Last week, nearly 350 regional business, civic and elected leaders traveled to Washington, D.C., for the Sacramento Metro Chamber’s 46th annual Capitol-to-Capitol program. This civic enterprise is the largest chamber advocacy effort of its kind in the nation. This year’s delegation was one of the largest in recent years, an indicator of growing civic engagement in our community.
Cap-to-Cap’s mission is a fundamental exercise of democracy. People have descended upon Congress for years advocating for a variety of issues. What sets Cap-to-Cap apart is that we come together and work collectively, with one voice, to move our region forward.
As elected officials who represent various constituencies, the program gave us an opportunity to learn more from our delegation about our joint and individual aspirations for our region. We walked away with a deeper grasp of the connected nature of many of our local issues and a better feel for the region-wide opportunities to address them.
For our region to be successful, we must work together. While we are proud to represent Rancho Cordova and Yuba County, respectively, we take great pride in representing the six-county, 22-city capital region. And true representation requires collaboration — at times among business competitors or members of different political parties — as well as dedication to common goals.
To find those goals in advance of the Cap-to-Cap trip, 11 policy teams identified critical initiatives and honed in on three areas requiring investment for our region: infrastructure, people and strategic initiatives.
The delegation sought funding to support improved systems for moving goods and people and expanded water storage in preparation for future droughts. It requested support and expansion for career pathway programs and services to assist our veterans and the homeless. And it advocated for initiatives that play to our strategic advantages, including expanded trade, support for small-business development efforts, and access to federal grants to expand our food and agricultural efforts and flood and wildfire prevention.
These conversations took place in 220 scheduled meetings with representatives from the White House, members of Congress and leadership in federal agencies. A few immediate outcomes include: helping spur conversations back at the state level to advance Sites Reservoir and other projects to help store our water; identifying $80 million in the federal budget reserved for flood control in our region; a commitment from the Department of Transportation to continue investing in our transit system, including the streetcar project; and discussions with members of the Department of Housing and Urban Development on efforts to better link energy efficiency, affordable housing, disaster relief and community development.
Cap-to-Cap succeeds by advancing policies in Washington and by establishing or deepening relationships across jurisdictional and business boundaries back at home. As our region expands, it is imperative that we continue efforts like Cap-to-Cap to meet the opportunities of the future that will define us as a region.