State & Local Indicators

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REAL GROSS REGIONAL PRODUCT (2005=10) 73.83B 75.07B +1.68
CIVILIAN EMPLOYMENT 742,142 747,337 +0.7
TAXABLE SALES $19.94B $20.68B +3.7
HOTEL REVENUES $671.94M $694.12M +3.3


*Figures for calendar year 2012 include the predicted values for December 2012.

$684.82M $740.97M


The Virginian-Pilot © 

These charts track the health of the local housing market. Home sales and prices tend to be seasonal, but these charts show the long-term trend compared with a year earlier. Foreclosures also affect the number of homes on the market and put downward pressure on prices. Sources: Real Estate Information Network, foreclosure information from RealtyTrac. 

Sequester a wake-up call for local business diversity?

By Philip Walzer

The Virginian-Pilot

Old Dominion University economist James Koch figures it’s been a dozen years since he first sounded the alarm: Hampton Roads leaders had better start working to diversify the local economy because the Navy won’t always be the region’s sugar daddy.


U.S. Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Virginia Beach, can recall such discussions dating to the mid-’80s in the business community. “It is a common refrain: We absolutely need to diversify,” Rigell said last week. “We all go to the Marriott or the Hilton or the conference center in Chesapeake. We all agree that it needs to happen. For whatever reason, it doesn’t get done.”  Now, business and political leaders agree, it’s got to get done.


Half of the $85 billion in budget cuts triggered this year by sequestration will be carved from defense, though the military accounts for only one-fifth of total federal spending. Even if sequestration is halted, defense spending is expected to shrink with pressure to reduce the national debt and the wind-down of the war in Afghanistan.


“The threat of sequestration, hopefully, is the major wake-up call to rally and galvanize the region to finally focus on a serious and doable economic-development growth plan,” said Peter Shaw, professor of business administration and management at Tidewater Community College.


Deborah DiCroce, president and CEO of the Hampton Roads Community Foundation, said it’s time for “bolder, more coordinated action” to attract businesses. The foundation is working on a blueprint to sharpen the region’s “economic competitiveness.”  Business leaders say they’ve been on it for years.


“I think we’re always looking for different ideas,” said Jack Hornbeck, president and CEO of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce. “I don’t think anyone around here has been sitting on their hands, saying, ‘We’ve got it great. We’ve got all this money coming in.’ ”


The Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance is the primary agency marketing the region to outside businesses. “Yes, we’ve seen some growth in the expansion of existing companies and new companies coming into the area,” said Darryl Gosnell, president and CEO of the alliance, “but it’s not at the pace we were seeing before 2007.”


In each of the past four years, he said, the alliance has announced four to eight new business moves. “I’d like to see 10 or 12 a year,” Gosnell said.  “We think we have the right strategy,” he said. It’s the tentative economy, Gosnell said, that has held back expansion.


Yet observers say business acquisition efforts in Hampton Roads have also been hampered by a jumble of regional and city-specific private and public economic agencies that don’t always work in sync.


“We speak with many voices regionally,” said Koch, a former president of Old Dominion. “If we had one voice, we’d have the nub of what’s required to get us going.”


Koch said: “We lack the benevolent dictators: ‘Everybody get together in this room. Here’s what we need to do. We’re not going to leave the room until we figure out how to do it.”  Read more