Board Identified Strategic Priority

At the Strategic Planning Retreat - Sept 9, 2005


Goal:  Enhance the Quality of Life

Priority:  Be proactive in promoting economic vitality


Overall, Albemarle County enjoys a stable economy, a highly-skilled and educated labor force and a low unemployment rate. The predominant sectors of the local economy are government, the University of Virginia, services, trade and manufacturing. Business activity has been steadily increasing over the past decade. According to the data from Weldon Cooper Center, total retails sales in Albemarle have doubled since 1992. The County’s per capita retail sales have increased by about 44% between 1994 and 2004, an increase that is greater than that of the County’s comparable jurisdictions. According to the Virginia Employment Commission, Albemarle County’s percentage share of the total number of jobs in the Charlottesville MSA in 2004 was 49%. The County’s share of local jobs has increased by 9 percentage points since 1993.  According to the 2000 Census, 53% of the County population has at least an Associate degree. In 2004, the unemployment rate stood at 2.6%. The unemployment rate in the County has remained below the state and national averages for the past several years.


According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, between 1992 and 1997, the County’s agricultural land decreased 9%. Conversion of agriculture land into residential development is viewed as a threat to the County’s agriculture and forest industries.  Albemarle County has a growing viticulture industry. According to data included in the County’s rural area plan, Virginia ranks 9th in commercial grape production. In 2001, Albemarle County ranked first among 10 leading counties in the number of acres of planted grapevines. The County had 367 acres of land in this category.


Although the County’s economy is strong overall, there has been a decrease in the number of manufacturing jobs in recent years, the County’s cost of living is considered high, and there are families and individuals who reside in the County who are struggling financially. 2000 Census data indicates that 7% of Albemarle County’s citizens are living in poverty. 20% of Albemarle County’s residents are living at the lower end of the economic scale or at or below the 200% of poverty range.  (Note:  a family of four would be considered to be “at 200% of poverty” if their annual wage were $38,700 or less.)  See the attached information sheet regarding how these census statistics might be affected by the large number of UVA students who live in our community.



1995 - County’s Economic Development Policy

In 1995, the County adopted an Economic Development Policy as part of the Comprehensive Plan. The purpose of the policy is “first and foremost, to provide the local citizenry an improved standard of living, improved job opportunities and competitive wages, and work force development opportunities, rather than to seek to stimulate further population growth.” The policy emphasizes that the County “does not seek growth, or to add new population, but to accept that more people will move to our community and that jobs, goods, and services will be needed to meet their needs.” The policy states, furthermore, that the County has economic strengths that Albemarle should seek to maintain. These strengths include the renowned local natural environment, the historic resources of the area that encourage a growing tourist trade and the rural and agrarian heritage that provides opportunities for agricultural and forestry industries. 


Currently, the Economic Development section of the Comp Plan identifies the following goal and six objectives. These items are:


Economic Development Section of Comp Plan Goal:  Maintain a strong and sustainable economy; 1) benefiting County citizens and existing businesses and providing diversified economic opportunities; 2) supportive of the County’s growth management policy and consistent with the other Comprehensive Plan goals; and, 3) taking into consideration regional (including the City of Charlottesville, and Greene, Louisa, Fluvanna, and Nelson Counties) economic development efforts.



1.       Base economic development policy on planning efforts which support and enhance the strengths of the County;

2.       Plan for land and infrastructure to accommodate further business and industrial growth;

3.       Recognize the County’s place in the regional economy; 

4.       Consider fiscal impact as one indicator of positive economic development along with environmental impact and standard of living impact;

5.       Provide local business development opportunities; and

6.       Provide work force development opportunities.


The County’s policy outlines 28 strategies and is attached here for more information.


2000 - Implementation of the Workforce Investment Act

The WIA is state-and locally-driven, provides a one stop service delivery system, and depends on strong involvement by local elected officials and the private sector. Our Local Workforce Investment Area includes all of Planning Districts 9 (Counties of Culpeper, Fauquier, Madison, Orange and Rappahannock) and 10 (City of Charlottesville and the Counties of Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson). The Local Workforce Investment Board (LWIB) provides leadership and direction on local strategic workforce issues, by identifying local needs and by developing strategies to address those needs. The Piedmont Workforce Network includes representatives of education, business, economic development, labor, community-based organizations, and required partners. Source: TJPDC website


2003 - County approval of TJPDC’s Regional Economic Development Plan

In 2003, the Board adopted the Regional Economic Development Policy of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC). The Regional Economic Development Policy was developed for the Thomas Jefferson Planning District, which includes the City of Charlottesville and the Counties of Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson. According to the TJPDC, “the Economic Development Plan Committee's view of economic development is not primarily based on physical developments, but rather on preserving and supporting the quality of life of our citizens. The committee embraces the objectives of providing a strong and diversified tax base and making provisions for upwardly mobile employment, but considers it essential that these objectives be kept in balance with preserving the unique qualities of our community. In this view, economic development fits within the principles of sustainability, preserves the integrity of designated rural areas and open space, and recognizes the impact of development on natural resources.


The goals of the TJPDC regional plan are: (1) to create wealth within the region, (2) to increase the ability of local government to provide services for citizens, and (3) to make living in this region more affordable for its residents.


Source:  TJPDC website


On-going:  Numerous Community Agencies and Albemarle County Department of Social Services support economic vitality for families and individuals


The County relies on a myriad of community agencies and programs to increase the economic vitality for families and individuals, provide educational opportunities, reduce poverty, and promote the safety and well-being of vulnerable citizens. The County provides approximately $3 million dollars in support each year to over twenty such agencies, including the Commission on Children & Families, the Jefferson Area Board for Aging, Region Ten, and the Piedmont Virginia Community College. The Albemarle County Department of Social Services (ACDSS) plays an important part in this effort. This department’s four key program areas:


·         Benefits including Food Stamps, Medicaid, Energy Assistance, General Relief, Long Term Care Services, State & Local Hospitalization, FAMIS Medicaid and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families;

·         Services including Adult Services, Adult and Child Protection, Adoption and Foster Care, Family Preservation;

·         Education & Early Intervention Programs including the Bright Stars and Family Support programs; and,

·         Employment Services including education and training through VIEW Programs, Child Care Services and the ACDSS Career Center.


These programs, services and benefits bring significant financial resources into the community in order to stabilize families and create opportunities for and access to education, work, nutrition and health care. In FY 2005, ACDSS brought $66,816,637 to the economy in federal, state and grant based dollars. This figure includes $19,851,637 generated through the ACDSS Medicaid Unit at the University of Virginia Health System.


To ensure self-sufficiency, ACDSS has developed a strategic plan designed to:


·         Develop and implement strategies focused on prevention and early intervention;

·         Ensure all services meet the needs of the changing demographics within the community;

·         Build private and public support for policies and resources that support people in need of services;

·         Strengthen strategic alliances within the community that result in a strong community infrastructure; and

·         Develop new revenue and resource streams to address evolving service needs.

·         Employment Services – ACDSS provides employment services to promote recipients economic self-sufficiency. For example, ACDSS administers:


o        The Virginia Initiative for Employment not Welfare (VIEW). VIEW offers recipients the opportunity to work and continue to receive time limited support benefits and support services while adjusting to a working environment. Other VIEW activities include on-the-job training or community work experiences.  This program also offers optional transitional services such as child care and Medicaid.  In Fiscal Year 2005, this program brought resources in the amount of $181,741 into the local economy.


o        Albemarle County Career Center. ACDSS provides career services to clients and the general public by providing information about employment opportunities as well as career resources. The staff of this Center assists individuals search for employment. In FY 2005 the Career Center served 682 county residents and is certified as satellite for the Piedmont Workforce Network One Stop Center.  However, the Center is staffed only part time, resulting in minimal advertisement of it as a resource.


o        Child Care. ACDSS provides child care assistance resources to low-income parents who are working and/or attending school. These services are also provided to families receiving TANF and who are working toward employment and self-sufficiency. In FY05, ACDSS provided an average of 263 children per month with day care services, by providing funding in the amount of $907,660 to local child care providers.


Current Situation

The County recognizes the important role that it plays in ensuring that residents continue to enjoy a high quality of life and the relationship between the area’s high quality of life and the area’s economic vitality. The County further recognizes the importance of working closely with adjoining jurisdictions, organizations and agencies to ensure that the community maintains its strong and sustainable economy. Albemarle’s school system actively works to ensure that the County’s youth are prepared to become productive citizens. The County recently has increased its role in supporting the development of vibrant downtown areas as essential core components of our developing urban areas. The County also focuses efforts and resources to support those people in our community who are less fortunate works to ensure that they too can obtain self- sufficiency for their families and participate more fully in the economy.


County emphases development of vibrant downtown areas

The Neighborhood Model supports the development of vibrant downtown areas as being essential core components of successful urban areas. 


 In 2004, the Board adopted a resolution of intent to amend the Comprehensive Plan regarding the County’s Economic Development Policy and gave further direction regarding the County’s role in supporting business development in the newly created “downtown” areas that result from Albemarle’s master planning efforts.  The Board directed staff to become active in creating economically viable downtown areas. The creation of such locations is expected to ultimately protect rural areas from development.


County hires Business Development Facilitator

IN 2005, the County hired Susan Stimart, the County’s first Business Development Facilitator to serve as the County’s principal liaison with the business community. She encourages business development and activity that is consistent with the County’s Comprehensive Plan. In addition, she advises existing and potential future businesses about local government processes, represents the County’s interest in the formation of development partnerships, and advises County officials on policies and ordinances that facilitate the implementation of the Comprehensive Plan. Her primary focus, however, involves increasing the economic vitality of the County’s master planned urban areas by working with business and real estate interests to bring about core business and economic activities. Her recent efforts have involved working with downtown businesses in Crozet to assist further in vitalizing the downtown Crozet area, and working with TJPED to obtain a workforce training grant for the employees of a manufacturing business that is relocating its operation to Mexico.


County joins TJPED

In February 2006, the Board voted to join the Thomas Jefferson Partnership for Economic Development (TJPED). TJPED combines the resources and input from the region's public institutions and private businesses, and promotes job creation and business investment in the Greater Charlottesville Region. The Partnership also works with its public and private investors to assess the competitive characteristics of the regional economy and the local support structure that is in place to serve the needs of vital businesses. Among other services, TJPED provides economic development strategies, technical assistance and acts as a liaison to state and federal resources.


County works in partnership to open One Stop Workforce Delivery System

The Piedmont Workforce Network is currently soliciting proposals for the operation of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) One Stop Delivery System in Planning District 10. Proposals are requested to be received by May 5, 2006. The County’s FY 05/07 Budget includes nearly $18,000 to support the area’s One-Stop Workforce Development Center.


The Economic Development section of Comprehensive Plan scheduled to be Updated in 2007

The County plans to consider amending the Economic Development section of Comprehensive plan in July 2007.  The Community Development Department’s (CDD) first step involves updating the data. CDD will present this updated data to the Board within the current fiscal year.


Strategic Issues:

·         Some sectors of the economy are growing rapidly without the benefit of sufficient infrastructure (power, roads, etc.);

·         The County’s demographics are changing;

·         There are people in our County who need assistance to become self-sufficient;

·         Home-based businesses are growing in Albemarle County and, as an industry segment; help protect the rural areas by generating fewer car trips and by relying on internet-based communications. Presently there is a lack of broadband connection to home-based businesses in the rural areas and in some urban areas. 

·         There has been a loss of manufacturing jobs in our area in recent years, reflecting a nationwide trend.

·         There has been a loss in land used for agricultural and forest industries

·         Some of the County’s current zoning codes present challenges for neighborhood model business development;

·         The business community suggests there is a need increase focus on:


         ●  developing career ladder jobs

         ●   increasing private sector employment opportunities

         ●  addressing the community’s “underemployment” issue

         ●  work force training and retraining

         ●  work force housing



As the County prepares to consider amending the Economic Development Policy section of the Comprehensive plan, staff recommends that the following objective be included in the FY 07 – FY 10 strategic plan:


Goal:  Increase the quality of life for all County citizens


Objective:  By June 30, 2010, the County will

1)              continue to maintain a strong and sustainable economy;

2)              increase the economic vitality of the County’s development areas; and

3)             increase the ability of those individuals and families, who are living in lower income households,  to become self-sufficient.


Strategies could include increased coordination and emphasis on:


·   improving the development process to support and enhance the strengths of the County;

·   supporting existing businesses and encouraging further business growth in development areas;

·   supporting agricultural land use and creating additional markets for agricultural projects through creative economic and land use strategies;

·   coordinating with other entities to support the regional economy;

·   increasing workforce and career ladder development opportunities; and,

·   assisting residents become self-sufficient


Potential Performance Measures


1) Strong and Sustainable Economy

Unemployment rate

Weighted average weekly wage

County’s revenue growth

Retail sales/Retail sales per capita


2) Economic Vitality of County’s Development Areas:

BPOL tax revenue by geographic area

New Business Permits by certificate of occupancy permits

Total employment by place of work and place of residence

Commercial vacancy rate

Total number of existing businesses in the County


3) Individuals and Families:

Number of children eligible for free and reduced lunch

Employment rate for VIEW participants

         Self-Sufficiency Standard for Virginia (SSS). (See This standard calculates the amount of income         a family needs to live without public or private supports.  Basic needs included in this standard are such items as housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, miscellaneous expenses (including clothing, telephone, household items and net taxes).


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