The Outlook of the Valley Economy in 2013

HARRISONBURG -- On Thursday morning, the future of the Valley economy was front and center for a meeting dealing with the outlook for 2013 and years ahead.

Projections showed positive signs in multiple areas.

Employment, retail sales, and construction are expected to increase in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County this year.

Construction, in particular, is expected to rise more than 10% from 2012.

Several student-housing projects, like Aspen Heights in Harrisonburg, are driving the gains.

However, a state leader at the meeting said to get back to pre-recession levels, more funding is needed for transportation.

During the presentation for "Blueprint Virginia", Barry Duval, the President of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, spoke of the need for areas across the state to find a unified economic plan in the future.

According to Duval, the debate over transportation funding happening in the General Assembly right now could have a big impact on the future economy.

"Here in the Valley, Interstate 81 is a critical infrastructure corridor. It needs investment," he explained. "We need to come up with a long term strategy to improve the infrastructure of Virginia that will help every citizen's quality of life. Get a transportation bill passed this year that can help provide more funding for transportation in Virginia."

Earlier this week, the state Senate killed the transportation bill put forward by Governor McDonnell.

However, the version passed by the House still has a chance of getting passed.

The tension after Senate Republicans quickly pushed a redistricting plan through may subside after William J. Howell, the Speaker of the House, stopped the bill from moving forward.

Howell's move might lead to a bipartisan effort to get the transportation funding approved.


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