Feb 5th, 2021

757 Vision event series to reignite regional focus | Chamber notes

Originally posted by: Virginian-Pilot

We are currently living in interesting and challenging times. We are still in the midst of the health crisis known as COVID-19, which has affected businesses large and small and adversely impacted much of our economy. After the last recession, it took our region over eight years to recover economically. We cannot allow that to happen again.

Prior to the pandemic, the Hampton Roads region was beginning to see a resurgence in our regional collaborative efforts and good signs of economic growth. Projects like the Interstate 64 improvements and the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel expansion and initiatives like RVA/757 Connects and the Eastern Virginia Regional Industrial Facilities Authority were beginning to gain momentum and create a sense of well-earned optimism. We now must work together as a region to reignite that energy, optimism and sense of collaboration.

The Peninsula Chamber has joined a coalition of business organizations to help do that through the 757 Business Recovery and Resiliency Framework that advances five strategic imperatives, including building regional unity, growing new jobs, attracting and retaining new talent, growing resiliency to future threats and advancing regional infrastructure. Thirty specific implementation programs with lead organizations and measurable plans will drive execution of this plan. In order for this plan to be successful, we must capitalize on our strengths, obviously, but also recognize our weaknesses and work hard to mitigate them and/or make them strengths.

In keeping with the chamber’s mission to “connect business with opportunity through facilitation, advocacy, communication and education,” we are hosting a monthly series of moderated panels called “757 Vision: Eyes on the Future” in which we will take a look at some of our strengths and weaknesses in an effort to inspire, inform and drive action. The most recent event focused on affordable housing and public transit as they impact our workforce. Taking care of our workforce and facilitating workers’ full involvement in our economy is one of the areas that we know we need to work on. A significant portion of our regional workforce has daily challenges in just getting to their place of business.

Improvements in these areas will have great positive impact on our economy — by attracting more businesses to the area and by making existing businesses more likely to expand. This will create better conditions for not only recovery, but the growth and diversification of our economy here in the 757. This panel included William Harrell, president/CEO of Hampton Roads Transit, Andria McClellan of Norfolk City Council, and Kevin Otey, chief operating officer of Hampton Roads Community Action Program. Marisa Porto, assistant dean of Scripps Howard School of Journalism at Hampton University, and former editor of The Virginian-Pilot and Daily Press, was the moderator. A lively and informative conversation was followed by Q-and-A from the audience of well over 100.

Other events in the series have included conversations on topics such as offshore wind power, early childhood education and transportation improvements in the 757. Upcoming events include topics such as science and technology opportunities in the 757 and hospitality and tourism. If you would like to take part in these conversations, you can register at Virginiapeninsulachamber.com.

Bob McKenna is president and CEO of the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce.

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