Community Impact Awards: Hampton Roads Chamber
By Barrett Baker
500 East Main St., Suite 700, Norfolk
Number of Employees: 40
The Hampton Roads Chamber has been the voice of business, in one form or another, since 1801. But over the years their mission has pretty much remained the same: to serve as an impactful advocate for small and large businesses to make Hampton Roads a thriving, economically robust region. Today, the Hampton Roads Chamber is committed to creating a pro-business environment made up of various interconnected pillars that include the following:
Workforce Development: Focusing on readying talent to shift into workforce gaps—the largest of which are healthcare and finance centered—via education and vocational training.
Economic Development: The growth of the local economy is accomplished in three ways: new businesses move into the area, local entrepreneurs start businesses, or established businesses expand. The Hampton Roads Chamber works in various ways to encourage growth in all three areas, from their Small Business Development Center, and programs on leadership and business education, to lobby efforts for business-friendly legislation on the local and state level. In addition, they work alongside neighboring Chambers to develop one voice as a region.
Infrastructure Development: Providing the infrastructure that allows companies to relocate or open here without worrying about energy shortages, rising sea-level flooding issues or insufficient transportation methods. The Hampton Roads Chamber has taken positions of support on issues such as passenger rail, light rail, offshore energy, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, broadband and the gas floor tax.
Quality of Life: In order to influence and maintain a quality pool of talent, the area must also provide the basic necessities, such as good schools, family-friendly neighborhoods, leisure attractions and quality medical facilities, to name a few.
The Hampton Roads Chamber is a member-based organization that works tirelessly to make Hampton Roads a thriving and economically robust region. They serve as an impactful advocate, powerful economic partner and inspiring igniter to set the conditions for businesses to succeed. They do so by providing their members and local business leaders with an extensive amount of opportunities for growth via network-building events, educational seminars and support through their Small Business Development Center.
One of their major initiatives for 2017–2018 is the creation of a Military Transition Center. The Chamber was influential in getting the initial stage of the center completed and enabled by the workforce development board, Opportunity Inc. The Military Transition Center is the only brick and mortar operation in the area specifically focused on connecting the immense talent pool of prior and transitioning military members into good, high-paying jobs in Hampton Roads. This will not only aid the local economy; it will be a way to keep well-trained talent in the area and make them available to local businesses.
“We might not be holding fundraisers or writing large checks,” says Bryan K. Stephens, president and CEO of the Hampton Roads Chamber, “but the work we do every day as advocates, ignitors and partners of the Hampton Roads Community has a huge impact on every resident of Hampton Roads.”
To our company, community impact looks like low unemployment levels, a thriving and diversified economy, a growing sense of place and pride, advancement in infrastructure and stellar quality of life.