Grand Rapids chamber to push education, tax policy, lobbyist says

By STEPHEN INGBER

Capital News Service

LANSING- Allie Bush is the new public policy coordinator for the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.

Her main focuses will be education and tax policy.

Bringing experience with an advanced degree from Grand Valley State University, she has worked as a policy advisor in the Michigan House of Representatives for the House Republican Policy Office.

The chamber’s members span from Wyoming to Comstock Park and cover all Grand Rapids suburbs.

 

On the other side of the state, the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce sends a three-person team to Lansing to communicate with legislators and advocate for its membership.

It is the voice of business promoting pro-growth and pro-business policy, said Jim Martinez, director of communications for the chamber. He said that the team not only works at the state level but also at the federal and local levels.

Bush’s job will be to work with Grand Rapids-area legislators to seek consensus in what aligns with the chamber’s agenda.

Members create the chamber’s priorities, Bush said. With more than 2,700 members, the chamber has some different goals than similar groups in other areas of the state. She emphasized the need for local advocacy, because Grand Rapids is the second-largest city in the state.

With a heavy majority of Republicans in both the House and Senate, her role will be to find middle ground for the businesses that the chamber represents.

She is a registered lobbyist and her role will include communicating and drafting positions for the chamber to take.

The chamber’s 2013-2014 legislative priorities include implementing statewide metrics for early childhood education; implementation of evaluation and development systems that attract, train and retain teachers and school administrators; and expanding college student access to financial aid and curbing tuition costs.

With the goal of creating strong talent for the work force, Bush said, collaborating with area businesses and educators will be the key to success.

Andy Johnston, vice president of government and corporate affairs for the chamber, said Bush is an energetic, dedicated and outgoing individual who brings strong legislative experience.

“She is thrilled to be back in West Michigan and ready to utilize her legislative experience to advocate on behalf of the West Michigan business community,” Johnston said.

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