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ODU Regional Studies Institute Releases 14th Annual State of the Region Report

James V. KochJames V. Koch delivering his 14th annual State of the Region report

Old Dominion University's 14th annual State of the Region report examines a wide array of Hampton Roads issues, ranging from economic challenges to the growing trend in online education at the K-12 level.

Published by ODU's Regional Studies Institute and released Oct. 2, the report also assesses the region's improving housing market, takes an in-depth look at the economic impact of Hampton Roads' three coal terminals and reviews the contributions of the region's Asian Indian community.

In addition, the 162-page publication revisits the state of mental health care in Hampton Roads, examines the decisions city and county governments make in allocating financial resources, and recommends policies for regional economic growth in the final chapter, titled "OK, Now What Should We Do?"

James V. Koch, Board of Visitors Professor of Economics and President Emeritus, serves as editor of the State of the Region report, which received financial support from Old Dominion and a number of local organizations and individuals. Koch notes that the report does not constitute an official viewpoint of the university.

"The State of the Region reports maintain the goal of stimulating thought and discussion that ultimately will make Hampton Roads an even better place to live," he said. "We are proud of our region's many successes, but realize it is possible to improve our performance. In order to do so, we must have accurate information about 'where we are' and a sound understanding of the policy options available to us."

The 2013 report is divided into eight parts. Among its findings are:

It Could Have Been (Much) Worse: Sequestration, it turns out, did not damage our regional economy nearly as much as originally anticipated. Unfortunately, some daunting economic challenges still loom on the horizon.

Our Housing Market Turns the Corner: At long last, residential home sales and prices are up, while unsold housing inventory and foreclosures are down.

Coal: A Very Important Economic Engine in Hampton Roads: More coal is exported from Hampton Roads than any other port in the United States. The annual economic impact of this coal activity on our region approaches $1 billion.

The Asian Indian Community of Hampton Roads: This "model" minority group in our region has attained significant economic success and civic influence.

Virtual Education at the K-12 Level in Hampton Roads: Online education in our region is growing rapidly in a laissez-faire manner that exhibits little accountability.

Mental Health Care in Hampton Roads: "Streeting," Guns and Budgets: Virginia no longer institutionalizes many mentally ill individuals, but mental health budgets are insufficient to meet demands. The Commonwealth's rather lax guns laws limit our ability to keep guns out of the hands of dangerously mentally ill people.

Where Our City and County Governments Spend Their Money: City and county governments in our region focus their spending on education and public safety. However, the specific choices they make sometimes can be surprising. Governmental units now face politically difficult decisions, such as closing under-enrolled schools.

OK, Now What Should We Do? Is It Richard Florida's "Creative Classes" or Instead "Back to Basics" That Should Guide Our Future Regional Economic Growth? Richard Florida's "creative class" theory of why cities and regions grow is popular, but does not explain the world as well as traditional theories that focus on human capital and technology. This chapter recommends specific policies for our region that are more likely than Florida's to stimulate economic growth and critiques several hot, current policy issues.

All 14 of the State of the Region reports may be found at www.odu.edu/forecasting and www.jamesvkoch.com. Single paper copies may be purchased for $25. For more information contact Koch at 683-3458 or jkoch@odu.edu.