City leaders on SA to DC trip to lobby for the Alamo City

Chamber of Commerce-organized trip focused on lobbying for San Antonio issues

San Antonio – City leaders from the private and public sectors will head to the nation's capital next week with hopes of bringing some federal dollars back with them.

The San Antonio Chamber of Commerce has organized an “SA to DC” trip for 42 years, and next week’s trip - from Sunday to Thursday - will have the largest-ever delegation with more than 200 members. Business leaders, city council members, and representatives from agencies like SAWS and VIA will promote San Antonio’s interests to elected leaders and federal agencies alike.

“We all agree on the agenda ahead of time. So it’s a coordinated agenda, and then we go out and try to bring resources to the community,” said Chamber President and CEO Richard Perez.

The sizable agenda includes issues like funding for transportation, including airport infrastructure, and trying to get up to two F-16 squadrons relocated to JBSA-Lackland.

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Most of the itinerary revolves around larger gatherings and panels followed by Capitol Hill office visits.

“We start off together in the morning and then about noon or so, we go forth and conquer,” Perez said.

Jeff Coyle, the city’s director of government and public affairs, describes the lobbying effort for federal money as a “two-step dance” of sorts.

“So you’re lobbying on the one hand for the funding to get put into the programs that are important to us and then going back later and advocating for our particular application competing against all these other cities for those dollars,” Coyle said.

Perez said the success of the trip won’t be able to be measured immediately. It takes time, he said, using the new federal courthouse as an example.

“That was on our federal agenda for like nine years for it until we finally got it added into the appropriation and then get it funded,” Perez said.

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Between “short memories” in Washington D.C. and elected official turnover, Perez said they have to “keep pounding.”

“We need to remind them that we have worth here and we deserve resources. And that’s the goal,” Perez said.

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