No need for negativity

Published 10:59 pm Friday, February 25, 2011

Former Vice President Spiro T. Agnew, through his speechwriter William Safire, once famously opined about the “nattering nabobs of negativism” in the media. On Friday, his assessment would have been appropriate for some of those who had learned that Homearama is coming back to Suffolk. Some folks in the city could only see the announcement in a negative light, asking how many people could afford the event’s “overpriced” $500,000 homes.

Fortunately for Suffolk, many more people have the foresight to understand the boon that such an event will be for the city. This will be the third time Homearama has come to Suffolk and the second time that it has been to The Riverfront in North Suffolk’s Harbour View area. But since its first appearance in North Suffolk — when more than 100,000 visited the showcase homes — much has changed in Harbour View. New restaurants, shopping centers, spas and other businesses have sprung up throughout the area, and there’s a good chance that many of the people visiting Homearama will patronize those businesses when they come to look at the homes in October.

Their patronage will result in increased employment and sales for businesses in the area, a tax boost for the city and an opportunity for the city of Suffolk to take center stage in Hampton Roads for a couple of weeks. The exposure will give folks in the city’s economic development department an opportunity to share Suffolk’s story with a wide audience. Those who have a chance to learn more about the city are then more likely to look for opportunities to move their businesses here or to find other ways to take part in Suffolk’s development.

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Most folks who visit Homearama aren’t hoping to buy one of the new houses. For many, the event is a place where they can get ideas to incorporate into their own homes and for others it’s just a chance to daydream a little about the home of their dreams. Homearama would have little attracting power if it showcased $150,000 starter homes. And without the “wow factor,” the meager crowds that could be expected would benefit nobody — not the builders or the developers or the host city.

With few exceptions, Homearama has been a boon to the communities that hosted it. Suffolk should be proud that the event’s organizers have chosen to come back to town. And folks in the city — especially those who own or operate businesses here — should be excited to roll out the red carpet for their guests this October. Here’s a great chance to show Hampton Roads just what’s so special about Suffolk.