Dynamos at the core

Published 10:44 pm Monday, February 23, 2009

Striking an optimistic tone comes naturally for Andy Damiani. Having served as Suffolk’s appointed mayor in the 1980s, he has never stopped being an avid booster of the city, selling its positive points whenever and wherever he has the chance. His outgoing personality and his long knowledge of Suffolk’s history engage both newcomers and natives, alike.

He’s the perfect person to head up the Downtown Business Association, which holds its monthly meeting Wednesday in the boardroom of the Bank of America building. That organization represents businesses at the core of a city that is striving to cling to its roots while extending a welcoming hand to new businesses and residents, especially in the blossoming North Suffolk region.

Though its focus is on the city’s core region, the advocacy role that the DBA plays has effects that spread to all of Suffolk’s borders.

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Longtime residents remember the problems inherent in Suffolk when its downtown area was at its lowest, prior to the revitalization that resulted in its current incarnation as a vibrant business, professional and retail sector that attracts visitors from all over the city and Hampton Roads. Without a viable downtown, the city suffered stagnation. Though it would be inaccurate to ascribe all of Suffolk’s growth to a revitalized downtown, it’s clear that a resurgent business district helped prime the pump of economic progress locally.

Damiani’s optimistic attitude and the boosterism of the group he presides over continue to be vital components of the city’s new role as one of the dynamos of the Hampton Roads economy. In these times, especially, the energy they bring to that task is a precious resource.