Escaping sequestration’s shadow

Virginia works to diversify its economy

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Print this page by Robert Powell
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Virginia has received a reprieve from a new round of sequestration, across-the-board federal budget cuts that went into effect during a congressional impasse five years ago.

A budget deal passed by Congress last fall will blunt the effects of sequestration for the next two years.

Federal budget trends are important in Virginia because so much of its economy is dependent on government spending. Federal defense spending alone accounts for 11.8 percent of the commonwealth’s gross domestic product (GDP), according to a recent Old Dominion University study.

From 2010 to 2012, defense spending in Virginia fell $9.8 billion, with most of the damage being felt in Northern Virginia.

Those cuts were a big factor in the commonwealth’s declining GDP in recent years. Virginia’s economy grew a miniscule 0.02 percent in 2014. The ODU report forecasts an improved growth rate of 1.98 percent this year.

Virginia’s dependence on federal spending is one reason its star has faded in some rankings of the best states to do business in the U.S. Once consistently ranked as No.1 by the financial television network CNBC, for example, the Old Dominion slipped to No. 12 on the latest list.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe sees the federal budget deal as a two-year window that Virginia should wisely use to diversify its economy. Almost every announcement of a new economic development project in the commonwealth includes a reference to his efforts to create a “New Virginia Economy.”

A more diversified state economy will be built on the assets that are outlined in charts and lists on the following pages.

The Port of Virginia, for example, is the third-busiest on the East Coast. Virginia has the second-highest concentration of technology workers in the country. Many of the commonwealth’s colleges and universities are ranked among the best in the country. Their prominence encourages many of Virginia’s top  students to stay in their home state, preventing a potential brain drain.

In addition you will find:

  • Lists of Virginia’s largest publicly traded and private companies, including 35 companies listed on the Fortune 1000, plus the 28 businesses ranked among the 100 fastest-growing in the nation by Inc. magazine.
  • Enrollment at Virginia’s public and private colleges and a list of their endowments.
  • Virginia’s top firms in construction, commercial real estate, banking, insurance, health care, accounting and other fields.
  • The state’s 25 top hospitals, based on annual net patient revenue.
  • Major contributions by Virginia individuals, corporations and foundations.

These resources can help the commonwealth blaze a new path.

Economic Development

  • Top 15 Announcements by Job
  • Virginia companies on the Fortune 1000
  • Virginia’s rankings
  • Top 15 Projects by Investment
  • Top 10 Sectors by Employment
  • Top 10 Sectors by Investment
  • Top 10 Investing Nations
  • Port of Virginia Stats

Construction & Development

  • General Contractors
  • Architectural and Engineering Firms
  • A sampling of some of Virginia’s largest transportation projects
  • Commercial Real Estate Firms

Largest Companies

  • Largest Public Companies
  • Virginia Companies on The Black Enterprise 100
  • Inc. 500 companies located in Virginia
  • Virginia CEO Pay Report
  • Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Largest Closings
  • Largest Private Companies
  • Fantastic 50 (Virginia’s 50 Fastest-Growing Companies)
  • Defense Contracts

Tidewater Community College Profile  by Elizabeth Cooper
Studious investment approach  by Tim Loughran

  • Endowments at Virginia Colleges and Universities
  • Colleges & Universities (private, nonprofit)
  • Colleges & Universities (public)
  • Community Colleges


  • Banks and Thrifts
  • Insurance Brokers
  • Credit Unions
  • Top SBA Lenders - Virginia District Office

Health Care

  • Top Hospitals by Revenue
  • Health and Accident Insurers
  • Life Insurers
  • Virginia’s Top Nursing Facilities by Revenue


  • Donations by Individuals and Family Foundations
  • A sampling of donations by companies and corporate foundations (2014)
  • 50 Largest Foundations in Virginia by Total Giving (2013)

Professional Services

  • Law Firms
  • Accounting Firms.
  • Lobbyists (Top entertainers for 2015)
  • Chambers of Commerce

Plan for high-speed rail from Richmond to Washington, D.C., is chugging along. by Jack Cooksey

  • Virginia Commercial Airports
  • Virginia’s Distilleries
  • Top 10 Craft Breweries
  • Conference Hotels

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