Why We Exist
For centuries Hampton Roads’ economy was buffered by the military, port and tourism, which provided thousands of jobs and insulated the region from economic downturns. Recently these three bedrock industries accounted for 55% of the region’s nearly $93 billion economy (with 46% directly tied to defense-related jobs).
In recent years employment in southeastern Virginia has dropped primarily from U.S. Department of Defense spending cuts with port mechanization and the maturing of the tourism industry contributing to the situation.
The idea of expanding the regional economic base to new areas that lead to more and higher-paying jobs was the catalyst for starting a regional economic competitiveness initiative in 2012. The community foundation began exploring ways our region could better work together to generate more jobs – the kind that entice young adults to stay in the region or move here to live, work and raise their families. After initial study, the next step was assembling in 2013 a cross-section of citizens to assess the current situation and plan how Hampton Roads can rival Austin, Charlotte and other leading job-growth communities. From there the effort became more focused and several people involved banded together to create efforts like 757 Angels and StartWheel.
The goal of Reinvent Hampton Roads is to find an “aspirational strategy” that embraces our region’s traditional employment sectors while also attracting and nurturing new employers, entrepreneurs and industries.
Phase One of Reinvent Hampton Roads, which ran from late 2013 through the fall of 2014, was an exploratory phase. It united nearly 100 Hampton Roads citizens from the Southside and the Virginia Peninsula who volunteered to be part of these study groups:
- Civic leadership
- Industry clusters
- Workforce development
Learn More about the four study groups
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