By Anne Cosgrove
From the September / October 2023 Issue
The Port of Virginia continues to be an expanding economic force in the state’s economy by helping to create hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in sales, income, taxes and fees, according to a recently published study. Conducted by The College of William & Mary, the report analyzed the overall value of the port to the Virginia economy during fiscal year 2022 (FY22) and compares the findings with the port’s economic impact in FY21.
“The Port of Virginia is delivering significant, positive results for the Virginia economy, and we are on course to help drive even more job creation and economic investment,” said Stephen A. Edwards, the CEO and Executive Director of the Virginia Port Authority. “We are investing $1.4 bil-lion to expand our overall capacity and cargo handling capabilities, and this will have a positive effect on the Virginia economy. The cargo goes to well-run, modern, efficient ports, and as this port grows, so will its benefits to all Virginians.”
The port posted its most productive fiscal-year performance ever in FY22; in that period, the port processed more than 3.7 million 20-foot equivalent units at its terminals. The business activity generated by the movement and handling of that cargo combined with the port’s overall productivity was a significant contributor to the Virginia economy, the report stated.
In FY22, the economic activity tied to the flow of cargo across the port’s terminals led to: $124.1 billion in output sales, up 24% from FY21 (12% of total Virginia output) and 565,000 full- and part-time jobs, up 29% from FY21 (11% of total employment in the state).
The port contributes to Virginia’s economy in three ways: the movement/transport of export and import cargo within Virginia; the export of Virginia-made goods; and the added processing and distribution of imports by Virginia businesses to produce goods for sale throughout the state and across the nation.
Edwards said it is important to understand that FY22 was a record-year for trade because ports were continuing to recover from the pandemic-driven disruption in trade. This, he said, drove cargo activity at The Port of Virginia to all-time highs.
“There were so many unusual factors at work [in FY22] that were all contributors to our record-setting year,” Edwards said. “We doubt we will ever see a trade environment similar to that during the pandemic. Trade is now returning to normal, as expected, and we are focusing on maintaining the gains we have made while improving our efficiency and service levels.”
Added Edwards, “We are nearing the end of our dredging effort, and within the next 12 months The Port of Virginia will become the deepest port on the U.S. East Coast. Later this summer we’ll begin taking delivery of equipment for the expansion of the Central Rail Yard at Norfolk International Terminals (NIT) and breaking ground of the expansion of the North Berth at NIT. These initiatives will drive trade to and through The Port of Virginia.”
The study’s authors are K. Scott Swan, a professor of international business, innovation and marketing at W&M’s Raymond A. Mason School of Business, and Mangum Economics, a Virginia-based firm that specializes in quantitative economic research.
The significance of marine logistics was punctuated with a late summer announcement in the Hampton Roads region. Lyon Shipyard, a full-service ship repair and industrial services provider, plans to invest $8.5 million to expand its operation in the City of Norfolk and create 134 jobs.
“Lyon Shipyard has been a leader in marine repair and industrial services in Norfolk for nearly a century, and its new investment will allow the company to service vessels integral to Virginia’s growing offshore wind industry.”
— Governor Glenn Youngkin
“Lyon Shipyard has been a leader in marine repair and industrial services in Norfolk for nearly a century, and its new investment will allow the company to service vessels integral to Virginia’s growing offshore wind industry,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “We thank Lyon Shipyard for its long-term partnership with the Commonwealth and advancing Virginia’s position as a leading state in this emerging sector on the East Coast.”
“We are proud to call Norfolk, Virginia home. The support and partnership Lyon Shipyard receives from the Commonwealth of Virginia has been astonishing,” said Nikole Dunkley, Vice President, Human Resources, Lyon Shipyard. “Our upcoming expansion will allow Lyon Ship-yard to hire an additional 134 employees. We want to be the change so many other companies just talk about—Lyon Shipyard wants to lead the charge and help transform the socioeconomical landscape for the City of Norfolk and its residents.”
“The Hampton Roads Alliance congratulates Lyon Shipyard and the City of Norfolk on this announcement,” said Douglas L. Smith, President & Chief Executive Officer, Hampton Roads Alliance. “Lyon’s growth will create hundreds of well-paying jobs for our region and expands our regional capacity in two very important industries—defense and alternative energy. The Alliance stands ready to support Lyon Shipyard through our regional business retention and aftercare services.”
“Lyon Shipyard is well-positioned to be a significant contributor to Virginia’s emerging offshore wind energy sector,” said Virginia Port Authority’s Edwards. “The offshore wind industry here will be enhanced with Lyon’s capabilities and expertise to succeed. This company is a great local resource, and this investment is going to help create jobs and drive the development of a new industry.”
Established in 1928, Lyon Shipyard supplies commercial and government customers with services including marine electronics repair, barge repair, and pier side repairs, as well as hauling vessels out of the water for underwater repairs to equipment such as propellers, tail shafts, and rudders. The company’s commercial customers include tug and barge operators, dredging and marine construction contractors, ferry and cruise ship operators, research vessels, and commercial fishing companies. Lyon’s government customers include the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, the Coast Guard, Military Sealift Command, and the Maritime Administration.
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the City of Norfolk and the Hampton Roads Alliance to secure the project and will support Lyon Shipyard’s job creation through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program (VJIP), which provides consultative services and funding to companies creating new jobs in order to support employee recruitment and training activities. The company is also eligible to receive benefits from the Port of Virginia Economic and Infrastructure Development Zone Grant Program.
Aviation Infrastructure, Relocations Grow In Richmond
Moving economic growth through aviation infrastructure is of note in Virginia. In July, Richmond International Airport (RIC) was recognized with the Most Efficient Airport in North America* award from the Air Transport Research Society (ATRS). RIC was recognized in the “under 5 million passengers per year” group.
“We are thrilled to win this award and we could not have done it without our fantastic team,” said Perry J. Miller, A.A.E., I.A.P, President and CEO of RIC. “We’ve been an economic engine for our region for almost a century—generating about $2.1 billion in economic impact per year.”
“RIC has had a direct impact on local business vitality, resident happiness, and increased tourism spending,” said Frank Thornton, Chairman of the Henrico County Board of Supervisors. “And you can see that they’re not content to rest on their laurels; they’re deliberately taking steps to improve. For instance, the addition of new and affordable nonstop options to popular destinations like San Francisco and New Orleans has moved the needle for RIC—and for us as a region.”
Meanwhile, the Richmond region has continued its strong growth in business relocations as well as expansions of existing companies.
Jennifer Wakefield, President and CEO, Greater Richmond Partnership, shares this update: “Progress is well underway in Greater Richmond as seen by ongoing construction for the CoStar Group’s $460 million corporate campus as well as Plenty Unlimited’s $300 million indoor vertical farm—which will be the world’s largest when completed. Combined with recent mixed-use developments for GreenCity and the Diamond District, the Upper Magnolia mega site and millions of square feet of spec development, Greater Richmond is poised to assist both future companies and residents.”
Northern Virginia Focuses On “Booming” IT Industry
In the northern region of the state, Fairfax County recently attracted Dev Technology Group, an information technology services company delivering mission-critical applications and systems to the federal government. Due to a substantial increase in demand for its services, the company is investing in 10,000 square feet of new office space to accommodate additional IT and software personnel. The project will create 90 new jobs.
“As a federal contractor, Dev Technology has selected to continue its growth in Fairfax County due to the proximity of clients and access to highly skilled employees, including veterans,” said Kendall Holbrook, CEO of Dev Technology. “In addition, Northern Virginia is a diverse and inclusive community that allows us to attract and retain people of all backgrounds, which ultimately makes our company stronger and more resilient.”
Founded in 1998, Dev Technology Group delivers information technology services and solutions that enable government missions. The company’s work supports multiple agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Army National Guard, Army Corps of Engineers, Defense’s Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office, the United States Geological Survey, DARPA, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and others.
“Dev Technology Group is a Virginia success story that bolsters our booming IT industry while providing critical services for the government and 21st-century jobs for civilians and veter-ans,” said Gov. Glenn Youngkin. “We are proud to see a longstanding corporate partner benefit from the Commonwealth’s diverse, world-class technology talent that catalyzes growth.”
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“Congratulations to Dev Technology Group on their office expansion in Fairfax County,” said Victor Hoskins, President and CEO of Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA). “We applaud Dev Technology for their investment and plan of hiring 90 new information technology and software employees.”
Dev Technology has been named a Washington Post Top Workplace for the past nine consecutive years, a Top Workplaces USA recipient for the past two years since the inception of the pro-gram, and an AnitaB.org Top Company for Women Technologists in 2021 and 2022. Dev Technology has a robust Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) strategy, which is focused on ensuring a respectful, inclusive, safe work culture and environment through improving the recruitment, hiring, promotion, and retention of a workforce that represents the United States. This, in turn, builds and sustains an inclusive work culture, and increases opportunities for veterans, underrepresented minorities, women, and people with disabilities. Dev Technology supports several community organizations through their DevGivesBack program, including Cornerstones, After-School All-Stars, and Northern Virginia Family Services.
Dev Technology’s job creation will also be supported through the VJIP.