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A Closer Look at Hampton Roads: VEDP Visits for FAM Tour

The Alliance welcomes state partners, VEDP for familiarization (FAM) tour of our 11 member localities. 

In October, the Alliance hosted the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) for a familiarization (FAM) tour. In attendance were staff from the Business Investment, Research, Communications, Workforce and Strategic Initiative departments. The tour took place in two phases; on the Southside of Hampton Roads on October 11-12th and the peninsula side of Hampton Roads on October 26th.

The purpose of this FAM tour was to have our guests from the State visit the region and learn about the business assets and resources that are available, but also so they could hear first-hand from the localities that the Alliance represents. Each locality in Hampton Roads has a unique community brand and this tour was an excellent opportunity for us to connect the local representatives to our State partners. By doing so, the Alliance was able to foster awareness and growth, so that VEDP can better tell the story of Hampton Roads.

During the tour, our guests visited a variety of locations including local companies, available properties, local restaurants, regional educational assets and local economic development offices. Some highlights from the trip included:

  • ST Paper and Tissue: A high-quality tissue, towel and napkin product manufacturer that recently announced a $35-million-dollar expansion in Isle of Wight County.
  • Virginia International Gateway: A privately owned marine container terminal located along the Elizabeth River in Portsmouth, Virginia. The facility, commissioned in 2007, is the largest privately-owned container terminal in the United States. In 2010, VIG entered a 20-year lease agreement with the Port of Virginia under with the Port maintains complete operation of the facility. 
  • Smartmouth Brewing Company: A local brewery in the West Ghent neighborhood of Norfolk. The 20-barrel brewhouse, which opened in 2012 has been a huge hit in the Hampton Roads community and typically churns out 250 barrels of delicious craft beer a month.
  • LifeNet Health: LifeNet Health is one of the world's largest and most trusted provider of transplant solutions. Their expertise ranges from tissue and organ procurement to research and innovation in bio-implant technologies and cellular therapies. LifeNet Health is located in Virginia Beach and is a key asset in the VA Beach BIO initiative currently underway.
  • Tidewater Community College, Regional Automotive Center:  A part of Tidewater Community College, the Regional Automotive Center in Chesapeake is the region’s only high-tech, automotive training facility and offers certifications in collision repair, marine technology and diesel technology.
  • Fort Monroe: A former military installation in Hampton, Virginia, this 565-acre region on the southern tip the Virginia Peninsula is now a national park. What used to be the largest stone fort ever built in the United States is now a thriving district with numerous commercial and residential redevelopment projects in place.

In economic development, it is always a great idea to do a FAM tour, but this tour with VEDP had a heightened importance as it followed VEDP’s recent organizational restructure. Many in attendance were new employees at VEDP, while others are now filling new roles within the company. Many were unfamiliar with the Hampton Roads region and very much appreciated this opportunity to experience it first-hand.

"I have only been on a few of these tours but this was by far the best! Being new to my current position, due to our reorganization, it was very helpful for me to meet everyone from the different localities and put names and faces together." 
-Christine B., Community Engagement

In addition to connecting VEDP to the localities of Hampton Roads, this tour served as a great platform for engagement between the Alliance and VEDP. Many discussions were had on ways to build our relationship and work closer together in the future to promote the Hampton Roads economy. 

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