Top 5 Business Industries in Richmond, VA in 2023


Whether you’re buying or selling a business, it’s worth considering what’s happening in Richmond, VA, and across the Central and Southeastern Virginia regions. Many stellar colleges and universities in the area produce an incredible talent pool. The region also offers exceptional business development incentives for nearly every industry — some of the lowest rates for workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance and a low state corporate tax rate of 6%, which hasn’t changed since 1972.

Below, we’ll look at 2023’s top 5 business industries across Central and Southeastern Virginia, particularly in Richmond and Virginia Beach.

Commercial Lighting

The commercial lighting industry is a business-to-business sector specializing in installing and maintaining outdoor signage, storefront signage, parking lot lighting, and decorative lighting. Clients include hotels, resorts, restaurants, shopping complexes, big-box stores, schools and universities, business parks, and more. 

No matter the industry, every business needs skilled and trustworthy lighting and electrical technicians to handle these projects. There is also a wide variety of businesses in the Richmond and Virginia Beach areas, so commercial lighting companies can expect steady client partnerships.

A prominent commercial lighting company in the area, Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, was one of 38 Richmond-based companies to make the Inc. 5000 List in 2022. It’s a great time to consider the commercial lighting industry in the Greater Richmond area.

Military & Government Contracting

Richmond and Virginia Beach offer diverse business opportunities in the military, defense, and government sectors. Richmond is the state’s capital and just a few hours away from the nation’s capital in Washington, D.C. Consider that the Chesapeake-Virginia Beach area is home to nearly 90,000 active-duty military personnel. At the same time, the entire Southeastern Virginia region is home to even more veterans and civilian military and government employees. 

This area also has multiple military bases, including the East Coast Master Jet Base for the Navy, the headquarters of the U.S. Air Force Combat Command, and the headquarters for the Navy’s computer network command and control.

Military and government contracting business span many different services, including:

  • IT and cybersecurity
  • Maritime, aerospace, and defense technology
  • Maritime and aerospace manufacturing
  • Military equipment production and distribution
  • Civilian staffing

The diversity of service offerings means there are opportunities to buy or sell in various major industries, whether the business currently offers niche services to military and government clients or has the potential to. Our Richmond business brokers can help you identify potential buying or selling opportunities in this vital sector.

Logistics & Shipping

Both the Richmond and Virginia Beach regions are within a day’s drive to almost half the country’s population, making these areas a hub for logistics and shipping. E-commerce, manufacturing, and distribution companies can serve (and be served by) 45% of the U.S. population thanks to direct access to major interstates like I-95 and I-64 and multiple rail lines, including Norfolk Southern Railway. 

In addition, Richmond and Virginia Beach utilize local waterways for goods transport, too. The Richmond Marine Terminal allows businesses to ship goods along the James River to the Port of Virginia, located in the Greater Virginia Beach area. That means goods, products, and materials can arrive from all over the East Coast and the world. Then, logistics companies can arrange transport to local Virginia businesses and other destinations, from Texas to Illinois to Massachusetts and beyond. 

Connections via roadways, railways, waterways, and air (in Norfolk, Richmond, and nearby Newport News) make Southeastern Virginia an excellent opportunity for companies that offer exceptional land-based or maritime logistics.

Entertainment & Hospitality

Virginia Beach ranks #7 on U.S. News Travel’s Best Places to Visit in Virginia. It’s a popular vacation destination, thanks to affordable fun and accommodation. It attracts families, college students, retirees, and everyone in between. In addition, the area’s population growth and its large military population present more opportunities in the entertainment and hospitality sector to make VA Beach an even better place to live.

Residents and visitors alike are looking for:

  • Restaurants
  • Bars and clubs
  • Breweries, wineries, and distilleries
  • Hotels and resorts
  • Watersports
  • Indoor and outdoor fun

Richmond’s mix of families, military personnel, and college students also need great places to have fun. DJB Hospitality’s Sedona Taphouse in Richmond made it on the Inc. 5000 list, so the demand is there.

Health & Life Sciences

The health and life sciences industry is an incredible opportunity in Richmond and Virginia Beach. Both have access to some of the most talented workers in pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, biomedical engineering and manufacturing, cosmetics, and more. That’s thanks to world-class education from Virginia Commonwealth University, University of Richmond, Old Dominion University, and other area universities. The area’s high quality of life and low cost of living also attract talent from across the country. 

Based in the heart of Richmond is the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park, a 34-acre business park housing over 60 companies, laboratories, and research centers in health and life sciences. In the City of Virginia Beach, there’s VABEACHBIO, a health and life sciences startup incubator that features wet/dry labs, office space, and more for companies in therapeutics, vaccines, and medical devices. Both areas have many fantastic healthcare groups, including Virginia Commonwealth University Health System, Bon Secours, and Sentara Healthcare, which provide amazing collaboration opportunities for big and small businesses in the sector.

Now is a great time to consider buying or selling a business in Richmond and across Southeastern Virginia. Like all of our Viking locations, our business brokers in Virginia are proud to offer professional, personalized, and confidential intermediary services. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation or business valuation.