An opening ceremony for the 22nd annual Showcase for Commerce was punctuated by strong words from U.S. Rep. Mark Critz.
He told those at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown that it's time to continue the event's successful legacy, which began more than two decades ago with the help of U.S. Rep. John Murtha.
"Obviously we've been concerned about the Showcase for Commerce (since his death) and this year was no exception," said Critz, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the Small Business Committee.
"This is about the defense of the country and the (local economy). This is about doing business, not giving speeches. Let's get to work."
The showcase is a coordinated effort of the Greater Johnstown/Cambria County Chamber of Commerce and Johnstown Area Regional Industries.
Major sponsors include JWF Defense Systems, DRS Technologies, Lumos Networks, Kitron, GapVax and several others.
Regional, national and international exhibitors network with government agency buyers, military officials, business representatives and subcontractors for the event.
There are approximately 110 companies represented at this year's showcase. Though this is down from the 137 of last year, Critz said he's pleased with the regional turnout.
"The tenacity in this area is not to be denied," he said.
Organizers say the showcase has produced more than $3 billion in deals during the past two decades. Any major contractual announcements will be made at a press conference this morning.
"The showcase is expected to have a combined attendance of ticketed events of 1,500," showcase chairman Edward J. Sheehan Jr. said, also during opening remarks.
Sheehan is the CEO of Concurrent Technologies Corp., Johnstown. He thanked showcase volunteers, the city of Johnstown and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for their cooperation.
The event concludes tomorrow with a closing reception at the Frank J. Pasquerilla Conference Center in Johnstown.