Virginia Chamber of Commerce

Virginia Chamber of Commerce Weekly COVID-19 Update

On July 1, all regions of the Commonwealth are expected to transition into Phase Three of re-opening as part of the Governor’s “Forward Virginia” plan. Under this phase, restaurants and non-essential retail will be able to fully re-open without capacity restrictions and gatherings of up to 250 will be permitted. More information on the guidelines associated with this phase can be found below.

The Safety and Health Codes Board of the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry met on Wednesday to consider a new emergency regulation that would set out additional requirements for Virginia employers related to workplace safety due to COVID-19. The Board was also tasked with considering comments that were offered during the brief 10-day window the Board allowed for input from the public.

Over 3,300 comments were submitted to the Board for consideration. After meeting for close to eight hours, technical difficulties, and motions to delay, the Board has agreed to meet again for final consideration of the standards at some point next week.

The Virginia Chamber submitted a comment letter to the Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry and the Safety and Health Codes Board as part of the public comment process to voice our strong concerns about placing additional burdens on Virginia businesses and inconsistencies with federal regulations within the proposed standards.

The Board will meet again next week to consider additional changes to the emergency standard and vote for final approval. If the Board approves the standards, they could go into effect by July 15, 2020. You can view the proposed emergency standards here.

As the discussion around the process for re-opening k-12 schools continues, leadership from the Northam Administration announced yesterday that the authority to determine the individual strategy for each district will be determined by the local school boards. While local school boards will have the responsibility of developing the process that works best for their district, they are encouraged to utilize the guidelines put forward by the Northam Administration earlier this month. These guidelines are available on the Virginia Department of Education’s website.

This week, the Virginia Chamber is pleased to recognize sPower for its significant contributions to support COVID-19 relief efforts, helping communities across the Commonwealth.

As communities across the country are faced with the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, sPower, a leading renewable energy Independent Power Producer (IPP) with an office in Glen Allen, announced a $500,000 commitment to support emerging Covid-19 needs in local communities where it develops and operates. Beginning in March, sPower staff began reaching out to local leaders, chambers of commerce, non-profits, educational institutions and others to identify specific needs in communities. The company has adopted a ‘hyperlocal’ approach to giving, as COVID-19 has impacted communities in varying ways. Grants have included direct donations to food banks; food for seniors, first responders and families; healthcare supplies; small business support and wireless access to communities with limited broadband. More information on this week’s “Member Spotlight” can be found below.

Member Spotlight: sPower

As communities across the country are faced with the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, sPower, a leading renewable energy Independent Power Producer (IPP) with an office in Glen Allen, announced a $500,000 commitment to support emerging Covid-19 needs in local communities where it develops and operates. Beginning in March, sPower staff began reaching out to local leaders, chambers of commerce, non-profits, educational institutions and others to identify specific needs in communities. The company has adopted a ‘hyperlocal’ approach to giving, as COVID-19 has impacted communities in varying ways. Grants have included direct donations to food banks; food for seniors, first responders and families; healthcare supplies; small business support and wireless access to communities with limited broadband.

sPower has made the following donations in Virginia: 

  • In Virginia, where the company is building a 620 MWdc solar project, contributions were made in Spotsylvania County to Mary Washington Healthcare to fund personal protective equipment for front-line medical workers and to the Community Foundation to support childcare for essential workers.

  • Charles City County – The company supported the food bank at the local high school, feeding more than 100 local students and their families each week consistently. sPower also partnered with Cul’s Courthouse Grille, by purchasing meals for first responders over five Fridays in April and May.

  • Fauquier County - sPower funded donations to Community Touch, Inc, a transitional housing organization with its COVID-19 outreach efforts and the Fauquier Community Food Bank & Thrift Shop. The company also provided $3000 worth of gift certificates to local first responders from a local business, Grioli’s Italian Grill and Pizzeria.

  • Surry County - The needs of the community varied from support for small businesses, to homeless services and protective equipment. sPower contributed to Rushmere Community Development, to assist Brother’s Keeper homeless services, First Baptist Church Spring Grove to aid their mask-making efforts, the Virginia Diner to feed more than 100 seniors eight lunches, Just for Kicks Cupcakes to supply treats to First Responders and to Crater Regional Workforce Initiative to provide small business grants.

Virginia Chamber Joins National Initiative to Address Inequality of Opportunity

RICHMOND, VA – Today, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce announced it is partnering with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on a national initiative to address inequality of opportunity.
 
The Virginia Chamber will join the U.S. Chamber’s national town hall event on June 25 where business and community leaders will discuss concrete actions that can be taken by the government and the private sector to address inequality through education, employment, entrepreneurship, and criminal justice reform. As a partner on this important initiative, the Virginia Chamber will host local and industry dialogues to further the discussion.
 
“The Virginia Chamber is committed to participating in the development of key actions that will foster inclusion, social justice, and support initiatives that will lead to greater equity of opportunity,” said Virginia Chamber President and CEO Barry DuVal. “I recognize the pain current and past tragedies have brought and am committed to engaging with policymakers, community leaders, and other voices to confront racism and support necessary criminal justice reform.
 
“Actions speak louder than words and the Virginia Chamber will join the U.S. Chamber in their initiative to address inequality of opportunity and looks forward to participating in the national town hall scheduled for later this month. Our Commonwealth’s well-being is dependent on the equity of opportunity in our educational system, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities, homeownership, and a fair criminal justice system. Diversity and inclusion in our workplace and economy strengthens our state and nation.”
 
“The moral case for greater diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace is indisputable, and there’s overwhelming evidence that greater diversity benefits the American economy, businesses, communities, and employees,” said U.S. Chamber President Suzanne Clark. “We are proud to partner with the Virginia Chamber on this initiative and help develop a robust plan of action.” 
 
The work of this national initiative is complementary to key tenants of the Virginia Chamber’s foundational document, Blueprint Virginia 2025, which calls for vital improvements in workforce and education to advance positive change in these areas and further build a strong foundation for our citizens.

Virginia Chamber Releases “Blueprint for Getting Virginians Back to Work” Plan

More than 1,000 Virginia business community members surveyed to develop “Blueprint” of best practices and recommendations to ensure consumer confidence and worker safety.

RICHMOND, VA – Earlier today, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce (Chamber) released its “Blueprint for Getting Virginians Back to Work” plan – a business-led effort to quickly provide guidance on how to get the Virginia economy moving again.

The Blueprint for Getting Virginians Back to Work provides guidance for businesses and policymakers as the Commonwealth moves beyond the term ‘essential business’ to fully reopen the economy. Intentionally named to complement the Chamber’s long-term business plan for Virginia – Blueprint Virginia 2025 – the Blueprint for Getting Virginians Back to Work provides a path forward that helps businesses with their immediate needs.

“As our government and business leaders consider how to best recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important that they have the guidance to ensure consumer confidence and worker safety,” said Virginia Chamber President and CEO Barry DuVal. “The Chamber has launched this Blueprint for Getting Virginians Back to Work initiative to provide recommendations on operating in the current economic climate and how to return stronger than before. Through this effort, it is clear that business owners are reopening with the health and safety of Virginians as their top priority.”

In April and May, the Chamber engaged the business community through a series of surveys and roundtable discussions focused on cultivating input and best practices that are reflected in the final plan. More than 26,000 Virginia Chamber member companies, over 100 local chambers of commerce, industry trade associations and non-profits, and other key thought leaders from across the Commonwealth were among those invited to participate in this process. 

The final plan, along with a host of other important resources for businesses, are available on the Chamber’s newly launched website www.GetVaBackToWork.com.

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