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Message From the President & CEO
Message From the President & CEO
The Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce sets the conditions that allows business to succeed. I'm convinced, more than ever, that no business has to go it alone. Together, we have an opportunity to achieve even greater success.

While we have all been wrapped up in layers, trying to beat the cold, the Chamber has been hot at work, advancing on a number of initiatives.

The Norfolk State of the City was a hot ticket in February with a sold out crowd of more than 1,200 business and community leaders in attendance to hear Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim provide an update on the city. Mayor Fraim discussed the key business development initiatives and provided the municipal progress updates and opportunities. 

It looks like the rest of the series is going to be equally invigorating. The mayors do a fantastic job spelling out the successes and mapping out strategies for the year ahead.  Attending these great events will get you informed and give you more of an edge. The sold out events are also a great opportunity to establish invaluable relationships with other leaders in the community. Virginia Beach is up next on March 4th; there’s only a few tickets left so you need to claim yours now.

Later this month, the Chamber is leading a delegation of 30-40 people to the Gulf Coast to better understand the opportunities and challenges associated with the development of offshore energy in the Commonwealth.  Members of the Chamber’s Board of Directors and Trustees will accompany other regional business leaders, as well as academic and workforce development experts to assess both the opportunities and challenges posed by offshore energy options, and interact with subject matter experts from the Gulf Coast of Louisiana.  Congressman Scott Rigell, who has long been an advocate of offshore energy, will be a special guest of the Inter-Regional visit. 

The Chamber is in a fact-finding phase to see exactly what potential offshore energy has all while considering the risks associated with it. The two-day conference will include a presentation and tour of Port Fourchon; a roundtable discussion with stakeholders, a briefing at an energy headquarters and in depth look at the economic impact of offshore energy in Louisiana as it compares to Virginia.

The idea behind the trip is to get a sense of what supporting businesses and job skills would be needed to support offshore energy development, in addition to learning more about risks and environmental impacts. After the trip, the Chamber will host public forums in the summer and fall and may even solicit input on its website. Virginia is well positioned to be a major player in an energy revolution that will serve generations to come. Because of the possible impact to our economy and the jobs it may create, we are excited about this trip and want you to be a part of it!  Play a role in shaping our region’s future economic landscape, join us.

The Chamber staff is doing its best to shape that landscape through its advocacy efforts. As you are aware, the 2015 Virginia General Assembly session wrapped up on Saturday, February 28th. Overall, the Chamber views the outcomes of the 2015 Session to be positive for business, but there are ongoing policy issues we’ll need to address and bring to the discussion moving forward.

First, the accelerated sales tax is back which requires businesses to pay their estimated July sales tax in June, which is a cash flow issue for all retailers.  Also, a bill to help Virginia children receive health insurance coverage for autism treatments cleared the legislature. This mandated coverage, currently offered for children two to six, extends the coverage until the age of ten.  While the Chamber is not opposed to increased coverage for children with this disability, we do not support the precedents that it set by skipping the mandate review commissions.

The Chamber will continue to be engaged in public policy and state legislative issues in the months ahead.  All 140 members of the Virginia General Assembly are facing election in November and the Chamber’s Governmental Affairs team will be conducting interviews and addressing any concerns at this time. For more, read the 2015 Virginia General Assembly Update.

And to be sure you are well informed; the Chamber is kicking off its Chamber Leadership Series on March 24th with Governor Terry McAuliffe, choosing Hampton Roads as his first stop after the General Assembly, to discuss the impact the 2015 General Assembly will have on Hampton Roads.  Don’t miss this one!

Bryan K. Stephens
President & CEO
Bryan K. Stephens is President & CEO of the Hampton Roads Chamber.
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