There was a changing of the guard but no significant shifting of priorities as the Arlington Chamber of Commerce held its 92nd annual meeting Dec. 9.
“This has been a tremendous year,” said outgoing Chamber chair Todd Yeatts before a crowd of about 200 business and civic leaders who had descended on the Sheraton Pentagon City Hotel for the end-of-year event, which also included the presentation of the 2017 leadership team, to be led by Tina Walker of BAE Systems as chair.
“I’m looking forward [to the upcoming year] with great anticipation,” Walker said. “This organization is making an impact – connecting government, businesses and residents.”
Walker will make her formal debut as chair in January; for Yeatts, a government-affairs official with Boeing Co., the annual meeting served as a valedictory.
“My involvement with the Chamber began the week I moved to Arlington,” he said. “The Chamber is more than a business-advocacy organization to me. I don’t belong to the Chamber to sell airplanes; I belong to the Chamber to make a difference.”
Among the highlights of 2016, Yeatts noted:
• Working to secure from the General Assembly the resurrection of taxing authority to support the county’s tourism industry, which had been stripped in 2011.
• A total of 122 new members and an 88-percent retention rate of existing members.
• A successful “Opportunity Works” capital campaign, which exceeded its goal of $255,000.
• Revision and streamlining of the organization’s bylaws, including a change in how members of the board of directors are recruited and installed.
• A new-generation Web site and upgraded social-media presence.
• A successful annual “Volunteer Arlington” initiative, which connected 180 business-community volunteers with nonprofit organizations across 17 sites in the county.
Yeatts said many Chamber members understand the need of “giving back as you grow your business.”
“Service to this community has been its own reward,” he said.
The Arlington Chamber of Commerce and county government are “tremendous partners,” said Victor Hoskins, who heads the government’s economic-development apparatus and served as keynote speaker at the luncheon event.
While avoiding direct mention of Arlington’s biggest economic-development challenge of the moment – a stubbornly high office-vacancy rate – Hoskins said there were many positives to report.
“We had some big wins in the last year,” he said.
“We are trying to be as active and broad-thinking as possible,” Hoskins said of economic-development efforts.
At the annual meeting, Walker announced that Lindsey Rheaume of Eagle Bank would serve as chair-elect in 2017, positioning him to rotate in as chair in 2018.
The annual meeting was sponsored by Comcast.