This week, a group of event- and meeting-related associations announced a new coalition to ask Congress and the Biden administration for help with their economic recovery. Called the Economic Bridge Coalition, the new group’s founding members include the American Rental Association, Live Events Coalition, American Society of Travel Advisors and other associations representing theme parks, museums, fairs, expos and more.
“Our members are mostly family-owned and bring jobs and economic activity to every part of the country,” explains John McClelland, vice president of government affairs and chief economist of the American Rental Association. “They have borrowed, used up savings, even mortgaged their homes to stay afloat, but many are about to lose everything. The hard-working members of our coalition partners are facing the same bleak fates."
That's why the group is calling for an expansion of pandemic relief programs "to those who have been left out," McClelland adds. Coalition leaders note that members of their associations have lost over a year’s worth of revenue that can’t be recovered—and that the damage remains ongoing.
While the government has provided targeted federal aid to certain sectors like airlines, restaurants and theater venues, the coalition argues that many of their industries, which have been particularly hard-hit by lockdowns and attendee reluctance to attend large gatherings, have been neglected. What’s more, the group says, its affiliated business won’t find immediate relief when restrictions are lifted—likely leading to even more business closures and job losses.
“Live events have struggled throughout the pandemic, as partial re-openings have seldom helped our various market sectors and more than a million small businesses and 12 million workers continue to be 60% to 100% down in revenues,” says Dwayne Thomas, the Live Events Coalition's chairperson for government affairs. “We’ve taken on mountains of debt and emptied any cash reserves we had in order to wait out this storm, but we are running out of options."
Thomas adds, "It takes many months to plan a typical live event, and organizers can’t even start that process in earnest until their states open fully. Without additional aid, many of our members won’t make it past the summer.”
The Economic Bridge Coalition is currently working with members of Congress on legislative proposals. Additional associations of affected industries are encouraged to join the coalition by emailing McClelland at email@example.com.
Top photo: One of the Economic Bridge Coalition's founding members is the Live Events Coalition, a volunteer-run nonprofit organization created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last summer, the group hosted a series of "empty events" around the country to shine a spotlight on the industry and its calls for federal aid. In August, the group set up 48 tables on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Read more on our sister site, BizBash. (Photo: Michael Kress Photography)