Cobb Chamber of Commerce


Federal Legislative Agenda

The Cobb Chamber’s Federal Legislative Agenda represents our commitment to creating an improved business climate and quality of life for Cobb County, our region and state.

Our agenda addresses the key concerns of 2,500 member organizations representing more than 15,000 individuals, as well as, the feedback we received from more than 1,900 residents, business and community leaders during the research phase of Cobb’s Competitive EDGE (Economic Development for a Growing Economy). EDGE is the community’s public-private economic and community development strategy, led by the Chamber, to generate high-wage job growth in Cobb, Metro Atlanta, and Georgia’s Innovation Crescent regions.

Dobbins Air Reserve Base

We believe Dobbins ARB is a key asset to our community, region, State and our country.  It is currently the home to the 94th Airlift Wing, 22nd Air Force and over 20 other tenants. With the Clay National Guard Center and Lockheed Martin’s Marietta operations co-located, Dobbins ARB provides efficient and critical support to our national security interests.  When combined together, the Dobbins, ARB footprint represents the largest integrated military and military supplier installation in the world! 

In addition, Dobbins ARB serves as a triage center for disaster victims in the southeast (and beyond) utilizing one of the largest hospital networks in the U.S within Metro Atlanta. The base also provides support to the CDC incident command and deployment of National Stockpile Network for medical counter measures. Last year it was used to land specially equipped airplane transferring Ebola patients from other parts of the world to Emory Hospital. Additionally, Georgia Tech announced last month that it will co-locate its new 200,000 square foot research function in this same campus. And, the Marietta Campus of KSU which is the engineering and technical school of the university is within two miles.

Dobbins ARB has and continues to support the economy of Cobb County and the State is a significant manner.  According to an independent study completed 5 years ago, the closure of this base would cost an estimated 20,000 jobs and $3.2 billion of economic impact.  Is closure a real possibility? In the first major speech given by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General David L. Goldfein and published in the Wall Street Journal, he said: “This means some sacred cows will need to be slain … We will slash the number of Air Operations Centers by two thirds.”

Dobbins ARB quick facts:

  • DOD installation and joint defense facility with 21 tenants.
  • Only military facility in Metro Atlanta, 11th largest Metro area in the U.S.
  • Strategically located (accessible to entire southeastern U.S. yet almost hurricane proof) for military and civilian events.
  • Already serving as a “Disaster Planning and Recovery Center” for the southeastern U.S. (CDC, Georgia department of Public Health, GEMA, FEMA, National Guard, U.S. State Department, etc.).
  • Provides a 10,000 foot runway that can land any aircraft in the world and is a secure landing site for Air Force One.  (Note: This runway can be designated as a joint-use asset and used by private sector companies, thus lowing the cost of DOD to operate this facility.).
  • Provides a modern Air Traffic Control Tower and supporting infrastructure for mission growth.
  • Available hangar and ramp space for new missions and disaster support.
  • Ample storage space to provide for permanent and temporary resources (e.g. FEMA).
  • One of the most efficient bases in DOD; privatized utilities on base (e.g., Lockheed provides water waste water treatment, Georgia Power operates the electrical system, etc.).
  • P3 Military Family Support Center providing commissary style services to our regions military community.

The Cobb Chamber and the entire metro region support retaining Dobbins, ARB through any potential or future Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) procedure or unilateral action by the Air Force. We look forward to sharing our story of excellence and seek opportunities to expand the missions at Dobbins.


We believe that transportation investments are a core function of the federal government and critical to the long term health our county, region and state. It is also a partnership and our local and state governments are making significant investments in order to provide matching funds to move critical projects forward. Our transportation challenges are real and we look forward to seeing a robust discussion on Infrastructure spending as the new Administration outlines its priorities. We ask Congress to act on the following immediate needs.

Project Needs:

  • We ask for members’ vocal support of the $45M Akers Mill Access Ramp onto the NW Corridor Managed Lanes. Cobb County and the Cumberland CID have successful assembled 73% of the estimated cost and are seeking the balance – $12M – via USDOT INFRA grants. The Akers Mill ramp is regionally significant and will provide direct, safe access for thousands of people traveling to and from the Cumberland submarket, one of the largest employment centers in the state. It will also help to ensure success of the State’s first billion dollar P3 investment by allowing better access to the entire Managed Lane network upon full build out.
  • We support the state’s Major Mobility Investment Program (MMIP), the 10 year, $10B effort to build Managed Lanes along I-75/I-285/400/I-85 as one of the ways to address the region’s mobility needs. We encourage federal support where needed to assist with P3 opportunities and innovative financing.
  • The South Barrett Reliever is a three-phase, $43.5 million project that provides an alternate route to Barrett Parkway - a state route that sees more than 70,000 cars daily and has a LOS of D or F during both peak and off-peak periods. Phase one was completed in 2010 and Phase Two is currently under construction, with a completion date of summer 2018. Phase Three, which is currently in environmental analysis, is a $33M project that includes a road realignment and 450’ bridge that connects the southeast and southwest part of the district over Interstate 75.  Phase Three was recently awarded $1.5M in GTIB funding and the TCCID is currently working with the ARC and leaders at the federal level to secure funding for the construction of this critical regional project.

Programmatic Needs:

  • We encourage Congress to ensure the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund in a manner that promotes mobility and economic growth.
    • The Trust Fund needs significant and bold investments by Congress and should be treated as a major budgetary priority.
    • The Trust Fund must be a long-term, multi-year bill that will allow communities and governments to plan more efficiently and effectively for the public infrastructure projects so critical to their growth.
    • We support the continued flow of sufficient federal funds to large urbanized areas, specifically MPOs of 200,000 people or more, in order to meet the particular growth and urbanization challenges these larger regions face.
  • We support streamlining the environmental review process in order to help alleviate the unnecessary financial bourdons on projects’ sponsors over multi-year timeframes.
  • Continued federal investments in alternative modes of transportation are critical as they address capacity and connectivity challenges in our growing county.
  • To that end, the US 41/Cobb Parkway corridor is a major activity center connecting four of Cobb’s six cities, multiple large business and activity centers. With the population and traffic increasing more than 60% in the corridor over the next 25 years, it is imperative to efficiently connect the people, businesses and activity centers along this corridor. Using innovative technology and premium transit opportunities we should also connect this corridor to our regional transit system.        
    • We support efforts to ensure the solvency of the New Starts program for regionally significant transit projects that have positive mobility and economic impacts.
    • We support funds for alternative mobility projects, such as urban and greenway trail networks, as these amenities are now so critical to support real estate valuations and continue to improve market conditions, especially in commercial markets.
  • We support funding for the proposed Third Army Road interchange, which will provide necessary traffic relief, as well as, a direct connection between I-75 and US 41 near the Bartow/Cobb line. This project has been identified as a high priority by the county governments of Cobb, Bartow and Paulding counties.


We believe healthcare providers’ mission to care for patients is being threatened by repeated ratcheting of Medicare and Medicaid payments for services they provide. Hospitals have already been subjected to more than $122 billion in reductions since 2010 and cannot continue to do more with less. We need your commitment to support the hospitals that serve as economic engines as well as healthcare providers in our community.  Further cuts will only cost jobs and limit patients’ access to healthcare.

  • We support eliminating or reducing the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) cuts to the Medicare and Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospitals (DSH) programs.  Federal DSH payments were designed to help providers who treat a disproportionate number of indigent patients whose numbers will continue to increase in Georgia despite passage of the ACA.   This is especially harmful for many critical access hospitals in Georgia, which has not chosen to expand its Medicaid rolls under the ACA
  • UNOS, the nonprofit that governs US organ transplants, is currently considering a plan that would change how livers are allocated. The plan would potentially put Georgia in a transplant region with states in the northeast. While the intent is to reduce wait times and wait list mortality rates, this proposed change instead inadvertently creates a framework that drives up costs, reduces long-term survival rates, and unfairly disadvantages minorities, lower socioeconomic candidates and those in rural areas, most significantly in states with already-high donation rates like Georgia. The increased travel time within the proposed change could significantly decrease the usefulness of the organ and will ultimately decrease a Georgia patient’s chance of survival.
  • We support a non-biased third party, such as the Institute of Medicine, review the data and recommend an approach that:
    • Emphasizes long-term survival rates among transplant patients
    • Ensures that wait list mortality rates don’t increase in those states who are negatively impacted
    • Increase donation rates across the country through local means; organ donations go up when donors know it goes to patients in their community

Banking and Financial Services

We have taken the time to listen to our banking and financial services professionals and have found they are concerned with increased regulations, in particular those regulations enacted after the passage of the Dodd Frank Act in response to the most recent economic downturn. Collectively, the impact on Cobb County banks includes increased barriers to extending credit to individuals and businesses as needed to support economic activity:

  • The development of consumer compliance regulations, including those developed by the Consumer Financial Protection Board (CFPB), are making consumer lending and increasingly small business lending less attractive. In general, there is concern that the scope of the CFPB has become too broad.
  • Pending tax reform proposals are of great interest. Executives also encourage that such efforts should support individual retirement programs (IRA, Roth IRA) that incent private capital accumulation. Such reform efforts should also consider implications for subchapter S financial institutions and their stockholders.
  • Federal regulations need to reflect diversities among financial institutions, particularly with regard to the institution size. Executives argue that "community banks", typically identified as those with assets below $10 billion, are disproportionately burdened by regulatory oversight as regulatory cost may be spread over a greater number of customers by large banks. In the language of economics, a fixed regulatory burden may give an economy of scale, and thus a competitive advantage, to larger institutions. As such, executives would encourage federal regulators to differentiate compliance burden by institution size. Encourage passage of H.R. 1116 and S. 366, the Taking Account of Institutions with Low Operation Risk (TAILOR) Act, which would direct regulators to tailor regulatory actions based on the size, business model and risk of the institution.
  • The regulatory burden on the issuance and maintenance of mortgages is making this traditionally important banking activity less desirable. Access to mortgages has been important to advance both homeownership and the health of the homebuilding industry. New disclosures related to the mortgage process (TILA/RESPA Integrated Disclosure or TRID), including financial penalties for technical violations, have increased the reluctance of many financial institutions to offer mortgage products or retain mortgages on their balance sheet. Specifically, a change to allow for mortgages held in a bank’s own portfolio to be considered a ‘qualified mortgage’ would be helpful. This is included in the CHOICE Act that recently passed the House as well as in the TAILOR Act as mentioned above.
  • The Durbin amendment included in the Dodd Frank Act, which restricted swipe fees on debit cards, is equivalent to rent controls in housing markets. It has created distortions in the consumer credit arena and reduced many low-cost or free banking services.
  • Anti-Money Laundering/Bank Secrecy Act (AML/BSA) regulations, such as the "Know Your Customer" program, are imposing a costly burden upon banks. While executives acknowledge the importance of combating criminal activity, they are concerned that the burden has been shifted disproportionately from law enforcement agencies onto financial institutions. 
  • The rise of the "shadow banking" industry is giving nonbank financial entities a competitive advantage over their more heavily regulated commercial bank counterparts. These shadow banking entities, once defined as "a diverse set of institutions and markets that, collectively, carry out traditional banking functions--but do so outside, or in ways only loosely linked to, the traditional system of regulated depository institutions", are generally not bound by the same level of federal regulation as FDIC insured institutions. Examples of such include securitization vehicles, asset-backed commercial paper (ABCP) conduits, money market mutual funds, markets for repurchase agreements (repos), investment banks, and mortgage companies. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is deciding whether to create a new charter for FinTech companies which we will closely monitor.

Regulatory Burden on Cobb Businesses

We believe a tide of red tape continues to drown Cobb County businesses and creates an undue burden on our job creators.

In 2015, more than 22 billion dollars per year in NEW regulatory costs were imposed on American Businesses.   In addition, there are more than 2,000 additional proposed or final rules in the pipeline for 2016/17 – including 144 that are expected to cost more than 100 million dollars per year.  With little input from industry, federal agencies continue to improperly identify the true costs of implementation and consistently overstate the benefit of the new rulemaking actions. Both the large and small businesses of Cobb Country are dramatically impacted by the implementation of these new regulations as they will negatively impact the economy in our region, cause costs to rise, inhibit innovation, and diminish job creation as resources are put to costs of implementation rather than business growth initiatives.        (More than half of these rulemakings were initiated by three agencies – EPA, Health & Human Services (which includes FDA), and the Department of Energy)

We have an excessive regulation problem at the federal level and our Cobb businesses are suffering from Regulation without Representation.  Our businesses are unable to be at the table to discuss the impacts of many of these rules on our companies. 

We support the following reforms:

  • Enhancing transparency to businesses in the rule making process.
  • Including a requirement for legislation to undergo an impact analysis before a floor vote in congress.
  • Requiring Congressional approval for all major rules (REINS Act).
  • Sunset deadlines being put in place for all major rules.
  • Establishment of requirements that all rulemaking be based upon proper scientific analysis.
  • Insuring ability for businesses to protect valuable Confidential Business Information.
  • Require that any “settlement” practices between agencies and advocacy groups be required to be subject to public notice and comment.
  • Fees charged by governmental agencies go directly to the general fund to be distributed within the congressional budgetary process rather than to the agency to support the implementation additional regulatory actions.   

We have more than 50,000 businesses in Cobb County. Recent implementation of an over-time pay rule that doubles the threshold from 23,660/year to $47,476/year will significantly affect small businesses.  Many of our businesses have told us that they will have to switch salaried workers to hourly positions, remove their opportunity to have flexible business schedules, or change full-time positions to part-time positions in order to control costs. Schools and non-profit organizations are part of the many organizations that will suffer from the unintended consequences of this action that will be significantly impacted. 

90% of businesses in the United States are considered “Small Businesses”.  Cobb County is no exception.  We have over 50,000 Small Businesses in Cobb.  New IRS proposed regulations limiting fair market discounts or “valuation discounts” on Cobb family or closely held entities seek to prohibit the use of traditional valuation standards in Sale Transactions. Closely held businesses are not easily sold in the marketplace.  The value of a percentage of a business without control of management decision making is significantly less to a purchaser than that of a business with decision making control.  Historically, this true market reality has been utilized when a family owner dies to discount the value of the business down to an actual market value for estate valuation purposes.  This is considered the traditional “willing buyer – willing seller” principle.  Under the Obama administration, proposed IRS 2704 regulations appear written to eliminate minority or lack of control discounts for all Closely Held Entities that are active businesses.  The 2017 Executive Order 13789 provided for Review of 8 IRS regulations, including 2704 regulations that would place noncommercial restrictions on the ability to dispose of or liquidate family-controlled entities resulting in increased valuations beyond marketability creating significant transfer tax liabilities.  These liabilities could force many small businesses to sell or close their doors.  The IRS has until Monday September 18, 2017 to prepare and submit a report that recommends specific action to mitigate the burdens imposed by these regulations.  We ask that this issue remain on the key issue radar and that if the IRS does not recognize this challenge and remove the proposed restrictions, that legislative remedies are supported to overturn this unconstitutional usurpation of Congress’s power.  We want business ownership to remain in Cobb County, families to be able to retain their companies, and owners to be focused on growing their businesses - and increasing employment in Cobb -  rather than putting critical assets toward protection from this burdensome IRS ruling. 

Net Neutrality

We believe the internet must remain free and open. An open internet is vital to the success of our economy, to American leadership and to ensuring Americans can access any content they want on whatever device they choose. To that end we ask the Congress to consider the following:

  • Preservation of an open internet that is free from the blocking of content, from censorship and from discriminatory treatment of specific internet traffic through legislation.
  • The open internet framework adopted by the FCC in 2015 relies on heavy-handed regulations adopted decades ago for monopoly era networks.  Application of these rules to the internet has chilled investment in broadband facilities and threatens to slow the delivery of broadband services to all Americans. 
  • Less broadband investment in turn means fewer jobs, lower productivity and lost opportunity, particularly in rural America where broadband investment is needed the most. 
  • The current FCC is now working to repeal this framework and has opened a proceeding to seek comment on what authority the FCC has over the internet and what type of rules should be adopted.  But any FCC Order will be subject to appeal and another potential remand. And, there is no guarantee that any agency-based rules will not change again in the future.
  • Legislation is needed to establish clear and permanent rules.
  • We ask that Congress works to determine how to best craft open internet legislation that applies equally to all companies that will ensure lasting legal protection against blocking, discriminatory slowing of internet traffic, and censorship online, and that will ensure Internet companies must be transparent about their practices. 
  • Only legislation will establish strong and permanent rules across the Internet ecosystem while also creating the stable regulatory environment necessary for broadband investment, future innovation and economic growth.

Social Services

We believe that the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program funded through HUD is a critical tool for our community to be economically competitive, sustainable, and vibrant.  The current Federal budget draft for 2018-19 includes a 13% ($6.2 billion) cut to HUD.  This cut includes the elimination of the CDBG community infrastructure/economic development program.  This 44-year old program has already been cut from its height of $16 billion to currently $3 billion, yet the role the CDBG program plays locally is increasingly apparent.  We support funding of at least the same level as last year. 

  • This program began in 1974 and was last authorized in 1994.  It provides States and Local grantees with key public investment and infrastructure improvements such as roads, sidewalks, public services, blight removal, and housing rehabilitation as well as community development activities designed to improve local environments. 
  • For the State of Georgia, CDBG funds in 2017 totaled $76.4 million.  These investments provide not only key infrastructure improvements in metropolitan cities such as Atlanta and Savannah, but also much needed road, bridges, or other public service projects such as Cairo (drainage improvements) and Griffin (water/sewer improvements).
  • In 2017, Cobb and Cherokee counties received $4 million in CDBG funds, or 6% of the total.  Over the past 3 years, both counties have received approximately $15 million cumulatively, with approximately 75% going to Cobb and 25% to Cherokee.  Examples of Projects funding include the Senior Center in Austell and a new community recreation center in Powder Springs.

These Federal investments have produced substantial economic returns on investment.

  • For MUST Ministries, the CDBG investment in its new Marietta and Canton facilities has meant an ability to serve more clients experiencing poverty to return to stability.  For example, over the last 5 years, MUST has been able to connect clients with over 3,100 jobs and the earning of these jobs returned into the local economy  totals $47 million!  That’s more than many County SPLOST revenues and based on the cost to run the program, over a 4000% return on investment!
  • For the Habitat for Humanity of NW Georgia, the return on investment from 2005 to 2016 is 14:1!  CDBG Funds are used for property acquisition and development, and for down payment assistance for first time homebuyers. The 205 houses of new construction or rehabilitation funded by CDBG generate $2.1 million per year in revenue in the form of property taxes, insurance and utilities, and discretionary spending on food, clothing, home goods, etc.  Over a 25 year mortgage, that’s a combined return of almost $53 million!
  • For organizations like the Center for Family Resources and liveSAFE Resources(formerly the YWCA of NW Georgia), $1 million CDBG investments to each organization have meant the ability to renovate an old Sears building in Marietta into CFR’s tenant center which now houses over a dozen other non-profits which serve the local community each day as well as renovate the first indoor pool in Cobb County at liveSAFE into 12 apartments where women and children fleeing domestic violence can live safely.  The strength of having affordable space and the network of collaboration has resulted in a higher level service provision to those who access services in our community.  

These federal investments in Housing substantially impact Quality of Life.

  • Habitat for Humanity Homeowners have reported the following:
    • Safety: 95% feel safe/very safe in their homes; 77% feel safer than they did before purchasing their Habitat home.
    • Fund Children’s Education: 74% of Habitat homeowners feel confident they will be able to fund their kids’ college education.
    • Economic Situation: 59% of participants report they have more money on hand since becoming Habitat homeowners and 74% report being able to more easily save money.

Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park

Our National Battlefield Park is a tremendous resource to our community as both an amenity to Cobb’s citizens but also a major tourist attraction, which is Cobb’s largest industry.

  • We support enacting H.R. 3371 and S. 1930 to Expand Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park Boundary to Include Historic Wallis House and Surrounding Property.
    • Cobb County acquired the land on which the Wallis House sits in 2002 in order to preserve it after the house was faced with possible demolition.  However, the county has long felt that the land should belong to the National Park Service. The National Park Service has also expressed interest in acquiring the land, and representatives from the park have even started brainstorming educational activities they could provide should the Park Service acquire the land. The County’s efforts on this project have received strong support from Congressman Barry Loudermilk and Senator Johnny Isakson, who have sponsored the necessary legislation. Congressional staff is also working closely with the Park Service to reduce the estimated costs of the project. Additionally, the annexation of the land is strongly supported by the Cobb Landmarks and Historical Society, which stands by as a willing partner to assist in the preservation and interpretation of the Wallis House.