Report: Port Helps Drive Economic Investment and Job Creation Throughout the Commonwealth

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More than 565,000 jobs and $41B in compensation attributable to port activity

May 23, 2023

NORFOLK, VA –The Port of Virginia® continues to be an expanding economic force in the Commonwealth’s economy by helping to create hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in sales, income, taxes and fees, says a recently published study.

The study was conducted by The College of William & Mary and analyzes the overall value of the port to the Virginia economy during fiscal year 2022 (FY22) and compares the findings with the port’s economic impact in FY21. The fiscal year began July 1, 2021 and ended June 30, 2022.

“The Port of Virginia is delivering significant, positive results for the Virginia economy and we are on course to help drive even more job creation and economic investment,” said Stephen A. Edwards, the CEO and executive director of the VPA. “We are investing $1.4 billion to expand our overall capacity and cargo handling capabilities and this will have a positive effect on the Virginia economy. The cargo goes to well-run, modern, efficient ports and as this port grows, so will its benefits to all Virginians.”

The port posted its most productive fiscal-year performance ever in FY22; in that period the port processed more than 3.7 million twenty-foot equivalent units at its terminals. The business activity generated by the movement and handling of that cargo combined with the port’s overall productivity was a significant contributor to the Virginia economy, the report said. In FY22 the economic activity tied to the flow of cargo across the port’s terminals led to:

FY22 vs FY21

  • $124.1 billion in output sales, up 24% = 12% of total Virginia output
  • $63 billion in Virginia gross state product, up 33% = 10% of gross state product
  • $41.4 billion in Virginia labor income, up 53% = 7% of labor income in Virginia
  • 565,000 full- and part-time jobs, up 29% = 11% of total employment in the state
  • $5.8 billion in state and local taxes and fees, up 110% = 8% of all state and local taxes

The port contributes to Virginia’s economy in three ways: 1) the movement/transport of export and import cargo within Virginia; 2) the export of Virginia-made goods; and 3) the added processing and distribution of imports by Virginia businesses to produce goods for sale throughout the state and across the nation.

Edwards said it is important to understand that FY22 was a record-year for trade because ports were continuing to recover from the pandemic-driven disruption in trade. This, he said, drove cargo activity at The Port of Virginia to all-time highs.

“There were so many unusual factors at work [in FY22] that were all contributors to our record-setting year,” Edwards said. “We doubt we will ever see a trade environment similar to that during the pandemic. Trade is now returning to normal, as expected, and we are focusing on maintaining the gains we have made while improving our efficiency and service levels.”

The investments the port is making will help it stay ahead of its US East Coast peers while growing cargo volumes and meeting the needs of port users and the supply-chain businesses coming to Virginia, Edwards said.

“We are nearing the end of our dredging effort and within the next 12 months The Port of Virginia will become the deepest port on the US East Coast. Later this summer we’ll begin taking delivery of equipment for the expansion of the Central Rail Yard at Norfolk International Terminals (NIT) and breaking ground of the expansion of the North Berth at NIT. These initiatives will drive trade to and through The Port of Virginia.”

The study’s authors are K. Scott Swan, a professor of international business, innovation and marketing at W&M’s Raymond A. Mason School of Business and Mangum Economics, a Virginia-based firm that specializes in producing objective and actionable quantitative economic research.


The Virginia Port Authority (VPA) is a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The port owns Norfolk International Terminals, Newport News Marine Terminal and Virginia Inland Port and leases Virginia International Gateway and Richmond Marine Terminal. The VPA through its private operating subsidiary, Virginia International Terminals, LLC (VIT), operates all five terminals. A recent economic impact study from The College of William and Mary shows that in fiscal 2022, The Port of Virginia helped create more than 565,000 jobs statewide and generated $63 billion in gross state product.