July 2023

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Monthly News from Hampton Roads

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Note from the President

Doug Smith, Alliance President & CEO

I am thrilled to share another example of outstanding regional collaboration. The Hampton Roads Alliance, Hampton Roads Workforce Council, and City of Virginia Beach hosted a productive mission to Stuttgart, Germany, centered on workforce readiness the week of July 16th.


Five Mayors and Five College Presidents were joined by other regional partners, as we explored Germany's dual-track vocational training program. The German vocational training system, with its combination of classroom and business, theory and practice, learning and working, is recognized worldwide as a basic and highly effective model for vocational training. It is the route that over half a million apprentices in Germany take to a skilled profession every year.

We chose Stuttgart because they are a major manufacturing hub in Germany, making their successes highly relevant to Hampton Roads. Two notable tours on the trip included STIHL and IMS Gear, both Virginia Beach-based companies. Observing their operations in Germany provided actionable insights that could benefit our local community. Through the tours and presentations, the delegates gained insights into the German apprenticeship system, or theoretical foundation, and an introduction to different vocational training pathways. The delegates had the opportunity to connect with high level regional and state representatives of Baden-Württemberg.


Developing, retaining and attracting talent is critical to supporting localcompanies and recruiting more international businesses to Hampton Roads. By collaborating and leveraging our collective resources, Hampton Roads leaders can develop comprehensive workforce programs that address regional needs and fuel economic growth.

Our Stuttgart insights have set the stage for innovative progress in Hampton Roads. Now, we will translate our learnings into actionable strategies for our region.


Your ally in economic development,

Hampton Roads Delegation Attends Workforce Readiness Mission to Germany

The Hampton Roads AllianceHampton Roads Workforce Council, and Virginia Beach Economic Development hosted Presidents and officials of universities, community colleges, and technical colleges from Hampton Roads on a visit last week to Stuttgart, Germany — visiting with educational, business, and political leaders in the area. The delegation, which included Hampton Roads mayors and business leaders, explored Germany’s dual-track vocational education and training (VET) program, a national workforce development pipeline. The VET program supports roughly 1.3 million vocational apprentices per year throughout the country and operates as the main vehicle driving talent development within the landscape of Germany’s high-tech industries.

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Capes Shipping Agencies to Represent DEME Offshore in Coastal Virginai Offshore Wind (CVOW) Project

Capes Shipping Agencies today announced in July that it would represent DEME Offshore US LLC in Virginia during the construction of Dominion Energy’s Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) project. The 2.6-gigawatt project, consisting of 176 wind turbines located 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach, will be the largest of its kind in the country.

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Bon Secours taps Mary Immaculate Hospital president

Alan George, a former health care executive from Georgia, started as president of Bon Secours Mary Immaculate Hospital in Newport News this week, the health care system announced Tuesday. George comes from ScionHealth, where he served as the chief operating officer for St. Francis – Emory Healthcare in Columbus, Georgia. He previously was CEO of several community hospitals in Texas and Georgia.

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Warehouse portfolio in Chesapeake sells for $24M

The Port of Virginia Distribution Center, a two-building, 334,881-square-foot industrial portfolio in Chesapeake, has changed hands. Chesapeake Industrial Park LLC acquired the property at 2620-2626 Indian River Road for $24 million, according to Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer, which represented the seller. Phoenix Chesapeake Industrial Investors LLC was the previous owner, according to Chesapeake property records. Phoenix purchased the property in 2018 for $8,825,000.

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Berkshire Hathaway Energy Announces Purchase of Additional Stake in Cove Point LNG

Berkshire Hathaway Energy announced it has executed an agreement to purchase Dominion Energy’s 50% limited partnership stake in the Cove Point LNG, LP business. Subject to applicable regulatory approvals, the purchased interest will be held within BHE GT&S, LLC, a Berkshire Hathaway Energy business unit. A subsidiary of BHE GT&S is also the current general partner and operator of the Cove Point natural gas pipeline and its liquefied natural gas terminal located in Lusby, Maryland.

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German Manufacturer, STIHL, names new president

Virginia Beach-based chainsaw and outdoor power equipment manufacturer STIHL Inc. has announced a leadership shift. Chris Keffer, senior vice president of sales and marketing, will become the company’s new president and CEO on August 4. STIHL Inc. is the largest subsidiary of the global STIHL Group and employs more than 1,900 workers in Virginia Beach.

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Alliance Hires New Business Intelligence Director

The Hampton Roads Alliance continues to evolve its mission and team to best leverage the incredible assets of this region. The Alliance is pleased to announce the hiring of Michael Evans as Director of Business Intelligence. Michael comes to the Hampton Roads Alliance after spending four years with the City of Virginia Beach where he served as a Budget & Policy Analyst. As the Alliance's Business Intelligence Director, Michael will be responsible for providing data and analysis about the Hampton Roads business environment to prospective and existing companies as well as Alliance investors.

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Norfolk enters its redevelopment era

Norfolk Mayor Kenneth Cooper Alexander has a vision for his city that includes increasing revenue without creating additional taxes for residents. His focuses in achieving that goal include tourism, hospitality and entertainment — familiar parts of neighboring Virginia Beach’s economy. However, unlike Virginia Beach, he points out, Norfolk doesn’t have a reliable seasonal tourism base. It also doesn’t have the same kind of beachfront tourism infrastructure as Virginia Beach’s Oceanfront district.

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James City County Searches for Assistant Director of Economic Development

James City County’s Office of Economic Development is seeking to hire an individual to perform business attraction, development, and retention work. The person will assist in coordinating prospect attraction and support efforts with that of other County departments, the Economic Development Authority, commercial real estate brokers, regional organizations and State agencies; and, assist in coordinating Capital Improvement Projects, grant programs and other special projects and events; represent department as a liaison to various committees and external organizations.

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Plan to turn Hampton Roads, Richmond into Global Internet Hub takes shape

Could Hampton Roads and the Richmond area become the next Global Internet Hub? Recently, Virginia Beach city council members heard about a strategic plan that could transform the area.

"The real opportunity we have is to get to a world stage," said John Martin, the President & CEO of RVA757 Connects, an advocacy group promoting the regions working together to form a mega-region.

RVA757 created a committee to develop a strategic plan on how the areas could become the Global Internet Hub, a distinction where the region would be recognized for innovation in the tech industry.

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'Ham, hospitality, and history:' Why Smithfield makes the perfect family Staycation

Downtown Smithfield is where southern, small-town charm comes alive. Walking through the city's historic downtown, you won't find an empty storefront. You also won't find any chain restaurants or stores. That's done on purpose. "We are really one of those towns that believe in country," said Smithfield Mayor Steve Bowman.

Formerly the city's Chief of Police, Bowman says Smithfield can be summed up in about three words. "Ham, hospitality, and history," he said. "It's part of our culture."

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W&M Law School hires communication and marketing officer

William & Mary Law School has named Doris Taylor as its first chief communications and marketing officer. Taylor began her new role June 12 and has primary responsibility for developing and executing strategic communication plans and initiatives to support the engagement and professional needs of the law school. Taylor was most recently interim director of marketing, communications and public relations at Virginia Peninsula Community College.

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Truist provides $1.5 million to support minority-owned small businesses in Hampton Roads

A $1.5 million grant will help address problems of systemic perpetual inequity and provide financing, support and training to elevate Black and minority-owned small businesses in Norfolk and beyond. The Truist Foundation announced the grant as part of an initiative to support undercapitalized communities through St. Louis, Missouri-based nonprofit Urban Strategies Inc. The money will fund a small business loan program through People First, an office Urban Strategies operates in partnership with the city as part of the St. Paul’s redevelopment.

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Local economic development director, Karl Heck, featured on Econ Dev Show podcast

President & CEO of Franklin Southampton Economic Development, Karl Heck, was featured this month on the Econ Dev Show podcast with Dane Carlson. Carlson unpacks the dynamic puzzle of industrial growth and community development in the charming realm of Franklin, Virginia.

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Atlantic Union to acquire American National Bank

Richmond-based Atlantic Union Bank’s parent company announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire American National Bankshares Inc., which is headquartered in Danville and is the holding company of American National Bank and Trust Co. The combined bank will have total assets of $23.7 billion as of June 30, according to the statement.

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Breeden finishes projects in Albemarle, Chester, Petersburg. Breaks ground in Va Beach apartments

The Breeden Co. has completed construction on an 10-building apartment community in Albemarle County and has broken ground on a Virginia Beach apartment complex, and its subsidiary, Breeden Construction, has finished apartment communities in Chester and Petersburg. In Virginia Beach, the developer broke ground earlier this month on Ascend at Hilltop, a $46 million multifamily project. Breeden Construction is the general contractor on the project and Breeden’s property management division will manage it once construction is finished.

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New Realm Brewing starts construction on second Hampton Roads location in Suffolk

New Realm Brewing Co. is starting construction on a new brewery, restaurant and event venue in northern Suffolk. Set to open next spring, New Realm’s sixth location will be in the new Blue Point at the Riverfront development, according to a news release. Plans include a 6,000-square-foot facility with a 5-barrel brewhouse, a bar, a covered rooftop patio and a dog-friendly outdoor bar and covered patio in an 8,000-square-foot beer garden.

The Miller Group is developing the 18-acre mixed-use development in Harbour View, and New Realm co-founder and CEO Carey Falcone said working with the developer on the design of its location reinforced its decision.

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Hampton Roads Workforce Council added to pilot veterans’ employment program

The Hampton Roads Workforce Council (HRWC) will be part of a Department of Labor pilot program to service members and their spouses transition into the civilian workforce. HRWC based in Norfolk, joins online job search website Indeed, as well as Aston Carter Inc. in Hanover, Maryland and the North Atlantic States Council of Carpenters Training Fund in Millbury, Massachusetts, as part of the Employment Navigator and Partnership Pilot. They join 44 non-government and two government partners that are currently supporting the pilot.

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ODU offers free certification to help aspiring entrepreneurs

ODU is now offering the Entrepreneur Certification Program, an online course that covers everything from focusing an idea to marketing strategies and startup finances, through the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The program includes an initial online orientation session, nine online training sessions and additional sessions that are customizable to address the specific business needs of each participant. The big selling point is that the certification is free, and you even get access to in-person coaching and mentoring.

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Riverside Health System Breaks Ground on New Riverside Smithfield Hospital

Riverside and the community held a celebratory groundbreaking ceremony to mark the commencement of construction for the new Riverside Smithfield Hospital (RSH), scheduled to open in early 2026. The 50-bed hospital will offer services such as an emergency room, intensive care unit, medical/surgical unit, operating suites, and other diagnostic and procedural services for those living south of the James River. 

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Bill Gosling Outsourcing Joins Roster at The Offices at Peninsula Town Center, Leased by S.L Nusbaum

S.L. Nusbaum Realty Co. is pleased to announce that Bill Gosling Outsourcing has leased 3,691 square feet of office space at The Offices at Peninsula Town Center located at 4410 E. Claiborne Square in Hampton, VA. Sam Rapoport and Martin Murden represented the landlord.

“The City of Hampton at the Peninsula Town Center stood out as a vibrant, diverse growing community and Bill Gosling wanted to be a part of that exciting growth.” said David Bennett, Director, Operations, US Quality Manager.

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HRPDC Economic Monthly

Each month, the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (HRPDC) provides economic insights and informative articles to connect you with what changes are occurring in the local economy.

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Michael Evans

Director, Business Intelligence

Michael Evans started with the Hampton Roads Alliance in July 2023 as Business Intelligence Director. As Director, Michael is responsible for providing data and analysis about the Hampton Roads business environment to prospective and existing companies as well as Alliance investors. He plays a critical role in the Alliance’s mission to increase attract, grow and retain jobs, companies and talent in the region. Responsibilities of the position include: maintaining and updating inventory of market research, generating content to support targeted industry-specific business development, assisting external stakeholders with research requests, producing quarterly reports and analyses, and monitoring and reporting on key economic trends impacting Hampton Roads.

Michael comes to the Hampton Roads Alliance after spending four years with the City of Virginia Beach where he served as a Budget & Policy Analyst. In this role, Michael acted as Virginia Beach’s revenue and economic analyst, responsible for general government revenue projections to support the city’s $2 billion net operating budget, as well as producing the city’s Economic Indicator Reports, writing economic overviews for the annual operating budget, and conducting fiscal impact studies for economic development projects and local events to determine return on investment. He also served as staff liaison for the city’s Regional Grant and Community Organization Grant programs, as well as for the City Council appointed Community Organization Grant Committee. Prior to working in Virginia Beach, Michael worked as a Management & Systems Analyst for the City of Hampton and as an Implementation Specialist for Automatic Data Processing. Michael holds a B.A in Public Policy and Economics from The College of William & Mary and a M.P.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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