A home for Business

The Commonwealth of Virginia has existed as a business venture since its inception in 1607, when the Virginia Company of London formed a joint-stock company to bring profits to shareholders and establish an English colony in the New World. More than 400 years on, Virginia is still known as one of the best states in the country for business. Since 2019, Business Facilities, CNBC, Forbes, and Site Selection have all ranked Virginia in the top five states in business climate, business friendliness, or their overall state rankings.

Virginia’s appeal for companies starts with its stability, allowing startups and expansions alike to move forward with business plans knowing that policies and operating costs will be predictable. Virginia’s corporate tax rate has been stable since 1972, and the Commonwealth’s state and local tax burden is significantly lower than the national average. Considering all forms of taxation, Virginia boasts one of the lowest overall business tax burdens in the country — similar to many states that tout “zero” corporate taxes — along with competitive leasing, utility, and construction costs.

Consistent policy and prudent financial management have earned the Commonwealth an AAA bond rating since 1938, longer than any other state. This commitment to stability has translated into financial predictability for the companies that choose to operate in Virginia. As a result of continued strategic investments in critical infrastructure and education, Virginia’s economy has grown steadily at an average of 2% annually for the past 20 years, contracting in only three of these years during nationwide recessions. The Commonwealth has experienced only two budget deficits since 2003, both occurring during the Great Recession and tempered by the state’s healthy “rainy day” reserve fund.

That stability has led to Virginia consistently being ranked among the best-run states in the country. This holds regardless of which party occupies the Executive Mansion or controls the General Assembly. As Mike Petters, former president and CEO of Newport News-based Fortune 500 company HII and now a member of the company’s board, said, “There’s a general consensus in the state legislature of the importance of business, and I don’t think that is tied to a particular party. It’s incumbent upon the businesses to identify those things that are good for business, but when the case is made, the Commonwealth steps up.”

Virginia’s regulatory environment offers a business-friendly climate that aligns strictly with federal labor regulations on family leave, overtime, and more. That climate includes one of the oldest right-to-work laws in the country, dating to 1947. Just 4.8% of Virginians belong to a union, less than half the national rate of 10.3%. Businesses and employees can work together freely and productively to establish common-sense workplace policies that fit their respective needs. 

Virginia companies benefit from a premier talent base that’s one of the most educated and productive in the country across industries. Nearly 40% of Virginians have a bachelor’s degree or higher, making the Commonwealth the sixth-most educated state in the country (first in the South), well above the national average of 33%. SmartAsset ranked Virginia’s higher education system as the second-best in the country in 2022, while CNBC ranked the Commonwealth as the second-best state for education the same year.

Homegrown Virginia companies range from Fortune 500 giants like Capital One Financial Corporation, Markel Corporation, and Owens & Minor, Inc., to smaller companies that continue to innovate in a wide variety of fields. Bedford County-based NanoTouch Materials, LLC developed the world’s first line of self-cleaning surfaces. F.R. Drake Company in Waynesboro manufactures the world’s most popular frankfurter loading system. CarMax, Inc., a Fortune 500 company based in Goochland County, revolutionized used car sales through a big-box, mass retailer approach that has been adopted across a large swath of the industry.

When asked why their companies chose Virginia, executives across the Commonwealth echo some recurring themes: quality of life, a strong workforce, an advantageous Mid-Atlantic location, and growth potential. As Diane Kees, COO of Micro Harmonics Corporation in Botetourt County, said, “We can’t imagine being anywhere other than Virginia.”

A wide array of diverse companies have found what they needed in Virginia — a business-friendly regulatory climate, competitive and stable taxation, and one of the lowest private-sector unionization rates in the country. The Commonwealth’s homegrown success stories include several Fortune 500 companies and a great many other innovators in fields as diverse as banking and credit cards, manufacturing, shipbuilding, wood products, and food and beverage processing. Read on to learn about these innovators who chose Virginia to launch their businesses.

Advanced Materials

NanoSonic, Inc.

NanoSonic is focused on the discovery, development, and manufacturing of advanced materials with useful engineering constitutive properties. The primary applications of these materials are in the aerospace and defense, electronics, and biomedical engineering industries.

Year founded: 1998

Founding locality: Montgomery County

Current region: New River Valley

MELD Manufacturing

MELD Manufacturing makes 3D metal printers capable of printing parts at a larger scale than any other additive manufacturer, at a rate 10 times faster than typical fusion-based processes. MELD’s printers can print aluminum, titanium, steel, alloys, and more. The company’s open-atmosphere, no-melt process produces isotropic, fully dense parts that don’t require follow-on processes. The revolutionary technology was chosen by the U.S. Army for the world’s largest metal printer as part of its Jointless Hull Program for repair of combat vehicles.

Year founded: 2018
Founding locality: Montgomery County
Current region: New River Valley

 

Aerospace

Fulcrum Concepts LLC

Fulcrum Concepts specializes in defense aerospace engineering from its headquarters at the Middle Peninsula Regional Airport in King and Queen County. The U.S. Army competitively selected the company as the designer and system integrator for its Modular Effects Launcher, which will launch missiles, rockets, and multi-purpose mini-drones for a future attack reconnaissance helicopter.

Year founded: 2008
Founding locality: York County
Current region: Middle Peninsula

 

Automotive

Carry-On Trailer

Carry-On Trailer manufactures utility, aluminum, dump, cargo, and equipment trailers for residential, commercial, and recreational applications. Available through a nationwide network of retailers and dealers, Carry-On is the best-selling brand of trailer in the United States.

Year founded: 1996
Founding locality: Westmoreland County
Current region: Northern Neck

 

Aviation

Dynamic Aviation

Dynamic Aviation owns and operates a fleet of more than 140 modified aircraft in 10 countries and four continents, serving government, commercial, and nonprofit clients. In 2016, the company purchased the Lockheed Constellation plane that was the first presidential aircraft to use the call sign “Air Force One” and has been working to restore it to its former glory ever since.

Year founded: 1967
Founding locality: City of Harrisonburg
Current region: Shenandoah Valley

 

Corporate Services

Dominion Payroll

Dominion Payroll, a customer-focused workforce management firm, has offices in eight states serving more than 5,000 clients across the country. A 12-time Inc. 5000 honoree, Dominion Payroll offers a full suite of products and services including payroll, onboarding, human resources, and benefits administration.

Year founded: 2002
Founding locality: City of Richmond
Current region: Greater Richmond

 

Cybersecurity

Expel

Inspired by a tweet from an industry analyst who stated that managed security service consumers had endured “the customer service equivalent of taxi drivers,” Expel is a security operations provider that offers managed detection and response, remediation, phishing support, and threat hunting. Company employees are called “Expletives.”

Year founded: 2016
Founding locality: Fairfax County
Current region: Northern Virginia

 

Food and Beverage

A. Smith Bowman Distillery

A. Smith Bowman Distillery in Spotsylvania County is Virginia’s oldest, most award-winning distillery. The company produces bourbon, vodka, gin, rum, and cream liqueur, and its Abraham Bowman Port Finished Bourbon Whiskey and John J. Bowman Single Barrel Virginia Straight Bourbon Whiskey have been honored as the World’s Best Bourbon by Whisky magazine.

Year founded: 1934
Founding locality: Fairfax County
Current region: Greater Fredericksburg 

Blue Ridge Aquaculture, Inc.

Blue Ridge Aquaculture, Inc. is the world’s largest producer of tilapia using indoor recirculating aquaculture systems. The company produces 5 million pounds of tilapia annually, shipping between 10,000–20,000 pounds of live tilapia every day. Its fish are raised without the use of antibiotics or hormones and are free of mercury and other industrial pollutants.

Year founded: 1993
Founding locality: Henry County
Current region: Southern Virginia

Bold Rock Hard Cider

Bold Rock Hard Cider is the best-selling regional craft cider brand in the United States, using primarily locally grown Virginia apples to craft award-winning styles like its Virginia Apple, Premium Dry, and Blackberry hard cider varieties. In addition to hard cider distributed in more than 20 states, Bold Rock has innovated by adding canned craft cocktails, craft spirits, hard tea, and hard lemonade to its beverage portfolio. The company welcomes guests to its Bold Rock Cidery & Taproom in Nelson County and its seasonal taproom outpost at Carter Mountain Orchard in Albemarle County.

Year founded: 2012
Founding locality: Nelson County
Current region: Central Virginia

 

Headquarters 

Alarm.com

Alarm.com is the leading platform for the intelligently connected property, helping residential and business customers manage and control their property from anywhere. The company’s growing platform includes security, video, access control, intelligent automation, energy management, and wellness solutions. In 2021, the company was named to Fortune’s list of the 100 Fastest-Growing Companies for the second year in a row. 

Year founded: 2000
Founding locality: Fairfax County
Current region: Northern Virginia

Capital One Financial Corporation

Capital One Financial Corporation, a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Fairfax County, offers a broad spectrum of financial products and services to consumers, small businesses, and commercial clients, including credit cards, auto loans, banking, and savings accounts.

Year founded: 1994
Founding locality: City of Richmond
Current regions: Greater Richmond, Northern Virginia

CarMax, Inc.

CarMax, a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Goochland County, is the largest retailer of used autos in the country, selling more than 900,000 used vehicles and 700,000 wholesale vehicles at its auctions during the fiscal year that ended Feb. 28, 2022. With more than 230 stores, CarMax offers a personalized experience with the option for customers to do as much, or as little, online and in-store as they want. CarMax also provides a variety of vehicle delivery methods, including home delivery, express pickup, and appointments in its stores.

Year founded: 1993
Founding locality: City of Richmond
Current region: Greater Richmond

Crutchfield Corporation

Crutchfield is the nation’s leading specialty online retailer of consumer electronics. The company sells more than 16,000 products ranging from home and car audio equipment to drones. Out of more than 3,500 online retailers surveyed by BizRate Insights for service excellence, Crutchfield is the only one that has been awarded the Platinum Circle of Excellence Award for 22 consecutive years.

Year founded: 1974
Founding locality: City of Charlottesville
Current region: Central Virginia

Luck Companies

Luck Companies is the nation’s largest family-owned and operated producer of crushed aggregates and environmental performance products. With over 900 associates in communities across the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast, Luck Companies’ mission is to ignite human potential and positively impact the lives of others. The company will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2023.

Year founded: 1923
Founding locality: City of Richmond
Current regions: Central Virginia, Greater Fredericksburg, Greater Richmond, Hampton Roads, Northern Virginia, South Central Virginia

Markel Corporation

Markel Corporation is a Fortune 500 business with headquarters in Henrico County, numerous other Virginia facilities, and more than 20,000 employees across the globe. While Markel’s group of companies is broad and covers many products and services, its principal business underwrites specialty insurance products around the world. Markel has a long history of finding creative ways to manage and insure complex risks, including building America’s first truck stop in Washington, D.C.

Year founded: 1930
Founding locality: City of Richmond
Current regions: Greater Fredericksburg, Greater Richmond, Hampton Roads, Northern Shenandoah Valley, Northern Virginia, Roanoke Region

The Motley Fool

Founded by brothers Tom and David Gardner as a newsletter printed out of an Alexandria shed, The Motley Fool provides free and premium investment guidance to millions of individual investors around the world each month through its website, books, television appearances, and newsletters. The company is named after a character in William Shakespeare’s play “As You Like It,” in which the court jester, or the Fool, could speak truth to the king and queen without fear of reprisal.

Year founded: 1993
Founding locality: City of Alexandria
Current region: Northern Virginia

 

Life Sciences

ivWatch

ivWatch is a biosensor technology company focused on improving patient safety and the effectiveness of intravenous therapy. The company is pioneering the use of optical sensors to detect adverse IV events early to minimize the risk of injury caused by infiltrations and extravasations. Continuous monitoring can help identify infiltrations at their earliest stages.

Year founded: 2010
Founding locality: City of Newport News
Current region: Hampton Roads

Kaléo

Kaléo is a privately held, fully integrated pharmaceutical company dedicated to inventing, manufacturing, and commercializing life-transforming products for certain serious and life-threatening medical conditions. Kaléo’s innovative auto-injection technologies are protected by an extensive intellectual property portfolio of more than 200 issued patents. The company was the first to meet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration draft guidance standard for 99.999% device reliability. 

Year founded: 2004
Founding locality: City of Richmond 
Current region: Greater Richmond

NanoTouch Materials, LLC

NanoTouch Materials in Bedford County develops and manufactures the world’s first line of self-cleaning surfaces. The company’s smart materials constantly oxidize any organic contaminants using a toxin-free photocatalytic reaction powered by visible light. Crocs are part of the company’s standard dress code.

Year founded: 2012
Founding locality: City of Lynchburg
Current region: Lynchburg Region

 

Manufacturing

ActivWall Systems

ActivWall Systems produces custom moving walls, windows, and doors for residential applications. The company’s products have been featured in House Beautiful and on Netflix’s “Instant Dream Home.”

Year founded: 2011
Founding locality: City of Martinsville
Current region: Southern Virginia

Cadence, Inc.

Cadence launched as Specialty Blades in an old creamery building in downtown Staunton. Since then, the company has expanded from its initial focus on high-performance, custom-made cutting blades to medical and drug delivery devices of all types. The company now manufactures specialty metal components, complex sub-assemblies, and finished devices.

Year founded: 1985
Founding locality: City of Staunton
Current region: Shenandoah Valley

F.R. Drake Company

F.R. Drake designs and manufactures food processing equipment from its Waynesboro facility. The company manufactures the world’s most popular frankfurter loading system, with more than 700 currently in use worldwide, and routinely captures more than 90% of new frankfurter loader sales in the Western Hemisphere.

Year founded: 1979
Founding locality: Nelson County
Current region: Shenandoah Valley

First Line Technology

First Line Technology designs and manufactures disaster preparedness and emergency response equipment from its facilities in Fairfax County and Stafford County. The company works with first responders and the military to develop products that are tested and proven in a laboratory setting for effective use in hazardous environments.

Year founded: 2003
Founding locality: Fairfax County
Current regions: Greater Fredericksburg, Northern Virginia

Micro Harmonics Corporation

Micro Harmonics, owned by two siblings and now based in Botetourt County, specializes in ferrite components  for use at millimeter-wave frequencies from 25-400 GHz. Applications for the company’s products include testing and measurement, portal security, telecommunications, and radar.

Year founded: 2008
Founding locality: City of Waynesboro
Current region: Roanoke Region

New Ravenna

New Ravenna’s team of more than 100 artisans handcraft exquisite custom stone and glass mosaics. The company’s mosaics are installed in homes, hotels, restaurants, spas, yachts, and commercial buildings around the world. Each mosaic is made to order for the specific client’s precise needs. 

Year founded: 1992
Founding locality: Northampton County
Current region: Eastern Shore

Newport News Shipbuilding

Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) — a division of HII, formerly known as Huntington Ingalls Industries — is Virginia’s largest industrial employer and has built ships for U.S. Navy and commercial customers for nearly 140 years. Founder Collis P. Huntington famously said, “We shall build good ships here; at a profit if we can, at a loss if we must, but always good ships,” and that philosophy has helped make NNS the nation’s sole designer, builder, and refueler of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.

Year founded: 1886
Founding locality: City of Newport News
Current region: Hampton Roads

Optical Cable Corporation

Optical Cable Corporation (OCC) is a leading manufacturer of a broad range of fiber optic and copper data communications cabling and connectivity products that provide high-quality solutions for both harsh environment and enterprise applications. Members of the OCC engineering team studied under Charles Kao, the “father of fiber optics” and a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics. OCC’s customers include all branches of the U.S. military, mining sites, oil rigs, healthcare facilities, and more.

Year founded: 1983
Founding locality: City of Salem
Current region: Roanoke Region

Owens & Minor, Inc.

Owens & Minor, Inc., is a Fortune 500 global healthcare solutions company that integrates product manufacturing and delivery, home health supply, and perioperative services to support care through the hospital and into the home. The company has operated continuously for 140 years and is headquartered in Hanover County, with distribution centers there and in James City County. 

Year founded: 1882
Founding locality: City of Richmond
Current regions: Greater Richmond, Hampton Roads

Service Center Metals

Service Center Metals (SCM) produces aluminum bars, beams, rods, shapes, and tubing, all of which are shipped to metal service centers across the country. All of its equipment at its extrusion and compact remelt plants is named after musicians — Elvis, the Boss, Mick, Keith, Jake, and Elwood. SCM’s compact remelt plant is the world’s largest horizontal aluminum log casting plant.

Year founded: 2003
Founding locality: Prince George County
Current region: Virginia’s Gateway Region

TMEIC Corporation Americas

The American subsidiary of a Japanese company formed through a merger of the industrial systems departments of the Toshiba Corporation and Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, TMEIC engineers and manufactures electric power conversion hardware, large industrial motors, and advanced automation control systems for a wide range of industrial and power generation applications.

Year founded: 2003
Founding locality: Roanoke County
Current region: Roanoke Region

Winndom Mattress Collection

Winndom Mattress Collection produces its high-quality mattresses with materials from the United States in a converted high school building. Winndom also provides custom bedding for boutique hotels, sailboats, luxury yachts, sport fishing boats, RVs, campers, antique beds, and more.

Year founded: 1988
Founding locality: City of Hopewell
Current region: Virginia’s Gateway Region

YakAttack

Founded in a garage, YakAttack specializes in kayak fishing gear, kayak rigging, and outfitting for boats and skiffs. Now based in Prince Edward County, the company’s products can be purchased at retailers like Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, and Dick’s Sporting Goods across the country and internationally.

Year founded: 2009
Founding locality: Amelia County
Current region: South Central Virginia

 

Software

Appian

Appian is an enterprise software company. Leading companies and governmental organizations use its low-code platform for process automation, enabling them to design, automate, and optimize their most important business processes. Appian began in a McLean apartment and now has offices in 20 countries, and all four of its founders still work at the company.

Year founded: 1999
Founding locality: Fairfax County
Current region: Northern Virginia

CloudFit Software

CloudFit Software provides cloud managed services to customers in the U.S. Department of Defense and other government entities, as well as commercial entities ranging from Fortune 100 companies to small, 10-user companies. The company handles cloud transitions from start to finish and helps customers operate securely once in the cloud. CloudFit has won the Microsoft US Partner of the Year Award for Defense & Intelligence two of the last three years and is on the Inc. 500 and Vet 100 lists.

Year founded: 2018
Founding locality: City of Lynchburg
Current region: Lynchburg Region

WillowTree

Headquartered in Albemarle County, WillowTree operates 13 global studios across the United States and several foreign countries. The company’s more than 1,000 digital strategists, designers, engineers, and project managers partner with iconic brands on mission-critical, large-scale initiatives. WillowTree’s clients include Fortune 500 companies across industries including telecommunications and media, healthcare and life sciences, financial services, consumer goods, travel and hospitality, and technology and software.

Year founded: 2008
Founding locality: City of Charlottesville
Current region: Central Virginia

 

Unmanned Systems

DroneUp

DroneUp combines airspace solutions, software applications, analytics platforms, and a trusted team of industry leaders to help companies operate at scale with drone innovation. In addition to its own staff, it leverages a network of 20,000 affiliated pilots to help companies outsource unmanned operations. Retail giant Walmart is now a minority investor in DroneUp, and the companies are working to establish permanent last-mile drone delivery for a large portion of Walmart’s product line. 

Year founded: 2016
Founding locality: City of Virginia Beach
Current region: Hampton Roads

HUSH Aerospace

HUSH Aerospace fulfills product design, prototyping, analysis, and manufacturing of unmanned aerial systems for achieving multi-modal mission capability across air and water. The company creates reliable platforms that are capable of long flight times and payload-agnostic, with an emphasis on lowering the acoustic signature of vehicles for better integration into day-to-day life. 

Year founded: 2019
Founding locality: City of Virginia Beach
Current region: Hampton Roads

Perrone Robotics

Perrone Robotics develops autonomous retrofit kits across vehicle manufacturers, technology suppliers, and transit and transportation customers. Perrone’s To Navigate You (TONY) retrofit kit embeds into any vehicle type for any application. TONY is the world’s first fully autonomous shuttle solution to operate on public roads with Level 4 autonomous capability (fully autonomous driving based on condition restrictions) based on a general purpose robotics operating system

Year founded: 2003
Founding locality: City of Charlottesville
Current region: Central Virginia

 

Wood Products

American Woodmark

Founded by a dentist who needed cabinetry for his office, American Woodmark is now one of the top three cabinet manufacturers in the country. Headquartered in Frederick County, the company manufactures more than a dozen cabinet brands at 18 manufacturing and distribution facilities across the country, including one in Orange County in Central Virginia.

Year founded: 1980
Founding locality: Frederick County
Current regions: Central Virginia, Northern Shenandoah Valley

Bassett Furniture Industries, Inc.

Bassett Furniture Industries, Inc. was born in the Blue Ridge Mountains when the Bassett family shifted from milling Blue Ridge hardwoods for other furniture companies to manufacturing its own finished product. In 1998, the company expanded into operating its own retail stores; today, Bassett owns 60 stores and licenses its retail concept to another 35 locations. Many of Bassett’s domestic products can be customized with finishes and fabrics, including the U.S.-sourced BenchMade Collection, made in Henry County.

Year founded: 1902
Founding locality: Henry County
Current region: Southern Virginia

Cochran’s Lumber

Cochran’s Lumber in Clarke County manufactures and finishes reclaimed and newly milled hardwood flooring. The company’s flooring is  machine- and hand-finished and delivers ready to be installed. Approximately 1 million square feet of Cochran’s flooring is installed each year.

Year founded: 1978
Founding locality: Loudoun County
Current region: Northern Shenandoah Valley

Trex Company, Inc.

Trex Company, Inc., the world’s largest manufacturer of  wood-alternative decking products, was formed in 1996 through a buyout of a division of Mobil Corporation. The company went public in 1999 and sells the industry’s widest array of high-performance composite products in 40 countries around the world. Trex repurposes more than 900 million pounds of recycled and reclaimed materials each year in the manufacture of its decking.

Year founded: 1996
Founding locality: Frederick County
Current region: Northern Shenandoah Valley

Turman Hardwood Flooring

Turman Hardwood Flooring, a subsidiary of the Turman Group, manufactures unfinished and pre-finished hardwood floors in a number of wood species. In 2005, the company began manufacturing hardwood pellets for home heating, reducing wood waste and adding a new revenue line.

Year founded: 2002
Founding locality: City of Galax
Current region: I81-I77 Crossroads

Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Company

Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Company is the largest manufacturer of wooden bedroom furniture in the United States. In 2003, the company led a coalition asking for an anti-dumping investigation of China, which reporter Beth Macy later turned into the New York Times bestseller “Factory Man.”

Year founded: 1919
Founding locality: City of Galax
Current region: I81-I77 Crossroads

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