Norfolk economic development veteran taking the reins in Hampton

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Print this page Michael O'Connor
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Charles Rigney is leaving Norfolk for Hampton | Photo courtesy of Hampton

A veteran of the Norfolk economic development scene is again jumping ship to lead a neighboring locality’s efforts at attracting investment.

Charles E. “Chuck” Rigney Sr. will start as Hampton’s director of economic development on Oct. 8 with a salary of around $144,000. Rigney currently works for Norfolk’s economic development arm where he makes $134,732.

“It’s a really exciting time,” Rigney says. “I can’t wait to start over there.”

Rigney was named Norfolk’s economic development director in 2015. In March this year, however, he became assistant director of development and took a $8,528 pay cut. Norfolk’s former planning director, George Homewood, is Norfolk’s interim economic development director.

Asked about recent changes in Norfolk, Rigney said the focus of the city’s efforts are shifting from traditional urban economic development to redevelopment of public housing complexes in the St. Paul’s area.

“Norfolk is going to be having a specialist in the sensitive complexities of all things involved in St. Paul’s,” Rigney says. “The opportunity to go over to Hampton was too good not to take.”

Rigney was assistant director for Norfolk’s economic development arm from 1997 to 2014, a period that included a stint as temporary director from 2011 to 2013. In 2014, he was named Portsmouth’s director of economic development, but he left the post less than a year later to return to Norfolk.

Rigney says in Hampton he will focus on what he does best: business attraction, retention and recruitment. While in Norfolk, Rigney helped recruit businesses like ADP, Tegra, Movement Mortgage and IKEA.

He first plans to conduct a listening tour of sorts to hear what members of the Hampton community have to say about its economic development.

Rigney expects to examine on a number of issues in Hampton. They include ensuring the costs of urban redevelopment don’t discourage investment, updating older buildings to meet today’s needs, and improving the city’s workforce. Redevelopment and revitalization of Fort Monroe will be an important challenge, Rigney says.

“We have to do it right,” Rigney says. “It is one of the greatest redevelopment opportunities in the country.”

Rigney says working toward regional cooperation will be important, but he doesn’t shy away from the fact that localities are often competing for similar deals.

“It’s the nature of the beast,” he says.

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