Mayor McKinley L. Price presented the 2017 State of the City address yesterday afternoon at an event hosted by the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. Held at the Marriott at City Center, the sold out crowd of 600 listened as the mayor delivered his multi-media presentation titled Building Our Future One Block At A Time. The focus of his speech was the City’s comprehensive plan, One City One Future, and the building blocks that have been and are being put in place that are essential for the future of Newport News. Prior to the mayor’s speech, City Manager Cindy Rohlf invited attendees to share their thoughts on what was essential to a great city by writing those ideas on the wooden blocks at their seats and adding them to a jenga-like structure in the center of their tables. Those centerpieces and extra blocks will later be at community centers and libraries across the city for residents to add their ideas and suggestions.
During his 40-minute presentation, Price talked about the significant investments longtime businesses are continuing to make in Newport News, including Ferguson’s $83 million expansion in City Center and Newport News Shipbuilding’s commitment to leasing space in Brooks Crossing for 600 engineering and design-related jobs. The shipyard is also benefitting tremendously by working jointly with Electric Boat to build a new fleet of Columbia-class ballistic missile subs for the Navy, and last year announced an investment of $750 million and 1,000 new jobs in support of this effort. He also touched on investments by international firms like Mühlbauer and the progress being made on the Research Park at Tech Center.
Sustainability achievements, transportation and the creation of livable, healthy neighborhoods were also highlighted, as was the effort to transform the Marshall-Ridley area in the Southeast Community. With a $500,000 planning grant received last year from HUD, a community-driven transformation plan is being developed and the City is applying for up to $30 million in grant funds from HUD for implementation of the plan. Price said that “transformation of the Marshall-Ridley neighborhood will truly be building our future one block at a time.”
The mayor commended the City’s Summer Training and Enrichment Program for exposing young people to the world of work as a way of addressing youth and gang violence. He also emphasized the importance of strong relationships between the police, the community, the government and school system to having a safe city. The Newport News Public School System was lauded for all of the great work being done in the schools, including summer and extended learning offerings as well as the various STEM-related programs available to students, preparing them to be college, career and citizen-ready.
The City’s unique cultural and historical resources were recognized along with the economic benefits tourism generates in Newport News – $295 million in total revenue and $10 million in local taxes dollars in 2016. Price also took time to recognize that both Hilton Village and Fort Eustis are celebrating their 100th anniversaries in 2018.
“Our future will be about revitalizing, renewing, reinvesting, redeveloping and reinvigorating – reinforcing those foundations that create a diverse community; a place of employment, housing, education, entertainment and culture; and making us a magnet for the 21st century workforce,” Price said in closing. “Our vision is not just what we hope to achieve, but rather a dream that is being brought to fruition, a legacy for future generations – built on a solid foundation one block at a time.”
The City’s cable channel, Newport News TV, recorded the address in its entirety and will have it available for viewing later this week at NNTV on demand