Dec. 8, 2023 — Mayor Donnie Tuck and other city officials cast a spotlight on the spirit of innovation in Hampton at the annual State of the City event, held Friday at the Hampton Roads Convention Center.
The event, presented by the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, drew a large crowd of business leaders and Hampton residents.
Mayor Tuck’s keynote address focused on Hampton’s long legacy of innovation, tracing its earliest roots to Fort Monroe, Hampton University, and the history of flight and aerospace engineering at the NASA Langley Research Center, and up to 2023, when revolutionary work is being done here in areas such as climate resiliency and unmanned vehicles. He spoke of businesses such as Advanced Aircraft, Gismo Power and Pancopia, which are developing technologies in Hampton that will be utilized in many ways around the world, and he described new uses the city’s Public Works Department has found for drones and artificial intelligence.
“Because Hampton is pioneering this technology, we are leading the way for other localities,” Tuck said.
The mayor described the city’s innovative approach to crime prevention and youth engagement, which earned Hampton the designation of All-America City this year for the fourth time. He spoke about the city’s creative approach to resiliency against sea level rise, and how Hampton had found creative ways to seek funding in support of those efforts.
“One of our greatest innovations has been our approach to flooding and environmental resilience,“ Tuck said. “We were the first locality in the state – and one of a handful of pioneers in the nation – to use Environmental Impact Bonds. ... With climate change and sea level rise, we are seeing more frequent and more serious flooding. As we make our city more resilient, we pursue projects that also improve water quality, increase access to green space, enhance native wildlife habitat, eliminate transportation disruptions, and invest and improve equity in vulnerable communities.”
School Superintendent Dr. Raymond Haynes and City Manager Mary Bunting also spoke, touting the continued success of the Academies of Hampton, the innovative program that has helped raise on-time graduation rates to over 96 percent in Hampton City Schools. The academies use partnerships with local businesses and organizations to help put students on strong academic and career paths from an early stage in their education.
Dr. Haynes said: “These successes validate that all of us — city officials, industry leaders, business partners, higher education, faith-based partners, military partners, school division staff, and our families — believe that every student will graduate with the necessary tools, mindset, and motivation to navigate post-secondary paths, be it in college, careers, or the military.”
Bunting added: “Innovation in K-12 education is crucial for fostering dynamic and effective learning environments. Embracing innovation prepares students for the evolving demands of the modern world but also cultivates critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and adaptability.”
Mayor Tuck concluded his keynote address by reiterating the way that new technologies developed in Hampton are being noticed and implemented elsewhere. He noted that he had just returned from the UN Climate Change Conference in the United Arab Emirates, where he joined the mayors of such cities as Tokyo, Paris and Rio de Janeiro in discussing creative approaches to sea level rise and resiliency.
“Innovations taking place in Hampton have gotten attention across the region, state, nation, and even the world this year,” Tuck said. “I have traveled far and wide this year to tell Hampton’s story – and to learn from other innovators.”