The Richmond Region has a long list of successful advanced manufacturing companies, from DuPont’s Kevlar-producing plant to Rolls-Royce’s state-of-the-art aeronautics engineering facility.

Advanced manufacturing technologies, including computer-aided engineering, computer-integrated manufacturing, robotics and automated materials handling, are applied across the manufacturing sector to improve efficiency and productivity. Specific target clusters include fine chemicals, packaging equipment and materials, defense and aerospace.

Companies in this cluster with a history of success in Greater Richmond include DuPont and Honeywell (advanced fibers), Alloy Polymers (plastics), Flexicell (robotic packaging equipment) and Spec Ops Inc. (mobile emergency command centers).

Aerospace equipment and parts presents a unique growth opportunity based on Rolls-Royce’s decision to locate an aerospace engine manufacturing facility in the area. This new facility provides an expansion opportunity for current and potential Rolls-Royce suppliers and vendors, as well as for companies in related fields.

Subcategories of this cluster include:

  • Machinery
  • Fabricated Metal Products
  • Fine Chemicals

Representative Companies

Richmond Firsts

Tethered balloons, the first military “aircraft,” were used for aerial reconnaissance in Civil War campaigns around Richmond.

The nation’s first coal mining began in the mid-1700s in the Richmond area.

In 1888, Julian Frank Sprague put into operation the first commercial streetcar system powered by overhead electric lines from a central station.

Reynolds Metals Company (now Alcoa) developed the recyclable all-aluminum can in 1963 in Richmond.

In 1619, the nation’s first ironworks were established at Falling Creek in Chesterfield County.

DuPont produced the nation’s first cellophane in Richmond in 1930.