Forum on Trade & Infrastructure

Forum on Trade & Infrastructure
The Virginia Chamber of Commerce and Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce co-hosted a Forum on Trade and Infrastructure presented by the Virginia Chamber Foundation Center for Trade Promotion.

The Virginia Chamber of Commerce and Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce co-hosted a Forum on Trade and Infrastructure on September 29 at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott. The forum was presented by the Virginia Chamber Foundation Center for Trade Promotion.

Barry DuVal, President & CEO of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce; Bryan K. Stephens, President & CEO of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce and Shelby L. Davis, Presenting Bank Sponsor, Senior Vice President, Mid-Atlantic Middle Market Banking, Capital One provided welcome remarks and introductions.

“We were happy to partner with the Virginia State Chamber of Commerce to host a forum on Trade and Infrastructure in the Commonwealth and its importance to our economic prosperity,” said Bryan K, Stephens. “We have a rich history of trade in the Commonwealth starting right here in Hampton Roads during the Colonial times. Now, one in four jobs in Virginia depend on trade and almost, 8,000 Virginia small businesses are exporters. Therefore, we must continue to develop trade opportunities for Virginia goods and services and support infrastructure investments that will strengthen international trade (ports, airports, rail, and roads). We must create a pro-trade environment here in Hampton Roads.”

The Honorable Maurice Jones, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade was introduced by Robert DuVall, President of Virginia Natural Gas. Secretary Jones spoke about the incredible opportunity Virginia has to capture even more growth in the international market. He stressed the importance of the Commonwealth’s existing companies representing our largest business base and our largest potential for job creation.

Barry DuVal presented the Virginia Chamber Foundation “Virginia International Trade Profile” a first-of-its-kind analysis of Virginia’s exports and their impact on Virginia’s economy. According to the study, exports are responsible for more than 320,000 Virginia jobs in 2014 and exports have grown more than twice as fast as Virginia’s GDP since 2008.

The Full Virginia International Trade Profile released by the Virginia Chamber Foundation is available at

Key findings as documented in a press release by the Virginia Chamber include:

  • Exports represent 30 percent of Virginia’s economic growth over the last five years
  • Virginia exports generated $2 billion in tax revenue in 2014
  • Nearly half of Virginia’s exports are in services sectors, a significantly higher share than the U.S. overall
  • While the majority of exports in Virginia come from the three largest export regions, exports represent a greater share of the local economy in other regions of the state
  • Middle market firms represent the greatest opportunity for new export activity that can be assisted by state trade development efforts

After these findings were presented there was a Panel Presentation, moderated by Clark Lewis, Principal-Virginia, Troutman Sanders Strategies LLC which included the following panelists: John Reinhart, CEO and Executive Director, The Port of Virginia; Keith Meurlin, President, Washington Airports Task Force; Mike Skahill, Vice President of Global Affairs, Smithfield Foods and Bjoern Fischer, Vice President of Finance, STIHL, Inc.

Mr. Reinhart and Mr. Fisher are Regional Board Represenatives on the Chambers' Board of Directors.

Each panelist provided keen insight from their respective industries. Reinhart noted that the Port could play a greater role in trade and manufacturing in the Commonwealth, if and when, the infrastructure (ports, airports, rail, and roads) are improved. Meurlin emphasized that cargo in passenger planes has grown 200 percent in the last two decades.  Skahill remarked Smithfield Foods in an international player, contributing approximately 25 percent of the pork products in the world and Mr. Fischer spoke about trade opportunities will expand in tandem with improvements to the Commonwealths educational system.

They all agreed how imperative it is we create a pro-trade environment here in Hampton Roads. Programs like the Virginia International Trade Alliance that targets Virginia’s 6,700 mid-sized companies to introduce them to new markets, are critical to our economic future. 

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