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Toronto Business Events Community Offering PCMA Scholarships


Toronto’s business events community and the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) Education Foundation are offering four Toronto Business Events scholarships to next generation event professionals. The scholarships, which honour the memory of John O. Maxwell, the first president and CEO of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC), will be awarded this fall.

Heidi Welker, vice-president, Marketing for Freeman Audio-Visual Canada, says that following Maxwell’s death last year, the Toronto meetings and conventions community donated $25,000 in his honour to the PCMA Education Foundation. She explains that the monies are being used to provide the four scholarships.

“Maxwell helped the government understand the importance of tourism and conventions and meetings industry,” says Welker, who is coordinating the donations.

The PCMA Education Foundation Scholarships¬†will provide recipients with a one-year membership to PCMA, and registration and housing costs at PCMA’s 2018 Convening Leaders Conference, being held January 7-10, 2018 in Nashville, TN. The scholarships will also provide free use of PCMA’s online training tool, Business Event Bootcamp, which covers everything from digital events and revenue generation to marketing and meeting design concepts.

The goal of the scholarships, says Barry Smith, the current president and CEO of the MTCC, is to encourage and motivate event professionals interested in becoming Toronto industry leaders. “This industry is becoming much more complex,” he explains. “We want people who are studying this and building a career in this area from the get-go.”

The scholarships will help awardees get exposure to cutting-edge trends and strategies, find mentors, network with colleagues and deepen their education around the market, he says.

Maxwell, who spent 16 years at the helm of the MTCC and was also a former assistant deputy minister of tourism, was known for his hard-driving ambition and strategic thinking. he was a powerful force behind the convention center’s creation and realized early on the economic benefits it could bring to Toronto.

According to Smith, Maxwell established the convention center with the agreement that once it was up and running, it would not require annual government funding from regular grants or hotel taxes. He was especially proud of its in-house food and beverage service as an antidote to “the rubber chicken circuit,” says Smith.

“That kind of visionary direction is still needed,” he says. “We want to create new and significant leaders who will have a profound impact on Toronto. Scholarships through the PCMA Education Foundation can help accomplish that. Those people who receive the scholarships and go to PCMA’s conference will get training and contacts they can’t get elsewhere. They’ll be exposed to new colleagues, meet potential employers, and see if this is an industry where they want to put a stake in the ground.”

Toronto Business Event Scholarships honoring John O. Maxwell are supported by:

  • Chelsea Hotel, Toronto
  • Freeman Audio Visual | Canada
  • Freeman
  • GES Canada
  • Greater Toronto Hotel Association
  • Mendelssohn Commerce
  • Metro Toronto Convention Centre
  • Starwood Preferred Guest
  • The Stronco Group
  • Tourism Toronto