At Closing – The Chairman’s Perspective
By: Bill Hunt, president, Elmhurst Group
During my year as Chairman-Elect, I visited with the NAIOP senior management team on three occasions. My most recent trip was in September 2011, when much of our conversation revolved around implementation of our new Strategic Plan. Among the numerous initiatives, there is a theme throughout of additional support to the individual chapters, specifically with local advocacy, education programs and augmented training of the chapter executive directors and presidents. The latter is specifically important, as many of our chapters rotate leadership each year.
Another theme within the Strategic Plan that I will personally emphasize as Chair during 2012 is to further strengthen NAIOP’s profile with government affairs. This is so important, because we all work in an industry where politically all too often, we as developers are judged “guilty until proven innocent.” This negative trend toward business is only getting worse with the current administration in Washington as well as at many state capitals across the country. It is therefore imperative that we, as NAIOP members, support NAIOP Corporate’s legislative efforts with any and all policy issues that could affect our industry.
So, how can we as members help? First, by providing NAIOP Corporate with the names of any political contacts we may have. These contacts can be elected officials, their top staff members or even staff members of key committees. With more than 15,000 NAIOP members across the country and in Canada, I am sure we have members who “went to high school with” or “practiced law with” an influential public official whose personal contact would be a valuable asset for NAIOP and its advocacy efforts.
The second initiative within the government affairs spectrum is for Corporate board members and chapter leadership to further communicate to all their chapter members the top national and local legislative threats to our industry. Given that only half of our membership is aware of and able to articulate these issues, we would have 7,500 new “ambassadors” across the country speaking on behalf of our industry.
Among our top concerns for 2012 are:
Tax Legislation. The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (the “Supercommittee”) complicated efforts in Congress to pass tax-extender legislation by year end. The Supercommittee ultimately failed to produce legislation and, as a result, Congress had little time to negotiate another tax bill. While a threatened carried interest tax increase was avoided, NAIOP members’ interests – including 15-year leasehold depreciation and brownfields remediation expensing – expired and must be re-addressed in 2012.
Energy Efficiency Legislation. Last year, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted in favor of a bill to increase energy efficiency requirements for new building codes. NAIOP negotiated numerous changes in the bill, including omitting arbitrary efficiency targets by certain dates and removing zero net energy as the target for setting the code efficiencies.
Transportation Reauthorization. Congress passed another extension of the surface transportation bill known as SAFETEA-LU. The extension will provide funding under current levels through March 31. There are currently competing Senate and House plans to address long-term funding of highways and other transportation projects — complicating prospects for a new bill.
I look forward to visiting with as many of you as possible during my chapter visits this year, and I thank you for supporting our industry with your membership in NAIOP.