AEM-ECAAEM’s Nicole Hallada, Dana Wuesthoff and Chris Hansell joined other advocates and leaders from across the face-to-face business events industry last month to discuss key federal policy priorities and highlight the vital role the industry plays in supporting the U.S. economy.

The trio participated in the Exhibitions & Conferences Alliance (ECA) 2023 Legislative Action Day and weighed in on how Congress can make a difference in supporting face-to-face business events, advancing job growth and empowering small businesses. In addition, Hallada, Wuesthoff and Hansell met with the offices of Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), as well as U.S. Representative Gwen Moore (D-Wis.). 

“AEM exhibitions, conferences and trade shows drive growth across every major sector of the U.S. economy,” said AEM Senior Vice President of Exhibitions and Marketing Nicole Hallada. “AEM is proud to stand with ECA, and we want to ensure our voice is heard on the Hill regarding issues impacting face-to-face business events.”

According to ECA, business events support roughly 6.6 million U.S. jobs and adds $396 billion to the GDP annually. In Wisconsin alone, the industry supports more than 67,000 jobs and provides an economic impact of $8.3 billion. Given how much value face-to-face business events provide, AEM joined ECA in advocating for Congress to support the business events industry in the following three important ways:

  • Support efforts to stop business impersonation fraud.
  • Reduce visitor visa interview wait times.
  • Help build the nation’s future skilled workforce.

The Federal Trade Commission has received approximately 2.5 million business impersonation fraud reports since 2017. According to ECA and its supporters, to help stop fraud, Congress should ensure the FTC finalizes its Trade Regulation Rule on Impersonation of Government and Businesses (16 CFR Part 461) as soon as possible.

“AEM members and show exhibitors are frequently victims of fraud, and we encourage Congress to do its part by taking immediate action to support our industry and protect businesses and consumers alike,” said Hallada.

In addition, AEM, ECA and its supporters called on Congress to:

  • Ensure the State Department prioritizes reducing visitor visa interview wait times through increased oversight.
  • Enact provisions that set a 21-day average goal for visa wait times, codify existing authority to waive in-person interviews for low-risk visa renewals and provide additional resources to consulates with high wait times.
  • Modernize and reauthorize the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
  • Pass important workforce legislation, including the Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students Act and the Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act.

“AEM’s best-in-class exhibitions serve as a uniquely valuable platform to bring the equipment manufacturing industry together and facilitate connections between our members and their customers,” said Hallada. “That’s why we’re so committed to supporting the face-to-face business events industry and helping ensure it’s as easy as possible for buyers and sellers to come to our events and take care of business.”

This year’s ECA Legislative Action Day was held in conjunction with the Lippman Connects Exhibition and Convention Executives Forum (ECEF), a one-day information sharing and networking event for leaders at associations and event organizers.

 For more information, contact AEM’s Nicole Hallada at

For more AEM news and updates, subscribe to the AEM Industry Advisor.