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Virginia Economic Roundup: Government Contractors Report Growth in Last Quarter

Many government contractors reported significant profit growth for the most recent quarter, due in part to previous cost-cutting measures in preparation for federal spending cuts.

McLean-based Booz Allen Hamilton saw a small decline in revenue, but reported a profit jump of 13.5 percent to $70.3 million. Booz Allen has cut its work force by more than 1,000 since March 31 and has made changes to compensation and benefits while realigning its staff to more precisely match the size of its work force to demand.

“We can produce a lot more direct labor and, therefore a lot more revenue, with fewer people,” Booz Allen Chief Operating Officer Horacio Rozanski said. He added that there is considerable uncertainty about future government spending.

NCI, an information technology contractor based in Reston, also reported a decline in revenue and a significant increase in profit. The company estimated it would lose about $10 million in revenue in 2013 because of sequestration.

Virginia Signs Cost-Sharing Deal With Amtrak; Commonwealth Proposes Rail Service Plan to Bristol

Virginia has signed an agreement with Amtrak under which the commonwealth will assume greater costs associated with intercity passenger rail service between Washington, D.C., and Lynchburg, Newport News, Norfolk and Richmond.

The deal averts a shutdown in Virginia regional rail service that would have occurred if a deal had not been struck by Oct. 1. The agreement is part of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008, which requires Amtrak to work with 19 states to establish a consistent cost-sharing methodology for 28 of its corridor routes.

Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), who is working on a new passenger rail bill, said that the state-supported routes could provide a model for future reforms that would reduce the federal share of Amtrak costs.

In other railroad news, Virginia transportation officials are seeking public comment on a plan that would add a route from Richmond to Bristol.

Currently, very little passenger train transportation exists west of Lynchburg. The plan calls for new stations along the route and new rail services to Roanoke and Bristol, as well as improved freight routes running the length of Interstate 81 and U.S. 460 into West Virginia.

The plan is intended to alleviate congestion on heavily traveled roads like I-81, which is expected to see truck traffic double by 2040. It also recommends an allocation of nearly $900 million to help renovate existing railways in an effort to divert truck traffic to trains.

Virginia Transportation Secretary Calls Loudoun-Prince William Parkway ‘Imperative’

Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton said the completion of a controversial parkway connecting Loudoun and Prince William counties is “imperative” for the area.

Prince William residents fear that the 10-mile parkway from Interstate 66 in Prince William to Route 50 in Loudoun would affect their property and way of life, as well as historic areas near the Manassas National Battlefield Park.

Connaughton, a Prince William resident, said that the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) projects enormous growth in the Loudoun-Prince William corridor. He said that there are no plans to widen Route 234 and that the route will not be used by many trucks.

When asked if his appearance changed any minds, Connaughton replied, “No, not at all.”

He emphasized that VDOT is currently only looking to finalize a broad legal agreement and that a decision on whether to build the parkway has not been made and the project, expected to cost approximately $440 million, has not been funded.

Redskins Training Camp Boost Largely Limited to Immediate Area Around Facility

As the Washington Redskins complete their first training camp at the new Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, area businesses indicate that any increase in sales is largely limited to the areas near the facility and the team’s hotel.

City Diner, which is located across West Broad Street from the facility, has been a beneficiary of the camp, as has the McDonald’s on West Broad Street, which has stayed open 24 hours a day during camp and added extra shifts.

“This has been a major positive impact on our business,” General Manager André Lipscomb said.

Other businesses located farther from the camp have not seen the same results. The Fat Dragon restaurant on Boulevard reported a flat trend.

“Our expectation level was very high,” Fat Dragon General Manager Chris Staples said. “We wanted to see a huge spike in sales.”

Restaurants near the Omni Hotel in Shockoe Slip, where the team is staying, have reported a boost during what is normally a slow period.

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