Alliance Welcomes its First Chief Strategy Officer

Nicole Ryf Joined the Alliance On March 16, 2020

NORFOLK, VIRGINIA –  The Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance (the Alliance) welcomes Nicole Ryf as the first Chief Strategy Officer.

In this new role, Ryf assists President & CEO Doug Smith with developing, communicating, executing, and sustaining strategic initiatives around business recruitment and expansion – including a core initiative of positioning Hampton Roads as the east coast hub for the supply chain that will support the developing Offshore Wind Industry.

“We are delighted to have Ryf join the Alliance at this exciting time for our region. Nicole brings a skill set and a connectedness with site selectors that will be invaluable to the Alliance” says Smith.

Ryf has more than a decade of community and economic development experience at the city, county, and state levels. She previously served as Director of Business and Community Development within the Texas Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Tourism. Over the course of more than five years with the Governor’s Office, her responsibilities progressively increased from project management to administering the Texas Enterprise Fund to serving as the Director of Economic Development Finance. In her past role as Director, Ryf oversaw the core functions of economic development for the office, including business recruitment and expansion efforts, incentive and finance programs, trade, community relations, general business assistance, and small business support initiatives.

During her time with the Governor’s Office, Ryf has contributed to the location decisions of companies that ultimately announced more than 55,600 jobs and committed to at least $47 billion in capital investment in Texas. Additionally, she directly helped close the deal on 45 projects with companies committing to create at least 29,000 jobs and invest more than $7.1 billion with $134 million in Texas Enterprise Fund awards.

Prior to moving to Texas, Ryf served as Community Development Director for the City of Evansville, WI. She also worked as a Community Development Educator for the University of Wisconsin-Extension, which involved building capacity within local government, non-profit, economic development, and business organizations. Ryf holds undergraduate degrees in History and International Studies from the University of Wisconsin and a Master’s degree in Urban Planning from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

She shared her excitement about her new role with the following statement:

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to serve the Hampton Roads region and contribute to the area’s vibrant and diverse economy. I look forward to collaborating with the region’s communities and industry leaders to promote Hampton Roads, Virginia as a premier investment location for businesses from across the globe.”

The mission of the Alliance has changed dramatically in the last 18 months. In addition to private investment increasing four-fold, the Alliance has executed a Memorandum of Understanding which was unanimously approved by the governing bodies of its 11 localities. This agreement reshaped the organization’s governance structure, provided a consistent and predictable funding formula and directed the Alliance to coordinate business expansion efforts within the region, in addition to its traditional business recruitment activities. As Chief Strategy Officer, Ryf will be an integral part of continuing this forward momentum.

Please join us in welcoming Nicole Ryf to the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance professional team. Additional questions can be directed to Doug Smith, Alliance President & CEO at

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Hampton Roads Alliance
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