Another take on Growth in Central Virginia

Virginia Business Magazine has an excellent article this month focusing on the challenges (and successes) faced by the Central Virginia region – specifically the housing market, the economy, relatively high cost of living. One thing is clear from the article – Charlottesville’s reach extends far beyond its limits.  Take the time to read the article, and the accompanying articles about the growing biotech segment of our economy. One neat note is that I have clients who work for several of the referenced companies.

Promising …  but then, not so much …

The area is adding jobs, unemployment is low, and the U.Va. is helping research-oriented entrepreneurs begin new businesses. New companies in the area find that, despite the low jobless rate and high cost of living, the pool of well-educated available workers is large. Many are “underemployed,” willing to take lower-paying jobs just so they can stay in the area.

This highlights an important trend brought on in no small part by broadband’s growth –

“A lot of folks move here and they don’t depend on the local economy for their economic well being,” De Mauri says. “They either already have their money and then bring it with them or they work in jobs that give them the flexibility to live anywhere, so they choose to live where they like to live. (bolding mine)

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The following –

Economic and population growth has not been limited to Charlottesville and Albemarle County. The surrounding counties — Greene, Fluvanna, and Orange among them — are seeing spillover development as they keep up with 4 percent annual population growth in some areas. A large mixed-use retail complex, Hollymead Town Center, just went up north of Charlottesville near the Greene County line. About 1,200 homes are planned for the Spring Creek development in Zion’s Crossroads near the Louisa-Fluvanna line, and 2,000 homes are in the pipeline in Greene.

Begs the question: how large are these “edge cities” going to grow? How far can they grow with Charlottesville being the focal (or at least perceived focal) point for the region’s economy?

This article about the so-called “edge city” phenomenon, could easily be written about the Charlottesville/Central Virginia area.

The “Edge City” phenomenon — growth radiating outward from Washington, D.C., turning cow pastures into jumbled urban landscapes of single-family homes, malls and office blocks — is creeping inexorably into Fauquier County, although at a slower rate than we may perceive.

Ironically, the rural beauty of the area is playing a strong role in encouraging this dynamic.

Remind anyone of Charlottesville? Crozet? Ruckersville? Palmyra? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Mass transit, infrastructure, telecommuting – these issues will effect in our local economy in ways that we have never before planned nor necessarily expected. Now is as good a time as any to 1) Plan. 2) Actually implement changes.

The Charlottesville/Central Virginia region is a great place to live. Now that everybody knows about it, how long can we stay that way?

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