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.
The Richmond West Breakfast Lions Club (based in western Henrico) recently donated 59 backpacks to the Westover Hills Elementary School on Jahnke Road.
Above, club members display some of the backpacks prior to their distribution. > Read more.
Thanks to a first-place win in The American Protege International Vocal Competition 2014, Glen Allen High School student Matija Tomas will travel to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall in December.
At the first-place winners recital in Weill Hall, Matija will perform Giacomo Puccini’s opera aria, “Chi il bel sogna di doretta.” She will perform with other vocalists from around the world and have the opportunity to win other awards and scholarships.
Locally, Thomas has performed with Richmond’s renowned Glorious Christmas Nights, Christian Youth Theatre, and WEAG’s Urban Gospel Youth Choir. > Read more.
The John Rolfe YMCA and Gayton Baptist Church have partnered in an effort to bring greater health and wellness opportunities to the community.
Through this partnership, the John Rolfe Y will run Youth Winter Sports programs, including basketball and indoor soccer, in Gayton’s newly renovated $5.5 million outreach center that features a new gymnasium, youth and teen space, social space with café, meeting space and full service commercial kitchen. > Read more.
The Boathouse restaurant will open at Short Pump Town Center in the spring, its third location in the region.
“People have asked us to come to the West End for years,” said owner Kevin Healy. “When the opportunity arose, we knew had to jump on it.”
The new restaurant will be located in a 5,800-square-foot space under the Hyatt House Hotel at the town center and will include a large outdoor patio. > Read more.
Boka Kantina exceeds its strong food truck reputation
Already a fan of Boka fare from outdoor events with the Tako Truck, I was delighted to learn of the new restaurant, and eager to see if its reputation held up after putting down brick-and-mortar roots.
Would the food lose its zest if I wasn’t enjoying it in the great outdoors? Would it seem pedestrian served from an ordinary kitchen instead of a truck?
Would the tacos be less satisfying as an antidote to normal lunch hunger – instead of being ingested to stave off desperate hunger after a long afternoon of crowds, sun, and tedious lines? > Read more.
Original Gravity gets the green light to move forward with relocation, expansion into larger space
A Lakeside home-brewing shop has felt the gravitational pull toward the booming craft beer scene.
Original Gravity, a shop that sells beer and wine kits for homebrewers, has just been given the green light to start work on a microbrewery.
Owner Tony Ammendolia is expanding his 1,000-square-foot shop in Lakeside Town Center to 5,000-square-foot digs a few doors down to add a brewery and expand his supplies.
Ammendolia opened the home-brew supply store in November 2011 and since then he said business has taken off.
“I think I outgrew this place in the first year,” Ammendolia said. “We’ve seen steady growth and I’ve been looking for a place to expand to move the shop to get more square footage.” > Read more.
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