Al’s column

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by FCNews Staff

CRI VISITS D.C.: The economy has certainly exposed the exodus of American business and those still around are starting to fight back. As proof earlier this month, a record delegation of carpet industry representatives traveled to the nation’s capital. The trek was part of the Carpet & Rug Institute’s (CRI) “Annual Capitol Hill Visits and Salute to the Georgia Delegation Legislative Reception.” This is the eighth year CRI has hosted such an event. Over the course of a day and a half, the group of 11 participants—working in two teams—met with 25 Congressional representatives and staff from Georgia, Tennessee, Louisiana, North Carolina, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and California to discuss issues of interest to the carpet industry and north Georgia region.

TALKING POLICY: The CRI contingent discussed with lawmakers the need for increased consistency in legislation and a unified energy policy that would enable companies to formulate long-term financial plans. Patrick Royster, owner of Carpet Repair Services in Germantown, Md., and one of the participants, said the message being stressed was one that matters to all businesses as he noted the scenario is the same for small business owners as well as big manufacturers. “Small businessmen don’t want to just go out and make money and then go home. We care about the environment, and we value the opportunity to have a say-so in what happens to us.”

MESSAGE RECEIVED: Werner Braun, CRI’s president and a member of the delegation, feels the group achieved its goal in raising awareness about the plight of American companies. He said the message “hit home with representatives from both sides of the aisle.” Representative Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.) was one of those as he said of the visits, “I like American business and I’m glad to know the carpet industry is a big part of that.” Along with Braun and Royster, the industry group included Frank Hurd and Jennifer Mendez of CRI, Jeremy Stroop of the Carpet America Recovery Effort, Rick Hooper of Shaw, Joe Foye of Mohawk, Larry Cook of Beaulieu, Peter Bailey of J&J, Brian Anderson of the Dalton/Whitfield Chamber of Commerce and Noel Black of Georgia Power.

SIDE NOTE: As one of the few remaining industries that is still dominated by U.S. manufacturing, carpet is certainly making a push to get the attention of elected officials, and it seems to be working. A press conference in Dalton by Representative Tom Graves (R-Ga.) was held at J&J Industries to announce a National Manufacturing Summit in the spring. The freshman Congressman has actually opened an office in Dalton, something David Pennington, the city’s mayor, said has not happened in 50 years. During an open house last month, Graves said he was working on the manufacturing summit with plans to hold it in Dalton this May. “[Manufacturing] is central here in northwest Georgia,” he said, “but it’s important to all of the nation. We want to renew that focus, and we want to begin right here in northwest Georgia.”

NEW CONSUMERS: If you think today’s consumer is different, just wait for what’s coming with the next generation of shoppers. A report from the non-profit educational organizations Joan Ganz Cooney Center and Sesame Workshop, a whopping 80% of children age 5 and under use the Internet at least once a week. There’s more: 5% of 5-year-olds use a mobile phone on a typical weekday, rising to 15% by the age of 7. To help put this in perspective, the report noted in the 1960s kids were engaged by popular media for- mats such as TV, print, movies and radio. Today’s child still uses these, but has added the Internet, DVDs, game consoles, interactive toys, etc. To this end, the overall daily media exposure for a child age 8 to 18 today is 10 hours and 45 minutes compared to just 6 hours in the 1960s.

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