BP Solar will eliminate 160 jobs in Toano, Va., east of Richmond, by selling or closing a factory that makes thin film used in solar panels, the company said. The shutdown follows last month's closing of the John Deere plant in James City County, Va. The two plants ranked among the top industries in a region that has grown rapidly in recent years.

"The closings will have a lot of impact on jobs, on charities and the trickle-down effects to businesses as far as employee spending," said Jim Kennedy, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors.

Employees losing their jobs will receive a severance package, said Harry Shimp, BP Solar president.

BP Solar, based in Linthicum, Md., started manufacturing in Toano in 1996. The company also will eliminate 100 jobs in California.


Lafarge North America of Herndon plans to idle manufacturing operations at its gypsum drywall plant in Wilmington, Del., in order to use newer, more efficient plants in the eastern United States. The building materials company said it will record a pretax charge of about $25 million in the fourth quarter for costs related to the idling of the plant and severance payments to employees. The factory, built in 1959, employs 100 people, most of whom are expected to lose their jobs, a Lafarge sspokesman said. In 2001, the plant shipped about 325 million square feet of product, and the company said it plans to service those volumes from its plants in New York, New Jersey, Kentucky and Florida. The company anticipates no service interruption to its customers during the change. Lafarge North America has about 15,000 employees.

NAI KLNB, a Baltimore-based real estate brokerage and management company, was hired by WorldCom to market 294 acres of land in Ashburn. The McLean office of the company, which is an affiliate of the NAI Direct real estate organization, will handle the sale. The land holdings surround the WorldCom Ashburn Campus off Waxpool Road and Loudoun County Parkway, near Washington Dulles International Airport.

Orbital Sciences, a Dulles provider of satellite services, said its auditor dropped the "going concern" language from its annual report for 2001. PricewaterhouseCoopers had said there was substantial doubt about Orbital continuing as a going concern in its 2001 annual report. The company went through a $135 million refinancing in August that put it on sounder financial footing, PricewaterhouseCoopers said in its revised letter.

American Management Systems, a Fairfax information technology consulting firm, agreed to acquire the brand and trade processing technology of Proponix, a provider of outsourcing for trade services firms. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. AMS is a minority shareholder in Proponix, with an aggregate value of $12 billion. AMS said the deal should close in March.

AvalonBay Communities, an Alexandria owner and manager of apartment complexes, said it expects to accelerate its property disposition program in early 2003 in response to current and anticipated real estate and capital market conditions. In its recent quarterly report to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said it is evaluating its disposition strategy as a source of increased capital.

The District

Riggs National Corp., holding company for the Riggs National Bank, confirmed Friday that it had finished eliminating about 130 jobs, or about 9 percent of its workforce. The cuts were part of a plan announced earlier this year to improve the bank's competitive position and make it more efficient. Riggs said it saved more than $5 million before taxes in 2003 because of the job cuts.


PHH Arval, a Hunt Valley, Md.-based fleet management company, will relocate to a new office building in Sparks, Md., to house its 1,000 employees. PHH is building a new structure a few miles north of its current site. The new building will be more than 200,000 square feet, part of a 55-acre development undertaken by Partners Realty Trust Inc. PHH is expected to move into the building by 2004. PHH is a subsidiary of Cendant Corp.