A great story to tell

June 1st, 2006 / By: / Updates

“You have a wonderful story to tell.”

Those words came from a Washington, D.C. lobbyist after a meeting where I had presented an overview of the geosynthetics industry, the benefits of geosynthetic products, and the variety of geosynthetics applications.

“And the timing couldn’t be better to tell it,” he added, given the “build it right” rhetoric coming from Washington for Gulf coast rebuilding, the passage of a federal highway bill and its “Highways for Life” program, and the likely movement of the Water Resources Development Act this year in Congress also, to mention just a few major infrastructure proposals.

The timing is absolutely right.

To measure and act upon current opportunities, the Geosynthetic Materials Association (GMA) engaged Whitmer & Worrall, and Kemp Partners, both lobbying firms in Washington, D.C., to develop a comprehensive government marketplace opportunity report for the geosynthetics industry.

The team that produced the report included a recent senior official in the Department of Transportation, a former congressman, a former CEO of a Washington, D.C. think tank, an elite fundraiser for the president, and the COO of a strategic consulting firm.

And they produced some pretty good stuff, actually an overwhelming amount of good stuff. The GMA report shows that the opportunities are vast, the processes sometimes complicated, the competition keen, the work hard, and … it is very expensive.

But we do have a wonderful story to tell. The industry has matured, research has been completed, the materials are standardized, the applications are common, and the savings are real. It is time to bring geosynthetics to the political forefront and present its best practices to Capitol Hill and federal agencies as they address this country’s needs in transportation, public works, water resources, and the environment.

The GMA government relations vision is one of spreading the geosynthetics story far and wide. GMA’s government marketplace opportunity report identifies seven key U.S. Senate committees and a dozen subcommittees that are relevant to the growth of the geosynthetics industry.

There are an equal number in the House of Representatives. We envision establishing relationships with the congressional chairs and staffers of all these congressional committees. What’s more, we plan to promote the establishment of a Congressional Caucus on Geosynthetic Materials, formed by members of Congress who have a specific interest in geosynthetics because they have constituents who work in, and benefit from, our industry.

Our plan includes demonstrating our products and their benefits to the White House and to federal agencies. Through the Domestic Policy Council, the policy-making arm of the White House, we will seek support and recommendations regarding our issues to nine federal departments that have been identified as influential to the interests of the geosynthetics industry.

In addition to federal advocacy, our plan includes encouraging state governors to support our efforts at the state and federal level. And, of course, our plan includes Katrina rebuilding and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Our plans are ambitious but our goals are simple—to grow the geosynthetics industry.

Our success will be ensured through the dedication and help of all companies and individuals touched by our industry. GMA will be looking to the readers of this magazine to provide expertise, and the time and resources to make our vision happen. In the future we will be issuing calls to action asking for your intellectual and financial support.

We do have a wonderful story. Let’s go tell it.

Andrew Aho is the managing director of the Geosynthetic Materials Association (GMA), a division of the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) based in Roseville, Minn.

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