ADVOCACY – If We Don’t Act, Who Will?

by Todd Reichard, AIA

During 2009, AIA embraced the opportunity to shape national policy and advance the role that Architects play in designing a better built environment.  AIA’s “Rebuild and Renew Plan for Green Communities and a Green Economy” successfully resulted in government investment in infrastructure that would be not just shovel-ready but shovel-worthy.  The “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” included up to $130 billion in investments in buildings, which are estimated to create or save as many as 14,000 architect jobs.

During this year’s Grassroots Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C., AIA South Carolina attendees from throughout our State, met with members of Congress and their staff to promote Phase Two of the AIA Rebuild and Renew initiative.  Recognizing that many architects and firms are still struggling, the focus was on five Recommendations that will create jobs.

  • Help Struggling Communities Rebuild
  • Unfreeze Credit to Get America Building Again
  • Encourage the Commercial Sector to Build Green
  • Provide Relief for Small Businesses
  • Invest in Our Children With 21st Century Schools

These recommendations are pro-active and bipartisan, and they come from ideas and concerns raised by fellow AIA members.  Most importantly, they are proposals that can be implemented quickly, to get the economy moving quickly.

Legislation has already passed in the House of Representatives concerning relief for small businesses and for upgrading schools throughout the country.  The Senate is yet to act.  Each South Carolina Congressman was working toward a solution to the Credit Crisis.  And we received a favorable response from most of our Congressmen concerning tax incentives for building green.  Details of each Recommendation can be found at www.aia.org/rebuildandrenew .  Take a few minutes to learn how AIA is working to improve the profession during these difficult economic conditions; then follow-up with your National Representative and encourage them to support legislation that creates jobs.

Lobbying is one of the most important roles of AIA.  Our National Staff develop timely recommendations and “clue” us on how and when to react.  But, the success of the plan is based on individual AIA members.  Legislators respond to constituents; we have to participate in the process.  Individually, we have to communicate with our elected leaders and develop relationships.  This is equally important at our State and Local levels of government.  AIA National has a proven track record of success.  AIA South Carolina continues to improve our Advocacy efforts within our State, but success is dependent on participation of individual members.  Be prepared and willing to participate; if we don’t act, who will?

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