events. It was established in 1991 as a community service by former ODU President James V. Koch and is administered by Dean Jeff Tanner of the Strome College of Business, under the supervision of an elected board.

STIHL Inc. manufactures the number one selling brand of gasoline-powered handheld outdoor power equipment in America, as well as the number one selling brand of chain saws in the world. STIHL's 2.2 million-square-foot complex provides almost half of the company's worldwide power tool sales, exporting to more than 90 countries around the world.

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