2017 State of the Commonwealth Report – Available Now!


In the 2017 State of the Commonwealth Report, James V. Koch, Board of Visitors Professor of Economics and President Emeritus and Robert McNab, Deputy Director of the Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy in the Strome College of Business at Old Dominion University, analyze the Virginia economy and assess its future progress. This year’s version includes detailed information regarding new firms and job creation for Virginia and examines the uneven economic recovery in Virginia’s metropolitan areas, including Hampton Roads, Northern Virginia, Richmond, Roanoke and Lynchburg.

The 2017 report is divided into six parts:

Waiting for Godot?  Virginia Impatiently Anticipates the End of Sequestration. The Commonwealth’s lackluster economic performance in 2016 highlights a lost decade of slow economic growth. The dependence on federal spending and large employers presents challenges to stimulating growth in small and medium-sized businesses. We investigate the reasons for the slow pace of economic activity and ask whether new efforts to spur innovation and entrepreneurship are a step in the right direction.

Virginia’s Metros: Running to Stand Still? The Commonwealth’s economy is the sum of its regional parts, however different they may be. After most regions performed poorly in 2016, there are signs that 2017 may be a more positive year. We ask whether the good news will last.

The Scourge of Opioids in the Commonwealth: Opioid-related deaths have skyrocketed in the Commonwealth and the United States. Almost three-quarters of those who abuse opioids start with a legitimate prescription. We investigate the rise of fentanyl as the primary cause of overdose fatalities and compare opioid practices in the United States with other industrialized countries. We estimate the costs of the opioid crisis and ask what steps can be taken to help those currently addicted and to prevent future deaths.

Airbnb Rising: Short-Term Rentals and the Gig Economy: Airbnb offers consumers short-term rentals that increase choice and lower costs. Cities in the Commonwealth are struggling with the question of how to work with Airbnb and similar firms, and the rise of Airbnb is a challenge to the traditional lodging sector. We explore the emergence of Airbnb, its phenomenal growth, and ask how Airbnb plays a role in the larger “gig economy.”

Access and Affordability in Virginia’s Public Institutions of Higher Learning: The typical public four-year university has increased its published tuition and fees two to four times as rapidly as the consumer price index. Have reductions in state appropriations driven these increases or are they a result of administrative proliferation, new amenities and the lack of firm control on tuition and fees by the Commonwealth? We estimate the costs and consequences.

Time to Go Regional or Mega? Interest in regional cooperation is rising again in the Commonwealth. We discuss the benefits of regionalism and examine the rise of megaregions in the United States. We ask whether there is a Richmond-Hampton Roads megaregion in the making.


Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy

The Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy in the Strome College at Old Dominion University undertakes a wide range of economic, demographic, transportation and defense-oriented studies. For eighteen years, the Center and its predecessors have produced the highly regarded State of the Region Report for Hampton Roads.

The Center is supported by Old Dominion University, a set of generous private donors, and organizations including the Virginia Chamber of Commerce and the Virginia Department of Commerce and Trade. It is important to note, however, that these supporters endorse neither the studies the Center produces nor any of the specific positions that Center and its personnel may take on an issue. Instead, they are united in believing that enlightened analysis and discussion of public issues buttressed by non-partisan information holds the potential to improve the circumstances of both the Commonwealth and its individual citizens.


State of the Commonwealth Report Economic Regions


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