“Virginia is open for business,” said John Reinhart, CEO and Executive Director of the Port of Virginia. This was the theme of the Hampton Roads Chamber Board of Directors and Trustees first quarterly meeting of 2018 held on February 14th at Norfolk Hilton The Main.
Christopher Lloyd, Senior Vice President and Director, Infrastructure and Economic Development with McGuire Woods Consulting, presented the GO Virginia update which summarized the efforts of the Virginia Initiative for Growth and Opportunity. “This is a bipartisan, business-led, game-changing initiative,” Lloyd said. The mission Purpose statement is to create more higher paying jobs through incentivized collaboration, primarily through out of state revenue, which diversify and strengthen the economy in every region.
Lloyd presented a stark picture of Virginia’s economic decline that stems from “Virginia hasn’t recognized that they need to sell themselves regionally. We can’t do the same thing over and over and expect it to get better,” Lloyd said. He did extoll Virginia’s natural assets, education and population but stressed the importance of site development, research and development and investment to reinvent Hampton Roads so our “best and brightest don’t leave the state for opportunity.” The GO Virginia Initiative seeks to do just that.
Jim Spore, the President and CEO of ReInvent Hampton Roads provide the specific Region 5, (Hampton Roads) GO Virginia update. “I’m here to tell you GO Virginia is working in amazing ways. People are working together in ways they never have.” Spore presented a unique land development proposal for the testing and prospective manufacturing of unmanned vehicles in York County. In this scenario, surrounding cities have all collaborated to share in the investment and to also share in the revenue. “This approach is the technique to breaking down the competition between cities and sharing in the development.” Spore said.
Finally, John Reinhart from the Port of Virginia provided a port update. He stressed a regional marketing focus. “To try to sit on the sidelines is hurting our community. We need to bring awareness of Virginia to the world, it’s a great time at The Port.” He outlined an analysis of Port Traffic concerns as large scale manufacturing is moving south. “Reversing this momentum is difficult. The better direction is to focus on the strengths of the region.” Real estate transaction size and volume plays a part. “Less large-scale uses are entering the market, though there are plenty of mid-size transactions, indicating that focus should be on mid-size industrial/distribution users.” Additionally, there is no anchor city in place. “To drive growth, a more progressive marketing push would likely be beneficial to push the region as one combined corridor.”
Our world class Port and our natural resources make us strategically aligned to be the best in the East Coast once our port depth reaches 55 feet.
“It starts right here with all of us talking to legislators, talking to community leaders,” Reinhart said.
Hampton Roads Chamber Board Chair, Glen Robertson announced the election by committee recommendation of Chair-Elect Mark Joseph of 360 IT Partners. He also updated the room on board composition with a newly formed position of Vice Chair on Military Affairs. This position will be filled by Lt. General (Retired) Ronald Lewis.
Priscilla Monti, Chamber Senior Vice President, Programs and Communications provided an events update where she introduced the upcoming Inter-Regional Visit to Pittsburgh June 19th-22nd.
Ira Agricola, Executive Vice President, Government Affairs presented a recap of the General Assembly session thus far. Crossover occurred on February 13th and the Chamber has been instrumental in getting a special advisor to the Governor to serve as a point person at the state level to address the recurring flooding in our region. For the second half of the session the Chamber Municipal Affairs team will continue to work on the regulation of electric utilities stressing the needed upgrades to the grid.
The next Chamber Board of Directors and trustees meeting will be June 13, 2018.