Quad Cities Chamber Unveils 2017 Legislative Priorities
Focus on Economic Growth and a Business-Friendly Climate
(Quad Cities) – A business friendly climate, investment in infrastructure, support for economic growth, and investment in education and workforce top the list of issues the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce will push with legislators in 2017.
“We’ve met with hundreds of area business leaders and economic development professionals in the past year, and the legislative priorities we’ve set forth are those that business leaders believe will facilitate job creation and strengthen the business environment in our bi-state region,” says Tara Barney, CEO, Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber has set forth a comprehensive package of priorities addressing local, state and federal levels of government. Barney notes that each level of government plays a role in making policy decisions that impact the vitality of the business environment in the region.
“The Chamber enjoys working closely with our elected officials to advance policy that strengthens and grows the region,” says Barney. “Businesses value and rely on the Chamber to bring private and public sector leaders together to develop action plans around our shared goals for economic and community development.”
State of Illinois Priorities
The Quad Cities Chamber is urging Illinois lawmakers to approve a responsible budget including: tackling pension reform to improve the Illinois business climate and foster economic growth through renewal of enterprise zone by creating a Quad Cities River Edge Redevelopment Zone for eligibility of Historic Tax Credits. The Chamber is also asking leaders to support workforce development and to reform school funding to ensure equal funding per student statewide and fully fund higher education and tuition aid, including MAP Grants.
“The Chamber is proposing solutions to help improve Illinois’ competitive business climate, such as stabilizing the state budget, addressing pension reform, changes to workers’ compensation, and investment in transportation and infrastructure,” says Barney. “Most important, we hope our legislators acknowledge that current public employee pension systems are unsustainable and will pass strong pension reforms to curb excessive long-term costs to residential and commercial taxpayers,” Barney continued.
State of Iowa Priorities
The Chamber is seeking help from Iowa lawmakers to support workforce development and education, support important economic development tools and growth opportunities, and to enhance transportation connections between the Quad Cities and the rest of Iowa.
Barney and others are encouraging the General Assembly to grow Iowa’s economy by supporting funding for the High Quality Jobs program, preserve TIF and other incentives for local governments, provide sustained funding for Enhance Iowa initiatives and to remove or raise the cap on product sales for micro-distilleries. In addition, the Chamber has also prioritized changing the education funding formula to ensure equal funding per student and allowing for schools to spend into their cash reserves.
The Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce is asking Congress and the Administration to build confidence in the U.S. economy by putting policies in place to spur economic growth. The Chamber is urging lawmakers to strengthen long-term energy production and access, invest in transportation and infrastructure, enact trade policies that provide access to foreign markets ensuring U.S. businesses are not disadvantaged, and support the growing Quad Cities defense industry.
“The defense industry in the Quad Cities has a significant impact on our local economy,” says Barney. “The Rock Island Arsenal is the largest local employer in the region and provides $1.7 billion in economic impact annually. The region’s defense industry is a compilation of public and private manufacturing, logistics, training and technical service entities, all coming together to support our nation’s security. The defense industry in the Quad Cities is significant not only to our local economy, but to our national security,” Barney continued.
Advocacy in Action
In 2016, the Quad Cities Chamber was successful in advancing several key legislative priorities including the recent signing of the Future Energy Jobs Bill, extending and securing funding for passenger rail, and REAL ID in Illinois; and in Iowa, the successful passing of historic tax credit reform.
“Over the years, the advocacy power of thousands of companies acting as one through the Quad Cities Chamber has resulted in many community priorities gaining substantial support from the local, state and federal governments. Presenting a unified voice on what is needed to support business and community development has been exceedingly effective,” says Barney.
The Quad Cities Chamber is hosting a series of events to put business members in touch with area lawmakers. Legislative Lunches in Iowa will be held on January 20 and March 10, with Illinois Legislative Lunches slated for February 17 and April 10. The Chamber will host its annual Quad Cities Day in Des Moines Feb. 8-9 and Springfield March 15-16. The Chamber will lead a delegation of business and civic leaders to D.C. to meet with congressional and federal leaders April 26-28.
For more information and to learn about the Chamber's 2017 policy priorities visit QuadCitiesChamber.com/member-resources/public-policy
About: The Quad Cities Chamber is a champion for business and community growth in the region.