Following a frenetic October, November was filled with events with pro-business legislation in mind. We followed the elections closely then hosted a couple of events featuring the participation of regional elected leaders. In fact the day after his re-election, Rep. Scott Rigell briefed members of the Virginia Beach board of directors about his plans for Congress and calls for reforms to Federal programs. And State Del. Chris Jones met with the Suffolk board of directors at a special meeting to discuss his priorities and the Commonwealth’s finances.
These special briefings, coupled with the Chamber’s engagement on local elections, underscore our commitment to drive legislative action that is important to the business community in Hampton Roads. The work of our member volunteers clearly pays off. In Portsmouth, the board of directors saw two of three endorsed candidates win election, and in Virginia Beach, six of seven candidates who received endorsements by that board will now take seats on the city council.
Other Chamber activities included a luncheon event focused on setting new regional economic goals through international trade. The November 6th event marked the first time the Chamber co-hosted an event with the Norfolk Sister Cities Association. The Going Global: Boosting Economic Growth for Hampton Roads was an insightful and informative briefing. If you missed it, we were honored to have Amy Liu of the Brookings Institute, as well as Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones as presenters. Both stressed how important international trade is to the region, linking infrastructure improvements and technology to competitiveness on the international stage
Just before the Thanksgiving holiday break, we honored 50 new business leaders at our Annual CEO Welcome Breakfast. These are men and women, leaders in the community, who have now assumed a top position in their companies in 2014. You may ask, why do we take the time to stop and honor these presidents and chief executive officers, gathering the business community and elected officials to show their support? The reason is simple: even at the top, no business or business professional needs to go it alone. Regardless of your title, the size of your business, or the number of years since you first opened your doors, the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce is there for you, setting the conditions that allow all businesses to grow and succeed.
There are two more events ahead for you in December and I really hope you come to them. The first is tomorrow, December 2nd – our Membership Holiday Reception. Completely free, we’d be honored if you would come by the Norfolk Waterside Marriott after work, and enjoy a fun reception that features casino tables, bountiful holiday bites and the camaraderie of your fellow Chamber members. This is a new holiday venue and our way of showing how much we appreciate your investment into the membership body. We have much to be thankful for this year, and with all we have planned, 2015 is shaping up to be an impactful and exciting year. Please come and share in the festivities with the Chamber staff and fellow members beginning at 5:30 pm.
Also, as I hope you have already seen through a variety of news blasts, our Annual Meeting of the Membership will be held on December 10. This premier event for the membership is a luncheon with legislators, state government officials and the most influential business people in Hampton Roads. A formal keynote address will be delivered by Mr. Aneesh Chopra who served as the country's very first Chief Technology Officer under the Obama administration, designing the National Wireless Initiative and helped to launch Startup America, executing an "open innovation" strategy across the government built on private sector collaboration. He also has a long-standing interest in seeing Virginia businesses succeed, serving as the Commonwealth's fourth Secretary of Technology under then-Governor Tim Kaine. The event also allows us to thank the outgoing volunteer leadership and welcome in new board of directors. Please do not miss this event that begins at 11:30 at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott.
As the old saying goes, time flies when you’re having fun. A full year under my belt, serving as your Chamber president and CEO, I can tell you – I’m still very humbled and honored, and very much enjoying the privilege to serve. As I’m sure you know by now, I’m the kind of guy that likes challenges and the hard work associated with them. I’m also a systems approach kind of guy. For the last year, I’ve set some pretty aggressive goals for the staff, challenging them to keep purpose and intent in mind at all times, and to accomplish the mission to an exacting, tangible standard of excellence. But above all else, I’ve challenged them to keep you in mind, refining not only what we do for you, but how we communicate the value of those efforts. As good as 2014 turned out, with all the key performance indicators trending turning in our favor, I promise you that 2015 will be even better, built upon the progress we have made and the processes we have in place to provide you first-class membership services. I am very blessed and thank you for your trust and faith, as I and the Chamber staff get to work to exceed your expectations. We can’t wait to continue serving you in the years ahead.
The Chamber’s staff continues to be focused on helping you and your business find greater success. Remember, this is YOUR Chamber – we work for you! Let’s keep the conversation going. It is my honor to serve the business community of Hampton Roads!
Connections! Community! Advocacy!
Bryan K. Stephens
President & CEO
Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce