An expected 500 restaurateurs from across the country will convene in Washington, D.C., from April 17-18, 2012, for the National Restaurant Association’s 26th annual Public Affairs Conference.

“The Association’s highly anticipated Public Affairs Conference gives restaurant operators and their advocates an opportunity to speak directly to members of Congress and provide them with a better understanding of the integral role the restaurant industry plays in our nation’s economy,” says Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association.

The conference will highlight “America Works Here,” a campaign launched by the National Restaurant Association in 2011 to better tell the industry’s story to opinion leaders, highlighting restaurants’ economic impact, career opportunities, and philanthropic giving.

“Restaurants provide jobs in every state and every Congressional district,” Sweeney says.

America’s restaurant industry is the nation’s second-largest private-sector employer, and added 230,000 net jobs in 2011.

“Throughout the economic downturn, we have been one of the few industries that has continued growing, providing quality jobs that lead to fulfilling careers in our industry and others,” explains Sweeney. “We are 13 million jobs strong, and with the right policies, America’s restaurants will be able to create even more jobs and provide greater opportunities to more Americans.”

The conference agenda includes the Gala Restaurant Industry Awards Program honoring the winners of the 2012 Faces of Diversity Award and the 2012 Restaurant Neighbor Award.

National Journal editorial director and Pulitzer Prize finalist Ron Brownstein, one of America’s best political journalists, will deliver his perspective on this year’s election-year landscape during the program. In addition, conference attendees will have the opportunity to meet with their Congressional members and staff during Capitol Hill meetings and other events.

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