By the numbers

Global brands arrive, and existing companies expand in Virginia

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Print this page by Paula C. Squires

Economic development is under the microscope in Virginia. An investigation of Virginia’s largest business recruiting operation prompted legislative proposals for reform during this year’s General Assembly. They will bring change to the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP). 

Yet the VEDP overhaul has taken a back seat to recent headlines. A new global brand is coming to Virginia, and there’s a $100 million expansion underway by an existing company. Nestlé USA plans to invest nearly $40 million in moving its headquarters to Rosslyn, a move expected to bring 748 jobs to the area. Meanwhile, the Navy Federal Credit Union is investing $100 million to nearly double the size of its operations center in Frederick County, creating 1,400 additional jobs. 

These are good omens for Virginia.  Since sequestration reduced the number of federal defense contracts that for so long buoyed the state’s economy, Virginia has been scrambling to attract a more diverse corporate base. Under the Trump presidency, some contractors hope that federal spending will rebound. As a candidate, Trump promised to restore America’s military might.

In the meantime, Virginia is seeing new capital investment. In 2016, the VEDP announced 300 economic development projects. They are expected to create 24,116 new jobs and $4.6 billion in investment. Those figures were up slightly from the 20,992 jobs and $4 billion in investment reported for 2015.

On the investment side, Dominion Virginia Power’s $1.3 billion natural-gas-fired power plant underway in Greensville County represented the largest new project in the state last year.  The second-largest investment was a $350 million data center in Prince William County that Iron Mountain Information Management plans to build. 

In addition to data processing, the manufacturing sector performed well. It drew new investments in beverages, pharmaceutical and medicine, plastics and motor vehicle parts.

On the jobs front, ADP’s relocation to downtown Norfolk represented the biggest deal. The New Jersey-based company opened a 288,000-square-foot regional customer service center in downtown Norfolk in December. Initially staffed with 300 workers, the staff is expected to grow to 1,800. The employees there work with clients on cloud-based payroll, human resources and human capital management solutions.  

Overall, the most job-rich sectors in 2016 were computer systems design and related services, with 4,128 new jobs, followed by management, scientific and consulting services, 3,475 jobs.


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