End of Year Wrap-Up, a Message From Deb Gandy, Chairman of the Chamber’s Board of Directors

In Chamber Blog by admin

As we approach this game-changing year's end, I reflect on the extraordinary journey we, a dynamic Chamber community, undertook together. It is with great pride and gratitude that I extend my heartfelt thanks to each one of you for your unwavering commitment, dedication, and support. Together, we have advocated for the growth of our Region, expanded workforce solutions, championed diversity and inclusion, and made the Greater Washington Region's most powerful and influential business organization even better.

As we near 2024, the Chamber's 99th Anniversary year, I am filled with pride and enthusiasm reflecting on what we have accomplished together. The theme for this past year and our Chamber's future is unmistakably growth – not just in terms of membership but in the depth of our partnerships and commitments in pursuit of a stronger, more inclusive Region. Northern Virginia is Greater Washington’s business center, and the Chamber is the engine that moves business in our Region. Our members prove that every day.

After the years we spent collectively living through a pandemic, 2023 has been a breath of fresh air for us all. Chamber membership has grown and our work has been supported by our outstanding Business Partners, many of whom have sponsored the Chamber for many years. We celebrated our partners and members at our Annual Members' Meeting this past June. In addition to networking amongst our peers, this Meeting was an opportunity to induct new leaders into our NOVA Chamber Honors and present 2023's Lifetime Achievement Awards and Impact Awards.

Advocacy, one of the Chamber's three strategic pillars, had a banner year that began in January with the convening of the Virginia General Assembly. The Chamber is unique in that we maintain full-time Advocacy staff year-round and our own NOVABizPac. Nick Clemente, the Chamber's Vice President of Government Relations, began 2023 as our in-Richmond leader throughout the entirety of the General Assembly. He followed this Herculean effort with weekly member Advocacy calls, answering questions and forging connections between our members and legislators. This work continued throughout the year as we advocated throughout Greater Washington for solutions to regional challenges. Nick will return to Richmond in a few weeks and I encourage members to join him at our 2024 Chamber Lobby Day and Viva Virginia reception on January 16th.

Overcoming the Region's workforce and diversity challenges have remained Chamber strategic priorities, as evidenced by the slate of programs, resources, and awards available to members and those within our community alike. Monthly programs like DEI Connects and the Greater Washington Apprentice Network drew together subject matter experts and members in a collaborative, forum setting. 

Our Greater Washington workforce stands as the heartbeat of our community, and this year, we have approached challenges surrounding the workforce from multiple fronts, from lobbying government to providing businesses with tools and resources. Programs that found their beginnings within the pandemic have blossomed into member communities and longitudinal research studies. Our 2023 Northern Virginia Workforce Index report, conducted in partnership with the Northern Virginia Community College, will be released at the upcoming 32nd Annual Economic Conference held on January 30th. That event will have an all-star panel and should not be missed!

Of course, at its heart, our Chamber is about building connections that advance business. I am proud that our Chamber events count over 60% C-Suite executives in attendance. The  Chamber also facilitates relationships that actively better our Region. These may be within industry groups, as shown by the always popular Distinguished Service Awards celebrating veterans and the Greater Washington Government Contractor Awards or through our monthly C-Suite Roundtable luncheons. 

In a world that constantly evolves, I take heart that the Chamber, helmed by President and CEO Julie Coons, and supported by her excellent staff, is unwavering in its commitment to Regional business growth. The Chamber remains committed to creating and protecting a regional economy that nurtures growth – be it in your business, your professional network, or your personal development.

2023 has been an incredible year and I, for one, am looking forward to 2024. With that in mind, on behalf of the Chamber's Board of Directors and Staff, I wish you a joyous holiday season and a New Year brimming with prosperity and growth.