Mayor: ‘Join only the best’

Published 9:59 pm Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Opportunities abound in Suffolk for jobs, redevelopment, expansion and quality of life, Mayor Linda T. Johnson said Tuesday during the annual State of the City event.

Produced by the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce and hosted at the Hilton Garden Inn Suffolk Riverfront, the State of the City is always the venue for big announcements, and this year’s event was no different.

“I’m especially excited about two redevelopments — one in downtown Suffolk and the other in northern Suffolk,” Johnson said.

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Johnson announced that TowneBank will expand its 22-acre corporate campus in the Harbour View area, which already includes an operations center and corporate training facility.

The expansion will include a new, 44,200-square-foot, multi-use administrative building, according to a city press release. The new two-story member services building will mirror the Horton Operations Center building already located on the Harbour View Boulevard campus, where nearly 400 people are employed in the bank’s executive offices, operational support activities, compliance, human resources and marketing, along with other facets of the business.

Construction of the new building is expected to be completed in 2018.

TowneBank holds Hampton Roads’ largest market share, with more than $8 billion in assets and more than $5 billion in deposits. It is one of the largest banks headquartered in Virginia and one of the top 125 largest in the country.

Johnson also hinted at big news coming in the downtown area, particularly at the Obici Place development, where new-to-market commercial users will “give the area a special vibe with urban-scale pedestrian friendliness and buzzing new retail and restaurants,” Johnson said.

She also noted the downtown initiatives study under way that will provide next steps to meet the challenges in the downtown area with a redevelopment plan. The original plan, adopted 19 years ago, has seen many successes, including the Hilton and Constant’s Wharf Park and Marine, the Mills E. Godwin Courts Building, the rehabilitation and reuse of the historic courthouse and the new city hall.

The State of the City speech is the mayor’s opportunity to highlight all that’s good about Suffolk. A video shown during the event put a light touch on the wide variety of jobs available in Suffolk, with the help of former WVEC reporter Joe Flanagan, longtime host of the “Joe’s Job” segment.

“JOBS” stands for “Join Only the Best — Suffolk,” Johnson said.

Johnson highlighted the many industries, especially food processing, logistics and health care, that have grown in Suffolk in recent years.

In 2016, a total of 44 new businesses, 42 expanding businesses, 785 new jobs, 1.1 million new or expanding square footage and $95 million in new investment came to Suffolk, Johnson said.

“These are not just numbers on a page,” Johnson said. “They’re real people, with real dreams and real families to support.”

Johnson touted educational opportunities, noting the $67.3 million in capital investment over three years for the public school system.

Johnson also gave considerable praise to the housing market.

“I can also tell you that the market for single-family homes in Suffolk is thriving,” she said.

She mentioned the Landings at Bennett’s Creek, Planters Station off Godwin Boulevard and other upcoming housing developments.

A new city website soon to be unveiled was also among Johnson’s announcements on Tuesday. The new site will include an event and meeting calendar, intuitive search function and the ability for users to receive notifications when new information is posted.