Cost Advantages
Cost Advantages

Your Money Goes Farther in the Roanoke Region

When making decisions about your business, costs are important. Whether its taxes, labor, construction, or anything else, it all affects business.

The Roanoke Region boasts a low cost of living so your money goes farther when you invest here. Low electric rates, competitive construction costs, and reasonable health care costs combine to make business affordable.

Moody’s Cost of Doing Business Index ranks the Roanoke market at 18 percent below the national average when it comes to operating a company here. The index takes labor, energy, tax costs, and rent into consideration.

Cost of Living | Industrial Electric Rates | Construction Costs | Labor Costs

Cost of Living by the Numbers

A low cost of living is important to individuals and businesses. It means lower bills and less money spent on an operating budget. Compared to other areas competing for your business, you cannot beat the Roanoke Region when it comes to affordability.

Cost of Living Index: National

RegionCost of Living Index
New York (Manhattan)225.2
Washington, D.C./Arlington, VA136.8
National Average100
Charlotte, NC96.5
Richmond, VA95.8
Chattanooga, TN92.8
Roanoke Region92.2
Source:, 2023-Annual Average

Cost of Living Index: Market

Region/MarketCost of Living Index
Washington, D.C./Arlington, VA136.8
Charlottesville, VA102.2
Roanoke Region92.2
Source:, 2023-Annual Average

Industrial Electric Rates

The Roanoke Region is served by Appalachian Power, a unit of American Electric Power, and portions are served by Dominion Power. The region maintains lower electric rates than comparable regions.

Monthly Bill at 75kW, 30,000 kWh/month

National Average$3,153
Columbia, SCSouth Carolina Electric & Gas$2,966
Birmingham, ALAlabama Power Company$3,903
Atlanta, GAGeorgia Power Company$2,936
Detroit, MIDTE Electric Co. $3,338
Roanoke RegionAppalachian Power$2,379
Source: Typical industrial bills, investor-owned utilities, Edison Electric Institute, Washington, D.C., Summer 2020

Construction Costs

For any relocation or expansion decision, the cost of construction is an important factor. Construction costs in the Roanoke Region are not only competitive, but considerably lower than the national average according to the 2021 RS Means Building Construction Cost Book. The Construction Cost Index investigates over 700 communities and measures the costs of building materials, labor, climate, and local building codes.

RS Means Construction Index

RegionValue Index
Newark, NJ117.4
Los Angeles, CA111.8
Pittsburgh, PA101.7
Rochester, NY101.1
National Average100
Cleveland, OH96.0
Charleston, WV94.2
Baltimore, MD94.0
Richmond, VA88.8
Roanoke Region87.0
Source: 2021 RS Means Construction Cost Rate

Labor Costs

At 3.7%, Virginia has one of the lowest unionization rates in the country. The Roanoke MSA has an estimated unionization rate of 4.3% for (2022) in the private sector. Also, Virginia has very low workers’ compensation rates. At $.61 per $100 of coverage wages (2020), Virginia ranks seventh lowest nationally and is 41 percent lower than the U.S. average (Source:, 2023).  Additionally, Roanoke Region wages are lower than the Virginia and the national averages because of the low cost of living. 

Median Wage Estimates (Hourly Rate)

OccupationRoanokeVirginiaUnited States
Business and Financial Operations$30.43$39.29$36.95
Health Care Support$14.15$14.72$16.16
Protective Service$19.14$22.01$21.85
Food Preparation, Serving$12.83$13.72$14.25
Personal Care & Service$13.52$14.01$15.07
Sales and Related$14.41$14.47$16.96
Office, Administrative, and Support$18.13$19.15$19.67
Construction and Extraction$21.01$23.06$24.31
Install, Maintenance, and Repair$22.87$24.42$24.08
Transportation, Material Moving$17.14$18.19$18.24
Architecture and Engineering$36.24$43.60$40.24
Life, Physical, and Social Sciences$30.69$38.27$35.74
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2022

State Incentives

  • Virginia Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund (COF) is a discretionary incentive available to the governor to secure a business location or expansion project for Virginia. Grants are awarded to localities on a local matching basis with the expectation that the grant will result in a favorable location decision for the Commonwealth.
  • Virginia Jobs Investment Program (VJIP) offers customized recruiting and training assistance to companies creating new jobs or experiencing technological change. Designed to reduce the human resource development cost of new and expanding companies.
  • The Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund (AFID) is a new tool for communities within the Commonwealth to grow their agriculture and forestry industries through strategic grants made to businesses that add value to Virginia-grown agriculture and forest products.
  • State incentives and grants are also available for transportation access, rail development, port usage, and use of clean energy.

Local Incentives

  • Two Enterprise Zones provide state and local incentives to businesses that invest and create jobs.
  • The Roanoke Region is a Foreign Trade Zone, which is designed to help and encourage business to participate in international trade by effectively eliminating or reducing customs duties.
  • Opportunity Zones provide banks, communities, investors, companies, and others direct tax-advantaged investments to one of several opportunity zones in the Roanoke Region of Virginia.

Learn More about the Roanoke Region of Virginia