Hampton Roads business leaders gathered January 21 to take part in the Chamber’s first quarterly Regional Board of Directors and Trustees meeting of 2015 to discuss important issues affecting the business community, chief among them the means for Virginia to achieve energy independence.
These quarterly meetings allow volunteer leaders from the membership to substantively shape the priorities and positions the Chamber takes as the regional voice of business.
Chris Saxman, Director of the Virginia Energy Forum, briefed the board and trustees on the merits of energy exploration and the development of sources of energy that could pump oil and natural gas into the Commonwealth, bringing with it revenue and jobs.
Saxman tied exploration to much-needed diversification of the regional economy, as well as the country’s need to achieve energy independence.
“We have to have, from an economic standpoint, a call to arms on the energy race where we can lead,” said Saxman. “We have this opportunity, Virginia, to be at the forefront of this energy revolution to change the geopolitical climate of the world. We could have trade partnerships with countries we’ve never dreamed of and we can back it up with a much stronger Navy. It’s historic and I don’t want this region to lose sight of that.”
Saxman believes that energy development when coupled with the other pillars of the regional economic base – Defense, tourism, and the Port – equates to strength in Hampton Roads.
“When you add it all up, this opportunity including the development of energy exploration off the coast, including wind, is substantial. A real economic multiplier with lasting generational impact,” said Saxman.
A former member of the House of Delegates, Saxman encouraged the board and trustees to take an active role in advancing the issue of exploration. “Your participation cannot be passive. The federal government listens to people who comment on their website, so do Representatives,” said Saxman who went on to add that creating a group committed to growing Virginia’s economy for the future is “incredibly important from an infrastructure standpoint. It’s just as important for Virginia to have a political infrastructure created, working hard.”
"This opportunity allows us to create another way of economic growth. If you're constantly on the defense, you're not investing in growth. We can't afford to bounce around with two percent growth, we can't do it, we won't make it."
- Chris Saxman,
To that end, the Chamber is sponsoring an inter-regional visit to Louisiana in March. The intent is to expose a diverse group of participants from business and higher education as well as elected and appointed officials to the opportunities and challenges for the development of off-shore energy in the Commonwealth. The trip will provide direct interaction with subject matter experts in Louisiana’s Gulf Coast and with key energy industry leaders. Congressman Scott Rigell, an advocate for off-shore energy, will be attending as a special guest.
“This is an important trip for the Chamber and for the region,” said Bryan K. Stephens, President & CEO of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce. “We can’t afford to kick the can on the subject of economic diversification. The Chamber will play a substantive role in educating the business community about what promises to be a game-changing new industry for the region.
For more information on this inter-regional trip, contact Priscilla Monti at 664-2503.
The next Regional Board of Directors and Trustees will take place Wednesday, April 22.