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Vote for a Clinton White House.

Good for associations . . .

As a small-business person with more than 10 years of trade association experience and nearly 20 years of political experience, I'd like to share some of my thoughts about a Clinton White House and its relations with the association community.

During the past several months, I have had the opportunity to observe Governor Bill Clinton on visits to Washington, D.C., and at the New York City convention. I have seen probably the best politician I've witnessed in years: He is friendly, outgoing, smart, eager to learn, and almost always late (a sure sign that he spent more time than allotted with the prior appointment). He clearly loves the work and cares about people. How then does all of this energy and enthusiasm relate to the association world?

Economic answers. As we all know, our associations reflect our memberships; and for the most part our memberships mirror the state of the nation. A lackluster economy dampens association growth; a disastrous economy reduces association growth. Bill Clinton's resolve is to put the nation's economy back on its feet, creating a high-wage, high-growth national economy with a long-term national strategy taking us into the 21st century.

Clinton understands, as do we the representatives of a broad spectrum of America's business interests, that to create long-term economic growth the nation must invest in the economic infrastructure that binds our markets and businesses together. Like those of us in the association business, Clinton understands that to be a world-class competitor we must provide world-class education and training.

Bill Clinton proposes to create an investment tax credit and a new enterprise tax cut that rewards those who invest in new business and create new jobs. His plan would also establish a civilian research and development agency to help companies develop innovative technologies and bring new products to market. In Arkansas, the governor created the Arkansas Science and Technology Authority, which stimulates partnerships between university scientists and provides seed capital through loans and royalty agreements.

An information link. Another goal of a Clinton administration and one of significance to associations would be the development of a national information network linking every home, laboratory, classroom, and business in America by the year 2015. Certainly the networks and information available through associations could play an integral role in the development of a national information network.

Accessibility for associations. Education, training, investment, and restoration of the nation's infrastructure are all important to the future success of our economy and business in America. An aspect of the occupant of the White House that also is very important to association executives is the accessibility, curiosity, and vision of the president.

Associations play vital roles in bringing business reality to policymakers in Washington, D.C. It is important for businesses to not only get an audience with the White House but to know that they are being heard. Late last year a group of top-level real estate industry officials was angered when, according to The Washington Post, the administration dispatched a "mid-level functionary to a meeting in Washington of the Urban Land Institute. The official blamed Democrats in Congress for the |real estate~ industry's troubles but offered no plan to help." It is the lack of direction and responsiveness, or at least that perception from the current occupant of the White House, that has led many in the business community to accuse the president that "he just doesn't get it."

On the other hand, Clinton clearly demonstrated his interest in working with Washington, D.C.-based associations when in June he spoke to the National Association of Manufacturers and in July he addressed the National Education Association. In both appearances, he not only delivered a prepared speech but took questions from the membership.

Working closely with associations, however, is not new for Bill Clinton. Bruce Blackall, executive director of the Arkansas Home Builders Association, Little Rock, and immediate past president of the Arkansas Society of Association Executives, Little Rock, says the governor has been available to listen to his members' concerns even though the state of Arkansas is not usually involved with regulating home builder issues.

Benno "Ben" Salewski, executive director of the Arkansas Health Care Association, Little Rock, and longtime association executive, says, "Even though we're not always in agreement, Governor Clinton has worked well with the association, engaging in dialogue with members and taking their input seriously." As a result of his accessibility, Governor Clinton has developed working relationships with several of Salewski's members across the state.

A genuine partnership. The experiences of association executives in Arkansas--along with Bill Clinton's expressed personal interest and concern for individuals, communities, businesses, and organizations--are reassuring. I believe that in a Clinton White House the associations representing so many important aspects of our economy will not only have accessibility but will be received with a genuine purpose of working together to make America great now and into the 21st century.

John Biechman is president of Potomac Strategies, Alexandria, Virginia, and former vice president for public affairs of the National Association of Industrial and Office Parks, Arlington, Virginia.
COPYRIGHT 1992 American Society of Association Executives
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Title Annotation:President Bill Clinton
Author:Bichman, John
Publication:Association Management
Date:Oct 1, 1992
Words:846
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