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Alliance Leadership Collaborates on Alliance's Future Direction

On October 26, 2018, the Alliance hosted a half-day leadership work session with Board members, key investors and public sector stakeholders. The purpose of the work session was to gain leadership input and guidance regarding the Alliance’s future direction and the 2019 budget and plan of work. Work session participants were asked to consider implementation of the IBM-PLI recommendations and expansion of the Alliance mission, review the Go-To-Market Strategy set forth in the IBM-PLI report and provide input regarding the Alliance’s proposed multi-year budget and staffing plan. Attendees included local officials such as Mayor Rick West of Chesapeake, Mayor Donnie Tuck of Hampton, Vice Mayor Carey Freeman of Poquoson and Norfolk City Manager Doug Smith. Additional participants included representatives from the Alliance’s 11 public investors, Alliance private investors, Board of Directors, the region’s two workforce development boards and the Port of Virginia.

Alliance Vice Chair Brian Skinner kicked off the morning by welcoming guests and reviewing the session agenda. Next, Alliance Chair Grig Scifres shared some organizational updates and outlined specific goals and deliverables for the work session. Scifres emphasized three key initiatives that are being pursued by the Alliance:

  1. Utilizing Economic Development Core Principles that will frame a master memorandum of understanding (MOU) among the public investors in the Alliance. A draft of the elements of this framework have been presented to the region’s public sector CAOs for review and comment.
  2. Reaching agreement in support of a multi-year budget and staffing model for the Alliance, with particular focus on recruiting an effective management team.
  3. Engaging private sector leaders to both participate in Alliance governance and make new investment commitments to match public sector funding.  These resources are essential  to implementation of the IBM-PLI recommendations and expansion of the Alliance mission.

Chair Scifres discussed the idea of having a Master MOU to clarify roles and relationships across the region in support of a robust regional economic development delivery system. The Economic Development Core Principles, on which a Master MOU will be based, are a result of extended discussions with both business and public sector leaders over the past several months. The good work of Bob Crum of HRPDC and Jim Spore of Reinvent Hampton Roads was noted as they have worked tirelessly to help pull this effort together. The region’s CAOs have participated in a number of discussions on this topic and are currently reviewing the framework and providing comments. It is expected that these discussions will continue through Q1 of 2019 and be completed in time to line up with the 2019-2020 budget cycle.

Work Session Grig

Alliance Vice Chair Brian Skinner shared an update on the management transition and executive recruitment process that began when CEO Rick Weddle’s retirement at the end of the calendar year was announced. Work is underway to select an interim executive to lead the Alliance while the operating framework/MOU is being finalized and additional private sector engagement and funding is being secured.  Skinner noted that he hoped an interim executive can be identified shortly and then brought on board before year end. 

Next, Gene DePrez, of Global Innovation Partners and a member of the IBM-PLI team, shared a brief overview of the IBM-PLI recommendations for Hampton Roads. An executive summary can be found HERE.  Our Business Intelligence department published an in-depth look at the strategy and methodology used. Read the blog HERE.

The next major item on the agenda for our work session was to review the Five-Year Budget and Staff Plan proposal. A copy of the plan can be found HERE.

This multi-year plan includes a five-year budget based on increasing revenue year by year until a budget total of approximately $4M is attained in 2021. The budget is also based on a new staffing plan for the Alliance that will be implemented in phases. The new staffing plan provides for full implementation of the IBM-PLI proposed Go-To-Market Strategy in 2019 and launch of longer term business environment improvement efforts in the following year as new revenues are secured.  

During an open discussion period facilitated by Gene DePrez, session attendees provided positive input and guidance. In sum, there was broad agreement that the recommendations included in the IBM-PLI report should be fully implemented. There also was discussion that implementation should be accomplished as quickly as possible even though it was noted that the availability of funding would be the driving issue impacting the pace of implementation.

The late morning session began with Andy Coe of Convergent Nonprofit Solutions discussing what it takes to develop a world class private funding campaign. Coe laid out a timeline and action steps to be taken to increase the private sector investment to support the new model and staffing plans. Based on his significant experience working with economic development offices across the mid-Atlantic and, specifically in Virginia, he has created a customized, hybrid approach for the Alliance that will accelerate the fundraising to begin by early 2019.  The foundation to Convergent’s fundraising approach is providing value to your stakeholders and making it easy to see and understand the value proposition. The group queried Andy about the possibility of Hampton Roads securing the needed funding to fully implement ambitious plans. He noted that he had been pleased with the leadership support evidenced in Hampton Roads. He shared that strong and committed private leadership was essential in the region’s efforts. The goal of raising $2 million annually from Hampton Roads area businesses is ambitious; however, Coe suggested that it is achievable in this region if enough senior business leaders become engaged and lead with significant investment commitments.

Work Session Group

The work session concluded with Chad Matheson, Director of Business Intelligence, sharing the 2019 business plan and budget. Matheson spoke to how the Alliance plans to take the recommendations from IBM-PLI and put them into actionable and measurable objectives and business plans. He reviewed the conceptual approach undertaken in assembling the draft 2019 business plan which includes conducting national perception research and organizing a series of marketing accelerator workshops in Q1, followed by development and implementation of an innovative marketing automation system.  Based on this momentum, a website redesign and redevelopment will be launched in mid-2019.

During Matheson’s presentation, there was good discussion and general agreement expressed on the need to more fully address the development of an effective regional development ecosystem, including a major revamp of how the region goes about business retention and expansion (BRE) efforts. It was noted that BRE efforts need to move beyond the current locally based transaction one-offs that benefit a single company to a more regional systems approach that builds industry sector and cluster strength to benefit all the firms in the affected sector or cluster. It also was noted that implementing such expanded efforts at regional scale would require additional funding and staffing, so the efforts can be undertaken by mid-2019. 

Overall, our leadership work session was highly successful. While a lot of information was shared, the key success factor was largely the level of stakeholders’ engagement and participation. This high level of engagement, collaboration and support for the direction the Alliance takes in 2019 and beyond will be fundamental to the success of the program.

Looking ahead, staff and leadership will take the feedback gathered from this work session and incorporate it into the 2019 business plan which will be presented for approval at our November Board of Director meeting.

As always, these meetings are open to the public and all are welcome to come and hear the latest developments as they are happening for the Alliance.

A meeting schedule can be found on our website under the About HREDA tab.

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