Harnessing the Economic Power of the I-64 Innovation Corridor from Richmond to Hampton Roads
ChamberRVA, the Hampton Roads Chamber and RVA757 Connects recently held Convergence 2022, an on-going collaborative effort to advance the I-64 Innovation Corridor as America’s 12th megaregion.
Bringing together leaders from across the region, Convergence 2022 showcased the efforts happening between Hampton Roads and Richmond to promote development of the I-64 Innovation Corridor.
During the keynote address, Aubrey Layne, the executive vice president of governance and external affairs for healthcare firm Sentara, told participants that leaders in the megaregion need to “Think Big. Act Boldly. Embrace Urgency.”
Layne said leaders from the two regions also must work together on common priorities.
“We have a choice. We can obsess over our past challenges, or we can focus on our future opportunities,” said Layne, who is the chairman of the Virginia Port Authority board of directors and serves as a special advisor to Gov. Glenn Youngkin. Layne is the former Secretary of Finance for Gov. Ralph Northam; Secretary of Transportation for Gov. Terry McAuliffe; and an executive committee board member of RVA757 Connects.
Attendees of Convergence 2022 also received updates on the leading initiatives taking place in the Hampton Roads and Richmond regions including overviews on offshore wind energy and supply chain developments; The Port of Virginia; LifeNet Health; Jefferson Lab; NASA Langley Research Center; and Phlow Corp.’s advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing plans.
The Convergence 2022 conference was held in Williamsburg on Oct. 13. More than 130 people attended the day-long meeting.
ChamberRVA, the Hampton Roads Chamber and RVA757 Connects collectively, along with hundreds of top-level supporters, are working to make the I-64 Innovation Corridor a priority.
The Hampton Roads and Richmond megaregion is comprised of 3 million residents. The megaregion is home to 10 Fortune 500 companies, the top-performing port in the country (The Port of Virginia), and thousands of innovative companies. Additionally, all five branches of the military are concentrated here, and the area has many top-ranked colleges and universities. Combined, the Richmond and Hampton Roads markets make up the 17th largest economic region in the country.
“The power of the megaregion concept is not all about size. It really is about driving economic growth and improving the quality of life in both markets,” said Bryan Stephens, president and CEO of the Hampton Roads Chamber. “Collaborating on infrastructure connections like roads, trails, and fiber optics help both markets thrive.”
John W. Martin, president and CEO of RVA757 Connects, agreed. “Nearby cities across the world are learning that they shouldn’t compete but rather collaborate with one another. This point of view has inspired 11 megaregions across America that are now responsible for 70% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP),” he said.
Brian Anderson, president and CEO of ChamberRVA, said combining the Richmond and Hampton Roads markets as the I-64 Innovation Corridor megaregion makes it easier to compete for big economic development projects. “You combine our forces and you’ve got something.”
The collaboration between the Richmond and Hampton Roads regions is already paying dividends. Through focused advocacy efforts, RVA757 Connects supported the leadership of Gov. Youngkin, Virginia Secretary of Transportation W. Sheppard Miller III, and the General Assembly in identifying most of the needed $750 million in funding to widen a 29-mile stretch of Interstate 64 between the Bottoms Bridge exit in New Kent County and the Lightfoot exit near Williamsburg.
Widening this part of I-64 has been a priority of RVA757 Connects. “They’ve been pushing it. I’ve been pushing it. We’re all pushing it together as a priority of this administration,” Miller told those attending Convergence 2022.
The reason that the General Assembly along with Gov. Youngkin approved spending $470 million for the widening project was because of the efforts of RVA757 Connects and others, Miller said.
“This simply would not have happened without all of you,” Miller said during his presentation. “I really want to double down and thank you for your support and your partnership with us in completing this major project.”
Sponsors of Convergence 2022 were Sentara Healthcare, Optima Health, Dominion Energy, Colonial Williamsburg Resorts, Atlantic Union Bank, and Guernsey Tingle.
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