NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The state of Newport News is great, according to Mayor McKinley Price. On Tuesday, the long-time leader touted all the positives about the peninsula city to a room full of people.
Flanked on stage by city officials and other notable community members, the mayor broke down all the upward trends, beginning with education. Unlike years past, the mayor invited those people to help him conduct the State of the City address.
Superintendent George Parker announced a 94 percent graduation rate at public schools, along with a 1.8 percent dropout rate.
The dropout rate was 12 percent just ten years ago, Parker said.
"But graduating students is not the most important part of our work. We have to ensure our students are educated and prepared for jobs that do not exist today, but will exist in the future," he said.
The topic of education segued into jobs and development in the city. Mayor Price said the economy is growing rapidly in Newport News.
The president of Newport News Shipbuilding and a local distillery small business owner spoke to their successes.
Price believes, however, that investing more in the NN-Williamsburg Airport, and getting more flights in and out will bring a huge boost to the already-growing economy.
"We've got to be able to get to our bigger cities so that the businesses that are growing here can go to their main offices or other main cities," Price said.
In 2018, the total number of passengers at the airport was about 403,000. Compared that to Norfolk's 3.6 million.
When it comes to crime, Price said there's good news there, too. Across the board, crime is reportedly down 8 percent.
There has been an uptick in domestic violence, however, he said.
13News Now has reported on several familial shootings, many deadly, in recent months.
NNPD Chief Steve Drew has been upfront about the issue and his efforts to reduce domestic violence in Newport News have the mayor's full support.
"The chief has a plan in place because he's partnering with another organization to try and see if we can do preventative things to decrease domestic violence," the mayor said.
In addition to these big topics, the State of the City address also looked at tourism and overall quality of life for those who live, work and play in the peninsula city.
"We believe in this great city," Mayor Price said. "Monumental things are taking place in Newport News. Life-changing projects. Incredible accomplishments and exciting new initiatives."