As I write this column, a group of Chamber staff, volunteer leaders and local business representatives are wrapping up our Washington D.C. Fly-in.
...strong working relationships with our elected officials is key to positive outcomes.
First, thank you to our sponsors and participants. South Dakota's economy requires our advocacy efforts to occur on all levels of government: federal, state and local. Moreover, Sioux Falls has actively engaged in promoting economic development for our region and state by coordinating D.C. Fly-ins with other cities, in anticipation of a larger economic win for our state.
This year was our first I-29 corridor D.C. Fly-in, which included the Brookings and Vermillion Chambers of Commerce. The last few years we coordinated our fly-ins with Rapid City, bringing both east and west river's largest cities to the nation's capital together. The Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce actively supported Rapid City's efforts for the B-21 bombers. This support included advocacy efforts in Pierre, with legislation (HB 1111) to allow licensure reciprocity for active military spouses. HB 1111 was a critical component of the B-21 decision, which was discussed when visiting with Air Force leadership at the Pentagon prior to the U.S. Air Force selecting Rapid City to be the first training center in the nation.
The Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce's focus is advocacy while in D.C., but we also learn about our government through tours. Prior to our advocacy visits on Capitol Hill and at the Pentagon, our attendees received a special invitation from Representative Dusty Johnson for an after-hours tour of the Capitol. It was a treat for everyone in attendance. We want to extend a heartfelt thank you to Representative Johnson. The Capitol is a special place for all of us and Rep. Johnson's tour didn't disappoint. His extensive knowledge of our nation's history deepened our appreciation for our country. Thank you, Dusty!
The first official day included a briefing by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce about cybersecurity, the status of the USMCA and immigration. After meeting with the U.S. Chamber, we spent time on Capitol Hill and visited with our Congressional delegation. These visits affirmed the quality of our South Dakota elected officials. After visiting all three members of our delegation, one member of our advocacy group said, â€œI think (South Dakota) is spoiled to have such an excellent delegation.â€� Those of us engaged in advocacy on a daily basis couldn't agree more. Our strong working relationships with our elected officials is key to positive outcomes for Chamber members and for all of South Dakota.
The second day of the fly-in began with a visit to Arlington National Cemetery, where we watched the changing of the guard. Then we traveled to the Pentagon and spent the rest of the day in advocacy visits. Our talks at the Pentagon included a range of topics including the F-35 basing decisions, cybersecurity and other specific member advocacy efforts. South Dakota has much to offer when it comes to serving the needs of our military. Our member businesses offer unique and needed services to our military. The Chamber is focused on providing opportunities for our members to tell their story, which benefit our nation's safety and security.
As we come to a close of our D.C. Fly-in, we want to thank our sponsors: Avera Health; First PREMIER Bank/PREMIER Bankcard; POET; Sanford Health; SDN Communications; and Xcel Energy.
As with all trips to the U.S. Capitol, this D.C. Fly-in packed a lot of advocacy into a brief visit. However, our advocacy efforts don't end when we return home. Based on our conversations, we'll continue to seek the best outcomes for the greater Sioux Falls region and South Dakota. Your advocacy team is passionate about your success and will continue to seek opportunities to further our members' business interests.