Every year, the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce comes together with our community partners that include local government bodies, economic development organizations, educational institutions, and community health stakeholders to develop a regional legislative agenda to present to both federal and state elected officials. For many years now, this process—and the document produced—have been very beneficial. But questions have been raised recently about if it continues to be effective.
Last spring, Salina made incredible headway during the state legislative session with a $25 million grant for housing as the result. The Chamber, along with our local partners, began to wonder what might be accomplished if we were to focus more effort and weight toward legislative affairs. Salina has the assets and economic development to be a major player in the allocation of state and federal dollars, but just hasn’t had the capacity to spend the time and energy needed in Topeka or Washington D.C.
This year it was decided that the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce would join the City of Salina, Saline County, the Salina Airport Authority, the Salina Community Economic Development Organization and Kansas State University-Salina, by investing in a government affairs consultant. This group has contracted with Eric Sexton from Foulston Siefkin LLP in Wichita to help in communicating both funding and policy requests to state and federal representatives. Sexton is an experienced governmental affairs leader who spent 18 years on Wichita State University’s governmental relations team, most recently as executive director of governmental relations. During his tenure in that role, WSU ranked 15th in the country for earning directed federal appropriations for important programs.
“We at Foulston Siefkin LLP are proud to become a partner with the Salina Chamber Area Chamber of Commerce and the Salina area,” Sexton said, “I personally have watched from afar the progress and growth of this community and am excited to be engaged and part of our continuing success at the state and federal level.”
One of the major objectives in producing the 2023 legislative agenda was to prioritize what those funding and policy requests would be. The group decided on eight priorities that would guide the process, that included the hot button issues of workforce development, housing affordability, and childcare access.
From these priorities stem funding requests that will provide housing infrastructure, and create training and job opportunities, as well as policy requests that focus on education, housing, childcare, and access to mental health care and resources.
“Labor force is at the top of everyone’s mind right now, including the County as we are looking to staff our new jail facility,” Phillip Smith-Hanes, Saline County Administrator said, “Access to housing, childcare and mental health care are fundamental pieces of workforce development as we work to put that puzzle together.”
A final copy of the legislative agenda will be available on the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce website, or you can receive one by contacting Renee Duxler at firstname.lastname@example.org or 785-827-9301.
The 2023 Legislative Policy Agenda focuses on eight priorities for regional growth, economic development, community health, and overall quality of life for Salina and the area.
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Salina Area Chamber of Commerce