Key Industries

With two corporate headquarters located in town, the top industry in Abingdon, VA is the Supermarkets and Grocery industry with 2.0% of all workers in Abingdon employed in this sector. Other leading employment sectors for Abingdon include Offices of Physicians, Commercial Banking, and Non-profit Organizations. There are 5,236 business establishments in Abingdon with fewer than 10 employees, which is a good indicator of the entrepreneurship community. Another 1,458 business have between 10 and 50 employees, 282 have between 50 and 250, and 48 businesses have more than 250 employees.

 

List of Top Employers in Washington County, VA

1. Washington County Schools 11. Abingdon Health & Rehab Center
2. K-VAT – Food City 12. Grace Healthcare of Abingdon
3. Mountain States Health Alliance 13. Barter Foundation, Inc.
4. Washington County – Government 14. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store
5. Virginia Highlands Community College 15. Food Country U.S.A.
6. Town of Abingdon – Government 16. Kroger
7. People, Inc. 17. The First Bank and Trust Company
8. Alpha Natural Resources Service 18. Abingdon Physician Partners
9. Highlands Union Bank 19. Dutt & Wagner of Virginia, Inc.
10. McDonald’s 20. Virginia Department of Social Services

 

Source: Virginia Employment Commission, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), 1st Quarter (January, February, March) 2014 .

 

Target Sectors

 

Agribusiness

Washington County leads the state of Virginia in production and marketing of Burley Tobacco. The county ranks sixth in the state for number of dairy cattle and sixth for the total number of cattle. Washington County is a regional market leader for farm supplies and machinery. Gross farm income amounts to $42 million annually.

Agriculture in Washington County

  • Average size of farms: 108 acres
  • Average value of agricultural products sold per farm: $27,784
  • Average value of crops sold per acre for harvested cropland: $224.29
  • The value of livestock, poultry, and their products as a percentage of the total market value of agricultural products sold: 80.34%
  • Average total farm production expenses per farm: $24,579
  • Harvested cropland as a percentage of land in farms: 22.46%
  • Irrigated harvested cropland as a percentage of land in farms: 1.28%
  • Average market value of all machinery and equipment per farm: $35,003
  • The percentage of farms operated by a family or individual: 92.31%
  • Average age of principal farm operators: 57 years
  • Average number of cattle and calves per 100 acres of all land in farms: 32.60
  • Milk cows as a percentage of all cattle and calves: 4.84%
  • Corn for grain: 485 harvested acres
  • Vegetables: 79 harvested acres
  • Land in orchards: 73 acres

 

Healthcare

Johnston Memorial Hospital (JMH), located in Abingdon, is a 135-bed independent non-profit general hospital and home to the first and only open-bore Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) unit in the region. JMH also operates the only Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Southwest Virginia. JMH operates one of the only two remaining self-sufficient blood banks in Virginia. The hospital also has a Coronary Intensive Care Unit, and a surgical Intensive Care Unit. Johnston Memorial Hospital is a non-profit, fully accredited community hospital.

Several medical clinics and dentist offices also serve the area. Specialists include orthodontics, orthopedic, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, neurology, cardiology, radiology, and many more. The Washington County Health Department provides services to the area including education in personal, household and environmental health. Professional sanitarians and a full-time dentist staff it. Nursing services also are provided to help with family planning, pediatrics, immunization, x-ray, mental after care, pre-school examinations, physical therapy, and other needs. County wide emergency services are available 24 hours a day.

 

Retail and Hospitality

Abingdon has been a tourism HUB for Southwest Virginia for over 200 years.  Tired travelers along the Great Wagon Road of Virginia sought refuge in Abingdon as they headed West to the Cumberland Gap and the promise of free land in Kentucky.  May of those pioneers stayed to settle in Abingdon had laid the foundation of our robust retail and hospitality trade.

A 2014 market research study determined opportunities for new and expanding businesses based on demand identified in the primary and secondary trade areas. Overall, there is potential for at least 103,000 square feet of new space in Abingdon.

Based on the retail leakage and shares analyses, the following categories show the most opportunity in Abingdon:

Clothing – Abingdon’s primary and secondary trade areas are leaking roughly $30 million in this category. The leakage is in most categories, but primarily Family and Women’s. This translates to 19,787 square feet of space demand. Independent, mid to high-scale clothing stores would likely match the needs of the market.

Restaurants – Abingdon’s combined trade area is leaking over $25 million in this category. This translates to about 19,090 square feet of demand. The demand seems to be split evenly between full-service restaurants, such as 129 Pecan, and limited-service, or fast food. With a typical independent restaurant running from 2,000 to 5,000 square feet, this could mean at least four new restaurants in Abingdon. This is a key opportunity particularly in a community like Abingdon with a robust tourism market.

Hardware Stores – Currently, there is 10,660 square feet of demand in this category. This does not suggest a business like Home Depot, which is generally 50,000 square feet or more, and the demand is likely being served in Bristol. However, independent hardware stores such as ACE (typically10,000 sq. ft. or more), or even a niche-based hardware store.

Health & Personal Care – There is currently a combined demand for 9,611 square feet in this retail category. A typical standalone CVS can be 10,000 square feet or more, but also come into markets where demand may be more limited. The current demand may present an opportunity for existing businesses to expand.

Drinking Places – There is demand for about 7,812 square feet for this type of business. While this category is comprised of bars, lounges and taverns, when the opportunity is coupled with the demand for full-service restaurants, it begins to show even more opportunity. Similarly, Abingdon already has specialty drinking establishments including Wolf Hills Brewing, and has already begun to solidify this niche.

Sporting Goods – There is a combined demand for about 4,193 square feet in this category. With the Virginia Creeper Trail and other outdoor recreation activities, this potential may even be higher.

Computer & Software, Electronics Stores – There is demand for about 9,151 square feet of space in this category. Consumer electronics stores range size from Radio Shacks (beginning at 2,500 square feet) to Best Buy (upwards of 45,000 square feet).

Specialty Retail – At the same time, there are a number of specialty retail categories showing demand including:

  • Furniture & Home Furnishings – 4,849 Sq. Ft of Demand
  • Women’s Accessory – 4,480 Sq. Ft of Demand
  • Hobby & Craft – 4,018 Sq. Ft of Demand
  • Shoes – 3,584 Sq. Ft of Demand
  • Gifts – 2,528 Sq. Ft of Demand
  • Book Stores – 1,856 Sq. Ft of Demand
  • Sporting Goods –1,500 Sq. Ft of Demand

 

While there is demand for all of the categories above, it is important to note that any business must have a sound business plan, should complement local and regional offerings, and must market itself within the trade areas and beyond.

 

Emerging Industries

 

Brewing

The emerging craft brew industry in Virginia is rapidly evolving. A recent study showed a 52 percent annual growth in volume among Virginia craft breweries; a ranking of 15th in the nation in 2013 for the number of active breweries; and the possibility to nearly double that number in the next three to five years.

Abingdon is home to Wolf Hills Brewery established in 2009. Wolf Hills Brewing CO melds together time honored brewing methods using only the highest quality ingredients with modern beer styles inspired by the wide array of fragrant hops from the Pacific-Northwest. Wolf Hills brews in small batches that are only distributed in the Virginia Highlands. The result is a level of fresh, savory beer that is unmatched in this region.

Read more about the Business of Beer in Virginia.

 

Outdoor Recreation

According to The Outdoor Recreation Economy 2012, “more than 140 million Americans engage in outdoor activities each year, directly delivering $646 billion to the economy and supporting 6.1 million domestic jobs. In addition, the report credits spending on outdoor recreation with generating $39.9 billion in federal tax revenue and $39.7 billion in state/local tax revenue.”

Abingdon is home to the Virginia Creeper National Recreational Trail that hosts 100,000 – 200,000 bike riders each year. The Creeper Trail is a partnership between the Town of Abingdon, the Town of Damascus, and the National Forest Service.  There are eight bicycle rental companies that service riders with bike rentals and shuttle service. There is plenty of opportunity for growth in our local and regional outdoor recreation economy. 

Watch this video to learn more about Appalachian Spring, a Southwest Virginia-focused community development and outdoor recreation initiative.