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A Publication of WTVP

Why take time from business and family to spend four days in Washington D.C.? Of what value would this trip be? Will there be a payback for attending?

The 35 to 40 people from Peoria who attend the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce annual Washington Fly In this year will have positive answers to all the questions above. Each year, Congressman Ray LaHood hosts a trip to the nation's capitol for representatives from Peoria, Springfield, Decatur, Jacksonville, and Quincy. In total, a delegation of about 90 people will be in Washington this spring from May 15 to 18.

Let's answer each question. Why take time out from your business and family? The obvious answer is because what the federal government does every day impacts both your business and your personal life enormously. Tax increases and cuts, new regulations impacting the employer/employee relationship, trade agreements, war and peace, and homeland safety and security are all within the responsibility of our federal government. Participants learn from the policy-makers themselves what their ideas and plans are. Even more importantly, participants have the opportunity to tell policy-makers what's important to central Illinois businesses. Members of Congress and the administration want to know what business owners and managers are thinking and how they feel on issues that impact their life and their business.

Congressman LaHood and his staff have coordinated an unparalleled lineup of speakers. Past speakers have included CIA Director George Tenant; Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert; Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld; and the chairman of House Ways and Means Committee. These are the individuals setting policy for our nation.

Of what value is this trip? First, there's the value of increased information and knowledge. The more we know, the better prepared we are to deal with policy changes, new laws, etc. In addition, the Washington Fly In is an extraordinary networking opportunity. The Peoria group will mix and get to know each other at both the formal parts of the trip, as well as the more informal portions. These informal times include group dinners, sightseeing, the popular golf game, and even the waiting time in the airports. Past participants consistently report that networking is the bonus value of the Fly In-and as important as the official part of the trip.

Last, but not least, will there be a payback for attending? That should be obvious by now-yes. The Washington Fly In develops and renews relationships with Peoria business leaders, and leaders in other central Illinois communities, that lead to new business opportunities. Participants have a level of access to the leaders of this country that's highly unusual and beneficial. This contact enables them to share their perspectives on issues of importance to their businesses directly with the nation's policy makers.

Space for the Washington Fly In is limited and fills quickly. For more information, call 495-5923 or visit www.peoriachamber.org. IBI

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