I’d like to begin by thanking each and every one of the first responders, healthcare professionals, teachers, restaurant staff, parents, businesspeople, community leaders, business owners and citizens of Newport News for the contributions you have made in 2020. This year has been eye-opening, and we see that there is much to be done to address long-standing systemic inequities across racial, cultural and socioeconomic lines. This has been a year marked by uncertainty, setbacks, and loss. Each of you has shown remarkable resolve. You have each led with resilience, and you have inspired our City to do the same.
Despite the challenges of 2020, we have come together as a community, rebuilding in amazing ways. To rebuild business and employment, the City worked to create the CARES Workforce Assistance Program, offering workforce development training in targeted, high-demand industries. Physically, we are rebuilding the Denbigh-Warwick area, starting by tearing down the old Kmart structure and making way for a community-led transformation that includes new businesses, residences and communal space.
We have also used 2020 as a time for renewal. We are quite literally renewing parts of the City, like Menchville Marina and the Marshall-Ridley area, thanks to grants and funding secured by public and private partners. Figuratively, we are finding ways to renew our sense of community while maintaining safe distance. For instance, the Brooks Crossing Innovation Lab (iLab) partnered with Northern Virginia Community College to offer free virtual STEM camps for young people of all ages and skill levels — giving children a creative way to have a little more human interaction and some educational fun!
Above all, our City has demonstrated resilience in a very challenging time. Companies like Ferguson, Liebherr, and many others continue to grow and expand. START Peninsula reinvented itself in order to hold virtual training and pitch competitions that provide validation, funding and resources to local entrepreneurs. The City and EDA worked together to establish three new grants — COVID-19 Small Business Resiliency Grant, Back-to-Business Grant and Grow Your eBusiness Grant — to help our local businesses persevere. And with an eye to the future, the EDA was part of our regional 757 Recovery Forum, which connects local business leaders with local experts and one another, for advice on navigating the pandemic.
From our businesses to our people, past to present, we are a City built for overcoming adversity. While 2020 has been tough, we are tougher together. And rather than stand by as the pandemic takes its course, we are well on our way to a recovery that will propel us into a healthy and prosperous 2021 and beyond. We are one City, moving forward, building, uniting and creating new opportunities. Together, we’re making great things happen.