HAMPTON-The Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce (VPCC) is on the move, in more ways than one. Effective March 31, the organization will close its office at 21 Enterprise Parkway in Hampton and, if all goes well, will occupy a new location at City Center in Newport News beginning at the end of April or in early May. The staff will be working from home during the interim.
“When I first got here five years ago, I asked how long we had left on the lease,” said Bob McKenna, president and CEO of the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. “I recognized that the chamber of commerce should be in a prominent location. People shouldn’t have to ask, ‘Where is the chamber?’ And I get that quite often.”
According to a statement McKenna made in the recent VPCC newsletter, the move represents a change in location only. The chamber’s commitment to serve Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson, York County, and James City County remains unchanged.
The hunt for a new location started last August and was based on several criteria. It needed to: have four or five offices to accommodate employees; have a conference room that could host up to 60 or 70 people; be somewhere safe and secure; and be in a prominent location where there could be a sign on the door and people could walk in off the street.
“We looked at the Tech Center, which is going to be a great location moving forward,” said McKenna. “Probably in five to ten years from now, it’s going to be a hub, but it’s not quite there yet. There’s still a lot of construction going on out there and it’s a little pricier. We’re not awash with cash, so we were looking for a good price, too.”
A representative from Harvey Lindsay Commercial Real Estate contacted McKenna and showed him some open locations in City Center.
“The last space he showed me ended up being perfect for us,” said McKenna. “Coming off Jefferson Avenue onto Thimble Shoals, as soon as you pass Tradition Brewing Company, you can see it. It’s centrally located and we’re surrounded by a number of businesses that support the chamber, as well as being within walking distance to the Marriott where we hold most of our big events.”
The new location, which will either be designated as 11870 or 11850 Merchants Walk in Newport News, was previously occupied by ECPI’s Culinary Institute and provides everything McKenna and his team were looking for, including an additional small conference room that can be used for an executive board room, which they have never had before.
“If you were to ask, ‘What’s the one location on the Peninsula that you could consider the center of all activity?’ I think it would be City Center,” said McKenna. “We’re really excited to get there, but I want to emphasize this is a change in location only. It’s nothing more. Our focus is still on the big municipalities that we serve, and this is just more accessible to everyone. So, it’s a change of location, but it’s not a change of mission.”