At its most basic function, government relations helps an organization communicate with governmental publics. For the Chamber, that covers a host of different issues, levels of government, and types of interactions. To many, government relations may seem unknowable and off-limits, but at our first Demystifying Government Relations event, our team revealed that those misconceptions couldn’t be further from the truth.
This session was a great introduction to the many things the Chamber’s government relations team does. From state-level education reform to regional priorities like livability, mobility, and land use, it demonstrated that the team’s objective is to serve as the voice of its members – to represent their interests with local elected officials and engage with them in positive and productive dialogue. They are continuously working to ensure the collective voice of the region’s business community is heard.
One of the most important components of the collective voice is all the individual voices that it is made of; that’s where the interactions our team has with the community are imperative. The government relations team works to translate business issues for elected leaders – straight from the business owners and operators themselves. Additionally, councilmembers with small staffs often rely on the work of lobbyists to bring attention to issues that matter to the business community and lay out their pros and cons, which is why the work of the Chamber’s lobbyist is crucial.
In addition to giving attendees a chance to learn about each government relations team member and an overview of their role at the Chamber, this panel event shed light on the importance of individual community members and the roles they can play in making changes in the community. Moderated by Willis Cantey, CEO of Cantey Technology, the panel also provided attendees with the opportunity to ask their own questions. Questions ranged from how the Chamber defines affordable housing to how individuals can get more involved in the government relations process. Read some of the Q&A highlights below.
What is the best way Chamber and community members can help/engage with government relations?
• First, dispel the notion that our government relations team is untouchable. They want to hear from you and interact with you.
• Second, consider becoming a Champion Advocate. Through this program, you can advocate for policies and solutions concerning issues that you are passionate about. Learn more.
• Remember that making a call or sending an email does make a difference. A handful of respectful, informed, and original interactions will motivate elected officials. If you’re not sure what to contact elected officials about, you can find action items in our weekly government relations publication, The Advocates. Sign up to receive The Advocates.
How do you decide which elected officials you endorse?
The Political Action Committee Board comprises a diverse group of individuals with a range of backgrounds and expertise. The process begins with a written questionnaire that candidates complete. Then, the PAC Board interviews each candidate. Decisions to endorse are made based on a candidate’s alignment with the Chamber’s positions, as well as their ability and willingness to be open and receptive. Learn more about the PAC.
Our government relations team relies on members of the business community – from subject matter experts who serve on steering committees to Champion Advocates who are working to change public discourse surrounding our region’s growth and development. It’s events like these that show the community how key these partnerships are and spark interest in engagement.