BCET CORPORATE CIRCLE MEMBERS AMONG THOSE MAKING 2013 'A TERRIFIC YEAR' FOR JOB CREATION
More than 6,500 jobs were created or promised across the region in 2012, according to interviews with and announcements from city and business officials. The jobs range from computer analysts and engineers to freight handlers and supermarket cashiers.
Officials throughout Hampton Roads spoke with pride about their progress in creating jobs. Local economists offered more measured assessments.
"Any new jobs we get are a benefit to us," said Greg Grootendorst, chief economist of the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission. But even if the region added 1,000 jobs a month - more than the total reported by the cities and companies - it wouldn't get back to its peak pre-recession employment level until the middle of 2019, he said.
Grootendorst and James Koch, an economics professor and former president at Old Dominion University, also said they doubted whether some projects, such as Waterside, would yield much job growth for Hampton Roads.
"Typically, restaurants don't attract much traffic outside the region," Koch said. When new restaurants appear, he said, they usually take customers from other restaurants, triggering job reductions there.
But Koch said the developments - which include such sectors as manufacturing, retail and technology - should be considered as a whole and should be seen as benefiting the entire region. "One city's prosperity ordinarily is the other city's prosperity as well," with people often shopping and living in cities where they don't work.
Corporate Circle partner, Bauer Compressors' expansion of its manufacturing operation in Norfolk will yield 130 jobs paying $63,000 to $66,000 a year, Rigney said last month. Most recently, Virginia Beach reported two weeks ago that LoanCare, a loan-servicing company, will bring 178 jobs with an average salary of $37,500.
The range of jobs, Koch said, fits the skill sets of the residents of Hampton Roads. "It isn't the same kind of labor force you see in Northern Virginia," he said.
Most of the jobs, city officials said, will be filled by people already living here.
Not all of the victories equate to big numbers. Wright pointed to another Corporate Circle partner in Sumitomo Machinery Corp. of America's decision to expand its local presence.
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