Economic Perspectives

by CoVaBizMag

Reviewing Accomplishments And Forecasting Developments For Coastal Virginia In 2017

This time of year, individuals reflect on their strengths and weaknesses from the previous year and look ahead to new goals for the year to come. Local businesses and corporations are doing the same. To stay informed with projects and initiatives happening in the cities, towns and counties that make up Coastal Virginia, we asked several local experts representing various economic development departments to share their projections for our region’s growth, positive change and potential that lies ahead in 2017.

Franklin Southampton
Franklin Southampton are two communities working together as one, poised with a progressive stance toward economic growth and ready to embrace new industry. Over the past year these communities have continued to partner to make an impact from fostering entrepreneurship to working to bring in new industrial development.

By the end of 2016 the Franklin Business Center, an incubation program focused on helping startup and expanding businesses start, grow and thrive during their first few years of operation, will celebrate the largest program graduation to date. The upcoming graduate, Highground Services, is anticipated to move into their newly renovated 10,000-square-foot property by the end of December, retaining 64 high-wage jobs. Pretlow Industrial Park was the chosen location for Providence Agriculture’s new $1.5 million facility. In September 2016, the City of Franklin was honored to share in a joint announcement with Isle of Wight County regarding the expansion of ST Tissue, a high quality tissue, towel and napkin product manufacturer. This investment of $35 million and the creation of 50 new, high-wage jobs is a great example of regionalism at work.

Looking to the year ahead, Franklin Southampton is focused on the recruitment of new industrial and commercial development. The Armory Drive corridor has ample space available for additional retail and restaurant development and will be a commercial area of focus in 2017. The City of Franklin and Southampton County will continue working together to improve their utility infrastructure and transportation networks during the upcoming year. There will also be a critical focus on the development and training of our human capital through stronger partnerships with our education providers at every level, from our local K–12 education systems to Paul D. Camp Community College. Franklin Southampton is dedicated to creating an environment that inspires investment both large and small within our community, the Hampton Roads region and the Commonwealth of Virginia. We look forward to continued progress in diversifying our economy and establishing new business investment for many years to come.

—Amanda C. Jarratt,
President & CEO, Franklin Southampton Economic Development, Inc.

Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance
The Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance (the Alliance) is pleased with the region’s 2016 job creation numbers. To provide context, in 2015, 43 announcements and expansions were reported within Hampton Roads, resulting in a little over 2,400 jobs. Currently, with just over a month left in 2016, Hampton Roads has witnessed 32 announcements. These announcements will create close to 4,600 jobs and result in capital investment totaling $348 million! Nearly 2,300 of those jobs came as a direct result of the work from The Alliance. Over the course of the year, the list below highlights the companies that announced the largest amount of jobs:
Dollar Tree, Inc.
GEICO Corporation
Movement Mortgage
Sutherland Global Services

ADP, a provider of cloud-based human capital management solutions and business process outsourcing services, analytics and compliance expertise, announced over 2,200 new jobs to the region. Dollar Tree, a Fortune 200 discount retail company, announced a 600-job expansion as well as a $110 million investment to its corporate headquarters. GEICO Corporation announced plans to add 390 new jobs to its IT and call center operation. Movement Mortgage will invest $2 million in the relocation of its operations center, creating 200 additional jobs, and Sutherland Global Services, a technology management firm, will also expand its operations, adding 200 additional jobs.

The region also experienced an increase of economic development investment this year. Emser Tile made a $16.25 million investment in its East Coast distribution center and will create 98 jobs. Printpack, Inc., a manufacturer of flexible and specialty rigid packaging, will invest $25.7 million in the expansion of its production facility, resulting in the creation of 50 new jobs. SANJO Corte Fino, a Spanish manufacturer of fineblanking components, will invest $17.5 million to open its U.S. headquarters, resulting in the creation of 85 jobs, and ST Tissue, a manufacturer of paper products from recycled materials, announced a $35 million investment expansion, which will result in 50 additional jobs.

The Alliance does not yet have employment projections for 2017. However, it is our mission to aggressively attract, grow and retain higher-wage industries, talent and jobs. For year 2016, we have synchronized our target industries and have aligned ourselves accordingly with the ReInvent Hampton Roads Industry Cluster Study for high-wage job growth. These target industry clusters include Business and Financial Services; Info, Analytics and Security; Advanced Manufacturing; Bioscience and Bio-Medical; Maritime, Logistics and Supply Chain and Aviation; Aerospace and Defense.

The professionals who serve in the field of economic development understand that announcements take years to develop. 2016 was a good year of economic growth for our region.

The Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance is a nonprofit, public-private, regional economic development partnership committed to a more prosperous and diverse regional economy. We serve 11 localities and over 75 private-sector investors. With our partners, the Alliance team will continue to assist international and domestic companies with investment projects, expansion and relocation.

—Shannon Kendrick,
Senior Vice President of Marketing, Communications & Operations for Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance

Gloucester County seeks to maintain and grow the vitality of our community. As in any county, we have a set of specific quantifiable goals established by our county government. Among them are to lower vacancy rates and increase tax revenue, job creation and property values. By prioritizing these goals, we maintain our accountability to the property owners who pay taxes in our community. Gloucester is transforming itself into a community “open for business” with a vibrant and welcoming business-friendly attitude. This transformation is being applauded and supported by several state agencies including the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Strategic Planning and Initiatives: The Board of Supervisors and EDA held a joint meeting to develop a 3-year action plan for economic development. The plan was completed and approved, and implementation began in September 2015. Target industries include food processing, healthcare, aquaculture and light manufacturing.

The Gloucester County Small Business Incentive Program was funded jointly by the Board of Supervisors and EDA for a total of $110,000. Fifty-seven grants were awarded to 28 businesses during the 12-month period. There was approximately $767,000 in private investment with over $85,000 in public grants paid out. Ten new businesses and two business expansions participated in the new program. Ten previously vacant buildings have been occupied with 3-year leases. By every account, the first year of the program has proven to be a successful economic driver and marketing tool for the county.

Investments: The Hampton Roads Small Business Development Center (HRSBDC) and Jim Carroll met with small businesses to provide consulting services. Over 70 appointments were scheduled with local businesses over the past fiscal year. The HRSBDC provides information and resources to entrepreneurs and small to medium businesses in the region.

Partnerships: Campana Waltz marketed the two vacant parcels of land in the Gloucester Business Park for potential new businesses. The parcels were advertised on their website and direct mailed to targeted businesses.

—David N. Meeker,
Chairman of Gloucester County Economic Development

Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce
The Hampton Roads region has seen an uptick in economic development in 2016. Local and national companies have made major investments in the region, citing our talent pool of transitioning military and millennials as the largest draw. Our talented local workforce is an economic development enabler, and the Hampton Roads Chamber will play a large role in strengthening our talent pool in 2017. Most notable is the development of the Military Transition Center, a facility that will help transitioning military, veterans and their families find good, high paying jobs in Hampton Roads. The Hampton Roads Chamber’s young professional organization, tHRive, will continue to cultivate our millennial workforce and give them avenues to give back to their community, because it is the community, the region, that is the organizing structure of the economy. The Hampton Roads Chamber will continue to work as the region’s pro-business partner, supporting and encouraging our members in all of our Hampton Roads cities to work collaboratively with other regional organizations and set the conditions for business success. 2017 is a big year for The Hampton Roads Chamber. The second half of 2016 was spent planning and streamlining a bold, new rebrand, complete with a new name, new logo and updated mission and vision. For years we’ve been setting the conditions for businesses to succeed in Hampton Roads, and now—We Mean Business. We will continue to support the Hampton Roads business community by being a powerful economic partner, impactful advocate for pro-business legislation and inspiring igniter of emerging economic opportunities.

—Bryan Stephens,
President and CEO of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce

Isle of Wight
Isle of Wight County is a progressive community that embraces change while protecting the integrity of its rich cultural and historical heritage. The county’s 319 square miles provides fertile ground for the region’s most prosperous businesses, including Smithfield Foods, Inc., Keurig Green Mountain Coffee and International Paper. This growing county personifies the theme “local roots, global reach.”

Work continues on the design of a permit-ready site in Phase II of the Shirley T. Holland Intermodal Park. The site can accommodate up to a 350,000-square-foot building. In November 2016, the county was awarded a grant from the Commonwealth of Virginia’s new Business Ready Sites Program to complete a site assessment for Phase III of the park, which is nearly 1,000 acres.

In September 2016, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe was in town to announce the expansion of ST Tissue LLC, a manufacturer of high-quality tissue, towel and napkin products, which will invest $35 million in its operation in the county. The company will add a new tissue machine and hard wound towel line that will increase existing capacity by more than 45,000 tons annually. The expansion will create 50 new jobs.

Business is booming in the northern part of the county with an additional 2,000 residential units and 1.1 million square feet of new retail and office space approved for development along the Route 17 corridor.

Economic Development recently established a county-wide workforce development working group. The goal is to create a program that supports the workforce training efforts of new and existing businesses in order to position Isle of Wight as the premier destination for business growth. The county plans to apply for certification through the ACT Work Ready Communities Program.

To learn more about development activity in Isle of Wight County, call 757-356-1962 or visit

—Tom Elder,
Director of Economic Development for Isle of Wight

Newport News
Newport News is a highly successful, transformational community that balances economic activity and livability.

During 2016, more than $1 billion in capital investment and over 2,000 new jobs were announced in Newport News. Companies and initiatives that contributed to this year’s success include Printpack, Tech Center, Tradition Brewing, High Liner Foods, Jim’s Local Market, Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, Newport News Shipbuilding Defense Production Zone, City Center at Oyster Point, Newport News Industrial and Fairlead Boatworks. Additional developments, particularly in advanced manufacturing, retail redevelopment, transportation, entertainment and hospitality are anticipated in 2017.

City Center at Oyster Point is a mixed-use, urban-scale development featuring Class A office space, retail, restaurants, residential units, three parking garages and the newly-remodeled, 256-room Marriott Hotel and Conference Center. New ownership, announced in July 2016, offers the promise of more special events and options, which will continue to entertain citizens and visitors.

Revitalization and redevelopment of the Southeast Community remains a top priority. Substantial progress has been made toward the completion of Brooks Crossing, a mixed-use, market-based development in the lower Jefferson Avenue corridor. A 19,000-square-foot South Police Precinct opened in January 2016.
Jefferson Lab recently completed a $400 million federally funded upgrade, which will double the power of the existing facility and attract increasing numbers of scientists (currently over 1,300 annually) from across the world. Early project development has begun on a Medium-Energy Electron Ion Collider (MEIC) in preparation to compete for a $1 billion, next-generation DoE science initiative. Benefits of the MEIC would include 5,000 new jobs over seven to 10 years and local spending of about $72 million annually.

Tech Center is a proposed corporate research center containing approximately 1.1 million square feet of office and lab space, spread across 12 buildings, with an estimated 5,500 employees. The location next to Jefferson Lab would provide immediate opportunities for collaboration between scientists and the private sector. In addition, the broader Tech Center research park includes housing, retail and commercial uses. Venture Apartments, a higher-end, 288-unit multifamily complex, is nearing construction completion, and construction of the first research office building commences at the end of 2016.
From business and education to entertainment and recreation, Newport News is a city of growth and opportunity, where great things are happening!

—Florence Kingston,
Director of Newport News Department of Development

An enviable combination consisting of low crime rates, outstanding schools, civic-minded citizenry, great recreational programming and conveniently located shopping areas firmly position this city of approximately 12,000 as a quality-of-life jewel in Hampton Roads. National awards have further highlighted Poquoson’s excellence, including Bloomberg Business Week’s selection of the city as “Best Affordable Suburb” in Virginia and CNBC’s inclusion of Poquoson on its U.S. list of “10 Perfect Suburbs.” Other accolades include a #3 ranking in the nation on the list of “Top 10 Small Towns for Mobile Entrepreneurs” by nationally recognized business expert Michael Michalowicz and consistent recognition as one of the Safest Places to Live in Virginia.

Poquoson’s business corridor is home to a variety of shopping and dining opportunities. The natural market area includes nearly 40,000 people, many of which utilize the city’s library, DMV and service/commercial area for its timesaving convenience and quality of offerings.

Poquoson boasts 87 miles of shoreline, and its coastal areas are home to abundant wildlife and beautiful marshes. These inviting and navigable waters serve as popular trails for both kayakers and paddleboarders. The city’s convenient boat access to the Chesapeake Bay combined with year-round boat slip rentals and outstanding marina and charter services make Poquoson a natural gateway for recreational boaters and fishermen alike.

The city’s public school system routinely ranks as one of the finest in the state of Virginia and a number of Poquoson students, clubs and athletic teams compete with much success in state and national competitions each year.

Download our City Mobile Phone App,, and put city information at your fingertips, or contact the Economic Development & Community Recreation Department at 757-868-3580 for more information.

Poquoson is the place to be... and you’re invited!

While Portsmouth may be a city steeped in history, 2016 brought a wave of new development and opportunities that will continue into 2017.

Creating a livable downtown. Drawing more people to the charming and historic Downtown, developers The Breeden Company, Monument Companies and Whitmore Company, LLC, constructed or announced over $100 million in private investment in nine developments to bring over 800 new apartments to downtown in 2016. At Tower 507, Sterling King Apartments, The Seaboard Building and Harbor Vista, empty nesters and millennials are walking, biking and using the ferry to enjoy dining, shopping and working. Retailers and restaurants are recognizing these new downtown residents with development of their own. At Montgomery Square Shoppes, Copper and Oak Craft Spirits, LLC, is renovating 2,000 square feet for a micro distillery and tasting room to open this winter. At The Seaboard Building, Legend Brewing Company is opening a full-service 4,000-square-foot brewpub in the spring.

Enhancing port prosperity and international commerce. Taking advantage of the property’s proximity to port terminals, third-party logistics provider InterChange Group, Inc., invested over $11 million to demolish the former Gwaltney plant and begin construction on a 200,000-square-foot speculative warehouse in 2016. Vane Brothers Company, a maritime transportation services firm specializing in tugboat operations, expanded its waterfront facility by investing $1.5 million to build a 15,000-square-foot office building. And in September the governor announced a new lease between the Virginia Port Authority and its landlord Virginia International Gateway (VIG) that includes a $320 million investment in VIG to double the capacity at this container terminal on Portsmouth’s waterfront.

Improving transportation infrastructure. Traffic flow to and from Portsmouth improved in 2016 with the Elizabeth River Crossing’s (ERC) completion of renovations to the Downtown tunnels and the opening of the second Midtown tunnel. The ERC’s work on the MLK Connector linking the Midtown tunnels and I-264 adds yet another improvement to the city’s transportation system.

90 Miles of Shoreline. 360 Degrees of Opportunity. Portsmouth’s amazing geography and welcoming business environment brought significant developments and investment to the city in 2016. These strengths will continue in 2017 and result in additional new business, commerce and residents.

—Mallory Butler,

Director of Economic Development for the City of Portsmouth

Virginia Beach
2016 was both busy and successful for the City of Virginia Beach Department of Economic Development. As of October 31, the Department had recorded the creation of at least 1,300 new jobs and close to $100 million of new capital investment. International business activity remained strong, with companies from Spain and China announcing significant new facilities. Ground was broken on a $40 million expansion of Town Center, and significant retail growth continued at both Lynnhaven and Pembroke malls.

The major theme for 2016, however, was expanded economic diversification with new initiatives in bio and health sciences, cyber security, high speed telecommunications infrastructure and small business development/entrepreneurial support. Work in these areas will continue in 2017 as the city works with local and state partners to reduce economic dependency on military and government business activities.

VaBeachBio was launched to establish Virginia Beach as a destination for innovative research and development in healthcare and biotechnology. The city has designated 155 acres for establishment of a bioscience business park in the Princess Anne Corridor, and development will begin in 2017. By engaging key industry and academic partners from around the commonwealth, VaBeachBio has quickly gained recognition and credibility among bio entrepreneurs.

The technology theme is expected to continue in 2017 as Virginia Beach becomes the first East Coast landing site for the next generation of ultra-high speed transoceanic telecommunications cable projects for such global tech giants as Facebook, Microsoft and Telefonica. As communities become influenced less by demographics and more by digital connectivity, these cables will be more and more transformative for our region, across industry sectors.

As the impact of new technologies expands, so will opportunities for the next generation of entrepreneurs. Virginia Beach, which consistently leads the region in business start-up activity, is increasing its level of services for entrepreneurs and small businesses of all types, to include a broader technology infrastructure and continued investment in the ViBe Creative District at the Oceanfront.

A record 13 million visitors came to Virginia Beach in 2016, which necessitates continued reinvestment in the Resort Area to ensure the city’s tourism sector remains competitive. This includes new hospitality, retail, entertainment and professional sector growth.

Positive momentum is there for Virginia Beach and Hampton Roads, and we expect 2017 to be another great year.

—Warren Harris,
Director of Economic Development for the City of Virginia Beach

Approaching 2017, Williamsburg Economic Development looks forward to continued success in redevelopment and greenfield opportunities. One city priority is the new Culinary Arts and Tourism District in the Capitol Landing Road, Second Street, Penniman Road and Bypass Road area of the city. The district is positioned to be a distinctive hub for shopping, dining and entertainment. The main corridors of Capitol Landing Road and Second Street are already home to several popular restaurants and attractions, including the Copper Fox Distillery.

As the city reinvests in this area with public infrastructure, economic incentives and grants, it is looking for private sector partners to join the opportunity and help shape this emerging destination. The city has initiated public investments, regulatory changes, grants and incentives to encourage this investment and create a vibrant, exciting district directly adjacent to and central to Colonial Williamsburg, Interstate 64 and its millions of travelers. The city’s efforts divide into three areas:
• Incentives—Tourism-focused businesses that invest and operate in the district are eligible for generous tax incentive and permit fee waivers via new tourism zone legislation. Eligible businesses include hotels, timeshares, theaters, museums, galleries, restaurants, retail shops, micro-beverage producers and art studios. Additionally, the Williamsburg Tourism Zone allows projects to leverage the Virginia Tourism Development Financing Program that pledges future state and local tax revenue from the project to pay part of the debt service (up to 30 percent) to finance projects.

• Small Business Improvement Grants—The Economic Development Authority offers a matching cash grant to existing businesses that invest in the interior or exterior of their properties. Each grant is the lesser of half the cost of the improvements or $10,000.

• Public Infrastructure—The city is advancing a $7,000,000 public streetscape and infrastructure project to create a walkable, attractive streetscape on Capitol Landing Road and create a vibrant area where businesses can host and entertain customers.

Contact the Economic Development Office for more information:

—Michele DeWitt,
Economic Development Director for the City of Williamsburg

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