Chamber’s Blueprint Virginia 2025 has encouraged regional leaders to take long view of goals, instead of looking at short-term gains
August 23rd, 2019
      Caleb Ayers

For the first time since 2011, Virginia reclaimed its position in the CNBC annual rankings as the best state for business. The rankings are based on such metrics as the cost of doing business, education and cost of living.

At a breakfast event with the Danville-Pittsylvania Chamber of Commerce on Thursday morning, Barry DuVal, president and CEO of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, attributed much of that success to the state group’s initiatives and its impact on legislation. All of their efforts are informed by the Chamber’s Blueprint Virginia 2025, a strategic document for the direction of the chamber and the state.

The document provides specific goals that span nine major categories: workforce and education, business climate, transportation, health care, energy, innovation, technology and entrepreneurship, the environment, and military and veterans affairs.

“If we get these areas right, every region will grow,” DuVal said.

Connie Nyholm, owner and CEO of Virginia International Raceway and member of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, said the blueprint is playing differently in every community.

“Each area is invited to join in the way that they can,” she said.

Alexis Ehrhardt, president and CEO of the Danville-Pittsylvania Chamber of Commerce, said in the Dan River Region, the higher priority items are the two Virginia already leads in — workforce and education — as well as health care, entrepreneurship and manufacturing.

Ben Davenport, president of First Piedmont Corp. and Davenport Energy, said a great example of this is the partnership between Danville Community College and the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research to develop a machining workforce that attracts foreign companies to the region.

“We have a unique situation in our region,” he said.

Ehrhardt said part of her goal is to replicate the talent development for the machining workforce in other high demand areas.

“Ideally, we would have a more structured pipeline,” she said.

In terms of entrepreneurship, Ehrhardt said one of the keys to developing a culture that fosters entrepreneurship is expanding internet and broadband access throughout the region.

“Broadband infrastructure is going to be really important as we try to attract and retain entrepreneurs,” she said.