A study conducted by The College of William & Mary reveals that The Port of Virginia continues to be an expanding economic force in the commonwealth’s economy by creating more than 565,000 jobs and $41 billion in compensation that can be directly attributed to the port. The study analyzed the overall value of the port to the Virginia economy during fiscal year 2022 (FY22) and compared the findings with the port’s performance in FY21.
“The Port of Virginia is delivering significant, positive results for the Virginia economy and we are on course to help drive even more job creation and economic investment,” said Stephen A. Edwards, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority in a press release. “We are investing $1.4 billion to expand our overall capacity and cargo handling capabilities and this will have a positive effect on the Virginia economy. The cargo goes to well-run, modern, efficient ports and, as this port grows, so will its benefit to all Virginians.”
The port posted its most productive fiscal-year performance ever in FY22. During that period, the port processed more than 3.7 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). The business activity generated by the movement and handling of that cargo combined with the port’s overall productivity was a significant contributor to the Virginia economy, according to the W&M study.
The proof is in the numbers. In comparison with FY21, FY22 numbers included $124.1 billion in output sales, up 24 percent and representing 12 percent of total Virginia output; $63 billion in Virginia gross state product, up 33 percent and representing 10 percent of gross state product; $41.4 billion in Virginia labor income, up 53 percent and representing seven percent of labor income in Virginia; 565,000 full- and part-time jobs, up 29 percent and representing 11 percent of total employment in the state; and $5.8 billion in state and local taxes and fees, up 100 percent and representing eight percent of all state and local taxes.
According to a press release from The Port of Virginia, the port contributes to Virginia’s economy in three ways: 1) the movement/transport of export and import cargo within Virginia; 2) the export of Virginia-made goods; and 3) the added processing and distribution of imports by Virginia businesses to produce goods for sale throughout the state and across the nation.
Edwards said it is important to understand that FY22 was a record year for trade because ports were continuing to recover from the pandemic-driven disruption in trade. This drove cargo activity at The Port of Virginia to all-time highs.
“There were so many unusual factors at work that were all contributors to our record-breaking year,” said Edwards. “We doubt we will ever see a trade environment similar to that during the pandemic. Trade is now returning to normal, as expected, and we are focusing on maintaining the gains we have made while improving our efficiency and service levels.”
The investments the port is making will help it stay ahead of its U.S. East Coast peers while growing cargo volumes and meeting the needs of port users and the supply-chain businesses coming to Virginia.
“We are nearing the end of our dredging effort and within the next twelve months The Port of Virginia will become the deepest port on the U.S. East Coast,” said Edwards. “Later this summer, we’ll begin taking delivery of equipment for the expansion of the Central Rail Yard at Norfolk International Terminal (NIT) and breaking ground for the expansion of the North Berth at NIT. These initiatives will drive trade to and through The Port of Virginia.”
The W&M study was authored by K. Scott Swan, Ph.D., who is the David L. Peebles Professor of Business Chair at the Raymond A. Mason School of Business and serves as president-elect of Faculty Assembly at The College of William & Mary. Swan was also assisted by Mangum Economics, which is known as a leader in industry analysis, economic impact assessment, policy and program evaluation, and economic workforce strategy development.
“In summary, the Port of Virginia is continually modernizing to meet the needs of the commonwealth and conditions of the world,” read the report. “Virginia businesses and their customers require superior fluidity, increasing sustainability, and world-class support services to enable them to offer the selection, quality, convenience, and price demanded by their customers. This requires visionary leadership, proactive investment in technology and infrastructure, as well as exceptional skills and partnerships. This also requires an emboldening government that sees investment in the POV as paying dividends to all its citizens. As we emerge from the pandemic, Virginia’s ports are vital for the economy in the commonwealth and the nation and are its greatest competitive advantage. As can be seen in this analysis, the POV has led the way to economic recovery through enabling increased job opportunities, raised incomes, and advantaged businesses.”