By Bob Michels, BATC President
One of our greatest challenges at BATC is simply communicating the range of activities and accomplishments. Inevitably, as new volunteers get active in BATC, the words we hear most commonly are, “I just didn’t realize BATC was involved in all of these things.”
So I decided to make this column all about our array of activities over the past several months. Here we go:
- Membership is growing (up 7.5% in 2016 to 1200 members).
- Retention is up (91% in 2016). Very difficult for a larger association.
- Nick Erickson has joined our staff team as Regulatory Affairs Manager. He will focus on all of the state agencies, regional planning, watershed districts and local units of government. Our members needed this piece due to the business environment in Minnesota.
- BATC Housing First PAC and Housing First Fund had a phenomenal fall election. We ran a highly successful $1 million independent Expenditure campaign (17 for 17 in endorsements and 16 of 19 in Independent Expenditure candidates we supported). BATC is acknowledged as one of the top three business organizations in electoral engagement. Leadership of the House and Senate are very aware of the effective role we played in the election, and are responsive to us in ways we’ve not previously experienced.
- BATC’s Housing First Network (c4) is engaged in a year-round issue advocacy campaign to educate opinion leaders and influencers about the importance of home building. Visit http://www.housingfirstnetwork.org/ to see some of our efforts. Our Facebook page is here: https://www.facebook.com/HousingFirstNetwork/. We’re running digital ads right now in support of our Minnesota Homeownership Initiative at the Capitol.
- BATC and Minnesota Association of Realtors combined for Housing Day at the Capitol with 600 attendees registered. It was a very powerful day – our folks were everywhere you looked at the Capitol.
- BATC has partnered with the REALTORS to initiate the Minnesota Homeownership Initiative at the Capitol – more than six different legislative items we have packaged that will actually reduce our regulatory burden and move our industry forward. What a nice change to be on the offensive.
- BATC has also initiated a BATC Legal Defense Fund (BLD Fund) to address the growing legal challenges we are being asked to support or initiate. We focus on cases that have broad significance. We currently have one court case in which we are filing an Amicus Brief and are helping to support the case.
- BATC is very close to launching our first on-line educational course that meets our Department of Labor and Industry standards. That will complement our in-person courses offered through Contractor University, which trains several hundred members and nonmembers. Visit http://www.contractoru.com/ for the array of courses.
- BATC is about to launch Project Build Minnesota, a collaborative effort among roughly 15 construction-related associations to tell the story about careers in our industry and make construction attractive as a career. We are planning for this to be a multi-year initiative supported by the broadest array of construction-related organizations and their members that we can muster.
- We just completed our annual Job and Career Fair at the Mall of America with 27 exhibitors and 200 jobs. We got solid evaluations for the event and some exhibitors have already hired directly from the fair.
- BATC has substantially expanded our advocacy capacity. Our advocacy department now includes a full time advocacy director, a political engagement manager, a press secretary, regulatory affairs manager and the top contract lobbyist (and attorney) in the land use space on retainer. Our Executive Director is also deeply engaged in our advocacy efforts, along with our Independent Expenditure leadership team and our Public Policy Committee. We’re now forming subcommittees of our Public Policy Committee for Regulatory Affairs and Legal Defense. Our goal is to create a modern, comprehensive advocacy program utilizing best management practices to serve this deserving industry.
- BATC has a well-staffed creative services department with graphic designers and social media experts that we leverage for both the Parade of Homes and our advocacy efforts, as well as our industry events. We contract for public relations services and have media buyers that purchase our marketing. Our team is engaged and busy doing exciting and rewarding work that benefits our industry.
- Our charitable BATC Foundation (501c3) builds and remodels homes for veterans and those less fortunate. Through the “halo effect” it helps us get out the message that we are builders of and experts in community. To see our Foundation’s efforts, visit batcfoundation.org. Several projects are in the formative stages.
- We just launched a new online BATC membership directory, which we had custom built, and which will form the basis of a Parade of Homes website rebuild that we are under taking so that our site is fully responsive and mobile friendly to anticipate future needs.
- We recently launched model contracts and performance guidelines, a popular membership benefit of substantial value.
- Our Spring Parade of Homes kicked off with 481 homes, the highest number of homes in nine years and exceeding projections. Our Remodelers Showcase was the final weekend with 64 projects. Visit paradeofhomes.com and our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ParadeofHomesTC/
- Our Builders and Remodelers Show took place on April 11. This business-to-business show (not a home show) features several hundred exhibitors and brings in 1,000 builders, remodelers, architects and interior designers. Visit http://www.batcbrs.org/.
All of these pieces powerfully help our members sell new and newly remodeled homes, help BATC members make industry connections in ways unavailable elsewhere and show the public that we do indeed build communities that they want to live in.