“Everyone’s talking about Portsmouth!” That was the theme of Mayor John Rowe’s 2018 State of the City address held on April 6 at the Portsmouth Renaissance Hotel. The State of the City is one of the Hampton Roads Chamber’s signature events and Rowe seemed to be speaking directly to the business community. In his second annual address as the city’s mayor, Rowe emphasized a renewed buzz around Portsmouth with, “people discovering how great it is to live, visit and do business in Portsmouth,” Rowe said.
It was indeed businesses that shone throughout the address. Much of his speech emphasized the accomplishments of Portsmouth-based business and was both in praise of the small business as well as an open invitation for small business entrepreneurs to come to Portsmouth. “With a small business incentive program, you can grow and succeed in your business. Think about it, in Portsmouth your business can live and grow for more than 100 years!” Rowe referenced Portsmouth’s own T.O. Williams meat shop which has been in business for a century.
Rowe personally recognized Tracy Link, the Chair of the Portsmouth Division of the Hampton Roads Chamber who started her security business, Integrity Security Services three years ago and has “grown her business from a $500 check her mom sent her to one with $1 million in annual revenues and 46 employees,” Rowe said. Link opened the Portsmouth State of the City program by saying, “Portsmouth is the best small town in Hampton Roads.”
Bon Secours Maryview Medical Center was recognized for their top 50 ranking by IBM Watson Health which issued a top 50 hospitals report concerning outcomes in cardiovascular health care, that Bon Secours Maryview Medical Center was on that list was a point of pride for the Mayor. “Watson Health evaluated more than 1,000 hospitals across our nation, this is a very elite group. Isn’t it great to know that a Portsmouth citizen does not have to leave the boundaries of Portsmouth to visit one of the top 50 hospitals in our nation,” Rowe said.
Since its founding in 2007 SimIS, a technology company based in Portsmouth, “is on the cutting edge of simulation and modeling and has taken off like a rocket,” Rowe said. Founder Dr. Johnny Garcia is at the helm of that operation and was just announced as the Hampton Roads Chamber Small Business of the Year (SBOY) city winner for Portsmouth. “Here is proof that a veteran-owned small business can thrive and grow in Portsmouth and shape the future of the world,” Rowe said.
Finally, Rowe addressed the Port of Virginia where 50% of port operations are in Portsmouth. Dan Stevens of PortRail Crane Services (PCS) “assembled 90 cranes for the Port Authority and went from a start-up in 2015 to 44 employees today with plans to hire 10 more this year. Another Portsmouth small business success story.”
With the emphasis on the success, opportunity and longevity of small businesses in Portsmouth, Link’s comments on Portsmouth being the best small town in Hampton Roads resonated with the Mayor’s clear focus on helping entrepreneurs succeed in his city.
Mayor Rowe also recognized Portsmouth public schools, their STEM and robotics programs in elementary schools as well as secondary school achievements. “All 3 of Portsmouth’s high schools were recognized by U.S. News & World Report as ‘best high schools in the nation,’” Rowe said. A partnership with Tidewater Community College’s Portsmouth branch allows high achieving students to earn an Associate’s degree in Science alongside their high school diploma by offering 60 credits of college courses through the Early College Academy program. Rowe recognized the students that are achieving that success and his speech envisioned a bright beacon in Portsmouth for them to start their own ground breaking and successful business of the future.
Rowe urged everyone to be a part of the conversation, to share the news and achievements of Portsmouth so that nationally it can be said, “Everyone’s talking about Portsmouth!”
The State of the City Series will conclude May 8th with Suffolk.