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Economic Development in Virginia


General Fitzhugh Lee
General Fitzhugh Lee

Increased crop prices in the early 1900s brought better times for Virginia’s farmers, but manufacturers, bankers, and merchants enjoyed ever-growing influence. During World War I (1914-1918) the state became the site of many training camps and armaments factories, further accelerating economic growth. In the 1920s and 1930s Virginia became a major center for production of synthetic fibers (especially rayon), chemicals, and paper products. The Great Depression of the 1930s caused much hardship, but a relatively diversified agriculture and industries oriented toward mass consumption enabled Virginia to recover more quickly than most states.

The federal government has played a major role in Virginia’s economic development since the 1930s. Rapid expansion of government agencies in Washington, D.C., brought many new residents to suburban communities in the state’s northeastern counties. Also, World War II and the subsequent Cold War against international Communism resulted in billions of dollars in federal spending for ship construction and military bases near urban areas at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.

Tourism became increasingly important as well. Opening in the midst of the Great Depression, Shenandoah National Park soon became a popular vacation site. The same was true of Williamsburg, where extensive restoration of colonial-era buildings began in the 1930s. Seashore resorts at Virginia Beach and theme parks near Williamsburg and Richmond also emerged as major attractions These developments translated into improved living standards.

By 1990 Virginians’ per-capita income exceeded the national average and was the highest of any Southern state. Another consequence of rapid economic growth was an increasingly urban population. More and more Virginians, along with many newcomers to the state, moved into metropolitan areas, particularly those on the “urban corridor” extending from the Washington, D.C., suburbs southward through Richmond and then eastward to Hampton Roads. "Virginia" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.

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