A Message from Virginia Chamber President & CEO, Barry DuVal

Last week, Governor Ralph Northam signed Executive Order 61 and announced Phase One of the “Forward Virginia” plan to reopen the Commonwealth. The new executive order modifies public health guidance in Executive Order 53 and Executive Order 55. The Governor has noted that the timing of the three-phase plan will be based on certain health data.

While Phase One officially starts today (May 15), Governor Northam has signed Executive Order 62 granting the City of Richmond, Accomack County, and several localities in Northern Virginia with an exemption to the state-mandated easing of the Phase One restrictions, per the localities’ requests. Under Executive Order 62, these localities will begin Phase One no sooner than midnight on Thursday, May 28. Additional information about the specific guidelines for Phase One can be found below.

Earlier this month, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce announced the launch of the “Blueprint for Getting Virginians Back to Work”  initiative. Intentionally named to complement our existing business plan, Blueprint Virginia 2025Blueprint for Getting Virginians Back to Work will provide guidance for businesses and policymakers to help move the Commonwealth beyond the term ‘essential business’ to a plan that eventually allows all businesses to reopen.

Members of the business community are encouraged to participate in the survey by close of business TODAY, May 15. Take the survey here. The Virginia Chamber will release its Blueprint for Getting Virginians Back to Work after compiling all responses. The final plan, along with a host of other important resources for businesses, will be on our Virginia Chamber COVID-19 Resource Center.

Virginia businesses have stepped up to support our communities during these challenging times. Each week, we will highlight one member of the Virginia Chamber for their efforts to give back during the COVID-19 pandemic in the “Member Spotlight” section included below.

This week, the Virginia Chamber is pleased to recognize Verizon for its efforts to support small businesses and community members across the Commonwealth during COVID-19. Verizon, along with several of the Chamber’s other telecommunications members, have come together and taken the Federal Communications Commission’s Keep Americans Connected pledge. As part of this pledge, they have committed to not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, waive any late fees that customers incur and open Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them. Verizon has announced that they have extended this commitment through June 30.

In addition to this pledge, Verizon is giving back in many ways, including additional community investments, employer-to-employer connections to bring together companies laying off or furloughing their employees with companies in urgent need of workers, and continually developing new small businesses resources. More information on this week’s “Member Spotlight” can be found below.

Member Spotlight: Verizon

This new section in the Virginia Chamber’s Weekly COVID-19 update will highlight Chamber members who have stepped up to support our communities during these challenging times. This week on our Member Spotlight, we are highlighting Verizon for their continued efforts to support Virginians during COVID-19.

Below you will find an overview of some of their COVID-19 initiatives.

  • Verizon has extended their commitment to increase wireless data, waive overage charges for wireless customers impacted by COVID-19, and provide new discounted plans for low-income customers through June 30. These updates are in addition to their long-standing practice of no data caps for wireline services.
  • Donated $7.5 million to establish the Verizon Small Business Recovery Fund, operated by Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), to provide grants to help small businesses fill urgent financial gaps until they can resume normal operations or until other more permanent financing becomes available. The application deadline to apply for round 3 is Wednesday, May 20 and grant information and FAQ can be found here.
  • Cofounded “People + Work Connect” to help people get back to work. This employer-to-employer initiative brings together companies laying off or furloughing people with companies in urgent need of workers.
  • Developed a small business webinar series featuring different experts providing their insights on how to respond to new challenges due to COVID-19, based on their professional expertise. All past webinars can be found on demand and are available for download, including presentation materials.

More information can be found on their COVID-19 Response Center