Not only has the COVID-19 pandemic affected life in Hampton Roads in an array of ways, it has changed the contours of the local economy, perhaps permanently.

Those seismic changes, which will continue long after the pandemic finally (hopefully) recedes, will be explored in Old Dominion University's State of the Region Report, which will be unveiled in early October.

"For Hampton Roads, it was the tale of two recoveries, with higher-income workers largely shrugging off the impact of the pandemic and lower-income workers continuing to experience economic shocks," said Robert M. McNab, director of the Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy and lead author of the annual report.

Vaccine hesitancy, the Delta variant and ongoing health communication challenges mean that another unwelcome wave of COVID infections continues to pose challenges to life in Hampton Roads. Following social distancing precautions for safe indoor gatherings, the Hampton Roads and Peninsula Chambers of Commerce will host State of the Region events Oct. 5 at the Norfolk Marriott Waterside and Oct. 8 at Newport News International Airport.

Register for the Norfolk event HERE and the Newport News event HERE.

This year's report is divided into seven chapters:

Shock and Awe? COVID-19, Vaccines and the Recovery: The COVID-19 pandemic shook the Hampton Roads economy. Yet, in the midst of the pandemic, housing prices and trade volumes through the Port of Virginia continued to rise. The nature of the economic recovery is examined. Can Hampton Roads rely on defense spending to fuel the economy in the coming decade?

Bounce Back? The Pandemic and Tourism in Hampton Roads: Nearly one in five workers in the hospitality and leisure sector in Hampton Roads lost jobs during the pandemic. Now, with tourists returning to the region, how did traditional hoteliers and short-term rentals fare over the last 18 months?

Earn While You Learn: The Apprentice School at Newport News Shipyard: This school provides an example of how 21st-century learning can occur in regional classrooms. What are the unique aspects of the Apprentice School that have made it so successful?

All In: Casinos, Grey Machines and Sports Betting in Hampton Roads: Virginians can buy lottery tickets online, place sports bets on their phones, wager in historical horse racing parlors and play "grey market" machines in convenience stores, restaurants and bars. Now, with casinos planned for Norfolk and Portsmouth, as well as Bristol, Danville and likely Richmond, what are the benefits and costs of casinos in Hampton Roads?

Whither Old Dominion University? Institutions such as the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and Williams & Mary historically have filled important roles in the commonwealth. However, the viability and cohesion of the state in the 21st century will more likely be determined on campuses like Old Dominion University, where the critical societal mobility challenge is being addressed in a meaningful way.

Bad News: The Decline of Local Journalism: Hampton Roads has not escaped the cutbacks that have dogged the news industry. How does the decline of local journalism affect public discourse? Is there is a future for local journalism in Hampton Roads?

Securing Release - Cash Bail in Hampton Roads: On any given day in 2019, there were more pre-trial inmates per 100,000 residents in Hampton Roads than in Virginia or the United States. To secure their release from jail, many inmates must provide collateral in the form of a secured bond. Now, momentum is building for reducing or eliminating cash bail in the commonwealth.

For two decades, ODU's Dragas Center for Economic Analysis & Policy has produced the State of the Region Report as a service to decision-makers and thought leaders in Hampton Roads, inserting data into discussions that affect our daily lives. Following the Oct. 5 event in Norfolk, this year's State of the Region Report will be available ONLINE, along with every other report produced by the Dragas Center.

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