Warner Goes Out with a Bang

Gov. Mark R. Warner and his economic development team are closing out their term on a high note this week. The Virginia Economic Development Partnership has announced eight separate expansions and locations in the first 11 days of January, most of them yesterday. The deals span the state from Loudoun and Suffolk down to Wytheville and Danville. The announcements totaled $172 million in capital investment and 1,040 new jobs.

The biggest was a $105 million investment by Amcor PET Packaging, which will manufacture fillable plastic bottles for the beverage industry in Wytheville. That project will create 144 jobs.

But let it not be forgotten that the greatest wealth creation is still taking place ouside the realm of corporate plant expansions. In just this past week, three companies have raised a total of $152 million in expansion capital: Dulles-based ORBCOMM, $110 million, to upgrade its network of low-orbit satellites; Roanoke-based PixelOptics, $32 million, to complete development of “dynamic focusing” eyeglasses for the far-sighted; and McLean-based Softek Solutions, $10 million, fuel growth for its data migration solutions.

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6 responses to “Warner Goes Out with a Bang”

  1. Jim Patrick Avatar
    Jim Patrick

    Thanks for the post Jim, we all need reminding that economic vitality doesn’t flow from Richmond; not that Richmond doesn’t help. You say, “But let it not be forgotten that the greatest wealth creation is still taking place ouside the realm of corporate plant expansions.” … and give a sample.

    Are there equivalent figures available for small businesses? My impression is that firms under 100 employees made up almost half our economy.

  2. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Jim, I know of one series of numbers that might meet your request. Chmura Economics & Analytics, an econometrics firm in Richmond, tracks new business formations and creates a cool graph showing the number of new businesses (the vast majority of which are very small) vs. the number of businesses going out of business. The difference between the two numbers, net new business formations, is an excellent indicator of a state or region’s economic vitality.

  3. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    The figure is 58.9% of private business employment is provided by firms with under 100 employees.

    Companies with 20-49 employees provide the majority of that–18.6%. These figures are from the VEC, another good source of economic data.

  4. Jim Patrick Avatar
    Jim Patrick

    Thanks to both of you for the pointers and info. Is there anyplace that aggregates the economic data?

    Will, do you mean this VEC?

  5. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Jim, UVa’s Weldon Cooper Center maintains the single most comprehensive compilation of demographic and economic data on Virginia on the Web, with links to VEC, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Census, etc. That’s the place to start your search.

  6. Jim Patrick Avatar
    Jim Patrick

    I’m familiar with WCCPS, re-viewed at your suggestion; but with no luck. What I’m looking for is a fair and equal method of stating small businesses contributions in ‘standard’ form:
    …totaled $172 million in capital investment and 1,040 new jobs.” -VEDP;
    …have raised a total of $152 million in expansion capital…” -JB

    Employment figures for small, smaller, and dinky businesses can be gotten from VEC (thanks Will) a bit at a time. But the capital investment doesn’t seem to be collected anywhere.

    It’s the common measure but ‘capital’ is somewhat misleading. It may cost investors that much, but a $10 million capital expansion rarely leaves $2 million in-state, much less locally. Unless there’s an equivalent measure for smaller businesses, their contribution will always be marginalized.

    Better metrics for large and small industry are employment, direct tax revenue, and possibly mean/median wages. It’s more accurate, but it can’t compete with the sheer glitz of “$NN million invested”.

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