The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Decima Reports. It shouldn’t be surprising that attendance is expected to be down – by how much isn’t yet known – at this year’s Baddeck Fest. The attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center will figure prominently in some people’s decision to stay home. Even more importantly, the general malaise affecting the industry means there are fewer players to attend, and those still operating are under severe financial constraints. From Halifax to Ottawa to Vancouver, cities across the country are populated by the walking wounded who can scarcely afford Air Canada’s tithe to travel from Upper Canada and points west to Sydney. It’s no fault of the conference organizers. As usual, the program appears to be a stellar one. Those in attendance will doubtless make invaluable contacts over pints in the resort’s charming pub, hear inspirational stories from those companies that have survived and even grown in spite of the economic hardship, and generally be in a better position to profit from the inevitable upswing of activity next year. The rest of us, thumbing through our pockets for loose change, can only envy those able to attend. Baddeck is the pre-eminent event for this industry, and its timing, location and program are ideal for networking and learning away from the daily grind of survival. It will be a lean year in Cape Breton, but the story’s not all bad. A quick glance at those speakers confirmed to attend is a who’s who of vibrant, creative and talented industry players that have a great deal to teach. Other conferences this year have revealed pockets of innovation that indicate the sector is on the cusp of re-defining itself with new technologies and business models. Those who can, whether in academia, the private sector or government, should make every effort to attend Baddeck to hear for themselves what role they can play.