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Events-industry members Laura Palker, Yancy Weinrich, Abby Nero, Don Pietranczyk, and Walter Charnizon met with a staffer (wearing bow tie) for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) during ECA Legislative Action Day, May 30.

The Business-Events Industry Takes Capitol Hill

More than 130 Exhibitions & Conferences Alliance representatives brought the industry’s top concerns to members of Congress, including visa wait times and training initiatives for the next generation of workers.

For the annual Legislative Action Day held on May 30 by the Exhibitions & Conferences Alliance—a coalition of professional, industry, and labor associations—more than 130 business-event industry representatives from 25 states met with members of Congress in their offices on Capitol Hill.

“Today was the largest-ever gathering of the industry on Capitol Hill,” said Vinnie Polito, co-president of ECA and CEO of the Society of Independent Show Organizers. “As we have seen in recent months, when our industry shows up and advocates together, we can drive policy change that positively impacts all of us going forward.”

The change Polito is referring to was Congress earmarking $50 million in late March for the U.S. State Department to help reduce passport backlogs and visa wait times for business and leisure visitors from various nations. In addition, the State Department has noted that its 2024 goal is to have 90 percent of all visa interviews worldwide conducted within 90 days of receiving a request.

This year’s ECA Legislative Action Day focused on further reducing visa wait times for international exhibitors and attendees looking to come to U.S. exhibitions, conferences, and trade shows, as well as another of the group’s top public-policy priorities: helping the events industry attract and train its next-generation workforce.

“We are calling on Congress to take action on these issues that will strengthen our industry’s collective ability to drive economic growth, support job creation, and empower small businesses,” said Marsha Flanagan, CEM, ECA co-president and president and CEO of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events.

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