CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – Two men in a corn field – a reference to the movie, Field of Dreams and the idea of “build it and he will come.”

Since Chesapeake’s founding in 1963, 200,000 more live there.

Mayor Rick West told those gathered Chesapeake has always been a city where faith leaders lead.

“They are in lock stop with the community to pray for that boy or girl no matter the race, their zip code, or their family status,” West said.

West couldn’t give a state of the city without remembering the Walmart tragedy.

“The Walmart incident was one of our darkest moments as a community,” West said. “Even now our hearts go out to those who are affected by that.”

Jim Bibbs, chief human resources officer for LifeNet Health, said it was good for West to talk about it publicly.

“He embraced it, and the moment,” Bibbs said, “and as he said we are moving forward.”

West noted the more than 450 new businesses that have been licensed in the city in the past year, most of those small businesses with owners who live there, too.

“We need to look no further than Western Branch and the new Amazon Distribution center that opened recently,” West said. “This expansive new facility, and the 1,000 jobs it’s created, will serve as a key anchor for this vital area of our city.”  

West  spoke about a new public safety regional training center. He did last year, too. Funding is in place for part of the project, but the center could be farther down the line of completion. 

“It is to help our men and women keep Chesapeake what it is today and what it will be tomorrow,” he said. 

West also spoke about Chesapeake’s international flair.

“Chesapeake is home to more than 40 international firms,” West said, “firms like YUPO, Sumitomo, Volvo Penta and Plasser American, and they add to the magic of the landscape, culture and way of life.”

West told the crown of over 200 a little secret.

“Be on the look out for some new entries at Summit Point, including Taco Union, Toastique, and XGolf, which has my interest,” West said. “Anything to help on the golf course is welcome in my book.” 

He spoke about Chesapeake moving forward with a Veterans Health Care Facility. 

“This is why Chesapeake Regional Health Care offered free land as part of the deal to attract this facility,” West said.

West did not mention the new battery storage facility that is coming to the Deep Creek area of Chesapeake.  

“Plus Power” is called “Crossroads Energy Storage,” which is a Lithium-ion battery storage facility. “The goal is to open in 2026. 

Mayor West says a new Municiple building is coming to south Norfolk for one stop shop for residents, and thanks to federal funding Chesapeake will get its first public swimming pool, 

“This will be located at the Dr. Clarence V. Cuffee Community center. If you knew him, and what a champion he was for our community’s health and recreation, you know that this is truly going to be a magical venue at a magical location.” 

West spoke about a well-rounded sports community with what he says is the best sports club in Hampton Roads, 

“I also did not know that this organization would provide more than $230,000 in scholarships for young athletes.”  

After the speech, West said he is most excited about the new Greenbrier urban center.

“That is becoming a TownCenter to be recognized with,” West said. “Things are going on across the street with … high rise apartments.  

The mayor gave Dr. Nancy Welch, Chesapeake Health Department director, a shout out for her contributions to health care, especially during the height of COVID-19 when she was a calming voice with urgency.

“He has a grasp on what makes Chesapeake,” Welch said. “I was so impressed where he said ‘built it and he will come,’ but he translated that to build the spirit in the city. I have been here since 1987 and I totally agree.”