By Tim Ryan

Hampton Roads, Virginia has long pulsed with the rhythm of maritime activities. Our region boasts the deepest ports in the United States and is home to logistics trailblazers like DroneUp and SVT Robotics. The recent announcement from Old Dominion University (ODU) only heightens this rhythm, signifying a promising future for Hampton Roads’ maritime and logistics ecosystem.

ODU, backed by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, is laying the cornerstone for a School of Supply Chain, Logistics, and Maritime Operations. This initiative doesn’t just celebrate the University’s maritime-focused history but reinforces Hampton Roads’ pivotal role in the nation’s supply chain and maritime industry. Leveraging decades of dedication, the school aims to further amplify the region’s economic development by producing top-tier professionals ready to dive into our burgeoning logistics sector.

Perhaps what’s most thrilling for Hampton Roads is the intricate network this school promises to weave. By connecting the dots between academic research, naval defense, shipbuilding, commercial shipping, and even offshore wind endeavors, the school is perfectly poised to catalyze innovation and progress in the region. Wayne Coleman, chairman of Norfolk-based CV International, Inc., encapsulated the excitement best: “This one-of-a-kind school in Virginia… will propel ODU into the spotlight not only regionally but across the nation.”

Moreover, the school’s establishment is timely. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 30% surge in demand for logistics-trained professionals from 2020 to 2030. With Hampton Roads centered within the Port of Virginia and key military installations, ODU’s maritime school can readily fill this demand, further solidifying the region as a logistical powerhouse.

ODU’s vision is also aligned with recent regional efforts. The 2021 report from the Hampton Roads Maritime Collaborative emphasized the need for maritime innovation in Hampton Roads. And ODU’s response? Hiring Elspeth McMahon as the associate vice president for maritime initiatives and working towards establishing itself as a “leading maritime-centric university.”

In conclusion, as Hampton Roads continues to innovate and evolve, establishing ODU’s School of Supply Chain, Logistics, and Maritime Operations is more than just a new academic venture. It’s a bold statement of intent, a promise of growth, and a beacon of opportunity for the entire region. Hampton Roads isn’t just mapping its future through this initiative but also charting a course for the nation’s maritime and logistics horizon.