As the current president of Grimes Chamber & Economic Development (GCED) I had the privilege of representing our organization at the 35th annual Greater Des Moines Partnership trip to Washington, D.C. There were 197 attendees from across the region. Grimes was well represented on the trip, as Mayor Tom Armstrong, Council Members Ty Blackford and Craig Paterson and GCED Executive Director Brian Buethe also attended.
We were greeted by opening remarks from keynote speaker Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), who was invited and introduced by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA). She recounted, among other things, how she and Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) worked in a bi-partisan manner to get the recent budget passed, which will allow the government to operate almost two years without another threat of a federal government shutdown. In order to accomplish this, both parties had to make concessions and compromises.
Senator Murray recounted her introduction to politics, in which she visited her state capitol to advocate for a program that would benefit children with disabilities. She was told, at the time, by a state legislator that she couldn’t make any difference because she was only “a mom in tennis shoes.” Before the end of that year, she helped organize 13,000 other moms to advocate and get their program passed. Her suggestion was that anyone can make a positive impact on how government operates if he or she is intelligent, organized and persistent in effort.
Throughout the three-day conference we attended workshops on the Affordable Care Act, Federal Immigration Reform, Housing, Education and the recent Farm Bill passage. We also had the opportunity to meet at length with Congressman Tom Latham to discuss the many opportunities and challenges we face as a community.
Our final day began with breakfast and briefing with all of the members of Iowa’s congressional delegation. Later in the day, we had the privilege of hearing Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), introduced by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), brief us on important issues before Congress. He also shared his story of growing up with his single mom and two brothers, nearly failing in high school before a local businessman took an interest in him. Because of that experience, he decided that he “could think his way out of poverty.” He went on to excel at school and developed a local insurance agency into the second largest agency in the country for his company.
It was a great trip, well organized by the Greater Des Moines Partnership staff, and exemplified the unity of most of the communities within the metropolitan area. It is something that all Chamber members are welcome to participate in and should consider in years to come.