MARKET OVERVIEW

The Shenandoah Valley offers a readily trainable workforce and a powerful cluster of employers rooted in manufacturing, agriculture, and logistics. Four out of five of Virginia’s top agriculture-producing counties are located here, making the Valley the number one region in the Commonwealth for the total value of agricultural products sold. Food and Beverage production is at the heart of the region’s manufacturing sector, employing over 16% of the Valley’s labor force, more than four times that of the national average. In fact, the Brookings Institute’s 2015 Export Monitor cited the Harrisonburg Metro as the largest exporter of Meat and Poultry Products in the U.S., and the 2nd largest exporter of Animal Foods in the U.S. This robust agribusiness and manufacturing fueled economy is also supported by a healthy supply chain of Production Technology & Heavy Machinery, Folding Paperboard Box Manufacturing, Refrigerated Warehousing and Storage, Plastics Products Manufacturing and more. Click here to download an infographic to learn more about growing your company’s future in the Shenandoah Valley.

 

 

FOOD AND BEVERAGE PROCESSING

Since the early 1700s, farming has been central to the spirit and success of the Shenandoah Valley. It has sustained the citizens of our region by playing a vital role in forming our strong agricultural economy, burgeoning agritourism assets, and deep food and beverage manufacturing expertise. Shenandoah Valley food and beverage operations are supported by two of the largest agriculture producing counties in Virginia, Rockingham and Augusta. The Shenandoah Valley is home to 9,200 workers in the food and beverage manufacturing/processing industry, the region’s largest industry cluster after transportation and logistics. On average, workers in this industry pull in annual wages over $40,000. Click here to download an infographic highlighting the region’s food and beverage manufacturing assets.

Our agricultural roots are marketed through an award-winning agritourism program, Fields of Gold Farm Trail. This trail represents over 200 open farms, wineries, breweries, roadside stands, farm B&Bs, farm-to-table restaurants, farmers markets, festivals and more. Watch the video below to meet the farmers and hear their stories: the history of their farms, how farming has shaped the (agri)culture of the Shenandoah Valley, and why they are looking towards agritourism as an opportunity for the long-term sustainability of their farms.

Fields of Gold is one of the ways our region collaborates to promote the regions’ agriculture as part of our cultural heritage and catalyst for agritourism. Launched during American Craft Beer Week in 2016, the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail provides an opportunity for tourists and locals to connect with a great craft beer experience in the Shenandoah Valley. With 14 breweries to try (and several more in the works), the Trail pairs craft beer with the region’s recreational and cultural activities. The region is also home to the Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail. Started by the Shenandoah Valley Wine Growers Association in 2003, this Trail welcomes visitors to over two dozen wineries, cideries, vineyards and local lodging providers. Their vision is to lead in the promotion and protection of the Shenandoah Valley as one of the finest winegrowing regions in the world and to provide economic growth and tourism opportunities across the region. Over the last 10 years, Shenandoah Valley employment growth in the winery industry has exceeded the State’s Average Annual Change, even growing three times faster than that of the national average.

In addition to the winery industry, exponential growth areas in the food and beverage manufacturing industry include fluid milk manufacturing, animal slaughtering, prepared sauces, and confectionery manufacturing from purchased chocolate. The fruit and vegetable canning industry has exhibited the greatest change, growing in employment by 26% in the last 10 years.

Close behind, snack food manufacturing has increased in employment by 44% in the last 5 years, outpacing the national growth rate of 15%. This includes cooking machine operators, batch makers, packaging, filling operators and more. Ranking Virginia Cities/Counties by employment in Food Manufacturing, the Counties of Rockingham, Augusta and Shenandoah take 3 of the top 5 spots, with Rockingham taking the # 1 spot employing 4,129 people, mostly in poultry. To support the six poultry processing plants in the Shenandoah Valley, Rockingham County has more poultry farms than any other county in Virginia – over 500.

Food Processing Media Group generates annual lists of the top 100 food and beverage companies in the United States and Canada, ranking food and beverage processors based on their sales of value-added, consumer-ready goods that were processed in U.S. and Canadian facilities. The Shenandoah Valley is home to 10 of these top 100 companies to include Anheuser Busch InBev, MillerCoors, Cargill, Pilgrim’s Pride, Perdue Farms, DanoneWave, Hershey Chocolate of Virginia, McKee Foods Corporation, Coca-Cola Bottling Co and Dr. Pepper.

Outside of these international companies, the Shenandoah Valley has its own local champions in this sector. Route 11 Potato Chips in Shenandoah County started production in 1992. At the time Route 11 Chips were only available at some restaurants or for purchase directly from the factory. After a number of expansions, Route 11 is now a local success story and a contender in international markets. Sourcing at least 40% of its potatoes from Virginia farmers, Route 11 Potato Chips is a model for companies to source raw product from Virginia’s vast agricultural portfolio.

Operations within this industry include: food batchmakers, packaging and filling machine operators and tenders, meat/poultry/fish cutters and trimmers, industrial machinery mechanics, inspectors, weighers, samplers, meat packers, food cooking machine operators, graders and sorters, as well as stock clerks and order fillers.

Representative Employers Include:

  • Shamrock Farms
  • McKee Foods Corporation
  • Hershey Chocolate of Virginia
  • DanoneWave (formerly WhiteWave Foods)
  • MillerCoors Shenandoah Brewery
  • Perdue Farms
  • George’s Chicken
  • Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation
  • Cargill
  • Sysco
  • T&E Meats
  • Countryside Natural Products
  • Route 11 Potato Chips
  • Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company
  • Andros Foods North America
  • Speyside Bourbon Cooperage, Inc.
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PLASTICS

From industrial and personal service paper wholesalers to commercial printing, plastics product manufacturing employs 1,212 people in the Shenandoah Valley, 107% above the national average for a region of our size.

Representative Employers Include:

  • Graphic Packaging International
  • Intrapac Inc.
  • Montebello Packaging
  • Graham Packaging Co.
  • Packaging Corporation of America
  • LSC Communications
  • Pactiv Corporation
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METALS AND AUTOMOTIVE

As of 2017, primary and fabricated metal manufacturing employed 2,188 people in the Shenandoah Valley. Industry employment in the region increased by 2.1% 2016-2017.

Operations within this industry include: cutting, punching and press machine setters, machinists, welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers, first-line supervisors of production and operating workers.

Representative Employers Include:

  • Sumitomo Drive Technologies
  • Rexnord Industries
  • Neuman Aluminum
  • Nibco
  • Variform Inc. (Ply Gem)
  • Valley Blox Inc.
  • Tenneco Automotive Inc.
  • AAF McQuay Inc.

Source: QCEW Employees & Non-QCEW Employees – Emsi 2018.2 class or worker.

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HVAC

The Shenandoah Valley is a concentrated employment center for heating, air-conditioning, and commercial refrigeration equipment manufacturing. Twenty-six percent of the state’s employment in HVAC equipment manufacturing is located in the Shenandoah Valley, accounting for approximately 900 jobs.

Operations within this industry include: team assemblers, welders, cutters, solderers, brazers…cutting, punching and press machine setters, operators and tenders, laborers and freight workers, stock and material movers and brazing machine setters.

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LIFE SCIENCES

Medical equipment, medical supplies, pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing, hospitals, outpatient care and specialty centers, as well as diagnostic laboratories, employ over 6,644 people in the Shenandoah Valley. The Valley’s employment in the biopharmaceutical sector is 135% above the national average for a region our size. Operations within this industry include: packaging and filling machine operators and tenders, inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, chemists, first-line supervisors of production and operating workers, industrial machinery mechanics and engineers, as well as machine setters.

Bioscience and medical device employers include:

  • Merck & Company
  • Hollister Incorporated
  • Cadence
  • SRI International
  • RMH Sentara Healthcare
  • Augusta Medical Center
  • Sunlite Plastics (medical tubing)

*Based primarily on the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)

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AGRICULTURE AND FORESTRY

The Shenandoah Valley is home to four of the top five agricultural counties in Virginia producing more than $1.2 billion annually in commodities sold. Some of the largest clusters of agricultural-related employment in the Commonwealth are located in the Shenandoah Valley. The Valley’s employment in Ag & Forestry is 50% above the national average, increasing by 46% since 2010. In 2017, total earnings in Ag & Forestry including wages, salaries, supplements and proprietor income, surpassed $208 Million. Overall, this sector contributed nearly $350 Million to the Valley’s GRP in 2017.

Representative Employers Include:

  • Speyside Bourbon Cooperage, Inc.
  • Blue Ridge Lumber
  • Neff Lumber
  • AHI – American Hardwood Industries
  • Northwest Hardwoods
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TRANSPORTATION AND WAREHOUSING

Transportation and warehousing employ over 8,000 workers in the Shenandoah Valley, 55% above the national average for a region of our size. Regional employment in this sector increased by 2.5% from 2016-2017, significantly higher than the state average of 0.8%. As of December 2018, there were 380 unemployed people in this sector, 2% above the national average. Click here to download an infographic highlighting the region’s trade and transportation industry.

Operations within this industry include: Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers, Laborers and Freight, Stock and Material Movers, Industrial Truck and Tractor Operators, Oder Fillers, Stock Clerks, Light Truck and Delivery Services Drivers.

There are 137 miles of interstate (I-81 & I-64) in the Shenandoah Valley, offering 1-day trucking access to major markets like Chicago, Detroit, Boston, Atlanta, Nashville, and Indianapolis. By sea, the Shenandoah Valley has access to the Inland Port of Virginia at the northern end of our market and only 214 miles to the Port of Virginia’s terminals in Norfolk. By rail, service is provided by both CSX and Norfolk Southern, as well as two locally owned Railroads, the Shenandoah Valley Railroad and Buckingham Branch Railroad. Amtrak service is also available.

There are five commercially served airports within a two-hour drive including the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport (SHD), Dulles International Airport (IAD, Charlottesville Albemarle Airport (COH), Richmond International Airport (RIC) and the Roanoke Regional Airport (ROA). The Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport (SHD), centrally located just off I-81, is in the center of the Shenandoah Valley. As a Commercially certificated FAA Part 139 airport, SHD has full capabilities and services available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The Airport maintains its own Public Safety Department and provides Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting services. The Airport also maintains a TSA approved airport security program and has certified law enforcement officers. All Public Safety functions are provided around the clock ensuring a safe and secure environment. In terms of infrastructure, SHD has a grooved 6,000×150 primary runway that meets all current runway safety area criteria. It boasts a full precision ILS approach with minima of 200 and ½. The fuel concession and all hangar leasing are through the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport Commission. Fuel is available 24/7 and supplied through AVFuel Corporation with Jet A and 100LL available and delivered by truck to the aircraft. The Airport also offers commercial Air Service provided by United Airlines and their partner Skywest with daily service to both Washington Dulles and Chicago.

A variety of ground transportation options are also available including three major rental car brands located on site (Avis/Budget/Enterprise).

Representative Employers Include:

  • Walmart Distribution (1 Million Sq. ft.)
  • InterChange Group
  • Marshalls Distribution
  • Target Corporation
  • J.B. Hunt Transport
  • Best Buy Warehousing Logistics Inc.
  • FedEx Ground
  • UPS
  • Eagle Express Lines
  • Elk Logistics
  • Railside Enterprises
  • Crosby Trucking Services
  • Houff Transfer Inc.

Emsi uses LAUS as the basis of its unemployment data, which uses a definition of unemployment roughly equivalent to U3, the most widely used measure. Available by county for all 2-digit NAICS.

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MAJOR EMPLOYERS

Harrisonburg MSA · Manufacturing
Company Product/Service Estimated Employment
Cargill Poultry processing 1500-2500
ComSonics, Inc. Telecommunications equipment 100 – 299
Georges, Inc, Poultry processing 300 – 599
Graham Packaging Co Plastic bottles 300 – 599
Merck & Company, Inc. Pharmaceuticals 1,000 – 1,499
MillerCoors Shenandoah Brewery Malt beverages 300 – 599
Montebello Packaging Aluminum tubes 300-599
Perdue Farms, Inc. Poultry processing 600 – 999
Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation Poultry processing 1,500 – 2,499
R. R. Donnelley & Sons Co. Book printing 1,000 – 1,499
Tenneco Automotive Inc. Motor vehicle parts 600 – 999
Valley Blox, Inc. Concrete products 100 – 299
Intrapac, Inc Aluminum products 300-599
DanoneWave (Formerly WhiteWave Foods) Milk, Soy Products 300-599
Harrisonburg MSA · Non-Manufacturing
Company Product/Service Estimated Employment
James Madison University Higher edudcation 2,500 – 4,999
Marshalls Retail distribution 600 – 999
Massanutten Resort Recreation/Resort 1,500 – 2,499
RMH Sentara Healthcare Health care 2,500-4,999
Rosetta Stone Language learning software 300-599
Serco Patent classification 100-299
Sysco Food Services Food service distribution 300-599
Wal Mart Retail distribution 600 – 999
Staunton-Augusta-Waynesboro MSA · Manufacturing 
Company Product/Service Estimated Employment
Mckee Foods Corporation Food Processing 500-999
Hershey Chocolate of Virginia Food Processing 500-999
AAF McQuay, Inc. HVAC 500-999
Hollister Incorporated Health Care 500-999
Nibco Piping / Fittings 250-499
Ply Gem Siding/Building Supplies 250-499
Graphic Packaging International Packaging 100-249
Cadence Medical Device/Specialty Blades 250-299
Neuman Aluminum Aluminum impact extruded parts 50-99
Rexnord Industries Gear Drives, Bearings, Couplings 50-99

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    LABOR MARKET DATA

     

    Labor market data graphic