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Virginia Economic Roundup: U.S. Chamber of Commerce Recognizes Virginia as One of Top States for Innovation

June 20, 2018

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recognized Virginia as the No. 3 state in the country for innovation and entrepreneurship, up three spots from last year’s rankings.

The “Enterprising States” report recognized Gov. Bob McDonnell’s “Year of the Entrepreneur” campaign and referred to Virginia as one of the best states in the country for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs.

The report ranked Virginia fifth in performance and talent pipeline, 46th in exports, 16th in business climate and 24th in infrastructure.

Virginia Unemployment Rate Falls in April

Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell one-tenth of a percentage point in April. The rate of 5.2 percent marked the second consecutive monthly decline in the rate and a decrease of 0.7 percentage points from April 2012.

The national unemployment rate for April was 7.5 percent.

VEDP Releases Export Guide for Defense Contractors

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership’s (VEDP) international trade division recently released a guide for defense-industry contractors interested in exporting to foreign countries.

VEDP says the goal of “Export Opportunities for Virginia’s Defense Industry” was to help Virginia defense companies reduce their dependence on federal government contracts.

“We have a timely opportunity to help these companies grow sales through exports and keep their high-paying jobs in the Commonwealth,” Paul Grossman, VEDP’s vice president of international trade, said in a statement.

The guide deals with export readiness, export regulations, market entry via foreign military sales and direct commercial sales, international market selection, defense trade financing and commercializing defense technologies.

VEDP said that foreign military sales through the U.S. government doubled from fiscal year 2011 to fiscal 2012.

Washington Ranked as 9th-Most Expensive City

According to the Council for Community and Economic Research’s (CCER) latest cost of living index, Washington, D.C., is one of the country’s most expensive cities for the third year in a row, ranking ninth overall.

The Washington area was approximately 42 percent more expensive than the national average.

Harlingen, Texas, was the city with the lowest cost of living for the third consecutive year. The New York boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn were the two most expensive cities.

ODU Forecasts Growth in Hampton Roads

A forecasting team at Old Dominion University (ODU) predicts growth in employment, retail sales, housing and port activity in Hampton Roads during the second quarter of 2013.

The Economic Forecasting Project said it expects the region’s civilian nonfarm employment to rise 1.2 percent from the second quarter of 2012, as well as improvements of 1.8 percent in total taxable sales, 1.4 percent in hotel room revenues, 3.8 percent in general cargo and 16.2 percent in single-family housing permits over the same time period.

Virginia Beach Light Rail Plans Take Shape

Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) has released street-level renderings detailing potential locations for a potential light rail network in Virginia Beach.

The agency plans to have ridership and cost estimates ready in September, before a potential City Council vote on a route.

The biggest route decision will be whether to go straight east on city-owned land near Oceana Naval Air Station or veer north through the Hilltop area. The Hilltop route would attract more riders, but would cost more to build because of road reconstruction.

A 2011 estimate put the cost of building the network to the oceanfront along a former rail line at $807 million, although HRT stressed that that figure is no longer current.

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