Tulsa Chamber Leader Discusses DC Trip

Thursday, February 26th 2009, 5:06 pm
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The economic crisis was on the minds of the more than 70 Tulsa-area leaders who went to Washington, DC this week.  The delegation talked stimulus money with Oklahoma's Congressional leaders.

The delegation says leaders were receptive to their ideas about how to spend stimulus money, but admits there is still a lot work to be done before we know how much money we will get, and what it will be used for.

"We presented a very unified front.  We presented a public private partnership. I think will rival any part of the country," said Tulsa Metro Chamber President Mike Neal.

Tulsa Metro Chamber President Mike Neal was one of dozens of civic leaders who spent the last three days in DC.  The group included city commissioners, mayors, and other officials.  They were there to lobby our Senators and Congressmen for federal funding.

"I think we felt real good.  We were exceptionally well-received," said Tulsa Metro Chamber President Mike Neal.

The Tulsa contingent discussed specific projects like deepening the channel at the Port of Catoosa, and installing a light rail system downtown   But, most importantly, the delegation says, is repairing roads and bridges in dire need of upgrades.

The chamber says its top priority for the stimulus money is still infrastructure projects. They would like to see the funds used to fix crumbling roads, like the IDL in downtown Tulsa.

Delegation members admit they are well aware of just how unpopular the stimulus package is in Oklahoma.  After all, nearly all the representatives they lobbied voted against it.

Still, Neal says the bill is now law, and Tulsa should put itself in position to benefit from it.

"We now need to take advantage of it and try to get every dime we can for our communities, our region and our state.  If we don't get it, some other state's going to get it," said Tulsa Metro Chamber President Mike Neal.

The Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce says this was the first in a series of trips it will take to Washington this year.