On Tuesday, September 29, the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce hosted a forum briefing Chamber members on the 2016 U.S. defense budget, a major driver of Hampton Roads economy. The event was hosted in partnership with the Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities (HRMFA) and The Roosevelt Group, a bipartisan government relations consulting firm.
Chamber President and CEO Bryan K. Stephens opened the event with remarks on the importance of defense spending in Hampton Roads – defense-related activities and spending account for 42% of the region’s economy. Mr. Stephens stressed the imperative need to understand the Department of Defense budget and its impact on Hampton Roads so that, collectively and individually, Chamber members can make informed decisions and develop sound business plans.
Following the welcome, speaker introductions were made by special guest Craig R. Quigley, Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy (retired) and Executive Director of the Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance. John Simmons, founder of the Roosevelt Group, provided a substantial and informational summary of the current state of the national defense budget, which is affected by legislative priorities and congressional leadership changes.
John C. Harvey Jr., Admiral, U.S. Navy (retired), Virginia Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs, presented the final briefing, speaking to the importance of the numerous military installations throughout the Commonwealth, and the many opportunities for growth and enrichment in the Hampton Roads region. Secretary Harvey shared the importance of resources for veterans in Virginia, which has the fastest-growing number in the U.S. Secretary Harvey discussed the National Defense Education Program’s partnership with the College of William and Mary, and advocates for a new Virginia economy that starts with a talented and cohesive workforce.
Neal T. Wright, Vice President and Director of DOD Business Development at Dewberry, said “The Chamber’s annual DOD budget review provides us with an excellent overview of macro trends, and the insights of key partners to our region. Their comments afford a greater understanding of the defense budget deliberations, the impacts on our area, and the effects on our future business opportunities in this market. We really value the information gained from attending this event.”
“Secretary Harvey is a great cheerleader for not only our region but our state,” said Eric Nichols, Director of Sales at WVEC ABC13 and one of more than 100 Chamber members in attendance.
Newport News Mayor McKinley L. Price also attended the briefing, and stated that he was encouraged by the event, “We saw the possibility of the future, seeing how the economics of the military will change and our potential position in that area. I’m excited about it. I’m more uplifted about the future knowing what the possibilities are if we all, as Admiral Harvey said, do our part.”
Event Silver Sponsor Shep Miller, Chairman of Kitco Fiber Optics, stated “This was an outstanding event that not only provided a detailed understanding of our current situation, but also a clear picture of what needs to be done to ensure Virginia retains and improves upon its dominant position in the defense of our nation. Admiral Harvey’s call to action, which clearly advocated that each of us has a role to play, was both appropriate and timely.”