Chamber Members Voice Concerns

| September 14, 2015

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VALDOSTA — Valdosta- Chamber members let their voices be heard on Tuesday, September 8 at Colquitt EMC. The Government Affairs Council listened to a host of business development issues important to membership including economic development and tax issues, support for the Arts as an economic development strategy, and local transportation improvement.

Bruce Allred, Chairman of the GAC says, “These meetings are very important to the GAC; we not only hear what the issues are, but also the why. This helps us develop our Legislative Agenda with the information we need to successfully present our members concerns in an informed manner.”

What affects business in Valdosta and Lowndes County is of the upmost importance to the Chamber and its members. Up for discussion was: Economic Development through the funding of Invest Georgia and its capital access program, the concept of an Inland Port and what that would mean to local logistics and manufacturing companies, and the NLRB Browning-Ferris ruling which negatively affects franchise owners and temporary employment agencies. Local hoteliers have voiced concern over an additional five dollar per day surcharge on hotel rooms included in last-minute funding decisions regarding the newly implemented Transportation Bill.

Opportunity School Districts will be brought forward on a referendum in 2016. Members urged the Chamber to educate the community about this upcoming issue and to support Opportunity School Districts. Support of the Arts as an economic development strategy was brought to the Council’s attention. Georgia ranks 50th in the US in spending for the Arts. That is only six cents per capita in Georgia, while states like Florida send an average of two dollars per person.

Transportation is a common concern with Chamber members. The Chamber was asked to support funding for the Federal Highway Trust Fund as well as a Downtown Truck By-Pass for Valdosta, which affects existing business and the further development of the district. Trucks have reportedly been as issue for sidewalk safety as well as traffic.

This meeting provided Chamber members with a platform to voice their concerns and opinions regarding local, state, and federal legislation that may have an impact on their businesses. Chamber members were encouraged to present any issues they would like the Chamber to support or oppose.

The Council will take the input received during this semi-annual activity under advisement and make recommendations to the Chamber Board of Directors, which will determine the Chamber’s stance. The information presented guides the Chamber’s legislative agenda and helps to determine support for future legislation. The Chamber supports strong business practices and encourages citizens to actively participate in the voting process on Tuesday, November 3, 2015.

In addition to Members To Be Heard, which is a platform intended for its members, the Chamber engages the community at large, encouraging citizens to vote for legislators and practices that will support the local economy. The Chamber President’s Partners, along with co-sponsors the Home Builders Association of South Georgia and the Valdosta Board of REALTORS®, invite all citizens to Meet The Candidates on September 29 from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Valdosta City Hall Annex. Meet The Candidates is a free opportunity for voters to meet the candidates for municipal-level offices in the November 3 election face-to-face and to hear a brief platform presentation from those seeking election.

Valdosta Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce

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