A changing city

Published 8:36 pm Monday, January 19, 2009

Despite all of the evidence to the contrary, it’s hard to keep people from thinking of or referring to our city as — in the words of a recent interview subject — “little ol’ Suffolk.”

In this case, the reference came from someone who had reason to know better. He was teaching a class in Suffolk geared toward flight nurses, one of just a handful of such classes that will be offered around the country this year.

The speaker’s company has taught similar classes in Suffolk to people from all over the nation in past years, but he’s still surprised at the fact that the city attracts such a diverse lot.


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In his defense, it’s easy to forget that Suffolk is no longer the sleepy, rural countryside west of all the “real action” in Tidewater. Drive through parts of Whaleyville or Holland, and it’s easy to imagine life before the Internet, a time before satellites and MRIs.

Still, for Suffolk’s residents and others who are paying attention, there is no question that the city has been thrust into modern relevance. In fact, with its modeling and simulation labs, with its health care complexes, with its continuing education opportunities and with its potential to become a modern shipping hub, Suffolk is poised to become a leader in Hampton Roads.

The city increasingly will become the true destination for those visiting the area, rather than a place they just hear about while visiting Norfolk, Chesapeake or Virginia Beach on business.

For now, it’s forgivable if folks from outside the city lose sight of the change that’s building around Suffolk. In a few years, though, they won’t be able to ignore it.