Reports The Big Book

Standing out in a crowd

Education and training help the commonwealth create jobs

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Virginia Tech President Tim Sands announces a 1-million-square-foot
technology-focused campus. AP Photo/Cliff Owen

Virginia entered 2019 with a sense of momentum.

In November, Seattle-based Amazon announced that Arlington would be the site for half of the tech giant’s second headquarters. (The Long Island City area of Queens in New York was picked up for the other half, but Amazon dropped those plans in the face of political opposition.)

The project, known as HQ2, was the most sought-after economic development prize seen in the U.S. in decades.

Amazon expects to create 25,000 jobs paying an average of $150,000 as the company invests $2 billion in its National Landing site straddling Arlington and Alexandria.

As part of the deal, Virginia Tech is creating a $1 billion Innovation campus in Alexandria to help generate a pipeline of workers with degrees in computer sciences and related fields.

Other Virginia universities also plan to beef up their computer-science programs. Amazon officials said the commonwealth’s emphasis on the creation of a skilled workforce set it apart from other bidders.

Increasingly, Virginia’s educational institutions and its workforce development programs are key factors in its economic development.

Their importance is seen in two recent record-breaking philanthropic gifts.

In December, Virginia Tech announced a $50 million gift, the largest in the school’s history, from the Horace G. Fralin Charitable Trust and Heywood and Cynthia Fralin of Roanoke.

The money will be used to support research at the newly renamed Fralin Biomedical Research Institute in Roanoke, formerly the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute. Construction of a $90 million, 139,000-square-foot Biomedical Research Addition building at the VTC Health Sciences and Technology Campus is expected to be finished in spring 2020.

Virginia Tech President Tim Sands said the Fralins’ gift “will broaden our research profile dramatically and elevate Roanoke’s ability to compete and thrive in a knowledge-based economy.”

The economic impact of the Health Sciences and Technology Campus in Virginia was $214 million in 2017 and is projected to more than double, approaching half-a-billion dollars per year, by 2026.

Nearly 1,700 people worked at the Health Sciences and Technology Campus in fiscal year 2017. The number is expected to rise to nearly 3,150, by 2026, according to a study by the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service’s Center for Economic and Policy Studies.

In January, the University of Virginia announced plans to establish a $200 million School of Data Science with the help of a $120 million donation.

The gift, likewise the largest private gift in the university’s history, is from the Quantitative Foundation. Jaffray Woodriff, a 1991 graduate of the U.Va. McIntire School of Commerce, is trustee of the foundation, and his wife, Merrill Woodriff, also a U.Va. graduate, is a director. Jaffray Woodriff is founder and CEO of Quantitative Investment Management in Charlottesville.

The data science school, which will require approval from the board of visitors and the state, will incorporate U.Va.’s Data Science Institute, established by a previous Quantitative grant.

The new school is expected to help the commonwealth meet growing demand for data science professionals in a field that plays a central role in an information-based economy.

The following pages of The Big Book look at the recent growth of Virginia’s economy in many sectors, including lists of top economic projects; Port of Virginia statistics; Virginia leaders in architecture, engineering, construction and commercial real estate; the commonwealth’s largest publicly traded and private companies; enrollments at public and private colleges and universities; largest accounting and law firms; top banks and credit unions; and the biggest conference hotels and busiest airports.

The charts and lists include:

Most Influential Virginians

Movers and shakers: Virginia’s most influential businesspeople get things done.  by Jessica Sabbath

Economic development

Big deals dominate headlines: Amazon is expected to create at least 25,000 jobs.  by Michael O’Connor

Construction & development

In the works: A number of major projects are in the pipeline. by Veronica Garabelli

Largest companies

Shifting allegiances: Contractors gobble up smaller Va.-based peers. by Jessica Sabbath

Altria makes big bets on vaping, cannabis
But FDA has concerns about Juul deal. by Tim Loughran


Fresh faces: A look at the new leaders in higher education.  by Veronica Garabelli

Creating a supportive atmosphere 
ODU strives to meet the needs of a diverse student body. by Elizabeth Cooper


A changing industry map: Recent acquisitions create major players in banking.  by Robert Powell

Stay calm and carry on
Advisers say investors should stay focused on long-term goals. by Brian J. Couturier

SHOOK top wealth advisers in Virginia 


More coverage for Virginians: Medicaid expansion marks major change for commonwealth. by Robert Powell


Transforming effects: Multimillion-dollar gifts reshape university programs.  by Robert Powell

Professional services

Political persuasion: New list highlights lobbyist spending in Va.  by Michael O’Connor


New beverages to drink and places to visit: Taproom expansions and boutique hotels sprout up around Virginia. by Veronica Garabelli

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