(ATLANTIC CITY) – Seeking to revitalize Atlantic City’s economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Assemblymen Vince Mazzeo and John Armato (both D-Atlantic) recently sent a letter to Governor Phil Murphy urging him to relax restrictions on indoor conventions and trade shows in Atlantic City, particularly as the winter season approaches.
“Conventions and trade shows account for over $1.9 billion in economic impact to the city of Atlantic City. This revenue has directly impacted the city’s ability to invest in and maintain the convention center, hotels and local businesses surrounding the area,” the Assemblymen wrote. “COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on Atlantic City’s businesses, casino revenues are down, over 57,000 individuals are still out of work and the convention industry is still shut down. While public health and worker safety are top priorities, we have to look at getting AC back to work.”
New Jersey has maintained a lower rate of transmission than a majority of other states, and the number of COVID-19 cases has remained low in Atlantic County, the Assemblymen noted. However, with current indoor capacity restrictions set at 25%, conventions have stalled in Atlantic City.
“Without the convention and meeting industry, the negative economic impact to both large and small businesses, including lost wages, will be devastating to the market and residents of Atlantic City and Atlantic County,” they wrote. “…Atlantic City cannot afford to sit empty through the winter season, and certainly cannot afford the long term impacts of not being able to schedule conventions and trade shows for upcoming or future dates.”
Convention and trade show stakeholders have noted the enormous impact COVID-19 has taken on industry.
Vista Convention Services, a National General Exposition Service Contractor headquartered in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, partners with exhibitors to install some of the largest conventions held in the Atlantic City Convention Center.
“We employ over 100 union personnel and management staff. Before the pandemic hit our company employed 25 full time employees. Currently, we are operating with half of our staff and most working reduced work weeks,” said Kevin King, President of Vista Convention Services.
Robert Tarby, Director of Trade Show and Special Assignments for the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters, said, “Our union has partnered with contractors and venue managers to develop a plan that will help our industry through this pandemic and also create a standard that the rest of the country can follow. That starts with our carpenters who are trained in COVID-19 preparedness and the backbone of a local economy that needs to get people back to work. As restrictions on New Jersey restaurants are eased, it is now time to take a look at the Atlantic City convention industry. A safe reopening would have a great impact on local workers, but also the opportunity for Atlantic City to become the leader in promoting a safer convention industry.”
The full letter Assemblymen Mazzeo and Armato sent to the Governor is attached.