The Great Recession: 10 Years Later

13News Now | July 11, 2018

By: Janet Roach

It’s been 10 years since the start of the Great Recession. When the bottom fell out of the markets and banks failed, Hampton Roads was hit hard. Our red-hot housing market took a hit. Friends and neighbors lost their homes and their jobs. Tourism dollars and defense spending dried up. There was uncertainty all around.

Now a decade later, Hampton Roads is taking heed of lessons learned from the Great Recession.

The full article and video can be found online on 13News Now

Program linking military medics with civilian job opportunities becomes permanent

Inside Business | Jun 27, 2018

By: Alana Davitt

Gov. Ralph Northam signed legislation on June 25 making the Virginia’s Military Medics and Corpsmen program permanent.

The program was previously a pilot initiative administered by the Department of Veterans Services. It provides training and assistance to former military medics and corpsman in obtaining credentials and jobs in the civilian health care system.

Northam ceremonially signed the bill in Norfolk at the Veterans Employment Center.

Established by the General Assembly in 2016, the medics and corpsmen program serves veterans who held health care jobs in any branch of the military.

Bon Secours, Sentara, Chesapeake Regional, Riverside, Carilion Clinic, Inova Health System, Novant Health UVA, and the Virginia Department of Corrections are participating.

The full article can be found online and in print in Inside Business. 

Opportunity Inc. Hosted the Ukraine Delegation For Working With Veterans and Norfolk City Sister Association

Opportunity Inc. hosted the Ukraine Delegation For Working With Veterans and Norfolk City Sister Association on Friday, April 20. Staff provided a tour of the new Hampton Roads Veterans Employment Center — sharing insight on how the organization helps Veterans, Transitioning Service Members, and Military Spouses find meaningful employment as they enter the civilian workforce.

Longtime Farm Fresh, Toys R Us workers “still in shock” as they look for new jobs

The Virginian-Pilot | April 19, 2018

By: Kimberly Pierceall

Job Fair

Ten years. Thirty years. Thirty-seven years.

Many longtime Farm Fresh workers – and at least one Toys R Us employee –had never been to a job fair before let alone expected to be at one at their age: 55-plus. After all, retirement was just a few years away.

But there they were, wearing their store name tags at the Virginia Beach Convention Center on Wednesday, going from table to table looking for their next step after Farm Fresh’s parent company, Supervalu, decided to sell off its stores, affecting more than 3,000 employees. The news came at the same time Toys R Us announced it would liquidate several hundred stores nationwide, leaving about 300 Hampton Road workers without jobs.

“This is one of those things where we had to come together pretty quickly,” said Shawn Avery, president and CEO of Opportunity Inc., which worked with the Virginia Employment Commission and Farm Fresh store manager Andy Adams to organize Wednesday’s job fair. It featured more than 100 employers and was attended by about 800 job seekers.

Lorrie Bartholf, who worked for Toys R Us off and on for 30 years, said that at 59, she wasn’t old enough to retire, even if she wanted to (which she doesn’t). On Wednesday, she was looking for a retail job where she might be an assistant manager at a smaller store.

“I’m still in shock,” she said. “I feel sorry for the kids that are coming up.”

Ty Ryan, 61, of Norfolk had five more years to go before retirement.

“That was my plan,” he said. A produce manager for Farm Fresh for 30 years, he said he’s in a more comfortable position than most and hopes to take the summer off and relax before finding another job.

Paula Wisotzkey had been at Farm Fresh for 10 years, most recently the deli manager on Laskin Road. She thought she might retire in eight years.

“I’m 55 years old and a lot of them, they want us to start at the bottom of the payscale,” she said of employers she had spoken to. “We have the skills, we just need the openings.’

As much as their ages may have given them pause while they walked around the fair, at least one employer said their lengthy record of experience with the same company, a sign of loyalty, was an advantage.

“They were doing something right for all those years,” said Angel Freeman, director of human resources for Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, which had a three-page list of seasonal positions it needed to fill. “Their resume is going to go to the front of the line.”

The lengthy experience of the Farm Fresh job seekers was apparent to other employers, too.

“There wasn’t one person we talked to who had worked there for a year or six months,” said Rob Reper, chief operating officer of Taste, another longtime Hampton Roads business. “They built their life around Farm Fresh.”

The specialty restaurant and gourmet market already hired some of the grocer’s employees in the past month and sees the skills that can translate to their sandwich-making and merchandising.

“We jumped the minute we saw the article,” he said of attending the job fair. “We’ve got homes for many people.”

The company is in the middle of its summer hiring ramp-up and it is growing, with a new location opening in Richmond soon.

“There’s something that we’re always doing and that’s hiring,” Reper said.

The mix of employers wasn’t limited to retail. Officer Patricia Cox with internal affairs for the Hampton Roads Regional Jail said they’re looking for three qualifications for their jail officers: someone who is a people person, professional and has common sense. She said the job seekers who approached her table Wednesday were “humbled, they want a new start, they want stability.”

True North Salmon Co. in Suffolk, a seafood wholesaler who sells to mail-order meal service Blue Apron, met experienced Farm Fresh seafood managers. JoAnn Vanzandt with the company’s accounts receivable department, said the company’s recent acquisition of a Houston-based company would mean more jobs, about 40, in the next few months as it expands.

Micky Nye, Farm Fresh’s president before Supervalu made her regional vice president of operations overseeing three of its brands last year, came to the event to “support my team.”

“I want them all to have something where they’re comfortable and happy,” she said. “They’re great people. I’d hire every single one of them if I could.”

Avery encouraged Farm Fresh and Toys R Us workers to reach out to his group after the job fair.

“This isn’t it. The help doesn’t stop now,” he said.

The full article can be found online and in print in The Virginian-Pilot. 

Norfolk Scope to host inaugural Healthcare Career Expo

News Channel 3 | April 16, 2018

NORFOLK, Va. – Are you interested in a career in healthcare?

Opportunity Inc. and the Youth Career Center of Hampton Roads will host a Healthcare Career Expo on Tuesday, April 17 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Norfolk Scope.

The expo is designed for high school and college students as well as Hampton Roads residents who are interested in the region’s growing healthcare industry. It will provide live demonstrations and information sessions focused on post-secondary education opportunities, financial aid resources and career exploration.

This inaugural expo is made possible by a partnership with the City of Norfolk’s Norfolk Works and Sentara Healthcare and will feature more than 40 different careers within the healthcare industry from emergency medicine to cutting-edge research in biotechnology.

The Norfolk Scope Arena is located at 201 East Brambleton Avenue in Downtown Norfolk.

This article can be found online onNews Channel 3.

Job fair aims to help displaced Farm Fresh and Toys ‘R’ Us employees

13 News Now | April 15, 2018

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) — A local organization is looking to help the more than 3,000 workers in Hampton Roads who are affected by the closings of Toys “R” Us and Farm Fresh.

The “ConnectUP 2018 Job Fair” will allow recently displaced workers the chance to meet with more than 100 employers from across several industries, and discuss immediate employment opportunities.

Job opportunities include positions in the healthcare, retailer, insurance, and hospitality.

People who are out of work unrelated to the Farm Fresh and Toys “R” Us closures are also encouraged to attend.

The job fair will be held Wednesday, April 18 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Virginia Beach Convention Center, 1000 19th Street in Virginia Beach.

The job fair is organized by Opportunity Inc., in partnership with the Virginia Employment Commission.

For more information or to register, visit There is no cost to register.


This article can be found online on 13 News Now.

Hampton Roads Veterans Employment Center holds grand opening in Norfolk

WAVY 10 | February 26, 2018

By: Stephanie Harris

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The transition from the military to the civilian job force can be difficult, but a new center in Norfolk is promising to connect the two worlds and help military families find jobs.

The Hampton Roads Veterans Employment Center held its grand opening in Norfolk Friday morning.

Opportunity Inc. President and CEO Shawn Avery told that since they quietly opened the doors in January, they’ve already seen nearly 400 veterans and military spouses and have helped 21 find new jobs.

“You’re going to get one-on-one attention where we can use the computers, we can talk to them about educational opportunities if they’re looking for employment, we can talk to them about the jobs that are open in this area,” Avery said.

Congressman Scott Taylor, a retired Navy SEAL, cut the ribbon at Friday’s event.

He told he knows a lot of folks transitioning from military to civilian life will benefit from the center. He said many of his friends found the transition to be tough.

“Some of them, super high caliber, high quality folks, who were lost and were like ‘what am I going to do?’ They have no idea, so that’s why this is so important.”

The center is not just connecting veterans with businesses, it’s connecting businesses with vets, said Bryan Stephens, the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce’s president & CEO.

“A lot of them try to establish their own veteran hiring program, but they find it very difficult because they don’t know where to start.”

Several businesses are now holding hiring events at the office located at 861 Glenrock Road,
and a number want to use the center as a tool to recruit the kind of workers they know will help their businesses grow.

Full coverage of this event can be found on

Rep. Scott Taylor to speak at grand opening of veterans employment center

NORFOLK, Va. – Congressman Scott Taylor (R-Virginia Beach) will speak at the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Hampton Roads Veterans Employment Center on Friday, March 30. 

The new center opened on January 24. It was created to assist veterans, transitioning service members and military families access services and resources to reach their employment goals and successfully transition to the civilian workforce in Hampton Roads.

Taylor, a former Navy SEAL, will talk about the importance of the new facility and its role in our area.

The event will take place from 10:30-11:30 a.m. at 861 Glenrock Road in Norfolk.



This article can be found online on WTKR News Channel 3.

Opportunity Inc. to host health care career expo at Norfolk Scope

Inside Business|March 19, 2018

Sentara Princess Anne Hospital

Ever thought about a career in health care?

Opportunity Inc. and the Youth Career Center of Hampton Roads will host their first Health Care Career Expo from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 17 at Norfolk Scope.

The event is in partnership with the Norfolk Works initiative and Sentara Healthcare. It will highlight careers in 40 disciplines, such as emergency medicine and biotechnology research. Live demonstrations and information sessions on post-secondary education, financial aid resources and career exploration will also be provided.

The event is free and open to high school and college students, as well as local residents. More information and registration can be found at


You can find this article online and in the print version of Inside Business.

Agency lowers barriers to hiring with internships in Portsmouth, Chesapeake

The Virginian-Pilot, March 12, 2018
By Roger Chesley


Teens and young adults often struggle getting that first job.

Their resumes might lack clarity. The occupations they seek could be highly competitive. If they haven’t taken a course in interview prep, they’re often flummoxed when coming face-to-face with employers.

Now imagine other hurdles exist: For instance, the job seekers have been homeless for months.

A local employment agency wants to lower those barriers by spearheading a regional internship program.

The pilot project will have 10 slots each in Portsmouth and Chesapeake this summer, targeted at people ages 16 to 21. Organizers with Opportunity Inc., the regional workforce development entity, modeled the initiative on summer jobs programs operated by local governments.

“We were looking at how to aid our youth,” Christina Brooks, director of youth services with the agency, told me. “We thought this was a gap we could assist” with.

Opportunity Inc. contacted me, in part, because it wanted to reach more applicants before the March 31 deadline. Public and private organizations are the employers, from the city of Chesapeake to a security company. Interns will earn $8 an hour and work 20 hours a week, over nine weeks. Would-be interns must live in Portsmouth or Chesapeake.

To find out more, go to and click on the prompt for the 2018 NextGen Regional Internship Program. Or call 757-233-8686. The agency, its nonprofit arm and community sponsorships will fund the project.





Read the full article on or view it in the print version of The Virginian-Pilot.

‘Opportunity fair’ coming to Chesapeake for teens, young adults

WAVY 10 | February 26, 2018

By: News Staff

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Opportunity Inc. and the Youth Career Center of Hampton Roads are holding an event later this week to help teens and young adults with employment, volunteer and post-secondary education opportunities.

The NextGen Opportunity Fair will be held Thursday, March 1, at the Chesapeake Conference Center from 6-8 p.m.

The fair will feature more than 50 area businesses and organizations, and it’s free for teens and young adults ages 16-24 — as well as vendors.

If you’re looking for work, you’re encouraged to bring copies of your resume.

Also, dress to impress and be prepared for interviews onsite.

Participating businesses and organizations include: AAA Pools, Autobell, GameStop, Girl Scouts of Colonial Coast, Jimmy Johns, Norfolk State University, Ocean Breeze, Regent University, Sentara Healthcare, The Virginia Zoo, Waffle House, YMCA, among several other vendors.

This article can be found on WAVY.COM

Newport News Shipbuilding holding job fair in Norfolk next week

WAVY 10, January 26, 2018
By Kevin Green

The event is scheduled for Jan. 30 at the Opportunity Inc. One-Stop Workforce Center in Norfolk. The shipyard says registration for the event is recommended, but not required.

9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Opportunity Inc. One-Stop Workforce Center
861 Glenrock Road
Norfolk, VA 23502
View Map

Learn more about the job fair and register at this link.

This event highlight was featured on WAVY 10

Hampton Roads Veterans Employment Center open for transitioning service members

WTKR News Channel 3, January 26, 2018
By Nick Boykin

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. – On January 24 the Hampton Roads Veterans Employment Center opened to service members that are transitioning from military to civilian life, who are looking for jobs.

The center is led by the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce and Opportunity Inc. of Hampton Roads, and is located at 861 Glenrock Road in Norfolk.

Officials say that the new center will, “help veterans, transitioning service members, and military families identify, navigate, and access services and resources to attain their employment goals and support their successful transition to the civilian workforce in Hampton Roads.”

Established by the Hampton Roads Workforce Development Board, Opportunity Inc. oversees workforce development programs for eight localities in South and Western Hampton Roads, said a press release from the organization.

For more information, visit here.

This article can be found on WTKR News Channel 3