Nearly a year ago, former Rep. Rick Boucher announced 100 new DIRECTV technology-based jobs for the New River Valley and Southwest Virginia. Turns out that was the beginning of one of the most prolific economic development periods in the region in the past decade. Since then, eight other companies have announced projects expected to bring 1,210 new jobs and $65 million in new investment.
Those figures come from the New River Valley Economic Development Alliance, which tracks economic development for the area. Besides DIRECTV, other companies investing in the valley include Dove Vinyl Windows and Phoenix Packing Operations. In May 2010, Phoenix established its first U.S. operation and headquarters in Pulaski County in a $20 million project that brought more than 200 jobs.
In less than year the Latin-American company, which manufactures thermoformed rigid plastic packaging for U.S. customers, decided to expand. It revealed plans last month to add 120,000 square feet, an additional 100 jobs and $17 million more in investment.
The nine projects don’t include a 700 worker callback by Volvo Trucks in Dublin or continued expansion at the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center.
Aric H. Bopp, executive director of the area’s economic development alliance, credits the region’s work force and low cost of business in drawing new investment. “I think our work force is an important component, and the fact that we are still an affordable place to live with a high quality of life and good education attributes,” he said.
“It has been a rather remarkable year when you think of the state of the national economy. For example, as of February 2011, the unemployment rate in Silicon Valley, Calif., was 10.6 percent while the unemployment rate in Virginia’s New River Valley was 7.2 percent,” he said.
Looking to the future, Bopp expects the unemployment rate to continue dropping as jobs associated with the new investment come to fruition.
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