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Stopping the "Brain Drain"

We hear it from all corners of the Hampton Roads business community:
-       “We can’t hold onto top talent in this market.”
-       “Our best and brightest don’t find jobs and leave for greener pastures.”
-       “The biggest regional challenge is to end the ‘brain drain.’”

Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance, better known as “the Alliance,” understood the challenge and in 2016, took a step in the right direction by helping to bring Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (ADP) to the region. One of the nation’s largest providers of human resources management software and services (and a Fortune 300 company), ADP announced in March its plan to create 1,800 professional, service-oriented jobs in Norfolk.

“The ADP announcement is a ‘game-changing’ moment for the region’s economy,” said the Alliance President & CEO, Rick Weddle. “We at the Alliance recognized this opportunity, and with our partners at the City of Norfolk Development office, saw it through. We are proud to help bring these new opportunities for our local workforce.”

Click here to read the Alliance's original news release about ADP's announcement.

The 1,800 jobs from ADP represent the future of our regional workforce — one not wedded to the government and the unpredictability of defense spending. Just two months after ADP opened its doors, we can already see the beginning of the end of the “brain drain.”

ADP Meeting

In July, the Alliance met with several of ADP’s newest employees to ask about their new roles. Here’s what they had to say about their jobs and decision to live and work in Hampton Roads.

Jessica Torres, originally from Phoenix, Arizona, has lived in the hip, millennial hot-spot of Austin, Texas for the last few years. Tired of the congestion and ready for a new opportunity, Torres saw ADP in Norfolk as a promising place to plant her roots. She believes Hampton Roads is a hidden gem, and in her own words, Hampton Roads “stole a hipster from ATX.”

A native of Chesapeake, Virginia, Ian Bichara attended Great Bridge High School before receiving his undergraduate degree and his MBA from Old Dominion University. Well educated, Bichara didn’t see much opportunity in Hampton Roads and thought about moving his family to Tampa, Florida. His plans changed when ADP arrived. Bichara landed the job and now plans to stay in the area longterm.

Jay Spare has spent the last 18 years in Norfolk, serving in the US Navy. As he approached his retirement, after 28 years of active duty, he considered moving to Washington, D.C. to work as a defense contractor. Once ADP announced its plan to come to Norfolk, Spare applied. He was hired in the Time and Labor Management division, and now Hampton Roads will remain his home. Spare noted, “I retired on a Friday and went to work at ADP on a Monday. I’m excited for this next chapter in my career.”

Hampton High School graduate Lakitta Hicks left the area to attend Livingstone College in Charlotte, North Carolina. She loved the Charlotte area and planned to stay there after finishing school. But when she saw the job opportunities at ADP in Norfolk, she had a change of heart. She applied and was hired as an Implementation Specialist in June. “I spent most of my youth on the Peninsula, and now I feel like I’m experiencing Norfolk and Virginia Beach for the first time,” Hicks said. “It’s a whole new world for me.”

Look at the places we “beat out” for top talent: Austin, Charlotte, Tampa, Washington, D.C... all premier destinations, yet these hardworking individuals chose Hampton Roads.

Why? The region provided good-paying, professional jobs.

How? Through efforts by the Alliance and local economic development offices.

We at the Alliance are committed to leading the region and ending our collective “brain drain.”
And with ADP, we’re off to a great start.

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