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LIVE BLOG: Memphis Delegation Visits Washington D.C.


At the Greater Memphis Chamber, we work year round to advocate for issues that will help Memphis grow, allow small businesses to be successful and to provide a high quality of life for everyone in Memphis. We will be in Washington D.C. this week to meet with Senators and Congressman to talk about issues that are important to the Memphis business community. We brought some of our members and business leaders along as we work to maintain great relationships with our elected officials and provide a face to the people impacted by these laws.

I'll be keeping you updated on what's happing here in DC in the live blog below, but you can also follow along on our Twitter account (@memphischamber) as well as our Instagram Stories (also @memphischamber). Or check out the hashtag #MEM2DC. The most recent update will be at the top, and you can scroll down to the bottom to read them in chronological order.

- Jenny Fish, Online Marketing Manager, Greater Memphis Chamber




Wednesday, March 22, 2017, 3:30 PM

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Our last meeting of the day was with Senator Lamar Alexander. Once again we really pushed our top priorities from our federal legislative agenda:
 
#1 Transportation & Infrastructure - advocating for major road priorities that will effectively improve transportation and logistics-related connectivity for goods, services and people to the Tennessee and Memphis region, including the Lamar Avenue/I-22 project.
 
#2 Trade & Investment - advocating for trade agreements which will sustain America's dominance in the global economy, specifically as it pertains to our Metro Memphis Export Alliance.
 
Other topics discussed include workforce and training, early childhood education and healthcare.


 
Wednesday, March 22, 2017, 2:45 PM EST

 
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We took the underground senate car to our next meeting with Senator Bob Corker where we had a great discussion on the Metro Memphis Export Alliance. The alliance is a strategy to grow export value by 3% over 5 years; this represents about $174 million and roughly 975 new jobs.
 
Health care is top-of-mind here at the Capitol with everyone anticipating the upcoming vote. Our members shared their concerns and desires for any upcoming reforms. And as always - we reiterated our desire for funding improvements to Lamar Avenue.
 
Now we are waiting to see Senator Lamar Alexander. I've been enjoying all of the different office decor of our Representatives and Senators. (I've also enjoyed the M&Ms that have been in ALL of the offices.)
 
Wednesday, March 22, 2017, 1:30 PM

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A vote was taking place in the House, so we met Representative Steve Cohen outside the Democratic Cloak Room for our next discussion. The side-trip was perfect because it allowed me to see so much of our Capitol. I wish I could have taken more pictures - but I may or may not have gotten in trouble for having my camera out.
 
We talked with Rep. Cohen more about progress for Lamar funding as well as our work with the Supplier Diversity Collaborative on increasing receipts for Minority & Women-Owned Business Enterprises.
 
The representatives from member Servicemaster also had the opportunity to share about the innovation center they are building in Peabody Place.
 
Rep. Cohen also was kind enough to show me the Rayburn Reception Room where I got a glimpse of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
 
After the meeting we took a detour through the Old Hall of the House and tested out its excellent acoustics and then headed to the rotunda and took in the amazing architecture and the breathtaking Apotheosis of Washington. I could get lost in all the details. See more on Twitter and our Instagram Stories!


 
Heading to the Capitol Building for more meetings!

 
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Wednesday, March 22, 2017, 11:30 AM EST 

 
 
On our way to Representative Marsha Blackburn's office, I got to see firsthand the D.C. underground tunnel system. It was fascinating traveling from building to building without ever stepping foot outside.

At Rep. Blackburn's office, we wanted to thank her for supporting our FASTLANE grant application to fund improvements to Lamar Avenue last year, and also to get her insights for efforts for the upcoming year.

The best part was seeing our members have the opportunity to bring up regulatory issues that are specifically affecting their business. Our Public Policy department works hard to make sure the voice of business in Memphis is heard and to connect our members to the legislative officials making decisions that affect their growth.


 
Wednesday, March 22, 2017, 10:30 AM EST

 
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Our first meeting of the day with Representative David Kustoff. He represents Tennessee's 8th Congressional District, which covers parts of East Memphis, Shelby County and Northwest Tennessee. He serves as a member of the Financial Services committee as well as the subcommittees: Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit, Oversight and Investigations, and Terrorism and Illicit Finance.
 
As a graduate of White Station High School, University of Memphis and the Cecil Humphreys School of Law, he expressed his desire to see Memphis succeed. He also shared his priorities regarding tax reform, including simplifying the code and bringing rates down.
 
We shared our priorities for growing middle class jobs and helping citizens be job-ready. We ended our time emphasizing our number one transportation priority for infrastructure improvements to Lamar Avenue. Currently, it's a major challenge to businesses that operate in the Lamar corridor, including loss of travel time, delays and damaged freight. We're working collaboratively with our Senators and Representatives, both Mayors, the Tennessee Department of Transportation and our business leaders to push for funding to redevelop this runway.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017, 9:30 AM EST  
 
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Members Medtronic and Smith & Nephew invited us to the Life Science Tennessee Legislative Breakfast this morning where Tennessee Senator Bob Corker and Representatives Diane Black, Marsha Blackburn, and Phil Roe stopped by for a discussion on health care reform efforts and their impacts on the life science industry. As you know, life sciences is a critical industry for Memphis as well as the state of Tennessee, contributing to over 40,000 jobs and 1,275 businesses. The average wage is $83,000 per year.
 
My favorite part was hearing Representative (and Dr.) Phil Roe reflect about his time on rotation at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. He could not say enough about the incredible people and the work they do to end childhood cancer. Life science companies like St. Jude, Medtronic, Smith & Nephew and so many others not only contribute to the Memphis economy, but their work impacts the world. At the Chamber, we want to support legislation that helps these organizations grow so that their impact can increase.
 
Wednesday, March 22, 2017 - 8:10 AM EST

 
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Before our busy day of meetings start, we took a moment to snap some pictures in front of the Capitol and the Supreme Court Building. Today's schedule includes a legislative breakfast with Life Sciences Tennessee, meetings with Representatives and Senators and - possibly - a walk through the underground tunnel system. Our Instagram Stories captures it all on video. 
 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 - 4:30 PM EST

 
 
I just touched down in Washington and caught up with my coworkers and our members who have been in meetings all day being briefed on some of the top national issues that affect Memphis. I was happy to see that in between discussions on health care and transportation, they were able to stop and take a picture in front of the White House lawn. Hopefully, I'll get to see it myself tomorrow!

 
 
After their early morning flight, the delegtion met with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for a briefing on issues such as education, workforce, health care and trade. Our primary focus at the Chamber is providing economic opportunities for everyone and these issues are important to making that happen.

 

 
 
Also on the schedule for today was a meeting with the Coalition for America's Gateways and Trade Corridors (CAGTC). We had a great discussion about partnering to improve trade corridors like Lamar Avenue. The CAGTC believes that our region plays a critical role in the nation's freight network and included US-78 / SR-4 / Lamar Avenue on their list of top infrastructure priorities.

So far my first impression of our nation's capital is that it's full of so much beauty and architecture and history, but the traffic is insane! (I guess Memphis has me spoiled.) Be sure to check back in frequently tomorrow as I follow along on meetings with our Congressman and Senators. See you then!

- Jenny Fish
Posted: 3/21/2017 10:47:44 AM | with 0 comments
Filed under: PublicPolicy




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