Every day, Members of Congress make decisions that affect your business. However, most lawmakers do not know how a grower, a local florist, or a supplier operates. As a result, legislation is being written and enacted that has significant consequences for your business without any understanding of how your business will be affected.
One of the best ways to educate your members of Congress about the industry and your business is to invite them to visit.
Members of Congress appreciate being invited to their constituents’ businesses. They spend much of their time in Washington in adversarial policy debates, media interviews, and other confrontational situations. They enjoy visiting their constituents at home, and the informal discussions with constituents help lawmakers learn about the industry and small business.
During these visits, you can walk them through your facility, show how your business works, introduce employees (more of their constituents), and explain how legislation they vote on will help or hurt your business.
Not only do members of Congress learn from those visits, but long-term relationships can be built, and you could become an informal policy advisor to the member of Congress. It is not unusual for a member of Congress to contact a constituent they have met when a bill is being considered to determine how it will affect them.
Many SAF members have taken the initiative to invite their member of Congress for a visit. In July of 2015, Sue Palazzo hosted Representative Jim Himes (D-CT) at City Line Florist in Trumbull, Connecticut. Sue told her story, described the workings of a retail florist, and discussed issues that may be addressed by legislation.
In April of 2016, Representative Michael Capuano (D-MA) visited Jacobsen Floral Supply in Boston and Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX) was hosted by Dr. Delphinium Designs & Events in Dallas. At Jacobsen, Nick Fronduto brought the industry’s priorities to the attention of the congressman during the 45-minute visit. At Dr. Delphinium, Charles Ingrum gave the congressman a tour of their greenhouse and discussed business issues.
In October of 2013, Representative Rob Andrews (D-NJ) accepted an invitation by Delaware Valley Floral Group to the company’s facility in Sewell, New Jersey. During the 90-minute visit, the congressman was deeply interested in the company’s operations and considered their activities as a barometer of the economy in general which informed his legislative actions. Nine years earlier, the company hosted Representative Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) and provided him with real-world examples of the industry’s legislative priorities.
Representative Heath Shuler (R-NC) spent more than an hour touring Van Wingerden International in Mills River, North Carolina in September of 2010. During the visit, Bert Lemkes saw that the congressman was truly interested in learning about his business and the industry.
Need help arranging a visit by your lawmakers? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-838-5230.