Dean Thompson, president of the Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI) and one of the architects of the proposed Home Improvements Revitalize the Economy Act of 2009, or HIRE Act, spoke with NFT recently about the efforts of his industry coalition to help jumpstart the building products sector.

The main challenge is to get enough co-sponsors on the bill, which Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA) has agreed to introduce, Thompson said. "There’s no magic bullet on the number of co-sponsors. The more co-sponsors this gets the better chance it has when it goes to the House of Representatives. And the more members we can get, the more incentive we have for Congressman Johnson to move it forward in the House."

The HIRE Act calls for a $2,000 individual credit to consumers for the purchase of building and furnishings products, and a $4,000 joint credit to consumers for the purchase of products meeting LEED, Green Globes, FloorScore and other recognized green standards. Additionally, residential retailers, contractors and building products resellers could receive up to $10,000 in credits for covered purchases.

The coalition, which comprises 12 building products and furnishing groups including the RFCI, Carpet & Rug Institute and World Floor Covering Association, rose out of the ashes of the Fix Housing First coalition. According to Thompson, that coalition did have a small impact on securing incentives for consumers, but the final bill wasn't as "targeted and specific" as the industry wanted it to be. "Our view is we can sit back, pull the cover over our heads and wait for things to blow over, or we can get out there and try to make something happen," he said. "We're putting something forward that’s positive for the industry, and we want to see the government vote on it."

The coalition is currently asking "manufacturers, and large bases of employment; companies with a lot of clout," to generate e-mails, phone calls, letters and follow-ups to their representatives proposing the adoption of the HIRE Act legislation, he added.

For more information, contact the RFCI at (706) 882-3833 or visit www.rfci.com. -Michael Chmielecki