This Veterans Day, we urge you to pause to recognize the men and women who served in the United States Armed Forces. And then truly honor our nation’s veterans by hiring them.
Honor Our Veterans by Hiring Them
The nation will pause at 11:11 on 11/11 to honor the men and women who served in the United States military. Parades, wreath-laying ceremonies, the playing of taps are all traditional on Veterans Day. The Hampton Roads Chamber and the Hampton Roads Workforce Council urges the business community to go further, honor our veterans by hiring them.
The title of this song, written by Paul McCartney in 1968, is an apt metaphor that describes the challenges facing the region and its small businesses as we start to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unlike a hurricane or flood which primarily causes physical damage to a relatively limited geographic area and time, this pandemic has wreaked incredible damage to the region’s entire population and as of now, has no real end in sight. Many people’s lives, habits and outlook have been forever changed by this singular event.
The Hampton Roads Chamber and the entire Hampton Roads business community wants to thank and recognize Ira Agricola for dedicating 39 years of loyal service to being "The Voice of Business in Hampton Roads." Agricola began his career with the Chamber in 1981 as the Executive Director in Portsmouth. In 1984, the five-city Chambers merged to create the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce and Agricola became the Vice President to oversee the Executive Directors for each of the five divisions.
Agricola grew in his position throughout his many years with the Chamber. He retires this month as the Executive Vice President for Governmental Affairs. In this position he covered the General Assembly every year, living in Richmond for the Sessions.
As the CEO of the Hampton Roads Chamber, my daily mission, and my constant focus, is to look for every means possible to set the conditions for businesses to succeed and bring good jobs and economic growth to our region. That means ensuring we have a well-trained and job-ready workforce, supporting policies that will improve our transportation system, and advocating for investments in infrastructure projects that are crucial to attracting new employers and helping existing businesses expand. Infrastructure projects that increase our access to reliable, affordable supplies of energy are among the most critical that the Chamber supports. That’s why I am pleased by a recent common-sense ruling from the Supreme Court of the United States that will allow our region to take a major step forward in that effort.
The Supreme Court found that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, like more than 50 other pipelines already do, can run more than 600 feet below a one-tenth of a mile section of the Appalachian Trail with Forest Service approval. The pipeline will be installed a half-mile away from the trail on each side. No one walking on that path will even know that one of the most important economic development projects in the history of Commonwealth runs beneath the trail. Just like they don’t realize they walk or drive over dozens of pipelines every day.
Small businesses are the backbone of our Nation, our Commonwealth, and our region's economy. Often described as the "Engine that moves America," small businesses make up over eighty-five percent of our Chambers' member companies. Unfortunately, right now, they are dealing with extreme and unprecedented challenges which are quickly becoming unsustainable.
It is clear we are facing not only a health crisis but also an economic crisis.
While we are resilient and determined to overcome, we must have the courage of our elected leaders to make decisions that support and encourage the economic freedom that will enable recovery. Hampton Roads' 400-year history is a story of recovery and resilience. Together, we have successfully responded to major shocks — wars, epidemics, fires, floods, economic downturns, unemployment, and more. Our long experience in effectively dealing with adverse situations has wired us not only to survive challenging times but to come through them stronger than before. We will triumph once again but must set the conditions for success. It begins by smartly, but also expeditiously, re-opening businesses.
The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic has wreaked havoc throughout the small business community in the region’s 18 cities and counties. Recovery from the tremendous damage that has been inflicted is a long-term process.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an incredible impact on the worldwide, national, state and local economy. The effects of which will reverberate for years to come. While the immediate recovery of as many of the region’s small businesses as possible, regional leaders have to realize that we will not, and should not, desire to return to status quo ante.
This paper outlines the goals, steps and tools needed to help take the region’s economy from Disaster to Growth.
Virginia is in the midst of a historic transfer in leadership in the Virginia General Assembly. Regardless of party affiliation, it’s important to remember that regionalism and collaboration among party leaders are essential for the business community of Hampton Roads and the Commonwealth. We must come together to ensure that new legislation coming out of Richmond favors the business community.
The Hampton Roads Chamber is proud to be a nonpartisan organization that advocates for legislation from both parties to benefit the business community of Hampton Roads. Our region is the organization structure for the economy, and we need our legislators to work together to ensure we get favorable legislation passed for the business community. The current shift in leadership has left a gap in legislators from Hampton Roads. These legislators participate in key committees that have an impact on the business community within our region. Without the influence of Hampton Roads legislators, I’m concerned that the result is a focus on legislation supporting the Northern Virginia region, instead of the Commonwealth as a whole.
It’s 17 municipalities connecting under one regional brand. It’s 1.7 million residents creating regional pride and a sense of place to compete with markets across the nation. It’s inclusive and rooted in what is undeniable about us, our tremendous assets, our diversity, our history, our military, our Port, our culture.
As we enjoy these long days of summer, perhaps its time to Pivot to the Positive and recognize (and celebrate) our wonderful assets here in Hampton Roads. We are truly blessed Americas First Region is Americas best region.