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Fredericksburg area is called ‘excellent’ location for businesses

BY CHELYEN DAVIS

RICHMOND—The Fredericksburg region is in a prime location for businesses to locate and has much to offer, especially for science and technology companies.

That was the message from Linwood Thomas, the Fredericksburg Regional Alliance’s director for marketing and global business development, to a group of commercial real estate brokers Tuesday.

He was one of four representatives from regional economic development groups talking to the Greater Richmond Association for Commercial Real Estate at a breakfast meeting in Richmond.

“Any time you get to showcase your region to a group of commercial real estate experts is excellent,” Thomas said while introducing himself.

He told the brokers that Fredericksburg is in “an excellent location,” on the eastern seaboard and close to two major metropolitan areas.

It also has “a high concentration of scientists and PhDs,” he said, particularly at Dahlgren. Thomas said that should make the region more attractive to companies focusing on scientific and technological research and development.

“Innovation and technology are going to lead us out of this recession,” he said.

Thomas said that the Fredericksburg area hasn’t been immune to the recession, but that even with that—and, now, the threat of federal defense spending cuts—the number of defense contractors in the region has increased.

“Defense contractors have really been our lifeblood,” he said.

Still, Thomas said, the Fredericksburg Regional Alliance is trying to diversify the kinds of companies it seeks to attract. In addition to targeting technology and research firms, he said, the group is working on attracting manufacturing companies and medical supply and pharmaceutical firms.

The region’s challenges, he said, include getting more infrastructure in place for site-ready projects, and the difficulty of getting around.

“We have to face our transportation issues head-on in our region,” he said.

In addition to Thomas, representatives from economic development organizations in Charlottesville and Richmond were on the panel.

Helen Cauthen, president of the Thomas Jefferson Partnership for Economic Development, said her group represents the counties around Charlottesville, including Louisa and Orange, and that Louisa does well at competing with Richmond as a good place for companies to locate.

Overall, Virginia is well-placed to attract new businesses, said Rob McClintock, director of Research, Virginia Economic Development Partnership. It has diverse regions that can accommodate virtually any plant or company, it’s “halfway between L.A. and London,” it has good schools and a high quality of life, and it has a right-to-work law, appealing to businesses.

Chelyen Davis: 540/368-5028

cdavis@freelancestar.com

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