With a population of over 183,000, Newport News is Virginia’s fifth largest city and lies amidst some of the state’s largest metropolitan areas including Richmond, Hampton, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Chesapeake. The city is part of the Hampton Roads metropolitan statistical area which is home to 1.6 million residents, the largest MSA between Washington, D.C. and Atlanta. Residents and commuters enjoy easy access to and from surrounding cities via the central artery, Interstate 64, and Interstate 664, which connects to Southside Hampton Roads through the Monitor-Merrimac Bridge-Tunnel. Airline service transits out of recently renovated Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport as well as Richmond International and Norfolk International–both less than one hour away. In Newport News the median household income stands at $51,000, with a low unemployment rate of 4.7%.
The Hampton Roads area has the strongest military presence in the United States with 120,000 active duty, reserve, and civilian personnel at nine military installations and an array of industries supporting the federal government. The largest industrial employer in Newport News and in the State of Virginia with 21,000 employees is Huntington Ingalls, a spinoff of Northrop Grumman Newport News Shipbuilding. The company has built 70% of the U.S. Active Navy Fleet, is the sole designer, builder, and re-fueler of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers in the United States and is one of the two builders of nuclear-powered submarines. It has a current order backlog of $22.4 billion.
In addition to the major economic impact of the defense industry, which employs one-third of the area labor force, Newport News sustains a thriving and diverse economy with manufacturing and a booming technology industry. The city’s strategic location on the harbor and along the James River facilitates a large boating industry with its many miles of waterfront. Newport News serves as a key import/export and supply distribution hub for the entire eastern United States and Canada through CSX’s eastern terminus rail line stationed locally.