Congressmen present update at chamber event

Published 1:08 pm Saturday, August 19, 2017


A visit from area congressmen and participation in a survey about Virginia’s economic future were the subjects for the Blueprint Virginia 2025 and Congressional Update on Wednesday afternoon. Presented by the Franklin-Southampton Area Chamber of Commerce in the Regional Workforce Development Center at Paul D. Camp Community College, the program began with remarks from Fourth District’s Don McEachin and Third District’s Bobby Scott, respectively.

McEachin touched on subjects such as a bipartisan approach to infrastructure reform and expanding internet broadband access in southside Virginia. Money to rebuild roads, bridges, water and electrical lines could come from a general fund, he said, and the plan should not just be based on tax credits.

Making internet more accessible benefits both students who can stay at home for research, as well as businesses that need it to serve customers. This September, McEachin will be looking into getting grants for internet expansion purposes.

Transportation is another issue, and the congressman asked guests to identify their needs and contact him. He added that a second district office is opening in Suffolk beginning with an open house on Tuesday, Aug. 22, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. This will be located at 131 N. Saratoga St., Suite B, in Downtown Suffolk.

Scott noted that this year is his first in representing Franklin. Court-ordered border changes last year expanded his coverage, which also includes Isle of Wight and the northern half of Suffolk.

The congressman expressed his concern about President Trump’s proposed budget cuts, such as the 21 percent each in the departments of labor and agriculture. Scott noted that there are increases for the military, which could benefit this region, he did ask “what mechanism is going to pay for it?”

He also acknowledged that while there are still some problems with the Affordable Care Act, the other proposed alternatives feature an increase in health care costs and that “10s of millions of people would lose coverage.”

He suggested that Medicaid could be expanded, and that it was a mistake that the General Assembly did not do so.

Following his remarks and answering some questions — McEachin had to leave early — Barry DuVal called on the guests to participate using their smartphones in an online survey, Blueprint Virginia 2025.

DuVal is the president and CEO of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. He asked them to prioritize their concerns on issues such as how well is the state preparing for the future, or what industries are most needed.

DuVal urged those present to join their local chamber of commerce if they had not done so already.

The event was sponsored by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline along with Voice of Business partners Paul D. Camp Community College; Will Holt — Kaufman & Canoles, P.C.; and the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe.