2023 MARKET REPORT
One fact is becoming quite clear: Our region is expanding rapidly. From the growth of arts and cultural activities to the redevelopment of beloved historic buildings, our region’s leaders have been working tirelessly to keep engagement and success growing in our area.
In our 2023 Market Report, read what’s on the horizon in the City of Lynchburg, as well as Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford, and Campbell counties in the coming year.
The City of Lynchburg
Expanding Sports Tourism
In the upcoming year, Lynchburg will be expanding on its sports tourism initiatives which includes supporting current major sporting events like the Commonwealth Games, Storming of Thunder Ridge, and Virginia 10 Miler and also bringing in new major tournaments and competitions. They will also partner with Lynchburg’s colleges and universities to support tourism efforts around athletic conferences and sporting games and events.
Building on a Brand
“In the fall of 2021, we launched the new LYH Loves You brand,” said Anna Bentson, Assistant Director of Economic Development. “The first phase of the plan was to increase awareness locally, now headed into year two of the brand release, we will be focusing on increasing our marketing to larger target audiences in Virginia and the East Coast to drive relocation efforts, talent recruitment, resident engagement and visitor awareness.”
Continued Pandemic Recovery
“In 2023, we hope to continue post pandemic recovery efforts and drive traffic in spending towards local businesses,” said Bentson. In the last year, domestic tourism to the City of Lynchburg recovered 120% from July 2019 and spending in lodging, shopping, and dining increased above pre-pandemic levels.
1. With thousands of open jobs, Lynchburg employers and job seekers alike are looking for ways to connect. This year, Lynchburg launched the LYH Jobs Portal in partnership with Chmura Analytics, a digital tool that gathers job postings from across the web into a localized, searchable database without having to log-in or create an account. Designed to complement and bolster job assistance programs, they refer those needing additional assistance in job searching and supportive services to community partners.
2. Master planning and site development efforts for sites in Ivy Creek Innovation Park and the future Airport Commerce Park advanced in 2022. These efforts will help to open more than 300 acres of available property for industrial and commercial development. The Office of Economic Development has applied for two grants from the Commonwealth of Virginia to assist with engineering for two new industrial sites in Ivy Creek Innovation Park and at the Airport.
3. Virginia Metal Treating opened a new location in the City of Lynchburg, completing a $5.7 million facility in Ivy Creek Industrial Park.
4. CloudFit Software completed a $5 million renovation of the historic Carter Glass building, adding 78 new jobs in LYH.
5. In 2022, Woodspring Suites opened in the City of Lynchburg, a $9.3 million capital investment and adding 13 new jobs.
6. The Office of Economic Development & Tourism permitted 40 special events in FY 2022 with nearly $1.5 million total in business sales generated. Special events are permitted through the Office of Economic Development & Tourism and include events with an attendance of over 1,000 people on public property. Special events help build community pride, drive visitation and showcase the cultural diversity of our City. Some examples of permitted special events include the Virginia 10 Miler, the International Festival, Hill City Pride, Get Downtown, and more!
7. From July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022, $163.5 million in commercial construction permits were issued, many commercial construction projects are supported by incentives from the Office of Economic Development & Tourism like the Enterprise Zone and Local Redevelopment Zone. In 2021, Enterprise Zone investments continued to fuel not only downtown growth, but commercial and industrial enterprise throughout the City. Projects receiving Enterprise Zone support include the Allied Arts building, beautifully remodeled to house both offices and residential units, and Schewels Home, renovating the historic Galleria in downtown Lynchburg providing much needed updates and helping to provide space for other businesses housed in the space. Bausch & Lomb completed a $35 million expansion that will add 79 new jobs to LYH, and Virginia Metal Treating built a brand-new facility in the Ivy Creek Industrial Park. River Ridge Mall continues to add exciting developments to the west end of the City, bringing jobs and opportunity to both residents and visitors. The Local Redevelopment Program is designed to support small business real property investments and expand real estate tax receipts for the city. In FY 2022, $150,000 was awarded to support 18 local businesses through the Local Redevelopment Program, creating and retaining almost 200 jobs and leveraging $13.7 million in capital investments across the City. Recipients included small, family-owned businesses like Mi Patron and Oldham Dentistry, manufacturers including WestRock and Wegmann USA, and pillars of the local community like the Free Clinic.
8. The Economic Development Authority of the City of Lynchburg (EDA) was selected to receive $500,000 in assessment grants from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to continue to assist businesses and property owners to identify, assess and begin redevelopment of brownfields in the City. Funding dedicated to the assessment of sites potentially impacted by hazardous substances and petroleum will be used to conduct Phase I and Phase II environmental site assessments, cleanup and redevelopment planning and community engagement activities. The City of Lynchburg brownfields program, administered by the Office of Economic Development & Tourism, works with property owners to identify, assess and prepare for potential cleanup of previously hazardous buildings or sites and as well as to give the community the opportunity to reap the benefits of redevelopment and restore economic vitality. Brownfields are idled, underutilized, or abandoned industrial or commercial properties where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination. While the EDA will continue to address brownfields City-wide, particular emphasis for the current grant proposal will be placed on Lynchburg City Census Tract 19, an area generally referred to as Tyreeanna, which lies east of Downtown and the City’s 2015 target area, Mid-Town. Previous projects have included buildings on historic 5th Street, including the new Re5th Co-working space, along with the Lynchburg Foundry and urban farm Lynchburg Grows.
9. In 2022, commencement exercises at Liberty University, the University of Lynchburg, and Randolph College welcomed nearly 60,000 visitors with a total local spending impact of $14.7 million.
10. As a result of efforts in FY 2022, the City of Lynchburg secured 60 groups/events across all target sectors—sports, meetings and conferences and group travel—with an estimated economic impact of $10.94 million.
11. In the last year, Lynchburg has been noted as one of the South’s Top Cities on the Rise, Top 25 College Towns, Top Adventure Town, and Top City for Employee owned companies.
Diversifying industries in the Center for Business and Commerce
Johnnie Roark, Director of Community Development for Appomattox County, said, “In 2022, the EDA began working with a site consultant to assist with locating various distribution type industries in the Appomattox Center for Business and Commerce. This relationship has already paid dividends with increased lead activity.”
Revitalizing a historic icon
The historic Carver-Price auditorium will be renovated into a community art, music, and theatre venue. What’s more, a portion of the Carver-Price Center will be converted into a Vocational Training School.
“The Appomattox Performing Arts Center (APAC) at the Carver-Price Center is in the early stages of revitalization,” said Roark. “This effort will pick up steam in 2023 and will provide the community with a first class performing arts and entertainment venue.”
Roark continued, “Appomattox Christian Academy is in the process of converting a portion of the Carver-Price Center into a Vocational Training school. The first offering will be a state of the art welding center. ACA is teaming up with Central Virginia Community College and various industry partners to expand this vital workforce development training opportunity. First classes are scheduled for Fall of 2023.”
1. The County partnered with Firefly (Central Virginia Electric Cooperative) to extend Phase II of the Broadband initiative in underserved southern portions of the county. The northern portion of the county was completed in Phase I. This project will continue through 2023 and into 2024. This project is vital to the continued growth of the community, as well as, providing a boost to the education sector and to economic development.
2. The EDA was a finalist for a Fortune 500 company expansion (Advance Auto Distribution Center),
which was ultimately located in another part of Virginia. While the EDA was unsuccessful in landing the company, the relationships developed during this process have greatly enhanced their opportunities with the site consultant and have provided a roadmap to improving the Appomattox Center for Business and Commerce for future success.
3. Through a lease/purchase agreement, the County partnered with Appomattox Christian Academy to repurpose the Carver-Price Center to establish a Vocational Training Center and refurbishing the old auditorium and turning it into the Appomattox Performing Arts Center (APAC). Along with the Carver Price Legacy Museum’s advancements, the activity at this multi-functional facility in the heart of Appomattox will shape the future of Appomattox for years to come.
Construction of a 45,000 SF Industrial Multi-tenant Building
Local businesses are expanding and industrial space is scarce. To provide industrial space for expansion the Economic Development Authority of Amherst County (AEDA) is constructing a new 45,000 SF multi-tenant industrial building in the Amelon Commerce Center in Madison Heights with the help of a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce, with $2 million in AEDA funds. Construction is expected to begin in Spring 2023 and create 45 jobs, retain 24 jobs, and generate $3.25 million in private investment. The building will have various sizes of industrial spaces with high ceilings, roll-up doors, and loading docks.
Seek developers to implement the CVTC Redevelopment Plan
The Central Virginia Training Center (CVTC) redevelopment plan was completed in 2022 and approved by the Amherst County Board of Supervisors. CVTC is expected to be declared surplus in early 2023 and the Department of General Services will put the site up for sale. The region lost 1600 jobs and $87 million in annual economic activity when the 383 acre state-owned facility for people with intellectual disabilities closed in 2020. The redevelopment plan will be used to market the property to experienced developers to bring the site back to life. The AEDA and Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance will continue to work with Amherst County, the region, legislators, and state agencies to mitigate the existing issues at CVTC, including the 98 existing buildings in various states of disrepair.
Development of two major residential and commercial projects: the Madison Heights Town Centre, and the Morcom Construction Senior Living project.
Two major residential and commercial projects, along with a 66% rise in single family home permits in Amherst County over the past 4 years, clearly demonstrates the fast paced growth happening in Amherst County.
The largest planned community in Amherst County’s history, the Madison Heights Town Centre (MHTC), is a planned community neighborhood with aesthetically pleasing architecture that is designed to bring a town center to Madison Heights. The development will have designated open spaces, the “central park” could be used for splash parks, playgrounds, trails, dog parks, and new civic buildings for both neighborhood and County use. The MHTC plans include 75,000 SF of commercial spaces, 75,000 SF of apartments, 400 townhomes, 250 patio homes, and 100 single family homes.
The Senior Living Project is being developed by Morcom Construction and includes a senior living community (55+) that will offer senior living villas, a two story independent living apartments and a two story assisted living memory care facility. Additionally, Morcom intends to build apartments for all age brackets that will include a pool and a community building for a family friendly living area. This community is planning to have a large green space area with walking trails, soccer fields, pickleball courts and a pavilion adjoining a commercial space that will attract a gas station, medical offices or retail areas.
Address the skilled workforce shortage
Amherst businesses, especially manufacturers, have a strong need for a workforce trained in CTE (Career and Technical Education) trades such as welding, machining, HVAC, IT, medical, etc.) The AEDA has partnered with the Central Virginia Community College (CVCC) to hire a full-time CTE career coach who will be singularly focused on helping educate students and parents from elementary to post high school on CTE skills, opportunities, education, and careers. The CTE navigator would help create a strong pipeline of CTE qualified employees for Amherst businesses.
1. $25 million in CVTC bonds were defeased through the work of the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance, our local political delegation, and the AEDA.
2. Single-family home permits have increased 66% over the last 4 years.
3. Construction plans completed for the $5 million, 45,000 SF industrial multi-tenant building.
4. Two businesses made plans to expand in the Amelon Commerce Center – Frank Good Builders and S&S Machines/TRU Ball.
Increasing Workforce Retention
In 2023, the Bedford EDA will be using over $300,000 in grant funds received to clean a former steel foundry for reuse as a regional workforce retention center to serve metal businesses in the Lynchburg and Roanoke regions.
Introducing a New Hotel
The Town continues to work on a business-class hotel following hotel study recommendations.
This one addition to the community is expected to be transformational to retain visitors overnight for tourism at the National D-Day Memorial, among other destinations, and for business stays.
A Stop on the Line
The Town continues to work toward an Amtrak stop in town, given increased ridership from Roanoke and the additional daily train that was added.
1. The free Bedford Otter Bus has had an amazing year of connecting residents to key destinations around town. A collaboration between the Bedford Community Health Foundation and the Town,
it runs three days a week and continues to add
2. In 2022, the Town of Bedford EDA awarded over $30,000 in grants to property owners for real estate property improvements in the downtown area and Enterprise Zone. In addition, they leveraged over $335,000 in Industrial Revitalization Funds (IRF) and Virginia Brownfields funds (VBAF) for work at the former middle school to support the boutique hotel and apartment project that should open in early summer 2023.
3. The 620 Project was completed and brought over 50 market rate apartments to a former Rubatex industrial space on Railroad Avenue. Two of three new commercial spaces will bring Benny Soldato’s Pizza and LJ’s Creations to the area near Beale’s Brewery. The EDA and Town were pleased to assist with incentives to help the project.
Develop an updated Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS)
Campbell County will solicit input from community stakeholders in the development of a new Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy in 2023. This guiding document will provide SWOT analysis of the County’s current economic situation and spell out the intentional and measurable goals which will guide Economic Development activities over the next five years. This exercise is conducted every five years in order to engage the community and elected officials to recognize opportunities and brainstorm programs to benefit the economic climate of the locality.
Shine a Light on Outdoor Recreation Opportunities
Plans are underway to roll out new marketing for outdoor activities and recreation. Economic Development is working alongside the Department of Community Engagement and Quality of Life to not only promote the parks in the county, but also provide trail maps and information about the area for locals and visitors alike! This initiative will capitalize on the growing desire for outdoor activities prompted by COVID-19 shutdowns.
Campbell County received $60,000 in grant funding to dedicate to tourism initiatives and will use some of the funding to promote Campbell County in an effort to attract people outside of the area to come spend time in the area. Economic Development secured the grant in early 2023 and submitted a spending plan to the grant committee that will secure photographs and video footage around the County to use in promotional materials and increase the County’s advertising presence across Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic. Increasing visibility of attractions in Campbell County through targeted print and digital advertising, regional partnerships, new brochures, and website features are all included in this project.
Support and Grow Local Agribusiness
With the intention of improving the strength and resiliency of the agricultural community in Campbell County, Economic Development will continue to cultivate relationships with local producers and agribusinesses, support development of locally-grown, fresh food access, and expand on agricultural-based tourism opportunities. With dozens of farms in the County owned and operated by families over multiple generations, Campbell County is committed to helping small farms thrive with funding and educational opportunities as well as marketing and sustainability guidance. Campbell County Economic Development is looking for new ways to support the local producers in their efforts in connecting them with new markets and customers.
1. Campbell County adopted a multi-pronged approach to workforce development including working with the Campbell County CTE committee comprised of local employers, Virginia Career Works, and CTE Educators; sponsoring educational opportunities and manufacturing career awareness with Welding Wars; and funding a scholarship for the Women in Machining program at Vector Space, which provides women an education in the skills needed to begin their career in machining and pairs them with local employers for an internship, apprenticeship, or employment upon successful completion of the program.
2. Campbell County secured $550,000 to allow extension offices from 19 counties in Southern Virginia to promote the integration of new technologies into the farm practices. This grant program offers multiple localities the opportunity to support their producers as they grow their operations or incorporate innovative best management practices. Economic Development worked closely with the Campbell County Extension agent to prepare this grant and facilitate the program that is already underway.
3. Campbell launched two new programs for small businesses in Campbell County. The Start Small Campbell Grant is available to businesses that are new to Campbell or opening for the first time, encouraging businesses to plan their new location in Campbell County. Applications were reviewed on a quarterly basis and 4 successful applicants were awarded $5,000 each. Campbell Connects was developed out of business community requests throughout 2021. In the absence of a Campbell County-centric chamber of commerce, businesses frequently look to Economic Development for new resources and networking opportunities. Economic Development also uses this time to share resources available that small business owners may find helpful in growing their existing business operations. The events are held in various locations throughout the year and will resume in January in Altavista!