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Organizing a group or coalition of business owners and individuals to impact government action will improve your credibility and influence with public officials. In addition, a coalition representing a wide range of industries demonstrates to officials that their proposal will impact more than just a few restaurant owners. Coalitions also have the benefit of providing a larger group to share the workload. Here are some suggestions for getting started:
- Contact local and state organizations that take a pro-business stance on legislative issues, such as chambers of commerce, travel, hotel, tourist, entertainment and other industry associations. Discuss proposed ordinances or legislation and how they will impact your business and/or your industry.
- Determine if other groups are interested in meeting to discuss how you can work together. If you’re successful in organizing a large group, consider forming committees. If other groups are already working on the regulation, volunteer to assist them in some way. For example, if the local hotel/motel association is circulating a petition, offer to distribute it in your area or to your industry. Monitor media coverage on the issue. If you read about other organizations or individuals on your side of the issue, contact them to inquire if they would like to join your coalition.
One thing you should remember in forming a coalition is that while having greater numbers is empowering, taking on side issues or non-committed partners is not. Consider the potential conflicts which could arise before including others. Limit participation to those who have a vested interest in the outcome.
Ultimately, the strength of a coalition is the ability to function united. Opponents will attempt to divide and conquer by creating conflict within the group or by offering special concessions to one party in the coalition over another. In an effective coalition these issues are addressed up front and dealt with inside the framework of the coalition. This will enable you to maintain the united front necessary for victory.