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RIHA Column: Partnerships…They’re Not Always the Obvious Choice

By Dale J. Venturini

Dale A. Venturini, President & CEO, Rhode Island Hospitality Association

Dale A. Venturini, President & CEO, Rhode Island Hospitality Association

I’ve written extensively about the need to collaborate with organizations that share the same business interests. Whether a business partner’s mission is within your organization’s focus or completely out of the box, creating alliances is critically important to the growth and sustainability of an organization.

While some partnerships might seem natural, it is often those who are not the obvious choice that wind up becoming the strongest allies.

The RI Hospitality Association is part of the Rhode Island Business Coalition, a group of 14 disparate businesses with a similar mission, to make the state’s business climate more competitive. While the state is moving in the right direction with unemployment numbers decreasing, the size of the state’s labor force continues to decline by relatively large margins, and the economic growth rate continues below levels necessary to recover from the economic downturn. The Coalition’s mission is to try and find ways to address these concerns.

While each organization’s interests are not necessarily aligned, we all come together to focus our joint attention on the state’s economy and to study the issues at hand in order to provide viable economic solutions. In the process, we get to learn from each other and understand our similarities rather than our differences.

From the hospitality industry, to the building trades, chambers of commerce, manufacturing organizations, accountants, small businesses and defense organizations, the Coalition represents an excellent cross section of our local economy. While we don’t always agree, we do work together to try and find solutions to the issues that affect every business segment in the state.

Working within the coalition, we are able to better understand the full scope of issues that affect the economy and get into the nitty gritty of each member’s position. There have been instances in which my organization does not agree with the Coalition, and in that case, I am able to take a neutral position while still respecting the opinion of the Coalition. We have also never had a member fight against the group’s recommendation.  Even when we don’t all agree on a position, we are able to remain neutral.

Mutual respect among members helps us to stand in unity together, form alliances and adhere to an ‘agree to disagree’ stance when warranted. Staying true to the intent of working together to find equitable solutions helps everyone stay focused on the task at hand.

Further, gaining exposure to the issues that affect other industries helps each of us have better perspective on the state of the economy as a whole. Without the influence of other groups, it is easy to take a myopic view on issues and really hone in on those that only affect our own industry and constituents.

The bottom line is that we all need to be open to new alliances and partnerships. Moving outside of your organization’s comfort zone has a myriad of benefits in terms of understanding the bigger picture and learning from different points of view. As diverse as each of the organizations within the Coalition are, we all have a common goal – to improve Rhode Island’s overall economic picture. Each business is savvy enough to understand that a rising tide will float all boats.

Dale J. Venturini is the President & CEO of Rhode Island Hospitality Association. A veteran of more than 25 years in the hospitality industry, Ms. Venturini is considered by many to be the voice of the industry in the state of Rhode Island. She has been instrumental in improving the industry’s educational and training programs in the state, as well as enhancing the bottom line of the business she represents. Ms. Venturini splits her time between the office and the State House, a constant presence for her membership.

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