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Fighting on your behalf: a day in the life of the Detroit Regional Chamber's Government Relations team.

Wouldn't it be nice to have your own personal lobbyist? Well, you do, In fact, you have a whole team.

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The Detroit Regional Chamber's Government Relations team eats, sleeps and breathes small business, advocating for a pro-business agenda in local, state and federal government. Through the Chamber's Political Action Committee (PAC), issue-oriented committees, lobbying and programming, the Government Relations team tackles the issues affecting the economy and business climate of Southeast Michigan.

Comprised of Sarah Hubbard, Claudia Berry, Melissa Trustman and Dan Smith, the four-person team works hard on advocacy efforts, policy issues and providing a plethora of ways for Chamber members to get involved in committees, voice their opinions and take action on making a difference in their region and hometown.

"Politicians listen to people and organizations with clout," said Sarah Hubbard, vice president of Government Relations. "We speak on behalf of over 23,000 Chamber members and voice a unified and powerful message in the legislature.

"Winning in Washington

Sarah Hubbard knows how to multitask. When she lobbies in Washington, U.C., a typical workday begins around 6:30 a.m. as she boards a flight. Along the way she checks email, returns messages and organizes for the day.

At 8:30 a.m., she meets with the Michigan Business Group and a member of the Michigan Congressional Delegation. The Michigan Business Group is comprised of lobbyists representing Michigan companies, universities and other organizations that have federal public policy concerns. Monthly, Sarah meets with this group and a member of the Michigan Congressional Delegation to discuss federal issues affecting Michigan business.

By 9:30 a.m., Sarah is in a taxi headed to Capitol Hill for meetings with the House of Representatives and Senate staff from Michigan offices, committee staff and others. Recently, Sarah's work at these meetings has focused on issues relating to Michigan's border crossing with Canada.

After the meeting, Sarah quickly flags another cab and directs the driver to the U.S. Chamber. During the drive, she checks her voicemail and email to return urgent messages. Once at the U.S. Chamber, she joins U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Carlos Guttierez for a briefing on the North American Competitiveness Council. Their findings on economic growth competitiveness and security will be recommended to the U.S., Mexican and Canadian heads of state.

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By 6:30 p.m., Sarah is on a flight back to Detroit She arrives home from her day around 8 p.m., grabbing a quick bite to cat before preparing for tomorrow.

A day in Lansing

After breakfast with the Chamber's Environment Committee Chair to discuss new regulations and plan the next meeting, Melissa Trustman drives to Lansing. Most days Dan Smith heads to Lansing as well.

Once in Lansing, Dan heads to the Michigan House of Representatives office for committee hearings in the House tax policy. Once finished, he walks to the Capitol in time to catch the Senate session and talk to legislators about various tax and small business issues. Meanwhile, Melissa is also meeting with legislators to find out about upcoming bills and communicate the Chamber's views on current issues.

"Meeting face-to-face with legislators is key," said Melissa. "Open and honest dialogue establishes trust and a fluid communication process."

Communication is critical, especially when speaking to the House Environmental Committee about your opposition to new landfill moratoriums

"Public uproar over Canadian trash has caused a flood of legislation that harms the waste infrastructure in Michigan," said Melissa Ultimately increasing the cost of disposal for Michigan residents and businesses."

The team communicates the Chamber's position to the committee chairs and other members before the bill is heard in the committee. Officially voicing a position in committee establishes policy on public record and educates other concerned parties about where the Chamber stands and why.

After the House Environment Committee meeting, Melissa congregates with oilier Chamber member lobbyists to get their views on important bills. Meanwhile, Dan sits in on a Senate Finance hearing. Many times, Dan is asked to testimony for his public remarks, which are immediately followed by a question and answer session with the committee members.

At the meeting's conclusion, Dan heads back to the House office building to follow up with legislators after they are done with the House session It is here that Dan goes over bills and legislation in greater detail, one-on-one with the legislators.

Concurrently, Melissa drafts a position paper for the Chamber Board of Directors on telecommunications issues. After thorough discussion, the Government Relations team summarizes their findings and analysis for a final policy decision made through the Board of Directors.

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Finally around 6 p.m., Melissa gets on the road and drives back to Detroit. Dan remains in Lansing for a dinner meeting with a legislator before making his journey home for the evening.

Working at the local level

Claudia Berry works hard and invests herself in the success of the region. Typically, she begins her workday at 8:30 a.m. as she plans monthly meetings of the Chamber's Transportation Action Groups (TAGS). These meetings provide regular updates on the inventory of regional transportation assets identifying gaps or deficiencies in the existing transportation system and services The updates are used to suggest recommendations that result in strengthening the multimodal transportation network and make the region more competitive nationally and globally. TAGS addresses issues related to roads, border crossings, rail, air waterborne public transit and intermodal freight traffic.

At 11:30 a.m., Claudia attends a luncheon with regional transportation industry stakeholders to encourage their input and involvement in Chamber transportation initiatives. Afterwards Claudia hurries to a meeting of partner organizations ((SEMCOG, Detroit Renaissance, One D etc.) to discuss how to collaborate on key public policy priorities for the business community.

"The ultimate success of our efforts is contingent on the strength of the relationships we build and maintain with our members and area stakeholders," stressed Claudia.

There is no doubt that relationship building is what Claudia does best By 3:00 p.m., Claudia is back in the office and on a conference call with national organizations that partner with the Chamber. Traditionally, these partnerships provide additional size and leverage to influence public policy and enhance business and economic development. Claudia also uses the stances derived from the partnerships to help plan the Chamber's Political Action Committee (PAC) meetings.

Claudia concludes her workday by reconvening with the rest of the Government Relations team to discuss the day's events, new contacts and breaking news before making new contacts at a local networking event Claudia hopes this event will help her learn more about activities of other groups and market the Chamber's programs, policies and initiatives.

Fighting for you

Having a team of lobbyists on your side is an exceptional benefit of Chamber membership Whether your business is a small 'mom & pop' store or a large corporation, the Chambet's Government Relations team ensures everyone has a voice that gets heard. Every business experiences challenges that are influenced by legislation at all levels of government. Take your challenges and shape them into opportunities Get involved in the Chamber's government relations efforts and meet a team of individuals as passionate about polities and creating change as you are. Help unite Southest Michigan and establish policy that shapes our future and transforms the way Michigan does business

RELATED ARTICLE: Lunch with Legisloaors: A Chance to Lobby on Behalf of Your Business

Lunch with Legistaros and State Department that allows attendees who have concerns about porticular issues participate in face to face meetings with legislators and department directors over lunch

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"These inches continue to be an important aspect of our conterence participation presenting a great ipoortunity to maintain dialogue with legislative leaders said Steve kelley kelley Casey & Mover PC

These meeting take place during lunchtime Thrusday and Friday during the Conference Chamber staif assign legislators around key6 issues and brief members in advance of these issues Attendees enjoy a laidback and relaxing atmosphere with easy access to policy makers who can address the concerns of the business community Thses are exceptional opportunities for Chamber members to voice their conceerns and have their opinions heard by those who can make a difference and opportunity that many people never have come their way.

RELATED ARTICLE: Get Involved!

Chamber members can participate in Issue Oriented Committees:

* Brownfield Workgroup

* Energy

* Environment

* Health Care

* Land Use and Development

* Manufacturing

* Sustainability

* Taxes

* Transportation & Infrastructure

* Workforce

Go to www.detroitchamber.com to learn what these groups are doing and how you can get involved.

RELATED ARTICLE: Your Detroit Regional Chamber Lobbying Team

Sarah Hubbard, vice president, Government Relations

Claudia Berry, senior director, Government Relations and PAC administrator

Melissa Trustman, senior director, Government Relations

Dan Smith, director, Government Relations

RELATED ARTICLE: What is the PAC?

The Political Action Committee is the voice of business in key local, state and dederal races impacting the business climate and quality of life in Southeast Michigan. With the support of its contributors, the PAC is successful in electing pro-business candidates that share a mission to improve the climate for doing business in Southeast Michigan.

PAC Track Record:

In 2002, 90 percent.: of PAC endorsed candidates were elected in Michigan House and local commission races

In 2004, of 85 percent of PAC endorsed candidates were elected in Michigan

In 2005, 90 percent of PAC endorsed candidates were elected in the General Election for the Detroit City Council and Detroit School.

The General Election for the City Council and Detroit School Board

In 2006,' of PAC endorsed candidates won their campaigns
COPYRIGHT 2007 Detroit Regional Chamber
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:VOTE4BIZ
Author:Poole, Steve
Publication:Detroiter
Geographic Code:1U3MI
Date:Jun 1, 2007
Words:1596
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