The Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce concluded the 2016 State of the Series with the Suffolk State of the City on Tuesday, May 10th at the Hilton Garden Inn Riverfront Hotel. As the theme of this year’s Suffolk State of the City, Mayor Linda Johnson welcomed the crowd to “Come On Over” to hear all the exciting news happening in the historic city of Suffolk.
The city of Suffolk has received their second Triple AAA credit rating for the second year in a row, with this rating, Suffolk hopes to accelerate their success and capitalize on their resources to move their rated city to even greater heights. The Triple AAA rating, acknowledged the city’s financial results, management team, economic development and financial staff.
In the last 12 months, Suffolk received $4.2 million in grants by the city personnel to fund fundamental projects such as the construction of trails at Lake Meade Park, upgrades at the Suffolk Executive Airport, crime prevention activities, and a summer feeding program for the younger citizens of Suffolk. They were able to save tens of thousands of dollars in lease and rent payments alone by consolidating several departments into their customer and business-friendly city hall. By consolidating, the City hall has become a one-stop shop for the citizens because of the efficient convenience, quality service, and the most technological capabilities.
With a new interactive service for Suffolk citizens, Suffolk Connections, powered by SEECLICKFIX, this will allow citizens to report directly from their cell phone a specific, non-emergency issues which will be directly reported to the appropriate city department. This new service will also allow citizens to upload a picture with each service request to visually communicate.
There have been many housing developments opened within the last year in Suffolk and many more in the works for opening or being built this year. The Residences at October had their grand opening last fall for their newly constructed 72 unit apartment complex. There was also a senior living community opened in the fall as well. With the city’s donation of parcel land, the Lake Kennedy Neighborhood to Habitat for Humanity will be eventually built bringing in a total of nine affordable single-family residents. The Terry Peterson Company is currently building a mixed development consisting of single family homes and a mix of condominiums and detached homes.
Suffolk remains one of the fastest growing cities in Virginia. In 2015 the population was over 90,000 residents. The population growth was up over 40% since the 2000 census with growth projected to more than double by 2040. With the growing population, Suffolk has been working with the Suffolk Public schools to accommodate all the new incoming residents. They are building a new elementary school and middle school to increase capacity and relieve overcrowding. The middle school will serve a minimum of 600 students with room to expand and the elementary school will provide space for 1,000 students. Both schools are on track to open Fall 2018.
Mayor Johnson spoke about the new developments in healthcare that are happening in Suffolk. Bon Secours Health System broke ground on their Bon Secours Harbour View Medical Plaza this past fall and Sentara Healthcare continued their expansion of patient-centered, multi-disciplinary services at the Sentara Obici and Sentara Belleharbour campuses. EVMS has expanded the EVMS Strelitz Diabetes Center, opening its first satellite clinic in Suffolk.
“An issue strongly tied to quality of life across the Commonwealth is transportation,” stated Mayor Johnson. She knows firsthand the issues that the region faces and she announced that three Suffolk projects have been recommended to receive a new stream of funding. This will include widening portion of Route 58/Holland Rd, improvements to the intersection of Bridge and Shoulders Hill Roads, and improvements to the Park-and-Ride lot off Godwin Blvd near the bypass.
In 2015, there were a total of 91 new and expanding businesses, bringing 1,868 new jobs and almost $190 million in capital investment. That includes more than 1,154,000 additional square feet in new and expanding businesses. This past year, there has been more of an attraction to retail development and national brand names along-side locally owned shops in Harbour View, Godwin Blvd, and Downtown areas.
Suffolk is continuing to flourish and Mayor Johnson closed the 2016 Suffolk State of the City with, “Come on over and join me in the vision we have for our city. We’ll build our dreams together, and we’ll leave no one behind. This is the vision of community that Suffolk has always been about.”
Thank you to our sponsors: TowneBank (Series Presenting Sponsor); Bon Secours Health System (Series Platinum Sponsor); GEICO (Series Gold Sponsor); Everest College, Farm Fresh, and Optima Health (Series Silver Sponsors); Sinclair Communications (Series Media Sponsor).