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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

State of the Region Report: Are Better Times Ahead for Hampton Roads?

After years of glacial recovery from the 2007-08 global economic slowdown, highlighted annually by Old Dominion University economists, this year's State of the Region presentation explores the question of whether better times are ahead for the region.

"The regional economy's pace of economic growth since 2008 has been slow, frustrating those who observe the economic performance of similar regions," said Robert M. McNab, professor of economics, and deputy director of Old Dominion University's Center for Economic Analysis and Policy (CEAP). "There is good news, however, in that we may be finally turning the economic corner."

The 18th Annual State of the Region report, presented by the Center for Economic Analysis and Policy of the Strome College of Business at Old Dominion University, will be unveiled at two lunch presentations early next month, on Wednesday, Oct. 4 in Norfolk, and Friday, Oct. 6 in Newport News. Both events begin at 11:30 a.m.

The State of the Region is a widely respected and impartial analysis of the economic issues facing the Hampton Roads region. The report aims to stimulate thought and conversation on how to make Hampton Roads a better place to live. This year's report is co-edited by James V. Koch, the Board of Visitors professor of economics and president emeritus, and McNab.

For the lunchtime presentations Oct. 4 at The Main in Norfolk and Oct. 6 at the Newport News Marriott at City Center, McNab and Koch will be joined by Vinod Agarwal, professor of economics and director of the University's Economic Forecasting Project.

Register online for the events in Norfolk or Newport News through host sponsor LEAD Hampton Roads. Other sponsors include Optima Health, Capital One Commercial Banking, the SunTrust Foundation and PNC.

The 2017 State of the Region report has seven parts:

  • Turning the Corner: The outlook for increased regional economic growth has improved. Each of the major building blocks of our regional economy (defense, the Port, tourism) has gained momentum and our housing market continues slow, but steady improvement;
  • Airbnb in Virginia Beach: Airbnb has arisen as an increasingly significant competitor to conventional hotels throughout the United States and Virginia Beach is no exception. The rise of Airbnb is yet another manifestation of the emergence of the "gig" economy;
  • Higher Education Pricing: The typical public four-year college in Virginia has increased its tuition and fees two to four times as rapidly as the rise in the Consumer Price Index. Reduced state appropriations can account for only some of these increases;
  • Changing Delivery of Health Care: Health care in our region increasingly is being delivered by non-physician professionals who include nurses and physician assistants. We trace the development of this trend and its implications for the future;
  • The Opioid Crisis: The number of opioid-induced deaths has skyrocketed in Hampton Roads. Approximately three-quarters of opioid addicts began their fall from grace with a legitimate prescription from a knowledgeable physician. The costs are mounting;
  • The Decline of Foreign Language Instruction: Foreign language instruction has declined in Hampton Roads and immersion programs are relatively rare. This is not a positive development for our ability to conduct international trade, understand world developments, or even communicate with many other Americans; and
  • Do We Suffer from a Brain Drain? Hampton Roads has been experiencing net outmigration of individuals to other metropolitan areas in recent years. Who is leaving? Why are they leaving? These questions and their implications are addressed.

In addition to the State of the Region report, the Center for Economic Analysis and Policy produces a State of the Commonwealth Report, which will be released later this fall, and the annual economic forecast, presented in late January. The Center also produces a monthly economic update focusing on labor market conditions in Hampton Roads.

For more information about the Center and its economic reports and forecasts of Hampton Roads and Virginia, contact McNab at 757-683-3153 or rmcnab@odu.edu.

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