Congressman Sam Graves, R-Mo., will be hosting a meet-and-greet at 12:30 p.m. Friday at Lovegreen Ford to talk to residents and area business owners about top interest issues.
Graves will provide a legislative update regarding jobs and small businesses, communications director Jason Klindt said, as those are the topics that affect not only his district, but the country.
“The Congressman believes in representing his district to Washington, and not the other way around,” Klindt said. “The only way to do that is to hear from the folks in northeast Missouri.”
Klindt said Graves has received a lot of questions about job creation, and because seven out of 10 jobs created in the U.S. are by small businesses, he said, it’s important to hear the public’s opinion.
Sandra Williams, Kirksville Chamber of Commerce executive director, said when the Chamber found out about Graves’ visit, they let all of their members know so they could gather any questions or concerns.
The most common question so far is about government regulation issues, Williams said. She said because Kirksville is facing tough Environmental Protection Agency regulations for the water treatment plant — a $19 million bond issue that Kirksville residents will vote on April 2 — these mandates are important to people throughout the community.
Another issue Williams said is important to the area, for tourism and the economy, is Essential Air Service. She said the contract the City has with Cape Air has helped put Kirksville on the map and has been beneficial, but none of that could happen without subsidies, which ultimately are controlled by legislators.
“We’re always glad to have legislators of any sort here to hear what’s important to our community,” Williams said. “We want them to remember our community when they’re back in their offices.”
Bill Lovegreen, the owner of Lovegreen Ford, said as a small business owner with fewer than 50 employees, his biggest question is about health care. With new federal regulations, he said he wants to make sure he’s staying up-to-date with each requirement, but doesn’t always know or understand what each provision means.
“I don’t have a human resource person who gets paid to know about those things,” he said. “The small businessman like me can’t justify that, so the owner or general manager usually does it all.”
Graves’ understanding of health care reform and what businesses should be aware of and prepared for is one of the issues Lovegreen said he looks forward to hear.
He said while he understands there is a need for government mandates on business operations, the resources for owners to understand those changes aren’t always available, which can make it hard to manage.
“I don’t have problems with competition, working with my employees or providing them benefits,” Lovegreen said. “I like that part of [the business]. I don’t care for complying with regulations that I’m not really knowledgeable about, and that takes away from the productivity of our business.”
Lovegreen said he was asked to host the visit a few weeks ago and thought it was a good decision to engage the community in the conversations that need to be had with their elected officials.
“If you’ve got issues, then share them,” he said. “If you don’t, then you shouldn’t complain, that’s what I believe.”
Graves’ stop in Kirksville is one of three Friday, including Hannibal and Louisiana, Mo., Klindt said.