$1 trillion. That’s the estimated impact of business events on the global economy in 2017, according to a study by Oxford Economics and the Events Industry Council. Viewed through another lens, if the business events industry was a country, it would have the 18th largest GDP in the world.

While the $1 trillion figure includes direct spending to plan and produce business events, the economic ripple effect is great and it highlights the value meetings and conferences represent to the global economy. Business events in North America, Asia and Europe collectively generated more than 90 percent of direct spending. Meetings involved more than 1.4 billion participants in more than 180 countries.

The broader influence on economic and social progress is immeasurable. Business events are more than just a means for face-to-face collaboration and education. Increasingly, we see them as a transformative tool to foster community. A separate study from Business Events Sydney determined a direct connection between business events and positive outcomes that extend far beyond tourism and direct spending. Research showed business events leave legacies in many areas, including social change, economic growth and the development of knowledge and skills.

Consider Youngstown, OH: a once-thriving manufacturing city that suffered the collapse of the steel industry in the 1970s. In 2012, a national accelerator for 3-D printing and rapid prototyping was established there. That organization now hosts regular business events in Youngstown, drawing thought leaders and innovators who in turn help generate regional prosperity.

Simply put, business events can be a means to introduce innovation, inspire creative solutions, address social issues and make an economic impact within a community. The circulation of information and the social interactions taking place at business conventions result in both material and intangible economic legacies.

PCMA, the world’s largest community of events strategists, intends to lead the broadening platform of bringing people together for economic and social progress. We are collaborating with corporate and civic leaders and searching for ways to improve the lives of ordinary citizens around the world through business events.