HOUSTON – Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner attended a news conference addressing the impact COVID-19 has had on the tradeshow industry.
Turner was joined by industry leaders, including president and CEO of Houston First Corporation Michael Heckman to address the current state of the industry and the workers.
The tradeshow industry provides thousands of jobs and helps put billions of dollars into the local economy, but since the start of the pandemic, this industry has been hit hard, Turner said.
Conferences and events were one of the first things to go at the start of the pandemic and venues like the George R. Brown Convention Center have been empty since the start of the pandemic. According to Turner, that means that people who rely on tradeshows for their livelihood are struggling.
“We need to help these people get back to work,” said Turner. “...Workers need help and they need help now... We will stand with you until you can get the help that you been to get back on your feet.”
Turner said he was looking forward to welcoming back conferences like OTC and other big events toward the end of next year, but in the meantime, he urged people to continue to practice social distancing and good hygiene.
During the conference, Turner issued a callout to congress that the tradeshow industry must have federal assistance. Congress must act to provide additional relief, Turner said.
Heckman and the other speakers echoed the mayor’s point saying that the last nine months have been a huge challenge. Tradeshows create hundreds of jobs and are an essential part of the economy, Heckman said.
While things are looking up, Heckman said he was also issuing a callout asking for assistance from Washington to help support people in this industry and bring those dollars - and by proxy, jobs - back into the community.
“We look forward to the return of the tradeshow business,” Heckman said.