by Paula Squires
When it comes to economic development, Virginia has a strong story to tell. The state is home to two dozen Fortune 500 companies. That total ranks the Old Dominion sixth among the states. Some of these large companies include Northrop Grumman (No. 104), a worldwide defense and aerospace company that moved from Los Angeles to Falls Church in 2011, and Alpha Natural Resources (No. 356), a Bristol coal producer that merged with Richmond-based Massey Energy in 2011.
Large public companies, however, represent only part of the economic development pie. In this section, readers will get a feel for the major sectors that are driving jobs and development in Virginia. For instance, the chart on Top 10 Sectors for Employment indicates that professional, scientific and technical services produced the most jobs, 12,769, during the most recent fiscal year, while data processing and data centers sparked the most investment: nearly $1 billion.
In terms of future jobs, biomedical engineers and personal-care aides are rated tops in terms of growth occupations through 2020.
There’s plenty of data on the Port of Virginia, one of Virginia’s top economic development assets. Be sure to check out the lists on top imports and exports. Speaking of international markets, Switzerland currently leads the way in terms of jobs created by foreign investment in Virginia, at 315, while Germany recently invested the most capital here, $76 million.
In 2012, Virginia announced several new projects. Leading the way with new jobs were the plans for a $68 million expansion by Richmond-based Health Diagnostic Laboratory Inc., which is expected to create more than 700 jobs. On the investment side, the biggest announcement came from Dominion Virginia Power with a proposed natural gas-fired power station in Brunswick County. Richmond-based Dominion said it would invest more than $1 billion in the project and add 30 jobs.
In terms of trivia, it’s fun to see where Va. stands in national rankings; we have a chart for that as well. We’re the No. 1 state for the highest concentration of tech workers as a percentage of the private sector work force. In terms of overall health, though, we rank No. 21.
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