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Making Capitol Connections

Featured Photo from Making Capitol Connections

Members of the local Chamber are just back from a trip to Washington, D.C. Find out who they met and what they did to make our community a better place

The Oviedo-Winter Springs Regional Chamber of Commerce recently joined other local chambers and elected officials on a trip to Washington, D.C., to meet with legislators and advocate for local issues.

When Oviedo-Winter Springs Chamber president Todd Sykes began planning the Capitol Connections trip, he knew it was a great opportunity for local chamber members and community leaders to witness first-hand how the political process works and talk to members of the U.S. Congress about issues most important to the local community.

“It’s imperative for us, as active members of the Oviedo-Winter Springs community, to engage in the issues that affect our region,” says Todd. “By going to Washington for the day, our members got a behind-the-scenes look at how our elected representatives go about advocating for our community.”

Four regional chambers Oviedo-Winter Springs, Sanford, East Orlando, and Winter Park all had representatives make the trip to Washington. Mayor Dominic Persampiere of Oviedo and Winter Springs City Commissioner Cade Resnick also participated.

When Todd plans his chamber’s annual trip to Tallahassee, he does so with his contacts at the state legislature and senate. The trip to the nation’s capital, however, would not have been possible without the help and support of U.S. Congressman John Mica, who welcomed the group with open arms and set up a full agenda that made the trip educational and productive for all involved.

Rep. Mica, who spent the entire day with the group, admits that in Washington it can be difficult to get people to pay attention to the issues that are important to local communities, and it helps when local leaders can share their concerns and priorities face-to-face.

“I can’t do what I do without local community support,” says Rep. Mica. “There’s a fierce competition for attention up here, so having local chamber members and business owners meet with my colleagues goes a long way in bringing awareness to the things that matter most to us as a region.”

The full schedule included meetings with several committee chairs, including Congressman Pete Sessions, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Congressman Jeff Miller. Among the issues discussed were veterans’ affairs, transportation, and simulation and training all topics relevant in Oviedo-Winter Springs. Participants also had lunch and a tour of the Library of Congress and got the opportunity to watch a vote take place on the House of Representatives floor. Congressman Mica briefly left the group to take part in the vote before coming back to continue the tour with them.

“For these community leaders to see what the process is like and witness my daily routines is beneficial for everyone,” says Mica. “It’s an informative process, and it also reinforces what I want to do for the people I represent. My staff and I truly enjoy these events, and our goal is to make sure participants benefit from it and share what they learned with others.”

For Todd, the Capitol Connections trip could not have gone better.

“We were able to take back a better understanding of the governing process,” he says. “We have a strong business community and a lot of growth taking place right now, so to take the time and meet with members of Congress shows that our chamber is active and engaged, and that we care about the issues that affect us as a community.”

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