January 3, 2017
As we start 2017, it’s important that we take some time to reflect and celebrate our accomplishments over the last year. From growing our membership to expanding on our advocacy initiatives, 2016 was a great year for RECA.
Thanks to the hard work of Katie Comer, Taylor Steed, Jed Buie, Kelsey Roop and the Membership Committee, membership this year is up almost 10 percent and we’ve just crossed the 1,950 mark – the most members RECA’s had since 2008. By increasing the size of KnockOut Night, the RECA Exchange and other events, overall association revenue is also up 5 percent, and RECA’s overall financial position is strong.
One of the most important initiatives RECA undertook in 2016 was enacting some major changes to the way the organization is governed. There are now term limits for Board members so we’re encouraging new people with different perspectives to participate. We’ve restructured our Executive Committee and added new Vice Chair roles to ensure that each facet of the organization is represented and discussed at our meetings. These changes and others have already led to a more streamlined and productive Board and Executive Committee.
Another key initiative in 2016 was developing RECA’s first-ever five-year strategic plan. A dedicated group of 12 RECA volunteers met for dozens of hours over eight months to discuss and develop the plan. From RECA’s branding and public image, to how we give to charity and the ways we generate revenue, everything was on the table. Our conversations were candid, insightful and productive, and we’re excited to roll out the plan next year.
We also continued our successful Ideas Forum Lunch series, which brings industry and business leaders together to discuss various topics that are important to our industry. Many of you attended these throughout the year and heard experts discuss everything from how we maintain Austin’s soul as our city continues to grow to how Austin’s 10-1 City Council District system has worked.
In February, more than 1,700 people attended our annual KnockOut Night. Once again, RECA members boxed each other and it was a huge hit. Were looking forward to an even better event this February for KnockOut Night 2017.
We also continued the expansion of the RECA Exchange in August at the JW Marriott. More than 800 people attended the half-day event, which included a keynote breakfast by noted transportation expert Garry Golden and six educational breakout sessions. We’re going to keep improving upon the success of this year’s RECA Exchange as we continue developing it into RECA’s annual conference.
I’m also proud of all the great volunteer work RECA members did in 2016, particularly our Leadership Development Council and the Christmas in October Committee on their annual project. They came together and completely renovated Sammy’s House, a nonprofit organization that provides services for children who are medically fragile or developmentally delayed.
On the advocacy front, we were successful on a number of key issues:
The Mobility Bond passed with 59 percent of the vote. RECA was instrumental in developing its final language and participating in the successful campaign leading to its passage. RECA’s involvement resulted in a bond ordinance that requires bond proceeds to be used for specific projects.
A dedicated RECA task force worked for nearly a year on the city’s new lobbying ordinance. The finalized language ensures our non-lobbyist members who are merely doing their day-to-day jobs would not be impacted.
When changes were proposed to the city’s parkland dedication fee, a RECA working group led by Executive Committee Member Taylor Steed and Past Chair Jeff Howard was instrumental in building a stakeholder coalition to help craft a compromise that was satisfactory to all parties.
After a draft ordinance sought to amend MF-6 zoning in ways that were unfavorable to our industry, several RECA Board Members and Policy Committee members were successful in getting the ordinance pulled down.
After a new ordinance was prescribed to provide tenant relocation assistance at certain properties, Executive Committee member Greta Goldsby led a task force that worked for months to craft final language that is less burdensome to our industry.
CodeNEXT is arguably the most important issue the industry faces in our lifetime – and 2017 is the most important year as a draft land development code will be released in January. And then there’s the slew of issues that come up throughout the year and demand quick action.
As we confront these issues in 2017, the industry and the association need YOU to step up and make your voice heard. Attend or testify at a City Council meeting. Write a blog for RECA about an issue you care about. Encourage your neighbors and friends to vote. Throughout the year, RECA will send you action alerts that make getting involved easy. Let the staff know what you’re interested in, and they’ll call upon you when needed. Thanks for your continued support of the organization!