Industry leaders are in Washington, D.C., this week to meet with members of Congress and federal agencies for the seventh annual PPAI Legislative Education and Action Day (L.E.A.D.). On May 25-26, Association staff and Board Chair Tom Goos, MAS, will lead a group of 80 industry professionals to hold approximately 240 meetings with senators, representatives and legislative staff to discuss pending legislation and issues relevant to the promotional products industry.
At L.E.A.D., PPAI will also recognize the 2016 Legislators of the Year. Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) will be honored at events Wednesday and Thursday in appreciation for the leadership they have demonstrated on behalf of small businesses.
L.E.A.D. 2016 brings together both experienced and first-time “L.E.A.D.ers.” Mary Jo Tomasini, MAS, CEO of distributor CE Competitive Edge, LLC in Stevensville, Michigan, and chair-elect of the PPAI Board, is on her second trip to D.C. on behalf of the promotional products industry. She says, “I participate in L.E.A.D. because I know I am making a difference. I am able to meet face-to-face with legislators to share the importance of our industry and why ‘Promotional Products Work!’ I am able to represent our profession and bring awareness of the overall size and impact our industry has in not only my individual state but the U.S. economy as a whole.”
L.E.A.D. veteran Mitch Rhodus, CAS, of HALO Branded Solutions, adds, “Our Industry is now getting recognition at the Congressional level due to the efforts of our group. They had no idea who we were when we started this effort six years ago. Now, they comment on how they remember us year-to-year and how they can connect themselves to our industry. The efforts of this group will continue to elevate our industry and our legislators will hopefully remember us when they write legislation that might affect our businesses.”
Scott Hareid, president of multi-line representative agency Hareid Marketing, and the RAC Delegate to the PPAI board, will visit with Minnesota’s Sen. Al Franken and Rep. John Kline, among others. He says, “For me, the reward in participating this week is watching how this event has evolved in past years and we’ve developed relationships with these legislators and their aids. Now, when we speak with them, it’s not all about educating them, it’s about continuing to build our relationships with them.”
Through a virtual fly-in, L.E.A.D. also gives thousands of promotional products professionals from around the U.S. the opportunity to advocate on a host of issues by writing letters, emails and social media posts focusing on the importance of pending legislation and issues relevant to the promotional products industry. Each day this week PPAI is sending members an email with a call to action to participate virtually in L.E.A.D. The emails include a link for all members to add their voice to help amplify the message L.E.A.D. participants are delivering on the Hill.
“Just as your vote matters in each election, your voice also needs to be heard on Wednesday and Thursday,” says Eric E. Ekstrand, MAS+, HALO’s regional vice president, Mid-Atlantic and a L.E.A.D. participant. “Our L.E.A.D. event has increased each year with industry volunteers coming together in one voice to make sure they receive our messages. Senators and representatives are now aware of the strength of our medium and industry.”
The virtual fly-in is part of L.E.A.D.’s goal of growing and protecting the promotional products industry. It gives industry members an opportunity to voice their concerns about legislation and policy that affect their business and the promotional products industry as a whole. Find out more about L.E.A.D. and the virtual fly-in at www.ppailaw.org. Follow L.E.A.D. on social media on twitter @PPAILAW and the hashtag #PPAILEAD.
L.E.A.D. runs in conjunction with and is part of the fourth annual Promotional Products Work! Week (PPW!W) which began on Monday. Read more about it in a separate story in this issue.