Seeking the spotlight

Often overlooked Poquoson making its pitch as a business location

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Print this page by Elizabeth Cooper

Sandwiched between Hampton and York County, Poquoson is frequently overshadowed by its larger neighbors, but that could be changing as the city revs up efforts to attract new business.

“We’re telling commercial real estate firms, banks and developers to bring us your ideas,” says Charity Gavaza, the city’s economic development coordinator. “People don’t realize Poquoson is here, but it’s a great place to live and work.”

Named Virginia’s Best Affordable Suburb for 2010 by Bloomberg’s Businessweek magazine, Poquoson celebrates its 60th anniversary as an incorporated community this year. It has 11,883 residents but boasts a marketing area of 38,000 people within a three-mile radius of the downtown, including outlying residents of Hampton and York Country. “A lot of people live right over the border from us but come into our town to avoid traffic,” Gavaza says.

City leaders have steadily promoted planned growth, but the tough economy has been a hurdle. “It’s been more difficult to find businesses willing to take the risk,” Gavaza says, adding that things are starting to pick up with the arrival of new restaurants and retail, gift and antiques shops.

The city is also trying to attract technology firms to build on a 7-acre parcel on the edge of town near NASA. “We don’t have a 100,000-square-foot office building where a Fortune 500 company could move in,” Gavaza acknowledges, “but we have land ready to go.”

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