“I am happy to announce that the state of this city – the state of our Chesapeake – is sound,” declared Chesapeake Mayor Alan P. Krasnoff on March 10 at the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce’s annual Chesapeake State of the City luncheon. More that 650 business and community leaders gathered at the Chesapeake Conference Center to listen to his keynote speech as part of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce’s annual Chesapeake State of the City.
Mayor Krasnoff addressed the city’s economic position. “In early 2010 unemployment in Chesapeake was at its highest point since 1992,” he recalled. “Bankruptcies and foreclosures seemed on the rise, new home starts were slipping and revenue forecasts were nothing to celebrate.”
Even with a “gloomy” forecast in 2010, Chesapeake’s economic resilience came through in the end. “Chesapeake racked up $81 million in new investments and saw 667 new jobs created,” said Mayor Krasnoff. The city saw 1,600 more construction permits in 2010 than the year before, with a work value of $353 million. Additionally, over 700 new business permits were issued in 2010.
“Existing businesses invested an additional $62 million in Chesapeake,” said Mayor Krasnoff. “Over 1,800 jobs stayed here, and more high-tech positions were created by companies like Canon ITS, Gryphon Technologies, and WebTeks.” Many other companies like Monarch Bank, Burlington Coat Factory, and the Simon Property Group have re-invested in Chesapeake with expansions, jobs, and commitments toward future development.
The mayor announced future plans of an offshore wind technology center as a result of a joint venture with Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, Gamsea Technology, and the City of Chesapeake. “We know this new partnership could have chosen to open its doors anywhere, but Northrop Grumman and Gamsea chose Chesapeake,” said Mayor Krasnoff.
The mayor applauded many successful Chesapeake businesses like Prism Maritime, Damuth Trane and Jo-Kell Inc., which have earned many regional awards and state-wide attention.
“Chesapeake was ranked 85th on its list of the Top 100 Best Cities to Live in 2010 by Money Magazine,” said Mayor Krasnoff, calling the city “a diverse, business-friendly town that has attracted companies from all over the world.” “And far be it for me to argue with Money Magazine,” the mayor said jokingly.
To alleviate regional transportation woes, Mayor Krasnoff declared that “a new South Norfolk Jordan Bridge is rising from the waters of the Elizabeth River.” Instead of accepting proposals from private contractors to solve the problem, the city worked closely with federal and state highway officials, building a close relationship. As a result, “we are tantalizingly close to finalizing plans and funding for a new Dominion Boulevard corridor,” said the mayor. “We could have waited for someone else to solve our problem, but I am not one who wants to waste my time sitting on the sidelines praying that a Hail Mary pass will win the game.”
In addition to talking about the city’s economic potential, Mayor Krasnoff applauded the educational performance of Chesapeake Public School students, who collectively have a 100% pass rate in the SOL and the lowest high school drop-out rate in the region. He also spoke about new online services that allow plumbing, gas, and electrical permits to be submitted 24/7. Called EZ Permits, this is the first of its kind in the region. “The goal remains the same,” said Mayor Krasnoff, “to save you time and money, and improve customer service.”
Lastly, Mayor Krasnoff dedicated a part of his speech to honor two fallen Chesapeake natives who died fighting for their country. Lance Corporal Cody Childers and Lance Corporal Kielin Dunn, both 19, died serving their country in Afghanistan. They are the “epitome of Semper Fi,” he said. Their mothers were in attendance and led the crowd in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. “In a small way, we too can honor them by being faithful to a cause larger than ourselves,” the mayor said solemnly, “by facing the day not asking ‘what if’, but saying ‘can do.’”
The Chamber thanks series sponsors: TowneBank (Presenting), Bon Secours Virginia Health System (Gold), Cox Communications (Media) and Farm Fresh (Silver). Chesapeake Bronze Sponsors included Chesapeake Regional Medical Center and Dollar Tree.
Mark your calendars for the remaining State of the City Series:
Virginia Beach: Wednesday, April 13, 12pm, Virginia Beach Convention Center
Portsmouth: Wednesday, April 20, 12pm, Renaissance Portsmouth Hotel & Waterfront Conference Center
Suffolk: Tuesday, April 26, 12pm, Hilton Garden Inn & Suffolk Convention Center