Virginia Society of CPAs 2022 Virginia Economic Expectations Survey Interviews


Posted

28 October 2021




through

Business Virginia


Groover Photo by Mark Rhodes

THE HAMPTON ROADS

Richard E. Groover, CPA

Shareholder | Wall, Einhorn and Chernitzer PC Norfolk

Which local industries / sectors do you think have growth potential?

Continued growth around the Port of Virginia and green energy. … Local entrepreneurs and leaders have made substantial investments to develop this area as part of a wind turbine corridor for future developments on the east coast. If this vision comes to fruition, the impact on our region could be unique.

What is the biggest challenge in doing business in your area?

Attract and retain young talent.

How is your region economically recovering from the pandemic?

Everything here comes back strong. We have lost quite a few local restaurants and bars, but the leisure sector as a whole is buzzing and new development plans are back in the pipeline.

What are the main factors that have contributed the most to attracting businesses to your region?

The ease of transportation to and from our market is a huge draw. We have one of the deepest and busiest ports on the East Coast, and excellent rail and road connections to the rest of the United States. We meet with a number of European and Asian companies opening offices in the region to serve their American clients. It’s always exciting to watch them grow and develop. In addition, the military presence here remains a huge draw for support organizations in the region, particularly in the public procurement sector.

What are the main obstacles to the economic success of your region?

Regional cooperation has been our Achilles heel for many years; Fortunately, I believe that many business leaders are working to change this with the 757 initiative. Employee availability is also a struggle; in our company, we have adapted to some completely remote hiring for various positions due to the staff shortage in our local market.


Forsythe photo by Rick DeBerry
Forsythe photo by Rick DeBerry

CENTER OF VIRGINIA

George D. Forsythe, CPA

Management partner | Wells Coleman | Richmond

Which local industries / sectors do you think have growth potential?

The healthcare industry continues to thrive and grow, given the increasing demand for COVID. Hopefully, I believe the local hospitality and the event sectors are poised for growth. Given the reduction in travel and in person events, coupled with the shelter fatigue that many people feel, this sector is poised to explode.

What is the biggest challenge in doing business in your area?

The obvious challenge to doing business in our region is the pandemic. With numbers on the rise and uncertainties about our future, it is very difficult to do business. In addition, access to available and quality staff has had an additional impact on the region economically. There is an abundance of jobs available and a dearth of individuals who can and will want to fill these roles appropriately.

How is your region economically recovering from the pandemic?

The Richmond area was recovering well, although [on] a long way, from the pandemic until the delta variant begins its momentum. … In times of uncertainty, it is human nature to conserve resources rather than spend them. This pandemic uncertainty, including health requirements, available personnel and supply chains, will continue to hamper our recovery.


What are the main factors that have contributed the most to attracting businesses to your region?

Our high-quality colleges and universities provide access to top talent, as well as access to financial resources, including available investment capital and incentives offered by local government.

What are the main obstacles to the economic success of your region?

The biggest obstacle to the economic success of the Richmond area is the unknown future of the coronavirus pandemic. … The second, more entrenched obstacle our region faces is the suboptimal collaboration between our local government, businesses and community leaders.


Photo of Stepka by Don Petersen
Photo of Stepka by Don Petersen

SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA

Andrea Hupp Stepka

Partner | Foti, Flynn, Lowen & Co. | Roanoke

What do you like to live and work in your region?

I moved here in the summer of 1995, right after graduating from Virginia Tech. I love the mountains and the greenways. I’m an avid runner so the outdoor life here in Roanoke is amazing.

How is the economy doing in your part of the state right now?

Small businesses struggle to find good help, suppliers are limited everywhere … [and] the prices are also higher everywhere.

Which local industries / sectors do you think have growth potential?

Knowledge-based technologies / software and industries

What is the biggest challenge in doing business in your area?

Right now, the answer has to be COVID, right? It is a huge challenge for workers to be face to face, and therefore, as a CPA firm, we have had to embrace the remote aspects of working with our clients.

How is your region economically recovering from the pandemic?

Overall I think we are doing fine. … Our clients have weathered the storm, and for the most part seem to come out the other side. We haven’t seen a lot of businesses close, probably due to the [Employee Retention Credits] and government loans.

What are the main factors that have contributed the most to attracting businesses to your region?

Roanoke is a beautiful place to live. The mountains and the landscapes are a big attraction. The cost of living is also very competitive. We have a high quality of life here, with a good mix of industries ranging from baby mom and pop to big business.

What are the main obstacles to the economic success of your region?

There are some disparities in income levels in Roanoke and we have a growing population of people living in poverty.


Milburn photo by Norm Shafer
Milburn photo by Norm Shafer

SHENANDOAH VALLEY

Thomas L. Milburn, CPA

Main | Yount, Hyde and Barbour (YHB) | Winchester

How is the economy doing in your part of the state?

Spring and summer showed a strong recovery. The pent-up demand led again to tourism, shopping and dining. The valley offers outdoor activities as well as agricultural markets, wineries and breweries that have capitalized on people traveling closer to home or out of cities. Our industrial sector is doing well, with I-81 contributing to our role as a distribution / manufacturing hub in a mail order world.

Which local industries / sectors do you think have growth potential?

Based on the quality of life and the relatively low cost of living, the valley has been an attractive location for retirees, but more recently has become a destination for people migrating from cities to work remotely. Housing and professional services for these groups have growth potential, such as healthcare and assisted living, as well as wealth management, accounting, legal and other services.

What is the biggest challenge in doing business in your area?

One of the main challenges in doing business in all sectors of the industry is obtaining and retaining talent. … Affordable housing is a problem for young professionals and workers in retail and hospitality.

How is your region economically recovering from the pandemic?

With COVID-related uncertainty returning, indications are that the valley’s economy is not at full speed. While companies have devoted stimulus packages to their employees, cash reserves remain while employers decide on spending and investment. It should be noted the uneven impact of the pandemic. While businesses have cash, the appetite for new unemployment benefits for hourly workers and concerts appears low if the pandemic persists.

What are the main obstacles to the economic success of your region?

First, affordable housing remains a priority. Second, the lack of high speed internet in large areas of the valley for work and education has been exacerbated by the pandemic.


Williamson photo by Stephen Gosling
Williamson photo by Stephen Gosling

NORTH OF VIRGINIA

Christine B. Williamson, CPA, PMP

Main partner of auditing and consulting in the public procurement industry | CohnReznick srl | Tyson

How is the economy doing in your part of the state?

Over the decades, many have said that NoVa is “in a bubble” meaning that she is doing well in times of economic turmoil. This phrase continues to ring true during the pandemic and as we return to the new normal. Along with the federal government, Amazon, Micron, and data storage facilities, these sectors are fueling the bubble effect here in Northern Virginia.

Which local industries / sectors do you think have growth potential?

The industries are endless here at NoVa, but I think the tech and medical sectors have the greatest potential for growth.

What is the biggest challenge in doing business in your area?

My expertise is at the service of companies that work for the federal government through government contracts. There is a war for talent for many industries, including CPA firms. I would say talent is the biggest challenge, regardless of the type of business. We all struggle to find enough people to do the job, forcing companies to move out of the region to look for talent.

How is your region economically recovering from the pandemic?

The Northern Virginia region is no different from other regions, as the business community has emerged from the pandemic by changing the way you do business, be creative, think strategically, and find new ones. ways to sell the same services. I hear from many companies that we are revisiting our culture and our corporate purpose, which helps them throughout the takeover process.

What are the main factors that have contributed the most to attracting businesses to your region?

Location, location and location! And our dynamic technology sector.

What are the main obstacles to the economic success of your region?

Cost of living and traffic.


Read more: Virginia Society of CPAs 2022 Virginia Economic Expectations Survey results and post-pandemic work models


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