The Chamber’s annual State of the City Luncheon was held in Portsmouth on Wednesday, April 3 at noon at the Renaissance Portsmouth Hotel and Waterfront Conference Center. PortsmouthMayor Kenneth Wright highlighted key business development initiatives, provide strategic municipal progress updates, address challenges and opportunities in the city, and provide a glimpse into the city’s future. Nearly 450 of the region’s business, political, and community leaders attended the event.
The mayor introduced the city’s new Manager John Rowe and City Attorney George Wilson. He also welcomed new City Auditor Jesse Thomas. The theme of the mayor’s speech was “Portsmouth is for People.” “Our charge is to grow Portsmouth,” the mayor said. He added, “The state of your city remains strong and our future is promising.” Mayor Wright assured the crowd that he is confident that the city has the leadership and expertise to continue guiding Portsmouth through this economic challenge and into the future. He said, “We need to work together toward a common vision – building a livable city with thriving neighborhoods that embrace diversity.”
The mayor highlighted the many recent awards the city has been honored to receive. Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognized “Destination Portsmouth,” out of 47 applicants from 25 states, with the 2012 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement. A redevelopment project, Seaboard Square, won the National Associations of Housing and Redevelopment Officials Award of Excellence in Design. The City also received the 2012 Virginia Municipal League Achievement Award for the Derelict Structures Program and Patrick Small, Director of Economic Development, received the 2012 Housing Advocate of the Year award by the Hampton Roads Realtor Association.
Businesses that have opened their doors in 2012, included Harris Teeter, East Coast Repair and Fabrication, Accurate Marine Environmental, Alere Toxicology, Fastenal, Metalskills, and Ameriforce. And on April 25, a much anticipated Chick-fil-A will open in Portsmouth.
The old I.C. Norcom site is being sold for $2.8 million to Kroger Marketplace. Urology of Virginia opened a new location in the Midtown Medical District and Bon Secours Maryview Medical Center completed its $2 million renovation of the intensive care unit. In addition, the $8 million renovation of the Martha W. Davis Cancer Treatment Center was completed in May. The new Portsmouth Judicial Center opened its doors. The new center brings Circuit, General District and Juvenile and Domestic Relations district courts all under one roof.
Mayor Wright was proud to announce that 2012 marked the fourth straight year of crime reduction in Portsmouth and there were no fire related deaths in the city.
The mayor concluded his address by placing a sweatband around his head and challenging the entire city to unite and be a part of his “Get Healthy, Portsmouth” initiative. He explained that the Healthy Portsmouth Consortium concludes that 39% of adults in Portsmouth are overweight and has the state’s second highest rate of death due to diabetes. He said, “My goal is to see all of us combine to shed 500,000 pounds this year.”
Click here to view the mayor’s full remarks.
Join the Chamber for the remaining State of the City Series event:
Suffolk: Tuesday, May 7, noon at the Hilton Garden Inn Suffolk Riverfront Hotel & Conference Center
For reservations, visit Events.HamptonRoadsChamber.com or call 757-622-2312.
Thanks to Series Sponsors: TowneBank (Presenting); Bon Secours Virginia Health Systems (Platinum); Cox Communications (Media); Farm Fresh Inc. and Optima Health (Silver).