Showcase for Commerce

Having a conversation between a Ground Mobility Vehicle (foreground) and a M917A3 heavy dump truck Thursday, May 30, 2019, at the Showcase for Commerce in Johnstown are (from left) Gen. John M. Murray, Commanding General, Army Futures Command; Bill Polacek, president and CEO of JWF Industries; U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, lead Congressional sponsor, Showcase for Commerce; and Mike Golkey, project manager at JWF industries and a 16-year U.S. Marine Corps veteran.

Organizers of the annual Showcase for Commerce expect that, by the end of summer, the COVID-19 pandemic will have subsided enough for regional and national defense sector leaders to feel comfortable visiting Johnstown and interacting during face-to-face networking.

So, on Tuesday, Johnstown Area Regional Industries and Cambria Regional Chamber announced that this year’s Showcase for Commerce will be held from Aug. 31 to Sept. 2 at 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial, Frank J. Pasquerilla Conference Center, Holiday Inn Downtown Johnstown and Sunnehanna Country Club.

“Our expectation is really high for the event,” JARI President and CEO Linda Thomson said. “In fact, I think being one of the few events this year relative to the defense sector, I’m really thinking we’re going to have a pretty good showing.

“I think, first of all, there’s pent-up demand for interaction with supply chain, and also hearing firsthand from decision-makers at DoD (U.S. Department of Defense) and Congress about what the priorities are and how things look moving into the future. I think the Showcase is going to give us that opportunity.”

Showcase for Commerce will likely be one of the first big events held in the city in 2021.

More than two years will have passed since representatives of the defense sector and other businesses last came together in Johnstown for the most recent Showcase for Commerce on May 29-31, 2019.

“We’re excited about bringing people to Johnstown, showcasing the capabilities of the companies in this area, but also looking to help our companies grow by bringing in other opportunities from some of the large prime contractors and large OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) in the defense industry,” said Edward Sheehan Jr., chairman of Showcase for Commerce and president and CEO of Concurrent Technologies Corp.

Organizers originally planned to hold this year’s event the week after Memorial Day, but they now do not believe businesses and individuals will be ready for travel and gatherings by then.

So late summer was picked as an alternative, since COVID-19 cases are dropping thanks to the vaccine rollout.

“We’re obviously very excited,” Cambria Regional Chamber President and CEO Amy Bradley said.

“I think we’re hopeful that that time of year things will be opened up even more. More people will have had their vaccines. Travel restrictions should be better. Obviously, we have people that come from all over, so we want to make sure that people are safe, but able to gather and get back to doing good work, and networking and business deals.”

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr., U.S. Rep. Glenn “G.T.” Thompson, R-Centre, 15th Congressional District, and U.S. Rep. Dr. John Joyce, R-Blair, 13th Congressional District, are again working on putting together the event, which is also expected to include military speakers and other government officials.

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5056. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Sutor.

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