When Standard Insurance Company was looking for a home for its new east coast operations center in 2016, both Altavista and Lynchburg were short listed. As reported in Virginia Business magazine, Altavista was eventually chosen, thanks to its “strong cultural fit” and financial incentives, including $320,000 from the Tobacco Commission. Further sweetening the deal, there was
a vacant, move-in-ready building
Pacific Life Insurance recently headquartered its east coast operations in Lynchburg. The insurance giant plans to hire about 300 employees and invest $4 million. In Bedford, Beale’s Brewery & Barbecue is being launched by a Petersburg, Va., developer. A taproom, restaurant and brewery is expected to open this year.
Other area businesses—Schrader-
Bridgeport International, Abbott Labs, and others—are expanding. Home-grown entrepreneurs NanoTouch Materials, inventors of self-cleaning surfaces used by hospitals, hotels, and other businesses, will soon expand their operations and hire more than a dozen new employees.
Liberty University, one of the Region’s biggest employers, has become what the “2016 State of the Commonwealth Report” describes as “Lynchburg’s most important economic engine.” The report cites a 2014 Magnum Economics report that found “one of every five jobs in the city of Lynchburg is due to Liberty, which generated $1.1 billion in local economic activity and $9.2 million in additional tax revenues for the city.”
Liberty owns a controlling interest in River Ridge Mall, one of three shopping centers in the Region that have benefited from investment by the university. In January, LU announced it was obtaining an even larger share of River Ridge and would be developing an outdoor shopping area there soon.
Lynchburg also was re-designated as a Virginia Enterprise Zone in 2016. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe described the program as “an important tool that will help our efforts to build a new Virginia economy.” The VEZ program provides state and local incentives, attracting new business to the Region and bolstering existing ones. Businesses in enterprise zones can earn up to $200,000 in incentives during a five-year period in Real Property Investment Grants. For Job Creation Grants, up to $800 per position per year for five years is available.
Another advantage for Regional industry is our proximity to water. The Pedlar Reservoir and James River make the Region an optimal location for the food, beverage, and other industries. These sources provide more than 15 million gallons per day in excess water capacity and are literally the life water of some businesses in the Region. Westover Dairy, for example, bottles water for Kroger and other retailers. The snack food company Frito Lay also relies on our abundant water supply.
Businesses also benefit from the Lynchburg Region’s robust transportation network. U.S. 29 and U.S. 460 easily connect the Region to the nation’s Interstate system, and there’s a regional airport in Lynchburg with service to a major U.S. hub. Amtrak travels to and from Washington, D.C., twice daily from Lynchburg, and soon service will be extended to Roanoke as well. The Crescent alsotravels between New York and New Orleans daily.