As we embark on 2024 in earnest (after what I hope was a restful holiday break for Import/Export Wood Purchasing News readers) IWPA is focused on building upon the successes of 2023 and making 2024 our best year yet as an association.
As I’m writing this in early January, registrations for IWPA’s 2024 World of Wood Convention (April 10-12 at the Hard Rock Hotel in beautiful San Diego, California) are trending way ahead of any convention in over a decade.
Sure, some of us may be looking forward to escaping winter for sunny southern California, but I strongly believe that some of that has to do with the way we as an association are working to proactively address the many challenges our industry is facing and that folks are excited to learn more about our efforts.
I visited more than 50 IWPA members in 2023 and what struck me most is how excited the industry is for where the association is going.
This momentum is apparent in our advocacy on behalf of our industry both in Washington, D.C. and around the world. As part of our end of 2023 stock taking, we counted up our hill meetings and rang up a total of 165! But it’s not just the quantity of meetings, but the quality – each of these meetings had a purpose to develop a new relationship or deepen an existing one.
In addition to our annual Washington, D.C. Fly-In, in 2023 we hosted IWPA members who made specific trips to Washington to educate policymakers about how policy debates like the ongoing lapse of the Generalized System of Preferences program impact businesses in their states and districts. We are also exploring new ways to get policymakers to visit member facilities when they are in their districts as part of helping policymakers understand how our industry works.
Outside Washington, I have had the privilege of serving as an Observer to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum’s Experts Group on Illegal Logging and Associated Trade (APEC EGILAT) and the International Timber Trade Organization (ITTO). My participation in these meetings has helped me deepen relationships with policymakers around the globe and share our industry’s perspective on policies affecting trade in wood products.
Beyond our policy work we continue to serve our members by increasing our educational offerings through a significant APHIS grant. By the time you read this article, we will have FREE online education for anyone impacted by the Lacey Act, whether they are an IWPA member or not. I am proud to help share the expertise within IWPA through our many educational offerings both online and in-person.
All of this work would not be possible without the generosity of so many IWPA Board and Committee members who volunteer their time and knowledge to help us ensure our advocacy, education, and programming is as effective as possible in addressing the challenges we all face. I hope you will consider joining us in these efforts in 2024, and I would love to chat with you about how you can do so.
As April approaches, we hope you will register to join us in San Diego for World of Wood 2024. We can’t wait to see so many friends and colleagues at the one event each year that brings the whole industry together!