Focused on employment
288 deals announced in 2015 are expected to create nearly 21,000 jobs
Gov. Terry McAuliffe has focused on job creation as the cornerstone of his administration in an effort to diversify Virginia’s economy and lessen its dependence on government contracts. The Old Dominion made some inroads last year, with several companies announcing plans to locate headquarters, manufacturing and distribution facilities in the commonwealth.
In all, 288 new business projects and expansions were announced in 2015. They are expected to create 20,992 jobs and $4 billion in investment. The jobs figure represents an increase of more than 2,000 new positions from the 18,672 new jobs reported in 2014. Total investment last year, however, fell $1.5 billion from $5.5 billion in 2014.
In what turned out to be a double whammy blessing for economic development, Lidl Dienstleistung GmbH. & Co., announced plans for a corporate headquarters and major distribution center. The Germany-based discount supermarket chain, one of the world’s largest retailers, selected Arlington for a $77 million U.S. headquarters that will employ 500 people.
Supporting a U.S. rollout of Lidl stores, which should begin next year, will be a $125 million regional headquarters and distribution center — which will employ another 200 people — in Spotsylvania County.
Another foreign-affiliated company, Elephant Auto Insurance, made headlines with its plans last year for job creation. Elephant has begun a $2 million expansion of its headquarters in Henrico County that’s expected to create 1,173 jobs, the most of any project announced in Virginia last year. The company currently employs about 400 people.
Elephant is a subsidiary of Admiral Group plc, the third-largest auto insurer in the United Kingdom. Many know the insurer from its television commercials, which depict the company’s boss — an elephant — trying to work undercover.
Northern Virginia also attracted some major deals. San Francisco-based Bechtel Corp. is moving its engineering, construction and project management headquarters from Frederick, Md., to Fairfax County. The deal represents a $10 million investment and 700 new jobs.
Still, it seems Virginia will never get too far away from the federal trough that has fed it so well. Last year’s top economic deal for investment, of more than $400 million, is the result of the federal government’s decision to locate its Foreign Affairs Security Training Center at Fort Pickett in Nottoway County. The center is expected to train up to 10,000 State Department staff and foreign-affairs workers, creating 574 jobs.
Economic Development charts