Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Chamber's 48 Hours in DC

In just 48 hours, the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber delegation attending this year’s Washington-to-Washington, DC Conference found a path to success for several of its highest value issues.                                 
                                                                                                              < Part of the "A" Team of delegates in D.C.

To do so, the volunteers in the Chamber’s delegation met in 22 meetings with officials from the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, Association of the United States Army, Economic Development Administration, Departments of Labor and Transportation, Army Medical Command, other agency staff and congressional members representing districts from one end of our state to the other.

The Chamber delegation of 23 was comprised of business leaders ranging from CEOs of corporations to family-owned businesses and civic officials from the Port of Tacoma, UWT, Lakewood, Tacoma Public Utilities and Pierce County.

Transportation, the No. 1issue of Chamber members; Associate Administrator David Kim of the Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Policy and Government Affairs met with us to discuss the continued need for funding of the SR 167 extension and congestion on I-5 near JBLM.

At the Economic Development Administration, the delegation learned of several grant programs available for potential innovation programs in the area from clean water technology to cyber security.  EDA officials noted that the five proposals from Washington State for i6 innovation grants were all better than the winning recipients from the other regions.  They encouraged the community to focus on EDA’s quarterly grant program.

The Army and Air Force separately met with the group to discuss continued budgeting for elementary schools on JBLM, traffic solutions for I-5 congestion, continued funding for on-base wastewater treatment, and developing solutions for social services for military families.  Of particular interest was information about the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s interest in solving military Clear Zone encroachment.

Similarly, a conference with the U.S. Army Medical Command pointed to ways to continue the Tacoma Trauma Trust and the opportunity for a MAMC community clinic for servicemembers and families within Tacoma.

Meetings with Congressmen Norm Dicks, Adam Smith, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Jaime Herrera Buetler and Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and Cong. Dave Reichert, Rick Larsen and Sen. Mark Begich’s staff, produced discussions on transportation, defense, JBLM’s Clear Zone, infrastructure and business initiatives for an improved environment through on LNG fuel and other technologies.

The conference sponsors were The Boeing Company, Comcast, Harborstone Credit Union, Murray Pacific, Port of Tacoma, Schnitzer, TOTE and Waste Connections.

The conference was effective and positive for not only sharing our concerns and viewpoints with our elected representatives, public officials and military leaders, but also developing relationships with one another.  Because of the consistent messaging during the meetings, delegates were actually able to support other delegates’ issues with officials.

The conference highlight was a panel discussion on federal policies and politics led by Ken Lundberg, Principal at Sixth Street Group public relations.  The panel of national pundits including Jeff Bjornstad, Washington2 Advocates; Jamie Dupree, Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group; John Feehery, President of Quinn Gillespie Communications; and Jim Manley, Senior Director of QGA Public Affairs.

Some of the members of the delegation concluded their visit to Washington, D.C. by attending Congressman Adam Smith’s Ninth District Day where they heard from a number of policymakers and lawmakers including U.S. Senator John McCain.

A special thank you to Congressman Adam Smith and his staff for their work in making this conference a success.

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