Is Your Metro Area on the Edge of a Fiscal Cliff?

The topic of sequestration is on everyone’s mind today and the nation’s legislators are faced with some tough decisions. Sequestration, by definition, refers to automatic across-the-board spending cuts that will take place if a budget deal isn’t cut by tomorrow.

While many state and local officials are putting pencil to paper to see how the cuts will affect them directly, it’s important to remember that the federal government spends more than $500 billion each year through contracts with private industry in the United States. These funds make their way into regional economies as the federal government procures goods and services, supporting businesses and jobs.

So which metro area economies are most dependent on revenues derived from contract work for the federal government? Which ones are most at-risk due to the impending budget cuts? We took a look at federal contract spending data and assigned it a metro geography based on where the awarded firm performed the work. Then we divided that amount by the total number of jobs in each region.

The interactive map below shows how federal contract dollars are concentrated in the nation’s 369 metro areas. At the top of the list is the Pascagoula, MS, a small metro area with businesses employing about 55,000 people. Pascagoula is home to naval shipbuilding giant Ingalls Shipbuilding, which was founded there on the banks of the Pascagoula River in 1938. Ingalls is one of Mississippi’s largest employers. Over the past three years, federal contract spending has averaged $3 billion a year in Pascagoula. That’s more than $54,000 federal dollars spent locally for each job in the metro area.

Will sequestration happen? That remains to be seen. It’s safe to say federal spending will be reduced in the future, perhaps with a bit more surgical precision than sequestration mandates. Regions should understand their exposure as it relates to these issues and be prepared to support businesses (and employees) who could be impacted.

You can download the full list here.

The Top 10 Metros Area by Federal Contract Concentration

Metro AreaFederal Contract SpendingFederal Defense Contract SpendingFederal Contract Spending per Job

Pascagoula, MS MSA




Oshkosh-Neenah, WI MSA




Huntsville, AL MSA




Norwich-New London, CT MSA




Amarillo, TX MSA




Kennewick-Richland-Pasco, WA MSA




Idaho Falls, ID MSA




Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV MSA




Jacksonville, NC MSA




Hinesville-Fort Stewart, GA MSA




Source: JobsEQ® and FPDS.
Employment data as of 2012q4, Spending data FY2010-12 as of 1/15/2013.


You can download the full list here.

Ohio’s Target Industries Post Strong Job Gains in 2012

Click for full-size map: Job Gains in Ohio's Target Industries

Each of Ohio’s nine target industries added employment1 in 2012 and five of the nine sectors posted job growth far stronger than Ohio’s overall job growth of 1.8% during the year. Target industry job gains were led by Ohio’s BioHealth sector, which mostly comprises pharmaceutical and medical equipment manufacturing, posting 14.1% year-over-year growth in the fourth quarter of 2012. The Energy sector also saw strong gains, due in large part to the development of Ohio’s shale gas reserves. What is especially impressive about the job gains in the BioHealth and Energy sectors is that these are two target industries where Ohio is only beginning to develop a competitive cluster—as gauged by the state’s location quotient.



Employment Change

Q4-2011 -

Annual Wages

Location Quotient

Ohio - BioHealth





Ohio - Energy





Ohio - Food Processing





Ohio - Information Technology and services





Ohio - Automotive





Ohio - Financial Services





Ohio - Advanced Manufacturing





Ohio - Polymers and Chemicals





Ohio - Aviation & Aerospace





Ohio - Total All Target Industries





Ohio - Total All Industries





Source: JobsEQ®

The location quotient is measure of how big these industries are given the overall size of Ohio’s economy. In this case, a location quotient less than one indicates an industry that is underweight in terms of what one might expect given the overall size of Ohio’s economy. In this context, given Ohio’s assets and labor market strengths, there can be optimism that these two industries will continue to expand employment over the next three to five years and Ohio will see the location quotient in these two sectors move from below to above one. If the location quotient of these two sectors approached the average for location quotient all of Ohio’s target industries (1.53), this would translate into the creation of more than 80,000 new jobs.

In addition to the strong growth in Ohio’s target industries in 2012 was the fact that these job gains were spread out across the state. Seventy two of Ohio’s 88 counties experienced at least some job growth in these nine target industries. In fact, some of the strongest year-over-year job gains were in rural communities which saw Ohio’s target industries collectively growing in excess of 5%. Only about 11% of Ohio’s counties saw job declines in aggregate employment in these target industries. Similarly, in the BioHealth, Energy, Financial Services, Food Processing, and Information Technology sectors, more than 75% of all Ohio counties with these industries experienced job growth in 2012. The BioHealth sector expanded last year in 95% of the counties where it was present. In the more traditional manufacturing groups—Advance Manufacturing, Automotive, Aviation and Aerospace, and Chemicals and Polymers—the employment gains were slightly more concentrated with only about two-thirds of Ohio’s counties registering employment gains in these sectors. Employment changes were the most mixed in the advanced manufacturing sector which registered job gains in 52 counties, but job losses in 34 counties.

Top 10 Counties in Job Gains for Ohio’s Target Industries

Q4 2011 Target Industries

Q4 2012 Target Industries

Year % Change

Wyandot County, Ohio




Lawrence County, Ohio




Scioto County, Ohio




Huron County, Ohio




Erie County, Ohio




Brown County, Ohio




Van Wert County, Ohio




Fayette County, Ohio




Wayne County, Ohio




Tuscarawas County, Ohio




Source: JobsEQ

Ohio Target Industries

Counties with Expanding
Employment in 2012

Counties with
Contracting Employment 2012

Number of
Counties w/
Industry Presence

Ohio - Advanced Manufacturing




Ohio - Automotive




Ohio - Aviation & Aerospace




Ohio - BioHealth




Ohio - Energy




Ohio - Financial Services




Ohio - Food Processing




Ohio - Information Technology and services




Ohio - Polymers and Chemicals




Source: JobsEQ

  1. Employment figures in this article reflect average Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) employment in Q4 2011 compared to Chmura’s preliminary estimate for average employment in Q4 2012, which is subject to revision. QCEW employment data at the county level was not available beyond Q2 2012 at the time of this publication.

Supply Chain Mapping Can Highlight Opportunities to Grow an Economy

Chmura’s economists have been working with local communities for nearly a decade to understand the sources of their local competitiveness and strengths of their key industrial clusters. Several techniques exist for this type of analysis and one commonly utilized component is to examine an area’s key clusters for missing links in the supply chain. Many times this helps for marketing campaigns or economic gardening efforts in order to attract firms or spur entrepreneurial activity to address these gaps and augment and strengthen an existing industry cluster. In many cases, the search for supply chain gaps utilizes national models of what an industry and its many sub-industries have in common. Where additional data are available or can be collected, an alternative methodology can be used for much greater specificity, particularly when the local industry cluster has very specific suppliers or itself is part of a very complex value-chain from start to finish. Always looking to innovate, Chmura has produced a unique way to map the actual supply chain of industry clusters utilizing cutting edge network analysis. The results speak for themselves in an unprecedented, granular look at economic leakages, supply chain gaps, and cluster synergies. 

Supply Chain Mapping

Governor McDonnell Announces That Commonwealth Signs Comprehensive Agreement and Reaches Financial Close to Build the New Route 460 in Southeast Virginia

Governor McDonnell Announces That Commonwealth Signs Comprehensive Agreement and Reaches Financial Close to Build the New Route 460 in Southeast Virginia
– Project to greatly improve transportation, create thousands of jobs and have a multi-billion dollar economic impact –

RICHMOND - Governor Bob McDonnell announced today that the Commonwealth has reached a commercial and financial close with US 460 Mobility Partners (a partnership of Ferrovial Agroman, S.A. and American Infrastructure) and the Route 460 Funding Corporation of Virginia to finance, design and build a new 55-mile section of U.S. Route 460 in southeastern Virginia. Project development begins immediately for the new $1.4 billion roadway, which has been a top transportation priority locally, regionally and statewide for nearly a decade. The project was developed to address roadway deficiencies, improve safety, accommodate increasing freight shipments and reduce travel delays among many other needs.

"As recognized by local officials and the General Assembly years ago, there is a clear and critical need for the new U.S. 460," said Governor McDonnell. "In 2000, the Virginia Transportation Act designated U.S. 460 as a high priority in southeastern Virginia. In 2003, the General Assembly passed a law requiring the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to build a new stretch of U.S. 460 under the Public-Private Transportation Act of 1995. Legislative leaders supported the project because it would improve safety for motorists and connectivity for freight and military traffic among other benefits. Today, the Commonwealth is finally delivering on that need and building a project that will not only make transportation better for the southeastern region and the state, it will also generate jobs and economic development opportunities, bringing extensive long-term benefits in so many ways."

The key benefits of the new U.S. 460 include:

  • Safety - Improve travel safety and efficiency along the corridor, including expanding westbound hurricane-evacuation routes
  • Jobs - Generate approximately 4,000 jobs during construction and 14,000 jobs over the long-term, according to Chmura Economics
  • Economic development - Attract new business opportunities, boost tourism and accommodate greater freight traffic from the growth in demand at the Port of Virginia
  • Connectivity - Enhance connectivity among the region's military installations
  • Choice and time savings - Provide a reliable alternative to I-64 between Richmond and Norfolk, saving 20 minutes compared to taking the existing U.S. 460
  • Economic impact - Chmura Economics estimates that the new highway will have an annual economic impact of $7.3 billion by 2020

The new U.S. 460 will be a four-lane divided highway from Prince George County to Suffolk. The toll road will be parallel to the existing U.S. 460. The existing Route 460 will remain a free alternative.

Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton explained, "The Commonwealth has worked extensively with localities, the region and the public to complete environmental work, establish a corridor and then go through a lengthy evaluation process to select a private-sector partner and develop a financial plan to design and build the new highway. Today marks a major milestone with a signed contract to begin work on a transportation project that will increase safety and provide a critical link to jobs, commerce and the military."

VDOT, in coordination with the Office of Transportation Public-Private Partnerships, procured the project under Virginia's Public-Private Transportation Act, which allows the Commonwealth to partner with the private sector to finance, design and build transportation improvements. The comprehensive agreement was signed today between VDOT Commissioner Greg Whirley, US 460 Mobility Partners and the Route 460 Funding Corporation of Virginia. Financial close was also reached, which releases funding to launch project work. Bonds issued by the Route 460 Funding Corporation of Virginia to finance the project were oversubscribed, meaning there was demand for more bonds than were available. The bonds were also sold at a lower than planned interest rate, which benefits the Commonwealth.

"VDOT will work with the Route 460 Funding Corporation of Virginia to lead this project and oversee the work performed by US 460 Mobility Partners during construction," said VDOT Commissioner Whirley. "The private-sector team will design and build the project at a fixed cost by a fixed date and will take significant risks associated with delivering the project. The Commonwealth will continue to involve the community and public, seeking their input and addressing their concerns throughout project development and construction."

"We are proud to have worked with the Commonwealth, a visionary state, and regional officials to achieve financial close on the new U.S. 460 project," said Ignacio Vivancos, president of Ferrovial Agroman US, which leads the US 460 Mobility Partners. "Achieving financial close allows us to get down to the real business of delivering this important project to the citizens of Virginia."

William Fralin who chairs the Virginia Port Authority (VPA) Board of Commissioners added, "The VPA is investing in the new U.S. 460 project because it will be an economic engine for the Commonwealth over the long-term, creating opportunities for distribution centers and light manufacturing that will drive cargo through the Port of Virginia. This creates jobs and grows our economy."

"The new U.S. 460 will bring greatly needed job and business benefits to the citizens and residents I represent along the corridor," said Delegate Rick Morris, R-Carrollton. "I support this project because it is an investment in the future of southeastern Virginia. This project comes at a perfect time as the Commonwealth looks for ways to assist the smaller communities to take advantage of economic opportunities."

"The new U.S. 460 will support economic development and private industry development at a time when many in our community are unemployed and under-employed," said Al Casteen, chairman of the Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors. "The jobs generated during construction and long term will be sought after by both local business and jobseekers. Without a doubt, the new U.S. 460 will bring economic prosperity that will benefit the region and the state well into the future."

Suffolk Mayor Linda T. Johnson said, "The City of Suffolk was recently named one of America's best places to live for job growth. The benefits that the new U.S. 460 will bring including job opportunities and economic development will further enhance this mark of distinction. I welcome this project to our community."

Key business terms and costs:

  • VDOT will oversee the work performed by US 460 Mobility Partners during construction, and operate and maintain the facility after the construction is completed. VDOT will retain ownership and all potential excess revenues of the project as well as set the initial toll rates.
  • US 460 Mobility Partners will design and build the project.
  • The Route 460 Funding Corporation of Virginia is a non-profit corporation that has sold tax-exempt bonds to finance part of the project. The debt will be non-recourse to VDOT, the Commonwealth and US 460 Mobility Partners. The funding corporation will collect the tolls, adjust the toll rates and manage the toll collection system over the course of 40 years.
  • The project cost is $1.396 billion including design, construction and toll collection set-up.

Funding sources are as follows:

  • Public funding from VDOT - $903 million, which is lower than originally forecasted due to reduced interest rates in the bond market. A lower amount is anticipated should the Commonwealth secure a low-interest federal loan from the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program.
  • Public funding from the Virginia Port Authority - $250 million, a lower amount is possible if a TIFIA loan is secured.
  • Private sector tax-exempt bonds sold this month by the Route 460 Funding Corporation of Virginia - $243 million (net amount).

Project highlights:

  • The new U.S. 460 will be a 55-mile four-lane divided, limited-access highway from Suffolk to Prince George County. It will parallel the existing U.S. 460.
  • There will be seven interchanges at routes 156, 625, 602, 40, 620, 616 and 258.
  • Design and right of way work is expected to begin in 2013, which will include public meetings. Construction is anticipated to start in 2014.
  • When the road opens in 2018, tolls will begin at approximately 7 cents per mile ($0.067) for cars and 21 cents per mile ($0.213) for trucks. This equates to $3.69 for cars and $11.72 for trucks for the entire 55 miles.
  • Tolls will be collected electronically using E-ZPass and license plate video tolling. There will be no manual toll collection.
  • The existing U.S. 460 will have no tolls and remain a free alternative.

Mumford’s GOTR Bristol Stopover Economic Impact Released mentioned a recent Chmura study in their blog post Mumford’s GOTR Bristol Stopover Economic Impact Released:

Today representatives from Birthplace of Country Music, Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, Believe in Bristol, and Pick Bristol gathered media and members of city and local governments to the City of Bristol, VA School Board Office Conference Room to reveal details of the Virginia Tourism Corporation‘s economic impact study researched during the GOTR Bristol Stopover. The research company Chmura Economics & Analytics was contracted by VTC to perform the study over the course of the August 11, 2012 weekend, combining the impacts of event staging and visitor spending.

“Gentlemen of the Road generated $5.1 million in tax revenue for the cities of Bristol alone,” says Believe in Bristol Executive Director Christina Blevins, “in the state of Virginia visitors spent $6.7 million. It’s amazing that one event in our cities can generate that much income.”

Read the rest of the article or the full GOTR Economic Impact Study.