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Aug 2, 2023

Have Four People? Start Your Own Trade Association!

A helpful how-to guide for the disenfranchised

By Ed Goldman

Two’s company, three’s a crowd and four entitles you to launch your own trade association. For our purposes today, let’s do launch. A successful trade association requires many things: 

  • A dues-paying membership;
  • An even higher dues-paying associate membership;
Edgy Cartoon

Associated pressure

  • A founding board of directors culled from the industry’s wealthiest practitioners;
  • An executive director, culled from another trade association, thereby shortening the learning curve and the requirement to buy him or her an executive pen set from Office Depot since he or she already will have one from the current job;
  • Regularly scheduled seminars on obscure topics featuring heretofore obscure experts who’ll give PowerPoint presentations and hand out business cards featuring their photos and QR codes should you wish to hire them yourself; 
  • A mission statement, marketing plan and logo, commissioned from an ad agency that specializes in branding and will send the executive director color-coded invoices suitable for framing; 
  • An annual retreat for the directors to discuss the mission statement, marketing plan and logo, preferably in a location filled with enough recreational distractions—a country club in Scotland, a resort in Molokai, a Carnival Cruise through the Galápagos Islands—to prevent the board from engaging in any meaningful discussions about the mission statement, marketing plan and logo;
  • An annual report whose Message from the President begins, “As Charles Dickens wrote in his classic novel, ‘A Tale of Two Cities,’, ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…’”
  • An annual awards banquet, at which the wealthiest association members are nominated for corporate citizenship citations and urged to buy tables, as well as to encourage their subcontractors to do the same;
  • Creation of a spin-off Association Foundation which will give a handful of low-cost scholarships to high school graduates in under-served districts, thereby establishing the association as an organization that “gives back” to the community even though no one in the association emerged from that community;
  • A reliable attorney who can advise the executive director on how to legally siphon grant money from the Foundation to shore up the Association’s general fund when membership recruitment lags; 
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  • An in-house (or outhouse) lobbyist (or firm of lobbyists) to take the Association membership’s dubious trade concerns to the state legislature and in return be assured those concerns will be referred to a Committee and taken up in the legislature’s next session, by which time no one in the Association will remember what the concerns were;
  • Internships for promising college seniors majoring in association management, hospitality, public affairs, public relations or logo design;
  • Attendance and booth sitting at annual conventions or trade shows in cities far more interesting than the association’s home base;
  • An annual trip to the nation’s capital during which the association’s board and other wealthy members can meet elected officials who had no idea of the association’s existence but now consider themselves friends of it and promise to advance whatever dubious trade concerns the members have which still haven’t “moved through committee” at the Association’s state legislature;
  • A 5,000-square-foot suite of offices in a 15-story high-rent commercial real estate building with a 10-year unbreakable lease and, ever since COVID, an average daily population of six people, including the janitorial staff and I.T. crew; and
  • A consulting HR firm to fire the executive director who negotiated the lease. This is hingent upon discovering that the country to which he or she has fled has an extradition treaty with the United States; 
  • If not, a federal judge to waive the seven-year requirement and declare the executive director legally dead. The judge will also have jurisdiction over who gets the executive director’s executive pen set from Office Depot.  

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).

Yes, Virginia

A Weekly Blog by Virginia Varela

President, Golden Pacific Bank, a Division of SoFi Bank, N.A.

photo by Phoebe Verkouw

The ABCs Of EDCs—And Why We Support Them

Have you ever heard of an economic development corporation (EDC)? Many have neither heard of these organizations nor have a full appreciation of what they do—which is important!

When folks talk about non-profit organizations, an EDC may not come to mind. In fact, an EDC is an organization common in the United Sates, usually a 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit, whose mission is to promote economic development within a specific geographical area.

EDCs date back to the post-World War II period of reconstruction and were promoted by President Harry Truman. EDCs generally include a staff of experienced professionals who provide expert guidance and support in key areas such as business coaching and counseling, workforce development, marketing and promotion, site selection and relocation assistance, and advocacy and networking.

EDCs offer a deep understanding of the local business environment and encourages strong relationships with community leaders and local organizations to help businesses thrive.

A prime example of an EDC at work is the Yuba-Sutter Economic Development Corporation. Yuba-Sutter is a region in northern California with a pioneering past including a vibrant Gold Rush history. It’s a diverse landscape of rivers, farmland, and ethnically diverse communities, which is seated at the foot of the Sierra mountains. Today Yuba and Sutter counties are vibrant communities for agriculture, including stone fruit and a wide variety of nuts. Signature annual events include the Sikh Parade, the largest Sikh celebration outside of India.

The Yuba-Sutter Economic Development Corporation (YSEDC)’s mission is to help businesses in the Yuba Sutter region succeed. This organization developed a Business Expansion and Retention Program as a core component of YSEDC’s economic development program and is designed to keep Yuba Sutter businesses from relocating, to help them survive economic difficulties, assist them with expansion projects and increase their competitiveness in the marketplace.

This EDC team answers business-related questions, directs businesses to the right financial resources, and helps companies navigate the complexities of business ownership.

Golden Pacific Bank, a division of SoFi Bank, NA, believes in the power of economic vibrancy. We recently provided a $10,000 grant to the Yuba-Sutter Economic Development Corporation (YXEDC).

“YSEDC can’t thank Golden Pacific Bank and SoFi Bank enough for the generous support for our Business Expansion and Retention program,” writes Brynda Stranix, YSEDC Chief Operating Officer and Economic Development District Director. “The additional funding will allow us to serve more businesses with their growth goals and job creation. Golden Pacific Bank is an exceptional partner to our work in the community.”

And we’re proud to be!

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