State of the Community 2022
Executive leadership of the City of Charlottesville, Albemarle County, and the University of Virginia shared their priorities and took questions from the community at the Chamber's first annual State of the Community on February 18, 2022.
All of the speakers touched on themes like attracting and retaining workforce talent, weighing budgets in light of both community needs and available funds, and the pressing need for more affordable housing.
Questions from members of the business community also highlighted some recurring themes. Multiple questions were submitted about potential tax increases, workforce housing pressures, transparency in government, and the desire for increased diversity in elected bodies.
Charlottesville Interim City Manager Michael Rogers described his background turning around troubled organizations, saying he aims for a return to "no drama" government. Rogers earned the day's largest round of applause by quipping that he wants to "bring back boring."
Deputy City Managers Ashley Marshall and Sam Sanders both emphasized their commitment to equity throughout their responsibilities. Sanders called himself "a disruptor" who is always looking for better ways to do things. Marshall said as the daughter of a city manager, she believes deeply in the responsibility of local government to improve residents' quality of life.
Albemarle County Executive Jeff Richardson shared stories of the County's accomplishments amid the COVID-19 pandemic and presented key aspects of the County's upcoming budget. He led the audience in a humorous video exercise illustrating the many competing priorities local governments must manage. Senior staff members Emily Kilroy, Nelsie Birch, Mia Coltrane and Trevor Henry joined Richardson for Q&A.
UVA President Jim Ryan joined the event via Zoom for an interview-style conversation with Chamber Board member Colette Sheehy, Senior Vice President for Operations and State Government Relations at UVA. Ryan emphasized the University's efforts to serve as an active partner for community well-being, including a recent proposal to make three local UVA-owned properties available for developing affordable housing.