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IAEM Asks Government Officials to Create Fast Track Policy For Trade Show Participants

Trade Show Executive
April 12, 2004
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Washington, DC - At a closed-door session of the House Committee on Small Business held in Washington, DC on March 30th, IAEM reiterated its recommendation for the creation of a “Fast Track” visa issuance program that would recognize a prior favorable history of a business traveler and make it easier for that person to re-enter the U.S.

The address was made on behalf of IAEM  by Jack Withiam, Jr., Senior Vice President  & General Counsel of George Little Management, who was accompanied by Cathy Breden, CEO of IAEM. Withiam presented IAEM member data which  documented the financial  impact of U.S. immigration policy on the show organizers, cities, and states of specific shows.

Withiam told the committee that the last three years have been among the most difficult endured in the history of the industry, and that for many companies, the convergence of a soft economy, voluntary reductions in the volume of corporate travel, and the impact of new U.S. immigration and travel policies have been financially devastating. “While we cannot directly alter the nature of the economy or the decisions of corporate leaders to curtail their employees’ travel, we do have the ability to change immigration and travel policies that are denying legitimate business travelers the chance to come to the United States to conduct business,” he said.

The meeting was chaired by Representative Donald Manzullo. Approximately 25 government officials participated including representatives of the FBI, U.S. State Department and Homeland Security.  What was their reaction?  Breden told Trade Show Executive magazine, ”Due to the nature of the hearing, the committee members  were  careful not to respond or make any commitments. The mere fact that we were specifically invited to testify confirms  that the committee  understands a  problem  exists.”  She says the next step will be a full committee hearing.

IAEM has been working with from the House Committee on Small Business for a year and a half, says Steven Hacker, President, IAEM. He says the March 30th  meeting was a follow-up to an April 2003 meeting where Gary Shapiro, President and CEO, Consumer Electronics Association first suggested the adoption of a “Fast Track” policy on behalf of IAEM.

The proposed “Fast Track” visa issuance program would permit the expedited issuance of visas for persons who can demonstrate a prior history of legal travel to and from the U.S. and who do not appear on any security watch lists. “We all support national security, but would like to see policies adjusted not to penalize business,” says Breden.

The text of Withiam’s presentation appears on the IAEM web site at 

Contact Cathy Breden, Chief Operating Officer, IAEM at (972) 458-8002 or

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