Blog post by Ashley Duckman
Ashley Duckman is the Vice President of Government Affairs at the Maryland Chamber. As the VP, she leads advocacy efforts on behalf of the 4,500+ members of the Maryland Chamber before the Maryland General Assembly and on the federal level. Duckman’s responsibilities include developing, leading, and executing the legislative strategy of the organization and maintaining positive working relationships with key elected officials and members of the Administration in order to build a better understanding of and appreciation for business issues.
This month, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with our Federation partners, launched a pilot program aimed at connecting business owners with legislators to highlight the work local businesses are doing every day to create economic opportunity and prosperity for constituents across the state. The Take Your Legislator to Work (TYLTW) initiative allows legislators to experience a typical workday to see firsthand the full scope of what is required to own and operate a business in Maryland.
Through this program, our members and Federation partners connect with legislators to become expert resources for them on the issues, laws and regulations that impact their businesses and customers. The program is an integral part of educating policymakers on the work that Chamber members do every day to make Maryland a better place to live and work. Participants are also able to solidify existing relationships and build new ones through this program—as off-site, one-on-one interaction is often the most effective way to build trusting and long-lasting connections between business leaders and legislators.
The structure of the visits varies based on the businesses themselves. However, during a typical TYLTW day, business leaders may do the following:
Earlier this month, one of our pilot program partners hosted the first series of TYLTW visits. The Rockville Chamber of Commerce facilitated a trip to Dawson’s Market, a local natural foods grocery store, for Delegate Jim Gilchrist (District 17, Montgomery County). There, Delegate Gilchrist met with Bart Yablonsky, Dawson’s owner, who showed him the scope of operations at the store. The pair discussed agricultural issues, including those related to organic produce, as well as competition and pricing challenges.
That day, Delegate Gilchrist also paid a visit to Fusion Academy, where he met with students and faculty, even participating in a music lesson. He was able to provide an overview of the role of the legislature in Maryland to students, while Rockville Chamber of Commerce CEO, Marji Graf, was able to speak to students about the role of her organization and the ways it helps businesses connect, expand and grow.
We thank the Rockville Chamber of Commerce for their role in launching this valuable initiative, and we look forward to partnering with our Federation and Maryland Chamber members on future TYLTW visits.