As chairman of the newly formed Shenandoah Valley Chapter of the Virginia Maritime Association, Devon Anders wants to spread the word about maritime issues affecting businesses in the valley.
The chapter’s territory stretches along the Interstate 81 corridor from Staunton to Front Royal. “Our first course of action is to start growing the membership,” Anders says, noting the group held its first meeting in April.
Anders, who also is president of Harrisonburg-based InterChange Group, a logistics company, was “highly recommended for the chairmanship,” says Ashley McLeod, communications and membership director of the Virginia Maritime Association, based in Norfolk. “He’s familiar with the valley, and he understands the purpose of the association and how the valley connects with the ports.”
The Shenandoah Valley chapter is the second the association has established outside Hampton Roads — the first was the Central Virginia chapter, formed in 2015.
“The valley was the next target because of the Virginia Inland Port [in Front Royal],” McLeod says. “We also want to establish chapters in Southside, Southwest and Northern Virginia. We want to make sure everyone’s voice is heard.”
The Maritime Association, which has a membership of more than 450 companies, promotes commerce through Virginia’s ports. The Shenandoah Valley chapter now has around a dozen member companies.
Part of the chapter’s focus will be on the Virginia Inland Port, an intermodal container transfer facility owned by the Virginia Port Authority and served by rail.
“Virginia Inland Port is an underutilized port,” Anders says, noting the valley is home to many warehouses and distribution centers. “The I-81 corridor is one of the busiest [truck routes] out there, and a lot of the goods being transported originate at the ports. Virginia Inland takes part of the load off of the road system.”
The valley’s connection to the ports is greater than ever now that business is “more globally oriented,” he adds. “We want to bring awareness to port issues … We want to get people excited and involved.”
Creating VMA Chapters is a brilliant idea and an action that will clearly allow businesses all over the state to more clearly appreciate the important roles that the port plays in every region of the state. Bringing the VMA and it's strength in government relations, participation in trade delegations and supporting or representing port users thru these chapters is amongst the top priorities at the VMA. Well Done.