What the PPP Means to Businesses in Real Life

July 23, 2020

Tim Heffernan

Tim Heffernan is the chief development officer for T3 Expo. He has deep experience leading and advising Fortune 500 companies through all phases of market development, business development, research, government relations, public relations, crisis, branding and internal communications.

Do you know how large of a role the live events industry plays in our nation’s economy? If you’re in the events industry, you likely do — but not all Americans are aware. As Congress prepares to deliver new business relief legislation in the upcoming weeks, it’s important to note how big that impact is, as well as the critical characteristics for that legislation to be most effective — for all small businesses and especially those in the events business. 

The live events industry employs roughly 2.8 million people, and when factoring in direct jobs and indirect jobs (which includes labor, food staff, shipping and receiving and so many others) that extends to the support of an overall 6.6 million jobs annually. The industry adds $885 billion to the U.S. GDP every year, and 80 percent of companies that support conferences and trade shows are small businesses. A high percentage of the workers who help stage live events are union workers.

Given the effects of COVID-19, the events industry faces a prolonged downturn. Most major trade shows and industry gatherings for the rest of 2020 have been cancelled. This is a crisis situation for the entire industry. We believe that our industry will make a strong comeback, but we have a longer road to recovery than many other industries. Based on continuing uncertainty, many in the industry don’t expect trade shows and conferences to make a strong comeback until sometime in the first half of 2021.

As we help to voice the needs of the industry, T3 Expo believes that a new business aid program should represent the following general principles.

First, new relief should target sectors of the economy with the longest road to recovery, not just industries with the most recognizable household brand names. To help small and medium businesses in those most affected sectors, the relief should provide a mix of grants and loans that build on the Payment Protection Program (PPP) model.  

Since uncertainty seems to be the only thing anyone can count on in this climate, it’s important to ensure that PPP loan recipients can borrow a second time in order to keep as many people employed as possible. Also, PPP should provide flexibility so that small businesses can address their most pressing needs, beyond applying funds to payroll, as there are many critical expenses which keep businesses running, such as suppliers, warehouses, carriers, partners, technology tools and solutions and more — thus keeping people employed.

Furthermore, by simplifying forms and procedures, this removes the barriers that would otherwise not encourage the participation of some of the nation’s smallest businesses. Finally, it’s important for legislators to recognize that many small businesses are already heavily leveraged, and new legislation should ensure that the reality of those circumstances should not block their participation in new stimulus funding opportunities.

Overall, those of us in the events industry appreciate everything Congress is doing to help small businesses, as the impact of the Coronavirus has been devastating. PPP has been a lifeline for many small businesses, and we look forward to the House and Senate continuing to work together to enact a new program so we can help our industry community to thrive in the years to come.


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