Helping small businesses
By Ashleigh Petersen

Helping small businesses

Economic Bridge Coalition pushes for financial assistance

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic drags on, the impact is continuing to be felt by those in the event rental industry, as well as thousands of other businesses across numerous industries. The need for additional financial assistance is crucial and the American Rental Association (ARA) is working to help.

In May, ARA spearheaded the formation of the Economic Bridge Coalition (EBC) — which has grown to include 17 associations. These groups have teamed up to help push for more support for the businesses they represent.

Rental Management recently spoke with John McClelland, Ph.D., ARA’s vice president for government affairs and chief economist. He shared background information on ARA’s decision to create this coalition and how it’s giving those in the event rental industry the best opportunity for additional, much-needed help.

Rental Management: Why did ARA create the (EBC)?

John McClelland: We created the EBC because we believed that ARA and other associations needed to come together to have a bigger voice than any of us could have alone. ARA has a long history of operating within coalitions. For example, ARA belongs to the Family Business Estate Tax Coalition that supports the elimination of the estate tax, the HIT coalition that won the repeal of the health insurance premium tax, the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace that advocates against union activities at small businesses, and the Partnership for Employer Sponsored Health Coverage — which represents employers on health care issues. So, it wasn’t a huge leap to decide to form the EBC given our years of experience with coalitions.

Rental Management: The coalition is made up of 17 associations from a variety of industries not related to the event rental industry. Why did ARA decide to pair up with these groups? How could that benefit those in event rental?

McClelland: We needed to have a bigger voice in how the government is responding to COVID-19 and how it affects small businesses. Other industries have sought and some have gotten targeted relief. We don’t think Congress should be picking winners and losers; any small business hit hard by COVID-19 should be eligible for assistance. But these other industries have a lot of money to spend on public relations and lobbying that we just don’t have by ourselves. That is why a group of 17 trade associations got together; to have a bigger and louder voice.

Rental ManagementWhat other associations are a part of the EBC? Is there a chance the coalition will continue to grow with more associations joining?

McClelland: The EBC is made up of 17 associations representing hundreds of thousands of members and about $1.2 trillion in total economic activity. Additional associations could be added as the need for help continues. Current EBC members include:

  • American Horse Council (AHC)
  • American Rental Association (ARA)
  • American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP)
  • American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA)
  • Custom Tailors and Designers Association (CTDA)
  • The Graphic Artist Guild
  • International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA)
  • International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE)
  • International Council of Air Shows (ICAS)
  • Live Events Coalition (LEC)
  • North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA)
  • National Press Photographers Association (NPPA)
  • National Ski Areas Association (NSAA)
  • Outdoor Amusement Business Association (OABA)
  • Professional Photographers Association (PPA)
  • Performance Racing Industry (PRI)
  • Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA)


Rental ManagementWhat is the overall goal of the EBC?

McClelland: Our goal is to get more federal dollars invested into America’s small businesses that have been especially hard hit by the pandemic. We think additional funds should be targeted toward small businesses that have significant and sustained losses over the past 18 months. We want these additional dollars to go to the most deserving businesses, not businesses that happen to be in a specific North American Industrial Classification Code (NAICS) that the U.S. Census uses to collect economic data. The use of NAICS codes in previous legislation to allocate relief funds has been very unfair to ARA event rental members as well as businesses that are members of the EBC.

Rental ManagementDo you see the EBC being around for a long time or is this more of a short-term solution to help businesses still struggling with the impact of COVID-19?

McClelland: I believe that when the pandemic is over, the coalition will have completed its work and will likely dissolve. However, the relationships we have built with these other EBC members will continue because we may continue to have issues in common. That is what is great about being involved in coalitions, the work may end, but the relationships continue.

Rental ManagementWhat can ARA members do to help the EBC? Is there anything ARA members can and should do now?

McClelland: Keep a lookout for our calls to action and take action when you see those calls. It is an ARA member’s responsibility to take action. ARA can provide the tools but our members need to get involved in their own advocacy. To learn about the EBC, I encourage members to visit

Ashleigh Petersen

Ashleigh PetersenAshleigh Petersen

Ashleigh Petersen is the digital communications manager for Rental Management. She writes news and feature articles, plus coordinates the monthly Safety Issue and several sections in the magazine. Ashleigh loves spending time with her husband and young son, baking, gardening and listening to true crime and comedy podcasts.

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