Date: June 15, 2016
New River Valley, VA – The New River Valley is one of the hottest places in America for new and expanding business, according to Area Development. The magazine recently released its ranking of the top 100 Leading Locations in the U.S. for 2016.
The Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford metropolitan statistical area (MSA), encompassing the entire New River Valley, ranked No. 30 overall and No. 12 among mid-sized metros with populations between 160,000 to 600,000. The New River Valley was one of only two metros in Virginia designated a Leading Location. Richmond, VA made the list at No. 68 overall.
In its sixth year, the Leading Locations for 2016 rankings analyzed economic and workforce data for 394 MSAs to determine recent and long-term economic vitality as well as each metros capacity to support business growth. The four primary indicators used to compile the rankings included Prime Workforce, Economic Strength, Year-Over-Year Growth, and Five Year Growth.
Prime Workforce helped propel the New River Valley to its high overall ranking. The region ranked No. 4 overall; No. 2 among mid-sized metros. A high ranking in Prime Workforce was attributed to an area’s strong and growing nucleus of well-educated and qualified 18- to 44-year-olds in the workforce.
The availability of a qualified workforce was one of the leading indicators included in the Leading Locations ranking. Area Development indicated that when choosing a place to locate or expand, executives generally prefer to pick a place with a solid pipeline of potential employees that will allow the company to hit the ground running and support future growth.
College communities were well represented among the Top 10 Prime Workforce locations. Area Development found this to be “no surprise” because many graduates choose to join the workforce after graduation and college towns tend to be hotbeds of innovation.
Virginia’s New River Valley is no exception to this finding. The region benefits from not one, but two universities – Virginia Tech and Radford University – and an exceptional community college – New River Community College. With approximately 45,000 students, these institutions provide a steady pipeline of talent for companies in the New River Valley to draw from. Virginia Tech, a top 40 research university, is also a major catalyst for the region’s growing technology sector.