The Arlington Chamber of Commerce made strides in the membership-engagement and public-policy arenas over the past year, the business organization’s outgoing chair said at the Chamber’s annual meeting.
“It is all about making sure we are working for the mission of the Chamber – working for your businesses – every day,” Kevin Shooshan said at the luncheon, held Dec. 11 at the Sheraton Pentagon City Hotel.
“We certainly have our challenges ahead of us as a county and a Chamber,” Shooshan acknowledged, pointing to issues that include a high office-vacancy rate and a more competitive, and at times combative, economic-development arena across the region.
But Shooshan, whose family is actively involved in development countywide, also pointed to Chamber successes, as well: Creation of a young-entrepreneurs academy, revision of the organization’s strategic plan, efforts to update its online and social-media presence, and increasing activism on public-policy issues for its 700 member organizations.
The event, which drew more than 200 business and civic leaders, served as a valedictory for Shooshan and a kickoff for Todd Yeatts of Boeing, who will serve as Arlington Chamber of Commerce chair in 2016.
Yeatts, who has served on the Chamber board since 2009, said 2015 proved “a banner year” for the organization, and opted to keep most of the existing board of directors’ leadership intact for 2016.
“Kevin Shooshan put together a great team,” Yeatts said of the executive committee, praising “their talents, their energy and their enthusiasm.”
Yeatts selected Tina Walker of BAE Systems to serve as chair-elect in 2016, putting her in rotation to chair the organization a year later. Walker has served as assistant treasurer in 2015.
The keynote speaker at the Dec. 11 meeting was Aneesh Chopra, a former top technology executive for both the state and federal governments who cofounded the firm Hunch Analytics.
Tieless and caffeinated, as many high-tech speakers seem to be, Chopra said Arlington needed to stand tall as a center of innovation.
“This is the decade of problem-solving,” he said. “We can find ways to work together . . . to tackle the big issues.”
While Chopra looked to the future for inspiration, Yeatts took a glance back for his. The goal of the organization in 2016 would be the same as when it was founded more than 90 years ago, Yeatts said: to “ensure that the business community has a voice.”
At the meeting, Shooshan paid tribute to departing County Board members Walter Tejada and Mary Hynes. He pointed to Tejada’s work on affordable housing and Hynes’ efforts on transportation and civic engagement.
“We’ll be sad to see you go,” Shooshan said. “It’s important not to forget about the base [local] leaders have set for us.”