Showcase for Commerce was in danger of losing some of its political clout.
The annual event previously benefited from having strong support from U.S. Rep. John Murtha and Rep. Mark Critz, two Johnstown residents. Murtha, the longest-serving representative in Pennsylvania history, died in 2010. Critz replaced his mentor in office, but then lost a 2012 re-election bid to Keith Rothfus, a Republican from Allegheny County, leaving the Showcase’s direct political connection to Washington, D.C., somewhat uncertain.
But, recently, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey agreed to become the event’s lead congressional sponsor, thus preserving a vital link between Showcase and the nation’s capital.
“For me, it’s an honor to be able to be part of this and have the opportunity,” said the state’s senior senator.
Showcase for Commerce Chairman Ed Sheehan, president and CEO of Concurrent Technologies Corp., said it is “extremely important” to have a person of Casey’s stature involved in Showcase.
Casey will attend the 23rd annual Showcase, which will be held inside the Cambria County War Memorial Arena from May 29-31. He also will encourage businesses and speakers to participate.
“When Senator Casey committed to support the Showcase and to help us with all the things that he’s offered to help with it really was a tremendous boost to this moving forward and to continue as a national event,” said Johnstown Area Regional Industries President Linda Thomson.
Members of Casey’s staff attended the gathering in the past.
“We came to know how important it was not only for the region, but really for the state and country,” said Casey.
Through the years, Showcase has transformed from a small display for local businesses into a nationally recognized trade show and defense contracting exhibition.
The 2013 Showcase for Commerce is expected to attract more than 150 international, national and region organizations. More than 2,000 people likely will attend, including military officials, defense contractors and politicians.
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