If the local economy wants employees it has to have employers.
That simple premise has helped shape the voting record of Congressman John Shimkus (R-19) and earned him an award from the largest business federation in the nation.
Shimkus, a six-term representative from Collinsville who's running for another term in November, said that when labor approaches him on issues he often makes the point that a good business environment is necessary to foster job growth and retention.
Having scored an 85 percent favorable voting record in 2007, as viewed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Shimkus was presented with a Spirit of Enterprise award during a meeting of the Edwardsville/Glen Carbon Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.
The U.S. Chamber, which owns the Madison County Record, also recognized Shimkus as having a 90 percent overall career voting record.
A former teacher and retired soldier, Shimkus said he doesn't have first hand knowledge of running a business, but he likens it to running a campaign.
"You're an independent contractor," he said. "You build a team, raise capital, assess risk. The return is votes. That's kind of the way it works."
Shimkus, first elected in 1996, serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
During a brief visit to the district before heading back to D.C. for evening votes, Shimkus talked about what's on everyone's minds-gas prices.
If consumers want relief from skyrocketing gas prices Shimkus said the public has to demand tapping into areas considered off limits in U.S. territory.
He said he supports developing energy resources in Colorado's shale, in the Arctic, off shore drilling, as well as advancing nuclear power.
"The majority party is opposed to these (measures)," Shimkus said.
"A lot of people on the ballot will be held to account," he said.
Shimkus, a West Point graduate, reached an important milestone recently, having retired as a Lt. Col. In the U.S. Army Reserves.
Having served on active duty as a second lieutenant in the Army from 1980 to 1985, Shimkus began his career in the reserves as a captain.
After 28 years of service, Shimkus was honored at a retirement ceremony in May where he got to "put the uniform on one more time."
On the topic of Iraq, Shimkus said history will be the judge of U.S. involvement.
"We need to evaluate in 20-30 years," he said. "If they are a democratic government and are a system of rule of law, respect women and (fight) terror it will be very successful."
He said stabilization needs to continue and political reconciliation between rival factions needs to take root.
"Once there is a greater peace there will be political reconciliation," he said.