“If we grow as we suspect, this will be the first time the Hampton Roads economy has grown two consecutive years in a row, in over a decade,” 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, (Peninsula) on Friday, October 5nd. 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.
Many of the themes discussed in the earlier Southside address were reiterated but McNab and Agarwal did speak specifically towards the Peninsula. In regards to defense spending, one of the economic pillars of Hampton Roads, McNab said, “One only has to look over at the shipyard to see the impact to jobs on the peninsula if defense spending is cut. Shipbuilding and maintenance is inextricably tied to defense spending.” The overall forecast was positive as the labor market as a whole in Hampton Roads reflects more job openings than unemployed workers to fill them.
Agarwal addressed the housing market and hotel industries on the Peninsula, both of which are doing well. While the supply of hotels have declined in Hampton, Newport News and Williamsburg, the increase in short term rentals, such as Air BNB has changed the dynamic of the hotel industry. Of all the region’s localities, Hampton is the only city that collects taxes on short-term rentals.
The spotlight shone on the City of Hampton, as McNab discussed the Hampton City Schools, Academies of Hampton program. “This is the next generation of learning, a model not only for the region, but for the nation,” McNab said. The Academies program allows high school freshman to select a career path aligned to workforce projections and industry input. “In 2018 all students are enrolled in an academy and people that don’t fit into the static model of ‘you’re going to college’ can come out of a high school with career path experience and practical skills.”
Students who have participated in this model have outperformed non-academy students. “The challenge,” McNab said, “is to maintain and replicate this model.”
Agarwal and McNab highlighted the similarities between the Southside and Peninsula emphasizing the one region efforts of collaboration as critical to our economic growth. “The more we can work together as a region, the more we can become captains of our fate rather than captives of what happens in Washington, D.C.,” McNab said.
One of the State of the Region categories contained in the report reflected on Social Media. Bryan K. Stephens, Hampton Roads Chamber President & CEO asked the speakers how important having a regional identity was on social media. “Social media provides jobs to Hampton Roads and it is important to have a nationally recognized identity on social media that is also used as a marketing tool,” said McNab.
LEAD Hampton Roads and the Hampton Roads Chamber are proud to partner with Old Dominion University to inform and educate our business leaders.
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).