Cancellation of the NJEA conference in Atlantic City likely will cost hotels and businesses $10 million in revenue from the thousands who would have attended the Nov. 8 and 9 event, Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority President Jeffrey Vasser said Thursday.
Now officials at the New Jersey League of Municipalities are hoping they will not have to cancel their equally massive conference Nov. 13-15.
William Dressel, executive director of the league, said they have been in contact with Vasser and plan to make a decision early next week so they have time to notify members and exhibitors.
“We’ve been loyal to the city for 97 years, and we do want to come,” Dressel said. “But we have to be assured that the Convention Center, hotels and ancillary services are up and running in time.”
Vasser said the Convention Center has power and no damage, so they are ready. He said he understands the NJEA had to cancel because they just did not have enough time to set up.
“They would have started coming in tomorrow, and the city is not yet even open yet,” Vasser said.
New Jersey Education Association spokesman Steve Baker said it was a very tough call for them to cancel the 158th annual event.
“We didn’t want to do it, but it is a huge logistical undertaking,” he said. He said they were also concerned that many members were dealing with their own flooding issues and might not attend this year. The conference typically attracts about 35,000 educators.
Vasser said the league’s event spreads across many venues in the city, not just the Convention Center, so having all services up and running is crucial.
Dressel said the league is also concerned that many government officials may still be coping with their own storm damage issues and won’t have time to attend the conference. But, he said, the event also provides an ideal opportunity for officials to meet and discuss various crisis management issues they have been facing.
“It’s really incredible the resources that have been coming in to the state,” Dressel said. “Our programs will address issues like flooding, emergency management and recovery, and we have already made plans to repeat some of the workshops we expect to be popular this year.”
He said the conference will give local officials information to prepare for the future.
“And it does seem like we are getting one of those hundred-year storms every couple of years now,” he said.
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