20/20 Economic Summit: Fredericksburg Region Poised for Economic Growth

UMW President Richard Hurley addressing Transformation 20/20 Regional Economic Development Summit.  Photo by Susan Larson.
UMW President Richard Hurley addressing Transformation 20/20 Regional Economic Development Summit. Photo by Susan Larson.
Business and government leaders representing the Fredericksburg region gathered at the University of Mary Washington's (UMW) Stafford campus October 29 for Transformation 20/20, a regional economic summit hosted by UMW.

The region -- Virginia Association of Planning Districts Region 16 -- includes the City of Fredericksburg and the counties of Spotsylvania, Stafford, Caroline and King George.

Christine Chmura, president of Chmura Economics & Analytics, reviewed cluster data in her keynote presentation.  "Clusters are those indexes you need to go after to see employment and capital investment grow in your region," she told those gathered.

Report: Target Cluster Study Findings

Chmura's study identified six clusters anticipated to experience the most growth in the region's immediate future.  She said these were the 'priority targets' on which regional leaders should focus.

  • Business Services
  • Finance, Insurance and Real Estate
  • Health and Life Sciences
  • Information and Communications
  • Manufacturing 
  • Public Administration
Chmura said the Fredericksburg region is "well positioned to grow in the future,"  citing statistics including:

  • The region's historic average annual growth rate is 2.4 percent, compared with 1.1 percent for the Commonwealth and a little less than 1 percent nationally.
  • Employment growth is up 1.7 percent from a year ago.
Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce president Susan Spears echoed those findings.  "This has been the fastest growing region in Virginia since 1970," she said.  The region's population has grown by more than has 400 percent in the last 43 years, she reported.

Spears did have warnings for area leaders, however.  "More than 40 percent of our region's workforce commutes outside the region for employment," she said. "Our current land use plans promote sprawl and crawl.  Transportation issues have plagued our region for years, and now impact our ability to move around the region as well as up and down I-95."  

"Our future prosperity is threatened without transportation and infrastructure improvement," she said.

'We need opportunities for young professionals in the region to stay put and not be stuck in gridlock," UMW President Richard Hurley told summit attendees.

Fred Rankin, Mary Washington Healthcare president and CEO, outlined the goals and strategies moving forward. 

  • Infrastructure Development
  • Business Development
  • Tourism
  • Workforce Planning
  • Regional Collaboration
"At the concept and anchor ends of economic development is collaboration," Rankin said.  "Success is a matter of execution."

Related Story: Young Professionals Choosing to Stay in Region, Survey Finds

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