18 Jun Get Maximum Value out of Your RIMTA Membership
Our focus at RIMTA is to establish Rhode Island as a worldwide leader in the marine trades. That sounds like a big job, but it boils down to a simple premise. The building blocks of this Ocean State business sector are our member companies—and if their businesses are strong, so too is our statewide industry.
Our job at RIMTA is, therefore, pretty straightforward: we give our member companies the information, tools and programs they need to be successful and gain an edge in the marketplace. But that process of developing these resources is a two-way street. While RIMTA can provide the framework, it’s up to members to take advantage of what we have put in place.
Whether you are a new or a longtime member, read on to learn how to get maximum value out of you RIMTA membership.
BE A PART OF OUR ADVOCACY EFFORTS
No sales tax on boats in Rhode Island is considered RIMTA’s signature legislative achievement. Although that regulation was put on the books over 20 years ago, RIMTA’s Legislative Committee has an ongoing job: to keep lawmakers educated about the marine industry and its impact on the state’s economy and jobs so favorable legislation stays in place.
Our Legislative Committee, together with the lobbying firm it works with, sets a proactive agenda of initiatives for each legislative session and keeps abreast of new legislation that can impact the marine trades in both good and bad ways. But not only is there someone looking out for members’ interests: member companies also have a powerful voice when they channel their concerns through RIMTA.
When any company doing business in Rhode Island has an issue with pending legislation or a law that is in place, they can voice their concerns with local and state representatives. But if those companies are members of RIMTA, they can channel their concerns through the organization. And when the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association talks to legislators, they are speaking as a block of some 300 companies and a business cluster that tallies sales for its Ocean State businesses at $2.6 billion and $117.9 million in taxes and fees for Rhode Island state and local governments.
To complement the activities of our Legislative Committee, RIMTA also has its own PAC (political action committee). Like any PAC, this committee supports legislators and legislation that are in alignment with the parent organization’s positions; and like all PACs, the RIMTA PAC can only be supported by contributions from individuals.
This type of advocacy requires member cooperation—to pay dues so the organization can support its efforts, to participate in RIMTA surveys so the Legislative Committee can gather data and educate lawmakers about the industry’s business activity and hiring, to voice concerns and alert RIMTA to looming issues, and to support the RIMTA PAC when possible. To inquire about making a PAC donation, click here.
USE RIMTA AS YOUR WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT PARTNER
If you are a RIMTA member but you are not using the organization as your partner to develop your workforce, you are missing out on one of the most valuable benefits of RIMTA membership. Over the past several years, RIMTA members have had access to over $500,000 in state funds that were used for training in every aspect of the recreational boating industry—from incumbent worker training, OSHA, entry-level workers, and summer youth programs.
RIMTA coordinates the Marine Trades & Composites Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program so Rhode Islanders over age 18 can gain the skills needed for entry-level positions. The seven-week program is run twice a year, and there is typically higher demand for entry-level workers than there are graduates. (The next class runs from mid-July to late August 2015.) Many member companies who hire talented graduates become involved with the program while it is underway—either by offering a six-day job shadow to a student or opening company facilities to stage part of the training.
Members with immediate training needs for their current workforce can also work through RIMTA to secure funding from the Rhode Island Governor’s Workforce Board (GWB). The GWB announced this spring that it has up to $1.7 million available in rolling grants for companies that want to increase the skills of their incumbent workers. The Governor’s Workforce Board also provides partial wage reimbursement to Rhode Island employers through the RI Work Immersion Program. Learn more about the GWB grants and awards here.
RIMTA also cultivates new workers through two summer programs. The Marine Trades Marketing Summer Work-and-Learn Program is a six-week summer program for Millennials interested in water-based recreation, marketing, public relations and communications. A new Summer Boatbuilding Program for Newport-area youth also launches this July at the Newport Area Career & Technical Center to expose even younger individuals to careers in the marine trades.
To solve workforce challenges, RIMTA looks to its members to lead the discussion—so it’s important to let RIMTA know when your workforce needs are not being met. Those unmet needs can give rise to new programs. Such was the case with a new launch-driver training program that was started this past winter.
Consult with RIMTA to learn which programs and funding sources will best meet your needs. Click here for a more thorough overview of RIMTA’s workforce-development efforts; a sidebar summarizing the available programs can be found here. RIMTA’s Program Director Jen Cornwell can also lead you to the solutions that fit your workforce needs.
JOIN OUR MARKETING MACHINE
Every marine company attends boat shows—whether you attend one local show or you exhibit at regional, national, and international shows. But if you do business in Rhode Island, there is one show that should be on your calendar: the Providence Boat Show.
RIMTA purchased the Providence show in 2013, and this winter’s show will be the third running of the event under the RIMTA banner. The success of the Providence Boat Show is vitally important to our local industry. It is our once-a-year opportunity to showcase boating in the Ocean State to a wider group of New England boat buyers, and proceeds from the show help sustain the year-round work RIMTA does on the industry’s behalf.
This year’s dates are February 4-7, 2016 and RIMTA members get discounted exhibitor space. If you are not yet getting mailings about the show, contact RIMTA and ask to be added to our email list.
NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK
None of us runs our business in a vacuum, and it’s valuable to connect with industry peers to share ideas, voice your concerns, and even do business. RIMTA creates events so that type of networking can happen at member gatherings held throughout the year.
Next up, our annual Industry Breakfast on September 19, which takes place during the Newport International Boat Show, and the RIMTA Annual Member Meeting on November 2.
GO GREEN WITH RIMTA
Without a clean ocean environment, we won’t have recreational boaters who are eager to spend their leisure time on the water. RIMTA works in concert with the Federal Environmental Protection Agency, Rhode Island’s Department of Environmental Management (DEM), and the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) to disseminate and clarify federal and state environmental regulations.
As a RIMTA member, you can also tap into an easy way to recycle your shrink wrap and keep that material out of landfills through our Shrink Wrap Recycling Program. Contact Membership Coordinator Kate Mouligne to learn more about the program.
There are many ways we can all work together to keep our ocean environment clean. Visit our news page to read a Special Environmental Report that was published in the May 2015 issue of our newsletter.
Our members play a vital role as our eyes and ears in the field—and chances are, the challenges you face as you run your operation are shared by other marine businesses. Keep us posted; your ideas and experiences help us refine our programs and shape our Rhode Island industry into a worldwide leader.