Chamber set for face time in D.C.

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 5, 2011

By David Vitrano


DESTREHAN – A delegation from the River Region Chamber of Commerce will travel to Washington, D.C., next week to voice concerns and discuss issues with Washington insiders.

“We have a very busy schedule,” said Chairman Henry Friloux.

Among the topics the attendees intend to examine with some of Louisiana’s senators, representatives and special interest groups are hurricane protection, Mississippi River dredging, the Natural Gas Act, regulation, education, coastal restoration, Workforce Investment Act Reauthorization and offshore drilling. While many of the issues are specific to the River Region, others, such as the Restore Act, which would apportion some of funds from BP for the 2010 oil spill to Gulf Coast restoration, would benefit a much wider swath.

“That would be outstanding for Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida,” said Friloux.

Sen. David Vitter and Rep. Steve Scalise have already confirmed meetings with the group, and they hope to add more before departing Tuesday, Oct. 11

Although the Washington fly-in is a tool used commonly by local chambers, this is the first time the River Region Chamber of Commerce will be participating in one.

Chamber Executive Director Chassity McComack said the reason the RRCC waited until now to attempt a fly-in is because she and the board wanted to wait until membership numbers reached a certain level.

“We just got to that size,” said McComack. “Some chambers do it annually, and that’s something we would like to do.”

Friloux noted a Washington connection to St. Charles Parish helped make the timing just right.

“You need somebody in Washington to help set this all up,” he said.

Both Friloux and McComack touted the importance of face-to-face meetngs when dealing with the powers in Washington.

“It increases the physical presence,” said McComack. “We’re not just a name on an email.” Friloux said Vitter told him himself about the increased impact ofin-person visits.

“It sends a stronger message,” he said. “I think more open dialogue comes about.”

About 15 local business representatives and government officials have already signed up to make the trip, which will last three days.

“We were shooting for 20, and we’re still not giving up,” said McComack.

Anyone interested in attending or sponsoring the fly-in should contact the River Region Chamber of Commerce office at 985-359-9777. Visit for more information.