By Virginia Economic Development Partnership
The Commonwealth of Virginia was founded as a business venture in 1607, when the Virginia Company of London formed a joint-stock company to bring profits to shareholders and to establish an English colony in the New World. Today, Virginia continues to represent economic opportunity, pioneering new and innovative strategies for economic and workforce development.
Those strategies are paying off. Virginia has a 10-year high in labor force participation—more than 200,000 people have joined the state’s workforce in the past 18 months—and is preparing its workforce to acquire in-demand, marketable skills and grow the talent pipeline for current and future employers across a range of industries.
Recently ranked the No. 2 Top State for Business in America by CNBC, Virginia offers the ideal climate for business success. Companies are drawn to Virginia’s pro-business environment, top-tier education system, exceptional transportation and utility infrastructure, and robust workforce. With the 5th-highest number of Fortune 500 and the 8th-highest Fortune 1000 company headquarters in the U.S. in 2023, Virginia represents a diversified ecosystem of more than 800 corporate headquarters in a broad cross-section of industries including technology, defense, food and beverage manufacturing, and others such as finance and hospitality. The diversity of companies located in Virginia—from Capital One Financial Corporation to General Dynamics, Micron Technology, Hilton, Nestlé USA, The Hershey Company, Northrop Grumman, Lidl US, the LEGO Group, and Microsoft, to name a few—demonstrates the Commonwealth’s competitiveness across a range of sectors.
In the last year, Amazon Web Services announced plans to invest $35 billion by 2040 to establish multiple data center campuses across Virginia, creating at least 1,000 total new jobs. ZIM American Integrated Shipping Services Co., LLC, is investing approximately $30 million to relocate and expand its U.S. headquarters in Virginia Beach, representing more than 300 new jobs. Press Glass Inc., the largest independent glass fabricator in Europe, plans to invest $155.2 million to expand in Henry County, Virginia, making the largest single capital investment by a business in Henry County’s history. These competitive wins reinforce the advantages that make Virginia a prime business location in America.
Advantageous Location and Infrastructure
Virginia offers unparalleled access to national and international markets from its midpoint location on the East Coast, complemented by the Commonwealth’s extensive transportation infrastructure. Located within a one-day drive of nearly half of U.S. consumers, Virginia is home to the second-densest interstate system in the Southeast and offers direct access to critical North-South and East-West trucking thoroughfares (Interstates 95, 81, 85, and 64); 3,000 miles of railways anchored by Class I railroads CSX and Norfolk Southern; and 16 commercial airports with flights to more than 100 domestic and 50 international destinations.
Virginia companies can easily navigate the global marketplace through The Port of Virginia, ranked one of the Most Advanced Ports in the U.S. by Global Trade magazine and served by nearly 40 international shipping line services that offer direct access to more than 90 foreign ports. As the only East Coast port with authorization for 55-foot channels, the port’s six terminals—including three deep water terminals—operate on a combined 1,864 acres, boast no height restrictions, and offer double-stack rail service with two Class I railroads, making it the largest intermodal rail port on the U.S. East Coast. By 2025, the Port of Virginia will have invested $1.4 billion in modernization and expansion projects including terminal improvements, dredging, and technology, becoming the deepest, widest ship channel on the East Coast. This major expansion project will also give the terminal the capacity to handle over 1.7 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) annually with the ability for two-way ultra-large container vessel traffic and unobstructed access for the very largest ships.
Ranked the No. 1 state in the U.S. for Education by CNBC, Virginia’s workforce represents one of the most productive and educated demographics in the United States. The Commonwealth is home to excellent K-12 schools—No. 1 in the South and No. 5 in the U.S. according to WalletHub. Nearly 42 percent of the population has a bachelor’s degree or higher, making Virginia the eighth-most educated state in the country (and first in the South). Named the No. 2 Best State for Higher Education by SmartAsset, Virginia’s colleges and universities strengthen the Commonwealth’s talent pipeline and play a critical role in economic development. There is a community college within 30 miles of every Virginian, providing opportunities for workers of every skill level and a direct, sustained supply of people with in-demand skills.
Virginia boasts the highest concentration of tech talent in the country, and through its historic, innovative Tech Talent Investment Program (TTIP), the Commonwealth, donors, and corporate partners are investing more than $2 billion to double the number of graduates each year in computer science and closely related fields. TTIP, which represents the largest state commitment to computer science education in the U.S., will add 32,000 C.S. graduates in excess of previous levels, and universities across Virginia have committed to strengthening the tech talent pipeline to ensure we continue to lead this booming industry.
The Commonwealth is poised to push new boundaries in the development of 21st-century talent through innovative workforce programs like the Virginia Talent Accelerator Program, which earned the Commonwealth the No.1 ranking in the U.S. for Customized Workforce Training in the Business Facilities 2023 State Rankings Report. The Virginia Talent Accelerator Program is a workforce initiative created by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership in collaboration with the Virginia Community College System. The program accelerates new facility start-ups through the direct delivery of recruitment and training services that are fully customized to a company’s unique products, processes, equipment, standards, and culture. All program services are provided at no cost to qualified new and expanding companies as an incentive for job creation. Since its launch in 2019, the Talent Accelerator has helped to secure more than 11,000 new jobs across the Commonwealth and earned acclaim from its clients.
“I’ve never seen [anything] like the Virginia Talent Accelerator Program, and I’ve been to many places around the world to look at facilities,” said Carsten Rasmussen, COO, The LEGO Group. “I have never seen the dedication, the willingness, the want to help support Virginia, future employees, and the LEGO Group in making sure we have the right fit. It’s phenomenal.”
Unrivaled Location for Business
Virginia’s strategic location, infrastructure, top-tier education system, and innovative talent solutions attract and retain leading companies. The Commonwealth continues to build on its centuries-old legacy, trailblazing a new model of economic development in the 21st century and positioning its workforce for the industries of the future.