Virginia Back to No. 1, or Close to It

Image source: Business Facilities

Virginia’s economic growth rate may have lagged the national average last year (See Don Rippert’s post on the subject), but outside perceptions of Virginia have changed for the better. Virginia ranked 4th in Forbes magazine’s 2018 Best States for Business ranking and 4th in CNBC’s Best States for Business ranking. Most recently, on the strength of winning half of Amazon’s HQ2 project, the most highly touted economic development project in recent history, Business Facilities magazine anointed Virginia as 2018’s “state of the year.

“Virginia snared more than $5.5 billion in capital investment for its top two projects, and its top five job-creation efforts netted nearly 28,000 new jobs in a diverse and well-executed growth strategy that has made VA a high-tech force to be reckoned with,” said BF Editor-in-Chief Jack Rogers.

“The 21st-century infrastructure that Virginia has meticulously installed will serve as a fertile root system that will nurture a lush forest of high-tech enterprises in the Commonwealth for years to come,” Rogers said. “Virginia not only is ready to compete in the emerging high-tech battleground—it shows every intention of dominating the field.”

While Amazon garnered the big headlines, Virginia also could boast of the announcement of Micron Semiconductor’s $3 billion expansion of its fabrication complex in Manassas, WestRock’s $248 million expansion of its paper plant in Convington, and a decision by Press Glass, the largest independent flat glass processing operation in Europe, to establish its first Virginia manufacturing facility in Henry County.

For a more complete list of corporate investment in Virginia, check out the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) news portal.

VDEP CEO Stephen Moret has made it a priority to move Virginia higher in the best-state-for-business rankings. Like any kind of list — the Best Colleges lists rankings come to mind — rankings are somewhat arbitrary, varying by the metrics that are taken into consideration. Regardless, the rankings do influence the perceptions of of corporate CEOs and site-selection consultants. So, just as U.S. News & World-Report’s Best College rankings drive college admissions, the best-state-for-business rankings influence which states will be considered for many business investments.

Ultimately, there’s no substitute for sound tax and regulatory policy, an educated and skilled workforce, and good infrastructure. But rankings do matter, and Virginia’s climb back into the top tier portends a more competitive posture than the state has enjoyed in the recent past.

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2 responses to “Virginia Back to No. 1, or Close to It”

  1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
    Reed Fawell 3rd

    What a difference competence in government makes. Written Jan. 6:

    Steve Moret’s presentation from last month’s economic summit linked in below is impressive on several fronts, most particularly its choice of subjects focusing on areas of opportunities, and challenge. This is not boilerplate. It is not pie in the sky. It is not theory, or cant. Nor is it trivia, or endless lists of trees, without any view of the forest and what ails it. Yes, it’s drawn in broad outline and there are many parts, but that is the way the real world works. And what so many of us forget, particularly those in power, attending to only special interests, and/or little things at hand, rather than the big picture of what is really going on, often under the surface driving problems that are often chronic. So many solutions and opportunities are missed altogether.

    For example, what is the most powerful engine of growth and economic development in a state. Is it an office park? Or is it a fine K-12 school filled with kids of all colors and classes, working and learning to their fullest potential? Or is it building places for hip highly educated singles to the exclusion of everyone else? Or is it building places the serve all citizens, no matter their education or talents, offering all citizens maximum chance at finding and keeping their places in life, and being proud of it, and of themselves? Or is it some combination of the above? And having the means at hand to bring such projects to fruition.

    While Steve Moret’s presentation does not express itself in these terms, these are the terms and issues that I read into his report. And they are vitally important, and far too often totally overlooked in these sorts of presentations, but not here, not in this one found at:

    Go carefully through this presentation. There is a huge amount here. Far more than meets the eye at first. And it’s only the tip of an iceberg. That tip is build on an enormous amount of data, study and experience. That is obvious if you read it carefully, think carefully about it says.

    Note at the end of the presentation, the listing of “What’s Next to Keep Driving Virginia’s Economy forward.” That list includes 10 items. The 9th item is “Develop a robust state marketing program.”

    When a state has a economic development program operating at the caliber and competence of the Virginia Economic Development Program, that state should fund the money and provide that program with the means to create the vision and brand, to market it far and wide, and manage its consequences, so the state and its people have to the best opportunity to thrive and prosper into the future. With a start like Amazon and Micron, why would anyone in Va. walk away from such opportunity?

  2. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    Moret impresses. No question.

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