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Inaugural Resilience Forum to focus on local businesses

Inaugural Resilience Forum to focus on local businesses
Inaugural Resilience Forum to focus on local businesses
Inaugural Resilience Forum to focus on local businesses

When you think of resilience you may think of your favorite athletic “come-back” story, a small family business that has survived decades, or, for the physicist, a rubber band that snaps back to shape.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines resilience as “the ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.” One of the dictionary definitions of change is “to make radically different.”


Add “climate” in front of the word “change” and the phrase takes on a new ecological meaning, one especially relevant to our region, which will see sea levels rise 5.5 feet by the end of the century, according to research by the Virginia Institute for Marine Science.

The environmental impacts are just the beginning.

The Virginia Coastal Policy Center predicted that “with a sea level rise scenario of 0.75m (predicted by the year 2060), a 100-year flood event would reduce the total household income in the year of the event by an estimated $2.18 billion (about $3,366 per household annually) or the equivalent of losing 18,500 jobs.” Businesses and residents in the region, not just environmental research institutions, are now coming to terms with this situation.

That’s why the Hampton Roads Chamber, Inside Business, and RISE, a recently formed nonprofit, will host the first ever Hampton Roads Resilience Forum on Aug. 22.

“Businesses across the region cannot sit by while shocks and stresses challenge our community,” said Bryan Stephens, president and CEO of the chamber. “Instead, the Hampton Roads Business community must engage in efforts to improve our resilience and coastal adaptation — whether through developing new technology, training local residents for jobs for the resilience economy, or collaborating with local government.”

Sponsored by Old Dominion University, the forum will enlist experts in business, science, technology, engineering, and water management to lead discussions on the economic benefit and necessity of resilience initiatives as well as ideas for new innovations and practices.

Kurt Hofelich, president of Sentara Norfolk General Hospital; Kit Chope, vice president of sustainability at the Port of Virginia; and Capt. Dean VanderLey, commanding officer of Naval Facilities Engineering Command for the Mid-Atlantic, will discuss infrastructure and public services in a resilient region. Representatives from Norfolk, Hampton, Poquoson, and Virginia Beach will show how each locality continues to adapt.


Leaders in several local architectural firms, including Waggonner and Ball, Clark-Nexson and Terry Peterson, will present building adaptation strategies through retrofitting and new design. Additionally, directors from regional research institutions will update participants on the latest science and technology advancements, while other speakers will discuss growing a water management economy.

Attendees may choose moderated sessions with opportunities for follow up questions. The goal is to make the forum as interactive and collaborative as possible.

“There are a number of critical resilience initiatives underway in Hampton Roads; our goal for the forum is to build on these projects,” said Inside Business Publisher Mike Herron.

The forum will run from 8 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott, and includes a continental breakfast and networking luncheon. Admission and registration costs $55, and attendance is limited. Register at

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