Looking forward by glancing back

Where have we been, and what comes next?

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When Virginia Business produced its first issue in March 1986, the commonwealth was confronted with the same question it faces today: How does it use its advantages to remain competitive in a rapidly changing, international marketplace?

In 1986, Virginia had (and still has) a number of assets, including one of the top deep-water ports on the East Coast, a well-regarded higher-education system, a skilled workforce and proximity to Washington, D.C.

Nonetheless, many industries that helped support the state’s economy 30 years ago — textiles, tobacco and furniture-making, for example — have declined sharply. Today another economic pillar, federal defense spending, is under pressure. Which of Virginia’s current industries will still be thriving 30 years from now, in 2046?

By 1986, an urban corridor from Boston to Washington had expanded to form an arc of affluent consumers around the Chesapeake Bay. This “Golden Crescent,” from the Potomac to the Atlantic, began to attract the notice of many companies.

Today, business leaders are promoting a combination of two sections of the Crescent, the Richmond and Hampton Roads areas, to form a mega-region. They believe the combined urban expanse will be more likely than the individual areas to attract attention from major companies and international investors.

In separate interviews, former Gov. Gerald Baliles (elected in 1985) and Gov. Terry McAuliffe reflect on the state of Virginia’s economy in 1986 and today, offering some clues on how the economy will change in the next 30 years. Both men stress the importance of  foreign trade missions, which can bring foreign investment and new jobs to the commonwealth).

Virginia Business isn’t alone in celebrating a major milestone this year. We offer a list of companies marking anniversaries, ranging 10 to 250 years. Three of these companies are profiled: Chesapeake-based Dollar Tree Inc., Winchester-based Shockey Companies and Hot Springs-based Omni Homestead Resort.

The anniversary section also includes the magazine’s annual list of Most Influential Virginians, individuals and families that have been catalysts for change in their industry, region or the state economy. In observance of the magazine’s anniversary, all were asked, “What were you doing in 1986?”

The anniversary section concludes with a timeline looking at business events reported in Virginia Business since 1986.


Cover story
A big-league move?
Business groups believe a Richmond-Hampton Roads mega-region will be a major competitor.  by Paula C. Squires

Interviews with Former Gov. Gerald Baliles and Gov. Terry McAuliffe
1986 versus 2016
Baliles and McAuliffe discuss how Virginia’s economy has developed and why it still needs to change.  by Robert Powell

Memorable milestones
Major anniversaries
Virginia companies celebrate 10 to 250 years in business. by Robert Powell

Anniversary profiles
Dollar Tree Inc.
Shockey Companies
The Omni Homestead Resort

Most Influential Virginians, Power Couples and People On the Move
Virginia Business: Where we were in 1986
A business timeline of the past 30 years

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