Friday, May 6, 2011

Tri-state economic leaders visit Washington to support I-69 and energy policy

A delegation of chamber of commerce and economic development executives from Henderson, Southwest Indiana, and Owensboro visited Washington, D.C. earlier this week to push for federal help with Interstate 69 funding more job-friendly energy regulations, and responsible fiscal policy,

Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce President Jody Wassmer and EDC President Nick Brake joined Henderson-Henderson County Chamber of Commerce President Brad Schneider, Chamber of Commerce of Southwestern Indiana President & CEO Matt Meadors, Chamber of Commerce of Southwest Indiana Board Chairman Jeff Deig and Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana President Greg Wathen to make the trip.

On Tuesday, May 3 the group was briefed on the status of energy, workforce and transportation legislation by U.S. Chamber of Commerce policy experts , then attended meetings with Kentucky congressmen Ed Whitfield and Brett Guthrie, Indiana Congressman Larry Bucshon, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell and Indiana Senator Richard Lugar. On Wednesday, May 4 the delegation met with Indiana Senator Dan Coats and also got a briefing on transportation issues from staff members of the Coalition for America's Gateways and Trade Corridors.

"I-69 and energy are two of the most significant large-scale economic issues the communities of the Tri-State share in common," Henderson Chamber's Brad Schneider said. "So it's important that we take a regional approach to advocacy efforts on those subjects. The lawmakers we visited appreciated that and encouraged us to continue to work together."

Brake said the feedback from lawmakers was similar in each meeting. "We delivered a powerful message about how our region works together," he said.

"They all support the construction of I-69 in Indiana and Kentucky, and they all understand the importance of a new bridge to link the two states," said Wassmer. "Funding is the problem, especially with the debate about the budget deficit now under way in Washington and the reauthorization of the federal highways bill still in limbo. But we hope our lawmakers can help get the I-69 bridge in the bill in some form or fashion, and in our meetings we discussed some ways that could happen."

"As for energy, all the legislators we met with are dedicated to reign in unreasonable EPA regulations that threaten not only coal and power producers in our region but all the manufacturers and other businesses that rely on our relatively low energy prices. We told them we wholeheartedly support them."

This is the second straight year area chamber and EDC officials have travelled together to Washington to tout I-69, energy policy, and responsible fiscal policy.