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Local Partners Launch Project Rebound for Economic Recovery

Graphic design by StickyNote Creative LLC

Project Rebound will engage business leaders to share insights, identify challenges and build actionable strategies to restore the local economy.


The Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce and economic development partners at the University of Virginia, Albemarle County, and the City of Charlottesville today announced the launch of Project Rebound, a local economic recovery initiative to address the COVID-19 economic crisis.

“If you learn to use it right – the adversity – it will buy you a ticket to a place you could not have gone any other way.”
UVA Men’s Basketball Coach Tony Bennett, after his team won the NCAA national championship, April 2019

Inspired by the encouraging words of UVA Coach Tony Bennett, Project Rebound will unite the business community to discuss the tremendous challenges of the COVID-19 economic crisis and to seek solutions together.

Project partners intend to release the findings as a "blueprint" to assist businesses to emerge from the current stay-at-home order.

Through a structured, team-based exploration of industries and sectors, Project Rebound will invite the business community to identify and help craft solutions for urgent challenges related to restoring business productivity in Charlottesville and Albemarle County. Team discussions will build upon those findings to shape a plan for future business resiliency.

Chamber President & CEO Elizabeth Cromwell believes members of the business community will enthusiastically participate in this project. “Since the beginning of this crisis, businesses have been eager to collaborate and assist one another, and we would like to extend those efforts into a broader effort to restore our local economy,” Cromwell said.

“We want to document practical, on-the-ground insights as well as broader aspirational goals to document for use by any organization,” she said. “This unprecedented disruption to our business community has uncovered both weaknesses and strengths that can be leveraged to build a stronger economic future.”

Project Rebound launches today with seven teams focused on specific industries and sectors. Members of the local business community are invited to join a team relevant to their experience. Team applications, as well as public comments, can be submitted online at

Team meetings will likely be conducted by Zoom videoconference, and each team will determine its own meeting schedule and frequency. Teams will begin work immediately so that findings can be shared with the business community before Governor Northam’s stay-at-home order expires in June.

Cristine Nardi, Chamber Board Chair and Executive Director of the Center for Nonprofit Excellence, said “I can think of no better-positioned organization than the Chamber to bring together the many smart and thoughtful people from across the business community to share ideas and forge common goals to help us emerge from our current economic shutdown.”

Nardi pointed out that spearheading the Project Rebound economic recovery effort aligns closely with the Chamber’s newly adopted mission, vision and strategic goals.

“The Chamber’s simple yet clear vision is ‘a thriving regional economy,’” she said, “and our mission is to ‘advocate, convene and engage to strengthen business in the greater Charlottesville Region.’”

Depending upon the early findings, the initiative may extend into further efforts by the Chamber throughout 2020.

Please visit to learn more about the project and join the collaboration.

Project Rebound Teams and Co-Leads

Reviving Small Businesses:
Yolunda Harrell, CEO, New Hill Development Corporation
Rebecca Haydock, Director, Central Virginia SBDC

Protecting the Arts and Creative Economy:
Chris Eure, Executive Director, The Paramount Theater
Justin Reid, Director of Community Initiatives, Virginia Humanities

Restarting the Hospitality & Tourism Engine:
Courtney Cacatian, Executive Director, Charlottesville Albemarle Convention & Visitors Bureau
Russ Cronberg, General Manager, The Boar’s Head Resort

Assessing Key Industry Clusters:
Helen Cauthen, President, Central Virginia Partnership for Economic Development
Chris Engel, Director of Economic Development, City of Charlottesville

Information Technology, Defense and Financial Services Subgroup:
Adrian Felts, Senior Manager, Signature Science
Rod Gentry, Chair, Albemarle County Economic Development Authority

Biotechnology and Manufacturing Subgroup:
Nikki Hastings, Executive Director, CvilleBioHub
Hunter Smith, Founder, Champion Hospitality Group

Leveraging Strengths of Anchor Institutions:
Jonathan Davis, President, Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital
Frank Friedman, President, Piedmont Virginia Community College

Preparing Vital Infrastructure:
Chip Boyles, Executive Director, Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission
Doug Walker, Deputy County Executive, Albemarle County

Restoring Nonprofit & Community Organizations:
Ryan Jacoby, Deputy Director of Operations & Advancement, Center for Nonprofit Excellence
Charlene Green, Deputy Director, Piedmont Housing Alliance

Steering Team:
Elizabeth Cromwell, President & CEO, Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce
Chris Engel, Director of Economic Development, City of Charlottesville
Roger Johnson, Economic Development Director, Albemarle County
Pace Lochte, Assistant Vice President for Economic Development, University of Virginia
Denise Herndon, Program Director for Economic Development, University of Virginia

Project Manager: Andrea Copeland-Whitsett, Director of Member Education Services, Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce