Central Va. African American Chamber of Commerce supports Navy Hill project

1/24/2020, 6 a.m.
The Central Virginia African American Chamber of Commerce has enthusiastically endorsed the proposed $1.5 billion Navy Hill District Corp. program ...

The Central Virginia African American Chamber of Commerce has enthusiastically endorsed the proposed $1.5 billion Navy Hill District Corp. program because the Navy Hill developers have promised to “maximize the capacity” of minority business owners.

CVAACC recognizes that the project will complement much of the building and growth underway in Downtown and pave the way for minority businesses to play a critical role in Downtown development.

Initiatives in place through Richmond’s Office of Minority Business Development convinced CVAACC board members to support the Navy Hill project, which promises to provide $300 million in contracts to minority-owned businesses. Clearly, the project aligns with CVAACCs’ mission,which seeks to strengthen business development and growth in the African-American community.

The decision to endorse the project came after thoughtful discussions.

On Nov. 7, CVAACC hosted an informational meeting that was attended by representatives of the OMBD and Navy Hill. Michael Hopkins, coordinator of the city’s Minority Business Enterprise Office, delivered an impressive presentation outlining the potential roles for minority businesses in the project. He acknowledged the barriers that prevented minority businesses from participating in city-related contracts in the past.

Further, Mr. Hopkins pledged to help minority businesses access resources to mitigate concerns with bonding, insurance, financing, banking and licensing. He also noted that “$300 million is planned to be spent with MBEs across professional services, construction, suppliers, vendors, wholesalers and retailers over a five-year period.”

Many CVAACC members are proficient in those areas and look forward to new opportunities.

What’s clear is that this project has the potential to help businesses and boost many aspects of the minority community.

To show their commitment to engage minority businesses, Mr. Hopkins said that working together, OMBD, the Metropolitan Business League and CVAACC will establish a database of local, regional and national minority businesses. The list of professional services, construction firms, suppliers, vendors and others across all business sectors will match the various scopes of skills needed for the project. The matrix will be categorized by Capital City Partners, the firm responsible for conceptualizing, financing, designing and managing the redevelopment project. The matrix will be used to identify opportunities for minority businesses and increase participation, track outreach, document results and house monthly reports.

No major development is without risks. Some contend that the publicly financed $300 million arena jeopardizes our tax dollars. But others, including CVAACC, disagree. We see the project as an opportunity to further revitalize Downtown and finally give minority businesses the opportunities they deserve to participate in a major development.


The writer, publisher of Urban Views RVA, is founder and board chairman of the Central Virginia African American Chamber of Commerce.