It's the beginning of a new year and the middle mark of my time as WBA Chair. It seems like the perfect time to reflect where we as an association have been and what we are working toward.
One of the key goals we've worked on is engaging the WBA membership in our advocacy efforts. 2020 is an election year and it is vitally important that more members than ever speak up on behalf of the banking industry as we begin a new decade.
An important step we've taken is the creation of the Advocacy Officer Program. In the past few months, we've worked hard to increase our ranks. That work has paid off as we now have 106 bankers representing 102 banks. The Advocacy Officer is the point person who leads their bank's advocacy efforts. They are not necessarily a president or CEO but rather an emerging leader within the bank.
Having this designated person within each bank makes a huge difference in ensuring that advocacy and the need to speak up for the industry becomes a higher priority for all members.
We have also seen success with our state-level legislative priorities. The WBA-supported omnibus bill was recently signed into law. Although many see the changes as tweaks to the law, they will have a huge impact on Wisconsin banks in the future. Also supported by WBA, SB 188 was also passed and establishes a Wisconsin hemp program in accordance with the 2018 Farm Bill. These are just two highlights of a very successful Wisconsin legislative session for the banking industry. With time still left in this session, WBA will continue to work on issues important to you.
Advocacy hasn't been our only focus. Wisconsin's banking industry, like many other industries in the state, is facing a talent shortage. WBA has been participating in college events across the state promoting our industry as a strong career path for graduates. We've had great attendance from bankers and college students alike during these visits.
Those are just a few of the victories we've achieved together over the last few months. I look forward to working with all of you on making 2020 even more successful for Wisconsin's banking industry.
Meloy is CEO of First Business Bank, Madison and WBA Chair.