Chambers Seek Budget Deal
Twenty Boards In State Sign Letter Urging Compromise In Congress
PAGE COUNTY - The Luray-Page County Chamber of Commerce has signed on to a letter with about 20 other chambers from around Virginia urging Congress to reach a budget deal to end the government shutdown.
The letter, sent Thursday to Virginia’s congressional delegation by the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, acknowledges the importance of “restraining” federal spending to reduce budget deficits and containing the growth of federal debt, but also stresses the need for the Senate and House to reach a compromise.
The letter also urges Congress to raise the nation’s debt ceiling by Thursday’s deadline.
“[I]t is not in the best interest of the business community or the American people to risk further harm to an already fragile economy,” the letter says. “Virginia’s economy is especially susceptible to damage, with approximately 30 percent of the Commonwealth’s economy tied to federal spending.”
John Robbins, president of the Luray-Page chamber, said the closure of Shenandoah National Park has had the biggest impact on the area. About 250,000 visitors descend on the park to view fall foliage each October, generating $10 million in revenue for the Shenandoah Valley, he said.
But without a park to visit, cabins that were booked are unavailable, a backpacking company in Luray has lost a quarter of its usual business and a town copy service is out of one of its major clients, Delaware North Co., the park’s concession company that had to lay off 267 people because of the shutdown, Robbins said.
“These are the effects the Congress isn’t seeing or doesn’t care about,” he said. “It’s frustrating and it’s angering a lot of people, but we’re determined to keep tourists coming to Page County.”
Frank Tamberrino, president of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce, said the letter arrived on short notice, so he didn’t want to sign onto it without first getting permission from his leadership team.
“You’re making a public policy statement,” he said. “We can always add our name later.”
Tamberrino said the chamber agrees with the tone and spirit of the letter.
“You’re sent to govern,” he said of the document’s message to Congress, “and please do so.”
On the first day of the shutdown Oct. 1, Robbins said he helped guide 90 tourists to alternative destinations after they found their campground or other attraction that brought them to Page County was closed.
More recently, a family from Germany that had planned a vacation for a year to Shenandoah National Park had to change its plans once reaching the area, he said.
“Let’s hope they do their job,” Robbins said of Congress, “because everybody else is.”
Contact Preston Knight at 574-6272 or firstname.lastname@example.org