2022 Chesapeake State of the City
The Hampton Roads Chamber continued the annual State of the City series with the Chesapeake State of the City address on March 24, 2002. Chesapeake Mayor Rick West highlighted key business development initiatives, gave strategic municipal progress updates, and addressed both challenges and opportunities awaiting Chesapeake in the future.
Series Platinum Sponsor, Dominion Energy, opened the address by sharing developments in off-shore wind happening in the region. Next, Member Spotlight, Chesapeake Regional Healthcare, offered updates on new healthcare developments in Chesapeake.
Mayor Rick West began by referencing the famous quote from Charles Dickens’ classic, A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Mayor West explained that he believes this quote fits into so many areas of our lives, individually and as a community, beyond just the pandemic. For that reason, Mayor West used this quote as the theme of his 2022 State of the City address.
“Before I begin, I want to acknowledge a bit of personal bias – I think our success far outweighs our failures,” said Mayor West.
Last year’s State of the City address differed from years past due to the pandemic limiting audience size. Because of that smaller audience, Mayor West and City Manager Chris Price took a more conversational approach than a formal speech. Mayor West noted that they received a lot of positive feedback on that model of address, a model that they want to continue again for this year.
Mayor West then introduced Chesapeake City Manager Chris Price, who delivered the address alongside West. “Great teams thrive with great leadership, and we are truly blessed to have someone with your commitment and dedication as our City Manager. You’ve not only kept the City open for business throughout the pandemic, you’ve also led the Council and staff through the development of a new strategic plan and helped us all focus on both our current priorities and our vision for the future of Chesapeake,” said West.
Price thanked the 4,000+ employees of Chesapeake, acknowledging their hard work and dedication to the City. He cited City workers as the reason Chesapeake can thrive and serve the community.
Price then introduced the City’s new strategic plan. “The vision is aspirational; we are focused on making Chesapeake a great place to work, live, learn, farm, and play. There are three strategic anchors that we use in every decision. The first is to ensure Chesapeake is an exceptional place to live, work, learn, farm, play. The second is providing outstanding service to our community, and third, doing these in a fiscally responsible and sustainable manner,” said Price.
Price spent a large portion of the address addressing workforce challenges and potential. “The workforce is changing. We are working towards attracting the workforce of the future,” said Price. He spoke about attracting younger professionals and keeping talent in the region. He addressed their housing needs, recreational needs, and how to keep Chesapeake an attractive place to live, work, farm, and play.
Mayor West provided an update of all the new businesses and restaurants opening their doors in Chesapeake. He showed genuine excitement when he listed the breweries, restaurants, and shops coming to the City.
Next, West and Price addressed the public concern over removing the government program, curbside recycling. “We have to prioritize. Last summer, we identified some labor shortage issues. We experienced high turnover rates in unacceptable areas. Like any business, we had to look at underperforming areas, which brings me to the curbside recycling pickup,” said Price. Price acknowledged that the community desires curbside recycling. However, most cities do not have City-funded curbside recycling programs. The City is still supportive of recycling and hopes that the private sector can fill the needs where the City could not.
“Chesapeake is a thriving community and well-positioned to take advantage of future opportunities; how are we going to make sure these opportunities will be for everyone?” asked Mayor West to Price. Price mentioned that Chesapeake is now in the top 20 Best Cities in America for Black-Owned businesses. However, Price noted that he wants to keep making it a focus to climb higher on those lists and ensure equitable opportunities in Chesapeake. Price then mentioned women, minority, and veteran-owned business initiatives underway. “We must ensure that places we choose to invest, don’t leave anyone behind,” said Price. Mayor West then asked state delegates in attendance to stand and thanked them for allocating nine million dollars to build Chesapeake’s first public swimming pool, citing the project as a positive development in community access.
Price then addressed the old notion that Hampton Roads leadership does not collaborate on regional issues. “That is an old, tired notion, and it is simply not true. We need to do a better job telling our story,” said Price. Price cited many of the organizations who are collaborating to better the region, such as The Hampton Roads Chamber, Hampton Roads Workforce Council, and ReInvent Hampton Roads.
More than 300 new businesses started in Chesapeake this past year. Mayor West mentioned Chesapeake has 70 new companies from different countries operating in the City in some capacity. “One day, I may have to deliver this address in multiple languages,” joked Mayor West.
West then shared the exciting news about Perdue AgriBusiness. Perdue AgriBusiness is a facility in Chesapeake that supplies crude degummed soybean oil to Perdue’s Salisbury, Maryland, oil refinery for sales to the food and biodiesel industries. “Today, Governor Glenn Youngkin announced a $59.1 million investment to expand that business,” said West. The company will use the funds to modernize the Chesapeake location’s facilities and increase production. “I cannot wait to go back and visit when those expansions and improvement occurs,” said West.
West and Price wanted attendees to know that Chesapeake is strong and is working towards new and exciting opportunities emerging from the pandemic.
To view a recording of the program, visit the Hampton Roads Chamber website or official Facebook page.
Thank you to our sponsors, without whom these events would not be possible.
Presenting Series Sponsor: TowneBank
City Host Sponsor: Dollar Tree
Member Spotlight Sponsor: Chesapeake Regional Healthcare
Platinum Series Sponsors: Bon Secours, Dominion Energy
Silver Series Sponsors: ABNB, GEICO, Hampton Roads Workforce Council, Langley, Sentara Optima Health, Verizon, Rivers Casino Portsmouth
Series Building the Future Partner: The Franklin Johnston Group
Media Series Sponsor: WTKR Channel 3
Bronze Sponsor: Centura College
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