Opinion: Region working together toward economic recovery


Opinion: Region working together toward economic recovery

Opinion: Region working together toward economic recovery

The time has come to dispel the myth that our cities, businesses, nonprofit organizations, institutions of higher education, and military commands don’t collaborate.

The truth is we have been working together for years. Today, a quick look around Hampton Roads reveals us joining forces on sustainability projects, improved emergency services delivery, economic development initiatives, substantial roadway improvements and enhanced transit services.

Still need proof?

Look no further than the 757 Recovery & Resilience Action Framework, which takes regional collaboration to an all-time high.

When COVID-19 hit, our regional business organizations united to help the region navigate the pandemic’s ever-shifting landscape. These organizations include the Hampton Roads Alliance, Reinvent Hampton Roads, Hampton Roads Chamber, Virginia Peninsula Chamber, Hampton Roads Workforce Council, Greater Peninsula Workforce Board, the Old Dominion University Strome College of Business, Norfolk State University and the CIVIC Leadership Institute.

Once the need for relief information subsided, our coalition pivoted to creating a comprehensive game plan to recover quickly, provide more equitable economic opportunities, and build more economic resilience. That game plan is the “757 Recovery & Resilience Action Framework.”

We engaged more than 250 regional leaders to create this plan, and more than 1,000 business leaders provided input via online surveys. The common thread? Flourishing in the face of this pandemic would mean doubling down on our collaborative efforts.

The fundamental precept — that we are in this together and stronger together — became the first, and arguably most important, of the Action Framework’s five strategic pillars:

1. Building regional unity

2. Growing new jobs

3. Growing, retaining, and attracting talent

4. Building resilience

5. Advancing regional infrastructure

The success of each pillar hinges on the success of the first. To ensure that success, here are five ways we are building regional unity today.

Advancing a Vision for the 757 Economy: United in the belief that a shared vision would accelerate recovery, we combined the results of several regional studies to create the first vision statement for our region’s economy:

Our economy will be innovative and resilient. Here, we all work together to grow our economy and advance the well-being of all residents. We’re inspired by what we value: a commitment to inclusion and equity, a strong military presence, a welcoming community spirit, and our old salt, new vibe coastal lifestyle, making our region one of a kind and one for all.

Distilled into its simplest form, our vision is: “757 = One, Economic Empowerment & Growth for All”

Recruiting and Supporting 1,000 Regional 757 Champions: Regional unity starts from the ground up, which is why the Hampton Roads Chamber is leading efforts to recruit a team of diverse, inclusive, and regionally minded ambassadors appropriately named 757 Champions. More than 250 people have joined. Visit hamptonroadsalliance.com to add your support.

Unifying and Empowering Our Young Regional Leaders: Our diversity is one of our region’s greatest strengths, and this initiative will advance programs and resources to help make our economy more inclusive and equitable. This work starts with one of the most diverse segments in our workforce — our next generation. We’ve enlisted young professionals to serve in co-chair positions on all 11 planning committees. We have helped unite all 13 young professional groups across the region under one umbrella 501(c)(3) organization named 757 Proud.

Advancing the 757 “Did You Know” Campaign: Regional unity and collaboration hinge on building greater awareness of what defines our region geographically and the advantages we offer. 757 Proud has embraced this task and is actively creating a “Did You Know” pride-building campaign that will roll out this summer.

Showcasing Success through a Performance Dashboard and Events: We will track and report through a public-facing dashboard, as well as through periodic events, beginning with the Hampton Roads Chamber’s October State of the Region event.

As our coalition members continue to oversee the implementation of the Action Framework, we already see the fruits of our labor, especially as we monitor a potential $2 trillion national infrastructure bill on the horizon. To ensure our region earns its fair share of that funding, 17 public and private organizations across the 757 have created a comprehensive, integrated regional funding request.

So, the next time you hear someone lament our lack of collaboration, smile and point them to the 757 Recovery & Resilience Action Framework. And, while you’re at it, encourage them to become a 757 Champion.