Building our membership: Let's make it a reality

Martin J. Manning, P.E.
APWA President

My favorite theme for this fiscal year is the expansion of APWA membership. Although our membership has grown to over 27,000 so far, we have a higher goal of six percent to meet. We still have a way to go to meet this goal and so, I am asking for your help.

As "custodians" of the quality of life in your community, your help in getting other public works professionals involved in APWA means a lot. After all, could our communities really function as they do now, if the works and services that we provide each day were not available? What would our lives be like without the roads, bridges, water and sewerage, energy and telecommunications that operate at the heart of every American and Canadian community? You know other "custodians" that are not taking advantage of what APWA has to offer them. They need to be involved.

APWA is committed to education and training to improve the leadership, management, and technical skills of our nations' public works leaders. As the New Year begins, there is no better time than right now for us to renew this commitment to ourselves and to our future members. The more traditional aspects of public service in the 1990s disappeared on 9/11 and now we need to recognize and respond to a whole series of new challenges. Now more than ever before, we need to help assure that all public works professionals have the opportunity to expand their skills and develop their abilities as quality of life "custodians" in this most unique time in our history.

Today, we are all faced with the uncertainty of the current economic climate in which budget reductions and the search for new tax revenues is becoming a norm among public jurisdictions. APWA is there for you as an advocate for critically needed infrastructure projects, programs and public works services. The machinery to support this effort is solidly in place and is being continuously reviewed and improved. The Government Affairs Committee, the InfoNOW Communities, and the Legislative Advocacy Task Force are all resources available for use. All we need now are the collective voices of our existing and our new members to make our message heard at all levels of government. We have the skills and expertise to provide information that is needed for intelligent policy making in Ottawa or Washington and in our state and provincial capitals.

Another strength of APWA is its organizational commitment to the exchange of knowledge. Active and new members can avail themselves of the expertise of the APWA Technical Committees to be shared in a number of public works fields. They can receive information via a variety of publications in a broad range of topics and they can also participate in workshops and Click, Listen and Learn sessions. All of these tools are available to provide effective and convenient knowledge exchange.

However, you know as well as I do that the process of exchanging knowledge begins at the local level. Every APWA chapter meeting that brings our members together is an example of that exchange. The networking that results is a powerful resource to our members in sharing knowledge and experience in dealing with public works issues. Add to these chapter networks the positive connections to the networking resources of all of the other chapters in the United States and Canada provided through the InfoNOW Communities and you have a powerful interactive system dedicated to the improvement of the field of public works. These are the kinds of exceptional resources that can be made available to every quality of community life custodian. With your help in seeking new members, we can make that a reality.

In seeking new members, we should all remember that while there are many fine associations and organizations that may address individual public works issues, the American Public Works Association is the only professional organization concerned with the range and breadth of all public works and public works services. As a professional organization, APWA is the best reflection of the public works industry in the United States and Canada.

Our new members will be found among public agencies at all levels and among our partners in the private sector—the consultants, the contractors, the manufacturers, the suppliers and the vendors, all of whom contribute so much to support our collective custodianship of our nations' quality of life.

Please join me in seeking all those future members that are a part of our collective custodianship to build our membership and to make this year a real standout for the American Public Works Association.