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Old Dominion University Releases 10th Annual State of the Region Report

Old Dominion University's 10th annual State of the Region report, formally released at a breakfast meeting of more than 700 regional leaders in downtown Norfolk on Tuesday, Oct. 13, examines a wide array of Hampton Roads issues, ranging from the economy to traffic congestion.

Published by ODU's Regional Studies Institute, the report also looks at challenges faced by the local tourism industry and the current resources available to care for an aging population.

In addition, the 145-page report considers the role climate change might play in the topography of Hampton Roads as sea levels rise; the impact of reducing carbon emissions on gasoline prices; the potential vulnerability of Hampton Roads' network of bridges and tunnels; and the impact of economic constraints and internal reorganization of Hampton Roads' cultural jewel, the Chrysler Museum of Art.

James V. Koch, Board of Visitors Professor of Economics and President Emeritus, serves as editor of the report, which received financial support from the university and a number of local organizations and individuals. Koch notes that the report does not constitute an official viewpoint of the university.

"The State of the Region reports maintain the goal of stimulating thought and discussion that ultimately will make Hampton Roads an even better place to live," he said. "We are proud of our region's many successes, but realize it is possible to improve our performance. In order to do so, we must have accurate information about where we are and a sound understanding of the policy options available to us."

The 2009 report is divided into eight parts. Among its findings are:

  • Defense spending continues to cushion our economic downturn, but two other major drivers, the port and tourism have contracted. Ten local banking institutions were given "stress tests" like those conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank nationwide. All 10 showed impressive strength, as they exceeded the standards established by the tests.

  • The hotel industry in Hampton Roads is suffering from stagnant or declining patronage and excess capacity, which has made this a very challenging time for an industry that is vital to the region's future.

  • In recognition of an aging population, the report presents extensive data and ratings concerning 57 nursing home facilities, 104 assisted living facilities and eight continuing care facilities in Hampton Roads.

  • The report traces carbon emissions and explores ways (including higher gas prices) that might mitigate them.

  • To the extent that global warming occurs, it will bring with it rising sea levels, which, in the absence of new dikes and levees, will cover vast areas of the Peninsula and Norfolk, Chesapeake and the Virginia Beach oceanfront.

  • A well-known national analysis of traffic congestion identifies the 15 worst choke points in Hampton Roads. Most of them are connected to the numerous tunnels in the region.

  • The report asks the question: Are the tunnels that connect Hampton Roads wonderful assets or potential Achilles heels? The prosperity of the region depends upon five major bridge/tunnel installations, all of which potentially can be closed either by accidents or terrorism. As the region recently discovered, they are vulnerable to a variety of possible threats.

  • The Chrysler Museum of Art is one of the foremost cultural jewels of the region. The report examines the challenges the museum faces in light of significant economic constraints and internal reorganizations.

The 2009 State of the Region report, as well as the reports from 2000 through 2008, can be found on the Web at www.odu.edu/forecasting. In addition, PDF copies of the 2009 report can be downloaded here.

This article was posted on: October 13, 2009

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Telephone: 757-683-3114

Old Dominion University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution.