A new advocacy organization has been launched to support the trade show industry on Capitol Hill. The Exhibitions and Conferences Alliance, a coalition of eight industry associations, plans to champion the common interests of this meetings industry sector with legislators. The aim is to promote the impact of the sector, drive general industry awareness, initiate legislation on behalf of business events, and work with global partners as needed to maintain a favorable operating environment within the United States.
Two existing initiatives — Go Live Together and Exhibitions Mean Business — will continue to carry out their missions under the new ECA. Go Live Together advocates for federal Covid-19 recovery funding for the industry, and Exhibitions Mean Business promotes the value of face-to-face meetings and the economic impact of exhibitions at the local, state and national levels. Sue Sung, senior vice president of corporate strategy for the Freeman event-design company, will continue to serve as executive director of Go Live Together. ECA also plans to develop new advocacy campaigns as specific needs arise in the future.
“Through lessons learned with Go Live Together, Exhibitions Mean Business and other efforts, we know that advocacy is an ongoing process, and not one that can be easily impacted by jumping in only when there is a crisis,” said David Audrain, CEM, executive director of the Society of Independent Show Organizers and copresident of the new organization. “ECA will enable us to develop and maintain a long-term strategy to raise our industry’s profile among policymakers, ultimately helping to move us forward.”
The initial ECA board is comprised of:
- Cathy Breden, CMP, CAE, CEM, the CEO of the Center for Exhibition Industry Research;
- Melissa Cherry, COO, Destinations International;
- Jim Wurm, executive director of the Exhibitor Appointed Contractor Association;
- Chris Griffin, CEO of Crew XP, representing the Experiential Designers + Producers Association;
- Bob Priest-Heck, CEO of Freeman, representing the Exhibition Services & Contractors Association;
- Megan Tanel, CEM, senior vice president of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, representing International Association of Exhibitions and Events;
- Rip Rippitoe, CVE, CEO of the San Diego Convention Center, representing the International Association of Venue Managers; and
- Douglas Emslie, CEO of the Tarsus Group; Hervé Sedky, CEO of EmeraldX; Nancy Walsh, president of the Americas for Informa Markets; and Yancy Weinrich, chief growth officer of Reed Exhibitions US, representing SISO.
“We are grateful for the generous support of ECA’s alliance partners and their board representatives,” said David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA, president and CEO of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events and the other copresident of the ECA. “We’re confident that combining our resources will strengthen our advocacy influence for exhibitions and conferences, effectively ensuring that our voices are heard, to generate positive outcomes for our industry on Capitol Hill as well as at the state and local level.”