The Shenandoah Valley is home to four of the top five agriculture counties in Virginia producing more than $1.2 billion annually in commodities sold. According to the 2012 U.S. Department of Agriculture Census, Rockingham, Augusta, Page and Shenandoah Counties are ranked number 1, 2, 4 and 5 respectively as the largest agriculture localities in Virginia. Rockingham County is the state’s powerhouse for agribusiness, impacting over 13,000 jobs in the area relating to the agriculture industry. In addition, the Shenandoah Valley’s employment in agriculture and forestry is 50% above the national average, increasing by 46% since 2010.
Agriculture and agribusiness represent a broad range of companies including forestry operations and farm-dependent operations. In 2017, total earnings in agriculture and forestry including wages, salaries, supplements and proprietor income, surpassed $208 million. Overall, this sector contributed nearly $350 million to the Shenandoah Valley’s GRP in 2017.
Due to its breadth and incorporation of non-trade sectors, agribusinesses have separated and made themselves stand apart from the food and beverage manufacturing sector.
Representative Employers and Partners Include:
- AHI – American Hardwood Industries
- Blue Ridge Lumber
- George’s Chicken
- James River Equipment
- Neff Lumber
- Northwest Hardwoods
- Perdue Farms
- Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation
- Shamrock Farms
- Speyside Bourbon Cooperage, Inc.
- T&E Meats
Representative Partners Include:
- Farm Credit of the Virginias
- Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail
- Shenandoah Spirits Trail
- Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail
- Fields of Gold
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY & PROFESSIONAL SERVICES
By their very nature, manufacturing and professional services rely upon information technology (IT) to function. One of the foremost advantages in the Shenandoah Valley is access to over 10,000 graduates per year from 11 secondary higher-level education institutions. All of these institutions, ranging from community colleges to universities, offer various graduate degrees and minors or certification in the IT field. For example, James Madison University’s Center for Forensics and Information Security, Virginia Military Institute’s Computer and Information Sciences with a minor in Cyber Security, Bridgewater College’s degree in Computer Science and Blue Ridge Community College’s Cyber Security classes convey a strong message about computer skills availability.
Analogous to the IT sector is the professional business service sector. With a myriad of programs to choose from, and utilizing many of the same skillsets as computer science, this sector also seeks broader certifications and degrees.
Representative Employers Include:
- Chiedo Labs
- IT Decisions
- LD&B Insurance and Financial Services
- PBMares, LLP
- The Gaines Group Architects
- Valley Engineering
The manufacturing sector remains a bedrock component of the U.S., Virginia and Shenandoah Valley economies. Driving technology, productivity and innovation across all industry sectors, the Shenandoah Valley is home to a host of different manufacturing companies across multiple industries including: food and beverage, plastics, metal and automotive, HVAC and life sciences. Manufacturing has a heavier concentration in the Shenandoah Valley than in most regions of Virginia and, according to the Virginia Employment Commission’s demographic profile, manufacturing constitutes the largest private-sector employment.
Within the Shenandoah Valley, many of the manufacturing jobs are in the food and beverage industry. On average, our 9,200 workers in this industry pull in annual wages over $40,000. Of the top 100 food and beverage companies in the United States and Canada generated by Food Processing Media Group, the Shenandoah Valley is the home to 10 of them including: Anheuser Busch InBev, Cargill, Coca-Cola Bottling Co., DanoneWave, Dr. Pepper, The Hershey Company, McKee Foods Corporation and MillerCoors.
The Shenandoah Valley has its own local champions in this sector. From a local company only reaching the immediate area to growing and branching into larger markets, Route 11 Potato Chips proudly calls the Shenandoah Valley home. Sourcing at least 40% of its potatoes from Virginia farmers, they are a model for companies to source raw product from Virginia’s vast agricultural portfolio. Click here to download an infographic highlighting the region’s food and beverage manufacturing assets.
The Shenandoah Valley is also invested in the life sciences. Employing around 6,600 people, the Shenandoah Valley has an employment rate 135% above the national average for a region its size. In 2006, SRI International established the Center for Advance Drug Research where they focus on health and biomedical research and drug discovery and development with the ultimate goal of bringing new therapies and diagnostics to market. In 2019, Merck announced an investment of up to $1 billion to expand their Rockingham County facility to increase production of its Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines.
Representative Employers Include:
- Andros Foods North America
- Daikin Applied
- Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company
- Graham Packaging Co.
- Graphic Packaging International
- Hollister Incorporated
- Intrapac Inc.
- LSC Communications
- McKee Foods Corporation
- MillerCoors Shenandoah Brewery
- Montebello Packaging
- Neuman Aluminum
- Packaging Corporation of America
- Pactiv Corporation
- Provides U.S. Inc.
- Rexnord Industries
- Route 11 Potato Chips
- SRI International
- Sumitomo Drive Technologies
- Sunlite Plastics
- Tenneco Automotive Inc.
- The Hershey Company
- Variform Inc. (Ply Gem)
TRANSPORTATION AND LOGISTICS
Market access and logistics are key factors in the site selection process and through our interstate, rail, air, and inland port infrastructure, the Shenandoah Valley positions businesses to access competitive markets nationally and internationally. As John Lesinksi describes in Colliers International 10 Emerging U.S. Industrial Markets to Watch in 2019, “The Shenandoah Valley region offers a plethora of advantages including land available for development and proximity to the metro Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Ohio Valley population bases. The market can reach one of the largest population concentrations in the country, as nearly 40 million people live within 250 miles of the market’s core.”
The 137 miles of interstate, via I-81 & I-64, offer 1-day trucking access to major markets including Chicago, Detroit, Boston, Atlanta, Nashville, and Indianapolis. The Virginia Inland Port (VIP) links the Shenandoah Valley to world markets. An intermodal container transfer facility in Front Royal, VIP is a 161-acre facility that brings The Port of Virginia 220 miles closer through containerized rail service that operates five days a week. Shenandoah Valley rail connections also provide transport to additional major markets through CSX and Norfolk Southern, and strong short-line railroads, Shenandoah Valley Railroad and Buckingham Branch Railroad.
These elements are complimented and enhanced by regional air service through the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport (SHD). With non-stop jet service to both Chicago O’Hare and Washington-Dulles international airports on United Express powered by SkyWest, the SHD prides itself on providing local convenience with global connections. In terms of infrastructure, SHD has a grooved 6,000×150 primary runway and 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.
As ecommerce and globalization increase, strong transportation infrastructure and labor force are a necessity. 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.
Representative Employers Include:
- Best Buy Warehousing Logistics Inc.
- Crosby Trucking Services
- Eagle Express Lines
- Elk Logistics
- FedEx Ground Distribution
- Houff Transfer Inc.
- InterChange Group, Inc.
- J.B. Hunt Transport
- Marshalls Distribution
- Railside Enterprises
- Target Distribution
- Walmart Distribution