The biggest driver of the Virginian economy during colonial times was tobacco. Farming was the main industry in the colony, and while other crops, such as corn and grapes, were grown and harvested, tobacco became a key motivator of growth.
Other industries, such as flour mills and a glass factory, popped up early, as well as other crafting professions, such as leather working and blacksmithing. The large majority of early Virginians were farmers, and tobacco was the first major cash crop in the region.
The popularity of the tobacco grown in Virginia created such a large demand that tobacco itself became a currency to purchase goods from England. The labor involved in growing and harvesting the crop eventually motivated the slave trade to keep up with demand.