October 2023

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Monthly News from Hampton Roads

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Note from the President

Doug Smith, Alliance President & CEO

October was a great month at the Hampton Roads Alliance with a focus on our ongoing mission to mold the energy and economic landscape of Hampton Roads.

Matt Smith, Alliance Director of Energy and Emerging Technology, led a delegation of Virginia stakeholders at the annual American Clean Power Offshore WINDPOWER Conference, held in Boston, Massachusetts, on October 16-17. Partners attending the conference with the Alliance included representatives from the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Port of Virginia, Hampton Roads Workforce Council, and Cities of Virginia Beach and Portsmouth. The team focused on maintaining longstanding relationships with companies leading industry development in the U.S. and making new connections, all with the goal of bringing investment to Virginia and continuing to build Hampton Roads into one of the hubs of the offshore wind industry on the East Coast.

Matt also attended the Virginia Clean Energy Summit in Richmond. The Summit is a vital forum for presenting innovative clean energy technologies, policies, and business practices that are driving the transformation of Virginia's energy sector. Speakers and panelists at the Summit addressed critical issues such as siting and permitting energy projects, ensuring affordability and reliability during the transition to cleaner energy sources, and exploring emerging technologies like advanced nuclear power. Gaining an understanding of important issues like these are essential to the energy and economic future of Hampton Roads, and core to our strategy of seeking economic opportunity in energy transition while ensuring we have the reliable energy, we need to power economic growth.

On October 25, we continued our commitment to fostering economic growth in Hampton Roads by hosting an investor event that featured an in-depth presentation and lively discussion about tax credit and incentive opportunities contained in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) signed into law in 2022. The IRA is the most significant legislation to address clean energy in our nation’s history, and one of the largest investments in the American economy in a generation. The IRA contains incentives for clean energy production and manufacturing that can bring investment to the region. Most important to this event, however, we wanted to highlight lesser-known provisions of the Act that offer substantial tax incentives for new construction and building retrofits that use clean energy technologies. For the first time, major tax exempt Alliance investors like local governments, higher education, and health care systems can take advantage of these tax credits. The event was also of high interest to our investors in the real estate development and construction sector.

I want to extend our sincere gratitude to our investor, KPMG, for their expertise and support for this event. We look forward to continuing our partnership with KPMG and benefiting from their guidance as we navigate the path towards becoming the leader in our region for sustainable investment. Their insights into the intricacies of IRA credits were invaluable and align with our vision of mobilizing private capital to achieve our energy goals.

Finally, the Alliance was thrilled to join Governor Youngkin and other Virginia leaders at The Port of Virginia's Portsmouth Marine Terminal on October 27 to celebrate a momentous occasion—the arrival of the first monopile foundations for Dominion Energy's Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Project (CVOW). This marks a significant milestone in the development of CVOW, which is the nation's largest offshore wind project and a critical component of Virginia's all-of-the-above energy strategy. The CVOW project itself with create thousands of jobs in Hampton Roads and is an important anchor in our effort to establish the region as an energy production and supply chain hub of the offshore wind industry. We extend our warmest congratulations to Alliance Investor, Dominion Energy, for their outstanding efforts in advancing Virginia towards a cleaner energy future. This achievement underscores our shared commitment to sustainable, environmentally conscious energy solutions and the bright future of Hampton Roads.

As we look ahead, we are eager to embrace the opportunities and challenges that the energy sector will bring. The commitment and collaboration of our trusted partners on this journey are invaluable, and together, we are well positioned to shape the future of Hampton Roads and be at the forefront of the clean energy transition happening in Hampton Roads, Virginia, and around the world.

Thank you for your continued support and dedication to Virginia’s shared vision for a reliable, affordable, clean energy future.

Your ally in economic development,

thinkHIRE - Mission to Germany: Learning from Innovative Workforce Development Solutions Abroad

In the latest episode of thinkHIRE, Shawn Avery sits down with Doug Smith, President and CEO of the Hampton Roads Alliance, to discuss a recent trip to Germany and the innovative workforce development solutions abroad!

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Plasser American Opens New Chesapeake Plant

Plasser American on Oct. 5 officially opened its new 82,000 square-foot. manufacturing facility in Chesapeake. The new facility “grows the company’s footprint as a committed corporate and community partner locally as well as in Virginia.” The 82,000 square-foot facility uses “state-of-the-art technology that will allow Plasser American to manufacture machines more efficiently, with a level of precision once unimaginable.

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Inside Business 2023 Top Forty Under 40: Toi Hunter, Hampton Roads Alliance

Toi Hunter, Vice President of Business Retention & Expansion at the Hampton Roads Alliance, has been honored in Inside Business' Top Forty Under 40. She gave an interview on her work, family, and the place she calls home - Hampton Roads.

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Hampton Roads Entrepreneur Angela Reddix Buys Vacant TCC Visual Arts Center in Downtown Portsmouth to Empower Women

When the former Tidewater Community College Visual Arts Center in downtown Portsmouth went up for sale, successful Hampton Roads entrepreneur Angela Reddix knew just what to do with the property.

She mentors young girls through her Envision Lead Grow nonprofit and advises women in business through her Reddix Rules program. When the 33,000-square-foot building at 340 High St. opened up, she saw an opportunity to find a home for the training and resilience coaching where women become part of a tribe while searching for capital and scaling their businesses.

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First Coastal Virginia Monopiles En Route to US

On 21 September, the first eight monopiles for Dominion Energy’s CVOW project were loaded at the Rostock quayside. In preparation for RoRo loading, the units were lifted into the transport cradle using the Strand Jack system. The 83-metre-long foundations are on their way to Portsmouth Marine Terminal in Portsmouth, Virginia, where they will arrive in approximately two and a half weeks.

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Inside Business Celebrates 2023 Top Forty Under 40

This is the 25th year Inside Business has honored young professionals who are successful in their careers and involved in the community. The 40 people highlighted here represent a wide range of occupations and talents. They all work hard and volunteer often to make Hampton Roads a better place.

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Gazing into the Future

Virginia Business asked several regional leaders to give their view of what the future has in store for the area 20 years from now. Doug Smith, President and CEO of the Hampton Roads Alliance, says “The world is increasingly looking at Hampton Roads because of our competencies in [various] sectors and the natural competitive advantages of our business environment. Virginia is a global brand as a perennial ‘best state to do business.’”

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Hampton Roads Initiatives Receive Over $140,000 in GO Virginia Grant Awards

Governor Youngkin announced $3.7 million in Growth and Opportunity for Virginia (GO Virginia) grant awards. Two of those projects are located here in Hampton Roads, with a combined grant of over $140,000. Flying High with the Hampton Roads Regional Aviation, Aerospace, and Unmanned Systems Assessment. This initiative received a $100,000 grant. Diving Deep into Life Sciences with Life Science Virginia. They received a $40,000 grant.

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Newport News-based Jefferson Lab Chosen to Lead Department of Energy’s High-Performance Data Facility Hub

The U.S. Department of Energy announced that Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility has been picked to lead its new High Performance Data Facility Hub.

“This is the single biggest technology investment in Hampton Roads ever,” said U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, speaking at a news conference Monday at the Jefferson Lab in Newport News.

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John ‘Dubby’ Wynne, business leader and Hampton Roads advocate known for launching The Weather Channel, dies at 78

It was with great sadness we learned John ‘Dubby’ Wynne passed away on October 26. Throughout Dubby’s career and retirement, he remained an advocate for Hampton Roads and promoted regional collaboration to grow higher-paying jobs. He regularly convened with business leaders to problem solve and find ways to enhance the region and Virginia. Dubby worked often with the Hampton Roads Alliance and served as our keynote speaker at our annual meeting in 2020 along with Barry Duvall, Virginia Chamber President & CEO. He made a huge impact in our region and will be sorely missed.

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JCC Board of Supervisors Approves Richmond Road Solar Farm

A 67-acre solar farm received approval for a special use permit during the Oct. 10 James City County Board of Supervisors meeting. The large-scale solar farm, called Richmond Road Solar Project, will be located at 8659 and 8659A Richmond Road and is projected to produce enough electricity to power 1,000 homes a year. Expected to generate more than $875,000 in direct revenue, the project is zoned on rural/agricultural land versus commercial use.

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Executive Insights

Virginia Business asked six Hampton Roads leaders to discuss how their organizations are contributing to the region’s success and meeting challenges such as workforce recruitment and inflation. Interviewees include reps from Alliance investors TowneBank and ODU, as well as the Alliance's own Toi Hunter.

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Hydrogen Catches Big Air in Newport News

Already home to a nascent 176-turbine wind farm off the coast of Virginia Beach, Hampton Roads is expanding its foray into the clean energy industry with the creation of a green hydrogen production facility at Newport News’ Tech Center Research Park.

Last spring, the Blacksburg-based Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center joined forces with the Hampton Roads Alliance and the cities of Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach to develop a $6.5 million green hydrogen fuel program aimed at sparking regional commercial development.

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RVA757 Connects Releases Plan for Global Internet Hub

RVA757 Connects, a nonprofit focused on regional cooperation for economic development in Richmond and Hampton Roads, released its 10-point strategic plan for transforming the “megaregion” into the next global internet hub.

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Riverside Mental Health & Recovery Center Celebrates Ribbon-Cutting for Psychiatric Emergency Department

Riverside Health System (RHS) held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Virginia’s first stand-alone Psychiatric Emergency Department, set to open this fall. More than 200 people — including Gov. Glenn Youngkin and other dignitaries, leaders, and mental health and substance-use advocates and providers — joined Riverside for the dedication of this facility. 

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Hampton Roads Economy is Recovering from COVID, ODU Economists Say

Old Dominion University released its annual State of the Region report looking at Hampton Roads’ economy. ODU economist Bob McNab said at an event going over the report that the labor force participation rate was at a record high. The hospitality and shipping industries are booming. However, Public transportation in the area is suffering post-pandemic.

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Virginia: Keeping Pace With Business

Across the commonwealth, a transportation network and workforce programs support continued growth.

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EVMS 50th Anniversary

This fall, EVMS marks its first half century and the people who made it happen, honoring their legacy and future promise.

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$500 Million Project in Norfolk Transforming Lamberts Point Area into Offshore Wind, Shipbuilding Hub

A more than $500 million redevelopment project is transforming the former Lamberts Point Docks into a hub for offshore wind, shipbuilding and ship repair. Called Fairwinds Landing, the 111-acre terminal already has one tenant associated with the offshore wind industry and several others interested in the site, Mike Hopkins, managing director of Fairwinds Landing LLC, said.

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Virginia Natural Gas Names Chief Admin Officer

Virginia Natural Gas has named Shannon Pierce as its vice president of strategy and chief administrative officer, the Virginia Beach-based utility announced Monday.

Pierce, a native of Surry, most recently served as vice president of growth and chief external affairs officer at SouthStar Energy Services, a subsidiary of VNG’s parent company, Southern Company Gas. She was based in Atlanta but will move to Virginia Beach in her new role.

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Plan for New On-site Hotel at Norfolk International Airport Moves Forward

The Norfolk Airport Authority board of commissioners voted unanimously to move forward with negotiations to build a Courtyard by Marriott hotel adjacent to the Norfolk International Airport main departures terminal building. Construction is anticipated to take 18-24 months after design work is completed, which is anticipated in 6-9 months, according to Mark Perryman, airport authority executive director and CEO. The acre of land to be developed is currently used as a parking lot.

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Regional Apprenticeship Summit

Join the HRWC for the Regional Apprenticeship Summit, a must-attend event for anyone interested in apprenticeships! At the summit, you'll have the opportunity to connect with industry leaders, educators, and apprenticeship program providers. Learn about the benefits of apprenticeships, gain insights from successful apprentices, and share best practices.



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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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Toi Hunter

Vice President, Business Retention & Expansion

Toi Hunter joined the Hampton Roads Alliance in November 2020 as the Vice President of Business Retention & Expansion. In this role, Toi leads the development and implementation of a regional business retention and expansion (BRE) strategy. Toi has nearly a decade of economic development experience at the local and state levels.

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Previously, Toi worked as Business Manager for Business Retention and Expansion for the Virginia Economic Development Partnership assigned to the Eastern Virginia region. At the beginning of her five-year tenure with the Commonwealth, Toi managed the Virginia Jobs Investment Program incentive through identifying expanding companies and supporting their growth through workforce development funding and consultative services. As a BRE Manager Toi focused on collecting corporate intelligence from the region’s major employers and analyzing their feedback to identify potential expansions, diagnosis growth challenges and discover areas of public policy which may be influenced by collective response from the business community. 

Prior to serving at the state level, Toi was a Business Development Manager for the City of Portsmouth, VA. She also has a background in finance by working in the banking industry for approximately four years directly after graduating from Virginia Tech with a Bachelor of Science in Business. Toi also holds a Master of Public Administration from Virginia Tech. Toi, her husband and two children reside in Chesapeake.

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