Suffolk on economic roll

Published 5:32 pm Wednesday, April 13, 2022

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These are heady times for Suffolk’s economy and those responsible for its vitality.

No longer just the talk of the region, the city is getting national attention for its industrial growth.

As reported by our Jimmy LaRoue in last Wednesday’s edition, Commercial Search’s Industrial Pipeline Report, a respected trade publication among economic developers, declared the 3.8-million-square-foot Amazon robotics fulfillment center soon to open in Northgate Commerce Park as the third-largest industrial “completion” in the entire country so far in 2022.

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Deputy City Manager and veteran economic developer Kevin Hughes gave credit where it was due when asked about the recognition.

“In order to support this substantial facility in Suffolk, a tremendous amount of visioning and planning has taken place over the years by City Council members, Economic Development Authority members and city staff,” he said. “I can’t say that we anticipated a 90-foot tall and 3,800,000-square-foot facility being built during our years of planning and preparation, but it is rewarding to know that the efforts by many allowed us to be able (to) accommodate it.”

The $230 million Amazon facility will employ about 1,000 people, will be the second-largest building in Virginia after the Pentagon, and the largest industrial building in the state. Right here in “Surprising Suffolk,” where economic success stories aren’t so surprising anymore.

LaRoue reports that the city is also in the running for a 1.5-million-square-foot distribution center being sited by a Fortune 50 (yes 50, not 500) retailer. It would be located off Enterprise Drive along Route 58 in the Virginia Port Logistics Park.

Known for now as “Project Coastal” in its confidential stage, the facility would “provide for new private capital investment in land, building and distribution equipment which will provide substantial employment,” City Council members were told at a recent meeting.

The city would be asked to pony up $150,000 in matching funds for a new access road that would be required to accommodate the project.

That strikes us as a small price to pay for continued economic progress in Suffolk.