The Hampton Roads Chamber has taken a leadership role in the regional collaborative efforts to rebrand the region to create a sense of place and community and connect the 17 municipalities. Twelve months ago, during the 2018 Hampton Roads Chamber Annual Meeting, Bryan K. Stephens, President and CEO, sparked the initiative for rebranding the region. One year later, the results of those efforts have been revealed.
“After 2000 hours, over nine months, and 3000 surveys, we have some amazing results,” said Stephens. On Wednesday, December 10, during the 2019 Annual Meeting, Stephens unveiled the official rebrand of Hampton Roads. “For years, we have lamented over a lack of a regional brand that resonates both internally and externally, and creates a sense of place, pride, and helps to attract and retain talent. And this our opportunity to do it!”
The Annual Meeting began with presenting sponsor remarks from Joseph Witt, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Business Development Officer, Old Point National Bank. “Old Point is pleased to sponsor the Annual Meeting of the Hampton Roads Chamber and of the support they provide to the business community.” Witt discussed Old Point’s history and commitment to the Hampton Roads region. “We pride ourselves on creating a better community, every day,” said Witt.
Amy Carrier, President of Bon Secours, provided Speaker Sponsor comments and announced the addition of three new hospitals to the region. “We look forward to welcoming Southside Regional Medical Center, Southampton Memorial Hospital, and Southern Virginia Medical Center into our compassionate ministry,” said Carrier. She went on to discuss Bon Secours’ continued commitment to providing excellent services to residents throughout Hampton Roads. Carrier introduced the Annual Meeting keynote speaker, Thomas Modly, Acting Secretary of the United States Navy.
“It’s an honor for me to be here, I love this area,” said Modly, as he delivered the keynote address. He addressed the recent tragedies at naval bases in Florida, Hawaii, and Norfolk. “We are determined as one Naval family to find the causes of these senseless murders and to stand united. For they are truly crimes committed against all of us.”
Modly championed the Navy and discussed the Navy’s future in Hampton Roads as well as the nation. He encouraged audience members to stay united in the face of adversity. He referred to the region as a military family. He said, “As I look out at the audience today, I know that in times like these as Americans and as a Navy family, we never retreat in the face of adversity. We don’t give up the ship. We fight on.”
The Secretary’s keynote address included his ten concerns for the Navy: memories, time, warriors, adversaries, education, audits, cost, information, speed, and ships. Modly recounted that Department of Defense officials told him to use caution in his remarks about adversaries. He said, “The Chinese are our competitors, and, in many areas, they are our adversary.” According to Modly, the Chinese have stolen intellectual property, breached the nation’s cybersecurity, and more. He addressed concerns for the countries security and stressed the importance of being prepared for conflict. “The one thing that’s going to be predictable about the future is that it’s going to be unpredictabl."
He also announced the creation of a Naval Community College to allow enlisted men and women to earn degrees while they are serving. Education and readiness training is critical for future sailors and the next generation to achieve success. “Information is a key enabler for warfighting.”
Modly continued, “Time is not our friend. We need to have some confident leadership in driving these changes and transforming our forces, so they are suited for the unpredictable future we’re talking about.”
He went on to say that the shared memory of the nation and the region should be what unifies Hampton Roads. Modly encouraged those in attendance to remember the shared memories of America’s history and said these memories ought to be a unifier for Hampton Roads and America. “For it is what we do now for the future of our national security that counts the most. Not just for ourselves, but most importantly, for our children and their children.”
Hampton Roads Chamber 2019 Board Chair, Martin Joseph, took the stage to introduce the 2020 Board and thank the outgoing 2019 Board Members. Joseph acknowledged the Chamber staff for a successful business year. “It’s been an absolute pleasure to serve as the Chair of the Hampton Roads Chamber for the past year. It’s been an honor to serve as your chair alongside a dedicated group of volunteers who’ve engaged in making our Chamber stronger than ever.”
Joseph introduced the new 2020 Hampton Roads Chamber Chair, Rhonda Bridgeman, President and Owner, Comfort Systems of Virginia. “I believe a strong Chamber makes a difference to the economic wellbeing of our community, creating opportunity and prosperity for all. I’m looking forward to working with the 2020 Board of Directors and the Chamber staff,” Bridgeman said.
Chamber members were excited to learn the following news from fellow members and Annual Meeting Member Spotlight Sponsors:
BrightView is looking ahead to the future and is changing the way landscapes are designed, developed, maintained, and enhanced.
Reese Jackson, President & CEO, announced an $85 million expansion over the next three years to expand upon existing facilities. “We are proud to share our plans to serve present and future generations,” said Jackson.
Glenn Tuckman, Chief Operating Officer & Investment Partner, discussed Gold Key’s upcoming projects for the Marriott Hotels and The Cavalier Beach Club. He also announced that they would break ground next year on an Embassy Suites hotel in Virginia Beach. “We would like to thank the City of Virginia Beach, the Chamber, and the citizens of Virginia Beach for supporting our vision,” said Tuckman.
James Crenshaw, Managing Partner & Chief Marketing Officer, announced the expansion of Gather, with the opening of a new location in Virginia Beach.
The Annual Meeting concluded with a brief presentation and video which unveiled the region’s new name, “The 757.” Backed by a nine-month research effort, which included surveying more than 3,000 people, the Envision 2020 Regional Branding Initiative found that “The 757” resonates most strongly across all Hampton Roads’ communities.
Envision 2020 Regional Branding Initiative was guided by a task force of 30 community leaders, and a stakeholder group of more than 100 community advocates who have shepherded the project from its inception. The initiative began as a mission to understand the current perceptions about the region’s brand identity. Through the Envision 2020 task force, research has shown that even residents and business leaders have had trouble in defining who and what Hampton Roads is.
Together, the task force raised project funding and hired SIR, a strategic management consulting firm, to manage the project. John Martin, CEO of SIR, led the rebranding initiative and research process. Through intensive research and thousands of surveys distributed throughout Hampton Roads, results showed almost equal support for the names “Hampton Roads” and “Coastal Virginia.”
“While a name is part of our story, what’s bigger is who we are and where we need to go in terms of our market,” said Martin. He asked the audience how the region can market itself to people both within the region and outside of it. Martin discussed the vitality of branding and drawing young professionals to live and work in the region. “We don’t have a branding problem, we have a marketing problem,” he said.
“The 757” is more than just an area code, it’s a point of pride and empowerment, especially for the region’s younger generation, and it could become a robust regional signifier for everyone to use and embrace. The Envision 2020 Regional Branding Committee released a separate report detailing the rebrand. To learn more, visit www.Envisioning2020.com.
“We thank you all for being part of the 2019 Hampton Roads Chamber Annual Meeting and The 757,” ended Stephens. The Hampton Roads Chamber is looking forward to an exciting 2020 in The 757.
The Hampton Roads Chamber would like to thank the following sponsors: Old Point National Bank (Presenting Sponsor); Virginia Beach Convention Center (Host Sponsor); Bon Secours (Speaker Sponsor); BrightView, Chesapeake Regional Healthcare, Gather, and Gold Key | PHR (Member Spotlight Sponsors); ADP (Gold Sponsor); Clark Nexsen, Global Technical Systems, Hampton Roads Workforce Council, Langley Federal Credit Union, Newport News Shipbuilding - A Division of Huntington Ingalls, and Verizon (Silver Sponsors); Productive AV (Audio/Visual Sponsor); Premier Events (Décor Sponsor); and Sinclair Communications (Radio Sponsor).