Hampton Roads Alliance’s Roadmap for Recovery 

by Leona Baker

Regional collaboration critical to Hampton Roads Alliance’s 757 Recovery and Resilience Action Framework

Times of crisis can often bring people together, even mobilize them to address long-standing challenges in new and inventive ways. With the unveiling in March of a plan called the 757 Recovery and Resilience Action Framework, some of the area’s most prominent business leaders are hoping to capitalize on the cooperative momentum generated by efforts to address the pandemic in service of a broader economic recovery in Coastal Virginia. 

Effective regional collaboration must be the driving force behind that recovery, noted Doug Smith, president and CEO of the Hampton Roads Alliance, at a media event to introduce the initiative earlier this year. Described as “a game plan created by and for the 757’s business community to help accelerate the region’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” the framework also aims to build economic resilience to future catastrophes. 

The plan was developed by the Hampton Roads Alliance in cooperation with the Hampton Roads Chamber, the Virginia Peninsula Chamber, Reinvent Hampton Roads, Hampton Roads Workforce Council, Old Dominion University Strome College of Business, Norfolk State University School of Business, Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance, CIVIC Leadership Institute and the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission.  

Organized around a vision of “economic empowerment and growth for all,” the Action Framework focuses on a series of strategic pillars, beginning with building regional unity and including efforts to create jobs; attract and retain talent; build resiliency; and advance infrastructure. A coalition of diverse young professionals must figure prominently—especially with regards to regionalism—in this process if we hope to succeed, say organizers.  

To that end, the Hampton Roads Alliance has assisted in uniting the region’s many young professional groups under one nonprofit umbrella called 757 Proud. Among other efforts, the new organization will focus on a pride-building campaign called “Did You Know,” designed to increase awareness of our region’s strengths—not only with visitors or people who are new to the area, but with anyone who may not be familiar with Coastal Virginia’s business and cultural assets. 

Finally, the Action Framework calls for an “army of change agents” to get on board and commit to driving the process forward. These “757 Champions” will be composed of more than 1,000 business leaders committed to 12 supporting actions—from increasing business resiliency through diversity training and inclusion to supporting regional branding efforts. The latter will undoubtedly rekindle the debate about our region’s name and how best to position ourselves on a national stage, which understandably took a back seat to COVID recovery over the last year. 

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