“Best managed state, best state for business,” opened Senator Mark Warner at the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce Senatorial Forum. Senator Warner addressed the business community on August 18 at the Founders Inn on the issues facing the Commonwealth, the Nation, and the Hampton Roads. For the past two years, Senator Warner has been accompanied by Senator Tim Kaine to update leaders and residents in Hampton Roads at the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce Senatorial Forum, however; this year, Senator Warner was solo due to Tim Kaine being selected as Hillary Clinton’s Vice Presidential Candidate. “I apologize that the Junior Senator can’t be here. Tim Kaine says he sends his regards particularly to the Hampton Roads Chamber. Particularly if he [Kaine] gets a new job, he is not going to forget his commitments to this region, the military, etc. I think the best thing Hillary Clinton has done this whole campaign was pick Tim Kaine,” said Senator Warner.
Senator Warner discussed four issues the Commonwealth is facing; Veterans Affairs, Entrepreneurship, Cyber Security, and commercial space.
“Getting the culture change, it is absolutely in our interest not to leave these veterans hanging out, sometimes for years, to get their benefits. This needs to be a higher priority.”Wait times are down across the system and there is now a program in place where veterans are helped beyond that twenty mile radius to access health care within the private sector. The challenges though remain threefold. There are five different initiatives the VA has that allow veterans to access private sector care, but they don’t collaborate, there are different payment methods, and all-in-all it is a mess. Senator Warner is working on fixing this to consolidate the five programs so there is a seamless system. There needs to be a veteran’s administration that will work with the clinics, state offices, and people who might want to be pro-bono in law forms.
“Over the last 30 years, all new jobs that have been created in this country have come from start ups,” stated Senator Warner. Northern Virginia is now behind Hampton Roads in terms of organized structure and there is merging ecosystem here in Hampton Roads for entrepreneurship. There are centers for entrepreneurs all over the country, especially in the Commonwealth. Senator Warner would like to see the colleges and universities work together to link entrepreneurial centers. This could help to get better access to funding and better information on “how-to”.
Cyber security is both an upside and a downside. Downside, a lot of companies have either been hacked or attempted to be hacked. The upside is economic development. There are 200,000 unfilled cyber jobs, 18,000 in Virginia all with a starting salary of $88,000. “We have been moving aggressively to make sure every school starts on cyber.”
Lastly, Senator Warner brought up commercial space and satellites in space. The giant satellite we have built is now going through a transformation from large to small and elegant.
Senator Warner ended the presentation with questions and answers from the audience. The Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce would like to thank Senator Warner for his time and informational remarks. The Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce would also like to thank the sponsors for this event: Dominion (Presenting Sponsor); Cox Communications (Platinum Sponsor); PRA Group and Chesapeake Regional Healthcare (Gold Sponsors); CBN (Host Sponsor); Sinclair Communications (Media Sponsor); Wilbanks, Smith & Thomas Asset Mangement and Perspective Health Services (Bronze Sponsors)