By the 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. Virginia continues to represent economic opportunity, pioneering new and innovative strategies for economic and workforce development.
Those strategies are paying off. In the last year, the Commonwealth has landed two new Fortune 500 headquarters (Boeing and Raytheon) and the U.S. manufacturing operations for the LEGO Group, while securing the expansion of headquarters for Hilton, CoStar Group, and DroneUp.
In addition to expanding its Virginia Beach headquarters, DroneUp will establish a testing, training, and research and development center at Richard Bland College in Dinwiddie County — a testament to the strength of the workforce and research capabilities across the Commonwealth.
“Virginia is our home, and we are proud to be able to continue to bring new innovation, talent, and economic opportunities to our great state,” said DroneUp co-founder and CEO Tom Walker. “This investment and expansion will not only bring new career opportunities to our region, but also allow us to tap into the brightest minds around Unmanned Aircraft System development and design.”
The Virginia Advantage
Companies like these are drawn to Virginia’s pro-business environment, top-tier education system, exceptional transportation and utility infrastructure, and strategic investments in long-term workforce solutions. With the 6th-highest number of Fortune 500 and the 8th-highest Fortune 1000 company headquarters in the U.S. in 2022, Virginia represents a diversified ecosystem of over 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 in Virginia —from Capital One Financial Corporation to General Dynamics, Micron Technology, Nestlé USA, The Hershey Company, Northrop Grumman, Lidl US, and Microsoft, to name a few—demonstrates the Commonwealth’s competitiveness across a range of diverse sectors.
“Northern Virginia has been Hilton’s home for over a decade, and the region has played an instrumental role in helping us create the best, most inclusive home for our Team Members while also managing the demands of a global business,” said Hilton President and CEO Chris Nassetta.
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. Virginia is home to the second-densest interstate system in the Southeast, offering 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 and served by nearly 30 international shipping line services that offer direct access to more than 90 foreign ports. The port’s six terminals operate on a combined 1,864 acres, including four deep water terminals. As the only East Coast port with authorization for 55-foot channels, the port boasts no height restrictions and double-stack rail service with two Class I railroads, enabling it to regularly service 13,000+ twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) vessels. By 2025, the Port of Virginia will have invested $1.5 billion in modernization and expansion projects, including terminal improvements, dredging, and technology, making it the deepest, widest ship channel on the East Coast, with capacity for two-way, ultra-large container vessel traffic and unobstructed access for the very largest ships.
An Innovation Ecosystem
Representing the No. 2 higher education system in the U.S. according to SmartAsset, Virginia’s nationally-respected colleges and universities are preparing the workforce of the future today. Nearly 40 percent of Virginia’s population has a bachelor’s degree or higher, making the Commonwealth the sixth-most educated state in the country (first in the South).
The Commonwealth’s higher education system includes 23 community colleges with 40 campus locations. There is a community college within 30 miles of every Virginian, providing businesses direct, sustained access to highly skilled talent. The Commonwealth’s workforce successfully supports the state’s substantial industrial base and represents one of the most productive and educated demographics in the United States.
Virginia continues to raise the bar in talent development and is poised to push new boundaries in the development of 21st-century talent through its innovative workforce programs like the Virginia Talent Accelerator Program. Launched in 2019 by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership in collaboration with the Virginia Community College System, the program provides world-class, turnkey training and recruitment solutions that are fully customized to a company’s unique operations, equipment, standards, and culture. All program services are provided at no cost to qualified new and expanding companies as an incentive for job creation.
“With its strong talent pool, Virginia is a perfect place for us to grow,” said Qualtrics CEO Zig Serafin after announcing his software company’s expansion in Fairfax County.
The Virginia Talent Accelerator Program is catalyzing additional investment in the Commonwealth from both new and expanding global companies across varying industries.
Home to the nation’s top tech talent pipeline, Virginia is also making performance-based investments in public higher education institutions statewide to strengthen the industry talent pipeline across the Commonwealth. Through its historic, innovative Tech Talent Investment Program, the Commonwealth, donors, and corporate partners are investing more than $2 billion to expand Virginia’s tech talent pipeline, doubling the number of graduates each year in computer science and closely related fields. Fourteen Virginia universities will share state funding over the next two decades for the expansion of their degree programs and construction of new facilities, fueling the growth of the Commonwealth’s robust tech sector.
Unrivaled Location for Business
Virginia’s strategic location, infrastructure, and top-tier education system make the Commonwealth a prime business location to attract and retain leading companies. Virginia continues to build on its centuries-old legacy of innovation, trailblazing a new model of economic development in the 21st century and positioning its workforce for the industries of the future.