Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Members in action: Advocacy Update

Our Blowing Rock Chamber has several committees that are doing AMAZING work for our members. 

Historically, we haven't slowed down long enough to brag about these amazing projects.

Below is a dizzying update on some of the work that our Community, Government & Education Committee (CG&E) has completed this year.  This committee has had such an impact on our Chamber and area that we hope you will take the time to read this update, and understand what an impact we can make together!

This group of Chamber members serves as our advocacy group. They have been extremely active this year under the direction of Chairman Jim McDowell (co-owner of Mountainaire Inn & Log Cabins). The key priorities for this year included developing relationships with elected officials and advocating for funding for the Blue Ridge Parkway, since it is a major economic driver for this region.

The Chamber is a non-partisan organization as is mandated in our articles of incorporation. 

Here is what we’ve been working on for YOU -- for the members, by the members!

At the Federal level...

  • We established valuable relationships with the District Representatives of Senators Burr and Tillis.

  • We met with Mike Finley (field rep for Senator Burr) to strategize funding avenues for projects like relocating utilities, improving gateways, and maintaining the Blue Ridge Parkway.

  • We met with Congresswoman Foxx to discuss federal funding ideas for relocating utilities underground.

  • We participated in Congresswoman Foxx’s roundtable regarding her support of funding the $500M Blue Ridge Parkway’s deferred maintenance backlog.
    • Rep. Foxx agreed to support the deferred maintenance bill (HR6510) and to speak with Congressional and Park Service Leadership about getting this to a vote in the House during the current lame duck session. This bill could be introduced this week or next.
    • Rep. Foxx also agreed to push for earlier funding of the Blue Ridge Parkway’s part time workers in 2019 so that the grass can get mowed earlier in the season.

At the State level...

  • In June, we traveled to Raleigh to meet with legislature and other Western NC Chambers to represent our needs for funding. During our time in Raleigh, we established deeper relationships with Senator Deanna Ballard and Representative Jonathan Jordan. Click here to read more about those meetings.

  • Requested funds from Ballard and Jordan for re-building the Glen Burney Trail bridge (the Town of Blowing Rock ended up funding this project, but we have requested State funds for continued maintenance).

  • Met with the Golden Leaf Foundation and Appalachian Regional Commission to express interest in grants for underground utilities on Sunset Drive in 2019.

  • Met with Representative Elect Ray Russell to share the Chamber’s legislative priorities.

At the County level...

  • We continue to work on our relationships with County Commissioners, especially Larry Turnbow who represents Blowing Rock, to make him aware of the Chamber’s legislative priorities.

At the Town level...

  • This committee also invests in future generations by managing and working to fund several programs for local kids!

  • They started the 3D Print Club at Blowing Rock School to encourage STEM education, and found donors to fund the 3D printer, and experts to teach the students!

  • Zak Ammar, owner of Vixster and member of our Economic Development Council leads an Intro to Entrepreneurship class at Blowing Rock School, volunteering his time to teach kids about starting their own business!

  • Tim Hilton and the committee worked with Blowing Rock School to start the SENTIO Program which introduces local kids to local employers to learn about local jobs and industries.

  • They coordinated a relationship between Blowing Rock School and the NC School of Science & Math Summer Accelerator Program - providing very rich educational opportunities for local students during summer break (and scholarships to attend camp).

  • This committee continues to work with Town Council and make them aware of issues affecting business and economic development in Blowing Rock.

  • The committee also produces the State of the Town event and often, the Candidates Forum events.

We are excited about the progress that we've made, and look forward to more pro-business, pro-Blowing Rock, and pro-High Country goals and progress in 2019! 

Questions or comments? Want to get involved?
Email or call Loni Miller, Director of Membership at (828) 295-7851.

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