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The Code of the Ninja requires focus, discipline, concentration. It can be a lot of fun if you’re into coding languages.

Code Ninjas, a Houston, Texas-based franchise specializing in STEM training for children, has opened a new location off Garrisonville Road in North Stafford. The center teaches computer-literate kids about coding languages such as Javascript, C Sharp, and Python by building video games and teaching kids how to use other devices such as robotics and 3-D printers.

Jessica Massey, the franchise owner, is a native of Stafford County and met her husband, a Marine who was stationed at the Marine Corps Base in Quantico. The Masseys and Code Ninjas first came together when they were trying to find an activity for their son who wasn’t interested in the typical athletics many of his age get into.

Massey’s son took to the coding classes quickly and had fun learning about computer coding. He knew the coding wasn’t the basic block coding but putting together lengthy lines of code like programmers and engineers do in the IT world.

Massey herself would soon enter this world when she lost her job as a District Manager for Cici’s Pizza in 2020. Massey decided that instead of looking for a new job, she would start a business that would cater to kids. Her experience with Code Ninjas helped her to make the decision to open a location in her hometown.

The Masseys didn’t go into things blind. Jessica has experience in business and management, and her husband has experience in the Cybersecurity world and builds his own computers.

Massey learned the ways of the Code Ninja, including how they kept track of a child’s progress in the program by adopting a belt system similar to that of schools that teach various styles of martial arts.

“Coding is basically another language like Spanish or Italian,” says Massey. “The prime time for children to start learning to code is from the ages of seven to 14. It is just so much easier to learn it then.”

Code Ninjas is located at 373 Garrisonville Road, Suite 101 in Stafford. Information for various subscription packages can be found at codeninjas.com.

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Governor Ralph Northam announced Amazon will build an east coast distribution hub in Stafford County.

It is the second Amazon logistical hub to be announced for Stafford in the past three months. The new 630,000-square-foot plant is described as a cross-dock facility on the Northern Virginia Gateway site, located at 220 Centreport Parkway. It will serve as one of Amazon’s East Coast hubs, representing the beginning of the supply chain where products from third-party vendors are sorted, repacked, and distributed to its other distribution centers.

Amazon will create 500 entry-level positions at the new facility. In September, the company said it would create 100 more jobs with the creation 200,000 square-foot, last-mile delivery center, also to be located near the county’s airport.

Stafford County’s decision to create a light industrial business environment surrounding the Stafford Regional Airport represents a “win-win” attracting Amazon and other major private enterprises, said a county economic development spokeswoman. The area provides easy access to Interstate 95. The site is also home to another 457,000 SF facility with a tenant still unnamed and recently announced investment by Flint Development Company with plans to build a 930,000 SF facility.

Across the highway from the new Amazon site, global shipping firm DHL is building a new, large distribution hub. Officials said that a recently-upgraded highway interchange at I-95 and Courthouse Road will give the firm’s vehicles easy access to the highway.

“Stafford County established the Centreport Area as a strategic logistics and distribution employment center and focused on attracting major brands,” said Crystal Vanuch, Chairman of the Stafford Board of Supervisors. “This location provides the users with direct access to I-95, placing light industrial business traffic adjacent to Stafford Regional Airport. With five large Centreport properties currently in permits, construction, or opening, the plan’s success is its own reward. We are proud that Amazon selected Stafford as the site for its cross-dock facility.”

The Amazon expansions come as the Stafford Regional Airport grows. Officials said that the runway expanded to 6,000 feet, inviting small-owner aircraft and corporate hangar opportunities for major firms with private planes.

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Prince William County taxpayers helped pave the way to the update grand opening of a new warehouse and corporate headquarters for mailing and printing business that does $20 million a year in sales.

Officials on Wednesday cut the ribbon on the new 120,000 square foot headquarters for Planet Direct, a direct-mailing and printing company that specializes in working with non-profit companies and political campaigns.

With 130 employees and growing, the firm outgrew its old nearby space occupied in 2017. Its corporate headquarters, at 7403 Gateway Court near Manassas, in Prince William County’s Innovation Park, is double the size of its previous building.

“It’s a growing business,” said Planet Direct President Ryan Gutman, who founded the eight-year-old company.

It’s growing so much, the company plans to add at least 100 new employees in the coming year. To get them there, as well as the trucks that make deliveries and pickups at the new warehouse, the county had to build a new street at the cost of $1.7 million.

Located off Discovery Boulevard, near the popular Farm Brew Live brewery, Planet Direct had planned to build a portion of what’s now known as Gateway Court. The incoming business next door was going to build the second half of the street, however, it delayed closing on its property at Innovation Park.

The park is home to multiple massive data centers, biotech companies, a regional FBI headquarters, and the Science and Technology Campus of George Mason University.

Recognizing an investment both retaining jobs in the area and creating new ones,  the county decided to pick up the tab for the street construction. It did something similar years earlier when the county’s transportation department built Thomasson Barn Road, creating a new direct route to Farm Brew Live.

The county promised to build Gateway Court in October 2020, three months after it sold the property on which the new Planet Direct corporate headquarters sits. Prince William County has owned much of the undeveloped land at Innovation since the late 1990s.

With services including offset printing, lettering, envelope printing, and stuffing, the company’s advantage is offering a wide array of products for a diverse group of customers.

“There’s plenty of mail out there, and our goal is to become one of the largest mailers in the Mid-Atlantic region,” said Gutman.

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