Projects announced in 2014 expected to create 18,672 jobs
From paper products to data centers and automotive parts, Virginia attracted its share of major new business deals last year. Altogether, the state announced 286 new deals and expansions expected to create 18,672 jobs and $5.5 billion in investment.
The figures were up from 2013 when the state’s Virginia Economic Development Partnership reported 321 announcements representing $3.6 billion in investment and 16,135 new jobs.
The show stopper deal came from China’s Shandong Tranlin Paper Co. In the largest investment ever by a Chinese company in Virginia’s history, Shandong plans to invest $2 billion during the next five years to build its first U.S. advanced manufacturing operation in Chesterfield County. By 2020, the plant’s paper and pulp operations should bring 2,000 new jobs in Central Virginia. The icing on the cake? Shandong will make environmentally friendly paper products from corn stalks and wheat straw, creating new “cash crops” for Virginia farmers.
Data centers continue their strong showing, representing two of the state’s top five investment deals in 2014.
Manufacturing also saw resurgence. One of the largest deals, a $150 million expansion by Continental Automotive Systems in Newport News, is expected to create 525 new jobs.
Virginia continues to enjoy respectable rankings on national lists even as it grapples with issues such as improving its transportation network and diversifying its economy. The commonwealth came in No. 10 on Site Selection magazine’s annual list of the Top Ten State Business Climates and slipped from No. 1 to No. 4 on Forbes.com’s Best States for Business.
Steep cuts in the country’s national defense budgets have Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads working to reinvent their economies. NOVA, however, got good news in February when Inova decided to lease the 117-acre Exxon Mobil Fairfax campus for a new multimillion Personalized Health Center. The project is expected to jumpstart a biotech boom and help replace some of the lost federal jobs.