Virginia’s well-developed infrastructure, strategic location, highly qualified workforce, and its business-friendly climate have all contributed to making the state a key locale for international business operations of both foreign and domestic owned multinationals. Being located near Washington, D.C. has its benefits, but businesses see Virginia as a strong location for operations because it offers stable taxes and strong business incentives, as well as the fact that the state is home to six foreign trade zones and the massive Port of Virginia, the largest intermodal network on the East Coast.
In the 2010 State Economy Index, published by the Ewing Kauffman Foundation and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, Virginia ranked 10th among states best prepared to navigate the changing economy, both in terms of globalization and entrepreneurship. According to the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, there are now more than 700 internationally owned businesses from 45 countries operating in the state. Virginia’s strong footing in the international business arena has gotten the attention of the state’s business students, who are more frequently pursuing international business majors, having recognized the unique opportunity that exists here.
CNBC named Virginia the Top State for Business in a 2011 publication, taking into account the cost of doing business, the strength of the local economy, the cost of living and business friendliness. Forbes.com ranked Virginia second in its Best States for Business list in 2010 and 2011; and consulting firm, Pollina Corporate Real Estate, Inc. ranked Virginia as the number one most pro-business state in the nation in its 2009, 2010 and 2011 reports.
Virginia’s International Trade Partners
According to the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Virginia-based companies exported to 219 countries and territories in 2010. Virginia’s leading international trade partners in 2010 were:
- United Kingdom
Most international investment in the form of job creation and development and expansion of facilities and operations in the state came from multinationals based in the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany and France. The Virginia Economic Development Partnership noted the impact of foreign investment on the state’s economy, reporting that foreign-owned firms accounted for 5.1 percent of the state’s total private-industry employment in 2010.
International Business Jobs in Virginia
According to the International Trade Administration, export-related manufacturing jobs accounted for 3 percent of Virginia’s total private-sector employment in 2009, while more than 17 percent of all manufacturing jobs in the state depended on exports during that time. A total of 5,177 Virginia-based companies exported products and services to international markets in 2009, 85 percent of which were classified as small to medium in size. This helps highlight the growing demand in the state’s business community for international business managers, logisticians, operations and supply chain mangers, purchasing agents and wholesale buyers, international marketing managers and market research analysts, as well as international accountants and cultural liaisons, among others.
Exports of goods from Virginia in 2010 were valued at over $17 billion, while service exports were valued at $11.92 billion. The top international businesses headquartered in the state that were responsible for this impressive export revenue included the following:
- AES Corporation, headquartered in Arlington, is one of the world’s leading power companies, with operations in 26 countries
- Albermarle Corporation, headquartered in Richmond, is a manufacturer of industrial-application chemicals with locations and facilities all over the world
- CACI International Inc., headquartered in Arlington, provides IT and network solutions through more than 130 offices in North America and Western Europe
- Chesapeake Corporation is a leading international supplier of paperboard and plastic packaging that is headquartered in Richmond, and that has facilities in Africa, Asia and Europe
- MacTech International Corporation is a leading supplier of innovative technologies for national security programs, headquartered in Fairfax with locations in 38 countries
- Smithfield Foods is the world’s largest pork processor and the world’s fifth-largest beef processor, headquartered in Smithfield with subsidiaries in France, Poland, Romania and the United Kingdom
Making International Business Contacts in Virginia
Virginia makes a number of resources available to foreign and domestic businesses seeking new opportunities in the global marketplace: