Volume 13, Issue 1 - January/February 2009

IWFA Update

What Might Obama Mean for Film?

As my term as president of the IWFA comes to a close, a decidedly more important presidency is slated to begin. On January 20, 2009, Barack Obama will be inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States. Regardless of which side you supported in this landmark election, this much is certain: Much of our future rests in the president-electís hands. So rather than look back at what the IWFA has accomplished during my term, letís instead imagine what president-elect Barack Obama might mean for our industry. The future is, after all, far more exciting than the past.

Two issues are likely to receive the lionís share of Obamaís immediate attention: the economy and the environment. And lest anyone doubt that the economy will be his sole focus, consider that as recently as this past October, Obama told Time magazine that the economy will be his ďnumber one priorityĒ when he enters the Oval Office.

What will a renewed focus on renewable energy mean to the window film industry? It will likely mean attention and opportunity, especially for companies that produce, sell or install solar control materials. Of course, the bulk of the $700-plus billion stimulus package is earmarked for the financial, insurance and, likely, automotive industries, so companies who manufacturer glass films are by no means first in line for an injection of federal dollars; but that doesnít mean there isnít cause to be optimistic about our industryís future.

By elevating environmental issues to the level of the economic collapse, the media will be compelled to pay close attention to Obamaís ďgreenĒ policies. Throughout his campaign, Obama promised to look into a wide array of clean energy sources, including wind, geothermal and solar. As his administration begins to establish policy, the press is likely to report on the practices and products that constitute each of these renewable sources. Historically, the national media has not paid close attention to window films. But itís entirely possible that these influential outlets will begin to mention our sector and, if this happens, it will create a wave of sales and marketing opportunities for window film providers.

Itís also possible that the positive impact could be greater than elevated public awareness. According to a recent report by research firm Gartner Inc., the president-electís new energy plan ďcould have a significant impact on the solar industry.Ē The report also adds that Obamaís plan requires 10 percent of domestically-consumed electricity to come from renewable sources by 2012.

Obama has earmarked as much as $15 billion annually to fund research and development as well as encourage renewable-energy production. To be clear, most of this money will be invested in technologies that generate energy. Solar control films, as we know, conserve energy. However, that distinction doesnít mean we donít stand to benefit from the administrationís aversion to fossil fuels. In fact, included in the governmentís 400-plus page bail out plan is the resurrection of the IRSís tax credit for homeowners who installed residential films. Hopefully that relief is a sign of positive changes to come. 

Tom Niziolek is president of the International Window Film Association (IWFA). Mr. Niziolekís opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of†this magazine.
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