In an industry where months and years of planning go into the execution of events held in the nation’s convention centers, the COVID-19 pandemic did not play by the rules. Almost overnight, Field Hospitals, COVID Testing Sites, PPE Decontamination Sites, Homeless Shelter Housing and COVID Quarantine Housing appeared in empty convention centers across the country. Most of this work would not have been possible without leading special event contractors and venue managers stepping forward to offer their expertise.
Many government agencies were not aware of the capabilities of the events industry prior to the immediate needs arising from the pandemic. Typically, they require an extensive bid process to award the work to “permanent” construction contractors who utilize expensive and time-consuming permanent construction practices to complete the work, even though it is “temporary.” Once venue managers informed the agencies of the capabilities of event industry contractors to provide quick and affordable solutions, these agencies quickly shifted gears and refocused their bid process. One of the challenges many event contractors faced was not being an approved supplier with the government. As a result, all parties had to make exceptions to expedite contracts and meet time-sensitive deadlines. Edlen provided electrical and/or plumbing services to help fight the pandemic at the Baltimore Convention Center, CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Fort Worth Convention Center, Las Vegas Convention Center, Los Angeles Convention Center, Pasadena Convention Center, Portland Expo Center, San Mateo County Event Center, Santa Clara Convention Center and Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth. Many of the services provided by Edlen and other contractors are still in place today as the pandemic continues to disrupt society and the events industry.
In the recovery process, venues are pursuing their GBAC STAR accreditation in order to welcome their guests back safely. The International Sanitary Supply Association, the leading trade association for the cleaning industry worldwide has established a Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) accreditation for the event industry. The GBAC STAR is the gold standard for proper cleaning protocols, disinfection techniques, and work practices in place to combat biohazards and infectious disease in facilities. One of the convention centers that has received this accreditation includes the San Jose McEnery Convention Center and San Jose Theaters. John LaFortune, COO had this to say: “We are proud to lead the way for other Bay Area convention centers and U.S. theater venues to obtain GBAC STAR accreditation. We are proud of our GBAC partnership to incorporate its industry-leading system of cleaning, disinfection and infectious disease prevention for all guests and employees of Team San Jose. We are ready to welcome guests back safely.”
As city, state and federal governments establish guidelines for the re-opening of convention centers, we urge all governmental agencies to remove exhibitions, trade shows, conventions and meetings from the category of mass gatherings and to recognize the vital role the event industry plays in the world’s economic recovery from COVID-19.
The Events Industry Council best describes our impact on society by stating “The global events industry representing over 26 million professionals, builds community and drives innovation, workforce development and education. We are, at our core as human beings, called to connect face to face. We share our stories and our journeys to create welcoming environments and meaningful, life affirming experiences through these face-to-face experiences. We are indeed resilient. We are better when we face adversity and align with a unified voice around the power of events.”