SAN ANTONIO – For the 38th year, leaders in the local business community will accompany local politicians on a trip to the nation’s capital.
It’s a chance for those well-versed in the local economic needs of San Antonio to meet face to face with lawmakers and leaders within in various federal departments.
“I think the best benefit is that you get to see the whites of their eyes,” said Richard Perez, president and CEO of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. “It’s one thing to read a text and say, ‘Oh, it sounds like they need some help.’ But to be there and for you to be able to throw your emotion into the need for a certain project makes all the difference in the world. And if you're standing next to the mayor, business people, county commissioners, or maybe the district attorney, boy oh boy, that makes for a very powerful message.”
More than 130 local leaders left on Monday with packed bags and packed agendas.
They will meet with senators, representatives, committee chairs and members of the Obama administration to discuss several topics important to San Antonio including water, transportation, cyber security and biosciences as well as bringing more direct flights to the San Antonio International Airport.
“As a city, one of our main federal issues is working on nonstop flights from San Antonio to DC Reagan National,” said Rebecca Viagran, District 3 city councilwoman. “We want to make sure that we can provide that convenience. And I think it's a necessity for our military personnel and all of those that are traveling straight into Washington, D.C.”
Leaders are also focused on making the most of the opportunities afforded to San Antonio through the UNESCO World Heritage Site designation given to the San Antonio Missions last year.
“It's a broad range of issues, but almost every single one of them tie back to economic development,” said Jim Campbell with Holt CAT. “I serve on the San Antonio River Authority board and so much of what we do to improve the San Antonio River enhances tourism which is very important to our local economy.”
The SA to DC trips have paid off in the past, from reimbursement funding for the Mission Reach to funding for the Federal Courthouse downtown.
“You get to talk to folks from the General Services Administration, folks from Obama Administration to let them know how important these things are. And they get it, but there are lots of needs so you have to keep pushing,” Perez said. “And that’s what this trip is all about.”