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Virginia Economic Roundup: D.C. Metro’s Silver Line Opens

 

The Washington, D.C. Metro’s Silver Line saw its first use Monday, with 24,309 passenger trips beginning or ending at the five stations in Northern Virginia.

Passengers reported few parking issues on the line’s first day, although some had problems navigating realigned bus routes that feed the new stations. Metro estimates that by this time next summer, the five stations will have 50,000 boardings and de-boardings each weekday.

Wiehle-Reston East, the westernmost of the new stations, was the busiest on the first day, with 7,249 boardings and 5,302 de-boardings. Greensboro recorded the least passenger traffic.

The new line appeared to have an effect on the nearby Orange Line, with morning departures down 66 percent from a typical weekday at West Falls Church, 14 percent at Dunn Loring and 19 percent at Vienna.

Unemployment Rates Rise in Virginia Metro Areas in June

Figures released by the Virginia Employment Commission showed jobless rates in Virginia’s 11 metro areas increased from one-tenth to six-tenths of a percentage point in June. The pace of unemployment growth was slower than in May, when the same figures ranged from half a percentage point to 1.3 percentage points.

The unadjusted unemployment rate for Virginia was 5.4 percent for June, up from 5.3 percent in May.

The unemployment rates for Virginia’s metro areas for June were:

  • Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford: 6.2 percent (5.8 percent in May)
  • Bristol: 6.9 percent (6.3 percent)
  • Charlottesville: 4.9 percent (4.6 percent)
  • Danville: 7.8 percent (7.7 percent)
  • Hampton Roads: 5.9 percent (5.8 percent) Harrisonburg: 5.6 percent (5.3 percent)
  • Lynchburg: 6.4 percent (6.2 percent)
  • Northern Virginia: 4.5 percent (4.4 percent)
  • Richmond: 5.7 percent (5.6 percent)
  • Roanoke: 5.7 percent (5.5 percent)
  • Winchester: 4.8 percent (4.7 percent)

Sens. Kaine, Warner Introduce Bill to Reauthorize Export-Import Bank

Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) said in a press release that they are introducing legislation to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, which finances the sale of American products to overseas markets. The bank’s authorization is currently set to expire Sept. 30.

The bill would reauthorize the bank for five years and increase its spending authority by $20 billion, to $160 billion, over that period.

"The bank assumes country and credit risks that other private-sector lenders are unable or unwilling to do at a reasonable cost,” Kaine said, “and it helps level the playing field for U.S. businesses because so many of our global competitors have banks just like this that loan even more or support even more loans than we do.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, as well as their Virginia branches, support reauthorization. Opponents of the bank say it gives government support to big businesses that don’t need the help.

Senators from both parties are among the bill’s sponsors.

VDACS Offering Grants for Veterans, Minority Farmers

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) is offering more than $9 million in federal funding to minority farmers and ranchers and military veterans in Virginia who are new to farming and ranching.

Twenty-two percent of all farmers were beginning farmers in 2012.

Applications are being accepted through Aug. 25.

Richmond Office Vacancy Rate Falls to 5-Year Low

According to a market report from CBRE|Richmond, the area’s office vacancy rate fell to a five-year low of 13.6 percent in the second quarter of 2014.

Relocations made up the bulk of first-quarter activity, but new firms and expansions led to 91.467 square feet of absorption.

Three new office buildings broke ground in the quarter, with a total of 440,418 square feet of office space under construction. Medical office space was the biggest driver in the market.

Dominion: 50 Percent of 2013 Electricity Came from Carbon-Free Sources

A new report from Dominion states that 50 percent of the electricity produced by its power stations in 2013 came from carbon-free sources such as nuclear and renewable energy.

Dominion also said that its generation fleet saw a 24 percent reduction in carbon intensity (the carbon emissions rate per unit of electric output) from 2009 to 2013.

The company highlighted the addition of more than 200 megawatts of renewable energy capacity, enough to power 50,000 homes.

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