Main Street Industry Alliance (MSIA)

Bringing together leading U.S. manufacturers, business groups and member associations, MSIA emerged as one of the foremost organizations representing the interests of non-bank entities and corporate treasury functions during the financial regulatory reform debate in 2010. Under the guise of mitigating “systemic risk” within the financial markets, Congress at the time considered legislation that would extend greater regulation and supervision over not just traditional financial institutions, but also non-bank companies engaged in broadly defined financial activities (i.e., managing risks through hedging, derivatives products, tools, swaps, etc.).

Within the initial House and Senate bills, hundreds of thousands of businesses in the manufacturing, retail and services industries faced direct supervision of a “systemic risk regulator” similar to large financial institutions, subject to punitive capital requirements even though such activities are ancillary to their overriding, non-financial activities.

The Solution: Following passage of legislation by the House of Representatives in December 2010, The Herald Group was tasked with developing and executing a targeted communications and third-party development program to help illustrate the potential impact of financial regulatory reform legislation on Main Street America.

The strategy was three-fold: First, aggressively position credible leaders (academics/economists, associations, businesses) at the local, state and national levels with compelling data, research and messaging before targeted policymakers and influencers via the media. Second, redefine the universe of affected stakeholders in both economic and human terms by diversifying the message, the messengers (industries, associations, employees) and the Main Street implications. Third, leverage the public’s anger and frustration, calling into question the practicality of including non-bank companies (and communities) in reform legislation aimed at Wall Street banks.

Results: In an expedited timeframe, The Herald Group successfully recruited a cross-industry group of prominent business associations and organizations to draw greater attention to the systemic risk issue and deliver a unified message to policymakers crafting the legislation. As a result of a coordinated and steady drumbeat of targeted media, research and lobbying activities, the Senate modified its original language to further narrow the definition of organizations that will be covered under the new regulatory structure. The final law included this language and non-financial companies were not included in the definition of “too-big-to-fail.”