For two days, a procession of Owensboro and Daviess County officials made their presence known in Washington D.C.
The fly-by-night visit — April 10-12 — was led by Owensboro Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Candance Brake and included Judge-Executive Al Mattingly, Mayor Tom Watson and Rob Barnett, Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport director, among various business leaders and officials from the city and county.
According to Brake, the visit was positive.
“It was a successful trip as far as we had some great meetings,” she said. “We may not know the outcome for a year or two, but it is important to lay the groundwork.”
These lobbying delegations from the city and county are vital to ensure the success of current and future projects, especially when everyone has a unified voice, Watson said.
“It is great when the judge and the mayor of a community are there together and speak with the same voice,” he said. “It lets our federal delegates know we are on the same page, that is a big deal to have both positions there to share ideas jointly..”
In their two days, the chamber delegation met with Sen. Mitch McConnell, Sen. Rand Paul, Indiana Sen. Mike Braun as well as the U.S Chamber of Commerce and U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Mattingly said.
“They always treat us cordially; we had good visits with all of them,” he said. “It was a fast trip, but it was a good trip; we got to meet with a lot of movers and shakers in Washington. Our attempts to talk to our own federal delegation and remind them that we are on the map is vital in getting money for projects that are necessary. Had we not been there last year to discuss the riverport and the highway, I’m not sure that we would have gotten the grant. We are effectively acting as lobbyists when we go up there.”
Watson the group discussed everything from money for highway projects, grants for substance abuse and addiction programs, the mid-state corridor and successes with OCTC’s workforce development plan as well as the high school dual credit pilot program, something that garnered positive attention.
“They were excited about what we are trying to do,” he said. “Candance and her group work very hard to make sure that the time is effective up there and that we are able to tell our stories. It was the most accessible trip we have had in three years.”
While the wheels of politics move slowly, but the regions federal delegates know what the county and city are doing to improve the lives of its citizens and region, Brake said.
“This is part of what we (the chamber) do for advocacy,” she said. “Not just for our chamber members, but the community as a whole. The more successful our community is, our membership is, which stimulates our regional economy, it is a win-win.”