One of the hallmarks of our proud, iconic industry is our strong customer service. Our industry knows that our customers - whether the consumer of our products or the folks who sell them in their stores, street carts or stadiums - are the heart and soul of our success. No industry cares more about its customers or dedicates itself more to meeting their needs than the non-alcoholic beverage industry.

At Sip & Savor, we get to see this hallmark trait in action every day by working with our great companies. And, hopefully, our customers feel the results of their dedication when they buy, sell or consume our products every day.

Today, our member companies are coming to Washington for what we call our Annual Fly-In. It's an opportunity to meet with their Members of Congress and remind them of the many great contributions our industry makes to their communities and constituents. Make that, our communities and constituents - for whether a lawmaker or a beverage bottler, our ultimate goals must be the same: to provide the best service and best products possible for those we serve.

We're an industry that is woven in the fabric of a community and our country. We're literally in every community in every corner of this great land.

Our industry provides 220,000 jobs across the country. These are blue-collar jobs, union jobs and white collar jobs. They're in towns large and small. And they are jobs that come with good health benefits. All important traits as we do our part to help protect jobs for hard-working families and help our nation climb out of this economic recession. And, we indirectly support more the 700,000 more jobs.

Our members aren't coming to Washington asking for a hand-out like other industries; rather we always come offering our government a hand up and deal with its tough challenges. We take the same approach with the communities we serve. Now, our industry is having its struggles, too, make no mistake. But our focus is to deliver the highest quality service with as little disruption to our customers, our communities and our employees as possible. And to help this nation dig out of its economic hole.

Overall, the beverage industry contributes $98.5 billion to America's economy every year, with an indirect contribution of $136 billion. We pay our share of taxes, too. Each year we pay nearly $21 billion in state taxes and $27 billion in federal taxes; not to mention generating $8 million in state sales tax.

But our contributions go beyond economics. We are there for our communities. Whether its donating water, sports drinks or soft drinks for community events and functions, or in times of emergency; supporting local Little Leagues and community athletics; or adjusting the beverage mix in schools (including removing full-calorie soft drinks) in partnership with our parents desire to help teach our children the importance of a balanced diet and exercise - our industry always answers the call. It's because we're your neighbors and your friends, living and working side-by-side in our communities.

We produce fun, refreshing beverages that are meant to be enjoyed. We're that simple. And we can't succeed or make these contributions to our communities without you.

So, thank you.