‘Friends’ set follow-up meeting

Published 9:51 pm Monday, January 25, 2016

A follow-up meeting for a group seeking economic revitalization in Suffolk’s downtown is set for this Wednesday.

The Friends of Suffolk group, comprising business and property owners and others in the downtown area, first met on Dec. 9 to talk about ideas to strengthen downtown, which included emphasizing arts and culture, bringing a college campus or developing a business incubator.

In this week’s meeting, the group is expected to solidify ideas and talk about how to formally communicate them to officials, including City Council, the state legislature and the community college system, according to one of the organizers, Ralph Nahra.


Email newsletter signup

“They already know about it informally, but we haven’t sent out any letters or anything,” he said.

The community college idea especially has gained traction and will be among the main topics of discussion this week, Nahra said.

“There is a huge amount of support behind this thing,” he said. “The key is how to make it happen. We need to revitalize. We need to move a learning center closer to our student population.”

Nahra said a community college downtown will be an economic engine, make access easier for students who do not have transportation, become a center of cultural activity, facilitate workforce and adult education programs and more.

“You have all the ingredients,” Nahra said. “All we need to do is bring the location here.”

Nahra pointed to places like Old Dominion University and Tidewater Community College’s Norfolk campus, where shops, restaurants and more have sprung up around the campuses.

“It’s an enormous impact it has,” Nahra said.

He acknowledged that many people involved with the Friends of Suffolk group are nearby land or business owners and stand to benefit from a community college.

“Is it business oriented? Probably, yes,” he said.

A business and technology incubator also is needed, Nahra said.

“All you need now is the learning center and incubator and you’ll have companies coming down here,” he said.

Wednesday’s meeting is set for 6 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn, 100 E. Constance Road. More information can be requested and RSVPs sent to friendsofsuffolk@gmail.com.