The Hampton Roads Chamber said at its annual meeting it will lead the way in efforts to rebrand the region.
“We want to lead the collaborative efforts to find solutions to issues impacting the business community and further enhance the conditions which allow businesses – you all – to be a success,” chamber President and CEO Bryan Stephens said. “The Hampton Roads Chamber is going to take on the role of leading the collaborative efforts to rebrand this region from Hampton Roads to something that is more effective to our business community especially our hospitality and tourism industry.”
Stephens said more details will be forthcoming.
The Dec. 6 event at the Virginia Beach Convention Center celebrated the past year’s accomplishments and the future of the region. Initiatives in the upcoming year include a military advisory council; education and workforce development; interfaith relations; hospitality and tourism, and a regional health care forum.
“This past year we conducted over 150 events; each event had meaning and purpose,” Stephens said. “This chamber represents the business community and we are big, bold and proud about the mission.”
When it comes to big and bold, the area's waterways are a major player as one of its economic engines.
Mark Buzby, administrator of the U.S. Maritime Administration, addressed the crowd about the organization that is responsible for the Merchant Marine Academy and works to make sure the country's ships, ports, environment and national security are protected.
The retired rear admiral was introduced by Port of Virginia CEO and Executive Director John Reinhart.
Reinhart noted that Buzby, who served 34 years in the Navy, committed himself early on to a life intertwined with the sea.
"Buz understands the importance to the national security and to our economy to have a strong maritime industry, a strong workforce in the maritime industry and he has dedicated his life to that venture," he said.
Buzby said he likes what he sees in Hampton Roads and the port.
"It's a port on the move," Buzby said, stressing how it has everything the country needs in a strategic port: multiple modern terminals for various commodities with room to expand; rail and road connections to access inland markets; and a vibrant marine highway system.
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