What’s Next – March 2020

From Lara L. Fritts, CEcD, President and CEO of the Greater Richmond Partnership

The Greater Richmond Partnership (GRP) weekly team meeting was a bit different on Monday. Trying to muddle through a conference call just after the announcement from the CDC encouraging us to all work from home seemed daunting. The most challenging part was how do I keep our team together and motivated. So, here we are social distancing – but now what?

I believe we can all agree that things won’t be back to “normal” for a while, that life before COVID-19 will seem like a distant memory. Yet, that doesn’t mean that we must hunker down in our houses, with CNN (or your news channel of choice) on constant loop.  Let’s use this time to think about what comes next.

It seems that the first six months after social distancing will be a race. Businesses and organizations will be seeking to make up for sales and revenue lost. Events will be rescheduled and as we emerge from our homes and our calendars will once again fill up with meetings. In the meantime, I plan to use this time productively.


Whenever I attend a conference there is an opportunity to meet an author and so I have a bookshelf filled with books given to me over the past few years about economic development and leadership that sadly have been collecting dust – perhaps I can use this time to read one or two of them. I’ve also learned that many colleges and universities offer non-credit courses here is a list I found: https://www.freecodecamp.org/news/ivy-league-free-online-courses-a0d7ae675869/. Last month I purchased a bullet journal and plan to use this time to set personal goals for myself and put them in writing.  


As the national and international sales team for the Greater Richmond region, the inability for our team to travel to meet with clients and the unknown regarding how businesses will be impacted and how these impacts will affect their expansion and/or relocation plans have left us a bit listless. We had been looking at a stellar fiscal year 2020 and then ‘this’ happened.  However, our team is not about to throw away the remainder of this year or let what is happening deter us from the great work we have been pursuing.

Our team members are taking courses on-line on the various databases and tools we have in the office – from our Salesforce CRM to CoStar – and having our staff be informed allows us to better serve our clients, regional businesses, partners and investors.

Along with our consultants at IBM Global Location Strategies, we are in the final stages of developing our strategic plan. The information found in this document will help to guide our efforts over the next 10 years. Yesterday, we spoke about the impacts of COVID-19 on our go-to market strategy and with our consultants agree our plan is still relevant and sound. We will utilize this time to begin to research and strategize the targeted regions, growth businesses and messages so when we start our next fiscal year on July 1, 2020, we will be ready to travel domestically and internationally promoting our region face-to-face.

The GRP staff meets with representatives of companies every day, and our travel and meeting calendars sometimes make it difficult to follow-up or check-in. Seeing that many of us are working from our home office – what a great time to reconnect. I know in just day two of teleworking I find myself starting at my phone hoping it will ring. So, rather than waiting for my phone to ring – I’m making calls.

We also know that for our local economic development partners, emerging from ‘this’ will mean a coordinated response to business retention. Our research team is already preparing information that will help our local economic development partners in their efforts. Together we are holding conference calls regularly to stay abreast of programs and efforts across the region and Commonwealth to support all of our businesses.

Together we can weather this storm and emerge even stronger personally, professionally and as a region.