Chamber members are considered the pulse of the local business community. Our collective voice is one elected officials not only carefully monitor, but are charged to serve. At the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, we cultivate close, constructive relationships with our city’s movers and shakers to ensure the needs and interests of the business community are considered and addressed. Our Public Policy Committee consistently strives to shape the policies that govern our growth and enhance the business climate in our region. As a Chamber member, you’ll learn more about the issues that impact your community and discover how you can make a difference.
Setting the Public Policy Agenda
We understand that one of our greatest strengths lies in our ability to accurately convey the collective opinions of the business community on public policy issues. Over the last few years, we have worked diligently to create a simple, inclusive and effective system to assess and convey our members’ thoughts on such issues.
Through our Public Policy program, we survey our members on a broad range of local, state and federal legislative issues affecting the businesses community. The information we gather through these efforts serves as our primary guidepost in developing our Public Policy Agenda, which we publish annually.
Once the survey has been completed the Chair of our Public Policy Committee, who also is a member of the Chamber’s Board and Executive Committee by virtue of his committee chairmanship, this person appoints a subcommittee to review the data and draft a new public policy agenda for that program year. The subcommittee generally finishes their work by early October, bringing their recommendations to the full Public Policy Committee during that month. Once the Public Policy Committee votes to approve the new agenda, the Committee Chairman presents it to the Chamber’s Executive Committee for their approval. Finally, the Committee Chairman presents it to the Chamber Board of Directors at either their November or January meeting. Once the Board votes on and approves the agenda, it is published on our website and sent via e-mail to our members and elected officials prior to the Tennessee General Assembly’s annual session.
This year, our Board approved a public policy agenda that is much more comprehensive than any previous agenda we’ve had. The Chattanooga Area Chamber’s new agenda attempts to anticipate a wide variety of issues of interest to the business community, including issues we know are not likely to be addressed this year. Our goal with this strategy is to limit the number of issues we take back to the Board for quick action and to give our members and elected officials a more complete picture of the policies the Chamber supports.
Even so, we know it is impossible to anticipate every issue that might impact the business community in a given year. In these situations, the context and immediacy of the issue determines how we respond. Complex and controversial issues not addressed in our public policy agenda always require a vote by the Chamber’s Board or Executive Committee, and if one of these issues requires an immediate response, we will convene a conference call or ask Board or Executive Committee members to weigh in and vote via e-mail. We generally reserve these options only for the most pressing, high-profile matters that require immediate attention. On some occasions, we have conducted single issue member surveys on these issues to help inform the Board of the opinions of our members on the matter.
Our approach is different if a specific issue has a logical connection to something we already address in our public policy agenda and isn’t likely to cause controversy among our members. In these cases, the Chamber’s CEO and Vice President of Public Strategies confer with the Board Chair and the Chair of the Public Policy Committee to determine what position the Chamber will take.
For more information about the process, please contact the Public Strategies Department.