"We are unapologetic pro-business, and our role is to set the conditions for businesses to succeed.", President & CEO Bryan K. Stephens set the tone of the 2021 State of The Region Address by putting our region and business first. The Hampton Roads Chamber is proud to serve this region as an Impactful Advocate, Inspiring Ignitor, Regional Collaborator, and Powerful Economic Partner. The 2021 State of The Region Address was held at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott and housed various Hampton Roads leaders.
Member Spotlight Sponsor Dan Peterson, Market President of TRUIST, spoke on the new merger of SunTrust and BB&T, the first institutional merger in the digital age. "Over the next two years, we are committed to making an investment of over 60 Billion Dollars to lower minority income communities. This exemplifies our commitment to our local markets and reinvesting where we work, live, and play every day."
Presenting Sponsor Howard Kern, the President & CEO of Sentara Healthcare, took time to thank all healthcare workers and first responders for their outstanding service during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Kern announced Sentara's new commitment to low-income and underserved communities to help advocate/distribute the correct healthcare information and resources. "We have made a $15 million investment to address health disparities', magnified by the effects of COVID-19 on the underserved populations."
Dr. Robert McNab and Dr. Vinod Agarwal presented the 2021 State of the Region Report, filling regional leaders on economic developments in the Hampton Roads Region. Dr. McNab is the Professor of Economics and Director of the Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy at Old Dominion University Strome College of Business. With the workforce slowly increasing in positivity, there is still more work to be done. "If we look at where we have been, things are getting better. We have to think about why they are getting better."
Virginia has taken extensive action on vaccination research, and according to Dr. McNab, Virginia is one of the most progressive states to gather data about the impact of COVID-19. With 48.1% of the population in Virginia fully vaccinated, reported by the various sources and The Old Dominion Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy, Dr. McNab discussed the next step for Hampton Roads. "Our challenge in Hampton Roads is to raise the level of vaccinations."
Unemployment took its biggest hit to Hampton Roads in April 2020, hitting a high of 12.8%; however, it has steadily decreased. Claims for unemployment benefits have reduced dramatically. Although job growth has hit a slow period, Defense Spending and examples of the Apprentice Programs in Newport News Shipbuilding have provided hundreds of jobs to combat the COVID-19 economic effects.
"There goes the good news, we recovered jobs faster than the United States than the initial recovery from the Pandemic; But then there's the bad news, job growth here has slowed while it's accelerated nationally. So our task is to move forward."
Dr. Agarwal discussed the housing market and tourism in Virginia and highlighted the effects from COVID-19; "It should come as no surprise to anyone that the industry most affected by the pandemic was hospitality." Dr. Agarwal expressed that the number of inventory on single-family homes has decreased only due to the pace of the number of homes being sold. Dr. Agarwal reported that Hampton Roads Hotel Market has produced better results than all the top 25 markets in the country in 2021.
Platinum Sponsor Presenter Jim Mears, President & CEO of Bayport Credit Union, announced Bayport Foundation's launching.
"The foundation built upon the credit unions annual giving of half a million dollars to local organizations, through our sustained corporate giving. " The mission of the Foundation is to enrich our members' and communities' lives by providing financial support for wellness and education.
Doug Smith, President & CEO of the Hampton Roads Alliance, presented the 757 Recovery and Resilience Action Framework, a descriptive year-made plan by the leaders of Hampton Roads to guide our region back to economic sustainability, accelerating the
region's economic growth. Smith emphasized that after the murder of George Floyd, the process for creating a plan for Virginia's recovery would have to be different; "We had to look at ourselves real hard and say, what should we do differently this planning session than we done in previous planning sessions. Part of it was that this has to be a playbook that works for everybody." Click here for more information about the 757 Recovery and Resilience Action Framework.
Thank you to the following sponsors: Optima Health (Presenting Sponsor); Bon Secours (Platinum Sponsor); TRUIST (Member Spotlight Sponsor); Langley Federal Credit Union (Gold Sponsor); Dominion Energy, The Port of Virginia, Old Point National Bank, and The Franklin Johnson Group (Silver Sponsors); Damuth Trane (Bronze Sponsor) Norfolk Waterside Marriott Hotel (Host Sponsor); Elite AV (AV Sponsor); Premier Events (Décor Sponsor); Damuth Trane (Program Sponsor).