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To Know Region, Catch a State of the City Address
To Know Region, Catch a State of the City Address

Every year the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, which prides itself on being the most powerful voice for business in our region, sets up microphones in each of the five South Hampton Roads cities.

Then we get out of the way.

We have no idea what the mayors will say during their State of the City addresses. They can say as much or as little as they like. They can open with a joke, show a video, and close with a song. That last one hasn’t happened, to my recollection, but here’s hoping.

We believe it is vitally important to the economic health of this region for the cities to discuss successes and challenges with the business community. We deliver that forum, and our members and guests deliver an attentive audience.

What we hope is that the spirit of each of these five cities, the diverse communities that make this area such a vibrant, vital part of our region, will be on display.

Each event is the city’s day, but so too is it ours. We celebrate what is great in each city because that city is our home – and the home of the neighbors we value. It’s why we are citizens of a true region, something greater than any one person or individual community.

Last year’s comments by the mayors told the tale of surviving this economy while investing in policies that benefit our people and communities. Among many fine comments, I’d like to repeat a line from Suffolk Mayor Linda Johnson’s speech, herself echoing a pretty good businessman named Henry Ford: “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

That has not changed from year to year. Indeed, we may again hear about some of the same challenges facing Hampton Roads. For example, chances are transportation will come up. Also, the state of our cities reflects the state of our economy.

Each Hampton Roads city and our region as a whole face challenges. Members of our Chamber are all too aware of this. But in a time of great challenge is also an opportunity. It is meaningful to hear not only what needs work but also what works.

The series begins with Norfolk on Feb. 19 and concludes April 27 in Suffolk.

            Here’s the line up:

  • Norfolk: Friday, Feb. 19, Norfolk Waterside Marriott, 235 E. Main St., Norfolk
  • Virginia Beach: Thursday, March 18, Virginia Beach Convention Center, 1000 19th St.
  • Chesapeake: Wednesday, March 31, Chesapeake Conference Center, 900 Greenbrier Circle
  • Portsmouth: Thursday, April 8, Renaissance Portsmouth Hotel & Waterfront Conference Center, 425 Water St.
  • Suffolk: Tuesday, April 27, Hilton Garden Inn and Suffolk Conference Center, 100 E. Constance Rd.

All events begin at noon. To register, call (757) 664-2558 or visit

This is not only an invitation to the business community to support this program, and to expand their business network by meeting other community-minded businesspeople, this is an invitation to the whole community.  Also, we hope you’ll help us celebrate the places where we live and work. For the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, a key part of being the most powerful voice for business in Hampton Roads is listening.

Jack Hornbeck, CCE, is the President & CEO of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce

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