When you’re hot, you’re hot.
By any measure, Chesterfield County has had an impressive year. Since last June, the county has announced hundreds of millions of dollars in new projects, including a 1 million-square-foot Amazon fulfillment center and a $100 million Capital One data center.
And on Thursday, Sabra Dipping Company broke ground on a 20,000-square-foot expansion in Chesterfield.
BizSense caught up with Chesterfield Economic Development Director Will Davis to talk about the fiscal year that ended June 30 and to look at the year ahead.
Below is an edited transcript.
Richmond BizSense: From the director’s chair, what’s it been like for you with all these big announcements?
Will Davis: It’s been a great year for us — one of the best years ever. This year we announced more than $355 million in new capital investment. That’s a 148 percent increase over the preceding year. And the preceding year was a good year as well — we were up 12 percent. Our announcements increased by 18 percent last year.
But the most important thing we’ve been able to do is add 2,276 jobs. That’s an even bigger story.
RBS: How do you pitch Chesterfield County?
WD: Chesterfield is the third largest county in Virginia by population. We’re blessed with a lot of choices for businesses. At Meadowville Technology Park, we have both Amazon and Capital One, along with Northrop Grumman. We’ve got areas suitable for medical users, [such as] Watkins Center. We’ve got an industrial park in James River Center. So we can present businesses with options. Also, we’re right at the convergence of several interstates.
RBS: So road infrastructure is a big deal for companies?
WD: If you look at Meadowville Technology Park, when that highway interchange was built, very soon after that you had the Amazon announcement. And then right behind it you had Capital One. Now we have other companies who are looking at Meadowville as well.
RBS: How is the Amazon fulfillment center progressing?
WD: We announced the Amazon deal on December 22. When we made that announcement, the site was a 100-acre, heavily forested area. Today there are 1 million square feet under roof. It is a huge facility, and it’s moving along ahead of schedule. It should be on pace for opening in October.
RBS: What do you think this kind of banner year says to prospects?
WD: I think companies are realizing that when they come to Chesterfield they are going to have a proactive economic development environment that will move very fast. We do all we can do to make it the best site location experience. The faster you get open, the faster you can make money.
RBS: What areas are you targeting this year to keep up the momentum?
WD: We want to continue growing in the food sector. Already we have Maruchan, the Japanese company that makes ramen noodles. They make over 50 percent of their ramen right here in Chesterfield. We obviously just expanded Sabra, owned by Strauss and PepsiCo. We’ve got Blue Print Automation, from the Netherlands. They make the machinery that is used to package potato chips.
You put that all together, and they make a nice food industry in Chesterfield.
Out at Meadowville, we want to continue to focus on information technology and data like with Capital One. Advanced materials is an area that DuPont and other companies are looking at expanding in; logistics, such as with Amazon; and the aviation industry.
RBS: What is your favorite flavor of Sabra hummus?
WD: Pine Nut, with a good dash of Tabasco.
RBS: What is the last thing you bought on Amazon?
WD: A part for my Harley Road King Classic.