SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE, Virginia – The Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce (SMLRCC) today released its 2021 Public Policy Agenda outlining the Chamber’s legislative priorities on issues important to businesses and the advancement of the greater Smith Mountain Lake region.
The Public Policy Agenda, approved by the Chamber’s 18-member Board of Directors, is established annually by the Governmental Affairs Committee, which is comprised of 12 volunteer community leaders along with SMLRCC staff, who represent a variety of membership and regional interests including members from local government, small businesses, banking, energy, real estate, and health care.
“Our committee works collectively to identify and monitor local and state policy issues of importance to our members,” stated Government Affairs Committee Chairman and Board Director Walter Hogle. “Our Public Policy Agenda serves as a blueprint to make sure these policies are front-and-center with legislators.”
The Chamber’s Board of Directors have adopted this mission statement, along with four issue-areas and provided a guiding statements for each:
The mission of the Government Affairs Committee is to: understand local, state and federal legislative, policy and regulatory matters affecting businesses; develop and recommend to the Board advocacy positions on relevant issues; and clearly communicate the Chamber’s positions to its members, elected officials and the community at large.
Business and Tourism
- Creating a SML Community Center that will expand economic growth in the area by providing a venue for events to attract tourists, businesses, and residents.
- In this economic environment, sustain the budget of Virginia Tourism Corporation and the Virginia Mountains Region.
- A cautious approach to significant legislative and regulatory changes, e.g., to the minimum wage and paid family leave, that could slow the economic recovery and job creation.
- Virginia’s Right To Work (RTW) status works to oppose laws or regulations that undermine Virginia RTW status. This RTW status has been and continues to be a reason businesses chose to relocate, with commensurate increases in employment levels, here as opposed to other states.
Protecting the Lake
- Safeguarding the lake against non-native, harmful plants and animals. More resources should to be dedicated to educate boaters from surrounding states, e.g., billboards at high-traffic entry points, to prevent zebra mussel infestation into Virginia’s waters.
- Ensuring government oversight to preserve the pristine quality and quantity of water inflows to the Lake with respect to the Mountain Valley Natural Gas Pipeline Project.
- Supporting local government/private industry partnerships to rapidly make the region more broadband competitive.
- Expand recreational opportunities such as hiking and biking trails.
- Increasing investment in career and technical (CTE) education in K-12 to promote job creation in the region.
- Expanding secondary education and other state-level initiatives in trades creating a more comprehensive, unified system of publicly funded employment training services.
- Requiring the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to add the rights of private property owners to the list of factors considered when issuing and enforcing hydropower project licenses.
- Supporting establishment of an Amtrak stop in the Town of Bedford.
- Increasing funds to improve Central and Southwestern Virginia’s highway infrastructure, including:
- Improvements to the safety and traffic flow on State Route 122, the only north-south artery for our region, between Rocky Mount and Bedford; and
- Construction of I-73.
- Including “peak tourist season” road use as part of economic development measures in VDOT SMART SCALE scoring.
“State and local issues directly impacting the Lake region’s economic vitality and quality of life are focal points of our agenda,” stated Executive Director Christopher Finley. “The Governmental Affairs Committee and Board of Directors remain actively engaged in pro-business policy and to ensure Smith Mountain Lake has access to the resources to remain a great place to live, work and play.”
About Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce
The SMLRCC is dedicated to promoting tourism and growing business for its members and the community. As a member-driven organization with 650 members, the SMLRCC provides information, advocacy, and support to the lake’s growing business community. SMLRCC’s goal is to strengthen the social and economic environment of the region. Visit online at visitsmithmountainlake.com.