An enviable state of the city

Published 9:07 pm Tuesday, May 19, 2015

By John Carr

On Thursday, the city of Suffolk and the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce presented the annual State of the City address in an event titled “Directing our Destiny.”

Those that have attended similar meetings in other communities might have expected the meeting to be interesting, but not necessarily enjoyable. Similar events in other communities too often feature efforts to gloss over not-so-great news, sometimes with not-so-great presentations and accompanied by not-so-great food.


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It is understandable that such event are sometimes not well attended.

Thursday’s event at the Hilton was different in every way. The city, the chamber and the Hilton Garden Inn put together a great event.

The large ballroom was packed with tables, and the tables were packed with hundreds of attendees. By attendance alone, the event stood out and is a credit to business people and residents of Suffolk.

There was good reason. Suffolk had a great story to tell, and it seemed the biggest challenge was in jamming so much into the time available. Attendees were unlikely to absorb all the information provided, but the marketing packages provided were thorough and well done.

Readers who could not attend are encouraged to see the mayor’s speech on the city website and to visit the economic development site at

After the meeting, all knew things would quickly return to business as usual, including healthy debate over issues like land use and growth planning.

But the lingering, and perhaps unintended message of the State of the City address was that even some of the most passionately debated issues the Suffolk’s area has faced recently are a result of a healthy market.

It is worth remembering, especially as passionate debates flare up, that if our most challenging problem is deciding what growth we want, we are in an enviable position, indeed.