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The Alliance's Go-To-Market Strategy and What it Means for Hampton Roads.

Prioritizing and Delivering Inward Investment for the Region of Hampton Roads, Virginia.

Impetus and Importance

Over the past decade, minimal enterprise growth and job creation in the Hampton Roads market have led to considerable headwinds for competitive economic growth within private industries. These headwinds have materialized with adverse effects and are reflective within regional demographic trends, growth patterns, and business dynamics data. As such, the region of Hampton Roads has been confronted with a difficult challenge. A challenge of attracting and developing well-paying employment opportunities which meet the current needs of employers, while at the same time establishing cluster density in strategic areas that would position the region to innovate and thrive in the economy of tomorrow. Understanding this challenge, Hampton Roads’ future success in economic development is based, in large part, on recognizing the current and future economic environment and implementing improvement strategies at scale that will position the region as a location of choice for competitive private sector investments in the future.

The realities described above serve as the impetus to engage the IBM-PLI team. Understanding that business location decisions function as a methodical and analytical process where regions are being evaluated across a number of critical location factors that would position a firm for long-term operational success. Within this evaluation, businesses generally are attracted to geographic locations because of a certain mix of optimal advantages. Some of which include but are not limited to: cluster density (being near related industry), access to talent, cost advantages (quality land and labor), access to resources, transportation options, favorable government support, as well as technology and innovation in the area.

Using the lens of inward investment to their benefit, IBM-PLI conducted a series of regional competitiveness assessments which identified industry sectors that could best leverage the current assets and attributes of the Hampton Roads market in the near-term. From this assessment, the Alliance has actionable insights to a regional value proposition that can be taken to market and leveraged for the specific sectors which are best suited for near-term attraction to the region. Complementary to these action items, IBM-PLI provided a set of business environment improvement recommendations for economic development entities across the region. These recommendations address some of the critical location factors that cast a drag on the region’s optimal advantages and can be addressed pro-actively over the long-term.

In the short term, the economic value of implementing strategies at scale will redefine the baseline for economic growth. In the long-term, by focusing on a collaborative, higher wage growth model, economic development efforts have the potential to yield lasting impacts that will strengthen the region’s commercial sector integrity and move the region into a more favorable competitive position within both the domestic and international markets.

Delivering Inward Investment

Objective: Move the Alliance towards a pro-active marketing organization acting as catalyst for growth through integrated support and effective promotion, cluster development and advocacy.

To successfully obtain the projected increase of inward investment and implement the full business environment improvement recommendations on behalf of Hampton Roads, expansion of the organizations mission, and adjustments to the current program of work are required. Shown in the chart below, the Alliance will maintain its core functional responsibilities. However, moving beyond 2018, it is recommended that the Alliance pro-actively engage with activities that complement internationalization and investor development initiatives. In addition to these functions, the Alliance should actively partner and support strategic initiatives for investment promotion, regional partnerships, talent development and coordination, cluster development and innovative technologies, infrastructure & real estate, as well as Finance.

Alliance Role and Responsibilities

The approved realignment of the Alliance promotes that of a best-practice, comprehensive, and pro-active economic development organization. These functions serve to support that of a pro-active value proposition-based marketing approach and should work in sync to operate under a cohesive definition of purpose in achieving unmatched excellence in competitive economic growth.

Opportunity Sector Identification

Objective: Engage sectors of near-term opportunity where the region of Hampton Roads currently holds a competitive value proposition.

IBM-PLI’s location benchmarking analysis is conducted from a realistic investor’s perspective and simulates the location decision making process that companies go through when assessing locations for their investment projects.

To that end, IBM-PLI developed investment project assumptions and location requirements that corporate decision makers typically use when evaluating location options for the diverse variety of project types. To develop these prototype investment projects, IBM-PLI uses real life input from location strategy projects for companies in the selected sub-sectors. This is seen as the most objective process to identify strengths and weaknesses of locations from the lens of a corporate decision maker.

It is from this filtering process, IBM-PLI has identified the sectors from which Hampton Roads currently hosts a competitive advantage and regional value proposition that can be taken to market.

Near-term opportunity sectors include:

Near Term Opportunity Sectors

For the prime target subsectors, senior professionals from the organization should develop the sector expertise that is required to demonstrate a deep understanding of the industry and be able to better serve the potential investor.

In the weeks to follow, each of the above sectors will be highlighted in subsequence sector profile blog post. Each sector profile will showcase the priority of the sector in regards to Alliance marketing, an overview of the sector, major competitive strengths, and regional value proposition.  

For more information on the Go To Market Strategy, please contact Director of Business Intelligence, Chad Matheson at

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