On December 17, PPAI joined with the Specialty Advertising Association of Greater New York (SAAGNY) and Philadelphia Area Promotional Products Association (PAPPA) to bring the Association’s Legislative Education and Action Day (L.E.A.D.) to New Jersey’s legislators in Trenton. During the L.E.A.D. Local event, PPAI staff and industry professionals spent the day meeting with lawmakers to educate them on the promotional products industry in their state.

The L.E.A.D. Local New Jersey group included PPAI Public Affairs Director Anne Stone and Public Affairs Manager Maurice Norris, along with Michele Jennrich, MAS; Brian Deissroth; John Davis, CAS; and Ian Miller, MAS. The conversations touched on how promotional products worked, along with global value chains, although the primary goal of the meetings was to build awareness. Norris says, “We wanted to introduce ourselves as an industry of people, not a ‘collection things’ imported from overseas.”

Deissroth says, “Our message to the New Jersey legislators was warmly received. We had a productive day of meetings. There are nearly 12,000 New Jerseyans employed in the promotional products industry and just over $800 million in economic revenue contributed to the state from our industry. Overall our message was that we don’t want to be New Jersey’s $800 million secret.”

Davis adds, “The feeling that it was important to make our local legislators aware of our industry and to help put a face on those whom their actions affect was my main reason for getting involved.”

The day at the state capitol included more than a dozen scheduled meetings with legislators as well as several impromptu discussions.

“I participated in discussions with one senator and three different assembly members,” says Davis. “All of the people that I met with were interested in what I had to say and were very supportive. Senator Vin Gopal had previously been in the decorating business, so he was very aware of our industry. Senator Gopal suggested that we put together a group from our regional association and visit our representatives’ local offices within their districts to further carry the message to them.”

Deissroth concurred. He says, “We will be following up with our lawmakers and scheduling district office meetings in 2019. We are also working with lawmakers for onsite visits to suppliers in New Jersey.”

Expanding on the issues discussion in Trenton, Deissroth says, “New Jersey is filled with hard working folks, a lot of whom who work in small businesses, so our message connected to the legislators. I expect legislators to act in our favor. A hot button issue in New Jersey is the $15 an hour minimum wage. We encouraged lawmakers to take a gradual approach. Wage increases to achieve $15 an hour minimum wage will be incremental. This benefits small business because it will be gradual and allow time for businessowners to make proper pay adjustments, and it also benefits suppliers within the state because a $15 minimum wage brings more competitive workers to our doors.”

“The legislators understood the importance of promotional products and the power of the message associated with the product. New Jersey was the first state to adapt the baby box initiative; a simple onesie that reads ‘this side up’ can save a life. State legislators that we met with found the onesie to be very powerful.”