First, I look at the number of people that are members. The largest caucus on Capitol Hill is the India Caucus. The size is a reflection of how influential the group is and how well 2.2 million people have assimilated into U.S. society. They are successful entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Second is activity level. For example, the Afghanistan Caucus is active and has a biannual reception for members of parliament and government officials to meet with members of Congress. Each of these characteristics provides a way to educate and introduce people to issues important to the caucus.
How can the caucus increase awareness among legislators?
It would help immeasurably if composite business owners would contact their member of Congress. Just send a letter to introduce yourself, let them know what your business is, that it is composite oriented and that you hope they join the Composites Caucus. If they want to join they can simply call my office or Congressman Rick Boucher’s (D-VA) office.
What can industry members do to support the Caucus?
Make an appointment with their member of Congress, because nothing is better than one-on-one time. Members of Congress do want to hear from them. They want to hear who they are and what they do. Don’t assume they even know you are a composites oriented business. So when their members of Congress have their next town hall meetings as they travel, go by and visit. And when you make an appointment, take a sample of a product made with composites. That is a great opportunity for the composites industry to introduce itself.
How has that made a difference?
I enjoy having locally-made products on my desk. I have a piece of composite rebar on my desk, and it reminds me of the things that are made within South Carolina; it also makes a great talking piece. I also have a model X-5 and Z3 on my desk in appreciation of BMW’s plants in South Carolinaas well as a bobblehead Mr. Bib, the symbol of Michelin. People always ask, “What’s this?” I then get to explain that the product represents a company with production plants within South Carolina, which creates thousands of local jobs.
What role can the government play in promoting technology and material innovation?
I’ve introduced bills for bonus depreciation so companies can buy new equipment that depreciates more rapidly, thus allowing them to trade-up more quickly so the U.S. can stay competitive.