Important opportunities that set the future direction of our community take place virtually every day at some level of local or state government. If you believe, as we do, that a healthy business environment is an essential component of livability, then a constructive business voice contributing to those discussions is imperative.
It’s the reason the Eugene Chamber takes very seriously its role of advocate on behalf of the business community with state and local government entities — to ensure an environment where businesses can thrive. The Chamber is the only broad-based business organization that aspires to represent business interests no matter your size, industry or location. If you're doing business in the Eugene area — even if your company is located outside the area — we are working on your behalf.
The influential 25 members of the Chamber’s Local Government Affairs Council (LGAC) meet on a weekly basis to review and take action on public policy issues that impact business and the local economy. From local land use issues to regulations, LGAC is protecting and promoting the interests of business. The Chamber, through LGAC, determines these interests and works to advance those positions. It is LGAC’s job to be non-partisan, pro-business and pro-community.
The goals are to:
- Represent the interests of business
- Explore and pursue community collaborations focused on positive, high-impact community development projects
- Champion investments in infrastructure important to continued economic prosperity throughout the region
- Serve as a leader in supporting and advancing innovative approaches to the challenges faced by local government
- Develop, encourage and support effective leaders who aspire to local elected office
Building a great community with a vibrant economy requires an active voice for the business community. In Eugene, that responsible voice of business is the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce.
Here are some of the issues LGAC will work on in 2014:
- Advocating for EWEB Riverfront Redevelopment: LGAC has long recognized the importance of connecting our downtown to the riverfront. They have been vocal advocates for the proposed EWEB riverfront redevelopment since the master plan was unveiled in 2007. Now that the City council has approved the rezoning and code changes needed to move the riverfront development forward, LGAC will continue their advocacy around this project. They will look at the Riverfront Urban Renewal District and the role that tool may play in any development of the site.
- The City of Eugene's budget challenges. Since 2008 the City budget has faced deficits each year requiring over $24 million of needed expense reductions from its $125 million General Fund. Despite continued cost savings, personnel reductions and efficiencies within the organization, they are faced with a $3 million deficit. LGAC is examining options to address the current deficit to the budget and craft recommendations for a balanced budget that support local business and the growth of the local economy.
During the spring of 2014 we added these issues:
- Keeping Development tools in place that work: the Multiple-Unit property tax exemption or MUPTE has come before the City Council for discussion and is close to completion. This important tool will be used as one resource to encourage development in our downtown and urban core areas across town. Development tools like this will help our city work towards our housing capacity goals laid out in the Envision Eugene plan. The Chamber’s Local Government Affairs Committee has supported MUPTE throughout the process and will continue to do so as it proceeds towards a Council vote.
- Giving your business a voice in the mandatory sick leave conversation: The Eugene City Council is moving quickly to get a mandatory sick leave ordinance passed before they go on break for the summer. The proposed timeline now suggests that an ordinance should be drafted by mid-March and voted on by the end of July. The Mayor has created a task force to look at the logistics of the ordinance and to make suggestions, which is made up of a few business owners in town, some industry representatives, Councilor Syrett, Councilor Zelenka, and the Eugene Chamber of Commerce- representing our members and the larger business community. The Eugene Chamber and the Local Government Affairs Committee is urging the Council to slow down and to take a better look at how this ordinance could affect all the businesses in Eugene and in surrounding areas.