2017 State of the Region Report

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In the 2017 State of the Region Report, James V. Koch, Board of Visitors Professor of Economics and President Emeritus in the Strome College of Business at Old Dominion University, analyzes the Virginia economy and assesses its future progress. Each of the four major sectors of the Virginia economy—defense, the Port, tourism, and housing—is given special attention. The report maintains the goal of stimulating thought and discussion that ultimately will make Hampton Roads an even better place to live.  We are proud of our region’s many successes, but realize that 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 open to us.

The 2017 report is divided into seven parts:

Turning the Corner: The outlook for increased regional economic growth has improved. Each of the major building blocks of our regional economy (defense, the Port, tourism) has gained momentum and our housing market continues slow, but steady improvement.

Airbnb in Virginia Beach: Airbnb has arisen as an increasingly significant competitor to conventional hotels throughout the United States and Virginia Beach is no exception.  The rise of Airbnb is yet another manifestation of the emergence of the “gig” economy.

Higher Education Pricing: The typical public four-year college in Virginia has increased its tuition and fees two to four times as rapidly as the rise in the Consumer Price Index.  Reduced state appropriations can account for only some of these increases.

Changing Delivery of Health Care: Health care in our region increasingly is being delivered by non-physician professionals who include nurses and physician assistants.  We trace the development of this trend and its implications for the future.

The Opioid Crisis: The number of opioid-induced deaths has skyrocketed in Hampton Roads.  Approximately three-quarters of opioid addicts began their fall from grace with a legitimate prescription from a knowledgeable physician.  We estimate the costs.

The Decline of Foreign Language Instruction: Foreign language instruction has declined in Hampton Roads and immersion programs are relatively rare.  This is not a positive development insofar as our ability to conduct international trade, understand world developments, or even communicate with many other Americans.

Do We Suffer from a Brain Drain?  Hampton Roads has been experiencing net outmigration of individuals to other metropolitan areas in recent years.  Who is leaving?  Why are they leaving?  We address these questions and their implications. 

The Report is sponsored by the Virginia Chamber of Commerce and supports the Chamber’s Blueprint Virginia strategy for stimulating economic development. Neither the Chamber nor Old Dominion University, however, endorses any viewpoints expressed in the Report.



Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy

The Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy in the Strome College at Old Dominion University undertakes a wide range of economic, demographic, transportation and defense-oriented studies. For eighteen years, the Center and its predecessors have produced the highly regarded State of the Region Report for Hampton Roads.

The Center is supported by Old Dominion University, a set of generous private donors, and organizations including the Virginia Chamber of Commerce and the Virginia Department of Commerce and Trade. It is important to note, however, that these supporters endorse neither the studies the Center produces nor any of the specific positions that Center and its personnel may take on an issue. Instead, they are united in believing that enlightened analysis and discussion of public issues buttressed by non-partisan information holds the potential to improve the circumstances of both the Region and its individual citizens.


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