back to top

Chamber Sees Hopeful Signs For Growing Economy

Adrian Cronauer blasted the media when he spoke at last week’s Regional Chamber’s membership meeting.

The Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce held its annual membership meeting at Hotel Roanoke last week, giving members a chance to swap stories and give each other pep talks about slogging though the current weak economy.

The meeting also featured a very non-businesslike choice for keynote speaker – Adrian Cronauer – a retired lawyer now living in Troutville. Cronauer is best known for being portrayed by Robin Williams in the movie “Good Morning Vietnam,” as a zany, over-the-top Saigon-based radio disk jockey during the Vietnam War.

Before Cronauer talked about how the movie came about – he had originally shopped the idea as a situation comedy – outgoing Chamber board president Charles Robbins (a BB&T banking executive) declared from the podium that the organization believed in “the public and private sector working together,” to overcome the current ailing economy.

The Chamber also recognized Roanoke City police officer Nick Comas (who thwarted a suicide attempt) and Roanoke County patrolman Michael Vaughn (interagency drug task force) as Officers of the Year – an honor bestowed every year at the membership meeting.

Cronauer, who proclaimed himself a “card carrying Republican,” went to work for the Bush administration after 9/11, working on POW issues.  Most of his address centered around Good Morning Vietnam, which he consulted on during filming. “My 15 minutes of fame stretched well beyond 20 years,” he noted from the podium.

There were five different versions discussed before the script was settled on; as for the hijinks portrayed in the Barry Levinson film, Cronauer, an Air Force veteran, said “if I had done half of those things . . . I’d still be in Leavenworth.”  Williams ad-libbed much of the script and Cronauer said Levinson would just let the cameras roll when the comic actor went off on one of his tangents. “It was never intended to be an accurate biography,” he noted.

Cronauer took time to criticize some of the recent giants of the TV news business, like Dan Rather and the late Peter Jennings, for what he said were false news reports and unnecessary criticism of the federal government. He also said the media was often “derelict in its duty to promote positive values.” He urged Chamber members to “educate our next generation of business leaders,” as well.

A day later, Chamber president Joyce Waugh said the 1200-member organization felt “a lot of uneasiness with this current economy. But what we are hearing from people right now is that they are hiring.”  Much of that hiring is coming from smaller businesses. “That is a very good indicator. They are not going to take on a full time person that they have to lay off later.”

The Chamber will debut a small business accelerator to be based at its downtown home off Jefferson Street in the spring, something Robbins talked about at the meeting. Advisors will assist those firms, helping them grow. In addition, activity levels from businesses looking to locate here “[is] significantly up,” according to Waugh, referring to those making inquiries through the Roanoke Regional Partnership. “That’s another good indicator,” she noted. “There are a lot of really hopeful signs . . . and more activity overall in a positive direction.”

Lending is also on the upswing according to Waugh, who advised businesses to “do their homework,” and have a good plan in place before looking for money. Retail members of the Chamber also tell Waugh that “things are looking good,” for the current holiday shopping season. “The proof in the pudding [will be seen] right after Christmas.”

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -Fox Radio CBS Sports Radio Advertisement

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -Fox Radio CBS Sports Radio Advertisement

Related Articles