search
Sections List
American Journal News

Opinion: Fix our national infrastructure to help bring back American business

We need a major boost to come back to where we were before and to where we really should be.

By Terry Wessels - May 08, 2021
Share
Joe Biden signing orders

I have been a small business owner for almost 30 years, planning conferences all over the country. It is a niche profession, but I see firsthand when American businesses can come together to do their best work, and when they’re struggling to get by. 

Conferences like the ones I plan are also boons to local economies, where small businesses get to welcome new customers who might be seeing their cities for the first time. I have a unique view on how tough the last year has been for American business, and it’s made it just as tough for me.

We need a major boost to come back to where we were before and to where we really should be.

Domestic travel accounts for $1.5 trillion of the U.S. economy, and in some tourism-dependent localities, at least one in six jobs are related to the hospitality industry — the conferences I’ve planned in cities like Baltimore or Cleveland help grow a city’s tourism.

I was sure I would do this work until I retired. That all changed during the pandemic. My industry could not continue, and I thought I might have to pick up a new profession at the age of 63. 

My husband is retired, and the last thing I wanted to do was dip into our savings to survive, which we did. Thankfully, I received Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, and the stimulus checks helped us pay essential bills and buy groceries.

I languished and wondered if my industry was gone forever. I felt guilty not working and occupied my time making PPE for my community and helped coordinate vaccine appointments with the local health department. 

I am more hopeful this year because President Joe Biden’s COVID relief and infrastructure plan will help the hospitality and my industry, and all American business, stay afloat.

Without ongoing events, hotels have fewer customers, and so do surrounding businesses. When fewer people are visiting a city, hotels don’t provide as many jobs. This means a shortage of cleaning and cooking positions and less need for local vendors like florists or audio-visual providers. Cities also lose out on revenue from hotel taxes, which is significant to a municipality’s budget.

Midsize conferences year-round bring steady revenue into towns. Many people will go early to a conference and make it a vacation, or take their family back to a city for a trip if they enjoyed it. Tourism is what keeps cities thriving, and my industry is an integral part of that. 

But if a city does not have robust infrastructure, it can lose tourism opportunities. As a conference planner, I will not pick a city that is hard to drive to or that does not have good public transportation or a nearby airport. Part of my job is to make the trip as seamless as possible for attendees.

For example, Dubuque, Iowa, is a lovely place, but it wouldn’t be high on my list for a conference because there is not enough transportation. Attendees don’t want to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars just to get there. 

By fixing aging bridges, trains, and highways, Biden’s economic plan will provide thousands of well-paid jobs and will help stimulate local economies. It will also revitalize tourism, an industry that almost everyone sooner or later makes use of and enjoys, whether it’s just a daytrip to an amusement park or a two-week expedition in a national park.

The hospitality industry was one of those hardest hit by the pandemic. But if we invest in our infrastructure, we can start to alleviate some of the issues the coronavirus outbreak caused.

Conferences create jobs and tourism opportunities, and better infrastructure will only increase revenue for cities. And it will make our entire country competitive again.

Terry Wessels is a conference planner and lives in Marquette, Michigan


AJ News
Get the latest news here first.

Tai News

Newsletter
Read More
AJ News
Latest
Republican David McCormick invests millions in website that platforms Holocaust denial

Republican David McCormick invests millions in website that platforms Holocaust denial

By Jesse Valentine - February 09, 2024
Lawmakers will again take up bills expanding, tightening gun laws

Lawmakers will again take up bills expanding, tightening gun laws

By Annmarie Timmins, New Hampshire Bulletin - January 31, 2024
UAW delivers rousing presidential endorsement for Biden over ‘scab’ Trump

UAW delivers rousing presidential endorsement for Biden over ‘scab’ Trump

By Ashley Murray, States Newsroom - January 24, 2024
Republicans Sam Brown and Jeff Gunter sling mud in Nevada senate primary

Republicans Sam Brown and Jeff Gunter sling mud in Nevada senate primary

By Jesse Valentine - January 17, 2024
A Young Texas Woman Almost Died Due To The Texas Abortion Bans – Now She’s Battling To Save Other Women

A Young Texas Woman Almost Died Due To The Texas Abortion Bans – Now She’s Battling To Save Other Women

By Bonnie Fuller - January 10, 2024
Health care legislation preview: Maryland advocates want to focus on access, patients in 2024 session

Health care legislation preview: Maryland advocates want to focus on access, patients in 2024 session

By Danielle J. Brown, Maryland Matters - January 08, 2024
How GOP senate hopefuls try to excuse the  January 6 insurrection

How GOP senate hopefuls try to excuse the  January 6 insurrection

By Jesse Valentine - January 05, 2024
NH lawmakers will be taking up major voting bills this year. Here are some to watch for.

NH lawmakers will be taking up major voting bills this year. Here are some to watch for.

By Ethan DeWitt, New Hampshire Bulletin - January 04, 2024
Republican US Senate candidates want to make Trump’s tax cuts permanent 

Republican US Senate candidates want to make Trump’s tax cuts permanent 

By Jesse Valentine - December 22, 2023
Rand Paul went all in on the Kentucky governor’s race. It didn’t work.

Rand Paul went all in on the Kentucky governor’s race. It didn’t work.

By - December 15, 2023
Texas governor and attorney general do little to curb state’s chemical plant crisis

Texas governor and attorney general do little to curb state’s chemical plant crisis

By Jesse Valentine - December 08, 2023
Likely GOP Senate candidate Eric Hovde proposed tax hike for poorer workers and retirees

Likely GOP Senate candidate Eric Hovde proposed tax hike for poorer workers and retirees

By Jesse Valentine - December 07, 2023
Whitmer signs specific criminal penalties for assaulting health care workers into law

Whitmer signs specific criminal penalties for assaulting health care workers into law

By Anna Liz Nichols, Michigan Advance - December 06, 2023
105 Republicans voted to expel Santos for things Trump has also done

105 Republicans voted to expel Santos for things Trump has also done

By Jesse Valentine - December 05, 2023
For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another Trump term is another chance to kill Obamacare

For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another Trump term is another chance to kill Obamacare

By Jesse Valentine - December 04, 2023
Florida Sen. Rick Scott backs Donald Trump in revived push to repeal Obamacare

Florida Sen. Rick Scott backs Donald Trump in revived push to repeal Obamacare

By Jesse Valentine - November 30, 2023
Tate Reeves took donations from power company that hiked customer rates

Tate Reeves took donations from power company that hiked customer rates

By Jesse Valentine - November 06, 2023
Daniel Cameron ran on depoliticizing the Kentucky AG’s office. He made it more political.

Daniel Cameron ran on depoliticizing the Kentucky AG’s office. He made it more political.

By Jesse Valentine - November 03, 2023
Republican operatives sound every alarm on current trajectory of 2023 governor’s race

Republican operatives sound every alarm on current trajectory of 2023 governor’s race

By Adam Ganucheau, Mississippi Today - October 24, 2023
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott floats building a wall on the Oklahoma border

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott floats building a wall on the Oklahoma border

By Jesse Valentine - February 22, 2024
More than 48,600 18-year-olds are registered to vote in Ohio, a 35% increase from late August

More than 48,600 18-year-olds are registered to vote in Ohio, a 35% increase from late August

By Megan Henry, Ohio Capital Journal - February 22, 2024
Not if, but when: Parents of slain Parkland students urge Utah lawmakers to pass school safety bill

Not if, but when: Parents of slain Parkland students urge Utah lawmakers to pass school safety bill

By Kyle Dunphey, Utah News Dispatch - February 21, 2024
Key takeaways from Monday’s U.S. Senate Ohio Republican primary debate

Key takeaways from Monday’s U.S. Senate Ohio Republican primary debate

By Nick Evans, Ohio Capital Journal - February 20, 2024
Human, financial costs of gun violence are growing dramatically, health care group says

Human, financial costs of gun violence are growing dramatically, health care group says

By Marty Schladen, Ohio Capital Journal - February 20, 2024
Mark Robinson gun raffle raises campaign finance questions

Mark Robinson gun raffle raises campaign finance questions

By Jesse Valentine - February 16, 2024