“The story of Chesapeake, is the story of its people,” said Mayor Rick West as he began his keynote address for the Chesapeake State of the City on Thursday, February 22nd. The Hampton Roads Chamber puts on this annual signature event in each of the 5 Southside municipalities. Chesapeake is the first in the 2018 State of the City Series. The theme of the afternoon was realizing dreams and exceeding expectations. That theme paralleled the Mayor’s personal story and the story of the city of Chesapeake.
The breaking news of the event was when West made a surprise departure from the State of the City address to introduce Bob Sasser, Executive Chairman of Dollar Tree who unveiled exciting news for the region.
Bob Sasser revealed the explanation behind the construction site on Volvo Parkway in Greenbrier. As Dollar Tree expands its headquarters, located on 69 acres, they will build vertically instead of horizontally across the valuable acreage. This building will be a 12 story office tower with a 7 floor attached parking garage. It will serve as the tallest building in Chesapeake, and with it comes the vision of Summit Pointe Development and an official downtown Chesapeake. This campus will include business, residential, retail and green space. This mixed-use urban style development creates a place to work, dine, live and enjoy the downtown lifestyle. It will include tree-lined streets, an entertainment venue, shopping and cafes.
“These upscale offices and development will allow Chesapeake to attract top-tier talent and will be a key to Chesapeake’s success. We’re going to make you proud.” Sasser said.
The video of the developing property and the vision of the completed project brought a dream into reality. Mayor West applauded the development. “Chesapeake is the place to do business,” he said. A link to the Dollar Tree video can be found here.
Throughout his address, the Mayor made references to Patrick Henry’s account of the historic Battle of Great Bridge the “impact on the nation could not have been imagined. Few could have dreamed Chesapeake would become the third largest city in Virginia, or that a company like Dollar Tree headquartered in that city would grow to a Fortune 200 company with over 14,000 stores,” West said.
A recurring slogan for the afternoon and for the city is “The Future Starts Now.” Mayor West honored Chesapeake’s rural roots and his own education and upbringing in the city while looking ahead to infrastructure development and growth.
Chesapeake Regional Health Care was the City Host Sponsor of the event and President & CEO Reese Jackson provided opening remarks. “Chesapeake fought to have their own hospital more than 42 years ago to advance and provide services for Chesapeake residents. Chesapeake Regional Healthcare is committed to the health and prosperity of the city and its residents.”
Towne Bank is the State of the City Series Presenting Sponsor and City President, David Ropp introduced the Mayor. “Towne Bank shares the vision of the Chamber and the state of the city series is a time for business, civic and community leaders to come together and recognize the assets of community,” Ropp said. He presented Mayor West’s biography and as a lifelong resident of Chesapeake, Mayor West is indeed one of those assets.
As a former educator, Mayor West praised the excellence and desirability of the Chesapeake Public School System and honored current educators. He also thanked Tidewater Community College for their growth and development in the city as they celebrate their 50th anniversary.
Asking the audience to look around at one another, West said, “Each person you see around you is part of the future of this great city. Our city is strong, vibrant, growing and welcoming. But make no mistake Chesapeake stands at a crucial crossroads today.” West referenced the union of Norfolk County and the City of South Norfolk in 1963 to become a region for the “common good,” West said, “As it says on the City Seal, ‘One Increasing Purpose.’ The union brought together the rural heritage of Norfolk County and the urban energy of South Norfolk.” West also discussed the investment that would bring the ForKids headquarters to South Norfolk, “bringing with it jobs in excess of $12 million in capital investment.”
As West looked towards the future of the city and where development in Chesapeake will go, he echoed Bob Sasser’s comments that the development of Summit Pointe as a destination will solidify Chesapeake’s position as a thriving city.
“Our story will exceed even our own dreams and expectations. It’s time to get up, get going, to be excited and confident in Chesapeake’s story,” West said.
The State of the City Series continues with Norfolk next on the schedule on March 9th, followed by Virginia Beach on March 28th, Portsmouth on April 6th, and Suffolk on May 8th.