With a built-in and specialized workforce fueled by our military and higher education institutions, the deepest natural harbor on the East Coast, and located just a day’s drive from 40 percent of the U.S. population (approximately 128 million customers), Norfolk is a prime location for any business. Courtney knows encouraging economic growth in our city and our region starts with supporting and retaining the employers we already have — both big and small — as well as positioning ourselves as an undeniable option to new and prospective businesses and their employees.
Courtney focuses on all projects regardless of size. Examples of these projects include:
- Military Circle Mall: Norfolk has an exciting opportunity with the future development of the Military Circle Mall area.
- Metronet: Norfolk has secured a new provider for internet, voice and video services through a high speed fiber network for homes and businesses.
- Headwaters Resort & Casino: Slated to break ground in 2022, the casino will attract tourists, revitalize the area around Harbor Park, provide extraordinary employment opportunities and create a new revenue stream for Norfolk.
Some of Courtney’s accomplishments in economic development include:
- Open Norfolk: During the pandemic, Norfolk City Council created “Open Norfolk”, which allowed businesses and restaurants to stay open in creative ways through outdoor dining and supported them with much needed grant money.
- Business Concierge: Courtney lived up to her promise of making it easier to do business with Norfolk! A business concierge program is underway that will provide a one-stop shop for navigating city services, permitting, zoning needs and more for small and large businesses alike.
- Cruise Center: Norfolk City Council funded a new gangway at the Peter G. Decker Jr. Half Moone Cruise Center to accommodate the mega-size cruise ships coming to Norfolk.
- Norfolk Innovation Corridor (NIC): In partnership with Norfolk Economic Development, the NIC officially launched in November of 2020. Courtney serves as a member of the board, which is advancing the work of the technology zone that offers the abatement of the Business, Professional and Occupations License taxes with other incentives, intended to attract and retain businesses and talent to the region. The NIC parallels the iconic Elizabeth River Trail between Norfolk State University and Old Dominion University.
- North Colley: Funding was secured to improve this wonderful area that has seen tremendous growth and vitality with the opening of many restaurants, shops and breweries. Funding supported:
- LED lights (increased wattage and illumination)
- Parking safety measures
- Bump outs with low lying landscaping and vertical posts with yellow flashing beacons alerting drivers to pedestrians crossing the street
- Improved intersection alignment
- Neon Art District Streetscape Project: The City has committed $4.9M to fund the implementation of the redesign of the Arts District in the Neon area on Granby Street between Brambleton Avenue and Virginia Beach Boulevard. This will further enhance the developing business, entertainment and residential environment.
- Community Hospitality Partnership: This unique partnership was formed to listen to restaurant/brewery owners about their challenges in working with the city and coming up with solutions.
- One example of the success this partnership has seen, is that early on, many owners raised concerns that when a business would apply for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) — hiring a new manager, for instance — it would now cost them 200% more than in previous years. Council and city leaders realized this rate hike was too high and very costly for owners. The city heard the owners loud and clear and City Council voted to reverse the rate increase.
As important as these giant job-generators are to Norfolk, fostering small business and start-up growth is also top of mind for Courtney. Taking cues from such successful homespun programs as Vibrant Spaces, she’ll be the first to press Council for progressive ideas on incentives that will give more entrepreneurs the confidence to start or expand their ventures.
Courtney also believes that as strong as Norfolk is on its own in courting and keeping the best and brightest, taking a regionalized approach to economic development makes us even more formidable. As Councilwoman, she’ll continue to champion open lines of communication with other area cities in an effort to pool our collective resources, experience, and amenities into an offering that’s tough for any business to ignore.