The region, especially Norfolk, has a longstanding presence in the shipbuilding manufacturing industry due to Norfolk’s convenient location on the water and its high concentration of marine engineers/naval architects and military personnel. Norfolk is also strong in manufacturing industries that support and are supply chains for the shipbuilding industry, such as air and gas compressor manufacturing, metal furniture manufacturing, etc. We are also emerging in industries that are related to shipbuilding, such as offshore wind power and energy.

While strong in shipbuilding, we are also strong in other manufacturing industries such as commercial screen printing. Additionally, Norfolk’s prime location in the Mid-Atlantic along with its strong transportation and distribution industry, which facilitates easy shipment of goods and manufactured inputs, is very attractive to manufacturers in all fields.

Competitive Advantages:


  • Strategic central east coast location offers logistical advantages for the movement of goods
  • Region is within a two-day truck drive of approximately 70% of the U.S. population
  • Accessible transportation infrastructure including the state-of-the-art Port of Virginia
  • Hampton Roads is located within a Foreign-Trade-Zone

Employer Costs:

  • Workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance are among the lowest in the nation
  • The unemployment tax burden is approximately 12% lower than the national average
  • Dominion Virginia power offers affordable industrial electricity rates (6.4 cents/kilowatt)
  • No tax on manufacturer’s inventory

Labor Force:

  • Over 36,000 people are employed in production occupations in Hampton Roads.
  • Numerous workforce development programs are in place to assist manufacturers in accessing a skilled workforce
  • Virginia is an “at will” and “right-to-work” state
  • Numerous relevant educational programs via the local 4-year universities, community colleges, and trade schools to

Offshore Wind Power and Energy

  • Norfolk is entering the offshore wind power and energy industry
  • The city’s location on the water makes it a prime site for offshore wind
  • The U.S. Mid-Atlantic offshore wind potential is comparable to the European 20-year buildout[1]
  • Costs for offshore wind projects are predicted to drop11
  • Supply chain opportunities abound as the region is well-positioned to localize fabrication of turbine foundations and electrical substation platforms for much of the Mid-Atlantic offshore wind market11
  • Foundation fabrication would help to diversify the shipbuilding and ship repair industry11
  • The state and the region have a substantial number of military veterans that could be employed in offshore wind supply chain businesses11
  • Offshore wind substation manufacturing is highly compatible with Norfolk due to its similarities to shipbuilding in the sense that large steel modules are fabricated with full integration of complex systems such as electrical equipment and wiring, piping, climate control, fire suppression, etc.11
  • Norfolk alone has three shipyards with the ability to fabricate and assemble conventional offshore substations11
    • BAE Systems Ship Repair
    • Colonna’s Shipyard
    • Marine Hydraulics International

[1]Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, November 2018, “East Coast Offshore Wind Development Opportunities for Virginia and Hampton Roads”

Advanced Manufacturing

  • Total Jobs in Norfolk (2021): 6,512
  • Weighted Average Earnings per Job in Norfolk: $75,452
  • Payrolled Business Locations in Norfolk (2021): 142
NAICSDescription2021 Jobs (Norfolk)Avg. Earnings Per Job (Norfolk)2021 Payrolled Business Locations (Norfolk)
336Transportation Equipment3,677$85,618 28
323Printing752$38,074 17
332Fabricated Metal371$63,223 21
333Machinery268$75,419 6
337Furniture225$56,790 12
327Nonmetallic Mineral184$86,233 8
N/AOther1,034$73,046 51
N/ATotal6,512$75,452 142

Source: Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. (Emsi)

Key Employers in the Advanced Manufacturing Industry in Norfolk

Company Field
AARD Commercial Screen Printing
ArtFX Commercial Screen Printing
Auxiliary Systems Inc Shipbuilding and Repairing
BAE Systems Shipbuilding and Repairing
Bauer Compressors Air and Gas Compressor Manufacturing
Colonna’s Shipyard Inc. Shipbuilding and Repairing
Davis Interiors Limited Metal Furniture Manufacturing
Department of Defense Shipbuilding and Repairing
L3 Unidyne Shipbuilding and Repairing
Lyon Shipyard Inc. Shipbuilding and Repairing
Paramount Sleep Mattress Manufacturing
Tabet Fabricated Structural Metal Manufacturing
Tegra Clothing Manufacturing

Source: Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. (Emsi)