Virginia Beach, VA — Norfolk Southern CEO James Squires was the keynote speaker at the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce’s latest “Leadership Series” event, addressing 150 attendees on November 2 in Virginia Beach. Squires, who has served as Norfolk Southern’s chief executive officer since June 2015, highlighted the areas of commonality between the railroad and the chamber.

“Both Norfolk Southern and the HRCC share the mission of helping businesses grow,” said Squires. He pointed to the NS relationship with the Port of Virginia, which has helped generate $60 billion in total economic development across Virginia and surrounding states.

“The Port of Virginia’s teamwork with Norfolk Southern and others means that over 35 percent of cargo arriving or departing the ports does so by rail—the largest percentage of any port on the East Coast, and a key to Hampton Roads’ ability to accommodate the growing demands of consumers and businesses in the Mid-Atlantic region.”

Last year alone, said Squires, Norfolk Southern assisted 71 businesses in locating or expanding their facilities, yielding $4 billion in customer investment that will lead to 4,600 new jobs. He highlighted the synergy necessary to produce this kind of development, saying “a successful Chamber leads to successful businesses that drive a successful Norfolk Southern.”

Another area of commonality between the railroad and HRCC is their mutual commitment to the communities around them, according to Squires.

“With Hampton Roads’ 410 years of commerce and development, as with our 187, we are both acutely aware that sustainable economic strength depends not just on today’s opportunities, but on foresight and strategic investment—investment in education that empowers our workforce and our neighbors, in the arts that enrich our lives, in the support of those who the economy has not favored, and in the recovery of those beset by natural disaster,” said Squires.

Through its Norfolk Southern Foundation, established in 1983, the railroad donates about $7.5 million annually to charities that help improve the communities in which it operates. Squires emphasized that investing in growth requires this kind of longer-term perspective.

“Norfolk Southern values the Chamber’s efforts to strengthen the economy of Hampton Roads, and we share your vision of a better Hampton Roads for all of us, and for each of us.”

NS CEO James Squires, GoRail State Director Emily Traiforos and HRCC President & CEO Bryan Stephens.