Bacon Bits: Hampton Roads Edition

Wind power to the rescue?

Hampton Roads, Virginia’s second-largest population center, is the anchor dragging down Virginia’s economic growth. Could that be about to change? The region has pinned its economic-development hopes upon leveraging Dominion Energy’s $9.8 billion offshore wind farm to become a manufacturing and supply- chain center for the burgeoning East Coast wind industry. Earlier this year, Dominion announced that it would invest $500 million to build a wind-turbine installation ship, but would build it in Texas — a seeming disappointment for Hampton Roads. However, the energy company announced yesterday that it had ordered 176 wind turbines from Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy. The turbine blades will be manufactured in a Portsmouth facility the Spanish company announced in October that it planned to open, investing $200 million and creating 310 jobs. So, there is hope after all that Virginia will capture some economic benefit from the super-expensive wind farm.

Hampton Roads hotels on the upswing. The hospitality industry was crushed by the COVID epidemic as Americans cut back on travel. But hotels in Hampton Roads have outperformed the industry compared to Richmond, Northern Virginia, the state as a whole, and even the U.S. After suffering a 9% contraction — much milder than elsewhere — the industry has rebounded smartly, according to data published in the “2021 State of the Commonwealth Report” published by Old Dominion University.

Percent change in monthly hotel revenue, 2019-2021. Source: “2021 State of the Commonwealth Report”

Sentara teams with EVMS and ODU. In other developments, three of Hampton Roads’ most important institutions — Sentara Healthcare, Old Dominion University, and Eastern Virginia Medical School — have agreed to collaborate in creating Virginia’s first school of public health, reports Virginia Business. The region has high rates of heart disease, diabetes, infant mortality, and cancer. Sentara CEO Howard Kern said that healthcare had reached “crisis levels in terms of talent development and workforce.” High-level representatives of the three institutions will meet regularly to “discuss the potential” to create an academic health center and develop a sustainable financial model for local health education.

They’d better do more than talk. Virginia Commonwealth University has announced its own ambitions to create a school of public health, and it has gotten the jump in undergoing regulatory and budgetary review. Just a hunch: VCU might well contend that Virginia doesn’t need two schools of public health.

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10 responses to “Bacon Bits: Hampton Roads Edition”

  1. dick dyas Avatar

    I wonder what we can do with all the wind towers when we go all-nuclear energy?

    1. Convert them into amusement park rides?

  2. energyNOW_Fan Avatar

    I thought Dominion was supposed to use GE turbine blades. Portsmouth, Virginia we should say.

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      The turbines may be assembled here in VA, but out of components manufactured elsewhere. Have to do final assembly as close to the build site as you can. Manufacturing? If Virginia were serious about that happening in the area, it wouldn’t have allowed the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to die. Gas for the plants and as feedstock for the materials. Ironic, eh? (Dumbasses.) Hampton Roads is maxed out on gas. Shhhhh. Big secret.

      1. energyNOW_Fan Avatar

        All the private business manufacturing going to TN GA TX etc. We have no serious interest since we have the Fed govt jobs.

        1. Super Brain Avatar
          Super Brain

          Danville has nabbed some mfg projects recently. Costar is bringing lots of decent information age jobs and building a skyscraper in Richmond.
          Any job creation is great but mfg does not require nearly as much labor as in the past.

          1. Stephen Haner Avatar
            Stephen Haner

            Right, because of the machines — which run on energy.

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            Who you gonna believe, the doom&gloom maysayer yahoos in BR or this:

            ” Virginia was named the state (commonwealth) with the Overall Best Business Climate, Tennessee was named the state with the Best Dealmaking, and Massachusetts was named the state (commonwealth) with the Best Workforce/Educational System.

            Virginia finished first in the Best Overall Business Climate because of the steps many economic development councils in the commonwealth, both local and statewide, are taking to make the area more attractive, Mendelson said. “The commonwealth’s location, right next to the District of Columbia, combined with its pro-business work environment, strong workforce and educational systems, makes it great place to do business in,” he added.

            The proof is in the pudding. With a workforce in excess of 4.1 million people, Virginia has an unemployment rate of just 3.6%, the 10th lowest in the country. The commonwealth also runs a number of highly-successful workforce programs, including the Virginia Talent Accelerator Program, a customizable job-specific training and recruitment initiative; and Fast Forward Virginia, a short-term credential program to train Virginians for top, in-demand jobs across the commonwealth. Virginia also operates workforce development programs and workforce connection programs to assist employers in finding qualified workers and to assist workers in finding suitable jobs.”

            ” Fast Forward Virginia”

            has BR ever talked about it?


  3. vicnicholls Avatar

    EVMS/ODU were warned. Stupid move to go in with Sentara.

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