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News | 4 min read

Business Assistance Program Reports Trends, Bright Spots in Greater Richmond Economy

August 30, 2010

Richmond, VA – The Greater Richmond Partnership, Inc. today released the summary findings of Business First Greater Richmond, the regional business retention and expansion program. The report is based on 533 face-to-face interviews conducted by local economic development professionals and business volunteers over the past year with owners and CEOs of Richmond area companies. These firms represent more than 21,200 jobs in the region.  This collaborative regional initiative is supported by the Greater Richmond Partnership, Inc., the City of Richmond and the Counties of Chesterfield, Hanover and Henrico.

Business First team members responded to more than 90 specific requests for assistance as a result of initial meetings. Completed projects during this program year ending June 30, 2010 resulted in the creation of more than 250 new jobs and helped to retain nearly 500 positions. Participating companies made new capital investments of $137 million.

Highlights of the interviews include:

  • 132 identified businesses plan to expand in the coming year with associated capital investments in excess of $136 million.
  • 27 percent of respondents plan to add additional employees over the next 12-month period, adding nearly 1,400 new jobs.
  • Largest employment gains are anticipated in the Manufacturing industry and the Arts, Entertainment and Recreation industry.
  • 96 percent have an overall positive attitude toward the community and 78 percent believe that they will see an improvement in the local business climate over the next five years.
  • 86 percent rate workforce quality as good or excellent, although 95 firms report that recruitment is still a challenge, which is likely a mismatch between skills and demand.

Sara Dunnigan, senior vice president of Existing Business Services and Talent Development of the Greater Richmond Partnership and program manager for Business First Greater Richmond, said, “The program is more than just a collection of data. We take the time to thank area businesses for choosing Greater Richmond as a location to operate their business.” Dunnigan continued, “The information gathered during the interviews is used to identify ways to help solve business problems, remove barriers to growth, and to quickly connect firms to the resources they need to be successful. “

Program success stories include:

  • The retention of Pfizer Consumer Health Research and Development in the City of Richmond which saved 300 jobs locally;
  • The consolidated facility of Smurfit-Stone Container Corporation in Henrico County which saved 150 jobs;
  • The expansion of Maruchan in Chesterfield County that included a capital investment of $16 million and up to 50 new jobs; and
  • Hanover County-based Flexicell, Inc. which was connected to a training grant through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program of the Virginia Department of Business Assistance to support the skills advancement of 11 employed engineers.

Gregory H. Wingfield, president and CEO of the Greater Richmond Partnership, said, “Existing businesses are the heart of a strong local economy.  Up to 80 percent of net new job growth comes from existing businesses.  They make investments in facilities, pay taxes and are committed members of our community.”  He continued, “Satisfied existing businesses are among our best ambassadors for attracting new businesses to Greater Richmond.  Ensuring they are connected to the resources they need to be successful is a critical component to our overall economic development strategy.”

Business First Greater Richmond, launched in October 2006, is a public-private collaborative regional initiative supported by the Greater Richmond Partnership, Inc, the City of Richmond, the Counties of Chesterfield, Hanover and Henrico.  It is also supported by more than 80 business volunteers and other agencies in the region committed to the growth and retention of area businesses.  For more information or to schedule a company visit, please visit:

The Greater Richmond Partnership, Inc. was launched in 1994 as a pioneering regional public-private initiative to serve as the regional economic development group for the City of Richmond and the counties of Chesterfield, Hanover and Henrico. The mission is to help grow the Greater Richmond economy through the attraction of high quality jobs and new capital investment, the retention of existing businesses, and the continued improvement of the region’s business climate. Since inception, the Partnership has played a key role in the attraction of more than $7.3 billion in investment by 395 new and expanding companies. This is a return on investment of $164 for every $1 in funding provided by public and private partners since 1994. For more information, please visit