Akhil Jain, President, Landmark Hotel Group, CIVIC Class of 2020

Much has been said of our region’s economic dependence on defense spending and the port of Virginia.  While both have been critical to our region’s success, we often overlook the essential third pillar of our economy: Hospitality/Tourism. 

Representing a local economic impact of $5.1 billion and employing over 45,000 workers in 2019*, the hospitality industry is central to our success as a region.  Hospitality is a people business that relies on human interactions to deliver services and operate successfully.  Unfortunately, our area hotels and restaurants have been facing severe shortages of trained and available workers.  During COVID-19, this problem has magnified, especially at oceanfront locations that depend on J-1 seasonal student workers to augment the local workforce.

Tidewater Community College (TCC) is working to address this shortage by revitalizing its hospitality/culinary program with a new curriculum, state-of-the-art building, and a focus on industry collaboration.  The CIVIC Class of 2020 Hospitality Community Impact Initiative team was tasked with establishing career pathways for TCC students pursuing careers in hotels and restaurants.  Our team interviewed 17 executives within the Hampton Roads hospitality industry and developed a robust flow chart of career pathways along with diverse feedback for TCC’s program.

During the course of this work, our team was struck by the magnitude of the workforce shortage facing the hospitality industry and felt the need to make a lasting impact.  Therefore, we worked to establish the CIVIC Hospitality Scholarship through the CROP Foundation aimed at providing a one-year scholarships to qualified and deserving TCC students pursuing careers in hospitality.  The CROP Foundation, which is a local nonprofit dedicated to fostering educational and employment opportunities for culinary students, has agreed to also provide matching scholarship funds.

Supporting local hospitality students helps ensure an abundant trained workforce for our hospitality industry which is vital to the economic well-being of our region.  We invite you to join us in supporting the CIVIC Hospitality Scholarship Fund by contributing at www.thecrop.org. Please click the “donate” button and choose “CIVIC Leadership Institute” from the dropdown menu.

Thank you for ensuring our hospitality industry continues to thrive and remains a driving force in our region’s economic success.

CIVIC Class of 2020 Hospitality CII Group with pineapples, the symbol of hospitality. Akhil Jain, Dr. Kathleen Cabler, Britton Williston, Jonathan Taylor, John Harding, Kieran Poulos, CAPT Jon Kline, Bryan Cuffee, Brandi Smith

* Metcalfe, Trevor. “Report says Norfolk, Hampton Roads boosted 2018 tourism numbers.” Virginian Pilot, 20 September 2019, https://www.pilotonline.com/inside-business/vp-ib-tourism-numbers-0930-20190920-eh5vl6w6xbcjdfpo3ww2hpudgm-story.html