Nearly 1,000 business and community leaders and elected officials from Hampton Roads attended the Chamber’s annual Norfolk State of the City on February 19 at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott. Attendees enjoyed lunch and listened to Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim’s address.
Mayor Fraim reported on the progress made and challenges faced during the last year. He explained that the city’s 2010 operating budget is $2.3 million less than last year’s and that a $35 million gap was closed by reducing expenditures, freezing salaries, extending the hiring freeze, eliminating positions and making targeted reductions to departmental budgets. Fraim said, “This is not business as usual. Next year's gap is currently projected at $54 million and could grow wider if deeper cuts are made in State aid to localities as seems certain to be the case. Cuts have consequences, and as we learned yesterday they will be felt across the city and in the schools. Just as there are no free lunches, there are no free school books and no free potholes. If enacted as proposed, the State budget will be balanced by shifting an unprecedented amount of the fiscal burden to the local level. The city budget will feel the pressure, and we will live with it for years. Included are drastic funding reductions for constitutional officers; damaging, even unfair - reductions in education funding; and a range of spending reductions in public safety, human services and economic development.”
Fraim announced that the Jacoby Group, an Atlanta company, has entered into a contract with Ford to purchase the former Ford Plant in Norfolk. The Jacoby Group plans to turn the 100-plus acre site into a alternative energy park designed to attract wind, solar and other cutting edge energy businesses. The company’s Chairman and CEO Jim Jacoby was on-hand at the luncheon.
“As we prepare for the opening of the Wells Fargo Center this summer, it is encouraging that Class A vacancy rate is only 8.7%. This is a strong indicator of downtown’s desirability as a place for business and investment,” Fraim said.
The crowd listened to success stories about the arts community, Nauticus, commercial and residential development, the Botanical Garden, Virginia Zoo and Town Point Park. Fraim explained that the Waterside Festival Marketplace is in transition and the city will be gathering input from the community to decide the facility’s future. Please click here and complete the public survey regarding the future of Waterside Marketplace.
Click here to read the entire speech.
Thank you to sponsors: TowneBank (Series Presenting); Farm Fresh (Series Gold), Cox Communications (Series Media), Bon Secours Virginia Health System (Series Bronze), Tivest Development and Construction, LLC (Series Partner); Norfolk Southern (Norfolk Spirit in Motion); LTD Management Company (Norfolk Silver); and Customer Magnetism and Strayer University (Program).
Join us for the remaining State of the City Series:
Virginia Beach: Thursday, March 18, 12pm at the Virginia Beach Convention Center
Chesapeake: Wednesday, March 31, 12pm at the Chesapeake Conference Center
Portsmouth: Thursday, April 8, 12pm at the Renaissance Portsmouth Hotel & Waterfront Conference Center
Suffolk: Tuesday, April 27, 12pm at the Hilton Garden Inn and Suffolk Conference Center