Why Join the Chamber: Political Action
Few businesses have enough of a budget to warrant a personal lobbyist to speak on their behalf at the state capital and in Washington, D.C. but it’s those exact small voices that need the representation. How do you ensure your business is represented when it needs to be without keeping a full-time lobbyist or legislative assistant on board? You join the chamber. But what exactly are they doing for you and how are they representing your business? Here are a few things that you should know. Shaping the Future of Business Your local chamber is using its voice at the local, state, and federal level to support pro-business initiatives. They give input on bills, support the election and re-election of candidates that are pro-business, and rally against legislation that would hurt business. Tackling the Tough Issues Pro-business forces were part of the reason that the Overtime Ruling was placed on hold. Yes, the ultimate say came to a Federal judge placing a temporary injunction on it, but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business organizations had voiced their concerns about what that would mean for small businesses across the nation. Educating Voters The chamber supports pro-business candidates, when applicable, and often hosts Get to Know the Candidate nights so that the electorate can make an informed decision. These events are usually free to the public and may offer some rare opportunities to explore how each candidate feels about issues such as minimum wage, taxation, and other business concerns. Whenever possible we invite our members to networking events that help them meet and engage with elected officials and candidates in order for their voice to be heard on a more personal level outside of our advocacy efforts. Creates Business-Friendly Environments Another reason why pro-business candidates are important is their abilities to make our community a more attractive place to live and work. These office holders and agencies work hard to attract new business and ensure our community has the skilled employees and pro-business climate that attracts lucrative tax-paying organizations. Assessing Today’s Workforce and Preparing for Tomorrow’s In 2015, the U.S. Census Bureau made it official that Gen Y now outnumbers the Baby Boomer generation. As the Boomers continue to retire, it is essential that we look to the needs of business in our community and ensure that the younger generation has access to the training they need to be competitive in today’s professional environment. The chamber meets with business development agencies and heads of business to ensure this happens. We cannot expect it to happen organically. The chamber acts as a bridge between education and employment in ensuring the two sides understand what one another needs and they get the necessary help to continue to make our community attractive to employers and all sizes of business. Sometimes this takes the form of legislation and mandating requirements. Advocating on Healthcare Issues Too When you think about pro-business, you might not consider healthcare in the mix but it’s a big part of creating an attractive business environment. The chamber is keeping an eye on healthcare related legislation as well. We also watch things like Workers’ Compensation costs. Advocating for the Legislative Agenda In addition to keeping an eye on what’s going on locally, at the state level, and in DC, we create our own legislative agenda with issues that are important to our members. While we advocate for all businesses in our town and look to create a pro-business environment, it is our members whose voice gets heard the loudest by participating in our legislative agenda and helping us define out top advocacy priorities. If you feel like Washington and the state level just aren’t hearing you or you’re concerned with a local issue, the best way to get your voice heard is through the advocacy efforts of the chamber. We can provide an extraordinarily loud megaphone. Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog. She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.