Virginia High-Tech Employment Still on a Roll

Ranked by absolute numbers, high-tech employment is growing fastest in Northern Virginia, but ranked in percentage terms, it’s growing fastest in Central Virginia (Richmond and Charlottesville), according to the 4th quarter Regional Scorecard for Virginia’s High-Technology Industries.

Without question, Northern Virginia remains the Big Kahuna of high-tech industry in Virginia, with 21.3 percent of all firms falling into industries classified as “high technology” according to the “Hecker” methodology (high-tech industries employ twice the average of scientific, technical and engineering occupations). The study was conducted by Chmura Economics & Analytics and funded by the Center for Innovative Technology.

But 10.3 percent of all Central Virginia firms are classified as high tech, and high-tech employment increased 3.4 percent there over the past four quarters — even faster than NoVa’s 2.6 percent increase. Hampton Roads and Roanoke/Blacksburg/Lynchburg also have respectable high-tech industry clusters.

What’s encouraging about the job growth in Central Virginia (which I call home, so I pay more attention to it) is the dynamism of “embryonic” and “small” firms. Although job growth among medium and large high-tech employers was restrained, it was strong in early-stage enterprises — even exceeding embryonic/small job growth in Northern Virginia, with its vast entrepreneurial support network. (In NoVa, most high-tech job growth came from large enterprises.) Another surprising performer in early-stage firms is the west/central region (Roanoke/Blacksburg/Lynchburg).

Growth in high-tech employment is a crucial indicator of regional prosperity. Not only do “high tech” industries enjoy better growth prospects, but they pay considerably higher wages and salaries than their lower-tech counterparts.

One small gripe: While it’s useful to compare the progress made by Virginia’s regions, it would be helpful to know how our regions compare nationally. It would be nice if CIT could afford to broaden the scope of the research project.

(Click on map for larger, more detailed image.)

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9 responses to “Virginia High-Tech Employment Still on a Roll”

  1. I really wonder how much of Central Virginia high technology growth is Richmond vs. Charlottesville. Charlottesville is on a “blue blind tear” with high tech. I am not nearly so sure about Richmond.

  2. E M Risse Avatar

    Groveton raises an important point but it is only the tip of the iceburg. (And this is one of the few really large iceburgs left.)

    The numbers on this map and the conclusions one could draw from this spacial distribution is completely useless.

    Greater Charlottesville is a seperate place. It is a very small New Urban Region with Greene, Nelson et. al. or it is an urban agglomeration in the Appalacian Urban Support Region. It is not part of a “region” that includes Greater Richmond.

    Who drew up these “Regions?”

    Some gnome trying to make Greater Richmond NUR the center of the earth?

    Putting the Northern Neck with the south end of DelMarVa should be grounds for flogging.

    Putting Rappahannock, Madison and Caroline in Central VA is silly.

    Caroline, the Northern Neck a good part of The Middle Peninsula along with Rappahannock and Madison are in the Northern Part of Virgina – The Virginia Part of the National Capitol Subregion.

    I realize for “state” analysis purposes there need to be designation that do not include other states but this map is a disgrace.


  3. Sean Tubbs Avatar

    The Charlottesville Business Innovation Council recently conducted an analysis of the region’s high-tech economy, and concluded it was worth $4 billion a year. We covered their presentation at Charlottesville Tomorrow, and there’s video and audio at the site.

  4. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    How exactly did the areas get aggregated?

    Are they planning districts?

    Are they MSAs or some combination?

    and EMR – Charlottesville exists as a place and as such I would think that classifying it as a NUR or not would be an important test of the criteria that you’ve established.

    If you’re not sure if it is a NUR or a support region – could you explain what criteria are involved in making that determination?

    Which brings up another question – do support regions become NURs or vice-versa?

    if so.. how?

  5. E M Risse Avatar

    At 6:03 Larry Gross asked:

    “and EMR – Charlottesville exists as a place and as such I would think that classifying it as a NUR or not would be an important test of the criteria that you’ve established.”

    It is very important. I do not know the answer because no client has ever asked us to take the time to find out.

    I “suspect” it is an urban agglomeration in the Appalacian Urban Support Region.

    We will be dealing with the issue of Critical Mass in an upcoming column.

    “If you’re not sure if it is a NUR or a support region [an Urban Support Region]- could you explain what criteria are involved in making that determination?”

    As defined in the GLOSSARY an Urban Support Region supports the economic, social and physical needs of more than one New Urban Region.

    Greater Charlottesville would not be an Urban Support Region by itself but an urban agglomeration (almost always a Beta or rarely a Alpha Community) along with Greater Lynchburg, etc.

    The names of some of the Urban Support Regions we have studied in more depth with give you a better idea of what to look for: DelMarVa USR, Northern Rocky Montain USR.

    “Which brings up another question – do support regions [Urban Support Regions or USRs] become NURs or vice-versa?

    If so how?”

    Hard to imagine but let us say Dubai and China do a joint venture to buy DelMaVa and build the Worlds largest Container Port and adjacent airport with direct service to every New Urban Region so they replace Memphis as the air freight hub. Then they hire every other family from Mexico to run the place…

    You get the idea…

    In my world view that is a silly as some of the development schemes we have heard discussed.

    Oh, just thougth of this one: For years there has been a proposal to build a super air port in the Easter Carolina Urban Support Region, all they need is the co-located superport terminal….


  6. E M Risse Avatar

    Just noticed in the earlier post I left out Culpeper County, most of Orange County, etc that also do not belong in “Central Virginia.”

    It also looks like a lot of territory that should be in Greater Hampton Roads NUR is in “Central.”

    This brings up another point, NUR bournaries do not follow County Borders.


  7. Chris Chmura Avatar
    Chris Chmura

    The regions were defined by the Council on Virginia’s Future (see the footnote below the map on page 2).

  8. Defining which County or City should be in which region is not all that important since you may request individual information on each County or City from your Technology Council. In Hampton Roads it is posted to the “members only area” of the website… The data is available quarterly and has much greater value when broken down and trended over time. You must do this yourself however.

  9. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    If defining WHAT the regions are – is either not important or not particularly relevant then it needs to be stated.

    In other words, tell folks the boundaries were drawn arbitrarily OR tell them the criteria used.

    The Census folks do business a certain way by defined regions.

    The State does regional business another way – by Planning Districts

    and the Feds do regional business in a number of different ways ..for instance MPOs

    and VDOT does regional business it’s own (archaic) way.

    I can understand the evolution of parallel but different approaches but the problem is – they’re all talking about regional perspectives towards developing regional policy goals with consequences and implications…

    so …why adopt yet another different perspective when the report will probably be looked at by regional planning bodies?

    so.. my view is that the boundaries ARE important and at the least, I’d like the understand the criteria used in defining them and I suspect regional planning agencies would also.

    perhaps they ARE/have been defined and I missed them… sometimes I do that…

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