Social Studies - 2018-19

VS.10b - Major Products and Industries of Virginia

The student will demonstrate an understanding of Virginia government, geography, and economics by

b) describing the major products and industries important to Virginia’s economy.

Adopted: 2015


  • People decide what to produce based on their needs and wants and on the resources that are available to them.
  • The availability of resources influence economic decisions.
  • Goods are made, distributed, and used based on the culture and economic decisions made by each community (government).
  • People have wants that often exceed the limited resources available to them.


Available resources (natural, human, and capital), as well as geography, are major factors in what is produced in the state.

Major products and industries change over time as people and businesses buy different goods and services.


Selected examples of products and industries important to Virginia’s economy Top products and services for Virginia include

  • architectural or engineering services
  • banking and lending
  • computer programming or systems design
  • food products
  • shipbuilding. 

The service industry is important to Virginia’s economy. Virginians earn income through jobs in

  • private health care, computer programming or systems design, and engineering
  • government services, including operation of public schools, hospitals, and military bases. 

Manufacturing (i.e., making goods on a large scale, using machinery) is also a top industry. Top manufactured products in Virginia include

  • ships
  • tobacco products
  • beverages (such as soft drinks)
  • chemical goods
  • motor vehicle parts and trucks. 

Fertile soil and a favorable climate make agriculture an important industry in Virginia:

  • Chickens (broilers), cows, milk, turkeys, and hogs are Virginia’s leading livestock products.
  • Soybeans, corn, tobacco, tomatoes, apples, and peanuts are among Virginia’s leading cash crops. Tobacco, once the basis of Virginia’s economy, has been replaced by livestock and livestock products as the state’s most valuable source of agricultural income. 

Access to deepwater ports and proximity to the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean make shipbuilding, fishing, crabbing, and oyster harvesting possible. 

Historically, the success of Appalachian coalfields was due to the expansion of railroads that transport coal to piers in Tidewater for shipment to both domestic and international markets. Today, coal is less crucial to Virginia’s economy as businesses and individuals shift to other sources of energy.


Updated: May 18, 2018