Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim spoke to nearly 1,000 business and community leaders and elected officials from Hampton Roads at the Chamber’s Norfolk State of the City luncheon on February 4, at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott.
Fraim announced the hiring of new city manager, Marcus Jones, a 17-year veteran of public service. Jones returns to Norfolk after nearly two years as chief administrative officer for finance and administration for the city of Richmond. “Obviously, Mr. Jones is assuming the role of manager at a difficult moment for the City. The first 100 days of his administration will be challenging, but he is up to the task. He will be forward-thinking and aggressive as he works with the City Council, our outstanding city employees and you to move Norfolk forward."
Fraim, explained challenges including, “a stagnant economy, declining local revenues, State funding reductions, and shrinking federal assistance. Localities across the nation, Commonwealth and region are forced to accept the fact that lean is the new normal.”
Transportation solutions are needed. He said, “Future economic growth depends on the ability to move goods and people into and out of the region efficiently. Today, that future is threatened by a highway network that crashes too often. Regional leaders recognize this, and have endorsed a transportation vision that, if implemented, will fuel economic growth well into the future.”
The key and innovation in the new transportation system is creating a third Hampton Roads harbor crossing. Fraim said, “For the immediate present, the most important transportation project is the second Midtown Tunnel and MLK Freeway extension linking it with the Downtown Tunnel. It is the most heavily traveled two-lane road in Virginia and needs our immediate and full-time attention.” This project was selected to receive a portion of the Governor’s transportation fund plan, and a potential construction start as early as the end of the year.
Fraim shared information from a recent Brookings Institution report which ranked Norfolk as number 2 in the nation for economic performance and in the top quarter of regions worldwide. And a December report showed that in 2009, compensation-per-job grew in Norfolk by 4.6%. This is significantly greater than the 1.2% growth nationwide. Fraim said, “It’s the best in Hampton Roads, and confirms our position as the region’s center for business, finance, education, medicine and culture.”
The crowd listened as Mayor Fraim congratulated the successes of Old Dominion’s Innovation Research Park stating the school is “diversifying the economy.” He also highlighted the Port of Virginia, high speed and light rail, Wells Fargo Tower, arts community, the renovation of the Rockefeller Apartments and old Savoy Hotel, and a new central library.
Click here to read Mayor Fraim’s full remarks.
Thank you to sponsors: TowneBank (Series Presenting), Bon Secours Virginia Health System (Series Gold), Farm Fresh (Series Silver), Cox (Series Media), and Norfolk Southern (Spirit in Motion)
Mark your calendars for the remaining State of the City Series:
Chesapeake: Thursday, March 10, 12pm, Chesapeake Conference Center
Virginia Beach: Wednesday, April 13, 12pm, Virginia Beach Convention Center
Portsmouth: Wednesday, April 20, 12pm, Renaissance Portsmouth Hotel
Suffolk: Tuesday, April 26, 12pm, Hilton Garden Inn & Suffolk Conference Center