NORFOLK, VA: Norfolk Southern (NS) released information stating that it will be relocating its Norfolk, VA headquarters to Atlanta, GA this past Wednesday. The hit to the region's image from losing the empire of a railroad's headquarters figures to be substantial. NS has been headquartered in Norfolk since 1982, and was one of only three such "trophies" in Hampton Roads, joining Newport news-based Huntington-Ingalls and Chesapeake's Dollar Tree.
The numbers involved in the relocation of NS's move to Atlanta are not extraordinary, even though the number of employees affected are in the 500 to 600 range. All of the employees are reported to make a decent salary. Norfolk's Mayor, Kenny Alexander, was eager very early on in his term to keep NS headquartered in his city but soon realized the move to Atlanta was too far down the mainline. He is very optimistic that the company would remain active locally.
"They will still have a substantial footprint in our city and will continue its role in connecting goods to our ports," Alexander said to The Virginia Pilot.
NS chairman, president, and CEO Jim Squires emphasized to Norfolk that the railroad is not leaving entirely, but is moving its major operations center to Atlanta. The first 100 executives will relocate by next summer 2019 and the remaining ~400 will leave the downtown tower by
the summer of 2021. The operations at the Port of Virginia, especially the Lambert's Point Terminal, will remain in service.
Squires said that the move to Atlanta would be a stepping stone for NS that would lead "to an even stronger company."
The projected economic impact of the relocation is expected to be about $6.1 million, and that figure includes office-worker spending at restaurants, along with money spent on other goods and services and philanthropic donations through the NS Foundation and employee matches.
This is not "big news" to the city of Norfolk as NS has been teetering on the company's departure for a very long time - the first discussion being in 2016.
The Pilot, Norfolk's leading newspaper was told by NS chairman Squires that "I'm glad to be able to announce the decision and give our employees and community members some certainty. This has been kind of a long, drawn-out process, and there's been a lot of uncertainty along the way, so I'm glad we've reached a decision and can let the people know what we are doing."