The Chamber held its 26th Annual Meeting of the Membership on December 8 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. This luncheon is Hampton Roads’ largest gathering of elected officials and business leaders. The crowd of nearly 800 heard from keynote speaker Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus.
Mabus praised the men and women of the military and the sacrifices of their families. He discussed tightening the budget, saying, “Secretary Gates has charged the services with finding a $100 billion over the next five years in efficiencies. This money we find will stay in those services. We’ll just change how it’s being spent.” He jokingly added that while growing up, he called his father “cheap.” Mabus said, “I’m my father’s son.” Long range plans are to increase the number of ships and meet our national security issues at the same time.
At the conclusion of his speech, Mabus took several questions from the audience. Delceno Miles of The Miles Agency, asked if the Navy will drop its plans to move a Norfolk-based aircraft carrier to Mayport, Florida, adding, “Just a quick yes or no would do.” “Okay, no,” Mabus answered. He noted that the U.S. has 11 carriers, five of them in the Atlantic, based in Norfolk. “From a strategic standpoint, that’s not sustainable. We have to disperse our carrier fleet,” he said.
Regarding Secretary Gates’ announcement to close Norfolk-based U.S. Joint Forces Command, Mabus said, “The decision over JFCOM was made at a level above me, but I know the proposal has been made carefully and studied very well.”
The Chamber honored its outgoing 2010 volunteer leadership and recognized its and incoming 2011 volunteer leaders. Nelson Adcock (GeoEnvironmental Resources, Inc.), who served as the Chamber’s 2010 Chair, will continue in this role in 2011. During the luncheon, Adcock presented the Chamber’s 2010 Volunteer of the Year Award to Marino Santarelli (Wachovia, A Wells Fargo Company) for his hard work and dedication. Santarelli served as Chair of the Chamber’s Sustainable Resources Campaign leading an all volunteer effort which raised 5% more than last year.
Thank you to our sponsors: Bon Secours Virginia Health System (Presenting); Virginia Beach Convention Center & Distinctive Gourmet (Hospitality); Wachovia, A Wells Fargo Company (Gold); Cox Communications (Media); and Ampa Events Tidewater, BB&T, and Signal 88 Security (Silver).