The economy, major transitions in key regional organizations and a dash of the traditional Richmond approach to engaging itself have conspired to keep the Richmond region from developing a vision and action plan, as regional leaders were challenged to do one year ago by strategic consultant Jim Crupi. The Times-Dispatch's Emily Dooley has more:
"It's kind of in limbo," said Gregory H. Wingfield, president of the Greater Richmond Partnership, a regional economic-development agency. "We got overwhelmed by the economy and some leadership challenges."
In April, the Greater Richmond Chamber formed the Capital Region Collaborative to come up with a plan for the future. In May, the Richmond Regional Planning District Commission joined with the chamber to lead those efforts. Business and government were on the same team with similar goals of planning for the region.
Then people began retiring, stepping down or starting positions anew. The failing economy also offered up plenty of distractions.
"The cynics of the world would slam people for not doing anything," Crupi said yesterday from his Texas office. "I'm not sure that's fair in this case."
The Chamber's longtime president, Jim Dunn, an advocate for the Crupi report, retired. A new president and chair of the Chamber's board transitioned into office over the summer. The new executive director of the planning district commission was hired. The co-chair of the group formed to move Crupi's recommendations forward ran for mayor.
For the record, I currently sit on the Capital Region Collaborative, which was formed in April in response to the Crupi report. And about 70% of that initiative's stall is a result of the transition of a number of key players. But there are other issues, as well; most are currently being addressed, as Dooley reports:
Robert J. Grey Jr., a partner at the law firm Hunton & Williams who was chosen to lead the collaborative, decided to run for mayor of Richmond.
"It certainly was one of the things that caused us to take a step back and consider what we were going to do and how to move forward with it," said Kim Scheeler, a former chamber executive in Tampa, Fla., who took over Dunn's spot at the chamber in August.
Another newcomer, Robert Crum, started as executive director of the planning district commission in September after a lengthy search.
"A lot of circumstances have changed since we first started thinking about a post-Crupi plan," Grey said. "We've had elections, we've had a change in economic conditions, we've had new leadership. The world has basically changed."
...Scheeler and Crum now are talking to figure out how to proceed. "We're the guys supposed to be driving this, and we're not sure where we're supposed to be going," Scheeler said. "I want to make sure we get it right."