Once a year, every participant in the electrical industry is invited to attend the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) Trade Show and other educational offerings that are held in conjunction with NECA’s members-only national convention. If there was ever a year when you simply must attend, this is it.

I know this may sound counterintuitive, given the lingering recession, but that’s precisely the point. In the words of NECA CEO John Grau, “We’re pulling out all stops to make sure that the program is relevant and useful in today’s economic climate.”

NECA’s Convention and Trade Show always has been focused on providing the information and tools we contractors need to cope with challenges and take advantage of current and emerging opportunities. This focus will be intensified at NECA 2009 Seattle.

If you attend, you will learn about methods to maintain and protect your business in these tough times. You’ll also learn about new product innovations and industry resources that will help you survive the economic downturn intact and thrive when the economy picks up again, as it undoubtedly will.

And, if you want to move your business in a new direction, the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle is definitely where you need to be Sept. 12–15. Multiple opportunities to learn about alternative energy solutions and sustainable electrical construction will be presented every day throughout NECA 2009 Seattle. Think of your trip there as a starting point.

And, think about this: Just one new idea or just one bit of information that you bring back and apply in your business could more than pay for your trip.

Yes, I know I’m not the first to say it. It sounds like a cliche, but many sayings became cliches because they contain often-repeated truths. I can attest to the truth of that statement from my own experience.

It also has been my experience that one of the most valuable benefits of attending NECA events is the opportunity to network with fellow members. Well, NECA 2009 Seattle presents opportunities to network on a grand scale.

Of course, I’m looking forward to hearing about what conditions are confronting electrical contractors in other regions of the United States and how they are responding to changes in the contracting market. This kind of exchange can provide insights we can use at home. But NECA 2009 Seattle will do more than bring contractors of all sizes and specialties—from all across the country and beyond—together for a few concentrated days of education and information exchange in one corner of the Northwest. You’ll also find manufacturers, utilities, inventors, distributors, consultants and engineers represented there. In fact, they will be represented in great number. More than half of the available exhibit space had been booked by early spring, long before show registration was even open, and requests from potential exhibitors continue to roll in. You can see a list of those who already have committed to be there at www.necaconvention.org/show. Note that it contains the names of dozens of our leading industry partners who all are eager to demonstrate their newest and best products and services and to learn how they can meet our current and future needs.

They are certainly not letting any recession jitters hold them back. And neither should you.

The NECA Show demonstrates that connectivity has more than one meaning in the electrical industry because our annual exposition is the product of a symbiotic relationship. Exhibitors are drawn to it because they know it is where they will meet leading electrical contractors, and contractors go because we know we’ll meet outstanding people from the organizations that make our companies work.

So, I’d like to stop right here and thank all our show exhibitors, especially those who will be sponsoring events and amenities there. Thanks, in particular, to NECA’s Premier Partners—Graybar, Milwaukee Tools and Westex Industries. These three industry leaders are visible throughout the year, but they have made a special commitment to make NECA 2009 Seattle the best showcase of innovation and talent for the entire electrical construction industry.

I also would like to thank all electrical contracting professionals, NECA members and nonmembers alike, who make the NECA Convention and Trade Show a success just by being there. I’m looking forward to a big turnout for the biggest event on America’s electric power and cabling industry’s calendar.

Register today at www.necaconvention.org, and be there in September. You’ll be glad you did!