City needs to market modeling and simulation, O#039;Grady tells council

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 16, 2005

The military may have launched the modeling and simulation industry in north Suffolk.

But these days, the high-tech industry is about much more than war-games n and the city needs to capitalize on that, said Tom O'Grady, director of economic development.

O'Grady, during his report at the Suffolk City Council's annual retreat Thursday, called for the city to invest in a new marketing campaign to promote modeling and simulation capabilities to a wider range of companies.

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"There are many opportunities for companies to take advantage of modeling and simulation," O'Grady said. "It's not just for defense contractors.

"We want to get out there, beat the drum…and diversify from the defense contractors that are coming into north Suffolk."

Since the opening of the U.S. Joint Forces Command Center, Suffolk has become a magnet for defense contractors.

Just two weeks ago, Gov. Mark Warner was in town for the opening of the Emergency Management Training, Analysis & Simulation Center, which will use the computer technology to support homeland security and emergency management initiatives.

Several major defense contractors will be announcing plans to open facilities in Suffolk in coming months, O'Grady said.

Suffolk has already carved a name for itself in modeling and simulation circles, said Mayor Bobby L. Ralph. And with the support initiatives are getting from government leaders like Warner and U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes, it's reputation will continue to grow.

"This is the big ticket for us," he said.

O'Grady unveiled several other economic development priorities for 2005, including:

nProvide wireless Internet access for the core downtown and Harbour View commercial areas, and eventually expand it throughout the city.

nFully fund the department's Economic Development Investment Program, a pot of money the Industrial Development Authority can use as incentives for companies considering a move to Suffolk.

"This is important for us to stay competitive with other cities around the country," O'Grady said. "This money has been critical to helping us land projects that were on the fence."

nConstruct the first phase of Nansemond Parkway improvements at intersection of Shoulder's Hill Road

nExpand infrastructure within Northgate Commerce Park.

nWork toward developing an office park on part of the property acquired from Tidewater Community College.