From B/CS to DC: Chamber Delegation Arrives

It was a long day of travel, but Bryan and College Station's leaders hope their latest trip to Washington DC will be well worth it.

As they have seven times before, congressional and Senate leaders are about to be courted by local officials with a full agenda.

At 5:30 a.m. Monday, more than 30 local leaders bid B/CS farewell, and via Houston, began their journey to the nation's capital. It's a trip these delegates are paying for out of their own pocket.

"You can't say enough about the dedication, because not only do they take the time out of it, but they put money into it," said Dena Gaskin with the Chamber of Commerce. "They put their own time into it. They're taking time out of their businesses to go with us."

And while three dozen men and women representing the Chamber may look like a massive business trip, in fact, their mission is to benefit not just their own enterprises, but rather, each and every citizen.

"It's taken seven or eight years of coming up here consecutively with the same consistent message and see the fruits of our labor through actual changes in legislation to realize that, when we do come up here, it does make a difference," said Jerry Fox with First National Bank.

The process of putting together an agenda to take to DC takes the better part of a year, and involves asking people with numerous perspectives.

"We surveyed members. We go and talk to key parties such as the cities, the counties," Gaskin said. "We meet with any individual that would like to mee with us about any issue that they're seeing."

One of those issues is workforce development, an immediate and future need based on business growth in the region. One point of emphasis will be on finding funds for a vocational skills training institute that could find roots at Blinn College.

Workforce challenges throughout the Texas Triangle are growing, and business needs are certainly rising in places like Texas A&M's Research Park, where Harold Strong works.

"We have low unemployment, but it's under employment," he explained, "so if we can get more opportunities in our communities, that'll allow a lot of folks to do a lot better in where they are in their current situation."

The delegation will rest not five blocks from the White House, but Capitol Hill will be their target Tuesday. Monday may have been their earliest start for them, but Tuesday could be the longest day, as they have a bevy of meetings, including two in the afternoon with Senators John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison.


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