by Rob Cohen (pictured right), VP, Display Supply & Lighting
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit everyone hard and in so many different ways. Too many people became ill, some very seriously ill, and far too many have died. Families have been left suffering, not even being able to grieve properly and mourn the losses of loved ones. All of this is nothing but tragic.
On the business side, and particularly in the experiential markets, we have seen some companies close their doors for good, others shut their doors temporarily to wait and see what happens and some have found creative ways to stay afloat. Through it all, the EDPA and the EDPA Foundation has taken the lead to advocate on behalf of our industry. Through the dedication and leadership of Dasher Lowe and countless hours of volunteer work by our members on both the national and local levels, we have made our collective voices heard in a unified way. We are pleased that the EACA has joined in our efforts to work together towards achieving collective benefits for our industry.
Advocacy has been embraced by members of our industry in a way that we have never imagined. Under the passionate leadership of Chris Griffin, and with the guidance of the government affairs team at Cassidy & Associates which was retained by the EDPA, the eight-letter word, A-D-V-O-C-A-C-Y, has become our rallying point. With the strong financial support of the EDPA Foundation committing resources at a great time of need for our members, the additional financial commitment of the EDPA Board and the numerous contributions received from our members, our industry story is strategically being told and well represented in the professional way that we all expect.
One of the first lessons of advocacy is that you must tell your own story, because others cannot tell it properly for you. This has never been more true than during these times of COVID. Our members have come forward to join in over 40 calls (to date) with offices of U.S. senators and members of Congress to deliver their first-hand stories. We can never thank those people enough for their time and support! What has the EDPA done in its advocacy efforts on behalf of its members and the industry at large?
- EDPA has been able to get people in D.C. to recognize three words strung together that it did not know before: Trade Show Industry.
- EDPA was able to provide input on the original language in the first PPP program to improve the program for our members.
- EDPA has been working tirelessly on efforts to get the definition of who is eligible to apply for and receive grants under the Shuttered Venue Operators Program. This work is ongoing and a top priority at this time.
- EDPA has worked on examining a large number of potential pieces of legislation, programs and relief packages to determine where the best opportunities lie for success and strategically followed that plan with our government affairs team.
Advocacy is and must continue to be an ongoing effort that must stay embedded in our culture. We must remain engaged in advocacy efforts 365 days a year. Another lesson learned is that you can’t jump in and ask elected officials for help only when you need it. You need to always be working on building these relationships and be there when they need our support as well.
Advocacy is more than working with the people in D.C. EDPA members need to be working with local officials on issues relevant to our industry, local venues and local economies. At the same time, we need to be working with local and national media to keep up the awareness for our industry, and the benefits it delivers for the overall economy, as a front-page story.
Advocacy means working with other groups within our industry to raise a collective voice and the EDPA is doing that. Exhibitions and Conferences Alliances is an organization that was formed out of the GoLive Together movement. ECA is working on tax incentive, travel-related issues and other matters that would encourage business travel as the industry recovers. EDPA is a member of this alliance, has a seat on its governing body and supports its efforts.
While many do not see it, while advocating for pandemic relief, some members are also spending time on the ongoing issues related to tariffs on goods coming into this country from China. Through these efforts, the EDPA is working with a number of other trade associations on 232 and 301 tariff issues including associations in the aluminum industry, the National Federation for Tariff Reform and the Americans for Free Trade.
Your EDPA is hard at working bringing attention to matters that affect our industry now and going forward. Thanks to the support of the EDPA, EDPA Foundation, EACA and a number of individual EDPA companies the advocacy efforts will continue. If you are interested in helping with financial support of EDPA’s advocacy efforts contact Dasher Lowe (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information. Just more reasons why the EDPA needs your ongoing support and why you need the EDPA!
This story originally appeared on the EDPA website and in the May/June 2021 issue of Exhibit City News, p. 28. For original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecn_may-june_2021