Suffolk sees solid economic growth

Published 8:54 pm Saturday, January 17, 2015

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is Part 2 of Mayor Linda Johnson’s annual letter to the citizens of Suffolk. Part 1 ran last Sunday, and Part 3 will follow next Sunday. The letter was submitted at the end of 2014.


The 2013 Economic Activity Report carries a headline “The Closer You Look…The Better We Get.” This phrase justly fits the solid numbers featured in this report.

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Looking at 2013 as a whole, the City’s economic heartbeat is strong, showcasing an economy which is pumping dollars throughout the local marketplace.

There were 37 business expansions to go along with 48 new businesses, 650 new jobs, close to one million square feet of additional business square footage, and $94 million in capital investment.

Big or small, no matter the size, Suffolk has proven to be an attractive site for businesses to grow or establish themselves as a player in the Hampton Roads area.

Being known for remaining on the cutting edge of technology has become the standard for Suffolk. Navy Cyber Forces transformed their operations to Information Dominance Forces Command in October 2014. This new Command merged several disciplines into one large workforce based out of Suffolk. This means not only the retention of but the further development of lucrative careers.

Other development is also seen downtown, where Monument Construction has revitalized an entire block of West Washington Street with an $8.8 million, 56,000- square foot, 68-unit apartment complex with ground-level retail opportunities.

This further demonstrates the strong partnerships Suffolk is forging with private entities to increase offerings for residents and to further enhance our ever-evolving downtown.

On the corporate level, Suffolk cut the ribbon at the Kroger Marketplace in North Suffolk, a $22 million investment. Shamin Hotels is building an $8 million Hampton Inn Hotel at Centerbrooke near the Route 58 Bypass and Godwin Boulevard, and both J.M. Smuckers and Massimo Zanetti continue to develop new product lines and add investment dollars and jobs to the area workforce.

The Suffolk Executive Airport is another resource which continues to develop. The site has seen infrastructure advancements and on-site improvements which have made the airport a more viable destination for air traffic and special events.

Our former sleepy little town has developed into the place to be, touting the region’s top population growth, as well as the No. 1 increase in median household income.

One of the key issues across the state of Virginia is transportation, and that rings true in Suffolk. Route 58/Holland Road, Bridge Road/Route 17, and Nansemond Parkway are just a few of the roadways with projects in the works, all seeking to improve traffic flow, increase economic development opportunities and the ease of travel throughout our city.

Olde Mill Creek saw the completion of a quiet zone in the summer of 2014, while Suffolk Meadows has a four-quadrant gate system under design, all of which enhance the quality of life for our citizens in those communities.

In addition to vehicle traffic improvements, the city continues to partner with Virginia Regional Transit to offer alternative transportation opportunities for residents. Blue and Gold Routes were added in early August 2014 as pilot routes serving North Suffolk and providing a connector between downtown Suffolk, Chesapeake Square, and northern Suffolk.

The new VRT Hub at Market Park is a welcome comfort and convenience for customers taking advantage of affordable transportation options for citizens.

Linda Johnson is the first elected mayor of Suffolk. Email her at