Businesses, large or small, require suitable facilities to conduct their business. If a suitable site or building fails to meet the requirements of a priority industry sector business, it will be forced to locate elsewhere or operate in substandard facilities.
Region 6 is poised to be the home to numerous companies wanting to locate in Virginia. Centrally located to pull from markets in DC, Richmond, Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads, and internationally, access to waterways, rail lines, and airports and minutes from I-95, I-64, Route 301 into Maryland, Route 17, Region 6 is a prime location for companies.
However, in Region 6, the available sites and buildings are concentrated in the Fredericksburg region. There are only two certified sites in the region – both data centers certified in Stafford County. There are very few publicly owned/controlled sites in the region, making it difficult to develop sites ready for businesses.
The Manufacturing and Distribution/Logistics (priority industry clusters) typically require larger sites with utility service (water, sewer, and gas) – there is a limited selection of quality business sites meeting these industry standards. Professional, Technical and Scientific Services (priority industry cluster) businesses typically require quality office space – there is a limited selection of Class A office space available in the region and those offices are concentrated in just two of localities in the Fredericksburg.
Recommended Ways to Improve the Readiness of Sites and Buildings:
- Virginia Business Ready Sites Program – Increase the readiness rating of available business sites – VEDP is in the process of assessing many of the industrial sites in Region 6 against the 5-tier Business Ready Classification System. The Middle Peninsula Alliance and Northern Neck PDC have been awarded capacity-building grants to assess many of the remaining sites in those regions. The Fredericksburg Regional Alliance (FRA) in cooperation with their local economic development offices has conducted site audits on several sites within their region. None of the sites that have been assessed rated above a 3 on the 5-tier scale. It is recommended that the more marketable sites in each sub-region be brought up to “Tier 5 Business Ready” level.
- Encourage Data Center Certification by Dominion Energy of additional sites – There are two Dominion certified data center sites located in Stafford County. It is recommended that Dominion Energy designate additional sites throughout the FRA region as certified data centers.
- Encourage the development of regional business/industrial properties with cost/ revenue sharing agreements – The FRA area has identified several industrial sites that have the potential to be regional industrial sites. The Middle Peninsula Alliance and the Northern Neck Chesapeake Bay Region Partnership are in the process of assessing potential sites within their sub-regions as potential regional industrial sites. Once these assessments have been completed each sub-region should select one or more sites for development by a regional organization such as a Regional Industrial Facilities Authority (RIFA). The following are recommended steps in the process of establishing regional industrial sites throughout the region:
- Identify regional business/industrial sites across all the sub-region to identify the most appropriate sites for a regional industrial park
- Create Regional Industrial Facilities Authorities to allow for joint site development
- Localities purchase sites to create more “publicly-owned” sites in the region that can support manufacturing, logistics/distribution and data center development.
All of these efforts require joint cooperation between at least two more localities. The recommended ways above are just some ways Region 6 can meet the demands of future companies. However, GO Virginia requires the collaboration of at least two localities, political subdivisions, or public bodies corporate and politic, along with other public or private entities to apply for funding. If you are interested in applying for funding to help close the workforce gap in Region 6, please email Jennifer Morgan at email@example.com.