Last year, millennials – those ages 21 to 36 – became the largest age group in the U.S. workforce. It’s no surprise then that communities that have an abundance of these highly educated individuals are epicenters for new business opportunities and expansions.
According to a 2017 article in TIME Magazine, Henrico County and the larger Richmond area experienced the second-highest rate of growth of millennials in the entire U.S. from 2010-2015. The 15 percent increase in young people is fueled by several factors.
Henrico is the employment capital of the region, with the second-highest number of jobs in all of Virginia. Our region is also home to major universities, most notably the University of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University, that produce a steady stream of local graduates. And it’s easy for young people to stay here, as it costs about 40 percent less to live in Henrico versus Northern Virginia and Washington D.C..
Whether they come for our robust job market, affordable cost of living, or budding food scene, one thing is for sure: Henrico is an irresistible location for young people.
Where They Want to Be
Surrounding the City of Richmond north of the James River, Henrico County has fostered a diverse, vibrant range of communities that appeal to a growing millennial workforce.
Innsbrook Corporate Center, built in the early 1980s on farmland in western Henrico, has grown into one of the best places in Virginia for young professionals to live. Innsbrook’s developers and Henrico County crafted the park to feature lakeside walking trails, easily accessible amenities, and consistently in-demand office space where people can live, work, and play in one affordable location. As new planned mixed-use projects will add additional apartments and amenities to the area, Innsbrook will remain a hotbed for young residents and their growing families.
Libbie Mill-Midtown, another burgeoning urban-mixed use community in Henrico spanning 80 acres, is another magnet for young people and office users. Featuring brand-new townhomes and condominiums, the Libbie Mill Library, and AAA-Four-Diamond restaurant Shagbark, Libbie Mill is one of the hottest neighborhood in Richmond. Whenever they want to explore the city, residents and workers can reach downtown Richmond in about 15 minutes. No desire to drive? The new Pulse Bus Rapid Transit has two stops within walking distance.
Karen Bunch, Regional Property Manager of Gumenick Properties (the developer of Libbie Mill), attributes its popularity to a combination of forces. “We have a huge demand right now for office space,” Bunch says, “and I really think that speaks to the fact that employers are looking to provide their employees with an atmosphere where they can come in and enjoy a lot of things other than sitting at their desk and working.” American retail giant Lumber Liquidators certainly took notice of Libbie Mill’s offerings and appeal to young professionals: the company is moving its corporate headquarters to the community next year.
Located just outside Richmond City limits, Rocketts Landing is a unique urban mixed-use waterfront community with unbeatable proximity to downtown. From Rocketts Landing, you can jump on your bike and ride to the 52-mile Capital Trail to Jamestown or just as easily hop in a kayak and paddle down the James River.
Then there’s GreenGate, a neighborhood currently under construction in western Henrico that offers an urban vibe in a suburban setting. While new homes are being built, sizzling restaurants like The Daily Kitchen & Bar and popular fitness studios like Solidcore are setting up shop to satisfy local appetites.
But Henrico offers more than just a thrilling mixed-use scene. Here, communities come in all shapes and sizes. In charming Lakeside, young people can explore the region’s first Bike Friendly Business District, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden (voted one of the best in the nation by USA Today), and a year round-farmer’s market. There’s also the community of Sandston in eastern Henrico, offering a tight-knit neighborhood in a more rural setting.
And for those who want a heavy dose of amenities and retail, there’s always West Broad Village and Short Pump in the West End. West Broad Village, the first urban mixed-use neighborhood in Henrico, is home to first-class amenities like Whole Foods, Aloft hotel, Trader Joe’s, REI, and more. Just down Broad Street is Short Pump Town Center, a premier outdoor mall featuring 140 unique shops and national stores. And for those who choose not to navigate the roads, local bus service was just expanded to include Short Pump.
Out, About, and Settling Down
Sprinkled among the Henrico neighborhoods are destinations young people flock to. The county’s craft beer scene is unparalleled, with perennial favorite Mekong voted the Best Beer Bar in the country. For those who prefer the open air to an indoor bar, the Virginia Capital Trail stuns with 52 miles of dedicated bike trail stretching along the James River heading east. And for those with a little diesel running through their veins, there’s chaos on every corner at Richmond Raceway, home to NASCAR races, Virginia Credit Union LIVE!, and other events.
As millennials start to expand their families, they’ll find Henrico offers one of the best education systems in the country. Henrico County Public Schools (HCPS) recently received one of five national first-place Magna awards for large U.S. school systems, and eight schools received awards for innovative programming.
With an eye toward the future, Henrico is taking vital steps to maintain ability to draw young people. From dedicating over $400 million in bonds to school projects, parks, libraries, and other public services to continuing to develop better-connected, exciting places to live, Henrico is making vital investments that make it a location of choice.
County planners are hard at work examining the future of currently non-residential areas, as well, including the 530-acre industrial Westwood area just east of the city line. They see the area as a major area of opportunity for a variety of new businesses, residences, and entertainment – evidenced by the new construction of Topgolf currently underway. County officials aren’t alone either, as private developers are working on transformative projects throughout the County that cater to young people and their modern employers.
With so many developments, attractions, and amenities geared toward young professionals, it’s no wonder Henrico is such a millennial magnet. Companies that want to attract, retain, and grow with this workforce demographic are finding there’s no better location than Henrico County.