Over 40% of the Hampton Road’s economy is tied to the spending decisions made in Washington, D.C. The Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce provides our members and the business community opportunities to learn firsthand about our economy and our military. On Thursday, June 23, The Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce hosted the Department of Defense Forum at the Chesapeake Conference Center, welcoming three very knowledgeable, experienced men to brief the business community about the Fleet Forces Command, defense spending, operations and the state of our military. John Simmons of the Roosevelt Group, Mark Honecker, Executive Director/Chief of Staff, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, and Tony (AJ) Tata, retired Army General and American Novelist, were our three speakers for Thursday’s event.
John Simmons of the Roosevelt Group started off the presentation with the defense budget. As of right now, the defense budget is hitting rock bottom, affecting our readiness and our quality of life. With the election happening this year, it will be big for Hampton Roads. The government is going to have to start making tough decisions because of the increase in the war fighting and the increase in the budget that was not paid for. However, there is good news. Even though the defense budget is tight here, it is also tight around the rest of the world. “The most sophisticated navy, the most sophisticated air force, Special Forces are all here in Hampton Roads,” stated Simmons. Hampton Roads is always going to remain very relevant; the only problem is how things will be paid for. Sequestration is not really hurting the non-defense side, but really hurting the defense side. Click here for John Simmons slideshow presentation.
Our next presenter was Mark Honecker with the U.S. Fleet Forces Command. Honecker gave an update on the Fleet Forces and also talked about the Navy as a business. The Navy is a big part of the economy here in Hampton Roads. The Navy has a relationship with the business community and has similar business principles that businesses do, such as the laws of physics and the laws of economics. He spoke about the Navy’s business cycle, their competitors, their structure, and their customer’s needs. The Navy’s business cycle is based on World threats and sometimes those threats are up and sometimes they are down. As the Navy goes through the cycle, Congress decides what resources they get, which will also drive their business cycle. When there is a larger threat in the Nation, such as the Vietnam War, World War, 9/11, the business cycle goes up because they get resources. Honecker confirmed that about 40% of our local economy is based on defense dollars and even though they spend a lot of money, the Navy also contributes a lot to this economy. Click here for Mark Honecker’s slideshow presentation.
Our last presenter was Tony (AJ) Tata. Tata is a retired Army General, an American Novelist, and a guest commentator on Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, and other national media venues. He spoke about terrorism and how about 25% of the world is at war. There are 196 nations around the world, 54 of which are currently at war. “These kinds of forums that Bryan and the Hampton Roads Chamber are putting on are so critical because we need to understand the environment that we face today. With Hampton Roads being such a heavy military industrial complex, it’s important for us to exchange ideas on how to better secure our nation.” Tata wrote a book about nuclear warfare called Three Minutes to Midnight which he sold and signed after the event. Click here for Tony Tata’s slideshow presentation.
Thank you to our sponsors: GEICO (Military Legacy Partner and Challenge Coin Partner); USAA (Military Platinum Partner); Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance (Special Military Program Partner); Bon Secours Virginia Health System, Capital One, and Farm Fresh, Inc. (Military Silver Partners); Dave & Buster’s, First Command Financial Planning, Regent University, and Saint Leo University (Military Bronze Partners).