Economics of Virginia

historic Glass House at Jamestown Glass House at Jamestown historic Glass House at Jamestown
historic Glass House at Jamestown Glass House at Jamestown historic Glass House at Jamestown

earliest Virginia site for manufacturing glass (1608 and 1621-22) and "reconstructed" furnace at Jamestown
(click on images for larger versions)

Businesses do not locate their facilities at random, by throwing data at a map or looking at just the sources of labor and raw materials. State, county, and city governments are active players in attracting private sector businesses and non-government organizations to locate in a particular area.

Your tax dollars are also used to retain jobs and property taxes, when other governments try to entice existing companies in Virginia to move to another location. For example, Virginia's A.L. Philpott Manufacturing Extension Partnership (VPMEP) was described in a news release1 as follows:
The partnership, based in Martinsville and named after the late House Speaker A.L. Philpott of Bassett, works to improve the manufacturing capabilities and global competitiveness of manufacturers through offices in Danville, Harrisonburg, Lynchburg, Newport News, Norfolk, Richmond, Roanoke, Winchester and Wytheville. Internal VPMEP resources are supplemented by private consultants, community colleges, universities, and government agencies. VPMEP partners with Virginia's Center for Innovative Technology to provide access to high technology resources across the Commonwealth.

In addition, VPMEP works in partnership with the Technology Applications Center (TAC) at Old Dominion University and the Manufacturing Technology Center (MTC) in Wytheville to bring services to manufacturers from Hampton Roads to Southwest Virginia:

The Manufacturing Technology Center in southwestern Virginia is a consortium of five community colleges and is funded by VPMEP, the Commonwealth, CIT, and federal grants. It provides technology deployment and manufacturing modernization services in southwestern Virginia.

The Technology Applications Center at Old Dominion University is funded by VPMEP and CIT. It primarily provides faculty-based engineering services to manufacturers for high technology product and process prototype development and testing in the Hampton Roads area and across Virginia.
VPMEP is based in Martinsville in part because A. L. Philpott was the powerful Speaker of the House of Delegates, and he represented Pittsylvania County. Even before passage of the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA), the textile, furniture, and other manufacturing businesses were reducing work hours and closing plants. The state and the local governments recruit companies that could provide high-wage manufacturing jobs to replace the companies that are leaving are reducing hours.

The Certified Business Location program, begun in the latter half of the 1980s, required each locality to establish an Industrial Development Authority, formalize their industry targeting activities, and establish other processes in support of industrial development. However, the Virginia Department of Economic Development no longer offers the certification. (What's the point of a certification if everyone has received it?)

A snapshot of Virginia's economy, from the 1992 Economic Census Area Profiles - Virginia:

Sector Number of estabs sales or Receipts
Number of Jobs Output per capita Jobs/1000
(% of US)
(% of US)
Mining 577 2,891 15,900 452 2 99 9 75
Construction 17,151 14,033 143,644 2,195 22 123 268 119
Manufacturing 6,524 66,081 407,200 10,334 64 96 102 70
Transportation 4,551 4,745 54,973 742 9 69 71 99
Communications 1,038 7,658 43,079 1,198 7 133 16 106
Utilities 299 6,222 22,070 973 3 96 5 59
Wholesale 9,290 51,453 115,806 8,046 18 77 145 75
Retail 37,360 48,049 474,595 7,514 74 103 584 98
Services 45,905 33,606 525,742 5,256 82 109 718 100
Finance 4,767 17,002 69,845 2,659 11 62 75 89
Insurance 3,819 15,582 43,338 2,437 7 80 60 95
Real Estate 5,335 3,741 33,744 585 5 109 83 93

If you look at the Jobs/1000 population column, you can see that Virginia had 23% more Construction jobs than the nationwide average. Nationally, the average was 18 jobs in construction/1000 people - Virginia had 22 jobs/1,000 in that sector. Virginia's economy produced significantly more jobs than the national average in Communications as well, but the state economy was weak at creating jobs in the Finance, Transportation, Wholesale, and Insurance sectors. In Manufacturing, Virginia had only 70% of the jobs that would be expected, according to the manufacturing relative to population ratio of Plants Sites & Parks magazine.

Coal in Virginia

Economic Regions

Virginia Enterprise Zones

Economic Statistics


Major Companies in Virginia

Movies and Virginia

Safety and Workers Compensation

Virginia Agriculture

number of business firms in top Virginia counties, 2008
number of business firms in top Virginia counties, 2008
Source: Bureau of Census, Statistics of U.S. Businesses (SUSB) State by county, totals (see spreadsheet)



1. "Governor Warner Announces Grants to Virginia Manufacturing Partnership," August 15, 2002 news release from Governor Mark Warner," (last checked August 24, 2002)

inside Potomac Mills
inside Potomac Mills

Virginia Places