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Business Facilities magazine ranks Virginia localities among top in nation

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Print this page By Kate Andrews | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
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Loudoun County’s Buddy Rizer. Photo by Mark Rhodes

Virginia localities scored highly in economic growth potential, wage growth, corporate headquarter locations and other categories in Business Facilities magazine’s 15th Annual Metro Rankings Report, released Wednesday. The state as a whole is ranked second for best business climate, second for cybersecurity growth potential and third among states with the highest economic growth potential.

“Our leaders in economic growth potential each have put down markers that they are prepared to compete in the hottest emerging growth sectors,” including cybersecurity and unmanned aerial systems, Business Facilities Editor in Chief Jack Rogers writes in the report. Richmond ranked fourth and Virginia Beach ninth among mid-sized cities with the highest economic growth potential.

Among cities and towns with populations below 300,000, Richmond and McLean tied for second place (along with Santa Clara, California, and Omaha, Nebraska) in attracting corporate headquarters, while Northern Virginia topped the list of data center hubs, with more than 12 million square feet of commissioned data center space, according to the report.

“Data centers have been transformative for our economy in Loudoun County,” says Buddy Rizer, executive director of the county’s economic development department. Loudoun has nearly 13.5 million square feet in operation, the world’s largest concentration of data centers,

This year, Loudoun expects to earn $300 million from its data sector, which employs 300,000 people at more than 3,400 technology companies, including Amazon Web Services’ largest location. “It’s a launching pad for a lot of other industries,” from cybersecurity and information technology to health care, Rizer says, and approximately 10,000 more people are employed in data center-related jobs in the county.

Arlington County, soon to be the home of Amazon’s HQ2, which is expected to bring 25,000 jobs with a median salary of $150,000 by 2030, is ranked ninth among wage growth leaders, and the Washington, D.C./Arlington/Alexandria region scored sixth for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) jobs.

“The rankings reflect the unified and bipartisan approach to job creation in Northern Virginia,” says Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC) President and CEO Bobbie Kilberg. “A strong commitment to preparing students for STEM careers, coupled with active involvement from the leaders of our data center sector, is what underpins our economic success. NVTC is proud to play a role in facilitating an open dialogue among technology companies of all sizes to continue to open doors for future professionals to fuel our local economy.”

Virginia also was ranked the top state for unmanned aerial systems, fifth among workforce training leaders and took sixth place for tech jobs employment.

Richmond also placed seventh on the list of “Millennial Magnets,” based on a National Association of Realtors analysis.

“Our business attraction efforts have been helped in recent years thanks to Richmond’s in-migration of millennial talent from all over the mid-Atlantic area,” Jennifer Wakefield, interim president and CEO for the Greater Richmond Partnership, said in a statement Wednesday. “Many companies are seeking millennial talent to ramp up efforts locally due to the region’s low unemployment rate. However, the region’s underemployment rate floats around 12 percent — which includes mostly millennial talent eager to expand their capabilities.”

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