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  • Writer's pictureAshley Wenger

The Shenandoah Valley is Ripe for Manufacturing Businesses

What do automotive, food, and life sciences have in common? At first glance, not much, but if you dig a little deeper into the industries themselves, you’ll discover they can all be found being manufactured in the Shenandoah Valley! In fact, you can find almost anything being manufactured in the Valley. Our region of Virginia is known for the views of the Shenandoah National Park, and its collection of great wineries, so it might surprise you to learn that it’s also becoming known for its manufacturing capabilities. In 2020, the Staunton-Waynesboro and Harrisonburg areas ranked among the top 30 best places to work in manufacturing in a SmartAsset report. Only six of the other competitors were located on the east coast, and none other were located in Virginia. To take it one step further, according to the Virginia Employment Commission’s demographic profile, manufacturing constitutes the largest private-sector employment (Shenandoah Valley Partnership). What makes the Shenandoah Valley such a prominent player in the manufacturing industry?

The Valley’s location, in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, is one of the major variables that positions the Shenandoah Valley as a key manufacturing hotspot on the east coast. It’s broken up by interstates 81 and 64, which are important transportation routes, that provide easy access to markets north, south, east, and west of the region. These interstates take you to neighboring states, like Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, where better and more efficient manufacturing infrastructure is being developed, “One of the cool things we can start doing is supporting manufacturing and moving supply chains back to America. These multistate partnerships make the region an excellent spot for manufacturing,” said Debbie Irwin, Executive Director of SCCF, about the manufacturing opportunities in Virginia.

In addition to being a prime location to start a manufacturing business, there are also vast opportunities for improving the industry itself. Manufacturing is rapidly becoming more efficient and precise, as technology and operations continue to develop. This development is aided by the innovation and ideas trickling down from major tech hubs, like Washington D.C. This means that many manufacturing jobs in the future will require more specialized technological skills. Luckily, the Valley is far from lacking an educated workforce. Between six major universities, The Virginia Military Institute, and the number of other colleges spread out across the region, there’s an outstanding number of graduates entering the Valley’s workforce every year.

Location, innovation, and education are why big-name companies like Hershey Foods, Molson Coors Beverage Company, and Packaging Corp of America have chosen the Shenandoah Valley for their manufacturing. Although these large corporations have settled in our region, and become major employers in the area, there is also a host of other, smaller, manufacturing businesses right in our backyards. Over the course of October, we are going to highlight some of these incredible entrepreneurs in celebration of October’s National Manufacturing Month. Subscribe to our newsletter, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn to receive updates about when we post our next entrepreneur highlight!


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