As we ring in a new year with renewed focus and energy, we turn our attention to evaluating priorities and commit to upholding them throughout the year. The Hampton Roads Chamber again this year will be unwaveringly resolute in our commitment to the business community and our support of initiatives for Veteran job transition. Finding talented, skilled and competent workers is an unequivocal prerequisite to a business’s success and we are fortunate to have a pool of highly skilled, dedicated, subject matter experts in our transitioning military service members. Utilizing this invaluable resource provides a unique advantage for the Hampton Roads business community.
In this first month of a new year, we anticipate the grand opening of the Hampton Roads Veterans Employment Center. This Chamber supported initiative has been years in the making and represents a collaborative effort between Opportunity Inc. (the Hampton Roads Workforce Development Board), the Virginia Employment Commission, and Fleet and Family Support Centers Mid-Atlantic, amongst others. This center truly represents what a community that works together can achieve. Now under the helm of Opportunity, Inc. this 2,700 square foot facility in Norfolk will finally come to fruition later this month. It is fitting that this opening kicks off the year as a tangible representation of what we can accomplish in this region. The center will be the only brick and mortar facility in the area focused specifically on finding employment for transitioning military personnel and their families.
Hampton Roads is truly blessed with a large population of service members, veterans and their family members. I can tell you from personal experience what amazing employees they make once they transition from the military. Our partnership with Opportunity Inc. is enabling us to create a more collaborative, organized and efficient system to improve their access to good-paying jobs in Hampton Roads. It is unquestionably the right thing to do for them; but from a Chamber perspective, it is also good for business. Our business community will undeniably reap the rewards of outstanding employees.
With up to 10,000 veterans transitioning out of the military each year in Hampton Roads, this facility will work hand in glove to bring the talent and expertise of our service members to the employers of Hampton Roads. The business community must also work in tandem with our transitioning military members to provide solutions to attract and retain business and prepare ourselves for anticipated job growth. According to a recent article in The Virginian-Pilot the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the labor force in the region decreased by 0.71 percent in October 2017 which is equivalent to nearly 5,900 workers. Our transitioning military are the perfect resource to draw from to make up the difference in that decline. Smart businesses want to capitalize on our skilled veteran workers right here in Hampton Roads but before now it has proved to be difficult. The Veterans Employment Center is poised to be the one stop resource to help both our veterans and our business community.
The Hampton Roads Chamber means business and this means supporting veteran job transition and the increased educational and workforce development efforts for veterans and their families. We stand behind our military personnel and are eager to harness their expertise and knowledge within the business community for a stronger region. The Workforce Development Board and the Hampton Roads Chamber’s partnership streamline a process that provides meaningful impact to the business community. This partnership has significantly helped the Chamber augment and enhance the services it provides to member companies.
When Opportunity Inc. and the Hampton Roads Chamber come together, jobseekers and businesses win! As we set resolutions and continue to grow, the Chamber remains an impactful advocate, powerful economic partner and inspiring ignitor in 2018.