Partners in Progress meet for economic update

Published 10:19 am Wednesday, May 4, 2016

By Amanda Jarratt

Nearly 100 business and community leaders from throughout Hampton Roads and the Franklin-Southampton community gathered at the Paul D. Camp Community College Workforce Development Center for the third annual Partners in Progress breakfast. Attendees were able to hear comments from the new president and CEO of the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance Rick Weddle, as well as keynote speaker Barry DuVal, who serves as president and CEO of the Virginia State Chamber of Commerce.

Weddle, who most recently was the president and CEO of the Orlando Economic Development Commission, shared that he is thrilled about his new position at the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance, and is looking forward to ensuring that Hampton Roads is the primary market of choice for economic investment and business expansion.

DuVal complimented local elected officials from both the City of Franklin and Southampton County on their willingness to work together. He emphasized that business operates along economic boundaries not political boundaries, and any successful region or community recognizes that and implements those concepts into their daily operations.

An overview of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce was provided and DuVal focused on the five keys to economic success for any community or region.

These include:

• Being Connected to the Outside World;

• Competent Workforce;

• Intellectual Capacity;

• Spirit of Entrepreneurship;

• Pro-Business Environment.

Students from both Franklin and Southampton high schools were present as well as representatives from the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the Port of Virginia, Norfolk Southern and many local business and community leaders.

As stated by DuVal, the Franklin Southampton community is an outstanding example of two communities working together to become stronger and more competitive as a whole. There is more work to be done as a Commonwealth and a community to ensure the success of Franklin Southampton starting with the five keys to economic success.

He emphasized that communities must work together to ensure they are connected to the outside world; provide the training and educational opportunities required to develop a competent workforce by utilizing Paul D. Camp Community College; investing in our future generations to ensure we have intellectual capacity; fostering the spirit of entrepreneurship through resources including Franklin Business Center and the Hampton Roads Small Business Development Center; and providing a pro-business environment to new opportunities, investments and partnerships.

Closing remarks provided by Brian Hedgepeth on the Franklin Southampton Economic Development Inc. Board of Directors emphasized that Franklin Southampton must continue to partner together to be partners in progress, with one community, one economy and one vision.

AMANDA JARRATT is the president and CEO of the Franklin-Southampton Economic Development Inc. Contact her at 562-1958 or