NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Hampton Roads business leaders bent the ears U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine on Monday morning at the 2018 Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce Senatorial Forum in Norfolk.
The senators, both Democrats, made focused remarks and then took questions.
Sea level rise was a concern raised by newly elected Virginia Beach city councilman David Nygaard.
“Can we count on the federal government to help with flooding? Because we are going to need some funding,” Nygaard asked.
Kaine responded by saying in part that he will work to make that part of the president’s infrastructure plan.
“You know flooding, Army Corps, resilience, mitigation investments and broadband deployment should be two areas that are part of an infrastructure bill,” Kaine said.
Warner put some responsibility back on the community saying, “This should be the hub for national and international research around sea level rise, but the community needs to get a little more organized in terms of who is in charge.”
Other concerns from the business-minded crowd concentrated on workforce development and gaps between education, educators and businesses.
Senator Kaine pointed to progress being made even today. Tidewater Community College opened a brand new skills training center Monday that will educate shipbuilders and manufacturers.
Kaine also worked on legislation to encourage cybersecurity careers. “If kids in college get degrees in cyber and then agree to either work for the [Department of Defense] or [Department of Homeland Security] they get part of their college cost forgiven,” Kaine said.
More people in cybersecurity could help avoid problems like the one pointed out by Senator Warner.
“We have lots of folks who are contractors who work with the military down here, there was a 700,000 person backlog fom folks being able to get to work cause they didn’t get their security clearance.”
Both senators say building a strong cybersecurity workforce is key to our national defense moving into the future.