The February–April 2021 issue of Boulevard is complete. In it, publisher Berry Brunk reflects upon the last few months and sets the stage for optimism looking forward. You can find the digital version of the magazine HERE as well as on our IN THIS ISSUE page on our website.

A glance back and a path forward: The case for opportunity and growth.

It’s the middle of January as I collect my thoughts and write my second Publisher’s Note to you, gentle reader. A full year has passed since we launched Boulevard Media and not much has gone according to plan, but our commitment to local economic development initiatives has not wavered and our pledge remains steadfast to support and promote small business in the Tidewater region. If one word describes our economy last year it would be “resilient.” 

The year 2020 fostered bleak fatalism. In 2021, we won’t let bleakness win. We must focus on advocating economic opportunity and growth.  

The COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the economy and our lives. Many have faced grave illness, others lost jobs and we’ve lost people whom we knew and loved.  

We all owe it to ourselves, our families, our friends and our city and county, to hold our heads high and march into 2021. We must come together as a community and support our businesses.  

In Virginia, our tourism industry sits poised to capitalize on a nation emerging from the pandemic. After a year of quarantines, curfews, shutdowns, stay-at-home orders and missed experiences, everyone needs escape. The Tidewater region offers a range of social experiences and our community can provide a safe and accessible destination. 

Recent vaccine news provides optimism for a recovery, but the process will require patience and persistence. We have months before enough vaccine doses are manufactured, distributed and administered across the nation, but when we reach that point, this community will stand with open arms. If millions of people visited Tidewater with limited amenities during a pandemic, imagine how many will arrive in a post-pandemic world. 

As we reflect on the year behind us, we turn our attention ahead, through renewal and resolution, toward possibility and optimism. We closed out an unforgettable year that most would rather forget. For the first time in 12 months, we can shift from measuring recession to measuring recovery. As we emerge from the COVID-19 cloud, the nation will release months of pent-up demand and launch the economy into a robust period of recovery and expansion. 

According to research by McKinsey, the arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation and hospitality services were sectors hit hard by the pandemic. These businesses are all intrinsically linked to the travel industry.  

Forced to react, food services switched to take-away and delivery to satisfy our cravings for meals cooked by our favorite spots, theaters and musicians began streaming online and art galleries rolled out virtual tours. Evolution, innovation and disaster recovery emerged in the struggle to survive.  

It’s time to rethink target markets. In the absence of air travel, people have turned to local areas for inspiration. Camping, staycations, road trips and rural stays topped Google’s hit list last year. 

While the office lifestyle isn’t dead just yet, many businesses will face a post-pandemic workforce unwilling to give up the freedom and flexibility of working from home. This year has already seen an increase in demand for co-working camps and other resorts. Employees have proven that the job can be done from anywhere—even the beach! 

Now that I’ve outlined the current situation, let me remind you that, as our mission, we curate all the best things happening in Tidewater for the enjoyment of our readers. As we develop a better understanding of the stories you enjoy, we will bring more to you. We value your feedback and that’s why we describe this magazine and our associated digital assets on the web and social media as a platform—a soapbox for you to sound off on what interests you and what’s on your mind. 

Berry Brunk
President | Publisher, Blvd Media