Virginia Beach, Virginia has almost 450,000 residents, and the larger metro area is home to over 1.7 million people. The Port of Virginia is one of the most advanced port terminals in the country and is located only twenty minutes from the city of Virginia Beach. The location functions with a Foreign Trade Zone designation, making it a hub for international imports and exports.
But the Virginia Beach area has more to offer than a convenient location for business. In fact, the area was previously named “the best place to live in America” by USA Today Weekend Magazine. The area is known for a high quality of life and for strong employment opportunities across a wide variety of employment sectors.
Additionally, educational opportunities abound with 11 institutions of higher learning within the metro area.
Virginia Beach Economy
The Virginia Beach economy is an exercise in diversity and is supported by residents with high levels of education and above average incomes. Additionally, the centralized Mid-Atlantic location and designation as a Foreign Trade Zone make is an excellent choice for international import and export activities. Research and development, defense, technology, and business and professional services provide opportunities across a wide variety of sectors, while tourism helps keep the retail sector strong.
The city also focuses on keeping the cost of doing business low, helping to encourage further economic growth and development. Additionally, low tax rates and local incentive programs help attract new operations into the area.
Virginia Beach is home to a broad range of industries, demonstrating the full diversity of the local economy. Some of the larger sectors operating in the area are covered here.
The city of Virginia Beach was named a “Manufacturing Boomtown” by Forbes in 2013, demonstrating the growth and potential in the area. The mid-Atlantic location makes it ideal for manufacturers interested in domestic and international shipping. Additionally, the area eliminated taxation on machinery, manufacturers’ inventory, as well as tool equipment. There is also no sales tax on goods purchased specifically for direct use in the production process, making the location a cost-effective option as well. The area is considered the seventh best-performing region for manufacturing within the United States and experienced five percent growth during 2013 alone. Some of the key businesses operating in the manufacturing sector in Virginia Beach include:
Architectural Graphics Inc.
London Bridge Trading Company, Lt.
M & G Electronics Corp.
As of 2015, STIHL Inc. employed over 2,000 individuals at the 1-million-square-foot headquarters facility. The company recently celebrated a major milestone with the production of its 50 millionth power head unit in the U.S.
Over 600 biomedical and life science businesses operate in the larger Virginia Beach metro area. The sector is advanced through the availability of major resources including:
- Bon Secours Health System
- Children’s Hospital of the Kings’ Daughters
- Eastern Virginia Medical School
- LifeNet Health
- Sentara Health
Research and academic institutions in the area also provide notable support, including those available through:
- Hampton University
- NASA Langley Research Center
- Old Dominion University
- Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility
- Tidewater Community College
The industry chooses to focus on four key areas including diabetes, metabolic cardiovascular disease, neuroscience and traumatic brain injury, and wounded veteran-related injuries.
Virginia Beach is a popular location for many corporate headquarters facilities. In fact, four Fortune 500 companies call the area home. Low corporate income taxes and affordable real estate makes the location ideal for many office operations.
Along with STIHL Inc., four other large headquarters facilities are associated with the following businesses:
- Gold Key | PHR
- Harmony Investments, Inc.
- Liberty Tax Service
The Virginia Beach area is home to nine major military installations as well as the largest active-duty military population in the country. NATO also has the only permanent headquarters that is located outside of Europe in the metro region. Along with a strong military presence is a substantial private industry designed to support these larger operations. Innovations in military technology translate into improved private sector applications over time. Additionally, military-specific research and development facilities also employ a large number of highly-skilled individuals, serving as a major point of opportunities for those working in the fields of aviation safety, materials, nuclear science, and sensor technology.
Aside from government and military employers, some of the largest businesses operating in the defense sector include:
- ADS Tactical Inc.
- Allied Technology Group Inc.
- Engility Corporation
- J.K. Hill & Assocaites Inc.
- Lockheed Martin Corporation
- Northrup Grumman
- Valkyrie Enterprises, LLC
The Department of Defense is estimated to employ over 43,000 civilians in the local area, making them a major part of the employment opportunities within the larger industry.
Information Services and Technology
Virginia Beach has a robust infrastructure, making it an ideal location for information and technology businesses. Additionally, local educational institutions provide a high level of access to potential employees interested in working and supporting the industry. In fact, Old Dominion University became the first university in the country to offer a doctoral degree in Modeling and Simulation, leading to the creation of the Virginia Modeling, Analysis, and Simulation Center. Additionally, transoceanic fiber cable connections were recently brought into Virginia Beach to provide the first direct connection in the Mid-Atlantic region. New high-speed data cables from Bilbao, Spain are anticipated during late 2017, and a new carrier-neutral data center is being developed by Globalinx Data Center, LLC.
Major employers in the information services and technology center currently operating in Virginia Beach include:
- Christian Broadcasting Network Inc.
- Doma Technologies, LLC
- Electronic Systems Inc.
- Liberty Tax / JTH Holdings
- Lockheed Martin
Additionally, most large facilities operating in other industries also have a notable need for IT personnel, helping to create opportunities for tech professionals outside of the IT sector.
Maritime & Logistics
The region hosts the third-busiest container port on the East Coast at the Port of Virginia, making the Virginia Beach metro area a major destination for international imports and exports. Additionally, the Norfolk Southern and CSX railroads operate through the area, as well as multiple interstate highway connections. The strong manufacturing sector has helped develop the maritime and logistics industry to provide the necessary direction and infrastructure to support shipping and transportation needs. Some of the larger business operating in the arena include:
- Atlantic Container Line
- Atlantic Dominion Distributors
- AMSEC LLC
- Brooks Transfer & Storage Co.
Two area industrial business parks also make operating in the Virginia Beach area simpler for companies as they provide quick access to the services associated with accessing major international markets.
Professional support services are a big part of the Virginia Beach economy. These businesses thrive by providing access to services to companies that have chosen not to focus internal resources in specific directions including those associated with professional, scientific, and technical services. Some of the major professional service businesses operating in the city include:
E.L. Hamm & Associates Inc.
Professional Engineering Software, Inc.
Securitas Security Services USA Inc.
Retail and Tourism Industry
The large local population supports a large retail sector including a variety of urban developments, regional malls, and traditional retail centers. Additionally, the tourism industry adds additional support to destination retail at the Oceanfront Resort Area.
In fact, Virginia Beach sees approximately six million overnight guests throughout the year and an additional 7.2 million “day trippers” during the same period. It is estimated that tourists bring in around $1.2 billion into the local economy on an annual basis. In total, the area supports over 25 million square feet of retail space across a wide variety of retail districts throughout the city.
Regent University is a mid-sized, four-year, private university located in Virginia Beach. The total undergraduate population is just over 3,800 students and graduate population of a little more than 5,000 students. The institution is faith-based, focused on Christian ideals.
Undergraduate students can choose from a wide variety of majors including, but not limited to:
- Biophysical Sciences
- Information Systems Technology
Students can attend classes in person as well as online, providing a lot of flexibility to those interested in pursuing their education while also maintaining full-time employment in the area.
Old Dominion University
Located in nearby Norfolk, Old Dominion University is a large, four-year, public university offering a range of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Over 19,000 undergraduate and 4,500 graduate students attend classes at the institution, selecting from a range of programs including, but not limited to:
- Chemical Oceanography
- Computer Engineering
- E-Business & E-Commerce
- Industrial Technology
- Maritime & Supply Chain Management
- Medical Technology
- Tourism Management
Many degrees are designed to provide graduates with career opportunities within the local area as well as across the nation.
Tidewater Community College
Another large institution located in nearby Norfolk is Tidewater Community College. This two-year, public community college has programs in some of the most in-demand fields in the local area. Some of the fields of study include:
- Information Technology
- Maritime & Logistics
- Mechanical & Industrial Technology
Many of the programs and courses offered through the institution are designed to be transferable to four-year institutions. This provides graduates with the option of furthering their education if they so choose.
Employment opportunities are as varied as the major industries in the area. Aside from positions tied specifically to those industries, certain fields are in-demand based on the size of the city. Some of the largest need are in these fields.
The need for healthcare professionals is growing across the country, and Virginia Beach is no exception. Employees are needed at all levels, ranging from entry-level positions to those requiring medical doctorates. Large area hospitals and health care systems are major employers in the area. Additionally, hospitals, clinics, and health care systems require significant amounts of administrative support. Appointment scheduling, records maintenance, billing specialists, and management professionals are all employed within the larger health care industry.
Virginia Beach is recognized as having one of the strongest K-12 public school systems in the nation. And school systems of this size require a large number of teachers to support the population. Additionally, local colleges and universities also require significantly sized faculty to maintain operations. Along with teachers and professors, most educational facilities have large administrative staffs to keep each school functioning. Everything from receptionists to principals are employed throughout the city, providing a wide range of opportunities to those interested in the field at large.
Two of the largest employers in the city of Virginia Beach are insurance companies. GEICO General Insurance Company has approximately 2,700 employees providing services and performing administrative functions related to their auto and other vehicle insurance product offerings. AMERIGROUP (Wellpoint) has an employee population of around 1,850 individuals and operates in the corporate insurance industry. Workers within this organization can also range from entry-level office support to high-level insurance and financial professionals.
With the large number of tourists that come to Virginia Beach every year, the tourism industry provides numerous job opportunities to local residents. Hotels employ workers in positions ranging from hotel receptionists to management personnel, and restaurants hire cooks, wait staff, and management personnel. Other positions are related to building maintenance and cleaning, landscaping, and construction.
Enjoy Virginia Beach
Virginia Beach offers residents a temperate climate and 38 miles of beach to enjoy. Some of the beaches are even pet-friendly, making them favorite destinations for dog lovers throughout the city. Additionally, over 255 city parks and recreational facilities are also located within the city, as well as a range of internationally recognized attractions. The city also features numerous breweries, many of which offer tours, creating a strong craft beer presence in the area.
Residents and tourists can enjoy top-quality golf facilities, providing an excellent way to enjoy the lovely weather while improving your skills on the links. With the broad array of industries, plentiful educational opportunities, and strong overall economy, it’s no wonder that so many people decide to live, study, and work in the Virginia Beach area. If any of the above information sounds appealing, then Virginia Beach may be the ideal destination for you as well.
Resources in Virginia Beach, VA
City of Virginia Beach - https://www.vbgov.com
Visit Virginia Beach - http://www.visitvirginiabeach.com