FAIRFAX, Va. -- The American Wholesale Marketers Association (AWMA)--which has just changed its name to the Convenience Distribution Association (CDA)--recently announced that it has launched a new initiative to provide members with information and the ability to take action on state governmental developments that affect their businesses and the convenience distribution industry.
The initiative has two key components, said Anne Holloway, vice president of government affairs:
- The appointment of Dirk Smith as the group's first-ever director of state government affairs. A veteran government relations professional, Smith is founder of Campaign Finance Solutions Group and has expertise in lobbying and federal election compliance, political action committee management and government relations best practices.
- The launching of a new online AWMA State Advocacy Center on the association website, www.awmanet.org, which tracks key legislation in all 50 states and includes a State Action Center, where members can stay abreast of major developments and quickly and easily communicate with the appropriate public officials.
"This new, interactive website portal allows AWMA to better promote our grassroots efforts in the states where our industry is facing so many challenges," said Holloway. "This new initiative will go a long way towards furthering distributors' interests across the country."
She said that Smith, with his expertise and in-depth knowledge of government relations issues "will be a tremendous asset" to the group's government affairs program. Smith has held a variety of positions on and off Capitol Hill, including work as executive director for Sen. Trent Lott's campaign and leadership PAC.
While the portal tracks scores of issues important to convenience distributors, it highlights four that are especially critical to member companies:
- State efforts to increase the minimum wage.
- Proposed excise tobacco taxes.
- Legislation regulating and restricting electronic cigarettes and related products.
- The need for uniform reporting standards for distributors through the Federation of Tax Administrators.
"AWMA's State Advocacy Center will be a powerful tool for our members to track legislation and issues at the state level," said Smith. "The center also gives us a dynamic platform to engage our governors and state legislators on the issues of importance to our industry, and I look forward to using its capabilities to assist our members."
The group is coordinating the new state government affairs initiative with convenience distribution industry state association executives, which Holloway said, "have always been our eyes and ears at the state level." But now, she said, the group "has an experienced staffer dedicated to state issues and he will be working closely with our state executives so that together we can improve our overall effectiveness on behalf of our members."
The AWMA is an international trade organization working on behalf of convenience distributors in the United States. Its distributor members represent more than $85 billion in U.S. convenience product sales. Associate members include manufacturers, service providers, technology companies, brokers, retailers and others allied to the convenience retailing industry. In addition to convenience stores, its largest customer segment, convenience distributors also service grocery stores, drug stores, tobacco shops, mass merchants, newsstands, concession stands, gift shops, fundraising groups, restaurants, institutions and more.
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