This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

WASHINGTON — Hundreds of city, county and business leaders from California’s capital region are in the nation’s capital to present their ideas to local members of Congress, hoping to make them a reality.

The Metro Chamber’s 49th-annual Capitol-to-Capitol program is a first for freshman Congressman Josh Harder of Turlock.

“One of the big challenges of Washington is reminding people that California is more than San Francisco and Los Angeles and that in the Central Valley, in the Sacramento region that we have unique challenges, whether it’s making sure people understand our water needs, our health care needs. So it’s good to have folks that can make the argument for why we need some attention,” Harder said.

And Harder’s fellow Democratic Congressman John Garamendi, who represents a district north of his, agrees.

“It is extraordinarily important for two reasons,” Garamendi said. “One: In one week, members of Congress, not just those California representatives from the Sacramento area but really throughout the nation, are able to connect with California.”

The second reason is a little less broad for Garamendi.

“I don’t have to go to a hundred meetings in Sacramento. I can come to meetings here and cover the same ground,” he laughed. “So it’s really, really helpful to, certainly, to Sacramento, to the region and certainly helpful to me. I get a lot of things done, my staff can have the meetings. We get to see each other, learn not only the issues but the personalities.”

One of those issues the Capitol-to-Capitol delegation is trying tackle is in the farming industry, especially when it comes to jobs and making sure workers have the skills needed to be successful.

“I am on the education committee and this is one of our biggest challenges. If all we’re telling folks is, ‘You get a four-year college degree, that’s all you got as an option,’ we’re doing a disservice for 84% of the people in my district that don’t have that opportunity,” Harder said.