NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- Hundreds gathered in Downtown Norfolk Wednesday to hear Old Dominion University’s annual State of the Region presentation. Experts said the Hampton Roads economy may finally be turning a corner.
Dr. Robert McNab, Professor of Economics at Old Dominion University, said he's never been so optimistic.
“We see more people in the labor force, we're starting to see increased defense spending, we're seeing more tourism revenue and the port is doing better,” said McNab. “In fact, the port just had an excellent year.”
Those factors show the region is recovering from the Great Recession, according to McNab.
Dr. Vinod Agarwal added that the popularity of companies like Airbnb has contributed to the economy’s growth.
“More competition, the better we are,” said Agarwal. “Hotels have to adjust their behavior. “If they want to continue to be active in this market, they have to change the product. They have to accommodate these people that are moving over to Airbnb.
But the group of experts said Hampton Roads still has problems, such as the increase in opioid addiction and the skyrocketing costs of public universities.
McNab said the increasing costs of colleges are due in part, to cuts in state funding.
“What we’re essentially doing in Virginia is starting to shut the doors of economic opportunity because of the rapid increases in tuition and fees,” said McNab.
However, looking at the bigger picture, the experts said Hampton Roads is on the right path.