WASHINGTON — The Flexible Packaging Association is moving from Washington to cheaper quarters near Baltimore, part of a restructuring that will slice more than $500,000 from its annual budget.
The trade group will move Feb. 24 into new offices near the Baltimore Washington International Airport, where its rent will be one-third that of downtown Washington, said FPA President Marla Donahue.
Easier access to BWI's cheaper air fares, and the improved ability for members to fly in and out on the same day for meetings, are other reasons for the move, she said.
The trade association has been slashing its budget in recent years, and with the changes, its budget will shrink from $2.3 million in 2000 to $1.8 million in 2001, she said. The largest part of the savings comes from cheaper rent, she said. The new office will be 4,500 square feet, compared with 8,500 square feet in Washington.
The trade group has been hurt by consolidations in the industry, which have reduced its dues base. FPA also wanted to lower its dues and try to bring more members in, she said. As a result, FPA greatly has simplified its dues structure, cutting dues payments 25-40 percent and setting up minimum dues of $3,500 and maximum dues of $40,000, she said.
"We hope we are making it affordable, so we aren't one of the first things they look to cut costs on," Donahue said. "What we are trying to do is ... instead of reacting to negative forces, we are anticipating them."
Donahue, who joined the association in February 2000, said she has outsourced services such as accounting and communications and has not reduced services while trimming costs. In early 1999, the group eliminated its top lobbyist, its membership director and meeting planner.
Other recent initiatives include an e-commerce study and a $60,000 project to work with the U.S. Census Bureau to improve statistical data for the industry.
The new location is a 25-minute train ride from Capitol Hill, so the group can maintain an effective Washington presence, she said.
The trade group is banking on the reduced costs to boost its membership from the 115 dues-paying companies now, she said.
"The reduction in my administrative costs have allowed us to take a leap of faith," she said. "There are still a lot of companies out there. We are hoping that this dues reduction will help companies find it in their budget."