Business Leaders Support Quality Early Learning as Job One for Virginia’s Workforce

Pictured from left to right in the photo are: Barry DuVal, President & CEO of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce; Ben Davenport Jr., Chairman of First Piedmont Corporation and Chairman of the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation; and Doug Juanarena, Vice President and Site Leader of Rackspace Blacksburg.
Pictured from left to right in the photo are: Barry DuVal, President & CEO of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce; Ben Davenport Jr., Chairman of First Piedmont Corporation and Chairman of the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation; and Doug Juanarena, Vice President and Site Leader of Rackspace Blacksburg.

Nearly 100 business leaders from the New River and Roanoke Valley region attended a” Smart Beginnings: Job One” event recently to learn more about the role of quality early learning as the foundation for workforce success. The Business Leaders Breakfast was hosted by Smart Beginnings New River Valley and Smart Beginnings Greater Roanoke.

Barry DuVal, President and CEO of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, was a featured speaker. DuVal spearheaded the Virginia Chamber’s Blueprint Virginia statewide initiative to provide elected officials with a strategic roadmap for economic competitiveness in the commonwealth. Blueprint Virginia highlights the direct link between a strong start in the early years and a vibrant, productive workforce.

“Virginia’s economic well-being is inextricably linked to the education and skills of its citizens,” said DuVal. “Quality early childhood development and education are critical for children’s success in school and ultimately to building a strong workforce in Virginia.”

Ben J. Davenport, Jr., Chairman of First Piedmont Corporation in Chatham, Va., and Chairman of the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation (VECF), remarked, “Virginia’s business community has long recognized that the talent pool for the future workforce begins with young children who start school healthy and ready to learn.”

According to Davenport, Smart Beginnings: Job One is a VECF initiative to engage local business leaders and early childhood stakeholders, and to build on those partnerships to establish a stronger and sustained network of local business leadership in communities throughout Virginia.

“Every company is seeking smart, skilled employees who are well-qualified for 21st century jobs, particularly positions requiring technical expertise,” said Doug Juanarena, Vice President and Site Leader of Rackspace Blacksburg, an open cloud company with an IT hosting operation in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center in Montgomery County. “When young children have access to enriching early learning experiences, they are building the foundation for success in school and in their future careers.”

For more information about the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation and the statewide Smart Beginnings initiatives, visit www.smartbeginningsroanoke.org or www.smartbeginningsnrv.org.