Taking a keen interest in Legislative Action Day
Stephanie Selesnick talks to Tommy Goodwin , vice-president of government affairs at the Exhibitions & Conferences Alliance in the US
T he lobbying / advocacy branch of the United States B2B events industry is the Exhibitions & Conferences Alliance , better known as ECA . It recently turned two years old . I caught up with ECA ’ s vice-president of government affairs , Tommy Goodwin for an update on the organisation ( PCMA joined in February ) and to get a bit more information about the upcoming Legislative Action Day ( LAD ), 1 June , in Washington , DC .
ECA ’ s ten member organisations are : CEIR ( Center for Exhibition Industry Research ), Destinations International , EDPA ( Exhibit Designers + Producers Association ), ESCA ( Exhibition Services & Contractors Association ), IAEE , IAVM ( International Association of Venue Managers ), PCMA , SISO , the Trade Show Labor Alliance , and UFI . It is chaired by Hervé Sedky , Emerald president and CEO .
Background : Legislators and their staff are bombarded day after day by constituents and lobbyists . These professionals and the politicians they work for are , for lack of a better word , generalists . Typically , legislative staff concentrate their efforts in broadly defined categories , and rarely have the time to get granular in their knowledge of a specific sector or topic .
Having a full-time advocate on Capitol Hill ( where the US Congress and Senate are located ) has been showing results . Goodwin says : “ Because we ’ ve spent a lot of time educating legislators and their staff over the last two years , we were warmly welcomed back when Congress reopened in person . Legislators saw the adverse economic impact on convention centres , hotel s and restaurants in their districts .
“ The Members of Congress we meet with now understand our industry ( B2B expos / events ) and the direct and indirect economic impact it has on cities and voters in their districts .”
Goodwin continues : “ The upcoming Legislative Action Day ( LAD ) will be held in person for the first time since the shutdown . It ’ s most important for our industry
“ Having a full-time advocate on Capitol Hill has been showing results ” to show up in force to advocate and educate government decision makers . This year , LAD takes place the day following Lippman Connects ECEF in Washington , DC , making it easy for those out-of-town industry leaders attending the event to add one day onto their trip .”
First timers to lobbying in person on The Hill will be provided smooth briefings ahead of time and on site . By the second meeting with their Members of Congress , participants will feel comfortable connecting with legislators and their staff . Goodwin says : “ As we all know , the power dynamics and conversation cadence are vastly different in person than online . It ’ s also fun ( believe it or not !)”. I agree .
For those participating in LAD , remember , you will know more about our industry than the policy makers and their staff . It ’ s a chance to share expertise and educate them . It ’ s a chance to add colour around statistics – telling a story if you will . For example , sharing the economic ramifications of the current visa delay for exhibitors and visitors ( buyers ) to your show ( s ) is huge . The millions of dollars left on the table impacts employment and many a city or state ’ s tax base .
As Goodwin says : “ Our ultimate goal is for legislators to keep our industry in mind when they are legislating .”
Can ’ t come to LAD in person ? Goodwin has a phenomenal suggestion : “ Invite your legislators : local , state and federal to your trade shows and events . Let them see how many people it takes to put a show together . How many local voters are working and the economic impact ( tax dollars ).”
l Do contact Tommy with any ideas : tommy . goodwin @ exhibitionsconferencesalliance . org and if you want to join in the day of advocacy , please register at : ECALegislativeActionDay . com
26 Issue 2 2023 www . exhibitionworld . co . uk