Chamber, Local Business Leaders Complete First Day in DC

It’s one of the most highly attended and highly scheduled Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce DC Fly-Ins in recent years and Wednesday morning the 13 government and business leaders didn’t waste any time getting started. By the time many people back at home were rolling into the office, the group – including Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett – had already touched down in Washington DC.


With nearly every minute of the trip scheduled to maximize time and opportunities, the group packed in meetings with Senator Todd Young, Congresswoman Jackie Walorski, Congressman Todd Rokita, Senator Joe Donnelly, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency and dinner with Congressman Larry Bucshon.

While schedules and logistics may be complex, the goal of the DC visit is simple; bring business and government leaders from Terre Haute to meet with federal law makers and government organizations.

Terre Haute Chamber Vice President Kristin Craig, who has worked closely with Rachel Leslie of the Terre Haute firm RJL Solutions to organize the visit, said traditional DC visits have been organized and partnered with the Indiana Chamber, but as advocacy and government relations becomes a higher priority, the Chamber is finding a more personalized trip a large benefit.

“We are finding this such a positive on many levels,” Craig said from DC. “We have seen opportunities for expansion of regional partnerships, especially within rural areas using USDA funding. I would say overall this is a great group that’s making important connections and representing our community well.”

Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett, says his mission of the visit is to promote Terre Haute and continue on-going conversations with federal law maker in face-to-face meetings. Mayor Bennett said discussions entailed support of the federal government, while focusing on how that will affect Terre Haute.

“The biggest eye opener is hearing about the tax reform process,” he said. “I believe it has the potential to have the biggest impact in personal and business growth.”


Senator Joe Donnelly hosted the group; speaking specifically on rural development funding, the drug crisis, tax reform and the future of a prison expansion. Additional topics included Defense Development, specifically Terre Haute 181st Intelligence Wing.

FullSizeRender (10)

Attendee Bernice Helman, of Codwell Banker, says one of the most informative and interesting visits was with Indiana Representative Jackie Walorski.

“This has been eye opening,” Helman says. “Especially speaking with Representative Walorski. I have great respect for her conviction and work done on behalf of veterans. Additionally, it is great to see firsthand the process that is happening with tax reform and the efforts that are going into it to protect the middle class. We also have a tremendous asset in the federal prison and the importance of coming together as a community to continue to pursue further development.”


The group also spent time touring the US Capitol and the White House. Thursday is another full day, including tours of Washington memorials and landmarks.



DC Fly-In Attendees

  • Beau Baird, IN Home Care Plus
  • Bernice Helman, Vice President Coldwell Bankers Troy Helman Realtors
  • Brian Koistra, Chief Operating Officer Garmong Construction Services
  • Duke Bennett, Terre Haute Mayor
  • Hans Eilbracht, Executive Director of Government Affairs Hamilton Center
  • Jon Ford, Senator District 38, IN
  • Kara McIntosh, Deputy Director Terre Haute Regional Airport
  • Keith Carter, Partner Kemper CPA Group
  • Kristin Craig, Vice President Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce
  • Lea Anne Crooks, Chancellor Ivy Tech Community College – Terre Haute
  • Lori Danielson, Owner GoTime Coaching
  • Rachel Leslie, Managing Partner RJL Solutions, LLC
  • Sara Smith, Vice President Sycamore Engineering