The cornerstone of progress


AAHOA relationships with government leaders highlighted at AAHOACON24

At AAHOACON24, the spotlight shone brightly on AAHOA’s advocacy initiatives, as government officials and association leaders underscored their dedication to advancing the needs of hoteliers across the country.

shri thanedar

Rep. Shri Thanedar (D-MI) addresses AAHOACON24 attendees during a morning General Session.

Throughout its 35-year history, AAHOA has seen remarkable growth in its advocacy efforts. From driving federal and state legislative agendas to hosting impactful advocacy conferences and engaging in grassroots initiatives like Town Halls and Back of the House Tours, as well as a robust Political Action Committee, and a dedicated Government Affairs Committee and legislative staff, AAHOA works to ensure member concerns are heard at every level of government.

“Whether it’s the AAHOA Spring National Advocacy Conference (SNAC) or the Fall National Advocacy Conference (FNAC), AAHOA works tirelessly to advocate for fairness and transparency, promote access to capital, champion a competitive market for credit card ‘swipe’ fees, address the hospitality workforce shortage, and more,” said AAHOA Chairman Miraj S. Patel in remarks at AAHOACON24. “Hotel owners are united by the cause of championing industry-friendly legislation. Building meaningful relationships with elected officials is helping the association make positive changes for all hotel owners.”

Those relationships were evident at AAHOACON24. Among the government officials speaking was Representative Shri Thanedar (D-MI). In introducing Thanedar, AAHOA President & CEO Laura Lee Blake noted that he met with AAHOA members during SNAC 2024. (A video of SNAC highlights can be viewed at

Thanedar introduced the Loans In Our Neighborhoods (LIONS) Act to increase the maximum gross loan amount for section 7(a) loans to $10 million from $5 million. These changes to the Small Business Act (SBA) would provide greater financial support to small businesses. AAHOA has long advocated for increases to SBA loan limits.

shri thanedar discusses the importance of the lions act

Rep. Shri Thanedar (D-MI) discusses the importance of the LIONS Act with AAHOACON24 attendees from the General Session main stage.

“This Act is a big deal for small businesses,” said Thanedar, Michigan’s first Indian American Congressman. “It’s about doubling the cap on certain small business loans to $10 million. This isn’t just a number. It’s a lifeline for businesses to innovate, grow, and strengthen our local economies. In a world that’s rapidly changing, especially after the pandemic, the LIONS Act provides crucial support. It understands the challenges of growing a business, from rising costs to scaling operations. By enhancing financial support for entrepreneurs, we’re backing the real economy drivers and job creators.”

“The timing for the LIONS Act couldn’t be better, and I want to thank AAHOA for pushing this to the forefront. Working alongside AAHOA leaders like President & CEO Laura Lee Blake and [then]Chairman Bharat Patel, we’re all in for making a real difference with this act.”

Thanedar also attended AAHOA’s reception recognizing those who support its Political Action Committee. Congressman Darren Soto (D-FL), and Florida State Representative Tom Keen (D-35) were present for the event.

Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), who previously served two terms as the governor of Florida, also spoke. In introducing him, AAHOA Treasurer Rahul Patel noted, “Like America’s hotel owners, Senator Scott fights every day, so families across the state can have the same opportunities he had to live the American Dream.”

senator rick scott accepts the chairmans certificate of appreciation

Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) accepts the Chairman’s Certificate of Appreciation from the 2023-2024 AAHOA Officers during AAHOACON24.

Scott’s remarks focused on issues such as the economy, federal and state government budgets, and regulations that hinder business owners. He mentioned AAHOA Lifetime Member Danny Gaekwad as a supporter with whom he worked to build businesses in Florida.

He encouraged members to take a more active role in government.

“Get involved politically,” Scott said. “If you don’t feel like running for office, support somebody. Everybody thinks it’s money. You know what it is? It’s votes.”

Immediate Past Chairman Bharat Patel presented him with a 2023-24 Chairman Honoree Award for Scott’s support of AAHOA and pro-business initiatives.

Orange County Major Jerry Demings welcomed AAHOACON24 attendees via video. He noted Central Florida’s tourism and hospitality industry has an economic impact of $87.6 billion, with hotels and motels being a central part of that thriving industry.

orange county major jerry demmings welcomed attendees to aahoacon24 via video

Orange County Major Jerry Demings welcomed attendees to AAHOACON24 via video.

“I applaud AAHOA for promoting the hospitality industry and hosting events like this one that provide education, networking, and business opportunities,” he said. “Thank you for your continuous contribution to our nation’s economy and quality of life by enhancing our tourism and hospitality industry.”

As AAHOA commemorates its 35th anniversary, advocacy will remain a cornerstone of its ongoing success. With a commitment to amplifying the voices of hoteliers, AAHOA will work to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of the hospitality industry.


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