BCA Governmental Affairs Conference Looks to the Future

The Business Council of Alabama’s 2018 Governmental Affairs Conference held Aug. 10-12 featured Q&As with members of Alabama’s congressional delegation and state legislative leaders, informative speeches by Governor Kay Ivey and the Israeli consul to the Southeast and Puerto Rico, release of a new education report, and an inspiring keynote address by adventurist, author, and motivational speaker Alison Levine, who has conquered the highest mountains on each continent, including Mt. Everest.

The annual BCA conference at the Marriott Grand Hotel and Spa at Point Clear was attended by BCA members, elected officials, and honored guests.

The conference kicked off with a networking reception designed to give attendees the opportunity to meet and mingle with candidates running for election this year.

The reception was hosted by the Alliance for Alabama’s Infrastructure, a grassroots advocacy coalition focused on fixing Alabama’s infrastructure crisis and making our roads safer, generating economic growth, and improving the quality of life for all Alabamians.

Saturday started with a panel discussion with Alabama’s state legislative leaders: Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, Alabama House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, R-Huntsville, and House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels, D-Huntsville. BCA Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Blackwell led the discussion that covered topics such as early childhood education, Medicaid expansion, workforce development, and the need to increase investment in Alabama’s roads and bridges.

Lior Haiat, Israel’s Consul General to Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Puerto Rico, spoke of Israel’s ties to Alabama and the United States. The U.S. – Israeli relationship is critical to the world’s stability making Consul General Haiat’s job and the services his office provides so critical.

The final feature of the breakfast program was a Congressional Forum sponsored by Electric Cities of Alabama. Electric Cities of Alabama is a coalition of the state’s municipally owned electric utilities. Alabama’s electric cities span the state serving approximately one-million customers in 36 cities.

This year’s Congressional Forum was hoted by Moore Hallmark, executive director of the Southeast region of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and featured U.S. Reps. Bradley Byrne, R-Fairhope; Gary Palmer, R-Hoover; and Mike Rogers, R-Saks.

Following the discussion, Hallmark presented the three with the U.S. Chamber Spirit of Enterprise Awards for their support of Chamber issues. The BCA is the exclusive affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Alabama.

The second part of the morning’s program was the Feature Presentations, presented by Austal USA.

First up, Dr. Joe Morton, chairman and president of the Business Education Alliance of Alabama, released the BEA’s fifth “white paper” report, Leadership Matters: A Blueprint for Reinventing Schools for Student Success. Prepared by the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, the 2018 BEA report examines the crucial role leadership plays in shaping educational outcomes and showcases six examples of where leadership making a difference and where data indicate studets are achieving higher levels of success.

Next, Craig Perciavalle, Austal President of USA Operations, presented an informative video of the Mobile-based shipbuilder’s U.S. Navy warship production and the 4,000 Alabama-jobs the company provides.

Governor Ivey then took the stage and reiterated her support for education, workforce development, and Alabama infrastructure efforts, which are being led by the Alabama Alliance for Infrastructure. “We remain committed to infrastructure in our state,” Governor Ivey said.

Then, keynote speaker Alison Levine, adventuress and author of On The Edge, Leadership Lessons from Mount Everest and Other Extreme Environments, awed the audience with her experience of two trips climbing Mount Everest and skiing across Antarctica. She said in business as in extreme sports, preparation and the ability to adapt to uncontrollable conditions can be the difference between success and failure.

The conference ended with the traditional interfaith service featuring Tom Benz, founder of Bridge of Faith International Children’s Fund that supports Ukrainian adoption efforts, and BCA board member Fred Blackwell, a certified trainer and chair of the BCA’s Governmental Affairs Committee.