How Foreign Firms Boost Greater Richmond

Here’s a puzzle. Why is it that Virginia has so many cosmopolitan advantages useful in the global economy yet there is so much reactionary xenophobia particularly in areas where the thinking should be more advanced?

The Old Dominion is next door to the nation’s capital, has a plethora of U.S. government and non-governmental agencies, top-ranked ports, military, diplomatic missions and vibrant economic sectors despite the financial meltdown.

Yet, it also has some of the worst examples of racist xenophobia. Some examples: Prince Williams County’s frisk-everyone, anti-Hispanic laws; plans to build an immigrant GULAG in Farmville and (thankfully) now dead plans my my home county of Chesterfield to “identify” illeagl immigrants who are only Hispanic and rank in guess-work numbers far beyond reality.

So, we owe it to Richmond magazine for its perceptive cover package this month on how the foreign-born influence Greater Richmond. This worthy project has plenty of personal tales of living abroad and ending up here. But the one item that attracts my interest is a detailed graphic by artist Chris Obrion with whom I used to work at Virginia Business some years ago.

Chris’s work points out the many and varied local companies owned by foreigners. Germany has 32 firms in the area that employ 4,241. Next are the French with five firms and 1,617 workers. The U.K. is next with 27 firms and 1,327 workers. The Japanese have 18 firms with 1,072 workers. Mexico has two firms employing 131 and Greece has one firm employing 55.

To be sure, some of the foreign firms are having big problems, such as German-owned chip maker Qimonda which has 2,275 local workers and will lay off about 1,200. But the rest seem healthy. French -owned Alstom Power services and repairs turbines in Chesterfield and Maruchan Virginia Inc., owned by Japanese businessmen, makes noodle soup.

Richmond magazine lays all of this out for you in a way that impresses based on its sheer mass. It makes you wonder why so many politicians, especially Republicans in wealthy white suburban areas, are so keen on creating suspicion about foreigners and placing every barrier they can think of in their path. Doing so somehow makes them seem more “American” and therefore vote-worthy. But all it does is show how little they know about the world today and how much they are hurting the United States and Virginia in the name of waving the flag.

Peter Galuszka

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19 responses to “How Foreign Firms Boost Greater Richmond”

  1. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    PG: Re “especially Republicans in wealthy white suburban areas, are so keen on creating suspicion about foreigners and placing every barrier they can think of in their path.”

    Please share some examples of this. Be specific.

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    RE your “gulag” comment: anyone who breaks our nation’s immigration laws should be deported; their “race” is incidental to their crime.

    That these ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS will be housed in a comfortable place prior to their deportation hardly constitutes a “gulag” – it will be missing the pointless labor, senseless beatings, and other un-niceties that characterized the Soviet gulag’s concentration camps. Read some Solzhenitsyn before tossing around such inflammatory words.

    Regarding the Farmville facility at all, the town is looking for sustainable growth through non-polluting industry and service businesses. What’s wrong with that? Charlotte County is hoping to have a state prison built there, to provide jobs for their area – are you going to pick on them for having their own “gulag”?

    Get real and grow up. You just don’t understand the complexity of this state.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    Pirsons as “sustainable growth.” That’s a laugh. As far, as Solzhenitsyn, I’ve read just about everything.

    That’s an easy one — Prince William, Loudoun and Chesterfield for starters.

    Cheerfully yours


  4. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    PG: You named counties, not individual Republicans. You didn’t show there suspicon and you didn’t name the barriers to legal immigrants.

  5. Anonymous Avatar

    I seem to remember something to the effect of one Chesterfield supervisor remarking (and I believe it was on a local Community Ideas station forum called “Talk Virginia”) that he wanted the county to be most hostile county in the most hostile state with regard to illegal immigration. I will stand corrected if that wasn’t the gist of the quote, but I specifically remember the world “hostile.” I don’t care about the partisanship debate, but yes, I believe the supervisor is a Republican.

  6. Anonymous Avatar

    James Atticus Bowden,
    I forgot Poquoson.

    Peter Galuszka

  7. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    PG: You’re a hoot. Poquoson hostile to foreigners? LOL.

    The statement by the Chesterfield supervisor is against illegal immigrants. Your comment was about foreigners. Certainly, you understand the difference between illegal immigrants and legal immigrants.

  8. Anonymous Avatar

    James Atticus Bowden,
    Yeah, you’re right about Poquoson. One of my best friends used to live there — liberal columnist by the name of Jim Spencer. Ring any bells?

    Peter Galuszka

  9. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Jim Spencer. Jim used to write articles critical of all things Poquoson – until it was time for his kids to go to HS. He left the lousy schools of Newport News and moved to Poquoson. His kid was valedictorian – before our appointed School Board did away with Valedictorian. Then, he got way too personally involved in a political issue and was gracefully moved to Colorado.

  10. Anonymous Avatar

    It was easy to know from the first sentence (didn’t have to scroll down)who posted this. Surprise! It was “everybody is a racist but me Pete”. The tone of his posts are hard to take, so I usually don’t finish them. To claim xenphobia is just rubbish. Pete does indeed need to grow up. Remember when he played the race card when Jim Bacon noticed plenty of brown faces at an event? Had to be racism. I’ve noticed that the people who cry that the most are usually pretty bigoted themselves.

  11. Anonymous Avatar

    So, Jim Spencer moved “gracefully away” from your pretty (and I mean pretty, wouldn’t mind living there myself)little Tidewater town. And he got “too involved” in politics, according your views., Well, who are you to say where his political limits are? Because he didn’t buy into your social conservative views? Didn’t you learn anything about how America works (at USMA, Columbia and wherever else was it?)

    Peter Galuszka

  12. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    PG: I was being polite and circumspect about the circumstances of Jim's sudden job change. It had nothing to do with my political judgment and everything to do with his profession. For his dignity, why don't you just leave it at that and not prejudge what I'm writing?

    You bring up my personal credits for some odd reason. Allow me to expand.

    I learned how America works in the 82nd Airborne Division, 2nd Infantry Division, 24th Infantry Division, 2nd Armored Division and 3rd Armored Division – and as a capitalist civilian and elected political appartchik.

    I was educated at Walter Reed Elem, Swanson JR High, Yorktown HS, DoDDs in France & Germany, West Point, Harvard and Columbia. And I continue to read – about to finish my 25th book since Jan 1, 2008.

    PhD from the University of Work since age 15. And daily reading of The Word – best source of wisdom in the world.

    From all above, I know the difference between legal immigrants and illegal immigrants. It helps in understanding how America works -at least for now.

  13. Groveton Avatar


    Good to see you back on the blog. We had a prior exchange about which candidate would win in Virginia. You wanted to see the VP candidates before accepting (or declining) the wager. Well, we have the full slate. My offer still stands – a martini at Morton’s says Barak Obama carries Virginia.

    Make mine Bombay Sapphire, up, very cold with an olive.

  14. Anonymous Avatar

    I apologize for questioning your credentials which seem sterling.
    As far as Spencer, he left because he got a very good offer to become a columnist at the Denver Post. It had nothing to do with local politics. I was a colleague of Jim’s when we were on The Virginian-Pilot some 30 plus years ago, then in Chicago when he was at the Tribune and I was at McGraw-Hill. More recently, I have visited him in Denver.

    Peter Galuszka

  15. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    PG: No apology needed. Now that my dog is dead – there are few criticisms or comments that offend me personally. Insulting my dog would be personal. I find many ideas offensive and every other quality – but it isn’t personal for me.

    Groveton: I may owe you a martini. I’m traveling on election day to New York. Dunno when to make good – hope I don’t have to.

  16. I didn’t know you were supposed to drink Bombay – cold.

    Dang… learn something new every day….

  17. Anonymous Avatar

    Here’s a prediction — If Obama wins, Jim Webb leaves the Democratic Party in less than three years. Mind you, I’m not saying Webb would rejoin the GOP. I’m just saying, he will leave the Obama Democrats, which will not look anything like the Democratic Party he thought he joined.


  18. Groveton Avatar


    You never actually agreed to the bet. You said you’d think about it after seeing the VP picks. So, if you pass, I’ll understand.

    I vote this afternoon since I’ll be in California next Tuesday. My ardor for Obama has declined over time. McCain seems better than I thought. Obama is still fine – he has a good vision. However, the recent financial crisis has me wondering if a new approach is reasonable right now. One year ago I would have voted for Obama with no second thoughts. Now, it’s less clear to me. I’ll have to decide by 3 PM or so. I wonder how many other people who were convinced about the sense of adopting a new approach are re-thinking that view as Election Day draws near.

    Larry G – The reason that people shake martinis in those silver shakers is first to make the drink colder (there is ice in the shaker) and then to cut the strength just a bit – a little of the ice melts when being shaken. Warm martinis, in my opinion, are vomit inducing. Cold martinis are delicious and not vomit inducing – unless you have too many. And how many are too many? Here’s what a young lady once told me at a party I was throwing many years ago –

    I like a martini
    Two at the most
    Three – I’m under the table
    Four – I’m under the host

    Sadly, she declined my offer of another martini.

    Also, for the record, the use of vermouth in a Bombay Sapphire martini is pretty well established. Once the gin and ice have been put into the shaker, the sharker should be shown a photograph of Antonio Benedetto Carpano – the inventor of vermouth. There is no reason to actually buy or use vermouth – all you need is a photograph of Mr. Carpano. Drink recipe courtesy of Hawkeye Pierce.

  19. yes… the correct term for multiple martinis is – nicely anethesized and for some of us good one on an empty stomach can do the trick quite nicely.

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