By Steve McGough
ARTBA Chairman * President & CFO of HCSS

“The historic challenge for leaders is to manage the crisis while building the future.”

This sentiment from Henry Kissinger in a Wall Street Journal op-ed about how national leaders should prepare for a new world order resulting from the coronavirus resonated with me when thinking about ARTBA’s new strategic plan.

Since COVID-19 brought major sectors of the economy to a halt beginning in mid-March, ARTBA’s staff and volunteer leaders have been working overtime to provide value-added services to help the industry navigate these uncharted waters.

At the same time, we’ve remained mission-focused, advocating for congressional action to stabilize state highway programs reeling from virus-related declines in user fee revenues, and pass a long-term surface transportation bill.

In the middle of the pandemic, the association’s volunteer leaders have also been looking to a better future.

Setting and pursuing goals is a hallmark of high-functioning enterprises and it’s a process most ARTBA members utilize in their own businesses. For a national association, the strategic plan institutionalizes a process of membership engagement and outcome-oriented decision making to help ensure the success of ARTBA and our industry in the years to come.

ARTBA’s Board of Directors June 25 gave its unanimous approval to the strategic plan, which will guide our comprehensive program of work through the end of 2022. As a national advocacy organization, the plan’s five objectives shouldn’t be a surprise. They include:

  1. Transportation Funding: Achieve long-term, sustainable and secure funding for transportation infrastructure.
  2. Regulatory Advocacy: Increase resources and expand direction for ARTBA’s regulatory advocacy.
  3. Membership Growth: Significantly increase financial support from existing members and new members over three years.
  4. Policy & Issues Forums: Develop cross-divisional discussion forums and policies addressing risk allocation, project delivery, safety and technology. See related story on the new forums.
  5. Value-Added Member Services: Focus rigorously on programs and services that are mission critical.

The plan’s objectives are the result of 10 months of work from the Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) and quantitative and qualitative research from the board. The SPC had a good mix of association veterans and new leaders. Their deliberations were forward-looking, spirited, and healthy expressions of diverse perspectives—all of which helped make the final product better.

We owe a huge debt of gratitude to SPC Co-Chairs Ward Nye (Martin Marietta Materials) and Tim Duit (Duit Construction) and the 15 other committee members for their leadership and collaboration.

Now, the hard part begins with the plan’s implementation. Achieving some of the objectives will be a heavy lift given the current economic and political climate. But, based on what I’ve seen over the past year from ARTBA’s volunteer leaders and other active members, we are well-positioned to “manage the crisis while building the future.”

(This column appears in the July/August issue of Transportation Builder.)