Mayor John Rowe welcomed a distinguished guest, the Honorable Governor Ralph Northam to the Portsmouth State of the City on April 5th, the second event in the Hampton Roads Chamber State of the City Series. Upon finalizing a new economic development project, Project Cold, Northam addressed the audience regarding the news. Northam said, “In order for good things to happen in great cities, it takes great leaders. We have a lot to be proud of in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
The Governor noted that Hampton Roads has access to some of the most desired infrastructure in the nation, including the Ports. “The Ports’ impact on economic development in the Commonwealth cannot be overstated,” he said. He explained exactly how Project Cold will support and increase the Portsmouth’s already remarkably productive Ports. Northam said, “It will give new life to a formerly vacant site. It demonstrates a strong commitment to investment right here in Hampton Roads.”
The $60 million project will be directed by the Economic Development staff under the direction of Robert Moore in collaboration with the Portsmouth Port and Industrial Commission, the Virginia Port Authority, the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance, Virginia Economic Development Partnership, and Preferred Freezer Services. The development will fund and build a groundbreaking cold storage facility at the former BASF facility. Portsmouth was chosen over a site in Savannah, Georgia because of the preferable proximity to the Virginia International Gateway.
In addition to being equipped to handle the import, processing, and distribution of a variety of food products, the 200,000 square-foot facility will bring sixty new jobs to the Hampton Roads area with average annual salaries of $50,000. “This is a wonderful example of how the Commonwealth, our city, and regional teams can work together to create jobs to expand our economy,” Rowe said.
Mayor Rowe thanked the citizens and hardworking employees of Portsmouth and said, “The state of the city is excellent and well positioned for success in the future.” He prompted a discussion with the attendees and said, “My goal is to make this a conversation with you. I want to tell you today the realities of what makes Portsmouth a great place to live, work and play, not only now, but for the future.”
Situated on one of the most historic rivers in Virginia, the Elizabeth River, the City of Portsmouth is thriving as a port city. Rowe spoke on the aspects of the city that are leading a foundation for its bright future. He said, “Our region has three major economic drivers, tourism, the Department of Defense, and our Ports.” Together, the Portsmouth Marine Terminal and the Virginia International Gateway, make up 50 percent of the Virginia Port Authorities’ marine facilities in Hampton Roads. The goods shipped from these ports travel throughout the nation in massive quantities. Rowe said, “The Virginia International Gateway is the gateway to the Heartland of America.”
Over the past three years, the Virginia International Gateway has invested $320.5 million into expanding the length of the wharf, increasing the number of cranes, increasing the size of the stack yard, and the size of the terminal’s rail yard. This has brought the Virginia International Gateway’s annual container capacity to 1.2 million units. This past January, the project brought in 170-foot tall cranes on the Virginia International Gateway’s waterfront. The cranes can extend over 226 feet across 26 containers. The Virginia International Gateway is now home to twelve ship-to-shore cranes. “They are a beautiful skyline for our Gateway to the Heartland of America,” Rowe said.
Mayor Rowe also informed the room of digital advancements for the City of Portsmouth to become a ‘Smart City’. He announced the Crawford Gateway Project, and the ongoing research endeavors to plan and build casinos throughout the Hampton Roads area in the coming years.
“Economic develop is a team effort and we have a great team,” said Northam in closing his announcement, which set a critical and encouraging tone of business for the region. It was reiterated to the audience that Virginia has the tools and leadership to be the number one state in business. “I want Virginia to be a place for everyone, no matter who you are or where you’re from to have access to good jobs,” Northam said.
The Hampton Roads Chamber means business and works as a powerful economic partner, inspiring ignitor and impactful advocate for our diverse and inclusive business community. We encourage everyone to participate in the State of the City Series which continues April 19th with Norfolk, April 30th with Chesapeake and closes on May 21st with Suffolk.
Thank you to our series sponsors: Presenting Sponsor: Town Bank, Platinum Sponsor: Bon Secours, Building the Future Series Sponsor: The Franklin Johnson Group, Gold Sponsor: Geico, Silver Sponsors: ABNB Federal Credit Union, Hampton Roads Workforce Council, Optima Health, TrafFix, Norfolk State University, Langley Federal Credit Union, Version, BrightView, Magazine Sponsor: Virginia Business, Non-Profit Leader Sponsor: WHRO, Host Sponsor: Renaissance Portsmouth-Norfolk Waterfront Hotel, Radio Sponsor: Sinclair Communications.