The sayings “no man is an island” and “a person requires the company and support of others and society as a whole in order to thrive” were written by John Donne in 1624.

And it still rings true today, particularly as we continue to navigate through the overwhelming challenges that have now lasted 18 months. During this time, I have received much needed support, advice, assistance and strength from my industry contacts and business relationships, most of which have come through my participation in national and state trade associations and groups. These organizations have played a critical role in supporting me and my business through hard times.

My company, BB Riverboats, is a member of the Passenger Vessel Association (PVA), the National Restaurant Association, the Kentucky Restaurant Association, the American Bus Association, the National Tour Association, the Central Ohio River Business Association, the Area Maritime Security Committee, and many other local partnerships. While this might sound like overkill, each of these organizations serve a unique role in supporting my business.  These groups permit BB Riverboats to closely follow industry trends, legislation and regulations that will impact my company. Many of the national trade groups have played a key role in lobbying Congress and the Biden administration to provide coronavirus relief funding for companies. The Paycheck Protection Program, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund and the recently opened Coronavirus Emergency Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) Program have been instrumental in helping U.S. companies survive.

Many of the aforementioned organizations have joined forces to advocate together for U.S. businesses such as mine. For example, PVA worked closely with the American Bus Association, the United Motorcoach Association and the National School Transportation Association, to lobby for the passage of CERTS. This partnership, which spanned many months, resulted in the appropriation of $2 billion in grants for passenger vessels, motorcoaches, school bus operators and marine pilots. The partnership continues to press Congress for more CERTS funding as we undertake the slow process of emerging from the effects of the Covid pandemic.

Is your company a member of a state or national industry trade association? If not, I encourage you to join one or more today. These relationships will help your daily operations and provide valuable insight to your key decisionmakers. The returns will outweigh the costs.

Alan Bernstein, owner of BB Riverboats in Cincinnati, is a licensed master and a former president of the Passenger Vessel Association. He can be reached at 859-292-2449 or [email protected].