Virginia: An In-Depth Look at the Southern States
The Southern states are thriving, thanks to entrepreneurs with innovative high-tech ideas, strong public and private investment, and enthusiastic support from state and local governments.
Mali R. Schantz-Feld (Southern Tech Sites 2007)
In Forbes.com's Best States for Business 2006, Virginia clinched the number-one position, thanks to strong economic growth, low business costs, and excellent quality of life. The commonwealth leads the nation in its concentration of high-tech workers, according to Cyberstates 2007: A Complete State-by-State Overview of the High-Technology Industry. The report notes that nearly 9 percent of Virginia's private-sector workers are employed in the technology industry, more than in any other state, with tech industry jobs paying 99 percent more than the average annual wage of Virginia's private sector.
In biotech news, SRI International announced plans in December 2006 to establish a new Center for Advanced Drug Research (CADRE) in Rockingham County that will partner with James Madison University and other Virginia institutions of higher education for drug research, as well as issues related to biothreats and homeland security, engineering, nanotechnology, energy, and information technology. The project is expected to create more than 100 new jobs earning an average annual salary of $85,000.
In the past decade, the bioscience industry has publicly announced the creation of more than 4,900 new jobs and $2.1 billion in capital investment. The state's 200-plus bioscience firms include Howard Hughes Medical Institute, American Type Culture Collection, the Philip Morris Research and Technology Center, Novozymes, Wyeth, Barr Laboratories, and Merck.
Data centers are also wired for growth. Terremark Worldwide, Inc., operator of integrated Internet exchanges and a global provider of managed information technology (IT) infrastructure solutions, is investing about $270 million to open a data center campus strategically located outside the "blast zone" - more than 50 miles from Washington, D.C. - on a 30-acre site in Culpeper County, which will create 250 new jobs. Terremark operates an additional Virginia facility in Herndon. Terremark's master plan calls for five data center pods that can each yield approximately 50,000 square feet of co-location space. Each highly secured, stand-alone pod for commercial sector or federal government sector customers will adhere to federal government's strictest security standards.
In March, Criticon, a data processing and preparation host, announced plans to invest $115 million for a 150,000-square-foot co-location data storage center in the City of Harrisonburg, which is just over 100 miles from Washington, D.C., more than 50 miles from the nearest nuclear power plant, behind the Blue Ridge Mountains, and accessible to plenty of electrical power and telecommunications fiber optic lines.
The primary focus of the modeling and simulation industry is on Hampton Roads and northern Virginia. As a leading military hub and home to the Port of Virginia, Hampton Roads' research facilities specifically support M&S firms, including the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center; the Joint Training, Analysis and Simulation Center; and NASA Langley Research Center. Virginia institutes of higher education are now offering M&S undergraduate and graduate degrees, while local, state, and regional organizations encourage the industry's growth through initiatives such as the Virginia Modeling and Simulation Initiative (VIMSIM) and the Emergency Management Training, Analysis & Simulation Center.
Major players in defense and homeland security include SAIC, Booz Allen Hamilton, SRA International, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Northrop Grumman.