“Hampton Roads is back in business,” said Dr. Robert McNab, Director of Old Dominion University’s Dragas Centers for Economic Analysis and Policy. LEAD Hampton Roads, a program of the Hampton Roads Chamber, hosted the State of the Region on Tuesday, October 2nd. In its 19th year, the State of the Region Address presents an economic outlook and forecast for the year ahead and highlights the areas of most interest to the Hampton Roads community and the future of business. The address was given by Dr. McNab and Dr. Vinod Agarwal, Director of the Economic Forecasting Project at Old Dominion University.
The theme of the program asked the question, ‘Is it morning again in Hampton Roads?’ The answer, was a resounding, ‘yes’. The presentation covered, the three pillars of the economy, Medicaid expansion, the craft brewing industry, and multi-family housing in detail. The State of the Region publication distributed at the event further elaborated on international migration, next generation learning and developing a social media identity and branding for Hampton Roads.
“Hampton Roads is on the cusp of consecutive years of real economic growth,” said McNab, “with continued strength in the hotel industry and tourism, an increase in defense spending and record performance at The Port of Virginia.” Hampton Roads has recovered nearly all of the jobs lost over the last decade. McNab said, “I am pleased to report there are more people in the labor force and more people working as our unemployment rate approaches a low of 3%.”
Concerning Hampton Roads’ housing forecast, Dr. Vinod Agarwal said, “Sales volumes are up, inventories are down and the number of days it takes to sell a home are down. Housing prices have nowhere to go but up.” It was predicted that for the first time since 2007 home prices will go up across all of the region’s seven cities by August 2019. Agarwal also credits Hilton Norfolk The Main with an increase in hotel industry numbers as consumers demand increased quality. The Main’s opening raised the competitive bar, but also increased overall hotel revenues. “Competition is always good,” Agarwal said.
Hampton Roads has seen a surge in craft breweries, which means our region is not only leading in entrepreneurship, but fostering a relationship with the millennial community, who eat a larger slice of the proverbial pie when it comes to craft been consumption. This growing industry attracts tourism and becomes a community activity that can better define the identity of our region.
While the sun is rising in Hampton Roads, the region still lags behind the Commonwealth as a whole and the nation in terms of economic growth. The economy in Hampton Roads has grown by 2% while Virginia stands at 12% and the United States at 21% growth. “While Hampton Roads is launching itself into a new range of growth, our challenge is to sustain that. We have to attract assets from other areas, invest in the port, and find the right labor at the right time. The more we work together, the better off we are. It’s not just a single city discussion, it’s us as a region,” McNab said.
The audience included 650 business leaders and Bryan K. Stephens, Hampton Roads Chamber, President & CEO said, “To see this program grow to this number is incredible. We are here to inform and educate business leaders and we are grateful for this program and proud of our partnership with Old Dominion University.”
The LEAD State of the Region Address will be offered once more on Friday October 5th at the Newport News Marriott at City Center.
Thanks to our sponsors Optima Health (Series Presenting Sponsor), Bon Secours (Series Platinum Sponsor), Bon Secours, Damuth Trane (Series Gold Sponsor), Clark Nexsen, The Port of Virginia, TowneBank, and BB&T (Series Silver Sponsors), Ainslie Group and Seventh Point (Silver Sponsors), Old Dominion University, STIHL, WHRO, and Lori by Design (Bronze Sponsors).