Energy was high at the Eastern Oregon Regional Meeting held on Friday, April 21st. The eleven Chambers represented shared their experiences and discussed how to create stronger advocacy programs. Chambers and Board members from throughout the region participated, including Hermiston, Umatilla, Ontario, Boardman, Pendleton, and Heppner. OSCC Board members from Tualatin, North Clackamas, Silverton, Hermiston, Grants Pass, and Hood River County were also in attendance.
One of the big takeaways from the day was, as one Chamber Executive put it, “We are not alone.” Building on this camaraderie is the purpose behind these meetings, giving Chambers and their Board members the occasion to gather together, share common challenges, and learn from each other.
The meeting began with the group sitting in on the legislative call “live”, allowing them to not just hear the issues presented on the call, but to also discuss them further afterwards. This built excitement and opened the door for great conversation around familiar challenges in their own communities, including affordable workforce housing, maintaining and expanding infrastructure, and workforce development. The importance of grassroots advocacy and ways to get involved was discussed at length. OSCC Executive Director Alison Hart shared best practices on creating successful advocacy programs that have a positive impact on policy and the business climate.
Advocacy is an important role that Chambers play as a powerful voice for small business in the Capitol. Involvement is key to the grassroots reach of the State Chamber. Adopting OSCC’s Legislative Priorities at the beginning of the legislative session is an important step. OSCC bimonthly legislative calls provide the most up to date information on issues key to the business community. Weekly legislative reports sent out by OSCC are meant to be shared with local Chamber members. They emphasize how your Chamber is working on your members’ behalf on state-wide issues.
Chambers are stronger when in lock step, particularly when action is necessary on issues or bills. OSCC sends action alerts when the voice of the business community is needed. This may include submitting a letter of testimony from your Chamber and members, contacting your legislator, or testifying in person.
Communicating advocacy efforts shows a Chamber’s value. Informing on the outcome of issues on which your Chamber has taken a stand sets the Chamber apart as a trusted source of information.
At the end of the day, Executives and Board members alike shared their excitement with being able to come together at the Regional Meeting to make each other stronger. By participating in Regional Meetings, Chambers can achieve a strong voice and have a lasting impact on their business members and communities.
If you are interested in having a regional meeting or advocacy training at your Chamber, please contact Alison Hart.