September 14, 2020

Opinion: Trade shows will help economic recovery

by David Audrain, Go LIVE Together Operating Committee Member

Meet Frank Henderson, CEO and Owner of Henderson Sewing, an industrial sewing company. In addition to serving its core customers in the apparel industry, the 52-year-old company has grown and expanded into 80 different market sectors — from tires and auto interiors to aerospace and wind turbines. The third-generation, family-owned business employs 30 people in Andalusia, Alabama, and sells its products into 42 of the 50 states and exports them to 34 countries.

Like many small businesses across America, Henderson Sewing had planned to exhibit its new product innovations in trade shows across the country in 2020. That never happened. The trade shows and business events that were a critical sales and marketing tool in helping small businesses grow simply stopped because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today, we are battling COVID-19, but we must also plan for economic assistance, stability, and growth without delay.

As debate continues about the next phase of coronavirus response legislation, Congress is considering the Business Events Recovery Act, championed by key House and Senate stakeholders, which includes a tax credit to incentivize attendee and exhibitor participation in trade shows, in addition to the extension and expansion of PPP and other funding necessary to keep the industry afloat. Such an incentive will be critical to help cash-strapped small businesses that are focused on staying solvent in the near term to innovate and cross-pollinate for the long term — which is not only good for the companies themselves but also the broader economy.

Read the full op-ed on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution site here.