Since its founding as a global business venture more than 400 years ago, Virginia has benefited from the innovation and entrepreneurship of its citizens and corporate partners. The Commonwealth’s determination to preserve this legacy of prosperity—through strategic investment, workforce development, and policy change—has resulted in a pro-business environment that attracts and retains the nation’s leading companies.
From its top-tier educational system to robust transportation and utility infrastructures, Virginia continues to spur industry growth. These advantages explain why 21 Fortune 500 and 37 Fortune 1000 firms across leading sectors have chosen to locate their headquarters in the Commonwealth, and why global companies like Amazon Web Services, Inc., Microsoft, and Navy Federal Credit Union continue to expand.
Virginia invests in its businesses and the assets that bolster their success. This commitment, in combination with the Commonwealth’s strategic Mid-Atlantic location, infrastructure, workforce, and rich quality of living, has made Virginia a bustling hub for business activity and corporate expansion since 1607.
Strategic Access to Markets
Virginia offers unparalleled access to national and international markets. The Commonwealth’s East Coast location is complemented by its extensive transportation infrastructure, which includes the third-largest state-maintained transportation network in the U.S. with six major interstate highways and roads covering over 70,000 miles. Ten railroads, including CSX Corporation and Norfolk Southern Corporation, operate on the state’s network of nearly 3,400 miles of railway. Virginia also has 14 commercial airports, including Washington Dulles International Airport, a distinguishing conduit in the Commonwealth that provides non-stop flights to every continent in the world except Antarctica and Australia.
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 ports for worldwide access to the marketplace, and is currently undergoing a $700 million capacity expansion that will only increase its benefit to Virginia companies.
The Commonwealth is a prime setting for international companies seeking to enter the U.S. market, regularly competing with locations around the world due to its robust workforce, low cost of doing business, global access, and close proximity to our nation’s decision-makers. More than 550 internationally-owned companies from over 40 countries call Virginia home, with a total of 700 offices. These businesses represent over $10 billion in investment over the past 10 years.
A Workforce for a 21st-Century Economy
Virginia’s workforce represents one of the most productive and educated demographics in the country. With a population of nearly 8.5 million and a workforce of 4.3 million, Virginians successfully support the state’s substantial industry base. Thirty-eight percent of its population has a bachelor’s degree or higher, and 60 percent stays in the state after graduation, compared to the national average of 54 percent. This is largely due to Virginia’s exceptional higher education system, the 11th largest in the nation, which includes 23 community colleges with 40 campuses around the state. There is a community college within 30 miles of every Virginian, ensuring that businesses have direct and sustained access to highly-trained talent.
The Commonwealth of Virginia also maintains a robust workforce development system, with 24 workforce programs administered by eight agencies, driven specifically by employer need. State and local leadership focus on regional labor demands and engage the training capacities of the school divisions, community colleges, workforce investment boards, and other partners to prepare Virginia citizens for the high-skill positions that businesses are seeking to fill. Continued collaboration among state, regional, and local partners ensures the cultivation of a labor pool that is consistently prepared for the technologies and industries of the future.
This year, CNBC ranked Virginia as the fourth-best U.S. state for business, in large part due to its competitive and stable operating costs. Virginia has the lowest average commercial electric rate in the United States, as well as building costs that are six to 20 percent below the national average, depending on the region. The state also maintains a six percent corporate income tax – one of the lowest in the nation – that hasn’t increased since 1972.
Virginia also offers a variety of performance-based business incentives, including tax credits, exemptions, and grants, designed to meet the needs of companies and the development plans of the localities and regions around the state. The Commonwealth views incentives as a vital tool for supporting new and existing employers and an investment in its economic future.
Whether it’s hiking the Appalachian Trail or sipping a glass of wine at one of Virginia’s award-winning wineries, the Commonwealth offers a vibrant quality of life that corporate executives now seek to attract and retain a top workforce. Outdoor enthusiasts have easy access to a wealth of activities in the four-season climate; recreational options from the mountains to the ocean abound. Virginia’s rich history and culture attract throngs of tourists, and citizens as well as history buffs that celebrate the Commonwealth’s legacy through the preservation of numerous historical sites like Colonial Williamsburg, Historic Jamestown, and Thomas Jefferson’s famed plantation home, Monticello. The state’s booming craft beer scene, acclaimed restaurants, and array of top art museums such as the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which encompasses more than 35,000 works of art spanning 5,000 years of world history, have drawn attention to the Commonwealth’s diverse cultural offerings.
Virginia families have access to the nation’s sixth-best K-12 public education system and a premier university system. Top universities include Thomas Jefferson’s University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, and Fairfax’s George Mason University, ranked one of the most diverse in the country.
The companies that choose Virginia will benefit from the vibrant culture and assets that make the Commonwealth a top place to live and work.
America’s Corporate Hometown
The plethora of high-performing companies operating in Virginia are a testament to the stable and supportive nature of the Commonwealth’s economy. From Northrop Grumman and Capital One Financial to General Dynamics Corporation and Owens & Minor, the Commonwealth serves as the headquarters for 37 Fortune 1000 firms—21 of which are Fortune 500 companies—and 56 firms with annual revenues over $1 billion. Virginia companies are also diverse, and corporate partners like Nestlé USA, Rolls-Royce, Amazon, Peet’s Coffee, Hershey, Bechtel, and Sabra Dipping Company, to name a few, showcase the Commonwealth’s ability to attract and retain businesses of all sizes in a wide variety of industries.
More and more businesses are choosing to take advantage of the Commonwealth’s pro-business climate and call Virginia home. Illustrative examples over the past year:
- Amazon Web Services, Inc. announced plans to expand its presence with a new East Coast corporate campus in Fairfax County, creating 1,500 new jobs.
- American Institutes for Research, one of the world’s largest behavioral and social science research and evaluation organizations, will invest $12.5 million to relocate its major operations from Washington, D.C. to Arlington County.
- Appian, a leading low-code and business process management platform provider, will invest $28.4 million to expand its headquarters operation in Fairfax County, retaining 600 jobs and creating 600 new jobs.
- Arconic Inc., a Fortune 500 technology, engineering, and advanced manufacturing leader, will relocate its global headquarters from New York City to Virginia.
- Bechtel, a global project management, engineering, procurement, and construction leader, announced it will consolidate its global headquarters and move corporate positions from Houston and San Francisco to Virginia.
- Framatome, a designer and supplier of nuclear steam supply system and nuclear equipment, services, and fuel for high levels of safety and performance, will relocate its North American corporate headquarters from Charlotte, North Carolina, to the City of Lynchburg.
- Gerber Products Company, a leader in early childhood nutrition and subsidiary of Nestlé S.A., will invest $5 million to relocate its U.S. headquarters from New Jersey to the new U.S. corporate headquarters operation of its sister company, Nestlé USA, in Arlington County.
- MicroStrategy® Incorporated, a leading worldwide provider of enterprise analytics and mobility software, has renewed its headquarters lease in Fairfax County and plans to invest $6 million in capital improvements, retaining over 800 existing jobs and creating an additional 300 jobs.
With a growing number of major headquarters relocations and expansions, the Commonwealth of Virginia is quickly becoming America’s Corporate Hometown.
Virginia’s High-Growth Industries
The Commonwealth’s assets and support for high-performing enterprises have resulted in a diverse set of key focus industries, which include Advanced Manufacturing, Corporate Services, Food and Beverage Processing, Information/Communication Technologies, Life Sciences, Supply Chain Management and Unmanned Systems. Virginia has emerged as a leader in these high-potential sectors, which are generating a return on investment for the Commonwealth and its citizens.
Virginia has also become a world-class center for emerging internet technology, software development, fiber optics, and advanced communications companies. The Commonwealth has the third-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 for its dynamic research universities and renowned institutes that offer access to cutting-edge technology and many of the world’s leading researchers.
Cybersecurity is one of the fastest-growing sectors in Virginia with a growth rate of nearly 10 percent over the last five years (2012-2017). The Commonwealth has the largest cybersecurity workforce with the most Cybersecurity 500 companies on the East Coast. Virginia is investing significant resources to maintain this momentum. The 2018-20 state budget includes $25 million for cyber-related research and education through the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (Virginia Tech), and the Center for Innovation and Technology granted Virginia Tech and George Mason $250,000 each to attract eminent cybersecurity researchers.
Virginians are reaping the benefits of this cybersecurity boom through increased employment in an exciting and high-paying sector, with access to a top-ranked higher education system dedicated to building a pipeline of technology talent. More than 20 Virginia colleges and universities have established degree and certification programs in cybersecurity in order to meet the rising demand for a cybersecurity workforce. Employment in computer systems design and related services grew by nine percent between Q4 2012 and Q4 2017 (ResearchStats). Occupations within the Information Assurance educational group are expected to grow by seven percent between 2017 and 2027 (Emsi).
A diverse economy is critical to attracting and growing jobs of the 21st century. Virginia is committed to leading the charge in industries of the future that promise a strong, stable, and entrepreneurial economy for all investors.
A Legacy of Progress
In 1607, Virginia represented the first English settlement in North America and a gateway for enterprise. More than four centuries later, the Commonwealth has adapted its assets to meet the demands of the 21st century and is sustaining its legacy as a leader in industries of the future.
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