From A to Z– make that Akron to Zanesville– members of the Ohio Beverage Association spent a productive day at the Ohio Statehouse for our annual Legislative Day. Whether they headed up from Franklin Furnace (Scioto County for those of you playing at home) or drove down from Toledo, these fierce competitors from companies representing the most recognized brands in the world brought their “A” games.
Here, “A” stands for association and our united front promoting Ohio’s vibrant non-alcoholic beverage industry. After weeks of scheduling, we secured and executed individual meetings with 94 percent of the Ohio General Assembly. At the end of this very long day? Our members rocked it.
During these discussions, we captured excitement around the rebrand from the Ohio Soft Drink Association to the Ohio Beverage Association to highlight a dynamic industry directly employing nearly 10,000 Ohioans and supporting more than 33,814 workers in restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores, movie theatres and more.
Telling the statewide story of this $6.4 billion industry was only the beginning. Members added contours on local jobs in legislative districts, detailed recent local facility investments, and community giving. Many legislators remarked that seeing Pepsi, Coca-Cola and Dr. Pepper employees altogether at the capitol is an impressive sight and that they look forward to these annual visits (and the fun gift bags with the latest beverage offerings!). Working from our story of economic power, we also updated legislators on our national Balance Calories Initiative and Ohio activities around that effort. Over the years, our industry has taken big steps to promote balance, encourage mindful consumption and protect consumer choice. Overwhelmingly, legislators agreed with this message of providing choice and information, rather than advancing discriminatory taxes and restrictions.
Our visits ended with a frank discussion of challenges around an aging workforce, CDL driver shortages and concerns about “next-gen” education for the workers we need. After reviewing legislative visit reports, I am excited that scores of legislators offered help, insight, and commitment to helping us meet these challenges. These offers came from both sides of the aisle, big-city legislators and rural policymakers. And in the next few months, Ohio Bev will dive deeper into these challenges.
As always, the success of this annual Legislative Day belongs to our members. Their pride in representing this dynamic industry, their dedication to constant innovation and flat-out good natures never fail to impress me.