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Nov. 15, 2016 – Hampton Mayor Donnie Tuck addressed a business audience of 450 people, saying that Hampton is moving “full speed ahead” toward growth and economic development, in a State of the City speech sponsored by the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce.
Tuck, who began as mayor July 1, used a story from his past to showcase his leadership style. Tuck – too small to play organized football in school – suited up with a high school team for a TV story when he was a reporter in 1978. Drawing a parallel between that risk and risks that Hampton must take, he noted that, “as we move this city forward, it will require us to collectively step outside of our comfort zone.”
Risks should be calculated and based on research and preparation, he said, but “real change can only be accomplished by those who are willing to step into the arena.”
He cited examples of a downtown development partnership being explored with WVS Companies and Saunders Crouse Architects; a potential expansion of the waterfront in partnership with Virginia Tech’s Seafood Agriculture Research and Extension Center; and the competition-level aquatics center the city is studying.
Much of the event focused on how the city and school system are working together, and with regional employers. The expanding “career academy” approach teaches students concepts using real-world examples. City Manager Mary Bunting and schools Superintendent Jeffrey Smith tag-teamed a presentation on gains made in school achievements. They also challenged the businesses in the room to help mentor students and expand the emphasis on careers.
In between speeches, slides highlighted some of the city’s and schools’ recent accomplishments, including:• 2015 tourism economic impact of $210 in Hampton• 48% increase in commercial construction in fiscal 2016 and a 33% increase in residential construction.• Total investment in Hampton, measured by building permits, hit $87 million in fiscal 2016, a two-thirds increase.• 86% of Hampton residents are satisfied with the quality of life in the city, and 92% are satisfied with the work of city staff.• Both the city and schools have received national awards for their technology: Schools was top in the nation, and the city has been in the Top 10 Digital Cities for 15 of the past 16 years.
In addition the schools cited these statistics:• 90.7% on-time graduation rate• 55% of schools fully accredited and another 38% partially accredited• Dropout rate cut by half, down to 2.8%• 3 of Virginia’s 22 Gates Millennium Scholars last year came from Hampton City Schools
Attendees were asked to write encouraging notes to students at the city’s schools, and School Board and City Council members delivered the notes and the table centerpieces to each school after the luncheon.
If you missed the event, you can see a rebroadcast on Hampton’s TV station, FIOS channel 22 and Cox channel 47 at 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. daily for a week beginning Nov. 18.