A good time to be in Suffolk

Published 9:36 pm Monday, August 22, 2016

There’s no better way to let a business know that you support it than to open up your wallet and spend your hard-earned cash there. The same thing — on a larger scale — is true of cities.

Whether they’re reflected in new residents making their homes in a city, in businesses moving into those cities or in the financial markets underwriting the bonds cities use to finance improvements to infrastructure, investments into a municipality are hard evidence of the free market taking notice that the municipality is doing something right.

Judging from that measure, Suffolk is clearly doing some things that people, corporations and the financial market want to support.

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The city has been ranked 80th in the nation and second in Virginia — behind only Loudoun County — for incoming investment by the SmartAsset website. The site looked at business growth, GDP growth, building permits and municipal bonds to come up with its assessment.

“It’s actually really exciting to be listed right behind Loudoun, because it’s pretty well known as a fast growing locality,” City Manager Patrick Roberts said last week. “It’s really encouraging.”

Loudoun benefits from being a neighbor to the nation’s capital in this assessment. The U.S. Census Bureau in 2015 ranked the county the highest in the nation in terms of median household income, at $122,000 a year. The high standard of living that kind of wealth brings gives the county a big boost in many of the categories SmartAsset measured.

By contrast, Suffolk’s median household income is $66,479, a little more than half that of Loudoun. The fact that Suffolk still ranks so high in SmartAsset’s survey is a testament to sound financial management, the desirability of the city as a location for business and the housing boom that it has experienced.

Suffolk was ranked third in new building permits and fifth in municipal bonds in the website’s survey.

“They’re looking for factors in private investment and public investment,” Roberts said. “There continues to be a tremendous investment in business investment, continued business growth, and people moving to Suffolk. Within the last several years, we have continued to invest where we need to in roads and schools.”

Most officials expect Suffolk’s growth to continue unabated for some time to come. This new ranking confirms that the conditions here are likely to support those expectations. But it’s also evidence that city officials are working to smartly manage that growth.

For several years, the city has used “It’s a good time to be in Suffolk” as its catchphrase. It seems that many agree with the assessment.