Dramatic events are taking place at some of state’s biggest companies

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Print this page by Robert Powell
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An Orbital ATK Inc. Antares rocket explodes shortly after
launch in October. AP Photo/NASA, Joel Kowsky

Virginia has always prided itself as a good place for business. After all, the Virginia colony was started in 1607 as a business enterprise, not a refuge for religious dissenters.

Many companies that have taken root here have become major international enterprises. Our list of the 50 largest publicly traded companies based in the commonwealth, for example, includes 41 with more than $1 billion in annual revenue.

The group is a diverse lot, ranging from defense contractors such as Falls Church-based General Dynamics to Bristol-based coal mining company Alpha Natural Resources to Toano-based flooring retailer Lumber Liquidators.

Behind the rankings and the numbers are sometimes dramatic events. Dulles-based Orbital ATK is forging ahead after a failed rocket launch at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility  last October. Sterling-based Neustar is fighting to keep its longtime national contract for managing phone number portability, which represents half its revenue. 

Waynesboro-based wireless phone service Ntelos has refocused its business on the western half of Virginia and West Virginia after abandoning its territories in Hampton Roads and Richmond.

Soon to join the list of largest public companies is Richmond-based Performance Food Group, No. 2 on the list of largest private companies in the commonwealth. The food distributor announced plans in September to hold an initial public offering to raise $100 million.

The state’s largest privately owned company is candy maker Mars Inc., based in McLean.

With the help of Equilar Inc., Virginia Business follows compensation trends among the commonwealth’s largest companies. In the latest report, based on the most recent proxies, the top earning executive was a woman, Phebe Novakovic, the CEO of General Dynamics.

Virginia also is home to seven companies on Black Enterprise magazine’s list of 100 biggest African-American businesses. They are Thompson Hospitality, SENTEL Corp., SoBran Inc., Capstone Corp., Metters Industries Inc., Advanced Systems Development Inc. and InScope International.

Largest Companies

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