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inner-city store in Albany, N.Y., before retiring as regional vice president for Mar- tin’s Food Markets in Richmond. “New- port News was one of the few munici- palities that came to the plate early on in recognizing the issue with food access,” he says. “They came to me to put a solution together to provide fresher, high-quality products that people can purchase locally.” Scanlon next plans to open stores in food deserts in Richmond and Hampton. Newport News’ Economic Develop-


ment Authority owns the building, leasing it to Scanlon, who’s gradually building a clientele. “It’s been a little slow out of the gate, but it’s growing every day. It’s just a matter of getting people’s habits changed,” he says.


New life in community Jim’s Local Market anchors the


shopping center in the mixed-use Brooks Crossing development, a revitalization endeavor encompassing the Southeast Community. The city is investing up to $18.3 million in the development, which is a partnership between Aaron Brooks, a former NFL quarterback who is a New- port News native, and Virginia Beach- based developer Armada Hoffler. In all, the city has put about $50


resources to build the social capital of the residents in the community,” Kingston says.


Opened in May, Jim’s Local Market ends a period of nearly two years during which the Southeast Community had no full-service grocery, designating the neigh- borhood as a “food desert,” an area where affordable, nu tritious food is difficult to obtain. Former grocery store executive Jim Scanlon came up with the idea for the market as a way to provide healthy, affordable groceries to areas with limited food access. Scanlon spent four decades in the industry, including a stint running an


Newport News at a glance +0.80%


182,385


million into the Southeast Community and the area surrounding it, including improvements to landscaping, streets and infrastructure. “It’s been a labor-intensive effort to get community buy-in,” Kingston says. “We’re investing in educational resources, neighborhood services, business activity and housing.” The $500,000 Choice Neighborhood


Grant the city recently received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is expected to help improve schools and safety and convert public housing into mixed-income homes in the community. Still, Kingston cautions the process is not a quick fix. “It’s taken a


Kingston


while for the community to decline, so it will take a while to bring it back.” Investing in the community will


benefit the entire city, says Debra Ramey, a Newport News-based partner with The Shopping Center Group, a national, privately owned real estate advisory firm. “It’s exciting to see the efforts being made. There is nothing but positives for the city by strengthening the weaker areas.”


Economic jolts Newport News bills itself as the


center of business, retail, technology and transportation for the Peninsula, a strip of land with 600,000 residents, bounded by the Chesapeake Bay, Hampton Roads and the York and James rivers. “There’s more innova-


tion going on in Newport News than people are aware of,” Kingston says. She points to the reinvigo- rated City Center at Oyster Point, the new Tech Center mixed-used development,


expansion at Newport News Shipbuilding and the long-awaited widening of Inter- state 64. All are touted as a much-needed economic jolt for the city and its 183,000 residents. Pointe Hope, a local investment


group led by former Newport News Mayor Joseph C. Ritchie and Hampton attorney Robert E. Long, this summer closed a $64 million deal to purchase nine buildings in City Center. Under out-of- town investors, the mixed-use develop- ment never lived up to city leaders’ vision as the center of Newport News. “This group has a better handle on the pulse of what’s going on in the community and will take City Center to where it needs to be,” Ramey says. Long wants to see City Center host


festivals, concerts and other events, mak- ing use of the development’s centerpiece


Population (2015 est.) Change since 2010


Unemployment rate (June)


5%


Median family income


Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Virginia Employment Commission


Adults (25+) with bachelor’s degrees


weekly wage $59,271 24.10% $1,017 www.VirginiaBusiness.com VIRGINIA BUSINESS 75


Average


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