While the ongoing conflict in Iraq and the war on terrorism will be important issues to American voters in November, the overwhelming concern to millions of Americans is, still, the economy. Both employees and employers will pull the lever, push the button or fill in the circle for the candidate they believe will better help them regain their footing and even prosper in these uncertain times.

Analysts have been cautiously optimistic for months, with indications that business and industry are turning around in North America, although the turnaround can't happen fast enough for those who had to say "Bon Voyage" to manufacturing jobs that took a one-way trip overseas.

Fortunately, the powder coating industry is enjoying some of this turnaround, with positive movement in the first half of 2004, both in sales of powder coatings and application equipment. And The Powder Coating Institute is dedicated to increasing powder coating's share of the industrial finishing market, communicating with both existing and potential markets on the latest technological advancements of the industry.

The North American architectural market has received particular scrutiny over the summer, as PCI has undertaken discussions and interviews with architects, designers, construction specifiers, aluminum extruders and coaters of architectural products to get their views on powder coating, and what it would take for them to increase their use of powder coatings in their industry. The final research report was not completed at press time, but I can tell you that there is a lot of work necessary by PCI and its members to encourage powder coating conversion in this industry.

PCI is encouraging all industrial finishers to attend the best, most intensive educational experience for powder coating this year-Powder Coating 2004, September 21-23, at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, NC. With more than 160 exhibitors showing the latest in powder coating materials, equipment, and related products and services, and a comprehensive schedule of conference topics, the Powder Coating 2004 Trade Show and Technical Conference is a great educational value for both new and experienced powder coaters. This year's show is expected to attract thousands of current and potential powder coaters from all over the world.

Attendees will gain valuable face time with exhibitors to address their specific buying needs, with many exhibitors offering practical demonstrations to show powder coating in action.

The Powder Coating 2004 conference revs up with a keynote address by Clyde Fessler, former vice president of business development at Harley-Davidson, to discuss how he helped distinguish its products from those of foreign competitors and regain prosperity for the company. The three-day conference program will feature 28 technical presentations and workshops focusing on new technologies, emerging applications and more efficient methods for changing colors, pretreatment, curing, and powder application. And plant tours will allow show visitors to see practical applications of powder coatings, and an opportunity to discuss the operations with on-site experts at the plant.

Those involved with the formulation and production of powder coating materials will benefit from the 2004 PCI Formulators Technology Conference on September 20-21. The half-day introductory session on the 20th and the full day of advanced technical presentations on the 21st will provide another valuable educational opportunity for all powder coatings formulators.

If you have not yet made plans to attend the world's largest trade event devoted to powder coating, you can find more information on the show and conferences, as well as hotel and travel information, on the Powder Coating 2004 Web site at www.pcishow.com and from Goyer Management at (513) 624-9988.

For the latest information on PCI programs, events, publications and the benefits of becoming a PCI member, access the PCI Web site at www.powdercoating.org, or call (703) 684-1770. And feel free to stop by PCI Booth 1104 at Powder Coating 2004 to meet with me or the PCI staff to discuss what The Powder Coating Institute has to offer you and your business.