Virginia Beach is a city that has seen its share of ups and downs. The seaside resort town was once known for its tourism, but the COVID-19 pandemic has forced leaders in the area to adapt to new economic realities. Recently, the focus has shifted to developing Virginia Beach into a technology hub.
There are several reasons why Virginia Beach presents an opportunity for budding biotechnology and technology companies. Discover how Virginia Beach is becoming a technology hub and how it is benefiting the area. You’ll also learn why Virginia Beach presents an opportunity for budding technology companies and some of the resources the area offers.
Longtime vacation destination
Virginia Beach, located on the southern coast of Virginia just east of Norfolk, has long been a popular vacation destination. The city has a population of about 453,000 people and covers an area of 49 square miles. Virginia Beach is known for its wide beaches, boardwalk, and three-mile-long fishing pier.(1) The town also has a lively nightlife scene and is home to several museums and historical sites. Virginia Beach was ranked as the safest city in the United States in 2019 and has been consistently ranked as one of the best places to live.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic dealt a devastating blow to the Virginia Beach economy. The Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau estimated that the city lost out on $1.2 billion in tourism revenue in 2020. Many of the businesses that rely on tourists, such as hotels, restaurants, and retailers, have been struggling to stay afloat.
In response, leaders in Virginia Beach shifted their focus to developing the city into a technology hub. The goal is to attract new businesses and create jobs in the area. Virginia Beach has a lot to offer companies in the technology sector. The city is home to several universities and colleges, as well as a number of incubators and accelerators. There are also a number of resources available to companies looking to set up shop in Virginia Beach.
Virginia Beach: A technology hub in the making
There are several reasons why Virginia Beach is an attractive location for technology companies. (2)
- Virginia Beach has a large pool of potential employees, with over 45,000 people working in the science and engineering fields.
- Virginia Beach is home to several universities and colleges, such as Virginia Tech, Old Dominion University, and Tidewater Community College. These institutions produce a steady stream of highly-skilled workers that companies can recruit from.
- The city has a number of resources available to companies looking to set up shop in Virginia Beach, including the Virginia Beach Economic Development Partnership, the Virginia Beach Technology Transfer Center, the Virginia Beach Development Fund and the Virginia Beach Economic Development Incentive Grant Program.
- There are a number of incubators and accelerators in the city, such as the Virginia Beach Technology incubator, the Virginia Beach FabLab, 757 Accelerate, TCC Idea Factory and Hatch. These facilities provide companies with access to resources that can help them grow and succeed.
- The city offers a number of incentives for companies looking to set up shop in Virginia Beach. These include tax breaks, reduced rent, and access to funding.
- Virginia Beach is also working to improve its infrastructure, with plans to build a new light rail system and expand the Virginia Beach Convention Center.
- Location matters. And Virginia Beach’s location is ideal for companies in the technology sector. The city is situated close to Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia, and Hampton Roads. This gives companies in Virginia Beach easy access to a large market.
- The Virginia Beach area is also home to a number of military bases, including Naval Station Norfolk, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, and Fort Story. This gives Virginia Beach a large potential customer base for companies in the defense sector.
- Lower cost of doing business. Virginia Beach has a lower cost of doing business than many other cities in the United States. The Virginia Beach economy is not as reliant on tourism as it once was. This has led to a decrease in the cost of living and doing business in the city.
- Exceptional quality of life. Virginia Beach is a great place to live, work, and raise a family. The city has a low crime rate and good schools. Virginia Beach also offers a variety of recreational activities, such as swimming, fishing, surfing, and sailing.
- Favorable regulatory environment. Virginia Beach has a business-friendly regulatory environment. The Virginia Beach Economic Development Partnership works with companies to streamline the process of setting up shop in the city. The Virginia Beach Technology Transfer Center helps companies commercialize their products and services.
- Virginia Beach’s digital connection to the world helps power the city’s technology hub status. The Virginia Beach fiber network has more than 5,000 miles of high-capacity, low-latency fiber optic cable. This provides Virginia Beach with a redundant and reliable connection to the global internet backbone.
What technology companies have set up shop in Virginia Beach?
A number of companies in the technology sector have set up shop in Virginia Beach. These include:
- IBM: IBM has a presence in Virginia Beach, with a research lab located at the Virginia Beach Technology Transfer Center.
- Microsoft: Microsoft has a data center located in Virginia Beach.
- Oracle: Oracle has a sales office located in Virginia Beach.
- Google: Google has a data center located in Virginia Beach.
- Amazon: Amazon has a fulfillment center and data center located in Virginia Beach.
Virginia Beach is also home to a number of biotech companies. These include:
- Inova Labs: Inova Labs is a biomedical research company that has a location in Virginia Beach.
- Novozymes: Novozymes is a Danish biotechnology company that has a location in Virginia Beach.
- ViiV Healthcare: ViiV Healthcare is a pharmaceutical company that has a location in Virginia Beach.
What incentives does the city offer?
The city offers a number of incentives for companies looking to set up shop in Virginia Beach. These include:
- Tax breaks: The city offers a number of tax breaks for businesses, including a five-year real estate tax abatement.
- Reduced rent: The city offers reduced rent for businesses that locate in Virginia Beach.
- Access to funding: The city offers access to a number of funding sources, including the Virginia Beach Development Fund and the Virginia Beach Economic Development Incentive Grant Program.
Resources offered by areas colleges and universities
Virginia Beach is home to a number of colleges and universities, which offer resources that can be helpful for businesses in the area. These include:
- Old Dominion University plans to open an Institute of Data Science at Town Center next fall and is seeking grants from the city to help pay for it. The project would bring together businesses and academic researchers to solve problems through data science. Old Dominion has a Small Business Development Center and the Virginia Beach Technology Transfer Center.
- Tidewater Community College has a Center for Workforce Solutions that offers training and resources for businesses in the area.
- Virginia Wesleyan University offers a number of resources for businesses, including the Small Business Development Center and the Bateman Center for Entrepreneurship.
Undersea cables connect Virginia Beach to the world
Before Hurricane Sandy devastated the New York coastline in 2012, all of the East Coast subsea cables landed in New Jersey-New York or Florida. Virginia Beach was not connected to any major undersea cables. Today, the city is home to four major undersea cables:
- The Virginia Beach Cable Landing Station is the first East Coast landing station for the MAREA cable, which runs from Virginia Beach to Bilbao, Spain. The cable has a capacity of 160 terabits per second and was jointly built by Facebook and Microsoft.
- The Virginia Beach Cable Landing Station is also the first East Coast landing station for the BRUSA cable, which runs from Virginia Beach to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The cable has a capacity of 60 terabits per second and was jointly built by Google and Telefonica.
- The Virginia Beach Cable Landing Station is also home to two private cables: the Atlantic Crossing-1 cable, which has a capacity of 5.12 terabits per second, and the Virginia Beach-Norfolk cable, which has a capacity of 1.92 terabits per second.
The Virginia Beach Cable Landing Station is one of the most important pieces of infrastructure in the Virginia Beach tech hub. The station provides low-latency connectivity to Europe and South America, making Virginia Beach an attractive location for businesses that need to connect with those markets.(3)
The future of Virginia Beach
Virginia Beach is well on its way to becoming a high-tech haven. The city offers many benefits for technology companies, including a talent pool of educated workers, incubators and accelerators, and a supportive business environment. Virginia Beach is also home to a number of undersea cables that provide high-speed connectivity to Europe and South America. With these advantages, Virginia Beach is poised to become a leading destination for technology companies.
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- Virginia Beach Is Known For Its Boardwalk, But Here’s What Else You Can Do There That Doesn’t Involve Sunscreen – Rajender Bhatia – www.thetravel.com/what-to-do-in-virginia-beach-besides-boardwalk/
- Virginia Beach, A New Technology Hub – Ryan McCreadie – http://hamptonroadsweekly.com/2022/06/virginia-beach-a-new-technology-hub/
- Virginia’s Digital Connection to the World – https://richmond.com/virginias-digital-connection-to-the-world/article_b0ce1d6c-1dd5-59fa-8574-e5d0631a6c41.html