Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce (BACC) is releasing its 2021 Public Policy Agenda outlining the chamber’s legislative policy on issues that effect the business community and for the advancement of the region’s workforce and economic development.

The Public Policy Agenda was approved by the Government Affairs Committee and by majority vote of the BACC Board of Directors who represent a variety of membership and regional interests.

BACC states that its committee works to monitor and identify local and state policy issues of importance to members. Its public policy is to ensure that our voices are heard and legislators are aware of the issues that are important to businesses that represent the region.

The following is BACC’s 2021 Public Policy Agenda.

• Investment in job training, education and in-demand skills as means to higher earning potential, with regard for the implications of higher minimum wage mandates on jobs and small business operations.

• Proposals that will simplify the tax code and reduce the cost of compliance on businesses and individuals.

• Opposition of requirements to mandate collective bargaining, require binding arbitration or repeal Virginia’s right-to-work law.

• Protection of Virginia’s existing right-to-work laws so that employees are not compelled to pay union dues as a condition of employment.

• Delaying the minimum wage increase until the economy recovers to pre-pandemic levels.

• Continued funding for economic development programs available through the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, GO Virginia and the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission.

• Continued funding for tourism and agri-tourism initiatives.

• Policies that make it easier to conduct business in Bedford County. 

• Virginia policies to invest in infrastructure to expand affordable broadband and telecommunication services in unserved areas to support education, telework, and telemedicine to enhance the area’s competitiveness in economic development.

• Funding for business growth and expansion programs such as the Enterprise Zone Program.

• Continued use of Historic Tax Credits as a revitalization tool.

• Full funding by the state or federal government of any state or federal mandates to localities.

• Further strengthening of revenue options for Virginia’s localities that were enhanced in the 2020 legislative session.

 

Workforce development and education

The Bedford Area Chamber:

• Supports efforts to increase teacher salaries, which will allow Virginia to better recruit and retain educators in a shrinking teacher workforce. 

• Believes funding for workforce development is a priority for state, regional and local education providers and encourage adequate funding.

• Supports an alignment between secondary education, colleges and universities, and the business community to better meet industry, workforce and talent needs.

• Supports initiatives that strengthen connections among students, parents, educators, guidance counselors and career coaches for career and technical education (CTE) opportunities and regionally in-demand careers. 

• Supports fully funding the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.

• Is concerned with any rush to legalize marijuana in Virginia specifically as this impacts business and manufacturing workplace safety, reinvestment initiatives and attracting new industry to Bedford County.

 

Transportation

The Bedford Area Chamber:

• Encourages the General Assembly to actively support a passenger rail stop in Bedford. We believe that a passenger rail stop is one of the most important investments that could be made in our economy.

• Supports more resources for multimodal transportation options.

• Supports initiatives to make Highway 460 and U.S. 221 safer.

 

Healthcare

The Bedford Area Chamber:

• Supports initiatives that will provide business with more health care provider choices with lower costs.

• Supports initiatives that will strengthen behavioral health services in the Bedford community.

 

COVID-19 and other health emergencies

The Bedford Area Chamber supports measures to help businesses recover and operate during the COVID-19 pandemic and other health emergencies. It supports:

• Accurate and prompt COVID-19 testing.

• Legal liability protections for businesses who follow health protocols.

• Continued affordable and reliable access to Personal Protective Equipment.

• Measures to restore manufacturing of critical medical equipment.

• Reducing roadblocks for permitting/licensing childcare providers so that parents can continue to work during public health emergencies.

Read more stories in the upcoming issue of the Smith Mountain Eagle newspaper. Pick up a copy or subscribe at www.smithmountaineagle.com/subscriber_services to view articles in the print and/or e-edition version.

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