France and Virginia’s Henrico County: a unique economic relationship

We had the pleasure of chatting with Anthony Hall, Deputy Director of the Henrico Economic Development Authority (Virginia), on Henrico County’s unique economic relationship with France.

  1. What is the impact of the US-France economies relationship in Henrico County?

BAH: There is a little uncertainty about global economic conditions, monetary policy and structural reforms that support foreign direct investment into the US. However, despite this, the US and Virginia economies are strong and healthy, driven by consumer demand, increased productivity, and US economic policy. Henrico County has proven to be one of the strongest local economies in Virginia. Of the 133 localities in Virginia, Henrico ranks number 1 in retail sales per capita and ranks number 2 for most jobs. Henrico County’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is $24.6 billion, ranking Henrico 4th in Virginia. Virginia ranks 12th in the US with a GDP of $435.2 billion.

In Henrico County, we have created a business environment and a local economy where French companies may expect to be successful, to grow and prosper. Breaking into the US market can be a daunting task. We help French executives with the complexities of site selection, help them make the right connections, analyze our labor environment, and help with finding the best property for their projects. In other words, we help them make a soft landing in the US market. Here are three recent examples of French companies evaluating the US market and selecting Henrico.

  • Polykon Manufacturing: Air Liquide is present in 80 countries with more than 50,000 employees and serves more than two million customers and patients. Air Liquide explored several US locations and ultimately made the strategic decision to select Henrico County for their new specialty ingredients production facility, Polykon Manufacturing, to supply the global cosmetic and pharmaceutical markets. Air Liquide’s subsidiaries Seppic, a healthcare specialty ingredients manufacturer, and Schülke, a hygiene specialist, partnered to build Polykon Manufacturing, a green-field state of the art production facility in Henrico’s White Oak Technology Park.

Seppic designs and supplies a wide range of specialty ingredients for the health care and beauty industries. Present in more than 100 countries, it employs over 600 people worldwide. Schülke, Inc., designs and supplies antiseptics and disinfectants for medical environments and preservatives for the personal care industry. The firm employs over 900 people worldwide.

Capital investment is over $60 million and approximately 50 new jobs were created.

  • Fareva, a French company that makes over-the-counter pharmaceuticals and consumer products for other companies, added Henrico to its global roster of manufacturing facilities. After Pfizer announced it would close its consumer products manufacturing plant in the eastern part of Henrico County, Fareva stepped in and purchased the operations. The facility is now back in full production and continues to produce every Chapstick sold around the world, plus other products like Advil and Robitussin. This move saved 500 local, high-paying jobs. In addition, Fareva invested about $40 million into a plant expansion, which included additional product lines, and created 90 additional jobs. Their manufacturing plant is located on about 300 acres and has over 652,000 square feet.
  • CDA France: Chabot Delrieu Associes, was founded in 1991 by Dominique Chabot and Pascal Delrieu – who discovered that their product labeling machines were an ideal match for vineyard owners in the South of France. CDA France is a small manufacturer of customized automated and semi-automated machines for other industries, including food & beverage, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and chemicals. CDA USA selected Henrico to establish a US presence with a small sales office and recently expanded into a 13,000 square foot production facility.

Human capital, a skilled labor environment, and a consistent pipeline of workers were driving factors for each of these French companies. In addition, our Mid-Atlantic location, competitive operating costs, and strong local government are qualities that were especially appealing in their decisions to select Henrico. In fact, the East Coast time zone proved important because it allowed for same day business communications with the French corporate headquarters.


2. What do you think could deepen economic ties between France and Henrico County?

BAH: Henrico’s business environment attracts and grows talent. To meet the labor needs of a growing business community, Henrico strategically invests in developing talent through its excellent education system and local workforce training partnerships. Additionally, more than 50 colleges, universities, and professional schools are located within two hours of Henrico, making it easy to recruit graduates and interns, upgrade your current employee base, and engage in university research.

42% of Henrico’s adult population have a bachelors degree or higher. This is one of the highest rates in the US and above the national average of 32%.

A significant innovation in Henrico that enhances the regions internet ecosystem is the QTS NAP, network access point, for transatlantic subsea fiber optic cables. The Marea cable from Spain, the Brusa cable from Brazil, the Dunant cable from France (late 2020) are the highest speed, lowest latency fiber optic cables in history and have connected to Virginia in the USA. The first network access point, NAP, where companies may take full advantage of this tremendous internet capacity is located at the White Oak Technology Park in Henrico County.

The French Dunant submarine cable system is a 6,400km subsea cable connecting Virginia in the United States to the French Atlantic coast. Scheduled to be operational in late 2020, the Dunant cable system is the first ever in-service undersea cable featuring a 12 fiber-pair Space Division Multiplexing (SDM) design, to deliver record-breaking capacity of 250Tbps across the Atlantic. It was named in honor of Henry Dunant, a Swiss businessman, first recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, and founder of the Red Cross.

What does high-speed subsea cable access mean for Henrico and France?

  • Opens European, Latin and South American, Asian, and African markets to the   highest capacity connections ever deployed between continents
  • Moves large amounts of “big” data and extremely-time sensitive data significantly faster for financial transactions, advanced manufacturing operations, and entire computer system backups
  • As the fastest internet fiber cable in history, it is capable of downloading 12,000 High Definition movies per second, or every movie ever made, in HD, in 42 seconds
  • Reduces risk of single point of failure outages and improves internet traffic speeds because it provides another Network Access Point for domestic and international data to travel across the US, avoiding congested locations in New York, New Jersey, Ashburn (VA), and Miami


Anthony Hall

Deputy Director

Henrico Economic Development Authority and

 BIO – Mr. Hall has over 20 years of leadership experience across local and regional economic development sectors. Specialties include foreign direct investment, domestic and international prospect recruitment, business retention and expansion programs, marketing program development, downtown development, and business park development and management. He has also held several other public and private sector positions.