Top 10 ways GRP is responding to COVID-19

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

Coming into my role as President and CEO, back in August, I never could have anticipated a dramatic change in the global economy – just seven months into my tenure. For several years, economists have been predicting another economic downturn. Being conservative as an organization, we had begun positioning ourselves for a sustainable future. This planning has allowed us to be able to retain our staff, plan for the future of global business recruitment, and assure the Greater Richmond Region is positioned as a preferred business location.  However, I am keenly aware that our success is predicated on the ability for our region to recover and come back stronger and more resilient than ever. We are proud to serve as a resource for our region. Here are a few of the specific ways we have been serving the Greater Richmond business community during this difficult time:

  1. Continuing our business outreach efforts. While corporate site selection prospects have put a pause on their projects, we are confident that by the fourth quarter of this calendar year we will see activity resume. As a result, we continue to proactively identify companies in our targeted industry clusters who are considering relocating or expanding their operations. In fact, we just concluded our first-ever virtual international economic development mission where we had very productive conversations with corporate leaders.
  2. Coordinating. The GRP staff participate in multiple calls per week with our local, state and community partners where we are planning for the region’s economic future and providing assistance during this time of great need.
  3. Serving as a resource. As with many other organizations, we created a COVID-19 resource page for those looking for information. We also have been fielding calls from our investors and making connections for assistance.
  4. Moving from a research focus to a business intelligence mindset. While GRP is an external facing organization charged with marketing to and recruiting new businesses to the region, we have provided research and analysis to assist our local economic development partners in decision-making and outreach to businesses in their localities. Our research team has enhanced efforts to predict companies who are looking for regions which can assist them in solving their business challenges – be it a lower cost of doing business or access to supply chains.
  5. Shifting our approach. Our staff effortlessly adjusted to working from home – and we have found ways to remain connected to each other. Technology platforms have allowed us to shift our business development from in person meetings to virtual without skipping a beat. Additionally, we are exploring new ways to continue to leverage technology moving forward.
  6. Leveraging social media. We’ve utilized our social media channels to disseminate information about what programs, policies and best practices our localities and partners are deployed during this critical time.
  7. Storytelling. We’re sharing examples of how our region leans into challenges – like how companies and government entities in the region are pivoting their operations in support of the COVID-19 fight.
  8. Providing thought leadership. I am proud to be a part of the economic profession and am always grateful to share with my experience with colleagues. Recently, I was a guest on two podcasts, Consultant Connect and Develop This discussing how the GRP is tackling the challenges facing our profession. Additionally, Business Facilities picked up our blog post on how logistics firms are pivoting operations and shared it with all of their followers.
  9. Planning. We had just finalized our strategic plan looking toward 2030 as COVID hit our region. We utilized this time to review with our consultants at IBM Plant Location International the information, and revise as appropriate. Thankfully, all of the strategies outlined are sound and hold true through post-pandemic. Additionally, we crafted a recovery plan for the organization and are working with local partners to devise a coordinated one for the region based on best practices from states and regions across the country.
  10. Finding new ways to partner. Economic development and recovery is a team sport. Working together with our public and private partners we are utilizing this time of crisis as fuel for innovation. This means partnering in new ways. The GRP team with our friends at ChamberRVA and Richmond Region Tourism, are discovering how as separate organizations we can support each other and also our business community.

As we all look forward to being on the other side of the curve, the Greater Richmond Partnership is ready and remains committed to enhancing jobs and investment in our community. This challenging moment in our communities history, makes me proud to be a part of the Greater Richmond region. Please reach out if we can be of service to you.