Our Mission Statement: 

To participate in the Economic revitalization and development of the City of Norfolk by marshaling the resources of the private sector in support of the City and its agencies.

In 1977, a visionary group of Norfolk business and political leaders, concerned that Norfolk was suffering from a malaise in its development cycle, met to discuss how to get Norfolk moving again. The Greater Baltimore Corporation, which was composed of the business and educational leadership of Baltimore, provided the model for the Greater Norfolk Corporation. Norfolk, like Baltimore, was blessed with a rich talent pool of private sector leaders whose expertise could help government make better decisions and catalyze development. The desire to get something going; to encourage actual implementation of projects, coupled with the belief that the private sector had to be organized to be effective, provided the impetus for GNC’s formation.Since its inception, GNC has been a partner in Norfolk’s ongoing renaissance. While GNC’s role is different today than it was at its inception, the real value of GNC remains the same. GNC continues to be blessed with a rich talent pool of private sector leaders whose expertise and resources make a meaningful difference.Today, GNC continues to play a leadership role in efforts to enhance Norfolk’s and the region’s competitiveness and quality of life. In response to the urgent necessity to diversify our local economy given the reduction in federal military spending, GNC convened a blue-ribbon panel of regional thought leaders in 2014 to develop a plan and strategies to build an entrepreneurial climate in Norfolk (and the region) that will jumpstart the development and growth of innovation based businesses and jobs.

The plan that was developed and is currently being implemented focuses in part on developing, attracting and retaining talent and calls for the establishment of a national caliber Career/Technical High School modeled after the Worcester Technical High School in Worcester, MA, and the creation of a STEM-oriented Governor’s School for Innovation & Entrepreneurship modeled after the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology in Alexandria, VA. Both initiatives remain a work in progress.

The plan also calls for the establishment of the Norfolk Innovation Corridor stretching along the Elizabeth River from Old Dominion University to Norfolk State University, encompassing the EVMS/Sentara/CHKD medical complex, downtown Norfolk and the area adjacent to Harbor Park, emulating the innovation district phenomenon that has catalyzed economic surges in cities like Durham, Chattanooga, Nashville and Boston. At GNC’s request, Norfolk City Council in July of 2016 designated the Corridor a “technology zone” under state law, thereby qualifying start-up tech firms locating there to receive certain City tax incentives.

Another key element of the plan envisions the establishment of an Innovation Center or headquarters space for the district modeled after other successful models in Austin, Chattanooga, Durham, Nashville and Washington, D.C. GNC continues to collaborate with the City and regional partners in identifying appropriate downtown space that will serve as the region’s innovation headquarters.

In addition, the plan recognizes the importance of placemaking and calls for taking the Elizabeth River Trail to a new level, with the goal of making it the most iconic riverfront trail in America and a magnet for attracting and retaining talent. To that end, GNC recently assisted in establishing the Friends of the Elizabeth River Trail Foundation, which has embarked on a campaign to raise $4 million in the First Phase of making that vision a reality.