Hampton Roads Overview
The Hampton Roads region of eastern Virginia is comprised of seven cities: Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Portsmouth, and Suffolk. Known as “America’s First Region,” the area is rich in history. Hampton Roads’ first known inhabitants were a Native American tribe known as the Chesapians. English colonists arrived at Cape Henry in 1607—which is modern day Virginia Beach—before moving upriver and establishing the Jamestown colony. The event is now referred to as the “First Landing,” and is commemorated at First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach. The 4.5 square-mile park is Virginia’s most popular state park, boasting over a million visitors each year. The park features campgrounds, cabins, a public beach, fishing areas, and nearly 20 miles of hiking and biking trails.
The region’s economy is supported by its location at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. The waterways and deep sea channels that surround the Hampton Roads area provide infrastructure for the import and export of goods and products across the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest, as well as international destinations.
Within the Hampton Roads region is Virginia Beach, which is a popular tourist attraction. The area’s tourism industry is supported by Norfolk International Airport, which is located along the city limits between Virginia Beach and Norfolk. Between 3.5 and 4 million passengers fly in and out of the airport in a typical year. In addition to air travel, the area is accessible by Amtrak, which runs through Norfolk as well as Newport News.
“Hampton Roads is home to one of the world’s greatest natural harbors that can accommodate large cruise ships with ease. The area’s prime accessibility along with its robust tourism industry make for a dynamic economy that is appealing to residents and out-of-town investors alike,” said Cole Carns, Investment Sales Advisor on Capstone’s Virginia brokerage team.
One of the region’s most iconic features is the Chesapeake Bay Bridge–Tunnel (CBBT), which is a 17.6-mile bridge–tunnel that connects Virginia Beach to the Delmarva Peninsula across the Chesapeake Bay. The bridge–tunnel was completed in 1964 and named “One of the Seven Engineering Wonders of the Modern World.” Prior to the CBBT’s construction, the only way for motorists to cross the bay was by ferry.
Economy & Employment
The state of Virginia is consistently recognized for being a great state for business due to good infrastructure, skilled workforce, and low for cost of living and cost of doing business. This year, CNBC ranked Virginia #3 on the list of Best States for Business.
“Companies are drawn to the Hampton Roads MSA due to low operating costs, strong infrastructure, abundant land, a highly educated and talented labor pool, and appealing tax laws. These factors have helped the region endure the COVID-19 pandemic with low vacancy rates and above average rent growth rates,” said Matt Weinstein, Investment Sales Advisor on Capstone’s Virginia brokerage team.
The greater Hampton Roads region plays a key role in defense contracting, particularly in shipbuilding and ship repair. It is estimated that over 35% of Gross Regional Product in the MSA can be attributed to defense spending, with the U.S. military and private defense contractors employing a significant number of people in the region. Newport News Shipbuilding is the sole designer and builder of United States Navy aircraft carriers. With approximately 20,000 employees, it is the largest industrial employer in the entire state of Virginia. Additionally, the area is home to three prominent military bases: Naval Air Station Oceana, Norfolk Naval Station, and Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story. Each one serves an important role in the training, education, and operational readiness of the U.S. Navy in addition to hosting approximately 125,000 jobs combined.