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Albemarle County, situated among the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Central Virginia, boasts strong educational, commercial, and recreational resources for all those who choose to live and work within its borders. The location of the county is highly accessible, situated 70 miles west of Richmond and 110 miles southwest of Washington D.C.
Home to a solid and stable business base, Albemarle County offers a range of business support through regional economic development partners like the Central Virginia Partnership for Economic Development, as well as a number of workforce training centers, such as the Charlottesville/Albemarle Technical Education Center. Over 300 professional, scientific, and technical businesses thrive in Albemarle, and the county recognizes and celebrates the importance of local food and homegrown entrepreneurship, creating an innovative and diverse business community. Unemployment rates in the county are consistently lower than state and national averages, and with almost 50% of Albemarle County residents possessing a Bachelor’s degree or higher, the qualifications and skill levels of our workforce are unparalleled.
In addition to Albemarle’s strong business presence, the county enjoys a school system among the top 10% in the state, a thriving local arts, music and culture scene, and parks and greenways that celebrate the county’s pastoral setting. The county’s wide variety of educational opportunities include a public school system that earned the VIP Governor’s Award for Educational Excellence, two of Virginia’s four charter schools, and higher education facilities such as the University of Virginia and Piedmont Virginia Community College.
Albemarle embraces its vibrant local arts and agritourism scene, hosting the Crozet Music Festival each year, as well as showcasing its artisan breweries, wineries, and craft studios through the Monticello Artisan Trail. Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway touch the western frontier of the county, and Albemarle itself possess over 2000 acres within its parks system. The county’s character and charm are not lost on anyone who visits, and it’s easy to see why Albemarle County is the perfect place to start and grow your business:
| STRONG PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM
- Albemarle County Schools are rated among the top 10% of all school divisions in the State
- All 25 Albemarle County schools are fully accredited by the Commonwealth of Virginia
- Albemarle County Schools were one of only 19 school divisions in the State to earn the VIP Governor’s Award for Educational Excellence
- High on-time graduation rate (91.6% for the Class of 2010) and number of high school graduates continuing their education (85.2% for the Class of 2010)
- Average SAT scores surpass state and national averages by over 60 points per test section (Math, Reading Comprehension, and Writing)
- 83% of students taking an AP test received passing scores, compared to the state average of 61%
- Math, Engineering & Science Academy (MESA) program offered in Albemarle High School as a college preparatory pathway to a career in engineering allows for a pool of talented individuals to take college-level engineering courses and undertake independent studies and internships during their high school careers
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| ADVANCED EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES
The University of Virginia, ranked as the 2nd best Public University in the nation in the 2011 U.S. News & World Report Rankings, also has internationally recognized medical, law and business schools. The university is a major resource for businesses located in the region. Besides collaborative public / private research, the school continues to seek innovative ways to advance the economy of the broader community.
In 2011, the University of Virginia opened a $65 million building center for information technology engineering and the Curry School of Education and Darden School of Business announced a new dual master’s degree in business administration (MBA) and education (M.Ed.) aimed at creating a supply of innovators in education.
Piedmont Virginia Community College has a total annual enrollment of approximately 7,000 students taking degree and non-degree courses. PVCC works closely with area businesses to design training programs to meet specific operational requirements. State Farm, Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems, the US Defense Intelligence Agency and SNL Financial are among the companies that have partnered with the college.
The Charlottesville / Albemarle Technical Education Center (CATEC) offers coursework at the secondary level, and adult education and apprenticeship programs in:
- Building Maintenance
- Machine Tool & Die
- Maintenance Mechanic
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| WORKFORCE AVAILABILITY/TRAINING
- Highly educated workforce – 47.7% of Albemarle County residents age 25+ have earned a Bachelor’s degree or higher compared to a national average of 27.5%
- Diverse and expanding pool of highly qualified college graduates, from Piedmont Virginia Community College, Charlottesville Albemarle Technical Education Center (CATEC), and the University of Virginia, 2nd best public university in the country.
- 11 Workforce Development Facilities, including the Charlottesville Albemarle Technical Education Center, which offers an entrepreneurship program designed to serve as an incubator for new local businesses, dual enrollment with PVCC, trade and apprenticeship programs including Computer Training, Green Energy, Health Services, and Cosmetology
- Specialized training at PVCC – Stultz Center
- Virginia Employment Center – The Charlottesville Workforce Center is a full service physical site that provides core employment services (including job search and placement assistance, access to computers, telephones, fax and copy machines, resume and cover letter development, employment-related workshops) to all jobseekers, intensive services (including assessments and career counseling), and training and career education services to those who are eligible
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| THRIVING BUSINESS COMMUNITY
- A solid business base already exists in Albemarle County, with the University of Virginia, State Farm Mutual, Northrop Grumman Corporation, the U.S. Department of Defense, Wal-Mart, Crutchfield Corporation, GE Fanuc, and FIC Systems included in the county’s top 15 major employers
- The University of Virginia is home to two dynamic research parks, the University of Virginia Research Park and Fontaine Research Park. These state-of-the-art facilities foster the transfer of technology and innovation from the University of Virginia to the public and private business sectors of the surrounding community.
- The Charlottesville Business Innovation Council provides education and workforce development, networking events, and high-tech advocacy to serve as the region’s premier catalyst for entrepreneurship and innovative economic development.
- Albemarle County is home to 300 professional, scientific, and technical services establishments, employing over 3,000 individuals
- Strong focus on the life sciences industry, concentrated around Charlottesville, Richmond, and Northern Virginia, where employment opportunities grew by 22.7% from 2001-2008, as opposed to all private sector industry growth of 13.8% across the U.S., and provided approximately $13.7 billion in services and products in 2008.
- The great majority of our businesses employ 100 people or less, making it an ideal climate for start-ups and small businesses
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| STRONG BUSINESS SUPPORT
- Workforce Center services – candidate screening, comprehensive vocational evaluation and assessments for those seeking employment, on-site recruitment and interviews, test administration, labor market information, and free follow-up services
- The Virginia Jobs Investment Program (VJIP) provides economic development incentives, like offsetting recruitment and training costs incurred by expanding companies, and also offers organizational development workshops.
- Albemarle County’s Economic Opportunity Fund (EOF) strives to combat unemployment and underemployment in the county by matching funds for federal or state economic development projects for businesses working to provide higher-wage permanent positions for the community.
- The Virginia Workforce Center lends their services to any company hiring local residents. Staff will help recruit new hires through job postings on VA Workforce Connect, screen candidates based on criteria you provide, interview candidates on-site, and hire from a pool of trained/trainable clients.
- The Charlottesville/Albemarle Technical Education Center (CATEC) offers secondary level coursework, adult education, and apprenticeship programs in areas of expertise such as building maintenance, electrician and HVAC work, and plumbing.
- The Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce works of behalf of its member enterprises to provide desired networking and development events, as well as act as an advocacy on public policy issues affecting all businesses in the region.
- Central Virginia Partnership for Economic Development is a non-profit created to bring new jobs and investment into the Greater Charlottesville Region through site selection assistance, workshops for existing businesses and entrepreneurs, and empirical data on the region and its business climate.
- Central Virginia Small Business Development Center, located in Charlottesville, works to provide professional business consulting, training, and information specifically directed towards strengthening small businesses.
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| MULTI-MODAL TRANSPORTATION NETWORK
- I-64 bisects the entire county, with I-81 only 11.1 miles away from the county’s western border, I-95 37.6 miles away from the county’s eastern border, and I-295 located 45.3 miles southeast of the county’s borderlines
- Charlottesville / Albemarle Regional Airport (CHO) is a non-hub, commercial service airport offering 46 daily non-stop flights to and from Charlotte, Philadelphia, New York/LaGuardia, Washington/Dulles and Atlanta. CHO is served by Delta Connection, United Express, and US Airways Express. Convenient one-stop international and domestic destinations.
- Amtrak Service / Northeast Regional - The community has multiple passenger trains per day traveling the northeast corridor. Virginia Dept of Rail and Public Transit subsidizes the rail line to lower overall passenger fare costs. The northeast regional travels to and from Lynchburg, crossing into Charlottesville, to Massachusetts twice per day.Freight Rail Services through Albemarle include CSX Transportation, Norfolk Southern Railway Company, and Buckingham Branch Short Line
- The center of Albemarle County is located only 85 miles away from the Port of Richmond, 109.6 miles from the Port of Washington-Dulles, 163 miles from the Port of Virginia, and 83.9 miles from the Richmond-Petersburg Port of Entry.
- Both a cross-country bicycle route, the TransAmerica Trail, and a cross-country pedestrian route, the Appalachian Trail, traverse the region
- All Charlottesville Area Transit buses include bicycle racks to allow cyclists to bike from their residence to a transit stop, ride to any part of the region, then complete their trip via bicycle upon disembarking.
- Albemarle County’s Walnut Creek Park boasts 15 miles of single-track mountain bike trails, making it a popular destination for trail enthusiasts from around the state. The County Parks system also includes 37 miles of walking, running, and hiking trails, spanning all difficulties.
- Albemarle County is in the process of constructing over 50 miles of greenways, along streams and rivers, to buffer these waterways from damage and disease while supporting a thriving ecosystem and providing alternative pathways of transportation.
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| VIBRANT MUSIC, ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT SCENE
- Albemarle is home to the Monticello Wine Trail, where 23 local vineyards open their doors to you along this “trail” filled with boutique wineries specializing in the production of small quantities of the highest-quality wines.
- “Brew Ridge Trail” – Albemarle County is a proud member of the Brew Ridge Trail, composed of five award-winning breweries and two cideries within Albemarle and Nelson County.
- Top of the Hops – 2011 marks the second annual Top of the Hops beer festival, featuring live music, education sessions, and of course, tastings of over 150 craft beers .
- Proximity to the University of Virginia affords opportunities to see one of over 70 concerts per year sponsored by the McIntire Department of Music, visit Oriental, African, and Native American Art at the Bayly Art Museum, or experience the Heritage Repertory Theater at Culbreth Theater every summer.
- The state-of-the-art John Paul Jones Arena, home to the University of Virginia Men's and Women's Basketball teams, is also host to a myriad of attractions including concerts, family shows, exhibits, trade shows, and community events.
- Home of the Virginia Film Festival, showcasing over 100 nationwide and limited release films, and the Virginia Festival of the Book, which has grown to become the largest gathering of writers and readers on the East Coast over the past 18 years.
- Enjoy the Crozet Arts & Crafts Festival, hosting over 100 handscraftmen and women from around the nation, and the Crozet Music Festival, a 3-day festival filled with the sounds of country, bluegrass, and gospel.
- Neighboring Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall boasts an active shopping scene, located in historic buildings along the pedestrian Main Street, with over 120 niche shops and 30 one-of-a-kind restaurants, as well as an ice rink, a movie theater, the Live Arts community theater, the historic Paramount Theater, the Charlottesville Pavilion and the Jefferson Theater.
- Every Friday during the late spring through late summer, the Charlottesville Pavilion hosts a free concert showcasing local talent, in an event called Fridays after Five.
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| PARKS AND RECREATION
|The Blue Ridge Parkway’s 469 miles begin just west of Albemarle County, connecting outstanding opportunities for camping, hiking, fishing and swimming, bloom and wildlife watching, bicycling, shopping, and more throughout Virginia and North Carolina. Nearby highlights include Humpback Rocks, with hiking for all ages and abilities, picnicking and camping locations amid the rocks’ natural beauty, and interactive programs during the summer months to demonstrate mountain crafts and skills.
Shenandoah National Park, one of America’s premier national park encompassing nearly 80,000 acres of wilderness, waterfalls, and the Blue Ridge Mountains, passes through our county, offers the opportunity for horseback riding, camping, hiking, bicycling, and the chance to encounter wildlife from deer to black bears.
Appalachian Trail – This 2,180 mile footpath goes right through our backyard, passing through the Shenandoah National Park. The trail incorporates conservation efforts, youth workshops, and opportunities to work on a volunteer trail crew, in addition to the infinite locations to hop on the trail for a scenic hike.
The Rivanna River, originating in the Blue Ridge Mountains, joins with the James River in Albemarle County, allowing citizens plentiful access to these two waterways. Paddling, tubing, swimming, and educational opportunities abound along these local natural resources.
Highlights from the County’s fantastic 2000-acre Parks and Recreation system include:
- Four local lakes, complete with well-maintained boat launches, Rivanna River access at Darden Towe Park
- A 34 acre disc golf course at Walnut Creek Park
- 2 1-acre fenced-in dog parks, including one with water access specifically for dogs at Chris Greene Lake Park
- All lakes fully stocked with sunfish, channel catfish, and largemouth bass, and a special trout-stocked lake located at Mint Springs Valley Park
- Sandy beaches perfect for freshwater lake swimming at 3 local area parks
- 37 miles of walking, running, and hiking trails, graded for all levels of difficulty. Walnut Creek Park also boasts 15 miles of single-track mountain bike trails.
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| COMMITMENT TO ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP
- Top Five Green Cities, Blue Ridge magazine, 2006
- 17.5% of all land in Albemarle County is permanently protected as conservation easements, This plan allows lower income landowners to protect family farms and open space by selling their land to the county to be held in conservation, while still maintaining exclusive access rights to the land.
- Albemarle is a sponsor of the Better Business Challenge, a friendly competition among local businesses to integrate sustainable initiatives into day-to-day business. The challenge centers on sustainability goals in the areas of Energy, Transportation, Water, Waste, Purchasing, and Leadership.
- Albemarle supports the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP) is a community-based nonprofit who supplies local business and property owners with a place to call for all their conservation and environmental sustainability and stewardship needs. LEAP is the sponsor for numerous energy efficiency programs throughout the area, intending to promote cost savings, job creation, local economic development, and environmental stewardship.
- The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (which includes Albemarle) was awarded a $999,000 grant for the creation of “sustainable communities”, and is using the money to implement sustainable land use, transportation and housing goals, economic development in an environmentally-friendly manner, and air & water quality and energy use regulation.
Albemarle County government is proud to be a leader in green government:
- We are aggressively working to reduce the energy usage in local government buildings by 30% by the end of 2012. As of July 2010, energy consumption was down 20.3% when compared to a baseline usage in the year 2005.
- Both County Office Buildings have earned an Energy Star Rating, meaning they perform in the top 25% of similar facilities nationwide with regards to energy efficiency.
- The County Office Building at 5th Street has a green roof, a solar-thermal system which supplements the existing hot water system.
- The County has implemented an Environmental Management System (EMS) to assist in environmental compliance, pollution prevention, and continued environmental improvement.
- The County supports cleaner vehicles through our use of 7 gas-electric hybrid vehicles, as well as several flex-fuel vehicles that are ethanol-capable.
- The Monticello Fire Station uses a 20% blend of biodiesel (B20) fuel in all its fire engines, and the School Division is currently testing the use of B20 biodiesel fuel in 10 of its school buses, hopefully expanding the program to the entire bus fleet
- The Monticello Golf Trail includes premier golf courses at 5 locations both within and a
short drive from Albemarle County. The biggest draw is the Trail’s commitment to providing golfers with environmentally conscious, or “green”, properties, promoting environmental stewardship through on-course sanctuaries, preservation efforts of the scenic natural surroundings, water conservation, and organic gardens.
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| HEALTHCARE FACILITIES
World class medical care is centrally located in Charlottesville.
- The University of Virginia Health System is among the most comprehensive medical facilities in Virginia. It is a Level I trauma center and is rated one of the top 100 hospitals in the country. The center's hospital includes 591 beds and maintains a special unit for trauma, burns, intensive care, dialysis, newborn, and coronary care.
- The Martha Jefferson Regional Hospital, recently moved to a state-of-the-art facility to continue to best serve thousands in the Charlottesville community, with 201 beds, also provides a full range of medical services and emergency care.
- The Thomas Jefferson Health District administers public health services. Six private clinics provide specialized medical care and counseling.
- Kluge Children’s Rehabilitation Center provides counseling and specialized care for an expansive range of youth handicaps.
- Albemarle offers a wide range of retirement facilities, catering to clients at every stage of health. From the independent cottages of the Colonnades to the round-the-clock assistance provided for memory care patients at RoseWood Village, the county’s 10 facilities can assist seniors at all levels of wellbeing.
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| HISTORIC AND CULTURAL RESOURCES
|Monticello, the only historic house in the U.S. included in the United Nations’ World Heritage List, home to our 3rd president Thomas Jefferson, offers educational tours and exhibitions for all ages.
Skyline Drive, an 105-mile National Scenic Byway, runs the entire length of Shenandoah’s National Park, and provides picturesque opportunities to take in the panorama of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Montpelier, located in nearby Orange County, was the lifelong home of James Madison, the nation’s fourth president. It too features educational home and garden tours, archeological sites, and hands-on activities for all visitors.
Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center of Virginia, an interactive and educational museum for youth and adults to explore the legacy of Lewis and Clark’s groundbreaking expedition, which departed from Charlottesville itself.
Scottsville, the only incorporated township in the county, hosts the Bateaux Festival every June. This week-long festival celebrates the traditional flat-bottomed boats used to carry dry goods, called bateaux, by sending a fleet down the James River from Lynchburg to Richmond, stopping mid-way in our own Scottsville for music and festivities.
The Hatton Ferry has been traversing the James River from Buckingham County to Albemarle County for 140 years, and is still running, making it the last pole operated ferry in America.
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|Albemarle is home to the Monticello Wine Trail, the crown-jewel of winemaking in Virginia. Covering the area which many consider to be the birthplace of American wine, 23 local vineyards open their doors to you along this “trail” filled with boutique wineries specializing in the production of small quantities of the highest-quality wines.
The Brew Ridge Trail celebrates the flourishing craft beer industry in both Albemarle and Nelson counties, bringing together five breweries and two cideries that produce only the finest award-winning beer in scenic settings.
The Monticello Artisan Trail connects Albemarle and Nelson Counties’ many craft artisans with visitors who wish to experience a uniquely local adventure. Trail sites include local craft artisan studios, agri-artisan gardens, farms, wineries & breweries, galleries, as well as eclectic shops and historic points of interest for the innovative visitor.
The Local Food Hub is a non-profit distribution organization located in Charlottesville that works to strengthen and secure the future of a healthy regional food system by connecting small, local farmers with distribution services that allow their fresh produce to reach large institutions such as UVA Health Services, local area schools, and UVA dining.
Charlottesville and Albemarle County together boast 9 farmer’s markets per week, forging connections between farmers focusing on growing the freshest and healthiest produce possible and the hungry locals wishing to support local business (and enjoy the taste that only local and organic small farms can provide).
The Piedmont Environmental Council launched Virginia’s Buy Fresh Buy Local campaign in 2006, creating food guides and marketing materials and organizing food events and new market outlets to easily match consumers with locally produced foods.
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| ALBEMARLE COUNTY AWARDS AND ACCOLADES
Here is a sample of the Albemarle County region’s recent accolades and recognitions:
- Best Small Market for Business, #9: Forbes magazine, 2008
- Top 10 Charming Towns – TripAdvisor, 2010
- 4th Best Place to Live in the Country – Kiplinger’s Magazine, 2009
- Best City for Living and Launching a Business, #18: Money magazine, 2008
- Top Place to Retire: Kiplinger’s Magazine, 2010
- Healthiest Small City to Live in America, #3: Men's Journal 2010
Albemarle also benefits from the Commonwealth of Virginia’s excellent business reputation:
- #1 Best Place to Make a Living, Moneyrates.com, 2012
- #1 Top State for Business, CNBC report, 2011
- Fourth-best state business climate in the U.S. in 2011, according to a new ranking by Site Selection magazine
- #1 State to Do Business, Forbes magazine, 2011
Click here for a comprehensive list of Albemarle County accolades...
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