Those of you in Trenton during the legislative hearings on the Permit Extension Act undoubtedly witnessed an amazing process and historic battle leading to the passage of the Permit Extension Act, and therefore know first hand just how much credit NJBA Master Sponsors deserve for industry defense and the effort put into the Permit Extension Act. To the surprise of many, one environmental lobbyist plainly declared that the proposed legislation was an all out "declaration of war" against the environment and not worthy of discussion or compromise. That mindset seemingly pervaded attempts to kill or gut the bill despite the broad understanding that the industry and the economy need immediate stimulus.

 

The contributions by Master Sponsors critically supported NJBA’s drive to promote the Permit Extension Act. Prospective Master Sponsors often ask, "why should we become Master Sponsors?" Despite the ultimate discussion about "return on investment," the direct and indirect marketing opportunities afforded to program participants and the exclusive access to industry insiders afforded to the Master Sponsors, the first reason Associate Members of the Builders Association are encouraged to join this elite program, is precisely this — industry defense. What that means to builders, associate members of NJBA and Master Sponsors was fully on display in recent weeks.

 

First of all, any discussion of the Permit Extension Act would be remiss if we did not laud the officers and professional staff of NJBA for their masterful job in standing up for the industry, going toe to toe with powerful forces not that are not only used to getting their way, but also were intent on gutting the Permit Extension Act. While other organizations participated in the Smart Growth Economic Development Coalition, NJBA clearly took the lead in advancing the Act, providing much of the resources, informational tools and political savvy resulting in the overwhelming bipartisan passage of the Act now sitting on the Governor’s desk and expected to be signed into law shortly. Despite the tremendous adversity, NJBA would not back down in their insistence on a strong industry-supported Act.

 

Master Sponsors were critical to these efforts. It easily can be said that the Act would not have been adopted, thousands of jobs not saved, and hundreds of millions of dollars invested not protected without the Master Sponsors. The biblical story of David and Goliath is notable simply because notwithstanding good intentions and a righteous cause, Davids rarely beat Goliaths without the strength and weapons necessary to do so. Master Sponsors provided those resources on various levels. Hundreds appeared at legislative hearings in Trenton when called upon to support the advancement of the Act. Not only did builders, officers and professional staff all appear in large numbers, but significantly the Master Sponsors made up much of the crowd standing behind the efforts of NJBA leadership and pressuring our State Legislators to support the Act without gutting it. The environmental lobby and their supporters, while out in numbers, did not begin to compare to the strength and numbers of NJBA supporters.

 

That Master Sponsors were out in numbers is not surprising because this elite group of industry supporters recognizes the importance of industry defense. As it has been said by many, notably Michael Kurpiel on numerous occasions, if the builders stop building today, we will be out of work tomorrow. Despite monumental opposition, we saved those jobs and opportunities! Master Sponsor’s all know of the financial commitment to NJBA required to become part of this exclusive group. Revenue from the Master Sponsor program provides critical financial resources to the Builders Association necessary to allow NJBA to retain top professionals, recruit talented and resourceful officers, provide member mobilization resources (leading to those hundreds of people traveling to Trenton), and engage legal and technical expertise advancing passage of the Act, as well as many other resources. 

 

None of us need be told that these are tough times in the building industry. A few Master Sponsors who have regularly supported the program have struggled to find the resources necessary to justify remaining as Master Sponsors while other first time Master Sponsors recognize this as a critical time to defend and support the industry.

 

NJBA regularly advances opportunities for Master Sponsors because these are the elite organizations providing the resources for NJBA to protect the industry on various levels. Simply speaking, Master Sponsors deserve support not only for all they do to support the industry, but because Master Sponsors are key players providing product and services to the industry. Builders and Associate Members support and should support Master Sponsors not only for their efforts to protect the industry and save your job and mine, but because of their professionalism and extensive involvement in the industry. The next time someone asks "what do you do for me as a Master Sponsor," I encourage you to look them in the eye and proudly declare, my efforts led to the adoption of the Permit Extension Act, protections of our collective investments and literally our jobs.