A Baytown Township resident, Kjell Bergh, who is CEO of Borton Volvo, recently went to Washington D.C. to participate in a brainstorming session with 40 other business leaders and high ranking officials in the administration.
It wasn’t the only time Bergh has attended such discussions. He’s done so three times in the past few years through a group called Business Forward.
“I still don’t know how I got on the list for this, but it’s a very valuable way of increasing the transparency of government,” Bergh said.
He added that he’s been involved in politics at both the local and national level for several decades and held a position as chairman of the international automobile association.
Business Forward is a group that makes it easier for businesses to advise Washington on how to create jobs and help with economic recovery. The group has put together similar briefings with more than 400 administration officials, members of Congress, and mayors and governors. It brought 2,000 leaders to the White House in 2012.
“This discussion was a little different because we did have such a large group of people,” Bergh said. “The last time I was at one of these meetings there were 25-30 people. I understand that the administration wants to spread the word and share information with their constituents so they have a stake in the size, but I do prefer the smaller groups. It didn’t prevent us from discussion and interacting though.”
Topics covered at the meeting included discussion of the Affordable Care Act, immigration reform and an especially timely conversation on passing the budget.
“Two days after the group was there, the budget was passed,” Bergh said. “We had expressed our concerns about another possible government shutdown happening, and we had been promised by the officials that they were absolutely certain there wouldn’t be another government shutdown. We found out two days after we were there that the budget had been passed.”
Other items discussed included how to streamline getting government student loans for small business owners, as well as ideas about possible tax write-offs for companies.
Several fields were represented, with participants ranging from professionals in the recording industry to the health care industry.
Bergh said the various political parties are well-represented in the discussions and that the meetings were by invitation only and closed to the press so that everyone feels free to speak their minds.
“I’ve been very lucky to participate in these events, and I’d like to underline how important it is that this format allows democracy to function in a transparent way,” Bergh said. “The fact is that we get to share our opinions with higher-level officials in the government and have our voices heard.”
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