The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) had planned for its first Town Hall in St. Charles, Ill., to kick-off a three-event schedule in 2012. And despite the inclement weather just before the event, everything went off as scheduled on Friday, February 24. The end result was a three-hour event that seamlessly weaved itself into the Pheasant Run Resort and the Race & Performance Expo program.
The program started with a special guest representing the 14th District of Illinois, Congressman Randy Hultgren. Congressman Hultgren is a member of the Congressional Automotive Performance and Motorsports Caucus, which recognizes the important impact of the industry on the American economy and now includes more than 90 members. The congressman spoke candidly to the crowd about a few key issues impacting the industry, such as the government’s role in business as well as taxation.
Once the Q&A was complete, SEMA Chairman of the Board Scooter Brothers gave a pitch for the SEMA Political Action Committee (PAC), asking the participants to complete the PAC approval form so that the association can seek their support in this ever-important election year. His threat to lock the doors until everyone had completed a PAC approval form got a hardy laugh from the crowd.
Following the Congressman, Bill Miller, SEMA senior vice president of operations welcomed the audience and introduced the panelists. There was a wealth of knowledge and experience within the panel, which included SEMA Board Members Scooter Brothers, Jeep Worthan and Chris Thomson, as well as Kyle Fickler, Chairman of the Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council (MPMC).
One of the topics that garnered the most attention was youth engagement. Several educators were in the audience and addressed the need for more support at the high school and post-secondary levels to create more automotive programs for students. It’s no secret that "auto shop" programs have been all but eliminated from the high school curriculum, and the specialty-equipment industry has many fired-up supporters calling for more funding. Many in attendance thanked Jim Bingham for all that he is doing with his Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Engine Challenge.
Upcoming Town Hall locations include La Grange, Kentucky, being held April 13; and Brooklyn, Michigan, scheduled for May 18.
For more information about the SEMA Town Hall series, visit www.sema.org/townhall.
Source: SEMA eNews