Forbes recognized at eventPublished 12:16pm Saturday, June 22, 2013
FRANKLIN—Congressman J. Randy Forbes received the 2012 Spirit of Enterprise Award during a luncheon sponsored Friday by the Franklin-Southampton Area Chamber of Commerce and the Franklin Rotary Club.
Moore Hallmark, executive director for the U.S. Chamber’s southeast region, came from Marietta, Ga., to make the presentation at the Cypress Cove Country Club. He called Forbes, “a true friend of business.”
The honor is given, Hallmark said, to Congressional representatives based on their voting record in key decisions affecting business. According to the Chamber’s website, House and Senate members who support the Chamber’s position on at least 70 percent of these votes merit the award.
“Forbes has gone well above at 91 percent,” Hallmark said, adding the congressman had been recognized for 2011 as well.
“We live in some very trying times,” said Forbes, and he outlined three ways that leaders such as himself can build back trust in the government.
“Listen to people. People want to know people are listening,” he said, adding that personal service is paramount at his office. When constituents call, for example, they talk to a person, not a recording.
“They want us accountable,” Forbes said in reference to how the Internal Revenue Service’s reputation has been damaged by the news the agency investigated tax records of political groups, such as the Tea Party.
“I think we’ll see a re-look at the tax code,” he said on what could come out of that matter. Forbes added there’ll also be “some good debate” on the immigration issue.
“It’s important to work across party lines,” was his third suggestion, and said how both sides need to work together, particularly when it comes to strengthening the military.
The congressman took questions from guests, ranging from restrictions in prayer at government meetings (“Faith is under attack.”) to Smithfield Food’s desire to sell ownership to China (“Nobody’s asking how is it going to impact food safety”).
Forbes said he was surprised and “real disappointed” that a recent farm bill was defeated. Also, he voted against sequestration, but couldn’t get enough votes against it.
“That’s something I really worry about for Virginia and national defense,” Forbes said.
But he closed on an upbeat note, saying, “Every day we’ve got some great things going on in Virginia.”
Related to chamber of commerce concerns and issues, Barry DuVal spoke briefly about Blueprint Virginia. DuVal is the president and chief executive officer of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. He was mayor of Newport News from 1990-1996.
“Where do we want to be eight years from now,” DuVal asked those present.
Issues of advanced manufacturing, energy, health care, small business, technology, transportation and workforce development are major concerns for Virginia businesses, he said.
“Who’s in charge of Virginia’s economic future” was another question DuVal posed, adding, “Virginia is only as strong as its regions.”
Six pillars to economic success are, he said, a competent workforce, intellectual capability, connectivity, entrepreneurship and innovation, a pro-business climate and a quality of life and place.
He invited the audience members to participate in an online survey to contribute their thoughts on questions such as:
- What do you think are Virginia’s top three priorities to remain an economically competitive state?
- What should be the next governor’s top economic development priority?
- What are your top three regional priorities in the coming years?
To answer these questions and learn more about Blueprint Virginia, visit www.vachamber.com/blueprint.