By R.G. Wilson, F21025
Finding a site for FMCA’s international conventions is a very difficult task. It is challenging enough to find a facility that can accommodate our needs physically. First we must have about 200 acres of reasonably level land to park the coaches of family members who attend our conventions. Then we need another 40 acres for commercial exhibitors to display their products outdoors. We need 125,000 square feet of air-conditioned indoor space to accommodate 600 indoor exhibitors. To house the many seminars, we require 10 to 12 rooms that will handle classes ranging from 50 to 1,000 attendees. Then we need a coliseum for nightly entertainment that will seat approximately 10,000 people.
Important as all of this is, another critical factor enters the picture. These facilities must be located in a state that has laws that are friendly to out-of-state dealers and manufacturers. This is a problem in many states. Hosting an FMCA convention can be an attractive proposition, since 5,000 motorhome families coming into the state for the event might result in an economic impact of some $30 million; however, that state may have restrictive laws that will not permit FMCA to invite out-of-state dealers and manufacturers to participate. FMCA cannot have a successful convention without the financial support of these out-of-state commercial members coming and participating.
In my opinion, the laws on the books in these states are outdated and a hindrance to the state’s economic growth. Most citizens and tourist-related businesses realize this and would like to change these laws; however, some small RV dealers resist such changes.
I live in Oklahoma, which is one of the states with such restrictions. Recently, working with Max Durbin, who is FMCA’s national vice president, International Area, and also chairman of FMCA’s Governmental & Legislative Affairs Committee, we introduced a bill in the Oklahoma State House of Representatives that would permit the temporary license of out-of-state dealers for events such as those hosted by FMCA, as well as events hosted by other RV clubs. It was a very fair bill that protected Oklahoma state dealers from unfair practices. It turned out to be a very popular bill and passed the House by a vote of 79 votes for and only 16 votes against. The bill “” HB2362 “” was then sent to the Senate for consideration and passage. It was assigned to the Transportation Subcommittee, which is headed by Senator Stratton Taylor. By this time I felt we had the votes to get it passed in the Senate if we could get it out of committee. What I didn’t know then but learned later was that Senator Taylor is a close friend of an RV dealer who wanted the bill defeated, so the senator decided not to bring the bill up for consideration in his committee. The results were that the bill died in committee, and the citizens of Oklahoma will be missing out on a huge amount of business that would have been coming to our state.
FMCA conventions are international events. FMCA members, who are prospective buyers at our shows, come from all over the United States and Canada, and sometimes beyond, and we must likewise permit the dealers and manufacturers to come and participate. We live in a global economy, and those states and countries that close their borders to trade and competition will not prosper.
Although we failed this year with legislative efforts in Oklahoma, we will probably try again next year. If all the RV owners will contact their politicians and support us in this endeavor, I believe our political leaders will listen and take action. I want to get similar legislation passed in some of the other restrictive states, such as Texas and Missouri. If any of you have political interests in states that have these types of restrictions, we welcome your help. We must develop other possibilities for convention sites. Please contact Max Durbin or me with your suggestions and information.
Experience “Cascade Mountain Magic”
Be sure to make plans now to join us for FMCA’s 72nd International Convention “” “Cascade Mountain Magic” “” at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center in Redmond, Oregon, August 16, 17, 18, and 19, 2004. The registration form for this convention appears elsewhere in this magazine for those who’d like to register by mail or by fax. Or, you can sign up online by visiting www.fmca.com. Those of you who attended the FMCA convention in Redmond in August 2001 know what a great spot for a convention this is. Not only is the facility itself attractive, with its clean, well-kept buildings and grounds, but it is set in majestic Central Oregon, within view of seven snowcapped mountain peaks, and within reach of a host of scenic, recreational, and cultural attractions.
This month’s issue of the magazine includes a special section devoted to convention information, starting on page 100, including travel articles with ideas for potential side trips, directions to the convention site, parking procedures, and a sneak peek at the daytime and evening entertainment offerings. Don’t miss out on the fun. Sign up now and receive the early-bird registration price.