From the State Chamber of Commerce President Randy Zook

The Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce/Associated Industries of Arkansas is one of the leading advocates for Arkansas businesses at the state and national level.

Our mission is to promote a pro-business, free enterprise agenda and prevent anti-business legislation, regulations and rules. Now more than ever, business matters to our nation’s future. In the global economy, our competitive capacity must be all it can possibly be — and the State Chamber/AIA works every day to make that happen.

For more than 80 years, the Arkansas State Chamber has worked to make Arkansas a better place to do business by giving private sector employers a voice in state politics and providing a full range of Arkansas-specific products and services. The Arkansas State Chamber’s active Governmental Affairs staff works in tandem with business leaders throughout the state to promote policies providing greater certainty for employers. In addition to representing employers to legislators and regulators, we:

• Run a targeted political action network. Our non-partisan pro-business leadership fund helps elect pro-jobs legislators.

• Take the lead on statewide initiative campaigns to fight for a strong jobs climate

• Go to court, when needed, on behalf of Arkansas employers and the economy

The State Chamber/AIA is engaged on a whole host of issues that have important implications for the business climate in Arkansas — severance taxes, sales taxes, tax exemptions, unemployment insurance, water plans, energy policy, broadband access, tort reform, education/workforce development and environmental regulation to name a few.

Our National Issues efforts continue to follow federal issues of concern to Arkansas’ business community.

The U.S. Congress and President Obama’s administration continue to fall short on the efforts to reach agreement on important issues that could result in faster growth in our economy. Immigration reform, corporate tax reform, sensible energy policy, to name a few, all offer great opportunity to create more certainty and confidence that would stimulate business formation and expansion and the jobs that would come from that growth.

The next federal election cycle in 2014 will be an important one in Arkansas as well as nationally. Our partnership with BIPAC, a respected D.C.-based business advocacy group, will be more visible than in years past. Employers have a unique opportunity to help their employees understand the effect of government on the business environment and the outlook for employees’ jobs.

While voter interest remains intense, understanding of economic issues lags. The Arkansas Prosperity Project is designed to help bridge that gap effectively and provide individuals with useful information when making important decisions. Rather than telling people how to vote, it arms them with valid data to help them reach informed opinions of their own.

The Arkansas State Chamber will soon continue its tradition of taking our message on the road in partnership with our local chambers of commerce and economic development organizations to prepare for the upcoming 2015 sessions with our State Chamber Door-to-Door initiative. Through the voice of our membership, our issues committees will begin meeting late summer and early fall to establish our legislative priorities for the next legislative sessions.

As the Arkansas State Chamber convenes its 86th annual meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 12, we look forward to learning how the 2014 elections will affect the economies of our state and our nation.

Randy Zook

Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce/AIA