Our InterCity Visits continue to break ground when it comes to creating an environment where the Richmond region’s leaders can engage in meaningful dialogue and generate innovative ideas from peer cities that are open to sharing their successes and failures with us. This three-day agenda-packed trip has directly resulted in the implementation of many RVA initiatives, businesses and programs.
InterCity Visit Takeaways Since 2010
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the 2019 InterCity Visit to Salt Lake City was a “yes” mindset. We heard from SLC’s leaders in business, government, nonprofits and education about how they first come to the table together saying “yes,” then figure out what the right questions are. This regional collaboration has been used to get big things done in SLC, from the 2002 Winter Olympics (and upcoming 2030 bid) to a major mixed-use downtown redevelopment at City Creek Center.
Other takeaways from Salt Lake City include the importance of investing in sports tourism to propel the regional economy – and in year-round cultural attractions and festivals to keep tourism dollars flowing amid traditional seasonal dips. ChamberRVA is also reexamining and evolving our ChamberWomen programming after learning more about the Women’s Leadership Institute in Salt Lake City. From HYPE Women programming for young professionals up to our executive women’s programming, we aim to elevate professional women at every point in their careers and mobilize them in support of a greater Richmond community.
In Minneapolis–St. Paul, we learned about how the city’s downtown development – neatly interwoven with its three stadiums, a light rail system, the Skyway System, and many business towers – drives new business, culture, sports, education and housing solutions. We explored the role of philanthropy in the city’s development, as well as the growth of advanced manufacturing in the region. We also took a deep dive into the history of the U.S. Bank Stadium project, a new $1 billion, 66,000-seat stadium right in downtown. And we checked out the riverfront and got a taste of the region’s diverse food, arts and culture scenes.
During our second trip to Pittsburgh (the first was in 2002), we saw how Pittsburgh has continued its transformation and why it’s now known as an innovative and culturally vibrant region. Our agenda highlighted Pittsburgh’s innovation and entrepreneurism efforts, workforce preparedness and neighborhood development strategies, riverfront development efforts, and nationally recognized arts and food scenes.
In San Diego, we heard about the intersection of regional collaboration and transportation – on display with their new free downtown circulator system. We also learned about the San Diego Housing Commission deal with HUD and their voucher program. Back in RVA, the Junior Achievement Finance Park was built in Henrico at the Libbie Mill Library. The InterCity Visit also galvanized support of CodeVA and encouraged continued emphasis on the commercialization of ideas generated by local universities.
Thanks to an in-depth look at Nashville’s Entrepreneur Center “The EC,” ChamberRVA unveiled Thrive, the revamped Small Business Development Center. Similar to The EC’s mentor-based model, Thrive is a one-stop shop offering assistance to individuals and small business owners by providing a wide variety of information, one-on-one guidance and education.
Participants also learned how collaboration between the business community and the Metro Nashville Public Schools led to a transformational learning model known as “Academies” which enable students to learn through the lens of a career or academic theme. The Richmond Public School system is working with RVA’s business community to launch an Academies model to better prepare students for life after high school.
In addition to a tour of its cargo operations, ship yard facility and cruise ship docks, ICV participants learned that the Port of Tampa is the largest economic development engine in Central Florida, creating over $15 billion in annual economic impact. Similarly, the Port of Virginia, which includes the Richmond Marine Terminal, is one of Virginia’s greatest assets. In February 2016, ChamberRVA created the Chamber Task Force to identify economic development and workforce preparation opportunities related to increased traffic in and out of Richmond Marine Terminal.
After touring Galvanize, Denver’s co-working space, Whitestone Partners, along with other business partners opened Gather, a co-working space with locations in downtown RVA and Scott’s Addition. Gather offers collaborative space where startups, entrepreneurs, work from home professionals and small businesses can work, meet and create.
ICV participants peddled their way around Denver’s bike-friendly streets. With a goal of making RVA a more bike-friendly community, Sports Backers launched Bike Walk RVA, a program that advocates for comfortable and connected places to bike and walk for people of all ages and abilities. Richmonders can look forward to cruising the streets of RVA thanks to the city’s new bike share program, the “B.”
The Mile High City’s oldest and most historic block, Larimer Square, inspired ideas on how to embrace RVA’s downtown businesses, independent shops, restaurants and vibrant nightlife. Venture Richmond and the Shockoe Design District are working on a plan to include Larimer Square’s signature canopy of lights over Virginia Street.
After exploring Boston’s Freedom Trail, a 2.5 mile, 16 historic site walking trail, ChamberRVA partnered with the City of Richmond, Richmond Region Tourism, and The Valentine to create Richmond’s first ever Liberty Trail. Recognizing the importance of developing and marketing Richmond’s 400-year history, the Liberty Trail is 6.2 miles of blue compasses that connect historic sites, attractions and neighborhoods, including 15 national historic landmarks.
The Boston Indicators Project showed attendees the value of identifying consistent, community-wide priorities and using long-term data to measure the success of a region. Published in 2016, RVA Snapshot is a culmination of the Capital Region Collaborative’s efforts to identify priority areas meant to strategically guide how we, as a region, collectively spend our time, energy, and resources for the greatest impact.
Boston also had a great web-based intern portal that connected its local college talent to its local employers. In 2014, in collaboration with 9 local colleges and universities, ChamberRVA developed and launched a similar tool called RVA Intern.
Austin was a great follow up to Raleigh as it reinforced our commitment to our innovation and entrepreneurism efforts. Soon after this visit, ChamberRVA launched the i.e.* StartUp Competition and The RVA Look Book.
Austin’s self-proclaimed “Live Music Capital of the World” moniker helped many of our delegation see the importance of branding. Shortly after RVA Creates, a collaborative effort between Venture Richmond, the City, local universities and businesses, came up with a stronger identity for the Richmond Region. We all know and recognize the great work they did with our new “RVA” brand.
ChamberRVA adopted the i.e.* innovation initiative that has helped spur innovation and foster the development of an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Richmond.
The Franklin Covey Leader in Me Program inspired Gail Johnson, founder and former CEO of Rainbow Station to develop the first “Leadership Preschool” in the world.
We encourage participants to check out the regions we visit for their own business interests. Challa Law Group opened an office in Raleigh after this visit exposed the Challas to the region.
For more information, please contact Christy McCurdy at 804-783-9332 or firstname.lastname@example.org.