2017 State of the City
City paints bright future for Hampton
A record crowd of more than 500 people attended this year's Hampton State of the City address, where city and school officials presented highlights of the past fiscal year. Because the event, sponsored by the Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, draws a crowd focused on business, Hampton Mayor Donnie Tuck highlighted some economic news:
- Over the past four years, businesses announced 4,500 jobs coming to Hampton.
- During the same four-year period, the announced new capital investments in the city have exceeded $318 million.
- Almost 900,000 tourists generated a record $205 million in economic activity for the 3rd year in a row.
Because the health of the workforce and economy is tied to employment and education, Tuck noted some school successes as well:
- More than two-thirds of our schools are fully accredited.
- Hampton's on-time graduation rate hit 91.4% last year, beating the state average.
However, the main focus of the event was the future.
City Manager Mary Bunting and school Superintendent Jeffery Smith highlighted the variety and depth of the new academies program in the city's high schools, which will continue to add new educational tracks next year. Programs are selected based on the needs of regional employers — such as shipbuilding and aerospace — and career demand nationally — such as medical fields, engineering and hospitality.
Tuck spoke of Hampton's tremendous assets, including NASA and Langley Air Force Base, and Hampton University, marking its 150th anniversary this year. He described the city's vision, including:
- Plans for a downtown that will feature multi-story, mixed-use buildings along Settlers Landing Road, linking the quirky downtown vibe with the active waterfront;
- A destination seafood restaurant on the water;
- An expanded Virginia Tech seafood research center that would serve the fishing industry, consumers and the public; and
- New homes and recreation at Buckroe Beach, where the Housing Authority is working to develop 12 acres of mostly residential land.
Hampton has received national attention this year — as a city to visit for its breweries, for government innovation, for its diversity and for its beachfront homes. Business have been honored in Forbes (the Mango Mango team) and by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (virtual reality developers J&F Alliance Group).
Recapping the theme, Tuck noted: "Our future is so bright. Hampton is claiming our spot in the national limelight. And when that happens, we're all going to have to wear shades."