Any 2020 business plan for any organization - public sector or private, here in Hampton Roads or anywhere in the world - has long since been thrown in the recycle bin. The monthslong, cascading impact of COVID-19 has rendered them meaningless.

However, in a much more challenging business environment, accurate information about fiscal challenges is imperative. Economists from Old Dominion University's Strome College of Business will deliver the Economic Forecast midyear update for the Peninsula in Newport News on Aug. 12.

The Hampton Roads midyear forecast will be delivered by Vinod Agarwal, professor of economics and head of ODU's Economic Forecasting Project. The national forecast will be presented by Robert M. McNab, professor of economics and director of ODU's Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy.

The breakfast event will be hosted by the Peninsula Chamber and Strome College of Business. It is tentatively scheduled for the Newport News Marriott at City Center but may ultimately move online. Register at

The breakfast was rescheduled from June, and the data has changed, and changed again, in the two months since. McNab said objective, independent analysis of financial data is vital "to counter disinformation and to assist businesses in adapting to the new normal where the only constant appears to be change."

McNab said the emerging economic recovery observed in late May and into June has been undermined by the spike in COVID-19 infections in the Commonwealth, especially Hampton Roads. If extended unemployment benefits and the federal moratorium on evictions also lapse, the resulting shock could undermine the economic gains of early summer.

"While Virginia and Hampton Roads rely more on federal spending than other states, the Commonwealth and the region have also been buffeted by declines in travel, tourism and international trade," McNab said. "There is a steep hill to climb and, without first controlling COVID-19 infections through universal masking and social distancing, we are trying to climb out of the recession with a weight on our backs."

ODU's Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy has for more than 20 years been an independent explainer and forecaster of economic data here, in the Commonwealth and nationally.

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