Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance

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Business Climate

By The Numbers

Hampton Roads: the smart choice for your business.

As an Employment at Will* and Right to Work** state, Virginia has labor laws that appeal to employers and employees alike. And with only one local taxing authority in each community, Hampton Roads boasts some of the lowest combined state and local tax rates in the nation. The region has no:

  • local income tax
  • unitary tax
  • state property tax
  • local license tax on headquarters and regional offices
  • intangible property tax, or inventory tax

Our favorable business climate appeals to many Fortune 500 companies, many of which have a presence in Hampton Roads. Indeed, Dollar Tree, Norfolk Southern, Huntington Ingalls Industries and Smithfield have all chosen Hampton Roads as their headquarters.

*An employment relationship in which either party can terminate the relationship at any time without any explanation with or without advanced warning.

**Prohibits agreements between labor unions and employees that govern the extent to which an established union can require employees’ membership, payment of union dues or fees as a condition of employment.

Strength of Location


Hampton Roads continues its 400-year tradition of being a center of commerce.

Hampton Roads is strategically located in the mid-Atlantic, which lends the region a significant logistical advantage. Its convenient and accessible transportation infrastructure provides multiple options for moving goods between national and international markets. In fact, the region is within a day’s drive of 97 million consumers.

A Collection of Our Regional Assets: 

  • The Port of Virginia is the fastest growing port on the east coast and boasts the largest natural deep-water harbor on earth. All major shipping lines call on the Port of Virginia, providing direct access to over 80 ports worldwide.
  • The two major railroads serving Hampton Roads have extensive infrastructure with double-stacked container capabilities for distribution throughout the east coast and mid-west.
  • A continually growing international community. Our international profile is strong and continues to grow, hosting 164 international firms representing 28 countries. For a list of the international companies in Hampton Roads, click here.
  • Hampton Roads enjoys a mild, temperate climate which not only provides an array of recreational opportunities to its residents and bolsters tourism, but also allows our commercial waterways to remain ice-free year-round.
  • Hampton Roads is a collaborative network of ten cities and five counties, all offering their own unique features while working together to create a community of commerce that serves as a vibrant and accommodating location for your organization to prosper.

Entrepreneurs have been choosing to do business in Hampton Roads since 1607, and there are still many attractive reasons for locating your business here. American business was truly born in Hampton Roads, and our abundant resources make it a smart choice for companies.



Business is about connections. And no one gets you more connected than Hampton Roads.

Hampton Roads is linked to the U.S. and the world by an advanced and mature multi-layered transportation infrastructure. Our air services, roads, ports and rails provide vital links to and from the interior of our country and with the world at large.


Air Service

Located well within a 30-minute commute of most business and residential areas in the region, Norfolk International (ORF) and Newport News/Williamsburg Airports (PHF) provide air service for approximately four million passengers annually. Nine major airlines provide over 100 flights per day to international gateway cities.

Map of Air Services in Hampton Roads



Hampton Roads is within a day’s drive of 97 million consumers.  Products move to and from the region efficiently through the country’s most modern interstate and state highway systems. Additionally, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel gives coastal highway traffic direct access to Hampton Roads, and saves 90 miles to the New York/New Jersey corridor.  

Average Commute Time (Minutes)
Atlanta, GA
Charlotte, NC
New York, NY
Washington, DC
U.S. Average
Hampton Roads, VA


Distance & Delivery Time from Hampton Roads to Major U.S. Cities
City Distance Delivery Time (in days)
  Miles Kilometers Motor Carrier
Washington, DC 193 310 1
Philadelphia, PA 387 622 2
New York, NY 435 700 2
Atlanta, GA 597 960 2
Boston, MA 571 918 2
Dallas, TX 1,376 2,214 2
Detroit, MI 732 1,178 2
Chicago, IL 899 1,146 2
Miami, FL 959 1,543 3
Houston, TX 1,382 2,224 3

Map of the Area’s Highway Systems


The Port of Virginia

The Port of Virginia features the best natural deep water harbor on the East Coast, with its unobstructed, ice-free harbor, 50-feet-deep channels, and a location 18 miles from the open ocean. In additional, the Port features 20 shipping lines offering weekly service to Europe and Asia and has the lowest pilferage rate on the East Coast. With its four marine terminals, the Port of Virginia is the third-largest volume port on the East Coast in terms of general cargo (breakbulk and containerized cargo).

The Port is home to the largest and fastest container cranes in the world. With a 26 container outreach, the cranes can handle any ship in existence today in addition to those on the drawing board for the future.

The Port of Virginia includes:

  • Newport News Marine Terminal (NNMT)
  • Virginia International Gateway (VIG)
  • Norfolk International Terminals (NIT)
  • Portsmouth Marine Terminal (PMT)

Equipped to handle the largest cargo ships on the planet, the U.S.A.’s first privately developed container terminal, VIG, was completed here in 2007 and its ability to handle one million 20-foot equivalent units make it the most technologically advanced and environmentally sensitive container terminal in both of the Americas. VIG is operated by Virginia International Terminals. This 575-acre, $450 million dollar facility currently features:

  • 3205 ft. berth
  • 50 ft. depth
  • 1 milion TEU capacity
  • 8 cranes
  • 30 RMGs
  • 6 on-dock rail tracks

Craney Island Expansion

  • Phase I to include 300 acres, 2 berths, 6 cranes
  • Phase II to include 600 acre facility, 8 berths, 15 suez class cranes

Upon completion of Craney Island, the new terminal will have the capacity of approximately 2.5 million TEUs and an on-terminal intermodal rail loading facility.

  • 4,000 ft. berth
  • 2.16 million TEU capacity
  • 10 cranes
  • 60 RMGs
  • 12 on-dock rail tracks

Map of The Port of Virginia



Hampton Roads is served primarily by rail giants CSX and Norfolk Southern and is home to Fortune 500 Norfolk Southern’s headquarters. Our ports create a perfect entry location for these railways for cargo distribution throughout the East Coast and Midwest. Efficient connections with other rail systems and motor carriers provide easy and affordable access to the rest of the U.S.

Train Delivery Times
Destination Hours
Atlanta, GA 41
Chicago, IL 47
Cleveland, OH 72
Columbus, OH 42
Croxton, NJ 67
Dallas, TX 92
Detroit, MI 67
Front Royal, VA 23
Harrisburg, PA 45
Kansas City, MO 88
Los Angeles, CA 137
Louisville, KY 67
Memphis, TN 70
St. Louis, MO 90


Norfolk Southern

Norfolk Southern operates more than 21,200 miles of track in 22 states primarily in the southeast and midwestern U.S., as well as Ontario, Canada

Of particular importance to many port users is the availability of Norfolk Southern’s Heartland Corridor connecting Hampton Roads with the Chicago area.


CSX offers a variety of rail, container-shipping, intermodal, trucking, barge, and contract logistics management services. With over 22,000 miles of track in 23 states, as well as the District of Columbia and two Canadian provinces, the area is well connected.

Map of Rail Services in Hampton Roads



Hampton Roads has an exceptionally skilled and educated workforce.

Whether you’re looking for skilled laborers or senior-level executives, we have what you need in Hampton Roads. The annual infusion of military personnel transitioning into our civilian labor pool makes our region a unique place to find qualified talent. When you further consider our exceptional colleges, universities, and medical schools, Hampton Roads is the clear choice for today’s workforce needs.

Labor Statistics

  • Civilian Labor Force – 825,000
  • Employment – 783,000
  • Unemployment  – 42,000
  • Unemployment Rate  – 5.1%

Source: Virginia Employment Commission; April, 2015

Education Level of the Hampton Roads Population 25 years and older

  • 90.9% of population has at least a high school diploma
  • 65.6% of population has at least some college
  • 39.6% of population has an Associates Degree or higher

Source: Esri Business Analyst; August, 2015

Seasonal Workers

The region’s tourism industry creates over 10,000 seasonal jobs during summer months. This group provides an additional source of workers to companies with personnel needs that peak at other times of the year.

Hampton Roads Employment by Industry Sector

  • Manufacturing – 8%
  • Trade, Transportation and Utilities – 18%
  • Information – 2%
  • Financial Activities – 5%
  • Professional and Business Services – 14%
  • Educational and Health Services – 14%
  • Leisure and Hospitality – 11%
  • Other Services – 3%
  • Government – 21%

Source: Virginia Employment Commission; Q4, 2014

Related Links

Military Presence

Military Presence

Our region’s workforce is further enriched by our active duty and exiting military personnel.

When some people think of Virginia, they think of history; and rightly so. But say “Hampton Roads” to most people and they’ll think about the huge military and governmental presence here, in which tens of thousands of men and women use the most advanced equipment and training anywhere.

Every branch of the military has a presence in Hampton Roads, and the region’s 100,000 plus active-duty and reserve personnel is second only to the Pentagon. Additionally, over 40,000 civilian personnel are employed on military bases in Hampton Roads.

Every year thousands of highly trained, motivated and disciplined personnel transition from active duty to the civilian workforce. Because our region has so much to offer, many prefer to stay in the area.

Military Presence in Hampton Roads
Installations Active Duty Civilian Total
Naval Station Norfolk 45,051 12,328 57,379
Joint Base Langley-Eustis 16,988 6,102 23,090
Joint Base Little Creek-Fort Story 16,174 3,667 19,841
Naval Support Activity 5,997 3,728 9,725
Norfolk Naval Shipyard 1,609 10,877 12,486
Oceana Naval Air Station 13,155 2,392 15,547
US Coast Guard Yorktown 555 269 824
Yorktown Naval Weapons Station 1,243 914 2,157
US Coast Guard Base Portsmouth 1,450 250 1,700
Total 102,222 40,527 142,749
Top Occupations for Military Exits in Hampton Roads
Description % Exits
Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations 26.87%
Transportation and Material Moving Occupations 13.94%
Office and Administrative Support Occupations 12.37%
Protective Service Occupations 9.11%
Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations 6.83%
Construction and Extraction Occupations 6.70%
Management Occupations 5.74%
Computer and Mathematical Occupations 4.92%
Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations 3.39%
Architecture and Engineering Occupations 2.41%
Business and Financial Operations Occupations 1.91%
Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media Occupations 1.60%
Sales and Related Occupations 1.09%
Life, Physical, and Social Science Occupations 0.73%
Healthcare Support Occupations 0.65%
Production Occupations 0.57%
Community and Social Service Occupations 0.49%
Legal Occupations 0.39%
Education, Training, and Library Occupations 0.13%
Farming, Fishing, and Forestry Occupations 0.08%
Personal Care and Service Occupations 0.05%
Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations 0.02%



Over 100,000 students attend Hampton Roads’ eight universities and four community colleges. Most of those enrolled are on-campus and commuter students, available for part- or full- time employment. We are proud of our Kindergarten through Grade 12 educational system which has a favorable student-teacher ratio of 17.6. The 19,000 graduates from the region’s colleges and universities provide a work ready talent pool from which to recruit.

Colleges and universities located in Hampton Roads

  • Hampton University
  • Norfolk State University
  • Old Dominion University
  • College of William & Mary
  • Tidewater Community College
  • Regent University
  • Virginia Wesleyan College
  • Thomas Nelson Community College
  • Christopher Newport University
  • Paul D. Camp Community College
  • Eastern Virginia Medical School
  • Rappahannock Community College

International Profile


Hampton Roads is also an international business community that boasts companies from 27 different countries.

Nearly 200 international businesses have operations in the region, many of which are North American headquarters. Several have been manufacturing name brand products in Hampton Roads for many decades. The region offers low cost of doing business, ready access to numerous markets, abundant resources like land and labor, and attractive tax laws.

2015 Hampton Roads International Business Profile
Austria 4 2%
Canada 11 6%
China 4 2%
Denmark 4 2%
France 10 6%
Germany 30 18%
Italy 9 5%
Japan 25 15%
Netherlands 10 6%
Sweden 10 6%
Switzerland 11 6%
United Kingdom 17 10%
Other* 25 15%
TOTAL 170  

*Other includes Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Finland, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Norway, Spain, Turkey, UAE

2014 Hampton Roads International Business Profile (By Industry)
Distribution 43 25%
Manufacturing 59 35%
Service 68 40%
TOTAL 170  

For more detailed information on international companies in Hampton Roads, please select one of the following lists:


InterNations Logo

Hampton Roads is also the only place in Virginia where you can join InterNations – the world’s largest expatriate network – and meet fellow global minds.

InterNations is a German-based organization that established a local community in Hampton Roads in 2013. The social platform reaches out to expatriates who work for international companies and organizations, as well as their family members. The network also caters to the interests of local residents with strong ties to the international community.

The Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance is a strong supporter of InterNations and is actively involved in hosting monthly events for local expatriates, giving them a chance to meet other expats and like-minded people in an exclusive international environment.


Picture for InterNations Video
To get more information about upcoming InterNations events in Hampton Roads, visit InterNations.org


Taxes and Incentives

Hampton Roads taxes

Giving decision makers the tools they need to make the right ones.

Below is a wealth of data and information…


State Levied Taxes

Corporate Income Tax: 6%

The corporate income tax rate in Virginia has not increased since 1972.

In Virginia, the corporate income tax is applied to federal taxable income, it functions as a deduction from federal taxes. If a corporation is engaged in multi-state activities and its income is subject to tax in Virginia and other states, it pays tax only on the portion of its income from Virginia sources. In determining this portion, income is divided into allocable and apportionable income. Apportionment is based on a formula of payroll, property, and sales that weighs the corporation’s Virginia operations against its total operations. The sales factor is double weighted.

Unemployment Insurance (Tax per Employee)

U.S Average: $222    Virginia: $182

Employers must register with the Virginia Employment Commission and pay their unemployment insurance tax if they had one or more persons employed for 20 or more weeks or if they paid wages of $1,500 or more in any calendar quarter in either the current or preceding calendar year.  New Employers pay at a special rate for an initial period, usually 18-29 months, unless the computed rate, based on claims, exceeds the new employer rate.  After the initial period, the employer’s rate is determined by her/her operational experience and the state’s unemployment level is reflected in the financial condition of the Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund.

For a full state listing, click here.

Workers’ Compensation Employment Insurance Costs (per $100 of Payroll)

U.S Average: $1.29   Virginia: $0.77

Since 1994, Virginia has had a partially regulated “competitive rate” or “loss costs” system to determine workers’ compensation rates.  The State Corporation (SCC) approves the cost of losses for each industry classification and insurance companies determine the average overhead and profits.  “Multipliers’’ to cover these expenses are filed with the SCC and are subject to periodic review.  Studies by Actuarial & Technical Solutions show that Virginia has one of the lowest comparative costs of Workers’ Compensation for manufacturers in the nation.

For a full state listing, click here.

Sales and Use Tax

The following rates are effective July 1, 2013. Please note that under certain scenarios, exemptions can apply.

State: 5.3%
Local: 0.7%
Total Sales and Use Tax: 6%
U.S. Average: 6.8%


Taxes Levied by Locality


Real Estate |  Assessed at 100% of its fair market value, is taxed at the local level and includes land, buildings and all improvements.

Business Tangible Property Tax |
A tax on levied tangible personal property employed in a trade or business (furniture, fixtures, equipment, machinery, tools, etc.). In Virginia Business Tangible Property is taxed at the local level.  Some exemptions apply.

Machinery and Tools Tax |
Localities in Virginia are authorized by the Code of Virginia to segregate certain machinery and tools for local taxation. The machinery and tools tax is levied on the machinery and tools that are used for manufacturing, mining, processing or reprocessing, radio or television broadcasting, dairy, dry cleaning or laundry business. The tax rate on machinery and tools may not be higher than that imposed on other classes of tangible

Utility Taxes
| Gas, Electric, Water/Sewer, Telephone, Mobile

For a complete analysis by locality, click here.



Virginia offers a variety of performance-based incentives designed to target the needs of companies considering an investment in the Commonwealth. Below is a table briefly describing discretionary and statutory incentives.

Local project specific incentives may also be available. Examples include:

  • Economic Development Grants and Loans
  • Utility Connections
  • Relocation Assistance
  • Machinery/Tool Tax Rebates
Incentive Advantage
Discretionary Incentives
Governor’s Opportunity Fund Discretionary fund available to secure a business location or expansion project
Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund (AFID) Fund available to support businesses that add value to Virginia-grown agricultural and forestal products
Job-Based Incentives
Virginia Jobs Investment Program Program that offers customized recruiting and training assistance to companies creating new jobs or experiencing technological change
Location-Based Incentives
Foreign Trade Zones Virginia and Hampton Roads offer foreign trade zones and subzones which effectively eliminate or reduce customs duties
Enterprise Zones Provides state and local incentives to businesses that create new jobs and invest in real property
Job Creation Grants Grants for permanent, full-time job creation over a 4-job threshold that meet wage requirements
Real Property Investment Grants Grants for qualified real property investments
Technology Zones Grants specific to individual localities in Hampton Roads which assist technology based companies
Tax Incentives
Sales and Use Tax Exemption Virginia offers the broadest sales and use tax exemptions in the U.S.
Property Tax Exemptions Property is not taxed at the state level; real estate and tangible personal property are locally taxed. There are no taxes on: intangible property, manufacturers’ inventory and manufacturers’ furniture, fixtures and corporate aircraft
Virginia Port Incentives
Port Volume Increase Tax Credit Credit available to companies who increase port cargo through public or private facilities located in Virginia by a minimum of 5% in a single year
Barge and Rail Usage Tax Credit Credit available to companies who move cargo by barge or rail, rather than truck, on Virginia’s highways
International Trade Facility Tax Credit Tax credit for either new job creation or capital investment in an international trade facility as a result of moving 10% more cargo through a Virginia Port Authority-operated cargo facility than in the preceding taxable year.
Port of Virginia Economic and Infrastructure Development Grant Program Grant available to companies who locate or expand within the Zone, and create at least 25 new permanent full-time jobs and are involved in maritime commerce or export or import of manufactured goods through the Port of Virginia

Examples of incentives granted to companies that located and/or expanded in Hampton Roads

Quality of Life


No matter which of our localities you choose, you’ll enjoy the benefits of them all.

In Hampton Roads you will find multiple downtown districts, town and city centers boasting blossoming art scenes and entertainment, popular restaurants, shopping destinations, and local and regional festivals. For people who enjoy the outdoors, our 2,600 miles of shoreline provide a full range of seaside pursuits, including scenic biking and hiking trails.

The region is also an ideal place to live and raise a family. And our nationally ranked hospitals provide ongoing peace of mind that you and the families you employ will always be well taken care of. Speaking of families, housing choices range from lake and waterfront properties to rural acreage and urban dwellings. In Hampton Roads, lifestyle choices are as varied as your personal preference and budget.


In Hampton Roads, there is much to do and lots to see year ’round. The Official Tourism Website of the Commonwealth of Virginia will show you why the region continues to draw visitors year after year.

For families and individuals relocating to our area, we suggest you read This is Hampton Roads – a digital magazine that will make you see that our region has all the necessary elements one looks for in a great place to live and work.

2014 This is Hampton Roads Cover


Location. Location. Location.

The link provided below provides an extensive list of sites and buildings that are currently available for lease or purchase in Hampton Roads. Please contact The Alliance to speak with the business recruitment team about a customized real estate portfolio search.

Click here to search for available properties.


Additional Resources