An Update on Business Advocacy

June 19, 2020Doug Williamson, Director of Governmental Affairs

It’s been a very business time lately.

Your Governmental Affairs team took on several parts of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce’s COVID-19 response for local businesses.

In addition, we engaged a variety of lawmakers, making sure the needs of Abilene business are understood and solutions are presented.

We are beginning to look toward the next session of the State Legislature in January. We are listening to a variety of business constituencies on their needs before we develop the Chamber’s Legislative Agenda.

You can add onto that our regular duties of monitoring meetings of the Abilene City Council, Abilene ISD Board, Taylor County Commissioners Court, Wylie ISD Board, the city’s Planning & Zoning Committee and other groups.

We helped organize and present a two-hour workshop aimed at helping smaller chambers around the state better advocate for the business issues in their communities. More than 100 people signed up for the session. Doug Peters, our President and CEO, is Vice President of Governmental Affairs for the Texas Chamber of Commerce Executives organization.

Let’s get back to COVID-19, a topic most of us would like to forget.

In March, when restrictions hit, we took on the task of trying to explain them, but even more importantly to find answers to your questions. We worked closely with City Manager Robert Hanna, the Governor’s Office, our state legislators (Sen. Dawn Buckingham and Rep. Stan Lambert) and David Smith, who heads the Texas Tech University Small Business Development Center here in Abilene to get the right answers. As you know, for weeks it was a fluid situation. The right answer on Monday was the wrong answer on Wednesday. We tried to stay on top of it all the way.

Chamber Communications Director Laurin Kocurek created www.businessresourceabilene.com, where all the questions and answers went, along with the latest articles, checklist, links to financial resources, etc. reside.

We convened small groups of Chamber members to participate in a group of virtual meetings with elected officials. Some were organized by us, others by the U.S. Chamber or the Texas Association of Business. Among the lawmakers were U.S. Sens. John Cornyn, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio (Florida) and Todd Young (Indiana); U.S. Reps. Jodey Arrington and Kevin Brady; State Sen. Dawn Buckingham; and State Rep. Stan Lambert.

And finally, we have had more than our share of virtual meetings. I’m feeling Zoomed out. Glancing back at my calendar, I think I took part in 40-45 since March.

The bottom line is to support Abilene business; to advocate for Abilene business; and to enhance Abilene business.

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