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Wilmington Chamber InterCity Visit to Richmond Provides Insights Into Economic Development and Regional Collaboration

27 area business leaders and elected officials have returned from a two-day InterCity Leadership Visit to Richmond, VA, organized by the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, with numerous takeaways on how Richmond has encouraged economic development, creativity and innovation, while bolstering quality of place amenities and increasing tourism. The Wilmington Chamber organized the trip to introduce the local delegation to innovative ideas, programs and initiatives which may be adapted and implemented in our community, as well as build relationships among our delegation attendees, resulting in a more cohesive team working on behalf of our community.

The trip took place September 26-27, and focused on four main areas: regional collaboration, marketing/promotion, urban living, and development. Presentations featuring Richmond civic leaders and area planners addressed topics such as community branding, biotechnology, bus rapid transit, the riverfront masterplan, and creativity and innovation.

The InterCity Leadership Visit to Richmond was an opportunity for our area leaders and stakeholders to learn firsthand from a community that has rebounded by reinventing and rebranding itself from a traditional, historic community into a thriving center for innovation and the arts. We learned a great deal about how the mix of regional collaboration, branding, and economic development go hand-in-hand to create a community where entrepreneurs and millennials want to locate, while preserving their tie to a rich, historic past.

A few of the broad takeaways from the presentations and bus tour of Richmond included (not in a ranked order):

  • broad-based, all-inclusive collaboration pays big dividends, especially linking economic development and quality of life issues;
  • the importance of embracing diversity and focusing on inclusion;
  • the placement of a tech center downtown creates synergy;
  • if a city can attract skilled workers, employers will follow;
  • the need for both collaboration and branding to have the most effective business recruitment strategy;
  •  the importance of the arts to drive growth and vibrancy downtown and throughout the community; and
  • the value of a Municipal Service District for downtown that is able to respond faster and take on more projects and issues than local government.

Guest speakers from Richmond that made presentations included:

  • Mark Kronenthal, Senior Policy Advisor, Mayor’s Office
  • Kim Scheeler, President and CEO, ChamberRVA
  • Lucy Meade, Director, Marketing & Development, Venture Richmond
  • Ashley Hall, Manager, Capital Region Collaborative
  • Lee Downey, Director of Economic & Community Development, City of Richmond
  • Carrie Rose Pace, Director of Communications, Greater Richmond Transit Company
  • Mark Olinger, Director of Planning & Development Review, City of Richmond
  • Bill Martin, Director, The Valentine
  • Carrie Roth, President/CEO, Virginia Biotechnology Research Park
  • Chrystal Neal, Senior VP, Strategy & Brand, ChamberRVA
  • Micah White, Founder, RVA Has Talent