Turns Out, All It Takes to Kill Dallas's Convention Business Is a Little Swine Flu Scare

Something called the Food Marketing Institute was scheduled to hold two events in Dallas beginning May 4: a "Future Connect leadership development conference" on May 4-6, followed by a "MARKETECHNICS® technology event" May 5-8. According to Tradeshow Week, the events were to take place at the Hyatt Regency and at the Dallas Convention Center, and "show organizers had estimated about 3,500 food retailers, wholesalers and suppliers would have attended the event." Alas, the FMI's president and CEO Leslie Sarasin today issued a press release canceling the event ... "due to the recent influenza outbreak." She writes:

The increased urgency of the alerts from health officials today and the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Dallas County Department of Health and Human Services confirmed our decision to not host a large gathering where attendees would be in close proximity. We seek to support their recommended precautions and prevention steps and would not want to contribute to spread of the virus in any way.

We agonized over this difficult and critical decision, but are certain that the number one priority of America's food retailers, wholesalers and suppliers right now is to look out for the health and safety of their customers, employees and the communities they serve across the country and around the globe.

In particular, we recognize that Future Connect is a program about leadership, and at this time our industry's leaders must be in their communities actively engaged in a time of potential crisis.

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