There is no doubt that 2020 was one of the most challenging years most of us will ever experience. However, there is a silver lining, as tough times often make one tougher, stronger, and more successful in recovery and beyond. This is true for resilient communities like the 757.
When the pandemic hit our economy, the region’s business leaders came together in our latest, and perhaps most significant example of regional collaboration. This included the Hampton Roads Chamber, Hampton Roads Alliance, Reinvent Hampton Roads, Virginia Peninsula Chamber, Hampton Roads Workforce Council, Greater Peninsula Workforce Board, the Old Dominion University Strome College of Business, Norfolk State University, and the CIVIC Leadership Institute.
We set out to create a strategic economic recovery plan for Hampton Roads. Our specific goals included recovering from the pandemic as quickly as possible, developing a more resilient economy to withstand future shocks better, and ensuring everyone benefits.
Our planning process engaged more than 200 business leaders, including 18 thought leaders, 12 subject matter experts, 11 committee chairs, 11 committee vice-chairs, 120 committee members, 10 Old Dominion University Strome College of Business student interns, and staff personnel of coalition partners. More than a thousand business leaders provided input through surveys.
Our six-month planning effort culminated in the 757 Recovery & Resilience Action Framework (Action Framework). The key insight from our research is the powerful idea that to effectively move our region forward, everyone (not just governments) must collaborate and work together as one. This idea became our formal vision and organizing theme: 757 = One | Economic Empowerment and Growth for All.
Our Action Framework is organized around five key strategic imperatives:
1. Building regional unity
2. Growing new jobs
3. Growing, retaining and attracting talent.
4. Building resilience.
5. Advancing regional infrastructure.
These pillars are the basis for 30 specific corresponding program areas with concrete goals, action steps and quantifiable measures to track and report performance.
Some of these programs are exciting new initiatives to advance our region, while others are important existing efforts that will now be enhanced as part of the Action Framework. In this way, all of our region’s most imperative economic strategies and programs are now included in one comprehensive approach. This framework will enable everyone across the region to understand, embrace and play a role in advancing the Action Framework’s work.
Crucial to all five of these initiatives and 30 programs is a diverse, inclusive and talented network of regional 757 Champions, advocates and ambassadors who support and promote the Action Framework across the 17 municipalities of Hampton Roads. The 757 Champions include business and nonprofit leaders, government representatives, elected officials and residents all working collaboratively. We need everyone to join this cause.
The Hampton Roads Chamber is leading our coalition in recruiting one thousand 757 Champions. Already, 250 people have joined.
757 Champions are helping in five primary ways. First, they share and promote the Action Framework’s existence in their organizations and with business colleagues, ensuring that everyone knows our region has a unified plan. Second, 757 Champions will support and actively promote the upcoming “Did You Know” campaign, a regional pride-building marketing campaign that the young professionals will roll out this summer through their new group called 757 Proud. Third, this fall, 757 Champions will utilize, when and where appropriate, an array of free business resiliency-building resources, tools and services. This includes assistance with Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) programming and training, business model tune-ups, help with employee wellness and well-being programs, and access to a new minority supplier database and information on future trends. Fourth, 757 Champions will help shape a national branding campaign for 2022, one that will build awareness and familiarity with what our regions offer. Finally, in October 2021, all 757 Champions will attend the Hampton Roads Chamber’s State of the Region event, where we will showcase the progress of the Action Framework and recognize the impact of the 757 Champions. New assignments will come in 2022.
We invite you to join the growing list of 757 Champions, and other business and community leaders from Virginia Beach to Williamsburg who are now advancing 757 = 1 | Economic Empowerment and Growth for All.
To learn about becoming a 757 Champion and to sign up, visit: www.framework.hamptonroadsalliance.com/757-champions-overview or Contact Tage Counts at firstname.lastname@example.org or 757-664-2531
Bryan K. Stephens is the president and CEO of the Hampton Roads Chamber. Reach him at BKStephens@hrchamber.com.