Business in Bedford Virginia Includes a Healthy Mix of Industry, Tourism and Agriculture
PHOTO CREDIT: Nannette Turner
Bedford County is one of the fastest-growing counties in Virginia, and Bedford – the county seat – boasts a strong, diversified economy, with a mix of industry, commerce, tourism and agriculture. Strategically located between the metropolitan areas of Lynchburg and Roanoke, Bedford is part of the Lynchburg Metropolitan Statistical Area. A strong and diverse labor market provides excellent resources for companies, from manufacturing facilities to high-tech operations.
“It seems like a small community, but we have some major business and industry in the area,” says Susan Martin, president of the Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce. “A lot of business and industry growth has taken place in the Forest area of our county – particularly growth related to technology.”
A Diverse Economy
The New London Business and Technology Center in Bedford is home to the 25,000-square-foot Center for Advanced Engineering and Research, an industry-based research hub. The new center is a nonprofit organization that creates working relationships between high-tech industries, major R&D centers and university researchers, and facilitates professional development opportunities for scientists and engineers in the region. Some of the area’s largest employers include Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, which produces generic pharmaceuticals; InService America, which offers direct-mail service, call centers and other outsourced services; Georgia Pacific, one of the country’s largest paper manufacturers; Andrew Wireless Solutions, a wireless technology company; Cintas Corp., producers of uniforms and apparel; Smyth Co. Bedford, which produces labels for the packaged food industry; Brooks Food Group; Bedford Weaving Inc., a broad-loom fabric manufacturer; and Sam Moore Furniture.
Bedford’s scenic beauty, historic sites and abundant natural resources attract thousands of visitors each year, creating another important segment of the city’s economy. A major attraction is the Blue Ridge Parkway, a scenic highway extending 470 miles along the crest of the Southern Appalachian Mountains, including the Peaks of Otter – twin peaks rising to 4,200 feet. Jefferson National Forest, Smith Mountain Lake, the region’s five wineries (Bedford Wine Trail) and pick-your-own farm operations also draw crowds. One of Bedford’s major draws is its vibrant downtown area, called CenterTown Bedford. This historic area is home to a mix of art galleries, restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, antique stores, specialty shops and more.
The area’s pro-business climate makes for smooth transitions, and industrial space – complete with shell buildings, infrastructure and appropriate zoning - is plentiful. Five business and industrial parks are available in the region: Montvale Center for Commerce, Bedford Center for Business, New London Business and Technology Center, Little Otter Business Park and Lake Vista Corporate Centre. Four highways pass through or are easily accessible from the Bedford area, and the east-west line of Norfolk Southern Railroad connects the agricultural Midwest, the industrial Great Lakes and the Allegheny coalfields with the Atlantic Coast. Major trucking firms provide excellent daily carrier service to the Bedford area, and the Lynchburg and Roanoke Regional airports provide air service.
The Bedford area is home to Central Virginia Community College and the Region 2000 Career Center, which provide a skilled and educated labor force, along with workforce training opportunities. Many other schools are just a short commute away in Lynchburg and Roanoke, including Lynchburg College, Randolph College, Virginia Western Community College, Liberty University, Sweet Briar College, Salem College, Roanoke College and Hollins College.