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CEO Message: Eyes on Washington

Those who take a moment to read this column on a regular basis may have noticed a couple things. First, for the most part, I generally don’t talk about our events we organize at the Chamber. This is because your Chamber is so active, with a robust set of activities and committee meetings to plug into. This is something we are very proud of at the Round Rock Chamber, but if I was to write about events each week this column would quickly be about nothing else.

Readers will also have noticed that, unless there is a world-wide pandemic causing major disruptions to our economy and lives, I usually don’t comment on activities happening at the federal level. This year we have done a lot of communicating about the status of federal response bills providing important financial assistance to the business community through the CARES Act and other legislation.

This feels like an appropriate time to break with these precedents and encourage our community to participate in an important upcoming conversation.

Please join us for a presentation from, and conversation with, Congressman Judge John Carter at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, August 18. Full details and registration can be found here.

The reason I take this unusual step in my column, is that these are unusual times. I cannot think of another time in my life where connecting with our representatives meant more to our future.

In addition to all the news emerging weekly about the public health impacts of COVID-19, we have seen week after week of unsettling news about how this public health battle is felt in an economic context. In a survey of Round Rock this spring, at the height of the pandemic, the number one concern expressed by citizens was loss of job or loss of a business.

Last week’s news on this front was bracing: The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis reports national unemployment to be 11.1% for June (seasonally adjusted) based on information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Also last week the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that the second quarter impact to the U.S. GDP was a decline of 32.9% annualized, or a decline of 9.5% from Q1 2020 to Q2 2020. Here’s a great article by Forbes on why we need to know both numbers.

Here’s the silver lining in those clouds. No nation is better positioned to recover economically following the abatement of the health crisis. We have the largest economy in the world by far, and dedicated professionals and civil servants working at all levels of government to organize our national response, from the national to the local levels. However, it will take the institutions built in this community and nation to recover. And sadly, as reported by the Pew Research Center and many others, trust in U.S. institutions is at a historical low. You can read more here.

So, here is the important part about August 18. For our institutions to work like everyone needs them to – it takes you to participate. It takes you to engage in the issues, learn form reliable sources, ask polite questions of our officials, and vote. My personal belief is that if we do this more, faith in our institutions and government will increase.

We are proud to offer our investors and the community an opportunity to engage with, and question elected officials. This is one of the most important, and wonderfully American, functions that Chambers offer. We are grateful to all of our guests in elected office – and – those who run for public office. Particularly now when the options are limited and the anticipated results are unclear at best. These are the times when we need citizen leaders the most.

I know that, to some, this message will sound profoundly naïve. I’m OK with that. Primarily because I’ve had the great pleasure of working with and knowing several elected officials in my career from both the major parties. Certainly, I’ve had my own areas of personal agreement and disagreement with all of them. However, without exception, my experience also tells me each of them have been earnestly acting in what they believe is the best way to secure a safe and prosperous future for our communities.

I am looking forward to hearing from Judge Carter about his views on federal issues. Please join me on the 18th for this important function of our community institutions.

#TomorrowTogether

Jason

NOTE: The Round Rock Chamber is a non-partisan organization. While it does engage in issue-based advocacy at the direction of its Board of Directors and Business Climate Council, the Chamber does not endorse candidates or contribute to election campaigns at any level of government.