More than 750 Attendees Hear State of the Region Address
Keynote speaker Dr. James V. Koch, addressed more than 750 business professionals, community leaders, and elected officials from Hampton Roads at the 13th Annual State of the Region Address on October 2, at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott.
The event, produced by LEAD Hampton Roads, a program of the Chamber, showcased the area's premier review of the region's economic strengths, challenges and inter-relationships. Dr. James V. Koch, president emeritus and professor of economics at Old Dominion University, presented the address based on the annual report produced by the Regional Studies Institute at Old Dominion University.
Dr. Koch’s tone was cautionary yet positive. “The great recession didn’t hit Hampton Roads as bad because of the defense spending cushion, but this is slowing down”, he said. “We are less economically diversified than we ever have been,” declared Dr. Koch. “We haven’t recovered jobs, but our unemployment rate is below the nation’s average. We are moving ahead, but it is not a jack rabbit recovery.”
Dr. Koch pointed out that “the inventory on existing households is also going down. This is a good time to buy a house. They are more affordable than they have been for a long time.” With the housing market bottoming out, Koch also cited the differences between households in New York and Hampton Roads, saying, “80% of the households are better off than 80% of the households in New York City. The typical person is much better off.”
During the Q & A session, Dr. Koch was asked what the future looks like for doctors and the shortages that will occur going forward. Koch remarked that the rising pressures will cause doctors to insert cheaper services, such as having more physician assistants and qualified nurses providing routine care. “Doctors will be doing other things because our region will not produce enough doctors to offset the cost,” he said.
Dr. Koch closed by discussing military retention, noting that service members do not receive a straight large payout because much of their money goes to housing and other costs. “We have a voluntary force. We have to retain them somehow,” Dr. Koch said, concluding that the Hampton Roads economy is showing signs of growth overall, but that we must be aware of future defense cuts and our economic overreliance on the military.
View the 2012 State of the Region report.