County’s economic indicators improving

A number of key economic indicators are pointing in the right direction for Henrico County, and county officials are in a cautiously optimistic mood.

Among the most promising numbers: Henrico’s sales tax revenues were up 7.3 percent in April as compared to the same month last year.

“With this [recent] economic difficulty, consumers kind of batten down the hatches, and then at some point they decide enough is enough,” Henrico Finance Director John Vithoulkas said. “Residents got very cautious and now are starting to breathe and live their lives again.”

Each month since last fall, Henrico’s sales tax receipts have been 5 to 10 percent higher than during the same month one year earlier, Vithoulkas said. Henrico also experienced its highest December sales tax revenue in its history last year – an indication “that Henrico is becoming even more attractive to the regional resident,” Vithoulkas said.

Confirmation of that point is evident in the county’s per-capita sales during 2010, which were more than $15,369. Henrico, the sixth-largest locality in Virginia, also ranked second in the state in total sales last year, trailing only Fairfax County, the largest locality.

Perhaps the most encouraging sign to Vithoulkas and other county officials is the influx of new jobs to the county. Between last October and this February, 1,734 new jobs were announced or filled within the 21-locality Richmond-Petersburg Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA); 1,325 of them were in Henrico County.

“Seeing this type of turnaround on jobs, both in number and in quality, is extremely positive,” Vithoulkas said.

Other positive signs for the county:

• new vehicle sales were up 8.2 percent during Fiscal Year 2010-11, through January, and used vehicle sales were up 3.6 percent;

• commercial real estate vacancy rates improved in six of seven major commercial corridors from 2009 to 2010, with the seventh (Parham East) only slipping slightly, from 1.3 percent to 1.6 percent.
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