The lobbying/advocacy behind Go LIVE Together (GLT) is a marathon, not a sprint, says Elizabeth Maier, Policy Director, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP, the Washington, D.C., lobbying and law firm that is helping the effort.
“We are a new group, and the needs of GLT must be worked on and advanced for the foreseeable future,” Maier explained.
GLT, a coalition of 2,700 members representing over 4,000 companies with U.S. operations, has joined forces to support legislative actions that will aid the trade show industry’s recovery from COVID-19.
The key points behind the GLT lobbying actions are: Business events are “controlled gatherings,” not mass gatherings. Because events happen in big empty spaces, they can be designed from the outset for social distancing and can include other safety measures. Business events are prepared to safely open in accordance with the latest CDC and health guidelines. In addition to feeling safe, attendees and exhibitors will need other incentives to return, such as in the form of tax credits or direct funding as necessary to encourage participation. Legislators need to understand that events serve as their own “stimulus package” because the funds provided will be used to rekindle both an important economic sector and many connected companies. Finally, trade show companies will need protection in the form of expanded insurance coverage, safe harbor from frivolous litigation, and offsets for safety enhancement expenses in order to reopen.
“Our efforts continue today because the country continues to grapple with COVID’s immediate and ancillary effects on all entities, including individuals, that make up the live business sector, from small/medium/large exhibitors to organizers to conference venues. All of these entities have experienced severe negative effects,” Maier said.
Trade Shows Are An Incubator
To explain it simply, live events are critically important. Let’s say you have a large group of radiologists, 20,000 or more, who need to touch, experience and understand the latest equipment (that might take up a lot of physical space) to optimize their performances as medical professionals. And, while our sector is adopting online opportunities, you just can’t replace the necessary live aspect of it.
One other key point: Of the 1.7 million companies that exhibit at trade shows each year, more than 80 percent are small businesses.
“There is strong interest on the Hill in learning how our sector works, who and what makes up the sector, and what we need to succeed. We continue to work with key stakeholders in Congress to communicate our priorities in order to get the traction needed to help our sector survive and thrive,” Maier explained. “Feedback has been extremely positive from most office staff and from Members and Senators themselves. Having said that, the next coronavirus package is caught up in some Republican/Democratic differences, including level of funding, types of tax provisions, and other outlier complications, including the death of Justice Ginsburg, and the turning of attention to the Supreme Court and the elections. However, we will continue to focus on gaining additional attention about our issues and support for our asks.”
Language of a Bill Vital
Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP, helped GLT draft the language for the bill. “Among my colleagues at Brownstein, are tax experts as well as others with bill drafting expertise. Together, they have worked closely with the coalition to hone legislative language to help with the kinds of things the sector needs to create an environment where we’re able to attract back attendees. This could include cleaning and safety costs, or ways to help defray some of the prohibitive costs related to getting back to business overall,” Maier said.
Through education and advocacy, the ultimate goal of GLT and Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck is to advance the priorities of this multi-pronged group made up of all those who work in the trade show industry. “They are directly and derivatively crucial to efforts to reinvigorate the U.S. economy,” Maier enthused.
GLT has a formidable advocate in Maier. She has worked on Capitol Hill for over 20 years with much of it as legislative director to a U.S. senator. “Policy, politics and advocacy are part of who I am so when I learned of this effort our whole Brownstein team quickly came together with an advocacy plan and we spend every day effectuating it,” she said.
She understands fully the importance of the trade show industry and how vital it is to jumpstart the economy.
“The trade show industry literally drives every aspect of the U.S. economy. Think about it this way — the millions of folks who go to trade shows every year need to drive or fly to the event, stay in a hotel, frequent restaurants to eat, and oftentimes they want to shop and/or conduct other business concurrently. Along with the massive activity directly from show organizers, exhibitors, venues, tradesmen, cleaners — for the events themselves — the additive economic contribution of trade shows cannot be underscored. We are trying to make sure our sector is able to operate robustly for years to come.”
Reach Elizabeth Maier at EMaier@BHFS.com.