Virginia Chamber of Commerce president speaks at COBE BB&T luncheon

Barry DuVal, President and CEO of the Virginia Chamber of commerce.

Barry DuVal, president and CEO of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, delivered the keynote address April 20 at the Radford University College of Business and Economics (COBE) BB&T Global Capitalism Lecture Series.

DuVal spoke to the gathering in Kyle Hall about "the role of government and non-profit organizations in facilitating the growth of private enterprises in Virginia," and about the Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s organization, growth and strategy.

"We are the voice of Virginia business, and we’re the most influential business organization," DuVal said.

The chamber president offered the audience five key components to economic success "for your business and your region," he said. The first three of those, DuVal noted, include ensuring connections to the outside world, a competent workforce and intellectual capacity.

DuVal stressed the importance of colleges and universities to a region’s growth.

"There’s no region in America growing and prospering without an institution of higher education," he said. "How fortunate we are to be sitting today in an institution, one of the flagships of the Commonwealth, in a business school that can compete with any in the country with the assets you have here."

Speaking of COBE, DuVal said "this is a great contribution to the businesses in this region and also to the Commonwealth."

DuVal called higher education "an economic engine" for Virginia. "It produces tremendous results, wage growth and opportunity," he said

Moving back to his keys for economic success, DuVal listed the spirit of entrepreneurship and establishing a pro-business environment as intangibles. "A pro-business environment is what really sets Virginia apart," he said.

DuVal briefly spoke about Blueprint Virginia, a comprehensive initiative to provide business leadership, direction and long-range economic development planning for the Commonwealth.

"The long-term economic interests of Virginia should be influenced by the business community of Virginia," DuVal said. "Through Blueprint Virginia, you have the opportunity to shape what you want Virginia to look like."

In 2013 and 2014, the chamber engaged more than 7,000 business leaders to produce Blueprint Virginia.

DuVal provided a "quick economic update" of Virginia and talked about the challenges the Commonwealth faces, such federal budget cuts and competition.

"All the states want to become like us; they want to grow up and become like Virginia and they're coming after us," he said. "We have a lot to be proud of in Virginia. People want to come here, live here, work here and raise a family here. And a lot of them want to educate their students here."

Under DuVal’s leadership, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce has become the Commonwealth’s largest business advocacy group, growing to more than 23,500 members today.

Before taking the position of president and CEO with the Virginia Chamber, DuVal served as mayor of Newport News, held multiple high-profile positions in the private sector and served as secretary of commerce and trade.

"We could not bring to you anyone who is better versed to discuss with us the economic situation of the Commonwealth of Virginia than our keynote speaker today," Radford University President Penelope W. Kyle said.

The Global Capitalism Lecture Series is an ongoing collaboration between BB&T and COBE to stimulate thought and discussion about capitalism, the tenets of free enterprise and the best practices of successful organizations.

Apr 29, 2016
Chad Osborne