Virginia State Council

Honorary Chair: Governor Terry McAuliffe


Jason Heckathorn, CEO, Forever Oceans Corporation

Susan Jennings, President, Virginia Forest Products Association

Alex Nyerges, Director, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Wayne Pryor, President, Virginia Farm Bureau

Mark Treadaway, Vice President of Business Outreach, Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority

David White, Vice President
Virginia Maritime Association

Dawson Williams, Director of Sales and Logistics, Turkey Knob Growers

Dr. Richard Wokutch, Professor, Virginia Tech Pamplin Business School

Dr. Van Wood, Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University

Ross Butler, President & CEO, Wanchese Seafood

Tom Capozzi, Chief Commercial Officer, Port of Virginia

Zandra Chestnut, Nature's Friends

Henry Chiles, Owner, Crown Orchard

Dr. Greg Fairchild, Professor, UVA Darden School of Business

Katie Frazier, President, Virginia Agribusiness Council

Jeffrey Ganthner, Mid-Atlantic Manager, Burns & McDonnell

David Glaize, Glaize Packing

Phil Glaize III, Vice President, Glaize Packing

Basil Gooden, Secretary, Virginia Department of Agriculture & Forestry

Joe Haggerty, President & CEO, Alexandria Chamber of Commerce

Todd Haymore, Secretary, Virginia Department of Commerce & Trade


“After a half-century of hostilities and 13 months of detente, U.S.-Cuban business relations are at a moment of tantalizing promise and stomach-churning doubt. Stone, like others on the three-day trade mission that Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) led last week, came away from the encounter keenly interested though not entirely smitten. With the winds of history seemingly at their backs -- and a well-connected governor in their corner -- they returned to Virginia intent on pushing ahead, however warily, with their Cuban courtship.” 



Virginia's port authority will become the first U.S. port operator to sign a cooperation agreement with its Cuban counterpart, in an effort to increase trade and establish direct service with Cuba, Virginia's governor said on Monday. "We are going to sign an agreement tomorrow between the Port of Mariel and our Port of Virginia which will be a strategic alliance," Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe said during a three-day trip to the Communist-run island. McAuliffe is the fourth U.S. governor to visit Cuba since both countries announced they would work to normalize relations just over a year ago. 


wtop: Va. Gov. McAuliffe heads to Cuba to announce export deals

“Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe was headed in Cuba Sunday for a four-day visit expected to include the announcements of several export deals for Virginia products. ‘Ninety-five percent of the world’s customers live outside the United States of America, so I go where the customers are,’ McAuliffe said.”


Ciber Cuba: Desde gran puerto Norfolk, Virginia podría comerciar directamente con Cuba

[Translated]: “The agreement is the first of its kind, signed by an American operator with the Cuban Port Authorities with the intent of creating a relationship of direct commercial exchange between the bases [i.e. Norfolk and Havana].”



Virginia’s exports to Cuba shot up to $42 million last year, allowing the commonwealth to leap past four other states to become the island’s largest source for U.S. agricultural products. Sales to Cuba were up 67 percent in 2015 over the previous year, a spike that Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) said was the result of more than a decade of outreach efforts. Virginia producers sold Cuba $42 million in agricultural products, all of it soybeans and soybean meal for use in animal feed. That was up from $25 million in 2014, but still below the $66 million peak that Virginia-Cuba trade hit in 2012.



A top Cuban trade official recently spent three days in Virginia meeting with business and government leaders eager to capi­tal­ize on normalizing relations between the United States and the island nation just off its shores. The meetings wrapped up a week ago, just as the Obama administration rolled out regulatory changes aimed at liberalizing trade, banking and travel policies. The trade talks went beyond the agricultural products that Virginia has sold to Cuba for more than a decade under rules loosened to allow exports of food and medicine for humanitarian reasons.






Q101-Norfolk/ESPN Harrisonburg: Virginia leaders launch Engage Cuba State Council

Several Virginia leaders from across the Commonwealth joined a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group entitled Engage Cuba to launch the bipartisan Engage Cuba Virginia State Council. At a press conference Monday, they explained how lifting the U.S. embargo on Cuba could strengthen Virginia’s top export industries, create jobs across the state and help improve the lives of Cuban people. Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore said to effect positive change so that Virginia is not only known as the number one exporter of poultry and forestry products to Cuba in 2015, but we are also known as a state that wanted to engage Cuba even more, and expand those opportunities even more, whether it’s healthcare, IT, manufacturing. Obviously the possibilities, we believe, are limitless. Governor Terry McAuliffe will serve as the honorary chairman of the council.


Politico Morning Trade: Virginia sets its sights on Cuba


Leading lawmakers in the state of Virginia are taking steps forward to try to boost economic engagement and commerce with Cuba. Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced on Monday the launch of the Engage Cuba Virginia State Council, a group designed to build statewide support for pro-Cuba legislation and to push members of Congress to continue former President Barack Obama’s efforts to lift the economic embargo against the island nation. McAuliffe will become the honorary chairman of the group, which Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine welcomed. ”I’m honored to serve as honorary chair of the newly announced Engage Cuba Virginia State Council, an important step in continuing our efforts to lift the embargo against Cuba and promote mutually beneficial trade between the Commonwealth and Cuba,” McAuliffe said in a statement accompanying the announcement.


Augusta Free Press: Virginia leaders launch Engage Cuba State Council

Leaders from across the Commonwealth launched on Monday the bipartisan Engage Cuba Virginia State Council. The council, which is chaired by Governor Terry McAuliffe (D-VA), will build statewide support for pro-engagement policies and urge Congress to lift the Cuban embargo that continues to disadvantage Virginia and the Cuban people. Removing trade restrictions on Cuba could open opportunities for Virginia businesses and empower the Cuban people. Virginia becomes the 16th state to join Engage Cuba, a D.C.-based advocacy organization dedicated to advancing federal legislation to lift the Cuban embargo. “Increasing trade with Cuba, a growing market of 11 million people, could strengthen Virginia’s agriculture, port, and other top export industries, create jobs across the Commonwealth, and help improve the lives of Cuban people. But until Congress lifts arbitrary travel and trade restrictions, Virginia farmers and businesses will be stuck on the sidelines as foreign competitors move into Cuba’s emerging markets,” said James Williams President of Engage Cuba. 

Prensa Latina/Radio Cadena Agramonte: New US State Council Created to Promote Links with Cuba

Leaders of the state of Virginia launched today a bipartisan state council to promote ties with Cuba and urge Congress to lift its blockade against the island. The initiative, named the Engage Cuba Virginia State Council, is headed by Governor Terry McAuliffe and seeks to eliminate trade restrictions imposed on Cuba to open bilateral opportunities. With this event, Virginia becomes the sixteenth state to join Engage Cuba, an organization based in the capital that is dedicated to promoting legislative action to end the economic, commercial and financial blockade. According to McAuliffe, he is honored to serve as honorary chairman of the newly announced council, an important step in efforts to lift restrictions and promote mutually beneficial trade between the Commonwealth of Virginia and Cuba. He pointed out that his state enjoys an exceptionally positive economic relationship with Cuba, including having been the territory with the largest volume of agricultural exports to the island in 2015. However, our businesses are hampered by more than 50 years of failed policies of economic and political isolation, he said.


“Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced that Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the University of Havana allowing both institutions to work together to develop cooperative programs in a variety of academic disciplines studied at both institutions." 








Virginia's Champions

Governor Terry McAuliffe (D)

Governor Terry McAuliffe (D)

Senator Tim Kaine (D) Co-Sponsor of S 299 Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2015

Senator Tim Kaine (D)

Co-Sponsor of S 299 Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2015

Senator Mark Warner (D) Co-Sponsor of S 299 Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2015

Senator Mark Warner (D)

Co-Sponsor of S 299 Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2015

Congressman Don Beyer (D) Co-Sponsor of H.R. 442 Cuba Trade Act of 2017 and H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act  

Congressman Don Beyer (D)

Co-Sponsor of H.R. 442 Cuba Trade Act of 2017 and H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act


Congressman Tom Garrett (R) Co-Sponsor of H.R. 442 Cuba Trade Act of 2017 and H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act