The Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce has announced plans for their Annual DC Fly In that will look different in 2020 than what was originally scheduled to take place in September. “This year we will host a two-part DC event,” said Chamber President Sandra Wilson, “with it based out of Paducah and not traveling to DC.”
“While we are unable to go to DC due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the work we do with our Congressional members and their staff is too important to our community to cancel,” said Wilson. “From those relationships, Paducah and McCracken County have benefited by receiving millions of dollars in investments in our local economy in the form of jobs, business growth and development.” In 2019 the city was awarded a $10.4 million BUILD grant for infrastructure improvements on the Riverfront, a $40 million increase in funding at the Paducah Department of Energy site above the annual allocation, and Barkley Regional Airport received notification of $20 million for construction of a new terminal.
The revised plans include the first part to be held in late August when the Chamber will schedule small group virtual meetings with the Congressional staff to discuss the Chamber’s 2020 priorities. In October an event now called a DC Fly-Back will be held with part virtual and part in-person to host meetings with the Department of Energy and Department of Transportation including the Maritime Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration. Plans are underway for the Energy Communities Alliance (ECA), a non-profit trade association for communities adjacent or impacted by DOE, to brief the group on their work. Congressman James Comer will participate in the meetings and invitations will be extended to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Rand Paul as well as other members of the state’s Congressional delegation.
The Chamber has been developing their 2020 Federal Priorities in preparation for the annual Fly In. The top three priorities identified are continued FAA funding for the Barkley Regional Airport terminal project and Essential Air Service funding; continued funding for DOE’s clean-up efforts at the Paducah site and an increase in $20 million in FY 2021; and support for a comprehensive Infrastructure Bill to strengthen critical infrastructure including air, roads, bridges, railways, waterways, broadband and public transit systems.
“We chose these top three priorities to represent the greatest needs of our community that would also bring the biggest impact,” said Brent Housman, chair of the Chamber’s Business Advocacy Committee. “Barkley Regional Airport is the gateway for business and leisure travelers entering the four-state area. Replacing the 70-year-old terminal will make Paducah more attractive to visitors and prospective businesses for years to come. Similarly, increased investment in the DOE Paducah site is an investment in jobs for our area for decades to come and spending on infrastructure will lead to job creation and overall economic growth.”
The Chamber also included COVID-19 Recovery Recommendations to help rebuild America’s businesses, especially small businesses in their 2020 priorities including liability protection for businesses, state and local funding, and telehealth.
Further details about the Chamber’s two-part DC event will be released soon.