Gary R. Thomson, CPA
Managing partner, Thomson Consulting LLC, Richmond, and Chairman Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants board of directors
What local industry/sector do you think has potential for growth?
I see those best chances in biotechnology, cybersecurity, data analytics, general technology, health care, advanced manufacturing and logistics.
What’s the biggest challenge to doing business in your area?
It’s a good problem to have — a decreasing availability of qualified labor due to very low unemployment. This presents challenges to employers … in terms of finding the human capital needed, in paying competitive wages to attract/retain your valuable people and feeling comfortable with growth/expansion in terms of having the people necessary to support growth.
What impact would a recession have on businesses in your area?
Most businesses don’t operate well in uncertainty, and recessions create uncertainty. The impact, beyond the obvious challenges of maintaining revenue levels and supporting personnel levels, is the impact on investments in the future. It’s difficult to “broad brush” this answer, as some industries lead a recession and others trail. But uncertainty impacts everyone.
What impact do you think U.S. trade policy has had on businesses in your area?
Clearly our manufacturing base is impacted. Agricultural, forest and paper products keep our ports very busy, and trade policies can have both a positive and negative impact, depending on the country with which we are changing policies. With the recent trade policy discussions with China, we are seeing consumer goods being more and more impacted.
What are the top two factors that have had the biggest impact on attracting business to your region?
Our region is home to a well-skilled and trained group of talented workers. … Secondly, an attractive cost of doing business … not only the direct business costs of taxes, natural resources and personnel, but also our pro-business environment mitigates some of the other business risks costs associated with some of our neighboring states.