The Chamber’s Annual Meeting of the Membership, held December 11 at The Founders Inn, brought together 750 of the region’s business leaders and community leaders. Nearly 30 elected officials were in attendance, as well as 10 guests from Virginia’s Wounded Warriors program. Vice Admiral Nora W. Tyson, Deputy Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command provided remarks during the luncheon.
The Chamber’s new President & CEO Bryan Stephens, who began in this role on November 4, told the crowd, “I work for the members of this Chamber and citizens of Hampton Roads.” He explained, “I will do everything I can to assure that your Chamber is striving for excellence every day, is a top quality and meaningful organization that adds value to your organization.”
The 2013 Chamber Chair Deborah Stearns handed the gavel to 2014 Chair Michael Dudley. In addition, members of the Chamber’s 2013 Board of Directors and Board Members were thanked for their service.
The Chamber honored volunteer leaders who served the region. Recipients included: Chesapeake Division Leadership Award, Shirley Forbes, Owner of Virginia Consultants; Norfolk Division Leadership Award, Dawna Ellis, CFO of Harvey Lindsay Commercial Real Estate; Portsmouth Division Leadership Award, Raymond Joseph; Suffolk Division Leadership Award, Betsy Bagnell Totten, Vice President of TowneBank Greenbrier; Virginia Beach Division Leadership Award, Mary Russo, Director of the Office of Volunteer Resources for the City of Virginia Beach; and the Marian P. Whitehurst Women in Leadership Award, Dr. Nancy Welch, Director of the Chesapeake Health Department and Acting Director of the Western Tidewater Health Department.
Susan Blackman of Willcox & Savage PC, was named the Chamber’s 2013 Volunteer of the Year. Susan led the selection committee for the Chamber’s new President & CEO. She also served in 2013 as the Chamber’s Treasurer. Susan will serve as the Chamber’s Chair-elect in 2014.
The event’s keynote speaker, Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe, addressed the crowd and discussed the region’s assets, economic development, transportation, Medicaid and early childhood education. McAuliffe said he will lead in a bipartisan way and reach out to Republicans. “We have found common ground on so many issues,” he said. McAuliffe said he wants to diversify the economy and grow jobs.
Regarding Hampton Roads, he said, “You have it all, a great port, beaches, great educational institutions, you’ve got great tourism spots, great workforce development. You have it all!”
McAuliffe explained one of his goals is that, “When I’m done as Governor, when they talk about Hampton Roads, they will call it the greatest economic driver on the globe.”
With sequestration impacting Virginia, he says we need to diversify into fields like cybersecurity, bio life sciences and data management.
McAuliffe says that since he’s been elected, he asks business leaders, “If you’re not in Virginia, why haven’t you moved your corporate headquarters to Virginia? And if you are here, why haven’t you doubled your business?”
McAuliffe recognized his newly appointed Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne, who was at the luncheon. Layne is a Hampton Roads resident and businessman who has been a member of the Commonwealth Transportation Board. Commending the McDonnell administration, McAuliffe said, “We now have funding for transportation. I am focused on the new funding being used on the right projects and that they are on time and on budget.”
The Governor-elect stressed his support for expanding Medicaid coverage, saying it would help businesses avoid premium increases. He warned of hospitals closing if it’s not expanded.
The Chamber thanks Old Point National Bank (Presenting Sponsor); Bon Secours Virginia Health System (Speaker Sponsor); Cox Communications (Media Sponsor); The Founders Inn & Spa (Gold Sponsor) and BB&T (Silver Sponsor).