On Tuesday, January 30 the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce hosted a large Regional Summit at the University of Mary Washington’s Jepson Alumni Executive Center. The purpose of the summit was to provide the opportunity for public and private sector leaders in the Fredericksburg region to work together in order to enhance the region’s standing in the Commonwealth, to grow the region’s competitiveness for jobs and talent, and to strengthen the region’s future prosperity. Keynote speaker Ted Abernathy, managing partner of Economic Leadership, said the region has a unique opportunity to create its own distinctive narrative and establish itself as a noteworthy area. The region is expected to see a significant increase in population growth in the next 10 years, indicating a prime opportunity for growth and success.

Abernathy’s data indicated that the Fredericksburg region – which includes counties Stafford, King George, Caroline, Spotsylvania and the city of Fredericksburg –  is ahead of the state in overall job growth and growth in specific sectors such as construction, trade, transport, utilities, and professional and business services. In the past year, the region added 7,178 net new jobs, and population growth in all regional jurisdictions, except for the city, has been faster in the past decade than statewide population growth. This trend is expected to continue in the next 10 years, with more than 85,000 new residents anticipated to move to the area.

Abernathy believes that building social capital is crucial to overcoming the challenges faced by the region, as trust in institutions continues to decline globally. He stressed the importance of a regional approach to combat these negative trends, emphasizing that establishing connections before a crisis occurs is essential. Abernathy believes that collaboration among local jurisdictions is key to achieving success as a region. Regardless of competition, it’s important to unite and address common issues such as workforce and transportation. He argues that a specific, realistic, and resourced action plan, with advocates and someone responsible for its implementation, is required for the region to achieve regional competitiveness. Stakeholders shared their perspectives about regionalism and various issues the group should address in the upcoming months.

For more information about the Chamber’s regional initiative, please contact Susan Spears at [email protected].