“Our work is just beginning,” said National Concrete Masonry Association Chairman of the Board Kent Waide of Ruby Concrete. “Congress did not create a concrete masonry checkoff program, they only authorized it. Our entire industry will now begin the earnest discussions about how we develop a program that is meaningful to concrete block manufacturers of all kinds – those large and small, those in all regions of the U.S., and those with all kinds of local market interests. We will present the value proposition to rationalize an increased investment to collectively promote the value of concrete masonry systems.
An industry referendum on program creation would likely occur in mid-to-late 2019, with every company that manufactures concrete masonry products being provided the opportunity to vote.
Numerous commodity checkoff programs already exist. Most of these programs relate to agricultural products under the management of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) oversees two such programs: propane and heating oil. Concrete masonry products would be the second such program related to construction products, the other being softwood lumber under USDA, and the first under the Department of Commerce.
NCMA President Robert Thomas maintains that the real winner through this congressional action is the general public. “People in this country deserve to live, work, shop, and learn in buildings that are resilient and durable. If we are successful, there will be more structures locally sourced, manufactured and constructed, creating more American jobs. These structures will be thoughtfully built with “strength,” resulting in more fire-resistant, energy-efficient, and cost-effective buildings that do not rot, burn, or decay.”
Another notable inclusion in the FAA reauthorization was the Disaster Recovery Reform Act, which represents an unprecedented shift in disaster resilience policy in the U.S. NCMA is an active partner in the BuildStrong Coalition advocating for enhanced pre-disaster mitigation funding and applauds Congress for recognizing that building decisions matter! In particular, NCMA compliments its concrete masonry checkoff bill sponsors who continue to be significant leaders on resilience legislation.
It is important to note that a concrete masonry checkoff program is not yet in place. Over the coming months, concrete block manufacturers and industry partners will be provided an opportunity to influence how such a program would be developed within the context of the authorizing legislation. The objective is to create an open and transparent development process to ensure that the resulting program fairly represents diverse interests that exist within the industry and ultimately creates a positive return on investment by demonstrating the value of concrete masonry construction and improving its market position.
An industry referendum would be overseen by the Department of Commerce (DOC) and could be conducted in mid-2019. Prior to that referendum, DOC is required to facilitate a public review of the “Order” which will provide details on how the concrete masonry checkoff program would operate and they will also manage a process of enabling eligible companies to register to vote in that referendum. If the referendum is approved, collections of assessments might begin in early 2020.