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Strome College Tasked with Leading Program Aimed at Growing Exports

By Brendan O'Hallarn

Old Dominion University's Strome College of Business was recently selected by Reinvent Hampton Roads to manage its new initiative aimed at growing the amount of goods and services to be exported from Hampton Roads.

The Regional Export Acceleration Project (REAP) was created following an analysis sponsored by the Hampton Roads Community Foundation, and published in 2014. REAP will provide workshops where companies can learn and apply strategies and skills for growth in the area of export development.

"This type of collaborative effort is the kind of thing we can do to help companies accelerate their growth," said Jeff Tanner, dean of the Strome College of Business. "As companies scale up to meet their growth opportunities, Hampton Roads more vibrant economy will encourage and develop entrepreneurs, as well as attract greater entrepreneurial activity.

When Tanner was hired in 2015, he expressed a desire for Old Dominion's business resources to become a greater asset to the community, and help grow the region economically.

James K. Spore, president and CEO of Reinvent Hampton Roads, recognized the value of Old Dominion's scholarship and community engagement when selecting the University to manage REAP. He said growing the export economy could be of immense value to the region.

"We are targeting the objective to increase revenue derived from selling goods and services outside our region. So by export, we mean reaching customers no matter where they are. We're not limiting this to off-shore sales," Spore said.

The program will be directed by Jim Lant, a former faculty member with more than 30 years of experience in the private sector. Lant was the start-up executive director of Old Dominion's Strome Entrepreneurial Center when it was founded in 2014.

Tanner said Lant's experience with the Strome Center reflects the University's mindset about creating organizations that strengthen the development of businesses and entrepreneurs - including the Center for Enterprise Innovation and the College of Continuing Education and Professional Development. The proven track record in creating this type of programming led to the decision to task Old Dominion with leading REAP, Spore said.

Tanner said REAP represents another opportunity to "reach out to the business community" through the expertise of Strome College faculty and the energy and enthusiasm of its students. "Our students will get the opportunity to engage in practical, actual business situations and play an important role in developing business solutions," he said.

Reinvent Hampton Roads began in 2012 as the regional economic competitiveness initiative at the Hampton Roads Community Foundation, southeastern Virginia's largest grant and scholarship provider. Its goal is to help the Hampton Roads region reinvigorate its economy and position it to thrive now and in the future.

In January 2016 Reinvent Hampton Roads became its own organization with former Virginia Beach city manager James K. Spore as president and CEO.

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