Chamber members and other southwest Iowa residents this week had the opportunity to pick the brains of those representing them in Des Moines.
The event, held via Zoom, was sponsored by the Professional Developers of Iowa. The group, 300 members strong, is comprised of economic and community developers and their associated partners, according to Drew Kamp, president and CEO of the Council Bluffs Area Chamber of Commerce, who serves on its executive committee.
Joining the session were Sens. Dan Dawson, Tom Shipley and Jason Schultz, as well as Reps. David Sieck, Charlie McConkey, Jon Jacobsen and Rep.-elect Brent Siegrist.
Kamp noted the importance of these sessions, as the Chamber is a vital advocacy agent for the people it serves.
“It’s one of the pillars of our organization,” Kamp said of advocacy. “So it’s really important that you are lobbying and advocating at the local level with the city council, the school board, the board of supervisors; and then up to the county, state level and even federal government.
“… It’s really, really important that we are able to provide these services to our members. Our state legislature does a lot of different things that impact us positively or negatively, and the most important thing is that we have a voice and we have representation with how those things are done.”
Topics covered included, but weren’t limited to: recovery and resiliency during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and other natural disasters, infrastructure needs, the state’s tax climate and economic incentives, workforce development and education.
Conversation was also generated about an economic development package recently passed in the Nebraska Unicameral.
“We wanted to make sure that was something our representatives and senators were aware of, because a lot of times we will be competing directly with them (Nebraska), and it’s important we know what their incentives are and how they compare and compete with ours.”
Kamp said a similar roundtable-type Zoom session will likely be held sometime after the new Iowa Legislature session kicks off in early January. He added that the meetings are equally as important and useful for representatives as they are for constituents.
After all, their job is to represent and reflect the interests of voters who put them in office, Kamp said.
“It’s something they really appreciate; they love when chambers and other groups have their finger on the pulse of their communities and regions,” he said. “We are very engaged with them — they come to us all the time at the Capitol.”
The Chamber’s leader chalked the meeting up as a success, noting he felt representatives’ enthusiasm about returning to the states capital.