Regional plastics industry associations are a hotbed of activity, with new groups popping up frequently and others investigating various mergers and alliances.
The trend is evidence of the continuing maturation of the U.S. plastics industry, and it offers a variety of opportunities and challenges.
The latest news: the nascent Kentucky Alliance for the Plastics Industry Inc. is negotiating to merge with Indianapolis-based Mid-America Plastics Processors Inc. Meantime, Pennsylvania processors are forming a new group, Plastics Pennsylvania, which will be affiliated with the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.
These types of groups, whether regional or local in scope, typically would not form unless prospective members saw a need for the kinds of services they can perform. Company executives are too busy to spend their time and money on unproductive pursuits.
Professional local and regional groups can be a strong force on state issues, particularly training and work-force development. Plus, having a strong local tie can be a nice plus when dealing with politicians and bureaucrats. Local groups are likely to include people who vote in local elections, and politicians who listen to the groups' concerns don't run the risk of being criticized for bowing to ``outside'' interests.
However, without a larger national, or international, perspective, these kinds of groups always run the risk of Balkanization. The industry should be vigilant against trends that could lead to intraregional, intrastate or intramaterial bashing.
We believe these groups make the most sense when they operate within, or in cooperation with, national umbrella organizations. That way the smaller groups can share information and coordinate on issues that pop up outside their state and regional radar.