Amanda Phelps, CPA
Recruiting manager, Robert Half International, Norfolk
How is the economy faring in your part of the state?
The economy in Hampton Roads is thriving. As a staffing manager, I have seen a demand for skilled talent. Unemployment is low, and the market for skilled labor is tight.
What local industry/sector do you think has potential for growth?
Opportunities are available for growth in the logistics and supply-chain management industry. We are responsible for delivering goods to consumers across the nation and globe. Expansion and automation of the [Port of Virginia's] terminals are necessary. Mental health care is another opportunity. More companies are offering benefits that include access to mental health care and our health care facilities will need to meet demands.
What’s the biggest challenge to doing business in your area?
Finding and retaining a talented workforce is challenging. It is a [job] candidate’s market right now, and candidates have their choice of employment. The Hampton Roads area is working hard to lure many Virginia college grads to remain or move to the Hampton Roads area. Sea-level rise is another threat to infrastructure in Hampton Roads and may discourage business.
What impact would a recession have on businesses in your area?
A recession could negatively affect Hampton Roads, since our economy is heavily dependent on federal spending. Defense spending cuts could slow down business.
How did the 2018 tax reform laws affect returns in 2019?
The 2018 tax reform resulted in a higher standard deduction and eliminating personal exemptions. As a tradeoff for ease, some taxpayers may have been less inclined to take advantage of previous tax incentives like charitable contributions and mortgage interest deduction. Many businesses have reported benefiting from the tax reform, leading to a thriving economy.