Interview with NDC’s Jane Campbell, President of WIPP

jane-campbell1.Can you shortly describe your professional background? Is there any achievement/lessons learned that you are most proud of or would like to share with us?

I started my career in neighborhood development with the Volunteers in Service to America program (VISTA), worked with women’s advocacy organizations for many years, returned to neighborhood economic development and then ran successfully for the Ohio House of Representatives. My path as an elected official included 12 years in the legislature, 5 on the Cuyahoga County Commission and a 4 year term as Mayor of Cleveland. After serving as Mayor, I started my own business doing economic development consulting including advising Goodyear in the financing of their new Headquarters in Akron, OH. I also served as a fellow at the JFK School of Government at Harvard University. The real estate crash sent me back into the public sector as Chief of Staff to Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Staff Director for the Senate Small Business Committee.  Now I lead the Washington office of the National Development Council (NDC), an extremely creative nonprofit dedicated to bringing capital into underserved communities to create jobs, build affordable housing and create communities. NDC provides small business lending especially to women and minorities in underserved areas.

In every position that I’ve had the opportunity to hold I worked to be sure that women were full participants, that low income and minority communities were well served and that public private partnerships between government, business, and local community leaders were key to the engagement.

The most important lesson I’ve learned is that collaboration is vital to success and that women are incredibly hard workers.

2. When did you hear about WIPP for the first time and what resonated with you the most?

I learned about WIPP when I was Sen. Mary Landrieu’s chief of staff.  Sen. Landrieu chaired the Senate small business committee and we found WIPP to be one of the most effective coalitions on Capitol Hill. Later when I was the Staff Director of the Senate Small Business Committee under the leadership of Sen. Maria Cantwell I saw WIPP in action when several hundred women appeared to advocate for greater federal contracting opportunities.

3. What shaped your decision to become WIPP President?

The partnership that we are creating between the National Development Council(NDC) and WIPP is a new frontier of creative engagement.  For over 40 years NDC worked to bring capital into underserved communities by providing training in economic development finance, technical assistance to communities and economic development entities, the creation of Public private partnerships and lending to small businesses – especially those businesses owned by women and minorities. Our work with WIPP will strengthen both organizations as we pursue access to capital for women entrepreneurs, creating the strongest voice for women whose businesses are creating jobs and futures for key populations. 

I took the role as President of the WIPP coalition to strengthen this partnership and to provide the leadership needed for WIPP to move into the future while staying fully committed to my work as director of the NDC Washington office.  Knowing that Roz Alford is there as Managing Director to lead the day to day work of the office allowed me to say yes.

4. Do you have any particular vision for WIPP?

Our Coalition of businesses and associations can emerge from its already strong position to be clearly the voice of women entrepreneurs.  By building a strong national network of women in business and advocates for women in business the WIPP Coalition should be able to enhance opportunities by connecting policy makers and women business owners to craft meaningful policy that will enhance access to capital, improve contracting opportunities and create a fair tax code.

5. Do you have any message for WIPP members? 

The strength of the WIPP Coalition is the active engagement of our members – please join in our work!

FCC Set Top Box Hearing – Move Towards Good Direction

This week, WIPP kept a close eye on the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s oversight hearing of the Federal Communications Commission.  The hearing had a major focus on the Commission’s proposal to regulate set-top boxes which has received much criticism from since its release earlier this year.

More than 190 Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle and several advocacy groups and industry leaders have spoken out against how the proposal could negatively affect media diversity and consumer privacy. We at WIPP expressed our own concerns about how the proposal could specifically harm women and minority programmers in the media marketplace.

Under the FCC’s proposal, the playing field would be stacked against minority programmers in tilted in favor of tech giants.  These large companies would be able to take content from independent and minority programmers and redistribute it without having to pay the content creator.  As a result, these programmers would lose revenue that is necessary to maintaining and funding the creation of new quality content for their audiences.

This past February, 18 independent programmers and content creators wrote a letter to Congress expressing concern about the “devastating and lasting harm” the proposed regulations could have on media diversity and their businesses.  They stated that “It’s clear that the independent programming landscape would quickly become a ‘race to the bottom’ if this rule were to pass.

Fortunately, the video industry recently came up with an alternative to the FCC’s proposal that would protect the copyrights of programmers’ original content. Under this plan, pay-TV providers would offer apps that can be used on third-party boxes or streaming devices.  This way, content creators remain in control of how their programming is distributed and consumers are able to access their favorite shows on the device of their choice.

It seems that after months of debate, the Commission is moving forward in a positive direction.  During this week’s House hearing, Rep. Marsha Blackburn asked the FCC Commissioners if they believe their original proposal to regulate set-top boxes is flawed.  All Commissioners acknowledged that the original proposal needs improvement and that the video industry’s proposal is potentially a better approach.

Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel and Commissioner Mignon Clyburn further stated that the Copyright Office voiced concerns with the FCC’s proposal and that copyright security and privacy must be put in place.

We strongly encourage the FCC to move forward with this apps approach.  This alternative offers a constructive solution for all content creators, especially women and minority businesses enabling them to continue doing what they do best: providing consumers the diverse content they demand.

5 Ways To Be An Active WIPP Member/Friend

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We wouldn’t be where we are without you, your participation is important to us! Whether you are a WIPP member or not there is a way for you to participate. Here are 5 ways you can get started:

  1. Follow WIPP online. Stay up to date by following one of our social media channels.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WIPPWeDecide/

Twitter: @WIPPWeDecide

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/1808377

Blog: http://WomenInBizBlog.org

  1. Participate in WE Decide 2016 polls. Who knows better than you how policy affects your businesses and your families? As an important voting bloc, women need to be the voice of reason. Now you can make a difference. You can have your voice heard through We Decide 2016.  Learn more about WE Decide 2016 and take the latest quick poll: http://wedecide2016.org/get-involved/todays-quick-poll/
  1. Go to a ChallengeHER event. These events are designed to assist you in competing for government contracts by reducing the competition utilizing the WOSB Set Aside Program. The ChallengeHER events have sessions for those who are just beginning the process of becoming a federal contractor, and for those who have federal experience but looking for higher level content. Read more about the program and register for an event near you: http://www.wipp.org/?ChallengeHER
  1. Become a WIPP Member. WIPP has a wide range of membership levels and benefits. Check them out here and join today: http://bit.ly/1EpjHDm
  1. Join a WIPP Issue Committee. Already a WIPP member but want to do more? Join one of our Issue Committees and be the first to hear about policy issues affecting your business: http://bit.ly/1L8YNxm

 

Keep It Simple, Silly

By John Stanford, WIPP Government Relations

 

hc - wippIt’s a favorite phrase of my boss – and WIPP’s Chief Advocate – Ann Sullivan. The idea is nothing new: a simple solution is usually the best. That is why, for years, women business owners used the simplest possible idea for providing health benefits – you (employee) go out and get your own insurance and I (employer) will reimburse you. Simple, right?

They are called Healthcare Reimbursement Arrangements, or HRAs, and bringing them back (for the second time) is one of WIPP’s top healthcare priorities. We are making great progress. The House Ways and Means Committee approved legislation that would allow HRAs to be used for firms with fewer than 50 employees. The House as a whole is expected to vote on the bill next week.

The bill would allow employers to reimburse employees for qualified medical expenses like premiums and out-of-pocket costs. Importantly, employers must offer it to all eligible employees and cannot offer a separate group plan. The reimbursement is capped at around $5,000 for an individual and $10,000 for families and does not count as employee income (meaning no taxes!).

Again, the idea is simple. Employers select an amount to reimburse employees, instead of locking in an insurance plan that may not fit their employees or their budget. But why did we lose HRAs in the first place? That is not so simple.

The Affordable Care Act eliminated caps on health insurance plans—an undoubtedly good thing for when disaster or disease strikes. But, in the opinion of the IRS, these HRAs, by definition, had a cap (however much the employer contributed). So they were outlawed in 2013 or 2014.

2013 or 2014 is a strange way to describe when the IRS banned a certain healthcare plan. But that is what it was – the IRS notices on the issue were so confusing they had to issue additional regulations three times. Policy wonks, insurers, and healthcare consultants were unsure – let alone business owners – about whether they were allowed. And making a mistake on this carries severe penalties; offering a non-conforming plan can trigger a penalty of $100 per day per employee –more than $350,000 a year for a company with 10 employees.

Because of this confusion, WIPP stepped in asking Secretary Burwell to intervene on behalf of women business owners. She did and HRAs were allowed through June 2015. Legislation is needed to bring them back permanently and WIPP is optimistic Democrats and Republicans can work together, as they already have, to get this done. After all, ten million women business owners and their nearly nine million employees are pretty active voters.

It’s pretty simple.

More on how WIPP is working with Congress and the Administration to bring competitively-priced and accessible health options to women business owners is in our blog, Making the Affordable Care Act Work.

 

 

 

 

 

WIPP Members Speak Out on Minimum Wage

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WE Decide 2016, Powered by Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) and Personal BlackBox, is uniting women in business across the country to raise their voices and engage in the 2016 presidential election to educate the candidates, the media and voters on the issues of importance to women entrepreneurs.

This week we focusing on the minimum wage and its impact on women-owned small businesses and their workers.  We have a guest blog post by Ceil McCloy and Brenda Barwick, two women business owners and WIPP members with differing viewpoints on the minimum wage.

Share your thoughts on this topic, and many other that impact women in business, by taking our poll:  http://wedecide2016.org/get-involved/todays-quick-poll/

Ceil McCloy

Raising the Minimum Wage Stabilizes Workforce  

By Ceil McCloy, CEO / President, Integrated Science Solutions, Inc.

 

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 which among other provisions established a minimum wage.  Roosevelt, when he sent the bill to Congress in 1937 stated “all our able-bodied men and women should be able to have a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.  In the more than 75 years since Congress first enacted a federal minimum wage, at 25 cents an hour,  lawmakers have increased it many times, reaching the current level of $7.25 an hour in 2009. And with every increase the same objections have been raised.  It will increase unemployment.  It will hurt small businesses and put them out of business. It will slow the economy. These doomsday predictions have never come to fruition.

Employers are recognizing that an increase in minimum wage is good for business. Workers earning low wages tend to be less committed to their jobs than better paid workers and are less likely to stay at their jobs. The accommodations and food services sector, with a majority of minimum wage workers, has an annual turnover rate of nearly 63 percent, while “limited service restaurants” (fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s) have a turnover rate of well over 100%. The retail trade, which employs cashiers, customer service representatives, stock clerks and other low-wage workers, has a turnover rate of nearly 50 percent.  Employee turnover forces businesses to constantly find and train new workers, costing firms significant amounts of money and time. In the fast food industry, the cost of turnover is approximately $4,700 each time a worker leaves his or her job. Studies show that higher wages can substantially reduce turnover and the costs associated with replacing lost workers. The benefit from lower turnover explains why large companies as well as many small businesses have chosen to invest in higher wages as part of a highly competitive business strategy.

Job loss is often stated as a reason not to increase the minimum wage.  This is simply not true.  As Goldman Sachs analysts (2016) recently noted, citing a 2010 study by University of California economists that examined job-growth patterns across every border in the U.S. where one county had a higher wage than a neighboring county, “the economic literature has typically found no effect on employment” from recent U.S. minimum-wage increases.  This report’s findings mirror decades of more sophisticated academic research, providing simple confirmation that opponents’ predictions of job losses when minimum-wage increases are not rooted in facts.

Can raising the minimum wage help the economy? Yes!  Research has shown that raising the minimum wage boosts consumer spending, increasing the demand that drives economic growth. A 2011 study by the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank found that minimum wage increases raise incomes and increase consumer spending.  The authors examined 23 years of household spending data and found that for every dollar increase for a minimum wage worker results in $2,800 in new consumer spending by his or her household over the following year. A 2009 study by the Economic Policy Institute estimates that President Obama’s campaign to raise the minimum wage to $9.50 by 2011 would inject $60 billion in additional spending into the economy.

We should enact legislation to increase the federal minimum wage and peg increases to the annual inflation rate.


brenda jones

 

Econ 101: Free Markets Raise Wages, Not Government

By Brenda Barwick, APR, President of Jones PR and Oklahoma Chair of Maggie’s List.

 

One of the biggest misconceptions about conservatives on the issue of minimum wage is that we want the lowest wage, when in fact we want to pay our people as high as possible.  One of the principles that makes America unique from almost all other countries is that our economy was founded on a free market system, or simply, supply and demand.

An economy with minimal government regulation allows for businesses to grow and prosper naturally, which results in wage growth.  For examples of where market forces have dramatically increased base wages, look no further than some of America’s cities that have strategically replaced traditional low-paying industry jobs by recruiting high-tech and health-sciences companies with higher wage positions, resulting in greater prosperity and transformational change.

Federal mandates prohibit the free market from functioning properly as intended.  Government interference is particularly disruptive and harmful to small business owner’s ability to make the best decisions for her employees.  Business owners and managers know their business better than anyone else and are naturally incentivized to see their employees succeed.  There should be a floor for common decency and respect, but it is all together different to mandate high wages that business owners cannot meet.

Now that it is summer, most of us reading this blog cannot make up for a $15 mandatory increase when we have budgeted $8 or $10 for a summer position.  We all remember the joy and excitement of our first job in high school or college where we learned basic job skills.  We need to ensure teens and young adults have the same opportunities we enjoyed and inspired us to strive beyond entry-level jobs so we can make a living wage for our families.  By taking this opportunity away from young ambitious Americans by pricing them out of the marketplace, America’s future could be comprised of a workforce who never learned basic job skills before they arrive at their first real job.

The most prosperous path forward for all Americans of any age is to allow the free market to work properly. This system provides boundless opportunities for all Americans who desire to work and contribute to our society.  Give our young people the same opportunities that benefited and prepared us for prosperous careers.


Let us know what you think! Take WE Decide 2016’s minimum wage quick poll here:

http://wedecide2016.org/get-involved/todays-quick-poll/ 

New Overtime Regulations to Take Effect December 1, 2016

By Marina Burton Blickley, Esq., Centre Law & Consulting LLC

A draft of the Department of Labor’s final revised regulations covering white collar exemptions was just released and is set to become effective December 1, 2016 – right after elections.  The final rule sets the new salary threshold for exempt executive, administrative, and professional employees at $47,476 annually and $134,004 for exempt highly-compensated employees.  This is a dramatic increase from the prior levels of $23,660 and $100,000.  Now that the final salary levels are known companies should be reviewing their employee classifications and making adjustments where necessary to be prepared to be in compliance come December 1, 2016.  Government contractors with contracts covered by the Service Contract Labor Standards (formally Service Contract Act) should also perform an analysis to ensure employees performing services on those contracts are being provided appropriate wages and health and welfare benefits since the FLSA overtime exemptions are used to determine coverage under that Act.

There have been a number of recent updates to the employment laws governing employers generally and, in particular, government contractors.  WIPP’s Give Me 5 recently hosted a webinar covering these and other changes.  To learn more, please listen to the podcast available here –

 

Give Me 5: Where Human Resources and Government Contracts Intersect

Guest Speakers:  Barbara Kinosky, President and Managing Partner, Centre Law & Consulting and Marina Blickley, Associate, Centre Law & Consulting

Federal contractors are subject to a unique set of rules, laws and regulations.    Many of these laws and regulations also apply to subcontractors.   This session covers the more complicated areas where HR and government contracts intersect.  Topics include:

  • OFCCP – latest news on increased HR compliance requirements
  • Executive Order actions and recent regulatory changes
  • Common challenges to complying with the Service Contract Labor Standards/Service Contract Act
  • Tips for handling whistleblower and relator complaints
  • Handling mandatory disclosures
  • Changes to implement now

Listen to the Podcast View the Presentation

 

Rethink Red Tape with WIPP and Women Entrepreneurs

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Earlier this week, WIPP partnered with the National Association of Manufacturers, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council and International Franchise Association to launch a project advocating regulatory reform called Rethink Red Tape.

Nearly 10 million businesses across the United States are owned by women. These businesses employ eight million workers and drive $1.2 trillion in sales. With women-owned businesses growing at a rate one and a half times that of other small businesses, women entrepreneurs play a critical role in our economy and our laws need to support their ability to sustain and grow their businesses.

Unfortunately, regulations are getting in the way. Too many of today’s regulations are duplicative, inefficient and the result of a process that listens least to the people it burdens most. Government rules directly impact the ability of businesses to pay wages, create jobs and grow. In fact, America’s smallest businesses pay more per employee to comply with regulations than medium and large companies. And since they lack the money and manpower to absorb higher compliance costs, the impact of these regulations can mean the choice between cutting staff, scaling back operations and even shutting off the lights.

But there is a solution: Making sure small business owners have a seat at the rulemaking table.

In partnering with Rethink Red Tape, we at WIPP are calling for smarter regulations and a more transparent regulatory process—one that will hold policymakers accountable to produce better, fairer rules. We want to have confidence that the rules government creates are thoroughly vetted, the products of careful cost benefit analyses and impartial science. We are advocating for elected officials from both parties to prioritize regulatory reform as a win-win for everyone.

The first step in making this happen is to make sure your voice is part of the national dialog about regulatory reform.

Hearing from small business owners, particularly women small business owners, will help bring to life the very real impact of federal regulations. Rethink Red Tape will use your stories to put a face and a name to those paying the price for our country’s broken regulatory process. Our perspectives and unique experiences as women entrepreneurs can drive reform forward in a substantive way.

Take a look at the principles guiding our effort, and consider joining us at www.RethinkRedTape.com, Facebook and Twitter.

But Wait – There’s More

 

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By Ann Sullivan, WIPP’s Chief Advocate

The first quarter of 2016 was big for us. The Federal Government met its goal of awarding 5% of all contracts – $17.8 billion – to women-owned firms. This was only possible because of the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) procurement program which allows contracting officers to set aside contracts for women only to bid on.

In February, the FAR Council added sole source authority to the program. Now, contracting officers can use the program to award sole source contracts to women-owned businesses that are uniquely qualified to perform the work the government needs. All of the other small business procurement programs have sole source authority, so it was important to bring parity to the WOSB program.

In March, the WOSB program was expanded to include 113 industry codes. The same law that added sole source authority also called for SBA to update a study on participation in federal contracting by women-owned businesses. The last study was done in 2007. The new study found more industries where women are underrepresented and now those industries are part of the WOSB program – an expansion that will provide additional procurement opportunities.

While we have been making gains on that front, there is much more to do to open doors to federal agency contracts for women-owned companies. Never content to rest on our laurels, the WIPP policy team in Washington, DC is ready to tackle two new procurement issues.

First, we must increase access for women-owned firms to multiple-award contracts. The government increasingly buys its products/services through these ongoing contracts, like Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts, and other large contracts. Often, these contracts select vendors through an initial competitive process and then issue task orders to that group of vendors only. Some multiple-award contracts have a “track” for large businesses and a “track” for small businesses. Others, though, have different tracks within the small business track. For example, they may have a HUBZone track, an 8(a) track and a veteran’s track. In those instances, WOSBs should also have their own track. We will be asking for parity in these cases.

Second, there should be parity in sole source contract ceilings. Sole source contracts are capped – they are not unlimited. Every five years, the FAR Council adjusts the cap for inflation. In October, all the other small business programs’ caps were increased. The HUBZone program, for example, now has sole source awards capped at $4 million for most products/services and $7 million for manufacturing. Women did not get an increase — our manufacturing cap is a half a million less at $6.5 million. Again, the theme is parity. We will be pressing the FAR Council to adjust the WOSB sole source to match the increases of other programs.

WIPP’s advocacy is always in motion and in the federal contracting space, there is always much more to be done. So, join us in the effort. When talking to federal agencies or elected officials, echo our two asks. Everyone’s voice is important.

Growth Accelerator Fund Competition

The SBA’s Growth Accelerator Fund Competition is open for applications and ready to award successful incubators and growth accelerators with cash prizes. This competition, which awards the most innovative and promising small business accelerators and incubators, was announced by the Small Business Administration this morning. These prizes will give the winning organizations additional capital and ultimately assist promising start-ups and entrepreneurs.

For more details on the competition, including competition rules and eligibility, please see the SBA’s announcement. Applications are due by June 3, 2016 and can be submitted through Challenge.gov.

Small Things Come In Big Packages

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May 2016 WIPP Works In Washington

Small Things Come In Big Packages

By Ann Sullivan, WIPP Government Relations Team

 

In an epic week fueled by bipartisanship, the Senate Small Business Committee and the House Armed Services Committee put small business issues front and center in a way that was nothing short of amazing. This just goes to show that the “do-nothing Congress” does in fact do plenty when it comes to small business.

Let’s first talk about the Senate Small Business Committee. Members of the Committee introduced and are expected to pass three bills important to WIPP. One bill would extend the Small Business and Innovative Research program (SBIR) and a related program the Small Business Technology Transfer program (STTR) and included a mandate to do better outreach to women and minorities (thanks to Michigan’s Senator Gary Peters). The government funds innovative products and services through federal grants to bring the products to commercialization. Don’t know about it—look into it at: SBIR.gov. By the way, this is part of WIPP’s access to capital platform – so another accomplishment for our advocacy.

Are you a contractor? Then you might be interested in the introduction of The Small Business Transforming America’s Regions Act of 2016. If you aren’t aware of the HUBZone program, you should look into it. The government gives a bid preference to companies who invest in low-income areas. It could supplement the WOSB program you already belong to. At least check it out at SBA’s HUBZone Page.

Need capital? The Committee is expected to modernize the Microloan Program administered by the SBA. The program lends $50,000 and below to companies who need capital. In case you didn’t know it, there is a whole nationwide network of lenders who stand ready to lend, backed by the government’s guarantee against failure.

Now onto the House Armed Services Committee. This Committee and its counterpart, the Senate Armed Services Committee, prepare a bill each year, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that funds all military operations. It is a must-pass bill because the military requires certainty in funding. In order for the US to keep its competitiveness, it must have a strong and diverse industrial base. That’s where small businesses come in.

To that end, a whole section of the bill is devoted to small business contracting changes and strengthening resources for women entrepreneurs including women’s business centers. The bill:

 

  • Requires an annual report on the share of contract dollars awarded to small businesses without any exclusions
  • Establishes a pilot program that enables contractors to receive a past performance rating by submitting a request to the contracting officer and/or prime contractor
  • Requires the SBA to develop a list of no-cost programs that assist small businesses in compliance with Federal regulations.
  • Strengthens agency small business offices to recommend which small business set-aside programs should be used for each contract at their agency.
  • Requires commercial market representatives (CMRs) to assist prime contractors in identifying small business subcontractors and assess the prime’s compliance with their subcontracting plans
  • Adds HUBZone and SDVOSB to small business office oversight (previously not listed in statute but already happening in practice)

 

In case you do not remember, the Women’s Business Center reforms would raise the funding authorization level by 50% from $14.5M to $21.75M and increase grants to individual centers as well as streamline the program. Better program, better training for women.

How did all of this happen? Champions. The leadership of the House Small Business Committee, which passed the provisions now part of the NDAA, worked together hand-in-glove to assist our businesses. Chair Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Ranking Member Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) set the gold standard of getting things done without a partisan fuss. Similarly, the Senate Small Business Committee, under the guidance of Chair David Vitter (R-LA) and Ranking Member Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) worked together to introduce reforms good for small businesses.

The real story behind all of this activity is the power of small businesses uniting to ask for changes in contracting and better resources to succeed. Organizations, such as WIPP are the champions, walking the halls of Congress to press for better programs and fairness in contracting.

While I would agree that Congress is more partisan than ever before, there are bright spots. This past week was certainly one—all made possible by elected officials crossing party lines for the good of women-owned companies. If you ever wondered what your WIPP membership is paying for or if you need a reason to join WIPP, look no further. The advocacy WIPP provides on your behalf is the best return on investment you may ever find. It requires almost none of your time, requires a minimal monetary investment (dues) and you get a whole team dedicated to advancing your agenda to the Congress on a daily basis.

I call that value.