NORFOLK, Va. — Public safety, business expansion and tourism impacts took center stage at the Norfolk State of the City Address.
Mayor Kenny Alexander addressed a packed house on Friday afternoon, highlighting the Mermaid City’s successes over the last year and what’s ahead.
“We are Norfolk, a city of the future,” Mayor Kenny Alexander said.
Norfolk is thriving according to Mayor Kenny Alexander, and he said public safety improvements are constantly top of mind.
“We are investing in law enforcement and emergency medical services,” Alexander said.
Last May, Norfolk city council members unanimously approved a 5% pay increase for all public safety employees.
“Our police department’s new recruitment strategy is paying off,” Alexander said.
Mayor Alexander said they have 34 recruits in the police academy right now. He said that will help with the Norfolk Police Department being short nearly 200 officers.
“This is the largest class since 2019,” Alexander continued.
He also highlighted company and business growth throughout the city.
In the fall, Alexander said the Railyard at Lambert’s Point, an entertainment area, is opening off Hampton Boulevard by ODU.
“[It[ will create 100,000 square feet of entertainment, restaurants, office retail space, creating 350 new jobs,” Alexander said.
Tourism is driving the Mermaid City. Alexander said the latest tourism revenue hit over $1 billion.
He said Seven Venues shows in 2022 added $18 million to our economy, and the Patriotic Festival created more than $300,000 in tax revenue for the city during its debut last May.
Norfolk Councilman JP Page said he’s excited about Norfolk’s future.
“I am motivated, and I have been charged by what our mayor has said,” Page said. “I hope the same goes for everyone out there because no one is coming for us, if we don’t do this, it doesn’t get done.”
The mayor also thanked interim Chief Michael Goldsmith for his dedication to the Norfolk Police Department.
Goldsmith retired Friday, after more than 27 years on the force.
Hampton Police Chief Mark Talbot is expected to take the lead position in Norfolk on May 1.