UMWA water transportation

Delivering value for association members: That was the focal point of the Upper Mississippi Waterway Association (UMWA) board meeting May 17 in St. Paul. In its 82nd year of operation, UMWA is a continued voice to gather waterway operators, shippers and other waterway interests to work together in promoting the economic and environmental benefits of water transportation in the Upper Midwest.

In an effort to learn more about how to best meet membership needs, UMWA Executive Director Gary Williams embarked on an outreach mission with a goal to gain input from every member of UMWA on their overall experience and learn more about ways to boost membership and deliver value.

“We discussed the results of our outreach campaign, which involved collecting opinions and ideas from our members and providing guidance as we move forward in the process of restating the mission and vision for the organization,” Williams said.

In the results he’s compiled so far, Williams said common themes included coordinating efforts in education, information and legislation with partner organizations and agencies through the consistency of messaging, avoiding conflicting statements and utilizing research and outreach to amplify their voices.

As it works to sharpen its overall message, UMWA is working with Ag Management Solutions (AMS) to revamp its website and manage its marketing and communication services, with the goal of revamping and amplifying UMWA’s mission.

“It’s great to see we are restarting our commitment to a sustainable future where the Upper Mississippi River thrives, reflecting our collective efforts in environmental stewardship, innovation and public advocacy of our waterways,” said Jeremy Putman, president of UMWA. “With our Executive Director Gary Williams’ assistance and having the support staff of AMS, these visions will become a reality.”

With educational opportunities on the horizon, Williams is continuing to reach out to members and is committed toward continuing to collect feedback from members in order to define the organization’s vision for the future.

“The overriding positive factor is that members again and again have pledged their support and desire to become engaged,” he said. “While the business environment may have changed in the past decade, as well as some areas of importance for members, they have all been unified in the opinion that UMWA still holds value for them when focused on those areas they most value. The work we are doing today to listen to our members about direction will pay important dividends later by achieving success through keeping in channels that meet those needs.”

The board also discussed alternating its meeting locations at various spots along the Upper Mississippi as a strategy to encourage more in-person attendance for members. UMWA’s next meeting is planned for June 24 in La Crosse, Wisconsin.