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+11.9% since 2010
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Harrisonburg is a small, pleasant town in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley. The downtown area is attractive and historic, particularly in the core area near James Madison University. The university brings 16,000 students and some minor local arts amenities, and the nearby Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains offer plenty of recreation and outdoor interest. In addition to the university, agriculture, agricultural processing, and other light industries are the economy’s main supports. The city and university have a jointly developed technology “zone” and incubator.
Partly due to the mountain alignment, larger cities to the east are somewhat difficult to access for big-city services, but the area has a pleasant atmosphere and appearance, and crime is very low. Charlottesville and its services are 55 miles away across the Blue Ridge. Cost of living is above average and housing costs are high for this type of locale, as more from other areas in the East discover the quality of life here.
Harrisonburg is beautifully set in the center of the broad Shenandoah Valley. The immediate area around the town is flat and wooded, giving way to agricultural land all around and heavily forested Blue Ridge to the east and Appalachian mountains to the west in plain view of the city. The climate is continental but influenced by the Atlantic to the southeast and is somewhat sheltered from harsh weather arriving from the northwest.
Summers are warm, still and humid with periodic thunderstorms, and the higher elevation gives cooler evenings than some other parts of Virginia. Winters are cold but not severe. Heavy snow may occur with storms moving up the Atlantic coast or from the Carolinas. Spring is pleasant and fall is gorgeous. First freeze is late October, last is mid-April.
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