Positive developments help state maintain high rankings
Economic development in Virginia entered 2014 with wind beneath its sails. With a federal budget deal passed, the squeeze from sequestration in military-dependent Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads has eased. Plus, there’s money set aside for transportation projects, and the housing market has stabilized.
These are positive developments as Virginia strives to stay on top of national rankings as one of the best states to do business. In 2013, Forbes.com returned Virginia to the top of the pile in its national rankings.
On the jobs front, professional and technical services, along with food products and data processing, were the big generators during the past year. Northern Virginia’s strong IT community helped the region snag the headquarters of Amazon Web Services along with 500 jobs.
Manufacturers, particularly in the food and beverage sector, also are choosing Virginia for new locations. The Luxembourg-based Ardagh Group is spending $93.5 million to open a metal can factory in Roanoke County that will create nearly 100 jobs.
On the investment side, data centers are stealing the show. Data processing, hosting and related services sparked $1.4 billion in new investment in the state last year, according to preliminary figures from the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.
Companies including Microsoft Corp., Corporate Office Properties Trust and Digital Realty Trust are spending millions of dollars as they build new data centers in Loudoun County where 5 million square feet of data center space is expected to come online during the next three years.
Another welcome development? Expansions by existing manufacturers. Lipton Tea was one of several companies that decided to stay put. After regional and state economic development officials worked with the company and offered incentives, Lipton decided to invest $96 million in an agreement that saved 300 jobs.
Since Lipton imports loose tea from various countries, one of the advantages of staying in Suffolk was its proximity to the Port of Virginia. Charts on imports and exports tell readers what travels in and out of Virginia.
Barring the rough waters of another government sequestration, Virginia’s economic development ship should continue to sail along.
Economic Development charts