Business Leaders Gather to Explore Economics of Early Childhood and the Connection to Future Workforce


Richmond, VA (Oct. 4, 2017) – The Virginia Chamber Foundation and the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation (VECF) will host an invitation-only luncheon and executive briefing for statewide business executives on “The Economics of Early Childhood: Smart Beginnings for Virginia’s Workforce Pipeline.” The event, which is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 10 at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, will build on the growing recognition from Virginia’s business community that a strong educational start for children is linked to a stable, talented future workforce for the Commonwealth.

Guest speakers for the Oct. 10 event are:

  • Dr. Laura Jana is a nationally recognized expert in the field of early childhood development. A pediatrician, educator, health communicator and sought-after speaker, she is the author of The Toddler Brain. Dr. Jana’s remarks will focus on the critical role that parents and early childhood educators play in building a foundation in the early years for the skills that will be required for the 21st century workforce. More information about Dr. Jana can be found at    
  • Shawn Boyer is founder and CEO of goHappy, an app and scheduling tool designed to help people live happier lives. Previously, he was founder and former CEO of Snagajob, an online employment website specializing in the hourly marketplace. During his remarks, Boyer will share insights on the skills that today’s employers are demanding and also how employers can better support the needs of the current and upcoming workforce. More information about goHappy can be found at       

The 4th annual executive briefing, which is expected to draw around 100 business leaders from across the Commonwealth, is designed to highlight and reinforce the business case for early education as a foundation for success in learning, career development and the economic vitality of a region. From their unique perspectives in the education, healthcare, technology and entrepreneurial arenas, Dr. Jana and Mr. Boyer will help underscore how important the early years are in laying the groundwork for lifelong success.

Both of the sponsoring organizations are committed to advancing quality early learning initiatives in the state:

  • Blueprint Virginia is a comprehensive initiative to provide business leadership, direction and long-range economic development planning for Virginia. Over 18 months from 2013 to 2014, the Virginia Chamber Foundation coordinated the first Blueprint process to engage business and community leaders from around the Commonwealth to determine top priorities for strengthening Virginia’s economic competitiveness Among other key findings, the report highlighted the direct link between a strong start in the early years and a vibrant productive workforce for the Commonwealth. A newly updated economic development plan, Blueprint 2025, will be presented in December 2017.
  • The Virginia Early Childhood Foundation and its statewide Smart Beginnings initiatives are focused on ensuring that communities across Virginia have capacity to support the good health and school readiness of young children.

“Virginia’s economic prosperity is directly linked to the education and skills of its citizens,” said Barry DuVal, President & CEO of the Virginia Chamber. “The business community’s top priority is to a strong and talented workforce in order to compete on the national and global stage and make Virginia the best place to do business.”

“If we really want to have a competitive workforce in Virginia, we need to focus our attention and investments upstream in the early years,” said Bill Ermatinger, board chair of the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation and EVP/Chief Human Resources Officer for Huntington Ingalls Industries in Newport News, Va. “VECF and the Virginia Chamber are providing forward-thinking leadership that will impact the Commonwealth’s long-term economic vitality.”

For more information about this event, contact


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About the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation: VECF creates results-oriented partnerships to ensure that young children are healthy and prepared for school, life and workforce success. To learn more about VECF and the Smart Beginnings initiative, visit           

About the Virginia Chamber: The Virginia Chamber of Commerce is the largest business advocacy organization in the Commonwealth, with more than 26,000 members. The Chamber is a non-partisan, business advocacy organization that works in the legislative, regulatory and political arenas to act as the catalyst for positive change in all areas of economic development and competitiveness for Virginia. For more information, visit