Taking a new approach

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Print this page Robert C. Powell III, Editor

The state and federal government are looking at new approaches to doing business. In the state’s case, the new approach involves possibly contracting with a private company to run Virginia’s ports. On the federal level, the change involves reform of a health-care system that now consumes 16 cents of every dollar spent in the country.

In our cover story, Special Projects Editor Jessica Sabbath examines the prospects for privatizing the operation of Virginia’s ports, an idea sparked by a proposal from CenterPoint Properties Trust, an Illinois-based company. In July, two other bidders, the Carlyle Group and a partnership involving Goldman Sachs and Carrix Inc., submitted competing proposals. Sabbath explains how the state will evaluate the bids and decide whether putting the ports in private hands is the right move.

Congress, meanwhile, is trying to decide its next move on health care. The Senate and House of Representatives adjourned for their August recess without finishing work on several proposals. Marjolijn Bijlefeld and Robert Burke report on what they are hearing from stakeholders about the changes proposed so far.

Some law firms also are considering changes, but they will be self-imposed. Doug Childers finds that the billable hour, a commonly used payment practice, is considered out of date by some lawyers. But replacing the billable hour with something new may not be easy.

On the other hand, something new is getting an enthusiastic welcome at Old Dominion University in Norfolk — football.  Elizabeth Cooper reports that tickets to all home games at SB Ballard Stadium were sold out well before the Monarchs played their first game. But ODU officials don’t expect football to be a moneymaker. Instead, they believe it will attract attention to the university.

While football cheers boost school spirit at ODU, Richmond brokers are waiting for a new economic engine to breathe life into the region’s commercial real estate industry. Managing Editor Paula C. Squires reports that the troubles of companies such as Circuit City Stores, Qimonda and LandAmerica have dumped more than a million square on the market. Nonetheless, some businesses are taking advantage of the situation to move into the market or negotiate favorable deals.

Finally, a new development in the Roanoke area may serve to unite it more closely with the New River Valley. Tim Thornton reports that the collaboration of Carilion Clinic and Virginia Tech on a new medical school and research institute demonstrates how the lines between the two regions are continuing to blur.

Maybe their collaboration will produce a model for health-care reform as well as a medical school.

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