Negative publicity continues to churn in the media around the meetings and incentives industry, as a result of the assumed inappropriateness of events organized by companies receiving emergency relief money from the federal government. In reaction, a new electronic petition has been launched to draw attention to the importance of meetings in the U.S. economy and to give people a way to show their support for the industry.

The petition, Keep America Meeting at keepamericameeting.com, asks signers to “send a message to our legislators nationwide that we need them to take the proactive step of publicly supporting the meetings and events industry in order to hasten the U.S. recovery.”

Keep America Meeting was created by TBA Global, a meeting and event marketing company, in partnership with the U.S. Travel Association and with support from the Event Marketing Institute. It is endorsed by a non-partisan group of associations, publishers, and companies, including the MeetingsNet magazines.

Organizers plan to deliver the petition to the White House, Congress, and the leadership of the Fortune 200 companies, with a clear message of support for meetings. The petition says: “Corporate meetings enhance employee and partner performance, fuel company growth and profitability, support the needs of local communities, and aid the American economy as a whole.” According to U.S. Travel, meetings and events are responsible for nearly $40 billion in tax revenue at the federal, state and local level and generate more than one million jobs.

The petition continues, “We the undersigned believe meetings build businesses and are an important part of our nation's recovery.”

At press time, about two weeks after the launch, the campaign had gathered about 8,700 signatures, many with thoughtful commentary about the value of meetings, events, and incentives as business tools and as a critical element of our economy. The goal is one million signatures.