The Commonwealth of Virginia has business success in its DNA. Founded as a global business venture in 1607, Virginia represented the first English settlement in North America and the gateway for enterprise. More than 400 years later, the Commonwealth has preserved its centuries-old legacy of prosperity while adapting business solutions to meet the demands of a 21st century economy.
Companies continue to choose Virginia for its strategic Mid-Atlantic location that borders the nation’s capital, the fact that it is within a one-day drive of approximately 43 percent of the U.S. population, and offers multiple international gateways. Add a pro-business environment underpinned by exceptional transportation and utility infrastructures, as well as a strong education system, research-based higher education network, growing workforce, and excellent quality of life, and the Commonwealth offers many critical location factors that corporate decision-makers are seeking.
Access to Markets
Virginia offers unparalleled access to national and global markets. The benefits of the Commonwealth’s East Coast location are enhanced by its extensive transportation infrastructure. Virginia operates the third-largest state-maintained transportation network in the U.S., with six major interstate highways and roads encompassing over 57,000 miles. Ten railroads, including CSX Corporation and Norfolk Southern Corporation, operate on the state’s network of nearly 3,400 miles of railway. And 14 commercial airports serve Virginia, including Washington Dulles International Airport, another conduit in the Commonwealth that provides non-stop flights to nearly any continent in the world.
The Port of Virginia, served by every major shipping line, is the U.S. East Coast’s best-positioned first and last call port for post-Panamax ships. As the only East Coast port with authorization for 55-foot channels, the Port of Virginia boasts deep shipping channels, no height restrictions, and double-stack rail service with two Class 1 railroads – enabling it to regularly service 13,000+ TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units) vessels. The Port is vital to businesses that depend on Virginia’s ports for worldwide access to the marketplace.
Educated and Skilled Workforce
Virginia is among the most educated states in the country, with more than 577,000 students enrolled in over 219 campuses of in-state institutions of higher education. Virginia’s higher education system, the 11th largest in the nation, also boasts 23 community colleges with 40 campuses around the state that partner with companies to offer customized workforce training programs. There is a community college within 30 miles of every Virginian, ensuring that businesses have continuous access to top-caliber, technical talent.
Virginians provide a competitive advantage to companies. That’s because its a right-to-work state, and its workforce is readily recruitable, trained and highly productive. With a population of 8.3 million and a workforce of 4.2 million, Virginians successfully support the state’s substantial industry base.
Creating a skilled workforce for a 21st century economy and fostering an environment that promotes entrepreneurial and business growth is paramount. Continued collaboration among state, regional, and local partners ensures the cultivation of a labor pool that is consistently prepared for changing technologies, delivering a pipeline of skilled applicants for companies today and for industries of the future.
In today’s economy, the Commonwealth competes with locations around the world on a daily basis. More than 550 international companies from over 40 countries call Virginia home, with a total of 700 offices. These businesses represent almost $8 billion in investment over the past 10 years. Virginia is especially attractive to international companies because it is connected to the global marketplace in a way that many other U.S. states are not.
Stability and Competitiveness
Virginia boasts competitive, stable operating costs, and a low, six percent corporate income tax—one of the lowest in the nation—that hasn’t increased since 1972.
Its assets enable Virginia to successfully compete for major projects. The Commonwealth also offers a variety of performance-based business incentives, including tax credits, exemptions, and grants, designed to target the needs of the company and the development plans of localities and the state. Virginia views incentives as an investment in its economic future and as a basis for a rational business decision for both the Commonwealth and the companies.
The testaments of the corporations that call Virginia home and the diversity of companies that join and reinvest in the Commonwealth are the best indicators of what can be accomplished in the state. From Northrop Grumman and Capital One Financial to General Dynamics Corporation and Owens & Minor, the Commonwealth serves as the headquarters for 36 Fortune 1000 firms—23 of which are Fortune 500 companies—and 55 firms with annual revenue over $1 billion.
Virginia recently made headlines when Nestlé USA announced plans to invest $39.8 million to relocate its U.S. corporate headquarters operation from California to Arlington County, Virginia, creating 748 new jobs. The prestige of the companies that locate or continue to grow in Virginia—Nestlé USA, Rolls-Royce, Amazon, Microsoft, Peet’s Coffee, CoStar Group, Navy Federal Credit Union, ADP, Hershey, Deschutes Brewing, and Ferguson, to name a few—showcase the Commonwealth’s ability to attract leading companies across different sectors.
Key Industries Focus
Virginia’s economic diversity and resiliency are its strengths. The Commonwealth possesses unique advantages in many robust business clusters and has identified the following key focus industries for Virginia: Advanced Manufacturing, Corporate Services, Food and Beverage Processing, Information/Communications Technologies, Life Sciences, Supply Chain Management, and Unmanned Systems.
Virginia has emerged as a leader in these high potential sectors and demonstrates great diversity in its cluster strengths. The Commonwealth is home to over 5,700 manufacturers that employ more than 242,000 workers. In the past 10 years, manufacturing firms have announced plans to invest over $13 billion and create more than 56,000 new jobs in Virginia. Companies in the food and beverage processing sector have invested $1.9 billion and created more than 7,300 jobs in the Commonwealth since 2006. The state has also become a world-class center for emerging internet technology, software development, fiber optics, and advanced communications companies. The Commonwealth has the second-highest concentration of tech workers in the nation—nearly one of every 10 private sector employees works for a technology company. Increasingly, leading pharmaceutical, medical device, and biotechnology firms are choosing Virginia, thanks to dynamic research universities and renowned institutes that offer cutting-edge technology and many of the world’s leading researchers.
A diverse economy is critical to attracting and growing jobs of the 21st century, and Virginia is committed to leading the charge in industries of the future, offering a strong, stable, and entrepreneurial economy for all investors.
A Legacy of Prosperity
More than 400 years since its founding, Virginia continues to pioneer innovation, crafting contemporary programs that bolster economic development performance for the 21st century.
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