Area Chamber-led Delegation Advocates in DC on Funding, Policy, Defense

Staff Report

Monday, May 15th, 2023

AACC DC Fly In 2023: A delegation of business and community leaders traveled to the nation’s capital last week as part of the Albany Area Chamber’s policy-intensive DC Fly In to meet with defense officials and federal lawmakers on the issues most vital to Albany and Southwest Georgia.

The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce last week led a delegation of local leaders to Washington, D.C., for its annual “DC Fly In,” the organization’s long-standing annual federal advocacy event. The delegation, representing the public and private sectors, met with defense officials and federal lawmakers on the issues most vital to Albany and Southwest Georgia.

The two-day, policy-intensive event included meetings with the Albany Area Congressional Delegation — U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff and U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock — and the Pentagon-based leadership of Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany (MCLB Albany) and Marine Corps Logistics Command, including Meredith Berger, assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, installations and environment, and Lt. Gen. Edward Banta, deputy commandant of Marine Corps Installations & Logistics. Col. Michael Fitzgerald, commanding officer of MCLB Albany, participated in the Pentagon discussions.

During meetings the delegation provided updates on a variety of fronts including Albany as a military community of excellence and MCLB Albany as a defense leader in energy security and logistics innovation; economic development and Albany as a premier industry location; health care delivery and expansion of services to meet regional needs; education and employer-led initiatives aimed at developing the talent pipeline in high-demand fields; and infrastructure investment as a component of community and economic development.

“Albany-Dougherty County has, through vision, action and results positioned itself as a leader in innovative partnerships that have local, state and national impact, and this distinction is well recognized among federal leadership,” said Bárbara Rivera Holmes, president and CEO of the Albany Area Chamber, the region’s leading business organization, and its 501c3 affiliate, the Albany Area Chamber Foundation. “Through the Albany Area Chamber’s DC Fly In our community demonstrates a united front in our nation’s capital, shares views on federal issues that impact businesses and the community, builds allies with national leaders and advocates for funding and policies that advance and bolster our talent, development and defense initiatives.”

The advocacy event is aimed at informing leaders on local priorities and initiatives, and requesting support for critical components of the community’s overall framework for development. Calls for Congressional support include:

  • DEFENSE: $46 million for mission-critical consolidated communications center at MCLBA that enables full utilization of the base’s 5G capabilities and strengthens communications resiliency and readiness; and $56 million for operational readiness facility at Albany-based Headquarters Marine Corps Logistics Command as a required component of the Marine Corps’ Force Design 2030 strategy.

  • TALENT & HEALTH CARE: Investments in talent initiatives and projects that amplify the employer-led work force pipeline and in health care projects that address critical-need areas; and smart immigration policy reforms to support work force demands, boost economic growth, create jobs, and encourage innovation and entrepreneurship,

  • INFRASTRUCTURE: Investments in federally-mandated infrastructure improvements including the city of Albany’s combined sewer separation project.

“The Albany Area Chamber spearheads our community’s advocacy initiatives with audiences including the Albany Area Congressional Delegation and U.S. Marine Corps leadership, and is the conduit through which the business community connects, convenes and collaborates,” said Chandu Kuntawala, 2023 chairman of the Albany Area Chamber and a program manager at Booz Allen Hamilton “The Chamber’s Government Affairs Division – along with its four other member-led committees that help drive organization’s overall objectives – embodies the mission of the Chamber as a center point through which the business community is empowered to take action and design the path.”

The local delegation also met with senior leadership of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, discussing work force and talent; federal policies and regulations that impact businesses; and national economic forecast.

“A strong, united voice is central to the Chamber’s mission and to its role as the region’s leading business organization,” said Bridges Sinyard, chairman of the Chamber’s Government Affairs division and vice president of Adam’s Exterminators. “We further advance business and community success by building strong relationships between business leaders, elected officials and decision makers, and, with Albany’s role as a leading military community, build the community-Corps relationships that advance the nation’s defense efforts.”

The DC Fly In is a component of the Albany Area Chamber’s Government Affairs division. The program is program is supported by AB&T; Adams Exterminators; Albany Area Primary Health Care; the Albany Convention & Visitors Bureau; the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission; Albany State University; Albany Technical College; AT&T; the City of Albany; Dougherty County; the Dougherty County School System; Georgia CEO; Georgia Power; Horizons Community Solutions; McLendon Acres; Molson Coors; and Phoebe Putney Health System.

Visit to view the Albany Area Chamber’s 2023 legislative agenda.