More than 700 business professionals, community leaders and elected officials filled a ballroom at the Virginia Beach Convention Center on December 5 for the Chamber’s 28th Annual Meeting of the Membership. U.S. Senator-elect Tim Kaine served as keynote speaker. The USO of Hampton Roads and Central Virginia invited guests from Virginia’s Warriors program to attend the luncheon.
Kaine discussed the U.S. Senate campaign. More than $80 million was spent during the Senate race, the most expensive in the country. Kaine said, “At the end of the day, the negative stuff didn’t really matter. Virginians want to hear, ‘What’ your positive vision?’”
The Senator-elect explained that the three immediate challenges before the Senate are fiscal responsibility, economic growth and the ability to find common ground. “We have to find a short-term deal that will avert some of the significant effects of the ‘fiscal cliff’ and I believe we will,” he said. “The better the deal is, the more it will give us a springboard. Then into step two, which is the long-term deal to find more fiscal responsibility, I think Congress should allow the Bush tax cuts to expire over $500,000 because it’s a compromise between the two sides’ positions.”
Kaine expressed the need for elected officials to work together. He praised the work of Democrat Mark Warner and former Republican Senator John Warner, both of whom worked with bi-partisan “gangs.” He told the crowd, “Everyone in this room is part of a group, it’s never my way or the highway, it’s about compromise.” Building bridges between the opposing political parties is one task the Senator-elect does not take lightly. In the midst of America’s deepest recession in 70 years, while serving as Virginia’s Governor, Kaine kept the state’s budget balanced by making more than $5 billion in targeted spending cuts and led the state to national recognition. "I'm the only governor in the history of Virginia to hand off a smaller budget than was given to me four years earlier,” said Kaine.
In addition to his budget efforts, Kaine brought businesses back from overseas to Virginia because he said, “They had confidence that if they opened their doors tomorrow and had workers and opened their doors in 25 years they would still have workers.” Kaine said Virginia has a strong workforce and education system, but he said, "We have to win the talent race, we've gone from number one in the world to sixteenth for the number of 20-30 year-olds earning degrees.”
During the luncheon, Chamber 2012/2013 Chair Deborah Stearns thanked the outgoing volunteer leadership and recognized those who will serve in 2013. Stearns presented JC Kreidel with the Chamber’s 2012 Volunteer of the Year Award. Kreidel, who serves as a volunteer on the Chamber’s Ambassador and Armed Forces Committees, was instrumental in coordinating the Chamber’s State of the Military Forum held in October, which featured U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.
The Annual Meeting concluded with a toast to the Chamber’s President & CEO Jack Hornbeck who will retire in September 2013 after serving the Hampton Roads Chamber for 25 years. Stearns said, "Jack has been a great leader and friend."
Thank you to our sponsors: Old Point National Bank (Presenting); Virginia Beach Convention Center & Distinctive Gourmet (Host); Bon Secours Virginia Health System (Speaker); Cox Communications (Media); and BB&T (Silver).
Local media coverage of the Annual Meeting: