Congressman Olson Listens to Concerns, Recommendations from Area Business

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HOUSTON (March 16, 2011) – More than a dozen Houston Ship Channel industry and small business members delivered a strong message to Congressman Pete Olson, (R) Texas 22nd Congressional District, that while Houston and U.S. economies are on the road to improvement, uncertainty regarding available financing and over-reaching federal regulation of business and industry inhibit a robust economic recovery.  Candid discussion occurred during a roundtable forum with Congressman Olson sponsored by the Economic Alliance Houston Port Region.

Small business owners shared with Congressman Olson the difficulty still faced in securing loans and financing that enable small businesses to hire additional employees, purchase inventory and supplies and expand operations.  A common theme across small business and larger industry was concern with growing U.S. debt, burgeoning budget and resulting fear of increased taxes or fees on business, industry and individuals.

Industry members shared frustration over uncertainty of regulation created by a feud between U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.  While EPA admits that TCEQ rules have reduced air emissions, EPA mandates a rigid permitting process and specifically defined permits which is requiring hundreds of manufacturing facilities to re-permit operating processes.

Industry leaders advised Congressman Olson that competition to build new manufacturing facilities is a global contest that the U.S. is in danger of losing due to added costs of U.S. construction, operation and regulation, as well as uncertainty of rules and regulations. U.S. manufacturing traditionally has overcome higher operating costs with increasingly efficient operations and highly productive and skilled workforces.  According to manufacturing leaders, the tipping point of additional regulatory burden, higher costs of raw materials and an extended recession have eroded efficiency and productivity advantages.

Congressman Olson agreed to carry business and industry concerns to his colleagues in Congress and to bring members of Congress to Houston to see first hand the effectiveness, efficiency and significance of the region’s oil, gas and petrochemical industries.  The roundtable discussion was facilitated by Dennis Winkler, Winkler Public Relations.  Winkler is an Economic Alliance board member and chairs the group’s public policy task force.

U.S. Congressman Pete Olson, (R) Texas 22nd Congressional District (left), listens as Jim Griffin, chair of the East Harris County Manufacturers Association (right), shares insights on industry’s economic recovery efforts and challenges facing industry.  Facilitating dialogue between Congressman Olson and more than a dozen small business and industry leaders are Dennis Winkler, Winkler Public Relations, chair of the Economic Alliance public policy task force and Chris Hext, chair of the Economic Alliance board of Directors. The Economic Alliance Houston Port Region sponsored the roundtable discussion.