[ skip to content ]

New ODU Economic Forecasting Team Member Brings Military Expertise

By Brendan O'Hallarn

After introducing the 17th annual State of the Region report, founder James V. Koch, Old Dominion University President Emeritus and Board of Visitors professor of economics, introduced a new face to the 600 Hampton Roads business leaders in attendance.

Robert McNab, professor of economics and associate director of Old Dominion's Center for Economic Analysis and Policy, recently relocated to the University after 16 years with the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He will help lead the team that produces the annual State of the Region, State of the Commonwealth and Economic Forecast reports.

During his presentation, McNab told the audience about economic conditions facing Hampton Roads, focusing on the "three pillars" of tourism, the Port of Virginia and defense.

That focus on the economics of Department of Defense and federal spending is part of what attracted McNab to Old Dominion. "There is definitely an interesting intersection here, given the disproportionate effect that federal and defense spending has on the local economy," he said.

During his presentation, McNab demonstrated through several charts how dependent this region is on defense spending, and how the "artificial two-year cycle" created as a byproduct of the Sequestration process has made strategic planning difficult for defense branches and companies which depend on federal contracts.

McNab presented a stark picture of deferred maintenance projects, increased health care expenditures and runaway costs for weapons development facing the Department of Defense. And he said the next federally mandated review by the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission, known as BRAC, will put even more pressure on the region.

"The competition for assets has already begun," he said.

Through his 15-minute presentation, McNab demonstrated a full grasp of the intricacies of economic planning around federal defense spending. That expertise is part of why Old Dominion hired him from the Naval Postgraduate School.

"Bob brings a much needed and unique perspective to Old Dominion, as his research and experience position him squarely in the intersection of global, defense and government economics," said Jeff Tanner, dean of Old Dominion's Strome College of Business.

Following his first-ever State of the Region presentation, McNab said the opportunity to discuss economic policy in a substantive way to an audience of key local decision-makers was a large component of what attracted him to Old Dominion.

"This was a wonderful experience," he said. "Where else would you have an opportunity to present your research in front of such a large, engaged audience? This is a great forum to talk about the strengths and weaknesses of the region."

Site Navigation

Experience Guaranteed

Enhance your college career by gaining relevant experience with the skills and knowledge needed for your future career. Discover our experiential learning opportunities.

Academic Days

Picture yourself in the classroom, speak with professors in your major, and meet current students.

Upcoming Events

From sports games to concerts and lectures, join the ODU community at a variety of campus events.