Mitt means business: Craig residents meet with Romney for business roundtable
“It was a great opportunity to raise awareness with Mr. Romney about the energy sector and the increasing number of federal regulations that are making it more and more difficult for us to produce and deliver reliable and affordable power to the rural West.”
— Ken Anderson, Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association executive vice president and general manager, about a roundtable discussion Tuesday morning with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney
Scott Cook, a Craig and Steamboat Springs businessman, said new finance regulations are hindering him in the marketplace.
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was drafted to create more accountability in the financial system following the sweeping bank failure at the dawn of the recession.
However, Cook said the act has “created some huge compliance issues” in the finance and insurance departments of his business, Cook Chevrolet, which has locations in Craig and Steamboat.
He took his concerns Tuesday to someone who, depending on what happens in November, may be able to help.
Before Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney greeted a cheering crowd at a rally in Alice Pleasant Park, the GOP frontrunner sat down with a smaller group of local business owners and industry representatives at Best Western Plus Deer Park Inn and Suites.
Romney’s campaign set up the roundtable meeting, said Frank Moe, who co-owns the hotel with his wife, Kerry.
Campaign organizers “really want to get the true feeling of different people in each community (in a setting) where everybody’s at ease,” he said.
Federal regulation, or what several people who attended the meeting characterized as over-regulation, was a constant theme throughout the meeting.
Ken Anderson, Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association executive vice president and general manager, highlighted the impact government rules have on the company, which operates Craig Station.
“It was a great opportunity to raise awareness with Mr. Romney about the energy sector and the increasing number of federal regulations that are making it more and more difficult for us to produce and deliver reliable and affordable power to the rural West,” he said in an email.
“He seems to understand the challenges this country is facing in terms of energy and the burden that over-regulation is causing, along with the far-reaching implications they have on communities like Craig and others throughout our member co-op service territory.”
Other topics, like education and banking, were also covered during the meeting.
Cheryl Arnett, a Sunset Elementary School teacher, said she raised concerns about the “tremendous emphasis” the government has placed on standardized test scores, impeding the transition into other skills like critical thinking, collaboration, problem solving and creativity.
Sari Cobb drew attention to financial policies and how they affect the average homeowner.
“I was very concerned about all the bailout funds that were distributed to banks that are not making their way down to the people who need them,” said Cobb, Cornerstone Realty Ltd. co-owner, referring to homeowners who need assistance.
Preserving the local coal and oil industry was another top concern for her because “that’s really the guts of the support in Craig’s infrastructure right now,” she said.
That sentiment was shared by others at the meeting.
Mike Anson is the co-owner of Anson Excavating & Pipe, Inc.
His livelihood relies on the energy industry.
Sixty to 80 percent of his business stems from the energy sector, specifically local oil companies and coal mines, he said.
“If the coal mines were to shut down, it would be really hard on us,” he said.
Cobb left Tuesday’s meeting with the impression she and other attendees had been heard.
“(Romney) was listening very carefully,” she said. “He was asking questions. It was real obvious that he wanted to hear what we had to say. “You could tell that he was totally engaged."
The issues raised at Tuesday’s meeting didn’t seem new to Romney, Cook said.
Although the group and presidential candidate didn't agree on everything, Cook said "it sounds like to me he was at least concerned enough to come here, and that to me is a sign that he agrees with most of the things we said.”