Opportunity Group Reports - 1983

Maritime Industries Opportunity Group

Chairman: Vince Lascara, President, Jonathan Corp

The principal thrust of the Maritime Industries Opportunity Group is to help identify opportunities and/or strategies that will foster the healthy growth and prosperity of the port system and the maritime support industries.

Deepening of Channels

Today, over 46% of the coal exported from the U.S. moves through our privately owned and operated coal terminals. The Future of Hampton Roads, Inc. is actively supporting the progressive deepening of our channels to a minimum of 55 feet in order to accommodate the larger bulk coal carriers now in service or being constructed. Deepening the channel will enable most of these ships to be fully loaded in Hampton Roads, thereby increasing our share of the coal export market and avoiding the costly stops at foreign ports to top off a less than full load of coal from Hampton Roads. Also, channel deepening projects will benefit other large bulk carrying vessels such as those in the grain trade.

Port Ambassadors

The Maritime Industries Opportunity Group has recommended to the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce that it establish a Port Ambassador Program. The Port Ambassador Program is aimed at the overall development and promotion of our port system. This Program is not intended to duplicate the charters of any existing maritime organizations but is designed to take maximum advantage of the normal contacts that take place among our local businessmen, both at home and abroad. We believe the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce should become intimately involved in promoting our port system to the same degree they promote other economic development activities that unify our area.

Center for Port Studies and Analysis

The complexities of today's port operations are compounded by the changing trends in ocean shipping, the sensitivity of cargo movement and port handling costs in port selection, the close linkage of ocean shipping with other transportation modes, and the impact of deregulation. These are among a host of interrelated technical and economic factors that heavily impact Hampton Roads’ ability to attract, retain and increase its share of the world’s imports and exports.

To assist in effectively dealing with these issues, the Future of Hampton Roads, Inc. has recommended the establishment of a Center for Port Studies and Analysis at ODU. The Center would support the Port Commissioners and the Virginia Port Authority and supplement/compliment their in-house research capability. Its primary mission would be to assist in the development of future port strategies and in the resolution of complex port problems.

Among the other interesting and promising issues being studies by the Maritime Opportunity Group are:

Load Center Concept Inland Depots

Mid-Atlantic Trade Center Port Financing

Land Areas to Meet Growing Port Needs Maritime Support Industries

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Tourism Opportunity Group

Chairman: Charles Longsworth, President, Colonial Williamsburg

On December 3, 1983, the Tourism Opportunity Group presented its report during the first Future of Hampton Roads, Inc. Symposium, held at Old Dominion University.

Our perception was that tourism had been essentially stagnant in Hampton Roads since 1975. While there have been increases in some years by some tourism programs, the overall result has been flat. Final results for 1983 and present indications of a good year for 1984 present a brighter picture, but the underlying theory remains the same: Tourism is a fragile industry, competition for the travel and entertain­ment dollar is becoming increasingly intense, and regional cooperation is the most viable way to promote the entire Hampton Roads area. The goal would be to encourage the visitor to stay longer and see more of the many attractions within the thirteen communities.

We proposed establishment of a Hampton Roads Tourism Development Authority. An enabling act approved by the General Assembly would permit the Authority to raise funds through a one percent room tax levied in each of the thirteen communities. These funds would be used primarily to create an image campaign for Hampton Roads -- build recognition of the name, create awareness of the variety and depth of the attractions in the area, and develop a desire on the part of the traveling public to come to Hampton Roads. Staff would be limited by the enabling act, and the thrust of the program would be heavily advertising and publicity oriented. Of the estimated $1.12 million expected to be raised, more than $700,000 would be directed toward an advertising campaign, with another $150,000 for publicity.

A second element proposed last year was establishment of a Hampton Roads Tourism Research Center, operating under the wing of the Authority, but located at an area university and funded from several sources. This agency would serve as a catalyst for cooperation and coordination among area tourism elements, create area-wide statistical reports and analyses, and perform other research as necessary.

Reaction has been favorable toward the unified marketing and research approaches. Some steps forward have already been taken, including intensification of visitor research and exchange of data, more regional contact concerning events calendars, and a proposed jointly-supported advertising supplement in a major market next spring.

The major exception to the proposal has been the establishment of a one percent room tax, coming principally from hoteliers. There have been reservations expressed by municipal leaders and chamber of commerce executives, but judgment has not been closed out in these areas.

We propose to discuss three topics today: (1) The prospects for tourism in Hampton Roads during 1985, along with what we should be doing to make the most of it; (2) The alternatives to a Hampton Roads Tourism Development Authority; and (3) Creation of an area-wide calendar of events broad enough to appeal to a variety of travelers as well as local residents.

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Cultural Opportunity Group

Chair: Pi Lake

It is impossible to look at a map of Hampton Roads, even with the yet to be completed highway system, and not see how readily accessible one area is to another. It takes about an hour to get from Colonial Williamsburg to the Chrysler Museum, or from the Mariner’s Museum in Newport News to the Portsmouth Museums complex. An easy drive would take one from a Shakespeare-by-the-Sea performance in Virginia Beach to a summer festival in Suffolk or Chesapeake, or to the Casemate Museum at Ft. Monroe in Hampton, then on to Yorktown.

This can be accomplished not just by uninterrupted Interstate driving, but with intervals of the beautiful harbors, rivers and tidal creeks which are unique to this region. It is remarkable that we who live here - let alone tourists who come from distant places - often fail to realize the infinite variety of cultural resources of Hampton Roads.

The Cultural Opportunity Group has attempted to be a link between the Cultural Alliance of Greater Hampton Roads, and existing institutions, community agencies and the business community in an effort to determine common goals and promote visibility and a heightened awareness of the rich and diverse offerings of the various communities which make up the region. From this heightened awareness will flow larger audiences for cultural events, increased attendance at museums, more support from the business community, and perhaps an expanded arts curriculum in our schools. Individual artists will benefit as they find the context in which they can work to be expanding. The major beneficiaries are the people who live and work in our various communities.

Work will continue in 1985 with the Cultural Alliance, Chambers of Commerce and others in a unified effort to promote the “Cultural Corridor” concept for Hampton Roads, from Williamsburg south to the North Carolina border. The idea of linking travel/tourism and the arts is not new. What is needed now is a sustained, cooperative effort in this direction. Smaller communities as well as the larger ones will benefit as former “pass through” areas become travel destinations.

Also in 1985, the Cultural Opportunity Group will work with others throughout the region to prepare and circulate a set of Cultural Goals for Hampton Roads.

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Finance Opportunity Group

Chairman: Clifford Cutchins, President, Sovran Bank

The Finance Opportunity Group has the responsibility for assessing the financial resources available to support the economic development in the area. Financial resources include both debt and equity necessary to support the expansion stimulated by the other Opportunity Groups. Debt financing includes conventional type loans, including Industrial Revenue Bonds; and mortgage loans are available from a large number of financial institutions in the area. It is true that financial institutions in general are not always in the market for long-term, tax-exempt IRB’s; however, these institutions can aid in selling this type bond on the open market by issuing their letters of credit to secure the bonds and improve the bond rating. Most of the security dealers have investment banking available in the Hampton Roads area.

Equity is the amount of funds invested in the business by the owners. When new enterprises are developed, there is no track record; and venture capital must be attracted to satisfy the equity or capital requirements. The Finance Opportunity Group has identified several venture capital sources in the Hampton Roads area. Our investigations reveal that there is a need for a vehicle to bring entrepreneurs and venture capitalists together. Most entrepreneurs are not familiar with the require­ments of venture capital companies, nor do they know how to present their application in the best manner. Most venture capital companies do not have personnel available to devote the time required to do the research necessary to approve investments in medium to small companies.

After several meetings, the Finance Opportunity Group came to the conclusion that an independent third party could be the catalyst to bring entrepreneurs and venture capital companies together, to assist with the necessary market research and to assist in the preparation of the application to be submitted to venture capital companies.

In our opinion, the Peninsula Economic Development Authority and The Greater Hampton Roads Organization have the research analysis available to screen applications for venture capital and render assistance in getting the application in the best possible form. These two organization will provide contact points for North and South Hampton Roads. Both organizations have indicated their willingness to serve in this capacity, and we are sure they will render a valuable service to all segments of their respective areas.

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Marine Research, Development, Production and Aquabusiness Opportunity Group

Chairman: Frank Perkins, President, Virginia Institute of Marince Science

1984 Activities

In 1984, the Marine Research, Development, Production and Aquabusiness Opportunity Group focused most of its attention on Aquabusiness.

Two reports, one on Hard Clam Mariculture and the other on Recreational Boating were developed to highlight the potential for development and/or growth in these areas. In addition, a forum was held on the topic of Greater Hampton Roads as a Center for National and International Seafood Marketing.

Principal findings or recommendations in the reports and arising from the forum are:


a) Technology for culture of hard clams has evolved to the point that commercial development is now feasible.
b) Hard clams are an ideal species for aquaculture because they have a higher value at a small size than when fully grown.
c) The market for hard clams is very strong.


a) The full potential for recreational boating in the Hampton Roads area has not been realized.
b) There is a need for increased recreational boating access to the waters of Hampton Roads.
c) There is a demonstrated need for several thousand slips or day stack marina berths in the Hampton Roads area.
d) Localities should incorporate water—use activities into comprehensive land-use plans.
e) Improvements in recreational fishing opportunities will generate growth in the recreational boating industry.
f) A shellfish depuration plant should be established in the region to reduce friction between the recreational boating and shellfish industries.


a) Hampton Roads can become a center for national and international seafood marketing.

b) Impediments to this development include:
1) Seafood waste disposal/utilization.
2) Lack of seafood-oriented freight forwarding operation.

c) Port development authorities, local economic development commissioners and seafood marketing authorities should pooi resources to develop a promotional brochure/information pamphlet on Virginia seafood and the advantages of Hampton Roads as a marketing and shipping center.

1985 Activities

The program for 1985 has not been fully defined. We would like to follow up on some of the findings and recommendations developed during 1984. For example, the need for and opportunities arising from a shellfish depuration plant should be explored in depth. If a saltwater sportfishing license becomes a reality in Virginia, there is a potential for improving recreational fishing in the region, thereby stimulating boating.

The offshore fishing industry should be examined again for opportunities in new or underdeveloped species.

One major focus for 1985 will be the general area of Ocean Engineering. This area has been suggested as a focus for academically based high tech development.

Additional areas associated with Marine Research, Development, and Production such as private sector scientific service or consulting will be examined for possible development opportunities.

1/ The following reports of the Marine Research, Development, Production and Aquabusiness Opportunity Group were produced in 1984:

a) Recreational Boating: An Opportunity Focus in Aquabusiness for Greater Hampton Roads, June 1984.
b) Hard Clam Mariculture: An Opportunity Focus in Aquabusiness for Greater Hampton Roads, August 1984.
c) Transcript of the Forum on Greater Hampton Roads as a Center for National and International Seafood Marketing, May 1984.

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Agribusiness Opportunity Group

Chairman: Edward Borchers

Commercial agriculture is among the oldest industries in Hampton Roads. Its origins date from the time of the first English settlers in the area. However, with the rapid increase in population in Hampton Roads in recent years, agriculture is slowly becoming an endangered enterprise. Because of the conversion of agricultural land to other uses, commercial agriculture has virtually disappeared from Norfolk, Portsmouth, Hampton and Newport News. On the other hand, Suffolk, Chesapeake, Isle of Wight, James City and Surry have suffered only modest losses of agriculture land in recent years and large amounts are still available for agricultural use. Even in Virginia Beach where development is proceeding at a rapid pace, land is still available and will continue to be available for agricultural use for many years.

The Agriculture Opportunity Group has been concerned with determining the present status of agriculture in Hampton Roads and determining how the continuing change in availability and value of agricultural land might affect its future use.

The future work of the Opportunity Group will be to attempt to promote the type of agriculture that will be best suited to the high value land nearest to population centers. As land in the path of development becomes more valuable and the corn, soybeans and wheat crops that traditionally have been grown are no long profitable, growers need to know what substitute crops can be grown successfully, how to grow them and where and how to market them profitably. The Agribusiness Opportunity Group will be concerned with determining the steps that need to be taken to encourage the establishment of the desired crop production and marketing systems.

In cooperation with the Frederick Huette Foundation, the Agribusiness Opportunity Group is endeavoring to promote a common theme in landscaping the major roadways in Hampton Roads and the Eastern Shore. A specific plan for landscaping and maintenance is to be developed that can be readily recognized and appreciated by the public.

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Education Opportunity Group

Chairman: Fred Bateman, Superintendent, Chesapeake Public Schools

For many reasons Hampton Roads can be considered an educational “mecca.” There are twelve public school systems in the area serving more than 200,000 students from kindergarten through grade twelve. Ten institutions of higher learning serve the area with a full-time enrollment of 50,000 students. In addition, there are numerous private sectarian and non-sectarian secondary, elementary, and preschools serving an estimated 15,000 students. These institutions generate jobs for more than 35,000 individuals and have an annual institutional purchasing power of more then $3 billion.

During the first few months in the life of the Future of Hampton Roads, Inc., the Education Opportunity Group conducted a survey of all collaborative educational endeavors in the Hampton Roads area, and also sponsored an educational symposium. This conference, held at Hampton Institute, centered around the implications for the future of education in this area. Most recently, the Education Opportunity Group has supported the idea of an increase in the state sales tax for the purpose of more adequately funding public education in Virginia.

While continuing to lobby for more adequate funding, the Education Opportunity Group will consider the proposal that a mechanism be created for providing a closer working relation­ship among these educational institutions. It has been suggested that the idea of an “educational consortium”, involving both elementary and secondary schools, as well as colleges and universities, be developed that would provide a way to share resources (e.g., such as a computer link between all institutions), while maintaining the unique individual integrity of each institution.

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Health Opportunity Group

Chairman: Joe Yon, President, Chesapeake General Hospital

During the past year the Health Opportunity Group of the Future of Hampton Roads has focused its emphasis on various forms of presentations to the public to help it understand what is happening nationwide, and the way health care delivery is being charged.

The centering of most health care in the hospitals, plus the rapid advances in medical science resulting in higher and higher costs, has finally reached a point where the public says, “Enough!” All of this has been aggravated by the political assurance that all persons have access to all care - regardless of their ability to pay.

How will health care costs be controlled?

a) Let it grow until it reaches 15% of the Gross National Product; then put a cap on the various sources of reimbursement.
b) Restrict the amount of health care and services authorized by government, industry and insurance policies.
c) Pay less for the care that is given.
d) Have two or three levels of care. One level for those whose care is subsidized; another for certain group insurance coverage; and a final level for those who can pay any price for care, either as self paid or by a generous health insurance policy.

The media is filled with various efforts to control high costs: HMO’s, PPO’s, ambulatory care centers, home health care, co-payment and deductibles.

Some of those programs restrict access to all physicians and to certain hospitals. Others pay only part of the charges and some are becoming more and more restrictive in approving certain procedures. Physicians are being paid a fixed price for specific procedures which is seldom their usual fee. Much more surgery is being done in outpatient facilities.

In the future, who will authorize for a specific patient decision of high cost care, organ transplants, hip replacements, or prolonged intensive care?

And what do you do with that patient if such care is not authorized?

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Technology Opportunity Group

Chairman: Tom Wallace, Old Dominion University

To date the Technology Opportunity Group has addressed the scope, needs and action necessary - yet which are preliminary to - the development of significant future technology-based industries in Hampton Roads.

Throughout, we have been cognizant of the recommendations of the Governor’s Task Force on Science and Technology for the entire Commonwealth.

To address a program of such magnitude, it is first necessary to create a positive regional environment for the establishment of new technology-based industries, as well as updating existing business and industry with state-of-the-art technology. Hence, we are calling for a funded study to consider the following:

a) Inventory the existing technological base within the region
b) Create a projection of the specific technology that would be necessary to complement and modernize extant industry
c) Identify technology not presently in Hampton Roads that would find particular advantage if relocated to this Region
d) Create the marketing strategy to accomplish the above
e) Implement all in tandem with the Virginia Division of Industrial Development, as well as through state and federal funding

Part and parcel with all of the above are the questions which will be addressed at the Second Annual Symposium of the Future of Hampton Roads, Inc. They are:

a) What assistance is available for the Hi—Tech entrepreneur to test new concepts?

b) Is university expertise available for regional economic development?

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Transportation Opportunity Group

Chairman: Henry Watts, Vice President, Norfolk Southern Corporation

The Transportation Opportunity Group approached the aspect of regional transporta­tion from the viewpoint of a matrix involving freight and people matched against local, regional, national, and international transportation requirements. The primary issues that evolved are as follows:


a) Develop multi-modal regional feeder services for the consolidation and export of freight.

b) Research opportunities for capturing time—sensitive import freight for long haul to the west and midwest.

c) Reserve acreage for commercial and manufacturing uses.

1) Industrial parks
2) Redevelopment and planning for waterfront sites

d) Improve the local highway network for moving freight through long—range transportation planning designed to link all of Hampton Roads.


a) Explore most cost effective way to relieve local highway congestion.
b) Promote a regional approach to Hampton Roads airport development.

As these issues were discussed and reviewed throughout the year, the following items have been developed as further possible subjects:

a) Virginia Beach/Norfolk Rail Line and opportunities for commuter/tourist passenger rail service
b) Development of a Hampton Roads Regional Transportation Authority
c) Equitable Roads Funding Formula

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Sports Opportunity Group

Chairman: Brad Face, The Face Companies

The Sports Opportunity Group was formed at mid-ear and immediately began investigating the possibility of constructing a major sports facility in Hampton Roads.

The group has researched possible tenants for both an “open air” stadium and a “domed” structure. These possible tenants include professional sports franchises, college sports teams, conventions and entertainment productions. A major question is whether the considerable extra cost of building a dome would be justified by the substantially greater utility and versatility of such a structure. In addition to sports events, a dome could also put Hampton Roads in the big league of the convention business.

Many questions remain to be answered. Some of them will be addressed by a professional consultant retained by the Future of Hampton Roads, Inc. in a project funded by both the public and private sectors.

a) Do the projected benefits justify the expense of building a regional sports/convention facility in Hampton Roads?
b) If the facility should be built...should it be an “open air” stadium or a “dome”?
c) If the facility is constructed...where should it be built?

The consulting contract will be awarded this month and the answers to these questions should be developed and reported by mid-1985.

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