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HRGCC Presents Commerce Builder Award to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District

Virginia Beach, Va. – May 9, 2024 – The Hampton Roads Global Commerce Council (HRGCC), a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing together and serving the industries in Hampton Roads associated with national and international commerce, has awarded the prestigious Commerce Builder Award to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District for its outstanding work in enabling maritime trade.

The Commerce Builder Award has been awarded annually since 1956 to an individual or company whose contributions have significantly influenced the growth of commerce and trade in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This year’s presentation took place at the State of the Port of Virginia luncheon on May 9th at the Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront.  

For more than 200 years, the Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District has supported the nation’s river-based commerce, protected established population centers, provided disaster response and constructed military facilities to protect our shores.  The Norfolk District engages in civil works, military construction, regulatory, and emergency operations missions throughout the Commonwealth.

The Norfolk District routinely makes instrumental contributions to critical projects throughout Hampton Roads. Collaborating with The Port of Virginia, it is the federal sponsor of the Norfolk Harbor and Channels Improvement Project, also known as the “Wider, Deeper, Safer” dredging project. The project will deepen the Inner Harbor Channels to 55 feet, Chesapeake Bay’s Thimble Shoal Channel to 56 feet and the Atlantic Ocean Channel to 59 feet.

Work was recently completed to widen the channel to allow for two-way passage of ultra-large containers vessels and dredging of the Norfolk Harbor Inner Channel is underway with a planned 2025 completion which will give the Port the deepest, widest channels on the East Coast. Channel deepening will provide economic benefits to the users of The Port of Virginia and the port itself, optimize berthing rotations that will enable more efficient movement of cargo vessels.

“It’s truly an honor for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District to receive the Commerce Builder Award from the Hampton Roads Global Commerce Council,” said Col. Brian Hallberg, USACE Norfolk District Commander. “This recognition reflects our commitment to facilitating maritime trade and enhancing economic prosperity in Virginia. We are grateful for the collaboration with The Port of Virginia, which has been instrumental in our shared endeavors.”

“Through the years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been a critical partner in the ongoing development and expansion of The Port of Virginia. The Army Corps’ most recent contribution to Virginia is having cleared the way for the creation of the deepest port on the U.S. East Coast,” said Stephen A. Edwards, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority.

“The Army Corps’ Norfolk District office has worked diligently with the port team to widen and deepen the ocean approach, the commercial channel and the Norfolk Harbor. This allows The Port of Virginia to safely and efficiently handle the biggest ships in the global container trade.

“This partnership is making navigation in Virginia safer, is helping to grow The Port of Virginia, which is to the benefit of all Virginians, and it positions us for the future,” said Edwards. “The Army Corps has been a collaborative partner for many years, and we are grateful for all of the support.”

HRGCC also would like to acknowledge the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Baltimore District’s contributions to completing temporary channels following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge.  The Baltimore District is a counterpart to the Norfolk District in the Corps’ North Atlantic Division. In a little over a month, sufficient access was restored to permit the first container vessel, carrying nearly 1,000 containers to arrive at the Port of Baltimore.  This has been a remarkable effort to restore access to the Port of Baltimore.

About the Hampton Roads Global Commerce Council

Founded in the early 1950s, the Hampton Roads Global Commerce Council (HRGCC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the international commerce of the United States through the Hampton Roads region. Through education, information-sharing, and networking, the Council fulfills its mission to bring together and serve industries in Hampton Roads that are associated with national and international commerce. Since 1956, the Commerce Builder Award has been presented to recipients who have displayed extraordinary vision and outstanding leadership qualities.

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