WASHINGTON D.C. (OBV) – Oklahoma business leaders visited the nation’s capital during The State Chamber of Oklahoma’s D.C. Fly-In earlier this week and gathered with the state’s congressional delegation to discuss a range of business-related concerns.
The legislators spoke with Chamber members behind closed doors, discussing workforce, tax reform, immigration reform, the federal budget and the possibility of a government shutdown.
The Chamber organizes the D.C. Fly-In each fall to give Chamber members an inside look at what’s happening inside the Beltway, as well as the opportunity for members to speak with their legislators on Capitol Hill.
“The real important part of why we’re here is, one, to make sure our delegation hears from Oklahoma businesses,” said Chad Warmington, president and CEO of The Sate Chamber. “We do a lot of that when we’re back in the state. I think it’s unique to be up here in D.C. and then have those conversations.”
The Fly-In gives Chamber members the chance to not only speak with their legislators but also the opportunity to hear expert analysis on important topics that pertain to business, the economy, politics and world affairs.
“It improves their view of what’s going on in the world, what’s going on in politics, what’s going on in Congress; so, it’s kind of a mutual exchange of good information,” Warmington said. “It’s really important to have that perspective as we go back and make policy decisions for Oklahoma.”
The historic Willard Hotel, built in 1847, hosted the 2023 Fly-In delegation. The Fly-In’s series of events began Sunday night with a kickoff reception sponsored by Trinity Industries.
“It’s really great. It’s really an enjoyable thing to get to meet other businesses in the state, other people who employ people and succeed,” said Ryan Gikas with Spur Design.
The IBC Bank Issue Panels began early Monday morning and featured experts on national defense, political races and the state of the U.S. economy.
“I was particularly intrigued by the idea of the abundance agenda for the economy. Every state is struggling right now when it comes to jobs, workforce, housing supply,” said Scott Martin with the Norman Chamber. “The economists that we heard from really talked about the idea that we want to increase supply across all sectors, and that will help drive the economy. I thought that was fascinating.”
The event also included breakout lunches with expert discussion on timely hot topics AI and national immigration reform. The lunches were sponsored by HF Sinclair and IBC Bank.
Attendees traveled to Virginia for the DC Fly-In Special Dinner at President George Washington’s Mount Vernon. An actor in character as Washington greeted guests, gave an inspiring speech and led a tour of the first commander and chief’s historic home and grounds. American Fidelity sponsored the tour.
“It was a fun dinner with a lot of Oklahomans. I mean, how many times you get a chance to have the former president just stop by and say hello,” said Sen. James Lankford. “It is great just to be able to just visit and to be able to talk and to be able to talk about all the issues in a more informal setting.”
Fly-In participants traveled to Capitol Hill on Tuesday. The Oklahoma Association of Realtors sponsored the congressional briefings with Oklahoma’s federal delegation at the podium. Chamber members received direct access to U.S. senators and U.S. representatives in the midst of legislative session.
“This is the backbone of our economy, right? This is our State Chamber. It represents so many businesses across the state,” Sen. Markwayne Mullin. “Seventy percent of our economy is small business owners. So, it’s important that we’re here meeting with them because they’re employing our constituents.”
After a full day of federal news, the Fly-In gathering headed to Union Station for the Chickasaw Nation Oklahoma Reception, giving Chamber members and officials an opportunity to make meaningful connections with one another.
“These are all the great folks that we work with back at home in Oklahoma,” said Kirby Smith, chief of staff for Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell. “It’s a good opportunity for us to be here in our nation’s capital, to be having the discussions and seeing how the issues that we’re working on in Oklahoma fit into the bigger fabric of things that are going on here in D.C.. Also, it’s just a great opportunity to continue to build those relationships.”
Zach Perkins, with Ross Group, said the Fly-In encourages unity.
“It’s cool because you realize that some things you’re maybe initially polarized on, you find unity and some cohesion there. And regardless of your industry being health care, energy or construction, we have a lot in common that we need,” Perkins said.
A gallery of photos from the Fly-In is included below: