The Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce is getting ready to make its annual trip to Washington, D.C. However, this year, the trip will put them at the nation’s capitol on March 1st, which is being called Sequestration Day.
“It might be a disaster,” Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber, Tara Barney, told News 8 on Friday, February 22nd, 2013. “It might be a glorious moment.”
Either way, nearly 35 delegates from the Chamber will be in D.C. during a transformational time in our country. Tara says the timing of the trip has not changed their priorities, only the way they approach them.
“We’ll have a chance to engage not only with our delegation, but with congressional leaders from around the country so it’ll be a chance to really communicate on behalf of the region,” says Tara. “We have some business that have significant messages to communicate so they’ll tell their stories to Congress.”
Headlining those stories is the Rock Island Arsenal. Under the proposed $85 billion in federal spending cuts for the remainder of the federal government’s fiscal year, non-combat military may have to take one furlough day a week.
“That’s thousands of people that are civilians that would be basically taking a 20% pay cut in their salary and that will immediately affect what they will spend money on or don’t spend money on,” says Tara.
In addition, the private-public partnerships the Arsenal has committed to could be at risk.
“One has to credit the Arsenal for being fairly entrepreneurial, ” says Tara. “They have been approaching it very creatively, being very business-like, and had great support from the Army to do so, so to have a lack of leadership by Congress challenge this work is, of course, frustrating, but more important than being frustrating, it can have a real economic impact on our region and on the country.”
Just last week, Policom – a firm that analyzes the economic strength of communities across the country – showed wages have increased in the Quad City Area – a trend the firm calls “very impressive.”
“Our families and the people who hold jobs here are holding jobs that are more competitive in the world economy now and that is a sign of prosperity for our region,” says Tara.
A sign delegates plan to bring with them to D.C. – to prove that leaders can work together across state and party lines, whether it’s a bridge, an army base, or the Mighty Mississippi itself.
“The work in the heart of this country could be replicated very effectively and we will encourage our congressional partners to give that some thought.”
Other items on the Chamber’s agenda include pushing the federal government to pass a transportation act to move the I-74 Bridge Corridor Project forward, building air service and rail in the region, and working with the Department of Commerce to create manufacturing innovation regions throughout the country – the Quad Cities being one of them.