On March 27th, 2014 the Alliance hosted its premier Chesapeake Business Forum at the Dominion Technical Center at Innsbrook. The event was the culmination of years of discussions about how to invite the business community to have a larger, more visible and prominent role in the Chesapeake Bay restoration effort. Since the Businesses For the Bay program lost funding in 2007, many businesses have been seeking an avenue for discussing bay restoration goals, programs, activities and have expressed their desire to have a forum to share information about the projects they are implementing.[two_fifth margin_top=”20px” class=”acb-img-container float-right-container” ] In response to this need the Alliance began meeting with various members of the business community and the Environment Committee of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce to better understand what the needs were and how to kick off an effort to meet those needs. It was agreed that the best first step to launch such an effort would be to hold Business Forums throughout the Chesapeake Bay Watershed that provide the business community a space to hear about the current status of the Bay restoration effort and discuss ideas, efforts, and needs for increasing the business community’s presence and impact on the effort.

Susequently, the Alliance received funding from the Virginia Environmental Endowment to host the first Chesapeake Business Forum in Virginia. The event was sponsored by Dominion, Perdue, Luck Stone, Smithfield, Host Hotels & Resorts, and the Virginia Chamber of Commerce and nearly 100 participants spent the day learning about the Bay restoration effort and discussing innovative approaches to engaging businesses, large and small, in building a new Businesses for the Bay program.[two_fifth margin_top=”20px” class=”acb-img-container float-right-container” ] Speakers included Russ Baxter, Assistant Secretary of Natural Resources, Jeff Corbin of the Environmental Protection Agency, David Paylor, Director of the Department of Environmental Quality, and representatives from Dominion, Altria, Inc., Luck Companies, Perdue Farms, Virginia Green, the Wildlife Habitat Council, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, and Troutman Sanders, LLC. Participants listened to perspectives on Finding the Triple Bottom Line and The Value of Partnerships between businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies.

The event was facilitated by the Institute for Environmental Negotiation at the University of Virginia and provided participants with breakout sessions in the afternoon to discuss and prioritize needs among several different topics:

  • Integrating Sustainability & Chesapeake Bay Goals
  • Sharing Resources & Developing Partnerships
  • Changing Lives & Communities
  • Selling the Message
  • Beyond Compliance
  • Celebrating Success

As we wrapped up the day, we were pleased to know that there were several common themes that surfaced throughout the day:

  • Find a way to harness and encourage innovation
  • A desire to find where so many different networks overlap or intersect and develop a communication mechanism that works for all
  • Showcase local projects, successes, and connections
  • Share information about projects that go far beyond compliance and promote that work, share resources and information so others can do the same

The Alliance has been working and partnering with the business community throughout the watershed for years. In Virginia, these partnerships continue to prove invaluable as we constantly seek ways to become more productive, efficient, and innovative in our approach to designing and implementing projects that restore our local waters and the Bay. By the nature of the business industry alone, we have learned that businesses are constantly seeking ways to innovate and “do good to do well”, as our Luck partners say. We all have an impact on the Bay, and it only makes sense that we should all partner to become part of the solution to restoring it. We are so very pleased to be forming a program that will help us do just that with the business community and so thankful for all of our partners and participants that made it happen.

Please click HERE to view the meeting materials and final report from the forum.