Area Chambers promote regional legislative agenda
By Joel Davis | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Business leaders and local and state elected officials gathered at the Clayton Center for the Arts on the campus of Maryville College on Friday for an annual Regional Legislative Breakfast.
The event is hosted by the Blount Partnership, Knoxville and Oak Ridge Chambers of Commerce to communicate a regional legislative agenda that has been approved by the board of directors of each chamber.
The agenda includes economic development incentives for new and expanding businesses, expanded regional general aviation capacity, completion of the Pellissippi Parkway Extension, and the continuation of education reforms.
State Rep. Art Swann, R-Maryville, said that state government will still be constrained by economic conditions in 2013. “The financial issues have been the central point of everything the last three or four years because of the poor economy. That dictates a lot of what we can do jointly in development operations.”
Bryan Daniels, Blount Partnership president/CEO, said the event went well. “It was great to have all three chambers and all the government entities working together on these four goals,” he said. “It speaks well that we can all come together to support these initiatives that are important to this region. It was also a great opportunity for us to showcase a jewel of Blount County in the Clayton Center for the Arts to the area legislators.”
Swann stresses unity
Swann said the breakfast serves as more than just a briefing. “It was more of an issue of getting us all together to be reminded that we’re in this thing together and how important it is for us to help each other rather than be out for just ourselves. That’s what they were trying to accomplish — to make sure the pipeline is open in both directions.”
State Sen. Doug Overbey, R-Maryville, said that economic development continues to be the priority. “The No. 1 issue ... is to promote economic development and continue to make our state, Tennessee, the No. 1 state in the Southeast for jobs, job creation, and job growth.”
Overbey echoed Swann’s remarks about economic constraints on state government. “The budgetary considerations are still going to be with us,” he said. “Our state has had some better months than we have had in the past, but I don’t know if we’ve had good months. I don’t know if we’re yet back to where we were before the economic downturn. Budgetary matters will still be at the forefront.”
Another issue for Overbey is reforming state funding for schools. “I hope it will be soon that we really look at the funding formula for our schools. I think right now it remains inequitable for schools in the Senate district I’m honored to represent.”