Partnership to advocate for regional priorities during next week’s trip to Washington
Sen. Joni Ernst meets with members of a central Iowa delegation that visited Washington D.C. last fall as part of a scaled down version of the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s DMDC trip. The Partnership will resume its trip taking more than 180 people to Washington next week. Photo contributed by the Greater Des Moines Partnership
A delegation of more than 180 Central Iowa business leaders will converge on Washington D.C. next week as part of the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s DMDC 2022 trip, where the Partnership will lobby for its federal policy priorities.
The priorities, established by the Partnership’s Government Policy Committee, were released Tuesday and they focus on two overarching issues: Infrastructure and talent.
Contained within those priorities are the Des Moines International Airport terminal project, ICON Water Trails, and getting interstate designation for the U.S. highways 65 and 5 bypass. Under talent is immigration reform, community placemaking, a strong arts and culture ecosystem and affordable child care and housing.
In addition to a briefing of the priorities by Partnership staff with congressional staffers, other sessions that will take place during next week’s trip include one that will address the effect global events, particularly the war in Ukraine, are having on trade and the supply chain, and one on the role people can play in elevating civility.
Officials with the Partnership said they also expect some discussion on the beginning of talks about the new Farm Bill, which traditionally has included funding for commodity revenue support, farm credit, trade, agricultural conversation, research and development, energy and food programs,
It’s the first time in three years the Partnership has been able to take the trip to Washington. The last time was in 2019. In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic forced the Partnership to conduct the trip virtually, and last year it was canceled because of ongoing concerns and restrictions caused by the pandemic. Instead, a small delegation of officials visited Washington in September to pitch regional priorities.
Andrea Woodard, senior vice president of government relations and public policy at the Partnership, said the theme of the trip is advocacy, education and networking.
“Advocacy is why we go and education and networking are the benefits and opportunities that come along with the trip,” she said. “It’s the highlight of the year for our federal advocacy work. We already are doing advocacy in this Congress, but this sort of kicks off the year’s federal advocacy work.”
She said things have changed a little since the last time the Partnership went to Washington in 2019.
“Something that is interesting is that half of our delegation is new since we were last there,” Woodard said, referencing U.S. Reps. Randy Feenstra, Ashley Hinson and Mariannette Miller-Meeks.
Woodard said people’s interest in federal government has also shifted in recent years.
“I do think there we have an increased level of interest in priorities that are federal,” she said. “ I think in the past they were more policy driven and now I think we have these very specific projects that we are working on. I think they’re more tangible for people.”
Woodard said taking a large group on the trip provides for a completely different experience, with more education and networking opportunities, while the smaller trip allows for more one-on-one conversation with Iowa’s congressional delegation and their staff. The Partnership plans to continue incorporating the trip with a small delegation in the fall as part of its federal advocacy strategy. That effort also includes the events the Partnership hosts for the delegation in Central Iowa throughout the year, she said.
About half of those going on the trip are going for the first time, Woodard said, and she encouraged them to take it all in.
“It’s easy to run to your room and spend an hour working on email, and there are breaks throughout the day, but they should take advantage of every piece of programming they possibly can and use those breaks for conversations with other participants,” she said. “Identify who are those three, five, eight people they want to talk to during the trip, and make a point to meet and talk to new people and really take advantage of all the opportunities we’re trying to provide for them.”