MOORE: Speak, because they're listening

At no point in history has leadership and the voice of the business community been more essential to ensuring its competitive edge. Through its public policy efforts, the Gwinnet Chamber of Commerce represents the interests of the Gwinnett business community at the local, state and federal levels, advocating issues of importance to the community's economic vitality and quality of life. It provides unique opportunities for members to hear, meet and interact with elected officials, as well as stay abreast of current legislative issues that affect their businesses.

Most recently, Dean Collins, vice president of T.Y. Lin International Company, Randy Dellinger, Gwinnett district manager at Jackson EMC, and Herman Pennamon, regional manager for Georgia Power, accompanied me to Washington, D.C., to meet and advocate for issues critical to job creation and economic development.

Members of the Chamber's Public Policy Council met with eight members of the Georgia Congressional delegation, including representatives Tom Price, Paul Broun, Austin Scott, Jack Kingston, Phil Gingrey, Hank Johnson, Rob Woodall, and senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, as well as representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency. Topics ranged from the importance of Gwinnett to Georgia and the deepening of the Savannah Port, to the federal surface transportation bill, Export-Import Bank reauthorization and regulatory process reform.

During these one-on-one conversations with elected officials, chiefs of staff and legislative aids, it became evident that this was not a common practice among members of the business community. In fact, Charlie Harmon -- chief of staff for Senator Isakson and long-time Hill denizen -- stated that, as a whole, the business community is not as vocal as other groups. They want -- and need -- to hear more.

With that in mind, the Gwinnett Chamber has been and continues to provide strategic public policy events and opportunities to support better communication of the local and statewide business communities and those leaders representing them. From the Washington, D.C., Fly-In conducted every spring with 30 regional business and community leaders and one-time events such as hosting the U.S. White House Business Council meeting for the Metro Atlanta with Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, businesses can speak one-on-one with these leaders and identify specific solutions to effectively grow the economy. The Chamber also established a Public Policy Council in 2011 to identify and prioritize issues that affect business and develop an advocacy and communication strategy.

Gwinnett businesses are fortunate to have elected leaders who want to hear from them. Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, along with members of the Gwinnett delegation, recently challenged the Special Committee on Small Business Development and Job Creation to review and evaluate Georgia's regulatory environment. This effort, called Red Tape Watch, will be carried out through the 2012 legislative session.

In an aggressive effort to communicate specific regulations that need to be reconsidered by elected leaders and government agencies, the Gwinnett Chamber has posted a Business Regulatory Reform Survey on the public policy website www.gwinnettchamberpublicpolicy.com. If there is a specific regulation that is negatively impacting your company and its ability to create, please visit the website and complete the survey. The Chamber will submit the regulation to the appropriate decision-makers, track the process, and report the results.

Magnify your voice to Washington. Visit gwinnettchamberpublicpolicy.com today and find out how you can get engaged.

Jann Moore is Vice President of Public Policy, Education, and Leadership for the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce.