Week of 2/4/13
Local economy to grow only 1.68% in 2013
(Inside Business, February 1, 2013)
The Hampton Roads economy is expected to grow at a slow pace in 2013, lagging behind the rest of the nation, according to an Old Dominion University economist.
And, according to Vinod Agarwal, while sequestration is uncertain, it could cost Hampton Roads thousands of jobs and billions of dollars.
Agarwal and his colleagues, Mohammad Najand and Gary A. Wagner, wrote the forecast and Agarwal presented the regional picture at the economic forecast annual event last week at the Nor-folk Waterside Marriott. Wagner presented the national outlook earlier in the day.
Agarwal said that while the region will grow at about the same pace as in 2012, the pace will be lower than the 3.2 percent growth rate Hampton Roads saw last year.
The Hampton Roads Real Gross Regional Product should increase 1.68 percent this year, the report said, a tiny tick up from the 1.63 percent it saw in 2012. In comparison, the forecast predicts that the Gross Domestic Product will grow 2.1 percent.
In Hampton Roads, military spending increased just 1.62 percent in 2012 to $21.97 billion.
"This was the smallest growth observed since 2001, and there is a real threat that military spending may actually decline in 2013," the forecast said. (More)
Deal to avert strike at 14 ports is within reach
(The Virginian-Pilot, February 2, 2012)
A labor agreement that would end the threat of a dockworkers strike at 14 ports along the East and Gulf coasts appears to be within reach, though there's no deal yet.
A contract extension affecting 15,000 longshoremen from Maine to Texas, including roughly 1,700 in Hampton Roads, expires at midnight Wednesday.
If an agreement isn't reached by then, a strike by the dockworkers - the first since 1977 - or a lockout by port employers is possible.
The impact on the Hampton Roads economy if the entire port closes down - including ripple effects - would be about $25 million a day, or $700 million a month, according to an estimate by James Koch, an Old Dominion University economist.
"We've gone through the preparations two times before, so we've got this down to a science," said Joe Harris, a Virginia Port Authority spokesman. "We're waiting to see what's going to happen like everybody else." (More)
ODU's Wood Selig rooting for 49ers, Harbaugh family
(The Virginian-Pilot, February 3, 2013)
Old Dominion athletic director Wood Selig says he'll be rooting for the San Francisco 49ers in today's Super Bowl. But most of all, he said he'll be pulling for everyone in the now-famous Harbaugh family, with whom he is close.
Selig was athletic director at Western Kentucky for three years when Jack Harbaugh was the head football coach. Harbaugh is the father of Jim Harbaugh, coach of the 49ers, and John Harbaugh, coach of the Baltimore Ravens, who meet tonight in the Super Bowl. It is the first Super Bowl ever to feature head coaches who are brothers.
Selig and Jack Harbaugh became close in the three years that he was Harbaugh's boss at Western Kentucky. Harbaugh left WKU to become head coach at Western Michigan after winning the 2002 Division I-AA national championship.
Selig also got to know both Jim and John. Jim Harbaugh was an NCAA certified part-time assistant at Western Kentucky while still playing in the NFL.
"He would come in for two or three games each fall and would travel with the team and hang out on the sidelines and have a team meal," he said.
"Jim helped us recruit Willie Taggart as our head coach, who is arguably the best player in the history of WKU football. John would come in from time to time on weekends. I got to know the entire family very well."
Selig says he's pulling for the 49ers, a team he rooted for since he was a child growing up in Norfolk's Larchmont neighborhood. He became a 49ers fan in part because former North Carolina great Ken Willard played in San Francisco. (More)
Forbes: Local shipyards bracing for budget fallout
(McClatchy/The Daily Press, February 2, 2013)
Rep. Randy Forbes completed a sobering tour of Hampton Roads shipyards Friday, and later warned of pending job losses and irreversible damage to the region's economy unless Congress fixes its budget woes.
The Chesapeake Republican visited six shipyards over two days, including Newport News Shipbuilding. One concern mentioned at every stop was the fear of long lasting fiscal harm as congressional gridlock continues, he said.
"The public sometimes has the feeling that this is like a faucet," he said. "You can turn it off for a couple of months and then you can turn it on."
It's not necessarily the shipyards that will take the first hit, but the second- and third-tier suppliers, Forbes said. Those smaller operations don't have the reserves of larger companies.
"With several months of no cash flow, they could be bankrupt and out of business," he said. "And each of them is a niche you can't replace."
Forbes was recently named chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee on the House Armed Services panel.
The region's vulnerability was underscored this week as Old Dominion University issued its 2013 economic forecast for the Hampton Roads region. Defense spending, a main pillar of the economy, grew by only 1.62 percent in 2012, the smallest rate of growth since 2001. The report said there is a "real threat" that military spending may decline this year.
The current budget threat is twofold. The military is operating under a 2012 continuing resolution, not an updated 2013 budget. The longer the continuing resolution remains in effect, the tighter the money will be. In Virginia for the Navy alone, the consequences of not passing a budget would be 1.4 billion as the service is forced to defer projects, freeze hiring and make other moves. (More)
Our name should be a force for good
(Opinion, The Virginian-Pilot, February 3, 2013)
It is ironic that a great debate over the name "Hampton Roads" is taking place in the "Hampton Roads" pages of our daily newspaper. But what other title would The Pilot use for that section? Tidewater? Greater Norfolk?
A change would be jarring and controversial, sparking an argument we should avoid. For internal consumption purposes, there is probably no better option.
The problem is that the label we feel somewhat comfortable with is not the one that we can force on the rest of humanity. Zack Miller, in his op-ed column Jan. 5, is on target. If our only goal is an identity that will make conversations with outsiders easier, we should be Norfolk/Virginia Beach, to mirror other bifurcated communities like Minneapolis/St. Paul, Dallas/Fort Worth and Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg. At airport gates in the U.S., we are Norfolk/Virginia Beach/Newport News or some combination. Hampton Roads? Never. ...
ODU has embraced oceanography and climatology. Our cities, the state, and educational institutions at all levels should enthusiastically support those initiatives through curricula and collaborative training programs.
Further, we should host major conferences, produce studies and television documentaries and create think tanks to work on the challenge water poses for coastal areas nationwide. Our scholars and experts should be frequent interview subjects on network news programs and in major science journals.
Let's do this under the Hampton Roads banner. The outside world would expect us to be the authority on water for the same reason they would believe we should have the best rockfish, crab cakes and striper tournaments. (More)
Hampton High junior's photo clicks with the judges
(The Virginian-Pilot, February 3, 2013)
When 16-year-old Myles Golden saw the film "Les Miserables" in December, he related to a song about a woman's dreams being torn to bits.
So last weekend, in the snow, he went outside and made a photograph to express his feelings. The image won the Hampton High School junior first place Saturday in the 40th Hampton Roads Student Gallery, a regional high school art competition held at Selden Arcade downtown.
"In the picture, I wanted to show my personal struggle," Myles said following the awards ceremony.
He said he had his twin brother, Morgan, lie in the street by their home in the Michael's Woods section of Hampton. Myles reclined beside him, just inches away, digital camera trained on his fraternal twin.
Myles sprinkled snow on his brother, "to make it seem like he'd been there a while," and asked him to "look like you've lost everything." ...
The judges were Norfolk photographer Matt Eich; Heather Bryant, who teaches art at Old Dominion University; and Sharon Hill, in charge of portfolios, auditions and recruitment for the College of Visual and Performing Arts, James Madison University in Harrisonburg. (More)
Navy cuts not inevitable, say Va. lawmakers
(The Virginian-Pilot, February 1, 2012)
Faced with profound Navy budget cuts this spring that could wallop Hampton Roads' economy, Virginia's senators and the region's three congressmen said this week they don't consider the reductions inevitable - as has been suggested by some lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
But the Virginians agree that with each passing day, the prospect of halting billions of dollars in cuts slated to automatically begin March 1 becomes more daunting.
"Time is not on our side," said U.S. Rep. Scott Rigell, whose 2nd Congressional District is home to several military installations, including Norfolk Naval Station and Oceana Naval Air Station.
Rigell and others in the local delegation lamented the lack of action by top congressional leaders or President Barack Obama to more aggressively pursue a compromise to avoid the military cuts. ...
At play are two separate budget issues that involve reductions in military spending for naval operations and maintenance, as well as ship repairs and new construction. Economists at Old Dominion University said this week that the cuts would cost the region from 28,700 to 42,300 jobs, both directly and indirectly.
The one-two punch is slated to start March 1 when $1 trillion in automatic cuts spread over 10 years will begin unless Congress steps in. The reduction, known as a sequester, is divided between military and domestic programs. (More)
First Citizen is a 2-for-1 deal
(The Virginian-Pilot, January 30, 2012)
"We invest in people, not things," William Carroll Creecy said of he and his wife's being named Portsmouth's First Citizens.
The Portsmouth Service League's award honors an individual whose public service has enhanced the city. Nominations are received from the public. Former First Citizens choose the inductee.
For the first time, the 74-year-old award will go to two people: Carroll and Gloria Mercer Creecy. Service League member Brandy Lee McNamee said the couple was nominated together, and the Creecys embody the spirit of the award.
"They've done great things for Ports-mouth and Hampton Roads," she said.
Each was raised in the city - she in Port Norfolk and he in Westhaven - and both graduated from Wilson High School.
Carroll, as he prefers to be called, witnessed community involvement early on. His mother Katherine owned Westhaven's Kee Dee Nursery and was a founding member of West End UMC.
Carroll's aunt Betty Hoover was a Woman's Club of Portsmouth president. His uncle Dan Vick led Westhaven's Boy Scout troop No. 220. Later, a cousin by marriage, Martha Ann Creecy, would also exemplify community activism.
Carroll's fundraising for Bon Secours Maryview Medical Center's heart pavilion earned him their Sister Rita Thomas award. Old Dominion University honored him with the Tim Miller Philanthropic award.
Of all of his efforts, Car-roll says he is particularly proud of the endowment he helped create that provides a full basketball scholarship at his alma mater, Old Dominion University.
Gloria likes to share an ODU story involving G. William Whitehurst. The former congressman was Carroll's fraternity advisor and history professor at the school. After his former charge received the Tim Miller award, the older man asked "Did you ever think you'd accomplish anything like this?" (More)
Slow growth expected for Hampton Roads in 2013
(The Virginian-Pilot, January 31, 2012)
The eleventh slide in Gary Wagner's presentation caused the members of the Economics Club of Hampton Roads to shift in their seats.
The graph on the screen showed Virginia's significant progress in gaining back jobs lost during the recession, and that the United States isn't too far behind.
But employment growth in Hampton Roads has been lagging, and economists blame uncertainty over the federal government's proposed defense spending cuts, also known as sequestration.
"If you have a $50 billion defense cut, it's 10 percent of the national defense budget, but here it matters so much more because a big piece of our economy is defense," said Wagner, an Old Dominion University professor of economics. "Imagine you're a defense contractor. You're just reluctant to hire because you don't know if you're going to be able to support those employees."
Wagner and Vinod Agarwal, professor of economics and director of ODU's Economic Forecasting Project, presented the 2013 outlook for Hampton Roads and the nation on Wednesday.
If sequestration does not come to pass, the economists predicted, 2013 will see the same slow growth the region experienced in 2012.
If the cuts go through, Agarwal said, the unemployment rate, which was 6.4 percent for 2012, will certainly increase. If not, he expects it to dip to around 5.6 percent this year.
Hampton Roads stands to lose 28,700 to 42,300 jobs if Congress allows sequestration to proceed. (More)
Possible sequestration could cause thousands of lost jobs
(WVEC-TV, January 30, 2012)
If Congress fails to reach accord on debt reduction, the dreaded sequestration process kicks in on March 1 and Hampton Roads could get hit very hard, according to an economist at Old Dominion University.
Professor Vinod Agarwal said the region would lose $1.45 billion in defense spending, which could translate into 28,700 jobs lost.
Agarwal said the jobs would not be limited to military positions. "The jobs will be spread throughout this economy." Agarwal said.
Agarwal said the housing sector, tourism and local businesses would also be impacted.
Third District Representative Bobby Scott said members of Congress have no one to blame but themselves.
"When we passed the fiscal cliff, we did not deal with the sequester, we did not deal with the debt ceiling, we did not deal with the government running out of money because we didn't fund the government for the full year, just through March," Scott said. (More)
Jobless rate holds at 6 percent for Hampton Roads
(The Virginian-Pilot, January 31, 2012)
The unemployment rate for Hampton Roads held steady at 6.0 percent in December, the Virginia Employment Commission reported Wednesday.
The rate, which is not seasonally adjusted, also was 6.0 percent in November. That was down significantly from 6.8 percent in December 2011.
In South Hampton Roads, the unemployment rates for cities last month ranged from 5.4 percent in Virginia Beach to 7.2 percent in Norfolk and Portsmouth. Suffolk reported the largest decline - to 5.9 percent in December from 6.2 percent in November.
Williamsburg recorded the highest jobless rate in the area - 12.2 percent. The rates tend to rise in tourist-dependent areas during the offseason. ...
Old Dominion University's annual economic forecast, released Wednesday, also offered an upbeat outlook on employment.
The report predicted a decline in the local unemployment rate - to 5.6 percent this year. "The job market is looking better," said Vinod Agarwal, an economist at Old Dominion.
But he warned that if Washington does not avert defense budget cuts linked to sequestration, the region's jobless rate will rise. (More)
Panel OKs in-state tuition for undocumented students
(The Virginian-Pilot, January 30, 2012)
Last year, Del. Alfonso Lopez, D-Arlington, tried to convince the General Assembly to allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition.
He argued it made business sense. He argued the cost was small. He argued it was fair. But the proposal failed.
But Tuesday night, hugs, handshakes and congratulations greeted Lopez after the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Arts unanimously approved a bill to afford the privilege to undocumented students who came to Virginia as children.
The panel rolled several versions of the bill, including Lopez's, into HB1525 by Del. Thomas Rust, R-Fairfax County.
Rust said he's always opposed the effort because he worried undocumented students educated here would have trouble finding jobs. He changed his mind when the Obama administration announced after the last legislative session that it would offer "deferred action" for some immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children.
No one spoke against the bill, which had support from Old Dominion University, Norfolk State University, Virginia Tech and other schools.
HB1525 would require an undocumented student to meet a list of requirements to qualify for reduced tuition rates. They include living in Virginia at least three years, graduating from a Virginia high school, establishing immigration status with U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services and proving payment of state income taxes by a parent or guardian. (More)
ODU keeps more than $66,000 from playoff games
(The Virginian-Pilot, January 30, 2012)
The NCAA collected a $374,712 paycheck from the two Football Championship Subdivision playoff games at Old Dominion this past fall.
That check from ODU represented more than half the proceeds from the games, said Ken Brown, the school's senior associate athletic director for internal operations.
Both the second-round contest against Coastal Carolina and third-round game against Georgia Southern sold out 20,068-seat Foreman Field. They were the largest crowds in the FCS playoffs except for the championship game in Frisco, Texas, which drew 21,411.
As part of its agreement to host the games, ODU was able to keep 15 percent of the net gate.
Brown said ODU pocketed $66,125 - $35,196 for the Coastal Carolina game and $30,929 for Georgia Southern - after expenses. That money will be put in an escrow account to help fund future NCAA events held at ODU.
In all, ODU generated $676,520 in ticket revenue and had $235,680 in expenses, including everything from ushers to utilities to setting up temporary restrooms. Income was derived from ticket and parking revenue. As part of its long-term contract with ODU, Aramark paid a portion of concessions revenue back to the university's general fund, not to the athletic department.
The football program itself didn't make money, but that's OK with athletic director Wood Selig. "This helps our program's reputation," he said. (More)
Education pioneer nurtured young minds
(The Virginian-Pilot, January 30, 2012)
Corrine Jones looked out the window of her Norfolk home one day in July 1963 to see her friend Celestyne Diggs Porter running up the front steps.
Porter had just heard the news - the Norfolk City Council had appointed Jones' husband, Hilary, to be the city's first black school board member.
"She was the first one ringing my bell," Corrine Jones said.
Porter had reason to be proud. She'd taught Hilary Jones in school.
That wouldn't be the last time Porter would be the first to share good news in her community. After Lester Moore took the Virginia bar exam in 1969, family friend Porter called early one morning. She'd read the exam results in The Virginian-Pilot.
"She said, 'Eva, Lester Jr.'s passed the bar,' " Moore recalled Porter saying to his mother. Moore went on to become Nor-folk's first black judge.
As one of Norfolk's pioneer educators, Porter possessed all the characteristics of an excellent teacher - intelligence, honesty, quick wit and the ability to see potential in all students. Colleagues, friends and former students said those qualities served her well in her 40-year career in Norfolk, where she was its first black social studies coordinator, before supervising student teachers at Old Dominion University for 25 years. She remained active until her death in September, at the age of 101. (More)
ODU Board Of Visitors Weighs Campus Master Plan
(University Business, January 29, 2012)
There was no shortage of suggestions when Old Dominion University's Board of Visitors was asked to weigh in Thursday on efforts to revise the campus master plan. Figure out how to develop the university's limited acreage on the Elizabeth River so that it's more prominent, board member J. William Cofer said. Develop architectural standards that will give university buildings a similar appearance, Pamela C. Kirk said. Jeff Ainslie, who heads a Virginia Beach homebuilding company, suggested superimposing a vision of what the campus would look like if the university started from scratch. "Let's dream what we really want and see how much" the school can afford, he said. (More)
Guest post: conservative cultures nurture productivity growth
(Opinion, The Financial Times of London, January 28, 2012)
By Shaomin Li and Seung Ho Park of the Skolkovo Institute for Emerging Market Studies, Moscow
If you suggest that Egypt, Morocco, and Bangladesh could be the next bright spots for high economic growth, you might get some skeptical reactions.
But this is outcome of our recent study on productivity. We found that culture influences productivity - and that productivity flourishes among people that rate long-term financial planning, entrepreneurial risk-taking, and family values, and who, controversially, prefer political stability to political freedom. On this basis, Egypt, Morocco and Bangladesh will all do well.
While analysts and policy makers emphasize the importance of economic reforms in promoting economic growth, they miss other factors that play a critical role in improving worker productivity-the ultimate source of economic growth.
The narrow focus on economic reforms, such as boosting the rule of law and property rights protection, leaves a puzzle unexplained: why do some economies grow faster than others despite having similar economic institutions?
Let's take China and South Korea and compare them with countries with similar levels of economic and institutional quality and income. They outperformed their peers in productivity gains during the past ten years by as much as five times and three times, respectively. The reason is culture, as is shown by our study done in collaboration with Ernst & Young. ...
Shaomin Li is Eminent Scholar and Professor of International Business at Old Dominion University and Visiting Senior Fellow at the Institute for Emerging Market Studies (IEMS). (More)
Seminar focuses on empowering victims of trauma
(WVEC-TV, January 28, 2013)
The Up Center will host "Where There Is Breath, There Is Hope: Transforming Practices Through Trauma Informed Care" training-designed to create an informed community of peers and providers who can empower trauma survivors.
Trauma informed practices promote healing and long term, improved client functioning in areas of mental health, substance use, housing, vocational or employment support, domestic violence and victim assistance, and peer support.
In all of these environments, an objective we seek to change is the paradigm from one that asks 'What's wrong with you?' to one that asks 'What has happened to you?'", officials said.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is bringing together industry experts, including Joan P. Gillece, Ph.D., Director, SAMHSA; Janice L. LeBel, Ph.D, Director of Program Management, Massachusetts Dept. of Mental Health; and Marsha Woodland, Student, University of Maryland University College, MD, who will address the prevalence and effects of trauma, the techniques to reduce re-traumatization and self-regulation strategies to prevent vicarious trauma for the practitioner.
The Thursday, January 31 workshop is for licensed mental health providers, Social workers, Criminal justice professionals, Child welfare professionals, Public safety workers, Domestic violence responders, Medical professionals, Human services professionals, Educators, Students.
General admission is $25; students are free. Registration for the 8:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. event includes breakfast and lunch. You can register on the Up Center's website.
It will be held at the Ted Constant Center, Old Dominion University, 4320 Hampton Blvd. in Norfolk. There will be free parking available in the 43rd St. garage. (More)