The Laredo Chamber’s CEO, Miguel Conchas, joined corporate officials and government representatives at the nation’s capital on January 10 as U.S. Chamber President Tom Donohue delivered his “State of American Business” address.  The presentation, which was followed by an openhouse, took place at the U.S. Chamber’s facilities located within a block distance of the White House.  The annual event draws the participation of corporate America as well as the interest of trade representatives from other countries.

Donohue’s message revolved around a theme of job creation.  Specifically, he stated, the Chamber wants to address the problem of “people without jobs and jobs without people.”  It is imperative, he said, to find solutions to the need of industry who have unfilled jobs available, on the one hand, and young people with college degrees unable to find jobs that match their education.  For young graduates, the problem is compounded by huge student loans that follow them, he added.  A priority of the Chamber must be to work with the educational system to align academic programs with the needs of business, he said; and to promote the message that a four-year degree is not the only pathway to success.

On the legislative side, Donohue set forth the Chamber’s set of priorities for 2018.  These include helping pass a bipartisan infrastructure modernization bill; work to get Congress to adopt a reformed immigration system; reaffirm America’s leadership on trade (particularly addressing immediate trade policies and agreements that have a direct impact on America’s economy – i.e., NAFTA; push to remove or reduce regulations that impede business development; and embrace opportunities made available through new technology.

States Conchas of the session, “It’s quite motivational.  In our case it’s particularly important to note that an organization of this caliber – after all, the U.S. Chamber is America’s largest business organization —  is 100 percent in support of issues such as NAFTA that are vital to our local economy.”

Opening remarks for the session were made by Brian Steorts, an Army veteran who, following eight deployments to combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, established a company that produces American flags.  His inspiration came, he said, when following a military career where he was surrounded by American symbols, he realized that a flag he purchased was not made in America.  Steorts’ company, appropriately named Flags of Valor, focuses on hiring vets and has rapidly made a name for itself.  Steorts’ remarks were followed by his introduction of Tom Donohue.


While in the nation’s capital, Conchas made time to visit with Congressman Henry Cuellar and touch on issues of importance to the local community, e.g., NAFTA, border security and immigration reform.